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A character is stressed or scared, and is confused at what to do. Things have gotten rough, and their faith is close to breaking. Or they could just be lonely and seeking a place to feel at home, and there's nothing like God's house to help them there. They often sit in a pew by themselves, thinking, or even praying to God about their situation. Sometimes a pastor comes in to talk to them, or another character from the series does.
It's a common thing in dramas and Soap Opera shows for someone to go pray alone in the hospital chapel for the deathly ill person to pull through.
Seeking Sanctuary is a different trope in which the heroes of the story are being pursued by evil forces and they run into a church for protection.
Truth in Television, obviously, particularly in the case of the hospital chapel. I mean, that's why they're there.
- In Code Geass, CC does this in the final episode.
- Hinako's attempt at this is the event that kicks off Bitter Virgin's plot. Daisuke's sister also sees Sanctuary towards the end of the story.
- Much of the world does this after news of the Tokyo blast in Future War 198X.
- Played for tears in Trigun — Wolfwood is shot and goes into the church, bleeding, begging forgiveness for his life by himself and begging to live only awhile longer. He doesn't.
- Cassidy does this in Preacher (Comic Book). (And no, it doesn't hurt him, either).
- Spider-Man villain Venom's origin story: Eddie Brock, down-on-his-luck reporter, is contemplating suicide in a church while Spider-Man is trying to escape from the Symbiote. After he successfully drives it off, it bonds with Eddie, and Venom is born.
- The Queen Mother (Anne Parillaud) does this in the 1998 film version of The Man in the Iron Mask.
- In Interview with the Vampire, Louis visits the church on his old plantation. It's a rare case of self-inflicted Last Second Chance.
- Cole in The Sixth Sense is sitting in a church by himself when Bruce Willis goes to talk to him.
- Cool Hand Luke does this at the end, with Luke sneaking into a church to talk to God. Mocked in Mad Magazine's parody of the movie. "Lord, please, just give me a sign, any sign of what to do!" God sends a sign on the altar in front of him: "GET LOST!"
- In the very first scene of John Woo's The Killer when Sidney meets Ah Jong at the church, he asks if he believes in God. Ah Jong replies in the negative but that he "enjoys the tranquility here," making it clear that the church is a place of peace for him. The church gets blown to hell during the course of the final shootout.
- Kevin on Home Alone is lonely on Christmas night, so he goes to the church to hear the choir sing.
- In The Sound of Music, Maria sits contemplating in the church, and the reverend mother comes and talks to her.
- Ronnie's father in The Last Song often went to the church alone to play the piano, contemplating his past life before cancer.
- In Sodom's X - A Song For The End, one of the characters, Parini, sneaks off to the church at night time.
- Harry Dresden broods in the sanctuary of St. Mary of the Angels a few times. At least once an archangel shows up to chat while he's there.
- Sarah Miles often seeks refuge in a church after the, well, end of her affair.
- Happens several times in Criminal Minds:
- At the end of "Lucky", Morgan, who's been dealing with a crisis of faith, goes to church for the first time in years. Ironically, at that very moment, his 'baby girl' Garcia is shot by her date for the evening, who Morgan had tried to warn her away from. The team can't get a hold of him to tell him because he's turned his phone off in the church. Morgan even lampshades it in the next episode by saying "What are the odds? The first time I step in a church in twenty years, she ends up on the table."
- Prentiss subverts the trope in "Demonology", when she walks home instead of leaving with the team when Silvano is finally captured. She ends up outside a church (which she hasn't been in since her abortion at fifteen) and while she looks longingly at it, the last shot is of her deciding not to go in.
- Gideon ends up in a church at some point for himself (I'm blanking on when it is), but he also follows a young girl into one in "The Popular Kids". She confesses what's really been going on with the murders the BAU is investigating and she blames herself, though Gideon tries to help.
- Wilfred does this at the start of the Doctor Who special "The End Of Time".
- The West Wing: Its most epic episode features President Bartlett giving God himself a chewing out in the National Cathedral after the funeral of Mrs. Landingham.
You're a son of a bitch, you know that? She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What, was that supposed to be funny? "You can't conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God," says Graham Greene. I don't know whose ass he was kissin' there, 'cause I think you're just vindictive.
- Played for Laughs in Peep Show: Jeremy stumbled across Mark praying in the church on the latters (much dreaded) wedding day. Mark unconvincingly insisted he was simply "kneeling".
- In the television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, Charles visits the chapel at Brideshead to reminisce about his experiences with the Flytes.
Stopped into a church
- Wayfarer's Moon: Lily is rather surprised to see Iri joining her as she prays to one of their gods.
- During an Animaniacs sketch, Dot goes in search of quiet, but is thwarted at every turn, even in a church.
- Moral Orel does this quite often.
- In the South Park episode "Cartmanland" after Kyle gets a hemorrhoid, he goes to the church to contemplate by himself. He yells at God and wonders how this could have happened to him.
- Wolverine does this in X-Men, shown here. Rogue notices him from the back of the church and her eyes well up with tears.
- Spoofed in The Simpsons, "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson":
Homer: (kneeling in a church) I've never reached to you before but my wife is in her hour of need. Your help could make all the difference in the world.
- Played in the creepiest way in The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Frollo singing "Hellfire".