Andrew: Okay. But I'm thinking "Man marries Werewolf" probably isn't the one.
This is a trope with two opposing halves that explode on contact, much like matter and antimatter.
- Trope Part the First: Anyone on television who is a person of faith is a person who will believe in anything. Unicorns. UFOs. Psychics. Snake handling. Bigfoot. Yes, all of them at once, even if they are contradictory. Thus: If Jesus, Then Aliens. "Believers" are gullible idiots who will accept pretty much anything as not just possible, but probable, or even likely.
- Trope Part the Second: A skeptic, rationalist, atheist, "scientist" or other critical-thinking type believes in nothing. Thus the contrapositive, If Not Aliens, Then Not Jesus. Alien abductions are bunk, and so are psychics, and therefore God does not exist. A declaration by a scientist that they do not believe in one thing, such as ghosts, automatically means they think that anything supernatural, including the spiritual and the religious, is total nonsense and anyone who believes otherwise is an idiot.
The rhetorical term for this kind of thinking is a "False Dichotomy": A person must be either a Believer or a Skeptic, but may not ever be both, nor fall somewhere between the extremes. Any belief on one side or the other will result in all beliefs on that side so this trope can exist with the title implication often running in reverse; "if ghosts, then Jesus" is common.
The existence of characters of this type is sometimes caused by a Writer on Board, but more often is the simple result of taking complex, complicated real people with diverse belief sets and trimming them down into stereotypes so they can be pitted against each other in a "Faith versus Science Showdown" which might be resolved by a Golden Mean Aesop. This usually just comes off as an insult to everyone involved. It's false equivalence, and further ignores the fact that from a skeptical point of view, the existence of one supernatural thing provides no reason to believe in another unrelated supernatural thing, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that many religions frown heavily on their followers believing in events defined as "non-natural" by that religion's chosen godforce. It's also ironically wrong for a different reason; people without religious beliefs are more likely, statistically, to believe aliens exist in the universe, also ironically because of statistics that indicated that the universe has near infinite chances of other intelligent lifeforms existing. So a closer-to-truthful trope, if taking this example to the extreme, name might be If Aliens, No Jesus or, perhaps more fittingly, If Jesus, No Aliens. That is to say, beliefs of these sorts tend to cluster, with Scully types believing in Jesus, angels, miracles, faith healing, etc. while Mulder types believe in bigfoot, UFOs, psychics, and acupuncture, and there's very little overlap.
Done with a small amount of finesse, this particular conflict can actually be entertaining: thus we have Agent Mulder and Agent Scully in their original forms, with the small but interesting subversion that the original Mulder would believe any fantastic explanation except a religious one, while the original Scully would be reluctant to believe any fantastic explanation unless it was religious in nature, in which case they would swap roles: she would become the Believer and he would become the Skeptic. So Scully and Mulder weren't a pairing of a believer and a skeptic, but of two different and mutually skeptical believers. Sometimes, instead of religious figures they will be substituted with something strange, such as platypi.
There is a degree of Truth in Television to this, though, in that it's not uncommon to find someone who believes in several different kinds of conspiracies, due to the logic of "if they're lying about this, what else are they lying about?" Quite a few studies have shown a clear correlation between belief in one conspiracy theory and belief in many others. For example, it's very common for people who believe that the Earth is flat to also believe in the Moon-Landing Hoax (after all, Neil Armstrong had to have been in on it), the climatologists would have to be in on it, so they're probably lying about global warming, and if you believe all the pilots are also in on it, then chemtrails are a natural step from that, and chemtrails as a theory slides easily into anti-vaccination and flouridated water, and so on.
Related tropes include All Myths Are True and Arbitrary Skepticism. If the Writer on Board is in the "Believers" camp, a Straw Vulcan or Hollywood Atheist is likely to appear; if in the "Skeptic" camp, expect at least one, and probably more, examples of Holier Than Thou and Belief Makes You Stupid.
Not to be confused with No Such Thing as Space Jesus, which is the opposite. Sort of.
