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"Some would ask, how could a perfect God create a universe filled with so much that is evil. They have missed a greater conundrum: why would a perfect God create a universe at all?"
—Sister Miriam Godwinson Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

A supreme being can be good or evil, but in either case he ought to be... supreme. Right?

However, in some works we find a god who is prejudiced and flawed. Not So Omniscient After All, maybe even a bit of a bigot. Worshippers who try to blackmail God into answering prayers (or foolishly goad God) are unlikely to get an answer... at least a favorable one.

Ironically, this might make the deity easier to relate to, and thus more sympathetic.

This trope is traditionally played on polytheistic gods, but is also getting more and more common on the monotheistic God. With Jesus, this is still usually avoided. But not always.

Compare Humans Are Flawed, God Is Inept, and Stop Worshipping Me!, as well as King of All Cosmos. May be due to there being Pieces of God strewn all over the cosmos.

Oh, and beware. Here be spoilers!

Examples of God Is Flawed include:


Anime

  • In Haibane Renmei Rakka fills out the blanks in a crumpled old book that is supposed to tell the origin of the world with a story of her own invention, where God makes mistakes every step of the way, but each mistake makes the world a more beautiful place than He could have predicted, and God sees them as good.


Comic Books

  • In one issue of Valhalla, Heimdall is in love with Freya. Just as she is about to let him in, he get a counterproductive fit of jealousy and basically calls her a dirty tramp. However, he quickly realize what a Jerkass he has been, and she forgives him.
  • In Preacher (Comic Book), it is eventually revealed that all of the world's problems are caused by being created by a guy who grew up in total solitude (because there wasn't any universe yet!) and thus developed what could be considered a narcissistic personality disorder as well as any number of related mental problems.
  • In Lucifer, all creators are very flawed. Lucifer himself neglects to construct a proper afterlife, Elaine fails to keep her humans from killing each other in her name, and let's not even get started on Yahweh himself...
    • Yahweh's plan for the universe works more or less perfectly, maybe even better than he had expected - pity that all the people were a bit of an afterthought and filler in his grand design.
  • In Supergod, the concept of "God" is a flawed concept caused by a biological flaw in the evolution of mankind. Thus, trying to create Gods would have been a very very bad idea... even if you didn't weaponize them... and base them on flawed humans.

Film

  • Over 90% of Tron: Legacy takes place in a world known as The Grid, and the major conflict is built on the characters Flynn and Clu. Flynn is the creator if the world, but Clu has ruled the world since he rebelled against Flynn. Flynn is wise and benevolent, a personality that might seem a bit out of character for those who have seen the first movie and remember him as an immature brat. At the very end, it is revealed that he was still immature and shortsighted when he created the world and Clu. This is revealed that this is the reason for why the world is in the sorry condition it is - Clu was simply carrying out the orders given to him by Flynn to the best of his ability, but Flynn who created him and his world was flawed. Thus he carried out flawed orders to the best of his flawed ability. This turned his quest for perfection into something vile, warping him into a Totalitarian Utilitarian leader of something that looks eerily familiar. At the climax of the movie, Flynn confronts Clu, and spells out just how wrong he was, admitting he was arrogant and foolish, and forgiving Clu for trying to do the impossible and creating a twisted mockery of their original goals.
    • This is an overreaching theme for Tron in general. The Master Control Program believed itself to be a deity among systems, but it was a chess program that Dillinger lost control of, and Flynn sneers at Sark that Sark's just another program.."One that should have been erased." The renegade programs view Users, like Flynn, to be gods. Of course, Flynn splashes cold water on that notion when Tron brings it up.

 Tron: If you are a User, then everything you've done so far has been according to a plan, right?

Kevin Flynn: [laughs] Hah, you wish. Ah, you guys know what it's like, you just keep doing what it looks like you're supposed to be doing, no matter how crazy it seems.

Tron: That's the way it is for Programs, yes.

Kevin Flynn: I hate to disappoint you, pal, but most of the time, that's the way it is for us Users too.

Tron: Stranger and stranger.

  • The Supreme Being in Time Bandits. (post-Monty Python film by Terry Gilliam)
  • In Bruce Almighty, God is shown to be very human, and unable to make a perfect world because he has to respect the free will of all people (though this may be a self-imposed limitation.) Having Bruce gain his powers was a way to teach him this.
  • The Last Temptation of Christ contrasts what Jesus was born to do with what he actually wants to do--get married and live in peace.
  • Played for light laughs in the Oh, God! movies. God (George Burns) readily admits His mistakes, such as the goofy design of ostriches and that avocado pits are too big.

