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Gods Need Prayer Badly

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"They were Gods once, but their worshippers either died out or were converted to the worship of other Gods. They wail and flutter around the edges of reality without substance or even thought. All they have is need... we go out of fashion, Sparhawk — like last year's gowns or old shoes and hats. The Powerless Ones are discarded Gods who shrink and shrink as the years go by until they're finally nothing at all but a kind of anguished wailing."
The Goddess Aphrael, The Hidden City

In the world of fantasy, it is a largely accepted fact that the power of any given deity is proportional to the amount of belief in them or the amount of worship they are currently receiving.

The deity could have been originally conceived and shaped by the needs and desires of one small group, but like any good meme, this "idea" grows with each new person who responds, then spreads the word of this great new "god on the block". Soon, the deity has enough collective belief behind their "name brand" that they come into existence, and use that power to fulfill the needs of their worshippers. In this sense, a god is a form of Tulpa, a thoughtform, made completely out of their worshippers' belief and faith in them.

The opposite is also true: as a deity's power base of worshippers shrinks, their divine strength fades and if all worship of them ceases, they may completely fade out of existence. The tragedy here is that worshippers who leave the god because they didn't grant their miracle will continuously weaken the god until they can't grant any miracles. It's kind of like a bank run on a god. Similarly, significant changes in how a faith perceives its deity might cause matching changes in personality; a signficant schism might even cause it to split into multiple deities to match each interpretation.

In a similar manner, the well-being of an Anthropomorphic Personification is often tied to whatever concept they personify. Big concepts like Fate or Death are pretty safe, but Disco is in critical condition.

A subtrope of Clap Your Hands If You Believe, which can be used to explain why Powers That Be care whether or not anyone worships them. In games where you play as a Physical God, this is often used as a game mechanic to explain why you can't just Deus ex Machina your way through everything. It can also be used by authors as a Take That! against organized religion. Compare I'm Not Afraid of You, where smaller Anthropomorphic Personifications can be destroyed through disbelief.

This weakness is often used by misotheistic (god-hating) characters to deliberately harm or kill a god. It is often one of few ways.

Depending on the setting, the gods can often provide incentives for people to worship them. The gods of most typical Dungeons & Dragons games grant divine spells to their priests, which give them all kinds of fancy powers. Mortals and gods then end up in a symbiotic relationship, with the humans providing belief and worship to the gods and the gods providing assorted divine miracles in return.

This trope is related to Emotion Eater, but doesn't imply evil, vampirism, or negative emotions unless the god is tied in with those by nature. In belief systems of this kind, the empowered god often gives power back to his worshipers. Gods in such a system should be very worried indeed if they find out that they're down to The Only Believer. Some gods may choose to update themselves to stay relevant. If the story is about the process of one set of gods dying out this way to make room for another, it's Death of the Old Gods. Contrast Stop Worshipping Me, for when the god hates the worship they get. Unless the god wants to die and can't because of all the worship... If the empowering prayer is directed at one's ancestral spirits, see Ancestor Veneration instead. A Deity of Mortal Creation may play this trope by needing to be worshipped to maintain existence.

This trope is dependent on a Physical Religion to entice prayer in the first place.

Contrast Answer to Prayers, when the deity in question doesn't need prayer but rather uses prayers to determine how they dispense their Divine Intervention. Probably In Mysterious Ways.

Named for Gauntlet's "<character> needs food, badly!" catchphrase.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Berserk, the entirety of Astral Plane of existence is actually the embodiment of the collective human subconscious. As such, beings that exist in human fantasy such as mythological creatures exist within the Astral realm. Even the Idea of Evil, the equivalent of God in this setting, is created from humanity's desire for a reason in their suffering.
  • Very important in Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens. As traditional faith dwindled the sisters have been losing their powers to the point where they are fighting over the remaining faith power. Nagi's sacred tree which once sustained her has been cut down, and Zange's is inside a church, further dwindling / altering their powers and conditions. Zange has been taking on Christian aspects and resorting to setting herself up as a pop star to gain "faith" in the form of fans. The more believers they get, the more powerful they become.
  • In the end of Pita-Ten it is revealed that angels' and demons' existence depends on human faith in them, and once some entity is forgotten it ceases to exist which is a way to kill demon or angel, however if memory is restored it is possible to revive a dead demon or angel. Strangely enough these virtual creatures have quite strong real powers and can manipulate human memory as well.
  • In the Slayers world, the dragon gods gain strength from praise and worship, which is in contrast to the opposing Mazoku who feed on human suffering. This plays a role in a war between one of the gods and the Mazoku race that occurs a thousand years in the past from Lina's time. The Mazoku crippled the Water Dragon King by killing all the worshipers and destroying all the temples dedicated to the latter.
  • The second episode of Natsume's Book of Friends has a very poignant example of this trope (that also doubles as a Tear Jerker) when a Youkai that took up residence in a roadside shrine begins to lose his power (and his tether to the living world) as the people who once prayed to him all begin to die of old age. Natsume himself offers to pray to him but the Youkai refuses saying: "It's impossible, because you are my friend."
  • A key theme in Serial Experiments Lain; Masami Eiri defines godhood as this, and the main thrust of his scheme is ensuring he will have people believe him to be God, so that for all intents and purposes he will be.
  • Shown in Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan when Senba, a god of healing, feared he would fade away and disappear because no one visited his shrine anymore.
  • One chapter of Franken Fran shows the point when the Flying Spaghetti Monster finally gets enough worshipers to become real because of this trope. FF being the kind of manga it is, it manifests by absorbing several of its followers into a single hideous mass.
  • A major point in Naqua-Den as the Gods need prayers for power in order to fend off threats from malicious or corrupt Gods. But since most people in the modern era don't believe or worship them like they used to anymore, Nakua has to find ways to get them to do so.
  • In Noragami, the more worshipers a god has, the greater their power. Main character Yato is hoping to become the most revered deity in the world, even though he's just a shrineless vagrant who waits on cell phone calls for jobs. He's reduced to granting wishes for ¥5, whether they be finding a lost cat, cleaning a bathroom or breaking a curse. However, unlike normal fiction with this trait, a god with no followers whatsoever won't vanish, they'll merely continue their immortal lives with only a fraction of the power they could have.
    • Revealed later to actually be a straight example of the trope. Gods disappear if they have no followers to pray to them, and if a god is slain, while a more popular god will reincarnate (albeit without their former incarnation's memories), an obscure god with few believers is out of luck. The fact that Yato has been able to endure for centuries is considered by others to be something of a miracle.
  • In Chapter 97 of The Gamer, it is revealed that gods are born from people's shared belief.
  • Gods don't need followers to survive in High School D×D, but it certainly helps. The old pantheons consist of very powerful individuals, but without faithful to carry out their will on a strategic scale, there's not much they can do. Especially since most of the world is some variant of Abrahamic, and all Abrahamic religions actually refer to the same (physically extant) heaven and holy figures, meaning the Angel faction is a juggernaut. God being dead and the angels' powers being reliant on a rickety system that requires blind faith that would be compromised by active leadership, along with a manpower shortage after the Great Offscreen War are needed to balance what would otherwise be a story-breaking advantage.
  • In Kamisama Kiss, this is played largely straight. Early on, Tomoe explains to Nanami that fulfilling godly duties increases her overall magical abilities (called "Divine Power") and the fastest way is by answering the prayers who've come to the shrine. Later on in a flashback, Lady Yonomori explains that she came to exist when people living near the river grew fearful of the river flooding and being violent, so they created a shrine, and she came into being. However, eventually the people forgot the shrine and built a dam instead, which drowned the shrine and Yonomori faded from existence - much to the sorrow of Mizuki.
  • KonoSuba: Gods gain power from their faithful. Aqua and her subordinate Eris are about equal in power, because while Eris has far more followers, Aqua's are just so damn passionate (read: completely insane) that she gets more bang for her buck. In the season 2 finale, they unknowingly power her up for the final battle by chanting her divine commandments. The fact that those commandments are random pseudo-philosophical drivel about avoiding responsibility explains why the cult is so bizarre.
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
    • All ayakashi, from the smallest to the largest, gain power from humans believing in them. For spirits of wind or storms or even art, losing belief isn't a huge deal as they'll never lose so much belief as to die (and there are other power sources anyway)—but the Odd Job Gods such as the spirit that rattles beans at people have a lot to worry about. Ayakashi with strong willpower can keep their strength, but most will weaken and have to fulfill their purpose to keep existing. On the other hand, humans believing in an ayakashi give it a huge power boost... even if the humans don't know it's an ayakashi. Garaku Utagawa was originally just the spirit of an ink brush, but gained enough power to maintain a human form that normal humans could interact with. He then proceeded to become a world-famous artist, making him one of the most powerful ayakashi around.
    • It's a lot rarer, but it is possible for humans to benefit too. Queen Himiko was turned into a goddess due to her people believing she was the source of all life. After she was assassinated, the power was transferred to her successor, Queen Iyo. Queen Iyo continued to inherit the power in all of her lives, even after Reincarnation, which is how she came to be known as the Ayakashi Medium.
  • In Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle, the level of power a god currently holds is directly proportional to the amount of faith and prayer they receive from humans at any given moment. For Poseidon, under normal circumstances he has enough faith to be reasonably powerful but nothing special, but on "Marine Day", a holiday during which faith in him is at an all-time high, his power skyrockets, along with him transforming into an adult form.
  • The entire premise of KamiKatsu: Working for God in a Godless World. The protagonist is transported into a world without the concept of Gods, along with his deity, and the power of the deity is proportional to the number of followers she attracts. Rival "gods" later joins in the fray.

    Comic Books 
  • Very, very, very Depending on the Writer in both The DCU and the Marvel Universe. Sometimes the gods complain about this, sometimes they draw plenty of power from the ideas they're embodiments of even if people don't know about the Anthropomorphic Personifications as people, sometimes they flat don't care.
    • In general this applies more to DC than Marvel. In Marvel the abstracts are not usually called gods and transcend them. More traditional gods like Thor and Ares have not been worshiped on a wide scale for centuries. They don't complain about loss of power or seek out new worshipers. They show no loss of power over time. Some writers have shown a connection between mortals and gods, but generally this is more a cultural connection that allows gods to interact on Earth instead of a dependency on faith.
      • Some entities, usually malevolent entities, that are worshiped as gods in Marvel really do derive power from it- Dormammu, for instance, has his energies constantly replenished by worship throughout the multiverse, while the Elder God Set once gained power not from worship per se, but by violence committed by certain species he was connected to (such as the dinosaurs). However, in both cases their power is more like Mana- using their powers costs them magical energy, and they only need rest to replenish it (though Dormammu also gains strength from annexing other dimensions). On their own both are as strong or stronger than even the likes of Odin, who is the strongest "regular" god there is and can affect things on a galactic scale- worship simply means they don't have to worry about tiring themselves out.
    • DC gods tend to be more vulnerable to this, though the Olympians can also draw strength from the veneration of their attributes, like war (Ares), skill & wisdom (Athena) and love (Aphrodite) which lead to those three becoming the most powerful Olympians in Wonder Woman (1987). This also effects the way they're able to adapt with the times as Zeus and Hera are sky gods without worship or venerated attributes to draw on their personalities and values are static and ancient. These days power relies less on direct worship and more on how important the concept a god represents is to the mortal world, for instance Ares can feed on conflict of any kind. When the Olympians were widely worshiped they had to split off avatars of themselves—the Roman pantheon—or be overwhelmed with power, a problem even the strongest of their number has no issue with in modern times indicating worship is their best source of strength.
      • At one point, Wonder Woman caused Ares to realize that as much as he wants to trigger World War III and wipe out humanity with nukes, he can't. While such a war would give him a short term power boost, if everyone is dead, there will be no more war and he would eventually fade into nothing. Ares eventually found a way around this by overthrowing Hades and becoming the God of the Dead too. As the dead in the Underworld are all his worshipers, he was safe to try to trigger World War III again.
    • The New Gods tend to stay strong without a race to draw strength from, but at times they have implied to be more the gods of Ideas- Darkseid, for instance, is the God of Tyranny. Incidentally, he is the only god worshipped on Apokolips and he is far more powerful than all of his minions, each gods in their own right. However, this has nothing to do with how many worshipers he has- he has instead been periodically slaughtering entire pantheons of gods of other worlds and stealing their power for himself, and he was amongst the strongest New Gods before doing that anyway. The New Gods do not seem to ever depend on worship for their power.
    • In fact, New God Orion was very emphatic about this in his series - when rather pathetically confronted by a defeated enemy with this notion, he replied "You have been reading too much fiction. Gods are not dependent on their worshipers - worshipers are dependent on their gods."
    • In the Fear Itself crossover, Iron Man mocks, invokes, and turns this into one helluva Tear Jerker. He started screaming at Odin and the other gods (but mostly Odin), yelling that if they wanted a sacrifice he'd give them the "only thing he could give worth anything": his sobriety, by taking a huge swig of alcohol. Even though it was a Narm scene, it was effective to the fans who know how hard he works to stay sober.
    • DC has this apply to Uncle Sam, whose power is directly proportional to the American People's belief in freedom and liberty. Whether American protectorates like Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands' people's belief in freedom and liberty counts towards this is never specified.
    • Thor once discussed this with Captain America. Even he's not certain whether his existence depends on mortal belief, and wonders if he will just vanish when people no longer need him.
    • Loki on the other hand quite confident on claiming that gods don't need belief... but they do need something from people and that's stories. On one hand believing Loki is not a smart idea on the other they did demonstrate the ability to affect change by mucking with myths. (To date Loki successfully rewrote Cul, wrote Hela into existence, and retold Loki.) This idea has been revisited by other writers, and the general consensus is that gods need worship to become real and it makes them more powerful, but they can stick around as long as their stories are told.
    • In the Ultimate Marvel universe, a reimagination of the Marvel Universe, Thor fought against Thanos in Ultimate Fantastic Four. The latter notes that as powerful as Thor is, he's nowhere near as powerful as he was when his pantheon was actively worshipped.
    • Prior to the New 52 reboot, DC villain Eclipso tried to kill God by destroying the focal point of the worship that sustains Him: Earth.
  • The Sandman (1989) has gods born from dreams and when they are forgotten they return to the world of dreams to eventually fade away. Lucifer follows a similar idea.
    • The goddess Bast is a shadow of her former self. A brief burst of belief from a young cat-loving boy gives her the energy to create a portal to allow her to visit Dream.
    • Ishtar had to become a stripper, the love goddess reduced to feeding off the sexual "worship" of her clients.
    • Pharamond changed his role and became a minor god of transportation, supported by his travel business.
    • The Japanese gods absorb articles of faith from other pantheons and modern times to survive. The Norse gods appear to be doing pretty well though, as they still have genuine worshipers on Earth.
    • In fact, Neil Gaiman frequently reminded readers that The Endless are not gods, because they do not care if they are remembered and will persist long after humanity is gone. They really are Death, Dream, Despair etc, and their existence depends on these aspects of the universe rather than mythology, and not just on Earth. That said they can be altered by human perception or simple changes in the cosmos, but these changes typically happen over the course of eons.
  • In Knights of the Dinner Table, after Bob's character, Knuckles III, dies, his next character (Knuckles IV) manages to get Knuckles III promoted to gawdhood. Temples to Knu-Kyle-Ra are now a recurring feature in the comic. Unfortunately, they don't owe Bob's other characters any favors.
  • In My Faith In Frankie, gods gain power from the belief of their followers. Judging by Jeriven, they only need one true believer to be at full strength, but more may have more effect.
  • Conan the Barbarian:
    • In one of the later Savage Sword of Conan comics, Conan's physical likeness to a hero-turned-demigod is exploited by a local tyrant looking to put down a growing rebellion and win droves of recruits to his army. (Said hero, Shan, had once promised to return to his people one day when their suffering became intolerable.) This becomes problematic when the actual demigod shows up on the battlefield and strikes down everyone who participated in the fraud, except Conan. Impressed by his bravado, Shan decides to slay Conan in hand-to-hand combat. Clearly outmatched, Conan undermines Shan by questioning his motives, pointing out that if he really cared about the welfare of his worshipers, he would have freed them from the tyrant long ago; he only appeared on the battlefield because he was in serious danger of losing their adulation. Conan's words make Shan's followers question their belief, which actually de-powers the deity. Conan finally disarms him and runs him through, forcing Shan to retreat to the realm of the gods, now deprived of the worship needed to sustain him.
    • Averted by Crom. He's liable to kill anyone who dares pray to him, as it implies his gift of life and the will to do battle was not enough. Though in the movies, he does answer Conan's first and only prayer to him due to the extraordinary circumstances.
  • The universe of Asceltis (in French comic books Les brumes d'Asceltis and Les exilés d'Asceltis) embodies this trope. It is quite scary to see what Gods can do to keep people believing in them.
  • In the X-Men comics, the Dimension Lord Mojo's magic powers are tied to the number of people who pay him homage, which they do by watching his TV shows.
  • The Greek gods in The Red Seas are like this; on the Isle of Bronze, there are a group of massive statues originally built by Hephaestus in order to absorb faith and thus recharge the gods. For some reason, the Norse gods don't need faith in the same way. Satan also seems fine, but that's likely to be because most people do believe in him.
  • While it's likely not an issue for the true God, this is how The Demon came to reach his current level of power in Grimm Fairy Tales. In the beginning he was one of the weakest of all demons, but he was the first to realize that human prayers contained power, and it quickly took him From Nobody to Nightmare.
  • Harry Kipling (Deceased) works this way, with some creative upshots from Simon Spurrier. For example, since Klux was made from Kipling's tissue, Klux considers Kipling to be his creator and thus a god. Gaining a single worshipper means that Kipling is technically a god, and thus is able to kill other gods. Also, the New Atheist Militia realise they can destroy gods by massacring their followers, and their denial ultimately manifests as an anti-god which operates much like any other deity.
  • In Lanfeust, the Darshanide Gods need believers to exist. The first time the heroes visit the divine court, they witness the goddess Lynrenö fading into nothingness as her last believer dies.
  • In Crimson, humans are most favored by the Creator because his existence is sustained by their collective belief and worship, in contrast to supernatural monsters such as vampires, werewolves, dragons and etc. One of the reasons why the Devil managed to turn to his side a very powerful race that predated mankind known as the Grigori, was because they were shunned by God due to their inability to "sustain" him. This turns into a plot-point when the Big Bad's plan to destroy reality starts with wiping out humanity, which would weaken God enough for her to destroy him herself.
  • In Godzilla: Rage Across Time, Aphrodite vainly tries to warn Zeus and the other gods of this trope, as she feels that they've become too uncaring for the fates of mortals. Her warnings turn out to be true when Godzilla appears and attacks Mt Olympus: Zeus finds that the lack of faith has weakened him and the gods are slain by the King of Monsters.
  • This is the case in the setting for Herman Hedning, which includes 12 or so creator gods (including the Christian God who created our particular corner of the universe), and countless other minor divine beings. As explained by God himself, gods and certain other entities such as Santa Claus require active belief in them to continue existing. This also applies retroactively, as gods do not exist until someone comes up with them, and enough people belive in them. Once they do, the god will suddenly always have existed. Of course, this also means that both the god and his creations created EACHOTHER as one cannot exist without the other.
  • In Fine Print, Gods keep themselves immortal through Eternal Ambrosia, growing it through human worship. Since people don't worship the Olympians in modern times, they had adapted to cultivating it in individual people, cubi and cupids having been created for this very purpose.

    Fan Works 
  • Implied in Memories of Days Long Past.
  • Outright stated in a chapter of The Sharingan of the Crimson Princess.
  • Discussed in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/The Chronicles of Narnia crossover "To the Ground" when Buffy confronts Aslan about how he is sending the Pevensies back to England as a test of their faith in him; when Buffy asks him to consider if they actually need to be tested in that manner, Aslan realises that he has genuine faith in the children not to lose faith in him, and decides to give the Pevensies permission to remain in Narnia if they wish, although he warns them that they may be sent back by other forces beyond his control later.
  • Discussed at various points in The Confectionary Chronicles;
    • Loki explains to Hermione that most modern witches and wizards gain their power from a “blessing” performed by Hecate to try and preserve her worshippers as Christianity spread. Unfortunately for Hecate, this failed to guarantee her a steady supply of worshippers as she had intended, as witches and wizards lost their faith in the ‘Triple Goddess’ as time went on.
    • Loki himself doesn’t need prayer in the same sense given his true nature as Gabriel, and his children are also relatively unchanged in terms of their potential power as they were never worshipped in the first place. However, after spending so long acting as a pagan god, Gabriel can still draw some power from Hermione’s prayers to Loki, which he uses in particular to help himself travel in time on a couple of occasions without needing to exhaust himself rather than tap into Heaven and draw attention to his presence.
    • The need for faith is the reason Odin was able to capture Loki in the past and lost to him in the present, as Odin has become weaker now that the Norse gods aren’t worshipped on the same scale as they were before whereas Loki and his children are essentially on the same power level as they were in the past.
    • Loki also mentions that while Samhain is a demon who has been trapped in Hell for centuries, he still has a degree of power on Halloween in particular, as mortals perform variations of the rituals he invoked.
  • There's a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fic that deals with the gang visiting a realm that serves as a home for the forgotten gods to seek help from Ares. While there Ares comments that two of the gods don't really belong there since they seem to have plenty of followers, a South American god still worshiped by natives, and even more strangely, a norse god who seems to have gained power in the last century.
    • Another fic has as a subplot Illyria becoming a famous singer with a rather rabid fan base; according to the God-King, they actually work better than modern day worshipers.
  • Discussed and generally averted in Undocumented Features. Corwin, an ascended Physical God, seems to have no need for anyone to worship him, but that doesn't deter Chip, his self-proclaimed first worshiper, from doing so. Corwin's admonishments of Stop Worshipping Me have gotten to the point of gentle admonishment/Running Gag.
  • Goddess Reborn Chronicle, sort of. Given a high amount of Unreliable Narrator, it's unclear how much effect belief and prayer have on demons but it clearly has a high importance. The rise of Humanism for instance is explicitly spelled out as part of why Veritas is doing so well, as well as the spread of Gnosticism, Buddhism, Neo-Paganism and belief systems that believe in choice and humanity's ability to rise above on their own merits and transcend the ordinary.
  • RWBY: Fate Disaster: Several Servants get sent to the world of Remnant, but are not as powerful as they would normally be. Ishtar figures this is because nobody in Remnant has heard of them, so no one believes in them. Ishtar becomes a local hero to the kingdom of Vacuo by protecting it from the Grimm, and the people's cheers quickly replenish her strength. However, after Ishtar and Ereshkigal get mistaken for and worshiped as the Gods of Light and Darkness, they only receive half of the energy because the other half goes to the actual Gods of Light and Darkness.
  • Worm Grand Order: Hero meets a god nicknamed the Old Man who explains that he is from a religion that had been long forgotten on Earth Bet. No one on Earth Bet has any faith, so gods like him are on their last legs and will disappear soon.
  • Servants of Remnant: Achilles comments that since no one on Remnant has heard of the Servants, they are not as strong. He notes it is similar to when the people of Chaldea were the only people who believed in them when they were fighting the Singularities and Lostbelts, so he is used to it.
  • The MLP Loops: Relatively early on, Pinkie experiences a Warhammer 40,000 loop where she takes the place of Slaanesh when she throws a civilization-wide party for the Eldar, ascending as the Chaos Goddess of the Eternal Party. That means that she can access her god powers in any loop — but thankfully for the sanity of everyone, without a galaxy-spanning civilization worshiping her, she's a very weak god. She still has unspeakable power from other sources, but her Chaos powers aren't much stronger than her unAwake self most of the time.
  • The Weaver Option explains the rise of pleasure cults in the ancient Aeldari Empire led to nearly their entire population worshiping the nascent Chaos God Slaanesh, starving the original gods of power. This made them easy prey for Slaanesh when it was finally brought into existence.
  • In Faith Erin states that the Celtic deities basically went into hibernation after Christianity was introduced to Great Britain and Ireland and they began losing worshippers.
  • In Kill Them All Samael, the god of Silent Hill, was born from the primordial fears of humanity and feeds on those very fears to sustain itself. When it tries to claim all Earths, Taylor manages to significantly weaken Samael by inspiring nearly the entirety of humanity to overcome its fear and fight back.
  • Touched on in The Mountain and the Wolf: Tyrion asks a priest of the Red God why they can't ask the Seven or the Old Gods of Westeros for help in fighting against the Chaos Gods (Samwell aked a similar question earlier, unfortunately he'd asked The Fundamentalist among the delegation and was rebuffed). The priest says that while it's not as simple as "more followers=more power", the Seven were dealt a severe blow from Cersei blowing up the Sept, the Old Gods are ancient and don't act directly, and who knows what the Drowned God is up to.
  • Better Bones AU: Cats in the afterlife of StarClan who are more remembered and had stories told about them, usually for being famous for their actions in life, become more powerful, some to the point where they are comparable to minor gods (though only the collective StarClan is as powerful as the four main gods). If their belief builds up enough they will be able to keep their power even if cats stop remembering and believing in them later. Averted with said four gods themselves, though, though they might have originally been like that they have long since beyond too powerful for belief to matter.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Rise of the Guardians, the Guardians (and other beings) cannot be seen or touched by those who don't believe in them, and are weakened by lack of belief. This becomes a problem when Pitch Black, AKA the Boogeyman, attempts to destroy children's belief in them, as he is tired of children not fearing him, at one point weakening Bunny to the size and shape of a regular rabbit.
  • In The Book of Life, in order to stay in the joyous Land of the Remembered the dead need the living to remember them. If they are forgotten by the living they go the Land of the Forgotten.
  • In Coco, the dead vanish (or perhaps go somewhere beyond the Land of the Dead; nobody knows) when no living person remembers them any more, and when no one places their picture on their ofrenda.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Q: The Winged Serpent, the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl is prayed back into existence and begins terrorizing New York City in the form of a giant flying snake-bird thing with four legs. Incidentally, Quetzacoatl was one of the more benign Aztec Gods.
  • While God, angels, and demons in Dogma apparently exist independently of humans, they are still influenced by the way humans believe in them. This is made more explicit in some of the deleted scenes.
  • In Elf, Santa's sleigh is said to draw power from children's belief in him. Lately that's been dropping, so he relies on the assist of a modern combustion engine.
  • In the 2010 Clash of the Titans, Zeus and most of the Olympians sustain their immortality through the prayers of humans. This provides a problem when humans not only stop worshiping Olympus, but actively try and starve the gods of badly-needed prayers through blasphemy. As one would expect, it doesn't go well... especially since Hades doesn't need people to pray to him. Hades draws power from people's fear of death. In the sequel Wrath of the Titans, prayers have dwindled so much that the gods have all lost their immortality and many have died before the movie even started. They still have most of their powers, but they are fading. Thus, the Titans are breaking free.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, Freddy Krueger needs people to fear him to be able to infiltrate their dreams, so he became powerless when the inhabitants of Springwood systematically eradicated any trace of his existence. He uses Jason as a pawn to reinvigorate the locals' belief in him so he can return.
  • Implied in Suicide Squad (2016). El Diablo says that as his criminal empire grew, his pyrokinesis seemed to get stronger in proportion to his wealth, respect, and political power. And he seems to be possessed or the reincarnation of an Aztec God or something.
  • Mythica: Apparently the gods lose power as their worshipers die, according to Szorlok.
  • The Norse monster in The Ritual functions like this; as the bastard child of Loki, it needs people to worship it and make sacrifices in its name. Interestingly, it seems to have trouble understanding the idea of people not worshipping it; when Luke refuses to kneel and attacks it with his axe, it actually freezes up as if in shock and takes a moment to respond, having seemingly never been attacked by a human before.
  • In Mister Frost, the title character — an elegant but vicious serial killer who was declared insane and who has been shuttled from asylum to asylum across Europe as everyone tries to figure him out — finally breaks a two-year silence to reveal to the film's protagonist, a psychologist, that he's actually Satan. Frustrated that humanity's belief in him and the concept of Evil itself has dwindled due to the rise of the sciences and especially psychology in the 20th century, he's taken on human form to find and corrupt someone who absolutely doesn't believe in Satan. By slowly exerting his powers upon her and those around her in a variety of ways, Mister Frost intends to bring her to the point that she not only has sincere faith in his identity and abilities, but is willing to slay his corporeal form despite the consequences she would face, which would prove he's "stronger than passing time." He succeeds, and it's even implied that he goes on to possess the body of his "killer".
  • Subverted in Thor: Love and Thunder, where gods doesn't seem to need worshipers at all, given Rapu's indifference to Gorr being his last devotee (and even tells him there'll always be more believers and there is no eternal reward as he believed). It is this callous indifference that sets Gorr down the path to becoming the God-Butcher, murdering gods with the Necrosword. The other gods of Omnipotence City seem to pass the time in carefree hedonism, similarly not needing belief or competing for believers.

  • In Cyril M. Kornbluth's short story "The Advent on Channel Twelve", Mickey M- er... Poopy Panda becomes a physical living God when millions of American children are convinced to literally worship him.
  • This is a very important part of The Avatars Trilogy; the gods and goddesses of various pantheons are growing progressively weaker as fewer and fewer people believe in them, or even remember their names. This does, however, lead to a very interesting take with the Greco-Roman pantheon, with several of them opting to use either their Greek or Roman names depending on which is more well-known (i.e., Zeus continues using his original name rather than the less well known Jupiter, but Venus and Vulcan have all but abandoned the names Aphrodite and Hephaestus).
  • The titular character in I, Claudius believes in this. He also believes that belief can create new gods, e.g., he makes Livia a deity by deifying her.
  • Played very straight in The Acts of Caine, but with a history. A long time ago, gods had whatever power they could draw from T'nalldion a.k.a. Home, the fundamental pattern/source of all magic on Overworld. Then this lowly human named Jereth got involved in a religious war, kicked some ass, earned the title of Godslaughterer, and died to establish the Covenant of Pirichanthe, which limits the power of all deities to what their believers provide. The exceptions are the Outer Powers which feed on the suffering and fear of sentients, and the Blind God, who is happily nigh-omnipotent on Earth despite the fact that his worshipers neither believe he exists nor care.
  • American Gods uses this as a central plot point. There's some major Fridge Logic (or perhaps Fridge Brilliance) at one point given the slighting way one of them refers to Jesus. Given that deities are powered by belief and sacrifice, he (probably along with Vishnu) would likely be the most powerful god around at present.
    • There's also the implication that each nation has localised versions of gods: the American Kali mentions that there is a much more powerful Indian Kali, the protagonist briefly meets an Icelandic Odin and a powerless Jesus in Afghanistan is mentioned.
    • Ēostre is shown to be one of the most powerful old gods thanks to Easter. Even though most people, even self-proclaimed "pagans", don't know about her connection to the holiday.
    • Gaiman was originally going to include a scene where Shadow met Jesus, but didn't like it and took it out. It's included in an appendix to the 10th Anniversary Edition. There he explains that he is very successful, but at the cost of losing a cohesive identity as so many people come up with their own idea of what he is.
  • Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn series plays with this trope through the high spirits. Many high spirits became gods during a period called the God Age. The psychic energy they received from their followers made them even stronger than they had become. All high spirit gods, be they light or dark, are beyond normal space-time, allowing them to feed off of their worshippers from a specific time period. This means they never need to worry about their worshippers decreasing or dying off.
  • Between The Rivers: It appears to be the case that the gods depend on their worshipers, though part of the plot is that the gods have taken care to prevent any of their worshipers suspecting this.
  • In the A.E. van Vogt story The Book of Ptath, gods are powered by "prayer sticks", which are actual machines (albeit, Sufficiently Advanced ones) that are physically manipulated by their worshipers to send power to the god.
  • In the Book of Swords, when people find out gods can be killed, their faith is shaken. Eventually, it is discovered that humans created gods by believing... which they stop, destroying all the gods. This leads to the question of "If humans made the gods, where did humans come from?" (Inversion of a question often asked of theists in Real Life.)
  • This becomes a significant plot-point in the last two Brimstone Angels novels. The god Enlil is all but dead, and needs mortal worshippers to power himself back up to the point of being able to have much effect on the world. Unfortunately for him, the only mortals he's been able to make contact with are dragonborn, who are a proud race of Nay Theists who neither need nor want a god to worship. The eventual agreement that's reached is more like a business contract than a religion, with the dragonborn agreeing to pray to Enlil so long as he uses his restored powers to protect their city, and even give him an affectionate but silly nickname (Uncle Lightning-Bolt) as a reminder that he's their ally, not their master.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series:
    • For the most part averted in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians book series. The Olympians have not been widely worshipped in centuries and have not suffered any major loss in power. The Titans were sealed in Tartarus for thousands of years and survived. The almost unheard of snow goddess Khione is doing fine. However, there is some link. It's been stated that if Western Civilization were to fall, it would weaken the Olympians. Being forgotten can cause a god to lose their will to live, leaving them to fade from existence, though like Khione or the Titans it is largely a matter of personal will. The god Pan tried to fade two millennia ago, but the beliefs of nymphs and satyrs caused him to continue to live.
    • As early as the first book there are hints about this. Medusa mentions sadly that her two sisters are no longer around. In Battle of the Labyrinth Briares says his brothers have also faded.
    • The Kane Chronicles has a retirement home for mostly forgotten gods, who have become senile.
    • Come The Trials of Apollo, where Apollo is rendered mortal, there is a bit more information provided on the subject. All of the pantheons in this universe (Egyptian, Norse, etc.) are tied to the cultural impact they have had on society, and draw power from the memories and beliefs people have about them. This explains why the loss of Apollo as the god of the sun can still leave the world in functioning condition, without people wondering where the hell the sun went, because the sun gods of other mythologies (and the scientific explanation for why the sun rises and sets) can pick up the slack. Should the culture they are tied to disappear, or should no one remember them, then they would ultimately fade away. This trope is also exploited by the new big bads of the series called the Triumvirate, a trio of Roman emperors who made such a historical impact that they have been able to live for thousands of years off of people's worship and memory of them.
  • In Harry Turtledove's magitek novel The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, this has become the province of bureaucracy; the EPA is responsible for creating artificial cults to sustain "endangered gods". In this setting, it's especially clear that only worship will sustain a god: merely being acknowledged to exist doesn't suffice to keep them around. Thus, a pantheon of Chumash native deities can be dying out from lack of sincere prayers directed towards them, even though plenty of non-worshipers in the EPA are aware of their existence and concerned for their welfare as "endangered gods". Maintaining artificial cults is as much a practical matter as it is idealistic; all of the magic is divine. One of the gods maintained by an artificial cult, for example, is Hermes, and spells calling on him are the basis for most of their telecommunications.
  • The Celestial Wars setting has an unusually intricate example.
    • While celestials have certain innate powers, if a mortal believes in them they also gain whatever additional powers the mortal thinks they have (i.e. If a celestial's worshippers believe he has the power to control the weather, he can control the weather. If the worshippers believe the celestial can raise the dead, she can raise the dead). This is referred to as the "powerbase".
    • The powerbase is counterbalanced by the "thrall": a celestial also gains whatever flaws, vulnerabilities, and beliefs her worshippers think she has. Hephaestus's worshippers believe that he is crippled after being thrown off Mount Olympus, and so he is crippled. The Norse pantheon's worshippers believe that they will die if they don't get Idun's apples once a year, and so it becomes true. If a god's followers were convinced that he was a womanizing asshole, he would become a womanizing asshole.
    • In addition, an established celestial is immutably convinced that their current powerbase and thrall is right and proper and the way things should be, and will fight tooth and nail to preserve it, even if it is objectively horrible.
    • For a further complication, unless a celestial is attuned to the realm they are in (a process that can take centuries), then he must be within fifteen feet of a mortal for the mortal's belief to have any effect. If attuned, the worshipper need only be in the same realm.
    • As one final twist, a celestial cannot permanently die (by any means) so long as they have an active powerbase somewhere, even if they are currently out of range of that powerbase.
  • In the Chaos Gods series, the gods are empowered by prayer. Strangely, however, despite it being a source of power to them, most of the gods seem to dislike and discourage human prayer. This is because the so-called High Gods and Low Gods are actually Demon Lords elevated to that rank by the Chaos Gods. Prayers directed to them actually feed the Chaos Gods instead.
  • Used subtly in Chronicles of Chaos:
    Eros: My mom and dad are Lust and Violence. This is L.A.
  • C.S. Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy is set on a world where an occult force makes human imagination become real. Unsurprisingly, a number of god-beings start to appear who answer prayers in return for feeding on their worshippers' life-energy.
  • The Cosmere:
    • Warbreaker has an unusual take on the trope: the Returned subsist on what are widely considered human souls (Breath) that must be given willingly. Thus, Returned need people to believe in them enough that they would willingly give up their souls to see them live another week. In this case, it helps that the Returned can, in turn, give away their own Breath - albeit at the cost of their life - in order to heal someone. Additionally, any person who gives up their Breath for one of the gods receives generous financial compensation.
    • The Shard Odium (the Greater-Scope Villain of the Cosmere as a whole, but most present in The Stormlight Archive) does this in a weird way. He doesn't need or want worship, but rather encourages mortals to hate and blame him (or anyone other than themselves, really) for all their mistakes, and then psychologically manipulate them into using that to excuse serving him; they can also let him remove the pain they feel from guilt, resulting in robotlike servants who insist that they can't be blamed for doing horrible things.. However, it's not clear if he's literally consuming their emotions or just figuratively; one villain was the subject of a Breaking Speech where a hero pointed out that joining Odium obviously hasn't actually made him feel better. Another villain was reduced to a guilt-ridden mess just from some magic which removed his Spiritual Connection to Odium.
    • Wax and Wayne averts this, as a god's power or existence is independent of how much worship they receive. In fact, the three gods of Northern Scadrial ended up with inversely related to the amount of followers (all three religions are henotheistic, worshiping one god in a pantheon). The Shard Harmony is the only genuine Physical God, but his religion is the smallest and forbids worship (to be exact, doing good things serves as worship, and actual worship is considered a waste of time). Ironeyes is immortal and arguably the most powerful living Allomancer and Feruchemist, and has a religion of an unspecified size between the other two. It’s at least bigger than Harmony’s because Ironeyes hijacked the Lord Ruler’s religion from the previous trilogy, which was fanatically followed by the government. The Survivor is the most ineffective because he died three hundred years ago, until he turns up alive in the South. His religion is the biggest because he engineered it to incite widespread, fanatical devotion among the massive skaa population, promising (and delivering) hope in a Crapsack World.
    • The Stormlight Archive: It is theoretically possible for gods of this sort to exist as extremely powerful spren (beings shaped by thoughts), but it's unclear if they would actually have godlike power. The Stormfather is shaped by human belief in the Almighty, since the actual Almighty is dead and apparently gave the core of his being to the Stormfather, but he was already the strongest spren on Roshar before that started happening.
  • Played with in The Crocodile God. Haik is the titular crocodile-god of the ancient Tagalog tribe in the Philippines. After Spain took over and tried to eradicate paganism, Haik didn't take it well. He isn't literally dying from lack of worship—but thanks to the dwindling numbers of pagan Filipinos, he's extremely depressed and lonely. By the story's timeline in 2017 America, Filipino-American Mirasol is The Only Believer thanks to their Reincarnation Romance, and she wonders if Haik has PTSD. Later on it turns out that The Old Gods (such as Haik's grandfather and Lola the dragon) have a different mindset to the "younger" gods, and a key fact is that they do not need prayer.
  • In Dark Heart, the gods of Caliel are more powerful the more worshipers they have. The world's new gods, Vraxor, Shayna and Nimrod, exploited this effect to undermine the power of the old gods and ultimately destroy them.
  • In Dark Shores prayer is necessary for gods to exist. That is why they have disappeared from the East, as Celendrial Empire is militantly atheist and "paganism" is punished with death. Teriana says once that there used to be more gods but now only the Seven still exist.
  • Daughter of the Sun: The more worship, prayer and sacrifices the gods get, the stronger they are. Aelia is a very weak chaos god with almost no worshipers, so she's very envious of her more powerful divine siblings with lots of them.
  • In “Oblations at Alien Altars”, the introduction to Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison makes the point that for all their seeming puissance, gods are a remarkably fragile lot (although in one of the included stories he acknowledges that the truism is Nietzsche’s). He writes that “When belief in a god dies, the god dies.” Several of the stories address that idea.
  • In Jennifer Fallon's Demon Child Trilogy, the Primal Gods are the ones that will exist as long as life exists (Love, War, the Oceans), and don't rely on human belief for power. They do gain strength through worship, but this doesn't entail praying, but by doing things related to their aspect (for example, "honouring Dacendaren" is a euphemism for stealing; Damin Wolfblade is favoured by Zegarnald, God of War, because he wins a lot of wars), whether the individuals doing so are intentionally honoring the relevant gods or are even sapient (a raccoon stealing eggs from a bird's nest is just as much a form of worship for Dacendaren as a pickpocket making off with someone's purse; a war between two ant colonies honors Zegarnald in the same way that a war between two nations does. And because things like fighting, stealing, breeding and deceiving will happen so long as creatures live whether those creatures are sapient or not, the Primal Gods associated with those concepts will always be honored and are effectively unkillable). On the other hand, the Incidental Gods are demons that gather enough worshippers to become gods. The Big Bad of the series is an Incidental God that has gathered enough followers to challenge the Primal Gods' power.
  • Deverry: It is explicitly stated that gods not only need prayer to have power; they need it to even exist. Gods exist as energy constructs on the various astral planes, and do not form unless there is a great deal of belief in not only their existence, but in who and what they are. Even when they exist, it takes genuine power to get them to do anything -they're still "just" constructs, and the power from the living person is what gets things done.
  • In The Devil's Apocrypha, in which Satan Is Good and God Is Evil, God manipulated evolution on Earth to produce sentient humans in his image. He then advises us to commit brutal, violent acts in his name - the faith gives him nourishment. Satan and his followers, meanwhile, stand for free will and moral justice, and advise us not to mindlessly obey God and be reduced to his sheep.
  • This is the case in Roger Zelazny's Dilvish, the Damned. In the short story "Devil and the Dancer", the last worshipper of an almost-forgotten god is very important to him and he has to do the things she wants, even if he finds them revolting. It works in the opposite direction too: the Big Bad Jelerak has been mentioned in evil spells so many times, the mere mention of his name can summon dark spirits.
  • Terry Pratchett uses this one a bunch throughout Discworld. The Discworld is lousy with small gods, most of them just "a pinch of existence," barely sentient and incapable of much more than disturbing dust or influencing the minds of animals. But the right minor miracle in the right place at the right time...
    • Small Gods concerns the rise, fall, and return of the Great God Om, patron deity of the theocratic empire of Omnia. He left at the height of his power, promising to return during the rise of the next prophet. When he does come back from his godly vacation, he finds himself inexplicably trapped in the body of a small tortoise, unable to conjure more than a spark of static. As it turns out, his followers began to believe less in him and more in his church, or more specifically that showing proper commitment to the church was less likely to have you tortured to death for heresy. By Om's return, only a single lowly acolyte believes in the actual deity Om rather than Omnianism. There's also one man who disbelieves in him so intensely and specifically (and to his face) that it's almost as good; Om is suitably impressed at this and takes something of a liking to him. In the end, it takes an impossible-to-deny public miracle to bring him to proper, Divine strength.
    • Small Gods also notes that the Sea Queen is always a powerful deity, because every sailor knows and believes in the sea's power, but it seldom answers prayers.
    • The Last Hero introduces Nuggan, a minor deity hailing from Borogravia. An unpleasant god with an unpleasant mustache, he's a bossy little deity whose holy books are three-ring binders so he can constantly add to the list of Abominations that make life so miserable for his followers - when the Silver Horde brings a Borogravian bard to Dunmanifestan, they have to physically restrain the man from attacking his god. By Monstrous Regiment, the Abominations have helped cripple a war-torn Borogravia's economy (no more crop rotation) and have become so deranged (Abominating babies and the color blue) that citizens have taken to praying to the land's Duchess for succor. In the end, Nuggan is revealed to have faded away, with the Abominations as a sort of echo, while Borogravia's faith in its Duchess has given the now dead woman a quasi-deity status, much to her consternation. Her subjects' belief does not actually hold that the Duchess herself can change anything, see — the idea is that the Duchess can plead their case to Nuggan as an intermediary. This left the poor woman stuck in some sort of limbo, powerful enough to know what her subjects are going through, but unable to do anything about it herself.
    • In Hogfather, this fact is deliberately used in an attempt to kill the Disc's Crystal Dragon Santa by using Mind Control to stop children from believing in him. When the Hogfather falls out of existence, all that belief goes into completely random concepts that never existed before, such as the Verruca Gnome; the Eater of Socks; and Bilious, the Oh God of Hangovers. Oh, and it might mean the end of the world. Hogfather also shows that old gods and mythological beings don't always fade away, sometimes they just change jobs. The Hogfather used to be a harbinger of the sun, and the Toothfairy used to be the original Boogey man. This would later come back in Going Postal and Making Money.
    • The Last Continent features the God of Evolution, who has no worshipers. He exists because he believes in himself very strongly, or more precisely, what he does.
    • During Going Postal Moist Von Lipwig perpetrated a con that resulted in the border-line small god Anoia, Goddess of Things Getting Stuck In Drawers, seeing a sudden surge in popularity and a possible promotion to Goddess of Lost Causes. Moist prays to her on the basis that she owes him, and Making Money reveals that this may have paid off - the secondary villain suffers a sudden and disabling malfunction of his dentures when one of its springs gets unstuck at a critical moment.
    • In hindsight, the golden Guardian at the Gate (a.k.a. "He looks just like my Uncle Osbert...") from Moving Pictures was probably a god of some sort, as he needs people's remembrance, and by extension, their belief that he can protect Holy Wood from the Dungeon Dimensions, if he's to stay awake.
    • "The Lady", also known as; "She-who-shall-not-be-named... The 'Million-to-One' Chance - and all of the other chances as well... The One who will desert you when you need Her the most - and sometimes She might not..." is generally thought of as the most powerful goddess in the whole Discworld Pantheon. She has few if any true worshipers (being treated all Goddess-like upsets her and is likely to be counterproductive), but everyone directs a prayer her way when they are in a really tight spot.
    • Om mentions that this trope is why the world has so many Odd Job Gods. The Goddess of Lettuce will never be all that powerful, but she can find a spot in every pantheon and gets a boost whenever there's a lettuce blight and suddenly people want her help very specifically.
  • While gods in Divine Misfortune are powerful by default, they can gain strength through acts of prayer and sacrifices done for them. The exact parameters are a little vague, but these can be anything from leaving food by an altar and pouring their favorite drink down the drain, to lifelong vows, blood sacrifices and human sacrifices.
  • Doom Valley Prep School: The Goddess of Written History, Ms. Parch, is also a history teacher. She encourages her students to pray to her when they run into problems with their homework. Mortals of the world realize the gods and demons need prayers and try to abuse it. Petra has a large number of holy symbols at home, and goes to several temples, churches, cults of various gods and demons, praying for help before getting sent to Doom Valley Prep School.
  • The gods of the Dragonlance setting don't die without worship, but getting it does make them more powerful.
  • The Dresden Files use this with a few unique ripples.
    • Spiritual entities need some level of recognition to operate on Earth. Thus the various old gods (with a little 'g') have very little ability to act on their power. This is laid out in info concerning the Venatori, who fight the Oblivion War, trying to get all memory of magical entities removed from the human psyche, and therefore cut their connection to the material world. Need-to-know basis doesn't even begin to describe it. But now you know, so now they have to kill you..
    • Also evidence suggests that this doesn't apply to God (with a big 'G') and His assorted Archangels. Not that it would really matter if He did need prayer, given how many believers He has.
    • The other gods we've met so far (Odin and Hades) seem to have plenty of power, despite not having that many followers, though Hades makes it clear that he is "weaker". But "weaker" is relative to a major god. Neither comes close to the Abrahamic God in power (at least, as far as we've seen) but both can still throw some weight around. (That said, Santa Claus is an aspect of Odin, and Santa Claus, even if he doesn't have many real believers, is a pretty big influence nowadays... and Hades is rather famous... as a backstabbing Manipulative Bastard that doesn't even vaguely resemble his actual personality, but hey, fame is fame.)
    • It should be noted that they do not cease to exist with lack of worship. They can still be active in the spiritual realms and other dimensions. Some books have implied that how humans perceive the universe is very limited compared to gods and other supernatural creatures. To humans, the god might be inactive, but they are still active in other ways. Many of these entities predated humanity and it is unknown how they came into contact with Earth or if the ever changing rules of magic had anything to do with it.
    • It is possible (if more of a stretch) that it's not based on worship, but on awareness. Lots of people know who Odin is, but not many worship him. This theory gets traction in Skin Game when Hades, who is still as powerful as ever, says he never asked for prayers and sacrifices, and was honestly a bit confused at the point of worshiping him. After all, what would come of it? Did they think he would be merciful? Answer: no. Hades is not merciful. Hades gives you exactly what you deserve, good or bad, completely fairly. Which is why we can all take heart that Deirdre's fate will be just as horrible as she deserves.
    • Even the type of worship a god receives can change. Butcher notes in their heyday, the old gods would need to listen to prayers, make social calls, and do more active things. If, as the modern world doesn't worship like that, a god could still get a cult of followers believing in the principals the god holds to and using the newest name the god has picked up, that would suffice. So a god could use a comic book character or persona to gain followers, take that belief to sustain himself, but not have all the old obligations he once had.note 
    • The Oblivion War acknowledges this trope and uses it against some very old and very evil gods. These ancient and evil forces don't need prayer to reenter the human world, just simple knowledge of them will suffice. So those who fight on humanity's side seek to make sure the total sum of any who remember a god is zero. If word of a god's followers is discovered, orders to take them out are sent to a small group of people, to minimize the numbers of people who might learn that god's name. The current number of fighters is close to 200 for the entire world. Now, some beings, like spirits of intellect, can have knowledge of the name but that won't sustain the god. They need mortals to know their name. Once a god's rememberers are all eliminated and all is quiet for a few hundred years, the Archive, the repository of all human knowledge, written or typed, deletes the name of the god from her own memory and the god is now sealed away to Oblivion. As those on humanity's side forget and never record how many they killed, it has lead to an interesting point they don't know how well they have done. Simply recording the kill could be enough of a tether for the god to work its way back.
    • Ethniu, who is notably an order of magnitude stronger than the likes of Odin, claims that the gods never should've asked for worship, only fear. It's unclear if this is actually the source of her power, given that she's a little-known figure from Celtic Mythology.
  • Several short stories by Lord Dunsany explore this trope, most literally Poseidon, in which the eponymous deity complains that he can no longer cause earthquakes without the blood of bulls. Perhaps humans just got smarter over the years.
  • David Eddings uses it in The Elenium and The Tamuli trilogies. At one point, the goddess Aphrael becomes ill because her worshippers are being killed.
    Aphrael: They were Gods once, but their worshippers either died out or were converted to the worship of other Gods. They wail and flutter around the edges of reality without substance or even thought. All they have is need. ... We go out of fashion, Sparhawk—like last year's gowns or old shoes and hats. The Powerless Ones are discarded Gods who shrink and shrink as the years go by until they're finally nothing at all but a kind of anguished wailing.
    • Quality of worship matters as well — the Tamuli gods are some of the weakest gods around (and appear as children because they in many ways are like children, whereas Aphrael possesses a certain mental maturity and most definitely power despite her Child-Goddess moniker), not because they lack worshippers as such, but because Tamuli generally treat them as more of an afterthought than anything truly important.
  • In Orson Scott Card's Enchantment, the old Slavic gods Mikola Mozhaiski and the Bear of Winter aren't killed by a lack of belief, but their concerns are much smaller and they try to live normal lives until they're needed again for godly duties. Zeus is currently enjoying his retirement in the Caribbean.
  • The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas: Gods are created by belief and, of course, gain power from worship. Apollo Smintheus, the mouse god, has a cult of six guys in Illinois with a website. As you might guess, he's not particularly powerful.
  • Fritz Leiber's stories of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser have a unique take: all temples in the city of Lankhmar are located along the Street of the Gods. Less-popular religions are located at the end of the street closest to the city gate; the more numerous a deity's followers, the farther from the gate his temple is located. Religions ebb and fall up and down the street throughout Lankhmar's history.
    • With the exception of the Gods of Lankhmar (as opposed to the Gods in Lankhmar). They always keep their single rather plain temple at the other end of the Street of the Gods in spite the fact the people prefer to ignore them as much as possible while making sure they get their due. For very good reasons, as it turns out. You do not want to draw their attention
  • Raymond E. Feist's Midkemian books have this. There are a number of classifications of gods. There are beings that are "more powerful than gods, yet less," and they are the forces of nature. They do not have a consciousness, but they can be influenced but cannot be controlled. There are the controller gods which are the primal stuff of the world. They couldn't care less about the people or what they are doing. Prayers to them are irrelevant. Next, there are the lesser gods. These are the ones that people pray to. They are also forces of nature but are identified and idealized by the people and interact with them. The lesser gods are the ones that fit this trope. And if enough worshipers go away, they would lose their power and potentially die. However, they may also return if at some time in the future enough worshipers begin to exist again. This is because they are still at their heart the personification of some aspect in nature or concept such as justice, the sea, or war. The god of magic, Sarig is one such dead god. When a god "dies" the natural force doesn't die with it, but rather that aspect is taken up by another god, at least until such time as the old god returns. An example of this is the God Killian who is the goddess of nature, but also reigns over the oceans and seas, having taken over for her dead brother Eortis, the God of the Sea.
  • The Folk of the Air by Peter S. Beagle features a former earth-mother goddess from the neolithic era now working as a therapist in a fictionalized Berkeley.
  • Averted in the short story The Food of the Gods by Poul Anderson (in collaboration with his wife Karen). Here it is stated that while worship - or at least reverence - is needed in order to achieve Godhood, once that state is reached the resultant deity is immortal, and no longer requires active worshippers. Some degree of continuing respect, however, is necessary if a God (or pantheon) is to have any continuing major influence on the mortal world. As an example, it's related by the god Hermes that when Christianity displaced Paganism, a dark age followed because the Olympians held too much of civilization within themselves. It was only when the Christian Trinity allowed Greco-Roman mythology to be rediscovered that the Renaissance became possible.
  • In For Love of Evil, Piers Anthony shows that YHWH used to have a lot of power, but since belief in the Hebrew God had waned, his place had been usurped by the Christian God.
  • In God Complex it's established that mankind is extinct early on, and many of the elder gods are scrambling to find alternative power sources. Gods proportionate power and rank amongst one another was determined by their real world worship counterparts, with Christianity having taken power once intended for other pantheons.
  • Partly how gods are created in The God Eaters, where a human born with magic is worshiped until (at least in the case of Medur) they gain enough power to return after death. Eventually, however, they amass enough power that they don't need belief to keep going. Still doesn't mean they're indestructible, though.
  • This is the rule that underlies the metaphysics of John Scalzi's novella The God Engines. The more worshipers a god has, and the stronger their faith is, the more powerful the god gets. It also puts a couple of twists on the idea - first, gods get more power from worshipers who converted from another faith than from people who "inherited" the religion, and more still from worshipers who convert from atheism. The main character's god even keeps planets sequestered from all religion as a sort of "atheist farm", just so they can be converted with a quick miracle to provide a power boost when needed. And second, gods can eat souls to get even more energy from each person, although even other gods consider that a Moral Event Horizon.
  • The Greek gods in Marie Phillips's Gods Behaving Badly have been holed up in a house in North London for a century or two, reduced to shadows of their former selves because the faith that made them powerful is now going to "the upstart carpenter" and his father.
  • The short story anthology Gods of War (by Christopher Stasheff, et al) features this, but also indicates in addition to the Greek, Norse, and Japanese gods (among others) who fall into this trope, there is the 'one god' who is above the others and has no such concerns or limitations.
  • This is how it works in Dave Duncan's Great Game trilogy. Any "Stranger" — a human from another parallel world — can absorb power of human emotions and faith, use it for miracles and eventually become a "god". The balance of power in the world of Vales is being upset by one lesser god who has discovered a much more efficient means of getting divine power from worship — human sacrifice — and threatens to overthrow the major gods.
  • The Heartstrikers: The actual mechanics of this are examined in some depth. All humans have the ability to unconsciously move magic (mages are simply those who can do so consciously). Therefore, whenever enough humans believe in something, they will carve out a hole in the Sea of Magic that will fill with magic, the vessel for a new spirit. These "Mortal Spirits" are the ancient gods of humanity, death and war given shape. Not only do they tend to be very dangerous (since humans tend to believe more in things that terrify them), but they are far more powerful than natural spirits like those born from mountains or forests. In fact, these Mortal Spirits are the reason the magic was turned off. Unless a Mortal Spirit is bound to a Merlin who can temper its nature, it will inevitably go on a destructive rampage. But the Mortal Spirits vastly outnumbered the Merlins, so the last Merlins sealed away all magic instead in order to put the Mortal Spirits to sleep. Thankfully, by the time the Mortal Spirits return, Marcie realizes that the human population is so much higher that they should be able to provide one Merlin for every Mortal Spirit, preventing another apocalypse.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy, Oolon Colluphid uses the existence of the Babel Fish to prove the existence of God, but since "proof denies faith" and God Needs Faith Badly, the concrete proof of his existence caused him to promptly vanish in a Puff of Logic. The text goes on to mention that while he made bank with the book spreading this argument, it's generally considered a bunch of dingo's kidneys.
  • In the Iron Druid Chronicles the gods have their own sources of magic and don't really need to be constantly worshiped to remain powerful, but active worship is required for them to be able to physically manifest on Earth, and the way people believe in them shapes their appearance when they do. However, they only need to manifest after their original bodies die. Otherwise they're fine.
    • Jesus does not like to appear to people because he would have to appear nailed to a cross and it's a very painful experience, even for a deity. Mary's appearances are much more frequent and often triggered by the belief of old devout ladies.
    • Complicating matters is the fact that if two groups of believers in the same god diverge enough in their beliefs, the god will split into regional aspects. There are dozens of versions of the Native American god Coyote running around. The Thor from American comics is brought up a few times, but according to Odin 1.0, he exists only as a concept. Without worship he doesn't have enough magic to manifest himself.
    • Perun's grudge against Thor was him blaming Thor for being forgotten and weakened in power. Yet in actual practice did not appear any weaker. On the other hand, Jesus is the most powerful known supernatural being and one of the most widely worshipped. So as a whole the series flip flops on how much gods need prayer.
  • In Tom Robbins's Jitterbug Perfume, Pan (and his famous musk) is slowly fading away as more people convert to Christianity.
  • Mercedes Lackey can't make up her mind on this one. Most deities in the world of Valdemar are actually just aspects of the God and the Goddess (and the One is implied to be both at once), whose power descends down to the clerics instead of the other way around, but in one vignette it's explicitly mentioned that a demon can ascend to divinity by running a sex cult and feeding off all the worship (and a few worshippers too). This inconsistency came about because the short stories that demon appeared in weren't originally part of the Valdemar 'Verse, but rather were retconned in later.
  • In Little Man on the Subway (Isaac Asimov), Mr. Crumley mentions that he can only make minor miracles, because he does not have enough followers.
  • Douglas Adams' The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul: Old gods who have fallen out of belief become powerless destitutes, while a new god is actually spawned as a critical mass of Guilt builds up through the book.
  • A dark variant of this exists in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Gods gain strength, retain their power and influence and become even more powerful thanks to the prayers of their followers. A god who is not prayed to becomes gradually forgotten and eventually dies. Yet at the same time, accepting worship binds them to their followers, sometimes even distorting their nature and directing their actions against their own will.
  • In the Belgian Gothic Horror story "Malpertuis", a young sailor finds that his dying rich uncle gave away all his fortune to him, his relatives and employees - as long as they stay in the eponymous house. This is because most of them are Greek Gods, captured by said warlock uncle in his younger days, weakened by lack of worship and with the help of blasphemous monk and insane taxidermist trapped inside human "skins". It all ends badly, obviously.
  • In Laurell K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series, the main characters are fairies, and referred to repeatedly as deities or former deities. Those who are still believed in [e.g., Frost] grow in power, and those who are no longer believed in diminish. There are also characters who exist as a sort of vampiric ghost of gods whose worshippers have died out, referred to as the Starving Ones - they are responsible for several slaughters, increasing in scale, in one of the books, as they use the energy to attempt to rebuild themselves. The Fey are touchy about this, as most both believe in the existence of higher powers (which have no need for worship) and that they never were gods, seeing the collapse of most of their power (causing them to watch the deaths of the worshippers they could no longer care for) as punishment for the hubris of ever thinking they were. At the same time, they are influenced by human attitudes, and can feed off human notice, admiration and attraction. Also, by now the title character technically has a few human worshippers.
  • Central to the Fredric Brown story "The New One", where it also applies to mythic beings other than gods, and even to stuff such as ectoplasm. However, even a strongly believed-in being will not show up at all before being "invoked". The human protagonist ends up invoking a fellow with a stovepipe hat and red, white and blue clothing, who then proceeds to kick ass.
  • In Simon R. Green's The Nightside Series, gods function rather like this. They even have harkers out on the Street of Gods trying to increase their base of worship to gain more power. Who often dissolve into shouting matches over whose dogma's right. It's a God eat God world out there...
  • Gods in The Raven Tower have a finite amount of power to draw from, which gets expended when they alter reality. Being worshipped adds to the pool faster than it accumulates naturally, especially the sacrifice of a willing human, allowing those gods to work greater miracles — but if the god dies, usually by trying to expend more power than they possess, no amount of prayer can bring them back. Notably, the Ancient Ones, gods who predate humanity, aren’t bound by such limits for reasons unknown even to them.
  • The Reluctant King: The gods need prayers and sacrifices from worshippers, or else they'll just fade away, eventually to death. Consequently, the more worship they receive the more powerful gods are. Poor little Tvasha has grown very weak indeed when Jorian finds his statue, but he repays Jorian's worship of him as best he can.
  • In the world of The Saga of Billy, this is the case for the lesser gods, like Bit'hum, protector of Roads and Pathways. However, the greater gods are actually recognized as such if they are self-sufficient. These major deities' powers are fueled by the simple actions of mortals, which are now akin to worship: for instance, the god of Craftsmanship is sustained by the fact there are craftsmen in the world, and the goddess of Motherhood is unconsciously worshipped with every birth.
  • Yahweh, in The Salvation War. A lampshade is hung on it by an intelligence officer, who describes him as "Like the Ori". Satan, on the other hand, is collecting suffering in Hell. They are both collecting because they both have the unsubstantiated belief that they need more energy to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence since both of their universes are shrinking and will collapse eventually (in a few billion years).
  • Subverted in The Soldier Son trilogy by Robin Hobb. The main character attempts to denounce that he owes ones of the "Old gods" a favour, saying that he "Believes in the Good God - You have no power over me" at which point the Old God laughs and tells him "How weak do you think Gods are? Do you think we require your belief in us to exist, how weak would such a god be?"
  • Special Circumstances: The more people who worship a deity (even by proxy), the stronger their mortal servants are. That's because the deities with more worshipers have more power to lend to their priests/priestesses.
  • Star Trek: New Frontier: Th Greek gods (who were also the Roman gods, the Norse gods, etc.,) known as the Beings, were kin to Apollo in the original series episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?" They eventually get all powerful thanks to the worship of the Danteri... and the fear of the Excalibur and the Trident. They're beaten by said crews becoming quite literally fearless, along with the help of Mark McHenry (the descendant of Apollo and Carolyn Palamas)... and Woden/Zeus/Santa Claus, god of all gods.
  • Star Wars Legends: The Yuuzhan Vong, a species of zealots, seem to think this way: "The gods may have created us, but it is we who sustain them through worship." Although with their creation myth (life was created through a terrible wound inflicted on its creator), this could instead refer to the expression of their worship through omnicide returning the gift of life to the gods.
  • Swan's Braid & Other Tales of Terizan: In "In Mysterious Ways" the gods gain strength the more worship they get. Given this fact, the clergy of new god Cot'Dazur decide to get more power by having thieves steal the icons from all other gods since people focus their belief on these. Terizan realizes this and foils them, stealing the icons back which she puts back into their original temples.
  • A variation on this occurs in Tanith Lee's Tales from the Flat Earth series, where most of the god-like "Lords of Darkness" derive themselves from humanity's understanding of abstractions; i.e. they start out as mindless forces, and over time, as humanity personifies them, they become actual entities with full-blown personalities. The actual creators of the earth, however, the Gods, are pretty much oblivious to humanity, and ignore prayers and offerings. The Lords of Darkness are often worshiped as Gods, though (this is a major plot point in the second and fourth books), and are about one level or so below the actual Gods in power. Azhrarn, the first Lord, and personification of Wickedness, is different from the other lords, in that he's older than the universe, doesn't need human belief to be personified, and is probably as old as the Gods, but not as powerful; though it is implied that human perceptions of him do "fluff up" his definition, or at least has some relation to how he manifests, but only slightly. However, it is strongly implied, if not outright stated, that without humanity, Azhrarn would lose his sense of purpose, even though he would still exist. The other lords, like Chuz, Lord of Madness, or Uhlume, Lord of Death, are explicitly the products of human imagination, do not predate the universe, and it is implied that they would fade away without humanity.
  • A variation in the Frank Peretti novels This Present Darkness and Piercing The Darkness. God doesn't need prayer, but it gives angels a power-up, allowing them to trash demons.
  • Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe:
    • The Trickster's Duet mentions this principle, although it's not necessarily the number of people who believe, but who's in power. The trickster god Kyprioth needs his followers to defeat the mortal followers of his siblings Mithros and the Great Mother Goddess in order to gain enough power to defeat them, return from the exile they imposed, and resume rule over the Copper Isles.
    • There is also a case of regional variance in power. The Graveyard Hag is a fairly weak goddess of trickery in most of the world. In her domain of Carthak, her power is so absolute only her father the god of death can oppose her. Although he's the kindest of the Great Gods and she isn't, he largely defers to her.
    • One of the short stories in Tortall and Other Lands concerns a country where the primary god has a male and female voice, but for a long time people have only listened to and respected the male one, praising and preaching about only this aspect of them. To restore its other aspect they empower a young woman from the rare sect that still remembers the female voice of the god as being sacred, and she starts to preach about it.
    • In the first book of The Numair Chronicles a Cool Old Lady who's friends with a crocodile god says that mortal prayers, tribute, and respect strengthens the gods and helps them in their eternal fight to subdue Uusoae, who will consume them followed by all mortal life if not held in check.
      • In the same book, there's some discussion of the Great Mother Goddess and how the Cult of the Gentle Mother (which was shown in Beka Cooper) has thoroughly changed mortals' perspective on her, from including nurturing and the home into one that only encompasses that aspect of her. The Graveyard Hag won't allow priests to soften her into a kindly grandmother, but the Great Mother hasn't taken any steps. The characters speculate that two centuries is just not that long for gods and she hasn't noticed, but readers know that simultaneously in Song of the Lioness the Great Mother has chosen to favor a champion who will break the glass ceiling and spearhead a change in Tortall's perception of women; by being Alanna's patron, the goddess' own nature as a proactive and powerful deity will be reinforced.
  • Naturally, this is noted in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and that gods cease to exist without belief in them.
  • Expanded by Dan Simmons in his short story Vanni Fucci is Alive and Well and Living in Hell, where different versions of Hell as well as God become true on the basis of the number of people who (consciously or not) believe in them. Vanni Fucci, a blasphemous thief condemned to Dante's Hell simply because Dante did not like him very much, takes an opportunity to take over a televangelist's show and convince everyone not to believe in Dante's Hell anymore. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Villains by Necessity: With the banishing of the Dark and Evil from the world, gods related to those things faded as their worshipers disappeared. They didn't cease to exist though, as the end shows those gods returning when the Dark and Evil do.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Gods: The fortunes of gods depend on how many people they have praying (or sacrificing) to them, often. A god can even die if they are completely forgotten. Of course, what counts as prayer largely depends on the god - Anansi just wants people to keep telling stories about him being clever, and Media gets power any time someone consumes media, to name a few examples. The single constant is that sacrifice, particularly Human Sacrifice, usually nets a god a lot of power.
  • The initially conventional Christian-themed horror series Brimstone, in which a damned policeman is given a second chance at life by Satan in return for tracking down 113 souls who had escaped from Hell, undergoes a dizzying Genre Shift when the LAPD policewoman who had been his inside track with Earthly authorities is revealed to be the ringleader of the souls, a dead Canaanite priestess who had engineered the escape from Hell by seducing Satan. (The policeman had, unwittingly, been helping her to eliminate members of her "gang" that had gone rogue.) Her plan is to systematically eradicate belief in the God of Abraham from human culture, thereby causing God, Heaven, and Hell, to all blink out of existence. The protagonist realizes that Satan had been desperate to retrieve the escaped spirits, not out of some altruistic desire to restore the cosmic balance, but because if the priestess were to succeed in her agenda, Satan, being part of the Abrahamic mythos himself, would blink out of existence as well. Naturally, just as the series threatened to actually become interesting, the network pulled the plug.
  • Doctor Who. The Monster of the Week in "The God Complex" turns out to be an alien god imprisoned by a race that had Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions. The prison abducts people and forces them through terror into expressing their faith, which the god then devours. The episode is a deconstruction of the Doctor, who is also an ageless being with godlike pretensions, sustained by the hero worship of his companions.
    • The spin-off audio "Time in Office" sees the Fifth Doctor meet the Arimcei, a race of beings who genuinely need the faith of others to keep themselves alive, which is helped by the fact that their voice touches a part of the brain that makes one believe that a god has actually spoken to them. They previously had quite a few planets to their name, praising them as gods. They were forced to retreat after they tried to establish their reign on Gallifrey, and the Doctor's companion Tegan unintentionally destroys them when she proves to their last worshippers that they're fakes.
  • Heroes season 4 Big Bad Samuel Sullivan is a super whose geokinetic powers become stronger if he is surrounded by other supers who believe in him. In theory he could break the world if he had a large enough crowd of supers nearby. His brother Joseph hid the true nature of Samuel's power from him and deliberately limited the size of their super carnival to prevent Samuel from becoming too dangerous and Samuel killed him when he found out the truth. Samuel is eventually defeated when his fratricide is brought to light, causing his fellow super carnies to lose faith in him, and Hiro teleports them away. Samuel is left all alone in an empty carnival as a powerless, broken, shell of a man.
  • The Merlin TV miniseries explicitly says that creatures like Mab and the Lady of the Lake only exist because people believe in them. Once Christianity moves in and people don't believe in magic, it doesn't exist any more. The climax has Mab literally fade into thin air because the crowd turn their backs on her and move on with their lives.
  • A recurring theme on MythQuest. In episode 4, the myth they visit is set in motion by spirits attempting to ensure the survival of the aboriginal people who worship them. Cleo then has this opinion about that myth as a whole, and to an extent, mythology in general.
  • In Penny Dreadful Dracula taunts Lucifer over falling prey to this, while he was cast onto Earth to feed on the blood of the living and thus lacks such an incorporeal weakness.
    Dracula: I am made strong and potent by the spoils of my domain — while you, anemic, feed on dust and superstition, the abject supplication of the weak and the ignorant — if they cease to believe in you, do you even exist? But they won't believe forever, brother. We live in a mighty age of science and faithlessness... You fade into insignificance even as I look at you now.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The Ori don't actually need prayer to survive, but they do gain power from human worship, although they're still extremely powerful on their own. Once Adria takes their place in Stargate: The Ark of Truth, SG-1 needs to take away her worshippers to make her vulnerable.
    • The Ascended Orici Adria, being the focus of everyone's worship as the last remaining Ori, is too strong for anyone to challenge. However, once the Ark of Truth is deployed and the Priors stop believing in her she loses a significant bulk of that power, opening the way for an Oma Desala gambit.
  • The original Star Trek episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?" involves a cosmic entity claiming to be the Greek God Apollo, who says that his fellow gods faded away as humans stopped worshiping them. He tries to force the Enterprise crew to worship him, but their resistance to the idea ultimately convinces him that humanity has indeed outgrown him, and he chooses to fade away himself.
  • Supernatural:
    • In one episode, the guys come across the haunting that originally started out as just a practical joke. The prankee buys it and posts the story on the Internet where it becomes well known in an Urban Legend kind of way. Once enough people believe that there is a ghost there it actually appears. Realizing that belief would determine what the ghost would be weak to as well, the Winchesters decided to defeat it by writing a weakness into the text - once enough people believed it, the ghost was to be defeated that way. Unfortunately, the Internet site with the text collapsed and the change in belief that would have made it weak never occurred. Instead they destroyed the ghost by simply burning the haunted house, and the sigil the ghost was bonded with, to the ground.
    • In the Christmas Special episode of season 3, the brothers run into two old Gods who are kidnapping people and sacrificing them to themselves. The couple boast that they used to be so powerful people would make sacrifices to them daily, but time moves on and they've assimilated themselves into modern culture and now only kidnap a couple people a year to sacrifice and keep themselves going.
    • In the episode "Fallen Idols", one such old god can only survive on the sacrifices of people that worship it. Since belief in the old gods has all but died in the modern era it transforms itself into whatever its intended victim happens to worship, like becoming Abraham Lincoln to eat a Civil War historian, appearing as Mahatma Gandhi to Sam, and shapeshifting into Paris Hilton to devour a teenage girl.
  • In Valentine, it's said that it isn't so much prayer or belief that the gods need as it is "relevance". What this means for the main characters (Aphrodite, Eros, the Pythia, and Hercules, disguised as humans running an LA matchmaking service) is that if they don't do a better job at uniting soulmates, they'll cease being relevant to humanity, and will consequently lose their immortality.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess implies this, rather than it being outright stated. The Olympian Gods (the primary pantheon dealt with on the show), were shown to have a reach and influence as far as the Middle East, and were considered the greatest of any gods in the show, while others were shown as powerful, but not nearly on the Olympian scale. The show attributed it to less worship, and Ares even remarked to Kal once that Kal's temple and power had gone downhill since "those tributes stop[ed] coming in". In some episodes set in the modern day, Ares is a lot weaker than usual because modern day people don't usually pray to him.
    • An episode of Young Hercules ("The Skeptic") deals with this, too. The newest Academy of Adventure cadet repeatedly refuses to believe the Olympians exist, much to the annoyance of the son of Zeus. This also irritates Strife, but Fatuus (the god of unwelcome prophecy) tells him that he foresees a day when all mortals stop believing in the Olympians, which he says means they'll all cease to exist. Calling the new cadet a trendsetter, Strife spends the rest of the episode trying to antagonize him (which Herc naturally standing in the way).

  • Implied in UMAI by Shireen. The song is about a deity questioning whether people would still worship her if she gave them everything perfect. She decides that no, they wouldn't, sending a natural disaster before helping the rebuilding process.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • A Greek myth/folktale likely written in Christian times by Plutarch tells of the death of the god Pan when people start thinking of him as only a made-up story. One might wonder about the rise of Greek neo-pagans, who have begun worshiping Pan again. Have they resurrected him, or is their belief going unheard?
  • Averted in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) as a fundamental part of the theology. For a more direct example Psalm 50 states "I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens [...] Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats? Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High." In short, though God in the Old Testament demands sacrifices, He does not need it to live - prayer and worship are for the benefit of the one doing them, not God.
  • The neo-pagan scholar Isaac Bonewits describes gods as functioning basically as the trope says. He's not alone; this theogony is quite common, especially among Wiccans and Asatru (Norse-pagan revivalists).
  • This trope is fairly common in real-world polytheism, especially those with a substantial animist or pantheist component. Among modern religions, it is especially significant in the religions of the African diaspora in the New World (Vodoun, Santeria, Candomble, Umbanda), and in the Shinto animism of Japan. Historically it was an important though implicit idea in Hellenic- and Roman-era syncretism.
  • There's a "Person Needs Prayer Badly" in Roman Catholicism. In order to go to heaven (or reduce their time in purgatory) and join the angels, the soul of the deceased needed to be prayed for. This led to the modern idea of the funeral – particularly how the modern Western funeral is such a huge deal – as well as other ideas. This is still part of the Catholic beliefs, but you only pray for the soul in Purgatory as man has no role in deciding the salvation of souls.
  • Islam takes this much further. In Islam, sins are defined as violations of entities' rights, and these rights fall into three categories: Divine rights, people's rights and (the very vaguely defined) self rights. The creator's right to acknowledgment and worship falls in the first category, which basically means God can personally press charges on Judgment Day whether you were a non-Muslim or a fully devout paragon of faith who missed prayers one time or forgot to account for a skipped day's fasting. More importantly, God may choose NOT to hold you accountable for violations of divine rights, but will not forgive sins that have harmed other people. If you've slighted another human in any way, only that particular person can forgive the sin. All the religious commandments are either instructions on gaining brownie points in heaven or training exercises to help a person become less susceptible to violating others' and their own rights (and in a lot of cases, it's said that they're meant to be both). As such, there's lots of traditions in Muslim countries that can essentially boil down to Level Grinding to help rub off points to even out the inevitably large number of sins a person might have on their records. These customs are usually centered around the recently deceased, with funerals being major displays. It is said that if you're forgiven by 40 mortals at your funeral, God will forgive every sin targeted towards him so most funeral services include asking for everyone in attendance to declare to God that they forgive the deceased completely. There's also forms of essentially bribing people to send small prayers to the one you lost, there's customs of giving away free food where the receivers simply recite short Quran verses dedicated to the giver.
  • While not all religions believe that their god(s)' power and influence increase in proportion to the number of worshipers, there is no denying that it has this effect on the religion itself. You say the wrong thing to a member of a religious order that has enough clout, you WILL believe in divine retribution. In other words, "religion needs prayer badly".
  • Dystheists (those who believe in God, but believe that God Is Evil) often believe that God will die if nobody worships him. Which is what they hope will eventually happen, because they believe humanity cannot truly be free until God dies.
  • The state religion of the Aztec (or Mexica) Empire believed the gods are always hungry – not for belief or prayer, but for human and animal sacrificial victims – and that if they were not fed a steady diet of the hearts of brave warriors, they would surely destroy the world, as they had many times before. The whole Aztec political system was designed to prevent this by waging enough wars that there would always be plenty of POWs to sacrifice; in some cases, Tenochtitlan and another city-state would stage a set-piece "Flower War" with no objective but giving each side a chance to capture some of the others' soldiers for sacrifice. (Not every state the Mexica forced to participate in this seems to have shared their level or form of piety on the matter – a circumstance Cortez, when he arrived, found very useful to his purposes). To put it more bluntly, many of the Aztecs' neighbors, and particularly the less pious ones, saw them as a mixture of The Empire and The Religion of Evil, seeing as the Aztecs had a habit of capturing whole villages for sacrifice and then moving into the vacated homes.
  • In The Epic of Gilgamesh, a character recalls the gods "crowding like flies" around a sacrifice after most of mankind is destroyed. To clarify, the gods created the humanity so that they will work and feed the gods, allowing them to live in leisure. Then, the gods couldn't stand the noise people made, so they tried to exterminate them a few times, culminating with The Great Flood. It was apparently successful, but then they realized they Didn't Think This Through...
  • According to some sources (most likely fabricated by Christians), the Celtic Gods, or the Tuatha de Danann, shriveled into the "Little People" (faeries) from lack of offerings and affection after they were overthrown by the Milesians.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • In one of Patton Oswalt's bits, he hypothesizes that this is true. His wife tells him that she saw a rat at their house, and he doesn't believe her, and assumes she saw a squirrel. He then sees the biggest rat ever crawl across the telephone line in their backyard, get picked up by a hawk, and then get dropped by said hawk in the neighbor's yard, scaring their children, all in 60 seconds. Patton then says that maybe that weird sequence of events was due to a forgotten Sumerian trickster god.
    Patton: Is there a forgotten Sumerian trickster god, and his feast day is July 3rd, he's got one worshipper left, and the dude killed a goat over a copper bowl, and it gave the god 40 seconds of power in our realm. He just poofed into being.
  • Inverted by George Carlin in his book Napalm and Silly Putty:
    "The Muslims observe their Sabbath on Friday, the Jews observe on Saturday and the Christians observe on Sunday. By the time Monday rolls around God is completely fuckin' worn out."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Deadlands: The godlike Reckoners/Manitou gain more power when they spread fear and belief in the supernatural.
  • Discworld Roleplaying Game inherits this trope from the Discworld novels, and permits "small god" characters — who have to take the "Faith Maintenance" character disadvantage.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: This trope is varyingly played straight, averted and explored in different settings.
    • Dragonlance: Averted. The deities do not need any worshipers to maintain their power. They do need mortal followers to have much influence in the mortal world however, but they will not die from a lack of followers.
    • Forgotten Realms: A god's power is determined by his/her number of worshippers, and needs at least one worshipper to maintain Divine status (albeit at a demigod level). The only exception is the overdeity Ao, who needs no worshippers to maintain power because he rules over other gods. This wasn't always the state of things, as the deities were independently powerful before the Avatar Crisis, when Ao got fed up with nobody doing their duties or taking care of their worshippers any more. The post-Avatar Crisis fluff tended to suggest, when the subject came up, that the gods did gain power from being prayed to and having followers before the Crisis. What Ao did after the Crisis was, essentially, toning down the power you gained from your Portfolio, and ramping up how much power you gained from beliefnote . Interestingly, even after the Avatar Crisis, the elemental gods (who were MIA during it) seemed to avoid this, as despite being greater gods of roughly equal power, only Kossuth actually bothers maintaining any sort of large-scale worship. 4E retconned those four into being Primordials, powerful elemental entities on par with the gods, which may explain the discrepancy as Primordials are not typically empowered by worship.
    • Greyhawk: Averted. Several of the greater gods hold their exalted station despite people not being very inclined to worship them. Boccob the Uncaring, god of magic, is completely disinterested in being worshiped, and in turn very few people actually worship him. Nerull the Reaper and Incabulos, god of disasters, likewise do not get a lot of attention, if only because most people fear attracting their notice.
    • Mystara: The Immortals need at least some worshipers or they fade away. They can come back if someone starts worshiping them again for some reason. A new Immortal can survive on power from his sponsor for his first year or so, but he'd better have found some worshipers by then.
    • Planescape: This mechanic is explained via the fact that the Outer Planes (where the gods live) is shaped entirely by belief.
  • Eon: Gods generally don't die from it, but lack of worshippers can lead them to the brink of "starvation". An entity called "King Frost"; an amnesiac old man walking the frozen deserts of the northlands, is theorised to be a 'fallen god' clinging to life. It's worth to note that the gods can return when they get worshipped again though.
  • Exalted: Essence, the game's Mana, can be generated in a number of ways, but the most efficient is through being prayed to, worshipped, and offered sacrifices. Humanity was created by the Primordials for the express purpose of generating Essence through prayer — humans were made weak, puny and easily killed specifically so they'd be constantly praying for help and deliverance — but in the modern day gods, elementals, ghosts and Exalted all foster and maintain cults to boost their personal power. The game spends quite a bit of time and wordcount examining the ramifications of this trope, too. Gods in Exalted are, by and large, jerks who want to get as much power as possible, and in Creation this usually translates to theological feudalism: the strongest local god receives prayer and sacrifice, and in return doesn't cause the harvest to fail and doesn't let dangerous interloper gods take over the region. The Immaculate Faith, the religion of the Realm, isn't just about getting prayers to the appropriate gods, it's also about preventing gods from getting greedy and extorting extra worship out of the Realm's mortals.
  • In Nomine: The non-Abrahamic gods are called Ethereals, explained as being formed by humanity's imagination and empowered by their worship. The angels came up with the different Abrahamic religions and Buddhism in order to undercut their power, and Uriel opted to wipe them out directly before God yanked him up to the Higher Heavens to have a little chat with him about it. Of course, the Ethereals say that Yahweh/Jehovah/God/Allah was one of them and simply managed to gain enough worship to Retcon reality.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The God cards of the Theros block are indestructible Legendary Enchantment Creatures, but if the god's controller doesn't have a strong enough devotion to that god's color (or colors) note , they cease to be creatures altogether. This represents their in-universe nature, as the gods are born from humanity's beliefs infused in Nyx (Theros' magical night sky, associated with dreams and the subconscious). According to Kruphix, the god of horizons and mysteries, many gods have come and gone, including previous sun gods. Following Elspeth's death, Ajani Goldmane has openly declared war on the gods by convincing people not to worship them.
    • The gods of Amonkhet are also powered by faith. When Nicol Bolas invaded the plane, he crippled them by immediately wiping out the entire adult mortal population, leaving behind only the faith of scared panicking children. Nicol Bolas promptly killed three of the gods and brainwashed the others into his unwitting shepherds.
  • The Primal Order is a system-independent ruleset for deities and ways they interacted with mortals and each other. As described, all gods had a certain amount of power at all times (unless deprived of that by suitable attacks, at which point they could expect to shortly cease to exist barring possession of a loyal home plane to regenerate from over the course of a century), but gathering worshippers both living and dead as well as acquiring planar real estate and spheres of influence all provided significant boosts that only the strangest gods would want to do without.
  • Rifts: Gods are naturally more powerful in their own home dimensions, and ones where they have a strong base of the devoted, than in any other dimension.
  • Scarred Lands: This is the status for the gods... except for Chaotic Evil Vangal, who derives his power from how many people his worshippers slaughter. Otherwise he would've died, since most people aren't too keen on worshipping a Blood Knight who doesn't even pretend to have any other motive besides fun.
  • Scion: A character's Legend rating represents how well-renowned an individual is, and determines the strength of his divine powers. Full-blooded deities have very high Legend ratings, but some very famous mortals even without divine Ichor can have very low Legend ratings. Notably, this connection works both ways: the higher a character's Legend, the stronger the Fatebindings they create, which force people the character works Legend around into various roles (the Lover, the Jinx, the Catastrophe)... and in turn force the character to adhere to those roles as well (by granting dice pool bonuses for doing so and penalties for not doing so). This is why the Gods don't walk the World the way they used to.
  • Warhammer:
    • The Chaos Gods are both formed and fueled by the concepts they represent. On the other hand, they don't really need prayer: every feeling of anger, ecstasy, hope, or despair feeds one of the Chaos Gods, whether the person who has the feeling is a follower of Chaos or not (and praying to Khorne instead of killing and bleeding is liable to get your head chopped off). Background material indicates this is the same for all deities, except for the God of Atheism, who gets strong if people don't believe in anything.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • It's speculated that the Emperor of Mankind's almost militant atheism and denial of any superstitious talk of "daemons" was a direct attempt to starve the Chaos Gods of belief. While this effort obviously failed, the Imperium's faith in the God-Emperor of Mankind may have helped him become a proper deity himself, enhancing his already-formidable psychic presence and giving humanity a fighting chance, and it must be mentioned that the Horus Heresy is the only documented time when all four chaos gods got off their collective behinds and actually seriously worked to affect the galaxy at large, so the Emperor might have had something right to scare them that way.
      • The Necrons' master plan to end Chaos works like this pre-6th edition. The Ruinous Powers are embodiments of emotions felt by living creatures, so, if you kill off all living beings in the universe (the Necrons are robots inhabited by uploaded consciousness, and don't register as living creatures for the purpose of Chaos), there'll be nothing for Chaos to feed on.
    • Warhammer Fantasy Battle:
      • The von Carsteins want to convert the entire world to zombies under their command in order to deny Chaos their bodies and minds. Sadly, the other factions failed to see the logic in this and fight the vampires as much as they do Chaos and each other. This is based off the plan of their forebearer, Nagash the Undying, who considers this Step 1 in his plan to Kill and Replace the Chaos Gods and be the only will in existence.
      • The serpent god Sotek is implied to have been created by the belief (and thousands of skaven sacrifices) of the skinks. The skink-priest Tehenhauin found a golden plaque he believed prophesied the god's coming, and though the Slaan mage-priests initially disdained his claims when Sotek did show up they acknowledged his arrival as part of the Old Ones plans. It's not totally clear if he was correct all along about his interpretation of the plaque or if the events were his own doing but, when faced with a living deity and possible rebellion from the skinks who effectively run Lizardmen society, the Slann decided to not to argue.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Old World of Darkness
      • Demon: The Fallen: Demons need faith to fuel their powers. They can either force steal it, which causes spiritual damage, or set up cults of various stripes to get a small but steady flow without necessarily hurting their worshippers (unless they want to be hurt).
      • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: Tribal totems gain power from the Garou they sponsor. In one Time of Judgment scenario, Whipporwill grows weak due to insufficient worship from the Black Spiral Dancers, who divide their fealty among many different totem spirits. Grandfather Thunder then defeats Whipporwill, absorbs his gnosis, and assimilates the Black Spiral Dancers into the now-fallen Shadow Lord tribe.
    • New World of Darkness:
      • The Astral Realms include the Temenos, the collective consciousness of humanity. Among the conceptual archetypes present there are every god ever worshipped. In this case, since they are formed through human belief, their power is proportional to how much humans regard them, not necessarily through worship. For example, Anubis exists in the Temenos, and though not as powerful as he was when he was actively worshipped by a powerful nation, he is still a relevant and well known symbol, which means he still possesses the power of a minor god. Other gods are less fortunate. Since the Temenos is a focal point for all human knowledge and experience, even a completely forgotten god would still exist somewhere, albeit significantly weakened. Its also suggested that some Temenos gods might be based by humanity on truly divine beings (a theory particularly popular with devout mages who suffer crises of faith upon learning they can meet their deities in the Temenos).
      • Various spirits in the Shadow realm are often shaped and empowered by human belief. Whether a particular one appearing as a god was an inspiration for human worship or was formed by human worship is often unclear.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Numen erat Testudo was a turtle who ascended to godhood from worship. Unfortunately, his temple was destroyed and his worshipers stopped supporting him, causing him to revert to mortality as Testudo erat Numen.

  • This one is Older Than Feudalism - in The Birds, the Greek gods lose power because the prayers carried on the smoke of the animal sacrifices they were offered couldn't reach them, due to a great wall built in the sky. The gods did not immediately lose power - rather, they suffered from hunger, although they turned out to have some stockpiles of smoke and rationed the smoke. It was a plot point that not only Greek gods suffered - non-Greek gods were also starving and did not have stockpiled smoke. They accordingly threatened to attack the Greek gods unless they made terms with Nephelokokkygia that would lift the blockade.

  • Physical God Mata Nui of BIONICLE fame would have died if the Matoran people had stopped doing their jobs. And this trope was applied with good reason — he was a Humongous Mecha, and the Matoran kept him functional by doing essential work inside him.

    Video Games 
  • ActRaiser:
    • Subverted in the original for the SNES. While you gain levels as your population grows, it turns out that your powers are dependent on the number of people on the planet, not their faith. At one point, a Path of Inspiration turns a lot of people in one country against you, but it doesn't lower your levels. Additionally in the end your temples are empty because the people can stand on their own and no longer need you to handle their every need, but you don't fade away or anything.
  • In Age of Mythology, the player literally generates favour for their gods to produce mythical creatures, heroes and upgrades. Greeks pray at temples, Egyptians build monuments, Norse go to war, and Altanteans control town centers to generate favour.
  • Alundra: The villagers of Inoa pray to Melzas, who is (unknown to said villagers) actually evil. Even better (or worse,) Melzas knows he gets his powers from prayer, and thus perpetuates a vicious cycle of secretly inflicting horrible nightmares on the people of Inoa to keep them in fear so that they keep praying to him. Also Nirude, a giant god, lives off the prayer of midgets.
  • In Asura's Wrath, humanity prays to provide the Seven Deities with Mantra, which is used as a power source for various weapons in their fight against the Gohma. Unfortunately, the Deities later learn how to take Mantra by force...
  • During one sidequest in Baldur's Gate II (set in the Forgotten Realms), you meet an avatar of a god with so little belief that he is fading away. Amaunator and a small village of followers were bound to immortally guard "the device" forever, over the years their faith has transformed to hatred and the avatar can barely even show himself, much less do anything.
  • In Black & White, A God Is You, believers are your most important resource, and the gameplay is built on this trope:
    • Each god is called into existence by a single pure prayer, and a god who loses all their followers ceases to exist or is banished from the world.
    • Gods gain power by convincing villages to believe in them above all other gods. The area where you can affect the world directly is defined by how many followers are in your villages, how profoundly they believe in you (in the first game), and how many buildings you have (especially in the second game).
    • Your ability to create Miracles depends on Mana, which is generated by villagers worshipping at your altars. (Or, in the first game, through sacrifices.)
  • BlazBlue has an interesting variation on this trope: Yuuki Terumi's existence is sustained by other people's despair, fear and hatred of him. Which really does explain his thorough traumatization of Ragna at the start of the story, as well as his behavior in general... He also has his network of Observers and Life-Links to fall back on if that lifeline ever failed him. And that's before it's revealed he really is a god.
    • Though despair, fear and hatred sustains Terumi's existence, thus making it necessary for him to be the worst kind of Jerkass possible in order to stay alive, he is still as far from sympathetic as one can get. He has no shades of I Did What I Had to Do, and has even openly admitted that he loves ruining other people's lives for the sheer hell of it.
    • "As far from sympathetic as one can get," indeed. The final game in the series, Central Fiction, reveals that Terumi's long-term goal is to use The Azure to remake reality into a cesspool of fear and despair with no reprieve and no escape, where he will be the Top God and all other beings in existence will pay tribute to him with their "prayers" in the form of cries of fear, wails of despair, and curses laced with hatred. Ergo, the same thing he's always done, but dialed up.
  • Lampshaded in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain when Kain remarks, "The act had taken on the feel of ritual. Isn't it strange how we must bribe our gods to stay?"
  • Breath of Fire II:
    • Used for evil by the Church of St. Eva, where half the priests are demons in disguise trying to power-up the Big Bad, who is in fact not a god, but an archdemon with an Omnicidal Maniac agenda.
    • Subverted by Ladon the dragon god, who's a bit grumpy that nobody believes in him anymore but nonetheless continues to exist and aid you. Granted, it turns out that the Dragon Clan is still around, so he still has a few worshipers out there.
  • Sierra's City-Building Series cuts both ways. While gods need sacrifices or festivals almost constantly, ignoring them only makes them angry. Cue earthquakes, plagues, floods, failing crops... On the other hand, keeping them happy also brings benefices.
  • In Cult of the Lamb, the Lamb receives power from their followers and if they all leave or die, going too long without any results in a Non-Standard Game Over that deletes your save file.
  • Discworld Noir: As usual on the Disc. The entire plan turns out to be an attempt by the worshippers of the small god Anu-Anu to have their god defeat Nylonathotep and thus win enough believers to become a recognised deity.
  • Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten: The Netherworld and Celestia need fear and love from humans to maintain their power, but it's become difficult for demons to plant fear in humans since humans have become so corrupt that they now fear themselves more than demons. As a result, this means they no longer have to pray to angels for protection and guidance.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Played for Horror, although given the game's liberal use of Retcon it's unclear how much of this also applies to other games in the Divine Divinity series. The Seven Gods couldn't care less about mortals' prayers, because what they are really after is the Source they unwitting collect throughout their lives. When a mortal dies, vestiges of their identity and personality sublimate in the Source they've collected as a kind of "ghost", which is then guided by their belief to what they believe to be afterlife at the side of the god they worshipped in life. Except that said Gods then simply consume the "ghost" for its Source, literally feeding on their worshipers to replenish their divinity. In other words, the Seven "Gods" are nothing but Rivellon's oldest Source vampires, functionally no different from the protagonists of the game.
  • Dominions II: The faith of people in various provinces is represented by a candle. This affects the knowledge you have on the province, the level at which you can affect it and, should you move it into the area, the hitpoints of your Pretender God.
  • In Dungeon Crawl, the gods are powered by worship. This doesn't come up very much because most of them have plenty of worshipers, but there are a couple exceptions:
    • Jiyva the Shapeless, god of slimes. There's only one slime powerful enough to sustain it; if you kill it, Jiyva ceases to exist (unless you took it upon yourself to worship it beforehand, in which case you'll suffer penance for killing such a powerful slime).
    • Ignis the Dying Flame, a god of fire whose worshipers have all left it long ago. Ignis is so obscure that you can't even choose to follow it in the usual way; you can start the game worshiping Ignis as a Cinder Acolyte, or a faded altar might turn out to be dedicated to Ignis, but otherwise you'll never see any sign of it. Those who do find and follow Ignis will be granted what little power it has left all at once — you'll have access to a few potent fiery abilities, but they have limited uses and don't scale well past the early game. Use up all your piety with Ignis and you'll be stuck with a nigh-useless husk of a god; at that point, it's often better to abandon it for a new god, despite Ignis subsequently burning itself completely out in an attempt to kill you for the betrayal.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Video games set in the Forgotten Realms world tend to follow the franchise's lore of deities depending on their followers' worship to survive.
    • Baldur's Gate shows that a dead god can still exist if its followers are still undead echoes, believing they must live for eternity guarding the temple of a dead god, which at the same time creates a demon of hatred to fight their dead god, time and time again. The god wouldn't be without its guardians, and the guardians wouldn't be without their god, thus both perpetually creating a living echo of each other.
    • Neverwinter Nights 2:
      • In the expansion Mask of the Betrayer, a major plot point is an exploitation of this trope. Myrkul, the previous god of death, created the Wall of the Faithless as a place to imprison Faithless and False souls after death — respectively, those who didn't worship gods and those who failed to uphold their gods' tenets. His intent wasn't to punish them for not worshiping the deities who keep the world running, but to ensure that he would never die so long as the Wall exists, because memory and belief in it would effectively empower him. The good deities and Kelemvor, the much more benevolent god of death, tolerate the Wall's existence on the grounds that when Kelemvor did try to remove it, it caused a chain of events that would have led to The End of the World as We Know It.
      • Myrkul again exploited this trope by creating the Spirit-Eater curse, which drives the plot of MotB: as long as there's a Spirit-Eater, there's at least one person who fears and/or worships him, so he can never truly die. Then the game gives you the opportunity to finish him off with the Spirit-Eater.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Throughout the series and in the Backstory, it is repeatedly implied that a deity becomes more powerful as they gain mortal worshipers. According to one theory, the Aedric Divines are technically dead, having sacrificed much of their power during the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane. Now, they "dream they are alive" through mortal prayer and worship. The deities who did not participate in the creation of Mundus, the Daedra, have Complete Immortality as they did not sacrifice any of their power to create the world, and can exist independent from prayer and worship. (Though they do seem to enjoy receiving it and may still gain power from it.) Other lesser deities can be outright killed by lack of worship. The reason it's easier for greater deities (Aedra and Daedra) is because they personify widely-known abstracts, so even if all their followers in one culture are purged, they have another culture to pick up the slack.
    • As Aldmeri (precursors of the modern races of Mer) society evolved, commoners stopped worshiping their own ancestors and began worshiping the ancestors of their social "betters", elevating them to the level of gods through collective adulation. The warrior-spirit Trinimac was one such ancestor. (After being eaten and excreted by Boethiah, Trinimac would become the Daedric Prince of outcasts Malacath, and his followers became the first Orcs.)
    • Morrowind:
      • This is the case for the Tribunal (a trio of Dunmeri Physical Gods) after the Nerevarine severs their ties to their divine power source (the Heart of Lorkhan). Unlike Dagoth Ur, who is destroyed by this process, the Tribunal are able to persist with a trace of their divinity in tact thanks to, as Vivec states, the faith of their followers. Vivec actually has this going on in a second instance as well: In ages past, Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, hurled the "rogue moon" Baar Dau at Vivec's new Egopolis. Vivec used his power to freeze it in place above the city, and told his followers that it was held in place by their love for him. Due in no small part to the player's actions, Vivec disappears early in the 4th Era. After some temporary measures fail, the moon continues its descent with its original momentum, destroying the city and causing Red Mountain to erupt, destroying most of Vvardenfell and choking much of mainland Morrowind with volcanic ash for centuries to come.
      • Boethiah's Daedric quest is for this exact reason. His shrine has been destroyed and sunk beneath the sea, meaning he isn't getting as much worship as he used to. He tasks the player with rebuilding it so that he can once again receive worship.
    • In Oblivion, if the Champion of Cyrodiil choses to do the Daedric quest for Sheogorath after becoming the new Sheogorath at the end of Shivering Isles, their servant questions why they just prayed to themself... only to then reconsider that as the Mad God, that sort of lunacy is rather appropriate.
    • According to Word of God, this is a motivation of the Thalmor in Skyrim. The Aldmeri Dominion, led by the religious extremist Thalmor, a faction of elven supremacists, have forced the Empire to ban the worship of Talos, leading to the Stormcloak rebellion. The "official" reason for this ban is that the Thalmor believe that they descend from the Aedra and refuse to accept that a human could join their ranks. The unofficial reason is because they play up Altmeri religious beliefs which state that the creation of the mortal world was a cruel trick which robbed their ancestors of pre-creation divinity. They believe that Talos is one of the last things keeping the mortal world extant, and if he is destroyed, the mortal world would be destroyed as well, allowing them to return to a divine state. There is also evidence that they aren't completely wrong about this. Furthermore, it's possible that Talos isn't quite a god in the same way as the other Divines are, and he may have even surpassed them (and the Daedra as well). It's quite possible that he no longer even needs prayer.
    • There's a rather good Game Mod for Skyrim that uses this trope as a gameplay mechanic, called Wintersun - Faiths of Skyrim. You can devote your character to a deity and gain their favour by praying to them regularly and following their tenets to get special powers specific to the deity you worship, and lose it by neglecting to pray or breaking the tenets. At 100% Favour you gain a special active ability that is very powerful, and at 0% Favour the deity abandons you. There are many deities to choose from: the Nine Divines build Favour slowly and apply more passive bonuses, but also can be appeased by simple prayer and are unlikely to abandon a faithful unless they egregiously defy the tenets or neglect worship. By contrast, followers of the Daedric Princes can gain impressive active powers very quickly but must perform strict tasks to stay in their good graces (and many of these tasks are illegal, immoral and/or deeply detrimental) - for example, Peryite can let you learn all skills at a much faster rate but the only way to gain his favour is to afflict yourself with diseases and trying to cure them can see Him abandoning you, Sanguine gives you a powerful booze based healing power but requires you to drinks tons of alcohol and flout the laws of the land for his amusement, and Boethiah can give you superior Daedra Invisibility for a time but He will want you to often murder innocent people. There are also race-specific deities, like the Khajiiti and Redguard pantheons, the Elven Ancestors, the Nord War God Shor, Sithis and Mannimarco.
  • EverQuest has two examples.
    • Mayong Mistmoore ascends to Godhood because having a raiding party assembled to defeat him somehow counts as worship. When killed, his disembodied voice says "You have martyred me, you have worshipped me." The next several expansions deal with the repercussions until he's defeated again.
    • Another expansion dealing with Time Travel showed the bad future after the end of the world. The only two survivors were Zebuxoruk (Sealed in a prison that could only be opened by the end of the world) and a single tree. The tree relied on him to keep the air bubble around the rock fragment, and that 'worship' gave him just enough power to maintain the air bubble.
  • Fata Deum: In this God Game, a Spiritual Successor to Black & White, mana is also generated by the number of a god's followers, while answering prayers is also important for progression.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the Primals are brought forth from the aetheric flow by the worship of their followers. Unfortunately for said followers, Primals take a very proactive role in ensuring their continued worship by "tempering" them into mind-controlled slaves who seek to gather more people to turn into brainwashed worshippers. The player turns out to be one of a handful of people immune to tempering. This is a good thing, as your first encounter with a Primal is as part of a group of prisoners brought before Ifrit to become his new servants. The pantheon worshiped by the player races, the Twelve, are implied to be the same, with Gaius van Baelsar claiming they're not that different from the Primals, but they at least are benevolent enough not to brainwash people into following them.
    • The post-launch patches and first expansion extrapolate on the nature of Primals revealing them to be figments made real more than actual deities, making them closer to Tulpa than true gods. While they do require worship to be sustained, they are not divine so much as they are very, very powerful beings made from magic that take a form and personality in lieu of whatever their followers believe them to be. The strength of the Primal is determined by a combination of how fervent the prayers of its followers are, and how strong the source of magic being used to summon them is.
    • This is how the game justifies its hard mode encounters; not only are the Primals able to be resummoned if slain, but stronger sources of magic and more fervent prayers from their followers create stronger incarnations.
    • In Endwalker, it's revealed that the summoning used by the Beast Tribes and others is a corrupted version of the creation magicks used by the Ancients millenia ago. "Corrupted" in the sense that the Ascians, the initial Big Bad group of the game and the remains of said Ancients, put in the ability to Mind Rape everyone to sow the chaos to rejoin the star and revive their dark god Zodiark. The Loporrits teach the Beast Tribes the correct way and this is even passed down to the Warrior of Light as, by Level 90, they can now summon the three initial Primals to aid them in attacking.
    • The "Myths of the Realm" raid line in Endwalker reveals that the Twelve, the gods that watch over the planet, have changed over the years and actually created an epitaph to make sure that they remembered their purpose. G'raha Tia hypothesizes that dynamis, the emotional-based energy that drives the expansion, may have had a hand in the Twelve's evolution over time, such as Halone gaining a spear and shield via Ishgard's constant prayer for their goddess.
  • A variant in Genshin Impact; the power levels of the Archons are determined by how much control they have over their nation, not just how believed in they are. Everyone in Mondstadt worships the Anemo Archon Barbatos, but since he's taken on human form as the bard Venti to secretly live among humans rather than rule over them, he's not much stronger than the other playable characters. Meanwhile, the Cryo Archon, the Tsaritsa, rules her nation as a God-Emperor, and is set up as the game's Big Bad.
  • Grim Dawn: According to multiple hints in the base game and as explicitly stated in the Forgotten Gods expansion, deities need prayer and belief to sustain themselves, and when forgotten will eventually fade away. While abundance of prayer didn't stop Empyrion from apparently disappearing off to who knows where, Korvaak certainly faded away... but he left a messenger that could spread the word of his existence. And when a man we know as Father Kymon came to him desperately looking for something to believe in, something to save the world from the Ch'thonic menace, Korvaak was more than willing to play the part. With Kymon's Chosen fueling him, he returns, driven to madness by the sheer rage he felt at being forgotten (and usurped by the Witch Gods, which set off his fade into oblivion) as well as his new followers' sheer fanaticism, and eager to take revenge on both the mortals that forgot, and the Witch Gods that tried to bury him.
  • Hollow Knight: Long before the events of the game, the people of Hallownest worshipped the Radiance, a cruel moth goddess who kept her citizens enslaved in a Hive Mind... until the Pale King came along and brought them free will in exchange for fealty to him. Losing followers, the Radiance was all but forgotten about until an ancient statue of her was found at the summit of Crystal Peak. Now, the Radiance holds sway over Hallownest once more, having created the Infection to pettily spite those who had failed to properly worship her.
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Ares reveals that Superman's One World order had eliminated most conflict, leaving the God of War far weaker. In the game's tie-in comic, Wonder Woman suggests Ares become the god of something else in order to regain his powers, then hilariously calls him, "Ares, God of Ponies". In the game proper, Ares decides to help the heroes, explaining that their struggle against the Regime is empowering him in the short-term, but if the bad guys win, conflict will drop completely.
  • Legacy of Kain: The Elder God is sustained by consuming the souls of the dead. How this fits into this trope is that the Ancients worshipped it as a deity and used to offer it their souls as religious sacrifice. However, the war between the Ancients and the Hylden resulted in the Hylden turning the Ancients into vampires with near-immortality, thus preventing them from sacrificing their souls to the Elder God and it shunning them eternally. Eons later, Kain's decision to not sacrifice himself to purify the Pillars of Nosgoth and instead raise an empire of vampires to conquer the world results in an eternity of decay and the disruption of the Elder God's source of food.
  • Some of the later titles in The Legend of Zelda series use this trope.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, it's revealed that the Master Sword is fueled by the prayers of the Sages of Earth and Wind, who must play special songs in the inner sanctums of their respective temples to honor the gods and give the blade the ability to repel evil. In a dark display of Genre Savvy, the first thing Ganondorf does upon reviving is kill the Earth and Wind Sages, thus leaving the Master Sword powerless.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Hyrule's four Great Fairies (and Malanya, the Horse Fairy) require the devotion of mortals to maintain their power. Unfortunately, since the fall of the Kingdom a century prior to the events of the game, humans have stopped visiting the Great Fairies' Fountains, rendering them nearly dead. Link can restore the Fairies by offering tithes of Rupees, restoring them; in gratitude, they will upgrade his armor in exchange for raw materials.
  • Love of Magic: Downplayed. Gods are powered by their Mantles, which can be recharged by the faith of their worshipers, but the God will continue to exist even if their Mantle is drained.
  • This ends up becoming a gameplay mechanic and a key plot point in Neptunia. Goddess party members gain stat points when the shares of their homelands increases, usually by completing dungeons there.
    • In the first game, Arfoire, the villain, spends most of the game spreading rumors of a fake overlord with monster attacks and heretics, using the fear and belief of the people to gain power. It's how she kept reviving and getting stronger each time.
    • Re;Birth 1 (which takes notes from the first game but tells its own story) does something similar, and then flips it on its head. How do the CPUs defeat a monster that regenerates because people believe it will? Run a propaganda campaign to convince a majority of people it won't.
    • In the second game, Arfoire's goons are deliberately increasing Arfoire's shares (by taking them from the goddesses) in order to revive Arfoire.
    • At least thrice in the third game, but for separate reasons. The first time it happens, Eden, a new nation born from the Seven Sages (or what's left of them), ends up sapping the shares as the new console on the market, the TurboGrafx-16. The new console (Yellow Heart) holds well, but its price threshold and the eventual reveal about who she really is marks the end of its short life. The second time, although it takes place in the past but is explained near the end, the previous nation's CPU, Rei Ryghts, was the leader of Tari. She controlled the populace through fear and greed, but she didn't know her power was fueled by the people, so when that happened, the people revolted and she became extremely weak. In retaliation, she decided to destroy the entire nation outright. The third is when Hyper Dimension Rei manipulates the populace to only believe in her and weaken every other nation, effectively destroying the balance of the dimension's shares and threatening to destroy an entire dimension with her newfound power.
  • Nexus War: The Elder Powers need mortals to keep fighting for them in the titular war in order to have a chance at reshaping the cosmos and keeping the ideas that they represent relevant. The current pantheon is made up of the gods that win often enough that their divinity isn't immediately in peril (and there's no sign of a clear winner in sight), but all of them have no choice but to keep manipulating the war for eternity.
  • Power-ups in Ōkami come from the praise you get for performing miracles. And at the end, Ammy gets an 11th-Hour Superpower through people praying directly to her. Purely cosmetic, though. Overall, this trope seems to be one of the game's underlying themes, as it's mentioned quite early on how people's faith in the divine has dwindled. This mechanic returns in the sequel, Ōkamiden.
  • Paper Mario. The star spirits in the first game gain power from the wishes of the denizens of Mushroom Kingdom. In the final boss fight, the young star spirit Twink gains enough power from Peach's wishes to beat up Bowser's sidekick and help Mario save the day.
  • In Path of Exile gods originate from mortals who become revered for their deeds until they ascend into divinity, though the process tends to warp their minds. After the sleeping gods awaken, the player is given the task of killing them while they are still weak, before they can reestablish their worship. Kitava had a cult of worshippers before he revealed himself and the most time to feed, and thus is the most difficult to defeat, requiring the aid of two other gods and permanently weakening the player both times they face him.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Rayquaza is depicted as being a Physical God revered by the people of Hoenn, and its Mega Evolution is achieved through the player praying to it. It should also be pointed out that Mega Rayquaza has (as of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon) the highest base stat total of all Pokémon (only tied with both Mega Mewtwo X and Y).
    • The Mythical Pokemon Calyrex in Pokémon Sword and Shield suffered this. The people of Freezington forgot about it when its power waned and its steed abandoned it. When the player starts taking the steps to help Calyrex return to power (that include jogging the NPCs' memories about it), the crops in town that weren't doing too well start to grow better.
  • Populous is the Trope Codifier. The more worshippers you have, the more powerful miracles you can perform. In the first two games, only settled worshippers benefit you in that way, by the strength of the settlement. Giving you the choice between producing a lot of worshippers or personal power and tougher worshippers. Peter Molyneux is at it again with Godus where the number of followers affects the type of spells you can use.
  • In Runescape, pre-Retcon, most gods required worshipers to maintain their influence in a given world, though a few were able to draw energy directly from the Anima Mundi without mortal intermediaries. Post retcon, the gods' power has no direct connection to their followers.
  • Salt and Sanctuary: The Nameless God, the Big Bad of the game, is a Deity of Human Origin Driven by Envy towards the true gods because they possess the one thing he can never have: the soul of a god. He exploited the hell out of this trope by imprisoning every other god in history, then began intercepting and answering all the prayers meant for them in their place in order to starve them to death. By the time of your arrival, only the Three are still left standing, reduced to mindless rotting husks that attack you on sight even if you are one of their worshippers. And the only reason they're still standing at all is because their religion is the most recently founded one in the setting so they've only been imprisoned for a relatively short time compared to the rest, who have all been there so long that they've decayed away to nothing.
  • Referred to in Sam & Max: Freelance Police, where Hell is conquered because too many goofy portrayals in media mean that nobody believes Beelzebub to be a threat any more and thus he is weakened, whereas the Soda Poppers are widely hated enough to have the power to challenge him.
  • Seven Kingdoms had temples where you'd sent people to pray to your nations "Greater Being" (based on a god of the respective mythology). In this case, you'd could either summon the god himself (some are fighters, some have special abilities) or trigger a random miracle.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei, this is a main staple, to justify Deity of Mortal Creation being so prevalent in the games.
    • In at least Shin Megami Tensei I continuity (II, Devil Summoner, Soul Hackers, Raidou Kuzunoha and Persona — all of which are either in the same timeline or Alternate Timelines), IV and Apocalypse continuity, and perhaps more: demons, angels, monsters, and spirits only exist because people remember and believe in them. Oddly, at least in II, if the supernatural creatures believe hard enough, they create duplicates of other supernatural entities: with the Archangels believing in a False YHVH.
    • This has some interesting bearing in the game. In general, the more people in Real Life that believe in a particular god/demon/angel/etc., the stronger they are in any given game. God, Lucifer, and the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel are obvious examples, but Shiva and Vishnu, both primary gods in Hindu (which remains one of the oldest active religions in the world) are also among the strongest. Exceptions do exist, like Metatron (less than one-quarter of one percent of the world's population are Jewish) being among the strongest.
    • This trope is typically averted in spinoff series (Last Bible, Devil Children, Devil Survivor 2) where demons and gods have different origins than in main series. Strange Journey downplays this with the gods and demons who instead emerge from "the will of the Earth", and thus don't require humans to exist (though they can still benefit from human worship), and averts it entirely with an incarnation of God who predates humankind. Persona 3 averts this with Nyx, who is a Cosmic Entity predating complex life on Earth.
  • In Skyforge the players start out as mere immortals, but as they perform heroic acts they attract followers and gradually become Gods.
  • Literally the basic story premise of Smite. The Gods need prayers, so they fight in various arenas to prove who's Top God.
  • Inverted in Sword of the Stars II with the Suul'ka. They don't need prayer from their Zuul underlings/worshippers. The Zuul, on the other hand, need to give that prayer if they want their "gods" to help. Given their shift from Difficult, but Awesome Crutch Character to Magikarp Power, this is a vital end-goal for them now. So Worshippers Need To Give Prayer Badly then.
  • Tale of Food foodsouls are immortal and keep coming back to life as long as people keep making the dishes they're personified from. If their corresponding dishes disappear from cuisine and stop being prepared, they are Killed Off for Real.
  • Tales of Innocence: A direct, symbiotic case. The Devaloka needs the prayer and faith of people from the Naraka to sustain itself. The church's role was to deliver the prayers of the faithful to the gods. In turn, the gods would bestow miracles upon Naraka with the power of the Heavenly Artes. When the people's faith started to wane, they had to resort to taking human souls to fortify it, and the church lost its influence.
  • Tears to Tiara 2: The reason Tart at first could not cast even a single heal spell and is no different from a teenage girl. Her people are forced by the Holy Empire to worship Watos, and her temples are torn down to build churches. Only by Hamil's desperate pleas for guidance was she even able to take form. Part of her powers come back to her on the Canaanites' battle cry of Ashtarte, and prevents both of them from being burnt alive.
  • A few beings in Tokyo Afterschool Summoners lose powers, or even die if people don't believe in them. The crux of the Valentine Fantasy event is about Boogeyman, who feeds off the fear he instills in people. Because he spends the event saving kids, making friends and eventually destroying his fear-inducing Artifact to stop the Big Bad, he loses that fear and eventually fades away. He comes back, and it's suggested that he returned because of the love his friends have for him.
  • Touhou Project works like this (and Clap Your Hands If You Believe in general). This is most relevant in the 10th game, Mountain of Faith, where goddess Kanako Yasaka, faced with fading away due to modern Japan's waning faith in the divine, decides to relocate the Moriya Shrine to Gensokyo, where she ought to have an easier time finding worshipers. Unfortunately, this muscles in on the local religious "authority," protagonist Reimu Hakurei, and Bullet Hell ensues. After this ends, Kanako stays around and attempts to gain faith through other ways, treating the whole thing like a business venture.
  • The old gods reveal to the player in Ultima VIII; they are nearly powerless now that about everyone worships the four new gods instead.
  • A variation in The Wolf Among Us: Fables are classic fairy tale characters forced into the real world. If their fairy tale is popular among "mundies", then that belief makes the Fable very resistant to physical injury and capable of healing very quickly. For example, Little Red Riding Hood is one of the most popular of all fairy tales, and hence the Big Bad Wolf can survive dozens of shotgun blasts at close range, and the Woodsman can survive taking his own axe to the back of his head. It is also suggested that killed Fables can be resurrected if enough people still know about their stories. The only way for a Fable to be permanently killed is if not enough people know about their story any more as is seemingly the fate of Faith and Georgie Porgie, or if the Fable is physically thrown down the Witching Well as is possibly the case with the Crooked Man.
  • In Virtual Villagers 5: New Believers, you play as a giant flying hand god worshipped by your villagers. You can work miracles, called God Powers, that are key to solving the game's puzzles using energy that is increased by increasing the quantity and quality of your worship — your village's population growing, collecting relics, having the villagers carve a large block of stone in the middle of the village into a giant hand idol, and upgrading the Spirituality technology.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • The Heroic Spirits (not outright gods but at least a few levels of spiritualism above humans) mostly exist due to - and are partially sustained and empowered by - the belief they've inspired in humanity and their strength is based as much on their Popularity Power as it is on their skills in life. As Rin explains in the game prologue, even fictional characters count. What matters is the image created by the minds of the people. The game features two major explorations of this - Assassin is a nameless samurai called forth to play the role of Sasaki Kojiro, an opponent of Miyamoto Musashi, who is entirely fictional in the Nasuverse. In other words, the pure belief that humanity has in the existence of said hero is so strong that it allows him to exist, albeit through summoning a nameless spirit to take on his name and fill his role. On the flip side, Archer (EMIYA) is a hero from the future; nobody knows of his existence and he therefore owes neither his existence nor any of his powers from belief, persisting as a Heroic Spirit only through the connection all Heroic Spirits have with the earth itself. Heracles, naturally, gets top billing either way you look at it, being a monumentally popular mythological figure and a peerless hero in his time.
    • The actual gods of the Nasuverse also experienced this. While some existed before there were beings who could believe in them, many Divine Spirits were created by the belief of humanity. As time passed and worship waned, they faded and became weaker Elementals, or ceased to exist. Gilgamesh was created by the gods of ancient Mesopotamia in a vain attempt to stop this from happening to them. He saw that the gods were oppressing humanity, and instead hastened their end.
    • The Greek Gods/Olympians play with this. In their original forms, they didn't need worship because their power was innate to their beings as giant divine mecha and worship simply served to bolster them further. After a certain incident involving the White Titan Sefar about 14,000 years before the present-day, however, their original bodies were destroyed but their spirits lingered on, at which point they became dependent on human worship to anchor and maintain their existence. But it wasn't all bad as this allowed them to develop human emotions due to constant contact with humans.

    Web Comics 
  • In A Moment of Peace the gods of the universe eat human emotions to survive, like baked cheer or gruel made of sorrow.
  • Played with to an epic extent in the (now completed) Indefensible Positions. Demons are sentient memes and it's implied that gods are simply demons with a lot of believers.
  • Fans! has the occasional god make an appearance. These gods usually claim they were conceived by Roman clergy, during nights with a little too much wine. These gods include the god of gaming, and the anti-cupid (who shoots you with a tommy-gun and takes away your devotion to another person).
  • Being partially based on 40K, the Gods in Exterminatus Now work this way. Daemons, or at least former mortals, supposedly do as well.
  • Goblins Minmax gets to experience what it is like to be a god when he says the wrong thing in a room where false statements become true. After he is returned to normal, he says that being a god without worshipers sucks so he created a miniature universe in a bottle. So apparently, gods can exist without followers, but doing so is extremely painful.
  • The Order of the Stick universe in general employs this trope to explain any god not in the three original pantheons. In particular, Elan and some orcs are Banjoists, worshippers of Banjo the Clown, god of puppets. He doesn't have many followers, so his divine lightning is little more than a spark. One of the prequel books reveals that mortal characters can ascend to godhood in this manner.
    • Since Elan was unwilling to leave Banjo (who is an actual puppet) with the orcs, he creates Banjo's twin brother and rival, Giggles the Clown, as the god of slapstick. The violence-loving orcs appreciate this, and immediately convert. So Banjo went back down to a single worshipper, but since they were defined as equally powerful rivals, that probably remains the case. The OotS-verse has established that being defined as a rival gives free XP to keep one side from being too weak for the role.
    • Elan once tried to get Banjo inducted into the Northern Pantheon, specifically to gain more worshippers. The local priest angrily rejected this idea, and Elan then decided Banjo was too good for their pantheon, unaware that Odin (who likes puppets) approved of the idea.
    • Similarly, several elves and one goblin (the Dark One) became so revered after their deaths that they ascended to godhood.
    • Longrunning movie snacks like Popcorn, Milk Dudes [sic], and Soda have apparently gained power "like unto tiny refreshing GODS!" from generations of popularity.
    • Later, it is explained in more detail that gods need four things from mortals:
      • Belief that the god exists.
      • Active Worship.
      • Dedication, which is described as a big burst when a mortal dies and is sent to their deity.
      • Souls of the deceased, where their presence powers the Outer Planes and the afterlife.
      • Gods need a specific balance of these things to maintain their "health" — Hel, who gets a lot of dedication when mortals are sent to her realm but little to no worship of any sort, is described as being particularly messed up due to this imbalance. Gods who don't have significant stores of belief, worship, dedication and souls on standby can also fail to survive prolonged "dry spells". This tends to happen to newly-ascended gods in the interim between the Snarl destroying a world and it calming enough to be trapped again.
      • On a more comedic note, the comic uses this concept to explain why Odin is a Cloud Cuckoolander in this comic: In the last iteration of the universe, the Northerners were barbarians who disdained magicnote . Since Odin is the Northern god of magic, this left him starved of belief and seemingly affects him like Alzheimer's. According to Thor, he should be back to normal in a few centuries now that he has proper worshipers again.
  • The Gods of Arr-Kelaan gain power from their followers, but mostly they provide their own (considerable) power.
    • Interestingly, the Abrahamic god is shown to be a concept created by a pantheon of minor gods in order to conserve the lessening magic in our world.
    • The Traveler Gods actually gain power from worshipers in a slightly sideways manner - worship itself doesn't grant the gods more power, but deceased souls that have an affinity for them (including those that were never worshipers, or never even heard of them) are drawn to their afterlives to seek enlightenment through exploration of some state of being (such as through learning for Claremont, the god of Science). As souls Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence on achieving enlightenment, the gods gather power from the act of ascension. It's in their interests more to promote their portfolios rather than their faiths - Claremont would get more power from fostering a love of learning worldwide rather than creating an authoritarian church to enforce his dogma.
  • In Parallel Dementia, most nightmares (read: supernatural beings) gain power from belief. This also works for humans, as demonstrated by a legendary assassin who faked her death who still gains power from people believing in her former name, Mistress of Blades.
  • A slight variant in Underling, in that they are powered by knowledge of them, even more so belief.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Coyote believes that this is how he came into existence. Whether or not this is TRUE is another matter entirely. That said, with what happened to the Native Americans, it's clear lack of worshippers doesn't diminish the power of something that has gained it (assuming Coyote's theory is true).
  • In Too Much Information (2005) some spirits can become Astrals by having enough worshipers. Losing those worshipers causes them to die.
  • In True Villains, there is a god of everything, but only five have any real power because they are believed in and worshiped.
  • Twokinds: The gods are waging proxy wars to determine which of their creations will become the apex species. Since the humans worship one god (name unknown so far) and the keidran worship Neutral, it's implied that the extinction of a species means the respective god will die or be weakened from a lack of followers. Furthermore, it's implied that the god of the Basitins made his creations extremely obedient so they would always follow the rules, but they were so obedient that they worshiped the law instead of their god and starved them to death.
  • Subverted in Housepets!, the demigods are practically omniscient, but when playing "The Game" they impose a limit on their miracles based on the number of followers.
  • In Chitra, Phobinus the God of Beauty wants to become a major player in his world's pantheon, like the God of Lightning or the God of War. To do this, he needs his apostle Chitra to attract faithful devotees to live in his kingdom (and eventually expand the territory). The more devotees a god has, the more powerful they become. In a flashback conversation between advisor Tornian (a native of the land) and Chitra (a girl from 21st century Earth) in Chapter 37, Tornian compares belief in the gods to a form of currency among the divine:
    Tornian: A god's power will increase with the number of believers they have. Devotion is like currency to them, like money is for humans.
    Chitra: Then let's say, in an extreme situation, that all those believers die. What will happen?
    Tornian: Since forgetting about something is the same as it disappearing, I assume that the god will cease to exist.
  • Gods work like this in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic . In one of the recent storylines, two sister goddesses went from acting like normal sisters (sometimes getting along, sometimes not) into almost fierce rivals as a result of people's belief, and they eventually forgot their childhoods.

    Web Original 
  • Seen in the Whateley Universe with the New Olympians. After escaping imprisonment (by whom hasn't yet been revealed) into the modern world, the old gods of Olympus find themselves greatly weakened and without worshippers to draw power from, and end up having to take mortal hosts. Who in the present day form their own loose school clique at Whateley Academy...
    • It's also been mentioned in the canon background material that even simple spirits (basically considered randomly occurring self-motivated 'knots' of magical energy) may be able to evolve into 'gods' over time if given a source of worship to draw on.
  • Used in Adylheim: the less powerful gods require constant supplication and sacrifices to be made in their honour, whereas the more powerful ones merely use this as something of a divine power up. In return they're usually inclined to offer everything from providence to small miracles.
  • Because of a Screw Destiny maneuver by The Chosen One in the Metamor City setting, the old gods of the pantheon are now physical gods and have lost most of their strength and power. They gain some of their power back by way of worship from mortal souls. In the original Metamor Keep setting, where the gods are at the height of their power, they draw power from faith and actions done in their name. Though aside from the priesthood most worshipers only pray when they need something, and such favors often have a significantly higher cost.
  • Justified with the Inglip meme (for sufficient meta values of "followers" - an Inglip comic maker declaring himself as Gropaga will - mostly - let Inglip win, same for the other cults and gods).
  • Horror artist Trevor Henderson, also known as "Slimyswampghost" on Tumblr, naturally plays this for horror with his recurring monster the Chicken Ghost. He states in supplementary material that the Chicken Ghost was originally known as "The God of Chickens" and was a deity representing and protecting poultry. Now long-forgotten, the Chicken Ghost is no longer prayed to or worshiped, which led to him losing most of his powers. This is also likely the reason for his bizarre and mangled appearance.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • The Scarlet King is said to work this way in Tufto's Proposal of SCP-001. He's said to be less of an actual deity and more of a concept born from the conflict between tradition and progress that is strengthened by attempts to understand it and the world, with the intent of ending rationality and civilization. The Foundation's response? Kill all its worshippers, then simply ignore it and hope it goes away.
    • SCP-5721 is anote  paragraph within the Terms of Service for the messaging software Discord that signs over the users' souls to the Greco-Roman goddess Eris, allowing her to drain users' Life Energy as a substitute for actual worship. When interrogated by the Foundation she states that the bigger gods have millennia left before they need to worry about needing worship while "the little guys like me or Aristaeus or Eirene? We'll go out like smoke," and threatens to kill off all ~250 million Discord users if the Foundation tries to lock her up.
    • SCP-5866, Tiamat, is a living thoughtform — it's suggested that most gods are — and consequently depends on human belief for her existence and qualities. She becomes more or less real depending on how much she's believed in, and her traits and past can be altered based on changes in how she's understood and portrayed. She began strictly as the Babylonian serpent goddess, but in recent years traits of the five-headed, draconic Tiamat from Dungeons & Dragons have begun to manifest in her memory as it becomes the more well-known version. This is exploited by Dr. Corbin, who deliberately spreads talk of her around the site and bumps up her containment class to increase her perceived prestige in a gambit to create enough awe and regard to shift the nearly-dead goddess back to life.

    Western Animation 
  • ThunderCats (1985): In "Lion-O's Anointment, Final Day: The Trial of Evil", while exploring a series of tunnels to try to sneak into Mumm-Ra's pyramid, Lion-O discovers a beautiful, brightly-lit room full of treasures. A mysterious figure, clearly terrorized by his presence, attacks him but is too weak and decrepit to put up any resistance. After Lion-O assures him that he is not a thief, the creature introduces himself as Maftet the Lynx God, explaining that millennia ago he was a much-renowned god, but that his power has withered to virtually nothing after enduring many centuries without having been worshipped. He goes on to explain that anyone can become a god, even Lion-O if he felt like it, but few attempt it as without worshippers, this is certain doom.
  • Care Bears:
    • In "Share Bear Shines!", Princess Starglo explains that stars are powered by belief and wishes, but so few people believe in her or wishing on stars that she doesn't have much power left, which leads to her turning off all the stars in the sky (including the Sun). By the end of the movie, she nearly fades away, but is saved by a burst of belief from the Care Bears.
    • The Care Bears themselves, as well as their home, stay alive because of the love and goodness on Earth. If everyone stopped caring, Care-A-Lot and its inhabitants would fade away.
  • In the Aaahh!!! Real Monsters episode "Where Have all the Monsters Gone?", it's revealed that monsters need the fear of humans to exist. If not enough humans are afraid of monsters, the monsters start disappearing bit by bit.
  • PJ Sparkles lives on love and will die without it. When The Cloak's Malice Mist saps all the love from Twinkle Town, P.J. becomes weak, and Blaze turns back into an old horse. Conversely, the love of just one boy is enough to recharge her powers.
  • In The Magic Trolls and the Troll Warriors, without the power of laughter and happiness the Magic Trolls will fade away and die.

Alternative Title(s): God Needs Prayers Badly, God Needs Prayer Badly