Follow TV Tropes


Theatre / The Book of Mormon

Go To
"This book will change your life!"

"Hello! My name is Elder Price!
And I would like to share with you the most amazing book..."

The Book of Mormon is a Broadway musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Robert Lopez.

The story follows two young Mormon men who are assigned to Uganda for their mission. Elder Kevin Price is a fresh-faced, eager young man and the most devout, holy member of his Mormon church. Elder Price's partner, Elder Arnold Cunningham, is a nerdy goofball who hasn't read all the scriptures, is prone to lying, and generally very awkward. The two are sent to Uganda as part of their mission to convert people to the Mormon faith, but quickly end up way over their heads once they see how bad things are in Uganda.

The musical pokes fun at organized religion and takes some admitted liberties with Mormon doctrines, such as the story of Joseph Smith. In the end, the characters realize that their faith has inspired them to be better people and to help others. Even if they convey the Book of Mormon's stories in a wildly inaccurate way — including involving Mordor and Boba Fett — their honesty and optimism ends up convincing their Ugandan students to convert to Mormonism and try to make the world a better place.

Created by the same people who made South Park, so you shouldn't be surprised to find a lot of Black Comedy. Nor should you be surprised that the message of the play is basically the same as in the South Park episode "All About Mormons": The Book of Mormon itself might be completely bogus, but the important thing is that the Mormon teachings inspires people to better themselves.

The cast album was released and became the best-selling cast album of all time on iTunes, beating out American Idiot and reaching #2. The full soundtrack can be streamed for free on the official Facebook page.

The show won a huge number of Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Not to be confused with the actual religious text The Book of Mormon.

Hello! My name is Elder Trope, and I would like to share with you the most amazing list!

  • 10-Minute Retirement: After witnessing General Butt-Fucking Naked shoot a man, Elder Price decides to ask the mission president to transfer to Orlando, leaving Elder Cunningham to continue the mission alone. Price falls asleep at the bus station and has an Opinion-Changing Dream where he's in Hell for breaking one of the rules, and he returns to his mission.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Elder Cunningham is simply incapable of remembering Nabulungi's name. He addresses her by a different name each time he greets her, some of which include Neutrogena (a brand of hair and skin products), Neosporin (an antibiotic cream), Necrophilia, and Nala. Some productions ad-lib other references—such as Nicki Minaj, Netflix-and-Chill, Nabisco, and Nesquik—and another uses John Travolta's "Adele Dazeem" flub. The West End production has become increasingly fond of using political references (‘Nigel Farage’ and ‘No-Deal Brexit’, for example).
  • The Ace: Initially, Elder Price is referred to as "the smartest, best, most deserving Elder the Center has ever seen!" Leads right into Broken Ace when Cunningham is the one to convert the village and General Butt-Fucking Naked shoves Price's book up Price's ass. It leads to Elder Price having a Heroic BSoD and a Crisis of Faith after he can't understand what he's doing wrong.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Mormonism, and religion as a whole. While the Mormons in the play are presented as naive, they also mean well. The play also ultimately comes down the side of religion being a good thing, though it advocates seeing the forest for the trees and not getting too tied up in dogma, instead focusing on using religion and faith to help people.
  • Ambiguously Gay: McKinley is the only canonically gay Elder, but all of them (particularly the combinations of Price-Cunningham and Price-McKinley) have various levels of subtext and seem to be pretty enthusiastic when singing about repressing gay thoughts in "Turn It Off." It's played for laughs when Price insists he never had any gay thoughts to turn off, which is promptly mistaken by the other Elders that the turning-off worked. McKinley shows up as one of the demons during Price's "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" number, and Price, depending on the cast, either recognizes and reaches for him (only to be thwarted because dancing whirls McKinley-demon away) or, in one memorable West End instance, starts making out with him. Earlier in the show, some versions of McKinley attempt to kiss a blood-splattered Price in the moment he grabs McKinley's forearms (or in some productions, his face) and says he needs to speak to the Mission President.
  • American Title: Two songs: "All-American Prophet" (the actual story of Mormon origins) and "Joseph Smith: American Moses" (the wildly incorrect version told to the Ugandans by Elder Cunningham). Amusingly, both versions can be considered straight examples, since the Ugandans are telling the story as they know it.
  • Animeland: The two missionaries assigned to Japan have this view of the country.
    Elder 1: Japan, land of soy sauce!
    Elder 2: And Mothra!
  • Applicability:invoked
    • Word of God is that they don't want to insist that one particular lesson should be learned from the show, and prefer to leave it open for people to interpret any way they'd like. Even Matt Stone's own philosophy of "religion is a tool, not a rulebook" is presented rather ambiguously.
    • In-Universe, Elders Price and Cunningham conclude from their experiences that it's more important to have a religion that helps people improve their lives than to follow the dogma of an established church. This comes up with Nabulungi, who takes the Ass Pull-filled teachings of Cunningham literally, and ends up disappointed when she finds out he made it up. The other Ugandans tell her that Cunningham was clearly making it up; the point, they gathered, was not to take what Cunningham said literally, but to apply it to their own lives.invoked
  • Arc Words:
    • Elder Price wants to do "something incredible".
    • "Tomorrow is a latter day", even becoming the title of the conclusion.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Played for Laughs with Elder McKinley, who talks about how he suppresses his homosexual feelings in "Turn It Off."
  • Artistic License – History: In-Universe, we have "Joseph Smith: American Moses," the Ugandans' version of the Joseph Smith story (based on Elder Cunningham's inaccurate teachings and deliberately contrasted with the far more accurate version told in "All-American Prophet"). It's so wildly off of the actual teachings that the Mission President decomissions the whole area in disgust.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Several tenets of Mormon history and beliefs were changed for practicality or to fit the story better.
    • In the beginning of the play, the Mormon elders find out where they're going on their missions when they get to the Missionary Training Center. In real life, missionaries find out where they're going via mail long before they show up at the Center. They also don't spend their entire two years with the same companion; they're usually at least one of a hundred or so missionaries operating within a mission district's boundaries. In addition, while mission districts vary in size, a district would almost certainly be larger than just one village in Africa.
    • In real life, the opportunity to be assigned to a different companion/district within the mission, known as a transfer, comes up every six weeks. In the play, Elder Price requests a transfer less than two days after arriving for his mission. (Though admittedly, he was in the middle of a nervous breakdown about how bad things were in Uganda.)
    • The musical repeatedly makes fun of the idea that nobody but Joseph Smith ever saw the Golden Plates, which told the story of how ancient Jews came to America and became Amerindians. Actual Mormon doctrine claims that eleven other believers saw them, too.
    • Contrary to "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" in the musical, Mormon doctrine holds that Hell is not a Fire and Brimstone Hell, but a metaphor for a personal state of sin-induced guilt and suffering that leads to eternal separation from God (and/or, to be specific, a terrifying place called Outer Darkness).
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
  • As the Good Book Says...: Subverted. Elder Cunningham can't find appropriate verses that condemn things like raping babies or genital mutilation, so he resorts to making things up.invoked
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: "Hasa Diga Eebowai." It sounds like Swahili, but they're just nonsense words.
  • Ass Pull: Elder Cunningham does this repeatedly In-Universe. When he can't find specific passages condemning things like genital mutilation and baby rape, Cunningham just pulls from pop culture references like Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings to convince the Ugandans not to do those things. When the Ugandans perform a stage play of the events of the Book of Mormon as described by Elder Cunningham to the Mission President — a version that features Joseph Smith having sex with frogs, battling dysentery, and encountering Ewoks — the Mission President decommissions District 9.invoked
  • Ass Shove: Happens to Elder Price in Act II after the end of "I Believe". It's a bit of Mood Whiplash—at first, it looks like General Butt-Fucking Naked is going to kill or otherwise mutilate the victim... and then we see them in the doctor's office, where an X-Ray shows that the Book of Mormon's been shoved up their ass.
  • Back from the Dead: Played With when a disillusioned Nabulungi tells the other villagers that Elder Cunningham isn't coming back because "he was eaten by lions, all right?" When he walks back onstage, Mafala excitedly declares, "Our prophet returns even from the dead!" It's great to use as an intimidation strategy on people like General Butt-Fucking Naked.
  • Beat: In the reprise of "Hello!", the General introduces himself, "Hello, my name is Elder Butt-Fucking Naked"... There's a two-beat pause in the music before continuing.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Elder Cunningham claims Joseph Smith cured his AIDS by having sex with a frog. Of course, it's less depraved than the alternative Elder Cunningham was trying to turn the locals away from: raping babies.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Price lets out one of these when he finds out that "Hasa Diga Eebowai" means "Fuck you, God"! in Ugandan. Cunningham says something to this effect as well, since he "said it like thirteen times" before he found out.
  • Bland-Name Product: The coffee cups' logo in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" are styled after the Starbucks logo, but they just say "coffee".
  • Bookends: The musical begins with missionaries going door to door and ringing doorbells. The ending number has the newly-converted Ugandans going mud hut to mud hut with the "Book of Arnold."
  • Boyfriend-Blocking Dad: Hatimbi towards Nabulungi. From "Hasa Diga Eebowai," we have the line "She's all I have left in the world. And if either of you lays a hand on her... *drumbeat* I will give you my AIDS!"
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Elder Cunningham started making stuff up because he thought it would help the villagers, but then the Mission Presidency condemn him for giving the Ugandans a corrupted version of the teachings, and Nabulungi reproaches him for giving them false hope.
    • Nabulungi's reprise of "Hasa Diga Eebowai" shows her disillusioned and bitter that she believed in a religion that promised a better life, only to be told that it was all lies.
  • Break the Haughty: Elder Price comes in thinking he's better than everyone else, but falls into depression when he can't deal with the situation in Uganda and when Elder Cunningham manages to convert more villagers than him.
  • Brutal Honesty: Elder Cunningham's practice pitch at the Missionary Training Center, in contrast to the other missionaries' much more scripted introductions.
  • Brick Joke:
    • "Joseph Smith: American Moses" to "Making Things Up Again." The things that Cunningham said in the latter song show up in the former song. It's played for Cringe Comedy because the Mormon mission president is watching all this, knowing it's obviously wrong.
    • The Running Gag "I HAVE MAGGOTS IN MY SCROTUM!" shows up one last time at the very end of the closing number. In fact, they're the last words said in the play.
  • Canis Latinicus: The Ominous Latin Chanting in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream":
    Rectus! Dominus! Spookytus! Deus! Creepyus!
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: After Elder Price runs off at night, Elder Cunningham is left in a no-win situation. Either he goes after Price and breaks the rule about not leaving headquarters after dark, or he stays put and breaks the rule about not leaving his mission partner. Cunningham ultimately chooses to go after Price.
  • The Chief's Daughter: Nabulungi is the daughter of the village head, and is interested in the teaching that the missionaries bring in contrast to her father's suspicion.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
    • The Ugandans use the F-word constantly, particularly their first song, "Hasa Diga Eebowai." Primarily because it's Ugandan for "Fuck you, God", which Price doesn't take very well when he learns. The song also includes two instances of the line "Fuck you God, in the ass, mouth, and cunt!" three times in a row before the last chorus.
    • "Joseph Smith: American Moses" is no slouch either when it comes to this trope.
      Thank you thank you, God!
      Now we are fucking
      Thank you thank you, God!
      God wants us fucking
      Thank you thank you, God!
      Get back to fucking
  • The Comically Serious: "I Believe" is made even funnier by the bafflement of General Butt-Fucking Naked and his henchmen. Elder Price just walks in to their headquarters, singing totally sincerely about his Mormon faith. The humor comes from the general and his soldiers being hopelessly confused by what Elder Price is doing, since they can't believe that someone would be so audacious to just walk into their base unarmed.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Before Elder Cunningham talks him out of it, one of the villagers says he's "going to go rape a baby" like he's going to the movies.
  • Consummate Liar: For all of his in-universe Ass Pulls and clear embellishment of Mormon doctrine, Elder Cunningham does convince quite a few people to follow the faith. Though most of the Ugandans admit that they knew Cunningman was making it up, but assumed it was all metaphor. Even then, Cunningham does convince General Butt-Fucking Naked to leave the village alone by said God would turn him into a lesbian if he didn't.invoked
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Elder Price's idea of torture during "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" involves being force-fed coffee (which Mormon doctrine discourages drinking).
  • Country Matters: The Ugandans enjoy this swear almost as much as the F-bomb in "Hasa Diga Eebowai." Apparently God uses "he/him" pronouns and also has a cunt. The Ugandans make frequent references to it.
  • Crack Fic: In-Universe, the play "Joseph Smith: American Moses," based on Elder Cunningham's hilariously inaccurate claims about his holy book's content.
  • Crapsack World: Uganda is a pretty miserable place, with famine, disease, and the local warlord keeping people down.
  • Creator Cameo: Trey Parker and Matt Stone provide the voices of the Narrator, Mormon the Nephite, and Jesus Christ in the opening scenes of Acts I and II.
  • Cringe Comedy: The Ugandans' performance of "Joseph Smith: American Moses," informed by Elder Cunningham's not-at-all-accurate account that blends their own troubles with the Joseph Smith story (more accurately told in Elder Price's song "All American Prophet"), is very much this. The reactions of the Mission President and Elder Price especially exemplify this.
  • Crisis of Faith: Elder Price begins to doubt God and his religion after failing at everything while watching Cunningham eclipse him. Price gets over it with time after realizing that Cunningham was doing it out of a sincere desire to help people, and that the Mission President is going to make things worse. At the end of the story, Price admits that he doesn't know if he still believes in God, but he does believe in Arnold and his newly discovered talent for inspiring people.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Elder Cunningham starts mixing the Mormon theology with Star Wars, Star Trek, and The Lord of the Rings.
  • Crowd Song: Many, most notably "Hasa Diga Eebowai" and "Man Up" features a crowd singing about their troubles in the former, and backing up Nabulungi's message in the latter.
  • Dare to Be Badass: In "Man Up", Elder Cunningham, seeing that he's still stuck in Uganda on his own, resolves to grow a pair and do everything he can to complete his mission.
  • Dark Reprise:
    • Elder Cunningham sings a short reprise of "I Am Here For You" after Elder Price leaves him behind. It's almost the same as the original except for the last line, and that really makes all the difference.
    • Elder Price gets his own with "Orlando (Reprise)". While it's sort of played for laughs the song is really about him having his faith destroyed after clinging and adhering to it his whole life.
    • Sections of "Two By Two" and "You and Me (But Mostly Me)" each get a grimmer call-back in the middle of "I Am Africa" as the Elders prepare their report for the head of the Missionary.
    • "Hasa Diga Eebowai" wasn't exactly a bright song, but it at least had morbid humor and a jaunty tune and dance sequence to go with it. Nabulungi's reprise of it, however, is a slower, sadder rendition of that song that expresses her despair over learning everything she learnt was all a lie, even cursing God for getting her hopes up only to let her down.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Spends the first half completely mocking and poking fun at religion, especially Mormons. However, it reaffirms and embraces the core of religion in the second half (that it's meant to help people and bring them together).
  • Decoy Protagonist: Act I, especially "But Mostly Me," sets up Elder Price as the hero and Elder Cunningham as the Plucky Comic Relief. By the end, Elder Cunningham has become a new prophet, with Elder Price as one of his followers. Lampshaded in "Man Up" when Cunningham sings that it's "time to stand up and steal the show."
  • Dialogue Reversal: When Elder Price and Elder Cunningham reprise "But Mostly Me," the titular line of dialogue is spoken by Elder Cunningham instead.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" has Elder Price dreaming that he is being punished in the depths of Hell, including famous evil people, dancing donuts and coffee cups representing his vices, and devils and skeletons doing an elaborate song-and-dance routine.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • "Baptize Me" is an extended Double Entendre in which Cunningham and Nabulungi sing about her baptism in a way that sounds like they're describing their feelings about having Their First Time with each other.
    • The moment when General Butt-Fucking Naked and his guards close in on Elder Price is reminiscent of a scene from the story of Abinadi in the actual Book of Mormon. In fact, Elder Price quotes Abinadi directly by saying "Touch me not!"
  • Double Entendre: "Baptize Me," Elder Cunningham's big duet with Nabulungi, has lyrics that make his baptism of her sound like Intercourse with You. The song begins, "I'm about to do it for the first time / And I'm about to do it with a girl" and continues in the same vein for 4 minutes.
  • Drunk on Milk: Elder Price acts as if under the influence of alcohol after Drowning His Sorrows in coffee. The joke is that Mormons treat caffeine as being as bad as alcohol, and Price is chugging a highly-caffinated drink like it's the end of the world.
  • Eagleland: When the Elders first arrive in Uganda, they are approached by the General's soldiers, who shout "German? British?" Elder Price smiles and waves and Elder Cunningham takes out his camera and starts filming everything, to which one soldier groans "American."
  • Easy Evangelism: Deconstructed. Price comes expecting to convert everybody, then finds that the Mission has baptized zero people, and that nobody wants to listen to him because his book has no relevance to their lives. And then Arnold soon gets several Africans to convert by telling wild stories with morals that are relevant to their actual problems.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Towards the end of the play, one of Nabulungi's fellow converts tells her that Salt Lake City doesn't actually exist ("It's a metaphor!").
  • Establishing Character Moment: During "Hello," we get this insight:
    Missionary Leader: No, no, Elder Cunningham! That's not how we do things around here! You're making things up again!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Parodied. Hitler, Genghis Khan, Jeffery Dahmer, and Johnnie Cochran are all horrified at how Price treated Cunningham in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream."
  • Everybody Knew Already: At the end, the Ugandans reveal that they always knew Elder Cunningham completely made up his story of Mormon origins, but were inspired by the optimism of building a better home for themselves.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Elder Price owes his life to this trope. Pretty much the only reason why he isn't shot to death when he barges into General Butt Fucking Naked's camp to try to convert him to Mormonism is because neither him nor his guards can process the fact that someone was brave or stupid enough to do that unarmed.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: The inhabitants of Spooky Mormon Hell include Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan, Jeffery Dahmer, and O.J. Simpson's defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran.
    Hitler: I started a war and killed millions of Jews!
    Genghis Khan: I slaughtered the Chinese!
    Dahmer: I stabbed a guy and fucked his corpse!
    Cochran: I got O.J. freed!
  • Eviler than Thou: Played for laughs in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream".
    Hitler: I started a war and killed millions of Jews!
    Genghis Khan: I slaughtered the Chinese!
    Dahmer: I stabbed a guy and fucked his corpse!
    Cochran: I got O.J. freed!
    Elder Price: You think that's bad? I broke rule seventy-two!
    Hitler, Genghis Khan, Dahmer, and Cochran: *GASP*
    Elder Price: I left my companion! I'm way worse than you!
  • Evolving Music:
    • The song "Man Up" contains the line "We will listen to the fat white guy", referring to Elder Cunningham, who was originally played by an actor of that description. It gets changed to "We will listen to the weird white guy" in productions where the actor playing Cunningham is thinner.
    • In "I Believe", the lyrics reference Thomas Monson, the president of the LDS Church at the time of the show's premiere. When Monson passed away, the lyric was changed to reference Monson's successor, Russell Nelson. His name even has the same number of syllables as his predecessor.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" is about a Mormon having a dream about Hell. It's rather spooky.
  • Expy: Ugandan General Butt-Fucking Naked is a stand-in for the Liberian warlord General Butt Naked, whose Butt Naked Brigade really did use Full Frontal Assaults that were a lot less funny than they sound. The real General Butt Naked also converted to Christianity in a similar manner to General Butt-Fucking Naked's conversion to the Mormon faith.
  • Eye Scream:
    • One of the benefits of living in "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" is the lack of flies biting your eyeballs.
    • In "Hasa Diga Eebowai," the villagers promise to fuck God in the eye. And then in his other eye, too.
  • Flaming Devil: Elder McKinley appears as one in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream." See Ambiguously Gay section above.
  • Foreshadowing: Elder Cunningham's speech to Elder Price, in which he suggests that the real hero of The Lord of the Rings was Samwise Gamgee. This foreshadows how Elder Cunningham, who is himself a Plucky Comic Relief sidekick to Elder Price, will actually be the one to unite the Ugandans in faith and to defeat General Butt-Fucking Naked.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: General Butt-Fucking Naked says that he kills people butt. Fucking. Naked! Just before delivering his off-stage Ass Shove on Elder Price, the General begins to strip down.
  • The Fundamentalist: Elder Price, at the beginning, believes in following the rules of the Book of Mormon without exceptions. He learns to loosen up.
  • Geek Physiques: In many productions, Elder Cunningham is portrayed by an actor who is short and overweight.
  • Geeky Analogy: Elder Cunningham rationalizes concepts of The Book of Mormon to himself and explains them to the Africans using Star Wars and Lord of the Rings references.
    Cunningham: You mean The Bible is a trilogy and the Book of Mormon is Return of the Jedi?
    • The second quote could double as a Stealth Insult or Analogy Backfire, since Return of the Jedi is usually considered to be the weakest of the original Star Wars movies.
  • G-Rated Drug: Coffee, to Elder Price at least. Mormon doctrine frowns upon both coffee and alcohol, hence the dancing coffee cups in the "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream."
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Elder Cunningham is an awkward geek who loves Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Nabulungi thinks he's cute, and they get a Maybe Ever After.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: The Mormon characters use mild substitutes for profanity, at least most of the time. Very much averted with the Ugandans, who drop F-bombs in their very first scene, which is the "Hasa Diga Eebowai" number.
  • Guilt-Induced Nightmare: Traumatized by his experiences in Uganda, Price abandons his mission companion to go to Orlando. He falls asleep at the bus stop and experiences a "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream", where the guilt over breaking Rule 72 manifests as dancing demons, a guitar-playing Satan, Jesus calling him a dick, and even the spirits of history's greatest monsters (Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Johnnie Cochran) gasping in shock at his behavior.
  • Hakuna Matata:
    • Played with in "Hasa Diga Eebowai," where the true meaning of the phrase subverts the normal optimism of the trope, which is not surprising considering that the English translation of the phrase is "Fuck you, God." The Trope Namer is even referenced with "Does it mean no worries for the rest of our days?"
    • The trope is then deconstructed with "Turn It Off" where the missionaries sing about forgetting their problems, but instead of this being a sign of how care-free they are, it hints at Stepford Smiler tendencies as the Elders suppress their emotions through tap-dance, including a sister succumbing to cancer, an abusive father, and one with gay thoughts.
    • Played straighter at the end when all the Ugandan converts start saying "Ma ha nei bu, Eebowai," meaning "Thank you, God."
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Double Subversion. When Elder Price prances in during "I Believe", General Butt-Fucking Naked is... unimpressed, and proceeds to shove the Book of Mormon up Price's ass offstage. At the end, though, when he's confronted by Elders Cunningham, Price, and the Ugandans, he relents and joins the missionaries in the final number.
  • "The Hero Sucks" Song: Downplayed, but "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" has shades of this due to it pretty much being What the Hell, Hero? in song form.
    Jesus: You blamed your brother for eating the donut, and now you walk out on your mission companion? You're a DICK!
    Elder Price: Jesus, I'm sorry!
    Minions of Hell: Jesus hates you, this we know! For Jesus just told you so!
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Price and Cunningham by the end of the show.
  • I Am the Noun: "I Am Africa", sung by the (white, foreign) missionaries, which is riddled with clichés.
    Africans are African
    But we are Africa!
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Cunningham's main wish throughout Act I, frequently mentioning nobody likes him, or giving gratitude for Elder Price (who couldn't care less about him, and Price finally tells him so at the end of Act I).
  • "I Want" Song: "Sal Tlay Ka Siti," where Nabulungi sings about what Sal Tlay Ka Siti must be like, where "The warlords are friendly" and "there's a Red Cross on every corner."
  • Innocently Insensitive: Elder Price is not a bad person by any means. His problem is that the constant praise his peers give him for being "the smartest, best, most deserving Elder the Center has ever seen" has swelled his head and made him believe that he is entitled to have everything go his way as a result. Thus, he thinks mostly of himself rather than Elder Cunningham.
  • Intercourse with You: "Baptize Me" is so loaded double entendre and smooth orchestration that it really sounds like it's about Elder Cunningham and Nabalungi's anticipation of sex with each other.
  • It's All About Me: Elder Price has a problem with this, best seen in "You and Me (But Mostly Me)." He wants to do "something incredible" and "be the Mormon that changed all of mankind", as he repeatedly states. But Price's massive ego means that he can't conceive of any world view except for his own, and he advertises himself as much as the teachings of Mormonism while in Uganda.
  • I've Heard of That — What Is It?: When Elders Price and Cunningham find out they're going to Uganda:
    Cunningham: Cool! Where is that?
  • Knocking on Heathens' Door: The first song, "Hello", consists of a young class of Mormon missionaries visiting people's houses to try and get them interested in their faith. The final number has people doing the same thing, only with the new Church of Arnold.
  • Large Ham: "Have you heard the story of our prophet, Arnold Cunningham, Arnold Cunningham, Arnold Cunning...HAAAA-AAALLLOOO!"
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
    • During "Hello," where at one point the singers go "So you won't burn in..." and another man belts out a "HeeeeeEEEEEEELL-OOOOOOOOOOOO!"
    • In "Hasa Diga Eebowai," Mafala Hatimbi goes, "Here's the butcher, he has AIDS; here's the teacher, she has AIDS; here's the doctor, he has AIDS; here's my daughter [Nabulungi], she has AAAAAAA... wonderful disposition!"
    • From an early demo version of "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream": "Down, down to Satan's realm, / That's where you shall dwell! / This is eternal, / No escape from H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks!"
  • Lawful Stupid: Arnold Cunningham's conscience, which manifests as various authority figures in his life, religious figures, and fictional characters. His conscience constantly nags him about making up verses of the Book of Mormon, even as he's doing it to stop genital mutilation and baby rape.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: While Star Wars is specifically named, Darth Vader and Yoda show up in fairly crudely made costumes. There are some hobbits and, in some productions, Lt. Uhura from Star Trek.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    Elders in the song "Two by Two": Our paths have been revealed, so let's start the show!

    Cunningham during "Man Up": "Time to stand up and steal the show!" and "I'm in the lead for the very first time!"
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: The show's orchestra does this when it's shown just how bleak and depressing life in the African village is. It's even foreshadowed by an earlier, briefer version: when the mission president announces that Price and Cunningham will be sent to Uganda, the orchestra's music suddenly comes to a violent stop.
  • Liar Revealed: Happens to Arnold Cunningham when the church leaders learn that he won over the Ugandans by taking extremely creative liberties with Mormon theology. Later subverted when a disillusioned Nabulungi attempts to explain that Cunningham's stories were fabrications to her fellow villagers: they had realized from the beginning that the stories were made-up, but had taken them to heart as valuable parables and metaphors through which they could better their lives.
  • Literal-Minded: The Golden Plates shown in "Joseph Smith: American Moses" are gold-colored paper plates.
  • Little "No": In the original recording, Elder McKinley lets out an incredibly passive-aggressive and pointed "no" when Elder Price says it's okay to have gay thoughts instead of repressing it, as long as you don't act on them.
  • Lucky Charms Title: The second "o" in "Mormon" is represented by a doorbell on the official poster.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: In typical Parker and Stone fashion.
    • "Hasa Diga Eebowai," which has a catchy tune. Those words are repeated throughout the song. Only, we learn halfway through the song that the statement is Ugandan for "Fuck you, God."
    • "Turn it Off" is an even worse example: the Stepford Smiler Elders have an upbeat melody to which they sing about growing up with an abusive father, a sister dying of cancer, and repressed homosexuality. However, that's the point: it's about how the Mormons' "trick" is to just pretend those bad feelings aren't there.
  • Manchild:
    • Elder Cunningham is very immature, with child-like emotional reactions and problems such as an overactive imagination and difficulty following rules.
    • Elder Price has a bit of this, too; he is obsessed with Orlando and its theme parks. The Guilt-Induced Nightmare he has after abandoning Cunningham uses childish vocabulary and shows Price has Skewed Priorities over how he views his own behavior.
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "Man Up" becomes one about halfway through when Nabalungi and Price join Cunningham, and everyone else in the cast involved.
  • Maybe Ever After: Cunningham and Nabulungi have romantic subtext throughout the show, but they never get a clear Relationship Upgrade, so it's left possible that they might get together in the future. It's even arguable that Price and McKinley might fall under this trope given the tension in the interactions between them (see the Ambiguously Gay section above); there's also the point that, in most productions, when Price delivers his "even if we break the rules" line at the end, he usually grins and looks right at McKinley with his pink suitcase—who grins right back.
  • Meaningful Echo: The line "You're making things up again" in "Hello" is echoed into its own larger song, but this time Arnold's lies lead all the Ugandans into joining the Church, drastically changing the rest of the musical.
  • The Mel Brooks Number: Quite a few!
  • Mighty Whitey: Parodied in "I Am Africa," which is sung by the (very white) missionaries. The whole idea is subverted, as the Mormons' teachings don't really solve the problems that the Ugandans face. However, Arnold is able to inspire the villagers in the end. It's less because they take the stories at face value, and more that they're inspired by the lessons offered.
  • Minor Character, Major Song: Mafala Hatimbi leads the song "Hasa Diga Eebowai" and promptly recedes into the background as the focus shifts to his daughter, Nabulungi.
  • Mirthless Laughter: The second verse of "Turn it Off" ends will all the missionaries awkwardly laughing after Elder Thomas brings up how he ignores the fact that he might one day die of cancer.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Halfway through "Turn It Off", McKinley begins advising Price how to "turn off" his gay thoughts, forgetting that Price's problem was his mission placement, not being gay. Price says, "No, I'm not having gay thoughts", and the others cheer, thinking he successfully turned them off.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Invoked by the various Elders' stories in "Turn It Off." It includes such things as an abusive father, a sister dying of cancer, and repressed homosexual thoughts. The whiplash comes in from the dark subject matter suddenly shifting to a lighthearted show tune as the Mormons tell Elders Price and Cunningham to "flip the switch" and just pretend that they don't feel the things they do.
    • Played straight when General Butt-Fucking Naked arrives. We get all of two minutes to laugh at his name—before he point-blank shoots a rebellious villager, complete with blood spurting out of the villager's head.
    • Played straight when Elder Price is about to be attacked by General Butt-Fucking Naked, there is some humor in it, but the scene and music is overall suspenseful—then whiplash to a lighthearted, playful tune as the scene shifts to Elder Cunningham. Plus the next time we see Price, in the middle of the "I am Africa" number, we discover that the General shoved his copy of the Book of Mormon up his ass. In the words of the doctor, "Something incredible! It blows my fucking mind!"
  • Morton's Fork: At one point in Act I, Elder Price storms out of the District 9 Headquarters in the middle of the night. This leaves Elder Cunningham with a choice of either going after Price (which would break the mission rule about going out past curfew), or staying put (which would break the mission rule of not leaving one's mission companion). Either way, Cunningham is going to be breaking some sort of rule, and imagines that he's probably going to get in trouble for either one.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: "All American Prophet" is momentarily interrupted by the main Running Gag of that guy who sings about having maggots in his scrotum. Notable in that it's a rare example of a song being interrupted by something else sung. And the interrupting song fits into the previous rhyme, which is even more impressive: "Joseph never showed them / I have maggots in my scroooootum."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Done quite literally with Elder Price. After he decides "Screw This, I'm Outta Here" and breaks a few Mormon rules to do it, he has a "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" where he realizes that he treated Elder Cunningham with needless cruelty.
  • My Greatest Failure: Played for Laughs in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" — Elder Price's is stealing a maple-glazed donut from his parents and blaming it on his brother, Jack, when Elder Price was five years old. This caused Jack to get grounded for two weeks. Elder Price admits that he's lived with the guilt ever since.
  • No Indoor Voice: Elder Cunningham. His Establishing Character Moment is at the top of his lungs, and when he says that he lies a lot, he also shouts it to the whole world. Cunningham is certainly capable of talking quietly, but as his emotions get the better of him, he can't control the volume of his voice.
  • No Romantic Resolution: Nabulungi never actually hooks up with Cunningham, despite having a flirtatious, subtext-heavy relationship with him. However, see Maybe Ever After section above.
  • No Song for the Wicked: General Butt-Fucking Naked doesn't get a song. His actor gets a solo in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" as Satan, however.
  • Not Worth Killing: Implied to be the reason why General Butt-Fucking Naked spares Elder Price. He stuffs his book up his backside instead.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • You can tell that the music does this when we learn Elder Price and Elder Cunningham's mission location is... Uganda! Yes, that Uganda. It involves a Record Needle Scratch.
    • Elder Cunningham is shocked when he's told by Elder Price that "Hasa Diga Eebowai" actually means "Fuck you, God".
      Cunningham: "F U to Heavenly Father"?!? Holy moly; I said it like thirteen times!
    • When Elder Cunningham is reading the actual Book of Mormon to the Ugandans (who are bored out their minds) and gets to the part where God strikes the "wicked Lamanites" and turns their skin dark—and everyone suddenly looks up at him with death glares.
      Cunningham: [nervous laughter] You know what? Let's, uh... skip that part...
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Parodied during "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream," in which we have "Rectus! Dominus! Spookytus! Deus! Creepytus!"
  • One Thing Led to Another: Elder McKinley in "Turn it Off" has the line, "One thing led to another, and soon I would discover I was having very strange feelings for Steve."
  • Opinion-Changing Dream: "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream." It works this way for Price, and other Elders seem to imply that it's actually a fairly common occurrence.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Yes, even in a musical filled with the word, there's a precision strike during "Joseph Smith: American Moses": "Compassion! Courtesy! Let's be really fucking polite to everyone!" (Also, arguably, "Take these fucking Golden Plates!")
    • Also, in the middle of "I Believe," when Elder Price comes prancing into Butt-Fucking Naked's headquarters, his response is "...The fuck is this?"
    • At the end of the show, after constant problems during his mission, Elder Price drops his Gosh Dang It to Heck! and delivers a nice big "You know what, guys? Fuck. Him." invoked In this case, "him" refers to the Mission President, who has just declared District 9 disbanded in failure and disgrace thanks to Elder Cunningham's modifications to the Mormon mythology leading to the Ugandans hosting an embarrassing cavalcade of clit-faced, frog-fucking, diarrhea-afflicted retellings of the Mormon origin story.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: "Hasa Diga Eebowai," literally, "Fuck you, God!" as well as its Dark Reprise.
  • Reconstruction: The musical ultimately becomes this about religion as a whole. Elder Price, in particular, gives a speech at the end to the effect of "maybe religious material is just allegory and not literally true, but it can still be used to help people."
  • Record Needle Scratch: In "Two by Two."
    Missionary Leader: And your mission location is... Uganda! [record scratch]
  • Red Baron: The Big Bad is called General Butt-Fucking Naked because, in his own words, "When I kill my enemies and drink their blood, I do it butt. Fucking. Naked!"
  • Refuge in Audacity: Elder Price manages to so thoroughly psyche himself up with faith that he just marches right into General Butt Fucking Naked's camp in order to try to convert him to Mormonism. Nobody even shoots him, because it just takes the guards that long to even process the idea of anyone being that brave or stupid, and he just walks right through the camp, right up to the general, and makes him awkwardly dance along to his song, all without anyone stopping him. He does, unfortunately, eventually get the Book of Mormon shoved right up his ass for his trouble.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!:
    • "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" has a very hard rock/metal sound, and Satan appears playing the guitar halfway through the song.
    • Considering how straight it's played in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream," it's odd that there's also rock guitar in "Man Up," combined with Elder Cunningham trying hilariously hard to pull off Seattle Throat. (Or... something. There's a lot of bizarre, warped vowels, frying, and pushing so hard you can practically see the nodules forming on his vocal folds.) And not only is there no Satan shredding on lead guitar this time, the trope is inverted by Elder Cunningham snarling a rock tune about Jesus Christ dying for everyone's sins.
  • Running Gag:
    • The doctor shouting "I HAVE MAGGOTS IN MY SCROTUM!" at irrelevant points. Has a Triumphant Reprise to close the musical.
    • Elder McKinley's Transparent Closet.
    • Elder Cunningham messing up Nabulungi's name. See Accidental Misnaming section above.
    • Elder Cunningham's "Latter Day" puns.
  • The Scapegoat: Elder Price's great shame is that, at the age of five, he ate a doughnut and blamed it on his brother, who was grounded for two weeks.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: During "Man Up," Elder Price decides to abandon District 9 and go to where he originally hoped to be assigned: Orlando.
  • "Setting Off" Song: "Two By Two" for the missionaries, after which the pairs head to their assigned locations.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: "Baptize Me" parodies this, with a storm of Double Entendres.
  • Share Phrase: At various points in the musical, something either will be, or is something incredible.
    The Doctor: Something incredible. You've done something incredible! I have never seen a rectal blockage of this kind!
  • Shout-Out: Due to the show's nature as a parody, there are a lot of music shout-outs.
    • "Joseph Smith: American Moses" is a homage to "The Small House of Uncle Thomas" from The King and I.
    • Also, "You and Me (But Mostly Me)" seems to be a parody of "The Wizard and I" from Wicked. It also has similar chords to "Defying Gravity."
    • "I Believe" has an opening that parodies "I Have Confidence" from The Sound of Music, and the soundtrack liner notes describe it as a riff on "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" (also from The Sound of Music).
    • A chunk of "All American Prophet" has Elder Price imitating Robert Preston's sing-talking from The Music Man, while the rest of it is a shout-out to another Joseph: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
    • Also in "All American Prophet," Elder Price describes Joseph Smith as having "a little Donny Osmond flair"; Osmond played Joseph in a direct-to-video film of the latter musical (and had an extended run in the role for the stage production during the 1990s). Osmond is also a Mormon.
    • Cunningham, as he keeps making up entries in the titular book, tries convincing the disbelieving Ugandans, says what is essentially a cleaned-up version of Cartman's signature BS catchphrase "Eehw mahi gawd, guys, no wai!"
    • Though a parody of the "I Want" Song in general, "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" seems to specifically be a parody of "Somewhere That's Green" from Little Shop of Horrors.
    • "Hasa Diga Eebowai" parodies "Hakuna Matata." Elder Cunningham even asks the Ugandans, "Does it mean no worries for the rest of our days?"
    • During "Hasa Diga Eebowai," when Hatimbi reaches the "aaaaaaaa...wonderful disposition" part of the song and describes Nabulungi, both the text and his vocal timbre become a shout-out to Les Misérables.
    • During "Making Things Up Again," hobbits, Mordor, Yoda, and Boba Fett all are referenced, and one of the ghosts/voices in Elder Cunningham's head that we see in the background during the song is Uhura. On occasion, Boba Fett is replaced by Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, or a mashup of all three.
    • The "Orlando" chorus in "Two by Two" and "Man Up" is a blatant shout-out to "Tomorrow" from Annie.
    • "Two by Two" itself has musical similarities with "Our Time" from Merrily We Roll Along.
    • One of the Mormon missionaries is named Elder Young. Additionally, Orgazmo's ray gun sound effect is used in "Two by Two."
    • In "Joseph Smith: American Moses," several Mormons die of dysentery while heading out west.
    • Elders Price and Cunningham are assigned to Ugandan District 9.
    • During "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream," the Ominous Latin Choir chants "rectus dominus," Latin for, approximately, "ass master," the same chant heard in the first-season South Park episode "Damien."
    • During "Turn it Off," the Mormons clapping their hands makes the lights go off, in the same manner of the Clapper product and memetic infomercials.
    • Some productions deliberately turn McKinley into a look-alike of Neil Patrick Harris.
  • Shown Their Work: The creators did their homework about Mormon theology. Then again, some artistic license was necessary.
  • Show Within a Show: Joseph Smith: American Moses, a play which the Ugandan converts put on for the Mission Presidency. It's pretty bad.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Ugandans are portrayed this way. Pretty much every other word they say is a swear.
  • Skewed Priorities: Arnold's conscience, amazingly enough, repeatedly shaming him for lying to the villagers during the song "Making Things Up Again," when he's doing it to prevent female genital mutilation and baby rape.
  • Skyward Scream: Subverted/parodied in "Joseph Smith: American Moses" when Smith dies in this version. Brigham Young goes, "DESPERATION! MORTALITY! LOSS OF FAITH! AAAAAAAAHIIIIIIII... Got the Golden Plates!"
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Very optimistic and heartfelt for a Trey Parker and Matt Stone production. Stone and Parker even wanted to make a more optimistic and upbeat project because of their love for Broadway musicals.
  • Smug Snake: Elder Price is the most devout and accomplished Mormon at their training center, so he has an inflated ego and openly says he's more deserving of praise than his companion.
  • "Somewhere" Song: In "Sal Tlay Ka Siti", Nabalungi imagines Salt Lake City is a "paradise on Earth" where roofs are thatched with gold, warlords are friendly and help you cross the street, and there's a Red Cross on every corner.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Elders of Kampala Mission District 9 are hiding a lot of baggage, such as childhood abuse and repressed homosexuality, behind their cheery behavior. This is demonstrated in "Turn It Off," which is basically a song about how to be a Stepford Smiler. Elder McKinley seems to be the ringleader of this initiative.
    McKinley: Imagine that your brain is made of tiny boxes, then find the box that's gay and CRUSH IT! OKAY?!
  • Suddenly Shouting:
    • Nearly all productions have Elder McKinley's advice to repressing anything that might be sinful for Mormons be shouted, complete with Scare Chord.
    ...and find the box that's gay and CRUSH IT!!!!!!!! Okaaay~?
    • Similar, Elder Price's heartbroken disbelief is screamed during his Spooky Mormon Hell Dream about the Messiah himself telling him, in no uncertain terms...
  • Sudden Soundtrack Stop: Played for laughs. During "Two by Two," when Elder Price and Elder Cunningham are told that their mission location is Uganda, the orchestra suddenly plays a loud out-of-tune stinger to indicate that This Is Gonna Suck.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When Cunningham is making up stories to convince the villagers that the various things they're about to do (rape babies, commit FGM, etc.) are explicitly forbidden in the bible, Cunningham says that people who tried to cut off a girl's clitoris were punished by being turned into frogs. Since he had just previously said that God told Joseph Smith that the cure for aids was having sex with a frog, Nabulungi asks "You mean like the frogs that got fucked by Joseph Smith!?". Judging by the way Cunningham says yes, like those frogs, it's clear he completely forgot about that, but liked the added implications of the punishment.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Toward the climax of the story, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham are angry at each other — Cunningham because Price abandoned him earlier, and Price is having a Crisis of Faith over Cunningham's success. Because the mission president is coming soon to check their progress, Cunningham says it's in their best interest to pretend they're getting along. Price reluctantly concedes the point.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Elder Price thinks that it's enough to believe strongly in his religion to make people convert. He walks into General Butt-Fucking-Naked's territory while singing passionately about his faith. At first, the general and his men are stunned by Price's audacity, but they get more and more angry as the song progresses. Not only does Price not convert anyone, he gets the Book of Mormon shoved up his ass for his troubles.
    • Elder Cunningham does a series of in-universe Ass Pulls to get the Ugandans to stop doing things such as genital mutilation and baby rape. Later, the Missionary Leader comes to visit the camp and sees the pageant "Joseph Smith, American Moses", based on what Cunningham has been teaching. It's so wildly inaccurate that the Missionary Leader promptly disbands the district and excommunicates the elders for failing to do anything right in their mission.invoked
  • The Triple: "I Believe" is built around this structure in each refrain. The third item isn't even a joke, technically, but rather a real Mormon belief that just sounds really bizarre out of context.
    I believe that the Lord God created the universe. I believe that he sent his only son to die for my sins. And I believe that ancient Jews built boats and sailed to America...
  • To the Tune of...: "Hello" is virtually identical to the first couple verses of, weirdly enough, the Teddy Ruxpin song "This Lovely Night."
  • Triumphant Reprise:
    • "Hasa Diga Eebowai" is reprised as "Thank You, God" during "Joseph Smith: American Moses" and the reprise of "Hello."
    • The already upbeat "I Believe" is briefly reprised as part of the even more optimistic "Tomorrow Is a Latter Day."
    • There’s also a brief "Orlando" reprise between "Joseph Smith American Moses" and "Tomorrow Is A Latter Day".
  • Voice of the Legion: KEVIN PRIIIIIIIIIIIICE! You broke the rules, Elder. Your soul belongs to ME now! YOU NOW DWELL IN ETERNAL FLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME!
    Elder Price: Mickey?
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Elder Cunningham desires to please his dad with his missionary work in Uganda.
    Cunningham: Together, we're gonna bring lots of Africans to the church! And then my dad will finally feel proud of me instead of just feeling stuck with me.
  • Wham Line:
    • Two in "Hasa Diga Eebowai." First, at the near-halfway point of the number, the Ugandans admit the phrase means, "Fuck you, God!" Second, toward the end of the song, all the lighting but a few spotlights abruptly cuts out and the villagers stand in a straight line across the front of the stage, point directly at the audience, and sing:
      Ugandans: If you don't like what we say, try living here a couple days! Watch all your friends and family die! Hasa diga Eebowai!
    • Elder Price delivers one to Elder Cunningham towards the end of Act I. It hits on Elder Cunningham's "Well Done, Son" Guy tendencies that he told to Elder Price earlier. Price instantly regrets saying it, but the damage is done. The line starts the biggest bits of character development for the both of them.
      Price: I am not your best friend! I just got stuck with you by the Missionary Training Center!
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The song "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" is all about this, with Elder Price suffering a crisis of conscience after the way he treated Elder Cunningham.
    Elder Price: I can't believe Jesus called me a dick!
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Elder Price and Nabulungi. Both end up putting on Jade-Colored Glasses during the course of the story, especially Price. They both get better, though.
  • Work Info Title: The title refers to the Mormons' book of scripture, but it's not an adaptation of it.
  • World Half Full: The Ugandans eventually find some faith to get by in their depressing country.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: When Elders Price and Cunningham are assigned to Uganda, they assume it will be like The Lion King. When they actually arrive, their luggage is stolen, the villagers are ravaged by disease and a local warlord, and the Mormons are hopelessly in over their heads.
  • Yarling: "Man Up" devolves into this at times, but ramps it way up for comedic effect. Especially "Jesus said, 'I'll do it'/And he took it on the CHYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN" (i.e. "took it on the chin").

Gotswana: ♫ I still have maggots in my scroooootuuuuuuuuuuum!!! ♫