Purgatory YKTTW Discussion

The place between Heaven and Hell
(permanent link) added: 2011-09-18 13:57:28 sponsor: shimaspawn (last reply: 2014-05-20 18:04:49)

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Alt titles: Limbo. Rolling Updates, Needs More Examples

Purgatory, also called Limbo, is the waiting room of The Afterlife. It's where you get sent if you aren't good enough for Heaven, aren't bad enough for Hell, or you're just waiting around to go somewhere else or get Reincarnated to try again. It's typically depicted as a dull grey space where nothing ever happens.

This is often the first place that people encounter when they die, and is thus often used as a place to sort the souls of the departed.


  • In the Van Helsing movie, the priest/bishop at the beginning states that if Dracula isn't vanquished by Anna Valerious, her whole family will stay in Purgatory.
  • In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the "white hotel room" Dave Bowman finds himself in after entering the monolith is a secular version of this, as it is an intermediate step between his existence as a human being and his existence as the immortal Starchild.

  • In Dante's Divine Comedy, Purgatorio (the middle work of the trilogy) is set there. Limbo is the outermost circle of Hell. It's the final destination of "failed" souls who never attained salvation but aren't evil enough to merit any worse punishment then simply being estranged from God forever. In contrast, Purgatory is a sort of tough-love reform camp for saved but flawed souls who need to finish the process of becoming perfected enough to enter Heaven.
  • Over Heaven Under Hell by Margo Lanagan is set in a realm where "the only hunger is for hunger", where people who commit suicide or never heard the gospel go, and the inhabitants of which eventually earn entry into heaven by working for the Celestial Bureaucracy.
  • In Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, Limbo is where the various Incarnations live when they aren't on Earth actively running the universe. Their "support staff", the people who serve and support the Incarnations in their jobs, are all dead people who weren't good enough to get into Heaven, nor evil enough to be sentenced to Hell.

Live Action TV
  • In the Saint Elsewhere episode "After Life", Dr. Wayne Fiscus has a near death experience after being shot. His visions include a trip to Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory (which surprises him, since as he says, "I'm not Catholic"), during which he meets the souls of patients and friends who have already died.

Religion and Mythology
  • In Catholic dogma, Purgatory and Limbo are often considered two different places. Limbo is eternal, while the Purgatory is the temporary home of those souls who deserve Heaven, but still needs to be purged by the Seven Sins. In other words, Limbo is eternal, Purgatory is not. Also, souls from the Purgatory don't need to wait the End of the World to get to Heaven.
  • Erebus in Greek Mythology was pretty much a shadowy limbo for "neutral" souls, between Tartarus and Elysium.

Web Comics:

Western Animation
  • Featured in a Cutaway Gag in Family Guy, showing the family floating in a white void, feeling ambivalent about the situation.
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