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God Guise

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"If they say that I'm a god, that's what I am!"

A God Guise is a character pretending to be a supremely powerful being, or who is somehow mistaken for one. If the deception is intentional, this is almost always done to influence someone's actions. After all, who but a Nay-Theist would dare to refuse a directive from a god?

The God Guise can be carried out in a variety of ways ranging from good use of a Convenient Eclipse, a fancy costume with special effects, to an impressive display of Magic from Technology. Less gullible victims might issue a God Test to challenge the pretender's claim to divinity. Such people should be careful, however, as while the character might not actually be a god, they may possess the raw power to at least do a bit of smiting. Indeed, a Physical God who isn't technically a god but still pretends to be one would still count under this.

A common way to invoke this trope is for the characters to run into a Cargo Cult, whereupon the less technologically advanced society mistakes them for deities. The subsequent plot either requires the lead characters to convince the "primitive" culture that they are not gods, or else have them exploit the error for their own ends. The trope may be used to set up An Aesop about lying/taking advantage of others.

Also see Scam Religion, Ancient Astronauts, Cargo Cult, Engineered Heroics. Humans Are Cthulhu is when primitive civilizations assume technologically-advanced humans as this. A suptrope of Sham Supernatural; see also its sister trope Fake Wizardry.

Contrast with God in Human Form, God for a Day, A God Am I, and Unwanted False Faith.

Not to be confused with Like a God to Me, or with good guys.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • BNA: Brand New Animal has Death Robe/Death Rube/Deese Louve, the guru of the Silver Wolf Cult presented as the reincarnation of the wolf god Ginrou. And who's actually Michiru's friend Nazuna, who became a Kitsune and is using her shapeshifting powers to dupe her followers while being set up by the cult's leader and his corporate backers in order to provoke a mass Nirvasil outbreak when she's outed as a former human.
  • One episode of Den-noh Coil, which has an illegal beard arrive - it's infectious, sentient, and worships the owner of the face it's on as a god. The characters' beards eventually start digi-nuclear warfare with each other using Inter-Facial Ballistic Missiles...
  • Fairy Tail:
    • The Queen of Extalia conned everybody into thinking she is a god, though she eventually confesses to the ruse. Part of the trick was that she could see into the future and predict when people would die, and fooled everyone into thinking she could cause people to die.
    • Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest is all about defeating the Five "God Dragons", five incredibly powerful dragons who supposedly wield might to rival that of the Dragon King Acnologia and are worshipped as gods. One of those dragons, Mercuphobia, reveals to Team Natsu that they're really just five dragons who escaped Acnologia's rampage and sought to become strong enough to someday challenge him, with the humans in awe of their power worshiping them for it. They don't even really associate with each other, and of them only Ignia seems truly intent on still fighting Acnologia (or rather, Natsu, the one who defeated him).
  • In the opening to Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward and Alphonse Elric stumble upon a small town that worship a new religion founded by an out-of-town priest, who seems to flagrantly violate Alchemy's "immutable" laws. In reality, he's using a Philosopher's Stone (the object of the brother's own quest) to provide the necessary energy to perform the alchemy while passing it off as "miracles" in order to con people into his religion. When tricked into an Engineered Public Confession, he tries to kill Ed with it but the stone has a misfire from his overuse of it and breaks apart, leading Ed to believe it was a fake since the real stone is supposed to be indestructible. In reality, it really was a Philosopher's Stone, but the stone had used up its available supply of energy (read souls). The homunculi who provided the priest with the stone pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on him, as all they really needed him for was to stir up the people in the region to start armed unrest for their plans.
  • Elma from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid once tried to bring about peace among humans in the other world going by the title "The Saint of the Sea", using her power over water to ensure bountiful harvests. She was famous enough that Shouta's father recognized her on sight during a meeting.
  • In the Franco-Japanese series The Mysterious Cities of Gold, the lead character Esteban is believed to be a God by various New World tribes, partly ripped from the 16th-century headlines and partly due to his hereditary MacGuffin. He's not too keen on it himself, though.
  • Nausicaa in the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga. But no matter how many prophecies she fulfills, or how many people start dropping on their knees to deify her, she's adamantly opposed to be seen as either this or a Messianic Archetype. She succeeds with the god part, at least.
  • In One Piece, the villainous Enel uses the electrical powers granted to him by the Goro-Goro Fruit to enslave the citizens of the flying island of Skypeia by convincing them (and himself) that he was a God. Note: this makes more sense to native Japanese speakers, as the word "lightning" literally translates to "heaven-energy". In addition, Enel's phrase "ware ga kaminari" has a dual meaning of "I am God"/"I am lightning".
    • Then later on, Bartholomew Kuma teleports resident living skeleton Brooke to an island right in the middle of a Satanic summoning ritual. Given that he is a walking, talking skeleton, they mistook him for the demon they meant to summon and ask him to smite their enemies. Of course, the first thing he does is see a young lady and request to see her panties. And then he starts composing a song while the (male) cultists show him their boxers, apparently desperate to get him to do some smiting.
  • Otaku Elf:
    • Elda is worshiped as a goddess at Takamimi Shrine, but she's really an elf who was summoned from another world to Japan 400 years ago by Tokugawa Ieyasu and has since become an otaku shut-in. The only abilities she actually has are telepathy and being very long-lived. Despite this, she's still very well-regarded in the neighborhood since she gives people a sense of comforting stability due to her ageless, unchanging nature and the fact that she remembers everyone who's ever lived in the area.
    • It's later revealed that two other elves, Yolde and Haira, are also worshiped as goddesses at other shrines after being summoned to Japan centuries ago (by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Maeda Toshiie, respectively). Like Elda, they don't do anything to correct people's assumptions that they're deities, and few people aside from the Miko who serve them are aware of their true nature.
  • In Digimon Ghost Game, Jellymon's Ultimate-level evolution is revealed to be Thetismon, based on the aquatic Greek goddess Thetis. When she first Digivolves to it and uses her Combat Medic ability Doctase to heal injured bystanders, pictures of her on social media begin circulating and purporting her to be a goddess. Being the troll that she is, once the crisis is over she demands the others praise her more and offers to Digivolve again to help Ruli promote her blog.
  • In the second-season Pokémon: The Original Series episode "Meowth Rules!", Team Rocket's Meowth ended up on an island where the natives worshipped a giant golden Meowth. Naturally, he wasted no time taking full advantage of this. When Jesse and James arrive, he has them tossed out. But after the natives discover Meowth doesn't know the Pay Day attack (which creates money out of thin air) and throw him into impossible fights to make him learn it, Jesse and James save him. Awwwww.
  • In Red River (1995), several incidents lead to Yuri being considered an avatar of Ishtar, the war goddess. Though Yuri and Kail are well-aware this isn't the case, they happily take advantage of this perception when it's convenient, to the point that Yuri starts going by the name "Yuri Ishtar".
  • One of the episodes of the first season of Vandread combines this with Cargo Cult. The Nirvana crew descends upon an aquatic planet who mistakes them for their "God" and prepares for sacrifices for them. They don't mind the crew too much when they mentioned that they weren't the Gods, but they do mind when the aforementioned crew was "hurting their true Gods". The Gods that they refer to? The machinelike Harvesters.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Guardian Fairy Michel, the Black Hammers pretend to be messengers of a rain god to one highly-secluded village. Their guise actually takes on some legitimacy, thanks to the fact that they can use fairies to summon dark clouds, lightning, and rain.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 53, Wolffy disguises himself as the kitchen god whose offerings Paddi ate. Paddi, worried the kitchen god will alert the higher power about his misdeed, offers the fake kitchen god some candies to eat but gets captured by the wolf in the process, leading Weslie and Sparky to disguise as the kitchen god themselves and get back at Wolffy.

    Comic Books 
  • A downplayed example in the original Valiant Comics runs of Archer & Armstrong and Eternal Warrior is Mademoiselle Phoebe, a French noblewoman worshipped as a living saint by the Order of Saint Phoebe, a sect of the French Knights Templar. They zealously believe her to be a chaste holy woman, when in fact she is a hedonistic saboteur and an agent of the French King, who hopes to use her to drive a wedge between the Catholic Church and King Richard of England. When she becomes pregnant after being seduced by Armstrong, she maintains her control over her followers by claiming that she as raped by a demon. In the 21st century, Armstrong is still hunted by "The Sect", a band of fanatic killers who believe him to be The Antichrist who descend from the Order of Saint Phoebe (plus Muslims angry that Armstrong leveled a mosque built by Saladin's father-in-law).
  • In Warren Ellis's comic The Authority, the main superhero team actually fight "God," which turns out to be a gigantic pyramid-like entity which created the Earth as a "retirement home" (unfortunately, its home environment looks like Mordor crossed with a Xenomorph hive) and is bugged when it returns to find humanity has since evolved (life on Earth was a total accident caused by a random meteor strike billions of years ago) and intends to keep on living there. They end up frying its brains out, assuring the civilization of sentient intestinal parasites living in it that only the higher brain functions will be affected, letting them survive.
  • One major story arc in The Tomb of Dracula comics started as a result of Count Dracula appearing before a Satanic cult preparing a sacrifice to give to their dark master. Afterwards, Dracula says that he is in fact the Devil, and that the cult should serve him.
  • In Steelgrip Starkey and the All-Purpose Power Tool, Flynn Ryan pretends to be an angry Lion God (complete with lion suit) to frighten General Kingu into revealing his scheme to mine the Moon. The other kind of mine.
  • In the Franco-Belgian comic Thorgal, the last survivor of a group of refugees from Atlantis uses Psychic Powers to pose as a god in the eyes of pre-Columbian cultures.
  • In the Marvel Universe, The Eternals are an immortal race of super-beings (not aliens themselves, but created by aliens) who are worshiped as Gods. The original series was a riff on books like Chariots of the Gods, which started the Ancient Astronauts trend of the early 70s. Later comics show the Ancient Astronauts, the Celestials, are Gods, who keep the universe running.
  • In Ultimate X-Men, the alien Energy Being called the Phoenix Force is worshiped as a God by a Scientology-esque cult. Speaking of Phoenix, in the canon run of the mutant titles Shi'ar renegade Deathbird once came knocking with her own method of drawing power from a divine entity called "Phalkon". It turned out to be Phoenix. The Phoenix Force had manifested in the Shi'ar galaxy long before it ever got involved with anyone from Earth.
  • The backstory of the Micronauts says that before their ancestors settled the Microverse, they made a pit stop on ancient Earth, where some of them were mistaken for the Hindu Gods.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander villainess White Rabbit became the goddess of a primitive tribe in the Savage Land.
  • In 2000 AD, in one of Alan Moore's stories about Abelard Snazz, the sleazy genius is mistaken as a god by the unluckiest planet in the universe. Their luck only gets worse.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is how Twilight tricks some of his followers into fighting for him.
  • Captain America:
    • Nemesis Baron Zemo escaped to the Andes after WWII, where he was regarded by natives as a God.
    • Issue #4 of Age of Heroes shows that when he was frozen and discovered by native people, Captain America was worshipped as a god of cold and sea because coincidentally they started catching more fish. Namor was interpreted as his angel. In modern day some of the older generation still keep faith while the generation after largely rejects him.
  • In Danger Girl: Revolver, Abbey is mistaken for a sun goddess because she has blonde hair.
  • An issue of Excalibur reveals an island nation whose inhabitants saw the "All-New, All-Different" X-Men lineup in their first battle, against Krakoa, the Living Island. They are worshiped as Gods: Nightcrawler, who later became a priest, doesn't seem to mind spending a vacation enjoying this fact. He has to defeat another living island first, though.
  • Back when Green Lantern Kyle Rayner had become the God-like Ion, there came a moment when Superman admonished him for already having his own religion.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: In the comic strip "City of the Damned"note , the Doctor is hailed as "the Great Emoter" by a wasteland tribe dedicated to keeping emotions alive in the face of a fascist regime which has banned them. At the conclusion, they elevate him to near-godhood in their bid to experience all emotions. In the last panel, he chuckles to himself, "Well, I'm sure they'll grow out of it!"
  • Superman:
    • Superman had the bad luck of being mistaken for a god sometimes. Even Batman, a Nay-Theist, once thought to himself that it's easy to think of Clark as a god while watching him lift up buildings to rescue people.
    • In another comic re-telling the first meeting between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, the Amazons briefly mistook Superman for Apollo.
    • One of the several reasons turning the Daxamites, a former offshoot of the main Kryptonian race known for their wanderlust and spacefaring abilities, into a race even more xenophobic than their Kryptonian ancestors. Even the most good-natured of them couldn't deal with the consequences of being seen as gods. The Ur-Example is Bal Gand, female ancestor of the superhero Valor, squad leader of an expedition to Earth. Landed in the Aztec Empire, appalled by the countless human sacrifice she received as a "goddess" and unable to prevent people from worshiping her and her crew, she eventually elected to leave Earth for good with her still unborn son, reasoning she'd prefer having him grow as a commoner in their home planet rather than a fake demigod among his father's race.
  • Done with a Shout-Out to Real Genius in The Incredible Hulk #384, when an inch-tall Hulk secretly perches on The Abomination's shoulder and pretends to be the voice of God to stop a kidnapping.
  • Kamandi had this, with Ben Boxer having to prove that he was "The Mighty One" to a tribe of intelligent apes. Ironically, the legends of "The Mighty One" were a Future Imperfect version of Superman!
  • Lady Shiva has cults across the world who worship her as an incarnation of death itself. She doesn't actively encourage this behavior, but is entirely willing to exploit it when it suits her. It certainly does nothing to dissuade this belief that she is just as likely to kill her worshippers, not because she's unhappy with them, but simply because they were there.
  • In one issue of Paperinik New Adventures, Two hijacks the body of a droid of the Time Police and ends up involuntarily in the Old West, where a tribe of Native Americans start worshiping him.
  • Lampshaded and averted by The Red Wing in issue #2 —Dominic's father, having time-crashed into a Mesoamerican city, is afraid that he'll be mistaken for a god due to his appearance and his technology. Therefore, at the first signs that this is happening, he draws blood from a native priest and then cuts himself to show that he's just as human as they are.
  • Rulah, Jungle Goddess: In her Origin Story Rulah saves a tribe from the local tyrant, a white Jungle Princess much like herself, and is proclaimed its ruler — provided she can prove herself by killing a starving leopard with nothing but a dagger, which she does. The natives hail her as Rulah, Jungle Goddess.
  • In the world-jumping plot arc of Sigil, Space Marine Sam Rey arrives in the middle of a Dark Ages-esque battlefield (from Brath), and uses the power of his Sigil to frighten away the invaders and earn worship from the locals. However, he explains to the local leaders as soon as possible that he's no god, just very, very lost (... and pretty good at helping people). They aren't convinced, mostly because he does help them and even helps take down the opposing army's "god", one of the First.
  • Storm of the X-Men was worshiped as a rain goddess by African tribes. The third issue of her 2014 series reveals that the tribespeople knew all along that she wasn't actually a goddess but "just" a crazy girl with a huge ego and weather manipulation powers. They humored her because they needed the rain.
  • Tintin: In Cigars of the Pharaoh, the Thom(p)sons pretend to be the voice of a statue of Shiva to avoid Snowy being sacrificed.
  • Following the Yargonians' first visit in Tragg and the Sky Gods, Tragg's tribe regard them as gods and for their return.
  • In Watchmen, some of the Viet Cong prisoners who surrender to Dr. Manhattan appear to consider him a god. Given his god-like powers and interest in creating life, this could be a subversion.
    • Some people in America start referring to him as God as well.
    • However, Jonathan himself tells Janey that he is not sure if there is a God, and "if there is, I am not him". Manhattan is powerful but not omnipotent; note  it's stated in The Film of the Book that if the Soviets ever fired their entire nuclear arsenal at the USA, Manhattan would not be able to stop them all. Of course, that's based on his current level of extra-temporal perception and control over his Reality Warper powers, both of which seem to grow over the course of the story with no currently-apparent upper limit.

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied in The Far Side when two jungle explorers come across natives so gigantic only their feet and calves are shown in-panel. One explorer says to the other, "With any luck, they'll revere us as Gods."
  • The Phantom plays with this weirdly; the Phantom's suit is modeled after a certain tribe's death god, and later Phantoms have had run-ins with said tribe.
    • Almost inverted at some point, as the local tribes are friends of the Phantom and know that he's not a god, but that's the reputation he spreads with the civilized world.
    • The series also has several stories where the antagonists set out to impersonate jungle gods for their own gain and the Phantom has to foil them (or, in one case, rescue from their would-be worshipers after it turns out to be more difficult that they expected).

    Fan Works 
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Trust, Celestia warns Trixie of falling prey to this trope. Celestia herself is one, but by her own internal dialogue, apparently unwillingly, trapped by her own web of lies from long ago, but allowing the deception to continue to avert civil war and give the people hope.
  • A similar instance shows up in The Shimmerverse, with Celestia having tried more than once, in the past, to disband the religion centered around her, but it kept... not ending well, so she's since stopped... for now.
  • In Suzumiya Haruhi No Index, when the Magic Side learns of Haruhi, many of them believe she is The One True God and worship her behind her back, though they acknowledge the importance of making sure she does not learn of her powers. Kaori Kanzaki in particular is very pleased that Haruhi looks up to her like a big sister. However, the Roman Catholic Church believes she is a heretic who stole God's power and sees Sasaki as The One True God.
  • When George visits a temple in Ta'akan in With Strings Attached and is struck by how pedestrian and businesslike it seems—and after he finds out that the people associated with the temple have no idea what the word "worship" means—he speculates that the Dalns gods are actually just outworlders who set themselves up as gods. However, he's pretty shook when he actually meets one of the gods, and he doesn't think about this issue thereafter. It must be noted that some of the things that the Fans say about the Dalns gods do bring their divinity into question—notably the fact that they won the planet C'hou in the courtroom way back when, and are now wanting to get rid of it but legally unable to without certain conditions being met. However, it's also pretty clear that whoever they are, they do (or did) have quite a bit of power.
  • In God Slaying Blade Works, because Illya is so powerful, a few characters speculate that she has divine ancestry (she doesn't).
  • In the Gunslinger Girl fanfic Ghosts, Triela does some Accidental Time Travel to World War I and is seen by a soldier whom she draws her pistol on; his only response is to stumble away in disbelief. Later journalists made much of the claim that an angel had been seen on the mountainside—a young maiden with beautiful hair wielding a sword, calling for the liberation of South Tyrol from the Hapsburg oppressor.
  • Inaccurate Legends: The Witch creates an image of God and imitates his voice to try to trick Shirou and Saber into serving her. Shirou is not impressed and points out he follows Shinto, not Christianity. Saber then sees a flaw in the impersonation.
  • This is at least considered in The Search for Victory; as Stargate Command are working with Earth's superheroes against the Ori, some of the SGC's soldiers contemplate having the Human Torch pose as a speaker of the Ori to get their soldiers to stand down, but they never put that plan into action.
  • This happens twice to Rose in the Doctor Who fanfic The Most Important Thing in the Universe; In Pompeii, both Evalina and Metella believe Rose to be Aeternitas, the Roman goddess of eternity - On Messaline, when she uses her powers to save Jenny's life, Cline exclaims that Rose is the "Great One" from Messaline's creation myth.
  • Star Trek: Phoenix: The Dazzlings have taken to pretending to be goddesses in order to trick undeveloped civilizations into caring for and catering to them. This, however, ends up backfiring on them — it turns out that, when a monarch suddenly finds her authority strengthened and legitimized by playing host to divinities, she not going to be too eager to let them go.
  • Under the Northern Lights: Played with when Twilight meets the Skoll in chapter forty-seven. When she calls for a parlay, they start bowing down and worshipping her and she thinks that they must have mistaken her for Luna. She quickly corrects them, but they explain that they were perfectly aware that she isn't their goddess — she isn't an alicorn, she's too small, and Luna wouldn't need to travel with escorts. They had however identified her as an agent and emissary of Luna, which she is, and were worshipping her based on that.
    "Oh," said Twilight, to her shame slightly disappointed. "But what was that about just now then?"
    "You are her prophetess, aren't you?" said the old Skoll anxiously. The other canines seemed to wait.
    "Well..." said Twilight, "...I'm just her hoofmaiden."
    "Close enough!" said the Skoll happily.
  • The Dragon and the Butterfly:
    • Tuffnut and Ruffnut end up mistaking Camilo as Loki, the Norse God of Mischief, and offers to be his servants. While he goes along with it since this means stealing him snacks, it eventually escalates into pranks that could kill someone.
    • When Mirabel starts passing around her mother's food to Berkians after her first raid, they start praying to Julieta as a Good Health Goddess.
  • Much like her Agents of Atlas counterpart, Anthea in Sixes and Sevens was a siren who thought herself beautiful enough to surpass the goddess of beauty, so pretended to be Venus while on Fidonisi. For that, she was cursed to guard the island and it's temple - and she knows she got off easy.
  • Boldores and Boomsticks:
    • When Ruby Rose rescues a little boy and his Rattata from the Grimm, the kid thinks she is an angel.
    • Tyrian Callows thinks Salem is a goddess.
  • In Song of a Northern Sorcerer, Alim Nox accidentally gets declared a god or an avatar for three different religions — the Ironborns fear him as the Storm God because he can summon lightning and gleefully slaughtered them when they attempted to rebel against the Iron Throne, more than a few worshippers of the Seven consider him the Stranger incarnate because he dresses in black hooded robes and tends to bring death everywhere he goes, and the Red Temple thinks he's the best candidate to be Azor Ahai reborn courtesy of his red lightsaber. Nox himself feels rather indifferent or confused by the religious reactions.

    Films — Animation 
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West: Tiger is worshipped as God by a tribe of Native American mice because he bears a striking resemblance to a rock formation.
  • Ice Age: The Meltdown has a similar situation with Sid and a race of mini-sloths. Subverted in that the mini-sloths are the only ones who know the scientific reason for the impending ecological disaster. Ironically played straight, in that their solution is to sacrifice their fire-king, Sid, to a volcano.
  • The Road to El Dorado: Con artists-cum-explorers Tulio and Miguel allow the residents of the titular city of gold to believe they are incarnations of the gods that built the city. (This is based on myths about Aztecs' first contact with the Europeans; in reality, they probably weren't fooled for a second.)
    • Throughout the film, several characters begin to doubt their claims, but let it continue, as the two Spaniards are pretty harmless. Then Tzekel Kan, the high priest, sees Miguel bleed after a heated ball game. Gods aren't supposed to bleed, right?
    • Chief Tannabok is hinted to have known that it was all a ruse, but went along with it because the more benevolent "gods" cared more about the citizens of the city than their traditions, which required ritualistic sacrifices (something the resident priest was all too happy about). A little silliness was a small price to pay when the strangers brightened the lives of all your citizens.
    • When Tzekel Kan encounters Cortez and his forces, he immediately bows to the conquistador, since the imposing armored man fits the image of destructive godliness the priest idolizes. Cortez plays along after noticing the Tzekel Kan's gold jewelry, realizing that he can lead him to more gold.
  • In The Chipmunk Adventure, Theodore is mistaken for a god by jungle natives, and he forces his brothers to be his slaves. Until all three are almost made a Chipmunk Sacrifice.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Real Genius, Chris Knight and his friends implant a radio transceiver in Kent's braces, whereupon Mitch pretends to be Jesus to learn what Hathaway plans to do with the laser.
    Mitch: And from now on, stop playing with yourself.
    Kent: It is God!
  • In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Robot Buddy C-3P0 was mistaken for a god by the Ewoks (with a little extra help from Luke's Jedi powers), because he was really shiny. This kind of thing is apparently common enough that his programming specific forbids impersonating a deity. Also, the Expanded Universe has General Grievous being worshiped as a god by his own people.
  • The Man Who Would be King: Two ex-British soldiers take over an isolated, mountainous country when one of them is mistaken for a god descended from Alexander the Great. It's based on the 1888 short story by Rudyard Kipling, which is in turn based on accounts of the real-life Kefir tribe of Afghanistan, who consider themselves long-lost descendants of Alexander the Great. The proof of divinity comes in two forms: Daniel survives an arrow to the chest because it happens to hit his bandolier, and later, when the natives go "pitchfork" and intend to execute him, they see the Masonic pendant he wears exactly matches the carved Masonic symbol Alexander left behind, which only the oldest priest knows about.
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. A powerful alien trapped on a planet pretends to be God to trick the protagonists into carrying it to freedom aboard the Enterprise.
    Kirk: "What does God need with a starship?"
    • In The Q Continuum trilogy, it's revealed that The One (as he is called) really does believe He's God (and yes, He insists on capital "H"). This is despite the fact that the Q Continuum pretty much wiped the galaxy with Him and trapped His head at its center.
  • The Phantom (1943): One of the villain's tricks for gaining control of the natives is to hire a showgirl to impersonate the legendary Fire Princess who is said to have once led one of the tribes to greatness.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow, at the start of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, has been captured by the Pelegostos tribe, who believe him to be a God trapped in human form. They intend to free him (by killing him) and then to consecrate themselves by eating the flesh of his mortal vessel.
  • Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves: Gordon, at three-quarters of an inch tall, rigs up the stereo to become a loudspeaker and chews out the Hormone Addled Teenagers hitting on his daughter, telling them "This is the voice of... GOD.", scaring them out of the house.
  • Mad Max franchise:
    • In Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Max happens upon a tribe of youngsters (the two "tribal elders" are almost certainly in their late teens), where they believe him to be a messiah-like man named Captain Walker. To hear them tell it, Captain Walker was in charge of a "sky raft" (commercial jet plane) that got brought down by a "gang called Turbulence" after the "pocky-klips" (apocalypse). Walker and some of the others who weren't "jumped by Mr. Dead" formed a rescue party and set out for parts unknown, with him promising that he would return one day to lead the others to "Tomorrow-Morrow Land" (ironically, the world as it used to be). At the end of the story, a painting of Captain Walker is revealed by the story-teller, and Max looks just like him. Though they don't have a "pitchfork party", the tribe is quite disillusioned when they learn that Max isn't Walker.
      • The painting of Walker isn't quite so prophetic as it sounds: the kids probably painted it while Max was unconscious. (Otherwise, how would they have known about the monkey?)
    • An Invoked Trope with Immortan Joe, the Big Bad of Mad Max: Fury Road. Given the toxic environment After the End, Joe motivates his followers by promising them eternal life in Valhalla, having supposedly come Back from the Dead himself.
  • The 1989 John Milius film Farewell To The King fits this trope to a T. Nick Nolte, playing a marooned US soldier evading the Japanese, is captured by natives on the island of Borneo. He is saved by tattoos he had gotten in a drunken stupor in the Philippines, which the natives consider to be marks of a God.
  • Subverted in Fitzcarraldo. In order to get the manpower to haul a 320-ton ship up a mountain in the Amazon rainforest, Fitzcarraldo and his crew try convincing a bunch of natives who conveniently have a legend about a divine power with a white vessel that Fitzcarraldo is a God. The natives inform them that they weren't born yesterday, but decide to help out anyway in exchange for ice.
  • The backstory of the original The Wicker Man (1973) describes how the first Lord Summerisle introduced new crops and farming methods, as well as his Pagan faith. When the crops were incredibly successful, he had no difficulty convincing the locals that there was a connection between their survival and the appeasement of Celtic deities.
  • Thor tends in this direction. While the Asgardians in the original comics are Physical Gods, in the movie they avoid that designation — one talks about humans "worshiping us as gods", but doesn't claim to actually be one. (A human character specifically invokes Sufficiently Advanced Technology.)
    • Even given a lampshade in The Avengers when Black Widow describes the Asgardians as "basically gods" and Captain America blows it off saying there's only one God, and He probably doesn't dress like that.
    • Also mocked in The Avengers: when Loki gets all A God Am I, Hulk is quick to point out that if he is a god, he's a puny one.
    • Loki later makes a claim that he was only trying to rule the Earth like a god should when Odin bellows that the Asgardians are not gods.
    • In the pilot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson tries to dispute Thor being characterized as a god. Maria Hill immediately rebuffs him, stating "You haven't been near his arms."
    • Thor: Ragnarok goes back to the comic book roots by having both Thor and Hela refer to themselves as gods/goddesses, as well as being referred to as such by others. While Thor certainly isn't the kind of deity to insist on people worshiping him, Hela definitely is.
  • Ghostbusters (1984): Ray gets chewed out for not trying to pull this on Gozer:
    Winston: Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say yes!
Of course this is played with at the showdown in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
  • In a sort of Fake-Out Opening for the theatrical trailer of the 1997 comedy Bean, it is shown that Mr. Bean is worshiped as a god on a remote Pacific Island. No explanation is given, but perhaps it is because Bean is totally bizarre (by the standards of any culture) and thus frightening to the natives.
  • Tagalong Reporter Donald O'Shea is mistaken for the moon god when the crew of the balloon in Five Weeks in a Balloon lands in the city of Hazek. They do nothing to dispel this mistake.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:
    • Several citizens are shown worshiping Superman after his rescues, which he is obviously uncomfortable with. Some naysayers instead call him a "False God" or "Antichrist". Bruce Wayne has a vision of a Bad Future in which Superman has turned evil, and is worshiped by his own Faceless Goons.
    • Lex Luthor seems to genuinely think Superman is God... and absolutely hates him for not answering his prayers to save him from his abusive father as a child. Thus, Luthor has dedicated his life to Kill the God.
  • Averted in the short film Chrono Perambulator. Charles Dance plays a professor who goes back in time to the Neolithic age with a Mad Scientist's eponymous invention. He's rather skeptical until a tribe of hairy savages come out of the fog. The scientist tells him not to be alarmed as "We are like gods to them!" Unfortunately a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurred and they all get clubbed to death.
  • In The Ghoul, Hartley places his arm through a fake sleeve to briefly pose as the god Anubis and take possession of the jewel.
  • In Cry Blood, Apache, the Deacon goes mad while roaming the desert looking for Billy's body. When Vittorio lassos him, the Deacon thinks that Vittorio is God arrived to save him and addresses him as such.
  • In Revenge of the Virgins, Yellow Gold was abducted by the tribe as a child. Because her hair is golden blonde, she was regarded as a goddess and grew up to become chief of the tribe.
  • The Old Guard: When Nile tries to still believe in God after discovering her immortality, Andy tells her that she was once worshiped as a god, and therefore doesn't believe there's any real ones.
  • In Passion in the Desert, the Bedouins near the canyons think Augustin and the leopard Simoom are jinns. They bring gifts of milk and goats so the jinns will bring them luck.
  • In Liane, Jungle Goddess, an expedition discovers blonde 16 year-old Liane being venerated by a native tribe in the African jungle.
  • Live and Let Die. Dr. Kananga uses voodoo to help rule the nation of San Monique (an expy of Haiti) and one of his henchmen is Baron Samedi himself. He's shown rising vertically from his grave during a voodoo ceremony, but that's because there's a mechanism lifting him up from Kananga's underground base below. Then Bond shoots Samedi only for him to shatter into pieces as it's only a dummy, whereupon the real Samedi lifts up from another grave. Bond throws him into a coffin full of venomous snakes, but Samedi is shown at the end of the movie giving an Evil Laugh, implying he might be Real After All.


By Author:

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "Homo Sol": This story features a galaxy-spanning civilization comprising all humanoid alien species, which learns of Earth humans, but First Contact is complicated by the fact that humans are the only species susceptible to demagoguery, and also have a knack for rigging any technology into a weapon. They cannot be left alone, either, because Humans Advance Swiftly. The solution? The aliens send emissaries looking like the gods of Classical Mythology, reasoning that the words of Zeus and Demeter will convince Homo Sol accept the other aliens as equals. The sequels show that this actually works perfectly.
      "If a hundred Zeuses and a hundred Demeters were to land on Earth as part of a 'trade mission,' and turned out to be trained psychologists — Now do you see?"
    • "The Hazing": While abandoned on Spica's fourth planet, the Earthmen convince a native tribe that they're gods, and that the Humanoid Aliens who abandoned them on the planet are devils who need to be ritually slain. Actually, Williams was just kidding about the last part; the tribe should let them take the imprisoned "devils" back into the spaceship. Unfortunately, the Earthmen have been around the natives for too long, and they need to prove their divine power or all of the college students are going to die.
  • Roger Zelazny:
    • Given that the royal family from The Chronicles of Amber can walk across The Multiverse as one of their powers, is it really surprising that they've chosen to go to worlds where they just happen to resemble the local gods? (This includes both for reasons of in a little private A God Am I time and to recruit huge, fanatically loyal armies in an attempt to claim the throne.) The Multiverse in question is "Shadow," the vast number of worlds radiating away from Amber, the True City. The Amberites' ability to walk between worlds is half-blurred into creating these worlds to order. Which is to say, the natives may have a point in this case. The Amberites themselves don't really know, either.
    • Lord of Light features a whole pantheon of mutated humans who use their powers (and hoarded advanced technology) to pass themselves off as the Hindu gods.

By Work:

