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Sistine Steal

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When Michelangelo Buonarroti was given the commission to paint the Sistine Chapel in Rome, he covered the ceiling with frescoes. One of those was Creation of Adam, based on the Book of Genesis: with his right hand outstretched, God floats above Adam to touch the man's fingertip. This famous and iconic image is known not only to art lovers but also to the average television viewer. This makes it fair game for allusions, parody, and all sorts of tropey tomfoolery.

The "creation" pose is often used in Comic Books, Webcomics, political comics and animated cartoons. As with Michelangelo's Pietà sculpture, the recognizable arrangement of two figures is what makes the trope, although Pietà allusions tend to be poignant, while Creation of Adam is used more often in humorous contexts.


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  • There was a sacrilegious ad for President's Choice Cola that airbrushed a can of the product in question into God's hand, as if He were bestowing it upon Adam.
  • There was a Samsung billboard advertisement that replaced Adam and God's skin with cell phones.
  • C. Montgomery Burns loses his copy (albeit only the fingers are shown) when all his property is seized in this Coca Cola commercial. Whether it's the original or not is left up to the viewer's imagination.
  • One of the images used in a rapid-fire montage TV commercial for Quizno's Subs consisted of God handing Adam the signature Classic Italian sandwich.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Seen in the opening credits of Death Note, with the symbolic double-whammy of an apple being passed between the Knight Templar Villain Protagonist and the god-figure. This, though, is half symbolism (since the protagonist's moral decline after receiving the titular Artifact of Doom is related to original sin) and half show in-joke (since the god in question is addicted to apples).
  • The unknown hand the title character of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya reaches out to with a flash of light in the opening sequence is sometimes considered to be a reference to this.
  • In Nichijou, Mai pulls this off on episode 4, in the MIDDLE OF AN EXAM, by touching a drawn hand on a chalkboard.
  • There's a picture of the original photo itself in episode 11 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Apt, since Madoka essentially becomes God and bestows her holiness on Homura.
  • Used in Record of Ragnarok when the valkyrie Reginleif performs her volund. Bonus points for doing it with the actual Adam and having Michelangelo himself in the audience reacting to the image.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: In "Someday, We Will Shine Together", Utena reaches her hand to Anthy who lies inside the symbolic coffin of her fear and self-loathing where she's been most of her life. Their hands reach for each other, touch in perfect example of this trope... and suddenly slip.
  • Subverted in the Trigun manga when, Knives and the plant integration are being broken apart physically and mentally, the subversion lying in the sense of loss and failure used in this scene as opposed to the sense of creation and connection in the original.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • An early Frazz Sunday comic had Frazz painting the cafeteria in kid-oriented versions of various famous paintings, including the Creation of Adam — with a cafeteria lunch lady spooning food onto a student's plate.

    Fan Art 

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • The witch from Brave makes a wood carving depicting bears in both roles. While the story is set in medieval Scotland, she clearly has some sort of power over time, as she's also carved out a pizza delivery truck.
  • In Moana, there is a symbolic finger-touching between little Moana and the personified ocean, at which point Moana becomes The Chosen One on a godly quest.
  • The Haunted World of El Superbeasto has a parody of it with Dr. Satan replacing Adam, seen very briefly before Dr. Satan himself turns into a giant devil and shatters the ceiling of the wedding chapel where the painting was.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens. The President of the United States has apparently made peaceful First Contact with the alien spacecraft when a giant robot hand reaches out to him. The President reaches out with a finger as per this trope...only for the giant hand to try and squash him.
  • In Turning Red, this is seen with Mei replacing Adam and Robaire replacing God at the 4*Town concert.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Creation of Adam appears in the opening credits of the 1959 version of Ben-Hur. The film popularized the use of the painting.
  • In The Agony and the Ecstasy Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) gets his inspiration for the painting from the shape of a cloud (undoubtedly because God shaped the cloud for his benefit).
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: E.T.'s glowing finger on the promotional poster for the movie, as it touches the finger of the young boy.
  • Some promotional material for Bruce Almighty include this, with Jim Carrey's nether regions covered by a cloud and the only part of God showing being the arm.
  • In Rocket Man, after inadvertently waking up early from suspended animation, one of the activities the protagonist does to kill time during the 8 month voyage is make a painting of Creation of Adam (illustrating himself and his monkey copilot) using tubed food.
  • Creation has Charles Darwin reaching out to Jenny the orangutan in this way.
  • In Death Becomes Her, The stained-glass skylight that Ernest destroys when he falls after refusing immortality shows this image. Ernest breaks the skylight precisely where God and Adam's fingertips are about to touch.
  • In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Frank-n-Furter's pool has the portrait done as a mosaic. In its 2016 remake, when Frank and Rocky are killed, their bodies are positioned to resemble Michelangelo's famous painting, "The Creation of Adam" (with Rocky in Adam's position and Frank in God's).
  • Lucy: After protagonist Lucy becomes strongly Transhuman, she goes back in time and touches fingertips with the pre-human known as Lucy. Earlier in the film we get a brief look at the original painting, to make sure that no one misses the reference.
  • Happens in the short film Room 8, where the prisoner touches himself in a Recursive Reality.
  • Deadpool 2 has at least one poster depicting Deadpool as Adam and Cable as God.
  • In Godzilla vs. Kong, a young girl points at Kong with her finger, and the creature reaches to her with his gigantic finger in response, with both fingers touching.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League. During her first fight against Steppenwolf, Wonder Woman loses her sword and the Flash helps her get it back. The sword is falling, Wonder Woman jumps after it to get it back and the Flash runs on the wall in order to reach the sword. He uses his index to push the sword back to Wonder Woman's hand with a little spark of electricity leaving his finger and travelling on the blade up to Wonder Woman's hand. Also, the Flash is human while Wonder Woman is pretty much a Goddess. Later in the movie, in order to jump start the Mother Box to bring Superman Back from the Dead, Barry Allen generates power by charging towards the Mother Box at Super-Speed, reaching out to touch it with a finger. Giving that he's literally creating life, the reference to this trope is obvious.
  • During one of its apocalypse montages, 2012 shows the actual painting cracking down the middle, so that God's hand and Adam's are separated by the split, before the whole chapel collapses.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Peter is adrift in space and freezing to death. The camera pans to his left hand which is curving like Adam's when the hand of Adam Warlock appears, reaching out to him like God's.
  • Bottoms: Parodied. The footballers are so worshipped at the school that they eat lunch in a special table at the back of the cafeteria backdropped by a parody mural of Creation of Adam, with quarterback Jeff in the position of Adam and holding a football in the hand that is touching God's.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development has a couple of characters take part in a tableau vivant of the painting in one episode. There are two problems with the recreation: 1) George Michael, playing Adam, appears wearing cutoff jean shorts instead of being completely naked, and 2) George Sr, playing God, makes a run for it.
  • Used for no good reason in the first episode of Cleopatra 2525.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Fires of Pompeii", the Doctor steps out of his TARDIS to save a doomed family from the title eruption. The TARDIS is unaccountably shining behind him, and then there's a shot of his hand, reaching out for the father's as if he's God and the human is Adam in the painting.
  • In the TV series version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981) the subsection of the Babel fish entry on the non-existence of God represents God and Man using the famous Sistine depictions.
  • The first episode of The Mandalorian ends with a shot of the title character and The Child reaching out to each other this way. Series creator Jon Favreau specifically cited the painting and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as inspirations for the shot.
  • In an episode of MythBusters, while testing an "cosmic energy absorber"; there's a short spoof of the painting with Adam (Savage) and Jamie's faces replacing Adam and God's.
  • A promotional image created for Pushing Daisies shows Ned the Piemaker reaching out to Chuck this way. It serves a reference to Ned's ability to revive the dead with a touch of his finger, an ability he used to revive Chuck in the pilot episode.
  • Used in every version of the opening credits of the long-running British arts programme The South Bank Show, with an animated spark between God's finger and Adam's (according to the original animator, he mistakenly thought there was one in the original painting).
  • The main title sequence for Star Trek: Discovery depicts two spacesuit-clad hands appearing and touching fingers momentarily before fading away to make room for the title and a flyby of the eponymous starship. See it here.
  • Ultraman Tiga: After being resurrected from his defeat in the hands of Alien Kyreloid II, Ultraman Tiga is shown getting to his feet in a seated pose, holding his hand up, while a bilboard in the foreground depicting God from the Sistine Chapel painting made it look like Tiga is in Adam's place.



    Print Media 
  • Sports Illustrated made a sports-related version of the entire Sistine Chapel ceiling for their fiftieth-anniversary celebration. The Creation of Adam fresco had the image of God unchanged and the image of Adam replaced with that of Babe Ruth.

    Tabletop Games 
The art for the Magic: The Gathering card Sigarda's Aid (illustrated by Howard Lyon) depicts a scene of the angel Sigarda supplying a weapon to a wounded soldier in a pose deliberately echoing the Creation of Adam.

    Video Games 
  • Seen in the Pleasantly Understated Credit Sequence of the LucasArts game Sam and Max Hit the Road.
  • In the Lovecraftian Interactive Fiction game Anchorhead, the art gallery hall of the Verlac mansion contains a painting of an ailing old man and a woman giving birth, explicitly described as a disturbing pastiche of the Creation of Adam.
  • A nude reclining Adam appears as a recurring boss in the (infamous) Cho Aniki series of horizontal shooters. He would later become a playable character in the fighting-game spinoff.
  • In Darkest Dungeon, the icon for the Occultist's Unspeakable Commune camping skill has Adam reaching out to a tentacle in place of God's hand. This is actually subtle foreshadowing to the fact that the Eldritch Abomination under the manor was the creator of humanity.

    Visual Novels 
  • There exists a wallpaper of the famous shot where Adam is replaced with Phoenix Wright giving God the pointer.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Animaniacs, Michelangelo faces a deadline, gets help from the Warners, and is horrified to see that they've painted God as E.T. and Adam as Elliot, and it's too late to change anything because the Pope has arrived. But as the Pope turns out to be Steven Spielberg, he loves it.
    Yakko Warner: Painting is like show business: You have to know your audience.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Homer of Seville," Homer paints himself as Adam and Marge as God on their living room ceiling.
    • In "A Star is Burns," Mr. Burns creates a very self-indulgent short film entitled "A Burns for All Seasons," whose title card has Burns' face replacing that of Adam.
  • Wakfu:
    • In season 1 episode 6, the ceiling of the throne room in the Katrepat Castle features such a parody, with Count Vampyro in Adam's spot.
    • Another one with The Mmmmmmmmmporpg and Maude in episode 12 of season 2, during Bullet Time. Plus Lampshade Hanging by Ruel.
  • Home Movies: The kids sing about being artists in one of their movies. A banner rises behind them of the Creation of Adam, with God and Adam both modeled after Coach McGuirk. God is handing Adam a beer.
  • An alternate universe in Family Guy has no Christianity. The Sistine Chapel ceiling was designed by John Hinkley and is just photos of Jodie Foster.
  • The first disc of the Beavis and Butt-Head Mike Judge Collection DVD box sets features one with Beavis as God and Butt-head as Adam.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Princess Spike", Spike makes a painter portray him as a hunky dragon in the style of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam, only with floating gems in place of God.
  • In The Crumpets episode "Shake It Up", an instance of a Sistine Steal occurs when Ms. McBrisk leans over her lawn hedge and offers her neighbor Granny Crumpet to stay at her home.

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


Reginleif Transforms

The valkyrie Reginleif unites with Adam to form his weapon utilizing a very familiar pose which Michelangelo himself recognizes.

How well does it match the trope?

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