Any story where a character is converted unnaturally easily to whatever the writer is trying to teach. A Heel-Faith Turn, if you will.
Somehow, they just haven't heard of the author's point of view until then. For example, this tends to manifest itself in Christian tracts with phrases such as "Who's Jesus?" If the unbeliever has heard of Jesus, they somehow haven't heard about the "died on a cross for everyone's sins, came back to life three days later" thing. However, this is not exclusive to Christians—anyAesop or ideology, be it political, religious, or otherwise, is just as susceptible. What matters is that the author depicts others who are easily convinced to agree with the message.
Easy Evangelism is related to Strawman Political and Confirmation Bias, but common in a wide enough range of sources to be worth its own trope. When this trope is in play, not only are the other side's views depicted as being wrong, but they haven't even thought about them. Extremists in the "choir" of the supported Aesop or ideology may see this as a way to humanize the "other side"—be it religious believers, atheists, liberals/conservatives, or others; the idea that the opposition isn't bad, they merely picked up their philosophy without thinking of the obviously superior alternative.
Ironic in that while it may be an attempt to "soften the blow" of an attack on the opposition, members of the actual opposition may see it as even worse than just calling them "bad". At the very least, it's extremely patronizing. It's also worth noting that even if you think your alternative is superior and the people in question hadn't thought of it, they are very unlikely to just fall in line right away, or fall in at all for that matter; people very rarely change deeply held beliefs on a whim.
This is a common Mary Sue power/effect when she's the author's mouthpiece. Also, anyone who doesn't immediately convert or fall to their knees in thanks instantly reveals themselves as evil and worthy of being Hoist by His Own Petard. Of course, Sue will forgive them once they realize the error of their defiance, but if not, Karmic Death time!
Very common in an Author Tract, and often manifested by an Author Filibuster. Despite the title it can refer to any belief system. If the convert bases their faith on miracles rather than actual faith, then one is all it takes for the Easy Evangelism to work. May also result from a Suspiciously Specific Sermon.
AttemptingEasy Evangelism in a story that isn't an Author Tract (or is one, but not for the character's faith) is likely to devolve into Activist Fundamentalist Antics instead.
See also Armor-Piercing Question when Easy Evangelism is accomplished by a single question.
This trope is Older Than Feudalism, but Don't Try This at Home.
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Commercials use this all the time.
Person A never uses a particular product or service.
Person B gives a pitch about how awesome it is.
Person A proclaims that they will never use anything else for the rest of their lives.
Insert "political candidate" for the product or service, and you get roughly half of the political ads out there:
Gullible voter: I really like this one guy running for governor. The one we have now isn't doing a very good job. Party Line spouter: But he voted in favor of something unpopular, just like another disliked public figure! Gullible voter: Oh no! That latter guy has a low approval rating too, so this guy must be a horrible person who wants us to eat babies!
Could all be Truth in Television, sadly enough. Any freshman course or book about logic demonstrates that almost all advertising, and especially political ads and debate statements, are founded on utter rubbish, usually no more than blatant emotional appeals... which too much of the population will accept as correct and well-thought-out.
The ads for high-fructose corn syrup (paid for by the Corn Refiners Association) don't even take the effort not to sound patronizing.
Naruto can convert anybody to his way of thinking with minimal argument, provided he has had the chance to beat them first. This even extends to homicidal maniacs who have been driven insane by having monsters sealed inside of them and remorseless sociopaths who have killed hundreds of people as children. Helped along in some cases by their realization that he and they are Not So Different... and he didn't end up evil or more than mildly insane. Many of them also used to be idealistic, so often, it's a matter of undoing the processes that made them who they were when Naruto first met them, or forcing them to see them in a new light. The major exception being Sasuke, at least for the time being.
And that all he had to do was show that he was like them: a victim of alchemy. Al's belief that all of them could return to their old bodies gave them hope. Plus, that plan was really evil.
Despite her reputation of making friends out of former enemies, Nanoha is actually an aversion of this trope. It took a whole season's worth of effort to convert Fate and the Wolkenritter to see her point of view.
In Chick Tracts, the Christian protagonist will explain to a bunch of people about "the truth" — and, very soon, everyone will be quick to convert. The ease of a Chick Tract conversion is made even more baffling considering most of the converted have never heard of Jesus before, yet instantly comprehend evangelical terms like "washed in the blood" or "filled with the holy spirit" the moment they're spoken instead of thinking they mean "bathing in human blood," or "getting drunk on sacred distilled liquor."
The most well-known offender is probably "Big Daddy", in which after citing scientific evidence of questionable strength against evolution (the person that is cited for the arguments has been roundly criticized by other scientists as well as by other creationists), everyone immediately agrees it's wrong. Even the biology teacher gives up teaching evolution. In the version for younger children, Li'l Susy accuses her teacher of lying. Even if her teacher was wrong about evolution, she wouldn't be lying. She would simply be mistaken. Apparently, in Jack Chick's world, teachers who teach evolution are intentionally misleading children. Even most Evangelical Christians (at least the minority of them who believe that science is completely wrong about evolution) acknowledge that it's really not the case.
Believer: Mr. Spencer, I'm sure the thought of your daughter dying breaks your heart, right? Unbeliever:Of course! Believer: Well, God was even more heartbroken when He sent His Son from heaven to die on Earth. Unbeliever: Why did God have to do THAT? Believer: Because all people are sinners, and God would never allow sin to enter heaven. Because of our sin, we ALL deserve hell. The only way man could ever get into heaven was for someone sinless to die in his place and pay the penalty for his sin. Unbeliever: Who could that be? Believer:That someone was God the Son, Jesus Christ. Unbeliever: You mean Jesus died for US!
There's also "Allah Had No Son", in which a Muslim goes within minutes from threatening to kill the evangelist who calls Allah a Moon God to vowing to preach the Good News to other Muslims even at the cost of his own life.
Vampire Jesus is even easier to convince, when he was ready to drink blood a frame earlier.
Another tract involves two people talking about the creation story in Genesis. One argues that the "days" could have been any length of time to God. The other responds that the days had to have been twenty-four hour long days, because plants were made before the sun, and without sunlight, they would die ... easily convincing his friend with this argument.
This is especially baffling if you've actually read the Bible. God creates day and night in Genesis 1:3-5 on the first day, then creates plant life in Genesis 1:11, on the third day.
In one tract a guy who just converted somehow manages (off panel) to convert 28 people at his first Bible-Study meeting. Why so many nonbelievers were attending a Bible-Study is left unexplained.
This is surprisingly often averted in tracts in which the listener refuses or is hesitant to commit to converting, and then dies and goes to hell. Then again, not only are most of the successful conversions fairly easy, but it's typically implied that nothing the Christian said could have converted the listener, making them lost causes from the start.
Used in Creature Tech, but not in the expected way. Sure, one of the main subplots involves an atheist converting to Christianity, but that plays out about as realistically as allowed by a story with a literal alien Jesus. However, late in the story, an invasion of cat-monsters and a one-liner is all it takes to convert Pastor Ong from Actual Pacifism to a more pragmatic stance.
Hillbilly:(giving Ong a handgun) Here. Pastor Ong: But I'm a pacifist. Hillbilly: So am I. Here's how I'm pacified. (shoots a cat monster with a shotgun) Pastor Ong: Works for me.
A Rius comic features this: a journalist arrives to the town asking to interview God. He asks several people, including devout believers, but their answers confuse him even more. Then he asks the priest, who redirects him to church doctrine and The Bible. He answers that he has read all those and what he wants is to directly interview God and ask him questions, like when He was born, what are His favorite activities, and so on. Finally he asks the town atheist who easily converts him to atheism.
In the first arc of the Ultimate X-Men comic by Mark Millar, Wolverine joins the X-Men under false pretenses, actually intending to infiltrate and kill Xavier per Magneto's instructions. After meeting Jean Grey and sleeping with her a few times, he tells her that he had intended to kill Xavier but that Xavier had turned him around to the X-Men's way of thinking. This is not another ruse — apparently, with absolutely no event to give Wolverine such an epiphany, he's suddenly playing for the home team. Given the fact that Charles Xavier, the world's most powerful telepath, is involved, Easy Evangelism seems a lot more plausible. Or he just decided that Jean's personality was worth it.
In L'Héritage de Rantanplan, Lucky Luke tells local tycoon Oggie Swenson, in a very condenscending tone, to improve the social conditions in Virginia City. Swenson instantly agrees with him, and in no time, the conflict between Chinatown and the rest of the city's population, has been brought to and end.
In Asterix in Corsica, Asterix brings an end to a long-running family feud just by telling the Corsicans to forget about the old quarrels and stand together against the Romans.
This is a common Fan Fic type, usually referred to as "conversion fics", where a fictional character is talked into converting to Christianity (possibly other religions, but usually Christianity). Targets include Harry Potter (who is also convinced to give up his "witchcraft") and, perhaps least believably, Fox Mulder.
There is a Sailor Moon fanfic where Chibi-Usa, after being impressed by a group of bitchy Mary Sues, converted to Wicca. (Well, the author's more mystical version of it anyway.) Naturally, every character that wasn't a Wiccan was either completely ignorant or an evil Christian who wanted to burn the sues on a cross.
A Mash fanfic titled The Grand Rapids O'Reillys, read aloud by Bennett The Sage at That Guy with the Glasses, sees Father Mulcahy convert from Catholic to Pentecostal just because he had a dream, and the Pope is okay with this.
Averted in The Secret of Kells, even though the film is all about the sublime beauty of an illuminated gospel. One of the main characters, Aisling, is a forest spirit who becomes dedicated to helping Brendan illustrate the book, but remains completely Pagan. Later, Brendan and Aidan flee the Viking attack on Kells, only to run straight into the Viking leader, who grabs the book, opens it, and... rips out the pages, since he's only interested in the shiny cover.
100 Girls has a particularly odd scene where a man gives a 30 second speech where he manages to show he isn't familiar with the first thing about feminist theory, at the same time as convincing a gender studies class that Straw Feminist-like feminism is pointless.
The ending scene of Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator has the lead good guy, who is posing as Hitler Hynkel, give a speech that we are to suppose makes everything okay. It appears to some people that the speech at the end of The Great Dictator was clearly by Chaplin, more than by the character. It probably wasn't made to be realistic so much as to get the speech across, and it was a pretty brilliant speech, if mostly or entirely rhetorical. Slavoj Zizek points out to the fact that the public is cheering in the same way they would have cheered Hitler Hynkel. The point is that the audience isn't listening; they're just hearing their leader. Indeed, Chaplin is speaking to the film audience, not the audience IN the film. Footage was shot for an extended ending, where you see the soldiers cheer the speech, throw down their guns and start dancing with each other.
The Great Dictator was shot in 1940-41, in a period when Allied suspicions about the extent of the Holocaust were growing. The heartfelt appeal of the final speech has more to do with the way Chaplin felt as the film was wrapping up than how he felt starting the project off.
The religious characters in the Woody Allen film Whatever Works are all convinced to become atheists with astonishing ease, with the implication that even the briefest exposure to the cosmopolitan nature of New York will turn even the staunchest conservative Christian into a liberal secular humanist.
It doesn't seem to take a lot for the McManus brothers in The Boondock Saints to convince people that their vigilantism is just and should be enabled.
Suprisingly averted in the last place you'd ever expect to see it: the educational short A Case of Spring Fever. After our lumpy hero Gilbert is shown all the wonderful everyday uses for springs, he spends the remainder of the short explaining said uses to his golfing buddies. Rather than enthusiastically clucking along with Gilbert about their newfound love of elasticity and spring-related trivia, his friends obviously couldn't give 3/10ths of a shit about springs, constantly expressing their annoyance with Gilbert and falling asleep on the ride home as he drones on.
In Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke immediately becomes an enthusiastic believer in Obi-Wan's teachings about the Jedi and The Force, even though he only just met the guy that same day and Obi-Wan had a reputation as being a "crazy old wizard". Obviously this is necessary to move the story along at a fast pace. But it it is notable that Han is depicted as being something of a Flat Earth Atheist simply because he does not immediately buy into all of this based solely on Obi-Wan's pedantic ramblings and Luke being able to deflect a few stun shots after hours of practice.
Though he comes across as rather less reasonable when the prequels revealed that the rise of the Empire was a much shorter time ago than was apparent in the original trilogy, and Han would have seen the golden age of the Jedi during his childhood.
The ratio of non-Force sensitives to Jedi in the Old Republic was apparently billions-to-one! An average person in the galaxy would likely never meet a Jedi during their lifetime or personally witness actual usage of Force powers. This was especially true since the Jedi largely limited their socialization to within their own Order and had little or no contact with their families. Thus it would be very easy for someone to believe that the Jedi were over-hyped and that the Force was just a lot of "simple tricks and nonsense".
On a similar note, Luke's 'conversion' is arguably justified by the fact that he witnesses Kenobi using the Force, and then is able to feel it himself.
In the French gamebook series La Saga du Prêtre Jean, this is an actual power of the protagonist (a 12th century Christian crusader). Once a book, he can convert one intelligent creature that would otherwise be hostile through his high charisma, avoiding the fight. The one time the option to use it outside combat is given, it brings a Chaos-worshiping prophet back to sanity.
For an example from the atheist (or at least libertine) side, de Sade's Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man.
In the book of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, the Bishop of Digne, whose whole family was wiped out by the original French Revolution, gets into a debate with a poor zealot of that same revolution on his deathbed. The Bishop, there to administer a final blessing, is at first cold towards the man, and at the end of the debate is on his knees asking for the revolutionary's blessing. The Bishop might be excused on account of "not having heard the other side of the story", but he clearly loves his poor parishioners and has turned down a life of wealth on their account. Slightly different in that the revolutionary was not involved in the worst of the excesses, and it's more a case of the bishop learning not to judge people on hearsay.
Scott Adams of Dilbert fame wrote a book called God's Debris: A Thought Experiment in which the protagonist (the Avatar) advocates a flavor of Pandeism (in which God blew himself up to become the universe). Easy Evangelism comes into play with the sequel to this book, The Religion Wars, in which a verysimplified world war between Christians and Muslims takes place in contemporary times. The Avatar ends the war with a simple phrase: "If God is so smart, why do you fart?" Everyone on Earth practically Contemplates Their Navels and Outgrows Their Silly Superstitions overnight.
In Harry Potter, the title character is considered a hero, a celebrity, for his first 12 years. Yet, when the basilisk is set free, everyone is sure that he is the heir of Slytherin, and supposedly an even darker wizard than Lord Voldemort, based on some circumstantial evidence. In his fifth year, after months of anti-Harry propaganda in the main newspaper, he only has to tell his own version for another paper, and suddenly several witches and wizards believe him. (Curiously, NO-ONE else ever believes the rest of the content in that latter paper). Two years later, he is declared a murderer, and anti-citizen #1. They believe it. Again.
It helps that his previous celebrity was pretty superficial (based on an idea rather than the actual person), as well as there being misconceptions on exactly how he became a "hero". As for the interview, it came at a time when a lot of holes were cropping up in the official story, which his version filled in. When Harry is declared a murderer, it is more of a case of fear and panic keeping people quiet than then actually believing it. It was pretty clear that the students of Hogwarts and a large number of other witches and wizards secretly believed and supported him and Luna's father constantly wrote that supporting Harry was the best thing to do (until Luna was kidnapped, that is).
Used in Faith of the Fallen. People are shown the light by a pretty statue, of two people standing tall, because no subject in The Empire seems to do that, along the inscription "Your life is your own...", because no one in the empire seemed to have even thought of that. An alternative reading is that everyone had thought of it, or wanted to think of it, but they were so beaten down by the dystopia that they'd never dare say such things aloud (the blacksmith and others admit as much in private earlier in the book). And seeing it displayed so openly and proudly finally convinced them to act on it. An ability to convince people is often stated to be a common trait to people who have the gift. Richard Rahl-Sue is the most gifted wizard ever. And the statue was implied to be at least in part a creation of magic.
Used and not used rather bizarrely in Left Behind. An obvious miracle protects Israel from attack by the entire Russian and Ethiopian(?) air and nuclear military capabilities? People barely react. The Rapture whisking away babies and the right kind of Christian across the world? It's probably because of... uh... technobabble. But some guy telling you that God is coming back and this is all according to some divine plan? Sure, I'm convinced.
There's a blogger critiquing the series, and this is one of the things he's repeatedly pointed out (along with utter failures in worldbuilding, completely unlikable protagonists that barely act human, and the writing in general, to say nothing of the theology).
As the blogger, Fred Clark, points out, not only do they never make use of the incredibly obvious miracles that have already happened, they also never make use of the ability to predict future events their particular biblical exegesis grants them. Nobody ever says "Looks like you're not ready to believe yet. Here, take my card, and if after the unscheduled solar eclipse next Tuesday you find yourself a bit more open minded, give me a call".
Subverted by Mark Twain's "The War Prayer", in which the angel of death confronts a congregation with the hypocrisy of their prayers for victory. The congregation, far from shamed, dismisses him without a second thought. This goes toward explaining why Twain wouldn't allow the story to be published until after he died.
One of Lem's short stories has a priest who can easily convert any sentient being by some special unnamed argument. He refuses to use this ability, because it would devalue the faith.
An amusing variant in The Dresden Files: In Death Masks the Knight of the Cross Shiro tells Harry that while a young man he attended an Elvis Presley concert. Due to a misunderstanding, he though he was going to meet "the King" in person while he was actually being baptized. After figuring out what happened, he devoted his life to being a good Baptist, leading to his becoming a Knight.
The Canterbury Tales' sweet and virtuous (late-) Roman princess Constance seems to have the effect of converting every non-Christian she encounters simply by meeting them (though she was aided by a Divine Intervention in one of her many difficulties, which probably helped.) Probably Fair for Its Day in the fourteenth century.
Zig-Zagged in Cain's Last Stand, where the villain Varan the Undefeatable has the power to instantly (and permanently) convert people to Chaos as soon as they see and hear him. However, it doesn't extend to his followers, who seem genuinely surprised that people who read his (less-than-well-written) book and have his extremist views explained don't convert on the spot. Oh, and in case you didn't get it yet, Varan is short, hammy, and has a ridiculous mustache.
Averted in Knowledge Of Angels, where the character Beneditx's main aim is to convert the atheist Palinor to Christianity (or at least agnosticism), and yet, after half a book of arguments over the matter, it is Beneditx that suffers a Crisis of Faith.
In Being Human, all of the neighbors become convinced that George and Mitchel are pedophiles, based solely on the fact that one woman saw her son watching a DVD that looked more like an experiment for movie special effects than something to corrupt a child. And apparently all it takes to call it all off is for the woman to tell everyone off camera that it was all a mistake.
Family Matters had the episode "Choir Trouble" where the previously non-religious Steve Urkel joins the Winslows' church, reveals he had simply never known about religion, and converts to Christianity, all in a single day. This is particularly unbelievable because before and after this, Steve generally knew everything there is to know. To make things even worse, despite being a science geek, Steve proceeded to explain his newfound faith with an analogy so scientifically inaccurate that Richard Feynman must have been turning in his grave. Thankfully, after the initial preachiness, this is mainly used just to set up a plot where Steve tries to get on the church choir with the Winslows despite his nasal voice and lack of singing ability; afterward, Steve's religion was generally only brought up during Christmas Episodes.
Gossip Girl has Blair Waldorf, who has never been shown to be religious of any kind, suddenly turn to God and believing strong enough to marry someone she doesn't want to because she thinks God does not approve of her true love.
Mash did this a lot. Anyone who beheld speeches of the mighty Hawkeye immediately became anti-war or else was obviously "crazy".
Subverted in some episodes, notably in "Guerilla My Dreams", where Hawkeye and co. try their hardest to save a captured woman from the South Korean agent who suspects her to be a guerilla and is bringing her in to be tortured and executed after she is healed. At the end, the agent stands there and translates what the woman shouts at the surgeons.
South Korean agent: She says: You save lives of those who kill my people and rape my land. I would kill you as I tried to kill my enemy in your hospital. As I would kill this murderer, I would gladly die if I could kill but one of you.
Hawkeye and co. still don't take it well, even after what the guerilla says, but it definitely shows that his view isn't necessarily the correct one. Given his reactions, it is also entirely possible that Hawkeye didn't care whether or not the woman was a guerilla, but rather that he was just disgusted at the whole situation, ie being asked to patch someone up just to have them be executed later. That didn't go over well with him previously, when Colonel Flagg did something similar.
Played with in an episode: Bra'tak, feeling a little depressed, takes an unusually keen interest in the quasi-Buddhist philosophy of a group of beings who turn out to be ascended Ancients, even though with his infant Goa'uld symbiote he cannot progress beyond a basic lesson — possibly because his keen mind figures out the double meaning of "You cannot progress along this path until you are prepared to die." He comes out feeling "young again — a man of eighty".
While Bra'tak's change of heart was rather abrupt and underdeveloped - possibly for time and pacing reasons - it had been established that the temple of Kheb was a Jaffa legend he held dear:
I have dreamed of finding this place twice as long as you have been alive.
In the last 2 seasons, many people are converted to the Origin extremely quickly. Although considering the power of the Ori is very real and those who do doubt are given the choice: "worship us or die", it's fairly easy to understand why they convert so readily — after all, a lot of those cultures had already been worshiping the Goa'uld as gods for millenia.
In the 2nd half of the two-part opener to Gene Roddenberry's ANDROMEDA, Capt. Dylan Hunt (flung into a future that doesn't follow his Star Trek-ian ideals) asks the crew to join him later for a discussion. The characters say they don't want to come if he's going to try to get them to join his cause. He promises them that he won't do that, but as soon as they show up, that's exactly what he does. None of the other characters call him on this lie, and in fact they all do agree to help him change the entire universe to his way of thinking by the time he's done with his mealy-mouthed speech.
It helps that this is such a crapsack universe that living on the Andromeda, even piloted by an idealist on a hopeless suicidal quest, makes for a serious quality-of-life improvement for these people. Most are more convinced the captain's beliefs won't get in the way of their own interests than of the rightness of those beliefs.
Can occur on The West Wing, where political opponents may find themselves cowed into impressed submission on the strength of an off-the-cuff filibuster that completely demolishes all counter-arguments. A variant also can occur, where after the filibuster the character who has been arguing may smile knowingly and say "Okay," suggesting that they agreed with the character all along but kept the argument going for some reason of their own (however obscure at times).
The West Wing actually has very few instances of this actually working on someone though. Most politicians subjected to the main characters' logic came back with the argument that although they understood the merit of the main characters' argument, they still disagreed about its importance and/or thought the cons outweighed the pros (e.g. Ainsley telling Sam, after he makes fun of her for being against the Equal Rights Amendment, that all her rights are enumerated in the 14th Amendment and she doesn't need a bunch of "old white men" to hand down redundant laws reaffirming her equality.)
In True Blood, Jason Stackhouse undergoes a fast religious conversion at the end of Season 1. Even though he spent all season getting over his vampire bigotry, he converts into The Fundamentalist after a preacher for an anti-vampire sect hands him a tract shortly before he's let out of jail. It helped that, canonically, Jason's dumb as a post and was in the middle of a majoremotionalturmoil following the death of his girlfriend. He doesn't immediately convert, note. He goes to a meeting and expresses his doubts that all vampires are evil. Then the preacher's really hot wife tells him a sob story about her sister being killed by a vampire, and he immediately agrees. Then again, very likely, he wasn't thinking with his head since they do later end up screwing.
Atticus Murphy Jr., the head of a Satanic cult in Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, has an incredibly easy time recruiting followers amongst the students at the high school where he serves as the guidance counsellor. Then again, the town they live in was founded by Satanists and most of the students likely had parents or grandparents who were Satanists. Almost entirely Played for Laughs, as almost everyone in the town is either a mindless sheep or Too Dumb to Live, and he is the villain (and vaguely implied to be the Anti-Christ, no matter how ineffectual he is. In addition, one of the manners in which Atticus 'converts' people so easily is through pamphlets with drawings in them.... drawings, which look suspiciously similar toChick Tracts. Except, of course, Satanist.
In an episode of Dark Angel, an escaped super soldier takes to Christianity very quickly. Justified in that he had spent most of his life as a prisoner of Manticore where he wasn't exposed to religion, and while inside he kept a statue of Mary as a symbol of hope without knowing its religious context.
The song "End Of The Beginning" by David Phelps plays this one painfully straight. The protagonist is reading The Bible on a long flight when his cynical seatmate asks him about it — he claims he has "heard it all before" about religion, but it's revealed that he doesn't know Jesus doesn't stay dead.
Inverted in the Music Hall song "Two Lovely Black Eyes" where it is the narrator who enthusiastically endorses opposite political views over the space of two verses. All it takes to change his mind is receiving the eponymous black eyes.
The original video for Michael Jackson's "Heal the World" has soldiers occupying a town toss their weapons away as soon as angel-faced children visit them with gifts of flowers.
Performances of "Earth Song" on the HIStory Tour inevitably ended with a tank rumbling on stage and a soldier with a rifle emerging and threatening Michael and a group of frightened villagers. When the soldier pointed the rifle at Michael, he took its tip and stood it down...immediately reducing the soldier to tears and to taking off his helmet, presumably forsaking his old cause.
Myths & Religion
Inverted in the Old Testament, of all places. More specifically, in Exodus. In spite of being the chosen people of God, and receiving multiple proofs of divine support (Red Sea parting and later swallowing hostile army, food falling from the sky, rocks in the middle of the desert spouting water etc.) the people of Israel cannot be content with worshiping God, but in the end try to make their own...
It's important to remember that the golden calf was meant as an idol to their god (and the God of Moses). The problem with it was that God had just told Moses that any idol was a false one. Though considering the Israelites didn't know that yet, Moses' reaction seems a bit out of proportion.
Oh, it goes on. After King David, the Jews repeatedly "did evil in the eyes of the Lord." Kings and Chronicles both mention idolatry as a particular vice of the Jews. God was pretty swift in kicking the Jews in the butt for this, but apparently they were only easily evangelized in one direction...
All through the Old Testament, the Jews would be wandering around the desert for a little while, conquering people, and just lapse out of nowhere into worshiping Baal or the rest of the Canaanite religion. Non-religious historians suspect this comes from the Jews' actually being not the conquerors of Canaan, but a rebellious lower class that took over, replacing the old polytheistic religion with a monotheistic one following just the god El, a standard 'sky-father' type deity...whose son, Baal, was a pretty clear analogue of, say, Thor or Hercules.
The book of Jonah highlights Israel's unfaithfulness by contrasting it with the gentiles' quick conversion. The sailors headed for Tarshish immediately show respect for Jonah's god when they see how powerful he is, and the Ninehvites don't even need to see a miracle: they rush to repent the moment they hear Jonah's warning. (Jonah himself is actually disappointed with how easily they convert; he apparently was hoping to see Nineveh nuked by divine wrath. The story ends with a What the Hell, Hero? lecture from God himself.)
Jesus himself also averted this in the New Testament. Even though performing miracles is hard to argue with, the general public often didn't agree with him. True, there were huge crowds who listened to him, but there were also a lot of skeptics too. This included the Pharisees and some crowd members who doubted him or believed he was demon-possessed. By the end, all of them left him to be crucified.
And those people who weren't so easily evangelized and hypothesized that Jesus's actions might be the work of the devil? They are considered guilty of "blaspheming the Holy Spirit", which is the only eternally unforgivable sin as mentioned by Jesus himself in the Bible. Apparently a healthy dose of skepticism can lead to the worst sin in existence.
Also, there were apparently a lot of "miracle workers" in those days, and many of them probably were demon-possessed (or insane, in the secular rationalist view of things) and/or outright frauds.
Still, there were some things that are just evidence of stubbornness. Some of them plotted to kill Lazarus after Jesus had just revived him. His crime (in their view)? Being revived by Jesus.
Because of the many precedents, Mohammed outright refused to ask God for any miracles to prove to the crowds that he was a true prophet. Other prophets have done it before, and the people never believed them.
A straight example would be the Ethiopian Eunuch in the Acts who asks Philip who a passage in the Bible referred to, is told about Jesus, asks "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" and became a Christian.
There is a Jewish legend about some relative of the Roman Emperor who converted to Judaism and decided to live in Israel. The Emperor sent three battalions to bring him back. All three chose to stay.
Fraggle Rock has Convincing John, who can convince anyone of anything, just by mounting a huge musical number.
In Dungeons & Dragons, the Diplomacy skill is this in a nutshell. As long as the DM doesn't impose significantnote (D&D rules leave circumstantial bonuses and penalties up to the DM, as well as their magnitude) penalties, achieving a roll of 50 can transform a hostile person to a willing assistant in a minute of conversation. If you accept a small penalty, the same can be accomplished in 6 seconds. In epic levels, they add the fanatic state of mind, allowing a skillful enough speaker to transform an army into a band of fanatic followers willing to die for you in the first round of combat.
There is a known character build that eventually results in being able to substitute any other skill for a Diplomacy check. Combine this with the Jumplomancer build which raises your Jump skill to obscene levels and you can instantly turn an army of enemies in frothing fanatics by jumping really high. Easy Evangelism indeed.
The spell Enthrall, in its 1st and 2nd Edition versions, allowed priests to invoke this trope on NPCs by preaching to crowds. Listeners who failed their save enough times could be converted to the speaker's faith, even if they'd been devout followers of other deities.
Similarly, in 3rd edition, the result of a failing to resist the "bluff" skill was that the target actually believed the claim. This wouldn't have been a huge problem, since the penalties and bonuses make truly ridiculous claims almost impossible to pull off, save for a potion called "glibness" which made it literally impossible to fail a bluff check against the vast majority of targets. This meant that you could tell people that they'd been a life-long follower of whatever and, following a six-second one-liner, they'd automatically believe you.
This is addressed in most d20 systems by making bluff a matter of sincerity and intent, if the source of the problem is unclear. In most systems if you tell someone that you're Napoleon reincarnated and win the bluff check, the target will accept that you genuinely think you're Napoleon, and probably have you committed. In 3.0, they'll immediately salute and start planning the return from Elba.
The Book of Exalted Deeds gives rules by which you can convert an enemy from their starting alignment towards Good — and they avert the trope, because it takes a great deal of effort. There are ways in which you can skew the process in your favor, but expect a lot of frustration before making any headway if you capture and try to convert the campaign's Big Bad. (And forget it if it's a fiend — evil outsiders are made of evil, so they aren't going to bend.)
Double Subverted in Warhammer 40,000; Horus has fought alongside the Emperor for 200 years, and is the most favored of his sons, having been made Warmaster — although he's annoyed that his fellow Primarchs and the Imperium at large don't respect him like they do the Emperor. A campaign on a World of Chaos almost shatters his worldview despite knowing about the Forces of Chaos — and despite being nearly invincible he's almost killed off by Chaos-tainted weaponry. None of that is enough to turn Horus — instead, it takes a single vision of a possible future from the Chaos Gods (posing as one of his closest friends), and he instantly sets off to murder his father and destroy the Imperium.
Granted, that vision also exploited a great deal of his personal resentment of the Emperor for stealing credit for his victories and the incredible stress from coordinating and leading dozens of military campaigns.
And to make it worse, that vision was of the 40K universe after his heresy (It was the world if the emporer lived, no-one said anything about moving around and to be fair, it was of a Crap Sack World the like of which is rarely matched, where men die in the billions and everyone worships the guy he's convinced he needs to kill.
Deconstructed in Exalted. Socially-focused characters can sway their enemies to their side with relative ease - a devout member of the Immaculate Faith with average Conviction takes only two scenes of argument to convert from "kill the Anathema" to "yay Solars" - and Presence 5 is spelled out as being skilled enough to convert a member of theWyld Hunt to the worship of the Unconquered Sun. But. Most characters who can do this are in fact using Charms that produce unnatural mental influence, or in plain English, Mind Control. Hence the Wyld Hunt's claim that the Solars are a case of Light Is Not Good.
This subject is considered important enough, both in example and exception, that the rulebook lays out a set of rules for "social combat" (which includes debate and evangelism) which almost entirely mirror the extent and depth of the rules for physical combat.
Because a target's Conviction stat determines how easily they're swayed to a new cause, those weak-willed NP Cs (Conviction 1) that you talked into joining you with one amazing speech can just as easily be talked out of it by anyone else's speech. The reliable converts are the ones you can't win easily.
Some religious plays may example this trope. Say perhaps (in the play), there is a man at an inn. Another character comes by holding any sort of religious text, and finds the man does not subscribe to their religion. The second character eagerly lends their religious text to the man, and one scene later, the man has suddenly become the same religion as the latter character. This could be excused by how media compress long periods time into small bits, however. But when it's explicitly stated that the time lapse is quite short, it is definitely this trope.
Villain example: In the Atlantis musical, Jabbadoor manages to convert practically all of Atlantis to the worship of his god, Ba'al-zebub, in the span of a song of less than two minutes. Somewhat justified given that time is always fuzzy in musicals, but still....
In Godspell, right after many different philosophers have just finished singing their creeds (including Sarte, who claims to represent "atheistic existentialism"), John the Baptist appears to sing "Prepare Ye". Within the next minute and a half, all of these angry philosophers are transformed into disciples of Jesus. Audiences may find it justified, however, in that it's explicitly non-literal, and since it's a prologue, dragging it out longer would really derail the pacing of the whole show.
Shakespeare's Othello has Iago going to convince the title character that Othello's new wife Desdemona is cheating on him with the young handsome Cassio. Othello scoffs at this and insists that he won't believe the story until he is given "ocular proof". Two sentences later, after Iago says that he saw Cassio in possession of Desdemona's handkerchief, Othello believes him.
Not exactly. Othello believed Iago because he was able to describe the embroidery on the handkerchief exactly, which made it much more believeable that he had seen Cassio with it. In reality, Iago's wife had stolen the handkerchief for him, which is why he knew what it looked like.
Used in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: the conspirators have just killed Caesar, and convinced the public that they did what they did for the good of Rome. The public buys into this. They leave Mark Antony to give a speech to the people of Rome. He pretends to be praising the conspirators, but subtly turns the people's opinions in a 180 to the point they start mobbing the city in search of the conspirators.
Caesar was already a popular guy, so the crowd may have been ripe to be converted before Marc Antony even started. Also justified as Mark Antony was known to have been a very skilled orator and takes his time winning over the crowd including reading parts of Caesar's will where Caesar left a whole bunch of money and land to the people of Rome. Bribes can be very helpful when persuading people.
* It should also be added that they are both very good speeches used as examples or rhetoric even today. We are talking about Shakespeare at his very best after all.
Subverted in ActRaiser, in which you play The Master, whose mission is to nurture his faithful and (re)build their civilization, descending to fight monsters himself when necessary. In the end, the people have everything they need—and all the temples are empty of followers.
Monks in Age of Empires and subsequent games have a pretty easy time converting soldiers about to kill them to their side. In the first Babylonian mission in the original game, "Holy Man," you must use one to convert some enemy villagers in order to establish your own village.
Used to creepy effect in BioShock. The intercom system randomly blares out propaganda which takes the form of a man convincing a woman that her fears and doubts about Rapture (not the Rapture, but the Psycho Serum-addled undersea Dystopiasharing that name in which the game takes place) are unfounded. Fears and doubts such as "There's too much capital punishment." and "I've been suffering headaches and strange hallucinations ever since I started splicing."
Propaganda works this way in Sins of a Solar Empire. A planet being hit with enemy propaganda may revolt, which somehow results in it becoming uninhabited again. The same thing happens when the Advent fire their Deliverance Engine at a planet. Slightly justified in the latter case that they're using Psychic Powers to induce a More than Mind Control effect.
The Qunari in Dragon Age II are shockingly successful at acquiring converts. Even the Qunari are surprised. The group in Kirkwall is composed entirely of soldiers, and they aren't actively evangelizing at all since there is an entire separate caste dedicated to that. It should be noted that most converts are elves, usually treated like second class citizens even by the religious authorities. It's understandable that they would see idea of joining the Qun, which promises everyone complete equality, as compelling.
Played for laughs in Sengoku Basara with the resident Parody Religion Xavism. In certain stages that deal with said religion, characters such as Yoshihiro and Motonari will show up as "Chester Shimazu" and "Sunday Mori" respectively and fight in the name of Pontiff Xavi.
There are a LOT of smart people on YouTube, who actually believe they can pull this off by convincing people with other beliefs than their own of the fallacy of their beliefs, and get them to join in abolishing atheism/religion. They seek to accomplish this by posting videos that present their "arguments" that prove God does/doesn't exist, and/or religion/atheism is the root of all evil. Said arguments suffer from Critical Research Failure 80% of the time.
There actually a exists PETA-released game called Pokemon Black and Blue. In the game, humans constantly exploit Pokemon for research, entertainment, or just plain out of cruelty The player has the abused Pokemon fight the people who hurt them (yes, the trainers, not their Pokemon). When you win a battle, the Pokemon talk to the person, giving a rather trite lecture on the error of their ways. The trainer always realizes how they've wrong they are and agrees to change before "fainting." The fact that the trainers are all fairly stereotyped does not help.
American Dad! subverts this constantly. In one episode, Stan tries to convert his friend to Christianity and accidentally kills him. He sees God, but is sent to hell, who lets him come back to life as a satanist. In another episode, Terry's homophobic father comes to visit and Stan outs him. When Terry's dad shuns him, Stan gives a perfect argument for homosexual rights. Terry's dad reveals he knows exactly why homosexuals are the way they are, he knows it's not a choice, and he knows they aren't harmful... he simply doesn't like it. Then the episode ends. The Aesop being sometimes prejudice isn't fixable, and you should ignore it and move on.
Subverted (of course) in Animaniacs, when the show is in the running for the coveted and lucrative "Humanitarian Animation Award." The siblings effortlessly convert everyone they meet to their newfound politically-correct lifestyle — until they hear they're out of the running for the award, at which point they immediately revert to their old ways.
Captain Planet and the Planeteers. There are several minor examples, but one of the most ridiculous is when a character manages to convince a mercenary army of the error of their ways with one speech. And in the infamous AIDS episode. Hundreds of people are (easily) turned against a star basketball player because he has HIV. One speech from a big blue man in little red pants later, they all love him again.
Family Guy, however, plays this straight for Christianity and atheism: Meg is easily converted to Christianity, then Brian just as easily convinces her that there is no God, just by pointing out how crappy her life is, and that she's an awkward teenager who's ugly even though her mom is hot and that "[her] parents didn't even care enough to give [her] a damn mumps shot!" A lot of that rant focused around how the rest of the cast mistreated Meg. Which makes the later episode where he convinces her being mistreated and abused by the family is her purpose in life the king of the Broken Aesop.
BobbyHill becomes one in King of the Hill, leading to a street war between his street and another when he destroys a statue of Uncle Sam that Hank had worked hard to create.
Mostly Played for Laughs, but in an episode of The Simpsons, the entire town of Springfield is convince to join a cult extremely easily. Groundskeeper Willie simply needs to be told that their leader "sees all and knows all" in order to become convinced.
Supposedly, one tribe in Southeast Asia had a legend of brothers from across the sea who would someday bring them a book that showed everyone the way to happiness. Missionaries were pleasantly surprised.
There was once a researcher in the field of comparative religion or another such social science who studied a religious community by participant observation but had to quit for rather surprising ethical reasons. The reason was that the community started to become upset and confused when they realized the researcher had evidently entirely learned and comprehended their system of beliefs as only insiders normally could but still showed no inclination to adopt it as obviously right.
More than one vegan seems to think that about the only reason certain people refuse to give up animal products entirely is because they just don't know how to cook appetizing meals without meat. Certainly it's true in some cases, but it's pretty close to Jack Chick's apparent belief that non-Christians just haven't heard about Jesus.
Going further, some vegans/vegetarians seem to honestly believe that people who eat meat somehow don't know that meat comes from animals. They seem to think that holding up a picture of a pig and saying, "This is where your bacon comes from!" should be enough to convert any meat-eater.
And there are also a ton of meat-eaters who think they can talk someone out of vegetarianism/veganism just by gushing about how delicious bacon is or reminding them of some extremely obvious fact like that humans are omnivores. Let's face it, this comes up from all sides with just about any dietary discussion, which is why they tend to lead to Flame Wars.
George Orwell once said, "The Catholic and the Communist are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent." He also seemed to be of the same opinion concerning any socialist who wasn't a "demsoc".
If you aren't specific enough when you say you want a new study Bible, you may end up with one that includes flow-chart instructions on how to convert people next to the concordance. Just go down the list, reading your target the verses given in each step, and the final box is where your target begs Jesus to become his Lord and Savior. It doesn't seem to have occurred to whoever wrote this that not everyone accepts the Bible as absolute truth. One such flowchart can be found here.
A rather dishonest tactic of some missionaries in the Age of Exploration was exploiting superior European scientific knowledge in order to con their audiences, such as "praying" for eclipses they knew would happen anyway, and such like.
Many of the Evangelists who converted from Atheism, such as Lee Strobel, appear to have converted due to some rather unimpressive reasons if one reads their books. Though YMMV on that. By the same token one could say some people's reasons for being atheists are unimpressive.
One particularly unimpressive (apocryphal) example is of an Indian woman becoming an atheist after a Christian gave her a glass of warm water saying "God Bless you" when she was thirsty.
A fairly common story of why a given atheist either rejected Christianity or never took it seriously in the first place is that they simply read the Bible themselves, cover to cover.
Nicky Gumbel, who runs the "Alpha Course" program, claims that he was converted to Christianity when he took it upon himself to read the entire Bible.
Ironically enough, quite a few Christians-turned-atheists claim that a complete and deep reading of the Bible was what destroyed their faith.
Andthen there are Christians who've done the same and it only solidified their faith.
Richard Gage, one of the most prominent members of the 9/11 Truth movement, says he became a Truther in March 2006 when he heard a radio interview with prominent Truther David Ray Griffin, and within days he was telling other people that 9/11 was an inside job. He says he was a longtime staunch Republican and enthusiastic Bush supporter before hearing this one interview four and a half years after 9/11 converted him to full-blown Trutherdom.
The official position of Islam is, in short, that anyone who has heard of the faith from a "correct" source (such as the Quran) should be expected to start converting right there, lest they have no excuse to avoid eternal damnation. If they're not told enough to be convincing, they're expected to keep listening until they are convinced.
There are cases of this in other religions as well; for example, one common evangelical Christian rebuttal to claims that their religion can't be universally appealing if people de-converted from it, is that those people must not have been "truly saved".
It's very hard to gauge how true these sorts of things are, but most major religions with missionary traditions have stories of whole nations being converted practically overnight, usually due to their leader's righteous conversion.
In the words of a Russian historian, after the prince of Kiev converted to Christianity (paraphrasing), "All the people celebrated the wonderful decision of their prince for they said unto themselves, 'why would our leaders choose for themselves something that was not good for us also.' And they all came to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
Buddhism dials this up to eleven, claiming in some stories that various gods, demons, and monsters were also converted to Buddhism upon hearing the Four Noble Truths. This occurs mostly in fable, obviously. Take into account that one of the tenets of Buddhism is that said gods, monsters, and demons are also trapped in the cycle of reincarnation and Buddhism is a means to achieve Nirvana.
A Catholic example exists in the Story of Our Lady of Guadelupe. Long story short, after all was said and done an entire nation of natives converted to Catholicism. This is less impressive given that it was a population in a Catholic dominated nation at the time and the natives weren't exactly unfamiliar with Catholicism to begin with. Not sure if this lends credence or not.
This video involves interviewers asking people if they think being gay is a choice. When someone says yes, the interviewer asks "When did you choose to be straight?" This causes them to change or moderate their opinions.
Steve Drain visited the Westboro Baptist Church to study them and make an anti-WBC documentary, but somehow they managed to brainwash him and his family, and now they're members of the cult. He did make the documentary, but it was changed to be pro-WBC.
This tends to happen with a lot of cults, as the leaders are often extremely charismatic.
In Marxist theory, when the working classes attain "class consciousness," in other words, realize how they're being exploited by the ruling classes, they'll rise up and overthrow the capitalists.
EWTN, a Catholic TV/radio network, averts this trope hard. When they have guest speakers talk about their conversion to Catholicism, there's usually at least a 3-5 year span from the first inkling of curiosity to baptism, with that time being taken up in Bible reading, prayer, and discussing their numerous objections and questions with other people. Reverts (people who leave the Church, then come back), often take decades of questioning and exploring before coming back.