- Averted and discussed in Dandadan: At the very start, Momo ardently believes in spirits but not ghosts, while Okarun believes the opposite. After they see that both are real, Okarun brings up how often the same people claim they've seen both, and figures there's some kind of connection.
- Played for laughs in Durarara!! with Celty, whose greatest fear is aliens. See, Celty is a Dullahan, and she figures that if she exists, who's to say aliens don't exist too?
- In one episode taking place near Christmas in Azumanga Daioh, Kagura, who isn't exceptionally bright herself, asks if reindeer are actual animals, correctly concluding that the nonexistence of Santa does not preclude the existence of reindeer sleds. Tomo starts to taunt everyone about thinking reindeer exist, falsely assuming that the nonexistence of flying sleds precludes the existence of any reindeer as well.
- The graphic novel Creature Tech had anů interesting take on this. The protagonist, Dr. Ong, is an atheist and a brilliant scientist, working at a top-secret lab researching the weird and supernatural. Then, he runs across the actual Shroud of Turin at work (they know it's the real deal because the blood on it heals people and raises the dead). This makes Ong admit to his preacher father that Jesus must have really been the Son of God, but he doesn't give anything more than intellectual assent to Jesus. Dr. Ong remains this way, until a teleportation accident lands him on another planet, at the foot of a cross where an Alien Jesus is being crucified. I kid you not: If Alien Jesus, then Jesus. Creature Tech is all over this trope. Ong's father was driven to religion by his findings as the previous scientist working at the aforementioned institution: If aliens, then Jesus. He also objects to the Shroud of Turin because having conclusive evidence of Jesus' divinity would deprive people of the right to choose whether to believe in Christ.
- Batman (depending on the writer) has been seen denying the existence of ghosts, magic, and gods other than the New Gods (whom he doesn't seem to consider gods). On the rare occasions when he does admit to the existence of magic, other characters usually notice. Here's an example from JLA.
Atom: (As Batman consults Manitou Raven) This is bad... he's going to the dark side.
Firestorm: What, Batman has a light side?
Atom: I mean magic. He's really desperate.
- Doctor Thirteen, ever since being integrated into the main DC universe, has usually been depicted as a Flat-Earth Atheist without peer, all too willing to deny the supernatural no matter how conclusive the evidence. In the "Architects and Mortality" storyline, he teams up with a vampire, a ghost pirate, a talking gorilla, and a time traveler, among others. One of his earliest denials of the whole affair hinged upon the fact that the "yeti" he saw the other day was actually the vampire in a very heavy coat, and if yetis don't exist then neither do vampires, and he's having an extremely vivid dream or hallucination.
- In Batman: Curse of the White Knight, Barbara thinks that Lafayette "Laffy" Arkham actually could have been a vampire like in the legends, arguing that all sorts of weird things prowl the streets of Gotham City and that vampires wouldn't be the weirdest.
- Contact started out avoiding this trope by having Jodie Foster's character, Ellie Arroway, believe in aliens yet not Jesus, although the other characters tended to believe in either everything or nothing. After Ellie's trip through a stargate machine built from alien-transmitted instructions, however — a trip which nobody believes actually happens (after encountering an alien intelligence who appears as her dead father, she returns to Earth in the same instant she left with no recorded evidence of her trip at all, other than that 18 hours of recorded static) — she finds herself in a position she previously dismissed in other characters: furiously arguing for the truth of a cosmically important experience for which she can provide no hard evidence at all. While Ellie doesn't go so far as to literally believe "if Aliens, then Jesus", that message, whether intended or not, is not too much of a stretch.
- Miracle on 34th Street: This is ultimately the crux of the judge's decision regarding the existence of Santa Claus in the climax of the remake. If the U.S. government has the wherewithal to put "In God We Trust" on their money, then who is he to declare false the faith that Kris Kringle is Santa Claus?
- 1408 had a super-rationalist reporter who debunks tales of hauntings as the protagonist. He checks into a hotel room which, of course, actually is haunted. The movie indicates that the reporter is also an atheist. At the end of the movie, having found himself unable to explain away the haunted hotel room, he comes to the conclusion that there must be more "out there" than what he can see and touch, and has his doubts about the nonexistence of God and an afterlife severely shaken. This is supposed to provide him some comfort over the death of his daughter. In other words: "If ghosts, then Jesus." The Stephen King short story on which this was based had a similar subtext: the line about not believing in "ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties, and even if they were real, there's no God to protect us from them, is there?" was lifted verbatim from the story for the movie. The story itself has the protagonist ending his days dealing with nightmares and half-recalled memories about the incident and contrasting the horror of mere "ghosts" with the terror of the room ("At least (ghosts) were human once, but that thing...that * thing* ...").
- At least two Batman films - in different continuities - have played this up:
- In Tim Burton's Batman (1989), Alexander Knox is mocked by his fellow reporters for believing that there is a "Bat-Man." They joke that he must believe in Bigfoot too.
- Similarly, an early scene in The Dark Knight suggested that anyone who believes in Batman not only also believes in Bigfoot, but furthermore believes that Elvis Presley and Abraham Lincoln are still alive.
- Lampshaded amusingly in Ghostbusters (1984), where embodying the first part of this trope is a hiring requirement for the Ghostbusters organization:
Janine: Do you believe in UFO's, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster, and the theory of Atlantis?
- Played slightly more grimly not long thereafter, when Winston points out that the Biblical Book of Revelation might not be so far-fetched: "Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we've been so busy lately is 'cause the dead have been rising from the grave?" If Ghosts, Then Jesus plus End Of Days...
- Actually subverted according to Word of God by Ray who was apparently once very religious according to Dan Ackroyd but became a parapsychologist because of his lost faith (if not Jesus then Aliens if you will). It adds deeper meaning to both his statement he never met God (despite desperately wanting to) and his low-key freakout to Winston pointing out this may be God at work.
- Played slightly more grimly not long thereafter, when Winston points out that the Biblical Book of Revelation might not be so far-fetched: "Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we've been so busy lately is 'cause the dead have been rising from the grave?" If Ghosts, Then Jesus plus End Of Days...
- In Super Mario Bros. (1993), Mario doesn't believe in parallel universes and aliens and stuff like Luigi does; Luigi even buys tabloids running articles about 'scientists who turn brains into cheese". By the end of the movie, once he's gone through an adventure in a parallel universe, Mario is willing to believe anything.
- Cthulhu. The protagonist, having spent the night stumbling through endless tunnels beneath Rivermouth full of nameless horrors, ridicules his friend's suggestion that they're the legendary Shanghai tunnels (subterranean passages allegedly used to transport men kidnapped as slaves) and says sarcastically, "What other explanation could there be, UFOs?" Which is amusing given where the titular monster came from.
- Employed in From Dusk Till Dawn. The existence of God is taken as proven by the existence of vampires. Possibly justified since all they needed was faith and if faith didn't work they were kinda screwed either way.
- The Avengers (2012): While Captain America refuses to believe Thor and Loki are gods ("There's only one God, ma'am, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that."), he accepts that they're magic-using aliens without question. Of course, he has seen the very-unscientific powers of the Tesseract first-hand, so it's not that much of a stretch for him. Steve is technically correct, as well, given that in the movie universe, the Asgardians are supposed to be Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
- Subverted for humorous effect in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.
Ranger Brad: Oh, say... You don't believe those old legends about the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, do you?
Dr. Roger Fleming: Ranger Brad, I'm a scientist, I don't believe in anything.
- G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories subvert this trope pretty heavily - several stories feature the priest seeing through apparent miracles that take others in, precisely because he has a firm belief in the supernatural - and therefore a framework to think about them in, and an appreciation that "inexplicable" does not equal "miraculous".
- This trope is used to explain why Stanley Uris, one of the main characters in Stephen King's IT can't fully accept the existence of the book's creature and eventually kills himself rather than return to face the monster. In one inner thought sequence he explains to the reader that the existence of the monster actually OFFENDS him, because the existence of ANY supernatural phenomena destroys his neat and tidy rationalist vision of the world. "Everything leads to everything..."
- In Larry Niven's Fallen Angels, the "ruling coalition of proxmires, falwells, rifkins and maclaines" is composed of groups who in real life regard each other, sometimes literally, as minions of the Devil, but in the novel work harmoniously to make life miserable for the protagonists, because nothing else counts against their (alleged) technophobic mindset.
- Referenced in The Dresden Files.
"I kinda doubt they had anything to do with that one."
- Inverted in Charles Stross' A Colder War: an alternate-history USA is dealing with Lovecraftian horrors used as weapons by the Soviets. Ronald Reagan is elected and treats them as just another kind of technology—he's too religious to believe in any supernatural aspect to them.
- In Anne Rice's Memnoch the Devil, Lestat encounters a being that claims to be The Devil, calling itself Memnoch, who takes the vampire on a journey, showing him Heaven and Hell, as well as the history of Earth from a Biblical (and Memnoch's own) point of view. When Lestat asks the obvious question (if extraterrestrial life exists), Memnoch answers that he doesn't know, as he never looked at any other world. So, vampires, God/Jesus, the Devil, angels, ghosts, spirits, witches... all exist. Aliens? Who knows? We got enough trouble here.
- It should be noted that Anne Rice wrote this novel (and all others about vampires and witches) before becoming a "born-again Christian" and renouncing her "heresy".
- The novel also explicitly mentions that besides setting the Universe into motion, God did not participate in human evolution, so there is nothing to indicate that this couldn't have happened elsewhere, especially since neither God nor his angels particularly care about any other planet.
- However, given the events of her most recent work, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis...yea extraterrestrial beings are definitely a possibility.
- Robert J. Sawyer plays with this trope extensively in Calculating God. Thomas remains stubbornly atheist while several species of alien try to convince him that not only does God exist, but the math proves it.
- Umberto Eco's The Island of the Day Before has a 17th century Jesuit use the "If Jesus, No Aliens" argument, trying to convince the protagonist Roberto that other worlds do not exist. His argument is that, if there are other worlds with people on them, every single one would have to have a Jesus dying for that world's salvation, meaning the Crucifixion was not the unique, monumental event Christianity treats it as; on the other hand, if God were to create these worlds and not offer them salvation, he would not be the loving god Christianity treats him as. The Jesuit is not portrayed particularly sympathetically, and his line of doctrinaire "reasoning" contributes to Roberto's slow, steady descent into madness.
- In Andrei Belyanin's The Thief of Baghdad, the author relays a Fish out of Temporal Water scenario, in which a modern-day Russian man is magically transported into "Arabian Nights" Days by a genie to become the legendary titular character. The story (and sequels) feature all manner of Middle Eastern magical creatures. The author decides he shouldn't stop there and invoke this trope. After all, if a guy can be abducted and sent into the magical past by a genie, then why can't he also be abducted by a flying saucer in the middle of a Baghdad street chase, causing the guards to run away in fear, claiming that St. Khidr's chariot has taken the thieving infidel for righteous punishment.
- Unlike the movie adaptation of Carl Sagan's Contact (see above in Film), the novel explicitly leads Ellie to the conclusion "if aliens then Jesus". The alien in the guise of Ellie's father tells her that his people have found messages from God hidden in the digits of the universe's fundamental constants, such as pi. After Ellie goes back home, she uses a supercomputer to find the first such message in pi relatively easily (that is, it didn't take her the entire age of the universe to find an ordered sequence that arose purely coincidentally out of randomness.) It's a sequence of 1s and 0s which, when arranged in a square matrix, forms a drawing of a circle. This gives her the evidence to prove the existence of both aliens and God on the very last page of the book.
- Nowhere Stars: Discussed; this story takes place in a world where Magical Girls known as Keepers, and Eldritch Abominations called Harbingers, are an almost common part of everyday life; the existence of the soul is likewise a known and observable phenomenon, and a goddess named Claiyasya probably is real, as the Mentor Mascots who give Keepers their powers outright state they work for her. Outside of those very-interconnected forms of magic, however, there's never been any definitive proof for any other form of the supernatural, such as ghosts or occultism for instance. The main character practices Tarot readings as a hobby but doesn't believe they have any supernatural power, and there's no evidence to suggest otherwise. Even the existence of an afterlife is in question, as the Claiyasyan religion is conspicuously silent on the topic.
- Played surprisingly straight in 30 Rock. Religion plays a negligible role in most characters' lives, except when Played for Laughs, i.e. when Liz Lemon states that her religious beliefs are "pretty much whatever Oprah tells me to do." However, Kenneth, the one (non-Girl of the Week) character who is devoutly religious, is also strongly hinted at as being immortal.
- Joan of Arcadia: "Touch Move" as well as several other episodes.
- Both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel avert this trope. They've seen vampires and demons of all kinds, but Buffy is agnostic, unknown what Angel is. Buffy wears a cross necklace, but only as a weapon against vampires.
Vampire Holden Webster (after discovering vampires and Slayers exist): Does God exist, by the way? Is there any word on that?Buffy: Nothing solid.
- John Locke of Lost fame is one of the few explicit representatives on TV of that (not insignificant) portion of society who are very spiritually inclined but not religious. This has led to him being used as a foil for another character's belief system multiple times: he contrasts with Jack, who is shown (at least early on) to be very earthly and skeptical; he also contrasts with Mr. Eko, whose spirituality is of a deeply religious nature.
- This trope was actually mentioned by a character in Baywatch as her personal beliefs. In her own words, "If there can be aliens, there can be elves." The supernatural, however, was not a part of the show. Until the Baywatch Nights spin-off.
- Averted by the characters of Dave Lister and Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf. In true Chestertonian fashion, Rimmer scoffs at the notion of God but is frighteningly eager to declare any unexplained phenomena the work of aliens; Lister, on the other hand, is a pantheist but also considers human sapience to be alone in the universe (Lister is closer to correct; all the "alien" species they encounter evolved from Terran life forms). On the other hand, Lister is also described as or implied to be an atheist a couple of times as well - so either he became a pantheist at some point or it's just another case of Red Dwarf's rampant retconning.
- To be entirely precise, Rimmer effectively substitutes belief in sufficiently advanced aliens for a belief in God while Lister is more of an irreligious skeptic (either believing in no God or in the universe as a non-personal God). This doesn't really conform to this trope, either straight or as an aversion.
- Lister was stated to be a pantheist in "Last Days", part of the third season, while he was stated to be an atheist in "Back to Reality", the final episode of the fifth season. This means it's not implausible that Lister originally had faith in the idea of the universe being a non-personal god, then gave up believing in any form of god at all.
- Inversely, after the first two seasons, Rimmer's obsession with finding aliens is toned down to the point of vanishing completely, whereas despite mocking the idea of believing in God in the first season, in the third season episode "Timeslides" it's implied he's attended a church service onboard the ship (although who was conducting it is anyone's guess) and in "Last Day" he says people shouldn't be mocked for their beliefs (it's probably a side effect of suddenly coming from a different century).
- The short-lived sci-fi series Special Unit 2 centered on a secret police bureau devoted to tracking down "Links", evolutionary deviations that were responsible for the ideas of classical monsters. Throughout most of the series, there's a scientific explanation for most of the deviations. The episode "The Eve", however, quickly set about suspension of disbelief to tiny little pieces. A Link so old and so powerful he's considered the Devil? Sure. He can raise people from the dead? Okay. There's a prophecy about him? Sure, you could buy precognition. He needs a magic ring to carry out his plans? Er, all right, you could buy that it's of special Applied Phlebotinum. He needs to pull off a magical ritual to gain the power? Oh, fuck that noise.
- The X-Files is a subversion: Mulder, who appears to be an atheist or agnostic, believes in aliens and most paranormal reports. Scully, who struggles with her faith, but still is shown to be a believing Catholic, initially denied the existence of most paranormal phenomena. This subversion was most apparent in any episode featuring religious supernatural phenomena. Mulder and Scully would actually switch roles, with Mulder being the skeptic and Scully trying hard to believe. The two agents' views on the paranormal are completely inverted very early on in the Season 1 episode "Beyond the Sea". Serial killer Luther Boggs (who Mulder helped apprehend) claims to have had psychic revelations regarding a kidnapping case, but Mulder is particularly skeptical whereas Scully comes to believe him after Boggs reveals certain details regarding her recently-deceased father that he could not know. What doesn't help is that Boggs gets certain things wrong, such as 'reading' information from a scrap of 'evidence' related to the case that actually came from one of Mulder's t-shirts.
- Scully: How is it that you're able to go out on a limb whenever you see a light in the sky, but you're unwilling to accept the possibility of a miracle? Even when it's right in front of you?
Mulder: I wait for a miracle every day. But what I've seen here has only tested my patience, not my faith.
- Slight subversion on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Major Kira is one of the most overtly religious characters on all of Star Trek, but also very cynical, sometimes even about the aliens/gods her people worship. The gods of the Bajorans, known as "The Prophets", are referred to by most of the other characters on the show as simply "The Wormhole Aliens". Captain Sisko starts off as one of the latter, but his belief grows as the series progresses and he comes to accept his role as a type of religious leader for the Bajorans. Likewise, the race of changelings are seen as "gods" by those they rule over, but not by others. There is also this exchange between two of the show's antagonists:
Weyoun: Pah-wraiths and Prophets. All this talk of gods strikes me as nothing more than superstitious nonsense.Damar: You believe that the Founders are gods, don't you?Weyoun: That's different.Damar: [laughs] In what way?Weyoun: The Founders are gods.
Weyoun: Of course they did-that's what gods do.
- In another conversation, Odo asks if Weyoun has considered that the Founders may have simply programmed belief in their divinity into the Jem'Hadar and Vorta.
- Crops up in an episode of the American version of Life On Mars. The young cop, Chris, states that he wants to believe in aliens because then angels aren't so far of a stretch. Because if there are flying saucers out there, that means God exists, right? Inverted, in that he seems to believe If Aliens Then Jesus.
- Grace Van Pelt in The Mentalist is like this. She is a religious believer and also believes that a relative is a psychic, and asks the titular mentalist how to distinguish "true" psychics from "false" ones. Patrick Jane dismisses her with a categorical "There is no such thing as psychics" but she refuses to acknowledge it. In this case the connection was sensible, since her belief in psychics specifically revolved over their supposed ability to communicate with the dead, the afterlife being central to Christian doctrine.
- Eureka, "God Is In the Details".
- In V (2009), the inverse happens where people start to become more religious when the aliens invade. When visiting the Vatican, Anna demands that a cardinal tell all Catholic priests to stop demonizing Vs. When the cardinal not only refuses on the grounds that he can't stop priests from expressing their opinions but he also supports their skepticism of the Vs' intentions, Anna then explains that, since Christianity is founded on the belief in miracles, V technology can be used to make more things that appear to be just as miraculous to an average human. Basically, she threatens him with Catholics choosing to abandon their faith in favor of the Vs, and he caves in.
- Criminal Minds inverts this. Rossi (Catholic) and Morgan (unspecified Christian denomination) are the two most skeptical members of the team when it comes to psychics in "Cold Comfort" and demonic possession in "Demonology," although Rossi acknowledges the power of belief in such things - very negatively in the case of psychics (who waste investigators' time). Morgan was also skeptical of near-death experiences in "Epilogue", doubting that such instances were really glimpses of the afterlife.
- JAG: Played with in "Psychic Warrior", in which a skeptical mathematician was asked by Rabb on the stand, in a case dealing with a Navy experiment on remote viewing, if he believed in God. He reluctantly admitted it. Rabb then criticized his lack of belief in the possibility of psychic phenomena.
- On The Walking Dead, Daryl brings up the Chupacabra and T-Dog expresses disbelief. The reply is, essentially, "The dead are walking and you don't believe in the chupacabra?" Well, thing is, there's ample evidence (in the show) for the walking dead...
- Brennan on Bones is skeptical of everything, from religion to aliens to psychology, and takes for granted that all her scientifically-minded comrades are likewise atheists. She's surprised to find out that's not the case. Her Muslim intern went to great lengths to justify his faith, and one intern defended his father's Catholic faith (though he was more defending the right to believe, rather than the belief itself). Even conspiracy-theorist Hodgins sits on the middle line, stating "Just because I think organized religion is a scam, doesn't mean God doesn't love me." And then there's Booth, who was raised Catholic, but only suggests paranormal explanations to get under Brennan's skin and doesn't seem to be more supernaturally-inclined than the others, and Angela, who regularly consults with her psychic, but doesn't make any statements either way on religion. Over time, Brennan manages to loosen up on her severe skepticism even agreeing to baptize her children without having to embrace everything.
- Played with in The Lost Crown: A Ghosthunting Adventure, where Nigel is frustrated by Lucy's (wrong, but reasonable from what she's seen) insistence that the spooky things in Saxton Museum aren't necessarily proof of ghosts, just something strange. Nigel's own credibility later reveals its limits when Hardacre implies that he believes myths of dragons had a factual basis, an idea which even Nigel poo-poos as silly.
- In the The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Skeptic", Lisa finds what appears to be an angel's fossilized remains. Lisa not only thinks they're fake, but largely argues that believing in angels at all is ridiculous (if she believes in God is left vague). Everyone else, except possibly Marge, immediately assume it's an actual angel's skeleton, which doesn't make sense even if one does believe in angels, which are generally understood to be immortal beings of pure spirit.
- Mocked in The Venture Bros. episode "Ghosts of the Sargasso" when Hank Venture falls under the sway of Part One.
Hank: Brock, if pirates really exist, I mean, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy could even be real, right? It's like, all bets are off!
Brock: Hank, nobody ever said pirates don't exist.
- In Batman Beyond, Bruce displays a healthy attitude to this kind of trope, not dismissing anything out of hand (having encountered his share of paranormal phenomena during his own cape and cowl career) but not blankly accepting all supernatural claims either.
Bruce: These people believe that anything they can't explain is magic.
Terry: And naturally you don't believe in that kind of thing.
Bruce: Of course I do. I've seen it all: Demons, witchboys, immortals, zombies. But [trashing parts of a high school and attacking a bully], it's just so...so high school.
- In Invader Zim, when Dib proves that Chickenfoot is a hoax.
Reporter 1: I bet this means Bigfoot is a fraud too!
Reporter 2: And UFOs.
Reporter 1: And hobos.
Dib: No wait! Those are real! Except the hobos. Wait, no. They're real. I... I guess. But- what's wrong with you people!?!
- Dib at one point ran into a guy who believed in aliens, and that vampires exist, but dinosaurs didn't.
- Played with in American Dad!: The Christmas Special episodes show that God, Jesus, and angels are all real. Aliens are real by virtue of Roger (an alien escaped from Area 51) living with the family. A two-part episode even deals with the Rapture, the Second Coming, and the war with The Legions of Hell. When Jesus meets Roger, he offhandedly mentions that Roger's people are one of his father's side projects, infuriating Roger. Meanwhile, Roger is busy fixing his ship to get the hell away from Earth before it becomes the literal Hell. Whether the Christmas episodes are "canon" (as much as that means) is debatable, though, and regular episodes rarely follow suit with the overtly Christian figures (though other supernatural creatures, like leprechauns, do appear from time to time).
- A bizarre example in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, "Skeletons In The Water Closet": "Germs. They're real. Maybe skeletons are real too."
- Mike, Lu & Og: In "A Learning Experience", Mike asks who the Cuzzlewitz are, and Lu scoffs "Next, you'll be asking about the Easter Bunny." Of course, she does know they're real, but she really wishes she didn't.
- A discussed trope in the Gravity Falls episode "Land Before Swine". Dipper questions Grunkle Stan's disbelieving attitude toward the paranormal even after their encounter with a living pterodactyl. In later episodes, it would be obvious he was trying to deflect.
Dipper: You punched a pterodactyl in the face? I thought you didn't even believe in the supernatural.
Stan: Dinosaurs aren't magic; they're just big lizards! Get off my back!