Death comes to all humans, and while most of us don't especially like it, and want to postpone it as much as possible, some people will try to escape that fate at all costs.
For them, there is no Fate Worse Than Death
While not wanting to die is a great motivator to spring into action in the short term, some people take that to the extreme, plotting and scheming and searching for ways to hold it off indefinitely, even when the prospect of having to meet the reaper seems reasonably far off. Performing bizarre rituals, which are sometimes nothing more than personal superstitions, extreme paranoia and carefulness, disregard for the lives of others in favor of their own, and a willingness to buy into fantasy or myths that promise to extend their life are all side-effects of having such a phobia. This is often the motivation for an Immortality Seeker
Why a character may have a Mortality Phobia
is strangely not commonly went into, though went it is, it often has to do with a fear of having to pay for all the bad deeds they've done in the afterlife, or a fear that there isn't one at all. Such characters are generally secular, wealthy and powerful, so presumably they can't stand the possibility of losing all that and starting over, either.
The term for this in psychology is actually "Thanataphobia".
Contrast Who Wants to Live Forever?
. Doesn't actually have anything to do with Don't Fear the Reaper
Anime and Manga
- Durarara!!: Izaya's primary goal is to avoid the Cessation of Existence he believes will occur beyond death, and has driven him to form an extremely convoluted plan in attempt to prevent it: hypothesizing that Dullahan are actually Valkyries left dormant on Earth, he decides to start a massive gang war in the hopes of creating a conflict large enough to wake up resident Dullahan Celty and hitch a ride with her to whatever afterlife she returns to. He flatly states that he doesn't care whether or not it's a hellish place filled with nothing but pain, just as long as it's not nothing. Ironically, since Durarara!! and Baccano! share a 'verse, there is a much simpler and more reliable (also arguably less insane) means for attaining Immortality that he just doesn't know about; which makes the brief appearance of Isaac and Miria, who are members of the Dollars no less, much more hilarious.
- Harry Potter: Lord Voldemort split his soul into seven pieces in order to never die.
- The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon plans to download his conciousness into a computer in order to live forever. When he gets concerned that the technology won't be available in his lifetime, he constructs a robot with a webcam and monitor so he can interact with others virtually while remaining sealed in his room away from anything that might harm him
- In Community Jeff panics that he is going to die after learning he has high cholesterol.
- Inverted on Northern Exposure: Chris's father and grandfather both died by the age of 40, so he figures that he will too - so he tends to do risky things, like take out loans and not pay them off. But then Joel diagnoses him with high blood pressure and gives him medication, stating that his father & grandfather probably had it too. Now that Chris is given a chance at a long life, he starts toning down his risky behavior.
- In the expanded plot of Team Fortress 2, this is the primary motivation of Bluetarch; initially he had a life-extension machine built because he simply wanted to outlive his brother Redmond (who had his own built), however he still spends brief amounts of time dead and is now absolutly terrified of The Nothing After Death.
Every day I'm dead a little longer, Mister Conagher
. I have seen
the other side. There is nothing
- Brutus the Warden in Path of Exile let a bunch of necromancers subject himself to various experiments in an attempt to become immortal. Far from achieving it, said experiments merely turned him into a mindless monster.
- David Xanatos, the ridiculously rich and powerful Magnificent Bastard of Gargoyles embarks on all sorts of schemes to live forever, so that he and his wife Fox can enjoy being rich and powerful forever.