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Knock, knock!

Have you accepted Hollywood Jehovah into your life?

If not, perhaps you would be interested in some literature? You'll find we're a lot more straightforward than a lot of Real Life religions; not much in the way of intricate doctrine, regular ritualistic practises or nuanced internal culture. All you need to do is pull out the occasional peripheral oddball belief, some crazed eschatological spouting (that's The End of the World as We Know It) and indeed lots and lots of Knocking On Heathens Doors. However, you only have to pull these out when most convenient to the plot.

Key points of belief:

  • The world is about to end.
  • When the world ends, only 144,000 will get to go to heaven.
  • Other than that, it's the blood transfusions, especially if it's a Medical Drama. Cue Very Special Episode about respecting beliefs or not so special episode about respecting life more, the shocking revelation that the Littlest Cancer Patient isn't getting that life saving treatment because their parents are Jehovah's Witnesses and legal wrangling to overrule them.
  • May also believe in not having jobs/not believe in the Bible/not believe in Jesus/not believe in having any medicine at all, depending on how much particular writer Did Not Do the Research

Yeah, there happens to be this other Real Life religion with a similar name but they've got all this extra junk about the true nature of Christ, the method of Salvation, organisational structure and all those other things that you can't fit into a 42 minute hour. Now those guys believe that only 144,000 will go to heaven, yes, but that's not what most of them are aiming for: other good people will rebuild earth into a paradise. They do indeed believe that blood is sacred and thus they reject blood tranfusions. However, the real life ones have committees trained to point out the alternatives to blood transfusion, even having had heart surgery performed without transfusions without lowering mortality rates - but that wouldn't make for such an interesting moral dilemma in Medical Drama. Despite the evangelical side, they are politically neutral.

Examples of Hollywood Jehovah's Witness include:


Film

  • There's an Urban Legend that Witness was named for the writer confusing the Amish with Jehovah's Witnesses. In truth, the film was going to be titled Called Home and was pretty wise up on Amish practise.
  • Averted in A Perfect World, where it's really only mentioned that they don't celebrate birthdays or Hallowe'en.
  • In Coneheads it is played for laughs when Michael McKean and David Spade impersonate Jehovah's Witnesses in order to get into Dan Aykroyd's house in the film. They even have copies of the Watchtower magazine with them.

Literature

  • Frequently mocked and yet slightly indulged in Zadie Smith's White Teeth: One of the main characters is a former JW and her mother still is. Another character converts.


Live Action TV

  • In Scrubs, Dr. Jerk Dr Cox had to treat a patient who needed a blood transfusion for a straightforward treatment but was a Jehovah's Witness. In order to keep his jerk credentials, Cox refuses to find another harder way of helping her which clashes with his normal attitude of always trying to keep the patients he can, alive. He later goes on to help her, on the condition that she (and everyone else present) refuse to let anyone know he helped her, on pain of death. Turk's mother was stated to be a Jehovah's Witness as well.
  • Happens in The Practice, where one of the main supporting characters is revealed to be a Jehovah's Witness right when she needs a blood transfusion. Unusually for an Informed Religion topic, the fact that no one's seen any evidence of her being a Witness becomes a plot point. The other attorneys at her firm argue that her personal practices clearly indicate that she is not a Witness and therefore should receive a transfusion.
  • On the first episode of Mock the Week's seventh season, the cast commented on Michael Jackson's death in their usual style. They noted that being a Jehovah's Witness was possibly the least weird thing about Jackson and pondered whether, when he went to meetings, they pretended to be out and that he did look like someone who wouldn't have a blood transfusion.
  • Averted on Community. In "Religious Studies" (the first-season Christmas Episode), Troy is revealed to be a Jehovah's Witness and as such doesn't celebrate Christmas. However, you couldn't tell that he was a Jehovah's Witness if he didn't say so. He does have a crazy and uber-religious and very strict grandma, but that's not so much a trope about Jehovah's Witnesses as it is a trope about black culture in the United States; she could have just as easily been a Baptist or Methodist.
  • Painfully played straight on the third season Christmas episode of Community. Given that it's Christmas - the only time Troy's religion is ever mentioned - the issue of celebration is raised. Despite his supposed beliefs, all it takes for Troy essentially turn away from his faith is for Abed to suggest that he could pretend to celebrate for the purpose of destroying Christmas from the inside. Cue Troy in Christmas sweater, singing carols etc.
  • In the first episode of Black Books, Bernard lets in a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses (on the grounds that he'd rather talk to them than do his tax returns). They are utterly surprised by this, having never got past a single door, and in fact have no clue what to say, with Bernard being rather more informed about religion than them.
  • In an early episode of Babylon 5 Dr. Franklin found himself working on a case concerning the offspring of some alien Jehovah's Witnesses, who refused surgery that would save their son's life, believing it would cost him his soul. The doctor performed the procedure anyway and saved the boy's life, only for the parents to kill him because in their eyes he wasn't their son anymore.
  • In the pilot episode of Lie to Me, the family of a Jehovah's Witness kid accused of murder use religious idoms that are seldom expressed in the JW world except in parody or sarcasm, such as "praying for your soul." Also, the JW child is afraid of being sent to Hell. Major Did Not Do the Research: Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in Hell.

Newspaper Comics

  • They have such a bad reputation in The Far Side that one panel has a family of gooey blobs act like inanimate beanbag chairs when some Jehovah's Witness approach their door.

Western Animation

  • In an episode of The Simpsons, a pair of Witnesses about to call at a house stop and decide that they should "go out and get real jobs". Given that Witnesses don't get paid for knocking on doors, this leaves the question of how these particular Witnesses were getting by if they currently had no jobs.
    • If they were Special Pioneers, they were getting paid (albeit a very small amount; usually less than $1000/month in USA) to knock on doors full-time, making the joke perfectly reasonable.
      • Very unlikely to be Special Pioneers working on suburban areas in mainland America.
    • In another episode of The Simpsons, Marge emotes her desperation for human interaction by saying "The other day two Jehovah's Witnesses came to the house. I wouldn't let them leave. They snuck out when I went to make lemonade.".
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