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God Is Flawed

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"Some would ask, how could a perfect God create a universe filled with so much that is evil. They have missed a greater conundrum: why would a perfect God create a universe at all?"
Sister Miriam Godwinson, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

A supreme being can be good or evil (or both or neither), but in either case they ought to be...supreme. Right?

However, in some works, we find a god who is prejudiced and flawed. Not So Omniscient After All, maybe even a bit of a bigot. Worshippers who try to blackmail God into answering prayers (or foolishly goad God) are unlikely to get an answer...or at least, not a favorable one.

Ironically, this might make the deity easier to relate to, and thus more sympathetic.

This trope is traditionally played on polytheistic gods but is also getting more and more common on the monotheistic Godnote . With Jesus, this is still usually avoided. But not always.

If they don't want the responsibilities of being a god anymore, see Being God Is Hard.

Compare Humans Are Flawed, God Is Inept, Loser Deity, The Devil Is a Loser, Stop Worshipping Me and What If God Was One of Us?, as well as King of All Cosmos. May be due to there being Pieces of God strewn all over the cosmos.

Oh, and beware. Here be spoilers!


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Super: During the Future Trunks Saga, this is one of the primary arguments between Gowasu, the Supreme Kai of Universe 10, and his apprentice Zamasu. Zamasu is firmly convinced that all mortals are flawed and should be wiped out and disagrees with Gowasu's statement that the gods themselves are also flawed and must also learn and grow like the mortals they watch over. It gets worse when he starts to believe he averts this trope while all the other gods are just as bad as the mortals since they do nothing about mortal affairs. Gowasu himself is a shining example of this trope: while undoubtedly a good god, he turns out to be a Horrible Judge of Character in regards to Zamasu, taking him as his apprentice despite Zamasu's adamant racism against mortal life and other signs that he's not entirely stable, with everything Gowasu does to try to convince Zamasu that not all mortals are bad backfiring and eventually driving him to a Face–Heel Turn. Gowasu is well-aware of this, and very much regrets it.
  • In Haibane Renmei, Rakka fills out the blanks in a crumpled old book that is supposed to tell the origin of the world with a story of her own invention, where God makes mistakes every step of the way, but each mistake makes the world a more beautiful place than He could have predicted, and God sees them as good.
  • In Saint Young Men, the vast majority of the humour comes from seeing two divine figures (it is notable that they are Jesus and Buddha, who are both explicitly human as well as divine) constantly making mistakes, screwing up, and annoying each other, although their personality flaws are relatively minor (Jesus is prone to making impulse Cosplay purchases, and tends to be quite needing of attention, whereas Buddha is something of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander with terrible body image thanks to all the fat statues). They also suffer from Power Incontinence under certain conditions (Buddha glows when he is virtuous or angry, Jesus's stigmata bleed whenever he feels persecuted, and both of them occasionally float without meaning to). Obviously, a perfect being would be able to control such embarrassing faux pas as accidentally turning all nearby water to wine whenever in a good mood.
    • For bonus points Jesus is Hydrophobic, IE afraid of water. The reason he walked on water? Because he was too scared to swim. When he tried to force himself to submerge his head under the water in a pool he wound up parting it like the Red Sea.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, the so-called Majin (Magic Gods) that make up the True GREMLIN are all powerful but flawed beings. One notable example is High Priest, a Majin who wears the trappings of a Buddhist monk even though he failed to achieve enlightenment.
  • A god being flawed is what kicks off the plot of The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You - the God of Love was watching Castle in the Sky while filling out Rentarou's soulmate count, and became so distracted by the "Balse" scene that he accidentally added two zeroes to the count, which lead to Rentarou being rejected one hundred times prior to gaining the titular 100 girlfriends.
  • The two most influential active gods in The Death Mage Who Doesn't Want a Fourth Time both have this issue, not helped by the two being irreconcilably opposed.
    • Alda, the Big Bad, is somewhere between a Hero Antagonist and a Knight Templar. He's the god of Light and Order and is having to do a damn hard job all by himself without his sibling deities to offer contrasting opinions or at least share the workload. His religion is the most powerful one in the land and is devoted to restoring a previous Golden Age, removing all the dangerous monsters and exiling or sealing all the Evil Gods in the land. The problem is that this goal is clearly impossible and, even if it were not, requires the genocide of millions of people who have done literally nothing wrong except to be born as members of races that are technically monsters, sort of. It isn't even clear whether returning the world back to the former Golden Age would even be improvement: The dangerous monsters and dungeons represent immense potential resources if utilized properly. "Evil God" is also a misnomer: Some of them were actually allies and perfectly decent, but he refuses to acknowledge it.
    • Opposing Alda is his sister Vida, goddess of Life and Love. She's the Big Good of the series and the protagonist's backer. After a devastating war that killed almost everyone in the world and left at least two thirds of uninhabitable wastelands for those who remained, she decided the best way to repopulate the world would be to use her strengths in creating life to make new races that could live with the old ones, creating races like vampires, arachne, dark elves, mermaids and so on. Sure, all well and good, but two issues. First, half of her children cause further corruption to the land around them. Second, these races often have flaws that completely undermine the purpose they were created for. Vampires, for example, are asexual and roughly half the races she created are exclusively female, making them a kind of biological failure. It's indicated that it really might have been better to work with Alda from the start but for various reasons she had lost all faith in him by that point and stubbornly decided to do her own thing without consulting him. A poor decision, as it turns out.

  • George Carlin had a tendency to do this a lot in the latter half of his stand-up career.
    • He implied this during his time doing communion, asking as a youth "If God is all powerful, can He make a rock so big that He Himself can't lift it?" He was doing it there to troll the priest, as he had a notable reputation as a Class Clown.
    • He once said that humans created God "in our own image and likeness" out of vanity and the need to make humanity seem more important. Carlin then deduced "if God is you and me, and we're God... He's not perfect. He's not! It shows in His work!"

    Comic Books 
  • Valhalla: The Aesir are all presented as human-like in their tempers and flawed, with many of them having traits that make them occasionally unsympathetic without being outright villainous. Odin is a Dirty Old Man who claims an Omniscient Morality License he very often can't live up to; Thor is hot-headed, impulsive and not the best family man (though he loves his wife dearly); Heimdall is pompous, cowardly and has some deeply troubling ideas about love and sex, and Loki is... Well, he's Loki. Even Baldur, who is otherwise a Nice Guy per excellence is revealed to be Innocently Insensitive in regards to his blind brother Hodir, though he's deeply troubled by the realization. Overall, the comic makes a point of it that having some flaws (many of whom are played up for comedic effect) doesn't make the Aesir bad people; in many ways being flawed makes it easier for them to relate to and be sympathetic to mortals.
  • When Johnny the Homicidal Maniac goes to heaven, he meets God. An obese baby in wheel chair too exhausted from creating reality to actually give a shit.
  • In Preacher, it is eventually revealed that all of the world's problems are caused by being created by a guy who grew up in total solitude (because there wasn't any universe yet!) and thus developed what could be considered a narcissistic personality disorder as well as any number of related mental problems, who gets off on people loving him despite making theirs a Crapsack World. He even caused the events leading to the creation of Genesis (the offspring of an angel and a demon, with power rivalling God's), so as to have the love of an equal. And it's pointed out that when it's said "He made us in His image", it should never be considered a compliment.
  • Hellblazer: The First of the Fallen is believed by John to have been God's conscience- the little voice in your head that tells you "this is a bad idea". God, however, had the option of getting rid of that voice (when the First expressed his doubts about a species with free will). Later, it turns out Merlin was one of the angels who couldn't handle God creating mortals either, and God tried to get rid of his first batch for being too perfect.
  • In Lucifer, all creators are very flawed.
    • Lucifer himself neglects to construct a proper afterlife.
    • Elaine fails to keep her humans from killing each other in her name.
    • Yahweh's plan for the universe works more or less perfectly, maybe even better than he had expected — pity that all the people were a bit of an afterthought and filler in his grand design.
  • In Supergod, it is argued that the concept of "God" is a flawed concept, a by-product of the biochemical systems in the human brain (namely the pleasure center). Thus, trying to create gods would be a very, very bad idea... even if they weren't weaponized and based on flawed humans.
  • God Nose: In this satirical underground comic, God is shown to be flawed and has self-doubts. He even gets into arguments with his own son Jesus.