Literature

  • The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster: The Flying Spaghetti Monster caused the great flood by accident; when making pasta, the drain of the heavenly kitchen sink emptied itself straight down to earth. Oops.
  • In Blå Tornet, the world was created by a guy who one day had a really bad cold. In his fever he happened to give his angels some really bad orders. Thousands of years of tragedy later, these are still in effect. And no, this is not Played for Laughs at all. Quite the contrary, actually.
  • In an interview with J.R.R. Tolkien, regarding The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, he claims that while Eru Illuvatar [God] is infallible, the gods (Valar) set off the chain of events by making the first mistake of inviting the elves to Valinor "in order to protect them." So it is an example of the lowercase gods being flawed.
  • The Powers That Be of the Young Wizards universe generally mean well, but because they exist out of time they can't always understand problems as seen by normal mortals, which is why they need mortal wizards helping them. To quote senior wizard Carl, "They know what the universe was like when it left the factory but we're the ones who know all the little noises it makes. And where to kick it to make them stop."
  • The Most High in Russell Kirkpatrick's Fire of Heaven trilogy and follow-on Broken Man/Husk Trilogy, he knows it and seeks someone to replace him. He's too tired to care any more and knows that makes for a poor God.
  • In Erik Wahlström's God the titular character starts out as a petulent and Jerkass teenager who slowly matures and learns to take some responsibility for His creation. In the end he ends up like an elderly corporate chairman a bit out of the loop, but he manages to settle his differences with Satan, and the two retire together as friends.
  • The gods on the Discworld aren't evil, but they couldn't care less about humans except that Gods Need Prayer Badly.
    • Om gets better about this after Small Gods
      • And the general pantheon in The Last Hero notes that a god who doesn't want to end up dead, one way or another, needs to offer his followers something more than a lack of thunderbolts.
  • In The Name of the Wind the story of Tehlu initially portrays him as judgmental and unwilling to help anyone who doesn't meet his standards - sample attitude: that man beats his wife but she's sleeping around, so they deserve each other. He's taught to be more compassionate by the mother of his human incarnation.
  • In So Long and Thanks For All The Fish, we see God's Final Message To His Creation: "We apologise for the inconvenience." Ironically, this is something of a Crowning Moment of Awesome for this otherwise unknown God as well, because upon seeing them, Marvin actually feels good about it.
  • The conclusion of the Taker culture in Ishmael

Music

  • In Ebba Grön's song "Häng Gud" (Hang God), God is accused of racism, misogyny and forgetting about his loyal worshipers.
  • The Lily Allen song "Him" seems to portray God this way. Most of it is just speculation about what God might be like, but the chorus says "He's lost the will, he can't decide / He doesn't know what's right or wrong" and implies that while he doesn't like it when people kill each other in his name, there's not much he can really do about it.
  • Bad Religion deconstruct this trope (as well as the Theodicé problem) in their song "Better Off Dead". The lyrics are about God apologizing for creating the world so badly, but it comes across as the humans being ungrateful whiny bastards who fail to appreciate what they got.
  • The song "One of Us" by Joan Osborne (with covers by Alanis Morisette and others) portrays God as simultaneously flawed and sympathetic. (The chorus happens to think nobody "[calls him] on the phone", i.e., prays to him, except for maybe the Pope.)
  • In Blutengel's song "No God", God's biggest flaw is that he doesn't exist: "There's a god in your life, / But he is not what you need. / He can't hear you when you call. / He can't help you when you cry. / [...] / Wake up and face reality, realize there is no god. / Wake up open your eyes, / No paradise on the other side!"
    • One of the classic philosophical arguments for why God exists is that God is perfect. If God doesn't exist, then he wouldn't be perfect. Thus, God exists. This song turns this argument upside down.
  • "Don't you know there ain't no devil/There's just God when He's drunk"

Mythology

  • This trope has a fair amount of historical precedent. It's been theorized that much of the Jerkass behavior exhibited by the Greek Gods was intended partially as a rationalization for the less-than-noble traits exhibited by humans. It makes sense logically, of course, that if we're made in God's image, and we're obviously not perfect, that God himself possesses human flaws.
  • Many polytheistic religions exhibited this, and normally it was the flaws of gods rather than men that would bring about some manner of Apocalypse. Norse Mythology stands out in that the very actions the gods take to save themselves tend to be those that doom everything.
  • Earlier portrayals of the Abrahamic God appear to be closer to this trope than the more 'traditional' God. He's shown to have quite the temper, and there exists at least one point where Moses wins an argument with God, calming him down after the Jews disobeyed him.
    • "And the LORD was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron - Judges 1:19 "

Video Games

  • Both of the goddesses from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn are flawed. One is known for having an unpredictable temper and the other is half-insane from isolation and sees mankind as a blemish on her definition of "order". They're two halves of a whole deity that was also flawed, with a notable "does not know her own strength" incident that wiped out most of the continents.
  • Mortal Kombat's Raiden is the epitome of this trope, fluctuating between being a cruel and petty god who cares little for humans to one who is well-intentioned but constantly screwing things up on a monumental scale.

Webcomics

Web Original

  • Several episodes of Mr. Deity involve him being called out for allowing bad things that he could easily have stopped, using needlessly overcomplicated schemes for no good reason, or not thinking his plans through. He generally has some kind of non-sequitur reason why this is for the best, but none of the other characters believe him.
  • The Onion: God Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder.
  • One episode of Zinnia Jones portray God as a victim of peer pressure, with horrible consequences such as going along with barbaric cultural patterns until Jesus came along.
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