Please note that this trope is about questioning a benevolent God's existence because of a single bad event or series of them. If God is confirmed not to exist in this particular universe, it's Religion Is Wrong. When God is confirmed to exist and also confirmed to be good but lets the bad event happen anyways, you have the Omniscient Morality License.
To counter this idea, the faithful may choose to believe that God works In Mysterious Ways, so He may allow bad things for a higher purpose. One common argument is that evil results from God allowing people to have their own free will. There is also evil existing as a Secret Test of Character. Alternately, perhaps God Is Flawed.
Sometimes this is the result of a game of Religious Russian Roulette. See also Crisis of Faith. The direct opposite is, of course, There Is a God! Compare God Is Dead. Also compare A God I Am Not, where a godlike being refuses to be called "God". May be related to Good Running Evil.
Compare FaithHeel Turn, which is when this trope leads to the character actually becoming evil. See also Break the Believer, in which someone's core beliefs are proven wrong. Opposite of Turn to Religion, where a crisis leads someone to become a believer.
- Revy from Black Lagoon explains that she used to be very devout when she was a child until the day she was beaten half to death for no reason by a group of corrupt cops.
- Colin Macleod wears this on his sleeve in Highlander: The Search for Vengeance after antagonist Marcus kills his wife.
- Setsuna F. Seiei from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 believes that there is no God after his traumatic childhood. To summarize, he (and a number of other children from his hometown) were convinced to become Child Soldiers by an Axe-Crazy mercenary in what he described as a "holy war."
- In One Piece, the Minister of the Right refuses to believe that there is a god or a Buddha after Queen Otohime is shot during the most successful time of her and possibly the kingdom's life.
- Father Willibald from Vinland Saga is a Catholic priest. After witnessing too much suffering on Earth, he came to the conclusion that God Is Evil for permitting all this evil and as a result, his faith became twisted. Wanting to prove himself wrong he vacillates between seeking an Act of True Love, and getting roaring drunk to dull his pain. He manages to convince Canute of the same, leading the latter to commit to a Rage Against the Heavens.
- One of the story beats in Warren Ellis's run on Stormwatch, which carried over into The Authority a few years later, was that God does not exist. The Doctor mentions it offhandedly in Ellis's final arc, and earlier, a "villain" called the Eidolon had come back from beyond the grave to try to convince people to make the most of their lives.
- Garth Ennis, an outspoken atheist, really, really likes this one.
- A favorite Author Tract in The Boys via Starlight, who is forced to submit to rape if she wants to join the Seven (after discovering two members of the Capes For Christ having sex, one of which was her boyfriend).
- Preacher: Zig-Zagged trope; Jesse Custer truly came to believe in God due to his abusive childhood indoctrination, hitting the Despair Event Horizon and finding God in there (Inversion - Evil Gave Me Faith). After a few years of dealing with the petty evils of his congregation as a priest, he slid back into hollow faith and Drowning My Sorrows, believing God wasn't really there after all (Played Straight). And then along comes Genesis, proving that God really does exist - and over the course of the series, that the Bible is a sack of lies glorifying an Evil Is Petty negligent deity, convincing Jesse to believe in the (former) existence of a God that he will never worship again (Double Subversion) and in fact successfully try to kill.
- True Faith has a main character swear to God that hes going to kill Him after his pregnant wife dies giving birth to a child that only lives for a minute.
- Just a Pilgrim: the titular pilgrim, an ex-Special Forces type who found the Lord in prison, survived the end of the world when the sun moved closer, drying up the oceans, and found the last remnants of humanity hiding in the Mariana Trench. His faith in God wouldn't be out of place in Warhammer 40,000, but he finally snaps when a mutant race of jellyfish takes over a little girl. His last act before his Heroic Sacrifice is to toss out the Bible he wanted the survivors to take.
- Persepolis: After her beloved Uncle Anoosh is executed by the fundamentalist regime as a communist dissident, Marjane tells God that she hates him and doesn't want to see him anymore. He still pops up from time to time, however.
- Rorschach from Watchmen. When he was pushed over the Despair Event Horizon by a particularly gruesome crime he declared there was no God and life had no meaning "save what we imagine if we stare at it too long", and that he was free to impose his own will on the "morally blank world".
- Magneto, of Marvel's X-Men, lost his faith in God while being interned at Auschwitz, forced to watch as his family were taken away to the gas chambers.
- The Prince of Egypt: Over the years of pain and slavery he and his family endured, Aaron's faith in God has slipped away. When Moses explains that he was sent by God to do His work, Aaron scoffs at the idea that God has sent a deliverer for the Hebrew slaves. Fortunately, it's not permanent.
Aaron: When did God start caring about any of us?
- In April Showers, Sean questions what kind of God would let the school shootings that killed his friends and the girl he loved happen.
- Apparently, this is what motivates Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He confesses that his father has abused him (perhaps even sexually), and since God didn't intervene, Lex concluded that He either doesn't exist or is evil. Hence, he cannot stand the public adoration of Superman that borderlines on religious worship, and is bent on bringing him down, exposing him as a fraud that is a) morally corrupt and b) can be killed by mortals.
- In the film version of Born on the Fourth of July, Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) rants at his mother:
Ron Kovic: It's a lie! It's a fucking lie! There's no God. God is as dead as my legs! There's no God, there's no country! Nothing. Just me and this fucking wheelchair for the rest of my life."
- Brassed Off: Mr. Chuckles, after memorably screwing up a children's party:
Angry Middle-Class Mum: May God forgive you.
Mr. Chuckles: God? Oh right, there now, there's the fella. I mean what's he doin', eh? He can take John Lennon, he can take those three young lads down at Ainsley Pit, he's even thinkin' of taking my old man, and Margaret bloody Thatcher lives? I mean, what's he soddin' playin' at, eh? ... You've been great. My name's Coco the Scab.
- In Caddyshack, one of the club members (who happens to be a bishop) has his perfect game of golf (in the middle of a raging storm) ruined by a single bad putt, turns to curse the heavens, and is struck by lightning immediately. The next day, he's shown as a drunken mess proclaiming that there is no God.
- In The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), the despairing title character gives up all hope in God, having been incarcerated in a harsh French prison for several years.
- In Cube Zero, at the end of the titular Death Trap filled labyrinth any survivors are asked if they believe in God. If they say "no", the Cube's operators press a button marked "No" which causes the survivor to be incinerated. When the new operator asks what the button marked "Yes" does, the other, much older operator says he doesn't know: no one has ever said "yes".
- In End of Days, Jericho Cane stopped believing in God after contract killers murdered both his wife and their daughter.
- Faust: Love of the Damned: After artist John Jaspers' girlfriend is murdered by a group of criminals, he becomes a suicidal nihilist. He is then approached by M, who remarks that selling his soul shouldn't mean anything for someone who believes in nothing anyway.
- In I Am Legend, when Anna speculates that her coming to New York to find Neville is some part of God's plan, Robert launches into a furious tirade that given everything he's seen and lost in the past three years (as the result of a viral pandemic that killed almost 90% of the earth's population and mutated more than half of the survivors into predatory monsters hunting down any immune humans left), there can be no God.
Robert Neville: God's plan?! All right, let me tell you about your God's plan. There were 6 billion people on Earth when the infection hit. KV had a 90 percent kill rate; that's 5.4 billion people dead. Crashed and bled out, dead. Less than 1 percent immunity, that left 12 million healthy people like you, me, and Ethan. The other 588 million turned into your Darkseekers, and then they got hungry, and they killed and fed on everybody. Everybody! Every single person that you or I has ever known is DEAD!!!! Dead! There is no God! There is no God.
- Illusive Tracks: One of the nuns, after Gunnar wreaks havoc and hurts several people, including her.
- In Pitch Black, Imam believes this to be the case with Riddick. Turns out that, after all the harshness that has been his life, it's actually a couple of different tropes that Riddick believes.
Riddick: Think someone could spend half their life in a slam with a horse bit in their mouth and not believe? Think he could start out in some liquor store trash bin with an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and not believe? Got it all wrong, holy man. I absolutely believe in God. And I absolutely hate the fucker.
- The Reaping: Katherine, currently trying to disprove Gods existence by debunking miracles, was once a preacher, until on an expedition, her husband and daughter were both killed by a religious cult. By the end of the movie, however, Katherine has regained her faith. It helps that she has encountered an actual angel.
- Six Shooter: "I don't believe in God. Not no more." So says Donnelly, who has just left the hospital after his wife has died of cancer.
- Des Esseintes in A Rebours draws from the German pessimist Schopenhauer and cites that the misery of the world is why he rejects belief in God. Huysmans, who was also an atheist when he wrote A Rebours, would eventually become a Catholic and retract this conclusion in a preface reflecting on the book twenty years after its publication.
- This is invoked through a bet in the Book of Job. In it, Satan asks God if Job would lose his faith in Him if he would lose everything. God offers Satan to do some dirty work to find out. It gets subverted though, as Job retains his faith in God and he is rewarded with more of what he had before.
- Unlike his movie counterpart, in Fight Club, the intense and self-destructive Tyler Durden uses this to explain why he does what he does.
Mechanic (quoting Tyler): If you're male and you're Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?
- The Space Mormons of planet Grayson in the Honor Harrington series have the philosophy life is a test. In other words, it is supposed to be hard, miserable, and full of pointlessness. That's the only way you can become hardened and a good person. Notably, this philosophy was influenced by the fact they live on a Death World.
- Played straight, however, with the people of the Nuncio system. The original settlers, who are stated to have been very religious (presumably Catholic, given their naming conventions), couldn't afford the technology needed to build their colony, and suffered a series of catastrophes that killed five-sixths of the original expedition, forced them to abandon Basilica — the more temperate of the system's two habitable planets — and left the survivors clinging to the cold, dry world of Pontifex, where they spent the next few centuries eking out a life of poverty and misery. By the time of the main story, their descendants have become — as one Manticoran character puts it — "as aggressively atheistic as it's possible for human beings to be".
- A horrific series of famines drove a nation to this in The Reynard Cycle.
- In The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape's nephew, the lesser devil Wormwood, must have proposed trying this tactic to wrench humans away from God with the looming horrors of the Second World War, but Screwtape counters that while the horrors may affect some humans so, others wind up coming through the trial with renewed faith and many more are made to confront death - which forces them to confront those questions, thus enabling them to perceive and accept God's grace.
- In Silas Marner, the title character succumbs to this trope after being framed for robbery by his best friend and driven out by his church community, leading him to become a bitter reclusive miser. He gets better.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Stannis Baratheon tells Davos Seaworth that he lost his faith in the Seven, or any god for that matter, after witnessing his parents dying in a shipwreck. He only let Melisandre and her R'hllor followers in because they help advance his crusade to claim the Iron Throne.
Stannis: I stopped believing in gods the day I saw the Windproud break up across the bay. Any gods so monstrous as to drown my mother and father would never have my worship, I vowed.
- St Thomas Aquinas examines this in the Summa Theologiae and presents it as one of the objections to the existence of God in Part I, Q. 2, Art. 3. It says that the existence of a contrary would completely negate the existence of the other. If God, being infinite goodness, existed, then there would be no evil discoverable, but since there is evil in the world, then God does not exist. St. Thomas replies that God would not allow any evil to exist in His works unless, in His omnipotence and goodness, He were to produce good out of it.
- In the Warrior Cats book Sunset, Mothwing is a medicine cat that doesn't believe in StarClan - the equivalent of an atheist priest. She explains to Leafpool that the reason she stopped believing is that her brother revealed that he'd faked the omen that made the medicine cat choose her as apprentice, and that if StarClan really existed they wouldn't let him threaten/blackmail her and do evil deeds to gain power. (They do exist in the series, they're just The Watcher and don't/can't interfere.)
- World War Z: One of the interviewees is a Muslim from Egypt who had been radicalized into hardcore anti-semitism, which was completely shattered when his family fled to Israel during the early stages of the outbreak and made it through the war. Not only did he discover that everything he had been told about Israel was false, they were some of the only ones who had any idea what they were doing and took the threat of the living dead seriously. After the war, the man abandoned not only his extremism but religion entirely, viewing the lies he had been told and the horrors of the zombie apocalypse as proof that it was all lies.
"Only one could have foreseen this, and I don't believe in him anymore."
- There is also an Iranian pilot who recounts how the zombie outbreak also led to a nuclear war with Pakistan.
- All in the Family: Season 8's "Edith's Crisis of Faith." Her steadfast Christianity — she defined it far better than Archie ever did or could — is one of Edith's defining traits, and makes her who she is. So when she witnesses her son-in-law, Mike, and the family's friend, Beverly LaSalle jumped and brutally beaten in a robbery attempt, and Beverly dies of his injuries, Edith wonders why God allowed the bad guys to win. She temporarily renounces her Christianity ... until Mike tells her that maybe God didn't want this to happen, but merely it was just bad guys being, well, bad guys. Edith realizes that some things aren't meant to be understood — i.e., why evil exists in the world (a large reason why Mike years earlier renounced his Catholic vows) — and that she has not only good memories of the family's friendship with Beverly ... and a lot more to be thankful for.
- On Carnivāle Brother Justin's faith is shaken when the church he built is burnt down. As he tells reporter Tommy Dolan at a hobo fire, "I lost my God." When he regains his faith it will be as a full-on Dark Messiah.
- Alluded to at the end of CSI: NY's "Yahrzeit." A Holocaust survivor says that the soldier (Mac Taylor's father) who rescued him by carrying him out of the camp from which he was liberated and who gave him a Hershey bar to eat "put back some of the faith I had lost. My grandchildren put back the rest."
- In Deadwood, Reverend Smith is suffering from some kind of brain disease but doesn't do himself any favors by continuing working and thinking it's God's will that he got sick. Doc Cochran says "If this is God's plan, Reverend, He is a son of a bitch." He later yells at God for allowing people like the reverend and the dying soldiers he met in the Civil War to suffer so badly.
- Firefly: Mal was apparently a Catholic in his earlier years, but lost his faith at the Independents' crushing defeat at the Battle of Serenity Valley. His change is often described as deciding "God disagreed with him politically."
- There was a throwaway gag in one episode of Frasier where he learnt that a radio show he hated had received national syndication. Frasier's response was something along the lines of "Well, that's great news for her - and also for the many atheists who will welcome this new proof of their theory."
- Detective Frank Pembleton from Homicide: Life on the Street slowly loses his once-steadfast faith due to the brutality he sees on the job, making him increasingly angry that God has allowed such a Crapsack World. He eventually renounces his faith entirely, and refuses to even step in a church afterwards.
- Perry Mason: In this Perry Mason reboot, Perry starts out as a world-weary PI and a Shell-Shocked Veteran after serving in the trenches of World War I. When Sister Alice, a charismatic evangelist, tells Perry that God is with him, Perry shoots back with "God left me in France."
- The Walking Dead: The priest, Gabriel, slowly begins to lose his faith the more he experiences the apocalypse. He finally loses it by Season 11 when he said that God isn't with them anymore to a Reaper asking for forgiveness.
- The Dear Hunter: "No God" is a literal example of this.
- Negativland's Don Joyce, sound collage master and culture jammer par excellence, proclaimed in the episode of the group's weekly KPFA radio show Over the Edge immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks that God did not exist, judging by the horrific deeds done in His name. Joyce had probably been 90% convinced of this long before, but this clinched it. He started a new continuing theme for the show, "It's All In Your Head," and another called "Your Brain Is God," inviting listeners to call in and discuss it. "It's All In Your Head" also became a series of live stage showsnote , a 2006 album assembled from these shows, and a 2014 studio album (entirely recompiled, recrafted, and packaged inside an actual Bible). One of Don's recurring sound clips was of someone (perhaps himself) howling "There — is — no — GOD!!!"
- In Christopher Durang's 1979 Black Comedy play Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You Diane Symonds tells the horribly abusive nun, Sister Mary Ignatius, that she was the one to come up with the plan to humiliate her with three other former students. Diane clung to her Catholic faith because she had believed in what Sister Mary had taught them years ago but losing her mother to a long painful battle with breast cancer and being raped the same night. Feeling her faith had long failed her and that God had just let it all happen, Diane had got her fellow students to humiliate Sister Mary and kill her.
- Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night gives us Dominique Baldwin, whose Motive Rant is quoted below:
"Because once again, the demons appeared, and once again God stayed silent... while his servants were slaughtered mercilessly one by one. So I began to wonder: what if there is no God? What if the lord we grovel and pray before is a lie, and our faith draws power from some other nameless, unspeakable thing? If so, I wash my hands of it."
- (Mario) The Music Box -ARC-: While Luciano Evangelisti was still alive, he was the victim of a bad omen where same-sex twins carried a curse. He was forced to live in exile as a baby with the Evangelisti family's maid, and when he had conceived his and his girlfriend's son out of wedlock, they were chased out of the village and Luciano was forced to give up his son. When he eventually reunites with his twin brother, Marchionne, he tells him that he does not believe in God, because he cannot believe that a just God would allow him to live such a miserable life. This proves to be the straw that broke the camel's back, as he is soon condemned by his own brother to burn to death.
- In Shadow Hearts the Big Bad of the game was a former Cardinal in the Catholic Church who became a warlock. Between witnessing first-hand the corruption of the Catholic Church and (as revealed in the sequel Shadow Hearts: Covenant) a pupil of his who turns evil he loses his faith in both Christianity and basic humanity. At that point summoning down God to demo the entire planet with the Apocalypse and start fresh seems like the best play.
- Warframe: The vivacious and extravagant Ticker of the Solaris debt-slave enclave speaks profoundly on manners of personal faith, love, and hope... and reserves her intense and deeply hidden contempt for the Temple of Profit which preaches that the already-indebted people of Solris should give the Temple their money to earn 'blessings from the Void'. The unrestrained disgust in her normally easygoing voice is actually somewhat shocking. As a result of what the Corpus did to her and the man she loved, she rejects the organized religion of the Corpus and instead supports private, personal displays of care, faith, and connection.
"I've never met a priest who could tell you anything about Heaven, but they knew every square inch of Hell. They should. They built it."
- Higurashi: When They Cry uses an extremely dark take on this in the backstory of Miyo Takano, making this trope the root cause of both her megalomania and as a result the Endless June.
- Rika's DLC in Mystic Messenger reveals that this happened to her as a child; after she was adopted by an oppressively diehard Christian family when she was young who constantly told her that she was going to hell, and being repeatedly sexually abused by their church's pastor, she decided that there's no such thing as a benevolent god, which contributed to her burgeoning compulsion to help people she felt had been abused and neglected just like her.
- Cracked loves this trope. Especially in lists of Top X Things That Are Somehow Unpleasant To Even Read About, often with the caption of "Where is your god now?"
- The Creepypasta "Why I Became an Atheist" is about a man recounting how he was involved with a cult called the Followers of the Way and converted to atheism because the cultists killed his dog and carved 666 into his arm for refusing to show his devotion to God by doing so. The bad experience causes him to conclude that there cannot possibly be a God.
- The podcast God Awful Movies reviews bad religious movies, almost always Christian. They've started to joke about how apparently every atheist's mother has cancer since this is used to invoke the trope in so many of these movies.
- The Music Video Show does this in episode 39. "Michael Jackson. Dead. Robin Williams. Dead. Scott Stapp. Still alive. There. Is. No. God!"
- A character or person facing this problem is confronting The Problem of Evil, as discussed on The Other Wiki. Proposing a solution to the problem of evil is called a Theodicy.
- One article in The Onion had a Straw Loser whose very existence was an affront to both the theory of evolution (what evolutionary purpose can this guy possibly serve?!) and the existence of a kind and loving god (if we're made in God's image, well...), with each side parading him around as the ultimate argument against the other.
- SCP-1983-2 are living, heart-stealing Shadows that can only be killed by silver bullets fired accompanied by prayer. Doesn't matter who you're praying to while you shoot, just as long as you mean it. When the Foundation sends a team into their Eldritch Location, they get picked off one at a time, and the last one to die makes it as far as their nest. After seeing how 1983-2 are born, he can't pray anymore. Not pray and mean it.
- This meme: What kind of world lets old ladies turn senile and obsessed with shouting the same annoying phrase at their dog for minutes?
Old Lady: Pug party! Pug party! Pug Party! [...] Such a good boy! You wanna go to the pug-Pug: GOD IS DEADPug: WE KILLED HIM
- Dumbing of Age: By the time the second semester begins, Joyce has lost her faith, as she comes to the conclusion that no god would let her suffer all she did in the first (a near-rape attempt, Becky getting kidnapped by her own father for being a lesbian, Joyce's own mother supporting Becky's father, Joyce herself getting kidnapped by Amber's father in a plot to make Amber drop out of school, and her parents getting divorced). She ends up avoiding telling her childhood friend Becky about her newfound atheism, however, because (if anything) Becky's faith grew stronger as a result of all those traumatic events. Becky finds out when she comes across Joyce mocking Christianity with Sarah's sister Liz, and predictably doesn't take it well, especially since Joyce is acting like a condescending Hollywood Atheist.
- Justin in El Goonish Shive, upon seeing Susan's "kitty face", thinks to himself that there is no God. This is likely taken from the Simpsons example below.
- Penny Arcade: Gabe joins the priesthood in one strip after the "twin blessings" of The Chronicles Of Riddick and Full Spectrum Warrior convinces him of God's love. This lasts until Tycho points out that Microsoft cancelled the anticipated MMORPG True Fantasy Live right on the threshold of completion, and Gabe sadly concludes that there is no God and humanity is nothing but soulless sacks of meat and water doomed to toil in misery.
- Marten in this strip of Questionable Content after Faye drunkenly headbutts him in the crotch and then vomits on him.
- Eek! The Cat: A Christmas Episode features a gift destined for an orphan falling from Santa's sleigh and Eek has an Imagine Spot where said orphan, as a result of not receiving said present, starts doubting there's a savior.
- The infamous Family Guy episode "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven" has Brian using Meg's unattractiveness and her abusive family as evidence of God's nonexistence.
- In The Simpsons episode "Last Exit to Springfield," when the school photographer gets Lisa to smile for her school photo and sees the horrible 19th-century style braces she's wearing (because there's no dental plan at the Power Plant where Homer works) he gasps out "There is no God!"
- South Park:
- The episode "Cartmanland" sees Cartman inheriting a million dollars and buying his own private theme park. Kyle is dumbfounded at the idea that God would reward such a rotten person and ends up getting a hemorrhoid. As things get better for Cartman, Kyle's condition worsens and he renounces his faith. At the point where Kyle is on the verge of death (yes, from a hemorrhoid), Stan brings him to the theme park in time to see Cartman's dream destroyed by his own greed, at which point Kyle makes a miraculous recovery.
- The episode also has Kyle lampshade the story of Job by asking how the God who would punish a decent man just to prove a point to Satan could possibly be considered benevolent. It doesn't help that his parents don't read the last part, where God rewards Job and gives Job more than what he had before he lost everything.note
Kyle: Job has all his children killed, and Michael Bay gets to keep making movies. There isn't a God.
- Implied in TRON: Uprising with the title character. Despite being coded as The Paladin with his belief in Users being central to his character, and a long friendship with Flynn he never once mentions that in the series itself. Considering the Trauma Conga Line he's gone through, and the fact Flynn's tucked his tail between his legs and run off to the Outlands, leaving the Programs at Clu's mercy, it's more than understandable.