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Sufficiently Advanced Alien
aka: Sufficiently Advanced Aliens

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Now all it needs is some water.note 

"Any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial intelligence is indistinguishable from God."

You know the type. Sooner or later one shows up on every Space Opera or Wagon Train to the Stars. They're the alien being that can do anything with the wave of a hand (or tentacle, or tendril of energy). Sometimes they're hostile, sometimes they're benevolent, sometimes above it all or just... different, but regardless they can really cramp the style of a young, expanding race looking to make a name for itself on the galactic scene. Usually, though, they tend to just be omnipotent jackasses, looking for a cheap laugh. More often than not, they tend to be egotistical and haughty, thinking little of humans and "lesser beings". Sometimes you can exploit their sense of honor or fair play, or their desire for solitude, to make them go away. Or maybe you just have to wait for their parents to come and take them home. Unfortunately, you can't always get rid of them — just ask Jean-Luc Picard (and don't even get his colleague Capt. Janeway started).

If you have to use something that's recognizable to the viewer as a machine, you're not Sufficiently Advanced. (See Higher-Tech Species.) If you can just wave your hand and things happen, you probably are (visual machines are allowed for really big effects, like making galaxies explode or transporting a planet from one side of the galaxy to another). If you are a machine, there's some wiggle room (and some overlap with Deus Est Machina).

What actually separates Sufficiently Advanced Aliens from genuine gods can get a little vague, particularly when some examples possess powers, resilience, knowledge and width of influence that outright surpass those of a lot of historic deities — and especially when some outright have faiths or cults dedicated to themselves. Usually, being found in space and/or opposing the heroes' lack of belief is considered enough reason to reject their claims. One possible distinction between the two is that gods are believed by their followers to actually be above the laws of physics (although there are plenty that aren't), whereas sufficiently advanced aliens have just figured them out enough to manipulate them to their favor (and again, plenty of exceptions there, too).

Sometimes, they'll show up to put Humanity on Trial. Occasionally, a human or humanoid alien will be assumed into their ranks. Often these beings will claim to be "more highly evolved" than humans, and that someday, if we're good little corporeals and eat all our vegetables and overcome our stupidity and bratty ways, we might grow up to be like them. Similarly, many sufficiently advanced alien species are also Perfect Pacifist People.

See also Great Gazoo and Energy Beings. When humans are treated like this, it's Humans Are Cthulhu or Thank the Maker. Conversely, if these beings are far enough removed from human understanding, they can be considered Eldritch Abominations, in which case they at least have the decency to take on A Form You Are Comfortable With.

Compare to Higher-Tech Species, when the aliens are more advanced, but not quite sufficiently advanced to count as this. Contrast with God Guise and Ancient Astronauts. See also Physical God, for an approach from the other side of the spectrum, and No Such Thing as Space Jesus, which is how stories of this ilk avoid the theological implications of the trope. Naturally, they are nothing like the Insufficiently Advanced Alien.

For when humans try — but fail — to deal with them and their frustratingly condescending attitudes, which can often be deadly, see Can't Argue with Elves. When humans can get the better of these beings, which is difficult, but not impossible, see Screw You, Elves!

Very frequently they are builders/users of Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology.

If you want to go and try to compare these alien heavyweights, then you are Abusing the Kardashev Scale for Fun and Profit.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Bokurano, the mysterious "Masterminds" behind the robot battles can erase entire Universes from existence in seconds, and appear to be keeping the entirety of the Multiverse running by wiping out "weak" Universes. The half-kilometre tall robots they build can run off life energy, fire particle beams that can vaporize mountains (and easily deflect those beams) and appear capable of shrugging off all human efforts to damage them. These robots can tank airstrikes with nary a scratch on their armour, and the pilots inside only feeling a bit warmer than usual while the surrounding landscape burns at thousands of degrees. Furthermore, they've set things up so that if anyone tries to reverse-engineer their tech, the life force of everything on that planet will just be drained anyway before the inhabitants have any chance to make headway. Notably, the heroes are completely incapable of defying the Masterminds' will, and can't subvert the giant robot battle system in any way.
  • Subverted in Dragon Ball. First "god" is revealed to be a job title that one only needs to qualify for when the position is open. Then god is revealed to be an alien by other aliens who came to use his stuff. However Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods reveals that there really is such a thing as 'godly energy' that is beyond the perception of mortals. There is still plenty of highly advanced alien technology, mortals have in fact gone further than gods in a few fields due to less complacency and fewer codes of conduct to adhere to, but the work of gods cannot be truly duplicated through mortal means.
  • Nagato Yuki of Haruhi Suzumiya is a prime example of this. By chanting computer code, she can manipulate matter and space with great precision and scope.
    • Yuki also has a superior, the mysterious Kimidori Emiri, and two Evil Counterparts: Asakura Ryouko, a superpowered, really, really freaking scary Uncanny Valley Girl who tries to kill Kyon without even losing her cool and nice attitude, and Kuyou Suou, an Emotionless Girl whose alien race is at war with Yuki's.
    • Also includes a bit of a Starfish Aliens touch, in that they had to create humans in order to try to understand them (the "alien" characters would be more accurately described as artificial humans) and are rather interested in the fact that mere matter can apparently have intelligence.
  • The Golden Tribe of Heroic Age. They were reputed to be able to create planets and predict the future (though whether these tasks required the use of machines or not is never explained), and are treated as gods by the Silver Tribe.
  • The entire plot of Kado: The Right Answer is about what happens when a sufficiently advanced alien (an extra-dimensional being called Yaha-kui zaShunina) touches down in modern-day Japan and wants to communicate with humanity. Both Yaha-kui and his dwelling/spaceship/body part/'translator' KADO is so beyond humanity (and our laws of physics) his sheer presence makes people understandably nervous, even though he appears to be benign.
  • The enemies of a Mazinger Z spin-off (Z Mazinger) were aliens so powerful and so technologically advanced they were mistaken by gods in the past.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the giant monsters attacking Tokyo-3 are called Angels and seem akin to gods, but are actually (according to one of the supplementary sources) expressions of one of a pair of competing "Seeds of Life" launched eons ago by unknown Precursors. What Shinji does at the end also seems to lean towards religion, although it may be interpreted as just science, putting the right objects in the right place and having the desired reaction.
    • The aforementioned supplementary sources also imply that the Secret Dead Sea Scrolls everyone based their actions around are actually Lilith's partially-translated instruction manual SEELE mistook for a religious text. That's right: billions of people died because of a misunderstanding. Poor Communication Kills taken to the extreme.
  • Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! takes the ideas about H. P. Lovecraft (see Literature below) and runs with them, outright stating that the Cthulhu Mythos is based off of stories told to Lovecraft by aliens. By extension, the gods of the Mythos were inspired by members of alien races; the title character, Nyarko, is a Nyarlathotepian, but it's unclear if she's the Nyarlathotep or if it's just a nickname.
  • It turns out that this is the backstory of Kyubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. They came to this planet to gather energy to save the universe from heat death, and it just so happens that Grief Seeds (the remains of the villainous Witches) would suffice. Kyubey is otherwise a Magical Girl mascot character, and is capable of teleportation, telepathy, some form of Invisible to Normalsnote , and turning people into Magical Girls, among other things. Until their true nature is revealed, that is.
    • That's just the tip of the iceberg. Kyubey is part of a Hive Mind race of beings called Incubators. Working together with his kind, they gathered on Earth to create the Isolation Field, an energy field that blocked out the entire Universe, including the Law of Cycles. And according to them, they were powerful enough to manipulate anything they can observe. The end goal of the Incubator plan in the Rebellion movie was to enslave a sentient law of physics to maximize the production of magical energy, and they both partially succeeded and proved it was possible with the Field.
  • In Tenchi Muyo! the Juraian royalty are semi-divine Sufficiently Advanced Aliens through the pact struck with Tsunami, one of their universe's three Physical Gods (before that they were and still are just Space Pirates). The Word of God also has it that their universe has a real, transcendental God who created said Physical God and her two Sisters, and that this God's avatar is Tenchi.
  • The Anti-Spirals of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. They live "in the space between the tenth and eleventh dimensions", can accurately count the exact number of people living on a given planet instantly, hide the moon in a dimensional pocket, and insert genetic programming into individuals of other races to use them as messengers. Furthermore, they can create virtual spaces in which they control all the laws of physics, even directly modifying the probabilities of events occurring, and they can trap their opponents within these spaces. To say nothing of their cruder abilities: physically tossing entire galaxies as weapons and throwing Big Bangs around like Ki Manipulation.
  • The Earthlings from Vandread. They grow humans like crops, have giant, self-sustaining battleships, can copy the shape and powers of the Vandreads, and live by replacing their body parts with the body parts of the aforementioned humans. Their Enfante Terrible leader can communicate telepathically and crush things/people with telekinetic powers.
  • The Visitors from WorldEnd: What Do You Do at the End of the World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us? are implied to be this. They are immortal beings of extraterrestrial origin who arrived via starship after a long journey from their homeworld. Nostalgic for their lost home, they shaped the world they found into something similar and created the races that now inhabit it.

    Comic Books 
  • The Prime Movers in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, and are stated to be omnipotent (at least they're very good at bending the laws of physics and geometry).
    • Lord Thezmothete is most likely one too. His abilities are never explicitly shown or mentioned, but he is mentioned to be a Class 1 Power (by comparison, an alien with the power to teleport entire planets around was classified as Class 8 and humanity — collectively, mind — is a Class 12 Power). He does possess some nifty technology at least, such as a waste disposal unit that creates miniature black holes and in his first appearance was able to make a battle fleet disappear without a trace.
  • The Marvel Universe and The DCU have tons of these. Jack Kirby personally created the Celestials and the New Gods and had a hand in creating the Watchers and Galactus. This trope seems to really have appealed to him.
    • Probably the most famous is Galactus, planet-eating antagonist of the Fantastic Four. He is a humanoid alien from the previous universe, ascended to the ranks of the Marvel cosmic hierarchy — in a sense, he is this trope, but in another sense, he is the actual Anthropomorphic Personification of an abstract cosmic principle, and more than a little over-qualified.
    • The Elders of the Universe are unusual in that their sufficient advancement comes from an individual (i.e., not common to their respective, mostly extinct, races) connection with "the Power Primordial". There does appear to be some inspiration from other examples in Star Trek; the Grandmaster's whole shtick resembles the recurring "powerful alien forces the heroes to fight against someone else" Trek plot.
    • Runners-up would be the Watchers and the Celestials (pictured), who hate each other's guts, interestingly. The Watchers believe it's best not to interfere with the development of other worlds and races (the actions of Uatu, The Watcher that frequently bends these rules, notwithstanding). The Celestials are all about interfering — they guide the evolution of planets and destroy those that don't satisfy their standards. It's not a surprise that these two don't get along — not that it really bothers the Celestials, since the Watchers' actions against them are limited to disapproving stares.
    • The Avengers (Jonathan Hickman) has introduced multiple races of seemingly god-like aliens that inhabit the multiverse. Most of these races in fact inhabit and regularly travel between multiple realities, conquering (or destroying) not just planets but entire universes. The Builders, an advanced race that took all the galactic powers of Earth-616 (the primary setting of Marvel comics) to barely defeat, are laughed off by an inter-dimensional traveler as "only" having influence in several thousand realities. Several more far more dangerous races such as the Black Priests, Ivory Kings, and Map Makers have since been introduced.
    • In the Earth X trilogy (Earth X, Universe X, Paradise X), all of the gods are sufficiently advanced aliens (evolution-wise).
    • Ms. Marvel (1977) gave this treatment to Hekate, who in Classical Mythology was something of a Sixth Ranger; here, she identified herself as an extradimensional explorer whom ancient humans had mistaken for a goddess. A few decades later it would be retconned that nope, she actually was a goddess, who'd mistaken herself for an extradimensional explorer.
  • The Ten-Seconders: The "Gods" who presented themselves as superheroes to humanity are in fact only the rebellious children of a truly godlike race of aliens who created them for their own experiments. The comic eventually concludes that none of these entities are really gods, just more powerful/advanced ones.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Adjudicator is a multi-dimensional being who goes around destroying planets, across all dimensions at once. Right when the coalition of super-heroes from five different earths fail to stop him from destroying earth his more powerful overseers step in and save the planet, considering him to have overstepped his bounds.

    Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm:
    • 'High-Blood' Kryptonians were this, with their powers under a yellow sun. Per Word of God, the vast majority were 'only' at Asgardian level — which still means that each is a Person of Mass Destruction/One-Man Army. In-Universe, no one's entirely sure why, especially since the powers cut off at a strangely specific difference in solar frequence (from yellow to red), though it's strongly suspected to be engineered. Likewise, the power differential isn't down to any superior blood, but Hybrid Power, as there were genes limiting Kryptonian potential - when Krypton's oligarchy made strategic marriages with the few species Kryptonians were compatible with, their descendants essentially bred out the limiting genes. The metatextual reason, per Word of God, is that the planet would not otherwise have survived any serious conflict. Combine that with their literally godlike technology, and even without their powers they were considered the only equals of the Asgardians, despite being mortal.
    • There are also the Celestials, and Galactus, neither of whom has made an appearance — though both have been mentioned, the former as the force that made the gods largely stop meddling in humanity's destiny a millennium before until it could stand on its own (and prove, per Thor, that it was "ready for a higher form of war"), and the latter as, well, Galactus. Who once tried to eat Krypton - and their only option was to get teleported into Asgard-space until he went away. Plus, Galactus' herald, the Silver Surfer, is briefly glimpsed.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover and its sequel Origins, the "Local Cluster Council" and "Federated Cluster Union" are actually this, pretending to be an Omniscient Council of Vagueness. Their mastery of Faster-Than-Light Travel is shown to be much higher than the heroes' civilizations, and indeed is the only way to do FTL that doesn't cause rips in space. This becomes important later since said rips are letting in an Alien Invasion, Flood mixed with Reapers.
  • The entire universe is implied to have been this way in Sailor Moon: Legends of Lightstorm. The "magic" used by the Sailor Scouts is actually based in ultra-advanced science, as proven by one of the title characters having memorized the power mechanisms of a dead Sailor Scout. He also uses magic-like "Moon Kingdom science" to make weapons and tools. When not fighting, he teaches Moon Kingdom science to Sailor Mercury.
  • Ultraman Lugeno from Ultraman Moedari uses telepathic powers to do almost anything. Later on, Ultrawoman Lunaram can as well. The Satunamist can literally do anything with a mere thought.
  • Shag and Varx in With Strings Attached are of some “lizardy, birdy” race with technology sufficiently advanced to shuffle people from one dimension to another for an undergraduate class project, to bestow people with considerable power, and to maneuver those people into annoying situations. Jeft, who is a Grey, pretends he's a god, but the others are quick to distance themselves from that definition.
  • Many alien species in the There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton series, such as the Gems, Galra, Kree, and Asgardians, fit this in one way or another due to hyper-advanced technology that has allowed them to span across the cosmos. Pidge calls Gem tech the most advanced she's ever encountered (and she works with Altean magitek) while Moonstone states that the Kree were already working with industrial machinery by the time humanity was just starting to form stationary civilizations.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The aliens from Absolutely Anything are apparently sufficiently advanced to turn ordinary people into omnipotent Gods on a whim.
  • The Station aliens from Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, who are identified by God Himself as the smartest beings in the universe. In less than an hour, they raid a hardware store, then casually build two robot duplicates who proceed to utterly demolish two other advanced robot killers from the future.
  • Cloud Atlas: Meronym and the other Prescients are this, to the Valley folk. Subverted in that the Prescients are in crisis with no place to live.
  • In Contact, a central theme is science versus religion. The main character is an atheist who looks down on her lover's blind faith, and in the end she is the one who has an essentially religious experience with an advanced alien that everyone else can only take on faith. Makes you wonder, if there really is a God, is he perhaps just a really advanced alien?
  • In Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal, there are the the Urskeks, in a rather interesting case of Literal Split Personality: they split apart into the Skeksis and the Uru/Mystics.
  • The Therns from John Carter are upgraded from a race of cannibal mystics with godlike delusions to somewhere between this trope and Humanoid Abomination. They are ageless beings that wield impressive magic power that is actually derived from their extremely advanced technology. They had used their power to manipulate the people of Barsoom for ages and change the course of their history to serve their own ends, and it's implied they have done so to many other worlds in the past.
  • The Strangers (who even resemble angels in their true form!) in Knowing.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Asgardians, as first seen in Thor, are benevolent Made of Diamond humanoids with incredible powers that are effectively Magitek.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) introduces Celestials, mentioned in the Comic Book section and pictured above. There is even a cameo of Eson the Searcher obliterating a failed experiment.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 features Ego, an eons-old living planet revealed to be a Celestial. His human form is merely a projection from his true stellar body, which has the power to assimilate and control matter and destroys an entire fleet of starfighters by himself. When other characters call him a God, he says he is one with a small "g", meaning he is only an immensely powerful being instead of all-powerful.
  • In John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness it is revealed that the Church has hidden the truth for 2,000 years — that Jesus was an alien.
  • Discussed in Shin Ultraman. Extraterrestrials such as Zarab and Mefilas have capabilities way beyond human understanding (e.g. both can manipulate digital data without much more than a wave of their hands) while Ultraman's ability is physics-breaking by human standards. Humanity end up having to rely on Ultraman for their safety as if they worship him, leading to the human characters talking about how godlike the Extraterrestrials are. Mefilas' plans even hinged on deliberately making humans feel as insignificant as possible in comparison to aliens, so they would take his deal without a fight. However, Ultraman himself denies this, sending a message in the climax that Ultraman is ultimately just another lifeform, not an all-powerful god, and needs humanity's research on the Beta System to take down Zetton.
  • Jeff Bridges's species in Starman might count — there seems to be nothing his magic balls couldn't do.note 


By Author:

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "Breeds There a Man...?": Humanity is an alien experiment which must occasionally be reset by large-scale destruction. The Cold War is the prelude to another reset, but if humanity can develop an energy shield to protect cities against nuclear bombs, they may be able to escape the alien control.
    • George and Azazel: The titular demon is either an extraterrestrial with advanced technology, or an actual demon — and possibly both. Depending on which story, and even which version of a story, Azazel may be either one. The stories can't seem to make up their mind, which fits in with the Unreliable Narrator who may just be making them all up. His role in the story is to cause some crazy personal disaster in the interests of helping someone out.
    • "Jokester": The human sense of humour is found to be an experiment imposed on us by aliens. Tragically, once this experiment is discovered, it is no longer of any use for the aliens and the capacity for finding something funny is immediately removed.
  • Most of Iain Banks's science fiction repertoire involves The Culture — a confederation/polity of hyper-advanced AIs and the pets they carry AKA fleshy humanoid lifeforms like us. The technology The Culture possesses allows them to achieve godlike feats, like manipulating the entire electromagnetic spectrum of Earth from Betelguese (600 light years away) with their Effectors; rearranging stellar constructs like ring worlds and stars with incredible precision despite using what amounts to a dimensional fissure with an universe of energy as “blades”; and even teleporting micro black holes into planets as ammunition. It’s to the point that their large-scale “battle” takes place in terms of microseconds and their “obsolete” pistol is considered WMD! A character explicitly compares them to gods in-universe, only to be reminded that the Minds have surpassed such definitions long ago. And as if this wasn’t enough, their entire civilization can Sublime any time they wish, becoming even more godlike in the process. What makes them stand out among other examples of this trope is their moral compass — they chose not to Sublime due to their attachment to the material universe and their commitment to uplifting younger civilizations than them.
  • Stephen Baxter is possibly the king of sufficiently advanced aliens, as most of his famous works depicts aliens that are essentially God with the capital G:
    • In the Xeelee Sequence, the titular Xeelee are a race of space-time defects in symbiosis with Bose-Einstein Condensate creatures. Born during the Planck Epoch, these guys are so up the food chain that they are called the Baryonic Lords for a good reason; able to master absolute control on all things baryons including time and space on a multiversal scale. To give you a sense of scale on how powerful they are, when Transcendent Humanity (Which were considered to be more powerful than Star Trek's Q) went to war with them, the Xeelee immediately curbstomped them back to the stone age throughout every single timeline faster than you can say Fatality. And even then, the Xeelee was actively losing against the Dark Matter Photino Birds who they themselves are weaker than the god-like Monads who dream entire realities into existence.
    • In Manifold: Time, Manifold: Space and Manifold: Origin, Baxter manage to somehow one-up himself and made a trilogy even more powerful than the Xeelee called the Manifold Trilogy which consists of a race of posthumans called the Downstreamers which are living quantum substrates so absurdly powerful that they are liken to an entire race of the One Above Alls. Feats include being invulnerable to all forms of reality warping attacks that can punch holes the size of the entire Universe's circumference, creating an infinite number of multiverses just because they can, and being omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent to its truest term on a omniversal scale.
  • Arthur C. Clarke's novels feature this as a constant theme — not surprising, given that he's the trope namer.
    • 2001, 2010, and their sequels explore this in great detail, starting with the aliens' uplift of proto-humans in the African savannah, and progressing to the modern era when it's discovered that they've seeded the solar system with monoliths designed to alert them when humans start to venture into space. They then deliberately capture one (David Bowman) and forcibly ascend him in order to create an intermediary. In 2010, they turn Jupiter into a star to protect the evolution of life on Europa, and allow HAL to join Bowman. In 3001, the aliens put an unusual twist on the trope; despite their apparently godlike power, they are still bound by the laws of physics, meaning they cannot break the speed of light. This is actually a violation of canon, since 2010 has Bowman describe his awareness of how the c limit can be broken, but Clarke retconned this in turn by denying that any of the other novels was a straightforward sequel to its predecessors.
    • In the Rendezvous with Rama series by Clarke and Gentry Lee, the unseen beings responsible for the construction of Rama and its sister vessels are compared to God by the characters; this point is driven home rather anviliciously in the final novel.
      • The aliens themselves are only met in "Rama Revealed", when one of them reveals itself to Nicole, in the form of an eagle-headed humanoid, and explains the purpose of the Rama ships.
      • Before that, however, one can see other evidence of their presence in the robots which tend to the second ship. Specialised robots perform duties from cleaning to working with the delivery systems to repairing damage the astronauts cause to the ship (unwittingly). One kind, built in the form of a crab, was not obviously non-human at first glance; they all impress the scientist and engineers, in particular Wakefield (who builds less advanced robots himself).
    • Also the Overmind of his Childhood's End.
    • Clarke's Third Law is the template for "Shermer's Last Law" as given in the page quote. It states Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. It has as an immediate corollary, Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
  • Alan Dean Foster:
    • In Design for Great-Day, oster features humanity (or to be more specific, the Solarian Combine), as a super-advanced multi-species who are on the brink of transcending matter itself and becoming Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
    • The Humanx Commonwealth series features a vast array of alien species of varying technology levels, but this particular trope belongs solely to the Xunca. Living a billion years ago, they dominated the entire galaxy and regularly converted entire planets into machines for various projects. They fled to Another Dimension after encountering an unstoppable galaxy-devouring horror, but not before leaving behind a superweapon built out of the Great Attractor, to which the main protagonist, Flinx, is the key. That's galactic-scale engineering for you.
  • Most of H. P. Lovecraft's aliens fall into this category: Cthulhu and his ilk do not even have hidden technology. They just are. In fact, Lovecraftian characters' tendency to consider the aliens gods extends to the fans as well. Ask a general Lovecraft fan, and he will very likely tell you, "Cthulhu is a god."
    • Lovecraft did write several stories involving gods like Nodens, Bokrug and ones from established mythology like Hypnos and Bast, who conform better to traditional ideas of godhood, but there's a very good reason for that. Since they're all set in Dream Land, they actually are traditional ideas of godhood.
    • There are Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth who approach Yahweh in terms of power, even if one is an idiot and the other is locked out of the universe.
  • Charles Stross:
    • The Eschaton Series: The eponymous AI can scoop up a large chunk of humanity and scatter it both across lightyears of space and centuries of time. It's also been known to wipe out entire solar systems that mess with time travel.
    • "Missile Gap": The civilization that built the disc was capable of, as several characters put it, peel the Earth like a grape, take its surface and denizens outside the galaxy, and plate them on the surface of a construct that modern physics says cannot physically exist without anybody noticing. Whatever these entities may be, they operate entirely outside of human comprehension, and probably have as much in common with humanity as humanity does with termites.
  • The Strugatsky Brothers play with this trope on two different occasions. Their main mythos includes a hypothetical (known only through archeological evidence) race called Stranniki ("Wanderers") who are suspected of messing with human civilization in unclear ways. Roadside Picnic is based on the premise that sufficiently advanced aliens visit Earth, leaving a bunch of (again) confusing artifacts.

By Work:

  • Practically every alien that the protagonists encounter from the Chinese novel series The Adventures Of Wisely is an example of this trope, having evolved to the point that every one of them invariably possess abilities that make them demigods by our standardsPsychic Powers, instantaneous travel, effectively unlimited lifespans, the ability to phase through solid matter, can exist in multiple locations at any given time, and are virtually impossible to kill using means available to us, and this is by no means an exhaustive list; thankfully the protagonists tend to pull through either by virtue of having a friendly Sufficiently Advanced Alien on their side, or by talking them down via finding loopholes in their often bizarre reasoning and code of ethics.
  • Animorphs has two, and manages to justify the All-Powerful Bystander aspect of this trope. The Ellimist seems to be good and aids the Animorphs at several points, but often refuses to explain why or help them as much as he could. Eventually he explains that he has an Evil Counterpart, Crayak, who seeks to destroy all life just as the Ellimist wants to protect it. A direct fight between the two would destroy themselves and the universe, so they created a "game" where each tries to fulfill their goal within certain agreed-upon rules. So basically, it's the Cold War with god-aliens.
  • In Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga and Void Trilogy, you get the Silfen, who are elves that can travel between planets by walking the Silfen Paths. Even though humans are pretty sure the paths are actually disguised wormholes, they aren't able to understand how they work, or even to detect the paths. In the Void Trilogy some of their "magic" was reverse-engineered by Ozzie Fernandez Isaacs to create the gaïafield, which allow humans equipped with gaïamotes to share emotions and dreams. The Firstlifes who built the void could also qualify, as no one understand its purpose or how it works.
  • The Preservers of Paul J. MaCauley's Confluence series are worshiped as gods by the inhabitants of the title construct, a literal space needle several thousand kilometers long which they built and populated with genegeneered species of their creation. Subverted in that in the second book it is revealed that they were actually Sufficiently Advanced Humans and that the series takes place millions of years in the future.
  • This is the central conflict of Contact, both the novel and the movie based on it. The main character is an atheist and believes in rational explanations for everything, but at the end her journey to the center of the galaxy is revealed to be in every respect a religious experience. The book is even more explicit; the journey is to an artificial world where the aliens are researching physical constants looking for messages written into reality itself — a church the size of a planet. And once they return, the main character is able to find one of these messages herself (in pi). Thus, Sufficiently Advanced Science is indistinguishable from religion.
  • In The Cyberiad, a scientist called Klapaucius theorizes that there must exist a civilization that is on the highest possible level of development. He eventually finds it, but he's shocked to see that they do absolutely nothing. This is because they think doing anything when you're perfect is pointless; "You climb to reach the sum­mit, but once there, discover that all roads lead down!"
  • Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time are reality warping sufficiently advanced humans. They reached godhood one million years before the beginning of the story, which, ironically, caused humanity to fall into decadence by boredom (omnipotence can do that apparently) and by the beginning of the first book, only a few hundreds of them still exist on earth, yet, even diminished as they are, they are still by far the most powerful race in the universe (well, the fact that their technology is so costly in energy that it is dramatically speeding up the heat death of the universe means that there are not that many potential rivals anymore) and are still able to understand their own technology, the problem is that they use it to built pink suns on a whim or tinker with the space-time continuum to pass time instead of trying to fix the mess they created. It is even implied that some of them actually go to other universes and start insanely destructive wars against gods because they have nothing better to do.
  • The Jenoine of Dragaera. It takes the full attention and utmost efforts of Sethra Lavode, the most powerful sorcerer on the planet due to being a two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-year-old vampire to kill a single Jenoine scout. They are so powerful that the gods of this world, who are actually former slaves of the Jenoine who rebelled with magic learned from their masters, are scared of them.
  • The Protomolecule from The Expanse is able to ignore certain physical laws and do things generally considered impossible. It's able to produce inertialess movement without using any reaction mass, but the movement creates waste heat meaning it's still unable to defy entropy. It was also able to disassemble a whole ship that was orbiting above it without physical contact, and then later created a wormhole gate that leads to a space where there's a maximum speed limit for ships, but not for the matter inside those ships, nor for electromagnetic radiation.
  • The Great Houses from the Faction Paradox continuity anchored the relationship between cause and effect whilst the universe was still in its infancy, and their home planet acts as a mean time for the entire universe. When they go to war, they use entire cultures as weapons.
  • In Flatland, the Sphere is this from the narrator's perspective, having unusual powers deriving from existing in another dimension, i.e., the third.
  • The Priest-Kings of Gor, who for some reason, kidnap humans from Earth, remove any type of firearm, dump them on the eponymous planet and have them create a society that would make the Dark Ages look feminist. Their reasons are unknown, maybe they're just really bored, or just that into human porn. It's implied in Priest-Kings of Gor that they're motivated largely by intense boredom (Misk has to be physically restrained from committing suicide when the opportunity arises) and that they just think people are interesting.
  • The Builders who created the title construct of Eric Brown's Helix, a construct which contains thousands of constructed planets linked together in the titular shape.
  • The Souls from The Host (2008) especially when it comes to medicine, which is almost ridiculously effective, ridding the body of infection, fever, cancer, whatever, pretty much instantly.
  • Robert Sheckley's short story "Hunting Problem" is about one of these who is the worst member of his scout troop and desperately needs to win a merit badge before the upcoming Scouter Jamboree. To this end, he engages in a hilariously inept attempt to obtain a human pelt using "colonial" methods such as shapeshifting and summoning objects out of thin air.
  • In the Hyperion Cantos saga, we have various examples:
    • The Shrike. The thing can travel through time, kill all of its enemies in a blink (by freezing time around them) and impale them in a metal tree designed to torture them for centuries.
    • The TechnoCore: They created an exact replica of the Earth. Later it's revealed that the Earth was actually teleported instead of being swallowed by the black hole in its core. Also, they created the Death Rods, the Farcasting system, and a device to give immortality to humans: the Cruciform parasite.
    • The "others" (the ones who actually teleported Earth when the TechnoCore entities were freaking out in fear).
  • The Presger from the Imperial Radch trilogy sits somewhere between this and Higher-Tech Species. They produce technology that they export to humanity (like highly advanced correctives), but on the other hand they made Artificial Humans in an attempt to communicate with humanity because it would be impossible for them to comprehend them otherwise. Before they determined humanity was "Significant" they would pull human starships apart for fun (and no-one who isn't a Presger really knows what "Significant" means, apart from the fact it means the Presger will stop killing you), and it's implied the Presger wouldn't even register it if humanity ever turned hostile towards them. No Presger are ever shown on-screen, and only the aforementioned Artificial Humans have ever communicated with them and claim the Presger don't really 'get' many things humanity takes for granted, such as the idea that two distinct people can exist at the same time.
  • In the Known Space stories, the Outsiders have technology that the other species — even the Puppeteers, who are at least ten thousand years ahead of humanity — cannot even begin to comprehend, much less replicate.
  • The ancient Arisians and Eddorians of the Lensman universe. The Arisians come closest, having direct mental control over matter to a level that the Eddorians do not.
  • The eponymous aliens of The Lords of Creation alter environments on a planetary scale and create interdimensional gateways with ease.
  • Men In Black The Grazer Conspiracy: The Numen, an ancient race of extraterrestrials who'd developed ships so powerful that most races revered them as gods. When a single Numen ship is facing three whole fleets of over a thousand ships each from other races, one of the MiB containment team members says that if every one of those ships fired on the Numen ship at once, they wouldn't even be able to scratch it.
  • The Gods (or "Ymirian Guards") in Nerhûn are actually highly advanced aliens from the nearby planet Ymir who used Enôr as an experimental location for genetic modification. It got slightly out of hand, though...
  • Orion: First Encounter: The makers of the Orion. They can rewire people's brains, bend the time/space continuum and make holographic boxing gloves that can interact with whatever they come into contact with.
  • Palimpsest is about Stasis, an organization that has re-terraformed the Earth multiple times, redesigned the Sun, moved the entire solar system outside of the Milky Way, is organizing the stars of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies so that when the collision and merger between them happens in a few billion years it proceeds with minimal inconvenience to anyone, and which basically treats time as its bitch.
  • Rather common in Perry Rhodan. Perhaps the most iconic type of Sufficiently Advanced Alien in the setting is the "super-intelligence", typically (but not necessarily always — more exotic origins have been described) the collective disembodied minds of one or more entire precursor species making up one distinct entity that usually claims one or more galaxies (with all their 'lesser' inhabitants) as its personal territory. (And yes, our galaxy along with a bunch of others is nominally governed by such a being as well; it's the original source of the protagonists' immortality phlebotinum, for one. Thankfully, IT is usually content to remain a bit more obscure and less actively interventionist than a lot of its colleagues.) At least two more Evolutionary Levels above these are known to exist...
  • Langhorne and the other founders of Safehold are this to the unwitting colonists. Shan-wei, a founder who resisted the idea of setting themselves up as "Archangels", was defeated and became the planetary religion's equivalent of Satan.
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe: In the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Metamorphosis, Data is transformed from an android into a human being by the "gods" of Elysia in an alternate timeline. These "gods" later admit to Data that they are not actual gods but advanced lifeforms who are neither immortal nor infallible before transforming him back into an android and sending him back into the past to prevent the alternate timeline from happening.
  • In Star Wars Legends, there were the Celestials, a race of even more mysterious beings who used impossibly advanced technology to shape entire star systems, and may very well have been connected to the physical embodiments of the Force itself.
  • The Spindle aliens in Strata had the technology (which we retroengineered from artifacts of their dead civilization) to create planets from scratch and extend life into the realm of centuries (although few humans go beyond the three-century mark without directly or indirectly committing suicide). Subverted with the later discovery that they never existed, and neither did their precursors, or the ones before that. All ancient aliens were discovered due to everyone who can engineer planets inevitably deciding at some point to put their signature on it somehow, with the human example tending to be things like hiding a boot in a coal seam. It turns out that all the evidence of ancient aliens is itself apparently a metaphorical boot hidden by the creators of the universe.
  • The Taking builds up the horrifying monsters and bizarre growths that appear as alien invaders remaking the Earth to be suitable for them. Molly, the protagonist, brushes the impossible sights around her off as the result of alien technology thousands of years ahead of humanity. The ending reveals it to have been an inversion. The invaders were actually demons and the "invasion" and "terraforming" are implied to have been a Despair Gambit based on what people expect to see.
  • The Elder Gods in the Titus Crow series by Brian Lumley are a bunch of Cthulhuoid deities who are all a Good Counterpart to their more famous brethren. They provided humanity with protections against the Cthulhu Mythos as well as bound their kinsmen. It's implied they assist other races in their development as well.
  • The Leatherfaces in Under the Dome are the children of a sufficiently advanced alien race. They exist outside of normal time and space, don't even seem to remember what corporeal bodies are, and play with humans the same way that human children might "play" with ants using a magnifying glass. Although they do use machinery, an invincible box the size of a Tivo set that can project a five-mile-high dome capable of stopping a cruise missile is definitely pretty advanced.
  • The Precursors of Uplift series who are directly or indirectly responsible for the existence of all but a tiny fraction of a percentage of intelligent species. That tiny fraction apparently includes us, although there is debate about it that eventually becomes a multi-sided holy war.
  • Uriel from Weaveworld is probably one of these, although it's bought into its own hype and thinks it's an angel.
  • You Can Be a Cyborg When You're Older: The Enchanted use advanced technology to live out their High Fantasy lives. The thing is that they can afford to do it and its fantastically rich members fund its poorer members to live like elves and undead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Argonds in The Adventure Game are more powerful and technologically advanced than the time-and-space travellers from Earth who visit each week, and although polite, they have "a regrettable sense of humour" that inspires them to set a wide variety of lateral thinking and Room Escape Games for the Earthlings to solve before they will let them leave again — and even then, they have to cross the grid of the Vortex, which will evaporate them and force them to return to Earth on foot if they move onto the space it currently occupies.
  • Babylon 5 has Lorien and most of the First Ones (the Vorlons and the Shadows can be killed, so they're not on this level; and they represent themselves as angels and demons respectively rather than as gods).
    • About a million years later, in "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", humans and Minbari become this as well.
    • According to the RPG and the B5 Wars game, the Vorlon have pulled this in the past with the Minbari, posing as gods to better lead them in their preferred path and revealing the ruse once they were deemed sufficiently advanced. The planet-wide shock at the ruse caused the Minbari to revolt and kill as many Vorlon as they could before the panicked survivors bombed them back into stone age, and since then the Vorlon have greatly toned it down.
    • Also in the RPG, it can happen by accident: Minbari and Centauri have been mistaken for gods by less advanced races (and while the Minbari would try and disabuse them of the notion in the less traumatic way possible, the Centauri would instead use it to their advantage), and humans take great care to not have this happen and make clear they're "just" wielders of incredibly powerful tools. Then there's the Orieni, who are convinced the Vorlon are their "Living Gods" and worship them, no matter how many times the Vorlon tell them they're just incredibly advanced aliens.
    • Again in the RPG, there is the Great Maker: the god of a monotheist faith that spontaneously sprung on many worlds, the Centauri, who consider him "just" the Top God, have evidence it actually existed... That indicates it was actually an alien with advanced technology that, for unknown reasons, helped kickstart the civilization of stone age Centauri and decimated the other sentient race on their world.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (1978) the Seraphs are this to the Colonists. Interestingly, the Colonists regard the Seraphs as exactly this — technologically advanced aliens.
    • Later, the Colonists take this role to the Terrans, and to Earth.
  • Doctor Who:
    • There are the Eternals, for instance, who dismiss the Time Lords with "Are there Lords of such a small domain?" In the Expanded Universe novels, a group of Eternals are the seldom-mentioned gods of Gallifrey. And then it turns out that the Eternals themselves greatly respect creatures known as the Black and White Guardians, who are as far above them as they are above Time Lords.
      • Some of the Expanded Universe novels also suggested that the Eternals are the descendants of “Time Lords” from the previous universe that escaped its collapse and fled into ours. They also suggested that some of the rogue god-like beings we sometimes see – like Fenric, or the Animus, or the Celestial Toymaker -– are actually rogue Eternals or Guardians.
    • The Time Lords themselves, who possess technology allowing them to travel anywhere in time and space, created insanely powerful weapons like the star-killing Hand of Omega and sentient "galaxy eater" the Moment... and not to mention their ability to cheat death potentially an enormous amount of times, if someone is granted a new regeneration cycle. And that's only some of what they can do.
    • Then there are the Osirian's, like Sutekh from Pyramids of Mars. They're from the planet Osiris, have telepathic and telekinetic abilities, have enough power to wipe out entire planets and star systems if they truly wanted to note  and the ancient Egyptian myths and religions are based off of them, the way they look and their seemingly mythical powers.
  • Subverted in Earth: Final Conflict; the Taelons view themselves as this out of arrogance, but, as Energy Beings who can't replenish the energy they're made out of and burn, are actually an evolutionary dead end. Their technology appears wondrous, but it, too, dies from lack of sustenance without outside intervention. It's later revealed that the entire Taelon species was created by a cult, who drained core energy out of the rest of the Atavus in order to give a relatively small group thousands of years of potential life. This left the majority of the race (now calling themselves Jaridians) short-lived, and it's no wonder the Jaridians are so pissed off at the Taelons. Also, the change left the Taelons weak and dying, until a race of Energy Beings called the Kimera came and fixed their genome (as their way of saying thanks, the Taelons exterminated the Kimera). A branch of the original vampiric Atavus lived on Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago and seemed that way to the primitive humans, until a meteor shower forced them into slumber. Prior to that, their leader Howlyn used the DNA of a dead time-traveling monk to "upgrade" the primitive hominids to the more "modern" man.
  • Farscape featured these occasionally, and they ranged from the humanoid to the utterly otherworldly. By far the most extraordinary were the True Ancients, who had power to control minds, open wormholes, and in the case of at least one, "wrap time around his little finger."
  • JAG: In "Sightings", Harm discusses this as part of his Agent Scully argument:
    Harm: You expect the spaceships to be lined up along the tarmac?
    Meg: Very funny.
    Harm: Seriously. If there was a race advanced enough to travel millions of light-years to Earth, I truly doubt we could catch them, no matter how much we wanted to.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • This trope is parodied for everything it's worth in the Sci-Fi era with the Observers, a race of disembodied brains carried around in bowls by bodies that they claimed didn't exist. Despite claims that they were possessed of all knowledge in the universe, they are an omnipotent race of morons — assuming that Tom Servo was one of them because he did well on an IQ test and he started carrying an olive in a dish and pretending it was his brain, and finding chili dogs an incredibly fascinating concept, to name just two instances.
    • In "Parts: The Clonus Horror" and "The Incredibly Strange Creatures", Pearl also winds up babysitting some bratty Sufficiently Advanced alien kids in a parody of Star Trek's Trelane.
  • In The Nevers, the Galanthi are an alien race that appeared on the post-apocalyptic Earth sometime in the future and gifted some humans enhanced empathy, as well as the ability to comprehend their language and technology via spores. Humanity was divided between those who saw the Galanthi as humanity's saviors and those who wanted to free humanity from their influence, causing a terrible war that kills all but one of the Galanthi. The last Galanthi traveled back to 1896 London and spread spores creating the Touched phenomenon that kicks off the show, which more than one character compares to an act of God (though many other characters would say the opposite).
  • Stargate:
    • In Stargate SG-1 the Ori fit this: they are immaterial, pretty close to all-knowing, and have near absolute control over natural forces. Their followers point out that there's really a fair argument to be made that the Ori are gods. To which SG-1 usually retorts that even if their power and knowledge are real, their actions make them unworthy of devotion.
    • The Ancients, the "good guy" counterpart to the Ori, are also "ascended" human-like beings. Though they have a strict policy of not interfering in mortal matters, the Ancients left all sorts of neat tech lying around when they ascended (including the eponymous stargates and city of Atlantis). The Ancients are often said to have re-created human life across the galaxy when they started ascending.
    • While the Nox are Space Elves instead of Energy Beings, what little we've seen of them seems to paint them in this light.
    • In Stargate Universe, when the Destiny comes across a planet that shouldn't be there that looks as if it was built for them, they theorize all-powerful aliens must've built it, especially because of a huge monolith with strange writing. A theory that gains more credence when a group of people left behind on that planet suddenly and inexplicably show up a galaxy away... after freezing to death. Also the "all-powerful aliens" bit is not too outlandish in the Stargate verse, what with the Ascended (it would be well within the power of the Ascended to create a perfectly habitable planet).
  • Star Trek:

  • A program in which Santa Claus turns out to be an alien who is reporting back to his planet about Earth; preindustrial people misinterpreted his spaceship with landing gear as a sleigh and its antennas as reindeer antlers.

  • Mormonism teaches that God at one time existed in a mortal form similar to that of humans but was eventually "exalted" and now possesses a physical body similar to that of humans, but immortal and invulnerable to injury or disease. In the Book of Abraham, Kolob is described as a star that is "near unto [God]" and that has been set to govern all celestial bodies similar to Earth. God is the literal father of our spirits and of those on all the other worlds that he created, which are described as being "without number". After the second coming of Jesus Christ, everyone who has ever lived or died will be resurrected with perfect, immortal physical bodies similar to God's, but only those who have fulfilled all of the requirements of the Gospel and faithfully endured to the end will obtain "exaltation", entering into the highest degree of Celestial Glory (i.e., the kingdom of God, or "the glory of the sun") and in effect become "gods" themselves, possessing all of God's wisdom and power and becoming able to create their own worlds. This doctrine, known as "eternal progression", was summarized by former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Mormon prophet Lorenzo Snow as: "As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become."
  • The satirical Church Of The Sub Genius refers to Jehovah-1 as "An evil Space God from some corporate Sin Galaxy", and has an entire hierarchy of more-or-less omnipotent species of aliens, but also claims to believe in the "Elder Gods", and "possibly the One True God, but He ain't talking".
  • That other religion you're thinking of that won't be mentioned here.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Hero System: In the 6th Edition, there are at least three races the Malvans, the Odrugarans and the Mandaarians capable of doing anything from colonizing and terraforming asteroids and planets to shattering planets, pull a moon or planet out of its orbit and "fling" it away from its parent body, transmute one type of matter into another type of matter (thus allowing for the nigh-instantaneous creation of objects from "thin air"), quickly and easily clone any living creature, then copy or transfer memories into the clone, create force-fields that protect against virtually any force (including magic and psionics), cross the Milky Way Galaxy in as little as a day (military starships) or a week (common civilian models), teleport people and objects over interstellar distances (and sometimes further), giving themselves any superpower they desire and cure nearly any disease, heal nearly any injury,and extend lifespans for centuries (or even millennia, or can even live forever). Luckily they're all peaceful or too lazy from being able to replicate anything they want to be a threat. This is the weaker version in which the Malvans languished, even though they're still the most advanced species in the universe with the most advanced technology. In one of the alternate universes, however, the event that caused them to become that way never happened, the result being they took over the universe and continue expanding and are beginning to expand into the multiverse, to the point where the BBEG of the series, Istvatha V'han, who conquered billions of universes of the multiverse cannot take that one universe over and monitors it very cautiously.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The mer and kor on the plane of Zendikar each worship a triplet of gods, the legends of which are based on the horrific Eldrazi (Eldritch Abominations). The mer gods Cosi and Ula are based on the Eldrazi monstrosities Kozilek and Ulamog.
    • Karn the Silver Golem was a sufficiently advanced robot, an assembly of artifacts indistinguishable from an old-style Planeswalker. He even created his own world.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The C'tan fall somewhere between Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and Energy Beings, given that they had no physical form and little power to influence the world until their followers gave them bodies.
    • The Old Ones were Sufficiently Advanced Aliens long before the C'tan decided to stop ignoring sentient races and start eating them. They seeded worlds with life, created safe realms within the Warp, and created the Eldar (who later ascended to this position themselves) and the Orks. In theory, the Old Ones were simply a physical, mortal race like all others, and their powers were simply the fruit of technology and of Warp manipulation — which, while supernatural in nature, is in theory accessible to most sapient beings. However, their mastery of both fields was immense, and has never been equaled by anybody else; from the point of view of even the ancient Aeldari, they might as well have been gods.
    • The Aeldari were this during their peak. They would move the stars for the view. Some other demonstrated examples of their near-magical technology include a planetary security system that unleashed a never-ending horde of spectral warriors armed with swords that phased through Astartes armour like nothing (and instantly killed the marine inside leaving no visible wound like the soul itself was cut) and would have wiped out two pre-Heresy legions without the intervention of post-ascension Fulgrim; a publicly accessible console containing an artificial genie that could bend reality without limitation or restriction; and personal shield generators inside jewellery that could allow the user to easily withstand direct hits from anti-starship weaponry (the Aeldari in their heyday used them to surf solar flares). John Grammaticus was gifted by Eldrad a pair of "scissors" that could cut through time and space and allowed him to travel across the galaxy to Terra. The Aeldari regularly raid their old homeworlds to recover these lost technologies — one recovered technology is the Distortion Cannon, an incredibly destructive gun that shoots small black holes.
    • The Aeldari now still use projectile weapons, lasers, spaceships, and so on just like everyone else. Their toys may be a bit more shiny than most, but they're a very long way from being sufficiently advanced. The Necron are closer, since no-one understands how their technology is possible, especially their teleporting and FTL travel, but it's still clearly technology and not really in the sufficiently advanced realm.
    • In one instance a necron ship made it dangerously close to Holy Terra itself (close enough as in it could have landed on the planet) and bypassed an imperial blockade specifically designed to stop it. How? Because the blockade expected it to use warp drives to jump across the stars and were ready to intercept it during the jump. It jumped...just that it never entered the warp. This is in stark contrast to the Tau, who also have non-warp based interstellar travel, but can only make tiny "hops". The necron ship was only stopped because what little defenders were left at Terra managed to damage it enough to cause it to phase out (something that's also incomprehensible to the Imperium at large).

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed the surviving members of the First Civilization were the basis for the deities of most religions, both due to their technology and the fact that they ruled over humanity before humankind rebelled. The Pieces of Eden have effects considered explicitly to be "magic" by those who witness them, though Altair concludes that it is simply sufficiently advanced — and supremely dangerous — technology. Among the noted abilities of the Pieces of Eden are mind control and immense amounts of technical knowledge (the Apples); telekinesis and mind control (the Staff); resurrection of the dead (the Ankh); healing severe wounds, disease, and genetic disorders (the Shroud); and telepathy (the Crystal Skulls). Some of the artifacts are capable of temporal distortion (the device responsible for the Philadelphia Event) or outright seeing into the future; one of the "senses" of the First Civilization was "knowledge" which apparently allowed them to know things that would be impossible to understand otherwise, and this apparently included the ability to see the future.
  • Asura's Wrath has the Shinkoku Trastrium civilization, which are actually super-powered human cyborgs descended from Genetically altered humans, have a lot in common with this trope, with a Hinduism and Buddhism twist.
  • Lavos from Chrono Trigger is a sufficiently evolved alien; his species has developed a life-cycle that works on an interplanetary scale. As such, he has enough power to make a barren planet fertile, and vice versa (though he prefers the latter), and was once worshiped as a god.
  • Destiny:
    • The Traveler is believed to be one of these, especially as humanity's research into its nature and "Light" led to their glorious technological Golden Age with incredible wonders of reality-breaking technology. The Guardians, who were humans and transhuman warriors brought back from the dead and infused with the Traveler's Light directly, are akin to space wizards whose abilities blur the line between technology and magic, and whom can do things like defy causality, break through the effects of ontological weaponry that wipe things from existence, and shield them from the effects of multidimensional horrors.
    • The Darkness is believed to be another case of this. Whatever it is, it is an immensely powerful entity that utterly crushed Golden Age humanity. The few encounters with it that have been recorded describe something able to render humans apart at will and projecting gravity waves that allowed analysis of humans and machinery down to the atomic level. The biggest example of this trope comes from Hive, who engage in what looks like outright magic, with rituals, spells, and incantations, all gained from study of, service to, and worship of the Darkness and the Worm Gods who serve it. Despite the trappings of ritual and sorcery, however, the Hive's powers come from a highly ritualized form of technology based on the vastly more powerful capabilities of the Darkness and its servants.
    • The Cabal moved into this territory as well, due to studying the Hive's techniques for manipulating and containing Light. They started developing full-on Magitek equipment to channel the Traveler's Light by force, turning Dominus Ghaul briefly into the Cabal version of a Guardian.
    • Golden Age humanity also was in this territory with many of their more incredible technologies. SIVA, a hyper-advanced form of nanotechnology, could rebuild entire landscapes and create new bodies and weapons and machinery for those who could master it. The godlike Warmind Rasputin developed superweapons that baffled even his creators, including a cryo-weapon that froze the upper pole of Mars. Even scraps of Golden Age technology are so advanced that a thousand years later wars are being fought between the factions in the Solar System for caches of it.
  • Dragon Age: According to Solas in Trespasser, the Evanuris, aka the Elven Pantheon, are the medieval fantasy version of this trope. Rather than actual "gods", they were merely immortal and phenomenally powerful mages that rose to prominence after an unknown war and established an empire where they were revered as deities themselves. They certainly had the power to back it up, since the two Evanuris members we see onscreen had magical abilities beyond the magical ken of established lore.
  • EarthBound Beginnings has Giygas, who is a sufficiently advanced alien — advanced enough to where he is completely immune to harm and the form of his attacks are incomprehensible, even to psychics. The sequel, EarthBound (1994), upgrades Giygas to Cosmic Horror Story status.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • Futurama: Parodied with the Sun God Impostor, the main villain of the Sun segment. He lives in a temple, describes himself as a god, and claims to be the divine ruler of the sun, but is eventually revealed to actually be "just" a super-advanced all-knowing transcendent being, with the joke being that is ultimately a completely meaningless distinction.
    Leela: Huh, you wouldn't think a god could be mortally wounded.
    Sun God Impostor: You found me out. I'm not really a god. I'm just an ordinary eternal omniscient super-intelligent being.
  • Galactic Civilizations has the Mithrilar, who existed long before any other sentient life and one of whom created the Precursors: Arnor and Dread Lords. One of them is also indirectly responsible for the Altarians being Human Aliens. What happened to them is not known. Two different Victory Conditions result in your species becoming Sufficiently Advanced: either by absorbing enough Ascension Crystal energy or by doing so much research that you learn the secrets of the universe and ascend naturally.
  • Some theories have the G-Man in the Half-Life series be one of these. He clearly fits the description as he is able to manipulate reality, stop time and teleport people into bizarre alien realms, all without twitching a muscle. He also appears completely unconcerned by the carnage going on around him.
    • At one point in the series, the Vortigaunts are shown to at least have some kind of power over the G-Man when they manage to successfully hold him off and keep him away from Gordon for some stretch of time. But what exact implications this has on the limits of the G-Man's power is never explained.
  • In Halo, the Forerunners and their own forerunners, the Precursors, fit the bill neatly. A list of the Forerunners' works include:
    • The titular Halo Array: 7 (originally 12) Ringworlds that act as fortresses and weapons of a kill-all-life-in-the-Galaxy-bigger-than-a-microbe scale. Had the original 12 been activated all at once, the kill-effect would have gone far out into the Local Group. note  The rings themselves are 10,000 Km in diameter which is almost the same diameter of Earth. The original twelve were even larger with diameters of 30,000 Km.
    • The Ark is the megastructure that both created the Halos and is able to remotely activate all of them, but unlike the Halos, the Ark is located outside the Milky Way galaxy about 262,144 Light-years from the galactic core, in order to act as a safe haven from the Halos effect. It is significantly larger then the Halo rings with a diameter of 127,000 Km, has a factory contained within it that can build new Halos if necessary, and also comes with its own small star that orbits the Ark, rather than the Ark orbiting it.
    • Halo: Silentium further reveals that Installation 00 was known by the Forerunners as "the Lesser Ark". The Greater Ark was even more massive, and it was there that the Forerunners made their last stand against the Flood, before the survivors managed to sneak to the Lesser Ark and activate the rings to end the conflict.
    • Shield Worlds are essentially hollow or layered planet-sized artificial structures, comparable to what we might call a "small Dyson Sphere". They were built to serve as both Warrior-Servant bases and refuges from the Flood. In addition, the Shield Worlds were also built with an immunity to the Halos, as they were originally designed as a counter/alternative to the Halo Array. One of them, known as either the "Sharpened Shield" or Onyx, is actually housed in a Pocket Dimension, the gateway to which is inside another Shield World built out of Sentinel robots (i.e small UCAV units).
    • The Forerunner Saga describes other structures as well. such as 100 Km Fortress-Class warships and a huge artificial planet construct simply called "The Capital" just to name a few.
    • Precursors, on the other hand, are regarded by the Forerunner as Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Their structures are all but indestructible for them, and only a Halo pulse can frag them. Why? Because the Precursors used sentience itself as a building material. Or, something. To be specific, Precursor structures are built using something called "Neural Physics", which completely baffles the Forerunners. The Domain, a galaxy-spanning and self-aware information network with zero material components, is just one of their many creations. The Precursors are apparently so advanced that they have long since abandoned a single form for their species: the Flood, the insectoid-arachnid prisoner of Charum Hakkor, and the strange, virulent "dust" found by ancient humanity are all Precursors. Furthermore, some dialogue in Silentium suggests that the Precursors are older than the universe itself, and have in fact existed through multiple incarnations of the universe.
  • The Mother of La-Mulana, who descended to our planet aeons ago and begat all mortal life as helpers to aid her in returning to the stars. She cannot return; the human Player Character has to Mercy Kill her as the Final Boss.
  • In MARDEK, every other race, especially the Annunaki. However, they are weak enough that they can be defeated outnumbered and forced into a situation where they are forced to fight out of their element. Moric, the first you fight is a necromancer, and is forced to fight himself, first drained of energy after being interrupted in the middle of casting a massive necromantic spell, and then again in a place where he didn't have any dead to raise. Qualna, the second, had powers mainly based around manipulation, deception, and, if necessary, combat from a great distance away. He never expected to be in a real fight at all.
  • The Reapers from Mass Effect. They built the Mass Relays and the Citadel.
    • Averted and subverted with every other race. In Revelations, the turians just before the First Contact War described as being on roughly the same technological level as us. Most other races also dance on that line, and then there are some races like the krogan, vorcha, and drell that "hitchhiked" into space for one reason or another. Which is in turn justified because all advanced space technology is based on the technology of the previous spacefaring civilisations, all of which had a finite time to develop their technology before being harvested by the Reapers. Basically, having everything incorporate Mass Effect technology puts everything on an even playing field, at least until the masters of that technology come knocking.
    • The asari got a massive boost from the Protheans in the past when they began uplifting the primitive asari by teaching them the basics of civilization such as mathematics and agriculture, as well as genetically augmenting the asari to have natural biotic abilities and leaving them a Prothean Beacon to help boost their technological progression. All of this allowed the asari to become the first spacefaring species following the Prothean extinction and go on to more or less become the dominant race of the Galaxy, thanks to being the first to rediscover the Citadel and being the founders and leaders of the Galactic Council.
    • From Mass Effect: Andromeda, there's the Jaardan, the species who created the terraforming network capable of rewriting a biosphere in minutes, controlled from a moon-sized dyson sphere, along with creating an entire species. They were driven off by a sufficiently advanced other, who unleashed the physics-breaking Scourge on them for reasons unknown.
  • The Ancients from Might and Magic; they create worlds for fun.
    • Well, For Science!. Rather oddly, the Kreegan manages to be a major threat to the Ancients, to the point that they brought down the overarching Ancient civilization throughout a Galactic arm, while simultaneously being defeatable by a Lost Colony fallen deep into barbarism and witchcraft without said colony having to resort to scavenged Lost Technology or some new-found Achilles' Heel, if only on the planetary scale (the Kreegan are Planet Looters, and as far as can be told from the games, act independently from Kreegan forces on other worlds).
  • The Entity from Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, an ancient AI capable of reshaping reality. The Entity's Creators might also count, since the last Creators have been manipulating primitive humans for centuries until they died. The twist? Their goal was to have humans design an infrastructure that would be compatible with their latest AI Angel, designed to fight the Entity. However, the last Creator died centuries before anyone even thought about creating machines that counted numbers. And yet their plan worked.
  • In Rimworld:
    • "Archotech" machines are extremely rare, later-game artifacts that grant seemingly magical things like unlimited power generation or Psychic Powers. These are actually devices created by incredibly powerful planet-scale godlike artificial intelligences whose functions are completely beyond human understanding.
    • To tribal societies, mechanoids and spacer-level human societies are essentially this. In fact, the description for the default tribal colony start describes a mechanoid assault on your home village as being caused by angry gods and the mechanoids themselves as "machine devils."
  • The Cuotl from the game Rise of Legends appear Sufficiently Advanced, since their alien technology is light years ahead of the steampunk Vinci and the magical Alin.
  • The final boss of the first Shadow Hearts, Meta-God, is explicitly described as an alien so powerful humanity is on the level of ants compared to it. The purpose of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is to call it to Earth so that it will lay waste to the planet.
  • The player in Spore can be this, from creating life on barren planets, painting Crop Circles to incite wonder and worship from primitives, uplifting civilizations to bringing nuclear from the sky upon hapless tribes.
  • The Xel'Naga from StarCraft. They're all about cosmic cycles, "star-forging", and re-creating themselves out of separate species that they engineer and eventually unite. That is, until one of their own violated their Alien Non-Interference Clause and corrupted the Zerg, using them as a weapon to wage a civil war that killed all the others.
  • Stellaris has two main examples:
  • The Masari in Universe at War. They likely inspired the myths of Atlantis by hiding their last colony under the ocean. They can supposedly create energy from nothing (and this is not just fluff — they have limitless resources in game) and their game plan basically is "fortify the hell out of our position and build up until we can crush you under wave after wave of overpowered units". Even their main theme reinforces that they are pissed off alien gods on the warpath.
  • The Titans from World of Warcraft. They travel across the universe, shaping worlds to fit their idea of order.
    • The Naaru as well, as they're essentially angels. That build inter-dimensional spaceships.
    • Several members of the Burning Legion are as well, being corrupted creatures from other planets that build mechanical portals, forges, and Humongous Mecha.
  • The X-Universe: Not the Ancients who, while aeons ahead of everyone else, still have technology recognizable as technology. Instead, this status is held by the Outsiders, beings who once tried to invade this universe from another, and had the capability to subtly alter universal physical constants (i.e., they could rewrite the laws of physics). The only example of their tech seen were some scouting probes... that were each the size of a solar system. The Ancients barely managed to blow up one of said probes, which apparently convinced the Outsiders to stay out of this universe, as they haven't tried anything since.
  • The Wave Existence from Xenogears, an energy being from another dimension that somehow created our own. It believes it is what the inhabitants of this dimension would regard as "God" but doesn't think of itself as such. Probably because it spent billions of years trapped in the Zohar Modifier.
  • Zigfrak: The Xenoids make use of technology derived from the physics of black holes, exotic matter, and strange particles.


    Web Original 

In General:

  • This video is rather interesting in its own right, but one of the claims it makes is the believe in "stair step evolution". That is, aliens came along and gave humanity little hints to get its evolution back on track. They also apparently built the pyramids and other religious architecture, and planted it along ley lines in an effort to raise the spiritual energy of humanity to high-level consciousness.

By Work:

  • Inverted in Land Games. The humans seem this way towards the indigenous natives. Some even worship Jayle as a goddess.
  • Some of the most advanced technology in Orion's Arm is referred to as "clarktech" or "clarketech" in reference to this. Although it's not created by aliens, but by Sufficiently Advanced Terragens — the Archai and the higher Transapients.
  • Subverted in The Salvation War. The demons and angel are very much insufficiently advanced to deal with modern weaponry. However played straight in that this is what they were when they first showed up in the Bronze Age.
    • Inverted for a period of time as well. Once humanity organizes a counterstrike against the demons and absolutely slaughters them, some of the demons begin to believe that humans have figured out how to use impossibly powerful magic and cannot be defeated.
  • In Worm, these are the source of of all parahuman powers. In fact, said physics-breaking powers are vastly crippled versions of their own abilities — and the (ostensible) Big Good Scion turns out to be the avatar of the last one on Earth. About the only thing we know they can't do is reverse entropy, but they're working on that...
  • When the aliens first arrived in Twitter Story Earth 5 AR, "the first to fall" were humans who thought they were the gods that humanity once worshipped who returned.
  • Season 16 of Red vs. Blue introduces the Cosmic Beings, which are described as actual gods. Once their true forms are revealed as Monitors, it's clear that they're more like the Forerunners or Precursors of the 'source material' (see Halo on the Video Game folder). Season 18 has Black Lotus, an alien construct guarding the helmet that provides the 'Ultimate Power' (though in that case, it's never clear whether it's just advanced tech or downright paranormal).

    Western Animation 
  • Played for laughs with the Mooninites in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, who constantly brag about how incomprehensibly advanced their civilization is, making audacious claims like having advanced beyond rules and manners, or how their weekends are so advanced they take up the entire week, to excuse themselves being undeservedly arrogant, lazy, jobless Jerkass freeloaders.
  • Ben 10
    • Ben 10: Alien Force introduced Alien X as one of Ben's new aliens, a Reality Warper with limitless powers. He does have a major Weaksauce Weakness however: in addition to Ben, Alien X has two personalities that can't agree on anything, and Ben needs to convince them to work together in order to actually do anything. To give an idea of how Awesome, but Impractical Alien X is, Ben once needed them to save the universe from being destroyed, and couldn't do it in time. So he convinced them to remake the entire universe instead.
    • Ben 10: Omniverse had the Contemelia, a race of aliens from the fifth dimension that we can't even perceive who had technology so advanced they were able to create entire universes For Science!
  • Futurama:
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Doctor Doom states that Dormammu is an extra-dimensional alien. He goes so far as to claim his abilities and technology made him seem demonic, explaining why early humans believed him to be from Hell. He's right about the alien part, but not the technology; demons in the Marvel universe are quite real, and Dormammu, though evil, magical and extradimensional, is not among them.
  • Kim Possible had the Lorwardians, a race of aliens who were not only giant, super strong creatures, but they also possessed an arsenal of powerful, world-destroying weapons. They were so advanced that it only took two of them to unleash an army of tripods and conquer the Earth 'in the time it takes to order a pizza. They were only brought down by Drakken's new mutant plant powers destroying the army of walkers while Ron used his Mystical Monkey Powers to take down the invaders.
  • Sul, the Avatar Satis and Canaletto on Ōban Star-Racers. The Creators, on the other hand, may actually be gods.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series
    • "Bem" has probably the only instance in the entire franchise of a powerful alien looking after a planet of primitives, who appears to be genuinely wise and benevolent enough that Kirk doesn't automatically object to the situation on principle. Bonus points because the alien was voiced by Nichelle Nichols (Uhura).
    • Also the zookeeping Lactrans in "The Eye of the Beholder", who aren't exactly godlike, but are still an order of magnitude beyond Federation tech. Ditto for the Vedala in "The Jihad", described as the oldest known space-faring race.
  • Primus, and by extension his polar opposite Unicron, from Transformers. Primus created the Transformers, and his physical form is their homeworld, Cybertron. Unicron has altered a number of Transformers to his own liking, goes around eating planets, and transforms into a planet himself. Whether or not they're actually gods is entirely dependent on what segment of the mythos you're in.
    • Beast Wars has the Vok, the mysterious, skull-shaped aliens who police the space-time continuum and may have created the Earth as an elaborate experiment (and then tried to blow it up with a moon-sized Death Ray). According to some Word of God (their origins are never explained and the writers never really made up their minds on it) they might actually be hyperevolved humans.
    • And that's to say nothing of the Transformers themselves? Come on, they're Mechanical Life Forms capable of altering their very bodily structure that occasionally come back from the dead, and many of them have their own special traits or abilities on top of that, which range from the relatively prosaic (such as force fields, holograms, or moving very fast) to those that border on supernatural (Starscream's immortal spark being one of the most prominent examples). In one episode of the G1 cartoon, they were actually mistaken for gods by an alien race.
      • Members of the First Thirteen, such as Vector Prime and the Fallen, have powers far beyond the abilities of other transformers. Vector Prime, for example, has the ability to manipulate time and space.

Alternative Title(s): Sufficiently Advanced, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens