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In any mass public gathering, positive (on the campaign trail, during sporting events, to raise awareness) or negative (at protests and/or strikes), there's bound to be people waving signs around.

In more humorous depictions, expect at least one sign to be completely irrelevant to the actual topic--"Hi, Mom", "Buy at Moe's", "I came to this rally and all I got was this stupid sign", etc.

Often accompanied by a Slogan Yelling Megaphone Guy. See also Torches and Pitchforks, for when the crowd gets too rowdy.


Positive Support Examples:

Real Life

Western Animation

  • In the Family Guy episode "Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington", there's a guy holding a John 3:16 sign on a baseball game. Brian looks it up, and it turns out that it means: "And the Lord said, 'Go, Sox.'"
  • In The Simpsons' "Stark Raving Dad", the John 3:16 guy turns up to welcome "Michael Jackson" to Evergreen Terrace along with fans with Jackson-specific signs.

Negative Protest Examples:

Comics

Film

  • Played with in the film PCU, where there is an entire student organization evidently devoted to protesting for various causes, the cause in question seemingly changing with each week. At the end of the movie, the protagonists stage a large ad hoc protest against the college president, and offer some of their signs to the leader of the student protest organization, to which they reply "We brought our own" and produce a set of blank picket signs and markers that they evidently carry around with them.
  • Red October: ALL POWER TO THE SOVIETS! OVERTHROW THE AUTOCRACY! STOP THE WAR!

Literature

  • In one Hardy Boys story, the boys and their friend (Chester, I think his name was) are investigating a massive protest against a boat, and get handed signs (which makes for a difficult moment when the boys' employer turns out to be the owner of the boat). Chester brings his own sign reading "FRANK HARDY FOR MAYOR".
  • In Larry Niven's short story "Cloak of Anarchy", one character joins a protest group and holds up a blank sign. He intends this as a sociological experiment to see what people read into the sign; the protesters see him as mocking them and their cause -- as they make painfully clear to him when a hacker crashes all the police robots.

Live Action Television

  • Father Ted and Dougal protesting outside a cinema (see the Moral Guardians page image). "Down with this sort of thing!" "Careful now!"
  • How I Met Your Mother - Ted has to wrestle with a crowd of protesters who don't want the Arcadia, a beloved old building, to be torn down.
  • In Bewitched, Samantha and her Aunt Clara, along with Clara's friends Bertha and Mary, are pissed off at a Halloween candymaker's insistence on a stereotypical ugly old crone for his mascot. They prepare to stage a protest in his home. Their signs read Brinkman Unfair to Witches, Witches are People Too, but absent-minded Clara, reminded she needs a sign, zaps up the first thing she thinks of: Vote for Coolidge.

Newspaper Comics

  • One Far Side cartoon depicted a protest by the Imbeciles Of America, whose signs were of course crudely made, misspelled, held upside down, etc.

Video Games

Webcomics

  • A demonstration in Bad Machinery featured this with, as pictured above, rather polite signs reading "FLIPPING KROPOTKIN" and "COME ON NOW".
  • In Xkcd, an audience member at a politician's speech holds up the sign " [citation needed] ". Another strip talks about showing up with "contented" signs at rallies ("THINGS ARE PRETTY OKAY!")

Western Animation

  • Played with in an episode of The Boondocks. Huey assembles an army of sign wavers to try and shut down Jasmine's lemonade stand, but when Huey tries to start a riot, they just stand around swaying ineffectually. One of them explains that they will shut down the lemonade stand...even if it takes several years.
  • On South Park the boys get roped into an anti-war protest rally, complete with signs (They only did it to get out of class.) They demonstrate on TV that they don't know anything about it, pissing off Mr. Garrison.

 Newsperson: Can you tell me why you marched out of school today?

Stan: Uh.....war.

Newsperson: Right and what about the war?

Kyle: It's, it's....gay?

Newsperson: Uh huh and what aspect of it do you think it most gay?

Kyle: Uh...reading the sign he's carrying no blood for oil!

Stan: Yeah, reading war is not my voice:

Cartman: reading Bush is a nayzzi!

  • One episode of Johnny Bravo started off with Johnny at a war protest. He was yelling, "I love pie! I love pie!", and holding a sign saying as much.
  • An example from The Simpsons -- in "Itchy and Scratchy and Marge", Marge's anti-Itchy and Scratchy protest, triggered by Maggie whacking Homer in the head with a mallet after she watched one of the cartoons, starts with Marge and the other family members marching outside the show's production company. Homer's sign is a detailed explanation of what happened to him and Maggie's says "Stop Me Before I Kill Again". Bart changes his sign to "Don't Ban Itchy and Scratchy". As the protest grows, additional signs include "Bring Back Wagon Train" and "What If A Mouse Blew Up A Cat And Nobody Cared".
  • Happened in Futurama with Leela and a group of protestors protesting against a Dark Matter oil rig flying too close to a penguin preserve on Pluto. The sign messages included:

 Give A Hooto, Don't Pollute Pluto!

Preserve Our Useless Wasteland

Free Chilly Willy

Protestor: (excitedly) Here they come. Oh, I hope they read my sign! (Holds up sign saying, "Go Away Tanker!")

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