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God of the Dead

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"Yo, hey, how ya doing everybody? Got a minute? Hades, Lord of the Dead. Nice to see ya. Hey, guess what? I've got a place for you DOWN UNDER!"

In mythology, gods often exist to explain aspects of nature that a culture cannot otherwise understand. The more common and important a given thing or phenomenon, the more likely it is to have a god representing it and the more likely that god is to be seen as important and widely revered. Death, as the most universal constant in the human experience, has consequently had its own fair share of patron deities.

These figures usually take one of two forms — Gods of Death and Gods of the Dead — although there is often overlap between these archetypes. Gods of death are typically the ones overseeing the actual process of death, guiding the souls of the deceased to the afterlife, while gods of the dead deal with what comes after, ruling over the afterworld and sorting and judging the souls of the dead.

In personality, these deities are typically grim and uncompromising figures, neither cruel nor merciful but unwaveringly dedicated to ensuring that their part of creation works like it's supposed to, mirroring the finality and impartiality of death itself. People must die when their time comes; the dead may not cross back to the world of the living; and, once a soul shuffles off its mortal coil, be they saint or tyrant, neither prayer or offerings nor the pleading of other gods may alter their judgement. Consequently, these deities often loathe undeath and necromancy, seeing them as perversions of the cycle of life and death.

Less commonly, however, gods of death may be portrayed as malicious or evil figures who actively spread death and relish their power over mortals. In extreme cases, these figures may be outright Omnicidal Maniacs seeking to end all life and bring all mortal souls within their domain. Less extreme or proactive examples may still enjoy lording their power over mortals, gloating over each soul that slips into their grasp, and raging at perceived thefts when a mortal literally or figuratively cheats death. These sorts, unlike the first kind, tend to have a much more favorable view of the undead and often use them as minions and enforcers.

Gods of Death often have a tenuous or distant relationship with living mortals. Their worship is rarely attractive, as in most cases service and devotion won't get you favorable treatment or longer life. Their priesthoods are often limited to funerary orders who tend to the dead, but it's also common for their worshipers to be charged with hunting down undead beings and those who extend their lives unnaturally and, so to speak, "easing" their passage into the hereafter. Everybody Hates Hades may also be in play in-universe, and death gods are feared or resented by the living.

Gods of Death are typically inspired by historical examples of such deities, most prominently the Greco-Roman god Hades. The Grim Reaper is also a common source of visual and thematic inspiration.

See also Don't Fear The Reaper if the God of the Dead is depicted as a kindly and/or impartial figure; they'll often be The Stoic as well. These figures may be served by or allied with Psychopomps; note that Shinigami literally means "death gods". Subtrope of Stock Gods. Gods of the dead are usually responsible for the Judgement of the Dead.


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    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Among the gods of Theros, both basic archetypes are filled by one of the Black-aligned gods.
      • Erebos, God of the Dead, serves as a Hades analogue and rules over the shades of the departed in the Underworld. A bleak and forbidding figure, Erebos permits nobody to avoid or escape from his realm and uses his impossibly long whip Mastix to snare reluctant souls and pull them into death.
      • Athreos, God of Passage, is derived from Charon and serves as the primary ferryman of Theros's dead, carrying them across the Five Rivers that Ring the World and into the Underworld that lies beyond.
    • Egon, God of Death, is Kaldheim's ruler of the dead. He rules Istfell, the realm of the unworthy dead, although his power over the local spirits is limited by their eternal apathy.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • The Flash: The Black Flash is the personification of death for speedsters, created by the Speed Force to capture them at the end of their lives so that they can become one with the Speed Force.
    • New Gods: The Black Racer is the death god for the Fourth World. Even otherwise godlike beings like Darkseid and Allfather can't defeat him.
    • The Sandman (1989): Death of the Endless is the Anthropomorphic Personification of death who comes for everyone when their time is up. While the series features other gods of death, like Anubis, Hades, and Persephone, and the Spin-Off The Thessaliad features Pluto, Thoth, and Morrigan, their influence is limited to those who believe in them.
    • Wonder Woman: Hades occasionally appears as either an antagonist or uneasy ally.
  • Lady Death is the Queen of Hell and Goddess of All That Is Dead and Dying. In one story, it is stated that her army of the undead is loyal to her because she mostly lets them rest in peace save for when she needs their aid unlike the forces of Heaven who use their souls as fuel.
  • Marvel Universe: Black Cat: Issue #5 introduces the Gilded Saint, a god of wealth and death from another dimension. He is the patron god of the New York Thieves Guild. In return for ten percent of what they steal, the Gilded Saint grants them immortality.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: The Light and Dark Gods of Good and Evil, respectively, get the souls of their worshippers after they die. The only god whose portfolio is based around death, however, is the Dark God, Crowned Death, whose focus is on decay, death, killing spells, the eventual end of everything, and The Undead.
  • Elementals of Harmony: "They Live on in These Parts" describes Temperance, the Princess of Endings, who is the alicorn who ushers departed souls to the afterlife. A Suspiciously Specific Denial in an author's note in the story implies that she takes a bit more of a direct role with the... ending, as it were:
    Temperance, full title Princess Mi Finale Temperanza, is my go-to pony psychopomp when I don't want to have Luna do it. She very definitely does not run Equestria's Royal Assassinorum, because there is no such institution.
  • Everqueen: While the Emperor will insist that A God I Am Not, he eventually reveals to Isha that he was originally created to be this by the shamans of Earth: a divine guardian of humanity's souls, thus making Death and the Afterlife his primary Dominions, with War as an obvious secondary one. He chose not to act on it, though (as Isha points out, humanity has no afterlife in this setting), as he didn't think he was worthy of being the judge of every human soul, but with Chaos on the rise he has less and less of a choice in the matter, as the alternative is to let their souls be devoured by Daemons.
  • Pony POV Series: Mortis, the Alicorn of Death and Rebirth, guides souls towards their final resting place (occasionally with the aid of certain souls who have become Angels under his employ).

    Films — Animation 
  • The Book of Life: There are two death gods: Xibalba, a malevolent trickster who rules an unpleasant afterlife due to losing a bet, and his estranged wife, La Muerte, a benevolent ruler of a nice afterlife. The two seem to be a syncretic combination of the Aztec death gods Mictlantecuhtli and Mictecacihuatl and the Greek death gods Hades and Persephone.
  • Hercules had Hades as the evil Lord of the Underworld who hates his drab job and wants to take over Olympus, with Hercules as the main obstacle to that goal.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Gods of Egypt: Anubis comes to take those who have died to the afterlife and guides them on their journey to judgment. While a stickler for rules and quite scary in appearance, Anubis is also very protective of the souls of the dead and the afterlife in general, and can also be swayed to bend (but not break) the rules by the right person.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: Hela is the Goddess of Death, and is seen reanimating her dead followers. She shrugs off any damage on her, survives impalements and worse, as if saying she's beyond the icy touch of death itself. In the end, it takes something bigger than death, something that's supposed to bring Death of the Old Gods itself - i.e. Ragnarok - to finally kill her and make it stick.

  • American Gods: Anubis and Thoth run a funeral home in Cairo, Illinois. When Shadow dies he catches a ride from Thoth and is judged by Anubis.
  • A Chorus of Dragons: Thaena, the Pale Lady, is the Queen of the Underworld and the Goddess of Death. She judges the souls of the dead and decides whether they may enter the Peaceful Land or not, and her priesthood is responsible for burials and for raising the dead — a process that consists of appealing to the goddess, and which succeeds or not based on whether she decides that the mortal should be returned to life. Her cult's holiest rite culminates in a worshipper committing suicide in order to encounter her in person. If she finds them good and worthy, they return to life at the end of the ritual. If she doesn't, they stay dead.
  • The Dresden Files: During the events of Skin Game, Harry is recruited to break into the vault of Hades to steal some artifacts. Before the climax of the book, Hades intercepts Harry and invites Harry into his study where they chat for a bit. Everybody Hates Hades comes up, and Harry points out that Hades earned his reputation as being implacable and dispassionate, which makes him a stern but honorable god and a fair judge who always did his duties, unlike his kin, who were passionate and abitrary, and even capricious.
  • Ghost Roads: The afterlife and spirits that end up there are managed by various deities, each ruling over their own version based on what mythology they come from. The ghost Rose Marshall ends up having to journey to the Greek underworld to meet the gods Hades and Persephone to reattach a protection she uses against the vile Bobby Cross.
  • The Gods Are Bastards: Vidius, the god of death, is also strongly associated with theatre and masks, and is willing to let people into the divine plane even if they didn't worship any gods, so long as they made an effort to be decent people in life.
  • Gods Of Jade And Shadow: Hun-Kamé was the supreme ruler of Xibalba, the Underworld of Mayan Mythology, before he was usurped and trapped on Earth by his younger brother Vucub-Kamé, who now holds court in luxury among the shades of the dead. His most urgent goal is to restore his full power and reclaim his throne.
  • The Gods of Pegāna: Mung, the god of death, waits for all mortals at the end of their lives, where he makes "the sign of Mung" and sends them off to whatever afterlife there may be. He is an active sender of death, rather than a passive psychopomp or overseer of the dead, and can cause mortals to endure forever (but without ceasing to age) if he so pleases.
  • His Dark Materials: The witches believe in the death goddess Yambe-Akka, who comes to the dying to welcome them with good cheer and open arms. She isn't among the supernatural entities who make an appearance, but Serafina steps into the role of Yambe-Akka to grant a witch's wish for a Mercy Kill.
  • Inheritance Trilogy: The Grey Lady Enefa, Goddess of Life and Death, actually invented those concepts as one of the three co-creators of the universe. However, she didn't need to oversee death personally, and not even she knew where the souls of the dead end up. Her brother killed her before the time of the books, in which Yeine inherits her divinity.
  • Rick Riordan:
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Death is worshipped in many forms, from the Black Goat of Qohor to the Stranger from the Faith of the Seven. A cult of assassins known as the Faceless Men believe all of these to be the same being, whom they call the Many-Faced God.
  • Sword of Truth: The Keeper of the Underworld, who rules over spirits in the afterlife. Unlike in many examples though, he is explicitly a malevolent being.
  • The Sun Sword: Mandaros, the god who receives and judges the souls of the dead and sends them onward to reincarnation.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium: The Valar have Mandos, the grim keeper of fate and lord of the dead, in whose halls the shades of deceased Elves stay until they are re-embodied.
  • Wax and Wayne: Ironeyes is generally regarded as the god of death, though one of the three major religions (Sliverism) worships him as God, period. Readers of the original trilogy recognize him as Marsh, a human extensively augmented with hemalurgy, but not one of the setting's genuinely divine figures.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Legend of the Seeker: The Keeper of the Underworld doesn't just rule over death, he created it (as the Creator originally made humans immortal). Unlike in some examples, he's unambiguously evil.
  • Once Upon a Time: Hades is the god of death and ruler of the underworld, and rules the underworld as a place where the souls of the dead that have unfinished business remain until they can pass onto either heaven or hell. However, Hades has been leeching off the power that these souls give him, and so despises the idea of anyone leaving and tries to sabotage attempts for that to happen.
  • Star Trek: The Klingons have Fek'lhr, who is analogous to Cerberus from ancient Greek mythology, as the Guardian of Gre'thor, where dishonored souls go in the afterlife.
  • Supernatural has Death, one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, who doesn't know if he or God is the older one. Neither can remember. The Reapers, angels who guide souls to the underworld, work for him. Later, his role is taken on by Billie.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Aztec Mythology:
    • Mictecacihuatl and Mictlantecuhtli were the queen and king of Mictlan, the underworld. They were typically depicted as a flayed corpse and a bloody skeleton, respectively.
    • Tlaloc and his second wife, Chalchiuhtlicue, ruled over a special afterlife called Tlalocan, reserved for people who died of drowning or lightning.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Hades was the god of the dead and lord of the underworld, ruling over the bleak fields where the shades of the dead wander forever. He was a grim and uncompromising figure, refusing to allow the dead to escape their fate when their time came to pass into death.note  His wife, Persephone, was Queen of the Underworld half the time and goddess of spring the other half.
    • Thanatos was the god and representation of death itself, ending the lives of mortals and sending them onward to the afterlife. In some tellings, Thanatos only represented and presided over natural deaths, and had an unnumbered multitude of sisters named Keres, lesser spirits who personified and presided over violent deaths. However, unlike their brother, they didn't actually have the power to end life and thus, whilst drawn to violent deaths such as battlefields, they had to wait till it was over to collect the souls. In certain myths, the messenger god Hermes played a similar role as a psychopomp.
  • Chinese Mythology: Yanluo Wang presides over the underworld and judges the souls of the deceased to determine what afterlives or reincarnations they will be sent to. He is often syncretized with Yama.
  • Egyptian Mythology: Osiris was the main god of the dead, ruling over the spirits of the virtuous in Sekhet Aaru (the "Field of Reeds," which represented Paradise). Anubis also played an important role in the process of death, overseeing the judgment of each soul and determining if they were worthy of passing on.
  • Finnish Mythology contains a trio of death deities. The married couple Tuoni and Tuonetar are respectively the personification of death and the queen of the underworld (Tuonela). Their blind daughter Loviatar is the goddess of disease.
  • Hindu Mythology and Buddhism: Yama is the god of death. He wields a noose with which he seizes those who are about to die.
  • Japanese Mythology:
    • Izanami was one of the original two deities in creation, alongside her male partner Izanagi. She perished in childbirth, however, and went to Yomi (the underworld), where she became a rotting corpse riddled with maggots. She vowed to Izanagi that, in punishment for leaving her there, she would claim 1,000 living people every day, explaining why people died. Izanagi replied that he would have 1,500 be born every day.
    • In addition to storms, Susano'o is said to be the god of the netherworld (ne no kuni, literally "the root world"). Exactly how he ties in with Izanami is unclear, but it is noted that Susano'o longed to be with her since the day he was born, which annoyed his father, Izanagi, so much he cast him down from heaven.
  • Mesopotamian Mythology: Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla, the Sumerian underworld. She also happens to be the sister of Inanna, the irascible goddess of love and war, and their rivalry is chronicled in Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld.
  • Norse Mythology has multiple afterlives depending on a person's deeds and conduct in life, each presided over by a separate ruler:
    • Hel, a daughter of Loki who is living on one half of her body and dead on the other, ruled the realm also called Hel, where those who die of old age or disease were stored until Ragnarok. Her name is related to the English word "Hell".
    • Odin was said to recruit warriors for Valhalla (hall of the slain) by making their weapons break in the middle of battle, leading to their deaths after which they'd be picked up by the Valkyries.
    • Freyja maintained her own afterlife called Folkvangr (army-field) where she received half of all those who died in battle, including all female warriors. It's often speculated that she had some connection to the valkyries as well.
    • Rán, by virtue of being the supreme ruler of the sea, had claim over all humans killed in the sea, catching them using her net.
  • In Taíno Mythology, Maketaori Guayaba was considered the overlord of the underworld. His symbol was the bat. It was believed that the op'a, the spirits of the dead, would come out at night and feed on guava fruit. The word in Spanish for "guava" is indeed Guayaba.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chronicles of Darkness: The mysterious Kerberoi who rule over regions of The Underworld appear to be powerful Fisher King-like spirits and/or avatars of their domains. One of them, Mictlantecuhtli Polydegmon, might be a true god, as he's a Domain Holder with the truly unique power to return the soul of anyone who's ever died, no matter how much Deader than Dead they ended up.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Forgotten Realms: The Realms have had a succession of gods of the dead.
      • Myrkul, the Lord of Bones, was a necromancer who became a deity and installed himself as the god of death and old age. He was less concerned with ensuring an orderly process of death and governance of the dead than with constantly reminding mortals of their eventual fate, using his domain as a means of furthering his power.
      • Myrkul was eventually murdered by Cyrik, a malevolent trickster god who used this deed as a means of taking over Myrkul's portfolio, with a particular emphasis on the causing of death.
      • Cyric eventually lost most of his power during the Spellplague and the Time of Troubles, a disaster of his own making, and was unseated by Kelemvor, a mortal human who died and, in overthrowing Cyric, gained his divine power and portfolio over the dead. The Lawful Neutral Kelemvor decided to clear the courts of the dead from his predecessors' corruption, and eventually remade the courts of the dead into a grey, neutral place where souls unclaimed by deities are judged by Kelemvor and sent to areas of his realm alongside others of similar ethical and philosophical beliefs and left to arrange things for themselves. Unlike his predecessors, Kelemvor deeply detests the undead, seeing them as perversions of the natural order.
      • Jergal is a lesser deity who has served every god of death and who is tasked with keeping records of every mortal soul's final fate. He's a grim, emotionless figure with little interest in anything beyond watching the world's slow decline into entropy and death.
      • The various racial/ethnic pantheons typically have their own gods of death or the dead, such as Kiaransalee (drow goddess of vengeance, death, and undeath), Segojan Earthcaller (gnome god of earth, nature, and the dead), Urogalan (halfling god of the dead), Osiris (Mulhorandi god of death and justice) and Sebek (Mulhorandi god of the desert and destruction), and Yurtrus (orc god of death and disease).
      • Null is the draconic god of death and the dead, and is worshiped in two seemingly contradictory aspects. As Reaver, god of death, he is Lawful Evil and is worshiped by many evil dragons. In this aspect, Null enjoys the taking of life, and he blesses others who serve him in this capacity. Null works according to a plan and a schedule, however, which has been set before him by Fate, and so he is not his own master. As Guardian of the Lost, Null is the Lawful Neutral guardian of the dead. As such, he shepherds the souls of dragons to their respective planes when they die, and he ensures they are no longer troubled by enemies they may have had while alive. In this aspect, Null is worshiped by dragons of all alignments; individuals who've just lost someone close to them will sometimes make offerings to Null to speed the dearly departed's soul to its final resting place. In other D&D settings, these two aspects are instead depicted as two fully independent gods, the murderous Falazure and the dispassionate Chronepsis.
    • Greyhawk: Nerull the Reaper is a Grim Reaper-like figure who serves as the main evil god of death and wants to permanently end all life. His clerics are serial killers. He's opposed by Wee Jas, a Lawful Neutral deity of death and magic who doesn't agree with him on the "kill everything that breathes" subject. In one adventure, Nerull succeeds in his plan and wipes out all life. He eventually realizes just how stupid this is, and goes back in time to request the players stop him.
    • Nentir Vale: The Raven Queen is the primary goddess of the dead, and is charged with judging the souls of the dead and sending them onward to the afterlife, although her treaties with the other gods forbid her from actively ruling over the dead. She also hates the undead and charges her followers with hunting them down. 5th Edition largely retcons this, making the Raven Queen into a lesser power concerned with observing mortal memories and experiences.
  • Fading Suns has the Ukar crypt god Sukar. In the Ukar religion, Sukar is a Creepy Good god because he keeps the ghosts and spirits trapped in the afterlife (Ukar believe ghosts are inherently hostile and malicious). Necromancy and dead worshipping religions like Manja are sacriligeous to Sukar so the Ukar sometimes take violent action against practitioners of these heresies.
  • GURPS: The "Dungeon Fantasy" sub-line features classic dungeon fantasy-style clerics and holy warriors, and allows for the possibility of them worshiping a range of deities. GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 5: Allies distinguishes deities by their "elements" (which determine the powers of any supernatural servitors they send to aid their worshipers), and "Death" is one such element. GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 7: Clerics offers different spell lists and special powers for different types of deity served, and again, "Death Gods" are an option.
    Gods of death aren’t usually concerned so much with the process of dying as with rule over the dead. They may seem macabre and hostile to humanity, but death is a part of reality, and if there is an afterlife, someone has to make sure that the dead reach the correct part of it, and to govern and manage it. Many death gods are rulers of the underworld beyond all else, with a ruler’s proper pride in their realm. They may even have as much power there as the ruler of all the gods has in the rest of the universe.
  • In Nomine: Saminga, Prince of Death, likes to think of himself as this sort of being, viewing Death as the ultimate fate of reality and himself as its supreme master, wielder and embodiment. He styles his realm and organization accordingly, shaping Abaddon to resemble an immense charnel field and filling the ranks of his servants with necromancers and the undead. In practice, he's merely a reasonably competent necromancer with delusions of grandeur.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Pharasma is the True Neutral judge of the dead. She appears as a stately gray-skinned lady with white hair that doesn't quite obey gravity, despises the undead for being abominations, and runs the Celestial Bureaucracy where souls wait to receive her judgement before going on to their designated afterlife. She rules over the psychopomps, who rove the planes as her agents in safeguarding the passage of souls and battling those who would pray upon them, and charges her followers with watching over the dead on the material plane as well as battling the undead. Interestingly, besides being the goddess of death, she's also the goddess of birth, ruling over both the beginning and end of mortal lives and is worshipped by midwives as much as by undertakers and undead-hunters.
    • Zyphus is the Neutral Evil god of accidental death, graveyards, and tragedy. As the first mortal to die an accidental, tragic death, Zyphus and his followers have a cynical view of life, death, and the gods, believing everything to be governed by cruel chance rather than fate.
    • Magrim is the dwarven demigod of death, fate and the underworld. He seeks to help mortals lead ordered lives that prepare them for the afterlife, in particular since having Unfinished Business or regrets when you die can lead one to linger as a ghost, and charges his followers with counseling the living, overseeing and honoring burial rites, protecting tombs and battling the undead and those who would enslave or damage souls. He is one of the few deities who dwell in the Boneyard, Pharasma's divine realm, and is tasked with repairing damaged souls so that they can properly enter the afterlife.
    • Charon, the Daemonic Horseman of Death, holds dominion death as a whole, but his main focus is the inevitability of death by old age.
  • Ponyfinder: Soft Whisper watches over and judges the souls of the deceased, sending them to their proper afterlives or taking them under her care if they have nowhere else to go. She is patient, emotionless and impartial, and wholly concerned with the dead — she has little time for the living and has very little interest in visiting the mortal realm, and only the dead who still linger there are ever granted her direct appearance. Unlike most death gods, she is not entirely opposed to the undead; she has no tolerance for wanton necromancy and the forceful tearing of the dead from their rest, which her followers regarded as blasphemy, but does not object to the raising of willing individuals and actively sends back deceased souls if they have Unfinished Business to handle before they can move on.
  • Warhammer games:
    • Warhammer:
      • Morr is the main human god of the dead. Pictured as a dour, cloaked, and hooded figure, he rules over the realm of the dead and keeps the souls of the departed safe from the depredations of Chaos and necromancers. His priests are similarly grim figures, and mostly oversee funerary rites and tend to graveyards. Morr despises undeath, and his church includes a number of knightly orders dedicated to hunting necromancers and the walking dead.
      • The Nehekaran pantheon had Usirian, the lord of the underworld, a faceless god who judged the souls of the dead and decided whether they would be permitted to enter paradise or condemned to eternal suffering. He was revered by the Mortuary Cult, and the increasing Nehekaran obsession with death made him one of the empire's most important deities.
      • Ereth Kial, the Pale Queen, is the elven goddess who rules over the underworld. Unlike the other death gods of the setting, she's an evil being who despises the Elves, and her realm is a place of endless torment for every elven soul that she can catch. The knowledge that Ereth Kial waits for them beyond the veil is one of the reasons the Elves go to great lengths to tether their souls to the material world.
    • Warhammer 40,000: Among followers of plague god Nurgle, there's the belief that all that dies eventually ends up in His domain. Coupled with the belief that everything dies someday, this bestows him the title of "Lord of All".
    • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar:
      • After being freed by Sigmar, Nagash claimed Shyish, the Realm of Death, as his rightful domain, sending his undead minions to conquer the realm's many many underworlds and personally consumed the death gods that ruled them until he became the undisputed God of the Dead. Nagash takes this role very seriously and considers all souls to be rightfully his. As a consequence, he hates everything he perceives as a robbery of his property, including both resurrection and Soul Eating. He's also a deity of undeath, and rules over immense legions of walking dead, necromancers and restless spirits.
      • It's also implied Morr still exists in some capacity, as a number of religions in Shyish, particularly the city of Lethis, that oppose Nagash worship an ancestor god named Morrda, who according to legend is one of the only death gods to escape Nagash's conquest of the afterlives; where Morrda is now, assuming the stories are true, is unclear, but the worship of them has become something of a rallying point for those who actively fight against Nagash and his servants, including an entire Stormhost.
    • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Gazul is the dwarfish Ancestor God of the dead, and the protector of dwarfish souls. His followers are charged with opposing those who defile the dead — especially necromancers — never refusing burial rites to the dead, and protecting the sanctity of burial places.

  • Hadestown: Hades is the uncompromising Lord of the Underworld, reimagined as the Company Town Hadestown, who occasionally goes to the surface to recruit souls to his workforce.

    Video Games 
  • Cult of the Lamb: Late in the game it is revealed that The One Who Waits is the god of death, which is how he grants the Lamb immortality. He was originally a Bishop of the Old Faith until he tried to seize more power and the others sealed him.
  • Dark Souls: Nito, the First of the Dead, has dominion over death, decay, and necromancy, and was one of the original Lords that fought against the Eternal Dragons. Ultimately subverted as rather than presiding over an Afterlife of some kind, Nito instead prefers to merely lay at the bottom of a gigantic catacomb underneath Lordran. Ironically, he himself is not immune to getting killed.
  • Dragon Age: Falon'Din is called "the Friend of the Dead" in ancient elven mythology. The elves themselves were said to be immortal then, so Falon'Din didn't take on that role until he and his brother, Dirthamen, encountered a dying deer, and Falon'Din carried her across the Veil to her resting place and decided to take on that role officially. According to Fen'Harel, one of Falon'Din's contemporaries, Falon'Din was a mortal, though extremely powerful, ruler whose vanity led him to massacre countless people in his search for more worshippers.
  • The Elder Scrolls has many different gods of death and the dead, the most prominent of whom are:
    • Arkay, the Divine who rules over the cycle of birth and death, including funeral rites. Bodies consecrated by his priests cannot be raised into undead.
    • His cultural variants: the Aldmeri Xarxes, who functions more as a keeper of knowledge about the dead; Tu'whacca, who guides Redguards to their afterlife; and Orkey, a Nord variant who is more malevolent and wants people to die.
    • Shor, who rules over Sovngarde, although he doesn't appear when you visit there in Skyrim.
    • And the Daedric Princes, who claim the souls of their worshippers when they die. Whether that's a good thing depends heavily on which prince.
  • EverQuest II has Drinal. Visually inspired by Anubis of Egyptian mythology, Drinal used to be a natural spirit who oversaw the Ethernere, a limbo where people go after they die until such point that they are absorbed into the realms of their chosen deities. However, with the actual slaying of Rallos Zek, the God of War in EQ2's timeline, and Cazic Thule, the God of Fear in the original Everquest's timeline, the powers of both gods began to corrupt the physical lands of the afterlife, and Drinal himself ascended into the full God of Death and the Afterlife. He also ended up becoming corrupted by absorbing the raw powers of two dead gods, and it is up to the players to smack some sense into him and bring his powers under control in the Chains of Eternity expansion.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Ereshkigal is the goddess of the Babylonian underworld, Kur. As its master, its her duty alone to manage all of the souls that drift down there, protecting them in cages until they're ready to move onto their next life. When it's time to fight, she possesses a serious Home Field Advantage in her domain, becoming unbeatable even to goddesses as powerful as Quetzalcoatl.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Nald'thal the Traders is the singlular manifestation of the twins Nald and Thal. Thal is the god of the dead, who judges men's souls to determine their place in the afterlife. Nald is god of commerce who rules over the wealth of the living world. Together, Nald'thal is the patron god of Ul'dah, who pray to the Traders for prosperity in life and fair judgement in death.
  • Hades takes place in the Underworld of Classical Mythology. Both Hades and Thanatos are major characters; Thanatos is portrayed as actually being responsible for collecting souls (essentially functioning like The Grim Reaper), while Hades is in charge of the postmortem Celestial Bureaucracy. The game titles the latter "God of the Dead" and the former "Death Incarnate", highlighting the difference in their roles.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: Hades, Lord of the Underworld, is the Big Bad. He uses the population of the Underworld as part of his plan to conquer the world.
  • Kingdom Hearts II allows us to see Hades' Underworld, and it's implied that him being Lord of the Dead means he gets the dead from every world, considering Auron is to be found in his clutches.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow: If the player decides to go for the perfect ending, Alexander winds up visiting the Island of the Dead, where the souls of the deceased in the Land of the Green Isles go before heading off to the afterlife. Surviving all the death traps of the island brings him face to face with Samhein, god of death, whom he must challenge and beat to rescue the suffering souls of Princess Cassima's parents.
  • Pillars of Eternity:
    • Berath is the god of cycles, doors, and life and death, and represents the cycle of death and reincarnation. Berath is portrayed as either genderless or as a twinned male/female figure, and their priests teach rationality and respect for the dignity of death.
    • Rymrgand, the Beast of Winter and god of erosion and collapse, represents the cold, destructive act of death itself.
    • Eothas, the god of renewall and light, is also sometimes considered a death deity, most notably in the form of Gaun. Commonly represented as a farmer carrying a lantern and sickle, Gaun is a figure of cyclical death who emphasizes the natural ending of mortal life. It is believed that Gaun, instead of Berath’s avatars, visits those who embrace death with acceptance.
  • Runescape: The Ancient Egypt-derived Menaphite culture worships Icthlarin as the god of the dead, protecting their spirits through The Underworld so they can reach the peace of the afterlife. The Grim Reaper also exists in the setting, collecting the souls of the newly dead and delivering them to the Underworld, but is a Psychopomp rather than a deity.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Shadowlands expansion, which introduces the eponymous afterlife realm, features a number of death gods, known together as the Eternal Ones. Four of them (that we know of, there may be more) rule over their respective parts of the afterlife and tend to the spirits of the dead, while the fifth one, the Arbiter, is the judge of the dead, who sorts out souls and gives them over to the other four. These five are generally decent figures who mostly just want to preserve the cycle of life and death and take care of their own afterlives, but some have become increasingly corrupt, distant, or arrogant over the eons. There is also Zovaal the Jailer, the original Arbiter and formerly the Top God among the Eternal Ones, who is much less accepting of the status quo and wants the cycle of life and death broken (presumably so that everyone will die and serve him in the afterlife). Needless to say, he's the Big Bad.
    • Prior to Shadowlands, players would sometimes encounter minor gods of death, not confined to the Shadowlands, like the troll loa Bwonsamdi or the titan keeper Helya. Later lore revealed that they are essentially Psychopomps, responsible for transferring souls to the Eternal Ones and sometimes answering to them.
    • The Lich King was sometimes referred to as a god of death in his expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. It's unclear how divine he actually was, but, given that he only existed for a few decades at best, it'd be unlikely for him to have had any actual role in the Shadowlands. He was later revealed to have been using the Jailer's power, though.

  • A-gnosis' comics on Greek myth feature Hades as a major character who oversees The Underworld and the arrival of the dead. He's a Workaholic but is surprisingly compassionate towards the dead, especially lost ghosts, and once arranges a special meeting between Athena and a dead friend.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The Western Pantheon has the god of death Nergal, a lion-headed man whose "fiery rage consumes all things". While his cleric Malack makes a nice speech about how death gods are inclined towards neutrality, Nergal seems to be pretty evil based on the little we know about the two of them.
    • The Northern Pantheon has Hel, who rules over the underworld. Due to an unusual arrangement, she gets all the souls of dwarves who don't die honorably, whom she enslaves and torments. She's shown as an unstable and spiteful woman in an Ethereal White Dress, and is the/a greater scope Arc Villain as she seizes on an opportunity to try to destroy the world to get herself a much better deal.
  • Public Humiliation: Lan is the grandson of Hades, thus he's a rather powerful necromancer. In the sequel comic A Little More Humiliation, Lan takes over as the new Hades, while his adoptive brother Warmwind becomes Thanatos.
  • Slightly Damned: One of the three creator gods, simply named Death, resides in Purgatory and oversees judgment of the souls of dead Medians. Those whose good deeds outweigh their evil go to Heaven, while those whose good and evil even out go to Purgatory with him.
    Western Animation 
  • Class of the Titans: Hades and Persephone both appear - we group them together because they're Sickeningly Sweethearts through the whole series. Being Olympian gods, they're on the side of good.
    • In the episode "Cronus Vanquished", the Big Bad Cronus takes over the underworld for himself by tricking Hades, becoming king of the underworld until the heroes defeat him.
  • Gargoyles: Anubis, the Ancient Egyptian god of the dead appears in "Grief", voiced by Tony Jay, when he is summoned by the Emir in a plot by Xanatos to gain immortality. However, the Emir wants to use Anubis to bring his son back to life after dying in a car accident. When Anubis refuses, the Emir attempts to channel the captured Anubis's powers as an avatar, but Jackal complicates the plan and becomes the avatar instead (fittingly jackals are Anubis's associated animal).
  • Onyx Equinox, being based on Mesoamerican mythology, has Mictlantecuhtli as the main antagonist, starting the series by devouring an entire city. Mictecacihuatl also appears, but her true intentions don't become clear until the last few episodes.
  • The Ghost and Molly McGee has The Chairman, the leader of the Ghost Council and ruler of the ghost world, and the one who is responsible for assigning ghosts to create misery across the Human Realm. If a ghost fails to met his expectations, he will punish them by sentencing them to an eternity in the Flow of Failed Phantoms.


Video Example(s):


The Matron of Ravens

Vaxildan finally converses with the Tal'dorei goddess of death and learns that, as her Champion, his duty it to protect the sanctity of life.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / GodOfTheDead

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