Follow TV Tropes


Hollywood Atheist

Go To

Atheists in real life are a rather diverse group. After all, the only thing confirmed by the label "atheist" is that the person doesn't believe in God/gods. It's like trying to make a coherent generalization about people who don't like baseball.

In fiction, however (and especially in American fiction, as the title says), while it is reasonably common to see a character who is never shown practicing or even mentioning religion, it's generally only characters with a fair degree of cynicism and bitterness who will state outright that they are an atheist. Some of the more common character traits are:

  • A Cynicism Catalyst or some other trauma, or a miserable life in general was the direct cause of their 'conversion' to atheism, as well as a Rage Against the Heavens at a God who lets such things happen. Consequently, the Hollywood Atheist can easily be made to reverse or reexamine their lack-of-belief if something good happens, even if there is no explicit connection between the good event and divine intervention. Conversely, when something bad happens (especially their own death approaching) the atheist will suddenly become enough of a believer to pray for help. This is where you get the old (and disproved) saying "There are no atheists in foxholes." See Nay-Theist if they do believe in a higher power but have a grudge against it for these reasons; the character falls in this trope if they profess a disbelief in the relevant deity despite their actions/views seemingly being fuelled by an intense hatred of it.
  • Atheists have been turned off by hypocrites and villains acting in the name of religion and only need to be shown a non-hypocritical or heroic believer to see the light.
  • Atheists show contempt, dislike, or even hatred towards religion and gods (which may become contradictory to the point of them seeming to be Nay Theists instead), and will mock believers to no end.
  • Sometimes in relation to any of the previous points, atheists are depressed, lonely, anti-social, and often Straw Nihilists, underlining the idea that atheism is simply not compatible with happiness.
  • Atheists are somehow simply ignorant or unaware of religion, and will happily convert on the spot when informed of the rudiments of whatever dogma the work is endorsing. Expect them in an Author Tract.
  • Atheists only seem to have arguments against their culture's predominant religion. In the real world this is most often Christianity, and to a lesser extent, its brethren Judaism and Islam. They'll have nothing to say about other spiritualities — they may even view them positively in contrast. (Note, however, that some Eastern religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Jainism have sects which actually enforce atheism or are at least compatible with it — they might not feature belief in god(s), only in other elements of their cosmology like reincarnation, karma and Tao.)
  • Atheists are hardline materialists and/or have a pseudo-religious belief in science and logic (which is scientism, not atheism). They might even be technophiles/transhumanists/roboticists as well, effectively having that as their religion.
  • Atheists are selfish hedonists who only care about themselves and their own happiness.
  • Atheists might consider and/or proclaim themselves God(s) under the right conditions, often fully meaning it rather than doing it to troll believers.
  • Atheists are straight-out evil bastards whose lack of belief enables them to Jump Off The Slippery Slope with glee, underlining the idea that morality — or even basic human decency in general — cannot exist independently from religion. In addition to lacking religion, they also lack any kind of empathy for others. Bonus points are awarded if they believe that rejecting religion makes them exempt from the concept of good and evil (which only ever seems to make someone a villain). Compare and contrast Faith–Heel Turn.
  • Atheists are smugly convinced of their own intellectual superiority and usually blinded to the "truth" by their own elitist pretensions. Usually, they are shown as being similar to their religious opponents, especially the more fanatical ones.
  • Related to the previous, atheists might consider themselves modern or hip for it, with their beliefs being portrayed as a fad they will ultimately outgrow.
  • Atheists don't just argue against theism, but may actively discriminate against, harass, and even persecute believers.
  • In older works, they may be stereotyped as Bomb-Throwing Anarchists and or Dirty Commies, given the prevalence of atheism among such ideologues. An association with communism (usually citing the crimes of the USSR, etc.) is still used to disparage atheism at times, even when the specific atheists are not at all communist (or when churches were complicit in the crimes of these regimes as well).
  • Atheists may be portrayed as or assumed to be evilutionary biologists or Social Darwinists if they advocate the theory of evolution or work in the life sciences, despite such ideas being much older than both evolution and modern atheism, having advocates from a variety of religious orientations and being actively disavowed by most today.
  • In some (fundamentalist) religious works, atheism is equated to Satanism due to their perceived rejection of God and light. While some atheists are Satanists by way of non-theistic Satanism, this clearly doesn't represent atheism in general as most atheists simply wanted nothing to do with the belief in God without dabbling into occult-ish acts.

Common to all portrayals of the Hollywood Atheist is the idea that faith is the natural state and something must occur to drive the character away from the norm. Given that the majority of humans worldwide are religious (to varying degrees) and that research indicates supernatural belief formation is a part of childhood developmentnote , this understandably colors media greatly, but still, it's always 'my reason for not believing is X.' One never hears 'I just don't have a reason to believe', which is a common (if not the most common) real-life reason given by atheists.

A major exception is science fiction, which often goes so far the other way as to state that Religion Is Wrong and humanity has Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions. For atheists living in fantasy settings where the existence of gods is irrefutable, see Flat-Earth Atheist (who stubbornly disbelieves in the factuality of God/gods) and Nay-Theist (who accepts the factuality of God/gods, but refuses to worship Him/them).

As with other strawman tropes, Hollywood Atheism is a caricature of Real Life attitudes crafted to suit the purposes of various authors; by definition, real atheists are not examples. The fact that there unfortunately are a Vocal Minority of atheists in Real Life who exhibit these characteristics does not mean that you should assume that those characteristics apply to any atheist you meet.

Compare with Holier Than Thou, and see Crisis of Faith. See also Useful Notes on Atheism. Not to be confused with some of the American conservative movement's more vocal members' view of Hollywood's "war on Faith".

The complete opposite trope is "Belief Makes You Stupid".


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Edward Elric, a bitter young man who lost his faith in any kind of benevolent god when an attempt to resurrect his dead mother goes horribly awry and becomes very grouchy and condescending when it comes to religion. However, he often seems more of a Nay-Theist, considering that "God" or the closest thing to that is the Truth, who was the one who took Ed's arm and leg along with Al's body. In the first chapter of the manga, Ed mutters that he's agnostic when Rose goes on about the local priest's miracles.
    • There's also a later chapter on the Ishvalan war, in which the religious leader of the country turns himself in to save his people. King Bradley declares that his life is not worth an entire nation and laughs that if their god exists, why doesn't He strike him down for the genocide. Shortly after, Mustang and Hughes discuss Ishval's religion and how their god seems to have abandoned them.
    • King Bradley goes even further, repeatedly stating that there is no God but the ones that humans make. This adds yet another dimension to his final battle against Scar, a devout man whose life was destroyed on Bradley's orders, especially when it's a gleam from the sun reflected against his sword (the sun being the symbol for god in both Alchemy and Ishval's religion) which blinds him and allows Scar to land a fatal blow.
    • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003):
    • Edward is depicted as an agnostic theist instead of an atheist. While he still openly questions the existence of a God, several lines make it clear that he believes in one even if he's against worshiping it.
    • Colonel Roy Mustang vacillates in the direction of atheism, and has a notably traumatic past. He's a little world-weary and something of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, though he remains a heroic character through to the end. At one point he defiantly shouts, "There is no God!" at his would-be savior of a nemesis, who gets a rare villainous Shut Up, Hannibal!, by saying, "Maybe not, but there's a Devil, and you alchemists are it." Ironic for the Flame Alchemist to get burned.
  • Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann plays this one to some degree during his Heroic BSoD: while still mourning Kamina's death, at one point he tells former First Church of Mecha member Rossiu something along the lines of, "Could your God prevent Bro's death? Oh, yeah, I forgot, it's just a Ganmen!" He eventually apologizes for being rude.
  • Gundam 00:
    • Setsuna F. Seiei, the main character, is a former Muslim who lost his faith when fighting as a Child Soldier terrorist insurgent and witnessing the horrors of war. This faith has been replaced with a faith in the concept of "Gundam" that is, anything used for "the eradication of war" be it mobile suits or those piloting them, hence Setsuna declares himself not only a Gundam meister (pilot) but "Gundam". It helps that the first Gundam he saw after losing his faith had a definite angelic vibe to it.
    • It also helps that he was manipulated into becoming an insurgent (and killing his own family) by an appeal to his Muslim faith to justify it. The manipulator is one of the most thoroughly evil and self-serving characters the Gundam metaverse has ever spawned, who did the whole thing because he was getting paid and loves chaos.
  • Pretty much everyone in Black Lagoon are all stated to be atheists, of the 'lost their faith during their childhoods' type. In Revy's case it was replaced with a nihilistic materialism (in her own words: "Money and guns. As long as you have those, the world's a great place."), while Hansel and Gretel were driven utterly insane by the injustices done to them and became convinced the only purpose behind existence is to kill or be killed. The only exception to this rule is the arc villain Takenaka, who is an atheist but doesn't have any kind of sob story to go with it.
  • Baran the Emperor of Light, a villain from the final chapters of the Fist of the North Star manga, whose disbelief in God comes from the fact that his dead sister died from a curable disease because she refused to take the medicine he stole for her. His nonbelief later drove him to start his own evil cult.
  • Black Butler gives us Ciel Phantomhive. He used to be such a sweet, happy boy, before his tenth birthday, on which people came into his home, murdered his parents and most of the staff, including attempting to kill the house steward in front of him and set his home on fire, presumably to dispose of any evidence Scotland Yard might find. They kidnapped him, where he was kept literally in a cage with other children his age, is implied to have been gang-raped on a near-nightly basis, and then ultimately denounced his faith during a ceremony in which he was to be the sacrifice. This is how he came to get Sebastian, who is one hell of a butler. Ciel, three years later, still has an avid disbelief in God, and in fact, if he is not a Hollywood Atheist, he might just be a borderline Satanist thanks to his complete trust in Sebastian.
  • Gundam Wing gives us a rather odd example, in the form of Duo Maxwell. Duo wears a clerical collar and Creepy Crosses, but he states in Episode Zero that he believes in the Grim Reaper but not God because "I've never seen a miracle, but I've sure seen lots of dead people!" (amusingly, the Cool Old Guy priest concedes that it's hard to debate his logic). In Frozen Teardrop (set 30 years down the line) he appears to become a preacher, but it's more of a front for his Bounty Hunter work than anything else.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Doma the powerful Upper Rank 2 demon and leader of a Cult, doesn't believe in Gods, Buddhas, and afterlife. And view those who do believe in them as dumb, pitiful, and pathetic.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman is portrayed as an atheist by some writers, presumably as a side effect of having his parents killed and spending the last 10 to 15 years looking at the slimy underside of society.
    • Given that Batman has seen demons, been teammates with angels, and in general encountered mystical things enough to know that some kind of supreme being exists, Batman's position is sometimes written not as "There is no God" but "When I finally meet God, He'd better have a really good explanation for all this crap."
    • After much scrutiny, the folks at the Adherents website have concluded that Batman is a lapsed Episcopalian or Catholic. Neil Gaiman gives him a suitable atheistic afterlife: he gets to reincarnate as himself, in a different Earth, every time.
    • At least in the Bronze Age, he is definitely not a religious practitioner. When asked by Dr. Leslie Thompkins if he ever prayed, he replied "No. Not since that night."
    • According to Batman Beyond, Batman only believes in gods he has evidence for. For example, he is obviously not stupid enough to deny all the angels, gods, demons, zombies etc. he's seen are real. However, he's quick to point out that he doesn't believe in most claims of them, because he's experienced enough to know the real gods and angels and demons and suchlike from the fakes. Batman certainly doesn't worship God or practice religion, at least from what is seen in the show.
    • Technically, Batman has already killed ONE god.
  • Freddy Krueger-esque Mister Rictus from the comic book miniseries Wanted. He was the most pious of Christians until he died on the operating table after an accident. After seeing what lay beyond, i.e. nothing, he went completely crazy and started doing whatever the hell he felt like with no restrictions or morality whatsoever. Of course the fact that the accident scarred him to a ridiculous degree may have contributed. He is basically the personification of one of the most common atheist reactions to the "Atheists have no moral code" claim-namely, "If faith is really the only thing that keeps someone moral, then that someone has problems."
  • Warren Ellis has used a similar approach a couple of times. In Stormwatch, there's a character called The Eidolon, who's died and returned to let everyone know that there's nothing beyond this life. Then there's an early issue of Planetary with a Hong Kong ghost cop (possibly cop ghost) who's come back with a similar message: "There's just us." "Did he say justice?" "No. 'Just us.'".
  • The Kree from the Marvel Universe claim to have mathematically disproved the existence of God and teach it to kids just after toilet training. The fact that All Myths Are True in the Marvel Universe means they're crossed with Flat-Earth Atheist. Also note that Wolverine foe and HYDRA member Gorgon devised a formula proving the exact opposite.
  • Justice Society of America: Michael Holt, aka Mister Terrific. He's a compassionate and heroic man who just happens to be an atheist, and good friends with Doctor Mid-Nite, a devout Catholic. Complicated by the presence of several divine beings in the The DCU, several of whom he has worked with, but there are various justifications given for that. Developments with Mr. Terrific (especially meeting his Earth-2 mk II counterpart) have pretty much established that he was indifferently religious until his wife died, at which point he got pissed off at God; had she survived, he would have found a profound faith from that miracle, so he's playing this trope straight now.
  • Madcap in Ghost Rider comics doesn't believe in Zadkiel (the evil angel who took control of heaven) even though he is directly working for him. And note that this takes place in the Marvel universe, where, decades ago, the Gorgon mathematically proved the existence of God. That said, Madcap is one of the most tragic examples of this trope, a devoutly religious young man who saw his entire congregation die horribly in the accident that gave him superhuman powers. Needless to say, such incidents didn't exactly help his mental stability. However, it's also worth noting that the atheist facet of his personality was only introduced in the Ghost Rider comics.
  • In one Punisher / Wolverine crossover there was a villain called "The Atheist", whose stated complete lack of belief in anything gives him free rein to do as he pleases.
  • In Marvel Comics, the Uncreated are an alien race who know themselves to have been created by a "god" (this being the Marvel Universe, it's unclear whether this was a Physical God or a Sufficiently Advanced Alien). This gave them an overwhelming inferiority complex, and so they murdered this being. They then became Scary Dogmatic Aliens and launched a genocidal atheist crusade to exterminate all civilizations who worship any sort of deity. The Starjammers defeated their fleet by tricking them into believing their god had returned. They killed themselves.
  • Chick Tracts feature Hollywood atheists, specifically the Hollywood of the 1950's. No wimpy excuses in the Chick-y-verse, and any atheist who hears about this "Jesus" fellow (for the first time in their life, apparently) and doesn't immediately convert on the spot is guaranteed to be a Card-Carrying Villain. Oh, and this is all supposed to be a realistic portrayal of the world. At least atheists can rest assured that every belief system other than the author's own (including all the other versions of Christianity) gets the exact same treatment.
  • Gorr the God-Butcher, a villain from a 2015 storyline for Marvel's The Mighty Thor, started as a skeptical child, but a lifetime of seeing the religious faith of his people avail them nothing — his mother was eaten by predators in front of a god's shrine, his world began to dry up and die, all of his children except one son died of starvation/predators, his pregnant wife was killed in an earthquake, and his only surviving son died of hunger & thirst in his tribe's desperate attempt to find a new place to live — convinced him that there were no gods. When he speaks out on this, his tribe stones him for blasphemy, driving him into the wilderness to die on his own. Where, miraculously, one of his gods crashes in front of him, mortally wounded after dealing the death blow to an alien "black god". When the deity begs Gorr for help, Gorr explodes in a rage, demanding to know where the gods had been all his life and why they hadn't helped his family. In his fury, he accidentally takes up the essence powering the "black god", Allblack the Necrosword, and kills his god. Now uplifted to the status of Physical God himself and convinced that God Is Evil, Gorr starts aimlessly wandering the universe, murdering and torturing all gods he can find before creating a plan to annihilate all gods everywhere at once with a mega-bomb powered by the heart of a butchered Elder God. It should be noted that Gorr does eventually acknowledge the existence of gods, but believes them to be evil or impotent, making him more of a misotheist than an atheist.
    • By contrast is Thor's longtime supporting cast member Beta Ray Bill, who is a complete aversion. He would probably be more accurately described as agnostic or apatheistic; he is essentially The Anti-Nihilist, acknowledges the gods but does not worship them, and is really only an "atheist" in the sense that he just doesn't see any real point to practicing religion. But he doesn't judge others for disagreeing with him on it and is a very good person who always tries to do the right thing, affirming on multiple occasions that just because he doesn't worship any particular deity doesn't mean he has no sense of spirituality or morality.
  • In the cancelled Eclipse Comics adaptation of Topps' Dinosaurs Attack! trading cards (which was eventually reprinted and completed by IDW Publishing), it is established that the scientist Elias Thorne has forsaken his belief in God because of his brother's death. However, he snaps out of it after his encounter with the Supreme Monstrosity and even reunites with his brother's spirit when he dies.
  • Persepolis: Marjane becomes an atheist when her beloved uncle Anoosh is shot by the Iranian regime.
  • Played for Laughs with Larfleeze's Coluan butler Pulsar Stargrave. While suggested to be agnostic by dryly remarking on the hypothetical existence of a higher power in the back-up strips featured in Threshold, the Larfleeze ongoing series has him bring up several times that he is an atheist, possibly implying that the indignities he's endured as Larfleeze's manservant have convinced him that there can't possibly be a God.
  • The Sandman: Maximilien Robespierre is portrayed as one in "Thermidor", seeking to purge France of superstitious nonsense, such as the head of Orpheus. In reality he was a Deist who believed the atheistic elements in the Revolution went too far and his "Church of the Supreme Being" revered a distant and unattached creator, though he did persecute the Catholic Church.

    Fan Works 
  • The Wrong Reflection:
    • Very heavily downplayed with Eleya. She is a Prophet-worshiper, but she mentions that she turned more secular and started skipping holy days after she looked upon one of the Orbs of the Prophets and saw absolutely nothing.
    • Played straight with Mirror Eleya, whose objection mirrors one raised by some Bajorans in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine regarding the Cardassian occupation of Bajor (they tended to be Pah-Wraith cultists, but Mirror Eleya is a straight atheist). She briefly gets in an argument with Prime Eleya's operations officer/boyfriend Reshek Gaarra on the subject but Prime Eleya tells her to can it.
      Dal Kanril Eleya: Okay then, if [the Prophets are] so great, where were they when the Terrans showed up a century ago?
  • Barbara Gordon/Oracle is a downplayed example in Angel of the Bat. Barbara is implied to have stopped believing in God after she was disabled by The Joker. Despite this, she doesn't play an active role in favor of or against Cassandra's journey to discovering religion, and celebrates Christmas with her father. Joshua Lebowitz is a different kind of example: He goes through horrific things in his life and doesn’t believe in God… But never believed in God to begin with. He only behaves in a stubborn way to piss off The Seraphim.
  • In Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles, Harry's godless foster parents Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, who believe God is dead from reading "the Dawkins."
  • In "The Road Not Taken" Brigadier General Ro Laren is mildly derisive to her fellow Bajorans' reverence for the Prophets. (This is borrowed from the Star Trek Novelverse, where Ro is established as an atheist, and wears her earring on the wrong ear to keep clergymen from trying to feel her pagh.)
  • From Behind Bars: Most animals believe that you become a star upon dying. Scar is one of the few exceptions. The death of his son Mheetu turned him bitter and atheistic. He no longer believes in afterlives.
  • In RWBY: Scars, Yang stopped believing in gods after her step-mother Summer was killed when she was a child.
  • Pokémon: Gospel Version has Team Plasma go from Pokemon liberaters to atheists who want to have people have free thoughts.
  • Choosing Life Verse: Learning the science behind her world's mysticism, not to mention having been a personal victim of the Nora's beliefs, Aloy has very little patience or respect for the beliefs of those she encounters in her travels. This makes her come across as insensitive, something Elisabet (who herself is a scientist that discourages superstition) tells her is not a proper way to handle things.

  • San Francisco: Blackie is obnoxious about his atheism, pouring scorn on Father Tim's faith and the habit of poor people of asking God for help instead of helping themselves. This is all so he can have a moment of religious conversion at the end of the film, thanking God for Mary's survival from the great earthquake, showing himself finally worthy of Mary's love.
  • In End of Days, the protagonist has completely given up on God after his family was killed by mobsters. Admittedly, he gets a bit better reason to convert than 'one good thing happening', seeing how Satan stops by his apartment for a chat.
  • The Best Intentions: Nordenson the businessman goes way over the top in his hatred of Pastor Henrik, yanking his daughters out of Henrik's church, calling the worship "blood rites" and likening the confirmation classes Henrik's giving to "emotional rape".
  • Dr. Ellie Arroway, the protagonist of Contact, is actually very explicitly an agnostic, but she fits the typical behavior pattern by being a decent example of the dead sibling variety. With several Fundie Strawmen on the other side (one of which is a terrorist bomber, the other a sleazy politician named "Richard Rank"), it kinda evens out.
  • E.K. Hornbeck (based loosely on H.L. Mencken) in Inherit the Wind. Although the movie caricatures the True Believers even more, Hornbeck (the one outright unbeliever) is shown as purely cynical and bilious.
    Hornbeck: Ah, Henry! Why don't you wake up? Darwin was wrong. Man's still an ape. His creed's still a totem pole. When he first achieved the upright position, he took a look at the stars - thought they were something to eat. When he couldn't reach them, he decided they were groceries belonging to a bigger creature. And that's how Jehovah was born.
    Drummond: I wish I had your worm's-eye view of history...
  • Nicky from Parting Glances who is living with AIDS, although to the film's credit we're never actually told that his illness and his lack of religion are connected.
    "God, I hope you don't exist, but if you do, you've got me pissed!"
  • Dr. Matheson, one of the main characters in Red Lights, apparently became an atheist (and started skeptically investigating alleged paranormal phenomena) when her son fell into a coma.
  • Starship Troopers 3: Marauder has a lot of fun with this theme. The fascistic Federation regards religion as potentially subversive. The heroine, Captain Lola Beck, reflects this view and cracks down hard on fellow soldier Holly Little's Christian prattle. She even questions the sanity of her superior, Sky Marshall Anoke, when he also claims to believe in God. Beck changes her mind when, after facing imminent death from a giant alien Vagina Dentata (the "God" Anoke was really referring to), a host of "fiery angels" (a team of space-dropped, Powered Armor-wearing ass-kicking Marauders) come to their aid in response to their prayers. Likewise the Federation is impressed at how Sky Marshall Anoke obeyed the alien god's orders without question, and decide there must be something to this religion stuff after all. So the Federation officially declares that God does exist. And naturally, He's a citizen of the Federation!
  • The main character of The Reaping is a college professor that travels the world debunking supposed miracles. However, it is eventually revealed she was a former minister who lost her faith when, while doing missionary work in Sudan, the locals blamed her preaching for a year-long drought and sacrificed her husband and daughter to their deity. At the end of the movie, the day is apparently saved and she regains her faith only to realize that earlier in the film she was drugged and raped by the Big Bad and is now pregnant with the Antichrist
  • Slade Craven, the main character of Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal and a Marilyn Manson expy, is never stated to be a Satanist, but has implied atheism. At the end of the film, having gone an incredible distance on nothing but his own competence, he has to convert to Christianity, in a "No Atheists in Foxholes" moment before he can resolve the plot.
  • John Koestler, the protagonist of Knowing, has lost his faith after his wife died in a hotel fire. He's made a believer again by the apocalypse, even though he saw the angel-boat leave without him.
  • Léon Morin, prêtre — The conversion story of a communist militant.
  • Saints And Soldiers: The medic, an atheist, is portrayed as bitter, selfish, and eager to kill Nazis under any circumstances. In contrast, the sniper, a Christian of an unspecified sect (but probably a Mormon) is compassionate, even to German soldiers of the Third Reich. Naturally, the bitter atheist is converted in the span of an hour and a half, and the saintly Christian gives his life for his comrades.
  • In Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter, a vampire-hunting messiah comes into contact with a group of atheists who promptly try to kill him.
  • A fairly stereotypical example is Jack Nicholson's character in The Bucket List. He's bitter, cynical, extremely unpleasant to most people he interacts with, and claims to envy people of faith even if he doesn't understand what it's about.
  • In Bergman's Fanny and Alexander, the title kids endure a lot: their father dies, and their mother marries the rigid Bishop Vergerus. Leaving behind the comfortable lives they'd known with their affluent family, they move to the Bishop's austere home (like a dungeon, with bars on the windows), and give up all their possessions. Alexander's defiance frightens Vergerus, who thrashes him brutally (perhaps the boy's imaginative explanation for the death of the Bishop's first wife wasn't such an outrageous fiction?). After a miraculous escape—but the children's safety isn't certain, not permanently—Alexander muses, "If there is a god, then he's a shit, and I'd like to kick him in the butt."
  • Whilst it's not made particularly explicit in Quills that the Marquis de Sade is an atheist rather than a straight-up God-defying heathen as believed by most of the characters, he does make several slightly Hollywood Atheist remarks. These include him mentioning to the Abbe that he "has been to Hell", during his fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, whereas the Abbe has "only read about it." Also: "Why should I love God? He strung up his son like a side of veal. I shudder to think what he'd do to me."
  • In the movie The Rite, the main character is a priest who doesn't actually believe in God (he joined the seminary to get a free college degree). Even after he sees a girl possessed by demons who speaks in tongues, contorts her body into impossible positions, and her voice changes completely, along with her vomiting up the nails used to crucify Jesus, he still claims it was just a hoax to cover up her being molested.
  • Bethany, in the film Dogma is pretty much the first kind due to being infertile and the resulting divorce. By the end, she gets a bit more concrete evidence than most Hollywood atheists. Also her friend Liz.
  • Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow (1999) is an example of the first kind, as his father killed Crane's mother by shutting her into an iron maiden for seemingly practicing some manner of paganism.
  • In Second Glance, a Christian teenager is dissatisfied with his life and wishes he wasn't a believer. Then an angel shows up to walk him through a day in his life if he hadn't been a believer. From the ensuing day, we learn that atheists would never bother to stop classmates from beating each other in the hospital, don't mind if their classmates kill themselves, are sloppy housekeepers, cheat on their dream girl, and don't pray for their parents' marriage, causing them to divorce (though frankly, the parents didn't look particularly happy when they were still together).
  • The Christian film The Atheist is about an atheist man taken on a trip by Jesus to examine the issue of faith. Apparently all atheists are rampant sinners who do just about everything a Christian would think of as wrong.
  • In Cargo 200, Artyom, professor of scientific atheism, is both this and a straw Marxist philosopher. When he has a discussion with a believing peasant, who himself is a self-taught philosopher, he doesn't have anything to say except stupid cliches of Marxist-Leninist philosophy. As a human being, he is a despicable coward, who knows the truth of the murder and kidnapping the plot revolves around, but doesn't say anything, even knowing that an innocent man is going to be framed and executed for these crimes, because he doesn't want to be involved with the police. He doesn't change his mind even when the mother of the accused man begs him to testify. In the end, he has a Heel Realization and undergoes a Heel–Faith Turn.
  • In 7th Heaven, Chico says that he's an atheist because he donated at the church and prayed to get promoted, and donated at the church and prayed for a girlfriend, and neither happened, so "God owes me ten dollars." He later gets religion after finding love with Diane.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, Captain Morpheus is being dressed down for convincing one of the ship captains to remain and wait for word from the Oracle. When Commander Locke tells him that he (Locke) doesn't believe in Morpheus's faith, Morpheus states that his belief "doesn't require that you do."
  • Gestapo investigator Robert Mohr from the German film Sophie Scholl is a spineless legalist who toes the party line, in contrast to his prisoner Sophie, an idealistic, devout Lutheran who believes in the equality and value of every human life, and who claims that the German people really want peace, compassion, and God, a position Mohr finds incomprehensible.
  • An odd example of version 9 and 11 appear in The Day After Tomorrow when a minor character is asked why he's clutching a Gutenberg Bible, smugly protesting that he doesn't believe in God. Odd because he's given this treatment in spite of protecting the book for its historical value, religious or not.
  • God's Not Dead
    • Josh's aggressively atheist philosophy professor Radisson declares all his students must sign a statement that "God Is Dead", or fail his class. Josh won't do this, so Radisson informs him he must therefore argue the statement's antithesis. It becomes apparent the professor is more interested in proving himself superior than actual debate, and Josh's main arguments center around the fact Radisson actually hates God (due to his mother dying of cancer). Interestingly enough, the film seems to be trying for a reconstruction of this trope: Raddison himself tries to use the story of his mother to justify himself to Josh when the two of them are alone, by noting that "many of the greatest atheists were once Christians".
    • The left-wing blogger, Amy, who is snarky regarding religion until she gets cancer and at the end asks to "know God".
    • Amy's boyfriend is an atheist who admits he has no morals and gloats about his perfect life.
  • God's Not Dead 2:
    • Atheists are portrayed as just God-hating monsters who want to destroy Christianity For the Evulz. In this movie, they are an organization with the government backing them in their evil plot.
    • One of the first lines in the movie claims that "Atheists have no hope" and shows atheist parents getting rid of items that belonged to their now-deceased son without any emotion to it. The film outright states that atheists don't care about anything and just hate Christians.
    • Martin's father hits his son and disowns him for being a Christian. Seems like they couldn't use that same scenario with Muslims again as in the last film.
    • The film indirectly states that the end goal for atheism is to essentially lead an all-out genocide against Christians, and Grace being found guilty is the start of that goal.
  • In God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness: Adam lost his faith when his mother was mistreated by their church after divorcing her husband over his abuse. Pearce also apparently was rejected after he started asking difficult questions of Christianity, thus losing his faith entirely. This film, however, is far more sympathetic than the previous ones regarding them.
  • A rather strange aversion occurs in Ben and Arthur. As the films shows, protagonist Arthur Sailes fits most of the usual criteria for a Hollywood Atheist, except that his positions are obviously those the filmmaker himself, Sam Mraovich (who converted to Mormonism several years after the film's release) had at the time.
  • In Calvary, it becomes clear that the local townsfolk do not live virtuous lives and see Father James, their community priest, as a rather unnecessary relic of a bygone age. The only self-admitted atheist is the Dr. Jerk, Harte, who constantly brings up his atheism and has an extremely cynical outlook on life.
  • 6 Souls has an improbably high number of characters as this, including a little girl. Justified when it is revealed that the villain is cursed to eternally hunt exactly this kind of person and absorb their souls into his body.
  • Black Death: Hob, (and possibly the other villagers) who declares there is no God, heaven or hell. His work is performing human sacrifices of Christians that refuse to give up their faith (though those who do are still killed out of view). Langiva may be one too, as Hob is her follower, although her speech is more ambiguous between this and denouncing God as evil.
  • Invoked in The Contender with Vice Presidential nominee Laine Hanson during her confirmation hearing, as she's openly atheist. One of the House committee members snarkily says she swore to tell the truth "so help me God", invoking a deity that she doesn't believe in and mentions that she said religion was a fairy tale in the past. The chairman, who's out to get her, surprisingly lets it go after confirming she'll tell the truth under penalty of perjury, shifting the focus to an alleged sex tape of her during a college orgy instead. Being an open atheist, let alone one who had also insulted religion, would almost certainly be a death sentence for any nominee's Real Life chances, however, as many Americans (and especially Republican politicians like those she faces) believe this trope to be true, so it's somewhat zigzagged by them appearing to not care about it.
  • In Fantastic Voyage one professor who is shrunk and sent into a human body dismisses it all as coldly mechanistic, refusing to see the wonder of God's creation (he also turns out to be a commie spy). Since it was written by noted atheist Isaac Asimov, one suspects Executive Meddling
  • Do You Believe?: Dr. Farell and his wife, Andrea. He is a jerkass doctor with little concern for human life and is hostile towards religious people, she is a lawyer with a strong dislike for religion.
  • Rampage: Capital Punishment: Bill, a vicious mass murderer, declares there is no God and views religions as just one among many scams, with death being the end.
  • White in The Sunset Limited is a depressed, suicidal atheist who thinks life is meaningless due to it ending in death. He hates people generally and religion in particular.
  • If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?: The communists, naturally. Torturing and killing Christians seems to be their sole activity.
  • Deconstructing Harry: Mostly played for laughs, of the smug variety.
  • Doctor Strange (2016): Strange dips into this trope during his conversation with The Ancient One by describing humanity as a series of chemical processes on a floating globe in a cold, uncaring universe while she's trying to convince him magic exists. The Big Bad later echoes this view of the world later just to rub it in.
  • The Rapture: Zigzagged. Randy is initially an atheist who defends his hedonistic swinger lifestyle by saying it's a biological imperative for humans to have sex. Then he converts to evangelical Christianity almost effortlessly when Sharon tells him about the idea. Later, we meet Foster, who says he's been an atheist all of his life but is a normal, morally upright man who converts after seeing really good evidence.
  • The Most Hated Woman In America is a biopic of the real life Madelyn Murray O'Hair, the US atheist activist responsible for the ban on state-mandated Bible readings and school prayer. The film portrays her, accurately, as both obnoxious and cantankerous many times. Both her sons were born out of wedlock, and she embezzled donations given to her group, American Atheists. However, she's also portrayed as completely sincere in her principles, genuinely believing that her cause is right, taking in a young gay man kicked out by his family and also valuing her family above all.
  • Apocalypse: Thorold Stone in Revelation, who became one after he saw his mother pass away from cancer. His atheism does get tested when his wife and daughter mysteriously disappear, and eventually he becomes a believer when he meets with Franco Macalousso's Digital Avatar in the Day Of Wonders program and rejects the idea that Macalousso is the Messiah.
  • Circle: The atheist is rude, cynical and mocks other people for believing in God.
  • As a parody of evangelical Christian films, Jesus, Bro! exaggerates this trope for comedic effect. The main character is a brash and arrogant Youtuber known for his caustic rants against Christianity, going so far as to lobby for A Christmas Story to be renamed A Holiday Story and advocating hedonistic behaviors such as sex with monkeys (because we evolved from them). He also becomes violently ill, to the point of vomiting, when he notices a man in a restaurant quietly praying before a meal. After he converts to Christianity, he repeatedly suffers violence from his former followers.
  • Ida: Wanda, who is a former Communist prosecutor notorious for condemning "Enemies of the People" to their deaths, lives a life of empty hedonism but appears very depressed. After finding out her sister, brother-in-law and son were all killed during World War Two, she loses any interest in living, killing herself.
  • Victor Frankenstein: Victor is contemptuous of religion, and he sees it as an obstacle to scientific progress.
    Victor: By God, you say. Inspector, I have to inform you that you're currently in the home of rational, free-thinking men. To violate it or my research would require a proper, legal warrant, and God has no authority here.
    Turpin: Tread lightly, sir. You may insult me, but you impune our Lord at your peril. I should remind you that life is a sacred creation.
    Victor: Are you a police officer, or are you a theologian? Let me tell you something for nothing. Life, I'll say this very slowly, is merely the application and outcome of applied chemistry. [...] this experiment, which you imagine took place, may very well discredit your own primitive belief system! Yes, uncover what you will about me, Inspector. Men like you have always stood in the way of progress, and they have invariably been left forgotten in its wake!
    • He also denies the existence of God explicitly.
      Victor: There is no Satan, no God, only humanity. ONLY ME!
  • Let There Be Light (2017)
    • The film has a blatant example of this in its protagonist, who not only is a caricature of famous atheists like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, but he also openly admits that the reason for his atheism is because his youngest son died of cancer. The movie has him suffer an accident in which he gets a Near-Death Experience and sees his dead little son, and because of this he turns his faith around (almost exactly like the character inGod's Not Deadnote ). Interestingly enough, the film seems to be trying for a reconstruction of this trope: Harkens himself tries to use the story of his son to justify himself, apparently trying to make a Problem of Evil argument (i.e. that suffering like this would not be allowed by an all-good, all-powerful God, thus one does not exist) though it's not very well explained. He also doesn't bother actually making this an argument in debate (although it's a common one, and what many Christians openly admit is difficult).
    • It also falls on the well-worn Evangelical view of secularists only leading lives of empty hedonism, as pre-conversion Sol has no moral principles other than endless partying (that only makes him more miserable).
  • The Death of Stalin: Played for Laughs, mostly - the Russian Orthodox bishops keep asking to come to the funeral, and absolutely no one likes them (as is standard for the officially atheist Soviet Union), and only tolerate their presence to both appease the populace and annoy Beria (or Khrushchev) with it, with all the Soviet leaders desperately switching location during the funeral to avoid them. Later, however, in a conversation with Maria, an annoyed Khrushchev dismisses the idea of an afterlife with "Who the fuck would want an everlasting life? The endless conversation..."
  • Europa Europa: The Soviet instructors at the Komsomal academy try to convince pupils there that God doesn't exist with a rather silly God test (which really was done). However, aside from this they seem kind. Solly's Soviet teacher (who ran the test) tries unsuccessfully to save him when he falls off the truck they're being taken away in after the Nazi invasion.
  • Night Train to Lisbon Zigzagged. Amadeu makes no secret about his dislike for the notions of God and immortality, but he also appreciates the Bible's poetry, along with being an overall good man.
  • No God, No Master: The anarchist leader Luigi Galleani denounces religion, and says it's one of the things which must be abolished. It's also implied by the film title, which is based on a real anarchist slogan (though not all went this far, as shown in the story).
  • Parodied in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra with Roger Fleming, a Smug Snake who claims that being a scientist means he can’t and doesn’t believe in anything, despite worshiping and serving the Lost Skeleton. Said Skeleton clearly thinks of Fleming as nothing but a useful idiot, to the point of eventually killing him.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (2002): Dantes loses his faith on account of his unjust imprisonment (and then regains it at the end of the film). This is a contrast to the novel, in which Dantes is still religious as the Count — he just worships a very vengeful God.
  • I'm Not Ashamed: Dylan and Eric are both atheists (anti-theists, to be more precise). Why they worship Hitler raises suspicions because Hitler condemned atheism. There is NO evidence to suggest that the real-life Dylan and Eric were actually atheists, and the two scenes where they taunted Rachel for her religious faith (one in the stairway, the other after they shot her in non-fatal areas) were entirely fabricated for the film.
  • Curse of Chucky is the first film in the Child's Play film series to reveal the religious beliefs of the killer doll Chucky, who claims to Alice and Barb Pierce that there is no God. It's not entirely clear whether his belief has anything to do with the fact that he's a psychotic serial killer or if he's an atheist due to never seeing an afterlife after all the times he got killed, though.
  • Alive: Fito refuses to pray the rosary on repeated occasions, each time explaining that he's agnostic. But after several people are killed in an avalanche on the 16th day, Fito's agnosticism is almost played for laughs when, upon hearing the sounds of another potential avalanche, he hurriedly starts praying the Hail Mary with the rest of the survivors. There is some Truth in Television to this, although it didn't play out quite like it was shown in the film. Rather than automatically praying when he hears the second avalanche, in reality the group demanded that he join them in prayer when they heard the second avalanche approaching. However, it is true that Fito - who had refused to join them in prayer during the first couple of weeks after the crash - converted to Christianity while in the mountains.
  • Gold Through the Fire: The Soviet authorities, of course, who violently persecute Russian Christians. At least that is Truth in Television,note  yet the American teachers and a parent who opposed Peter's preaching in school are also portrayed as simply anti-religious (especially the latter, who makes spurious accusations in court).
  • Red Planet: Burchenal, in the ignorant scientist flavor. He's a jerk, and unable to give any good reason to support atheism in debate with the others.
  • Christmas with a Capital C: The antagonist, Mitch, is a condescending liberal who hates religion and believers, who lives alone and secretly resents the Christian townsfolk for their unity and fellowship; not only that but it's revealed that the reason he returned to his hometown is because he'd lost all his money in the city and wanted to ruin the Christmas celebrations for everyone.
  • Stuck in Love: Sam's an atheist who's something of a cynic, hedonist and nihilist (or an existentialist), but also a sweet girl overall who despite her beliefs thinks life is rich. The only character who dislikes her views is a guy she chats with in a bar.
  • Vox Lux: Celeste mentions having believed in God once, but "grew up" and sarcastically offers herself as a subject of worship to religious terrorists. She's also really messed up, has a very traumatic past, and struggles with addiction. It's somewhat implied she stopped believing after being shot and nearly dying (she'd offered to pray along with the school shooter right before).
  • Clara: Isaac clearly doesn't believe in any kind of higher power, and dismisses the idea that the universe has an innate meaning or purpose. Additionally, he's quite bitter and unfriendly at first to most people. However, we don't learn if he was an atheist before or after losing his son, which later is shown to be why he's bitter.
  • The Hunt (2020): One of the hunters, noting after his victim says he'll go to Hell that he, being one of the "godless elites" doesn't believe in that, before killing him.
  • Young & Wild: At one of the Evangelical meetings, a pastor denounces atheists and agnostics as living selfish lives with only relative values to let them do as they wish. Daniela, though not explicitly an atheist, clearly rejects the Evangelical doctrines she's been brought up with and lives precisely the hedonistic lifestyle they denounce.
  • The Blackcoat's Daughter: Joan flatly says "No" when asked if she believes God exists. She's soon revealed as a Satanist who's murdered several people, going on to later murder the person who asked her. While she'd initially been also possessed by a demon and did this as his instigation, she's now doing it freely.

  • In this article and a few others, (religious) columnist Damon Linker calls this type of atheism "honest atheism," and is of the opinion that atheism is incompatible with happiness and optimism, and that atheists who exhibit these qualities (i.e. are not Hollywood Atheists) do so inconsistently with their worldview. Many were quick to disagree.

  • Fyodor Dostoevsky's magnum opus The Brothers Karamazov has two of these: Ivan Karamazov, the middle brother, and Pavel Smyerdyakov, the lackey of the family. Ivan gave us the famous line "If God does not exist, then everything is permitted"note  and spends most of his page time attempting to break his devout brother Alyosa. However, Ivan also makes some very poignant arguments against Christianity based on the Problem of Evil (i. e. how can an all-good, all-powerful God exist with so much evil in the world), which the author attempts to counter with the story of an exemplary monk.
  • Of the two major atheist characters in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons (a book exploring the concept of conflict between science and religion), one is a bitter, resentful scientist who became crippled as a result of his religious fanatic parents denying him treatment that could have prevented it, who has no sense of wonder regarding nature, the other is a brutal assassin. The former is a borderline case of research failure because a sense of wonder regarding nature is one reason many (if not most) scientists choose the career. However, to balance things out the real Big Bad is the apparently progressive camerlengo who turns out to be a crazed Knight Templar who murdered the Pope when he discovered the Pope had fathered a child. He orchestrated the entire plot with the objective of discrediting science, restoring the world's faith in religion and setting himself up as the new Pope/Messiah. It partially works, too.
  • The Da Vinci Code inverts the above in that the Big Bad is really an atheist who is manipulating a Knight Templar, although the movie removes the sympathetic aspect and makes the religious antagonists part of an Ancient Conspiracy. Sophie herself is an atheist as well.
  • In Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series, we are regularly informed that since Victor Frankenstein doesn't believe in any god, this means he has no reason to follow any moral code. Victor's lack of morals are also based after his own arrogance and belief that he is the pinnacle of human potential. Interestingly Koontz himself was at one point in his life an atheist and wrote a few sci-fi stories dealing with characters attempting to find and kill a God, who is evil.
    • Koontz also wrote a short story called Twilight of the Dawn, told in the first person perspective of a staunch atheist who has a Freudian Excuse stemming from his abusive fundamentalist parents. The man becomes a Fantasy-Forbidding Father determined to raise his son, Benny, with secular and rational views, but ends up taking it a bit too far, which his wife Ellen (an agnostic) calls him out on as being no better than his own parents' treatment of him. When Ellen dies, Benny starts praying as a way to cope, much to the father's frustration. Then Benny gets cancer but still never gives up on his own beliefs. The father afterwards has to come to terms with and ultimately understand where Benny came from.
  • Flannery O’Connor:
    • The Misfit, from short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find," is practically the archetypal dangerous, nihilistic atheist. He decided at an early age that if Jesus never died on the cross, then there's no reason to do anything at all but enjoy himself the only way he knew how: killing. The story may have been a reaction to the rise of existentialism in literature.
    • Good Country People features the protagonist as a grumpy atheist, who mainly does it solely to annoy people, attempting to "convert" (read: seduce, then crush his beliefs) a seemingly wholesome Southern boy who's got the fire of Jesus in him, selling Bibles for a living. It turns out the Southern boy is much, much more atheistic than her, and is a nihilist who steals disabled peoples' prosthetics For the Evulz. Like the protagonist's fake leg.
    • Another one of her stories, "The Lame Shall Enter First" features a more positive, humanistic atheist faced with a cloven-footed character who claims to be a Satanist. The Satanist comes across as the wiser of the two: at least he knows how the battle lines are drawn.
    • Another (kind of) positive portrayal of an atheist (sort of) is the title character from Parker's Back, although he's more agnostic - being vaguely spiritual but not believing in gods and basically treating tattoos as his religion. He's married to a shrewish hateful Christian woman who hates things that aren't Christian and if she hates something it isn't Christian. Also, she falls into heresy. It isn't clear if it's Arianism-denying that Jesus is fully God-or Docetism-denying that He is fully human-but one or the other.
  • The novel The Last Templar features a character who vowed to destroy Christianity after taking the advice of a priest to not abort his wife's high risk pregnancy, resulting in his wife and unborn child's death. Just to really show he means business, he sets fire to the church with the priest still inside shortly afterwards.
  • The one-act play "Deus X" plays around with this trope. It concerns a neuroscientist who wonders why he grew up to be an atheist while his brother grew up to be a televangelist. He eventually discovers that religious faith is caused by a gland in people's brains, and develops a drug that eliminates it. Although this turns the devout into wanton sex maniacs and the kind of conscienceless people that atheists are often stereotyped as, it is portrayed as unequivocally a good thing, and the play ends with the doctor character encouraging the audience to take a handful of the pills when they leave.
  • Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith exists partly to explore this trope.
  • Adam Hauptman of the Mercy Thompson series became an atheist after witnessing the horrors of the Vietnam War and simultaneously surviving a werewolf attack. He's bitter about his memories of dying in the jungle, waiting for God to save him and his comrades. Though it seems his bitterness is more towards his own naivete, he also mocks Mercy for her belief. Mercy herself is shocked that anyone could remain an atheist after witnessing the power of Christian symbols to repel vampires and other evil beings.
  • In the Endworld novels, the Doktor is a prominent example. His devout atheism is due entirely to his parents being killed in a car crash before the war.
  • The dwarfs in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis stand in for atheists (and philosophical skeptics). Trumpkin, one of the "good" red dwarfs, helps the good guys in Prince Caspian but denies the existence of Aslan, even when Aslan is standing in front of him (which is how some Christians view atheists as behaving) until Aslan roars in his face. The "bad" black dwarfs in The Last Battle, meanwhile, reject Aslan and are doomed to wallow in their own mortality. Lewis's fiction for adults is actually a bit more subtle than that; there are quite a few examples of this type, but then there's at least one of the True Companions who remains a defiant atheist to the end.
  • Mackenzie Calhoun from Star Trek: New Frontier, who lost his faith in the Xenexian gods after a woman he loved was particularly brutally murdered.
  • In the 1632 series, there are several characters who are "non-practicing" or "casual" or "inattentive" when it comes to religion, but even then they all have some sense of religion about them and they're generally all nice people. The only character to be flat-out labeled an atheist so far in the series is an actively rude, cynical Jerkass who thinks religious people are all ignorant cretins and doesn't ever hesitate to let them know his opinions about them.
  • In Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, Doug Shaftoe says on finding a sunken submarine, "If anyone was still alive in the bubble, they died a long, slow death. May God have mercy on their souls." Randy Waterhouse surmises that an atheist, confronted with the same situation, would have nothing to say but Yes, the organisms inhabiting that submarine must have lost their higher neural functions over a prolonged period of time and eventually turned into pieces of rotten meat. So what?
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Stannis Baratheon has the Evil Stole My Faith variety, having turned against the worship of the Seven after seeing his parents killed in a shipwreck. It's compounded by his general nature as a cold, harsh person. Although he takes part in the religion of R'hllor, it's stated that he only does so for the power that Melisandre promises him.
    • The Hound does not believe in gods for similar reasons, and fits the "belittles religious people" category of Hollywood Atheist.
    • Towards the end of A Clash of Kings the originally devout Catelyn Stark seems to be heading this way, as her questioning of her beliefs is the result of the various terrible things that have happened to her.
    • Earlier, Jamie Lannister voices the problem of evil, asking why there is such injustice if the gods exist and they are just, suggesting he may be an atheist due to this. At that point Catelyn rejects these sentiments however, saying he can't blame the gods for trying to kill her son (this is one reply to the problem of evil: the free will defense).
  • In In the Realms of the Unreal by Henry Darger, the militantly atheist Glandelinians are motivated to wage war against Angelinia due to a seething hatred of Christianity (and little girls).
  • In the Discworld novel Small Gods, Sergeant Simony despises and disbelieves in Om with a fury that is rather impressive, unlike the rest of the Omnians, who have quietly ceased to believe while still claiming they do. Om himself actually likes Simony, whose passion is almost as good as belief. By the end of the novel Simony has actually met Om and becomes more of a Naytheist: "Don't think you can fool me by existing."
  • Pulvis et umbra sumus. For those who don't read Horace, that means "we are dust and shadows," pretty much said by Will Herondale in The Infernal Devices to be what he believes in.
  • Babylon Rising: Methuselah. He mocks Michael's faith every chance he gets, yet he leads Michael to evidence of the Bible's truth.
  • Revival: Reverend Charles Jacobs who, after losing his wife and son in a horrific accident, gives one final sermon lambasting the belief in a higher power before being shunned from town.
  • All atheist characters in the Marquis de Sade's novels despise religion (some while being clergy members themselves), are uniformly sexual sadists/serial killers, and feel that individuals should be allowed to do whatever they desire, murder and rape included, because it's natural for them. Even the real Pope Pius VI is included as a character expressing these sentiments. This reflects De Sade's own view of things, and he himself was imprisoned and committed to an insane asylum for the sexual abuse of prostitutes and his own servants, along with writing the aforementioned books.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Cloudtail is one of very few cats to not believe in StarClan. Despite StarClan being a proven fact, he doesn't believe in them. Since he was a young kit, Cloudtail was always a rude, troublemaking cat who spoke his mind, didn't respect others, and didn't follow the Warrior Code well. Despite this, he is devoted to his clan nevertheless.
    • Sleekwhisker and Needletail are two Rebellious Spirit ShadowClan cats who don't believe in StarClan. They're both mean, disrespectful of the Warrior Code, and blunt.
    • Mothwing is a nicer example, but the traumatic backstory that led her to not believe deserves a mention. She did believe in StarClan, but then her evil brother faked a bunch of sign from them to seize power and blackmailed her into helping him. She figures that if they were real, they'd do something about him. (She is converted to a NayTheist after The Final Battle - she agrees that StarClan exists now, but she still doesn't think being dead gives them any special knowledge.)
  • Seeker Bears: A group of adolescent male polar bear cubs appear in Great Bear Lake who don't believe in or respect the Spirits. They don't abide by the rules of the Longest Day (a largely religious holiday) either. They're mean, brutish bullies who steal from other bears and try to take over the black bears territory. Kallik's presumed-dead brother Taqqiq is among them, though he seems to be a Nay-Theist and later betrays his friends.
  • The protagonists of Victoria, being heteronormative crusaders and fundamentalists, see every atheist this way and the book follows suit.
  • Underground Zealot: The world has been taken over by them, though these are from Hollywood of the 50's, i.e. Obviously Evil. All religion has been outlawed, and they hunt down anybody who still practices it.
  • One Nation, Under Jupiter: Diagoras has shades of this, actively hating the Roman religion and its followers to the point that he's as dogmatic as they are.
  • Guardians of the Flame: Doria lost any faith in a benevolent deity after negative experiences in her life. This causes some problems on the Other Side, since she can't pray for her spells to come back without it. Later though she comes to believe in the Healing Hand and embraces her role as a cleric.
  • A few species, such as self-reliant lions who don't think they need others advice and malicious crocodiles, in Bravelands do not worship the Great Spirit or respect her channeler the Great Parent.
  • Fate/strange fake: Sigma says that he doesn't believe in God because he was a Child by Rape who was raised and treated harshly by the soldiers who raped his mother and constantly had to fight for survival. False Assassin, a deeply religious woman, says she hopes by the time their adventure is over, he finds something to believe in.
  • Inheritance Cycle: Zigzagged. Arya goes out of her way to pick a fight with the dwarven priest regarding religion. However, none of the other elves display this. Orimis simply explains they disbelieve in any afterlife, gods or miracles as a result of lacking evidence, but would change their minds if presented with some that was convincing.
  • The Alice Network: Eve tells Lili she's stopped believing in God after what she's gone through. Still, she prays on Lili's behalf at her request.
  • The Trees of Pride: Squire Vane is noted in the text as an example of this trope: something in his psychological makeup causes his atheism to express itself in a particularly argumentative and combative manner. He is contrasted with Doctor Brown, who is willing to accept that the popular legends might in fact be true if that is what the evidence indicates.
  • The Arts of Dark and Light:
    • The philosophy of the Wahrkonigen as a whole can basically be summed up as all being Hollywood Atheism: hedonism, nihilism, amorality, materialistic demonology (described more like transhumanism than any sort of sincere religion), science-worship and, of course, militant atheism.
    • The elves have a downplayed variety, which is less overtly evil and simply decadent and apathetic with regard to higher things. Some are cynical, most simply don't care even that much. However, there are also a few elves who follow the Amorran religion—though this gives them trouble, both because of social prejudice and because their society is made for magic-users, whereas the Church forbids them to use magic.
  • Bazil Broketail: Thrembode the New, a magician who serves the Masters of Padmasa, no longer believes any gods exist, as he reasons they wouldn't have let pure evil wizards like them gain such power.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dexter Morgan from Dexter, a vigilante serial killer traumatized as a child by witnessing the murder of his mother. In Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the novel on which the show is based, his brother Brian is also an atheist for the same reason, though it is also implied (at least in the series) that, rather than actively disbelieving in a god, Dexter simply has no use for religion/the concept of a god (this is sometimes called "apatheism"). In a later season, he starts to explore the idea more after pursuing a serial killer whose inspiration is the Book of Revelation, becoming impressed by a reformed murderer-turned-minister called Brother Sam, but still never fully becomes religious that we see.
  • Patrick Jane from The Mentalist fits the description to a tee. His wife and daughter were murdered and he will mock religious beliefs or any belief in the supernatural, although he may have been an atheist before since he was a secretly fake psychic before the murders. In fact, this is what got his family killed after he did a fake "reading" of a serial killer, so it explains his hostility to such beliefs. And when another psychic "successfully" guesses a few things and tells him about the murders, he breaks down defeated and crying. One of the few times he openly wavers on the issue is the episode that ends with Jane and his brother-in-law visiting Jane's wife's grave. His brother-in-law asks if he thinks she can see them (since she would be happy to have them reconciled). Jane is dismissive and sullen but, after a long moment, he whispers very softly, "Yeah, maybe." His own mind calls him out on this in "Devil's Cherry", in the shape of his daughter, Charlotte Anne Jane:
    Jane: I'm doing this for you.
    Charlotte: We're dead. We don't care.
  • House:
    • The title character is an utterly cynical curmudgeon, Straw Nihilist atheist as well as a bitter drug addict, though actually a more benevolent example than most. In a few more reflective moments, he explains that in the absence of definitive proof one way or another, a belief for or against God is ultimately a choice between what gives more comfort. He simply finds it more comforting to think that existence isn't a test. Zig-zagging further, he's also read the holy books of multiple religions and even has them on display in the bookshelf in his office.
    • His subordinate Doctor Cameron, however, is very idealistic despite being at least nominally an agnostic (she thinks God might or might not exist, but either way she doesn't believe He takes an interest in humanity). More accurately, she believes that whether there's actually a God or not is immaterial, since humanity could never hope to understand him in any case. "I think penguins may as well speculate about quantum physics," as she puts it.
    • One episode featured a priest who called himself an atheist but really had a textbook example of "God did me wrong" Hollywood atheism. Seeing Jesus floating in front of him does nothing but make him check himself into the hospital for hallucinations. By the end of the episode, he had found faith again because the wrong was made right and he made peace with the person who had hurt him.
    • House's ex-girlfriend Stacy is also an atheist, although she wears a cross she inherited from her mother (atheists can do things for sentimental reasons, after all). It's subtly implied that her husband Mark is religious to some degree; at least, while House is trying to anger Mark, he inquires about their wedding day and gets in a jab about "the atheistical bride".
  • Firefly: Mal Reynolds lost his faith in God after the events of Serenity Valley convinced him that God disagreed with him politically. He will allow a preacher on board his ship, but he prefers that he keep his religion to himself: "You're welcome aboard my ship. God ain't." This gets a Call-Back in Serenity. While Book never tries to get Mal to believe in God, he tries try to get him to believe in something. "I don't care what you believe in, just believe." He does eventually believe in something: his crew, and that he has to fight for what's right. There is an Alternate Character Interpretation that has Mal believing in God, and just really not liking God at all. This interpretation is shared by Nathan Fillion, the actor who played Mal.
  • Bones: Dr. Temperance Brennan fits the stereotype of not just declaring her (anti-religious) atheism but going so far as picking fights over it with her Catholic partner Booth. Her views seemed to veer into scientism too.
  • Law & Order:
    • Jack McCoy is an admitted lapsed Catholic. His disdain for religion (or for what he sees as religious hypocrisies) puts him squarely in the "exists to belittle the religious" category, often to the point where he's jeopardized a case just to get his shots in. In the show's defense, he's almost always called out on it. It should be noted that in one episode, McCoy fully considered himself a Catholic and suffered from religious conflict when trying to get a confession to a priest (albeit not a Catholic one) by a criminal while the criminal was in jail admitted in court. Which means McCoy may have been just given a Faith–Heel Turn just for the sake of repeated anvil droppings.
    • Detective Mike Logan falls into the same category as McCoy, plus he's given the Freudian Excuse of an abusive childhood during which he was beaten by his Bible-thumping mother and molested by a Catholic priest.note  Before McCoy was brought onboard, if the show was about a religious issue, Logan would be the one to make disdainful and mocking comments about religion and spirituality in general.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • The villain of one episode, a European psychologist who tries to instill gender roles in a young sex-reassignment surgery patient through questionable techniques, claims that the religious backwardness of the protagonists' American culture is why they were disgusted by his "scientific progress". It's worth noting that this is based on something that actually happened (save for the doctor being a Straw European or Straw Atheist).
    • Benson is an atheist, in marked contrast to Stabler, who is Catholic. Benson questions Stabler's belief, arguing that no one could believe in God after all they see in their line of work. In a later episode however she tells one Christian victim she does believe in God, so apparently her views have changed at some point.
  • Sam Tyler, the lead character of Life on Mars (2008), is a lapsed Catholic of the Cynicism Catalyst variety: he left the church after his prayers failed to stop his father from walking out on his family (the original UK version only briefly mentions Sam's religious beliefs; he describes himself as 'not what you'd call a religious man'). However, he does seem to take the faith back up for at least one episode after meeting/having a vision of someone that might be an angel/God who lets him see the funeral of his surrogate father and takes a dead little girl to heaven. It's that kind of show.
  • Midnight Mass: Riley Flynn, the series’s main protagonist, is a former altar boy who after causing an accident which involved the death of a girl, he became an atheist. The other characters seem to expect him to fall into this role, but Riley is actually quite respectful of all religions, just skeptical of the absolutes that come with them. He's happy to spend a whole day with Erin praying with her following her miscarriage, and attends Church with his mother. When pressed on the issue, he will express his lack of faith, but never derides others for their own.
  • Perry Cox from Scrubs. In one episode, it is revealed that his lack of religion has driven a wedge between him and his fundamentalist Christian sister. In the same episode, it's also revealed that the reason for his atheism is that they were both abused by his father. This is contrasted to his sister's method of coping: converting to Christianity. However, it's later revealed that it wasn't religion that drove a wedge between him and his sister, but rather the fact that Cox didn't want to deal with anything from his childhood, and religion was just an excuse. He still does not particularly like religion, stating that prayer gives patients false hope. A talk with J.D. does reveal that he doesn't genuinely begrudge people for their religious beliefs.
  • Matt Albie from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. As one character puts it, "No one delights in tweaking the religious community nearly as much as Matt does."
  • Fox Mulder of The X-Files is perhaps the very embodiment of this trope, which is funny as David Duchovny has stated that unless told otherwise he saw Mulder as Jewish (though this can be an ethnic rather than religious identity too). When Scully finally calls him on the hypocrisy of his believing in all sorts of supernatural phenomena while dismissing religion out of hand, he angrily tells her that he refuses to believe in a God who wouldn't save his sister. But then it turns out his sister was actually saved at the last moment by angels, or something like that. In the last scene of the show's finale, Mulder and Scully have the following exchange:
    Scully: You've always said that you want to believe — but believe in what, Mulder? If this is the truth that you've been looking for, then what is left to believe in?
    Mulder: I want to believe that the dead are not lost to us. That they speak to us as part of something greater than us — greater than any alien force. And if you and I are powerless now, I want to believe that if we listen to what's speaking, it can give us the power to save ourselves.
    Scully: Then we believe the same thing.
  • The Red Dwarf episode "The Inquisitor" features the eponymous Inquisitor, a droid who, after concluding that there is no God, appointed himself judge over mortals, killing people to free up lives he feels could be better allocated to those who aren't born yet. Interestingly, the Inquisitor's 'duty' is based on the notion that life is extremely precious, a common belief in many real atheists. This would make him a Well-Intentioned Hollywood Atheist.
  • An episode of Alien Nation has alien George and human Matt investigating a series of murders among the binnaum, who are loosely the clergy of the Tenctonese aliens (they also play a role in Tenctonese reproduction). Matt remarks that he's a lapsed Catholic who left the church because of its hypocrisy. After the events of the episode, the final scene has him walking into a Catholic Church to attend Mass.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • Played pretty straight with Morgan — he has a lot of pent-up rage at religion due to God not rescuing him from his childhood trauma despite his prayers. However, while the character arc does end with him in church, this seems to be more a matter of making his peace with religion than actually becoming religious, as he still doesn't seem to believe in God. In terms of other characters, Rossi is Catholic, Hotch is an agnostic, Gideon has described himself as a man of (unspecified) faith, and Reid describes himself as a "man of science" — though he did have a near-death-experience and has been rather confused on the matter since then. The show itself seems to be actively agnostic — not in the sense of ignoring the question, but in the sense of very deliberately bringing it up and very deliberately refusing to answer it.
    • "The Popular Kids" presents the killer as a Nietzsche-quoting teenager who murders jocks in fake Satanic rituals, blaming the deeply religious town. In particular, he frames a local "Satanic" (read, "atheistic, heavy-metal-listening, and bitter, but not really Satanic or a killer") youth. Reid tells him that, like a lot of people, he's misinterpreted Nietzsche.
  • In the Young Hercules episode "The Skeptic", Pythagoras refuses to believe in the gods, saying everything can be explained by science and logic. An annoyed Strife appears and demonstrates his powers, but Pythagoras dismisses them as magic tricks. He explains to Hercules that the reason he doesn't believe is that his father devoted his life to the gods, to the point that he spent more time at the temples instead of with his family. None of his father's prayers were answered and Pythagoras never saw any evidence of the divine beings his father constantly preached about. At the end of the episode, Pythagoras reluctantly admits that there may be beings that seem to be gods.
  • Played with in Veronica Mars. After a bus driver apparently kills himself by driving his bus (full of kids) off a cliff, his last acts come under scrutiny. Specifically, when he stopped at a convenience store shortly before his end, he bought a number of things, including a cheap little Christian keychain, which he then shrugged at and tossed in the trash. Everyone assumed that this was a sign he was turning his back on God, and thus planned to kill himself. When Veronica investigates, she finds that the store has a large sign proclaiming "NO CHANGE (don't even ask!)." So he was just buying the cheapest thing he could to make change, and threw it away because it was a cheap little keychain that wasn't worth keeping. It is eventually discovered that he didn't actually kill himself; there was a bomb on the bus. Though in fairness, the fact that he left a note saying he was leaving his wife for another woman, but which was vague enough to be mistaken for a suicide note, really didn't help.
  • The Americans: Elizabeth. She reacts to Paige's joining a church youth group as if her daughter takes to drugs or prostitution. As a rule, while the average Soviets did frown upon religion, they wouldn't exactly freak out like Elizabeth either. Even Philip has to tell her to cool it a bit-she'd been shown to take stereotypical Soviet values far more seriously than him already.
  • Becker: Becker's an atheist, though it only comes up once, and naturally he fits many of the stereotypes.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In the episode "The Obsolete Man", the Chancellor (and by extension the State) are pretty extreme examples, given that they not only declare that God does not exist, they also run a murderous totalitarian dictatorship which outlaws religion entirely, along with killing anyone whom they deem "obsolete" (people who believe in God presumably are included) especially in contrast with the saintly Christian character Wordsworth. Given that this was made in the Cold War era, it may have been a Take That! regarding the officially atheist communist states, who persecuted religious people... and everyone else who didn't obey them. They even claim that the State has proven that he doesn't exist. They don't say how they did that, but presumably few people are going to argue with them. Naturally, Wordsworth denies that they can prove such a thing (at this point, he's been sentenced to death anyway).
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Haeckel's Tale", the titular Haeckel, a medical student, doesn't believe in God, the soul, or the supernatural, and tries to reproduce Dr. Frankenstein's experiments. This is clearly linked to his materialist view of things, which is proven entirely, horribly wrong by the end. Oh, and he shares a name with the real biologist Ernst Haeckel, the 19th century German scientist who proposed racist scientific theories and was a materialist (though not an atheist, but a pantheist-he's often mistaken for the former).
  • In True Blood, Tara is established to be an atheist, and it's heavily implied to be caused by her unstable upbringing.
  • Sense8: Rajan's father isn't content to personally disbelieve in gods and miracles, but backed a bill to outlaw harmless religious rituals like offering fruit to Ganesha. This enrages some Hindus to the point they attempt to assassinate him.
  • Pramface: Beth, in keeping with her overall haranguing manner, mocks her friend and his (though admittedly ill-informed) beliefs after he becomes Christian, even replacing all of the hymnals in a church with copies of The God Delusion.
  • Belle's, a black family sitcom, has the main characters view an atheist this way. Daughter Jil brings a date home to have dinner with her family, who says he's an atheist during conversation. This is treated like the worst possible thing, explicitly more so even than being a criminal. Jack, her date, defends himself well, but to no avail. He's actually portrayed in a positive way himself, denying any of the stereotypical reasons for disbelief, and making some good points against their bias. It's Jil and her family who buy into the trope. While her dad later says he accepts it if Jil wants to still see Jack, he's overjoyed when she says they broke up.
  • Lucifer (2016): Quite un-ironically discussed when Chloe, during a conversation with Lucifer, admits to not being a Christian but insists she isn't an atheist, as "she stills believes there is good and evil". Note that Chloe herself actually counts as a Flat-Earth Atheist, as she lives in a world where God is real and she's actually talking to Lucifer himself. It's implied her sheer strength of disbelief actively counters divine attributes, as she's repeatedly displayed as being immune to Lucifer's inherent Charm Person properties. At one point, she actually manages to wound him by shooting him, when he had previously been established as Immune to Bullets.
  • Sleeper Cell: Bob, Farik's interrogator in Season 2, is a mild example (assuming his story is true and not an interrogation tactic to shake Farik). Raised a devout Christian as a child, Bob died for twenty minutes after a drowning accident and saw no afterlife. After that experience, he became an atheist. Farik is not swayed in the least by hearing this.
  • Space: Above and Beyond: Wang, who stopped believing in religion after seeing the horrors of war, although he still has a tendency to cross himself before battle and when he thinks he's going to die. When Damphousse (a devout Christian) calls him on it, he claims it's just superstition and habit.
  • Ben Harper of My Family, judging by the "worms and rot" speech he gets in one Halloween episode. He's a cynical, bitter, sarcastic man, and happens to be the viewpoint character and Only Sane Man a lot of the time. Unusually, he doesn't seem to have had a single moment that embittered him, so much as years of dealing with his unhinged wife and children - one episode has flashbacks to Ben before Nick's birth, and he's almost unnervingly chipper and upbeat.
  • American Gods (2017): Laura, who didn't believe in God or an afterlife, and was depressed with her life despite having Shadow (whom she cheated on while he was in prison). After she dies, Anubis claims she "believed in nothing". This is because she actively refused to believe in anything, not love, not her husband, not anything. In contrast, Shadow is a more evenhanded atheist, who believes in plenty of things but is skeptical of the supernatural.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jaime seems to hold no faith for the Old Gods nor the New and seems to be disdainful of religious people, if his exchange with Catelyn is an indication. He even uses the old 'Problem of Evil' issue.
      Jaime: If your gods are real, and if they're just, why is the world so full of injustice?
      • Catelyn Stark gives a pretty good Shut Up, Hannibal! response (one which echoes the real "free will defense" against the Problem of Evil).
        Catelyn Stark: Because of men like you.
    • Salladhor is a Type VII — he rubs his atheism on deeply religious Matthos for the lulz.
      Salladhor: I've been all over the world, my boy, and everywhere I go, people tell me about the "true gods." They all think they found the right one. The one true god is what's between a woman's legs. Better yet, a Queen's legs.
    • Euron mocks and belittles all manner of faith.
  • Underground: Pearly Mae says she doesn't believe in God after seeing so much horror as a slave. This is however portrayed with sympathy.
  • Saturday Night Live: The game show sketch "Who's More Grizzled?" has contestants Wayne Little and Tate Mitchum compete in a Grizzled Speed Round where they give the most grizzled exposition possible on a series of topics.
    Host: Religion! Wayne?
    Wayne Little: The day I set foot on that beach in Normandy, I never wished more that there was a God in heaven, and I was never more certain that there wasn't.
    Tate Mitchum: Damn, you are grizzled.
  • The Frankenstein Chronicles: Lord Daniel Hervey is a surprisingly straight and dark example. He has by now murdered multiple people, on top of kidnapping children to experiment on hoping he'll achieve immortality this way. Likewise, Frederick Dippel, his accomplice in all this, says there is no God and that once one realizes it then "anything is possible", implying a lack of any moral restraints.
  • The Big Bang Theory: While Sheldon's lack of belief varies between agnosticism and full-blown atheism Depending on the Writer (though they seem to have settled on "atheist" in the prequel series Young Sheldon) and is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who genuinely cares about the ones close to him even if they have a religion, Leonard's mother Beverly is consistently portrayed as a Hollywood Atheist. She has no empathy, is obsessed with science and is openly contemptuous of Sheldon's mother Mary, who is a devout Evangelical Christian (who to be fair, isn't very fond of her either).
  • Rake: Cleaver is mentioned as being an atheist once, and definitely fits in the "hedonist" category. However, he still goes to confession, being raised Catholic. In fact it's his former priest who brings up the odd fact of him still confessing to a God he doesn't believe exists. One episode also has Cleaver starting to invoke this regarding an atheist witness as a stalling tactic before Barney brings some evidence.
  • Camelot: Merlin says on two occasions that "There is no God". With the implied deaths of his family in the past and the context for when he makes these statements, it seems likely he believes this based on the misfortune he along with other people suffer.
  • The Man in the High Castle: Heusmann turns out to not believe in God. He is also the head of the Nazi faction seeking to start a genocidal war against the Japanese.
  • The Following: Joe Carroll, a notorious serial killer who also founded a cult which believes killing is an art from. Micah, who leads another cult based on willing human sacrifice, has also been implied to be one.
  • You, Me and the Apocalypse: Ariel, the cyberterrorist, mentions he and his lieutenant are atheists.
  • Dominion: Whele was a televangelist before the angels showed up. He's understandably a bit more cynical now.
  • A case in Caso Cerrado involved an anti-Catholic atheist woman protesting and condemning her boss' religious behavior. She stopped believing in God, and the Virgin Mary (which the case revolves around), because she prayed to the Virgin Mary for years to save her from Parental Incest and wasn't helped.
  • Messiah: Aviram stopped believing in God due to traumas in his past. He claims he'll "prove" this to a Palestinian teenager with his fists.
  • The Outpost: Tiberion Shek, a brutal mercenary who murdered defenseless people without a qualm, asserts there are no gods or destiny, only strength and weakness (he's on the "strong" side in his view), which is all that matters to him.
  • 7th Heaven:
    • Implied Trope with Rose, Simon's fiancee. Rose apparently never understood the fundamentals of Christianity, including the nativity scene (see Fridge Logic on the YMMV page), and always seemed skeptical of the idea of Jesus. She attempted to try to learn some Christian fundamentals, though only to appease the Camdens. Moreover, her selfish and self-righteous behavior made her into this trope, or almost anyway.
    • The most notable example was in a seventh season arc where the family dad, Eric, a lifelong Christian minister, becomes the first type after having major heart surgery. He loses his faith in God and decides to leave the ministry because he thinks if God were real (or wanted him to be a minister), He wouldn't have made him suffer like that. His rabbi friend eventually helps sit him down and calls him out on his entitlement and the shallow faith he's showing.
  • Hanna: Jules declares that there's no God in a slightly obnoxious way, while she is a trained assassin. This is downplayed a bit, as she's not really portrayed as worse than the other Utrax girls (who are assassins too).
  • The Boys (2019):
    • Butcher is a jerkass (well, with a soft side) who goes out of his way to argue with a Christian at the Believe Expo, saying that if God does exist, he's evil.
    • Starlight says to Gekko she's realized there's no God or anyone else watching over humanity, and compares this with Homelander (an evil false "hero" who resembles Superman) implying she lost faith after her prior bad experiences. Though after seeing Billy Butcher perform an incredibly selfless act at the end of Season 2, she half-heartedly starts reconsidering her stance on the subject.
    • In "The Only Man In The Sky" Homelander reveals he doesn't actually believe in God (although a part of his public image is supposedly being a devout Christian and minister) while "talking down" a suicidal young woman, saying it's only him up there in the sky. This is right before he makes her jump, instead of saving her and of course he'd long been established as a murderous, hypocritical asshole.
  • Bonekickers: Dolly considers religion just a cause for violence, and when Viv expresses some mild Christian sensibilities Magwilde dismisses her with a crack about "God bothering parents" brainwashing her (while also sharing Dolly's opinion).
  • Euphoria:
    • Rue, while speaking with Ali during "Trouble Don't Last Always" on her difficulty regarding step two of the NA program (acceptance of a higher power) says she doesn't believe in God. This appears to largely be because of her dad's death from cancer, plus many people who also died senseless deaths while others lived. She particularly finds it annoying when people thank God for their survival, which to her seems arrogant since this comes off as saying they're so special while others die. Ali, though a Muslim, is sympathetic and freely admits not to have the answer about that, asserting that the "higher power" need not be God.
    • Played With a bit. Whenever Rue is in a particularly dangerous situation, she will call on "God" to not let her die, and has a rather religiously-influenced hallucination during a drug binge where she speaks to her dead father.
  • Dark Desire: Eugenia lost her belief in God due to being raped.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): After having been educated by monks, Lestat de Lioncourt had lost all faith in God when his father and brothers kidnapped him from the monastery as he'd wanted to join the clergy, which they beat and starved him for, saying Jesus never coming to his aid caused him to turn his back on religion (although becoming a vampire probably didn't help later). He is shown as contemptuous of Christianity when he's asked. In the climax of "In Throes of Increasing Wonder...", he denies God exists in front of Louis de Pointe du Lac, a Catholic.
    Lestat: I can give you that death you begged your feeble, blind, degenerate, nonexistent god for.


    Mythology and Religion 
  • In The Bible, the Amalekites are portrayed this way. There is also Proverbs 14, in which those who say that there is no God are said to be corrupt and do "abominable works" and Romans 1:18-20 says all unbelievers know God exists, but "suppress the truth in unrighteousness". This has of course been used against real atheists sometimes, though whether it was meant that way is debatable (many scholars doubt it, since at the time disbelief in God would have largely come from pagans, although "atheos"note  was used as a description of them, but Christians were also ironically called this by pagans, as they denied others' gods).

  • The God Awful Movies podcast, which (almost) exclusively reviews religious movies,note  has repeatedly commented on this trope. It is perhaps to be expected that religious movies would strawman their atheists in service to their message, but it goes waaaaay further than that; a truly astonishing percentage of atheist characters lost their faith when they lost their mothers to cancer.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Marc Maron has made fun of atheists trying to convert Christians and at one point describe them as lurking in bushes waiting for Christians to convert.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000:
    • An interesting take on atheism in a world where most of the gods are flat-out evil. Or, well, they used to. There used to be more chaos gods, including Necoho who was the God of Atheism. This was in a world where Gods Need Prayer Badly. So the more you prayed to him, the weaker he got, and the less you worshiped, the stronger he got. He would also try to destroy/wreck the other Chaos Gods' plans, and hoped to destroy all gods, including himself. This fell out of favor with the writers. He only actually appeared in the story once, in an RPG adventure; a few authors just enjoy name dropping him as an obscure call-back.
    • The single group that would seem most like they would be atheists- but aren't- are the Tech Priests. They believe that the greatest show of their love is to cut off bits of their bodies and replace them with machinery. However, they do this because they worship a being they call the Machine God, or the Omnissiah (who is all but stated to be the C'tan Void Dragon, one of the eldest forms of life in existence, locked up on Mars by the God-Emperor).
    • The Tau are atheists, but believe in something they call the Greater Good. They do believe in their own intellectual superiority, but they are also cut off from a realm of existence called the Warp, which is where and how the various gods of the 40K-verse work their power. Thus tales of possession and the horrors faced by psykers get nothing but disbelief from them, they refer to Chaos armies as madmen (which, while technically true, leaves out the very important fact that they're divine-powered madmen), and believe manifesting Daemons to be yet another form of alien resistant to the concept of the Greater Good. A Tau fleet pulled into a warp rift in one story was rescued by what is, by all appearances, a minor god embodying their Greater Good philosophy; they still have no idea what to make of it.
    • In a twist of supreme irony, the man who would become the (literal) God-Emperor of Mankind was very much an atheist, as demonstrated in "The Last Church", where he argues with the last priest left on Earth about the merits of faith, using only examples like The Crusades and other religious massacres to make his point. It was so poorly argued that the uneducated drunk of a priest verbally destroyed him and deconstructed his entire grand ambition; it's currently the page quote for God-Emperor. One of his sons betrayed him precisely because his Space Marines worshiped him as a god, when he thought rational thought should replace faith. The Emperor was aware of the Clap Your Hands If You Believe nature of his universe, and wanted to make everyone atheists in order to weaken the gods (which was doomed to fail since Gods in his setting don't feed on faith, but emotion, so unless everyone dies or becomes as emotionless as the Necrons, it won't work out). Oddly enough, faith in the Emperor happens to be a potent weapon against Chaos.

  • In Street Scene, Sam tells Rose that happiness is an illusion just like God is. "Then what's the use of living?" she asks him, and he can't think of any reason why they shouldn't kill themselves. She rightfully calls him out for this.
  • Dom Juan, by Moličre. In it, the eponymous protagonist is portrayed as an atheist, whose mission in life is to dare God to strike him down if he exists. He's a doubter like Thomas of Aquin, hence his libertine ways and his love of breaking anything sacred out of spite (such as sleeping with nuns, offering indecent money to poor people if they will curse God, etc). Except that in the end, God does send somebody to kick his unbelieving ass in the form of an animated statue of a man he previously killed.
  • Friedrich Schiller's early play The Robbers (Die Räuber) has an atheist antagonist, Franz von Moor, who does not believe in moral values at all. He attempts to murder his own father (The Old Count Moor) and discredit his older brother (Karl von Moor) so he can be Count. When his father does not die—he planned to kill the sick old man by telling him Karl died and let the shock do the rest—he locks him in to starve. When Karl returns and orders his men to burn down the castle and capture Franz, Franz has a long talk with himself and then with a priest about the existence of God and about whether he will be punished for his sins. He reasons logically that he doesn't see evidence for a god, then throws it out of the window and becomes religious out of fear. Before killing himself.
  • In the musical Celebration, Potemkin used to be a preacher, but since he found out that God Is Dead, he's stopped caring about the problems of the world.
  • Inherit the Wind: Hornbeck. His views aren't all that different from his real life counterpart, H. L. Mencken.
    Hornbeck: Ah, Henry! Why don't you wake up? Darwin was wrong. Man's still an ape. His creed's still a totem pole. When he first achieved the upright position, he took a look at the stars — thought they were something to eat. When he couldn't reach them, he decided they were groceries belonging to a bigger creature. And that's how Jehovah was born.
    Drummond: I wish I had your worm's-eye view of history...
  • The Clouds: Socrates and the sophists are portrayed as being atheists who don't believe there's any objective basis for morality, corrupting people with their philosophy. Atheism was among the charges against Socrates raised at his trial, possibly based on this perception (which he denied, while noting the contradiction in also being accused of worshiping new gods), and Plato portrays him as opposed to sophism.
  • In R.U.R., Rossum created artificial humans because he was a materialist, and wanted to prove that God is not needed for the creation of man.

    Video Games 
  • The atheist in Scribblenauts has the same sprite as "philosopher", and will run away from God in fear, unless the atheist is armed, in which case he attacks God. This is subverted in the sequel Super Scribblenauts (except for the fact that he now has a goth look); the atheist will cause God to disappear on contact.
  • Dead Space:
    • Isaac Clarke is an atheist, as is revealed in a file only available through replay, as well as in comics released to hype the Prequel Dead Space: Extraction. Though he shows no signs of bitterness or hostility towards the Unitology faith, he does have a typical Hollywood atheist background; when his father died, his mother embraced Unitology with a fanatic's zeal and wasted all of the money that the family had on attaining ranks in the church, forcing him to attend a lesser college than the prominent engineering academy he originally qualified for. Once the shit hits the fan and it turns out that the Unitologist religion is actually supporting the necromorphs, however, he becomes violently anti-religion, with his vehemence getting permanently ratcheted up in the second game when he tries to trust someone who turns out to be a high-ranked Unitologist that just wants him to make the situation worse.
    • In a game where the only religion is a clear parallel to the Church of Happyology, the atheists will be the sane ones pretty much by default. It's heavily implied to be a case of Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions for the majority of the human race.
  • Tales of the Abyss: Religious fanaticism has more or less wronged several of the primary antagonists in several ways.
    • Sync was one of two surviving clones of the original Fon Master.
    • Largo perhaps goes the most in-depth, since his Cynicism Catalyst is actually his dead wife while his daughter was taken away from him to replace the still-born princess Natalia. They were more or less instructed to have a child because the Score predicted that the real Natalia would be stillborn, but Meryl, who is the adoptive daughter of the king, was taken from her mother who committed suicide out of grief.
    • General Van probably has the most horrifying experience with it at the age of 12 he was hooked up to a machine to amplify his powers and forced to destroy his own home town, because the score said he would, you can understand why he wants to destroy it.
  • In Tales of Symphonia:
  • In the wii Survival Horror game Cursed Mountain Frank Simmons is a total intolerant jerkass about the Tibetan religion; this attitude towards their beliefs and rituals (along with not doing them properly or not doing them at all before climbing their sacred mountain) leads to a very, VERY angry goddess and basically starts the plot of the game. Eric Simmons, the protagonist, while more respectful to religion, steadfastly refuses to accept that there might be a supernatural explanation for what's going on, instead insisting that he's suffering things like hallucinations from lack of oxygen with the desperation of a drowning man clinging to a lifebelt.
  • When trying to recruit Liberals or Moderates in Liberal Crime Squad, they can randomly say: "Oh my Science!".
  • In Cyberpunk 2077, V can have a debate with Johnny Silverhand (more specifically, his Virtual Ghost) about the existence of a god. V is on the fence given how they were killed and subsequently brought back to life by the Relic, whereas Johnny is extremely bitter about the subject, stating that the closest things to real gods are the heads of the Mega-Corps that he gave his life rebelling against, and whom he'd kill given the opportunity.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Morrigan fills the role of the Hollywood Atheist: she's the only outspoken non-believer in your party and also the closest thing the game has to an 'evil' character with an It's All About Me attitude. She even has a Party Banter moment with the religious Leliana where they both make good points for and against religion. In fairness to Morrigan, she's a rogue mage in a setting where the dominant religion heavily regulates magic users and would be marked for death just because she was raised outside of the Chantry, so it's more than just a philosophical point for her. Sten, who follows the Qun religion/philosophy, also takes occasional shots at the local faith from more of a "Qunari have Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions" angle.
  • In Mega Man Star Force 2, the villain, Lady Vega, at one point delivers a rant about how if there was a supreme being her lover wouldn't have died in a pointless war. Given the vacancy, she then decides to take the job for herself. This has quite literally no foreshadowing whatsoever, and her beliefs or lack thereof are not brought up at any other point in the game.
  • Fire Emblem Elibe:
    • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade: Igrene used to believe in God (a different one than worshiped by St. Elimine's church) until the death of her daughter. She preferred to simply stop believing rather than be angry at the being she'd prayed to for years.
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade has the minor villain Kenneth, who is called out for his actions by Eliwood who says his actions are unbecoming of a religious man. Kenneth retorts by telling Eliwood there are no gods. It seems weird at first that Eliwood would call him out over religion until you actually see his sprite and fight him: He has the Bishop class and uses powerful holy magic; which at the very least proves you don't need any faith to wield them.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening has another minor villain leading an attack on a religious shrine with priests and innocent bystanders with no reason other than "gods don't exist because I almost died as a child".
  • Dark Lord from Sword of Mana persecutes believers in the Mana Goddess not out of disbelief but from anger that the Mana Clan would not use their powers to save his mother.
  • Played all over the place in the Assassin's Creed series. The Templars (the villains) were originally formed during the Crusades when ten people found a Piece of Eden, a Lost Technology artifact that contained virtually limitless knowledge, and could also produce illusions and control minds. The Templars came to the conclusion that all the supposed miracles of history were merely charlatans using these artifacts, and decided to conquer the world under the theory that there was no God, no divine plan, and no afterlife. Their enemies, the Assassins, are also implied to be atheists for similar reasons, their creed being "Nothing is true, everything is permitted." But while the Templars use this to mean "If nothing is true, then we are permitted to do whatever we wish," the Assassins use it as "There are no limits, so anything is possible." And finally, it's implied that they're right, and there really is no God or miracles. It's also shown that organized religion (especially Christianity) is a tool used by Templars to control the masses.
  • Academician Prokhor Zakharov, the leader of the University of Planet in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, has many of the stereotypical straw atheist traits detailed on this page. Zakharov and the University believe that humanity's greatest chance for survival lies in the constant pursuit of scientific advancement even if it's for it's own sake, and also is very vocal in his condemnation of religion, spirituality and even conventional morality as hindrances to scientific progress. He won't even allow such silly things as "informed consent" and "human rights" to get in the way of a good live vivisection.
    "Man's unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he must exist."
  • The Riddler in Batman: Arkham Knight mocks the Christian beliefs of Deacon Blackfire and Azrael.
  • Andrew Ryan from Bioshock is an outspoken atheist, to the point that religion is banned in Rapture and bibles are considered contraband. However, as Dr. Sofia Lamb explicitly points out in the sequel, Ryan's belief in "The Great Chain" is divinity in everything but name.

  • Lexx in Alien Dice refuses to believe that a caring and just god would allow anyone to have his crappy life (orphaned, forced to play a game where losing means death or enslavement). Which is a problem for Chel, who's a Baptist.
  • Danny of Other People's Business fills up the criteria of cynical disposition and crappy life, and even equates atheism to a disillusioned christian.
  • Joel in Concession is an open atheist who hates religion, going so far as to say it "Suppresses free will and punishes scientific progress" among other things. Whether Immelmann shares Joel's views on religion or not or if it's simply a part of the story is best kept hidden to prevent Flame Bait. Technically Joel is listed as Spiritual/Satanic on the cast page, but he does share many traits with a Hollywood atheist (hating religion, a dead sister, a highly religious abusive father.).
  • The Tiger Barb from 95 Gallons proves to be one during the Christmas storyline; somewhat amusing, given that he's generally a Satan analogue.
  • Penelope from Questionable Content was raised by fundamentalist parents, which left her with such a hatred of religion that she nearly broke up with her boyfriend for believing in the soul - not God, mind you, much less the Christian God, just the soul.
  • Walkyverse
    • Leslie from Shortpacked! was raised by devout Christians who ended up disowning her when she came out as gay. She was left with such a hatred of religion that she almost beats up Historical Jesus due to his "cult" ruining her life despite it being repeatedly pointed out to her that there is next to no similarity between HJ and the white caricature bandied about by the American religious right.
    • In Dumbing of Age Joyce is horrified to find out the otherwise perfect Dorothy is an atheist, but comes to accept that doesn't change how much she admires Dorothy, and it becomes a source of conflict when Joyce's mother tells her to stop interacting with Dorothy and Joyce refuses. After the events of the first semester, which causes Joyce to have a Crisis of Faith, she ends up becoming atheist herself...which brings her into conflict with her childhood friend Becky, who didn't lose her faith, despite all that happened to her.
  • Penny from Goblin Hollow was revealed as the Cynicism Catalyst flavor in the aftermath of her telling off a slick backed Benny Hinn-style preacher. Her best friend killed herself out of depression and in the aftermath of this, she heard a radio preacher reference the death in context of how godless and out of control young people were.
  • Lazarus from Underling.

    Web Original 
  • The Aeoneonatrix from the Sporewiki Fiction Universe often think of non-followers of their religion (called "the undedicated") as being this way. On one hand, this seems even more unreasonable than usual, as the entry rite to the religion is selling one's soul to a physical god. On the other hand, it actually makes sense when you consider that their god will torture any soul he owns if the person becomes too evil, meaning that all of their great historical villains actually were undedicated, and it is actually true that a follower of their god could never do any of those things. Then again, this is clearly taken to an unjustified extreme. The undedicated are functionally alienated from society and cannot get jobs, make friends, or live normal lives. Despite the illegality of such discrimination it is highly prominent to the point where it compromises the quality of the undedicated's daily lives.
  • The website Objective Ministries has this depiction of the typical atheist, and supplies the page image. It should be noted that Objective Ministries is a parody site.
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device presents the God-Emperor of Man as a particularly smug, hypocritical and generally mean-spirited example of an extremely anti-religious atheist... which isn't really too far from his canon personality, in all honesty.
    • In a podcast episode his loyal guardians find a copy of The Last Church... and are forced to inform him that he came off as a complete asshole in it thanks to this trope. He then gets in an argument with the ghost of the priest... who promptly hands him his skeletal ass.
  • Of Fear and Faith: Phenix reveals that he is rather adamant about his disbelief in God when he and North get into a heated discussion about it. Apparently, they've had this argument several times before.
  • Flame Warriors: Atheist is the "must mock and belittle believers/religion/theism at every opportunity" kind.

    Western Animation 
  • Hayley in American Dad! is an atheist just to tick off her ultra-conservative dad, though at one point when she was dying of cancer she made a deal with God that if she got better she would save the orphans who were abused by Roger and Steve. The series also has an interesting example in the episode "Rodger Codger": first Hayley belittles Francine for teaching the catechism to some children, then after Roger's apparent death, a priest tells Francine that he won't go to heaven, since heaven is only for humans (it doesn't help that they told him Roger was a pet). Francine becomes extremely disillusioned, and pretty much becomes this trope, with the supposedly atheist Hayley trying to make Francine embrace her faith again, so Francine doesn't stay one for long.
    • Stan briefly becomes this trope when Steve convinces him that Christianity is nonsense (by nitpicking some extremely low-hanging fruit in the Bible such as the exact order of the steps of creation in Genesis, and Adam's age) and briefly becomes The Hedonist before sinking into a deep depression.
  • Cleveland Junior from The Cleveland Show. In the episode "Hurricane" he says that he doesn't believe in God, but doesn't consider himself an atheist, since he thinks that atheism is just another religious belief. This is forgotten in season three where he explicitly refers to himself as an atheist.
  • Brian of Family Guy has stated himself to be an atheist, though he subverts this trope for the most part. While certainly cynical and suffering periods of bitterness, overall he tends to be quite cheerful and relaxed about life. The only occasion where he wasn't willing to live and let live when it came to a Christian was when it was Meg, in an episode where she was driving everyone crazy with her newly acquired born-again Christian beliefs, and made Brian into a social pariah by telling everyone he was an atheist. Yet it was actually the book burning that really pushed Brian over the edge. Of course, the episode also ends with Brian convincing her that God cannot be real, or else he would not have made Meg as ugly as she is (granted, he was at the end of his rope).
    • Also played straight in "Jerome Is the New Black," in which Quagmire derides Brian for his arrogant attitude toward religious faith.
    • Brian is a rare portrayal of the fictional atheist in that he actually does outright state that his reason for not believing in God is that he's never seen any evidence. He even points out that we've sent all manner of probes and crafts up into space and have never once found anything resembling a divine entity. Despite this, God and Jesus Christ are both semi-regular characters on the show, and Brian has personally met the latter.
    • Interestingly enough, he wasn't an atheist in the earlier seasons. In fact, when Peter claims that he's a god and causes plagues to reign down on his family, Brian points out the exact reason to him:
  • Metalocalypse:
    • Episode "Religionklok": One of the beliefs Murderface tries is atheism. For some reason they have their own churches where atheist priests give sermons about God not existing. The church then gets picketed by agnostics who protest for their right to believe in something that may or may not exist. The protest quickly turns into a bloody riot between both views.
    • Toki and Skwisgaar are also atheists, mainly because they are nihilists, and thus don't believe in anything.
      Nathan: Can't a nihilist also not believe in God, too?
      Skwisgaar: I... uh... I don't know.
    • Earlier in the episode, Skwisgaar expresses his disbelief in the existence of religion. Not God, but religion itself.
      Skwisgaar: Pfft! This is dildos. Doesn't he knows there's no such things as religion?
      Nathan: You mean you don't believe in God. There is such thing as religion.
      Skwisgaar: Well then proves it! Show me a, uh... miracles that religion exists!
      Nathan: Well, um, you know, there's... the Bible right there. [points at a copy of the Bible on the floor]
      Skwisgaar: Welllll... maybe I re... evaluates... my life, then.
  • Clay Puppington's father, Arthur, on Moral Orel is this. His wife and son are very religious, but his atheism stems from the fact that his wife, who he used to have a happy marriage with, prayed during the pregnancy of her only surviving child (and didn't smoke, or drink, or go on any roller coasters, or horseback riding), believes God is the reason her son survived and now favors Clay over him. Clay's behavior after his wife dies contributes to his atheism as well. This also isn't helped that she died because she was absolutely convinced that God had answered her prayer of "Take me and let my son live" when Clay was simply Faking the Dead. She literally willed herself to death because of her faith.
  • Rick Sanchez of Rick and Morty doesn't really soapbox about it, but he has made several passing comments about his disbelief in any higher power. Despite this, he's met and thwarted the Devil, respects Christmas as a tradition, and has been shown to not be above prayer as a last resort (and then immediately blowing it off when things go his way). He's also a first-rate Jerkass and generally unhappy most of the time, but his atheism isn't treated as a symptom or cause of either, so it seems like it's just in keeping with his approach of being a jerk to everybody, whether they exist or not.
  • Robot Chicken: One of the Christmas specials featured a town with an athiest mayor who refuses to allow the town to celebrate Christmas (even, apparently, a secular version) and went so far as to remove the chimey thingy from the church bell so that the town couldn't ring it to celebrate. When the town complains, he points out that they should have expected this when he campaigned as the first atheist mayor, which they all concede.
  • The Simpsons
    • The episode "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge" plays this for laughs with the psychiatrists at Marge's sanity hearing who never heard of God. In America.
      [Marge begins praying while the doctors take notes]
      Doctor 1: Excuse me, what are you doing?
      Marge: Oh, I was just praying to God that you'll find me sane.
      Doctor 1: I see. And this "God" - is he here in this room right now?
      Marge: Oh yes, he's kinda everywhere.
      [Doctors look at each other disapprovingly]
    • Superintendent Chalmers in "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song". After Ned Flanders becomes principal of Springfield Elementary, the school falls into a state of chaos and anarchy due to him being a pushover. This doesn't bother Chalmers at all (he openly states that he punished Skinner for less serious issues mainly because he didnt like Skinner) but what puts him over the edge is Ned Flanders saying "Let's thank the Lord for another beautiful school day!" over the PA system.
      Chalmers: Thank the Lor — thank the Lord? That sounded like a prayer. A prayer. A prayer in a public school! God has no place within these walls, just like facts have no place within organized religion!
      Flanders: Well, I really enjoyed my time here, Superintendent. May the Lord bless and keep you...
      Chalmers: Yeah, take it outside, God-boy.
    • In another episode Mayor Quimby orders people to stop praying in front of the town hall, which has an inscription reading "God Free Since 1963" on it (the year the US Supreme Court held state-mandated prayer to be unconstitutional, although that didn't apply here, since it was a spontaneous gathering by private citizens).
    • Homer flip-flops with this trope, mainly because he hates attending church and only bothers at all because Marge forces him to. He isn't shown to really disbelieve so much as simply not care, however.
  • South Park has poked fun at atheists in two different stories ("Red Hot Catholic Love" and the "Go God Go" two-parter, respectively), but that just means that Trey Parker and Matt Stone treat atheism like all the other belief systems they've ever mentioned on their show. The Hollywood Atheism notion in "Red Hot Catholic Love" is satirized when the adults convert to atheism just because other Catholic priests (while not including their own) out there molested children, thus they figured that should discredit not just Catholicism as a whole (and apparently had not heard of religions outside of Catholicism) but religion generally.
    Mr. Stotch: Yeah, let's kill God!
    Randy: Um, no, let's just be atheists.
    Mr. Stotch: Same thing.

Aversions and Subversions

    Anime and Manga 
  • Averted by Roronoa Zoro in One Piece, who was revealed to be an atheist during the Skipeia arc, but not due to his tragic past, and has no problem at all with faith in general. It's just that BECAUSE he's seen so many strange and outlandish adventures that he considers it more likely that anything they can't explain is just another superpower they haven't heard of yet as opposed to something caused by an actual God. Being able to rain down lightning on a whim doesn't look as divine after your crew has already spent time fighting a living sand storm and riding geysers into the sky. Furthermore, he also stated that if God did exist, he would like to meet him because he or she would be a Worthy Opponent. He's just that badass. Additionally, as a lot of his aesthetic is based on that of Japan, and a lot of his personal philosophy is based on some variety of Buddhism, it's not quite fair to say he's not religious, it's just that his spiritual beliefs don't really include a supreme divinity. He gets snarky at some people for praying, but that's more cause he's a grump in general.
  • Foh from B't X is an aversion of this. Having given up on the idea that gods exist due to witnessing war from a very early childhood, he eventually came to realize that does not mean he can be a jerk. The fact he's responsible for getting one character's sister killed, an issue he's willing to let himself get killed over in spite of the fate of the world hanging in the balance, is possibly a driving factor. He strongly believes in mercy and compassion, vehemently hates fighting because it brings only tragedy to people, and runs an orphanage and raises kids right. He even wears a religious memento from his friend's dead sister. It helps that Masami Kurumada, the series' author, is himself an atheist.

    Comic Books 
  • Averted in the one-shot comic A Momentary Lapse of Unreason. A main character begins to question God because his parents died in a car crash, but through questioning he begins to base his atheism on logic and theological arguments rather than misery.
  • Inverted with Tim Drake (Red Robin/Robin III), who is revealed to be an atheist in Red Robin #22. The comic notes that he had a mostly non-religious upbringing, and that he would like to find solace in religion after so many close friends and family members have died but he just doesn't find the concept of God to be believable.

    Fan Works 
  • In Son of the Desert it's subverted with Trisha. Ishvala turned his back on her long before her life turned sour. Despite her lack of belief she participates in many traditions for social reasons but doesn't believe in Ishvala otherwise. She even refuses to pray when she's dying.
  • Averted in Cultural Differences, Flash Sentry tells Sunset Shimmer and Princess Twilight that he is an atheist and doesn't believe in any gods. This causes him to have a small argument with Twilight, who believes entirely in her own god, Queen Faust, over how it is possible to not believe in gods and how you can be sure that everyone in your world believes the same as you. Sunset eventually calms them both down and explains to them that the instinct that ponies have that has them believe in Queen Faust isn't shared by humans. Flash for his part says that he is more of an agnostic these days due to all of the magical events he has witnessed first-hand and is more willing to believe in things than he was previously.

  • Averted in Hot Fuzz with protagonist Nicholas Angel, who says he's open to religion, though not entirely convinced in a brief conversation with the town vicar (leading the vicar to label him agnostic instead), and is the most morally upright person shown, to the point of following every rule to the letter. While the guy does have some issues (namely being a killjoy), he's never anything less than a hero.
  • Averted with the hero of Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, who just happens to be an atheist, with no tragic past. He eventually converts by the end because he sees Dracula getting repelled by a cross and it gives him reason to believe in God.
  • John Ford, despite being a Catholic himself, provided an aversion in his final film, 7 Women, where Anne Bancroft, an atheist doctor working in a religious mission, ends up performing a Heroic Sacrifice. The film makes the religious characters deeply unsympathetic while Anne Bancroft is presented as John Wayne's Distaff Counterpart. In the film, while her character's atheism is implied and stated, she is fairly good-natured (if an alcoholic) about it and doesn't seem to have trauma. John Ford explained her simply:
    John Ford: She was a doctor—her object in life was to save people. She was a woman who had no religion, but she got in with this bunch of kooks and started acting like a human being.
  • Subverted in Pitch Black. The imam thinks that Riddick is one of these. Riddick is in fact a Nay-Theist or misotheist - one who believes in God, and hates Him.
    Riddick: "Think someone could spend half their life in a slam with a horse bit in their mouth and not believe? Think he could start out in some liquor store trash bin with an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and not believe? Got it all wrong, holy man. I absolutely believe in God... and I absolutely hate the fucker."
  • Averted in The Ides of March: George Clooney's character is openly non-religious and states he cannot know if God or an afterlife exist, but also acts non-bitter, is entirely respectful of others' belief and states in the film that even if he doesn't share your religion, he'd fight to the death for your right to hold it.
  • The filmmakers of The Ledge deliberately wanted to avert this trope for the protagonist, who is an openly atheist man that didn't come to his lack of belief due to trauma, leads a fairly happy life and doesn't convert in the end. Unfortunately, the hero becomes unsympathetic for other reasons.
  • The Soloist: Steve seems to have this view of them. Early on in the film, he attempts interviewing an atheist charity group, and one of his lines is “So do you non-gather in your non-worship?” The film itself doesn't agree with him on that issue however.
  • Spartacus: Gracchus states that privately he believes in none of the gods, but realistically when in public of course he believes in all of them. He is not portrayed as worse for this, and in fact comes off better than most of the politicians by the end. The film (released in 1960) is probably able to get away with this because he is only referencing the Roman pagan gods.
  • City of Angels: Maggie is an atheist until she receives proof that an angel is real. Both before and after she's a nice woman.
  • Averted in The Case for Christ, despite being a movie about an atheist who sets out to prove that Christianity is false, and ends up being converted himself. As an atheist, Lee Strobel is depicted as a likeable and sympathetic character. Also, the supporting characters who are atheists or agnostics are mostly decent, realistic people. Lee's atheist mentor even warns him against pursuing his quest to disprove Christianity, saying that it might ruin Lee's marriage.
  • Chocolat: Vianne to the villagers (given that she practices various traditional magics and is going to hold a fertility celebration on Easter, while Vianne is labeled an atheist she probably practices pagan-in a broad sense of the word-beliefs, though she would never label herself as such). To them, any person who just isn't a Catholic seems to qualify. Averted though as she never actually displays any of the traits (nor expresses what her beliefs are, besides them being clearly at odds with theirs).
    Boy 1: I hear she's an atheist.
    Boy 2: What's that?
    Boy 1: ...I don't know.
  • Salvation Boulevard: Averted with Blaylock. Though he is firmly anti-religious, he treats the believers cordially and even views Pastor Dan as a worthy opponent in light of their debate.
  • A Matter of Faith: Surprisingly subverted with Kamen, given that he's set up as the designated villain of the film. He's unfailingly friendly, patient and polite with others, showing none of the stereotypical traits. The nearest he comes is bruskly saying Stephen should "Wake up" and realize that there's no God or afterlife during their debate. Earlier he sincerely stated he's got no problem with Stephen's faith though, so this may have just been a bit of exasperation in their exchange, which had gotten heated. Despite the fear Stephen has, he never tries to convince Rachel and the rest of his students that his views are right as a result of the fact evolution occurred.note 
  • I Can't Think Straight: Averted with Tala, who may not believe in God (she's unclear) but is a nice person. It appears that her main beef, regardless of what she believes herself, is the negative aspects of organized religion.
  • Replicas: Subverted. William doesn't believe that there's anything more to a person's mind than just all the neurochemistry which makes up their brains, rejecting any soul. His wife Mona is dismayed by this materialist view, trying to dissuade him from it. Yet he is never anything less than a good man. It also turns out he's right, as he later manages to successfully revive both her and most of their children through copying their minds into some cloned bodies, which isn't portrayed as bad.
  • Princess Cyd: Somewhat discussed and ultimately subverted. Miranda teases Cyd a little by calling her "Ms. Atheist" and does appear to have mildly negative opinions on atheism/religious skepticism, but suggests this may be just coming to things from a different though compatible angle to religious perspectives. For her part, Cyd suffered a terrible tragedy in her past but this doesn't appear to be why she's an atheist-she just wasn't raised religious. In any case she's portrayed as nice and upbeat, aside from very mild rudeness.
  • The Half of It: Ellie says she doesn't believe in God when talking to Aster while swimming. Aster asks what it's like, and Ellie says she feels lonely. However, aside from this Aster (the only person we see who knows about this in their very religious town) doesn't care, just saying she hopes that Ellie finds things to believe.
  • True Crime: Zigzagged with the protagonist, intrepid reporter Steve. He's a cynical, hedonistic fellow who mocks Frank's religious belief. Nonetheless, he becomes convinced that condemned man Frank's innocent, tirelessly chasing down leads to prove it and is thus the hero (well, Anti-Hero).

  • The Stormlight Archive: Quickly subverted in the first book of the series (The Way of Kings):
    • POV character Shallan expects Jasnah, a famous atheist scholar she's seeking out an apprenticeship under, will be this, but while Jasnah's a bit of an Insufferable Genius, she turns out to be overall a likable, charismatic person and one of the smartest people in the novel. Jasnah is always respectful of Shallan's religious beliefs, though she will occasionally roll her eyes at the more ridiculous things.
    • Jasnah's uncle Dalinar (who is himself devoutly religious) respects her greatly, partly because she chose to be honest and explain her lack of belief rather than pretending for the sake of appearances.
    • One of Jasnah's most precious possessions is a book that a religious scholar used to almost successfully convert her. One of her biggest Pet the Dog moments is when she gives it to Shallan following an apparent suicide attempt.
    • When Shallan tells an ardent that Jasnah is researching the Voidbringers (ancient demons assumed to be myths at best), he assumes Jasnah is trying to disprove their existence, and thus disprove religion as a whole. Jasnah scoffs at this, saying that trying to prove a negative is a fool's errand, and destroying religion wouldn't really improve the world at all even if she could do it.
      Jasnah: Let the Vorin believe as they wish—the wise among them will find goodness and solace in their faith; the fools would be fools no matter what they believed.
  • Hellborn had Batik, who describes his stance on religion as "no", but still manages to be the sanest, happiest and most emotionally stable character in the book. Not bad for an author who has never been shy about his own Christian beliefs.
  • Robert J. Sawyer is a self-described atheist who's averted this trope in his works, exloring the issues of atheism vs. theism with a lot of nuance.
    • The protagonist of Calculating God is an atheist scientist who's skeptical when an alien species who visit Earth say they have empirical evidence that God exists, but he accepts this after being able to assess the facts. He's a nice, ordinary man.
    • Discussed in Triggers, where the US President is a closet atheist. Following numerous terrorist attacks by fanatical Muslims in the US, culminating with his own near-assassination, he decides to destroy Pakistan with nuclear missiles for harboring terrorists. An old woman finds out about his nonbelief and this plan, trying to convince him that doing so will not only cause him to be viewed as a monster, but later people would say no one but an atheist could have ever done such a terrible thing (he had planned to admit his atheism after leaving the White House).
    • Also averted by Caitlin and her dad in WWW Trilogy. Both are simply nice, ordinary people. Caitlin's best friend is a Muslim, whose beliefs she's respectful of.
  • Knowledge Of Angels: Discussed. Palinor does not fit the stereotypes, surprising the Christian characters, who believe an atheist has no reason to be moral.
  • Arc of Fire: Averted. Myrren's doubts about Vraxor finally culminate in her disbelief that he exists, along with the other gods. The series itself has revealed she's wrong, as Vraxor and Nimrod appeared at the start of Dark Heart, while Shial personally has encountered Shayna, though Myrren doesn't know this. Vraxor's holy book however may well be wrong, as she argues. Vraxor and Nimrod having both been gone for a very long time doesn't help to show that they exist of course. The author is himself an atheist activist, and thus explores this with more nuance than most, rather than just the usual negative stereotypes.
  • Partly averted in Elmer Gantry. Jim Lefferts is cynical and sharp-tongued, to be sure, but he's also the one man to be fair to Gantry after his disgrace and downfall.
  • Mothwing from Warrior Cats has a naturalist view on StarClan. She especially stands out as she's an atheist medicinecat. Medicinecats are supposed to have a close relationship to StarClan. This is essentially the equivalent of being an atheist priest or nun. Mothwing, however, is a nice cat nevertheless and doesn't show any Hollywood Atheist traits.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: Averted with Han, who at one point mentions he doesn't believe in any gods and had been made clear as irreligious in general earlier. He remains neutral or respectful about religion however, unlike in the first film, where he'd mocked the idea of the Force (that was later though). The Ylesian scam religion even had outraged him due to exploiting people's spiritual aspirations, which ends up with them addicted to enslave them, rather than saying this shows the danger of religion, or simply that it's all delusion.
  • Star Wars: Lost Stars: Zigzagged with Thane. He's initially a cynical atheist who disbelieves in the Force, an afterlife or any spiritual things generally, certain people are fundamentally self-interested (to him, the Rebels are just less bad than the Empire, rather than virtuous). However, he is still a nice guy and slowly learns he's wrong on all these things, which Thane easily accepts.
  • Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating: Ishu is an atheist, scoffing when asked by Hani if she believes God exists. However, she's not obnoxious or portrayed poorly otherwise, in fact going out of her way to find halal food for Hani (a Muslim) and respecting her faith. Hani does the same in return.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Orange Is the New Black: Averted. Piper is an atheist, but this isn't shown to affect her character, while Boo is an atheist because she lacked a religious upbringing, and she claims to have "seen nothing" when she once electrocuted herself as a teenager.
  • Game of Thrones: Averted with Davos. Growing up in Flea Bottom and being told of some new "true god" in each new port he docked in made him consider that gods were something people made up to give themselves hope. This is in clear contrast to the Book canon, where Davos is the odd man out in Stannis's court not because he is an atheist, rather because he remains a firm believer in The Seven. Meanwhile, Thoros of Myr believed the gods were just something made up to scare children into being good. Thoros came to believe again after his prayer raised a man from the dead, while Davos is more reluctant, though Stannis argues it would make no sense to disbelieve after what he's now seen Melisandre do. By season 6 he's come to conclude that the Lord does exist and is occasionally even helpful, but that he and his religion are evil.
  • All in the Family: Mike Stivic is agnostic, and is frequently belittled for his beliefs by his father-in-law, Archie Bunker, who-though rarely going to church himself, despite claiming he is a devout Christian-confuses Mike's beliefs for outright atheism. Indeed, in the pilot episode Mike declares there is "no scientific proof" of God's existence, although his actual beliefs in several episodes later in the series reveal he is more agnostic (this view would also be compatible with agnostic atheism). The perfect case in point was "Edith's Crisis of Faith," where Edith renounces her deep Christian faith after witnessing a deadly robbery; Mike helps her reaffirm her faith by saying God would not want such a horrible thing to happen. Interestingly, Mike also loved Christmas, since the time celebrated the birth of Jesus, to him a kind, wise and benevolent philosopher, while viewing the idea he was the "son of God" as ridiculous.
  • Good Times: Toward the end of the series' fourth season (1976-1977), Michael becomes friends with a strong atheist named Carl Dixon (Moses Gunn), something that irritates Florida. Ironically, by the season finale, Florida and Carl are wed and move to Arizona as a way to explain Esther Rolle's departure from the series (due to her extreme dissatisfaction with the series' turn). Rolle also criticized the way she was being axed off-a devout Christian (Florida) marrying a hardcore atheist (Carl)-and when she returned to the show a year later, the producers agreed to her wish that Carl be retconned from the show.
  • Blossom: Although no episode focused on religion, the Russo family's lack of religion does make it into several scripts. In one episode, where Nick is dating Sharon Lemure, he remarks that-after noting all the historical conflicts based on religion-only atheists seem to be truly happy and at peace.
  • Lindsay Weir from Freaks and Geeks is an atheist simply because in her view there is no rational reason to believe in god(s), though her atheism is also explained in the first episode as a reaction to seeing her grandmother die and hearing her say how there was no light and she was alone.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) features prominent atheist characters, all different.
    • Admiral Adama, a humanist who views mankind as flawed but inherently good, and ultimately accountable to nobody but themselves for their mistakes in life. While Adama explicitly states a few times that he's an atheist, he sees no problem with using humanity's faith as a rallying cry (such as in the infamous "So say we all!" scene) and accepting some of Roslin's more irrational endeavors (though he's opposed to them early on and nearly topples her government over it). He comes off as more of a pragmatist - seeming to accept that faith is necessary for people to have even though he doesn't share it himself.
    • Gaius Baltar, an egocentrist who ultimately comes to consider himself a god (or at least, a prophet). Baltar thinks of himself as an instrument of God (incidentally, the Big G hates it when you call Him that)-he was an atheist, but begins to believe there is something in "Hand of God"- with the apt final shot of the episode.
    • The Cylon Brother Cavil/Number One Model, the only model to reject both the Cylon god and the Lords of Kobol, and the most sadistic and genocidal Cylon model to boot. While Cavil doesn't believe in God, he has no problem with using "God's will" and the "divine plan" to justify a grand agenda which turns out to be based on little more than petty vengeance.
    • In a deleted scene we find out that Billy Keikeya was also an atheist, despite being Laura Roslin's aide and most devoted supporter. By then Roslin was having prophetic visions and some people thought she was the messiah; Billy didn't believe in the gods, but he believed in Roslin. Though both scenes which were shot featuring Billy explicitly "confessing" his atheism to Roslin were deleted, you can still pick it up by observing his actions through the show (it's easier to see it once you've been told Billy is an atheist). It's mostly non-verbal-you see him sort of staring down and looking a little ashamed whenever Roslin rambles about Pythia, and in a couple of his scenes with Dualla, she implies her faith and he awkwardly changes the subject, his facial expression stuck somewhere between tolerance and pity.
    • Gaeta's atheism is presented matter-of-factly, if mostly by implication: he has trouble taking Roslin's 'visions' seriously, and acknowledges to Adama at one point that he is 'not a man to look for religious explanations' of natural events, however convenient those events might be. His lack of faith in any gods is not considered a problem by other characters at any point.
  • Bones has Temperance Brennan, who argues with Seeley Booth (a strong Catholic) all the time about his faith and her lack of it. This is strong because they both make good points, and neither is instantly converted to the other's viewpoint. She is probably one of the most well-treated atheists on television. She frequently states her rationale for why she doesn't believe in a God in a calm manner - unsurprising, considering she's an anthropologist above all else - and nothing has ever been made of her being "wrong". She and her Catholic FBI partner get into frequent arguments over her atheism, but over the seasons, he's come to tease her affectionately over it. The arguments usually aren't "over Brennan's atheism", though. They're usually started because she'll occasionally come close to picking a fight with him over some aspect of his belief. This stands in contrast to how she's shown to not only be knowledgeable but openly respectful of pretty much every religion but the Jesus-as-savior ones. She tones it down later as she seems to realize she's antagonizing Booth for no particular reason, and it's entirely possible there's a Freudian Excuse for why she has issues with Catholicism. In early episodes, it is clear that Brennan chafes at the idea of faith as being in opposition to reason. Over the years she herself starts demonstrating faith, specifically in her partnership with Booth. This character development came to a head in the 8th season finale "The Secret in the Siege". After Brennan proposed to Booth, and he subsequently broke off their engagement (in response to serial killer Pelant's Sadistic Choice), Booth and Brennan's relationship seemed to be in serious trouble. At the end of the 9th season premiere "The Secret In the Proposal", Brennan assured Booth that she still had absolute faith in him and believed that he would make things right between them.
  • Inverted in Moonlighting. The snarky, somewhat dark, cynic David is a devout believer in God, while his life-affirming, successful partner from a good, loving family, Maddie, is an atheist.
  • Subverted with Nichols in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, who indicates that he's an atheist simply because his parents raised him that way. In a second defiance of the trope, his atheism doesn't seem to define him; it's only a very minor attribute, which comes up exactly once in the entire series.
  • In Father Ted, Father Dougal McGuire is shown in a number of episodes to have no belief in God or any other aspect of the Catholic faith. At one point he discusses the matter with a bishop having a crisis of faith, who ends up resigning his post and becoming a hippie. Of course, he wasn't trying to encourage him to leave the clergy. But this is Dougal we're talking about.
    Ted: Dougal, how exactly did you become a priest? Was it a "collect 10 crisp packets and become a priest" promotion?
  • Glee:
    • In "Grilled Cheesus" with Sue and Kurt: while Kurt expresses dislike of religious institutions because of what he considers their sexist, homophobic and anti-science attitudes, the arguments he uses in his conversations with the other Gleeks about god and faith are mostly the same as those used by intellectual atheists, including Russell's teapot and a brief reference to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It's also implied that his atheism is of long standing - his speech about his mother's funeral makes it clear that even as an eight-year-old he had no belief in any sort of after life. On the other hand, he does try to stop people from praying for his father when he's in the hospital, despite the fact that his father is religious and would most likely want people to pray for him. Probably because they were making an obnoxious production of their prayers despite almost none of them knowing Burt personally.
    • Sue, on the other hand comes off as mostly angry at God for giving her sister Down syndrome and tries to stop the students from singing about their religious beliefs - though to be fair, this is also at least partly because their insistence on doing so is causing Kurt, whose father is in a coma after a serious heart attack at this point, considerable stress. Even better, while they both make their peace with the religious (or bow to religious privilege), neither is converted by the end of the episode.
    • Meanwhile, Finn sings a song about losing faith and the episode treated it in a very cool manner. It's still rare to find a show that's not afraid of sending the message "some people lose their faith; that's ok". Finn's emotional distress at losing his faith in his Grilled Cheesus is not in itself made light of. It's just presented as the logical consequence of a certain rather shallow and opportunistic sort of faith being challenged. The editing of the song sequence does, however, imply that Finn thinks Kurt, as an atheist, feels the same confusion and isolation Finn is experiencing all the time - while making it clear that actually, Kurt doesn't, and that his sympathy for Finn's situation is, for various reasons, not great.
  • Community:
    • In the Christmas episode "Comparative Religion" we learn that Britta is an atheist and Jeff's agnostic, but neither is particularly bitter or obnoxious about it. Both go out of their way to politely accommodate Shirley's overtly Christian holiday plans, and Shirley's actually the more obnoxious when it comes to other people's beliefs here. As the series has progressed, however, Britta has gotten a bit more in-your-face about her atheism, especially when mixing it up with Shirley.
    • The clash between this trope and The Fundamentalist was played with in Studies in Modern Movement. After Shirley insinuates that Britta doesn't have a moral code because of her lack of religion, Britta picks up a hitchhiker specifically to show the opposite. This backfires on Britta when the hitchhiker is himself a staunch Christian. It then backfires on Shirley when he's also a big supporter of legalizing weed, and believes himself to be Jesus. They finally come together with the reveal that he's incredibly racist and doesn't think blacks and whites should mix. Oh, and he drinks human blood.
  • On Supernatural, Dean used to be an atheist, at least until he met Castiel and other angels. And later God himself. Now his believing in God is rather pragmatic, not really motivated by faith. Supernatural is interesting in the regard that his atheism seemed only to apply to the Christian god. A couple of Monsters of the Week were, in fact, pagan gods.
    • Granted, given how many of those pagan gods they've killed it's not hard to imagine they were just more powerful-than-usual monsters that some people used to worship/placate.
  • The Good Wife: The show's got a pretty good track record for averting this and portraying atheists as no more or less sympathetic than theists.
    • Alicia is an open atheist but isn't shown to be a worse person for it. In fact, although her daughter Grace is a born-again Christian, these different beliefs never affect their relationship. "Dear God" has Alicia needing help dealing with a venue change to a Christian arbitrator rather than a courtroom, and she goes to Grace for advice on how to use the Bible as a legal document.
    • This was first revealed when Eli planned to use a video of Maddie Hayward refusing to take part in a public prayer against her gubernatorial campaign (she's one of Peter's opponents and Eli's just doing his job as campaign manager), but she short-circuits him by telling a reporter who catches all four of them at a dinner that she felt it would be hypocritical of her to go through the motions as an atheist. Peter tells the reporter he respects that, though he doesn't agree with her. The reporter then queries Alicia, who states she's an atheist as well.
    • Alicia herself invokes this when she's involved with a custody case against a philosophy professor. She uses the fact that he doesn't believe in an afterlife, free will or anything immaterial as evidence that he would be a worse parent to his son than the child's mother. However, the professor defends himself against her accusations ably (which seem to partly stem from the recent loss of her friend-the professor's opinion that existence ends at death upsets her).
    • It comes back to bite Alicia when she's running for State's Attorney, as many people in the US believe this trope to be true. She's advised that open atheists are unelectable. Thus, she's forced to backtrack on her admission of being one into calling herself "questioning" after Will's death and her daughter's influence. She's obviously very uncomfortable with this, as is Grace when her prayer group leader gives thanks for her supposedly getting through to Alicia.
  • Malibu Country: Nicely averted when June admits she's an atheist. Reba respects this, along with her desire to not attend church anymore.
  • The West Wing: At first it appears to be played straight with Republican presidential candidate Arnold Vinick, when his campaign staff find out he hasn't attended a church service since his wife died. However, it's revealed later that Vinick had actually stopped believing in God and Christianity many years before his wife's death, after reading the Bible cover to cover. He declines an invitation to attend a service citing the separation of church and state and refusing to use the church as a political tool.
  • The Messengers: This is averted with Vera, who as an atheist initially doubts the things she's told at the start of the series but comes to believe when shown incontrovertible evidence, and is not shown as wrong for doubting earlier or otherwise portrayed poorly.
  • M*A*S*H: Corporal Klinger at first seems to be a Catholic. Several seasons in Father Mulcahey catches Klinger praying. Mulcahey questions him, asking why he would do this, being an atheist. Klinger responds, "Gave it up for Lent." In other episodes, indications that he's a Muslim appear, for instance referring to Allah or saying he prayed that Allah would help Mulcahy. In any case, he is always positively, if pretty eccentric.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): Averted in "The Star", based on the story by Arthur C. Clarke, which has an atheist named Chandler who's friendly with a Jesuit priest, Matthew Costigan, and they seem to have frequent polite debates on God's existence. Both are scientists on a spaceship that picks up a signal from an ancient civilization whose star went supernova thousands of years ago. Chandler questions how God could do this to an entire species. Then once Costigan discovers that the light of the supernova is what was seen as the Star of Bethlehem, Costigan has a Crisis of Faith at the idea these kind, peaceful aliens were sacrificed to herald Christ's birth. Chandler, however, apologizes for his prior criticism, seeing him distraught. He then shows Costigan a last message that the aliens left, saying not to mourn for them because they had lived full, rich, happy lives, a sentiment they both find uplifting. This is a kinder ending than the original story, in which the priest despairs at what he's learned, with no message from the aliens to save his faith.
  • Manifest: Ben is briefly mentioned as being an atheist, but except for some snarky comments by Michaela, this isn't portrayed poorly.
  • Switched at Birth: Regina says she's an atheist when Angelo is injured, explaining to Kathryn that she won't pray since it would make her a hypocrite, "one of those people who only believe in God when something goes wrong". This is not shown to be bad (nor does she begin to pray, though Kathryn says God won't mind).
  • Strange Empire: Averted. Rebecca is an atheist, but also one of the most heroic characters. Franklyn is as well, but does very bad things. However it's never indicated to be a result of his atheism, and he's also not portrayed with any stereotypical traits besides this. He's no different than many other characters, and does good too (along with him displaying actual remorse).
  • The Big Bang Theory: Leonard's father Alfred is an agnostic who believes in science, but he's open to the possibility that God exists and doesn't judge people based on what they believe. He's also genuinely a Nice Guy. This makes him a sharp contrast to both his ex-wife Beverly, who plays it straight, and Sheldon's mother Mary, who is a religious fundamentalist.
  • Watchmen (2019): Cal Abar doesn't believe in God or an afterlife and is quick to tell the latter to his own children. Considering he's Doctor Manhattan, he likely has a good reason to. It's mostly subverted though, since he isn't portrayed as bad due to this (other things he does don't put him in a good light, though not that). Later we learn that his father wasn't particularly religious either, so his atheism probably wasn't entirely caused by being Doctor Manhattan.
  • The War of the Worlds (2019): Ogilvy firmly replies that he doesn't believe in God when Amy asks him. She doesn't appear to be entirely comfortable with this, but it's overall averted. Ogilvy is not only a kind man and brilliant scientist, he likely saved humanity through figuring out how to kill the red weed.
  • Bob Hearts Abishola: The titular Bob is a curious example. He is shown praying to God in "Ralph Lauren and Fish" when his mother has a stroke, but "A Big, White Thumb" establishes that Bob is not religious and the prayer was merely a "foxhole" moment. Bob's parents both had religion shoved down their throats by their own parents. As a result, they chose not to raise their children to follow any religion since they felt it was better for Bob, Douglas and Christina to choose for themselves. When Abishola asks Bob to accompany her to church, he is hesitant to go and while he doesn't say he's an atheist, he does make many condescending comments about the family's Christian beliefs (including calling himself "sensible" instead of an atheist). He later calls Abishola and apologizes for his remarks while agreeing to give church a try. The experience is very unenjoyable for Bob as the arrogant minister puts him on the spot and basically forces him to accept Christ into his heart, which Bob only does to get him off his back. Abishola struggles to accept Bob's lack of belief, but Bob puts it to rest when he tells her that while he doesn't know if he believes in God (perhaps he's agnostic instead of an atheist), he does believe in miracles, hence why a woman like Abishola gave Bob a chance. Bob continues to attend church in later episodes, for Abishola's sake if nothing else.
  • The Outpost: Averted with Janzo, who's mentioned as not believing in the gods, but this comes after he kindly offers to pray with Naya over her mother and sister dying. This fits with his generally kind, caring nature. Further, he's a great hero in his right, having found the cure for a deadly disease.
  • Dates: Averted. Jenny tells Christian (whose religion seems very important to him) that she doesn't believe in God due to the problem of evil. He respects this, and she's portrayed sympathetically (kleptomania notwithstanding).
  • A French Village: Müller states he doesn't believe in God at one point, while he's quite the brutal agent with the German SD, torturing suspects regularly. Judith, however, is a good character and says she's not a believer, along with Jules. Mr. Cohen is an atheist too and portrayed quite sympathetically.
  • Euphoria: Lexi reveals she is an atheist in the season 2 premiere and even asks Fezco how he can reconcile his belief in God with drug dealing. Fezco admits he doesn't have an answer. He's first mildly perturbed by hearing this, but Lexi's atheism otherwise isn't portrayed negatively (she's really nice overall, probably one of the most together characters on the show).
  • Hacks: Averted as Ava, one of the protagonists, offhandedly mentions her atheism. Deborah, who is the only one to hear it, just laughs at what she says (it's mentioned during a joke).
  • Your Honor: Practically inverted with Fia Baxter, who's an atheist (thus resistant to having her son baptized), but easily the nicest of her family (who are mostly criminals) and admits she hopes Heaven exists but doesn't believe there's an afterlife. Her mother doesn't like this view one bit, and insists that she's not an atheist no matter what Fia says. She and Fia's dad are Catholic, but also totally fine with committing crimes, including murder. Michael also turns out to be irreligious, and though he does bad things is far better than them as well.
  • Single Drunk Female: Sam and her mom turn out to both be atheists, which they discuss in a flashback before the shiva (Jewish funeral ritual) for Sam's dad (they're culturally/ethnically Jewish), deciding mentioning this to the rabbi is a bad idea (along with offering non-kosher food). It seems they abide by some Jewish rituals given this, but aren't kosher or religious (neither is too uncommon for American Jews). It's also mentioned when Sam is approaching AA's twelth step as this involves accepting a higher power, and she's not sure what this would be for her, if not God. They're not portrayed as bad for this, but it causes some difficulties.

  • Averted in Old Harry's Game with the Professor who is one of the kindest characters in the series and is only in Hell because he is an atheist - he points out that he's hardly his fault for not believing in God if He refused to openly prove his existence, but God is shown to love blind faith. The Professor's wife is very much the same. Played for Laughs as both the Buddha and Nietzsche are in Hell too.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Planescape campaign setting also had the Athar faction, who's big thing was that they believed the gods weren't really gods, just really, really powerful mortals with huge egos, as evidenced by the fact that the gods could be killed. Like the ur-Priest Prestige Class, they had the ability to muck up divine magic but lacked the "must be evil" restriction on their alignment. They were frequently portrayed as being Jerkass characters, however. An interesting twist with the Athar is that more than a few of them weren't actually atheists as we'd see it — they believed in a divinity of sorts, they just didn't agree that the beings generally called gods were really divine. The Athar's leader is a subversion. While most Athar join the faction due to being betrayed or disillusioned from their gods and are generally bitter and angry, Factol Terrance simply woke up one morning and realized that he simply did not have faith in his god any longer, so he left his clerical position and joined the Athar. Terrance is also one of the most stable, sane and generally pleasant leaders of any of the Planescape factions.
  • The Pathfinder default setting of Golarion has several examples that fall into a blend of this and Flat-Earth Atheist, but perhaps the best fit is the nation of Rahadoum: after the Oath Wars, a three-way religious war between the faiths of Norgorbernote , Nethysnote  and Sarenraenote  ravaged their country, the secular survivors finally rose up and violently expelled the religious. Afterwards they founded a new philosophical creed condemning the gods as demanding too high a price for mortal worship and declaring religious faith illegal — not so much atheism as a blending of "informed alatrism"note  and maltheism. Zigzagged in that they are displayed in the setting as being optimistic, well-educated, and generally having strong, positive attitudes towards making life comfortable for everyone; as they know they can't expect any special attention or reprieve from Pharasmanote  when they die, then the logical thing to do is make the world worthwhile to live in, individually and collectively.

    Video Games 
  • In Civilization: Beyond Earth, Samatar Jama Barre is an aversion. While he's not religious, and he has a very low opinion of religious figures, he fully supports his brother when he hears that he's visiting the mosque again. He's also probably the nicest of the faction leaders, as well as the most tolerant.
  • In Stellaris plays with this. Materialists dislike spiritualists, all else being equal, especially when one or both are fanatic, but non-fanatics can set this aside if it fits their other ethos or simple realpolitik; a pacifist, xenophilic materialist will typically prefer an pacifist, xenophilic spiritualist to a miltaristic, xenophobic materialist. However, materialists scoff at Psychic Powers well past the point where doing so is reasonable and get lines like this when condescending Spiritualists, and Erudite Explorers talk this way to anyone they dislike, especially if they're Spiritualist.
    "You invented your faith to fill empty minds. Your people will never feel the true euphoria of an enlightened intellect."


    Web Original 
  • The Secret Lives of Atheists by DarkMatter2525 lampoons every negative stereotype about atheists under the sun.
  • 5 Second Films: Parodied in The Artist spoof "The Atheist", in which the main character declares that there is no God after his dog dies and is immediately overtaken by nihilistic despair.
  • Parodied by the Cinema Snob in the co-review of I Can Only Imagine with MovieNight Kevin, where he claims to have become an atheist as a child after he wasn't able to play in a kickball game with the rest of his friends due to a stubbed toe, declaring that a loving God would've never allowed it to happen.
  • Subverted in the creepypasta Why I Became an Atheist, where the protagonist describes how he decided that God can't possibly exist after the trauma he went through of the Followers of the Way killing his dog and carving 666 into his arm. He mentions that he also has logical reasons to doubt the existence of God and makes it clear that he has nothing against other people's religious beliefs, stressing that the reader must avoid dangerous cults like the Followers of the Way rather than not attend any churches at all.

    Western Animation 
  • Averted in American Dad! episode "Dope & Faith". Stan befriends a man named Brett Morris who is just as much of a bigoted, gun-loving right winger as Stan, except that he's an atheist. Despite being closed-minded in every other way, Brett never insults Stan for believing in God nor does he have any contempt for religion (he's an atheist due to lack of convincing evidence of a God), even going along with Stan's misguided attempts to prove God exists. Stan can't handle being friends with an atheist, since he doesn't want his new friend to end up in Hell, so he does everything he can to ruin the man's life in hopes that he'll turn to God (blowing up his house, getting his restaurant shut down due to a bird flu outbreak, brainwashing his wife into becoming a lesbian and taking away the kids). Brett instead attempts suicide. He comes back believing in God, but is now a Hollywood Satanist (God sent Brett to Hell, where he made a Deal with the Devil to return to Earth). Stan is appalled at first, but decides to continue being friends with Brett anyway. Apparently, being friends with a Satanist is preferable to being friends with an atheist.
  • Averted by Daria, who has explained that she doesn't believe in God because she hasn't seen any evidence, but at the same time hasn't seen any evidence disproving God either. She simply believes you should treat people the way you want to be treated and believe what makes you feel best. This only plays in one or two episodes, so it isn't a big facet of the show. Though Jane suggests that Daria just doesn't want to believe in a higher power because if one exists, it means that there's an actual predestined reason why the two of them are outcasts and idiots run the world, and nothing they do can change that. She then admits that's horribly depressing.
  • Robot Chicken: One episode has a man admit to his friends that he's an atheist because he doesn't believe in an afterlife, immediately before being hit by a truck and arriving in heaven. While there, he continues to struggle with his faith, particularly upon learning that serial killers, his touchy uncle, and even Hitler were admitted. At no point is he villainized by the episode, his complaints are treated as valid (Hitler doesn't understand why he's there), and he tries to have a reasonable discussion with one of the angels to come to an understanding rather than declaring religion to be wrong or evil. This being Robot Chicken, of course, no such discussion happens.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Straw Atheist


Samuel Tobinski

Samuel Tobinski is basically THE guy when it comes to atheist YouTubers, so naturally he's portrayed as a dick.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / HollywoodAtheist

Media sources: