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Everybody Loves Zeus

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Tyrant. Hypocrite. Adulterer. Rapist. Kinslayer. Family Man.

Light can blind and Light Is Good. And by "light is good", we mean it's good you aren't struck down by lightning.

Zeus was the Lord of Mount Olympus and Top God that ran Greece. He got his throne by killing his father and taking it and condemned anyone else who did the same, he ate his first wife (Metis), he cheated on his second wife/older sister (Hera) incessantly, allowed Hera to torment his demigod bastard sons, he chained Prometheus to a rock to have his liver eaten forever for giving mankind fire (until at least Herakles freed him), he unleashed pain and suffering on the Earth and had a mortal girl take the blame for it, smiting random humans with lightning from his ivory tower, et cetera. However, adaptations like to show Zeus as a cool guy that likes to party and is justified whenever he has to bring out a firm hand. Why? Because Heaven and Light = Good.

Gods associated with light and lordship over other gods are typically portrayed as heroic and relatable while their darker counterparts are super violent and manipulative and other icky stuff. It should be noted that this trope can apply to virtually any god/goddess of Classical Mythology, largely due to Values Dissonance and operating Above Good and Evil. And it should also be noted that the original Zeus was also capable of good deeds, therefore supporting a lot of good portrayals of him. For instance, he dotes on his children and even if they were born from his infidelities which incurred Hera's wrath, he would try his best to protect them from Hera. The sole exception is Ares, but even then, that was because Ares controls a domain that many humans dislike: war (unless you're from Sparta).

Aversions typically portray such gods as good but ignorantly destructive, usually causing trouble due to ignorance or gross incompetence.

A Sub-Trope of Sadly Mythtaken and a form of Adaptational Heroism.

Compare Disneyfication, God Is Good, Hijacked by Jesus, Jesus Was Way Cool, Light Is Good.

Contrast with Everybody Hates Hades.

Not related to the fact that Zeus Really Gets Around. For the portrayal on that, see Double Standard: Rape, Divine on Mortal.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Mazinger Z franchise:
  • In Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Zeus is remembered as a great god who headed the Zeus Familia, producing many of the greatest heroes in the world has known for the past 1,000 years. That said, his philandering is equally well-known, and the other gods could scarcely believe that he survived the wrath of Alfia and Hera when he got too handsy. Of course, the gods DanMachi's world don't match up 1-to-1 with real world mythology. He's also remembered by Bell as a doting grandfather who taught him manners and good morals but also filled his head with stories of a "man's romance", including becoming a Harem Seeker, but Bell doesn't know that his grandpa is Zeus.

    Comic Books 
  • The Mighty Thor:
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Zeus has gone through some different iterations over the years. His Wonder Woman (1987) version is a Jerkass God close to myth as a hypocritical rapist and adulterer whom the Amazons and most of the gods don't trust or much like who is overthrown by Athena as mythology states he's fated to, while his Wonder Woman (2011) version is pretty well loved by everyone despite retaining his adultery with Athena going out of her way to help revive him, and all the other gods besides Ares being upset at his apparent death.
    • Hera's petty jealousy is usually in place past the Silver Age, but pre-New 52 the murderous bit of her misdirected anger was generally swept aside or only used to show her lashing out in a moment of rage instead of something she'd plan and plot and prior to Wonder Woman (2011) she was treated as more reasonable, kind and likable than Zeus.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Disney's Hercules has two cases of this trope:
    • Zeus is portrayed as a light-hearted if not buffoonish king and loyal husband to Hera. While the spin-off series does address more of his flaws — like forgetting he and his wife's anniversary, losing his temper and smiting people, and the whole "Prometheus" thing — Zeus' frequent infidelity is never brought up (most likely non-existent to keep the G-rating).
    • Hera gets this treatment even more so. In the original myth, Heracles was not Hera's child and was a product of her husband cheating on her. Feeling spiteful, Hera actively sabotaged his life and tried to make him suffer, even forcing him to kill his own family. Here, Hercules is her son and no mention of Zeus cheating on her is ever brought up, so the adaptation portraying Hera as the kind, patient and level-headed of the two. Even in the episode "Hercules and the Return of Typhon" it is revealed that she was the one who threw the lightning bolt that led to Typhon's defeat and that she allowed Zeus to take the credit for image reasons.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Hera from The Legend of Hercules allowed her husband to cheat on her with Alcmene so that Hercules could be born and become a hero to Greece.
  • Zeus in Wonder Woman (2017) is a Posthumous Character described in Amazon myth: He created humanitynote in a Golden Age, created the Amazons when Ares inflicted war upon humans, helped free the Amazons when they were enslaved, struck a crippling blow to Ares after he killed the rest of the gods, and with his last breaths left the Amazons with the means to finish Ares off once and for all. Although that part about Ares being the cause of all war is wrong, so maybe the Zeus wasn't really so great after all.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Odin All-Father is portrayed as a Grandpa God who would avoid conflict at all costs, having experienced the horrors of war and would rather foster peace. This is subverted in Thor: Ragnarok, where Hela reveals that he was originally a conqueror and warmonger who built his empire off of the broken backs and blood of the worlds he had conquered. While he had long since mellowed out over time and eventually banished Hela when she tried continuing this campaign, this more violent past was still there in the form of Asgard's continued wealth and prosperity, having since rewrote Asgard's history in an attempt at keeping this peace.
    • Subverted with the actual Zeus in Thor: Love and Thunder. Initially, he's beloved by everyone, including Thor who thinks he would rally an army of gods to defeat Gorr the God Butcher. However, it's revealed that he is a lazy, cowardly hedonist who rather let the universe be terrorized by Gorr while he and the other gods hide in the safety of their city. After nearly being killed by Thor, Zeus realizes that his reputation has fallen by the wayside in favor of superheroes, and he vows to restore it by becoming a god of fear and vengeance.

  • Subverted in Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
    • Zeus isn't portrayed as evil, but that's probably the nicest thing you can say about him. This version of Zeus is grouchy, a terrible father and so incredibly arrogant that he almost caused the total destruction of Olympus and the world twice, all because of his stubbornness and refusal to accept help.
    • It's revealed in the last book of the first series "The Last Olympian" that one of the reasons Hades is so grouchy and on such bad terms with his family is that Zeus attempted to kill two of his children to prevent them fulfilling a prophecy, and killed their mother in the process. Hades is meanwhile portrayed as more reasonable and fully averts Everyone Hates Hades.
    • Poseidon, the father of the main character Percy, is portrayed as kinder than the jealous, foul-tempered sea monster owner in the original mythology. He's an involved, caring father for Percy by godly standards. He intervenes to help Percy on many occasions, and it's clear he would do much more if Zeus didn't forbid it. That said "Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods" mentions that today he'd probably get arrested for what he did to Demeter. It's implied that Sally Jackson, Percy's mother, may have mellowed him out a little compared to how he was in ancient times.
    • Also averted with Athena, who gets this treatment fairly often. She has high expectations for her daughter Annabeth and was reluctant to help her out with her difficult childhood. She then disapproves of her relationship with Percy and is constantly petty and spiteful in her dealings with him. She's ultimately a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who struggles with a nasty temper, which is relatively in line with mythology.
    • Generally the gods of The Camp Half-Blood Series and the rest of the Riordanverse (which include the Egyptian and Norse Gods) are not shown to be lacking flaws, but a number of them show themselves to be nicer than their original tellings, be it from personal growth or sidestepping their faults. Even Gods generally shown to be evil or unpleasant, like Ares, Set, and Loki, are not depicted as utterly beyond sympathy or positives.
  • The Lost Years of Merlin and its Sequel Series do this in their take on Celtic Mythology. Dagda is depicted as a god of wisdom, which is accurate, but also of peace and freedom, which is...less so, as he's also considered a War God. The sexual appetite that you see among most Top Gods also goes unmentioned, as do the awesome traits he has in some tellings. Meanwhile, the villain is Rhita Gawr, depicted as the (only) Celtic War God, when he's actually a rather minor, mortal character from Arthurian Legend.
  • Ravirn plays with this a bit: Zeus acts like a college frat boy, and is shown to have some trouble using the computers that now help with spellcasting (especially his porn browser), but Ravirn reminds himself that Zeus is the god that lead the overthrow of the Titans, his father Kronos, and is leader of the entire Greek pantheon.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • While Zeus wasn't the kindest of the Greek deities and was undoubtedly a terrible husband, he can be considered a relatively good parent. That and there's a fair bit of Values Dissonance present regarding his actions. For instance, while to a modern audience, his incessant philandering would appear as cheating, back then, powerful men often had multiple romantic partners, with one wife at the top, which in Zeus case, would be Hera. It's also worth pointing out that he always loved the sons produced in his affairs and often protected them from the rage of his wife, who could be ridiculously vengeful (despite the rightfulness of her indignation) and liked to vent it on the innocent children. Keep in mind also that there is a clear disconnect from how the myths portrayed him and how the Ancient Greeks saw him, with many a philosopher disdaining the myths for tainting Zeus' reputation (in fact some, like Plato considered the myths basically blasphemous for their portrayals, and he wanted the poems relating them to be banned).
    • It's also worth pointing out that Zeus also has some genuine Pet the Dog moments too, such as granting Baucis and Philemon's wish to die at the same moment so they would never be without each other, and genuinely help Psyche with one of her trials to get back with her husband, Eros, with no ulterior motives on his part.
    • Hyperion, the original Titan of light, averts this more or less by being a Flat Character.
    • Helios (the charioteer of the Sun) is one of the more positively portrayed gods of Greek myth, probably because the best-known myth features him forced by his own oath to give his son Phaeton the reins of the sun chariot, even although it led to Phaeton's death. That said, he's also the father and grandfather of morally ambiguous witches, lending his power to Circe and Medea, and the Ancient Greeks generally avoided outright sun worship.
    • He was later merged with Apollo, the god of poetry (who also gets a good rep, despite not being averse to chasing nymphs and mortals, and responsible for a few cases of Disproportionate Retribution as well).
  • Inverted for Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec sun god. The Aztecs's infamous reputation for Human Sacrifice came from their rituals in which still-beating hearts were offered to him so as to give him the strength to prevent eternal night from covering the land. And yet the threat of daylight ending forever wasn't enough to prevent the Aztecs' vassals (from who the sacrifices were taken) from joining the conquistadors.
  • Norse Mythology is rather weird about this. The chief god in recorded mythology, Odin, is more of a death-god figure and a trickster, inverting this in every possible way. However, Týr, whose name is etymologically related to Zeus, might have been the original Top God, and he is definitely an honorable person, sacrificing his own hand to imprison Fenrir. The sun (Sól or Sunna) meanwhile is a goddess that doesn't really do anything besides being eaten by wolves at the end of the world, though there is evidence to suggest that she was once a highly revered deity among the Norse.
  • Baltic Mythology, Japanese Mythology, and Aboriginal Australian Myths all have their respective sun goddesses as the highest ranking, most benevolent, and ideal deities. The exception is Bila, who is a murderous cannibal that roasts people alive in her fireplace (the origin of sunshine).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Subverted big time for Magic: The Gathering 's Heliod, Theros' god of the sun. When the Theros block first came around, he seemed like an upstanding, moral Zeus-analogue, even championing Elspeth as his hero. Then Godsend Part 1 came along and showed how much of a cruel, petty tyrant he was, and it went downhill when Part 2 came out and he murdered her out of jealousy and spite. As a result, he became one of Magic's greatest Hate Sinks. He ultimately was met with humiliating defeat when the Phyrexians invaded Theros and compleated him. Then Kaya killed him for good.

    Video Games 
  • The God of War series plays with this idea.
    • In the first game, Zeus is essentially the Greater-Scope Paragon, serving as a benevolent ally to Kratos who helps him both overtly and subtly. The second and third games, however, set Zeus up as the Big Bad, driven mad with fear and paranoia that his son Kratos will usurp his throne. As it turns out, Zeus only became a villain after Kratos opened Pandora's Box and infected him with the evil of Fear... it's implied he was still something of a Jerkass God even before this (as he was still a ruthless, adulterous tyrant) but Kratos managed to exacerbate his flaws and turned him into a monster.
    • Deconstructed in the Norse series. While Kratos's son Atreus turns out to be Loki, the figure prophecised by the Giants to destroy Asgard and bring Ragnarok, Odin is able to get away with being even more cruel, domineering, and abusive than Zeus, with no magical influence over him whatsoever, simply because others in the Aesir pantheon believe he has a plan that will benefit them all. In reality, he is driven solely by knowing all there is to know, with his worshippers, armies, and own family as mere pawns to protect himself and his interests from harm. Mimir even opines that the title of "All-Father" should've belonged to the Giant Ymir, progenitor of the gods, but Odin killed him to usurp his rule and bestowed it upon himself.
  • Pharaoh: The Sun god Ra holds power over the entire kingdom (in the campaign, especially after the Pharaoh declares him the king of the gods), which translates to him increasing your reputation, export prices and amount of goods traded if he's happy, and decreasing them if displeased. Having him as patron god allows you to have crimefighting priests and salaries lower than the national average.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Meridia is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is obscured to mortals, but is associated with Life Energy, Light, and Beauty. As such, she has an extreme hatred for anything undead. Rainbows are common symbols of Meridia, and she typically takes the form of a beautiful woman, sometimes with angel-like wings. She is one of the more benevolent Daedric Princes, as well as one of the few to be almost universally considered "good" by mortals. That said, Meridia has been known to express her anger toward those who earn her displeasure in very nasty ways. She has no compunction against causing collateral damage in her quest to eliminate anything undead, and makes it clear that any "good" she does is purely to further her own causes. She is also very vindictive if you reject her or question the morality of her actions in any way. Her plane, the Colored Rooms, is a colorful realm of vast floating stones, strewn about with trails of colorful dust and clouds. The "ground" between the stones looks like luminescent water but is solid enough to walk on.
    • Kynareth is one of the Aedra, the et'Ada ("original spirits") who made sacrifices during the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane. She is a prominent member of the Nine Divines, a Saintly Church considered far more benevolent than any Daedric Prince. The Nords worship her as "Kyne", the shieldmaiden, war goddess, and weather goddess. She is one of the most beloved of the gods, with Nords invoking her name to grant them strength in battle and carry them to Sovngarde if they fall. In The Elder Scrolls Online, when one character abandons her worship of Kyne after realizing what a blatant Catch-22 Dilemma this is note , she is unambiguously regarded as wrong by even her own son. Even though he only survived a Hopeless War because of cowardice and desertion, he vows to return to battle if Kyne spares his mother and gives her a chance to become faithful again.
  • The Pantheon that resides in Anor Londo in Dark Souls are all associated with fire, light and the Sun. Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight, is the patriarch of the old royal family and king of Anor London who rallied his armies and, with the help of the Lord Souls and the other lords, staged a full-on attack on the Everlasting Dragons and brought about the Age of Fire. In-universe, they are worshipped as gods, but as the player continues, they find out that he was, in reality, manipulative and deceitful, having tainted The Sacred Darkness by branding the dark sign on the loyal pygmies and making the dark the scary monstrous thing that it is today and committing "the first sin" by linking the fire, creating the Crapsack World that the games take place in.
  • SMITE downplays this. While Zeus, Ra, Odin and others are powerful and revered gods they are still flawed and many other characters in-universe point out their flaws. However, they are still toned down compared to their original versions considering this is a T-rated game.
  • In Hades, Zeus is one of the Olympian gods who can aid the protagonist, Zagreus, in his attempt to escape Hades. While many of his mythological (mis)deeds are plain not mentioned at all as they're not germane to the current situation, Zeus is presented as somewhat egotistical and aiding Zagreus partially to get back at his brother Hades for some kind of Noodle Incident that estranged Hades from Zeus and Poseidon some time before the story's events. Turns out the Noodle Incident was Zeus turning Hades into an unwilling accessory to Persephone's kidnapping, as well as the future fall-guy should Demeter ever find out about it. Zeus was offended that Hades wasn't as pleased with his "gift" as Zeus thought he ought to be.
  • Subverted in Fate/Grand Order in the Olympus Lostbelt storyline, in which an alternate universe version of Zeus during a timeline where the Olympians managed to defeat the threat that diminished their divinity in the main timeline and expanded their authority over humanity is the Arc Villain. It also subverts Everybody Hates Hades as it's stated that Hades led the other Gods against Zeus in defense of humanity. It's played straight in that the "Proper Human History" version of Zeus is stated to be much more benevolent and loving of humanity than Lostbelt Zeus.
  • Subverted in Poptropica on Mythology Island, where Zeus begins seemingly as the player's ally who will grant them immortality if they collect five sacred items, but ends up being revealed as a power-hungry tyrant who wants to rule over all of Poptropica—and you've just brought him everything he needs to accomplish his goal. Fortunately, the other gods aren't huge fans of Zeus either, and lend you their powers to help defeat him.

    Web Comics 
  • Slightly Damned: This happens In-Universe with Mother Gaia, who alongside Father Syndel created Medius and the races living there, but she and her angels received the glory while Syndel and his demons were shunned. Eventually he grew jealous and had the demons invade Medius in retaliation, and she sent the angels to drive them off, but we see in the story that they could be every bit as brutal as the demons.
  • Lore Olympus: Played with in-universe.
    • Zeus is given an unflattering depiction as sexist, hypocritical, petty, and a shameless philanderer whose relationship with his wife Hera is more than a little dysfunctional as a result. Other Olympians mostly don't seem to have a great opinion of him... but his rep is still better than that of his brother Hades, who has flaws of his own but is overall a dorky Nice Guy.
    • Apollo is the webcomic's Hate Sink, a self-absorbed jock who comes into Persephone's room and wakes her up in the middle of the night, rapes her, and takes pictures of her naked body, and afterwards persists in acting like Persephone is his girlfriend despite the fact that she wants nothing to do with him. Most of the inhabitants of Olympus seem oblivious to his negative qualities, at worst regarding him as mildly annoying. His sister Artemis, who otherwise refuses to allow men into the apartment she shares with Persephone, completely fails to recognize his predatory attitude towards her roommate, and Zeus dismisses Hera's suspicions of Apollo as baseless paranoia not worth potentially damaging Apollo's reputation.