The Most Interesting Religious Characters on TV

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Today, the new series Greenleaf, which follows the lives of a family in charge of a megachurch, premieres on OWN. Anytime you mix family politics with religion, there's bound to be a lot of tension. Yet on TV, a character's religious beliefs aren't always fodder for big, dramatic moments. Sometimes religion works as a way to really explore the layers within a character. Sometimes it can strengthen — or test — the bond between two characters. And sometimes the way a character approaches or clings to a certain creed can challenge the audience's own perception of those teachings.

Here are a few TV characters who make religion an important part of who they are. Whether their religious choices are accepted by their community at large or their beliefs are something they fight for, their faith makes for some of the most compelling moments of their respective shows. Click through to get familiar with some characters who truly believe in a higher power.
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Cindy Hayes, Orange Is The New Black (2013-Present)

What started out as a ploy to get the more palatable kosher dinners became a real spiritual awakening for Cindy. She had to come to terms with how much she hated the judgment and fear surrounding her religious upbringing to realize she did want to explore a relationship with God — and that she wanted to do that through Judaism.
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Shirley, Community (2009-2015)

Shirley is very serious about her commitment to Christianity, and when she's first confronted with the fact that her new BFFs are, for the most part, of other faiths, she doesn't take it well. But eventually she truly makes an effort to make everyone feel like their beliefs are being respected.
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Sam Winchester, Supernatural (2005-Present)

After spending his entire life chasing literal demons — and learning he kind of was one — Sam keeps his faith in God. He's the Winchester brother who's really excited when they discover angels, and he's the one who will duck into a chapel to pray during a zombie apocalypse.
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Mrs. Kim, Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)

Mrs. Kim's religious fervor is used mostly for great comedic effect, and as a general foil to her daughter's aversion to church. But when it's revealed that Mrs. Kim had to hide her religious beliefs from her own mother, who raised her Buddhist, it added another layer of complexity to her zeal.
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Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock (2006-2013)

Though Jack definitely isn't practicing, he often references his Catholic upbringing and the effect it still has on his adult life.
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Grace Florrick, The Good Wife (2009-2016)

Normally the narrative of a battle between religion and atheism within a family has the kid on the no-God side. Once the teenage Grace discovered Christianity, however, she was always willing to defend it, but not push it onto her often condescending, non-believing mom.
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Paige Jennings, The Americans (2013-Present)

While Grace got some fairly passive resistance from her mother against her pull toward religion, Paige gets barely (and sometimes not at all) contained rage from her parents. Their anger is fueled by their commitment to communism, the secret they're keeping that made Paige seek out big-picture answers in the first place.