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"Many men continue to knock on the door of the church at midnight, even after the church has so bitterly disappointed them, because they know the bread of life is there."
Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love

A character experiences something big, drastic, or life-changing, such as losing a loved one or surviving a tragedy. Whatever the case, instead of turning particularly good or evil following said event, these characters become extremely pious by the time they're done with the necessary soul-searching. Usually, the new (or renewed, if they were previously religious) faith is a way of coping with the dramatic event.

The character can become a member of any faith, as long as it is a newly spiritual path. They can also take up any position within the faith; everything from becoming a member of the clergy to attending religious gatherings for the first time counts. This newfound religiosity can either be temporary (since Status Quo Is God) or permanent. This also may or may not make them a better person in the end.

Related to Prayer Is a Last Resort, when a situation is so desperate there's nothing left to do except pray. After all, God works In Mysterious Ways.

Sometimes an indicator of Break the Haughty or The Atoner, and may be used to justify the presence of the Token Religious Teammate. Supertrope to Heel–Faith Turn (where this coincides with a villain's Heel–Face Turn) and Taking the Veil (when a woman decides to become a nun). Compare There Is a God!, a Stock Phrase that can go hand in hand with the conversion, and Converting for Love, where a character converts to a religion for a relationship. Contrast Crisis of Faith, where a devout character's faith is questioned, and Evil Stole My Faith, when a crisis makes the character into a nonbeliever.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Early in Wandering Son, Saori converts to Christianity due to guilt over her behavior.

  • Parodied in X-Statix, where Lacuna and her hippie parents become Born-Again Christians after a faith healer seems to bring her out of a coma.

    Fan Works 
  • RWBY: Scars:
    • Weiss becomes more devout in her religious beliefs after Beacon falls and her depression worsens. For several weeks, she only exits her room to go to temple.
    • Qrow converted from his clan's cult to his former lover Summer's religion after he abandoned his tribe and later killed Summer. He hopes that their gods can help a sinful person like himself.
    • After learning that gods are real, the previously atheistic Nora begins exploring various religions.
  • bent or broken, it's the family tree: In a matter of days Esmeralda turns from simply being curious about the Christian God to praying to God. All the trouble she went through, including nearly dying more than once, spurned on this change.
  • Played for Laughs with the Tough Customers in Adult Arthur. They've become born-again Christians who are into cross-fit.

    Film—Live Action 
  • The Holy Office: Fray Hernando has one after witnessing the faith of Luis and ends up converting to Judaism. Luis himself has one following a vision featuring King David and becomes more pious, circumcising himself and confessing his faith to the Inquisition.
  • At the end of Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend, perennial screw-up Private Clegg, whose drunkenness had nearly gotten everybody killed when his Loose Lips blabbed the group's secret plans to the Big Bad's moll, announces that he will not be returning with Devlin and Maitland. Instead he will be joining the pacifistic Brethren community in Medicine Bend (having been posing as a member for most of the film) and renouncing all of his vices. Sergeant Maitland wishes the Brethren leader Brother Abraham good luck; hoping that Clegg will make a better Brethren than he ever made a soldier.

  • Mrs. Walter of Bel Ami became more religious after being revected by Georges Duroy.
  • The Divine Comedy: Reading the life-shaping works of Virgil not only gave Statius the inspiration for his great works, but also inspired him to convert to Christianity.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Lancel Lannister spends a good while being the Butt-Monkey of the Lannister family. While in recovery form his severe wounds from the Battle of the Blackwater, he was converted to the Faith of the Seven and became The Fundamentalist.
  • The first nine books of The Confessions by St. Augustine of Hippo chronicle his life of sin and all the philosophical and theological he believed. He eventually takes up the Christian faith and reforms himself.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Mudfur decides to become the RiverClan medicine cat (the Clan's healer/religious leader) after his mate and kits die and he decides that he has no taste for battle anymore.
    • Most non-Clan cats who join Clans convert to the Clan's religion easily.
  • From the World of the Five Gods by Lois McMaster Bujold:
    • In The Curse of Chalion, Cazaril is a man of reason who becomes a devotee of the Lady of Spring after hosting multiple miracles on Her behalf. Lampshaded when he asks Palli to pray for guidance before going to bed:
      Palli: And since when did you believe in prophetic dreams? I thought you always claimed it was nonsense, people fooling themselves, or pretending to an importance they could otherwise never claim.
      Cazaril: It's a...recent conversion.
    • In Paladin of Souls, Ista starts out with a case of Rage Against the Heavens, and after her adventures in the novel finds her calling as a Saint of the Bastard.
    • In "Penric's Demon," Penric comes face-to-face with the Bastard, embodied in the Saint of Idau. Penric prays to the Bastard to spare Desdemona and realizes that he will never be able to pray by mere rote again. In the next story in the sub-series, "Penric and the Shaman," Penric is now Learned Penric, a full-braid divine.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in Arrested Development where white-collar criminal and abusive dad George Sr converts to Judaism and later, Christianity, in prison. He doesn't take these conversions seriously enough to actually, er, learn anything about either faith.
  • In an episode of Bronx Zoo, a science teacher becomes a born-again Christian after nearly being killed by a collapsing roof. He gets into trouble as he stops teaching evolution and starts teaching creationism in his class.
  • In an episode of The Commish one of a trio of boys who had committed a murder years before (and it had gone unsolved) decided to become a priest in order to make up for his crime.
  • Josh tries this in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend after realising that he doesn't want to marry Rebecca after all and leaving her at the altar. While religion had always been important to him, he was inspired by the certainty felt by a priest friend of his and believed that if he joined the priesthood, too, he'd know what he was meant to do in life. However, even early on his friend suspected he was just using the priesthood as a way to run away from his problems, something quickly proven (and through a rather snazzy musical number to boot) once he joins up and realises it requires a lot of quiet studying he was not at all prepared for. After a few episodes, he quits.
  • Carl Buford from Criminal Minds. In season 2, he is introduced as the director of the local community center director who secretly preyed on the vulnerable boys he was supposed to be mentoring, including now FBI profiler Derek Morgan. In season 8, the BAU is forced to interview Buford, who is in prison for murdering one of the boys, after they realize that one of his unnamed victims is killing men the victim suspects of being child molesters. When Morgan and Hotch arrive at the prison, they find that Buford has converted to Islam and now goes by Mohammed Alam. Despite his claims of devout piousness, he still shows hints of his predatory nature. At the conclusion of the episode, his following inmates discover Buford's history as a child predator and he is found murdered in his cell.
  • Happened to Bekhesh, the Tavlek Mercenary in Farscape, who in repentance for his brutality, joined the same religious order that one of his victims had been part of. It happened offscreen, though.
  • Implied to be the case with Shepherd Book in Firefly; confirmed in the graphic novel "The Shepherd's Tale". After being dishonorably discharged from the Alliance military he found himself on the streets of Persephone, but one day at a soup kitchen he started contemplating his bowl of chicken soup and came to a bit of a revelation concerning his place in the universe, after which he joined a monastery.
  • Glee: Played for Laughs in "Grilled Cheesus", when Finn discovers an image of Christ burnt into his grilled cheese sandwich and becomes a Christian (or, rather, the kind of Christian he knows all too well). This newfound religiosity doesn't last.
  • On My Name Is Earl, Donny Jones is sent to prison for two years, for a crime that Earl committed. While he was there, he didn't have much else to do, so he started reading The Bible and converted to Christianity. He also gets some tattoos as symbols of his Heel–Faith Turn. When he gets out, and Earl has started doing The List, he forgives Earl, reasoning that even if he hadn't gotten thrown in prison, he would have been eventually, because of the destructive path he was on, and because going to prison helped him find Jesus.
  • NUMB3RS: The Eppes family are non-observant Jewish, but in "Scan Man", after Don has an agent gunned down in front of him (complete with a Fatal Family Photo), he decides to delve deeper into faith and goes to a synagogue at the end of the episode. This faith helps him through a few other crises like the one in 'Arrow of Time".
  • Young Sheldon: In "Seven Deadly Sins and a Small Carl Sagan", right before bringing Georgie home with her, Veronica decides to check out the Hell House attraction and ends up so repulsed by the "Lust" scene that she seeks out Mary, playing the role of an angel, to forsake her rebellious ways and become a community activist. According to older Sheldon's narration, watching this happen spites Georgie into becoming a devout atheist.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • Raised as a Catholic, Manny Pacquiao later turned to evangelical Christianity after claiming to have had a dream where he saw a pair of angels and heard the voice of God. He has since shied away from hard partying, womanising, and gambling since then. His conversion would at one point become a sticking point when he lost to Juan Manuel Marquez in a rather humiliating knockout, which led to his mother Dionesia lashing out at "those Protestant pastors" whom she felt were corrupting her son.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement The Asylum and Other Tales, adventure "The Asylum". God-Bespoke Johnson was originally a normal man who trapped animals for a living and wasn't particularly religious. One night he came upon a proto-shoggoth ripping apart his partner Dave Bowen. The sight drove him insane, and he became a religious fanatic who constantly preaches to anyone who will listen to him.

  • As You Like It: After hearing that the villain has undergone a Heel–Faith Turn, the rather capricious Jaques decides on a whim to find him and join him in whatever his new religion is. The play ends before we learn if he actually follows through, however.
  • In Avenue Q, Lucy the Slut (and that's an apt name) experiences a penny to the head thrown from the top of Empire State Building. Result: she turns into a goody-goody, religious girl. Her puppet's previously sultry, lowered eyelids are removed off-stage to make her eyes look brighter.
  • In Hamilton after Phillip’s death the titular character starts praying which he says “never used to happen before.”
  • In La Traviata, High-Class Call Girl Violetta turns to religion for comfort on her deathbed. She allows a priest to visit her, prays to God to forgive her sins and receive her into heaven, insists on going to church when her lover Alfredo comes back to give thanks for his return (although she's too weak to do so), and near the end, assures Alfredo that in heaven she'll pray for him and for the bride he'll find someday.

    Video Games 
  • The plot of Bioshock Infinite is kickstarted when Big Bad Comstock finds God, seeking atonement after taking part in the Battle of Wounded Knee, and preventing this conversion is the key to making sure that none of the atrocities he's responsible for never happened. Unfortunately, because of Alternate Universes, Player Character Booker Dewitt is Comstock with Comstock's Baptism the point of divergence between the two. Drowning Booker at his Baptism is the only way to kill Comstock once and for all.
  • Invoked in Helix Waltz. When twins Helena and Heather were three years old their family house burned down, and while their parents were able to rescue Helena, Heather was trapped in the blaze. Heather survived the fire with only a scar on her back that resembled a pair of wings. The Sky Church of Finsel took note of her survival, believing that Heather had been sheltered by the Sky Goddess and that her scar was a "Holy Mark." Priests of the Sky Church appealed to (and bribed) her parents to allow Heather to join the clergy, and at the age of 6, she was given into the service of the church. Years later the church is still promoting the story of her miraculous survival, and her scars are well known throughout Finsel.
  • Padok Wiks, a minor character from Mass Effect 3, after helping with upgrading the Genophage started studying various religions around the galaxy trying to discover who is the creator that determines the future out of guilt.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: "Not All Dogs go to Heaven" begins with Meg, suffering from the mumps and Parental Neglect, discovering Christianity, since someone who Desperately Craves Affection like she does would naturally latch onto the belief that God exists and loves her unconditionally.
  • On the Futurama episode "Hell Is Other Robots", Bender finds religion after becoming addicted to electricity and becomes extremely pious. The others get tired of the new Bender and conspire to have him go back to being a sleazy lowlife, after which Bender gets sent to Robot Hell.
  • As shown in Justice League Unlimited, in the Batman Beyond future, Amanda Waller found religion sometime after retiring from her job as a government spook. She claims to find it comforting to believe that someone will eventually hold her accountable for the things she did as the head of Task Force X.
  • Metalocalypse: One episode has Murderface considering religion after nearly dying in a car accident.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series had an episode where Nightcrawler hands Wolverine a Bible. Later in the episode, after the usual fight scenes, Rogue finds Wolverine in a church reading a passage from that bible.