    Fan Works 
  • The three sibling gods in Yognapped. Aside from their virtual immortality that only works if one doesn't try to kill the other and boundless powers over creation, they have all of the flaws of their subjects: they experience jealousy, they have irrational fears, and they break their own rules every now and again. In fact, it's Notch's jealousy of his sister's proposed succeeding world that causes him to murder her, kickstarting the entire conflict of the series.
  • Played with in the Pony POV Series. While the Alicorns and Draconequi represent perfection in what they personify, but in all other aspects are flawed like mortals. The fact Celestia and Luna aren't perfect is a theme in the series. They've both made their own mistakes (including Nightmare Moon) and being the Perfect Day and the Perfect Night doesn't mean they're perfect ponies. When an Alicorn becomes imperfect in their own Concept, they become Nightmares.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: The Almighty is depicted throughout the first three acts, as well as the first third or so of the fourth, as being strictly pro-human/anti-monster, with most angels being shown in a similar fashion. However, by Act IV chapter 16, the Almighty is moved by Rason's willingness to die for his belief that monsters can be good just like humans, and by the end of Act IV, monsters are being accepted into Heaven as well.
  • The Lucifer (2016) series "Alleged City of Angels" has God admitting that the scale of humans who end up in Hell is basically the result of a design flaw on his part; the system was meant to banish people to Hell if they felt guilty, but God didn't take into account that some people can feel guilty over things that weren't their fault or things they've essentially atoned for before their deaths.
  • In the Steven Universe fic The Gods of Our Times, (the) Cosmic Glitch is a perpetually annoyed goddess of technology who has answered banal prayers by setting the supplicant's computer on fire.
  • Discussed in Primordial, an Amphibia fic where the Calamity Trio are the divine creators of Amphibia. When reading the holy scripture while bunking with the Plantars, Anne (goddess of life, water and the moon) notes that it ascribes a lot more intent to the gods than there actually was. Of note is that the book says Sasha (goddess of conflict, fire and the sun) created the sun and set it in a firmament to bring light and life. In reality, Sasha did create the sun, then threw it away because it burned her hands, and it got stuck in the sky. The day-night cycle happened because Marcy (goddess of intellect and the stars) got curious and tried to hold it, but slipped and accidentally made it rotate.
  • In Sunset Reset, Sunset insists that she doesn't deserve to be an alicorn because she's done so much wrong and alicorns by their nature are meant to be perfect. Cadance, sick of Sunset's self-deprication, tells her to shut up. Sunset may have anger issues, but she's hardly the only flawed alicorn; Cadance is a coward who can't sleep alone, Celestia is a raging narcicist, and Twilight's hero worship crosses the line into sycophantry at times.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tron franchise:
    • Over 90% of TRON: Legacy takes place in a world known as The Grid, and the major conflict is built on the characters Flynn and Clu. Flynn is the creator of the world, but Clu has ruled the world since he rebelled against Flynn. Flynn is wise and benevolent, a personality that might seem a bit out of character for those who have seen the first movie and remember him as an immature brat. At the very end, it is revealed that he was still immature and shortsighted when he created the world and Clu, and that's why the world is in the sorry condition it is - Clu was simply carrying out the orders given to him by Flynn to the best of his ability, but Flynn and his world were both flawed. Thus Clu carried out flawed orders to the best of his flawed ability. This turned his quest for perfection into something vile, warping him into a Totalitarian Utilitarian leader of something that looks eerily familiar. At the climax of the movie, Flynn confronts Clu and spells out just how wrong he was, admitting he was arrogant and foolish, and forgiving Clu for trying to do the impossible and creating a twisted mockery of their original goals.
    • This is an overreaching theme for TRON in general. The Master Control Program believed itself to be a deity among systems, but it was a chess program that Dillinger lost control of, and Flynn sneers at Sark that Sark's just another program. "One that should have been erased." The renegade programs view Users, like Flynn, to be gods. Of course, Flynn splashes cold water on that notion when Tron brings it up.
      Tron: If you are a User, then everything you've done so far has been according to a plan, right?
      Kevin Flynn: [laughs] Hah, you wish. Ah, you guys know what it's like, you just keep doing what it looks like you're supposed to be doing, no matter how crazy it seems.
      Tron: That's the way it is for Programs, yes.
      Kevin Flynn: I hate to disappoint you, pal, but most of the time, that's the way it is for us Users too.
      Tron: Stranger and stranger.
  • The Supreme Being in Time Bandits. (post-Monty Python film by Terry Gilliam)
  • In Bruce Almighty, God is shown to be very human, and unable to make a perfect world because he has to respect the free will of all people (though this may be a self-imposed limitation.) Having Bruce gain his powers was a way to teach him this.
  • The Last Temptation of Christ contrasts what Jesus was born to do with what he wants to do—get married and live in peace.
  • Played for light laughs in the Oh, God! movies. God (George Burns) readily admits His mistakes, such as the goofy design of ostriches and that avocado pits are too big.
  • In The Acid House, Boab meets God in a pub, and just like him, God is a lazy apathetic loser. He simply doesn't care about what's happening with his creations, thinking that he already gave them enough. Most importantly, God hates himself for his lack of will to use his overwhelming powers. But because, being immortal, he can't punish himself, he wants to vent his anger on the creation so similar to him, i.e. Boab.

  • The Bible has several instances of God admitting mistakes, maybe the most moving and meaningful in Genesis 6:5-7.
    • It also has many instances of God getting angry. Not something you'd expect to see in a perfect God considering wrath is a deadly sin. Plus, He also experiences jealousy, especially towards anyone who worships a God other than Him (with Satan or idols often painted as the other gods, but with no way of us knowing if idols are real gods).
  • The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster: The Flying Spaghetti Monster caused the great flood by accident; when making pasta, the drain of the heavenly kitchen sink emptied itself straight down to earth. Oops.
  • In Blå Tornet, the world was created by a guy who one day had a really bad cold. In his fever, he happened to give his angels some really bad orders. Thousands of years of tragedy later, these are still in effect. And no, this is not Played for Laughs at all. Quite the contrary, actually.
  • In an interview with J. R. R. Tolkien, regarding The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, he claimed that while Eru Illúvatar God is infallible, the gods (Valar) set off the chain of events by making the initial mistake of inviting the elves to Valinor "in order to protect them." Before that, evil was introduced to the universe by the fall of Melkor, a Vala who became the god of evil Satan. So in this case the lowercase gods (or rather, angelic semi-divine beings) are flawed while uppercase God is not.
  • The Powers That Be of the Young Wizards universe generally mean well, but because they exist out of time they can't always understand problems as seen by normal mortals, which is why they need mortal wizards helping them. To quote senior wizard Carl, "They know what the universe was like when it left the factory but we're the ones who know all the little noises it makes. And where to kick it to make them stop."
  • The Most High in Russell Kirkpatrick's Fire Of Heaven trilogy and follow-on Broken Man/Husk Trilogy — he knows it and seeks someone to replace him. He's too tired to care any more and knows that makes for a poor God.
  • In Erik Wahlström's God the title character starts out as a petulant and Jerkass teenager who slowly matures and learns to take some responsibility for His creation. In the end, he ends up like an elderly corporate chairman a bit out of the loop, but he manages to settle his differences with Satan, and the two retire together as friends.
  • The gods on the Discworld aren't evil, but they couldn't care less about humans except that Gods Need Prayer Badly.
    • Om gets better about this after Small Gods due to Break the Haughty.
    • The general pantheon in The Last Hero notes that a god who doesn't want to end up dead, one way or another, needs to offer his followers something more than a lack of thunderbolts.
    • Not exactly a god, but the Creator (who appears in Eric) is notoriously absent-minded. Many of the Disc's lesser Anthropomorphic Personifications are likewise a bit inept and/or clueless.
  • In The Name of the Wind the story of Tehlu initially portrays him as judgmental and unwilling to help anyone who doesn't meet his standards. Sample attitude: that man beats his wife but she's sleeping around, so they deserve each other. He's taught to be more compassionate by the mother of his human incarnation.
  • In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, we see God's Final Message to His Creation: "We apologise for the inconvenience." Upon seeing this, Marvin feels good about it.
  • This trope is the conclusion of the Taker culture in Ishmael (1992).
  • In the Strugatsky Brothers novel Overburdened with Evil, the Wandering Jew depicts God this way. Every one of God's creations is burdened with evil, and God looks for a great man that is able to cure the world of said evil. The ending implies that one such person was finally found. God is also not omnipotent in this novel. The narrator is an astronomer, who published a massively incorrect theory based on miscalculation. He is recruited by promising to fix this issue. The problem was fixed by changing the laws of nature and rearranging the stars to suit the theory. In the past. However, it took several months, and the Wandering Jew mentioned that the task was rather challenging for his patron.
  • Urizen, a character in William Blake's poetry—his name parsed by scholars as "Your Reason"—is one God among many. In some ways, he resembles the Demiurge of Gnostic belief. Such facile explanations, however, brush aside deeply-woven nuances; Blake spent a lifetime forging a personal cosmology of extraordinary complexity. Desiring order, Urizen seeks to impose it on Man and the Cosmos. He possesses power to create, but by regarding himself as The Only Creator? Urizen, ultimately, reveals himself as pathetic: mired in self-deception. His inherently-flawed works contribute to human suffering; Blake's paintings depict Urizen bound within the Ur-Example of "mind-forg'd manacles," prefiguring those in which all humanity will entrap themselves.
  • In Rick Riordan's verse - The Camp Half-Blood Series (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus, and The Trials of Apollo) and the spin-offs The Kane Chronicles and Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard - , no one, not even the gods themselves, will attempt to claim they are faultless and perfect (granted, they usually only admit that when they think no one else is listening). Several of them have even admitted they are envious of humans, in that they can overcome their flaws in mere years and decades whereas they themselves have gone thousands of years still in the same patterns of behavior.
  • In Olaf Stapledon's "The Starmaker", when viewed, the title creator deity is seen as a work in progress. Its earliest universes are so badly made that the residual memory of them is what Hell is based on, while anticipation of its future creations are what Heaven is based on. The current universe, ours, is at the midpoint.
  • In the Jessica Christ series, God is basically good-natured and genuinely trying to help and protect humankind, but He is also frequently grouchy, petty, self-obsessed, and not nearly as infallible as He likes to pretend. It's put best in the prologue of the first book:
    "This was not the merciful God that Jimmy had always believed in. This was not even the wrathful God that Jimmy had worried might exist. This was just unhelpful God. Maybe even lackadaisical God."
  • The Belgariad: The gods (except Torak, of course) are all on the side of good, but they are capable of doing things out of spite and regretting their actions later.
  • José Saramago's novels Cain and The Gospel According to Jesus Christ depict God as selfish, cruel, and something short of omnipotent.
  • In Der Münchner im Himmel, God greatly misjudges the recently deceased Alois Hingerl. He orders Aloisius to play his harp and chant cheerfully and actually expects the former Munich citizen to do all that without a single drop of beer. Aloisius' cheering ends up more of a Cluster F-Bomb. As if admitting his misjudgment, God sends Aloisius back to Munich.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lucifer (2016): When he finally appears after several seasons of being The Ghost, God is revealed to be a friendly, well-meaning, and good-natured figure, but one who is Innocently Insensitive and bad at empathizing with people because of his omniscience.
  • In Supernatural, given that God tends to work In Mysterious Ways, there is much debate in- and out-of-universe about whether God Is Good or God Is Evil, but it's clear that God is not perfect. The Season 5 finale supports the "good" position. God AKA Chuck states that He wanted everyone to realize that FAMILY is what it's all about; not power, not good, not and love. Dean and Sam choosing family over everything else is supposed to be proof of that and why God did not need to directly intervene. On the other hand, God's own Parental Favoritism and later abandonment of His own children, the angels, forcing Michael to choose between his brother Lucifer or his father, comments by Sam and Dean about God just being another deadbeat father, and the treatment of God's earlier creations the Leviathans, and general refusal to do anything about the problems His abandonment has caused create most of the problems from Season 5 onward and point to God being a hypocrite who claims to be good and value family but uses it and free will to justify ignoring His responsibilities and the mess His abandonment created among the angels. It finally takes the re-emergence of His destructive sister The Anti-God for Him to intervene directly in season 11. God explains that He was so hands-off because when He tried being a helicopter parent, it ended up backfiring. The season 14 ending, on the other hand definitely comes down on the side of God Is Evil, as He kills Jack and starts a Zombie Apocalypse when Sam and Dean don't want to play along for His entertainment.

