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Knocking on Heathens' Door

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"Hello! My name is Elder Price
And I would like to share with you
The most amazing book..."
The Book of Mormon, "Hello!"

Excuse me, do you have a minute to talk about The Lord?

So a pair of characters turn up at the doorstep, say something about God, maybe clutching some folded literature, say something about The End of Times with a very small chance of muttering something about a "watchtower." Cue humour inducing response.

In fiction, lots of evangelistic sects will have their appearances in fiction built around the practise of door-to-door evangelism (with maybe the odd peripheral belief), most famously Jehovah's Witnesses (see the Hollywood Jehovah's Witness trope) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (colloquially known, especially to outsiders, as Mormonismnote ). The portrayal is broad enough that it sometimes creeps into this broad Christian depiction where nothing sect-specific appears, or perhaps some elements of several denominations do.

In fiction, the lead character often finds inventive, clever, or even cruel ways to repel the hapless missionaries. To be fair, it's often quite funny, and it's the character's time and doorstep. To be also fair, it may set up the Unfortunate Implications that it's fine to treat people from minority sects like dicks for their beliefs.

This can be a form of Activist-Fundamentalist Antics. The Missionary has also been known to do this. If it actually works on the very first try, it's Easy Evangelism, and a high likelihood you're dealing with an Author Tract.

Compare Traveling Salesman.

The trope name is a pun on Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door".


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Friends of the Gate in Darker than Black show up at Hei's apartment to try to recruit him. He just wants to put away his groceries. Made even funnier once you realize that their cult would just about regard him as a deity if they knew who he was.
  • Missionaries of an unspecified sect appear as comic relief in Joshiraku.
  • In Welcome to the NHK, Satou meets Misaki while she's evangelizing with a very Jehovah's Witness-like group.

  • Jasper Carrott once hypothesised that if you actually invited Jehovah's Witnesses in rather than finding inventive ways to get rid of them, they'd be so shocked that you could brainwash them and build up your own private army.
  • Jeff Foxworthy deals with them by drawing a Chalk Outline of a human body and surrounding it with religious pamphlets.
  • Jim Gaffigan talks about how uncomfortable it makes even religious people to talk about Jesus. He says that even the pope would say, "Easy, freak. I like to keep work at work."
  • Gallagher suggested that the government could save money by having missionaries deliver the mail.
  • Swedish comedian Johan Glans has mentioned wanting to find out where a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses live, knocking on their door and saying: "Hi! I'm from the Ordinary People."
  • German comedian Michael Mittermeier likes to scare Witness by acting as a exorcist-like possessed man complete with scare music and pea soup as fake vomit.
  • Ross Noble has a routine about religion where he considers how this would go with a Monopoly fan in place of the Jehovah's Witness. "Oh, you're busy right now? Okay, I'll just leave the rules."
  • Robin Williams mentioned at in one stand-up special that he became so burned out on religion that if Jehovah's Witnesses came to the door and asked if he found Jesus, he would like to answer the door naked and say, "No, why don't you help me find him? Come on!"

    Comic Books 
  • The French comic Les Crannibales (a pun-based Gag Series about a suburban Cannibal Clan) features a Traveling Salesman Montage where the mother lets the salesman in, knocks him out, and stuffs him in the freezer. The last of the day are religious proselytizers, and she tells them "no thanks, my freezer's full". One of the two remarks that's the first time he's ever heard that being used as an excuse.
  • A thinly-veiled Shallow Parody of Jehovah's Witnesses show up in Ninja Nuns, with their 'god' being an anthropomorphic door phone.
  • Utterly mocked in Rat-Man. Here's what happened when a Hollywood Jehovah's Witness knocked at his door.
    Jehovah's Witness: Good morning. Do you know God?
    Rat-Man: Yes, that's me. What do you want?
  • Mentioned hilariously in Transmetropolitan.
    Spider: So this Zealot comes to my door, all glazed eyes and clean reproductive organs, asking me if I ever think about God. So I tell him I killed God. I tracked God down like a rabid dog, hacked off his legs with a hedge trimmer, raped him with a corncob, and boiled off his corpse in an acid bath. So he pulls an alternating-current taser on me and tells me that only the Official Serbian Church of Tesla can save my polyphase intrinsic electric field, known to non-engineers as "the soul."
    So I hit him. What would you do?
  • Watchmen: In Chapter 10, two Jehovah's Witnesses on bicycles stop at the newsstand, buy a newspaper, and then try to give the newsvendor a copy of The Watchtower. He tells them to get lost. (The fact that the chapter title comes from the lyrics of the Bob Dylan song "All Along the Watchtower" is surely not a coincidence.)

    Comic Strips 
  • A Pondus Sunday strip has Pondus getting visited by two door-to-door evangelists (apparently a married couple) who emphasize that the end of the world is coming very soon. Pondus jokingly tells them that at least it means he won't have to pay back the rest of his house loan. The evangelists laugh and, thinking they might have a foot inside, casually admit that they recently took up a rather large house loan themselves. Pondus then points out that it means they took up a loan that they never intended on paying back in full, and threatens to call an economic crime investigator.

    Fan Works 
  • Parodied in The Gloaming, where Jacob does this as a joke:
    Jacob: Hi there, Miss. Do you have a moment for our lord and savior, Q’watinote ?
    Bella: I…I think I’m content with Agnosticism for the moment.
    Jacob: Joke’s on you, I’m not sure if Q’wati is actually even a god.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Clue, the dinner party/murder mystery (no, real murder) is interrupted briefly as the summation is going on by a bearded door-to-door Evangelist to warn the characters "The kingdom of heaven is at hand!" Of course, like everyone else in the movie, he is not who he seems to be.
    Evangelist: Your souls are in danger!
    Mrs. Peacock: Our LIVES are in danger, you beatnik!
  • In Coneheads, the federal immigration officers trying to expose them as illegal aliens get into their house by posing as Jehovah's Witnesses. They fare substantially better than most TV JWs since their talk of the coming end of the world jives with the Coneheads' plans to be the ones who end it. JW beliefs are at least accurately portrayed as well.
  • In Atom Egoyan's Felicias Journey, a pair of missionaries interrupts the final scene, and without knowing what's going on, likely change what would be the expected way to end the movie to something a little less predictable.
  • In Latter Days, one of the main characters, Aaron, is a young Mormon who goes to L.A. to do missionary work, which includes going door-to-door.
  • Orgazmo features the Mormon variant. The plot kicks off with naive Missionary Joe Young knocking on the door of a porn producer.
  • In Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed, the Scooby gang approach the front door of a suspect, only to fall prey to a booby trap that has already claimed a Girl Scout selling cookies and two Jehovah's Witnesses. They're all unharmed though.
    Girl Scout: Would you like to buy some cookies?
    (pan to...)
    Jehovah's Witnesses: Have you heard the good news?
    Scooby Doo: Yeah, there's cookies!
  • In The Strangers, the carnage is discovered by two young door-to-door evangelists, identified as Mormon in the credits.

  • What do you get if you cross a Jehovah's Witness with a Hell's Angel? Someone who knocks on your door and tells you to fuck off!
  • What do you get if you cross a Jehovah's Witness with a Unitarian? Someone who knocks on your door but doesn't know why.
  • What's a Jehovah's Witness' favorite band? The Doors.
  • A popular atheist thought experiment/joke involves people knocking on your door and telling you that you can earn a million dollars when you move out of the neighborhood if you kiss Bob's ass. (But if you don't, he'll kick the shit out of you.) Depending on delivery and how elaborate the teller gets, this can either make a good point or be too on-the-nose to work.
  • What's the difference between a Skoda and a Jehovah's Witness? You can shut the door on a Jehovah's Witness.

  • The Ur-Example is from Luke's writings in The Bible about the first-century Christian ministry: "And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus." —Acts 5:42. Jesus had told his disciples to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19) before, which inspired this.
  • Members of the Reformed Church of Om in the Discworld universe. Said religion used to smite all those who didn't believe in Om, but He has mellowed somewhat since Small Gods and now His faithful try to convert the open-minded with strategically distributed pamphlets and early morning knocks at the door. Constable Visit (full name Visit-the-Infidel-with-Explanatory-Pamphlets) is one such recurring character (though he has been cautioned about the pamphlets).
    • His days off consist of his trying to convert people with a fellow Omnian, Smite-the-Unbeliever-with-Cunning-Arguments. Entire bars full of people duck under tables and turn off the lights until they're safely past.
    • In Feet of Clay, Visit bursts into Tears of Joy when his new coworker in the Watch reads the pamphlets and then asks for more. Although as a golem and therefore entirely proof against lightning bolts, his conversion remains firmly hypothetical. (Part of it being, of course, that while the co-worker in question clearly doesn't believe in the specific details, he's also clearly serious about finding out, if only for the chance to get into a reasoned debate about the subject.)
  • The 20 Minutes into the Future short story "The Giantkiller" by Ben Jeapes is about a home decor saleswoman and a Catholic priest trying to get past a new housing estate's AI doorkeepers (essentially smart-ish anti-spam software that also controls the doorway intercom, answers the phone, and blocks VR access). They eventually realise the trick is to sell to the AIs themselves. The final scene is of the saleswoman in VR, watching an icon of a watchtower completely fail at this.
  • In The Eyre Affair from Thursday Next, set in a world where classic literature is Serious Business, there's a scene where the protagonist answers the door to somebody who's evangelizing for the proposition that Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare's plays, and it plays out with all the tropes usually attached to a fictional JW visit.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A TV skit had a close-up of a finger moving toward a Big Red Button, intercut with a panicking family fleeing for shelter. Instead of launching nuclear armageddon, the button is just a doorbell being rung by a Jehovah's Witness.
  • A sketch of a Swedish comedy show played with it; a door-to-door sales man knocks on a door, and when it opens he is confronted by a smiling couple telling him: "Hi! We're from Jehovah's Witnesses!"
  • Played with on 3rd Rock from the Sun. When the Solomons moved to get away from a reporter, they left a note on their door telling Jehovah's Witnesses where to find them. (The reporter, of course, read the note instead.) Another episode showed them talking to the Witnesses and being very confused about this "God" person. (He's always with you? Is he waiting in the car?)
  • In the sketch show Absolutely, two evangelists knock on the door of the notoriously boring Calum Gilhooley, and are forced to listen to Calum monologuing about motorbikes. They then turn up in a later sketch, asking if the householders would like to hear about the Suzuki 350 ("It's a brilliant bike — faster than Jesus!").
  • In an episode of Black Books, a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses knock on Bernard's door, and Bernard is so desperate for a distraction from the paperwork that he invites them in. He then winds up having to give them hints about what to do next, because it's been so long since anybody let them actually do the witnessing that they've forgotten how it goes. He also more or less converts them to Catholicism.
  • In an episode of Criminal Minds, a woman assumes the duo wearing a suit and knocking at her door are Jehovah's Witnesses. They're FBI agents.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In a The Corpse Stops Here moment in "Measure Twice", a young Jehovah's Witness is found kneeling over the Victim of the Week, covered in the victim's blood and praying. It is later revealed that he had been knocking on the front door when he heard the dying man's groans in the garage.
  • The Golden Girls: When two people come to visit Sophia, Dorothy thinks at first that they're evangelists, saying, "I'm sorry, but I already know Jesus" before closing the door in their faces.
  • In an episode of House, House is interrupted from a conversation when some nondescript Christian missionaries knock on his door. Before slamming the door in their faces, he says, "Oh, you're selling religion. No thanks, I just bought loads of Islam last week."
  • In "John Safran vs God" John made a video of himself and his director going around Salt Lake City knocking on doors with copies of Origin of Species.
  • Kim's Convenience: Mr. and Mrs. Kim pretend a big fancy house is theirs and wait at the doorsteps pretending to go inside, so that their new rich friends will leave them alone and not find out about their fib. Then the actual owners open the door and look at the Kims in confusion and disapproval. Not wanting to explain themselves, Mr. Kim pretends to be a door-to-door evangelist and asks them, "Have you accepted the Jesus into your life?" When a similar situation happens with the same house owners later in the episode, Mr. Kim puts on the act again.
  • Al from Married... with Children has a very special way of dealing with Jehovah's Witnesses...
    Al: *after the doorbell rings* Oh I hope that's a Jehovah's Witness wanting to discuss hours of philosophical observation... *picks up baseball bat*
    • Inverted on a Halloween episodenote  where Peggy tells Bud and Kelly that they're going to go trick-or-treating at the house of one of Jehovah's Witnesses as revenge for the many times they've been harassed by them.
  • On the first episode of Mock the Week's seventh season, they commented on Michael Jackson's death in their usual style. They noted that being one of Jehovah's Witnesses was possibly the least weird thing about him and pondered whether when he went to meetings if they pretended to not be in.
  • One of the main plotlines of the last season of Queer as Folk (US) is Proposition 14, which would do nothing but make life harder for the gay characters (which is basically everyone on the show) if voted through. At one point, two middle-aged women who are supporters of Prop 14 come knocking on Michael and Ben's door, talking about "protecting the holy bonds of matrimony" and Michael talks to them for a while, not letting on that he's gay. He tells them that he's married (he and Ben got married in Canada) and he has two children (they've got a teenage foster son, and Michael is the biological father of their lesbian friends' infant daughter). Then a half-naked Ben shows up, introducing himself as Michael's lawfully wedded husband, and the ladies beat a hasty retreat.
  • In Spitting Image, we see a Soviet space station, and a man in a space suit knocking on the station (which is hard to do in space). A Russian Cosmonaut opens the door. "Yes, comrade?" "Hi, I'm from the Jehovah's Witnesses — " (slam!)
    • Inverted in one sketch where a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on Michael Jackson's door, practically begging him to join a different sect (this was around the time Jackson actually left the group, so maybe it worked?).

  • The Book of Mormon starts with a class of missionaries practicing going door-to-door. And closes with the converts to the new Church of Arnold doing the same.

    Video Games 
  • Used in a scene in Adult Interactive Fiction game The Babysitter wherein the Witness in question brings along his daughter and then leaves her behind while he makes his rounds. She doesn't fare so well.
  • In another Interactive Fiction game Heavy Rain, a doctor is about to kill one of the main characters when one of these knocks on his door. While the devout one preaches about the word of god, and the doctor tries to get rid of him as quickly as possible, the main character is shown in split-screen, desperately trying to pull themselves free of their ropes before the doctor comes back and performs surgery on them with a power drill.

    Web Comics 
  • Chopping Block: "If experience had taught him nothing else, Butch had learned that you never, ever leave witnesses. So this "Jehova" fella, whoever he was, was about to owe Butch a favor."
  • This DMFA strip where Wildy scares off a group of proselytizers by answering the door topless.
  • Exterminatus Now: On one page Eastwood gets annoyed by a missionary and points a gun at him, ironically he's supposed to be an inquisitor of the same gods as the missionary but the following page reveals he's an atheist.
  • Oglaf featured this with the worshipers of Sithrak, as they try to spread his word of despair and hatred, for he promises unending torture for everybody after death because he hates everyone regardless of whether they're good or evil or if they worship him or not, so why not worship him? The freedom from responsibility is liberating! For what it's worth, they're completely wrong about Sithrak - they take their doctrine from his Book of Dismay, which he reveals to be nothing more than "teen poetry" he wrote when he was going through an angry phase, and not something he believes or expected anyone else to believe. For people who worship an evil god they're surprisingly nice; they're even pacifists - when you know that your god will torture you for all eternity, you're not very keen on meeting him, obviously.
  • Sometimes the angels from Sinfest fill this role.
    Devil: (staring at his visitors) You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!
    Fuchsia: Hello. We're from the church of mindless self-indulgence.
  • Davan of Something*Positive found a couple of Mormons on his doorstep once. He let them stay and talk but informed them that he would continue doing what he would normally be doing at this time. That would be masturbating.
  • The Sphinx from Subnormality seems to regard them as an inexhaustible source of at-home snack deliveries.
  • In The Unspeakable Vault (of Doom), here.
  • VG Cats reports the dreaded Jenova's witnesses of Final Fantasy VII, though one panel confuses them with Mormons.

    Web Original 
  • Minilife TV: In "Life with Death", the Legondo equivalent of Jehovah's Witness knock on Death's door and ask about Legondo's resident god, Goshua. Goshua is excited to hear about himself and invites them inside, but he later chases them out when he doesn't like what they have to say about him.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy:
    • One "flashback" had Peter remembering his time as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. The guy answers the door, Peter asks if he'd like to hear about Jesus and the guy says, "Yes." Peter is befuddled and doesn't know what to say, since that's the first time anybody hasn't slammed the door in his face. He then tried to tell the story of Jesus, but he ended up explaining the plot of Quantum Leap.
    • Parodied in another episode. A black Southern woman asks the family if they'd like some pancakes—she's a Jemima's Witness.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Maximum Homerdrive", Marge and Lisa install a new doorbell that plays "Close to You", and hang around waiting for someone to ring it. At one point two Jehovah's Witnesses walk up to the house, getting Marge's hopes up, but just as they're about to ring the bell one of them suddenly has a revelation — maybe other people don't appreciate having their lives meddled in? The two Witnesses quit, and the doorbell remains unrung.
    Marge: Hmm. I would've feigned interest.
    • In a Halloween episode, Homer opens the door to find Kang and Kodos on the doorstep. He immediately rolls his eyes and mutters, "Oh great-Mormons!" They assure him that they are actually "Quantum Presbyterians."
    • On another occasion, Marge recounts how she was so lonely that she invited some Witnesses in and wouldn't let them leave; they finally snuck out the window while her back was turned.
  • Otto Aquarius, a Fish People member of the original Team Venture on The Venture Bros., has been knocking on doors with the Jehovah's Witnesses since they disbanded.