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Incredibly Inconvenient Deity

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"Lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel. After you have finished this, you shall lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year. ... I will tie you up with ropes, so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your siege."
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So you found God. No, the actual, physical God. Turns out He wants you to do His bidding. Now, surely said bidding will always be reasonable things like, say, working as a volunteer in a soup kitchen, which earns you good reputation and - while it might be a bit of a burden on your time or money - won't consume your life, right?

WRONG! Turns out God wants you to behave outrageously, summons you at the worst times possible and sometimes even causes effects that will be very much of a burden on you, leading to losses from your reputation to your job or even your spouse! Oh, of course, this tends to solve itself, what with the Omniscient Morality Licence, and All Is Well That Ends Well. But the Almighty will NEVER make things easy on you. He WILL make you grow a beard all of a sudden. He WILL tell you cryptic stuff and tell you to Figure It Out Yourself. He will never tell you why or how setting fire to a box full of kittens on national TV will make anything better, but he will force you to do it anyways, your presidential campaign be damned! In short, you can expect any Physical God that chose you as their envoy to disrupt your life as much as they can (and they are omnipotent...) for the benefit of the audience.

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Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • The Four Gods in Fushigi Yuugi. They will grant their Priestess Three Wishes, but it's a Secret Test of Character. She has to use the wishes for the greater good, not for herself (even though she technically can.) The Beast God she summons begins to devour her soul, and will consume her completely, leaving her an Empty Shell if she is determined to not be strong enough. Also, many of her Seishi are Bishounen, but the Beast Gods really want her to be a virgin, because even though she has Virgin Power, she is in fact technically a Virgin Sacrifice.
  • Yui Kusanagi in Kamigami no Asobi is summoned by Zeus to "teach the gods about the human heart" for a year, in a school in a magical realm. She ends up getting along with them, but, as Apollo notices, all of the gods were brought there with companions from their respective countries, but Yui was brought there alone. All of them recognize that it was a pretty nasty move on Zeus' part (not that it's out of character for Zeus).
  • The premise of The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya is that God Is Flawed and largely relies on humans to give her purpose and entertainment. (Many characters don't consider her sacred at all, just a human who happened to be born a powerful Reality Warper.) Sometimes this means comforting her when she has an existential crisis. Sometimes it means winning a tournament of a sport you've never played before. She's not a predictable person.

     Fan Works  
  • Percy’s opinion of the Olympians in Son of the Western Sea. It is pretty telling that his thoughts on the Olympians sealing the gates of Olympus are that he missed seeing his father, but his high school life was a whole lot easier without them popping up and causing chaos in his life. When they finally start bothering him again, he muses that he can’t wait until they forget about him again.

     Film  

  • Evan Almighty. The beard example comes from there and is particularly jarring, given that it had no practical purpose whatsoever. Then there are the MANY birds entering Evan's office through the window.
    • ...which, of course, is a sequel to Bruce Almighty, where the same God simply dumped all his powers into one guy just to show him how tough God had it.

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     Literature  

  • Depending on your views of The Bible, it has stories very much like this - especially if you consider that many of the Christian values lots of cultures have now were novel - to say the least - to the people of that culture.
    • "Adam, don't eat that fruit. No, not that one, that one is fine, that one right there."
    • "Cain, Abel, take the best work you've done this year and set it on fire."
    • "Noah, build a boat. A reeeeaaaally big one. You'll thank me later."
    • "Abram, change your name and tell everyone in your family to start walking that way."
    • "Hey, Abraham! Me again. Remember that son I promised you would give you a legacy of nations? Kill him. Then burn the corpse."
    • "Moses, could you leave the family you've spent the last forty years raising, and go cause trouble for the people who chased you away as a murderer? Thanks, I appreciate it."
    • "Joshua, go conquer that big citadel over there. No, no, don't try to lay siege or anything, just hold a parade every day for the next week."
    • "Those are some very nice spoils of war, Saul, but no, you don't get to keep them."
    • "Samuel, go wander around the hills for a while. I want you to appoint one of the people you meet there as the next king. I'll let you know when you find him."
    • "Hosea, I want you to go marry a prostitute. Name all of your kids after my disappointment in Israel."
    • "Saul, you know those people you were killing because they worship me? Change your name to Paul, then go tell them all about me."
    • "Hey Job? Yeah, so, I'm going to completely ruin your life in particular just to prove a point. You're going to lose everything: your family, your career, the people you consider to be your friends, your health, your home, your standing in the community."
    • "Mary, wazzup? Hey, so I want to make you pregnant with My Son. Oh, I know, I know. You're unmarried in an honor-shame culture, where the laws I handed down to your ancestors specifically say the men of your community can stone you to death if you're pregnant out of wedlock. And I know you're living under the rule of the Roman Empire, and you and your fiance are poor AF. You'll have to travel many miles from your home to participate in a census while heavily pregnant, and give birth in a dirty stable. And...oh, yeah...you're going to have to eventually watch our Son die a horrible death. Whaddaya say?"
    • "Hey, David...I know you're sorry for ogling and taking advantage of Bathsheba, knocking her up, killing her husband, and marrying her to save face. But I can't let that go unpunished; I'm going to kill that baby to punish you. And in the coming generations, the kingdom you worked so hard to build up is going to splinter something horrible."
    • "Hi, Hagar. I know that bitch Sarah is treating you horribly, despite you being pregnant on her behalf...but go back and submit to her abuse. One day, she's going to boot you and your son off into the desert, but don't worry. I'll take care of you, and your son will become someone important."
    • "Ezekiel, hi. So, I want you to make bread using these specific ingredients...and I want you to cook it over literal human shit. Oh, I know it's against the rules, that's exactly the point I'm trying to make. You won't do it? Fine, you don't have to use human shit. You can use cow shit."
    • "Mrs. Lot? Your city is so awful, I'm going to destroy it. Per your husband's uncle's request, I am going to spare your and your husband's life, as well as those of your daughters. (Their fiances don't seem so willing to cooperate, though. Sucks to be them.) You'll have to leave the only life you've ever known, and even as you hear the screams of your friends and neighbors dying, you are not to look back, no matter what, okay?"
    • "Hey, Rebecca! Guess what? I'm bringing you a husband...well, okay, a messenger on his behalf. After you water the entire herd of camels he has with him, you're going to have to migrate all the way to the other side of the Fertile Crescent where you don't know anyone to marry a man you've never actually met. You'll struggle with infertility for a while, but then you're going to have twins...who won't get along. And one of them is going to marry three Pagan women you're not going to like. The other, who will be your favorite, you'll have him trick his brother out of his inheritance for a bowl of lentil soup (yes, I know, just work with me here), and you'll have to send him off to where you came from for his safety, and never see him again."
    • "Ah, Leah! How are you doing? You know your distant cousin, Jacob? And how he's in love with your sister? Yeah...I'm gonna let your dad trick him into marrying you instead...and then he'll get to marry her. He'll be stuck with you, even though she's his true love. And you'll be forever grateful, because let's face it, you ain't much to look at. You'll have seven sons and a daughter, though, and when you die, you'll be buried next to him, so he won't completely hate you...but he won't really love you either, and he'll definitely drive a wedge between you and your sis. You could do worse, though. How's that sound?"
    • ...Yes. It's kind of a thing. Tended to work out in the end, though, at least when people listened.
  • Justified in Small Gods, where the Great God Om lacks the power to do things in a way that would be at all convenient for The Chosen One, Brutha, because Gods Need Prayer Badly and it's gotten to the point where Brutha is the only one who actually believes in him.
  • In Dragon Bones, the god Aetherveon takes possession of Cute Mute Ciarra, and uses her body to tell the other protagonists cryptic things. This causes Oreg, who tried and failed to protect Ciarra to suffer horribly note  Ciarra's protective big brother Ward is not amused. But that's what you get for camping in the ruins of an ancient temple. Ward is angry at Aetherveon for quite some time afterwards, and refuses to pray to him out of spite, instead summoning Siphern, the god he usually worships, from his homelands. (Deities seem to be usually bound to a place in that universe, but as Ward proves, that is not absolute.)
  • Peter Pays Tribute has a god sending Peter on a quest for the incarnation for sickness. With no directions, clues, or hints, either. Good luck on that one, Peter.
  • The Letters From Nicodemus: The general publics' idea of the Messiah is a war leader in shining armour, and they get a former carpenter from Nazareth (and nothing good ever came from Nazareth) who speaks in riddles of varying weirdness. Nicodemus, though, feels there might be some unpleasant duty waiting for him specifically.

     Live Action TV  

  • Joan of Arcadia. The title character had to, among other things, destroy works of art and re-take a test she had aced.
  • Journeyman hinted that the character's time jumps were for a purpose. They were seriously inconvenient, and he could disappear when driving down the road, end up without clothes in snow, etc.
  • Karma (well, the Theme Park Version of it, anyway) is portrayed this way in My Name Is Earl. Earl has to stick to his list, even when Being Good Sucks. Otherwise, Karma punishes either him, or people around him (such as a beautiful professor he had recently started dating).
  • The ending of Quantum Leap showed this to be the case, as God himself, seen as a bartender, has been sending Sam on his jumps to fix mistakes in history rather than just let him go home. The final episode is kind of Him finally giving Sam a choice about whether to continue (considering the incredible amount of good he could do for the world) and offering him a chance at a personal do-over. Sam being the kind of person he is, decides to keep going, and uses his favor to go back and help Al hang onto his first wife, the love of his life.

     Video Games  

  • In The Elder Scrolls series, this is often the case for the Daedric Princes, and the generally unsavory effects that performing their tasks has is a major reason why they are seen as "evil" and "demonic", or, at the very least, as Jerkass Gods. The quests they give to their mortal follows are frequently either incredibly arduous or incredibly silly, with the Princes giving flimsy or no justification as to why they want the task accomplished. The tangible rewards they offer of legendary artifacts and greater power can still make these tasks worthwhile, however. This is most often played up by the Great Gazoo type Princes, predominantly Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. Examples of his quests include killing a giant bull netch with a cursed dinner fork and making it literally rain cats and dogs (which are on fire), for seemingly no other reason that for his amusement. Sheogorath has also been known to kill people for the abhorrent crime of...growing a beard.
  • Godville: It's one option to continually bother your hero with commands, and probably the only way to actually get him to consistently do things you want him to. Still, being your only follower in a world where miracles run on prayer, he either knows he has the privilege to sass you back and abuses it, or is too dumb to be aware he shouldn't be talking back to his deity and does so.

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  

     Other  

  • Some theologians use this as a solution to the problem of theodicy. The existence of evil is something for us to overcome. Natural disasters and diseases and suffering are so that we can grow as people. It builds character.


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