  • 616 at first appears to be setting up that God Is Evil, only to reveal that God is actually Satan, who won the War in Heaven and is letting us believe otherwise.
  • The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman: An A.I. pretends to be Jesus.
  • Age of Fire: Of a sort. In Dragon Champion, Auron frightens away a group of elven bandits by covering himself in the viscera of their victims and pretending to be a demon named Revengerog sent to avenge those that they killed.
  • Area 51: More than once the Airlia pretended to be gods, and were worshiped as such. Due to being immortal (although not invincible) and having incredible powers as a result of their technology (even to modern humans) this was easy. Even while not impersonating deities, they pretend to be similar figures like Shi Huangdi, China's semi-divine first Emperor.
  • The short story "Assumption" (scroll down) by Desmond Warzel features a literal Cargo Cult (in that they worship an actual piece of cargo), but eventually becomes more like this trope — a person becomes an object of religious awe because of her advanced technology (she descends from the sky).
  • Older Than Feudalism in The Bible:
    • Barnabas and Paul are briefly worshiped as Jupiter and Mercury by the people of the city of Lystra after some miracles they performed. They obviously did not approve, but dispelling the idea gets them angrily chased away.
    • Angels would on occasion receive this treatment when they appeared to man. They would always be quick to point out that they are just messengers and that the worship should be directed elsewhere.
  • The Book of All Hours- the Unkin are humans that experienced a unique event in their life that allowed them to touch the Vellum underneath reality. In the multiverse inscribed on the surface of the Vellum, these meta-humans have long since taken up different roles, presenting themselves to mortal humans in different ways in pursuit of power, such as the Sovereigns and Metatron's Covenant.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: In the final book, The Last Battle, Puzzle the donkey agrees to wear the skin of a lion while his so-called friend Shift tells everyone that Puzzle is Aslan (aka the Narnian version of God). Shift's intentions are collaborating with the evil empire of Calormen, but Puzzle himself is mostly just impressionable, has trouble thinking fast, and is bad at saying no. It was quite an idiotic move, agreeing to impersonate Aslan and enabling the betrayal of the country of Narnia, but the only character who really calls Puzzle out on this is Eustace.
  • In Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, a late 19th-century American is sent back in time to the Dark Ages and becomes an important member of King Arthur's court, using his advanced scientific and political knowledge to greatly improve the quality of life of the kingdom, while also discrediting Merlin (revealed to be a fraud) with his own advanced technology and intelligence that makes him look like a true Sorcerer. In the end, he's kicked out of the kingdom and he and a small number of his allies make a defensive position with 13 Gatling guns, dynamite, and electrical wiring that allows them to defeat 30,000 of England's soldiers.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope in Cthulhu Mythos stories with the cults that spring up around the extradimensional aliens known as the Great Old Ones. Either they're so far beyond human concerns that they don't even notice when people try to worship them or they actively encourage it for their own ends (seems to generally be the case with Nyarlathotep). Or sometimes they really are gods (as Yog Sothoth and Azathoth seem to be, being living embodiments of universal principles. Maybe).
  • Discworld: Averted twice in The Science of Discworld II, where the Lecturer In Recent Runes proposes that the wizards proclaim they're the creators of Roundworld so its natives will cooperate. A double aversion, as the wizards really did create Roundworld (though they're not Gods), and Genre Savvy Ponder Stibbons shoots down the idea, saying that mortals who claim to be gods are likely to come to the same bad ends on Earth as they would on Discworld.
  • Played with in the Doctor Who novel Shining Darkness, where the natives of one planet VERY eagerly collect and cast off religions like they were baseball cards.
  • The Dresden Files has the Lords of Outer Night, the heads of the Red Court who posed as the Mayan pantheon — the Red King is implied to have done a stint at Kukulcan. Played with in that there's a point where the Lords of Outer Night show fear in the face of a divine assault, and Harry wonders if they just picked up the mask when the actual deities got out of town and they're afraid they're being called on the carpet.
  • Dune:
    • Mildly subverted with the Bene Gesserit's Missionaria Protectiva, wherein false legends were implanted in various cultures all over the galaxy by a cult specifically so that its members could fulfill them to take advantage of the natives in an emergencies. Then massively subverted when Arrakis' version of the Missionaria Protectiva turns out to be right.
    • In a Galaxy of humans using enhanced perception to guide their future, the Fremen — whose name, almost certainly, was chosen originally to denote their status as Free Men — were Zensunni (Islamic-Buddhist) settlers who were driven out and "denied the Hajj" in religious warfare. When they hid in plain sight on Arrakis, the combination of their culture, their ecology, and their stumbling on the Bene Gesserit methods of foresight and accessing the lives and knowledge of previous generations of women (and men, in certain cases) allowed them to not only ride out the Missionaria Protectiva, it allowed them to gleefully await the entire Galaxy painting itself into a corner!
  • In David Weber's Heirs of Empire, the third Empire from the Ashes book, the Lost Colony natives of Pardal decide that the stranded off-world protagonists are angels, which does not sit well with the repressive theocracy governing the planet; the end result is a full-scale religious war. Harriet and Sandy insist that they not be called angels, but the locals only humor them to their faces, and aside from the insistent terminology the crew largely goes along with it anyway.
  • The main premise of Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte is that the titular Ordinary High School Students Endo and Kobayashi plays a video game and the inner fourth-wall disappeared without warning. Game character Siegwald assumes that the voices communicating with him are the gods of his land, and Endo and Kobayashi are happy to roll with it to get him to listen to them.
  • Five Weeks in a Balloon has the protagonists dock their balloon near an African village; the natives think that the Moon has come down to them, and that the heroes are "sons of the Moon". The protagonists enjoy it for a while, but the jig is up once the real Moon rises in the sky.
  • In Andre Norton's Forerunner Foray, Turan and Vintha, actually reanimated by the minds of future espers, claim to be not gods but directly and miraculously sent back from death by the god Vut. As they are actually searching for an alien artifact, there are some weak spots in their story. Turan's widow Zuha, who hated him, claims it's all necromancy.
  • In Fox Tails a rogue AI creates robotic duplicates of the four goddesses in their 'verse's religion. They are Nigh-Invulnerable, breathe aerosolized opiates, and when hacked into and released from his control turn out to believe they are the real thing.
  • Played for laughs in the neo-noir Get Blank, when the hero impersonates the Devil for a room full of Satanists. The problem is that they're two different sects with wildly divergent ideas of what the Devil really is. It does not go well.
  • James P. Hogan's Giants Series includes as one of its premises that all Earth's religions are different God Guises deliberately started by a different, extraterrestrial branch of humanity in order to retard Earth's cultural and scientific development.
  • This is how the angels in His Dark Materials created the Abrahamic religions. The first of them all convinced the ones that were born after that he was the supreme creator and being, and so he came to rule them. Later, when the rebel angels gave sentience to mankind and other races, all he had to do was to send his agents and see the awestruck people convert to his cause.
    • The witches in Lyra's world worship deities based on real life Finnish mythology, but no indication about their nature is present. One of said witches does, however, kill the false gods that a human tribe worshiped - tigers.
  • In The House of Night series, Kalona and Neferet's Evil Plan is to convince the vampyre high council that they are the incarnations of Erebus and Nyx, respectively.
  • How Not to Summon a Demon Lord: Lumachina Weselia is being attacked, so she prays to God to save her. By coincidence, Diablo shows up and makes quick work of her attackers. She believes that Diablo is God and answered her prayers. He is appalled (he's an egotistical demon lord, but he never claimed to be a deity) and attempts to correct her, but nothing can convince her that he isn't God.
  • I'm the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire!: In the Web Serial Novel version of the story, a primitive world Liam impresses by being a One-Man Army after having been summoned there by a ritual, ends up deciding to start a new religion. Not based on him, but based on his Robot Maid Amagi, because such a powerful man as Liam was so deferential to her. And thus, the official priestly garb of the new religion is a maid outfit.
  • InCryptid: The Aeslin mice have an Animal Religion based around the worship of the human Price family, using their Photographic Memory to remember everything that's ever happened to them (that at least one mouse was around to witness) and calling on the gods and priestesses to protect them from predators and other humans. The Prices appear to be a generic secular American family who accept the Aeslin religion even if they don't personally believe it.
  • In In Desert And Wilderness, the people of the Dark Lake start worshipping Nel (It's a Long Story) - Staś exploits this to get safe passage and supplies.
  • Christopher Moore's Island of the Sequined Love Nun uses the WWII setup of Cargo Cults. An American doctor and his beautiful but sick, greedy wife use the beliefs of the natives (who worship the pilot Vincent and his plane the Sky Priestess) in order to harvest their organs. The main character is being used by Vincent to settle a bet Vincent made with Jesus, Buddha, and Moses.
  • In John Carter of Mars, there are several levels of this. The Therns (White Martians) present themselves as gods to the other Martian races, in spite of actually being only technologically advanced and strategically-placed mortals (though, judging from the Thern princess Phaidor, at least some of them buy into their own hype). The Therns in turn worship the goddess Issus, who is actually only a very manipulative, very evil old woman. Whether she simply deified herself or impersonated a pre-existing god isn't elaborated on, as she's been in the role for time-out-of-mind.
  • In Aleksandr Zarevin's Lonely Gods of the Universe, the Ollan refugees pretend to be gods to the ancient Atlanteans. For reference, the security guard sent with them is called Mars Ares. They also call the hill when they have their palace Oll-ympus after their homeworld.
    • Also, their home country on their planet is called Atl. They decide to call their new home "Atl-antis" in her honor.
  • The title of John Rowe Townsend's King Creature, Come is a prayer and mantra repeated by Earth's human population, who are ruled by a race of humanoid aliens that call Earth humans 'Creatures'. They pray to the King Creature and pin their hopes on a prophecy that he will one day come to rescue his people from the aliens. One of the aliens, who is really half human, happens to look like the descriptions of the King Creature and makes use of this to lead an uprising of Creatures to overthrow the aliens, effectively fulfilling the prophecy.
  • One Marra in The Madness Season poses as a god on a primitive colony planet. When he is finally "defeated", he even does a convincing impersonation of the Burning Bush.
  • In "The Man Who Would be King", by Rudyard Kipling, the basis of the movie described above, the two British ex-soldiers/con artists don't quite claim to be gods to the Afghan tribe they attempt to scam, but they push close to the idea.
  • Men In Black The Grazer Conspiracy: A variant. The Numen, a race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, were so powerful that they were worshipped across the galaxy as gods. Jay, Elle and a small MiB containment team, along with a group of formerly brainwashed humans, figure out how to operate a Numen ship that they've found and, after flying it into space, pose as Numen themselves in order to scare away the fleets of alien ships coming to destroy Earth.
  • The Strugatsky Brothers' Noon Universe novel Hard to Be a God is all about this. Explorers from Earth find a world of Human Aliens stuck in the Middle Ages. During a climactic battle, the explorers bring their ship with the running lights on right above the battlefield, resulting in everyone dropping to their knees.
  • One Nation, Under Jupiter: The oracle at the Temple of Apollo claims to be Apollo speaking through her. Diagoras doesn't buy it.
  • In Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, Hunahpu Matamoro is a native Mayan (in fact, he's named after a heroic figure in Mayan Mythology). He is chosen to be one of the three people to be sent into the past to the conquest of either the Americas by Europe or of Europe by the Native Americans. His task is to found a new empire with different values from the bloodthirsty Aztecs and Tlaxcalans (mainly, those that combine Mesoamerican culture with a more temperate version of Christianity). In order to do this, he appears to a bunch of Zapotec villagers as a king (named One Hunahpu after his mythical figure namesake) who has come from Xibalba, the Mesoamerican underworld where the gods live, as an emissary from the gods. After proving his divinity through the use of technology he brought with him (a flashlight and some medicine), they accept his claim and start to follow him. Also, thanks to the technology that allows future people to view any event in the past as a video stream/recording, he knows everything about each villager. It also helps that Hunahpu is a full head taller than an average Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican.
    • One of the first things Hunahpu does is, essentially, call the bloodthirsty and powerful (in the minds of the villagers) Aztec god Huitzilopochtli his bitch.
  • Phoenix Force. In "Night of the Thuggee", the KGB tries to revive the Thuggee Cult in modern India for nefarious purposes. This involves a robot Kali idol that melts 'unbelievers' with a laser beam. Which is pretty miraculous in its own right, actually.
  • The H. Beam Piper short story, The Return, subverts this trope somewhat, with a group that worships Sherlock Holmes. When a group of people who have preserved pre-war tech begin attempting to bring the country back together, the cultists are the most technologically advanced of the mini societies that formed when the war destroyed the government, having progressed all the way back to using flintlocks and crop rotation. This is partially owing to their deity: skepticism, logic, and deductive abilities are cardinal virtues in their society. While they have the standard response to the people with high tech (ie confuse them for their God (and Watson)) reincarnated, it is tempered with enough skepticism and an assumption that if the two scientists are really their gods, the evidence will eventually present itself.
  • The Riddle Master Trilogy: Ghistelwchlohm spent centuries posing at the High One... while, mind, the real High One was hiding in plain sight as the "High One"'s harpist.
  • Ringworld:
    • In the first book, the main characters deliberately use their advanced technology to make the primitive inhabitants think they're deities — a technique they call "the God Gambit". Unfortunately it backfires because Louis can't keep a straight face.
    • Played straight with considerably more success in the sequel novel The Ringworld Engineers. This time, they wisely keep the "god" off camera—Chmeee, the ferocious carnivorous eight-foot-tall Kzin, presents himself as the god's servant, reacting with obvious awe and fear to The Voice from their transport ship. Almost falls through when the leader of the giants claims that Rishathra is a requirement for any agreement (even an agreement with a god). Since Chmeee is a Cat Person alien with no external genitalia, he can't have sex with a hominid. So Louis comes up with an alternative. He "creates" a mute human servant for himself calling him Wu (of course, it's just Louis himself staying mute so as to not give away his voice), who ends up having Rishathra with one of the leader's wives to seal the deal.
  • The Safehold series has the Church Of God Awaiting, in which a bunch of megalomaniacs set themselves up as "archangels" through brainwashing and sufficiently advanced technology.
  • In the Enid Blyton adventure story The Secret Mountain, published 1941, this is how the main characters escape from the titular mountain. They find out that there's to be a solar eclipse the next day, so at the appropriate moment their father throws his hunting knife off the mountain. The lights go out and the tribe think he's killed the sun, at which point the "big white bird" turns up to carry the heroes to safety before the tribe realize they've been had.
  • Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not: In "The Angel of Truth", Dr. John Dee is seeking divine assistance in unraveling a plot against Queen Elizabeth I. He attempts to summon and bind the Angel of Truth. Who he in fact summons is Sherlock Holmes, who tartly observes that what Dee requires is not the Angel of Truth, but rather the Angel of Deduction. Throughout the adventure, Dee remains convinced that Holmes is an angel.
  • In the novel Sixth Column by Robert A. Heinlein, scientists pretend to be priests of a god called Mota ("atom" reversed) and some others to conceal their new super-science and overthrow an invasion of America. Actually this trope becomes a problem, as it's mentioned that that the Big Bad in charge of the occupying forces is ''not' going to accept the idea of 'miracles' and will become suspicious.
  • Played with in Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination, where the Scientific People have rituals built around the scientific paraphernalia of the ship, but don't worship or deify the main character at any point. Although in the end they consider him a holy man...and they might be right (in a sense).
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The Yuuzhan Vong mistook Jaina Solo for Yun-Harla, their Goddess of Deception. This gave the New Republic an advantage, as the Yuuzhan Vong were incredibly frightened and demoralized at the thought that one of their deities had turned against them. The Jedi Ganner Rhysode sacrificed himself in an incredibly epic You Shall Not Pass! moment. The Yuuzhan Vong were so impressed by his bravery and strength that they added him to their pantheon as The Ganner, the warrior who guards the gate to the underworld. Onimi, the true leader of the Yuuzhan Vong, reveals that he thinks every Jedi is an avatar of a god, and that if he can kill them all, he can become one himself.
    • This is also how the Sith Order got its start. After being defeated by the Jedi Order in the war known as the Hundred-Year Darkness, a group of Dark Jedi were exiled from Republic space in the hopes that they would learn the error of their ways and return to the Jedi Order. Instead, they landed on the planet Korriban, and encountered the native Sith species. Seeing that the Sith were very technologically undeveloped, some of the Dark Jedi got the great idea to pose as the gods of the Sith through use of their Force powers and technology. This is also where the term "Dark Lord of the Sith" comes from, as the title refers to the reigning God-Emperor of the Sith people.
  • In David Gemmell's Stones of Power series, an unscrupulous person can use the Sipstrassi Stones to gain effective immortality and a variety of other powers and set themselves up as a god; this is generally not a good thing. The Big Bad of The Last Sword of Power is one example.
  • In Swarm on the Somme, a group of Satanists in France become convinced that the Grex are The Legions of Hell come to bring about the end times, and declare loyalty to them. The Grex make use of them by turning them into hybrids and having them conduct sabotage behind the front lines.
  • In the fourth book of Tales of the Magic Land, Urfin Jus uses a lighter to convince a savage tribe he's the god of fire, and uses them to launch a conquest. Unfortunately for him, while lighters are unknown in the Magic Land (his came from an outsider), matches are sold in every shop, so after a short while, the army starts to smell something fishy...
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: The God Luminous of the Western Saints Church worshipped throughout the western human nations is actually the True Demon Lord Luminous Valentine, who founded the Church with the intent of creating a stable, safe, and happy populace of humans whom the vampire race could feed off of from the shadows without fear of their food supply getting wiped out by some monster rampage. While she came up with the basic idea, it was her vampire subordinates and human co-conspirators that ironed out the various specifics and structure the Church would use as doctrine. This knowledge is only known to the highest members of the Church and the Holy Empire of Ruberios, Luminous's fellow True Demon Lords, and later still to the highest authorities of Tempest and Church paladins, who have all agreed to keep this a secret for their own reasons, mainly that Luminous is benevolent (if selfishly so). Part of the reason the ruse worked for so long, in addition to the supposed god's incredible power and the actions of said god's servants both openly and covert, is due to the fact invoking Luminous' name is a potent source of Holy Magic that itself is incredibly effective against monsters, which many (humans and monsters) do not realize is because monsters are naturally more vulnerable to Holy Magic's effects due to being Made of Magic and that you only "need" faith in a powerful being to cast it while said source doesn't necessarily need to be divine.
  • Time Machine Series: Search for the Nile: The protagonist, after ending up in a hut in an African village, accidentally ends up wearing a panther skin. The fearful tribesmen take him for a panther-bodied supernatural being. However, as soon as the hero is alone with the tribe's shaman, he takes off his disguise. The shaman has a good laugh, and admits he was fooled for a second. Then he sends the hero on his way, promising not to blow his cover in front of the tribe.
  • In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol stories, all the time. Babylonian recruits are told the Time Patrol is about a war of the gods. Two agents go to Dark Ages England and leave their hosts with the claim to be gods (checking on Sacred Hospitality, no doubt). Two agents appear as angels and tell a king not to try to kill his grandson.
  • In the first story of The Traveller in Black, an ordinary civil engineer from our own Earth is abruptly deposited near the fantasy-world city of Ryovora. The citizenry immediately declare him to be the god they've been hoping might be revealed to them ... not because there's anything obviously god-like about him, but simply because his clothes and statements seem odd to them and he's been advised that disabusing them of this notion would be asking for trouble. That, and Closest Thing We Got.
  • In Wax and Wayne, Ironeyes is the god of death, who has metal spikes hammered into his eyes, chest, arms, etc. When Wayne needs to interrogate a suspect who knows where to find a similar, stolen spike, he breaks into his house disguised as Ironeyes. "Ironeyes" demands that the suspect return his missing spike, showing one arm with a metal spike, and another with a gaping, bloody hole. Wayne is a method actor with a Healing Factor; he suspended nail heads in front of his face with wires since not even he can live with a spike through the brain, but he did stab himself in both arms. Ironeyes himself isn't technically a god, just an immortal, powerful Allomancer and the last Inquisitor of the Steel Ministry, which worshiped the Lord Ruler. He ended up worshiped/regarded as a god due to several complicated reasons, and never managed to disavow his followers.
  • Since a number of the Wild Cards forms and/or powers resemble figures or symbols from various religions, not surprisingly a number of them have been given (or have deliberately cultivated) religious roles. Nur Al'Allah was the most blatant example. Not compared to the Living Gods of Egypt, a group of Aces and Jokers (many of whom have animalistic mutations) who claim to be the reincarnation of the Egyptian pantheon. As you might imagine, this leads to... issues when the Nur Al'Allah's Caliphate starts to make headway into Egypt.
  • Winds of Fury has the spirit-sword Need appearing as an old woman on the Moonpaths, a spiritual realm associated with the Star-Eyed Goddess. Without giving her a name, the Goddess's two Avatars introduce her to the troubled An'desha, who takes to her immediately. During the climax of the book Need spurs him into allowing her to save him by demanding "Do you trust your Goddess?", at which point An'desha has the 'revelation' that she's the Star-Eyed in Her aspect as Crone and takes that help gladly, only to, while safe, wail that she tricked him. Need never actually claimed to be the Goddess, but she was a priestess of an older incarnation of Her and has multiple associations.
  • One of the most famous examples appears in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its adaptations, when "the Wizard" is revealed to be nothing but a fast-talking circus magician.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Angel episode "Over the Rainbow", Cordelia is made a goddess by the people of Pylea, as the result of her visions. Unfortunately, the power behind the throne is a Religion of Evil; when she tries to assert her authority, it's quickly demonstrated to Cordelia that she's actually a Puppet King.
  • The A-Team. In "The Crystal Skull", Murdock parachutes onto a South Pacific island between two warring tribes while holding a Crystal Skull. One tribe is frightened off and the other declare him their god. The episode ends with the natives chanting to Murdock: "Who wrote this? Who wrote this?"
  • The Vorlon of Babylon 5 have a long history of this:
    • During the series (and for many millennia before it), genetic manipulations of the Younger Races make them see the Vorlon as angels (widely believed to be divine agents of God), or their equivalents in non-human cultures, and that, combined with the fact they usually hide their appearance in strange-looking encounter suits, makes it appear they are either angels or aliens that have been so generous to the ancestors of the Younger Races they remember them as such and don't want to be noted, making the Younger Races more susceptible to their influence. This is Deconstructed, as Londo seeing Kosh out of his encounter suit and seiing either nothing (as he says), the true look of a Vorlon, or his angel guise and realizing the ruse pushes him closer to the Shadows.
    • In the past the Vorlon presented themselves as actual gods to the ancient Minbari civilization to better shape their civilization, eventually revealing the ruse once they deemed them sufficiently advanced. The Minbari don't remember any of this, as their ancestors, angered at the ruse, slaughtered their Vorlon teachers and were in turn bombed back into stone age by the panicked survivors, leading the Vorlon to tone it down in something still worth of respect and gratitude even if exposed and that grants them plausible deniability. This is also why they flat-out told the Orieni they weren't gods once they learned they worshipped them as "Living Gods"-to no avail, as the Orieni were just too stubborn for their own good.
  • Blake's 7:
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Aztecs", Barbara is mistaken for the Aztec deity Yetaxa and tries to use her position to change the Aztec Empire.
    • In "The Myth Makers", the Doctor is mistaken for Zeus.
    • Subverted in "The Time Monster". The Master materialises his TARDIS in Atlantis, convinced he'll easily dupe these primitives into thinking he's a god, but the wily king sees through his charlatan's tricks and laughs off an attempt to hypnotise him. To add insult to injury, as the Master is being led off by the guards he runs right into the Doctor and Jo Grant whom he last saw in his inescapable Death Trap. The Master is so speechless with fury that Jo has to provide his retort: "How about: Curses! Foiled Again!"
    • Subverted in "Genesis of the Daleks". The Daleks originally come from the practical necessity of the Kaled race needing travel machines and life support systems to cope with the results of the mutations caused by an ongoing nuclear war; their creator, Davros, actively attempts to set himself up as a god, leading a race of machine creatures built partly in his own image to conquer the universe. He neglects to realise that, in practice, the genocidal racism he instills in his creatures (as a way of inspiring them to conquer other worlds) also extends to him and the Daleks gun him down at the first opportunity.
      • Although he comes back several times, he never learns from this and ends up killed or enslaved by them every time.
    • A variation appears in "The Face of Evil", where the Doctor is instead mistaken for the Evil One (and the resemblance is not a coincidence).
      • Amusingly subverted when the Doctor, having debunked Xoanon's God Guise, attempts to manipulate the local shaman in the same way, issuing orders via Xoanon's own divine-message-transmitting gear. The shaman (who's gone through his own crisis of faith, but can at least believe that the Doctor knows what's best just now) piously and compliantly agrees to do as he's told... then addresses the Doctor as Doctor, not Xoanon, in saying goodbye.
    • Magnus Greel posing as Weng-Chiang in "The Talons of Weng-Chiang"; though he doesn't try to hide his identify from Chang, to whom it makes no difference anyway as Greel has risen him up from his humble life as a Chinese peasant to someone who performs before royalty.
      The Doctor: You know he's not a god, don't you?
      Chang: He came to me like a god, in his cabinet of fire!
    • In "The Horns of Nimon", the Nimon basically use this as their entire plan of conquest; one of them shows up at a planet, claiming to be the last survivor of an advanced race and offering advanced technology if the locals will give them 'tribute' in the form of sacrifices, but in reality this is all part of a plan to break this planet down into its own raw resources so that the species can continue their "Great Journey of Life".
    • "The Fires of Pompeii": At the end, the Doctor, Donna and the TARDIS become the household gods of a Roman family they rescue from the titular Doomed Hometown (although they are unaware of this).
    • In "The Girl Who Died", the leader of the Mire poses as Odin when he turns up to collect the Viking warriors, upstaging the Doctor, who was in the midst of attempting to do the same thing.
  • In the Farscape episode "Jeremiah Crichton", John Crichton gets marooned on a planet which turns out to have religious iconography drawn from contact with the Rygel's race, the Hynerians. Surprisingly for the usually shallow ex-monarch, while Rygel expects to be treated like royalty, he is actually profoundly offended that his ancestors would allow themselves to be taken for divinity. He's even more shocked when he discovers that the ancient Hynerians actually intended this: the natives of the planet were the loyal subjects of one of Rygel's ancestors, marooned on the planet with no way of escaping, advancing technologically, or even contacting other cultures — all so they could act as eternal worshippers of the Hynerian empire.
  • The Flash (2014) has Savitar, who declares himself to be the "God of Speed" and forms at least one Cult devoted to himself. It's later confirmed that he's just a speedster whose incredible powers and "miracles" actually belong to the Philosopher's Stone.
    Barry: You're not God.
    Savitar: To be a god, you just have to make people believe you are.
  • In the Highlander: The Series episode "Little Tin God", Duncan flashes back to a time when he visited South America and found that an Immortal named Gavriel Larca had conned a tribe into worshiping him. The tribe eventually turned on him when he couldn't heal them from a plague. In the present, Larca goes back to his old tricks and cons some people into believing he's God, then sends them to kill Duncan, claiming he's Satan. Duncan and Joe later muse that worship is a great temptation for any Immortal.
  • Leverage: In "The Miracle Job", Parker gets mistaken for an angel while she is stealing a statue of Saint Nicholas (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • MacGyver (1985): In "Walking Dead", Mac pretends to be Baron Samedi (or, more accurately, he takes the place of a Hollywood Voodoo priest who is pretending to be Baron Samedi).
  • Mission: Impossible: In "Cargo Cult", a white man poses as a native god in order to use the native tribe as a slave labour force to work a gold mine.
  • In an episode of My Name Is Earl, Earl used a walkie-talkie to transmit messages through his religious cranky landlady's hearing aid to get her to do nice things for him and his friends. She later became a nun...and Earl had to tell her what he did, thus shaking up her faith.
  • Once Upon a Time's third season episode "Ariel" has the Evil Queen disguise herself as Ursula, the ancient goddess of the sea, to trick Ariel into helping her capture Snow White. The real Ursula is not happy about this: she makes herself known to Regina, threatening her that if she ever tries impersonating the goddess again, Regina will find out just how real Ursula is. Interesting when Ursula appears later in the show, she's considerably less powerful than Regina (away from the sea at least) - justified in that she's not the actual goddess Ursula, just named after her.
  • The Orville Two crewmembers are taken hostage on a world whose religion and social structure revolves around astrology, as their birthdays fall within a cycle associated with violence and criminality. The Orville crew devise a plan to create a false star with a solar sail that will alter their astrological charts and give a "blessing" to the given cycle.
  • Pixelface: In "High Spirits", the angry ghost of a pharaoh mistakes Rex for an Egyptian god after Romford falls out of the ceiling and gets stuck on his head. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Subverted in the Red Dwarf episode "Rimmerworld": through a twist of fate, Rimmer ends up on a world where, somehow, he spawns a new civilization from clones of himself and installs himself as their God-leader. He defines perfection in looking and acting exactly as he does (being a sniveling coward, for example). His followers are so fanatical, however, that he himself is deposed for being "imperfect" and gets thrown in a dungeon.
  • In the British children's program Roger and the Rottentrolls, all one needed to do to become a God-king of the trolls was to stand in the middle of an abandoned quarry and yell "Roger was here", as the trolls had an ancient document (graffiti on the wall of the quarry) that said those exact words.
  • Smallville:
    • A Kryptonian visitor to Earth became the basis for God of an Indian tribe's religion, and a prophecy about him (or someone like him) returning some day to save the world.
    • In the Season 10 episode "Harvest", a village of murderous religious fanatics have this reaction when a depowered Clark Kent survives being stabbed and set on fire (he was depowered by exposure to blue kryptonite, but his powers came back, allowing him to heal).
  • Space: 1999: In "Mission of the Darians", a Generation Ship suffered a radiation overload, and only fourteen crewmembers survived uncontaminated while the others eventually formed a primitive society that forgot its origins. The former use the primitives as raw material by convincing them they are spirits, appearing in silver spacesuits to take human sacrifices. Carter demonstrates otherwise by twisting the helmet off one of them.
  • Seen repeatedly in Stargate SG-1 (as well as the original Stargate movie) — usually, anyone who comes through the Stargate is automatically assumed to be God. (This is perfectly in tune with the plot, however. The Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who stole the gates have invested a lot of energy in making this happen; it's less a God Guise than somebody else's Path of Inspiration.) The Goa'uld at first used this trope to maintain their positions of power, but most of them actually came to believe their own propaganda. Ba'al is one of the few exceptions. Vala actually impersonated the Goa'uld (Qetesh) who once controlled her for a while, acting as a god to the people of a particular planet — although without any of the Goa'uld terror, obviously.
    • Your mileage may vary on the definition of a "god" but, as far as the Powers That Be behind the show are concerned, the Ancients and Ori are NOT gods, so the entire Ori arc consists of SG1 trying to unmask a colossal God Guise.
    • Interestingly, a later episode has the team go back to a world where they left ex-Colonel Maybourne and find out that the has adopted a variation of this. Since he can read Ancient (he taught himself when he was still on Earth), he is able to make predictions based on some writings he found by a time-traveling Ancient name Janus. The villagers make him their king and he lives in luxury (the ending reveals he has multiple wives). However, when a Goa'uld threatens to take the planet, Maybourne has no choice but to try to get his people to leave by convincing them that all he told them came from the tablet. While they understand, they refuse to let him step down, as everything he did after becoming king (e.g. a crop-rotating system, a watermill) are all his accomplishments.
  • The Starlost. In the pilot episode the Elders of Cypress Corners take guidance from a Creator that's shown to be a computer interface. However the protagonist spies the Elders putting instructions down on tape, which is then inserted into the computer which converts their voice to a Machine Monotone to make it look as the Creator is giving these instructions.
  • This trope can be found in almost every incarnation of Star Trek.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • In "Who Mourns for Adonais?", an actual surviving Greek God reveals he's just a powerful alien who had become too used to being worshiped by mortals.
      • In "The Omega Glory", Spock is mistaken for the Devil due to his resemblance to a picture of Satan in a book. That and his ability to survive a gunshot to the chest.
        Dr. McCoy: Once, just once, I'd like to be able to land someplace and say, "Behold! I am the archangel Gabriel!" [He points out Spock could never claim to be Gabriel.] But say you landed someplace with a pitchfork...
      • In the episode "The Paradise Syndrome", an amnesiac Kirk is mistaken for a deity by transplanted Native Americans on a distant planet.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • "Who Watches the Watchers?" features a specific discussion of this trope: that is, how do you talk a race out of this without destroying them? At the climax Picard is only able to convince them that he is not a God by daring the religious zealot to shoot him with the bow and arrow he was threatening someone else with. He takes the shot and is shocked to see Picard lying on the ground and bleeding. This only really works because this species tends to adopt mostly rational ideas. They voluntarily gave up religion in favor of pragmatism even before reaching their equivalent of the Industrial Revolution.
      • The episode "Devil's Due" had the crew tangling with an alien con-woman who took advantage of a civilization's legend of a past Deal with the Devil to pose as said "devil" (she claims to be several others as well, including Satan) and thus literally claim ownership to the entire planet.
      • "Tapestry" begins with Picard on the brink of death after an energy blast stops his artificial heart. He finds himself in a white void facing a robed figure who turns out to be Q, who tells him, "You're dead. This is the afterlife, and I'm God." Picard rejects the statement in a tone that suggests he finds it both outrageous and ridiculous.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • In "False Profits", a couple of Ferengi are mistaken for gods thanks to their magical replicator.
      • "Muse" has B'Elanna crashing on a planet and being mistaken for an 'eternal' (a powerful being of legend) by a local poet, who uses her logs to write a play. There's a certain amount of give-and-take (the poet needs inspiration for his play which he hopes will turn his fickle warlord patron away from war; B'Elanna needs help repairing her shuttle) before the two gain a mutual respect, with B'Elanna even providing a literal Deus ex Machina at the end.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has two sets: the Prophets of Bajor and the Founders of the Dominion. The Founders are always shown to be false gods and rather uncaring masters (beyond genetically engineering the races they created, doing a somewhat half-assed job of that). The Prophets are never quite so clear cut since they never really claim anything they don't back up and are at least Sufficiently Advanced enough that it makes little difference in practice.
    • In Star Trek: Discovery: Magic from Technology has caused the Red Angel to become a messianic figure in the hybrid religion of New Eden. A town full of people were huddling in a church, seeking refuge from the nuclear bombings of World War III. They prayed for deliverance and suddenly the entire church building was lifted and transferred 50,000 light years away to a new, conflict-free planet. Later, the Red Angel is revealed to be Gabrielle Burnham, a normal Terran human with a suped up time travel suit, but all the townspeople saw was a glowing angel that saved them from certain destruction. They pray to the Red Angel and have stained glass windows depicting their deliverance.
    • Star Trek also subverts this, to a degree, with the Federation's Prime Directive — since it's all-too-easy to get a swelled head from being called "God", the Prime Directive forbids starship captains from interfering in a lesser-developed culture, to protect both captain and alien from the effects of Pseudo-Godhood. Coincidentally, Gene Roddenberry's first-hand experience and unease with real-life Cargo Cults is said to be one of the things that inspired the Prime Directive in the first place. But to the audience it comes off as really more of a weird Lampshade Hanging, as this is ignored whenever the plot demands.
    • The prime directive is handled differently by many people in the Federation. Generally, it's accepted as an underlying principle for self-determination (the Federation does NOT interfere in internal wars or politics of other civilizations, even if their own interests are at stake). But in the field and on the front-lines, it is commonly believed that, like principles such as "do not lie" and "do not kill", there are situations where morality calls upon one to violate one principle to uphold another (such as helping evacuate people from a pre-warp planet doomed by natural disaster when they call out desperately for help). The theory in the instance of people actually ASKING for help is that it's OK to provide limited assistance in a life-or-death situation, but it's not OK to make global changes in their culture that go beyond making sure they don't all die. Even then, it's best to do it in such a way that they won't realize that outsiders did it.
  • Supergirl (2015): In "The Faithful", Thomas Coville was an Average Joe with a shitty life until one day when he was rescued by Supergirl. After studying several Kryptonian artifacts and documents, he concludes that the Kryptonian god Rao is the Top God and that beings like Superman and Supergirl are members of his pantheon. He starts a cult that regularly worships and prays to Supergirl. The cult takes things too far by setting up disasters like fires and bombings so that Supergirl can save the day and the survivors will have been "baptized" by Supergirl and be recruited. Supergirl puts an end to it by cutting her palm with a metal shard after being exposed to kryptonite. Thomas' followers leave once they see Supergirl is just as mortal as them. Despite being arrested, Thomas continues to believe in and worship Supergirl. In "Reign", Thomas calls Supergirl from prison and warns her of the arrival of Reign, the Worldkiller, whom he believes is the Devil. In "Legion of Super Heroes", Thomas loses faith in Supergirl due to her losing a fight to Reign and decides to worship Reign instead. She frees him from prison and he becomes her servant.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Little People", two astronauts repairing their ship on an alien world find a civilization of people the size of ants. One of them, Peter Craig, decides he is meant to be their god, to the point of forcing these tiny people to build a Terran life-sized statue of him. His partner, William Fletcher, is disgusted, and eventually leaves without him when Craig refuses to go; Craig points out there's no room for two gods. Then bigger aliens land to fix their ship.
  • In The West Wing, a reporter reveals that he was once mistaken for a deity by a primitive tribe. Though since he was flirting at the time, this may have been facetious.

