[[quoteright:350:[[WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventuresHowISpentMyVacation http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/1201422029941.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Not much of a ride, is it?]]

Sometimes when a character [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence ascends to a higher plane of existence]] they also have to ascend ''the stairs'' to that higher plane of existence, which is usually a FluffyCloudHeaven or a CelestialBureaucracy.

For example, in [[Literature/TheBible Genesis 28:12]], Jacob dreams of a stairway (or ladder, translators disagree) connecting Earth to {{Heaven}} with angels going up and down it. The {{Ancient Egypt}}ians actually tried to ''build one'' (known today as the Step Pyramid of Djoser).

A more "modern" take is to replace the stairway with an escalator, though even that iteration of the trope dates back at least to the 1941 movie ''Here Comes Mister Jordan''.

If the character doesn't make it in, the stairs may turn into a SurpriseSlideStaircase to Hell.

Named after the Music/LedZeppelin song, from the band's [[Music/LedZeppelinIV untitled album]].

Sometimes an AbsurdlyLongStairway. Contrast {{Hellevator}}. Not to be confused with SpaceElevator.


* In ''Anime/CowboyBebop'', when Spike is [[MushroomSamba high on mushrooms]] he hallucinates a staircase that he climbs infinitely (he is really just stepping on the the same step of a real set of stairs) and meets a frog:
-->'''Frog:''' This here's the stairway to heaven. You know that, doncha?\\
'''Spike:''' Obnoxious little frog.
** Also of note is the series' finale, where [[spoiler:Spike dies while [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic descending]] down a staircase from the ExecutiveSuiteFight]].
* Subverted in ''Manga/KannazukiNoMiko''. The stairway that Chikane goes up to at the shrine of the moon led to her solitary imprisonment, which is required to save the world. [[spoiler:It's better in the manga, where Himeko decided to stay with Chikane at the shrine on the moon]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* There's a ''[[ComicStrip/TheFarSide Far Side]]'' cartoon that plays with this, and the {{Hellevator}}, by depicting an escalator going up to Heaven and one heading down to Hell. The demon riding the down escalator pies the angel riding up in the face.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* {{Inverted}} in ''Anime/NightOnTheGalacticRailroad'' -- while the characters are exploring the Heavens, they find a stairway that apparently leads down to Earth.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/HereComesMrJordan'' has an Escalator to Heaven.
* ''Film/AMatterOfLifeAndDeath'' (which was released as ''StairwayToHeaven'' in the U.S.) mentions an escalator.
* ''The Heavenly Kid'' has an Escalator to Heaven.
* ''TheHornBlowsAtMidnight'' replaces the Stairway with a celestial SpaceElevator for the angels to use in coming to earth.
* Averted/lampshaded in the movie ''Film/{{Soultaker}}''... leading to a hilarious exchange on the respective ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' episode:
-->'''Brad''': Zach... Led Zeppelin was wrong, man.
-->'''Tom Servo''': ''Shut up!''
-->'''Brad''': There is no StairwayToHeaven.
-->'''Tom Servo''': ''Zep is '''never''' wrong, man''!
-->'''Mike Nelson''': ''Is '''[[Music/BlackSabbath Sabbath]]''' wrong too, man''?
** Notable in that the movie does have an elevator to... some form of the afterlife. (Which looks suspiciously like a boiler room.) And a ladder.
* ''Jacob's Ladder'' has stairs to Heaven.
* Unsurprisingly, in ''Theatre/AngelsInAmerica'', considering the story's biblical underpinnings, Prior Walter literally climbs a flaming ladder into heaven.
* ''Cabin In The Sky'' shows Eddie Anderson and Ethyl Waters ascending a Stairway To Heaven to close the movie.
* ''Film/TenaciousDInThePickOfDestiny'' has the Guitarway to Heaven which leads to the titular MacGuffin.
* Experimental short film ''Film/TheLifeAndDeathOf9413AHollywoodExtra'' has the protagonist ascend to heaven in a carriage. Given that the whole film was made for [[NoBudget $97]], this is represented by a figurine in a toy cart being pulled up by a string.

* In ''Literature/KeysToTheKingdom'', there's a magical staircase that you can go on that will ''eventually'' take you where you want to go, but with a bunch of seemingly-random 'landings' that consist of various different places, worlds and times. While walking on the staircase once, Suzy Turquoise Blue runs into someone she used to know before she became a Piper's child.
* Satan travels past an ornate stairway into heaven in ''Literature/ParadiseLost''.
* ''Angels of the Silences'' by Simon Bestwick uses one of these as the gateway for ghosts to cross over to the afterlife.
* In the ''Literature/{{Incarnations of Immortality}}'' series, Satan has a Hellevator which can go from Earth, to Purgatory, to Hell and to Heaven, but only certain people can use it.
* In the religion of Allsaints in ''{{Literature/Seraphina}}' the dead are lead by St. Eustace up the Heavenly Stair to Heaven.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/TeenAngel'' (the 1997 ABC sitcom one) has an ''elevator'' to Heaven in the first episode.
* Subverted in the ''Series/{{Sanctuary}}'' episode "Metamorphosis." Will [[spoiler:is transforming into an abnormal and]] dreams of himself [[spoiler:as a human]] ascending a staircase towards a bright light. He follows, only to find himself on top of one of the Sanctuary's towers where he commits suicide.

%%* The Led Zeppelin song of the same name. %% Zero Context Example

* OlderThanDirt: The {{Ancient Egypt}}ian Pyramid Texts refer to a ladder or stairway by which the deceased king may AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence, and many Egyptologists think that the Step Pyramid of Djoser, the first stone pyramid ever built, was designed to physically provide this stairway.
* Genesis 28:12, Jacob dreams of a stairway (or ladder, translators disagree) connecting earth to heaven with angels going up and down it.
* This may have been the intention of the builders of the TowerOfBabel.
* Often featured (indirectly or directly) in paintings depicting freemasonic initiation. Freemasons call this ladder "Jacobs Ladder" after Genesis 28:12.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Within the Heaven of ''TabletopGame/InNomine'' by Steve Jackson Games is "Jacob's Ladder" which reaches up into the [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence Higher Heavens]] and the direct presence of God. Only mortals can climb the ladder; angels must stay in the lowest Heaven (unless called) until the War is won.
* In ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', Mount Celestia (or the Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia) is both Heaven and Stairway To. LawfulGood mortal souls arrive on the lowest layer upon death, some joining the lowest ranks of the [[OurAngelsAreDifferent archons]], and must gradually ascend the mountain through service and understanding of the nature of Law and Good. Once a soul (or archon) has grown in understanding enough, it can eventually pass into the Seventh Heaven from which (almost) nothing returns, where most guess they merge with the plane or find a realm of pure rapturous bliss that lives up to the name. (The one archon that regularly passes in and out of the Seventh refuses to explain what goes on in there.)

* ''Theatre/TheKingAndI'': At the end of the interpolated ballet "Small House of Uncle Thomas," Little Eva dies and goes to the arms of Buddha. She is given wings and she climbs an onstage staircase through the clouds up to where Buddha is sitting, as the chorus sings "Praise to Buddha!"
* In the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ''Theatre/{{Cats}}'', the way to the cats version of heaven, the Heavyside Layer, is apparently a large golden staircase that descends from the rafters during the final number.
** More specifically, a staircase shaped like a cat's paw.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* May and her pops, and later Albert and his mother Dorothy ascend the stair version in ''VideoGame/ClockTower3''.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Game'', the characters go to heaven by ascending a stairway made of everything in the town of Springfield.
* In ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'', there is a staircase that you can get to, but if you open the door to it before you have the key, it goes up basically forever, no matter how much you climb there's still more ahead. But turn around and you've only gone up a handful of steps.
** [[SequenceBreaking Unless you long jump]] [[{{Speedrun}} up the stairs]] ''[[GoodBadBug backwards.]]''
* ''{{VideoGame/Scribblenauts}}'' has a level where you must get some bad guys into heaven. Now, you could just tie them to a pegasus and drag them up with chains, but if you summon a stairway, hey presto, they just float up and you win the level.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' has the stairway that physically leads to Hakugyokuro, and the land of the dead around it. Not exactly ''Heaven'' per se, but it is a land of the peaceful dead.
* ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIIINocturne'' Subverted, [[spoiler: In the Tower of Kagutsuchi, it's an elevator and it doesn't take one to heaven, but to have an audience with the titular being of creation, also the elevator is on Floor 666.]]
* ''VideoGame/SilentHill2'' subverts this for [[spoiler:Angela's last scene]]: it is a stairway that the character goes up and is the last time seen in the game, but everything's on fire. [[spoiler:Angela's [[SelfInflictedHell in her own hell]] from her guilt in murdering her father ([[SympatheticMurderer even if she's]] [[ParentalIncest rather]] [[AbusiveParents justified]]), and she ain't coming back.]]

* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'''s Lawful Good afterlife once had an escalator, but the monks thought it made things too easy. So they reverted to climbing a mountain in order to reach enlightenment. The strip is appropriately titled [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0493.html "Led Zeppelin Lied to Us All"]].
* There was an [[http://www.schlockmercenary.com/d/20010922.html escalator to hell]] featured in an early ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' strip... 'course, since that takes place in the far future, escalators are probably anachronistic by then. [[Franchise/MassEffect Or not...]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Housepets}}'' has the stairway to Heaven, which King and Fox travel because King was given an audience with the head honcho (in this case, Bahamut).

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' "[[WesternAnimation/SatansWaitin Satan's Waitin']]" - escalator to both Heaven and Hell. Unfortunately for Sylvester, the up escalator is corded off.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** "Bart Gets Hit by a Car" - escalator. He spits over the side clearly pushing his KarmaMeter over to the dark side and gets sent to hell, by {{Hellevator}}.
** Another example from ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', this time a subversion: one of the foolish projects that the people of Springfield embark upon is an escalator to nowhere that looks an awful lot like an escalator to heaven. This is a parody of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_to_Nowhere bridge to nowhere]] (which several near-useless bridges have been dubbed), except this escalator literally just ends in a giant fall.
* ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventuresHowISpentMyVacation'' - appears as ''[[TheThemeParkVersion theme park]] rides''; there's the titular StairwayToHeaven (pictured above)...and the '''[[MundaneMadeAwesome Bullet Train To]] [[GoshdangItToHeck Heck!]]'''
* ''WesternAnimation/TomAndJerry'' "Heavenly Puss" - escalator
* ''WesternAnimation/WoodyWoodpecker'' cartoon "Wild And Woody" - Buzz Buzzard has just been [[AnvilOnHead crushed by a large object]], and he arrives at a lobby with elevators to both heaven and hell with Woody as the doorman: one opens and the angelic operator says "Going up" and woody forces it closed, the other opens and the demonic operator says "going down" and Woody gives Buzz Buzzard a kick in the rear forcing him into the elevator
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' - During ''The Beast With A Billion Backs'', when Yivo invited all creatures in the universe to live on shklerself (which, for all intents and purposes, IS heaven), shklee transported everybody in via golden escalators. Barring being unceremoniously dumped onto Bender's invading pirate ship, this was apparently also the way ''out'' of heaven, as shklee was about to call an escalator back to earth when Leela had a hard time getting over her misgivings about the whole setup.