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"My name is Shadow. I'm the world's Ultimate Life Form. There's no time for games, farewell!"

A character that can be described as perfect in some or every way. A being that's at the top of the Evolutionary Levels. They're basically the purpose of life itself, but what they are tends to vary.

Some works have them as gods, others can only describe them as totally incomprehensible entities, others state that the most adaptable creature would have this title, and in others still, it's nothing more than a simple yet hardy cockroach. A formerly normal person might even become one, usually through some form of enhancement, or going One-Winged Angel. Paradoxically, a being without limits, or one that has limitless potential, may qualify as well.

A variant has the character be at the top of a specific type of life, instead of being the apex of all life as we know it. For example, a perfect human, dog, tree, predator, machine, alien, magical being, etc.

Another (more realistic?/downplayed) variant has the character simply have the peak abilities of the type of lifeform it is. Something like a human that excels at all mental and physical tasks.

The concept is most often lampshaded by having the being turn out not to be really perfect or invincible, or turning against its creators (especially if it's a villain in the story). Just because someone believes himself or herself perfect doesn't mean they actually are.

There is an incredibly high chance that their appearance looks human(ish).

The theory of evolution pretty much disproves the concept in Real Life as adaptation is usually triggered by adverse conditions and forms will stabilize once those conditions have been overcome, not to mention that multiple generations are required for the adaptation to complete via natural selection. However, there have been claims that certain species or people do indeed fit the description so adding examples to that section is perfectly fine.

See also the Ubermensch; it's a matter of interpretation how closely these concepts overlap, but there are those who conflate the two.

Tropes used in Ultimate Lifeform include:


Anime and Manga

  • From Fullmetal Alchemist, Father's final form had the power of God. Unfortunately for him, the power put too much strain on his body, eventually rendering him vulnerable to counterattacks.
  • Cell from Dragonball Z, a bio-engineered creature made from DNA harvested from the greatest fighters in the series up until that point considers himself to be this, and says so in as many words.
    • The funny part is that this assertion is actually true given his potential. Cell's ability allows him to absorb the potential of others to add them to his own so while he is not perfect in himself, he has a limitless roof. The problem is that his hubris prevents him from having a drive to pursue that strength. This was what led to his downfall as the Z-fighters worked to attain their strength whereas Cell simply assumed that his own abilities were enough, effectively halting whatever progress he could have had.
  • Tentei (The God of the Heavens) in The Twelve Kingdoms; the rulers and officials of kingdoms can err, but this guy certainly can't.
  • Szayelaporro Grantz from Bleach calls himself the ultimate, perfect being because he has a phoenix/Alien-like system of death and rebirth, but you can bet Mayuri proved him wrong. Gruesomely, and with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about perfection being the enemy of a scientist.
    • Sosuke Aizen, after he obtains the Hogyoku, claims to be the ultimate, if not perfect being.
    • Aaroniero Arruruerie boasted that since he gains the powers and memories of any creature he eats, as well as the powers and memories of anything they ate, he has the potential for endless evolution.
  • Betterman: Kankel is described as the final stage of evolution, so much so he has the nickname of "Best Man". His ridiculously powerful abilities help back this claim up.
    • Interestingly, he's also a sentient form of cancer.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Unit 01 in End of Evangelion becomes this upon becoming berserk while having her S2 engine active.
    • Ireul from the TV series also heavily fits with the adaption part of this trope.
    • All the angels tried to become this by absorbing Adam, later revealed to be Lilith.
  • Heavy Metal L-Gaim: The Big Bad of the series, Emperor Oldna Poseidal fits this description since he's virtually immortal.
  • The Pillar Men from Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure are referred to as the ultimate life forms. One of them, Cars, becomes the real ultimate life form when the Red Stone of Asia removes his vulnerability to sunlight and allows him to replicate the abilities of all other life forms.
  • Meryem, the Chimera Ant King, from Hunter X Hunter considers himself to be this, and he's probably right.
  • Word of God says that, in One Piece, if an animal eats their corresponding Devil Fruit, then they would become the perfect specimen of that species.
  • Mewtwo in the Anime more than matched the trope, and has a lot of personality traits similar to Shadow.


Comics

  • This was the original intended purpose of the Marvel Comics character Adam Warlock and his Distaff Counterpart Paragon/Her/Kismet/Ayesha.
  • The X-Men villains Vargas and Apocalypse both make claims to be this. Decades earlier, Magneto genetically engineered a being called Alpha the Ultimate Mutant who had a pretty strong claim as well (he turned against Magneto, transforming him into a child so he could have a second chance at life.)
  • In Buffy Season 8, the sentient dimension Twilight considered itself to be this, since it was created by the universe to replace the old Earth dimension.
  • Captain America is considered to technically not have any superpowers, but instead operates at humanity's maximum potential. He's as smart, as strong, as whatever as any human can possibly be; back it up with decades of military experience and he's more than a match for any actual superhuman.
  • This is what Doomsday was created to be. Its abilities and instincts all lend themselves to the goal of being the ultimate survivor, including, unfortunately, the instinct to seek out and kill the strongest creatures it can sense within its environment. Even worse, due to the trauma of being killed and resurrected countless times, Doomsday sees everything as a threat that needs to be killed.


Fan Works

  • In Armored Core From the Ashes, the 'Demon' project, of which the protagonist was a subject, was an attempt to create these; impossibly fast and strong (as in able to catch bullets in mid-flight, more intelligent than almost any human alive, and incredibly devastating NEXT pilots. The only subject to survive was Sebastian Thermidor, grandfather or the protagonist and the program's instigator. He went insane, but had two sons, Joshua (who would later change his last name to O'Brien) and Berlioz. Joshua used a lifetime of mental training to lock away his powers so that he couldn't use them; Berlioz went completely insane, but he too had two sons, Maximillian and the protagonist, Mikhael, known to most as 'Ghost'. Pretty much the entire family was slaughtered by Mikhael on a massive worldwide killing spree. As it turns out, their key failure was that their emotions had far too much sway over them, leaving them emotionally overloaded and unable to feel anything through the haze of emotions they had. With the exception of Joshua, who managed sealed his abilities away to stop them from affecting him, all acquired God Complexes and killed millions; the protagonist himself, accepted as possibly the most morally righteous of the family, killed a hundred million people to achieve his objectives after turning against his masters. So, in the end, the Demons were a textbook case of Gone Horribly Right - perfect beings, but precisely because they were perfect, they became incredibly flawed.


Film

  • Leeloo in The Fifth Element is considered a "perfect being".
  • In Alien, Ash calls the xenomorph a "perfect organism".
  • One of the many probable origins for Irys in the Gamera films is that it is supposed to be the ultimate evolution of the Gyaos and the perfect lifeform.
  • Orga in Godzilla 2000 tries to become this by absorbing Godzilla's DNA and mutating into a hulking behemoth with Godzilla's regenerative powers (Orga is short for "Organizer G-1", the name of the gene that allows Godzilla to heal so quickly). He would've won too, if he hadn't stupidly tried to eat Godzilla and was obliterated by his nuclear pulse.
  • Andromeda Strain: The titular entity adapts to any situation almost instantly and proves itself to be virtually unstoppable. Even able to feed off the energy of a nuclear blast.
    • Though in the book it turns out that the infection is curable by hyperventilating, and it mutates into a benign form anyways.
  • Evolution: The basic bacteria that create the alien creatures are described as the most powerful life form. Of course, no one takes this seriously until one grows to the size of a city by absorbing vast amounts of napalm. It turns out to have a Weaksauce Weakness, though.
  • It is heavily implied that Anakin Skywalker may have served as this, and that his creator was in fact Darth Plagueis and to a certain extent Darth Sidious (the latter apparently having manipulated the former into creating him among other things).


Literature

  • The Types (Type-Moon, Type-Mercury, etc.)/Aristoteles in Angel Notes. Each of them is the ultimate life form of their respective home planet or satellite, even if said celestial body doesn't support life (anymore).
  • In the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, the branch of the technocore dubbed the Ultimates are working towards the creation of an Ultimate Intelligence.
  • In The Last Continent, the heroes encounter the God of Evolution, who, despite not understanding what the deal is with sex, believes he has achieved the ultimate life form. It's a cockroach.
    • In the Science of Discworld, the Lecturer in Recent Runes designs what he claims will be the ultimate survivor for Roundworld: a mile-long limpet that could survive a cometary impact (aside from a direct hit on the limpet itself). Ridcully poo-poos the idea, as the limpet will inevitably starve to death once it gets too big to feed itself.
  • Nietzsche proposed in his book Also Sprach Zarathustra that humanity needed to evolve into what he termed the Ubermensch (Super-man); that humanity was merely a transitional evolutionary phase between apes and this perfect form of man. Those Wacky Nazis picked up on Nietzsche's theme with their idea of an Aryan master race.
  • Azathoth in HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos is quite possibly this. It is an extra-dimensional that simply exists, mindlessly, dreaming realities in and out of existence randomly. It exists almost like some kind of vast, incomprehensible amoeba which, when you think about it, means it started as an amoeba that could do nothing and now exists as an amoeba that can do anything. If things like Azathoth even evolved of course, they are Eldritch Abominations after all.


Live-Action TV


Mythology and Religion

  • God (and most of His imitators), according to The Bible.
    • If not God, then in the religions that believe in him, Jesus was sent to Earth to be the spiritually perfect human and take on the punishment that we mere mortals had earned for ourselves.


Tabletop Games

  • In Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition, creatures can have the "paragon" template, an incredibly powerful modification that reflects beings who represent the highest natural potential of their species. Such beings may be some sort of "original" form of the species, evolutionary end point, or other ideal. It is not necessarily anthropomorphic; any type of creature may be a paragon.
  • The Slivers in Magic: The Gathering are often stated to be this. Indeed, the Flavor Text on one Sliver card describes it as "The end of evolution."


Toys

  • The "Chaos Effect" line of Jurassic Park toys had the Ultimasaurus, a genetically altered monster created from Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor, Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, and Stegosaurus DNA to create the ultimate predator.


Video Games

  • Overlord GAIA from Digimon World 2 claims to be "the ultimate organism".
  • The final boss of EVO Search for Eden purports to be this; Bolbox, a massive amoeba-like creature.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog's Shadow is the Trope Namer, as he's always been described as the Ultimate Life Form within the setting. Strangely, he fights a prototype Ultimate Life Form that looks like a dragon on life support, not at all like himself.
    • Presumably, the lizard's need for life support is why they scaled back into a smaller body for Shadow.
  • Uranus is more or less said to be this in Bloody Roar. And, given what she's capable of, It's doubtful anyone will contest it... and live at any rate.
  • Mewtwo from Pokémon was created to be this.
  • Albert Wesker believes himself to be this as well as having a god complex.
  • Arguably, this is the status of the Ultimate Chimera in Mother 3.
  • The main villain in Parasite Eve attempts to create this and succeeds; this creature is the final boss of the game.
  • In Chrono Trigger, it's revealed at the end that Lavos' true purpose is to become such a being by parasitizing entire planets and subverting their own evolution to its own ends.
  • The Reapers in the Mass Effect series think they are. Shepard can prove them wrong.
    • In Mass Effect 2, you actually have three of the "peak lifeforms" on your squad. Miranda is genetically engineered to be the perfect human; basically a female Australian Captain America with biotics. Jack was brutally experimented on to created the ultimate human biotic; the experiments were a success. Grunt, like Miranda, was genetically engineered to be the perfect specimen of his species, in his case, krogan. This came with several neural imprints that allowed him to be born with full combat training.
  • Psaro's Roaring Rampage of Revenge against humanity in Dragon Quest IV leads him to seek the "Secret of Evolution," which allows him to achieve a monstrous One-Winged Angel form with which he intends to exact his revenge against the world. In the PS 1 and DS remakes, it's revealed that one of his own henchmen manipulated him so that he could obtain the Secret of Evolution himself.
  • The French version of Final Fantasy X calls the Nemesis Bonus Boss "Supreme Being".
  • Krystalak from Godzilla Unleashed wants to become this by absorbing all of the power the crystals are giving off.
  • Each Big Bad in the House of the Dead series (The Magician, The Emperor, The Wheel Of Fate and The World), was wrongly supposed to be this by it's creator.
  • This is the general goal of the crteature stage of Spore.
    • There's even an achievement for it called Max Power.
  • Gandrake, in Musashi: Samurai Legend, considers himself to be the "Ultimate Form of Life" as he uses the powers of Amestris, The Stone Behind The Man and Bigger Bad, to gain a One-Winged Angel form.


Western Animation

  • Superjail: Combaticus fits into this trope very easily.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force subverts this with the Highbreed. Although they are apparently smarter and obviously MUCH stronger than almost all other life froms, that's not the reason for their Fantastic Racism.


Real Life

  • Cockroaches. Or so popular culture would like you to believe. Just for an example, compare the hardiness of cockroaches, to that of scorpions. Both pale in comparison to tardigrades (mentioned below).
  • The French Revolution replaced God with a "Supreme Being".
  • Tardigrades, also known as "Water Bears", are notorious for being able to survive extreme conditions. To elaborate, they can withstand low temperatures close to absolute zero, high temperatures at 151 degrees celsius, and radiation (even more so than cockroaches), and can even survive for up to ten days in the vacuum of space (Heck, some of them even reproduced while in space).
    • Every currently existing species has adapted the ability to survive in its surroundings. Tardigrades just happen to have some of the most extreme surroundings.
  • Apparently, jellyfishes of the species Turritopsis nutricula are biologically immortal; although they can die of disease or being eaten, they are able to thwart dying of natural causes by periodically returning to the infant polyp stage. Theoretically, there could be T. nutricula in the oceans that have lived there since the species first evolved.
  • The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci is thought of as a perfectly proportionate human body, so it's a "perfect human" in one way.
  • Bacteria have been observed to survive dormant on the surface of the moon for over two years.
  • One Discovery Channel program about dinosaurs had a paleontologist point out that even the biggest, strongest, fastest, healthiest Tyrannosaurus of all time would still be rated as a complete failure, by evolutionary standards, if it never managed to pass on its genes to another generation of T. rex babies. In other words, evolution itself subverts this trope, because only reproductive success matters to it.
    • Though, one assumes, that being the biggest, strongest, fastest, healthiest anything would almost ensure that it's genes would be passed on, as it would be the ideal mate in the eyes of the opposite sex. So long as there is a fertile member of it's species around, it should be fine.
  • As animals have lived in the ocean much longer than they have on land, and as the ocean is less susceptible to environmental change than land, many species of animals in the ocean have remained more or less the same for very long times, even by evolutionary standards. These species have effectively reached a 'practical pinnacle' of evolution, where any deviation from the usual is almost guaranteed to be a step backwards in terms of the species reproducibility. Subverted in that these forms are hardly 'perfect', but thanks to the limitations of mutation and natural selection, these species are simply going to have to 'settle'.
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