Follow TV Tropes


Useful Notes / The Pope

Go To
And so it was decided that the Pope shall have the biggest hat.

"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."

The head of the Catholic Church and, since 1929, the head of state of Vatican City. His official list of titles is, "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God." Not quite infallible. Wears a very nice Hat of Authority. And Red Shoes (well, only a few did). At any given time - in recent history, that is - probably both the most loved and the most hated human being around (with a few notable exceptions). Has the best job security of anyone on the planet (not to mention some of the best physical security, in the form of the bulletproof Popemobile and the Swiss Guards). These days, anyway; things were very different in the Middle Ages.

In addition to being the leader of the worldwide Catholic church he is also the diocesan Bishop for the Diocese of Rome. However, since the Pope is usually a bit busy with the leadership of the whole church part of the job, the day to day Bishop responsibilities are handled by an official called the Cardinal Vicar, who functions as the de facto Bishop for Rome. As of 2023, the Cardinal Vicar is Angelo De Donatis.note 

The infallibility thing is generally misunderstood. It doesn't mean that the Pope is incapable of being wrong about anything, or even that he cannot sin - just that he cannot be wrong regarding on a matter of revealed faith or morals explicitly in his capacity as the earthly Head of that Church. It's not so much "the Pope's word is law and he is perfect" as "God will stop the Pope saying anything wrong in his authority, because he would lead lots of innocent people astray if he did." All in all, a Pope has only spoken infallibly seven times over two millennia.note  He is also infallible when adding Saints to the Canon, but that isn't really what most people (Catholics included) think of when talking about infallibility.

Popes usually hold the office for the remainder of their lives and die in office. In February, 2013 Benedict XVI shocked the world by resigning the papacy. The last Pope before Benedict to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415 in order to resolve the Western Schism. Benedict was the first pope to resign on his own initiative since Celestine V left office in 1294. Due to advancements in medicine and people living longer there has been concern over what would happen if a Pope were to become incapacitated for an extended period as there is no mechanism to remove a Pope due to permanent disability. In the days leading up to Benedict's death it was revealed Francis did prepare a resignation letter in 2013 to be used in the event he ever becomes permanently disabled and unable to communicate.

The death of the Pope while in office sets off a whole series of elaborate rituals. First the Camerlengo has to verify the guy is actually dead. In the past this was by tapping the deceased Pope with a small hammer while calling out his name three times however more modern means are used now to ascertain death. The Camerlengo then destroys the former Pope's ring and seal in order to ensure false orders aren't issued in the dead Pope's name. (In the case where a Pope resigns the ring and seal are destroyed after the resignation takes effect, and the former Pope receives a Bishop's ring for daily use). While funeral protocols for incumbent Popes are fairly well defined, the death of Benedict XVI in 2022 highlighted church officials would be making it up as they go when it comes to handling a funeral for a Pope Emeritus.

The Pope is elected via an unusual process that involves smoke from chimneys (the colour is indicative of whether an agreement is reached or not) and locking a bunch of late middle age to elderly men in the Sistine Chapel (starve the cardinals into a decision). note  Only Cardinals younger than 80 years old at the start of a conclave are eligible to vote for the next Pope.

Officially, any practicing Roman Catholic male is eligible to become Pope. However, in practice the Pope is now chosen from the ranks of the College of Cardinals. As the Pope needs to be an ordained Bishop, if he does not hold the offices of Priest and/or Bishop he is ordained to those offices after election. The last man elected from outside the College was Urban IV in 1378, and the last man who wasn't a priest at election was Pope Leo X (Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici), who was elected in 1513. As a result Leo had to be ordained a priest and consecrated as a Bishop before he could take on the office. note  The last man to not already be a Bishop when elected was Bartolomeo Cappellari - Pope Gregory XVI - in 1831.

The history of the position is tumultuous, to put it mildly, because the potential power and influence of a Pope attracted the ambition of many power-hungry European families that were willing to commit all sorts of unsavory or ruthless acts to put one of their family members on the pontifical throne, without caring about whether or not said family member would be a good religious leader. This resulted in many popes acting more like powerful kings than leaders of the church; it took quite a few centuries until the papacy was finally separated from these political wheeling-dealings.

The Pope should not be confused with the heads of the Orthodox Churches (one of several Patriarchs, who are sometimes called "Greek Popes" erroneously), the patriarch of the Coptic Church (whose official title is "Pope"), or the head of the Jesuit order, often called the "Black Pope" due to the power of the order in the past and his wearing of simple black priests robes instead of the papal white.

Catholic tradition holds that Saint Peter was the first Pope; of course, there are many theories among historians and the different Christian denominations about how the succession started. The other wiki's article on the subject is a better place to search for details.

    open/close all folders 

Pages for specific Popes

Popes Who Never Existed

  • Due to numbering errors, mistakes on the part of the historians of the times and in one case the pope-elect himself, there are some papal names (and numbers) assigned to people who never existed, or are simply wrong names for popes.
  • The most famous of these is probably John XX. Pope John XXI thought he was being clever by skipping a number to acknowledge a short-reigning Pope John XIV (who supposedly shared the number with the previous Pope). As it turns out, the history book was writing about two periods of time in the same pope's reign.
  • Earlier still was John XVI, an antipope who was installed as pope by a coalition of Italian noblemen in concert with the Byzantine emperor after Gregory V was forcibly deposed. The next pope to take the name John numbered himself John XVII, however, and successive popes continued the trend, meaning that there was never a legitimate pope named John XVI.
  • The others are Popes Donus II,note  and Martin II and III.note  The Popes Stephen have some odd numbering issues (see Pope-Elect Stephen above), but no nonexistent popes.
  • Alexander V used to exist but doesn't any more. He was elected by a council at Pisa that was trying to heal the Great Western Schism, which had divided Western Christendom between two rival popes, based in Rome and Avignon. Unfortunately, the council failed to remove the other popes, creating a third papacy instead. A second council at Constance succeeded where the Pisan council had failed by deposing all three rival popes before electing their new candidate. Fine, but who had been the real Pope in the meantime? The Avignon line was obviously illegitimate, but had the Pisan line replaced the Roman? Rodrigo Borgia thought so, and so styled himself as Alexander VI. But it was later ruled that the Roman line was legitimate all along, and so Alexander V was retconned out of the line of popes.
  • Pope Joan (see below).

Popes Who Haven't Existed Yet

  • No pope since the first has taken the name "Peter". The Prophecy of the Popes, a famous document that is either a prophecy from the 12th century or a hoax from 1595 (the latter is generally considered more likely), states that "Peter the Roman" will be the final pope. If you see a "Pope Peter II" in a work, it's a good sign that The End of the World as We Know It is near.

The Pope In Fiction

     Anime and Manga 
  • The Pope becomes a relatively major character in 20th Century Boys and the subject of a plot to assassinate him (actually an Evil Plan by the bad guys to take credit for saving him) becomes one of the major driving forces of the latter half of the story.
  • Surprisingly enough, considering the role of the Roman Catholic Church as a primary antagonist during much of A Certain Magical Index, the Pope himself is actually somewhat of a Reasonable Authority Figure. When he learns of Fiamma of the Right's plans to plunge the world into war to obtain the Holy Right, he tries but fails to stop him. Later on, he retakes control of the Catholic Church from God's Right Seat and cooperates with the Anglican and Russian churches to bring down the Star of Bethlehem, knowing full well that Fiamma's defeat would signal the end of God's Right Seat and the era of Catholic supremacy over Christianity.
  • Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto has quite a few popes in its cast of characters — Rodrigo Borgia, father of protagonist Cesare, is the future Pope Alexander VI (he ascends in the final volume); their worst enemy, Giuliano della Rovere, is the future Pope Julius II; and Cesare's university classmate Giovanni de'Medici (son of Lorenzo The Magnificent), the future Pope Leo X — Giovanni's cousin, the future Pope Clement VII, also makes a brief appearance, as does the dying current pope, Innocent VIII. Sixtus IV's conspiracy to assassinate Lorenzo is also shown in flashbacks.
  • Benedict appears as the Big Good mentor figure in The Legend of Koizumi, organizing a Five-Man Band of mahjong-master world leaders to combat the moon-based fourth Reich. He seems to have a personal grudge against them, possibly as a reference to his having grown up in the Third Reich and being forced to be in the Hitler Youth. Or for unwittingly smuggling a heavily bandaged Hitler out of Germany thinking he was saving a wounded soldier.
  • One Winged Michelangelo - Pope Alexander VI appears briefly during the arc where his son Cesare, in between military campaigns, commissions a piece of art from Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo da Vinci — yes, together.
  • Trinity Blood - His Holiness Alessandro XVIII, 399th Pope of Rome, is... a kid. A cute little kid.

     Comic Books 
  • Battle Pope focuses on the eponymous Pope, who was anything but the traditional "kind old Holy man".
  • In the second series of American Flagg!, black-market Blood Sport basketball player Jules "Deathwish" Folquet becomes the Pope after a series of improbable events.
  • While he doesn't usually make an appearance, Chick Tracts often mention the Pope. He's basically portrayed as Satan's earthly lieutenant at the head of the satanic Roman Catholic conspiracy to rule the world and prevent the salvation of as many souls as possible (said conspiracy having its origins in ancient Egyptian sun worship, and being responsible for the creation of Islam and communism, which both escaped its control soon after). Despite the claims of the author, that idea fortunately tends to be considered pure paranoid fiction by anyone not a fanatical Evangelical Christian. (And many fanatical evangelical Christians aren't buying it either.)
  • Dallas Barr (set in the late 21st century) featured a black Pope who okayed condom use.
  • Pax Romana has the Gene Pope of the Unified Church of the Holy Roman Empire, the result of a time-travel mission reluctantly authorized by the pope of 2053, Pius XIII.
  • Benedict XVI shows up in Rat-Man. Due to the nonsensical nature of the comic, he was seen fighting off an alien invasion using Palpatine's lightsaber and Force Lightings.
  • In the Italian satiric comic book Suore Ninja (that's Italian for Ninja Nuns), the new Pope Constantin Vitalian is a main character, and, while quite intelligent, he and most cardinals are represented as corrupt and non-believing (to the point that, upon being informed that the Pope actually met God, a cardinal leaves the Church). A number of historical Popes appear in person (mostly through flashbacks, with Benedict XVI popping up in the present after his resignation), and they tend to be represented as either corrupt, Trolls or cowards (the exception is John Paul I, that Constantin Vitalian believes was assassinated. It turns out he was eaten by a time-travelling Tyrannosaurus rex due Constantin Vitalian trying to cheat at a lottery, with the heart attack story suggested by Constantin Vitalian himself). The Pope, and we mean any reigning Pope, is also a limited Reality Warper: if it's about the Catholic religion they can use the power of the Dogma to take any nonsense and transform it into reality, with the Pope defeating the apparently undefeatable Saint Frankenstein by declaring he was a tango dancer and then sending him to Heaven this way (they also lose this power if God comes to Earth).
    • Jorge Mario Bergoglio gets a Cameo for one scene, represented as the only decent cardinal and a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, with Constantin Vitalian elected in his place.
  • The Italian satiric comic Jenus has Benedict XVI as the Big Bad, who, like the popes before him, used the church as a way to rule the world and enrich himself and his cardinals. This is the reason for the Second Coming of Jesus... And Jesus, while amnesiac because God made him flesh while he was still coming down, evicts him and the Cardinals from the Vatican for being jerks who are illegally living in his home (as Agnus, the Lamb of God, had just told him any church was technically his home), and nukes the cardinals when they try to kill him, forcing Ratzinger to run and launch increasingly crazier attacks in the attempt to recover his power.
  • Patrick Marrin's Newspaper Comic Francis portrays Pope Francis as a saintly Bunny-Ears Lawyer. In later strips, he sometimes cedes the limelight to his (fictional) sidekicks, a childlike friar and a Muslim woman.

     Fan Fiction 

  • The Agony and the Ecstasy: As already mentioned, Rex Harrison plays Julius II as he supervises Michelangelo Buonarroti (Charlton Heston) painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
  • Julius II then Leo X appear in Sin, about Michelangelo struggling with the works Julius ordered him to do (the Sistine Chapel first, then Julius' colossal tomb project), with Julius' death complicating matters. They are played by Massimo De Francovich and Simone Toffanin respectively.
  • The Robbie Coltrane movie The Pope Must Die (in some countries renamed The Pope Must Diet)
  • The closing segment of the 1974 Porn with Plot film Contes Immoraux (Immoral Tales) portrays a fictionalized Alexander VI, his daughter Lucrezia and his son Cesare (all of the notorious Borgia family) engaging in an incestuous threesome that parodies the Roman Catholic liturgy.
  • An automobile version of the Pope can be seen in the Italy scenes from the Pixar film Cars 2, complete with an anthoropomorphic Popemobile.
    • "Is the Popemobile Catholic?"
  • In The Godfather Part III John Paul I gets killed for being a dangerous Internal Reformist willing to clean his own house.
  • In The Naked Gun 33 1/3, John Paul II and his entourage show up in the middle of a parodic shoot-out in the crowded stairs of a rail station. Bill Clinton follows behind.
  • Pius XII appears in the German/French film Amen.
  • A pope visits Johnny Dangerously, and like everyone else in the city, is in on who he really is.
  • In the Chevy Chase-Goldie Hawn movie Foul Play, the duo get involved in preventing the assassination of a fictional pope. It's funnier than it sounds.
  • John Wick: Though the Pope doesn't appear directly in John Wick: Chapter 2, he is referenced, with Julius assuming that the only person in Rome worth John Wick's attention is the Pope himself. A deleted scene also has John officially getting sanction from the Pope and the Vatican for his upcoming mission.
  • In Four Against the Bank, Tobias (a former employee of the bank that's the target for robbery in the film), the Inside Job man, must build himself an alibi... He then goes to the Olympic Stadium of Berlin during the Pope's visit (it's not specified who this Pope is, it could plausibly be Francis), undresses completely and stands on the way of the Papamobile, so everyone (and the whole world) will have seen him.
  • Jonathan Pryce plays Jorge Mario Bergoglio/Francis and Anthony Hopkins plays Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI in Netflix's The Two Popes. For years, many people have noted a resemblance between Pryce and Francis, and Pryce's role as the High Sparrow in Game of Thrones as an austere man of faith who challenges the rigid clergy and pretty much redefines piety has helped the comparison. So The Two Popes just made this come full circle.
  • Francis: Pray For Me is an Argentine film about Pope Francis (or, more specifically, Jorge Bergoglio before being appointed Pope).
  • Pope Joan: A young Germanic woman named Johanna von Ingelheim disguises herself as a man while working with the sick in Rome and becomes an advisor to Pope Sergius II. When Sergius dies she is shocked to discover that the people of Rome had elected her as the new Pope.
  • A fictional (albeit deeply reluctant) pope is the main character of the Italian film We Have A Pope.
  • In the 1968 film The Shoes Of The Fisherman Anthony Quinn plays the Russian Kiril Pavlovich Lakota, who is named a Cardinal and is subsequently elected Pope, the first non-Italian to become Pope in over 400 years. Ten years after the movie was released the Cardinals would elect a non-Italian from an eastern European country when they elected Karol Wojtyła as John Paul II.

  • Pope Joan, a legendary female pope who supposedly reigned in the 850s. Oddly enough there were no references to her of any kind until the 13th century.
  • The first part is probably fictional: The Prophecy of the Popes claims to predict the Popes from the 12th century to the present, although the list didn't show up until the 16th century and everything prior to then is unusually accurate (TOW says it was a forgery to help get someone elected pope, but it didn't work). Nonetheless, it's fascinating to see the coincidences pile up; it's also interesting Paranoia Fuel: Benedict XVI seemed to be the penultimate pope, and Francis is rumored to be the last one, and the last one will guide the church through The End of the World as We Know It. note 
    • Technically, it only says it'd be the end of Rome as we know it. And there are other cities built on seven hills, including Bamberg, Jerusalem, Istanbul and Moscow. But let's face it, if any world city such as Rome were to "end" or be outright destroyed, it probably wouldn't mean anything good. Francis has helped the paranoia along by repeatedly calling himself "the Bishop of Rome" starting immediately after his election.
    • The visionaries of Garabandal claim that Mary told them "three more popes after John XXIII, then it will be the end of an era, but not the end of the world."

  • Angels and Demons revolves around the election of a new Pope and an attempt to blow the Conclave with an anti-matter bomb. As well as abducting and killing the four leading candidates in symbolic ways. Of course, it's written by Dan Brown. The novel gives the dead pope's name as Celestine IX, and the film shows the papal ring bearing the name Pius XVI. In the book, the new Pope takes the name "Luke".
  • Another religious thriller, The Third Secret by Steve Berry (summary here), features Clement XV, elected after a presumably short-lived successor to John Paul II. He is a gentle, poetic Bavarian. Upon his death, unscrupulous Alberto Cardinal Valendrea contrives to get himself elected Pope and chooses the name Peter II. The world doesn't end, but the Church begins to prepare for radical changes.
  • Irving Wallace's 1984 novel The Miracle has John Paul III, described as a cheerful and "worldly man" with a relaxed attitude. When his adviser says "There is grave risk in this," he just says "God will know the odds."
  • The Shoes of the Fishermen by Morris West, published in 1963, describes the election and early part of the reign of the first non-Italian pope in centuries (said pope being Kiril I, formerly Kiril Pavlovich Lakota, hailing from Ukraine) Fifteen years later, the first real-life non-Italian pope in centuries turned out to have several striking attributes in common with the fictional one. Played by none other than Anthony Quinn in The Movie based on the book.
    • Kiril I was an expy of two Real Life Ukranian Greek-Catholic Cardinals, Blessed Hyohojij Lakota and Josyf Slipyj. The first was jailed under orders of Stalin and died in prison in 1950 (and is considered a martyr by the Catholic Church), the second spent years in The Gulag but was released just in time to join the Second Vatican Concil.
  • Popes of various stripes show up in Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos:
    • Father Paul Dure becomes Pope Teilhard I at the end of The Fall of Hyperion
    • Father Lenar Hoyt is the evil Popes Julius and Urban XIII in the sequel novels Endymion and The Rise of Endymion through the resurrection powers of the cruciform parasite; he had multiple reigns as Julius. He is very important, but mostly off-camera, since under him, the Church has come to rule most of humanity...and become quite corrupt while it was at it.
  • Several dead Popes appear in Dante's The Divine Comedy, both in Heaven and Hell.
  • Sylvester appears in a short story by Richard Garnett called "The Demon Pope". The story posits that he made a Deal with the Devil as a student in order to become Pope, but manages to frame the bargain so he comes out on top and avoids losing his soul. The story also focuses on his great secular knowledge and contrasts him with the rest of the Vatican, which is portrayed as venal and ignorant.
  • Hadrian VII by Frederick Rolfe is a novel about an English priest who unexpectedly becomes pope. Because the so far only English pope was an Adrian or Hadrian, that name was a natural choice for the fictional pope.
  • Julius II is the subject of the posthumous 1514 fantasy Take That! Julius Exclusus ("Julius Excluded from Heaven") usually credited Desiderius Erasmus, where the late Pope tries to persuade St. Peter to let him into heaven. Erasmus was specifically annoyed at his wine supplies being disrupted by the War of the League of Cambrai.
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz features a number of post-apocalyptic Popes over the centuries. None of them are particularly warlike and the one who accepts Brother Francis' relic is a Nice Guy.
  • In Children of God, the sequel to Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow, the Pope is an African, Gelasius III. Unlike his namesake, he really is black.
  • After Rome is captured by the Seljuks in the Chaos Timeline, he moves to France. Then, in the 18th century, when France becomes a secular republic, he has to flee to Spain, then to Britain when France conquers Spain... and finally to Antipodia (our Australia) when Britain becomes Socialist.
  • The short story "Habemus Papam" by Desmond Warzel takes place in the Sistine Chapel during a papal election.
  • In Kim Newman's Dark Future novels, Nelson Mandela was elected Pope in 1970.
  • The Leviathan series doesn't actually show the Pope on screen, but a letter from the Pope is a key plot point, bordering on a McGuffin.
  • The Road to Gandolfo by Robert Ludlum features a plan by Hawk to kidnap the beloved Pope Francesco I (a fictional character, not to be confused with the current Pope Francis) and replace him with his kneebreaking cousin until the ransom is coughed up. Hawk never gets his ransom and Francesco is glad to be rid of the job, while his cousin has apparently decided to apply what he learned in the mob to reform the church.
  • The Kingsley Amis novella The Alteration is set in an Alternate History timeline where the Catholic Church and the Papacy retains its political power and influence (the Reformation never happened and since Prince Arthur Tudor produced an heir, the English reformation didn't happen either). The current Pope in the story is a Yorkshireman who wants the young choirboy protagonist turned into a eunuch in order to preserve his singing voice. Previous popes mentioned in the narrative include Martin Luther and Thomas More.
  • The novel Rama II features an appearance of a future Pope John Paul V.
  • The Night of Wishes: The events take place during a New Year's Eve and it's Saint Sylvester who provides the heroes with the means to save the day. St. Sylvester has never been described in the book as being a former Pope but it's unlikely for the character not to be him. In the Animated Adaptation of the book, he was renamed Father New Year and became a Distaff Counterpart to Santa Claus, or "Father Christmas" as Father New Year likes to call him.
  • Naturally appears in the 1632 Alternate History series; in this case, Pope Urban VIII, who makes his first appearance in 1634: The Galileo Affair before becoming a major character in 1634: The Cannon Law and 1635: The Papal Stakes. Naturally, Grantville's arrival changes quite a few things...
  • The Pope in The Genesis Code (published in 1997) is implied to be an ailing John Paul II.
  • In The Dresden Files while not identified by name, the Pope is said to know about the supernatural world, the work of the Knights of the Cross, and the Ordo Malleus (who were behind the Inquisition).
  • The novel Vampires is about a Vatican-sanctioned team of vampire hunters. Several scenes take place in the Vatican, including at least one in which John Paul II appears and has dialogue with the protagonist.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of The Pretender, Jarod meets an old man who wants to meet the Pope before he dies, which with Jarod's help he does (the Pope is seen only briefly and from behind, in the final scene of the episode).
  • In Seven Days, the main character's Applied Phlebotinum misfires and he winds up in the body of the Pope. He winds up beating the crap out of a guy who tried to shoot him while being allowed in the interrogation room. Once it's set right, the real Pope tries again... and gets the guy to confess all by just being that holy and good.
  • In an episode of The Golden Girls, John Paul II (played by Eugene Greytak, who's made a lifetime career out of his uncanny resemblance) visits Miami and Sophia wants to ask him to bless her sick friend in the hospital. The credits are rolled over a scene where JP plays gin rummy with Sophia in the kitchen. "All the cute guys are either married or Popes."
  • The Tudors has Peter O'Toole as the Pope (Paul III) in the second season. He's shown as being involved in the plot to assassinate Anne Boleyn so that Henry VIII will give up on his Great Matter.
  • Jeremy Irons plays another pope in another Showtime series: Alexander VI in The Borgias.
  • Black Adder parodies the ... complex religious politics of the medieval period, by having Edmund excommunicated by "all three Popes".
    • This is actually a Historical In-Joke. At one point there were actually two people claiming to be Pope. They both "officially" excommunicated each other, among other things. After a while the rest of the church leadership got fed up with it and elected a third man as "official" pope, who excommunicated the other two, and managed to make it stick.
    • In Blackadder II we're told that a horse has become Pope in undisclosed circumstances, and in Blackadder The Third that a previous Pope, somewhat unexpectedly, married a milkmaid and became Amy Hardwood's Uncle Isaiah.
  • In Babylon 5, the Pope is referred to as "her". In Crusade, she is given the name Bernadette.
  • Pope John Paul II briefly appears as The Faceless in Father Ted. Bishop Brennan has an audience with him and is catatonic up until the moment he is introduced to the Pope, where he exclaims "He ''did'' kick me up the arse!" and knocks the Pope over before screaming into a mobile phone, "Get me on the first plane back to Ireland! NOW, GOD DAMN IT!"
  • In an episode of My Name Is Earl, Earl mentions that Randy is afraid of the Pope, more specifically his hat, because he believes there is a chicken under it. (Randy does not like birds.)
  • Doctor Who:
    • Gregory IX gets referenced in the episode "The Big Bang" as having had possession of the Pandorica at one point.
    • In the Series 10 episode "Extremis", the Pope asks the Doctor for help regarding an old, suicide-inducing book kept in the Vatican library... and ends up interrupting companion Bill's date.
    • In All-Consuming Fire, Leo XIII employs Sherlock Holmes to track down some stolen Tomes of Eldritch Lore.
    • The Third Doctor short story "Prisoners of the Sun" refers to an Alternate Universe Gallifreyan religious leader called the Supreme Pontiff of Time, or the Time Pope.
  • Sixtus IV is a character in Da Vinci's Demons. He's portrayed as a Sinister Minister, ruthless, corrupt and with a penchant for young boys.
  • On the Gilmore Girls episode, "Rory's Birthday Parties," the Pope is said to be invited to the party thrown by Rory's grandparents, but he has other plans.
  • Pope John Paul II, a miniseries about John Paul II's life, released the year of his passing. Played by Jon Voight (older) and Cary Elwes (younger).
  • The Young Pope features a fictional pope, Pius XIII (born Lenny Belardo, played by Jude Law), the first pope from the United States of America, elected in his late forties, taking up the quest of revolutionizing the Church while he's fighting his own personal crisis of faith.
    • The New Pope introduces the equally fictional John Paul III (born John Brannox, played by John Malkovich), who's elected as a replacement for Pius XIII, who's fallen into a coma. Things get complicated when Lenny awakens from his coma and wants the Holy See back.
      • And he's not even his immediate successor. After Pius XIII falls into coma, cardinals elect his former confessor - cardinal Viglietti - who takes the name of Francis II and almost immediately begins to follow the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assissi and begins sort of a revolution in the Vatican - i.e. inviting refugees into the Apostolic Palace, taking from the cardinals their jewellery and bank accounts. Only when Francis II mysteriously dies, Brannox is elected pope.
      • In the finale - after John Paul III resigns and Pius XIII seemingly dies - cardinal Voiello gets his wish and is elected pope himself, although his papal name is not revealed.
  • Paul VI appears in the 2022 Italian series Esterno notte, about the kidnapping and murder of politician Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades in 1978.

  • Memetic "popstar" Zladko released a metal song called "I Am The Antipope" which is about the dreaded pope Beelzebub I's reign which nearly started the apocalypse until he was defeated by "white horseman, Defender of God". He then warns that the next Antipope is 'Zladko the 666th'. Said song was said to have caused Molvania to be disqualified from entering Eurovision.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In Transhuman Space the Pope is Zachary II, a Filipino who is sensitive to pan-sapien rights, while very conservative about transhumanism. There's also the more liberal Catholic Church (Reformed), led by Pope Martha from the Reformed Papal Seat in Chicago.

  • In Armageddon: The Musical by Robert Rankin, Pope Joan is one of the three religious leaders who control the world through television. The others are Dalai Dan and L. Ron Hubbard the 23rd.
  • The House Of Blue Leaves uses as a backdrop Pope Paul VI's 1965 visit to New York City, the first time a Pope had visited the United States.
  • Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto features three future popes. Protagonist Cesare Borgia's father later becomes Alexander VI, the archenemy of both of them then becomes Julius II, and Cesare's classmate from university (Giovanni de'Medici) becomes Leo X.

     Video Games 
  • The Big Bad of Assassin's Creed II is Rodrigo Borgia, who is the leader of the Templars in-game. The final confrontation against him occurs after he becomes Pope Alexander VI.
    • Perhaps it is worth noting that, in the boss battle against him, you get to fistfight the freakin' Pope!
    • Even better, if you time it right, you can crotch stomp the Pope. Too bad he had his kids long before that incident.
    • He goes into hiding for the largest part of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, pretty much just showing up in time for his death at the hands of his son Cesare, whom he had just chastised for his madness and Stupid Evil behavior that caused the Borgia family to lose their control over Rome to the Assassins.
  • The Pope is a game mechanic in Medieval II: Total War, and you will hate him. If you're Catholic, he will nag you to convert more of your population to the One True Faith, tell you to build churches when you'd really like to be setting up defenses, or declare a random crusade to Backwateropolis. He will also get upset if you're fighting another Catholic nation (even if you weren't the aggressor), and will demand a ceasefire just when you're ready to launch your counter-invasion. And if you displease him, he will send Inquisitors to try your royal family members and generals for heresy, or excommunicate your faction, sending your public approval tumbling and making you fair game for your neighbors. And if you try to escape the Pope's badgering by playing an Orthodox, Pagan, or Muslim faction, you have the ever-present threat of crusades being called on you. The only upsides are 1) getting your own Cardinal elected Pope and 2) if the Pope becomes too annoying, you can order him assassinated.
  • The Dragon Age series has the Pope-in-all-but-name of the Chantry dubbed "the Divine". In a twist, though, all Divines are female. There is also the "Black Divine" (Does This Remind You of Anything?) of the Imperial Chantry.
  • Among the regular customers of Coffee Shop Game, the Pope (looking a lot like John Paul II) occasionally stops by. If he likes your coffee, he will bless it and you. This may be a Shout-Out to a legend about Clement VIII, a coffee-loving Pontiff.
  • In Tropico the people rejoice when an unnamed pope tours the island. The event is modelled after 1998 John Paul II's visit to Cuba.
  • In the Guilty Gear Xrd games, the Pope is a beautiful woman named Ariels, who has been christened as the Sanctus Maximus Populi and acts as Bedman's client. She is working to create an "absolute world". In -REVELATOR- it is revealed that she is the true identity of an entity known as the "Universal Will". She is the one responsible for ushering in the Age of Magic by rendering all technology useless in the year 1999, as well as the existence of the Valentines (who consider her as thier "Mother", even when she treats them horribly. It's also further explained that she's a machine created by The Original to help humanity achieve ultimate happiness. She was given two directives: make humanity prosperous, and do it without harming them. Unfortunately, these directives led to her reaching the conclusion that humans don't exist, and that the beings inhabiting the earth are merely failed dolls, or redundancies as she herself refers to them. With this in mind, she has set a grand plan in motion known as the "Merciless Apocalypse", which will destroy humanity and replace them with her own breed of "perfect humans".

  • Irregular Webcomic! features Popes Paul V, Urban VIII, and Pius XI. See also the "not infallible" link above.
    • All these popes are portrayed by the same LEGO minifigure. note  The author notes that "[This Pope's] resemblance to any earlier or later Popes is purely coincidental."
  • A throwaway line in Girl Genius refers to a monograph on workplace relations by Baron Wulfenbach being banned by "all seven popes".
  • In the final arc of The Adventuresof Dr Mc Ninja, the title character throws Pope Francis at King Radical, recently turned into a vampire after being bitten by Dracula. The latter explodes, while Francis is left dazed but otherwise unhurt.
  • Pope John Paul II makes a cameo in And Shine Heaven Now's Catholicon storyline. Enrico, being Enrico, didn't even realize he was the real deal, just thinking he was a really good John Paul cosplayer. (He was grateful that John Paul recognized that Enrico was cosplaying as Marcellus II, though.)

     Web Video 
  • Francis appears (a la archival footage) in Hellsing Ultimate Abridged (despite not appearing in the series proper) in Episode 6. In his big Motive Rant, Enrico Maxwell condemns Francis' progressive views and displays of humility, claiming them to be affronts to the Catholic church. He plans, after taking care of the Nazi Vampire army attacking England, to rid England of all the heretics (read: non-Catholics) and eventually install himself as Pope.
  • Two popes are "interviewed" in the French Youtube Confession Cam series Confessions d'Histoire, Urban II (for the First Crusade) and Clement III (for the Third Crusade).

     Western Animation 
  • Family Guy:
    Cardinal: Pope?...Pope! Is time to get up and put on your hat.
    Pope: Is a stupid hat!
    • And there was this other time when Peter kidnapped the Pope in an attempt to solve some father issues. Upon meeting Francis Griffin, His Holiness declares that Peter has the patience of a saint.
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Baby Oskar," the Pope visits Hilwood City, much to the chagrin of Oskar, whose rush to bring his wife's nephew to a hospital is delayed by significant traffic of people wanting to see the Pope.
  • In The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "Powdered Toast Man," Muddy Mudskipper kidnaps the Pope (voiced by Frank Zappa).
    • "Powdered Toast Man" was met with controversy when the episode was first aired, so afterwards, the cross was removed from his hat, and his character name was changed to "The Man With the Pointy Hat".
  • South Park:
    • In "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?", then-current pope John Paul II appeared with his loss of mental faculties comically exaggerated. He also appeared in Red Hot Catholic Love.
    • Benedict XVI appeared in "Fantastic Easter Special". In the South Park universe, the position of Pope was intended to be held by a rabbit, but it was stolen by power-hungry humans (which is why Jesus did not want a human Pope and chose the Incorruptible Pure Pureness of rabbits instead). This explains why the hat is so tall (to accommodate a rabbit's ears), and why rabbits are associated with Easter. Oh, and St. Peter was the first Pope. Peter Rabbit.
      • Ultimately, Benedict is deposed by his ally Bill Donohue (leader of the American Catholic League) after Jesus himself attempts to intervene; Kyle kills Jesus so the latter can resurrect and escape the holding cell Donohue locked them in, and then turns Donohue into Half the Man He Used to Be with a shuriken-thing. Snowball is then installed as Pope at the end of the episode.
    • Benedict XVI also appeared in "Bloody Mary", about a statue of the Virgin Mary bleeding... from a private place. He did not have any lines but in the end it's stated that he didn't rule the event as a miracle because "chicks bleed from their vagina all the time". He made one more appearance in "A Scause for Applause" (apparently having somehow resumed the role of Pope from Snowball).
    • Francis also appeared once, getting an award before being pushed aside from Kanye West.
  • Futurama has the reptilian Space Pope, Crocodylus Pontifex.
  • The short-lived animated series Popetown features a Pope bordering on Psychopathic Manchild and Father Nicholas, the priest who has to watch the Pope and keep him out of trouble. It got banned in some parts of Latin America, specially in Chile (with a high-class lawyer who looks hilariously like Yoda as the main promoter of the Chilean ban.)
  • In the Archer episode "Papal Chase", ISIS is hired to protect the pope from assassins who turn out to be Vatican insiders.

  • In Bill Rotsler's To The Land Of The Electric Angel, the hero is hastily elected Pope so he can lead La Résistance. This becomes embarrassing after the revolution, when he has to answer "Is the Pope Catholic?" with "No."
  • In Robert Shirley's TEENOCRACY, there has been a schism resulting in the "Old Catholic" (not to be confused with real life Old Catholics) Italian Pope John XXIV in Dublin, a Spanish "Middle Catholic" Pope in Rome, and the weirdo who has proclaimed himself "Pope Rock II" in the United Teenocracy. Pope John's representative finds this not so problematic after all, since "the Teen Pope is the only one who has the guts to pontificate.... He's infallibly pronounced in favor of divorce, trial marriage, contraception and abortion, so he just CAN'T be kosher."