Multiple Choice Afterlife
There are lots of afterlives. Which one you go to is determined by your belief system.
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
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld series: According to Death himself, this is (usually) how afterlives work in Discworld.
- Job: A Comedy of Justice: The protagonist is a Baptist and goes to Fluffy Cloud Heaven when he is Caught Up in the Rapture. His girlfriend worships the Norse pantheon and goes to Valhalla, and his refusal to accept Heaven (or Hell) if he can't be with her disrupts the entire Celestial Bureaucracy and gets both God and Satan called on the carpet by their boss.
- Although Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series focuses on Judeo-Christian theology, a nod is given at some points to alternate theologies, each of which apparently has its own Incarnations and accordant afterlife. In the first novel, On a Pale Horse, Death attempts to collect the soul of an atheist, only to watch it crumble into dust in his hands.
- Dungeons & Dragons is the Trope Codifier of modern roleplaying games, as the standard cosmology sends souls off to the afterlife corresponding with both their Character Alignment and the pantheon they worship.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
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