• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
"If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. The worst you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever."

And in The beginning, God, the Council of Angels, or what have you Created The Universe...

But in retrospect, they botched a few things up in the original design, a few things just don't do what they were probably intended to do, and there's all these little bits of design that make people go "What the.. I could have designed this better!" These aren't moral things; there is no refuge in claiming that God Is Evil. It's just shoddy worksmanship.

May result in a Crapsack World, Crap Saccharine World, Gotterdammerung, be the cause of the problem that the quest is about, or merely be a peculiar background detail. Not the same as The Gods Must Be Lazy; the design errors may be causing the gods extra work.

God may later claim that it was just a Xanatos Roulette justified by their Omniscient Morality License, and that Obfuscating Stupidity is all part of their master plan... but unless the ending explodes in a hail of Chekhov's gunfire, especially if accompanied by a prearranged divine Ass Pull of divine might, that explanation just never seems very convincing, somehow. As a rule of thumb, if a person can, in retrospect, work out how the plan was set up in advance, and some previously arranged coincidences unravel into karmically appropriate boons before the end, it was probably a divine Xanatos Gambit. Otherwise, it's probably just bumbling.

Compare God Is Flawed. May lead to questioning via Religious Russian Roulette.

Examples of God Is Inept include:



  • The film Time Bandits deals heavily with the concept that The Supreme Being (God) made errors in his designs, both with individual items which are listed occasionally during the film, and with the universe in general. The bandits are in possession of a map that shows where all of the "holes" are in the fabric of the universe, which drives the whole story.
    • While Evil (Arthur G. Evil) rants about how God wasted his time creating garbage like all those species of slugs, instead of starting with lasers and other high tech.
    • God (in the film) is also incapable of answering those questions people expect God to be able to answer, such as, "why does there have to be evil?" (His answer: "... I think it has something to do with free will?"
  • Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson)'s rant in The Witches of Eastwick (but note he's supposed to be Satan).

 Daryl: Do you think God knew what He was doing when He created woman? Huh? No shit. I really wanna know. Or do you think it was another one of His minor mistakes like tidal waves, earthquakes, FLOODS? You think women are like that? S'matter? You don't think God makes mistakes? Of course He does. We ALL make mistakes. Of course, when WE make mistakes they call it evil. When GOD makes mistakes, they call it "nature". So whaddya think? Women... a mistake, or did he do it to us ON PURPOSE?

  • In Dogma God seems rather inept. First, God goes to play skeeball without any kind of protection or checking the future first, so a bunch of teenagers are enough to put the Supreme Being into a coma. Second, God arranges things so that a fallen angel walking though a doorway can end all existence.


  • One of the Myst novels contained one of these, an island in a universe in a book which was slowly shrinking and disintegrating due to a thermodynamics problem inherent in it's design.
    • All of Gehn's worlds are like this: dangerously unstable, and prone to apocalyptic catastrophe if meddled with. Making matters worse is the fact that these worlds existed before Gehn first linked to them, meaning that rather than creating worlds, he's destroying them.
      • His son Atrus is a much better linking author, and doesn't have his head rammed quite so far up his ass; in fact, during Riven, while you're busy saving the day in person, Atrus is amending Gehn's books in an attempt to save as many of the Ages they link to as possible. During the game proper, he's working on Riven specifically, although he's aware that his father's fifth Age is beyond salvation; he's just keeping it stable long enough that you can finish your task there.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Nation, the people of the eponymous nation have a creation myth saying that this world is just God's first attempt, and that now he's off somewhere creating a better world using the lessons he learned from his mistakes with this one.
    • Also, Sam Vimes has been described as wishing he could arrest the Creator for doing such a crummy job.
      • However, when the Creator actually turns up in Eric, he turns out to be a quite nice (if EXTREMELY absent-minded, to the extent that he really did accidentally forget the Octavo) fellow who was just trying to build the thing to spec and on-budget for the initial set of Gods. He even complains about the lousy workmanship other Creators are doing, and the habit of sub-contracting to beings who never get the work done on time.
    • The god the wizards encounter in The Last Continent is so inept he doesn't know creatures have to reproduce and keeps making only one of each.
  • Tom Holt's Here Comes The Sun features a Celestial Bureaucracy and a very hands-off God, and says that the world went wrong very early on due to the incompetence of one of the bureaucracy's employees. The heroine thinks she could have done better, and gets a chance to prove it.
  • In So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, God's Final Message to His Creation was "We apologise for the inconvenience".
  • In The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag by Heinlein, you find out that the world is a work of art made by a newb creator. The content is actually considered to be very impressive overall, but the underlying structure of the world was made by "painting over" one of the creators earlier works which leads to issues with things seeping through.
  • Arguably, the Young Wizards series presents an example; the Lone Power managed to implement the physical processes that would lead to the eventual heat-death of the universe, and by the time any of the other Powers That Be noticed, it was too late to reverse the damage without scrapping creation and starting over, which they didn't have the resources for. This leads to the Powers, and the mortal wizards who serve them, running damage control for all of time.

Live Action TV


  Picard: The universe is not that badly designed.



  • "Better Off Dead" by Bad Religion is told from the perspective of God, and basically consists of him apologizing for screwing up the world so bad.


  • Very common amongst the polytheistic gods (at least, when God Is Evil / God Is Flawed is not at play), who tend to be pretty powerful, but prone to many common human failings. The Golden Apple is one of the most notable stories, wherein Eris (a most certainly not inept god) manages to start the Trojan War by getting three other goddesses (Athena, Aphrodite and Hera) into a fight over who gets to keep the titular golden apple, which bears the inscription "For the fairest". Yes. The biggest war in Greek Mythology was started over pure vanity (and attempts to bribe the judge).
  • The Abrahamic God appears to be closer to this at time in the Bible, especially in earlier writings. After all, the Garden of Eden had been around for all of about five minutes before Adam and Eve screwed it up. You'd have thought that maybe God could have fenced off the original Forbidden Fruit, or taken at least the most basic precaution to ensure that his newest creation (Who didn't know the difference between right and wrong) wouldn't take the one action that would ruin everything.
    • There's a well known passage in Judges (Judges 1:19) where God was unable to help Judah triumph over 'the inhabitants of the valley' because they had 'chariots of iron'.

Web Original

  • Misfile's filing system, in combination with its Celestial Bureaucracy, has at times been viewed as this.
  • Order of the Stick: The first attempt to create a universe was so spoiled by the arguments of the gods that they ended up creating the Snarl, which killed the Greco-Roman pantheon before they managed to lock it down. The lock? The second attempt at the universe. Said universe is an Anachronism Stew because the gods decided to take turns adding design elements ("I say ninjas!" "We were going with a Medieval European theme..." "NINJA!" "...fine, fine..."). The idea is based off Rich Burlew's whinings about D&D cosmology.

Tabletop RPG

  • World Tree RPG: The Khytsoyis. "I lost track of time, so I'm going to grab up a violent monster I was designing, one that was actually designed to work as a duo with another monster in fact, and make it my Designated Player Character Race!" One of the other gods in the setting took time out to help said god create another PC race which was more appropriate, but they didn't undo the original issue.
  • GURPS Cabal. Before the Creation, God made a "first draft" of the universe as a test. He then destroyed it and remade it as the universe we know today. The Qlippoth are the remaining fragments of the 1st Creation. Their intent is to remake the universe over in their diseased, broken, toxic image.
    • On the other hand, the Creator was actually thoughtful enough to clean up after himself-while he couldn't destroy the Qlippoth, he created a "prison realm", the Abyss, to seal them and other Bad Things in. What's more, it's also a barrier between his realm and the rest of the Four Worlds, thus prevented all but the most wise and powerful from managing to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • The rearrangement of the Ravenloft Core as a result of the Grand Conjunction may have been damage-control on the part of the Dark Powers, who'd belatedly realized that neither the Nightmare Lands nor Bluetspur really belonged in a Cluster of human-inhabited, comparatively mundane domains. It certainly was this, for the game designers.

Real Life

  • The philosopher David Hume, in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, wrote: "The world is perhaps the rudimentary sketch of a childish god, who left it half done, ashamed by his deficient work; it is created by a subordinate god, at whom the superior gods laugh; it is the confused production of a decrepit and retiring divinity, who has already died." He was not proposing the hypothesis seriously, but using it as a parody of theological arguments that tried to prove the perfection of God from the perfection of the natural world.
    • Other philosophers took this theory seriously.
  • Originally in Gnosticism (that's where the word "Demiurge" came from: Dēmiourgos--“public worker”). Many doctrines of it tell somrthing like "our world is made by someone pretty low in Divine Ranks, not very skilled at this" — explaining any problems of the world we know as consequences of a work botched from the start.
  • Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has stated that the basic hostility of the universe to the human species is why he refuses to accept the Intelligent Design Theory as true, because no supposed "intelligent" designer would have made such a sucky, dangerous, lethal world for human beings to live in. The complete list of "Stupid Design" elements can be seen in this video.
  • There's a semi-common joke about God being an inept Engineer for Putting a sewage line through a recreational area and the 'Why do men have nipples?' question.