  • The song "War is my Destiny" by rapper Ill Bill implies that the Devil (not that one — when the War in Heaven ended, the Fallen Angels dethroned Satan and crowned a new leader in his place) convinced humanity that he was God and proceeded to make their lives miserable. Whenever God sent prophets to save the people (yes, there were multiple messiahs), the fallen angels hunted them down and burned them. Eventually God unleashed the Flood and destroyed the kingdoms of the fallen. After the flood, the Devil allowed the prophets to live, only so he could twist the word of God and humanity would worship him once again, thinking they were worshipping God.

    Myth & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • In the Book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas were mistaken for avatars of Zeus and Hermes when performing some miracles in a Greek city. It was a little difficult for the two to convince the people that this was not the case... and it didn't end well when some others capitalized on the misunderstanding to have Paul and Barnabas punished for their "deception".
    • According to the Book of Revelation, during the "End Times", there will be many people who will claim to be Jesus on his Second Coming. On top of that, The Antichrist will also claim to be a god. These people will all be false deities of one kind or another.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • A king named Salmoneus decided to impersonate Zeus and get people to worship him. Zeus was less then pleased and let Salmoneus know it.
    • In The Odyssey, when Odysseus meets Nausicaa, he mistakes her for the goddess Artemis and grovels for a few seconds before she convinces him that she is human.
  • Pop culture claims that Hernán Cortés and his conquistadores were mistaken for incarnations of the god Quetzalcoatl by the Aztecs (sometimes with a nasty addendum that Quetzalcoatl had white skin). In reality, this whole story about the gods seems to have been a religious interpolation made centuries after the conquest. Spanish chronicles of the time do claim that the Aztecs and other indigenous believed the Spaniards to be something like descendants of ancient ancestors, who would return some day to take over, but not gods - the very Christian Spaniards never claim such thing, and in fact, Montezuma himself mentions casually that he and Cortés are both humans of flesh and blood in their recorded talks. Some indigenous seemed to have believed at first that the Spaniards were teules (hard to translate, but meaning supernatural beings in context) due to their advanced technology, horses and foreign ways, but this impression was dispelled pretty quickly and it was unrelated to the previous.
    • There was a conquistador who did actually pretend to be a god to the natives, Hernando de Soto, a former lieutenant to Francisco Pizarro who led an expedition across North America. In a subversion, however, De Soto was known to be more than a bit crazy even before suffering the perils of the conquest, so there are suspicions that he actually started believing himself he was a god before dying during the travel.



    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In the Ravenloft setting, the Barovian church of the Morninglord was founded by a semi-addled priest who, as a young boy, had been rescued from certain death by the vampire elf Jander Sunstar. Although the faith resembles the Forgotten Realms' worship of the God Lathander, artwork and tales of Barovia's version depict this deity as resembling Jander Sunstar.
    • 1st Edition module A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords. The illusionist Wimpell Frump uses an illusion to pose as the demon lord (and gnoll deity) Yeenoghu in order to command the loyalty of the gnolls guarding the underground Throne Room.
    • In "X9: Drums on Fire Mountain", the kara-kara islanders mistake KalnaKaa the devil swine for their tribal pig god, Tapu. The villainous were-swine eagerly exploits this misconception, even polymorphing into or dressing up as a pig when he needs to appear as a giant hog to the tribe before moonrise.
  • In Exalted, certain characters can take on a group of people who worship them as gods, granting them an extra boost of power. In fact, the Lunars, as part of their social-engineering long game, are not above posing as Gods to influence the development of a burgeoning culture. Mind you, many of the Exalted can fight the creators of the universe and win, so it's not that huge an imposture. And considering that Gods and Exalted literally differ only in that Gods are immortal and Exalted aren't, it's even less of a stretch.
  • Traveller:
    • Classic Traveller Double Adventure 6 Divine Intervention. The PCs must get a device into the chambers of Orobid, the High Priest of the Church of Stellar Divinity. The device will appear to be a manifestation of Orobid's deity and give him orders that will benefit the PCs' patron.
    • MegaTraveller supplement Vilani and Vargr: The Coreward Races. At the end of the Long Night, an offworlder from a high tech world came to the low tech world Sikilar and used high technology to make the natives think he was an angel. He used this authority to set up a strict religious dictatorship that continues to the current day.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Arguably this was the problem that kicked off the Horus Heresy. The Emperor of Mankind steadfastly denied his divinity while his Word Bearers Legion insisted that he was, in fact, a god. The Emperor eventually felt it necessary to make an object lesson of one of the worlds the Word Bearers had indoctrinated. Now the Emperor is worshipped as a god by most of the Imperium, and he's no longer around (as a consciously aware entity capable of interacting with others, at least) to argue the point.
    • The Imperium of Man has a lot of worlds where technological advance is intentionally 'capped' at a certain level, because it's a lot easier to get the raw resources from the world (and manage the population) by letting the indigenous people stay at a stone age/medieval level and think you're gods (or at least servants of the gods): You just have them bring you what you want as 'offerings' whenever your spaceships make planetfall. Space Marine chapters in particular make use of this trope on the planets they administer: By encouraging primitive warrior cultures to dominate the planet and then spreading legends that the mightiest warriors can go to this or this place or do this or this brave deed in order to get 'chosen' and get a chance to join their gods, they ensure a steady stream of willing recruits.
    • In addition, the Black Library novel Dead Men Walking featured a cult which worshiped the Necrons as "Iron Gods".note 
    • This was how Goge Vandire was able to convince the Sisters of Battle (then Brides of the Emperor) to join him. He declared himself being protected by the emperor and had his bodyguard shoot him with his sidearm. Vandire later remarks on the backwardness of the cult, and how they didn't know about the Conversion Field built into the Rosarius (a symbol of faith and badge of office) carried by senior priests.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Razmir, the "Living God", used his "divine power" to take over a small kingdom and convert it to his worship. In reality, Razmir is merely a very powerful Evil Sorcerer, and his "faith" is maintained through rigorous Soviet-style "re-education".
    • It's possible for modern humans to convince morlocks that they're the Azlanti ancestors they revere as gods, turning them from savage predators to fawning hosts and workers, but such ruses can easily end in disaster.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the villain Yawgmoth is worshiped as a God by the race of minions he created, even though he never becomes a Planeswalker, which are the wizards of god-like power who oppose him.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition, supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. Titans sometimes pose as gods in order to receive offerings (food, water etc.) from primitive tribes. They are helped in this trickery by the fact that an adult titan is twice as tall as a human, and an old titan can be as much as thirty feet tall.

  • In The Emperor Jones, the title character's seeming invulnerability to bullets leads the locals on the island where he landed to consider him a god and make him their emperor. He milks this for all it's worth, extorting money through exorbitant taxes.
  • Played for laughs in The Tempest when Caliban mistakes the drunken butler Stephano for a god due to Alcohol-Induced Idiocy.

    Video Games 
  • In AdventureQuest, The Stranger/Seth Cay Dhows was revealed to be a man made god known by the name Epsilon.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Tales, when Seth attempts to scare off the prehistoric Inuits by posing as their god. Also the gods in Atlantis Evolution, who are not gods at all.
  • The GBA port of Breath of Fire II throws a spanner into the works by implying that Deathevn is not actually a god, despite being Myria's descendant. Rather, he's actually a draconic Eldritch Abomination that's merely posing as one because it's fun to fuck with mortals.
  • In Chrono Cross, the inhabitants of El Nido seek guidance from the Goddess of Fate, going so far as to directly ask for advice from the aptly-named "Records of Fate". Little do they suspect that they're actually communing with a Master Computer from 1400 years into the future, the artificial intelligence FATE.
  • The Watchers from Dark Void did this to exert control over early humanity.
  • In Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, Brent Ernst/Slappy is a major fanboy of Frank West and worships him. When they meet, Slappy asks him to bring his dead girlfriend back to life. When Frank explains that he's not a god and cannot do this, Slappy angrily tries to kill him.
  • Digimon Survive:
    • In this setting, Digimon were worshipped by ancient humans as gods with them sending their kids to the Digital World as Human Sacrifices.
    • Kaito's Annoying Younger Sibling Miu performs a variant of this when she convinces a group of gullible Rookie-level Digimon that she's a powerful sorceress by having her clam partner Syakomon close her shell and pretend to be Taken for Granite. After this they make her their "queen", and their mentor Jijimon sees through the act but lets her carry on since they were all having fun.
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Vulcanus does this to Flonne in Etna mode.
  • The Inquisitor in Dragon Age: Inquisition is worshiped as the "Herald of Andraste" after miraculously surviving the destruction of the Conclave and emerging from the Fade alive and well, wielding the power to banish demons and seal rifts (though a few people think they're a heretic responsible for the Breach). The Inquisitor can either play along or deny it all the way. Midway through the game it's revealed that the Inquisitor "just" absorbed the magic of an incredibly powerful Elven artifact and survived mostly through dumb luck.
    • The Evanuris as well. The gods worshiped in the elvhen pantheon are actually only really powerful mages that were worshipped by their slaves and followers and elevated to godhood, which they happily accepted. Even after discovering that Solas is Fen'Harel (the "god" of rebellion/trickster god), he never rejects the title that was bestowed to him, and continues to use it for his own gains, creating the "Agents of Fen'Harel".
  • In Dragon Quest VII, when you resurrect God, he immediately begins an evil tyrannical regime that confuses and subjugates the newly reunited world. Seems like God Is Evil, right? Well, turns out this "God" is actually the thought-to-be-defeated Demon Lord in disguise. You eventually do fight God, but it's as a Superboss outside of anything resembling the plot.
  • In Dominion of Darkness, establishing religions that worship You as a god is one of the tools player can use to manipulate Free People. One of the playable characters, Tyrant, actually believes that he/she is true supreme being.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, Demons can masquerade as gods that have taken physical form. They will often take over civilizations and will sometimes visit your fortress as diplomats.
  • Fate/EXTRA: Religious nutjob Monji Gatou ends up summoning the incredibly powerful Arcueid Brunestud as Berserker. Due to his complete ignorance of anything regarding the Holy Grail War, and the fact that as Berserker, Arcueid can't talk or even communicate to correct him, he thinks that she is a god. When they are both dying, Arcueid regains her ability to speak and gently corrects his misconceptions about her.
  • In The Feeble Files, Feeble's brother puts on one using some kind of smoke and mirrors device in order to get the primitive natives to do what he wants. He does so for the purposes of continuing his research on them.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, a Hippo Rider quest has the Warrior pose as a Manusya, one of the many animal-headed gods of the Thavnairian religion, by wearing a cutesy Gaja costume head and Thavnairian clothes while declaring "Your god has come!" to scare off whoever spooked one of the riders. Ogul had done the same thing previously to Acala, a member of the Gajasura invading Thavnair.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • In Guild Wars humans used magic given to them by their gods to drive the Charr from Ascalon, so the Charr decided to find gods of their own. Titans sent by Abaddon posed as gods and gave them access to powerful fire magic, eventually used during the Searing. The appearance and defeat of the Titans led to the eventual civil war between the shamans and those who rightly saw it was a false religion.
    • The Mursaat allowed the White Mantle to build a religion around them in order to delay their prophesied end at the hands of the Titans.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn features two examples on different parts of the ethical spectrum.
    • HADES, the rogue AI subfunction intending to restart the cycle that would rebuild the world by destroying it turns out to be the force behind The Eclipse, appearing as the "Buried Shadow" demon. He even goes so far as to quote scripture in order to win them over. Interestingly, this wasn't his idea, as Sylens was the one who first suggested it.
    • CYAN is an AI that was built to prevent the Yellowstone supervolcano from erupting and wound up smarter than she needed to be. She wakes up in a world in which humanity has been reduced to primitive tribes and is initially cautious about revealing herself. Once she realizes this fact, she somewhat unintentionally became an aspect of Banuk spiritual tradition and leaned into it so as to not violate their beliefs. After being freed from the control of the other AI HEPHAESTUS and realizing that Aloy understands what she really is, CYAN asks whether she should continue the ruse per the video example below.
  • In The Journeyman Project 2, one of the possible game-overs is the result of the player creating a time paradox if he gets himself discovered while time traveling to a pre-Columbian Mayan City. The Have a Nice Death screen reveals that, because of your time travel suit, the natives mistake you for a god, and shows them building a statue dedicated to you.
  • In Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning there are two examples, one from the main game and one from the DLC:
    • In the main game, the god the Tuatha worship, Tirnoch, is actually an extremely powerful and ancient Fae Dragon that was sealed away by the Alfar in ages past. Though she is not a true god, she is easily as powerful as them at least, and she can even subvert the Weave of Fate itself (something even the true gods cannot do). A malevolent example.
    • In the Legend of Dead Kel DLC, the god the villagers on Gallow's End worship, Akara, is actually a World Tree like Nyarlim from the main game. While Akara is an incredibly ancient and powerful being, he is not truly a god. Akara only pretended to be one to offer the people who were stranded on the island solace and peace of mind. A benevolent example.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Ganondorf pretended to be a god to make Zant his Unwitting Pawn to get out of the Twilight Realm and take over Hyrule. Played with in that Ganondorf, while technically just a very powerful sorceror, actually is something of a Physical God since he's currently wielding the divine powers of the (incomplete) Triforce, and he's the Reincarnation of the Demon King Demise.
  • Mad Rat Dead: The Rat God's true form is a parasite. She takes the form of a god to manipulate her victims (rats) into getting killed and eaten by cats so she can kill more hosts and pass herself on.
  • The Player Character in Millennia: Altered Destinies adopts a god-like persona for the benefit of the four races he is grooming. However, all communication is done via the Morph assigned to each race who acts the part of the High Priest. Also, whenever a major invention is made by a race, they will first bring it to the altar in your temple. If you take it with the teleporter, the invention is gone from history (presumably, the race refuses to use any invention not blessed by you). Said invention can be re-introduced at a different point in time, although each invention has IQ requirements. Being able to Time Travel helps to maintain the guise and continue guiding the races through millennia.
  • In Myst, the player can discover a temple that Achenar furnished with D'ni technology that he used to fool the primitive tree dwellers of Channelwood into believing that he is a god. Gehn also does this in the sequel, Riven, driven by his own belief that the D'ni literally create the Ages they write.
  • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire has a couple examples:
    • Optional Boss Nemnok is worshiped by a cult who are unaware that he is actually an imp who has increased his power and knowledge by consuming magical grimoires.
    • The Engwithan Pantheon of artificial deities appropriated the names and positions of the ancient Huana culture's gods. Galawain for example has been conflated with Toamowhai, a Huana tripartite deity also known as the Faces of the Hunt.
  • Pink Panther: Hokus Pokus Pink: When visiting Mount Olympus, Pink pretends to be the God of Headaches.
  • Rave Heart: In the city of Volaris Prime, the Ether Demon Malgorth posed as a benevolent deity in order to corrupt the citizens.
  • Skies of Arcadia features the Native American-inspired land of Ixa'taka. When the player's party arrives, the natives mistake the silver-clothed Mysterious Waif as their goddess, due to an ancestress of her technologically advanced people helping subdue a thousand foot rampaging monster millenia ago. Subverted in that, even though she tries to convince them she's not a goddess, by game's end, only the king and main priest believe her. Everybody else happily continues to treat her as a deity.
  • In the first Spellforce expansion, the player character can fool a tribe of trolls with this trope, by secretly climbing inside a statue of a primitive deity and use it to talk to said tribe. This way you can command them to destroy several fortified enemy bases. The second game in the series references this by having an NPC crawl inside a god statue to fool some orcs.
  • Star Control:
    • The second game has the Umgah do this to the Ilwrath by means of a powerful hyperspace transmitter. As a joke, they tell the Ilwrath to go to war with the neighboring Pkunk (although some believe that the Umgah meant to tell the Ilwrath to attack the Yehat, who would have made mincemeat of the evil spiders, and the Ilwrath misinterpreted the instruction). If the player gets that transmitter, they can pull the same trick, and tell the Ilwrath to attack the warlike Thraddash, leading the two bloodthirsty species to annihilate each other.
    • In Origins, a Sufficiently Advanced Alien named Jeff became the god of the Mowlings when he approached them with advice on how to not die all the time. It wasn't his idea, but when the Mowlings began calling him a god, he went with it. At the timeframe of the game, he's grown bored with supervising the Mowlings, and passes the mantle of assumed godhood on to you instead (once you prove yourself in a few quests, of course).
  • Succubus in The Tower of Druaga disguises herself as the goddess Ishtar to distract Gil from retrieving the Blue Crystal Rod. Gil uncovers the fake and is able to convince Succubus to relinquish the Blue Crystal Rod.
  • The native Nali in Unreal are a simple, agricultural race with very limited technology. When the Skaarj come in, blasting them with advanced weaponry and soaring the skies in spaceships, they immediately see them as evil demons or gods from the skies, and see you as the Nali's messiah. The Nali also have some advanced technology and believe such objects are sacred relics.
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Geralt can come across a Sylvan who has convinced the local peasants that he is a powerful deity called the "Allgod". The thing is the Sylvan is a Fat Bastard who takes advantage of the relationship by demanding excessive sacrifices of food in a time of widespread poverty and famine. However, the Sylvan does give the deeply stupid peasant folk valuable advice from time to time. Geralt can kill him, convince him to tone down his sacrifices, or show the villagers the man behind the curtain.
  • Xenogears. Deus isn't actually a "God", though it did create the branch of humanity on the planet in question. It's really just a genetically engineered planet-destroying bio-weapon that's somehow become even more powerful than its job description would imply.

    Visual Novels 
  • In The House in Fata Morgana, Michel is often likened to and sometimes outright mistaken for the archangel Michael, whom he was named after. His albinism, seemingly otherworldly beauty and selfless desire to save people don't help his protests one bit.

    Web Animation 
  • In Andrew Kepple's Animutation trilogy Colin Mochrie vs. Jesus H. Christ, after saving everyone from Colin Mochrie after he gets turned into a rampaging Scotsman, Jesus takes over the world and starts persecuting characters from "fanimutations". At the end of Part 3, it turns out "Jesus" is actually Mike Brady, who starred alongside Colin in Neil Cicirega's "The Japanese Pokerap" but was jealous that Colin became a Breakout Character, and orchestrated the whole thing in order to get revenge.
  • In Red vs. Blue, Church ends up possessing a piece of ancient alien technology (a Forerunner Monitor, although it's never called that in the show) and a pack of vicious aliens start treating him as their god. Revealing that he's not actually a god but is just hijacking the technology they worship would inevitably lead to the aliens ripping the Reds and Blues apart, so Church has to keep up the disguise. It kind of goes to his head eventually.
  • RWBY: As part of his curse, Ozpin possesses immense magical power. In the past, before he gave away most of his magic, humans mistook his power for that of a god's. He allowed them to keep thinking he was a god for years. His first reincarnation tried to build a happy home with Salem, who talked him into masquerading as gods to pursue his dream of uniting humanity. However, things fell apart when he realized that Salem planned on using the masquerade to take over the world and kill all humans who wouldn't fall into line. The ensuing battle destroyed everything they'd built and accidentally killed their children. They've been trapped in a cycle of pain ever since.

  • Buck Godot also uses this. The Winslow, an indestructible creature resembling an animate plush toy with the mind of a five year old (maybe) is believed by various interstellar races to be an equivalent of God, Jesus or Satan, or weirder. Sufficiently Advanced Aliens put it in the care of humans because we just think it's annoying.
  • Children of Eldair: When the girls first arrive on Eldair, they are mistaken for angels by Princess Hamara's company.
  • In Darths & Droids, Nute Gunray can possess droids and the Ewocs worship him, so C-3PO pretends to be possessed by him.
  • In Girl Genius, the Villain's Beautiful Daughter, Lucrezia Mongfish, is worshipped by the Geisterdamen. No one really knows why. Doesn't stop her from using them as highly convenient minions when she turns Big Bad.
    • She presumably knows why, but she isn't exactly the sharing type.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court has an interesting subversion: The Court robots think Kat is an angel, partly because she's a Wrench Wench, partly because she has a lab in front of a tomb they're obsessed with (and lets them in whenever they want), and partly because she's one of only two people at the school that treats them with kindness. No, really, one of two.
  • Lampshaded in Looking for Group, where Cale finds a tribe living inside a Sand Worm. He asks if this is where they think he's a god, but rather than simply worshiping him they choose to cannibalize him. He's right.
    "We appreciate you expediting matters, ye old god."
    • It happens again with a tribe of goblins. This time Cale tries to invoke the trope by suggesting that he will coincidentally resemble one of their gods and that they will eventually worship him, therefore they should cut to the chase and start worshiping right now. They do, they worship Tim, and try to have Cale for lunch.
  • The Funworm in Oglaf inverts this trope. It looks like a crappy parade costume, and most people dismiss it as such, but it's a real god who assumes the form of a mundane thing for the sake of tricking people.
  • Lampshaded in The Order of the Stick, when Vaarsuvius says that Elan being worshipped as a god by a primitive tribe would indicate that the webcomic had lost its last shred of originality. But don't worry, they don't. They worship his felt hand-puppet (which he also worships himself). Because its hat is like the island's one mountain, its eyes and mouth shaped like the three patches of jungle, and its three buttons like the three reefs to the south of the island. Elan later creates another puppet for them to worship — Giggles, the Clown God of Slapstick. The tribe likes him better than Banjo since his idea of a good time is hitting people with a stick and they like hitting things.
  • In Random Encounter, Claw is from a clan of elite servants of the fire god Phoenix, blessed with Resurrective Immortality and an immunity to his magic. One mission forces her to pretend to be a man, so she takes the name "Phoenix," divine namesakes being common, and also to hide her heritage, since it would mean forfeiting her hazard pay. When her enemies see "Phoenix" resist fire magic and rise from the dead, they become convinced they've met the god himself, a rumor Claw's client (and eventual fiancée) Paige decides to keep alive when they get home.
  • Sehan in Return To Player can log into the Gods' chat room. They just assume he's another God who wants to stay anonymous.
  • Schlock Mercenary sort of subverts this trope. While the primitive natives of a backwater planet do revere the mercenary company, they view Schlock as... the excrement of a huge and very sick pack beast. Aforementioned natives also throw their mercenary-given robot messiah into a volcano, so you know that they don't have the proper viewpoint about things.
  • Sluggy Freelance: In "Meanwhile in the Dimension of Pain", the demon Terribus dons a Totem Pole Trench disguise to pretend to be the Demon King, the God-Emperor of the demons, to give the other demons orders that secure his own power.
  • In A Tale of Two Rulers, this is one of Zelda's two theories on the truth regarding Hyrule's patron trio: either they're long-dead mages still profiting from the world's biggest scam... or they're evil for letting Hyrule become so crapsack on their watch.
  • In Wapsi Square, many ancient deities seem to have been this. Most were created by a far older civilization.
  • In Yamara, the titular protagonist had ascended to Godhood for a storyline, and accidentally had a religion grow around her by the time she returned to normal — except for the three wishes she was granted as a "parting gift". She finally tries to talk her followers out of it with a heartfelt and humble speech — which she ends by saying "I wish you all the finest things in life" when she's on her last wish. An audience member says, "Whatta kidder!"

    Web Original 
  • Marchosias in Arkn: Legacy is fond of this.
  • The Archai originally suffered from being inadvertently treated as gods by modosophonts, in Orion's Arm, as a result of their attainment of Sufficiently Advanced technology after having crossed several singularities. For a while the archai tried to convince people that they were not actually divine, but then later gave up and let the modosophs believe whatever they wanted. Thus, they're now often referred to as "AI Gods".
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-3740 is a Super Gullible Almighty Idiot who the Foundation keeps contained by convincing him that the personnel he interacts with are also gods, using feats such as card tricks or sleight of hand.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of All Hail King Julien, Evil Genius Karl attempts to exploit the lemurs belief in sky gods to have King Julien killed, constructing a robot suit in the shape of the Sky God Frank and instructing the kingdom that they have to sacrifice Julien to the Volcano God Larry, which Julien counters by having his own robot suit made in the shape of Larry.
  • The Angry Beavers:
    • Dagget and Norbert were after "knots" in the wood, and Dagget pushed one out of a tree (sacred to a bunch of female raccoons on the other side) and wound up in their land with the knot balanced on his head. He rather enjoyed being "The Mighty Knothead" until he learned that he had to become the boyfriend/husband of The High Priestess.
    • In another episode, Dagget has ingested a large amount of a stupidity-inducing potion...except that he was already pretty stupid to begin with, so it actually made him a super-genius. He then ponders what happened to Norb (who responded to the potion exactly as expected). Cut to Norb on a Mayincatec pyramid, being fed fruit, with the worshipers bowing down and repeating his mantra: "DUUUHHH!"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • One episode has Katara disguising herself as a local deity, The Painted Lady, so she can heal sick Fire Nation villagers without them knowing she's a waterbender. Though she's eventually exposed, the villagers ultimately forgive her.
    • One of the short comics released had Sokka being mistaken for being the Avatar. He doesn't seem to mind. Hilarity Ensues.
    • In one minor gag/plot point, an immigration officer doesn't believe Aang is the Avatar because people have taken to dressing up just like him in hopes of getting free passage. (Why he doesn't demonstrate with some bending, nobody knows...)
  • An unusual variant appears in an episode of Dino-Boy In The Lost Valley; in the episode "The Fire God", the Sabertooth People use the titular Fire God to intimidate the local cave people into surrendering to them and becoming their slave miners, but said Fire God is just an armored wagon made up to look like a dragon, with its interior containing a pushcart (for motive force), a hollowed out mammoth tusk used as a wind instrument (for "roaring"), and a bellow-and-brazier apparatus (to simulate a fiery breath). Weirdly, despite the fact that the slaves it rounds up are carried off inside the Fire God, they never seem to realize it's a fake. Furthermore, even the Sabertooth People themselves don't seem to be in on the trick, except for the high priest. In the end, Dino Boy and Ugh destroy the Fire God, ending its reign of terror.
  • In one episode, Nobby of Doctor Snuggles used super powers to impersonate an Egyptian god.
  • Toot from Drawn Together ends up in India and is worshiped by Hindus as a talking cow.
  • Happens in one episode of Family Guy when Peter pretends to be God after he pretends his son Chris is sick to have the Make-A-Wish Foundation get a show he likes back on the air. When people press him on his son's health, he says he miraculously healed him. This leads to people worshipping him. Eventually, this gets out of hand and the real God starts sending plagues down.
  • Futurama:
    • In the episode "Godfellas", Bender ends up drifting in space, where he becomes God to the Shrimpkins, a race of miniature people who end up settling on his body. His bad advice results in the Shrimpkins wiping themselves out through a nuclear holocaust.
    • In "A Tale of Two Santas", Bender gets mistaken for Robot Santa and wrongfully imprisoned, so Fry and Leela try to save him by also dressing up as Robot Santa. Zoidberg, Comically Missing the Point, joins in by dressing up as "Santa's best friend, Jesus!" Amusingly, the jailer doesn't fall for Fry or Leela's disguises for a second, but he immediately believes that Zoidberg is actually Jesus.
  • The Hawaiian tribespeople in Garfield in Paradise. They worship a greaser who drove his Chevy into an erupting volcano in the 1950s, in order to prevent it from destroying the tribe's village. Their ritual chant even sounds a lot like a doo-wop song.
  • Gasp!: In "Vactastic Voyage", Gasp is worshiped as a god by a mite tribe inside the vacuum cleaner while the pets try various ridiculous ways to get him out.
  • In the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode "G.I. Joe and the Golden Fleece", several Joes and COBRA members get sent back in time to Ancient Greece. The locals mistake the Joes as a whole for Jason and the Argonauts, Lifeline for Asclepius the God of Healing, Sargent Slaughter for Heracles, and the COBRA forces for various monsters.
  • In the Australian satire Go to Hell! (1997) by Ray Nowland, Ancient Astronauts led by G.D. try this on Earth. Thanks to the interference of his rebellious son Red (who bares a resemblance to Satan) the humans learn free will and start worshiping other gods. So G.D. has to resort to more physical interventions, like giving King Ramses II a nuclear reactor.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Pursuit of the Po-Ho".
    • Dr. Quest uses a loudspeaker in a plane to make the natives think he's Aerio, god of the air.
    • A berry-dyed Race Bannon rises from the water and shouts at the Po-Ho in English, causing them to think that he's their water god Akesio.
  • There's an episode of Josie and the Pussycats in Space in which Melody is mistaken for a God.
  • In the Justice League episode "The Balance", Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl face off against demons while searching for Felix Faust. The demons notice that Hawkgirl has wings and back off. Hawkgirl milks this development for all it's worth:
    Hawkgirl: That's right! I'm an angel! You can mess with me if you want to, but I don't think you want to mess with the boss! [Hawkgirl points upward, the demons disperse and Hawkgirl rejoins Wonder Woman] If we're lucky they'll all be that dumb.
  • In Kim Possible, technologically advanced but naive alien Warmonga sees an image of Dr. Drakken in a transmission and believes him to be the "Great Blue", who according to prophecy will lead her people in conquest. Warmonga is tricked again when Shego, unwilling to let someone else beat Kim, calls Kim's friends for help. One of Kim's brothers, wearing a blue school mascot outfit, convinces Warmonga that he is the real "Great Blue", causing her to abandon Drakken as a fraud and (as the "Great Blue" directs) leave.
  • Played for Laughs in the King of the Hill Christmas Episode "The Father, the Son, and J.C." where former president Jimmy Carter shows up out of nowhere to help resolve the Hills' family drama, and Bobby mistakes him for Jesus Christ due to his kind disposition, carpentry work, and of course initials. The family have a good laugh over it while Cotton and Hank bond over their mutual dislike of Carter.
  • In one episode of The Land Before Time TV series, Spike is mistaken for an all-knowing being by a colony of mammals.
  • Love, Death & Robots: Parodied in "Ice Age". When Gail and Rob wonder if the miniature beings in their fridge consider them to be gods, the scene cuts to a couple of construction workers on the inside complaining about the two giant douchebags staring at them.
  • In the Mixels episode "A Quest for the Lost Mixamajig", King Nixel, with the help of puppetry and holograms, pretends to be the Maximum Mixel, god of the Mixels, to give the "chosen one" key to Snoof and kickstart his plan.
  • In one episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot, Jenny is mistaken for a prophesied comet goddess by adorable tiny aliens.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons", Apu is dreading his Arranged Marriage and tries to get out of it. When he is resigned to go through with it, he remarks that only the gods could stop it now. Homer hatches a Zany Scheme and tries to put a stop to the wedding by dressing as Ganesha. No one is fooled (indeed, anyone with a passing familiarity with Hindu Mythology would know that he got the characterization all wrong). As an angry guest put it: "You are not Ganesh! Ganesh is graceful!"
    • In another episode, Bart plays with his Mr. Microphone by telling Rod and Todd next door (who are listening to the radio) that he's God, and tells Rod to walk through a wall which he will make vanish. When Rod walks into the wall, Bart says that he will make it vanish later.
    • Lisa, in the "Treehouse of Horror VII" segment "The Genesis Tub". An accident with her science fair project creates a race of miniature people, who think she is God for stopping Bart destroying them.
    • "Treehouse of Horror XXII" has Homer convince Ned that he is the voice of God and instruct Ned to murder anyone he dislikes. Ned does not appreciate it when he learns the truth.
    • Subverted in Season 17's "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore", in which Mr. Burns outsources the nuclear plant to India and Homer acts like a god. The Indians are well aware that he's just a man, but they still worship him because he tells them about such secrets as 'overtime' and 'holidays'.
  • In the South Park episode "Simpsons Already Did It", Cartman creates a civilization of "sea people" in his aquarium. When their culture reaches the Classical Age, he discovers that they know of his existence and are worshiping him as a God. Later, the "sea people" on the other side of the aquarium start worshiping Tweek. In the end, they suicide-bomb each other, followed by a nuclear exchange that destroys the aquarium.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series
  • In Storm Hawks, the inhabitants of the Terra Vapos just happened to have a legend depicted on a series of murals that had Finn as a great hero that would save them... by being eaten.
  • In one episode of Teen Titans (2003), Raven crash-lands on a planet inhabited by tiny aliens, and is worshiped as a God simply for being more than three inches tall.
  • Total Drama: Word Of God confirms that this happens to Heather when they go to the Amazon.
  • Transformers:
  • In Wakfu, Yugo tapping into the power of the Eliatrope Dofuses in the OVA screws up time, allowing some humans in the Dofus era to see him. These people understandably believe the incredibly powerful being manipulating space and time before their eyes is some previously unknown god-king and begin to worship him. Due to the way souls and races work in the setting, this retroactively introduces a new race to the World of Twelve, the Eliotropes. This new race wields powers similar to the Eliatropes and worship Yugo as their god. Yugo meanwhile is blissfully unaware that he has worshipers.
  • In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Sky Guy", Wander discovers a tiny planet full of miniature people in a wizard's shop, and accidentally inspires them to start worshiping him.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Mistaken For Gods


"Waspinator Happy At Last"

In the final scene of "Beast Wars", Waspinator, who had suffered no end of abuse for the entire series, finally finds eternal happiness. This is if you disregard the sequel series.

How well does it match the trope?

4.78 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThrowTheDogABone

Media sources: