Knocking on Heathens' Door
"Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you."
— Jesus to his disciples, Matthew 28:19, 20
OK, here's a test. Go and find every mainstream film that you can that has a scene with a character who is recognisably one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Use these to learn five key facts about Jehovah's Witnesses. You will most likely find that they:
- knock on people's doors.
- believe in Jehovah.
- knock on people's doors to tell them about Jehovah, in pairs.
- believe in Jehovah and Jesus.
- are not big fans of blood transfusions.
Try to do the same thing for a Mormon, go on, we'll still be here. You've probably found it's a very similar list with the point about blood transfusions being swapped for one about polygamy or magic underwear. In fiction, lots of evangelical sects will have their occurrences and mentions built around the practise of door to door evangelising (with maybe the odd peripheral belief). While it's what they do in the real world
, on TV, they're the guys who turn up on your doorstep with some leaflets to convert you while the lead character finds inventive ways to repel them. To be fair, it's often quite funny
and it's the character's time and doorstep. To be also fair, it may set up the Unfortunate Implications
that it's fine
to treat people from minority sects like dicks for their beliefs. For the sake of wiki harmony, let's leave the debate
So a pair of characters will turn up at the doorstep, say something about God, maybe clutching some folded literature, say something about the End Of Times with a very small chance of muttering something about a "watchtower" and then cue humour inducing reponse. The portrayal is actually broad enough that it sometimes creeps into this broad evangelical Christian depiction where nothing sect specific appears
and perhaps some stuff from several denominations do. On the other hand, if the practise of door-stopping is mentioned in conversation
at some other point, it will more often be attributed to Jehovah's Witnesses, largely because they're the first evangelicals people tend to think of
See also Hollywood Jehovah's Witness
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Anime and Manga
- The Friends of the Gate in Darker Than Black show up at Hei's apartment to try to recruit him. He just wants to put away his groceries. Made even funnier once you realize that their cult would just about regard him as a deity if they knew who he was.
- In Welcome to the N.H.K., Satou meets Misaki while she's evangelizing with a very Jehovah's Witness-like group.
- Missionaries of an unspecified sect appear as comic relief in Joshiraku.
- Mentioned hilariously in Transmetropolitan.
Spider: So this Zealot comes to my door, all glazed eyes and clean reproductive organs, asking me if I ever think about God. So I tell him I killed God. I tracked God down like a rabid dog, hacked off his legs with a hedge trimmer, raped him with a corncob, and boiled off his corpse in an acid bath. So he pulls an alternating-current taser on me and tells me that only the Official Serbian Church of Tesla can save my polyphase intrinsic electric field, known to non-engineers as "the soul."
So I hit him. What would you do?
- Utterly mocked in Rat-Man. Here's what happened when an Hollywood Jehovah's Witness knocked at his door.
Jehovah's Witness: Good morning. Do you know God?
Rat-Man: Yes, that's me. What do you want?
- Watchmen: In Chapter 10, two Jehovah's Witnesses on bicycles stop at the newsstand, buy a newspaper, and then try to give the newsvendor a copy of The Watchtower. He tells them to get lost. (The fact that the chapter title comes from the lyrics of the Bob Dylan song "All Along the Watchtower" is surely not a coincidence.)
- In Coneheads, the federal immigration officers trying to expose them as illegal aliens get into their house by posing as Witnesses. They fare substantially better than most TV JWs since their talk of the coming end of the world jives with the Coneheads' plans to be the ones who end it.
- For the Mormon variant see the first act of Orgazmo.
- In Scooby Doo Monsters Unleashed, the Scooby gang approach the front door of a suspect, only to fall prey to a booby trap that has already claimed a Girl Scout selling cookies and two Jehovah's Witnesses. They're all unharmed though.
Girl Scout: "Would you like to buy some cookies?" (Pan to...)
Jehovah's Witnesses: "Have you heard the good news?"
- In The Strangers, the carnage is discovered by two young door-to-door evangelists, identified as Mormon in the credits.
- In Latter Days, one of the main characters, Aaron, is a young Mormon who goes to L.A. to do missionary work, which includes going door-to-door.
- In Clue, the dinner party/murder mystery (no, real murder) is interrupted briefly as the summation is going on by a bearded door-to-door Evangelist to warn the characters "The kingdom of heaven is at hand!" Of course, like everyone else in the movie, he is not who he seems to be.
Evangelist: "Your souls are in danger!"
Mrs. Peacock: "Our LIVES are in danger, you beatnik!"
- The Ur Example is from Luke's writings in The Bible about the first-century Christian ministry: "And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus." —Acts 5:42.
- Members of the Reformed Church of Om in the Discworld universe. Said religion used to smite all those who didn't believe in Om, but He has mellowed somewhat since Small Gods and now His faithful try to convert the openminded with strategically distributed pamphlets and early morning knocks at the door. Constable Visit (full name Visit-the-Infidel-with-Explanatory-Pamphlets) is one such recurring character (though he has been cautioned about the pamphlets).
- His days off consist of his trying to convert people with a fellow Omnian, Smite-the-Unbeliever-with-Cunning-Arguments. Entire bars full of people duck under tables and turn off the lights until they're safely past.
- In The Eyre Affair, set in a world where classic literature is Serious Business, there's a scene where the protagonist answers the door to somebody who's Witnessing for the proposition that Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare's plays, and it plays out with all the tropes usually attached to a fictional JW visit.
Live Action Television
- Played with on 3rd Rock from the Sun. When the Solomons moved to get away from a reporter, they left a note on their door telling Jehovah's Witnesses where to find them. (The reporter, of course, read the note instead.) Another episode showed them talking to the Witnesses and being very confused about this "God" person. (He's always with you? Is he waiting in the car?)
- On the first episode of Mock the Week's seventh season, they commented on Michael Jackson's death in their usual style. They noted that being one of Jehovah's Witnesses was possibly the least weird thing about him and pondered whether when he went to meetings if they pretended to not be in.
- A sketch of a Swedish comedy show played with it; a door-to-door sales man knocks on a door, and when it opens he is confronted by a smiling couple telling him: "Hi! We're from Jehovah's Witnesses!"
- In an episode of Black Books, a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses knock on Bernard's door, and Bernard is so desperate for a distraction from the paperwork that he invites them in. He then winds up having to give them hints about what to do next, because it's been so long since anybody let them actually do the witnessing that they've forgotten how it goes. He also more or less converts them to Catholicism.
- In Spitting Image, we see a Soviet space station, and a man in a space suit knocking on the station (which is hard to do in space). A Russian Cosmonaut opens the door. "Yes, comrade?" "Hi, I'm from the Jehovah's Witnesses — " (slam!)
- Inverted in one sketch where a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on Michael Jackson's door, practically beg him if he'd like to join a different sect.
- In an episode of House, House is interrupted from a conversation when some nondescript Christian missionaries knock on his door. Before slamming the door in their faces, he says, "Oh, you're selling religion. No thanks, I just bought loads of Islam last week."
- Al from Married... with Children has a very special way of dealing with Jehovah's Witnesses...
: *after the doorbell rings* Oh I hope thats a Jehovah's Witness wanting to discuss hours of philosophical observation... *picks up baseball bat*
- Inverted on a Halloween episode note where Peggy tells Bud and Kelly that they're going to go trick-or-treating at the house of one of Jehovah's Witnesses as revenge for the many times they've been harassed by them.
- In an episode of Criminal Minds, a woman assumes the duo wearing a suit and knocking at her door are Jehovah's Witnesses. They're FBI agents.
- One of the main plotlines of the last season of Queer as Folk is Proposition 14, which would do nothing but make life harder for the gay characters (which is basically everyone on the show) if voted through. At one point, two middle-aged women who are supporters of Prop 14 come knocking on Michael and Ben's door, talking about "protecting the holy bonds of matrimony" and Michael talks to them for awhile, not letting on that he's gay. He tells them that he's married (he and Ben got married in Canada) and he has two children (they've got a teenage foster son, and Michael is the biological father of their lesbian friends' infant daughter). Then a half-naked Ben shows up, introducing himself as Michael's lawfully wedded husband, and the ladies beat a hasty retreat.
- A Pondus sunday strip has Pondus getting visited by two door-to-door evangelists (apparently a married couple) who emphasize that the end of the end of the world is coming very soon. Pondus jokingly tells them that at least it means he won't have to pay back the rest of his house loan. The evangelists laugh and, thinking they might have a foot inside, casually admit that they recently took up a rather large house loan themselves. Pondus then points out that it means they took up a loan that they never intended on paying back in full, and threatens to call an economic crime investigator.
- Swedish comedian Johan Glans has mentioned wanting to find out where a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses live, knocking on their door and saying: "Hi! I'm from the Ordinary People."
- German comedian Michael Mittermeier likes to scare Witness by acting as a exorcist-like possessed man complete with scare music and pea soup as fake vomit.
- Jim Gaffigan talks about how uncomfortable it makes even religious people to talk about Jesus. He says that even the pope would say, "Easy, freak. I like to keep work at work."
- Robin Williams mentioned at in one stand-up special that he became so burned out on religion that if Jehovah's Witnesses came to the door and asked if he found Jesus, he would like to answer the door naked and say, "No, why don't you help me find him? Come on!"
- Jasper Carrott once hypothesised that if you actually invited Jehovah's Witnesses in rather than finding inventive ways to get rid of them, they'd be so shocked that you could brainwash them and build up your own private army.
- Ross Noble has a routine about religion where he considers how this would go with a Monopoly fan in place of the Jehovah's Witness. "Oh, you're busy right now? Okay, I'll just leave the rules."
- Australian filmmaker Brad Carter made a video of himself and a friend going around Salt Lake City knocking on doors with copies of Origin of Species
- Used in a scene in Adult Interactive Fiction game The Babysitter wherein the Witness in question brings along his daughter and then leaves her behind while he makes his rounds. She doesn't fare so well.
- In another Interactive Fiction game Heavy Rain, a doctor is about to kill one of the main characters when one of these knocks on his door. While the devout one preaches about the word of god, and the doctor tries to get rid of him as quickly as possible, the main character is shown in split-screen, desperately trying to pull themselves free of their ropes before the doctor comes back and performs surgery on them with a power drill.
- The Simpsons:
- Marge and Lisa install a new doorbell that plays a novelty tune, and hang around waiting for someone to ring it. At one point two Jehovah's Witnesses walk up to the house, getting Marge's hopes up, but just as they're about to ring the bell one of them suddenly has a revelation — maybe other people don't appreciate having their lives meddled in? The two Witnesses quit, and the doorbell remains unrung.
- In a Halloween episode, Homer opens the door to find Kang and Kodos on the doorstep. He immediately rolls his eyes and mutters, "Oh great-Mormons!" They assure him that they are actually "Quantum Presbyterians."
- On another occasion, Marge recounts how she was so lonely that she invited some Witnesses in and wouldn't let them leave; they finally snuck out the window while her back was turned.
- Family Guy:
- One "flashback" had Peter remembering his time as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. The guy answers the door, Peter asks if he'd like to hear about Jesus and the guy says, "Yes." Peter is befuddled and doesn't know what to say, since that's the first time anybody hasn't slammed the door in his face. He then tried to tell the story of Jesus, but he ended up explaining the plot of Quantum Leap.
- Parodied in another episode. A black Southern woman asks the family if they'd like some pancakes—she's a Jemima's Witness.