How do you figure out whether a fictional character is religious or not? You can certainly guess or assume, but you know your guess is going to be coloured by your own background, and what you know about the culture of the story you're enjoying.
Hence, Religion Drop
! Like a Title Drop
, it's a line of dialogue that is more important than it initially appears.
Contrast with Ambiguously Jewish
because this rids the character of that ambiguity, or Hollywood Atheist
because a character can be established as an atheist and never mention it again. Compare Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?
because this is also about dropping in a piece of information in an offhand manner.
Note that this only applies to situations where a character's faith is a background detail, as opposed to say, a Ned Flanders or an Ann Veal who are defined by their religion. If they're not fundamentalists, it can still be useful to establish a character's faith because that philosophy tells us important things about their world view and/or upbringing.
- The main character in Hot Fuzz says that he is agnostic at a party. It's not particularly relevant to the plot, but it serves as another difference between him and most of the villagers.
- On Scrubs, Turk is established as a Christian in a Christmas episode where his faith is tested.
- On Sex and the City Carrie offhandedly mentions that Charlotte was raised Christian (I forget which denomination but it does come up) before her conversion to Judaism. This helps establish her privileged and sheltered upbringing. There's also an episode where Big turns out to be a churchgoer.
- In the episode of Happy Endings where Max takes care of his niece and nephew he takes them to a funeral and tells them that he doesn't believe in any afterlife. Before that he's already been established as Jewish.
- Subverted on Father Ted: The sitcom is about priests and all the main characters are priests except Mrs Doyle (who we can safely assume to be Catholic from her job). Despite this, Dougal has a couple of lines that suggest he doesn't believe in any aspect of Catholicism at all. He claims its "mad" and even converts another priest in one episode, but it doesn't come up much.
- The first Christmas episode of Community establishes all the religions of the main cast: Jeff is Agnostic, Britta is an Atheist, Shirley is a devout Christian, Annie is Jewish, Abed is Muslim, Troy is a Jehovah's Witness, and Pierce claims to be Buddhist, although his description makes it clear that he's really part of some oddball cult.
(Also: I'm including agnostic and atheist examples, let me know if you think this title needs changing to cover that)
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