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A specific type of The Reveal that deals with God or a similar powerful figure and shows them to have been with the protagonists just about from the beginning. May be especially jarring if it turns out to have been the Non-Human Sidekick or something similar, though usually enough hints are dropped that the Genre Savvy viewer can figure it out beforehand... most of the time.
If the protagonists are upset by the fact that the God figure didn't use their powers to help them earlier, a Hand Wave of "You Didn't Ask!" combined with having to maintain the Balance Between Good and Evil is often used. If God doesn't seem to do any miracles, but somehow nudged events anyways, He's working In Mysterious Ways.
The opposite of this trope is the Louis Cypher. Compare Pals with Jesus, Angel Unaware and King Incognito. If they're shown to be there from the get go, it's Sidekick Ex Machina. Compare Fairy Godmother.
Due to the nature of this Trope, massive unmarked spoilers ahead.
Anime & Manga
- The Unintelligible Mokona at the end of the Magic Knight Rayearth manga was revealed to be the equivalent of God, or at least can channel him. Before you ask, the ones in XxxHolic and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle are copies. Their full name, Mokona Modoki, translates to something like "Mokona Knock-Off."
- The Tenchi Muyo! OVA series pulled this off no less than four times, with Sasami having merged with Tsunami, one of the three Chousin, her mother being Counteractor, Washu being another one of the three Chousin, and finally Tenchi himself being an avatar of a force even more powerful than the Chousin themselves.
- Saori in Saint Seiya in about the mid of the first season is revealed to be the earthly incarnation Athena.
- Vivio, Nanoha's adopted daughter in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, turned out to be a clone of Sankt Kaiser Olivie, the Belkan Saint Church's figure of worship. One wonders if the Saint Church finds it weird that they have their equivalent of Jesus Christ enrolled in one of their schools. (They're honored, actually.)
- In Mai-Otome, it turns out that Mikoto, the chubby black cat that hangs around Mashiro, is mentally connected to Mikoto, the petite but deceptively-strong goddess who lives in the Black Valley with Mai and uses astral projection to keep people away from the Harmonium Organ.
- In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, second-season character Hanyuu has been present all along, but gone unnoticed by the main character due to being intangible. She describes herself as "a powerless god" since she can't influence events positively: when the True Companions start to go off the deep end, they become somewhat aware of Hanyuu's presence but it only registers as the sense that they are being watched by something they can't see, which only makes them even more paranoid. Later on, she begins taking a more positive and active role.
- In Eureka Seven, the comic-relief mystical tea-brewing Gonzy turns out to be a Coralian himself.
- in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Rei Ayanami turns out to be an incarnation of Lilith, the source of all life on Earth. And shortly after, some very, very bad things happen.
- In El Cazador de la Bruja, in the middle of Mexico/South of Mexico, there is an inn run by an old man; he stops the villains chasing the heroines for a day or two so that they can have some Character Development. This includes a Tyke Bomb and witch with magic powers, who he stops simply by looking at them. Apparently he is really the Hopi Fertility Deity Kokopelli and takes the form of a white author who died 3 years prior to the plot.
- Crimson features God masquerading as a little black girl who never says anything (though she apparently communicates telepathically) and just goes around either selling flowers to the unaware protagonist or doing friendly miracles, such as reviving a café full of people killed by some overzealous archangels, and offering redemption to Lucifer himself. (He turns her down, since he likes his current gig.)
- In the first Ghost Rider series, Satan (who was indirectly responsible for the hero's creation) kept trying to claim his soul. At one point, he's thwarted by the intervention of a normal-looking man who just claimed to be "just a friend." It was heavily implied that he was actually .
- In one Justice League of America story, Neron and the Demons Three attempt to pull the moon from the heavens. Superman uses a magnetic field trick to put the moon in its proper orbit, but mentions that he had "help:" cut to an image of a giant fingerprint on the lunar surface.
- The Open Door has Asukhon adopt a mortal form to experience Assassin Corps training and comes out a lot more respectful of "these hard asses" taking the training.
- Played with in some Axis Powers Hetalia fics involving Nations and their countrymen. One in particular involved America fighting alongside one of his soldiers in World War 2... and meeting him again decades later as a dying War Vet.
- Played with in the Sherlock Holmes crossover fic A Case of Jerusalem wherein England is revealed to have been copilot to several British regiments just in the late 19th Century alone, including possibly that of Dr. Watson. He does get "reassigned" once his men grow suspicious of him, however.
- The Galaxy Rangers fanfic "A Christmas for Goose" has a Heroic Bystander named Chris Lamb step in to help the heroes fend off some crazy fundamentalists who consider the Artificial Human Goose a soulless abomination. The heroes hang out with him for a while, and he gives Goose a small charm of a lamb. It's only after Zachary remarks "behold, the lamb of God" that the Fridge Realization hits.
Films — Live-Action
- The movie Oh, God! is pretty much this trope embodied. George Burns's character tells John Denver's character that he (Burns) is God, and he spends half the movie trying to convince him that he really did see God. The other half is spent in court, with God as a character witness.
- The second movie played out similarly, but with an eleven-year-old girl in the John Denver role.
- Happens in the most recent remake of Bedazzled. After having a oddly philosophical and completely on-point conversation with his cellmate, Brendan Fraser's character starts to catch on.
Elliot: Who are you?
- In Dogma, a homeless man on life support due to an attack by hockey players from hell in the opening sequence turns out to be God. And since killing Him just sends Him back to Heaven, putting Him in a coma while He was in human form is the only way to stop Him from stopping The End of the World as We Know It. Not to mention she turned out to be Alanis Morissette. Though this is just one of many forms - what are we mortals to say if God wants to look like a Canadian musician?
- An interesting case in Tron, in which human protagonist Flynn is sent Inside a Computer System full of living programs who regard their programmers as gods, and winds up allying with some of them to destroy a tyrannical administrative program. The audience knows that he's a "User" from the beginning, but the programs don't and are quite surprised when he spills the beans.
- Bruce Almighty has a homeless guy appear repeatedly with somewhat-relevant cardboard signs, who is turns out to be God. Meeting God first as a janitor and electrician might also count.
- Invoked in The Cannonball Run, although it doesn't really happen.
- Happens twice in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series where two of the Nine (Kibeth, aka The Disreputable Dog, and Yrael, aka Mogget) are there from the beginning and only show themselves in the final battle against Orannis.
- In the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series' fourth book, The Battle of the Labyrinth, Hera reveals at the end that she had been secretly helping Percy through the entire quest by doing things such as paying Geryon to let them through his ranch and guiding his arrow, even though Percy had prayed to Apollo and Artemis for help, and believed it was by their guidance he shot straight.
- Heavily implied in Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet with Faithful being some sort of constellation given mortal form, and a previous incarnation of him appears in the Provost's Dog series set several centuries before. Also Daine is actually half-god in a slight variation.
- The Young Wizards books adore this trope: Macchu Picchu "Peach" the Macaw turns out to be an incarnation of the archangel Michael and/or goddess Athena in High Wizardry, as is Nita's Irish love interest in A Wizard Abroad. Slightly more jarringly, Kit's doofus dog Ponch is revealed to be roughly the equivalent of The One in Wizards At War.
Kit: You mean to tell me, my dog-
- Done even more impressively in the Feline Wizards series toward the end of Book Of Night With Moon, where the main character and her allies turn into gods, albeit through a spell with some very exact requirements.
- In The Malloreon by David Eddings, it eventually turns out that the foundling, Errand, that they've been dragging around since Book 2 of The Belgariad, is actually a proto-God, and already has a pretty good handle on Omniscience.
- Eddings does it again with Flute in The Elenium, who turns out to be the Child Goddess Aphrael (and then Aphrael has another incarnation as Sparhawk and Elenia's daughter Danae). Flute and Danae eventually meet and hold a brief conversation in The Tamuli, and a character later comments to Aphrael that several people were wondering if the room was going to implode - or some other similar paradoxical notion.
- In the Dragonlance Chronicles, the apparently-senile wizard Fizban turns out to be Paladine, the head of the good gods. Most D&D players got suspicious when he started casting spells without any of the arcane rigamarole Raistlin has to use, and they had previously heard the legend of Paladine, and All Myths Are True.
- This is played with by Fizban's apparent Expy Zifnab in The Death Gate Cycle. He has the same mix of senile eccentricity with flashes of remarkable wisdom and power, and at one point even says that he's a god, but is really just a very crazy old man with a lot of plot-centric information locked up in that confused brain. The dragon that is his constant companion, however, is a semi-divine being.
- Another god, Reorx, shows up in the short story "Wanna Bet?" that appears in one of the Tales books, having "hired" Caramon's three sons for a quest. It isn't revealed to be him until near the end of the story, but savvy readers (or those that remember Dragons of Dwarven Depths) can figure out it's him before the first part is over with.
- Not quite a God, but in Eric Nylund's A Game of Universe, the AI Setebos turns out to be an Angel.
- American Gods pulls off one of these combined with a Chekhov's Gunman. It manages to veer into "Oh God, how did I not see that, goddamnit!" territory and flies under the radar at first because it's so low key.
- At the end of Small Favor in The Dresden Files series, Harry Dresden has a chat with Jake the Janitor, who we subsequently learn is the archangel Uriel.
- In Peter David's Before Dishonor (yes, the one where the giant Borg Cube EATS PLUTO), the Enterprise helmsman is revealed to be the Lady Q.
- David also uses this trope in Fall of Knight, with the minor character of Joshua Cook. (?Carpenter would have been too obvious.?)
- Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters novel The Serpent's Shadow takes elements from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and places them in Victorian London with Elemental Powers. Snow White is Maya, a half-Indian doctor, and the dwarfs are her Indian pets, who are all avatars of Hindu gods and goddesses. They manifest powers in the finale; most notably, Charam the monkey turns into Hanuman himself, complete with spear.
- Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia does this a few times, most notably in The Horse and his Boy where he tells Shasta of all the times he's watched over him and helped him throughout his life, sometimes disguised as a cat.
- In Midnight at the Well of Souls, the main character himself is revealed to be god... or something like god, at the end.
- In the Bahzell series by David Weber much of this isn't a surprise, as the god of war wants to make Bahzell a Champion. But the way his sister, the Goddess of Music who comes to them in the disguise of a hungry traveler they share their meager food with does.
- And in a short story, it is revealed to the reader that Wencet of Rum is a god in disguise.
- Joanne Harris's Runemarks does this more than once. A large number of people, including the protagonist, turn out to be fallen gods.
- Tad Williams' cat-fantasy Tailchaser's Song uses this trope when Tailchaser is in his darkest hour, trapped by evil demon-cats underground...and then the insane, filthy old tom that has been clinging to his traveling group for most of the novel reveals himself as the cat-god Tangaloor Firefoot.
- In the Dragaera novel Orca, Vlad's old friend Kiera the Theif is revealed to be an alter-ego of Sethra Lavode.
- In The Iliad, it's arguably a Running Gag that the gods try to do this, but the Genre Savvy mortals always catch on too quickly. Athena seems to pull it off in the closing lines of The Odyssey.
- Manly Wade Wellman's short story "On the Hills and Everywhere" has an unnamed carpenter show up at a place where two old friends have quarreled. As a result of the quarrel, one has dug a deep ditch between their properties, and the other wants the carpenter to put up a fence along the ditch. At the end, the carpenter has built a bridge across the ditch instead, the men patch up their quarrel — and the one man's little son isn't crippled anymore.
- The title character of Silverlock is befriended by a poet and singer who gives his name as "O. Widsith Amergin Demodocus ... And let's see; there are others of course, but to cut it short I'll wind up with Boyan Taliesin Golias." It's only when Golias sings his way into Hell to rescue Silverlock that we learn that the "O." stands for "Orpheus" (he doesn't, by the way, botch the rescue as he did with Eurydice) and the other names that he supplies are a really big hint that he isn't simply a wandering singer. "Widsith" is the name of a scop (poet and bard) in Old English mythology; "Amergin" is a name associated with two different master bards in Irish Mythology; "Demodocus" was poet in the court of King Alcinous in The Odyssey; "Boyan" is the name of a royal court bard in the Rus epic The Lay of Igor's Campaign; "Taliesin" was a famed and highly regarded Welsh poet. Golias is the only name that doesn't belong to a legendary poet or bard; he's a mythical 'lord of vagabonds'. The fact that Silverlock doesn't catch any of the references simply underlines what a philistine he is.
- World War Z has a downed pilot who gets guided to rescue by a voice on the radio calling herself "Mets fan" or just "Mets" for short. "Mets" is a pun on Metis, mother of the goddess Athena... and the pilot may or may not have imagined her and her guidance.
- In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Monstrous Regiment, it turns out that the squad really has been guided by the Duchess. All the miracles are more than a little creepy.
- Happens in The Dresden Files. In a fight with fallen angels, Harry throws around power in the shape of a giant hand from an unexpected, inexplicable source. Later, during The Stinger, Harry Rages Against The Heavens because God lets the fallen angels run loose on Earth without interfering, and a humble janitor points out to Harry that maybe God "already gave you a hand".
- In James Morrow's Only Begotten Daughter, the title female messiah despairs for not being about to contact her mother, God. At the end, it turns out God just might be Amanda, a sponge with whom she has had conversations with throughout the book. As Amanda puts it, "Look at me. Faceless, shapeless, holey, undifferentiated, Jewish, inscrutable… and a hermaphrodite to boot. Years ago, I told you sponges cannot be fatally dismembered, for each part quickly becomes the whole. To wit, I am both immortal and infinite."
- Zelazney's "the Chronicles of Amber" begins with a feud between a group of semi divine siblings after their father Oberon disappears and the succession to the throne of Amber is in question. Oberon later turns out to have been the narrator's sidekick from a shadow earth.
- At the very end of Shieldbreaker's Story, the last volume in the Books of Swords saga, it is revealed, albeit only to the reader and to Yambu, that the Emperor was really G-d, although it was strongly hinted almost from the beginning. The other characters, mind you, including Mark, the Emperor's son, never find out.
Live Action TV
- In the Twilight Zone episode "A Passage for Trumpet," a depressed, down-on-his-luck trumpet player named Joey is persuaded by another trumpet player to keep on living and playing. Only at the episode's end does Joey think to ask for the helpful person's name. The reply? "It's Gabe, short for Gabriel" and as he says it, he steps under an overhanging light... that gives him a perfect halo.
- A character memorably portrayed by Burt Reynolds appears to play this role in the "love it or hate it" X Files episode aptly titled "Improbable."
- In the finale of Touched By an Angel, in Monica's final case, after failing to keep a Wrongfully Accused drifter from serving prison time and pledging to protect him for the rest of his life, the drifter turns out to be God in disguise, telling her the final case was her promotion test for Tess's job, and she passed with flying colors.
- Implied in the Season 5 finale of Supernatural. After averting the apocalypse, one of the last shots we're treated to is "The Prophet Chuck", who had unwittingly used his powers to write a series of books about the Winchesters, ending his last book with a soliloquy about how hard it is to write a satisfying ending. He decides that sometimes it's better if things don't really end per se, then smiles and disappears into thin air. Near halfway through the same episode, he is seen calling a "Mistress Magda," a reference to Mary Magdalene who is believed by some to be a) an adulteress/prostitute and b) the wife/consort of Jesus.
- Also played with mere moments before it's played straight. After Castiel shows up and undoes what little damage was done in "the final apocalyptic battle", Dean asks if he's God. His response is "No, but thanks for the compliment."
- In the final scenes of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, it's heavily implied that Starbuck is actually a being like Head Six or Head Baltar (who have claimed to be Angels in service of a God-like being who doesn't like to be called "God"). She was born to human parents and was largely unaware of her own nature/destiny for her whole life.
Mythology and Religion
- Also occurs in the Bhagavad Gita, which predates Christianity by about a few centuries: the great hero Arjuna rides into battle with the god Krishna as his charioteer. Krishna then spends most of the story explaining the subtle philosophy by which the battle is justified, and most of it goes right over Arjuna's head. This makes this Older Than Feudalism.
- The concept of xenia or hospitality to strangers also occurs bunches of places in ancient Greek history and mythology, making it Older Than Western Civilization. Zeus, in particular, was notorious for showing up to people's houses in disguise. Those who opened the doors and gave graciously got some eternal boon for their trouble; those who kicked him to the curb got turned into stone, hit with lightning, etc. See also "Baucis and Philemon" for one famous example.
- In Hawai'i, there is a legend (notably similar to the Beware of Hitch-Hiking Ghosts legend), where a woman appears by the side of the road. Sometimes she is an older woman dressed in white, sometimes a younger woman dressed in red. Either way, it's the fire-goddess, Pele, and it's a Secret Test of Character. Pick her up, and you'll be rewarded. Drive (or walk) by, and misfortune will befall you and/or those you care about.
- Manannan Mac Lir, Irish god of the Ocean, is rather fond of this trope. In "His Three Calls to Cormac" he appears to King Cormac Mac Airt as a soldier bearing a silver branch, and tricks the king into giving him his family in exchange for the branch.
- "The Churl in the Grey Coat" has Manannan aiding the Fenians in a footrace against a foreign champion for control of Ireland,under the guise of a brutish oaf. The oaf starts the race two hours late, manages to catch up to the champion, stops to pick berries, catches up again, only to realize he forgot his coat(seriously) and goes back, and STILL beats the champion.
- Finally, the story "Manannan at Play" is basically a patchwork of short stories about how wandering Ireland as a scraggly clown is a hobby of his.
- Set up in Rifts World Book 4: Africa. Among the heroes gathered to fight the Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a mysterious and powerful woman named Katrina Sun. Unknown to everyone, including Katrina herself, she's actually the Egyptian Goddess Isis.
- Adeptus Evangelion has this as a suggestion for using Tabris. For anyone familar with its source material, it comes out a little less positive then most examples.
- In Venus In Fur by David Ives, Thomas is suspicious almost from the beginning as to the identity of Vanda, or Wanda, this strange actress (or so she claims) who has by turn amused, awed, abused, revolted, seduced, tormented, dominated, and been dominated by him. How does she know everything she knows, including many things that should be secret? How can she be such a brilliant, versatile actress, able to ad-lib, at the drop of a hat, an entirely new scene, and an entirely new character, perfectly, in a way that vastly improves the play, and yet be such an apparent dolt when she speaks out of character? At the end, of course, she demands that he tell her who she really is, and he answers that she is Venus herself. As to whether that's literally true, well, the play is ambivalent.
- Luna in Lunar, in about the mid of the first game is revealed to be Althena.
- In Jade Empire, if you do several sidequests, find multiple items tucked away in obscure places, and a lot of top-down aerial shooter minigames, you travel to an odd heaven full of strange machines. If you complete the quest, you find out that Kang The Mad, a great inventor and the one who created the machine that got you to the heaven is, in fact, Lord Lao, an inventor god who was kicked out by the others for hubris. Also worth noting that Kang's party role is maintaining and flying the Global Airship, making this a quite literal example.
- The Neverwinter Nights mod Tales of Arterra has the revelation of Evanine's heritage. Given the base ruleset having an angel rogue on your side would be much more useful than having an elf rogue. Justified in that she didn't know what she was either.
- In Breath of Fire III, Peco is really an incarnation of Yggdrasil, an implied rival of the Big Bad.
- In Breath of Fire IV, Ryu, the main character, is really an amnesiac newborn god.
- Ershin from the same game is revealed to be a suit of Animated Armor possessed by the goddess Deis.
- In the ending of The World Ends With You, Joshua turns out to be the Composer, essentially making him the local God. Also, Mr Hanekoma is revealed to be an angel.
- In Red Dead Redemption There's much, much more to the mysterious stranger from "I know you" than first meets the eye. What nature of supernatural being he is is debatable.
- In Shining Force 2 the good gods seem to abandon mortals at one point, your army end up going on and seemingly taking out a dark god on their own (along with other borderline godlike beings). At the end it is revealed that the good gods were helping you all the time, and just pretended to rebel to avoid being countered by the other god.
- Lufia in Lufia and the Fortress of Doom... although subverted in that she is an evil god. (And, well, she's a Super Being in the US, thanks to Nintendo's censorship policies at the time. But the same principal applies.)
- This continues with Seena in the sequel, The Legend Returns.
- Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines has a rather literal example. The cab driver who's been shepherding you around LA? Yeah. He's Caine. The first vampire. It's not made clear in game, but all his dialogue files are labeled "Caine," and if you play a Malkavian, your last conversation with him involves realizing just who he is and screaming in unholy terror.
- Then there's the fiction for the actual game line, dealing with The End of the World as We Know It. Beckett finds a strange vampire in a cave he's investigating, and ends up dragging him along for the ride as they investigate the signs of Gehenna. At the end of the novel, Beckett idly asks what Caine might be doing, and the stranger says that Caine would probably want nothing to do with the affairs of his childer and just seal himself away in a cave until the end times. Beckett's reaction: "Yeah, you're probably — oh, fuck..."
- As in the novel, the story of the game is mentioned to also have taken place, the cab driver is either not Caine, or Caine using one of the 10 dot "plot device" discipline abilities to make it happen
- Though most diehard Canonists of the Old World of Darkness would say the Taxi Driver was merely a Malkavian Imposter, in reference to a line in the Novel where it implies as such, along with others.
- In Xenosaga there's a very literal version of this: Chaos, who joins you early in the first game, is revealed to be Jesus (or more correctly, one godly-powered half of a two-person team: he provided the miracles, the human named Jesus provided the speeches). He acts as a literal copilot to not one but two other characters while using their mecha - first Canaan, in the opening to game 2, and then Jr., throughout games 2 and 3.
- In The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind, a seemingly minor character encountered at the Ghostgate gives the PC a "lucky coin" and asks him to take it to the Very Definitely Final Dungeon. This old soldier happens to be Talos, aka Tiber Septim, one of the gods of the setting, and the coin really is lucky.
- This also occurs with the Goddess Mara and the God Zenithar. Of course, they do show up mostly on the Oracle Quests, but still.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion, Morrowind's sequel, it's implied that the Prophet from the Knights of the Nine expansion is either one of the Nine himself or a reincarnation of one of their two creations, Pelinal Whitestrake or his brother, Morihaus. He also happens to have a strong family resemblance to Uriel and Martin Septim, and Talos was Tiber Septim. That the Prophet is just a Prophet is not a common theory, especially after Talos's previous intervention.
- In The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, one of the quests begins with you participating in a drinking contest with one Sam Guivenne that ends with you waking up in a desecrated temple in a completely different city. By retracing your steps, you find out that Sam is none other than Sanguine, Daedric Prince of Debauchery who was just looking for someone to party with.
- Okami has a rare protagonist example: Amaterasu is a sun goddess in the from of a white wolf. The player knows this from the beginning, however, most of the people she runs into don't and mistake her for a dog or normal wolf, as they can't see the flaming shield or the unusual red markings.
- Weaver, the author of Ruby Quest, manually simulated 4chan playing a graphical adventure game. Toward the very end, the protagonist was faced with a dilemma. One of the players asked for a hint. Weaver obliged with a simulation of a hint interface... which might have been in use the entire time!
- One Hitler Parody video reveals Günsche to be God, Hitler was not pleased.
- Gargoyles had Owen Burnett as an avatar of Puck, something that apparently came as a surprise to the creators of the show themselves, who before that had not figured out the character's secret, though The Reveal is set up such that it seems like they always planned it that way.
- This was later retconned so that it was all just a part of Satan's plans, the writer of the original story has confirmed that yeah, it was meant to be the real Jesus.