  • In Ebba Grön's song "Häng Gud" (Hang God), God is accused of racism, misogyny and forgetting about his loyal worshipers.
  • The Lily Allen song "Him" seems to portray God this way. Most of it is just speculation about what God might be like, but the chorus says "He's lost the will, he can't decide / He doesn't know what's right or wrong" and implies that while he doesn't like it when people kill each other in his name, there's not much he can really do about it.
  • Bad Religion deconstructs this trope (as well as the problem of evil) in their song "Better Off Dead". The lyrics are about God apologizing for creating the world so badly, but it comes across as the humans being ungrateful whiny bastards who fail to appreciate what they got.
  • The song "One of Us" by Joan Osborne (with covers by Alanis Morissette and others) portrays God as simultaneously flawed and sympathetic. (The chorus happens to think nobody "[calls him] on the phone", i.e., prays to him, except for maybe the Pope.)
  • In Blutengel's song "No God", God's biggest flaw is that he doesn't exist: "There's a god in your life, / But he is not what you need. / He can't hear you when you call. / He can't help you when you cry. / [...] / Wake up and face reality, realize there is no god. / Wake up open your eyes, / No paradise on the other side!"
    • One of the classic philosophical arguments for why God exists is that God is perfect. If God doesn't exist, then he wouldn't be perfect. Thus, God exists. This song turns this argument upside down.
  • In the title track of Tom Waits' Heart Attack And Vine, the narrator informs us, "Don't you know there ain't no devil? / That's just God when He's drunk."
  • "Dear God" by XTC is one long tirade against God: "I won't believe in heaven or hell / No saints, no sinners, no devil as well / No pearly gates, no thorny crown / You're always letting us humans down"

    Mythology and Religion 
  • This trope has a fair amount of historical precedent. It's been theorized that much of the Jerkass behavior exhibited by the Greek Gods was intended partially as a rationalization for the less-than-noble traits exhibited by humans. It makes sense that if we're made in the gods' images, and we're obviously not perfect, that the gods themselves possess human flaws.
  • Norse Mythology stands out from other Pagan mythologies in that each of the gods have flaws. Some of these flaws directly lead to Ragnarok.
  • Early portrayals of the Abrahamic God appear to show Him to have quite the temper and there exists at least one point where Moses wins an argument with God, calming Him down after the Jews disobeyed Him. The implications would be that righteous anger is not a flaw, that God wants His children to speak openly with him, etc. Jesus Christ would later call self-righteous religious leaders out for how flawed their concepts of flaws and perfections were, reminding them that the Lord, not they, sets the standards for perfect and flawed.
  • According to Gnosticism, the "god" of the Torah/Old Testament is alternatively an arrogant, malevolent Jerkass or simply a blundering, ignorant fool who believes himself to be the one true god due to his lack of knowledge of the real true God who is ultimately unknowable but manifests himself through a "divine spark" that Yahweh (or the Demiurge) unwittingly imbued his creation with, and also through certain divine messengers (Sophia, Jesus and/or Lucifer, depending on the sect of Gnosticism).
  • Mahabrahma the King of Devas in Buddhism is, according to some Buddhists, the founder of Hinduism and/or the monotheistic religions when he, wrongfully, thought he was the Creator (notice that Buddhism does not believe in the existence of universal creators at all). Mahabrahma is not considered evil by Buddhists, only misguided. Nevertheless, some Buddhist texts established that Mahabrahma accepted Buddha's teachings.
  • The open theism movement is a downplayed example: while it still believes God Is Good and really powerful, it denies that he's omnipotent, which would explain why evil still exists in the Universe: God isn't powerful enough to completely eradicate it.

  • On the Church of the SubGenius radio show The Hour of Slack, Rev. Ivan Stang commented, "God forgot to make stupidity painful."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the three members of the Triat are supposed to be working together to keep the forces of the cosmos in balance. Unfortunately, they're either too busy struggling against each other or too indifferent to perform their tasks properly. For example, the Weaver imprisoned the Wyrm in the web of creation, the Wyrm is slowly killing Gaia in his attempt to break free, and the Wyld could care less.
  • Exalted:
    • The Unconquered Sun in theory loves humanity and wants the best for them, but he's too busy playing/being addicted to the Games of Divinity to care about what happens in Creation — if he let himself pay attention he'd suffer a(nother) nervous breakdown seeing all the suffering and problems. Luna and the Five Maidens aren't paying that much more attention, either.
    • Many little gods are so petty and selfish that sometimes humans would be better off without them. With the seven Incarnae paying them no attention, the Celestial and Terrestrial Bureaucracies are corrupt and inefficient, and the Elemental Courts are out to lunch — gods who do care and try to do their jobs right are still numerous, but they're hampered and sometimes persecuted by all the ones who don't. The only place where the divine Courts still more-or-less functioning is where they're forced to by the agents of a despotic human theocracy led by an objectively wrong religion.
    • Then there are the Primordials, who built all this in the first place. They started out as inhuman, incomprehensible things somewhere between Titans and Eldritch Abominations, and after being imprisoned by the gods most of them have devolved into Mad God territory. The reason the war ended is that one suffered a psychotic break to understand that other sapient creatures might have opinions. Meanwhile, the two free Primordials who sided with the gods have wandered off somewhere else, and let Creation rot. The main reason Creation worked when the Primordials ran things is because they drove the gods and humans as slaves.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The God-Emperor is revered as the paragon of humanity (despite being a spirit bound to a desiccated corpse and an atheist), but his inability to consider people other than himself as important led to his downfall. His ignoring the wishes of his children, the Primarchs, led to them rebelling and/or joining Chaos (Angron just wanted to lead a Slave Rebellion, Lorgar wanted to worship him, Magnus wanted to study sorcery, etc.).
  • Warhammer Age Of Sigmar: Most of the gods in the settings are Deities Of Mortal Origin, and becoming divine hasn't removed any of their mortal foibles. Nagash is a petty tyrant, Gorkamorka is a shortsighted Blood Knight, Teclis is arrogant, and Allarielle has a hard time caring about anything that isn't a tree. Sigmar himself is unique in that he recognizes his flaws, and the fact that most of the problems in the setting are at least partially his fault, and he's trying to fix them. He often makes his Stormcast Eternals very uncomfortable when he openly acknowledges this, as they'd rather think of him as the perfect and flawless being he knows he isn't.

  • Father (or occasionally Mother) from Children of Eden tends to be rash and impulsive, and more than a little manipulative. He's slowly getting better about it though.

  • BIONICLE: Despite being unquestionably aligned with good, Mata Nui was far from a perfect leader for the Matoran. Being a space-faring giant robot whose body housed the Matoran Universe, he mostly saw his people as expendable parts of his biology (hence the series title) and grew neglectful. He created the Makuta species to handle things for him, which took a turn for the worst when they became power-hungry and the Makuta named Teridax usurped Mata Nui, launching his spirit into space. It was then that Mata Nui, masquerading as a mortal on the planet Bara Magna, learned to respect and protect those less powerful than him. Even after saving the world and defeating Teridax, Mata Nui chose to seal his consciousness in the Mask of Life, giving up his status as a deity to let society progress by itself.

    Video Games 
  • Gwyn from Dark Souls. Oh boy, where do we start with this guy? After slaying the Everlasting Dragons with the First Flame, he ushered in an age of peace and prosperity, seen by many as a benevolent and divine king. This all changed the First Flame, the source of his power, began to flicker. Horrified at the inevitability of the First Flame fading and unleashing an Age of Dark, Gwyn decided to sacrifice himself to burn eternally in the Kiln of the First Flame, just to delay the end of the Age of Fire and collapse of his kingdom. When you fight him in Dark Souls, he comes across as less of an threatening Evil Overlord or powerful God-Emperor, and more of a scared, lonely, broken old man you Mercy Kill. Unfortunately, much of the problems with the current world were caused by Gwyn indirectly. The unnatural extension of the Age of Fire has had serious consequences for the world. His formation of the Darksign in an attempt to suppress the innate darkness inside of humanity ended up causing the Undead Curse and the Hollowing of humans. If he could've just kept his fear of the Dark (which as it turns out wasn't bad until his Darksign caused it to go out of control) in check, then the cycle of Light and Dark would've passed peacefully. But he couldn't and so humanity and the gods were trapped in a decaying world desperate to end for potentially thousands of years all because Gwyn just couldn't let go. It all comes to Dark Souls III, thousands or even hundreds-of-thousands after he is slain by the Chosen Undead. His kingdom has been abandoned and destroyed. All of his champions murdered. His eldest son betrayed him to his sworn enemies, the Dragons (quite probably out of love at that). After choosing to burn in the Kiln for all eternity, his hope of his daughter and youngest son to preserve his kingdom is completely crushed when it falls to ruin because of the selfishness of the both of them. Said son ends up enduring a Fate Worse than Death, being consumed by an Eldritch Abomination. Even the Mercy Kill during the first game is removed when he is resurrected as the Soul of Cinder, his melancholic Leitmotif audible in the boss music. Rather than being some evil, conniving mastermind, Gwyn was just as scared and desperate for a solution as everyone else. He tried, and failed, to delay the inevitable, to save his people and his vision of his world, and people suffered from his choices.
  • Both of the goddesses from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn are flawed. One is known for having an unpredictable temper and the other is half-insane from isolation and sees mankind as a blemish on her definition of "order". They're two halves of a whole deity that was also flawed, with a notable "does not know her own strength" incident that wiped out most of the continents.
  • Many of the Archons (Elemental gods of a region) from Genshin Impact can be considered this. Many of them wish to help their nation and its people, following an ideal that they believe will benefit them as a whole. However, their methods are flawed, and sometimes have negative effects on their people. The most flawed of them is the Electro Archon who rules over the land of Inazuma. She believes in the concept of Eternity and thinks that change is evil and will lead to destruction of her country after living through the horrors of the Cataclysm that took her sister's life, and thus tries to keep her nation in statis. She hides away in a pocket dimension meditating while leaving her country in the hands of a Puppet, issuing a Vision Hunt and a lockdown that causes an entire year of suffering and a civil war to break out. It isn't until the Traveler along with her friend's help and a special Macguffin that houses the wills of humanity supercharges them allowing them to overcome her and convince her that her methods were wrong. The Traveler later on teaches her the importance of walking among her people, showing her that change is an inevitable thing, and that it doesn't have to be bad. Upon acknowledging her mistakes, she becomes The Atoner and soon takes a more direct hand in leading her country. By the time of the Iradori festival that takes place later, her country has changed greatly for the better.
  • Mortal Kombat's Raiden fluctuates between being a cruel and petty god who cares little for humans to one who is well-intentioned but constantly screws things up on a monumental scale.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, the soul of the Bionis, Zanza, is very flawed. He has an immense amount of hubris, is very arrogant, and believes himself to be the be-all-end-all who decides how life on the Bionis should live, wiping them out with Telethia on a whim should he feel they become close to breaking from the passage of Fate that he himself created, and claims to have done this many times before. Despite being able to see Visions of what is to come, he is not omnipotent, as the person who actually supplies him power is Alvis, the Third God and the True Monado, who was originally a machine, and as such is not flawed like Zanza. His counterpart, Meyneth, the soul of the Mechonis, is much more benevolent, but she still makes mistakes as well, as she let Zanza wipe out and restart the cycle of creation on Bionis many times in the past without lifting a finger, only finally opposing his actions when he began to attack the people living on her Titan. However, the 2 Gods being flawed is very justified considering both of them were originally Humans who became Gods through an experiment that destroyed and recreated the universe.
  • In the sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, The Architect who lives on Alrest was really just a man named Klaus, the same Klaus who became Zanza in the world of Xenoblade 1, except he is the other half of that being. When the world was destroyed by the experiment, and he became a God, he realized the destruction he had wrought through his eagerness to create a new world and lamented it, despite starting his experiments in the hopes of creating a perfect world where people would not have to suffer and in turn, become evil and twisted like people had in his original home of Earth. As such, after creating Blades and Humans, he took an off hands approach and wanted people to live without his guidance and make a good world on their own. This allowed Amalthus to climb the world tree and retrieve Malos and Mythra's Core Crystals, which then would proceed to ravage the world in their clash later known as the Aegis War, sinking 3 titans in the process. As a result of this, Amalthus would then try to attack and destroy Mythra, which led him to end up ruining Jin's life and beginning his Start of Darkness. By that same token, Amalthus had already been corrupted by the world around him, and those feelings of hatred he harbored towards Humanity and the World was what caused Malos to become evil and warped in the first place, and started the war. So because of the Architect's hands-off approach, he inadvertently created the main antagonists of the game through his actions. God is not perfect here either. However, he still has much better intents and is much more benevolent than his other half, Zanza, in Xenoblade 1's dimension.
  • The three goddesses from The Legend of Zelda franchise. Despite being basically omnipotent, many of the problems in Hyrule (and other worlds) boil down to them tossing the Idiot Ball around, when they bother to do anything at all. If Zelda is to be believed, they created the Triforce as a symbol of humanity's limitless potential... despite it being god complex waiting to happen. They also don't seem to have much influence over those lucky few who get a piece, for good or bad, though that's possibly because there are other forces at work. Their smartest idea by far was to let someone else do the Goddess-ing and Hero-ing. Then there's that one time where they tried an especially costly strategy to wipe out Ganon's forces once and for all... and failed.
  • All of the Elder Powers from Nexus Clash have this in spades. The Evil Powers are easy to explain because Evil Will Fail, but every last one of the pantheon - even the angels - have flaws in their ideologies that eventually cause the worlds they shape to fall apart, forcing another cycle of the Eternal Recurrence that drives the series. The most recent example was a world shaped by Baraas, angelic god of Cooperation and quite possibly the sanest being in the pantheon, which exploded spectacularly when his ideals eventually got amplified via world-spanning authoritarianism.
  • The goddesses of the Neptunia series always mean well and are good girls, but have their own quirks. Neptune is a prime case of The Gods Must Be Lazy, Vert has a game addiction that leads to week-long MMO runs, Blanc has a temper problem and Noire doesn't play well with others. Not to mention Plutia's HDD mode being a nasty dom and Peashy being a little kid with too much power. Though once they get their act together, they can take out anything from lowly mooks to villainess goddesses to universe-wrecking abominations.
  • The Father from Doom Eternal is the one being that the Maykr race comes from. From what we can see in the Khan Makyr, we can probably infer that he has issues. Said issues being that while he is actually truly, genuinely good and compassionate, he is also too compassionate, having decided to banish the Dark Lord instead of killing him because he loved him too much.
    • And according to lore, either the Dark Lord was God, or was the firstborn son of God. Either way, God wouldn't/couldn't make more than a few people immortal, which was the Start of Darkness for the Dark Lord.
  • Marle in Puyo Puyo Tetris 2. Being the Will of the Worlds, she created Squares out of loneliness and gave him a role involving managing order while she focused on fun. However, her not properly explaining Squares' role to him as well as not taking his maturity into account leads him to get very confused when they first witnessed the Puyo Puyo and Tetris worlds merging. Bad things happen as a result of this.
  • In contrast with most of the series interpretations of God, His portrayal in Shin Megami Tensei V is a lot more nuanced than most. While He still claimed the title of Top God and forcefully demonized all other gods, He also recreated Tokyo after it was destroyed and saved everyone that died because of it. It's telling that the Chaos faction are grateful for His actions even if they believe His rule should be replaced.
  • In ULTRAKILL, the Testaments at the end of almost every secret level outline God's turmoil in the backstory. He has spent countless cycles trying and failing to create a mind without free will, believing it to be the biggest flaw with humanity. Out of frustration, He creates Hell, and quickly regrets it upon realizing that Hell itself is a living organism which is far too powerful to be unmade. Then He banishes Lucifer there upon being questioned about why humanity deserved to suffer, another decision which soon wracks Him with guilt. The end result of all this is God disappearing from Heaven (if not having outright died), leaving a corrupt Council of Angels to rule in His stead.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Volume 6 flashbacks reveal that it's only after Salem has been punished with Complete Immortality that it occurs to her that she successfully manipulated the gods and accidentally pitted them against each other. She concludes that they're not infallible and therefore can be opposed. She manipulates monarchs with the promise of immortality and raises an army to take down the gods. However, humanity is no match for the beings that created them and gave them their gifts, such as magic. The God of Darkness takes back the magic from humanity, then wipes outs the entire race except for Salem. The two gods depart with the God of Light saying that they will reflect on the mistakes they have made while Salem should reflect on hers. Volume 9 confirms that the two Brothers have a very flawed understanding of existence when the heroes meet the being that created the gods and learn just how flawed the gods really are.

  • In this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip, Humans Are Flawed because God Is Flawed...with amusing implications.
    • It's kind of a theme for the author. In this one, God was hoping we'd have some answers for him.
  • In Deities God is not always the easiest person to be around.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons has YISUN. Despite being the creator of the universe and the most powerful being there is, he freely admits that not only is reality his opinion, he doesn't know if it's a correct one. Then again, he also admits he's a Consummate Liar. Given how unimaginably powerful he is, it doesn't matter much. He's dead at the time he does these things.
    • Also, the goddess Aesma. She's short-tempered, Hot-Blooded, impatient, and rather stubborn. Kind of obvious where humanity gets it from.
    • All Seven Demiurges count in their own ways; in spite of their all-consuming evils, they're still people. They just happen to cause cosmically more death and destruction than mortals as the inheritors of the multiverse.note 
    • May also veer into God Is Evil, if one can believe Jagganoth's claim that Metatron made up YISUN to justify his totalitarian rulership of Heaven, while Metatron is the true Top God but blames a perfect God who made him as an excuse for his flawed (and possibly malevolent) behavior. This still counts, because Zoss pummeled this supposedly unkillable and near-omnipotent entity into submission and crippled him so thoroughly that no amount of scheming will stop the endless eldritch pain coursing through his quadriplegic body.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Thor explains that every god is unimaginably powerful, but is ultimately composed of a single essence based on their pantheon. A creation made of a single essence is ephemeral, but when the gods pour their essences together, the result is more stable. And this is why The Snarl can be contained by mortals but not by gods. As a being composed of four different essences, it would utterly annihilate a god made of a single essence while taking longer to annihilate a mortal world made of three. Thor's gambit is trying to convince The Dark One to pour his essence to reinforce the world, bringing it back to four essences.

    Web Original 
  • Several episodes of Mr. Deity involve him being called out for allowing bad things that he could easily have stopped, using needlessly overcomplicated schemes for no good reason, or not thinking his plans through. He generally has some kind of non-sequitur reason why this is for the best, but none of the other characters believe him.
  • The Onion: God Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder.
  • One episode of Zinnia Jones portrays God as a victim of peer pressure, with horrible consequences such as going along with barbaric cultural patterns until Jesus came along.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: Makes frequent references to God being a flawed Being and at times an outright Dirty Old Man. For instance, in the former example, he once was accused of "making Rosie wrong" (a reference to Rosie O Donnell's recent announcement that she was gay). In the latter example, he's depicted as lusting after women and wanting them for sex.
  • Futurama:
    • The episode "Godfellas" explores the idea of one being acting as God to many less powerful ones, neither of which is perfect:
      • Bender gets a colony of tiny people living on his body. Even when he tried to be a benevolent god, he screwed up so badly that they all died in the end.
      • The nebula that Bender believes is God is powerful and rational, but doesn't seem to remember its own possibly artificial origins and is highly suggestible on the matter. It is incredibly knowledgeable but far from omniscient, and initially uncertain where the Earth is in the universe. However, it's possible that he's simply pretending to prevent unnecessary effects from occurring. He explains just how difficult it is to be God — do too much and the people become dependent on you, do too little and they stop believing in you. He explains that the only way to do things right is make it so that no one can be sure if you did anything. As he sets up the ending so that Bender will go back and save the monks, it's implied that his seeming faults are merely another part of his act.
    • "The Beast with a Billion Backs" is about an Eldritch Abomination that rules Heaven (which is actually a Fluffy-Cloud Eldritch Location and angels are non-sentient birds shaped like people). Despite being all-loving, shkle's crippled by jealousy and immediately ban everyone because one guy sent a letter to his friend, accidentally breaking the strange 'no relationships with other universes' rule.
  • God, the Devil and Bob shows God as omnipotent but still physically and psychologically human. He generally wants what's best for the world, but he's not afraid to take extreme measures to get what he wants. Like the time he crushed someone under a tree in order to get on a baseball team, or the several times he's considered destroying humanity if Bob doesn't complete whatever mission he's been given. He also has a few fears and doesn't seem to have any power over the Devil.
    God: Y'know the expression "It's Lonely at the Top?" That's when you're talkin' about presidents and Streisand. Imagine what it's like for me.
    Bob: So, you get lonely? Maybe you know more about being human than I thought.
  • South Park: The few times God has appeared in show, he's been portrayed as a decent guy. A hippo-monkey-cat who's a practicing Buddhist, but a nice guy. Flawed because of his long-time practice of only letting Mormons into Heaven...which meant everyone else went to Hell. Including Buddhists. The first idea (God being Buddhist) is probably a spoof of a real-life concept in Buddhism that according to some scriptures God himself recognized Buddha’s superioritynote  which Shows Their Work. The second idea of only letting Mormons enter heaven is mocking the belief that some real-life fundamentalist churches have that only members of their specific group would enter heaven no matter what behavior good or bad non-members may have. On the other hand, Hell is a pretty decent place for most people (only serious evildoers get actually tortured), while Heaven is so dull that only the Mormons can enjoy it. Even serious evildoers often are able to do rather well in Hell. Saddam Hussein managed to romance Satan himself (who turns out to be not too bad a guy after all, and certainly not deserving of what happens to him) and parlay being Satan's abusive boyfriend into taking over Hell and using it to invade Earth.

Alternative Title(s): Flawed God, Imperfect God, God Is Imperfect