Created By: Fighteer on September 10, 2012 Last Edited By: Fighteer on September 4, 2016

Multiple Choice Afterlife

There are lots of afterlives. Which one you go to is determined by your belief system.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
There are lots of ideas as to where people go when they die. What if, rather than one being uniquely true in any given world, all of them are true?

In such a world, where you go after you pass from the mortal realm is determined by the theology of the religion that you follow. If you're a Christian, you go to Fluffy Cloud Heaven (or if you were bad, Fire and Brimstone Hell). If you're a Hindu, you move up or down the Reincarnation ladder. If you worship the Norse pantheon, you fly off to Valhalla. If you're an atheist, you either cease to exist or get dumped into a default afterlife. And if you're really unlucky, your afterlife isn't determined by your own faith but by the trappings of your funeral.

Such a system strongly implies the existence of a Celestial Bureaucracy keeping track of everyone's religious beliefs and final destinations; it can be expressed as a literal bureaucracy or as a hierarchy wherein all of the afterlives are supervised by higher order beings who ultimately answer to the True God. Souls may go directly to their final destination or enter an Afterlife Antechamber where they're sorted and processed. In a world where Gods Need Prayer Badly, expect there to be a celestial scoring system and stiff competition for souls among the various afterlives.

A Multiple Choice Afterlife directly contradicts any religion's claim to be the One True Faith, although mortals may or may not be aware of this (and, being mortals, may not care anyway). It also contains elements of tragedy for those hoping to be Together in Death, as people from different faiths are guaranteed not to go to the same afterlife and may never see each other again unless the afterlives have visiting hours or an exchange program. This can result in one or both lovers Refusing Paradise or declaring You Are Worth Hell in order to be together, although such an effort may be futile if the afterlives are totally separate.

Compare All Myths Are True, Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Self-Inflicted Hell is a subtrope.

No Real Life Examples, Please!

Index under Afterlife Tropes


Examples:

Literature

Tabletop Games

Video Games
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the dead tend to go to the realm associated with their belief system. For example, Nords who die in battle go to Sovngarde. You can sell your soul to a Daedric Prince and spend your afterlife doing their bidding as well.
  • This is Rule One in the game of Afterlife. The specific phrasing is, "Be careful what you wish for."

Webcomics
  • The Order of the Stick explicitly shows one possible form that the D&D cosmology could take, with souls sorted by alignment and also by which of the three pantheons they worship. The tragedy this can cause is given a subtle nod by having a dying character worry about whether she will get to see a loved one who is likely to head to a different afterlife.

Web Video
  • The Saga of Biorn is an animated short film about a Viking who seeks to die an honorable death, and finally gets one when he fights an ogre. However, the nuns he saved bury him near their church, cheating the Viking out of Valhalla and sending him to the Judeochristian Heaven. Cue the Viking screaming as he's banging on the Pearly Gates.
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • September 10, 2012
    MrRuano
    There was an animated short film that involved a Death Seeker Viking who sought to die an honorable death, and finally got one when he was fighting a ogre. However, the nuns he rescued buried them near their church, cheating the Viking out of Valhalla and sending him to the Judeochristian Heaven. Cue the Viking screaming as he's banging on the Pearly Gates, forced to listen to elevator music forever.
  • September 10, 2012
    Discar
    A No Real Life Examples warning would probably be appropriate.
  • September 10, 2012
    Lawyerdude
    In The Elder Scrolls, the dead tend to go to the realm associated with their belief system. Nords who die in battle go to Sovngarde. You can sell your soul to a Daedric Prince and spend your afterlife doing their bidding as well.
  • September 10, 2012
    Fighteer
    This would definitely get NRLEP tagged. Thanks for the suggestion.
  • September 10, 2012
    Generality
    • This is Rule One in the game of Afterlife. The specific phrasing is, "Be careful what you wish for".
  • September 10, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    • Esther Greenwood ponders this possibility in The Bell Jar.
    • In The Master And Margarita this is brought up when Berlioz, an atheist killed in the first chapter is mocked by the Devil at his ball.
  • September 10, 2012
    DrTentacles
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SelfInflictedHell

    May want to check this out. It seems like, to a large part, the same thing. Perhaps a merger, re-name, or something to that effect might be in order?
  • September 10, 2012
    Fighteer
    Hmm, this is similar to Self Inflicted Hell but it's not about Hell per se, but afterlives in general. Self Inflicted Hell would seem to be a subtrope.

    Bah. It's not being treated as about Hell. I knew we had this already, but it might need some additional love or maybe a redirect.
  • September 10, 2012
    AryaAdrianiel
    In the first Percy Jackson And The Olympians, this is how we are told that the afterlife works. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover see it as Hades' Realm, but a Christian would see it as heaven.
  • September 10, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • In Xena Warrior Princess we see Tartarus (Greek), Valhalla (Norse) and Christian afterlives. Mostly people go where their beliefs take them, but Xena has been to all of them, and her (Greek) antagonist Callisto ends up an angel in Christain Heaven.
  • September 11, 2012
    Willbyr
    I agree that Self Inflicted Hell would be a subtrope.
  • October 16, 2012
    Fighteer
    I'd like to merge this with Self Inflicted Hell, actually. The latter is almost too specific.
  • October 16, 2012
    StarSword
    Sub-example of Dungeons And Dragons:
  • October 16, 2012
    Rotpar
    To elaborate more on the Afterlife example: Each soul has a specific set of beliefs based on a combination of mutually exclusive options, such as whether the afterlife is eternal or if reincarnation exists. This leads to some variety; one soul may believe that only hell exists and he will be eternally punished for his greatest sin, another may believe heaven and hell exists and they'll be punished or rewarded for all their deeds in proportion before reincarnation.
  • October 17, 2012
    Surenity
    I'm not exactly sure since it's been years since I read it, but I remember in Dantes Inferno, while there is a definitive heaven and hell, righteous non-Christians were sent to a section of purgatory that gave them whatever the equivalent of heaven was in their belief system.
  • August 18, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump?
  • August 18, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump?
  • August 18, 2016
    DAN004
    I read Self Inflicted Hell and I realize that it's an absolutely incorrect name to use. "Self inflicted" means "you make your own hell" rather than "hell is what you believe it to be", for megaphoning out loud.

    Can I please take it to TRS?
  • August 18, 2016
    AgProv
    In Small Gods, a recdently-deceased crew of a wrecked ship are discussing the Omnian concept of the afterlife, deciding it isn't much fun, and at least one asks if he can make a post-mortem decision to beleive in Offler the Crocodile God so as to get a glorious Paradise full of virgins and sherbet, hold the sherbert...
  • August 18, 2016
    zarpaulus
    • In American Gods when Shadow dies he meets again with a bunch of the death-related gods from assorted pantheons that he met while alive and is judged by Anubis, after which he's given a choice of afterlife. He picks nothing.
  • August 18, 2016
    HighCrate
    Jokes
    • An old joke has a freshly-deceased man given a tour of heaven by Saint Peter. He's shown around Valhalla, the Elysian Fields, the Olam Haba and several others before arriving at Fluffy Cloud Heaven. In all of these places, everyone seems to be having a wonderful time, and people mingle freely between heavens however they like. The man notices that in the middle of Fluffy Cloud Heaven is a building with no doors or windows that nobody enters or leaves, and asks Saint Peter about it. "Oh, that," Saint Peter replies. "That's for the Catholics. They think they're the only ones here."
  • September 4, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    Is Fighteer still sponsoring this?
  • September 4, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ there's an issue about Self Inflicted Hell being very close to this.
  • September 4, 2016
    Owlivia
    Literature
    • In Percy Jackson And The Olympians, when Percy, Annabeth and Grover travel to the Underworld, Percy wonders what a priest would see. The answer is that a person will see the Underworld based on the afterlife in which they believe.

    (That counts, right?)
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=33voed8kfad54ms50xvh0sy0