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Crisis of Faith

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"Where is my faith? Even deep down ... there is nothing but emptiness and darkness ... If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul ... How painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith. Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal, ... What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."
Mother Teresa

A character with a religious belief, whether it be fervent, casual, or never mentioned before or since, loses it and spends a Story Arc as an unbeliever until learning a valuable lesson about faith. More Anviliciously, a Hollywood Atheist Long-Lost Uncle Aesop may be introduced, just to be enlightened and then never heard from again.

The Reset Button will often be in full effect — after all, in mainstream American media (where this trope is most common) God Is the Status Quo and the Moral Guardians might kick up a fuss if the option of losing one's faith for good were presented as a valid decision. Naturally, Values Dissonance abounds for viewers who consider atheism a valid outlook to live by.

Of course, suffering a period of painful doubt is completely Truth in Television for people with a strong faith in any cause. Sometimes it's a painful transition that ultimately leads to a new outlook, and sometimes it's a period of existential angst leading to developing a deeper and more nuanced faith because of the experience. This is not the place to debate these issues.

A more angry reaction may include Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter or Rage Against the Heavens. The character will most likely become either a Hollywood Atheist, losing all will to live or respect for morality, or a Nay-Theist, accepting that God exists but refusing to worship him.

When the conversion comes complete with a readjustment of the moral compass, see Heel–Faith Turn and Faith–Heel Turn.

Songs on this subject often sound like Breakup Songs, can overlap with Love Is Like Religion, and are the flipside of God-Is-Love Songs.

Not to be confused with Have You Seen My God?, where the divinity in question really is MIA (although of course it's often invoked metaphorically; a character's search for faith is like a search for God). Compare Religious Russian Roulette, where the character lets their belief in God ride on their request for a miracle.

Sub-Trope of Break the Believer. Compare and contrast Turn to Religion, where a crisis inspires the character to become a believer.


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    Comic Books 
  • Preacher is all about preacher Jesse Custer trying to discover what happened to his faith when (A) he loses it in a fit of depression and begins preaching all of his community's sins, (B) this act causes a supernatural entity with power comparable to God to possess him, and (C) angels from Heaven tell him God is missing. At the end of the series, he realizes he never needed it (or God), because he had faith in humanity all along.
  • In the Forgotten Realms comics, the elven cleric Vartan refuses to worship his god Labelas—even to access desperately-needed healing powers—after an arc in which Labelas possesses Vartan's body and torments his friends. Labelas shows up later and tries to make amends; Vartan accepts the gesture, and a later short story shows him returning to Labelas's service.
  • Just a Pilgrim: The titular Pilgrim spends the first arc as a Religious Bruiser, quoting scripture as he brings down the Lord's wrath on a group of post-apocalyptic Mad Max-esque raiders, sacrificing a convoy of settlers in the process. In the second arc, he encounters people with the means to escape Earth, and at first opposes it... but then meets what he considers proof positive that God is wrong (jellyfish that evolved into Puppeteer Parasites and took over a little girl) and spends the last few moments of his life renouncing God and telling the survivors to forget everything he'd said earlier while he pulls off a Heroic Sacrifice. Garth Ennis is a noted atheist.
  • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: Captain America had a big one about Gah Lak Tus, a hive mind of planetary size that roams the universe destroying complete planets. How can God allow such a creature to exist? He always thought that God allowed evil to exist because he also allowed virtuous and good men to stand against evil, but how can men stand against something so big and far removed?
  • Captain Atom: Eve Eden is a Catholic who learns that her powers are due to her mother's partially demonic heritage. Even after she's reconciled her faith with this discovery she's seen discussing it with Father Craemer and she is never fully comfortable with that part of her lineage.
  • In Wonder Woman (2006) the Olympians abandoning earth and Zeus' subsequent selfish actions in trying to secure worshipers for himself causes both Diana and Achilles to turn away from him, though even in Wonder Woman (1987) (the first place where the Amazons explicitly worshiped the entire Greek pantheon) they weren't particularly fond of Zeus and he had to threaten and cajole them into worshiping him.
  • Spider-Man has one, and he wants God to answer his questions. To his surprise, He does. More specifically, the One-Above-All in the form of a homeless man.

    Fan Works 
  • After spending the first half of Angel of the Bat discovering and eventually embracing Christianity, Cassandra Cain's faith is nearly destroyed after a Trauma Conga Line that includes admitting she has romantic feelings for her best friend Stephanie and learning that homosexuality is sinful; being cornered and beaten in battle by The Seraphim; and being subsequently tortured for just shy of two weeks to try and force her to surrender to his Religion of Evil. It takes confronting Christ (or maybe just a dream of him) and getting some heavy philosophy to convince her that her faith shouldn't be given up yet.
  • Victoria suffers from this following the siege of Adamant Fortress in All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird. Being a devout Andrastian who has up to this point fully embraced her role as the Herald of Andraste, she's deeply shaken to learn that it was nothing more than a cosmic accident, and that the god she's always revered may really not exist at all. It takes a lot of effort from those to whom she's closest to help her get out of it.
  • The Night Unfurls: Lily, a former nun of the Church, loses faith in the Goddess Incarnate as a result of being captured and raped by the Black Dogs along with her fellow sisters. Notably, she does not regain her faith over the course of the story, after she is taken in as an apprentice by Kyril, together with fulfilling her duties as a hunter. If anything, she decides to only believe in her own strength, instead of believing in the power of the Goddess Incarnate.
  • RWBY: Scars: Nora mentions that she became an atheist as a child because she couldn't believe in gods after being a street orphan and seeing her village destroyed. This changes as a teenager after Qrow reveals to her that gods exist for a fact. The problem is that he doesn't know which gods of the various pantheons they are, so Nora begins exploring various religions.
  • Tyrantly Ever After: After everything she experienced during the events of Disgaea 4, Artina finds herself questioning the wisdom of God's design, given all the pain and suffering the Fear System has wrought upon Celestia, human and netherworld alike. God's apparent silence on the matter doesn't help, as she's left wondering whether she's being punished for trying to avert disaster.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The protagonist of Priest (1994) spends practically the whole movie in a Crisis Of Faith.
  • In Signs, Mel Gibson's character is a former Anglican priest who lost his faith when his wife died. The Twist Ending makes him reconsider.
  • Roger in Angels in the Outfield goes through a particularly heartwrenching case of this. After misinterpreting a case of sarcasm about him and his dad being a family again if the local baseball team wins the pennant, he asks God to help the team win in order to make this come true. He gets his prayer answered and he witnesses angels help the team win game after game. Unfortunately shortly before the team reaches championship, his dad gives up custody of him, which causes him to go through this. Interestingly, since he has been the one able to see angels, his case also overlaps with Flat-Earth Atheist since he declares there's no God and doesn't believe in angels afterwards.
  • The protagonist of the Diablo Cody dramedy Paradise is a devout Christian who goes through a crisis of faith when she's involved in a plane crash and gets horrific burns on most of her body (but conveniently not the face)
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, 1970s Xavier begins with one, because of all the things he lost. He eventually gets better.
  • The Ingmar Bergman film Winter Light focuses on a pastor who struggles with his faith in God.
  • The Rapture: Sharon undergoes one after her husband's senseless murder. It only gets worse from there.
  • Silence: Rodrigues undergoes an extreme one over the course of the film after seeing how much all the Christians in Japan are suffering for the faith. Eventually he apostatizes to save others and it seems he has lost his faith completely. However, the ending reveals he privately remained a Christian to his death.
  • A big part of the plot of the movie Dogma revolves around Bethany, who was raised Catholic her whole life, is now questioning the existence of God after an infection destroyed her uterus, preventing her from ever having kids and causing her husband to divorce her. This gets thrown for a loop when she encounters, an angel, two "prophets" (Jay and Silent Bob), and the thirteenth apostle who assist her on a journey to find out what happened to God, who ended up missing, and stop two renegade angels from causing all of existence to be eradicated.
  • Stealing Heaven: Héloïse suffers this after Abelard is castrated, alternating between cursing God and disbelieving that he exists.

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany: Both Johnny and Rev. Merrill have this. The former cites the entire story as being the reason why he got over the crisis. Merrill does only because of a ruse Johnny stages with a dummy, tricking Merrill into thinking that Johnny's mother reached out to him from the grave.
  • The Book of Job is probably the Trope Maker, being the origin of the "if your life sucks, God is testing your faith" Aesop.
  • Arthur C. Clarke's short story "The Star" is about a Jesuit priest who has a crisis of faith when he learns that the nova that destroyed a planet of morally good inhabitants was the star over Bethlehem.
  • In Warrior Cats, the whole of ShadowClan stops believing in StarClan after a loner named Sol predicted a solar eclipse and StarClan weren't able to. ShadowClan's leader Blackstar had already been having some doubts because life had been harder since the Great Journey, so it didn't take much for Sol to convince him that StarClan was powerless. They did start believing again, though, after some StarClan cats - ShadowClan's last leader and medicine cat - spoke to Blackstar and his medicine cat.
    • Another example comes from Cloudstar, a cat from the distant past. His novella Cloudstar's Journey features him losing his faith entirely in StarClan. Unlike most examples of this trope, he never regains his faith until after his death.
  • Drives a lot of the plot in Dirge for Prester John. John tries hard to be a good Christian king of a kingdom of, in his view, heathen monsters. In the frame story, Hiob's faith is also shaken by John's account of Pentexore.
  • In Courtship Rite, on the Lost Colony of Geta, repeated cycles of famine have, after many centuries, made cannibalism an accepted part of the culture. The "Gentle Heretic" Oelita, in addition to believing that cannibalism should be avoided, is convinced that humans are native to Geta, despite their obvious biological and genetic differences. When conclusive evidence appears that this is not the case, she begins to question her whole belief system.
  • Due to events at the climax of the second Mistborn book, Sazed (who collects dead religions and considers himself a believer of every single one) spends much of his time in the third meticulously examining each one, looking for a faith that can provide an answer to his questions.
  • This happens to Omman Knight Jon Ommandeer in Serial 5 in Spectral Shadows, or at least is supposed to according to the serial synopsis. How his faith is in crisis and the extent of it is as of now unknown.
  • Safehold:
    • Concerns over this are a recurring theme throughout the series, as the entire cast save Merlin were raised and taught to believe in a church that is, in fact, a Path of Inspiration perpetrated through a God Guise. While dedicated to the eventual revelation of this gigantic lie many characters, especially Archbishop Maikel Staynair, fear the large-scale Crisis of Faith that many will suffer since it's hardly a leap to decide God is a lie after learning your entire Church is. Some members of the Inner Circle itself, such as Baron Wave Thunder, develop into genuine atheists while others find their way towards a deist mindset.
    • Even without this knowledge, Father Paityr Wylsynn experienced a Crisis of Faith in the wake of everything that has happened across the first four books. In the fifth book, How Firm a Foundation, Staynair recommends him to the monastery that helped him with similar troubles in his youth and eventually votes to induct him into the Inner Circle of those in the know.
  • Knowledge Of Angels: Beneditx has one after talking with Palinor, and becoming convinced by Palinor's atheist retorts.
  • In Ardath, Theos Alwyn starts out with one. His quest leads him to experience two extremely vivid dream-visions, confirmed as definitely not All Just a Dream, which convince him in the reality of God and, later, Jesus (although not mainstream church Christianity).
  • H. P. Lovecraft has his hero Randolph Carter go through this in The Silver Key. Randolph has lost the ability to go to the Dreamlands, and without that experience, life isn't worth living. Fortunately he finds a way, by starting his life over from childhood.
  • In The Witchlands, Warrior Monk Aeduen starts to question his faith when he realizes that his current targets might just be the prophesies messiahs of his faith, and yet he feels nothing as he's hunting them down. Ultimately, in contrast to the usual path this trope takes, he comes to terms with the fact that he doesn't believe in the tenets of his own religion anymore and becomes an atheist.
  • The Neanderthal Parallax: Mary starts to undergo one when it's shown that a religious experience can be induced by magnetic fields. When this happens to people all over the world at once, following the specific beliefs they have, she concludes that religion is bunk. Even before this, she disagrees with the Catholic Church on many issues (as many liberal Catholics in North America do). This prompts her to decide her child with Ponter shouldn't be made capable of religious beliefs.
  • The Dresden Files book Skin Game involves two:
    • Waldo Butters' own crisis of Faith not in the Almighty, but in the hero Harry Dresden. In the past few books Harry died, his ghost came back to help them save the day, was resurrected but stayed on a creepy island all while things in Chicago were getting worse and worse. Waldo doubts Harry and his goodness now, even spying on him and as Harry is in Chicago to work with some villains but also betray them and no one can be told, Waldo believes the act. This act leads to the destruction of the Sword of Faith because when chasing Waldo, a confrontation between Harry and his "allies" ensues and one bad choice causes the Power in the Sword to go dormant and allowed it to be shattered to the hilt. Later, realizing his mistake, Waldo stays with some friends to guard them if the "allies" come back, which they do. The minions capture the mother in this family and the bad guys intend to burn the house down, making her watch. With Harry down from a medical condition, Waldo has had his faith in Harry restored, and restoring it in the ideals he has devoted himself to, that good can overcome evil, that one person can make the difference, and if he needs to die to save some friends, just stalling them until help arrives, he will. He takes Harry's magical duster to guard himself from bullets and charges into battle.
    • Watching all of this is Harry Dresden. While Harry has always had full belief in Magic, he has been a Nay-Theist towards God. This is even after meeting an archangel, three paladins, had a Fallen Angel in his head for a few years, died, and a few other things. But seeing Waldo running out there, he remembered words one of his paladin friends told him about having faith in Power of the Sword and not the physical form of the blade. Gripping onto that, he throws the hilt to the religious mother held captive. The hilt misses her and ends up in the hands of Waldo as he is about to be killed by the bad guys. His actions and restoration of his Faith allow for the Sword of Faith to be reborn into a symbol that represents the ideals he so strongly believes in, a Lightsaber. He dispatches the bad guys and saves the day.
  • In Julia's Kitchen, Cara wonders how God could allow the House Fire that killed her mother and her sister. She spends some time as an atheist as a result.
  • In The White Bone, the elephant Tall Time has memorized so many links, or superstitious rules and signs, that he's known as the link bull, and other elephants go to him for advice. When his links fail to predict either the droughts or the slaughters committed by evil poachers that have wiped out entire families, he loses all faith in them, as well as in the She, the goddess who supposedly created the links.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An All in the Family episode has Edith undergo one of these after Mike and a family friend are mugged on Christmas Eve, with the friend subsequently dying. Ironically, it's Mike who convinces her to reconsider.
  • The Chosen:
    • Mary Magdalene struggles to beat her demonic possession by reading the words her father taught her, which does nothing to help her. She contemplates suicide only to have her attention caught by a bird flying overhead, which leads her to being healed by Jesus.
    • Simon in his attempt to stave off ruin by fishing all night. His utterances about the history of Israel while alone on the boat drive home his inner turmoil.
    • Nathanael spends his introductory episode in the midst of one, after an accident at his worksite gets him blacklisted from the architectural job he'd been working towards his whole life.
  • Combat Hospital explores this one pretty thoroughly through an army chaplain who undergoes a crisis of faith as she serves in Afghanistan and sees the brutality of war up close and personal.
  • An episode of Dead Like Me included a drunken priest whose faith is restored by Daisy revealing herself to be a Reaper.
  • Drop the Dead Donkey has it both ways. In order to impress Japanese investors and Sir Royston, a debate between an atheist sociologist and a Catholic bishop is planned. Unfortunately, before it can go ahead, the TV news screens a piece of footage from the Middle East. The bishop is distressed by the inhumanity of it all, particularly when focusing on civilians caught up in the middle of violence, and loses his faith. However, the sociologist sees the same woman and same child and gains faith from seeing human survival against the odds and concludes the world must be in the hands of a divine being. The debate is, naturally enough, cancelled.
  • Firefly:
    • In the pilot episode, Mal is shown kissing a crucifix before going into battle, symbolic of his faith. The events cause him to lose that faith, so much so that later when Shepherd Book asks if anyone minded if he led the crew of Serenity in grace, Mal says, "Not so long as it's silent."
    • This is later reexplored in Serenity when Mal and company find a dying Book, who implores Mal to believe. Mal reiterates that he doesn't believe in God or the Almighty, and Book shuts him down, saying he's not asking that Mal believe in God, but that he believe in something.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The red priest Thoros of Myr admits that by the time he came to Westeros, he didn't believe in the Lord of Light anymore, but his faith returned after his last rites resurrected his friend Beric.
    • Later in the series, another red priestess, Melisandre, has this in a big way after her advice to Stannis to sacrifice his own daughter to the Lord of Light in order to win a battle does not succeed, and actually causes a large number of his men to defect to the other side.
  • Hand of God: Pernell gets one after what he believes is God's promise to him that PJ would come out of his coma doesn't happen.
  • Detective Frank Pembleton in Homicide: Life on the Street starts off as a devout Catholic due to his Jesuit upbringing, but the brutality he sees every day as part of his job as a homicide detective results in his faith starting to waver. The investigation into the white gloves murder causes him to lose his faith entirely.
  • House: While House himself gets a pass for being a misanthropic Jerkass, a wayward priest patient finds his faith again after seeing the fantastic series of coincidences that line up to save his life.
  • Lucifer (2016): Token Religious Teammate Ella Lopez goes through this during the fourth season. The previous season ended with a friend of hers being murdered by someone she'd looked up to, events which shake her faith in God and his divine plans. She stops going to church every weekend, takes off her crucifix pendant, and eventually starts drinking more. By the end of the season she accepts that God can't prevent bad things from happening and starts to regain her faith.
  • Medici may as well be called "Crisis of Faith: the Series." Cosimo struggles mightily with his guilt, morals, and his personal identity in conflict with his family's needs.
  • My Name Is Earl:
    • Earl confesses to a happy nun that used to be his cranky landlady that the "voice of God" she was hearing was actually him fooling around with a walkie-talkie and her hearing aid. The nun loses her faith in God, leaves the convent, and returns to Pimmit Hills Trailer Park, grouchier and meaner than ever. Earl and his friends then try to help her get her faith back.
    • In another episode, Earl himself has a Crisis Of Faith in Karma. He gets out of Prison for doing something bad, had spent all his lotto money on a prom for the prison and then can't get back on his feet because no one wants to hire an ex-con. Meanwhile, his friend Ralph has been living it up, posing as a senile old woman's dead husband. Earl becomes frustrated because he was expecting to be rewarded for good behavior (which is why he embraced (The Theme Park Version) of Karma in the first place), but hasn't experienced any rewards.
    • Happens yet again in an episode dealing with Reverend Green, who used to be a violent gangster called "Hash Brown" before his Heel–Faith Turn. Earl has committed multiple offenses against the man (stealing the church's organ, stealing Green's tool belt and then tipping over the port-a-john he was in, and finally sleeping with his wife while he was incarcerated), with each one making him angrier than the last until he snaps and returns to his criminal ways, believing that God wants him to go back to being Hash Brown. Before it's too late, Earl reveals yet another list item involving the Reverend: shooting out the taillight on his truck. Turns out, the broken taillight resulted in Hash Brown being arrested and thus missing out on a deal that resulted in the deaths of his fellow gang members. Realizing that Earl had indirectly saved his life, he apologizes to his congregation and thanks Earl for saving him.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Corner of the Eye", Father Anton Jonascu has been ministering to the sick and homeless in his community for decades but suffers a crisis of faith as he cannot solve all of these people's problems, let alone all of the world's problems.
    • In "Revival", Ezra Burnham lost his faith after the death of his wife as God did not answer his prayers for her to recover.
  • The Path: Eddie starts to have one regarding Meyerism, his religion, when the series starts.
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "Leap of Faith", Sam leaps into a priest, and Al is uncomfortable with the whole thing. He reveals that he left the church as a child after prayer failed to save his father from dying of cancer, and swore never to have anything to do with God again. However, he resorts to praying to God again when it looks like Sam's life is in danger.
  • Reba: The episode "And God Created Van" deals with Van renouncing his belief in God after spinal stenosis forced him to give up his dream of being a pro football player. The family is unable to accept this behavior and Reba takes Van to their Reverend in an attempt to force belief on him. After the Reverend tells Van he's free to go (as he refuses to help someone who is clearly there against their will), Reba is grilled into confessing that she had a similar crisis of faith during her divorce. Upon telling Van this, he looks up to the heavens and says "What'd you ever do to tick her off?" implying that his faith is restored.
  • A recurring problem for Adam Smallbone on Rev.. According to his wife, it happens at least once a year. One particularly bad crisis sends him into a deep depression, lashing out at several people around him.
  • In the Scrubs episode "My Own Personal Jesus", Turk loses his faith in a just God after a hopeless Christmas Eve in the emergency room but regains it after he finds a missing pregnant woman by intuition and helps her give birth. (Interestingly, Turk is the only character in the episode who professes strong religious beliefs in the first place, and the other major characters seem to look down on him for this.)
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Mortal Coil", Neelix experiences a deep crisis of faith after dying and being revived 18 hours later, without having experienced the afterlife his faith promised. After trying to come to terms with it, he tries teleporting himself into space to die, convinced that there really is nothing after death, but Chakotay manages to talk him out of it. The episode ends without giving a firm answer about his beliefs one way or another.
  • The Wilds: Shelby is a very devoted Christian at first, but begins to question her faith when she meets Toni, a proud, open lesbian whose sexuality she finds threatening as she's repressed her attraction for girls as it conflicts with the conservative teachings she'd been instilled with. It all does a number on her mentally. She seems to get over it after a time, but is far more subdued than prior, no longer talking about it so often. However, after Rachel's lost Nora and seeks religious comfort Shelby shares a prayer she used as a mantra to deal with the suicide of her friend Becca.
  • This is an ongoing issue for Scully of The X-Files. She was raised as a devout Catholic and already had a few issues reconciling her work as a scientist with her faith. When she joins the X-Files and paranormal events and aliens get thrown in, she struggles to strike a balance.
  • You, Me and the Apocalypse: Besides many people heading this way once news of the comet is announced, Father Jude and Sister Celine must fight their growing feelings for each other. Celine later has a proper crisis of faith after Jude dies.
  • Young Sheldon:
    • Mary Cooper has one in the aptly titled episode "A Crisis of Faith and Octopus Aliens". She reacts to a neighbor's young daughter dying in a car crash first by keeping busy volunteering at church, then she starts doubting why the girl's death is somehow part of God's plan and gets so distraught that she stops going to church and saying grace. This change in character worries Sheldon, and he manages to restore her faith by saying that, even though he doesn't believe in God, he's open to the possibility that there might be a creator.
    • In "Snoopin' Around and the Wonder Twins of Atheism", Missy starts questioning God's existence after learning about how the pharaoh had hundreds of babies drowned in Exodus and asking why God would let that happen. Youth Pastor Rob encourages her to question her faith rather than accept it blindly.
    • In "Four Hundred Cartons of Undeclared Cigarettes and a Niblingo", Mary is beginning to feel like God has abandoned her due to all the hardships she's endured in the last few weeks.

    Multiple Media 
  • Brutaka from BIONICLE performed a brief but notable Face–Heel Turn when he lost his faith in the Great Spirit Mata Nui. Little did he know that Mata Nui's actually a very Physical God, who hasn't shown any sign of himself due to being in a coma. He later realizes that being a villain stands against all the other things he believed in, and the rest of the story portrays him as a mostly positive character.

  • The Ocean has a few songs like this. It's prominent in "She Was the Universe".
  • Daniel Amos's lyrics show an interesting transition in frontman Terry Scott Taylor's attitude over the years. In "Skeptics' Song" (from the 1976 debut album), he simply mocks anyone who disbelieves the Bible. (Reportedly, Taylor is deeply embarrassed over that song, now.) Then in "Walls of Doubt" (from 1981's ˇAlarma!), Taylor reassures listeners that having doubts isn't the end of the world, but that God will help them through their crisis:
    It's alright
    You can let go now
    Love is the master's plow
    Crash down the walls of doubt
And then in "The Uses of Adversity" (from 2013's Dig Here Said the Angel), he takes the position that these crises may be necessary.
No don’t send me certainty
If somehow it’s best for me to doubt
  • Tyler Glenn, best known for being the frontman of Neon Trees, went through one related to his Mormon faith, and chronicled it in his solo album titled Excommunication.
  • Faith crises are the subject of several Sufjan Stevens songs. The narrator of "Casimir Pulaski Day" questions God after the death of a loved one due to bone cancer, musing over the emptiness of his religious practices and beliefs as a result:
    All the glory when He took our place
    But He took my shoulders and He shook my face
    And He takes and He takes and He takes...
    • The entirety of "Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickerel Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)".
  • In "The Plough" by The Divine Comedy, the subject, after having left his old office job out of moral protest (upon catching his colleagues gaming the system for personal gain), tried turning to the church for guidance in life. He soon found himself unable to reconcile the notion that non-believers would be sent to hell, however, and ultimately turned his back on the idea.
    Try as I might, I could not understand
    Why the Almighty's all-merciful hand
    Should cast away those whose only mistake
    Was never to know the Christian faith
    The stars that we follow can lead us astray
    I'll plough my own furrow; I'll go my own way
  • The narrator of Taylor Swift's "Would've, Could've, Should've" off her album Midnights has gone through one after being broken by an abusive relationship, having once been religious but now clearly doubting that God is protecting her.
    All I used to do was pray
    Would've, could've, should've
    If you'd never looked my way
    I would've stayed on my knees
    And I damn sure never would've danced with the devil
    At nineteen
    And the God's honest truth is that the pain was heaven


    Tabletop Games 
  • In Nomine: In The Final Trumpet, the final adventure of the Revelations cycle, the Archangel of Faith himself actually reaches this point, risking Armageddon in the process. Depending on the actions of the player characters, he may come back stronger than ever, or Fall completely to become the Demon Prince of Fanaticism.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Happens to at least one cleric on Zendikar when the true nature of the plane's "gods" is revealed.
    I believed in a beautiful god. But this is the true face of the divine.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Lorgar always needed something to worship. For most of the Great Crusade, he chose his God-Emperor father, deifying him and building monuments of faith in his name. But the Emperor, striving for a secular Imperium and hating those who saw him as a God, put a stop to this in the most faith-crushing way: by destroying his greatest cathedral, and forcing Lorgar and his Astartes to kneel in the ashes. His faith in the Emperor destroyed, Lorgar needed a new thing to worship, and Chaos would be that thing, kicking off the fall of the Imperium.

  • In the play Doubt, Sister Aloysis experiences a crisis of faith after seeing the abuses of trust and privilege in the church. It's not a major plot arc but is significant because the character is a nun.

    Video Games 
  • The lead villain of Resonance of Fate Cardinal Rowen goes through one over the course of the story. He used to believe fervently in Zenith, the clockwork tower that the people live in, and believed in its plan. However, Sullivan shows the way to control Zenith, and since it regulates the lifespan of a person through quartz, controlling life and death. Rowen goes from worshiping God to being God
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition has this for three of the major characters: Cassandra, Leliana, and Cullen. Cullen falters slightly due to using faith to try and overcome his addiction to lyrium, at which he can fail if encouraged to take it again. Leliana and Cassandra worked with Divine Justinia to make the Conclave, only for it to fall apart at the beginning of the game. Leliana sees the whole thing as a cruel joke by a Jerkass God, while Cassandra begins looking for any sign of faith that would extinguish her doubts.
  • Zelda is shown going through this during the "Slumbering Power" memory in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild due to her inability to access her Royalty Super Power despite her constant efforts, fully aware that failure to do so before Calamity Ganon's return would (and ultimately did) result in untold death and destruction.
  • A possible character-specific event for Yashiro Kawaji in World of Horror invokes this by name; being Catholic in Japan is already an oddity he's had to deal with, but in the face of many an Eldritch Abomination invading a sleepy town (alongside a mysterious letter from his dead sister bringing him there), it's easy to understand having such a crisis. This is also invoked by his Faith stat; a high FTH brings him additional experience points and dexterity, while a negative one brings him physical strength and harder hits. Fittingly, the mentioned event gives the option to either buckle down and increase his Faith, or linger in doubt and decrease it.
  • In Warcraft lore, the paladin Turalyon, Anduin Lothar's Number Two during the Second War, faltered in his belief in the Holy Light after seeing the atrocities committed by the Orcish Horde. It's only after Lothar's death, when the victorious Orgrim Doomhammer gloats over the hero's body and unintentionally reveals that Orcs aren't native to Azeroth, that Turalyon is able to resolve his crisis, reasoning that the Light didn't create these monsters. His belief returns in force, and he uses the glow to blind the warchief and defeat him.

  • This comes up with Joyce Brown in the Walkyverse:
    • In It's Walky!, a distraught Joyce, unable to reconcile her fundamentalist Christian beliefs with the events of her life, shouts out at the heavens, then in a fit of inspiration (or insanity, or both) takes up the Power Booster Rod and goes out to seek out God for answers... or rather, the nearest equivalent, the immortal being known as the Traveler (AKA the Cheese), who is completely dumbfounded that she would think he could give her an answer.
    • In Dumbing of Age, having to deal with finding out her best friend Becky is a lesbian, the traumatic events of her time as a college student, and learning just how much nastiness is lurking under the surface of both her and her friends' families (particularly that Becky's father tried to kidnap her to 're-educate' her, and Joyce's mother condoned it) leave her faith deeply shaken. She even has a dream conversation with deceased Christian singer Rich Mullins in which she admits that she can't feel God anymore and is wondering if she ever could. By the time the second semester begins she identifies as an atheist, which causes a new source of conflict with Becky, because Becky didn't have a crisis of faith and still identifies as Christian.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons has had a couple.
    • In "Homer The Heretic", Homer decides going to church is too much effort, and starts his own religion. Then his house catches fire, and he's rescued by Ned Flanders and a multi-faith volunteer fire brigade.
      Reverend Lovejoy: Homer, God didn't burn your house down. But he was working in the hearts of your friends and neighbours, be they Christian [gestures to Flanders], Jew [gestures to Krusty], or [pauses] ...miscellaneous!
      Apu: Hindu! There are seven hundred million of us!
      Reverend Lovejoy: Aw, that's super!
    • Ned Flanders himself has a brief crisis of faith in "Hurricane Neddy" when his house is destroyed by a tornado (in a clear homage to the Book of Job, mentioned above) and then again in "Alone Again, Natura-Diddly" with the death of his wife Maude.
  • South Park:
    • Kyle loses his belief in God after Cartman gets a million-dollar inheritance and buys his own theme park, while Kyle gets diagnosed with hemorrhoids. His faith is restored when he sees Cartman lose all his money, which Stan interprets as The Plan by God to punish Cartman the whole time.
    • Another episode has all the Catholics in South Park (which is pretty much everybody) declare themselves Hollywood Atheists due to the Pedophile Priest controversy. They wind up reverting back after Father Maxi makes a televised speech to the church hierarchy about not letting unnecessary bureaucracy and corrupt rules get in the way of religion's core message.
  • Inverted in Justice League, "The Terror Beyond", with Hawkgirl questioning her own Naytheism. She's genuinely surprised to learn that Wonder Woman gets stronger by asking the gods for aid and admits at the end that she doesn't understand why a teammate (who believed in an afterlife) was able to Go Out with a Smile. The episode ends with this subplot deliberately left hanging.
  • One episode of Daria has Quinn take a sudden interest in stories of angels, and she becomes convinced she has her own guardian angel when she happens to move just in time to avoid a dangerous accident. The problem is that she comes to believe her angel will help her with everything, and becomes convinced that he's "abandoned" her when she embarrasses herself at a party. Daria puts aside her own feelings about the matter and helps Quinn decide she should only trust her angel for "big" issues.


Video Example(s):



Despite how harsh and cruel both his life and the world of Alrest can be, Amalthus dedicated himself to spreading kindness and help others. However, after helping a soldier heal from the wounds of war, he finds the same man having murdered an innocent family to loot from them, and furiously revokes his former kindness, and begins to question what the god he worships intended and if humanity deserves any kindness.

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Main / TheFarmerAndTheViper

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