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God Job

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"My dear Son Goku... Won't you take my place? The two of you will be very happy in heaven as god and goddess."
Kami, Dragon Ball

There's all sorts of odd jobs in the world, and some odd jobs have a job requirement of being a god, making them God Jobs.

In certain settings, the various god(s) and other mythical beings are not a single entity, but rather someone (who was at one point mortal, or even a muggle) who holds a job or a title. Something like a mix between Anthropomorphic Personification and Legacy Character, where said personification is not an entity but a job being filled. May come with literal Contractual Immortality for as long as the mortal still holds the office. Occasionally the original holder of the job was a literal Anthropomorphic Personification; circumstances (or its death) forced it to pass on its powers to a mortal, who now occupies the office.

A specific form of this deals with Santa Claus, who is often a normal person who has to take the job of "Santa". Many Christmas specials deal with a new Santa gaining the job, or the old Santa looking for a replacement. Another common figure is Death, and the period between the old death and a new death assuming the role often leads to Death Takes a Holiday. See Subbing for Santa for various mythological figures who get replaced.

See Also: Someone Has to Do It and Position of Literal Power, when supernatural forces are making sure that such a post is filled, sometimes via You Kill It, You Bought It. Also, people who ascend to such a God Job inevitably qualify as Physical Gods. If you become a god of an unimpressive thing, your God Job might make you one of the Odd Job Gods.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The God of Earth, Kami, is an old Namekian who has forgotten his own name, who took over from the previous God. In the original Dragon Ball, after Goku defeats Piccolo Jr., the reincarnation of Kami's evil half, Kami offers his position to Goku, though as he just got engaged to Chi-Chi, he declines. In Dragon Ball Z, Kami would later be replaced by Dende, another Namekian, because the heroes needed someone to fill the job after Kami fused with Piccolo.
    • Much, much later, in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, after the battle with Beerus the God of Destruction, his attendant Whis offers to make Goku Beerus's successor, as even Beerus isn't immortal and will die someday. Again, Goku turns it down, though he sort of became a god anyway, having gained the ability to temporarily become a Super Saiyan God.
  • The Skypeia Arc of One Piece takes place in the White Sea, which distinctly resembles Fluffy Cloud Heaven, and is ruled by someone who holds the office of "God". Not quite an example, since it's just a title; although the title did get transferred through a kind of Klingon Promotion: the current God got it by defeating the previous one, and he was not that far off, power-wise: Nigh-Invulnerable AND capable of avoiding attacks by predicting an enemy's moves AND restarting his own heart, capable of hearing anything said in his domain, plus enough offensive power to qualify as a Person of Mass Destruction.
  • The position of God is more akin to a job in Future Diary. The plot happens because the current God (Deus ex Machina) wishes to choose a successor because he is dying. Anyone who inherits the position will also gain the vast powers that Deus commands.
  • Death Note: This is how Light Yagami views his acquisition of the titular Artifact of Doom and his mission to murder the world's entire population of criminals. Of course, Light isn't actually in the position of a god, nor is he any form of The Chosen One - he just likes to think so.
  • In Space☆Dandy, the Series Finale has the Lemony Narrator reveal himself to be God, and offers Dandy the chance to take his place. Dandy refuses as he was The Hedonist who enjoyed life's pleasures too much to give up his physical form, and the universe resets with life more or less continuing as normal but this time with no god.

    Comic Books 
  • This might be Wild Mass Guessing, but in The Sandman (1989), it's theorized that the Endless work this way. The main example being Despair; the mortal person who killed the first Despair became Despair as punishment. Dream does something kind of similar, as the son of the person who killed him becomes the second Dream, although he had been groomed for the role for quite some time.
  • Spider-Verse: The Master Weaver is presented as one of the spider-deities who oversees the Web of Life and Destiny, and thus the very Multiverse itself. When he's killed by the Superior Spider-Man, it's discovered that anyone with spider powers can be the Master Weaver, Silk deliberating taking his place. Karn discovers that the now-deceased Master Weaver is his future self and creates a time loop by taking his place to atone for his attempted genocide of the spiders.
  • Wonder Woman
    • In Wonder Woman (1987) (Post-Crisis) Ares becomes the new ruler of Hades (including Tartarus and Elysium) by killing Hades.
    • In Wonder Woman (2011) (New 52) Diana becomes the God of War by killing Ares. The only reason she did this was to stop a madman from doing it and acquiring Ares' power for himself. In addition, after Zeus goes missing, Apollo winds up taking his father's place on Olympus's throne.
  • In X-Factor (2006), after a fight with the Irish goddess the Morrigan, Banshee runs into her again and the Morrigan claims to be "tired" of being a goddess and implies they too were once human or at least mortal, when Theresa kills her (at her own request) she becomes the new Morrigan.
  • In X-Men, the Phoenix Force is implied to work this way - it picks a host for some purpose or another, they serve its purpose and/or burn-up, then it moves on. In some rare cases, usually involving the Grey-Summers family, it sticks around for a while.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm:
    • In the case of Asgardians, positions like 'God of Thunder' are mantles of power and are passed down or handed over, with a distinction being made between Gods (those without mantles) and Greater Gods (those with mantles).
    • The mantle of power principle also applies to the likes of the Queens of Faerie and their Knights.
    • The Phoenix Force picks Her Hosts to do whatever bit of Phoenix work needs doing - usually for a short time, because the power of the Phoenix tends to burn holes in reality if it's in one place for too long/overused, and there's a real risk of being burnt up and turning into a Humanoid Abomination. That being said, Sunniva was, at the very least, a Host for decades and Lily ended up becoming the White Phoenix of the Crown, the primary aspect of the Phoenix.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: The Powers That Be in this setting aren't actually gods, but the principle is the same, as it's explained that they can pass their Mantles down to a successor if they choose to (which Discord says is how succession is supposed to be triggered) or are forcibly stripped of it for misconduct (as happened with Self-Centeredness and Hatred during the second story).
    • Some of them can also temporarily take on the Duties of another, such as:
      • Night or Day could take on one another's Duties.
      • Dreams is attuned to Night, and could fill in for them, or Day.
      • Dreams and Nightmares could fill in for one another if they aren't already held by the same host. Dreams can also be shared with others, as multiples of Luna have done across the multiverse to create their Dreamguard.
      • Nightmares, due to being attuned to Dreams, could fill in for them, and by extension for Night or Day if needed.
      • Magic can readily sub for Day and/or Night.
      • Summer and Fire are suitable substitutes for Day, while Winter or Water are viable substitutes for Night.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ernest Saves Christmas deals with this plot too, as Santa is looking for his successor to the job.
  • The Captain of the Flying Dutchman in Pirates of the Caribbean is like a sea version of the grim reaper, in charge of bringing the souls of those who died at sea back to the afterlife. The Job is held by a mortal (or someone who's on the verge of dying) who becomes pretty much immortal as long as they keep the job.
    • This falls squarely within the domain of You Kill It, You Bought It. Of course, anyone who faithfully captains the Dutchman for a decade has the option of leaving the position.
  • The Santa variant of this trope is seen in The Santa Clause. Whoever puts on Santa's clothes following the previous Santa's death becomes the new Santa, with all the abilities, appearance quirks and duties this implies. They do, however, keep certain characteristics of their old self. The third movie deals with what would have happened if someone evil got the suit- a crass commercial greedy Santa.
  • In Hop the Easter Bunny is a title that is passed on from father to son, but only bunnies have ever accepted the title. The plot begins when the next in line refuses to pick up the mantle, and the human being Fred wishes to accept it instead. Unfortunately, so does the main antagonist: a chick named Carlos.
  • Ghost Ship: Ferriman.
    "I'm a salvager. Just like you. You collect ships, I collect souls. And when I fill my quota, I send a boatload home. This will make management happy. You see, it's a job. Given to me after a lifetime of sin. So if I lose this ship, management won't be happy."
  • In the brazilian film "God Is Brazilian", God decides to go on vacation and comes to Earth because one guy, who lives in the middle of nowhere, has the moral requirements for the job. He spends the whole movie trying to find this specific man, who turn out to be an atheist (as in "God proves, in various ways, that he is, indeed, God, but the man flat out states "I don't believe in you, I'm an atheist") and rejects the offer.
  • In Bruce Almighty, down-on-his-luck news reporter Bruce calls out God because he feels that God's slacking on his job. God decides to offer Bruce his job for one week to see if he can do it better. Sure enough, the divine power goes to Bruce's head and he uses it to screw around.

  • The basic premise of Incarnations of Immortality is this: Various concepts (Death, War, Time, Nature, Fate, Evil, Good and Night/Secrets) are held by god-like beings who are in fact mortals charged with these offices, gaining immortality and supreme power over their respective domains in the process.
    • Immortality is more than stretching it for Time (who retains his office for precisely as long as he lived before gaining it, since he lives BACKWARDS in time, and 'dies' at the moment of his birth (or conception, this is never clarified and other Incarnations say they aren't sure which).
  • Discworld:
    • In Thief of Time, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Time retires and is replaced by her son.
    • Death is a role that must be filled, and when no one is around to do it, things get... weird.
      • When Death took a holiday in Mort, his apprentice started taking on more of his traits while Death himself became more human. In his own words, Death is whoever does Death's job.
      • Subsequent holidays mean that Mort's daughter and Death's grand-daughter, Susan, has to fill in. Not out of her own will, but because if he goes too long without doing the Duty, she too starts displaying more Death-like traits and has no choice in the matter. She's generally quite indignant about the whole thing.
    • Hogfather:
      • Death himself takes on the role of the Hogfather (Santa Claus) when the Hogfather gets disbelieved out of existence, and his granddaughter Susan must both take on his role temporarily AND figure out just what's going on and stop it.
      • We learn that because Discworld Gods Need Prayer Badly, over time "old gods do new jobs" in order to retain believers. Susan sees proof of this when she sees how the Hogfather has changed from his original incarnation to his current form.
  • In the Mythology of the Modern World stories on Banter Latte, some of the Anthropomorphic Personifications (such as the Neighborhood Coordinator) work this way, while others are supernatural beings that were never mortal.
  • Rough Draft has "functionals" as its central concept. They are former humans with godlike powers in everything related to a specific job. In exchange, they are required to devote themselves to that job. In Final Draft, as The Hero defeats some of them, they typically offer him to take their place, basically assuming their powers and obligations.
  • This is the plot of Chinese classic novel Fengshen Yanyi, which is about how various heroes of Ancient China became gods during the legendary period during the rise and fall of the Shang Dynasty.
  • Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure has a minor character in Marcus, a mortal who apparently got tricked into an agreement with Charon such that he has to spend six months each year taking Charon's place running the Acheron ferry to Hades so Charon can have some time off.
  • Not gods, but the Faerie Queens' and Knights' positions in The Dresden Files are passed on in this fashion.
  • The Riddle Master Trilogy: It turns out that the entire plot was driven by the High One preparing Morgon to take up his job when he died.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The reapers of Dead Like Me work like this. The last person they reap before moving on gets the job.
  • Lost: The protector of the island gets all sorts of cool powers, gets to set the rules for the island, and never ages. However, he can be killed by conventional means, so he must perpetually seek a replacement. Also, the finale implies that what's being protected is, at least in part, the afterlife, which the protector can never experience until he finds a successor and dies.
  • Once in Xena: Warrior Princess, Ares loses his powers and it turns out that the god of war is a title; without someone in the position, violent urges in humans run rampant.
  • Supernatural:
    • In the episode "Apointment In Samarra", Dean is temporarily made into a reaper to do Death's job for one day as part of a deal, if he wins then Death will retrieve Sam's soul. He fails, but Death decides that he learned the right Aesop anyway and holds up his end of the bargain.
    • In fact, Death can be killed for good with his own scythe, but the next Reaper to die will then inherit his ring and automatically take his place. Billy becomes the new Death after Castiel kills her. After Billie herself is pulled into the Empty, a reaper named Betty takes her place... for about an hour before Lucifer kills her too.
  • In Life On Mars and Ashes to Ashes (2008), it's revealed that Gene Hunt is a Psychopomp, meant to ferry the souls of dead policemen to the afterlife. He himself was once a young copper, shot and killed during his first day on duty.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • One of the main things that separates Mormonism from mainstream Christianity.
  • Common in Chinese myth, where a good official on Earth might be promoted to godhood. There is a story in Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio about just this happening, although the official gets a delay of nine years so can look after his aging mother until she dies.
  • In Breton and Cornish folklore there is a Psychopomp known as Ankou, however unlike many other personifications of death Ankou isn't so much a person as a title/job and there isn't just one of them. Instead the last person from a parish to die that year becomes the next year's Ankou for that parish, with each parish having its own Ankou.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Gods in the Forgotten Realms work this way: Being a god is a matter of having a god's portfolio (essentially a god's authority over a specific domain). Many if not most of the gods of the realms used to be mortals at some points. On occasion, they even switch portfolios around or murder other deities to take over their job as well.
    • A prime example is Cyric, who was a mortal who allied himself with the god of thieves, who had assumed the physical form of a sword. With it he killed the god of murder and the goddess of illusion and took over both jobs.
    • Another is the Dead Three; Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul. They were mortal Godhood Seekers who confronted the god Jergal and demanded his powers. Jergal, who had grown bored with his work, simply acquiesced to their demands and retired.
  • While not strictly speaking Gods (though many mortals worship them), being an Archetype of Unknown Armies is definitely a God Job. To qualify, you need to be a supremely empathic person with a strong soul, and behave in strict accordance with a specific idea of what a human being can be, like The Fool, The Trickster, or The Mother. Archetypes can be deposed by other people who walk a similar (but not identical) path to theirs and symbolically demonstrate their superiority to the reigning Archetype. Alternately, if most of humanity stops imagining an Archetype, then that Archetype disappears and whatever mortal held that office is cast down. The latter doesn't happen often, though; for an Archetype to exist in the first place, it has to be universally ingrained in the collective unconscious of humanity as a "thing," and ideas like that don't disappear easily.
  • Exalted: It is theoretically possible for a mortal to get a god's job. It would require the mortal to already have divine power, either from having a divine ancestor or by being endowed with power from a god (which few gods think is worth the effort). Such god-blooded mortals have the potential to ascend into small gods themselves. Of course, Heaven is filled with unemployed gods, and if a position opens in the Celestial Bureaucracy, it is highly unlikely that that job would go to a former mortal. Being a god in Exalted doesn't necessarily mean being the god of something.
  • This is known to happen in Nobilis: each Estate (fundamental building block of the universe) is part of an Imperator's being, and they create Powers by sharing that Estate with a mortal, placing it in their soul. If a Noble dies, then the Estate can be transferred to someone else, making them a new Power. One known way of becoming a Power is to eat a dead Power's heart, thus gaining their Estate; such happened with the current Power of Clocks.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls
  • This is how Kratos became the God of War.
  • Used in one ending of Princess Maker 2. Your daughter finds a way to defeat the ultimate evil (Lucifon) once and for all, only to get a Tomato Surprise since no one had an idea that You Kill It, You Bought It was in effect. (This is of course, another "do not mess with the 'natural' order" type trope.)
    • Your daughter has to be pretty evil (high in sin) for this to happen, and it's mentioned in the ending that the job passes to the most "suitable candidate". Namely, your by now very evil daughter. If a less sinful daughter had killed Lucifon, things wouldn't have ended so badly (Though some other sinful person would have to take the job.)
  • In Suikoden, the True Runes work like this - bearing one gives you immortality, incredible magical power over your True Rune's sphere of influence. It also usually means dooming yourself to a tragic destiny appropriate to that same sphere.
  • In The World Ends with You, anyone powerful enough to kill the Composer can become the new Composer themselves, granting them the authority to judge the souls of the dead. The sequel implies however that it is one of many ways to become the Composer and it is possible for the current one to merely choose a successor who agrees to it.
  • Cosmos and Chaos are this in the Dissidia Final Fantasy series, having been assigned to rule over harmony and discord. The sequel explains their back-stories.

  • In Sluggy Freelance all holiday figures (Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tom Turkey, etc.) can die and be replaced, with the person killing them having the "right of caste" to claim the role for themselves. With Santa Claus, however, taking on the job after killing him is mandatory.
  • Slightly Damned: (Warning major spoilers) The Death that we've met is actually an angel named Darius Elexion who is currently filling in for the real Death while he tries to find the two missing creator gods Gaia and Syndel. Unlike most other examples of this trope it is only suppose to be a temporary arrangement, Darius's power comes from the still living skull of the middle head of Cerberus which the real Death had severed and cursed, wearing the skull gives Darius a portion of Deaths power and his appearance but he doesn't know how to reincarnate dead souls which is an important part of the job.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation