|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
In a setting with a few or more gods, there is often one who stands above all the others. This god is usually one of the following:
- King of the Gods: Not that different from the rest of the gods, but he tends to have the benefits of Authority Equals Asskicking in full effect. He's often applicable to You Kill It, You Bought It if someone challenges his title. See this article on Wikipedia for more info on these types.
- God of Gods: This version is as far beyond the other gods as they are beyond mortals. He is often a stand-in for the Abrahamic God, or at least a Crystal Dragon Jesus Expy. Rarely do the "lesser" gods worship this being, although they may. It depends on the work in question. It's called Henotheism in Real Life.
Sometimes, there may be both types in the same setting. In that case, the one (or several, if there are multiple pantheons) King of the Gods is still below the God of Gods. Examples should go to the mixed section if both types are present in the work in question.
If there's an entire class of beings that are above the gods, see The Old Gods.
Kings of the gods:
- In Warbreaker, the Returned are the gods of Hallandren, and their leader is Susebron the God-King. Played with in that Susebron is actually a figurehead for his priesthood, and the Returned are not gods in Brandon Sanderson's wider cosmology, though their followers certainly regard them as such.
- In Discworld Blind Io is generally seen as the chief of the gods, although it's unclear what, if any, power this position gives him.
- In Greek Mythology, Zeus is a king of the gods, who replaced his father, Cronus, who in turn replaced his father, Uranus.
- In Hittite Mythology Teshub, who replaced Kumarbi, who replaced Anu, who replaced Alalu.
- Odin is also a king of the gods in Norse Mythology.
- In Mesopotamian Mythology Marduk, Enki/Ea, Enlil/El, and Ashur all got the honor in different places and times.
- Most of the nonhuman pantheons in Dungeons and Dragons have their own "leader" deity--Corellon for the elves, Moradin for the dwarves, Garl for the gnomes, Yondalla for the halflings, Gruumsh for the orcs, Maglubiyet for the goblins, and so on.
- Th God King, from this video.
Gods of gods:
- The Marvel Universe has the One Above All. It's above every other Cosmic Being and god-like creature in the setting. Of course.
- The DC Universe follows a similar route with the Presence.
- In the Marvel Universe some particularly powerful demons and magical entities are worshipped as gods, or even God, by other beings who are themselves worshipped as deities and have the power to back it up. Shuma-Gorath, for instance, has relied on numerous gods and demons to do its bidding and has a massive power difference to back it up. Mephisto and Sataanish, demons who in their own realms are nigh-omnipotent, are said to be like "mice in a great temple" compared to even one of Shuma-Gorath's weaker forms. It is the ruler of literaly hundreds of universes and worshipped in thousands more, so the fact that it is a God of Evil makes its power particularly worrying.
- Fate and Destiny in The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13. They created the lesser gods and control their very destinies on a level few of them truly understand. However, they are not invincible - they were unable to kill the Originals or their descendant Hadrian, and are eventually surpassed by another god.
- In The Elenium and The Tamuli, most of the gods are mortal (although very hard to kill) and their power is directly tied to how many worshipers they have. Then there are Bhelliom and Klael, who have no such restrictions and are responsible for the creation and destruction (respectively) of entire worlds.
- In The Belgariad from the same author, UL is the father of the other gods and is far more powerful than them, though he's usually pretty hands-off; he was intended as roughly analagous to the Judeo-Christian God. Torak thinks he's this, but it's all in his head- really, it's about as close as an actual god can come to declaring A God Am I.
- The Young Wizards series has The One, who is ultimate source of everything, although he delegates quite a bit. This applies because his most immediate agents, The Powers That Be, are godlike in power and have been worshiped as deities; in fact, one of them has been known as Athena and other pagan figures.
- Played with in Lord Dunsany's short story "The Sorrow of Search": a prophet has a vision of gods mightier than those his people worships, and goes in search of them with his followers. They find them, and they settle down to their new religion, but then the prophet has another vision of gods even beyond those. This repeats several times, with fewer and fewer followers accompanying the prophet each time, until his last vision brings him alone to gods mightier than any so far encountered--who turn out to be the same as the gods he started with.
- The Deed of Paksenarrion has two: the High Lord, whom Paks eventually becomes a paladin of, and Liart, the High Lord's Evil Counterpart.
- The Judeo-Christian God may or may not be an example, if you consider angels to be something akin to "little gods". Some of His numerous titles include "Lord of Lords" and "King of Kings".
- Some branches of Christianity believe in the Trinity as three separate beings with God the Father as the head.
- Earlier Judeo-Christian thought seemed to assume that all gods were real, though God was the One True God and they were usually considered to be evil impostors (ie. false gods), as God alone is deserving of worship. Regardless of their relationship to Him though, He would still fit this trope.
- The Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda is similar to the supreme being of Abrahamic religions, but rules over a pantheon of divine or angelic figures called Ahuras, Amesha Spentas, and Yazatas.
- In Dragonlance, Highgod is the supreme being analogous to Yahweh who created the other gods.
- Beneath the Highgod, each of the three pantheons has its own supreme deity: Paladine for Light, Takhisis for Darkness, and Gilean for Balance.
- Dragon Ball loves this one. Some planets have a God, then there are their bosses, the four Kaioh (Lords of Worlds) that rule over the four quadrants of the Universe, the Great Kaioh that leads the four Kaiohs, the four Kaiohshin (God Lords of Worlds) that are over the Kaiohs and rule over the four quadrants of the Universe and the afterlife, plus their boss Great Kaiohshin, making this dude a King of Gods of Gods of Gods. And then the manga ended before Akira Toriyama could add more to the cosmology.
- Darkseid is God-Emperor of Apokolips and thus King of that world's New Gods; however, though some writers forget it, the Darkseid that rules the planet is merely an avatar of the real Darkseid, who is trapped on the Source Wall and thanks to such practices as stealing the power of entire pantheons of other gods, is pretty much a god to the rest of the gods in terms of his true vast power. On Apokolips the state Religion of Evil goes so far as to cultivate worship of Darkseid as God himself.
- The Inheritance Trilogy has the Maelstrom, the primordial creative force which birthed the universe and may or may not be sentient, as a variation God of Gods, and also the Three (Nahadoth, god of darkness and chaos; Itempas, god of light and order; Enefah, goddess of balance) who collectively function as Kings and Queen of the gods. When the Three fall out of harmony, or any time the Maelstrom's attention is drawn to the physical world, bad things happen...
- In The Silmarillion there is Eru Iluvatar (who is meant to be the Christian God), who rules over the Ainur (angels equivalents to "lesser gods"). This was one of the ways that Tolkien--a devout Catholic--reconciled his fictional world to his deeply-held religious beliefs. There's also Manwe, who is the leader and most powerful of the Valar (the 14- 15 if you count Morgoth- strongest Ainur) and functions as a King of Gods under Eru's ultimate lordship.
- In Supernatural, the pagan gods are more or less on the level of most of the monsters that the humans fight, likely as a result of Gods Need Prayer Badly. In contrast, the angels are largely untouchable, with few exceptions, and the most effective way of killing an angel thus far in the story has been to persuade another angel in one way or another to do so, with Zachariah as the sole exception. Then consider that even in their own belief system they aren't the top of the food chain, and we have this trope.
- Modern-day Hinduism is more in the God of Gods mold. The various local deities are seen as "aspects" of Vishnu or Shiva; but this is after millennia of syncretism, and strong influence by both Islam and Christianity in the recent past. The original concept of these (and several others: Indra, Rama, Krishna, arguably Ganesha) was the king of gods.
- All gods (and indeed all creation) are aspects of the Brahman, the genderless primordial god from which all creation springs forth. The many Hindu gods are entities which are distinct, yet still part of the Brahman, as are humans, who are less connected but still part of it. And indeed, many local gods of Hinduism are aspects of other more important gods. In fact, many gods are recognized as being the same god, yet worshiped separately. For example, Parvati and Kali are different aspects of the same goddess who is Shiva's consort.
- From Japanese Mythology, there's Amaterasu, a relatively rare example of a Queen of gods being supreme (rather than a consort, if a powerful one). But...
- There's also Ame-no-minakanushi, who may or may not count as a God of Gods.
- Chinese Mythology, specifically Taoism, has the Jade Emperor and his Celestial Bureaucracy. However, in some cases, the Buddha shows up as a God of Gods to deal with problems that even the Jade Emperor cannot handle -- most memorably at the beginning of Journey to the West. In very early Chinese religion a god named Shang Di was worshipped, who was considered the highest possible deity, but worship of Shang Di fell out of practice early on in dynastic China.
- Egyptian religion had different kings of the gods in different periods of their history. Re, Amun, Atum, Amun-Re, Ptah, and Isis all had their turn at the pinnacle of the pantheon.
- The Egyptian religion also included the concept of a deity "mightier than the gods," though more as a matter of theology than actual worship. This deity was rarely depicted iconographically, and writers had no fixed name to refer to him/her. Attempts to illustrate the god beyond the gods generally involved combining the iconography of several deities together into a hermaphroditic, multi-armed, multi-headed, multi-winged entity somewhat reminiscent of Hindu deities.
- There were French settlers that concluded the "Great Spirit" recognized by many of the Amerindian groups they encountered was the same God they believed. Unfortunately, this way of thinking did not become too popular with their successors.
- Dungeons and Dragons:
- The Forgotten Realms setting has Ao, who is more of a boss than a god to the multiple pantheons. Ao's boss was mentioned at least once as a being of pure light, and may in fact be a God of Gods.
- Another Forgotten Realms feature (though it often bleeds into other settings) is that while the standard (read: human) pantheon lacks a "Top god" (at least publicly; Ao and his boss work in the shadows and most mortals don't know about them), the racial pantheons of dragons, dwarves, elves, giants, goblins, and orcs tend to have a designated ruler/leader among them. As Forgotten Realms holds to the Divine Ranks trope, the top god in the racial pantheons tends to be the only "greater god" among them, the others being intermediate or lesser deities.
- Exalted used to have Malfeas, Divine Tyrant of the Primordials, the beings that created the gods, but then the Exalted killed some of them and crippled the rest, letting the Unconquered Sun become the King of the Gods.
- Arceus from Pokémon is the strongest of the legendary monsters, some of whom were worshiped as gods.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword finally clarifies the nature of the Gods and Goddesses of Hyrule. The Golden Goddesses of the Triforce are the Gods of Gods, but the Hylia is the Queen of the Gods, and Demise is the King of Demons. Its interesting to note that Demise seems to be about as powerful as Hylia though...