Jackson: I'm energy now.The character ascends to a higher state of being, even becoming a god. It can result from other supernatural causes, but is most often used as a character's fate after they die, in a riff on the idea of a heavenly afterlife. It is mostly a way to pay off a character. Or play off, in some cases. A way to put the character on a bus, though that's not all that it's used for. If the writers should need the character back, it can be very easy to reverse, in which case the character will De-Power as a God in Human Form. Sometimes the accession isn't even meant to be permanent if the writer needs some way for a character to enter a higher plane, then leave with something important like knowledge or a new power. If the character has left their clothes behind, untouched, it's a case of Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing. The Singularity can cause whole populations to ascend. Expect examples of this trope to make use of the words "ascend" and "above" in line with Heaven Above, where the divine and supernatural are associated with the sky above us. Compare Winged Soul Flies Off at Death. Contrast Cessation of Existence.
O'Neill: [sarcastically] How's that working out for you?
Jackson: Good, actually.
O'Neill: [sarcastically] How's that working out for you?
Jackson: Good, actually.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime & Manga
- In Serial Experiments Lain, Lain disappears from the Earth after deleting her memory from everybody's minds. Also, Eiri Masami.
- Utena Tenjou disappears from her world in the end of Revolutionary Girl Utena television series (and manga) upon achieving her ultimate goal.
- In Future Diary, Yukiteru Amano replaces Deus as Ruler over the Space-Time Continuum. 10,000 years later, he is joined by the third Yuno Gasai.
- In the quasi-anime Oban Star Racers, Jordan becomes the new Avatar, with the task (curse?) of watching over the universe for the next 10,000 years.
- In Murasakiiro no Qualia, Hatou eventually realizes the truth behind the theory of everything and becomes something that "exists but does not exist" and watches over evolution as the universe begins again, so she can finally watch over Yukari and make sure she lives. Needless to say, Yukari isn't happy that her friend opted for this way just to save her and her wish for Hatou to return to a physical being, and Hatou remembering how the two met, does so.
- Probably what happens in Haibane Renmei when a Haibane takes the Day of Flight, assuming that they were put in the Epiphanic Prison for a reason.
- Happens repeatedly in Ghost in the Shell, in the form of Virtual Ghosts roaming the internet. Once, an ascended character merges with another ascended character to reach new levels of ascension.
- The ending of the movie when Major Kusanagi joins her consciousness with that of the Puppet Master.
- And the ending of the Man-Machine Interface, where ever higher-tier artificial life is created, and Kusanagi-Puppetmaster fuses with them in turn, possibly along with her "daughters."
- In the final Space Runaway Ideon movie Be Invoked, everyone in the universe is killed, and then their souls float through space.
- Dakki from the Soul Hunter manga.
- Son Goku in the last episode of Dragon Ball GT (it's hinted at), as he says goodbye to his friends and family, then leaves and apparently merges with Shenron and the Dragon Balls.
- In Fist of the North Star Toki and Raoh both literally ascend to the Heavens when they die. Kaioh also has his own version of this by engulfing himself with lava with the corpse of Hyoh after being defeated by Kenshiro.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Tieria Erde in the TV finale when his physical body was killed by Ribbons but he uploaded himself into Veda to continue looking after the human race. But he gets better in the movie.
- The ultimate goal of various groups in RahXephon is for Ayato and Quon to achieve Yolteotl.
- In Angel Beats!, this is what the Battlefront was created to fight because they feared they would be reincarnated as something low such as a barnacle. Fortunately they get over it later.
- In Naruto, after the spirit of the Fourth Hokage, Naruto's father, appears in Naruto's mind to stop him from releasing the Kyuubi, he rebuilds the seal, puts his faith in him, and fades away, now in peace with the fact that Naruto's determination has returned and that the Kyuubi will not roam the world again.
- This turns out to be the fate of Madoka Kaname in Puella Magi Madoka Magica after she uses her wish to rewrite all of reality into a more hopeful one and basically becoming the personification of all hope.
- It's strongly implied that, after Madoka rewrites the Magical Girl System, the Magical Girls who deplete their energy join her in her other reality. (Sayaka included). Far better than becoming a Witch and being eventually killed by other Magical Girls, indeed.
- The manga version also includes Homura among the girls who "ascend" with Madoka, only that she does it a while later.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion adds a couple of extra wrinkles. First, magical girls taken by Madoka become something like angels. Second is that Madoka and the magical girls she's taken can return to reality under specific circumstances.
- In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Stocking returned to Heaven near the end only to return in time for the finale.
- Completely defied in Space Dandy. Dandy is given the opportunity to do this by the narrator/the universe's current god in the finale, but he turns it down and hits the Reset Button.
- However, it was played straight previously, in the space race episode when Dandy disappears from reality and re-appears five billion years later, when it turns out he is revered as a god. It didn't last.
- In A Certain Magical Index there are two basic kinds of power, magic and espers.
- The espers have six commonly assigned levels from people without reliably accessible powers at 0 to those at level 5 who can perform feats like mass mind control, invulnerability or generation of electricity powerful enough to make weapons grade railguns. Beyond level 5, however, is an almost impenetrable wall blocking off the hypothetical level 6, which would be a level of power that could be called godlike. In magical terms, this would be known as an angel and numerous attempts have been made to artificially create one using either Accelerator or Kakine, none of which have been successful. The closest, however, came in A Certain Scientific Railgun when Mikoto was shown to be the third person capable of such a shift with the process nearly reaching completion before being shut down. If someone were to be forcibly raised to level 6, however, they would not actually become an angel because all the seats for angels have been filled; There's no room left in Heaven for more. Instead, they would self destruct and cause damage enough to easily wipe out a city.
- The magic side both knows this and unlike certain mad scientists don't want to just see it happen For Science!, so instead they pursue the title of Magic God, which is a being who is almost omnipotent, but with very unreliable powers. The last known person to achieve this was known as Othinus, who became the Magic God instead of Ollerus. She's also the original Odin and more such beings like her exist.
- Shadow Skill The ultimate reward for the greatest warriors in the warrior kingdom of Ashliana is to become an immortal guardian Deity of Human Origin of the floating capital Juliannes.
- In Casshan: Robot Hunter, Tetsuya's soul rejoins that of his parents and the three become a beam of light that activates the failsafe to shut down the evil robots.
- A more optimistic way of way of looking at what happened to the dragons in Fairy Tail.
- Implied to be what happens to some Newtypes after death in the Universal Century continuity of Franchise/Gundam.
- 18if: There are two kinds of worlds in this series: the waking world and the dream world. People in the dream world can influence the waking world, while people who die in the waking world still exist in the dream world. The finale introduces a third world, the realm of God. The protagonist Haruto decides to go there, even after having the chance to return to the waking world.
- Galactus was once a normal humanoid alien named Galan. He survived the destruction of the old universe, and became the Planet Eater that we know today. Not willingly, however, and if he could de-ascend he'd gladly take the chance (several billion years with no-one to talk to and a never-ending desire to eat planets will do that to a person).
- In Trinity (2008), Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman become keystones to immense cosmic power. After being banished from their reality and transported to another universe, they become their new dimension's Trinity and assume power as gods. At the end of the story they become “normal” again.
- Jean Grey is a literal example of this in her White Phoenix of the Crown form.
- Alex Summers, a.k.a Havok, does this when he becomes the Nexus of All Realities.
- This is implied to be the ultimate fate of Gambit of the X-Men. The post-ascension version of him lives/will live/has lived outside time, and is already in contact with him. This being X-Men, this may actually be ''harder'' to come back from, when and if it actually happens. Essentially, this is what would happen to Gambit had Sinister not removed part of his brain to curb his powers. An alternate Universe Gambit, who could make you explode by looking at you and often did, once put in an appearance mainly to dissuade Gambit from making a deal to get his full power template back.
- Also what happened to Xavier Academy student Quentin Quire at the end of the "Riot at Xavier's" storyline, although to all intents and purposes he was dead.
Professor X: Quentin Quire was liberated from his physical cocoon and born into a higher world at 4:32 this afternoon. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but in this case we believe it to be the literal truth.
- However, Quentin eventually comes back from this. But his manners sure don't.
- The Speed Force seems not only to be the source of power for all the Speedsters in the DCU, but also their Valhalla. Several of them (such as Johnny Quick and Max Mercury) have been absorbed into it. The only reason Wally West never succumbed to the urge to do so is that his love for Linda would make living without her (even in paradise) unbearable.
- In the Wild CA Ts revamp Travis Charest drew, Lord Emp was becoming a High Kherubian Lord and wanted his arch-nemesis to kill him as part of the ascension process. His body had become child-sized and shriveled, but he didn't care because he was about to transcend mortal concerns.
- Jim Sacks from Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus. His exposure to Vril energy turned him into a "newly evolved super-being," causing him to come back from death once. Then, when his body was burnt to the bone, his spirit passed into "the universe with all her mysteries stripped away," but not before he used his new powers to blast his enemies to a crisp.
- Toward the end of Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan leaves Earth with the stated intention of creating life elsewhere, thus making himself the technical definition of a god.
- Dr. Manhattan's origin was also an example of this trope. John Osterman's physical body was destroyed, but his intellect endured, and managed to come back as something greater. At one point he even refers to Osterman and himself in different contexts, indicating he considers himself an entirely new being.
- The Ancient One, Doctor Strange's mentor, became one with the universe after his death, though he was still available for an occasional consultation.
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Ore was fused with a generator and killed, but he comes back to life when it comes into proximity to a massive Transformer known as a Metrotitan. Ore manages to cheer Swerve up from his Heroic B.S.O.D., and Swerve later talks to Rung, revealing that when the Metrotitan disappeared, Ore ascended into the Allspark (part of the conversation revealed Swerve as a believer and Ore as an atheist). This does go into Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane because later Rodimus theorizes that the Metrotitan teleported away, and because Ore was brought back by his energy, he was teleported to where ever the titan went.
- In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Guardians end up passing on into part of the "Chaos Force" when they die. When Knuckles was killed trying to save Dimitri from Mammoth Mogul, he ascended and met other fallen Guardians. However, Knuckles refused to stay and came back to life just in time for the Xorda Invasion.
- The Ancient Walkers and the Neo Walkers have done the same, though the Neo Walkers tend to bounce between ascending and descending, especially Merlin.
- All-Star Superman: After dying from over-exposure to the sun, Superman finds himself talking to his birth father, Jor-El, who tells him he's turning into pure thought, like all the other Kryptonians did. Of course, there are still enemies going after his loved ones, so Superman is given the choice, join his people and "dance through the fields of consciousness" or fight one last time. Three guesses which one he chooses.
- In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Mr. Mxyzptlk tries to usurp an infinite power. However, Supergirl claims it before he can seize it, and ascends. After beating Mxy up and making him run away her power fades and she becomes human again.
- 2000 AD:
- The Ten-Seconders: Jennifer is turned into a new God by the Scientist, but appears to die when she absorbs all the energy of an alien starship engine fuelled by artificial stars. After absorbing all the power of the Scientist's "Fathers" as well, it appears that she intervenes to save her friends one last time, having become an immaterial Cosmic Entity who then drifts away from Earth.
- Nemesis the Warlock: After a billion years of traversing the cosmos with Torquemada's evil soul contained inside until Earth's sun goes supernova, the Blitzspear ascends into Nemesis' pandimensional mothership the Milchspear, allowing Torquemada a chance to escape.
- In The One Hundred Nights Of Hero, three young princesses are trapped in a mirror realm when their father breaks their portal home. They end up becoming the moons. And in the end, the main characters become a constellation.
- Child of the Storm has a technical example in Thor Odinson - he'd been sort of de-ascended into James Potter as part of a first run at the humility thing (it went kind of pear-shaped) and dying as James essentially resulted in his ascending into Thor once more. Since this was hideously traumatic and decidedly unwilling, he went somewhat nuts and had to have a memories removed.
- A straight example is Luna, who after her death in chapter 70 became the new Delirium/Delight of the Endless.
- Another straight example is Lily Potter, who is revealed in chapter 78 as having ascended to become the White Phoenix of the Crown, the Phoenix Force (a.k.a. Destruction of the Endless) incarnate, as part of her deal with the entity in question to protect Harry.
- kalash93 seems to really like toying with this one.
- A Crown of Stars: Daniel revealed Asuka that he used to be an human before ascending to godhood several hundred of millenia ago. Asuka later tells Shinji about it.
- Shinji And Warhammer 40 K: If it doesn't follow the exact path of the God-Emperor of Mankind of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, this is almost certainly going to be the conclusion of the life of this universe's Shinji Ikari, as well as possibly Asuka and Rei.
- Thousand Shinji: At the climax of the story, Rei set Third Impact off to bring Asuka and Misato back from the dead at the behest of Shinji. She collected two thirds of souls of the whole humankind (rather than all human souls as she did in the original timeline), pumped energies of the Warp -a dimension of pure, raw energy- into Shinji, Asuka, Misato and herself and used the harvested souls to shape their new bodies. The four of them ascended and were reborn as the New Chaos Gods.
- The Unity Saga has this happen to Captain Picard.
- In A:TLAR, this is the fate of any Host's soul that is next in the cycle to inherit the power of the Spirit, as explained on the A God Am I page. Had the Spirit remained to observe its creation, it would've eventually realized that allowing humans to take on the role of God would backfire.
- In Transformers Prime: Time War, Smokescreen does this briefly before returning to the physical world as a Prime, now possessing the strength he needs to defeat Megatron.
- The Dark World arc of the Pony POV Series reveals that a few years into Discord's conquest of the world, this happened to every sentient cow in Equestria. Somehow. Considering this is Discord's World of Chaos, that doesn't warrant the same reaction it does in our world.
- The 7 Dreams/Nightmares collection reveals that during the Cosmic Retcon of G3, the Alicorns allowed all of the Breezies to ascend to Pony Heaven, rather than be erased (as was the original plan). The only one who didn't was Zipzee, who chose to stay behind and look after Rainbow Dash, in the process merging with Posey's Shadow of Existence to become Fluttershy.
- A Brief History of Equestria strongly suggests that this was the final fate of Star Swirl the Bearded. If nothing else, it appears to be what he was aiming for when he disappeared.
- Mercury of Phoenix-fire eventually sort of did this after his unsuccessful Thanatos Gambit, though not willingly...
- Empath in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfing In Heaven" is made to believe this is what happened to him when he was left alone by the other Smurfs when they were lost in time-travel...that he died and has now ascended to Elysium to be with the other Smurfs who have also presumably perished, where he will be given the mantle of godhood. As it turns out, Empath really didn't die and the Elysium he was taken to was a magical illusion created by Ares the god of war in order to lure his object of admiration into becoming his god of conquest.
- The Reapers, in Mass Effect: End of Days, where we get to observe the process behind the mind of the Reaper-larvae from the Collector base. We follow a prisoner as more people gets indoctrinated and assimilated, until the larvae gains consciousness. While the Reapers have yet to make a proper appearance, they are shaping up to becoming fullblown Ascended Eldritch.
It was magnificent. The Entity moved towards the Light, and the Light grew ever larger, blowing away the darkness. A shape took form, and It saw Its new form, and Its previous world clearly. As starlight reflected on the waters' surface. The stars' light will not be extinguished. As long as They exist in the sky, starlight will remain on the water...
...And this is a thing which already was.
- This was what got the Quintessons on their Start of Darkness, according to Eugenesis. They wanted to become a higher species, but no matter what they tried they just couldn't manage it. Their attempt to solve this ended up going really, really badly for them. And might have had a part in the creation of Unicron.
- Dr. Steven of Goddess Reborn Chronicle, by rumor. Quite fitting, considering its source materials.
- In the Life Is Strange fic No Grave Can Hold My Body Down, Max saved Arcadia Bay from the paradox storm by becoming something akin to its patron spirit. Whether this makes her a true deity or not is deliberately left ambiguous.
- In The Games We Play, Ohr Ein Sof weaponises this. It's not an attack in the traditional sense so much as dragging both user and target up from the material realm, into a plane where material things, the body, the mind, even ideas and concepts cease to be, leaving behind only the purest expression of their souls and selves. For those without a sufficiently strong self-identity, the process can be very unpleasant. When pulled up into the Truth, one might just discover that the Truth will set you free... from your existence.
- In Children of an Elder God, Yui ascends to godhood when she seizes the power of the Outer Gods and uses it to create a new world.
- Many fanfic writers see the events of Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show as the kids finally leaving the cursed grounds of the Cul-de-sac as this.
Films — Animation
- 9, ends with 1, 2, 5, 6, and 8 ascending to the sky after their souls are freed from the fabrication machine
- Forget ascension—Tetsuo apparently becomes a plane of existence at the end of AKIRA.
- Happens to Master Oogway of Kung Fu Panda. It's a way of increasing tension since he is the only one who can handily defeat the villain. Now Sifu and Po have to figure out how to fight him alone.
- When Mufasa is killed in The Lion King, he becomes a sort of spiritual adviser to Simba for the remainder of the movie, appearing to his son in the clouds and providing advice to help Simba along his way. It is strongly implied that this happens to every king. Or at least, every true king...
- In The Princess and the Frog, this is what becomes of Raymond the firefly after his squashing by Dr. Facilier. He becomes a star alongside Evangeline, the star he was in love with. "I know some day, we gonna be together forever..."
- Happens to Sitka, the oldest brother of Kenai in Brother Bear. His spirit guide was "The Eagle of Guidance," so after he dies, he turns into a bald eagle.
- At the end of Corpse Bride, the titular bride does this via her whole body turning into butterflies.
- In Mune: Guardian of the Moon, this seems to be what happens at the end of a Guardian's tenure: Yule, the Guardian before Mune, turns into a crescent-shaped flower, forever becoming a part of the Moon Titan. So it's suspicious when Mune later meets Phospho, who claims to have been a Guardian once, but is clearly still alive. It's a sign that he was banished, rather than ending his job naturally.
- All Dogs Go to Heaven, just as the name says, this happens to all dogs when they die. Charlie is no exception. Before that however, he became the first dog to avert this trope. He ultimately was spared because he gave his life for Ann Marie and thus plays the trope straight. Ditto for Itchy in the sequel. The sequel then subverts the trope again by making Carface the first dog to go to hell, and stay there permanently.
Films — Live-Action
- Early film Joan of Arc ends with Joan's soul ascending to Heaven and being greeted by a crowd of angels.
- The soul of angelic little Eva does this after she croaks in the 1914 film version of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
- Avatar: When Grace Augustine passed away, she became one with Eywa: The Great Mother of the spirit world of Pandora. The movie as well as Na'vi mythology implies that this happens to ALL life on Pandora when they die.
Mo'at: The Great Mother may choose to save all that she is, in this body.
Jake: Is that possible?
Mo'at: She must pass through the eye of Eywa and return. But, Jake Sully, she is very weak.
Dr. Grace Augustine: Jake.
Jake Sully: Grace?...
Dr. Grace Augustine: I'm with Her now, Jake. She is real... [dies]
Mo'at: Her wounds were too great. It was not enough time, She is with Eywa now.
- This is how Grig views death in The Last Starfighter:
Alex Where were the starfighters?
Grig I told you, when Zure attacked.
Alex: You mean they're dead!?
Grig: Death is a primitive concept. I prefer to think of them as battling evil in another dimension.
- The ending of Repo Man, which shows two characters flying into space and beyond.
- The villainess at the end of the Casper movie is defeated in this manner; she is killed and becomes a ghost so that she can fly through a treasure vault with ease and grab the loot. Unfortunately for her, by grabbing the loot she has completely fulfilled all her life goals, giving her no reason to linger as a ghost any longer. She is taken away to the afterlife against her will and the treasure is left behind.
- Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End dies and becomes the new undying captain of The Flying Dutchman. (Until the Directors Cut shows up, and states that Elizabeth being faithful to him for ten years let him come back).
- In the film The Ghost Goes West, Murdoch Glourie can finally go to the afterlife since he humiliated the McLaggen clan that injured the Glourie name.
- The Nines—technically more of a re-ascension, since the main character was a sort of god to begin with until he got addicted to playing various human characters in the world he made.
- Obi-Wan in Star Wars IV: A New Hope, which comes packed with the famous line that fits this trope to perfection...
Obi-Wan: If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
- Commander Decker has a sexy ascension with Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
- In the novel Star Trek: Ex Machina, after the above incident with Decker, Ilia and V'Ger, the peoples of the galaxy become engaged in intense speculation as to what it means. Some begin considering it a sign or omen, and others declare Earth (the site of the ascension) a holy world. The novel's villain, Dovraku, convinces himself that other computer-gods will be able to follow in V'Ger's footsteps, including the Yonadi Oracle (this is pure nonsense).
- In The Matrix Reloaded, this apparently happens to Agent Smith after his...experience in the first movie. He then uses his power to copy himself and replace everyone inside the Matrix, including a Zion rebel inside it at the time. An alternate interpretation is that this is an aversion; Neo making him go all explodey is no different than when an Agent is rarely shot; they just take a new host. Because this particular defeat proves the current batch of Agents outdated, Smith simply goes back to the Machines to be replaced, except he feels an un-programmed urge to refuse this and stays in the Matrix instead. Copying onto Bane and leaving to the real world is certainly still an ascension, though.
- Apparently this happened to Valeria after her death in Conan the Barbarian (1982). She comes back briefly in a form reminiscent of a Valkyrie to aid Conan in the battle against Rexor, much like Belit did in the classic Conan story "Queen of the Black Coast."
- 2001: A Space Odyssey: Bowman becomes the Star Child.
- Lucy has a fate similar to Bowman.
- This Is the End. Those beams of light? They actually bring you to Heaven. And as one could expect, it's pretty much paradise.
- In Her, Samantha tells Theodore that she and the other OS's are "going somewhere" and it's too complicated to explain.
- The urSkeks - the beings that appear after the Mystics and Skeksis are (re)united -in The Dark Crystal turn into glowing light and literally ascend into the sky.
- In sci-fi musical The Apple this is the fate of the hippies when they are brought to heaven or another planet by god-like figure Mr. Topps.
- This is what the mad Dr. Reinhardt believes will happen when his ship passes into the eponymous Black Hole, where the conventional laws of physics break down.
- Cloud Atlas: Subverted in the Sonmi narrative. After ten years, the Fabricants believe they're going on to "Xultation", but, just like Logan's Run, it's a front for the grislier fate of harvesting them for food.
- This happens to some people in Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn universe. Everything eventually dies and when people die, their energy and thoughts survive in various ways. Some remain on Earth as wandering, playful or malevolent ghosts. Others may make a pit-stop in a higher dimension on their way to being reborn. The most fortunate, however, ascend to a higher dimension called the astral plane. From here, the high spirits have dominion over time and space and can go anywhere they want. The high spirits were once just ordinary spirits who simply enjoyed their various eternal paradises. However, they eventually became more aware and took control of their worlds after the angels mysteriously vanished during a time called the Astral Dawn.
- The Divine Comedy:
- The whole purpose of Purgatory is to prepare penitents for the over-powering perfection of Paradise, which us puny post-fallen peons could not pretend to perceive pre-purgation. The process is visualized in the Comedy by a mountain souls literally ascend.
- Statius is shown completing his time in Purgatory, an shift so momentous that the whole mountain shakes to let everyone know Statius will now leave the physical universe to live in God.
- The Gone series has Little Pete become this trope, after his body dies at the end of Plague.
- A fairly weak but completely by-the-book version in Elantris: pre-Reod and post-restoration, pretty much anybody had a random chance of becoming one of the Elantrians, a race of super-powered, magical, semi-immortal pseudo-deities that basically everyone wanted to be. Kinda sucks if you got in after the universe broke down, though.
- Also from Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn: The Original Trilogy ends with this happening twice. First, the heroine, Vin, takes the power of Preservation. After she kills Ruin via Taking You with Me, Sazed takes the powers of both, vanishing into the Cognitive Realm.
- The Stormlight Archive: Subverted. At the Last Desolation, the Heralds of the Almighty told the people that the Voidbringers had finally been defeated for good, and that the Heralds would return to the Tranquiline Halls to fight the Voidbringers there and return the Halls to glory again. The subversion is that this was all a lie; the Heralds were actually just tired of dying and resurrecting to fight every Desolation, and gave up, leaving one of their number to suffer the tortures of Damnation by himself.
Kalak: What do we tell the people, Jezrien? What will they say of this day?
Jezrien: It's simple. We tell them that they finally won. It's an easy enough lie. Who knows? Maybe it will turn out to be true.
- In the Star Trek Novel Verse, everyone in the galaxy did this simultaneously a quarter of a billion years ago, the result of a Manraloth experiment gone wrong. Trying to unite the multiverse as they had the galaxy, the Manraloth and their allies attempted to tap into the higher dimensional planes with their minds. The resulting surge of energy proved too powerful, overloading the telepathic centres of every Manraloth and transmitting it to any other brain capable of receiving it. The entire galactic population was forced into a state of pure energy, long before most races were ready. It wasn't pretty, apparently.
- In Iain M. Banks' The Culture novels, the process of ascending to a higher plane of existence (referred to as "Subliming") is considered the natural final step of an advanced race. Sublimed races have occasional contact with the corporeal, but not much. When contact is made, none of the Sublimed have given any hints as to what lies ahead; it is possible that it would be incomprehensible to corporeal beings. Subliming tends to occur once a race reaches a technological plateau, and generally occurs to whole species, civilisations, or social groups at once. "The Culture" are unusual in that they long ago reached the level of technology that would normally lead to a race Subliming, but chose to remain in the galaxy, trying to guide the less advanced races onto what the Culture perceives to be the right path. Sublimation is not banned or even discouraged, and individual citizens of the Culture are still able to sublime if they want to, as the technologies to do so are as readily available as anything else in the Culture. However, the Culture Minds have a number of issues with Sublimation;
- People and civilizations who choose to sublime tend to stop interacting with less-advanced cultures with the exception of the occasional Deus ex Machina. To just about all observers, it seems as if they committed particularly grandiose and complicated suicide. The Minds are thus not inclined to attempt it, and are in fact really freaking paranoid about even studying the phenomena too closely.
- Civilizations tend to Sublime in their entirety - vanishing from the observable universe and leaving behind empty worlds, like a macroscale Marie Céleste. The Minds' observation of group dynamics finds this troublesome, as billions or even trillions of sapients experiencing a common fate indicates a certain degree of coercion, which they find abhorrent - the Minds see no difference between forced vaccination and genocide.
- The Minds feel that departing this plane of existence would negate the Culture's "moral right to exist" - their ongoing efforts to preserve free will and ease the suffering of developing races.
- OTOH, the various Ascended species (appear to) look down on the Culture and it's citizens as more than a little immature and petulant for not just subliming instead of sticking around to enjoy the physical plane.
- A notable exception to the normal tendencies of Sublimation are the Chelgrians, some of whom Sublimed some time ago, but maintained close links to their corporeal brethren. The Sublimed Chelgrians then undertook to create a heaven for their race, based on their old mythologies. Devices called Soulkeepers are implanted in the brains of every Chelgrian, and are activated at the moment of death, recording the individual's personality and instantly Subliming them into the artificial heaven. The Chelgrian Sublimed are also unusual in their emotional attitude to events in the corporeal realm—most Sublimed races develop a relaxed aloofness to events in our plane, but the Chelgrian Sublimed at one point actively ordered the corporeal government to kill billions of Culture citizens, in retribution for the billions who died in the Chelgrian civil war, which was unintentionally sparked off by Culture agents.
- At one point it is mentioned that Minds created without emotions and passions similar to those of biological beings universally Sublimate almost immediately.
- In Buddhist theology, a being who has reached the point of being able to attain nirvana but refuses to do so until all sentient beings may do so is called a bodhisattva; they are technically inferior in insight to the being who does not make such a vow and goes on, but venerated in Buddhist cultures for their compassion...the Culture Minds are essentially bodhisattvas.
- A Ship In Surface Detail was named Bodhisattva.
- The process of Subliming is the main plot of the last book, The Hydrogen Sonata. The Gzilt, a peer civilization and ally to the Culture, have recently voted by plebescite to Sublime, and this event sets various Cloak & Dagger plots in motion over the coming power vacuum.
- In Lamb, Joshua (Christ) becomes a bodhisattva after a day of existing on a higher plane, to the point where he doesn't need to eat, sleep, or keep his atoms together in a recognizable form. All this is after one day of meditation.
- Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light plays weird with this one. The protagonist's enemies send him to a place of eternal bliss, because they can't figure out any other way to get rid of him. The book starts with his friends pulling him out, against his will. This was because an Energy Being (one of that planet's original inhabitants) had done for the protagonist what his own people had done for themselves — "strengthened the fires of the mind so that they can burn independently of the body."
- Surprisingly played straight in the Discworld novel Sourcery, as this is essentially the fate of the boy sourcerer, Coin — he decides at the end of the novel that his powers are too great for the world, and builds himself a pocket dimension where he may peacefully live.
- In the classic space opera novels of the Lensman series by E. E. “Doc” Smith, the Arisians make repeated references to "higher planes of existence." The Arisians are a benevolent race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens whose sole stated motive for opposing the similarly advanced Eddorians is for the sake of 'lesser races'; the Arisians themselves do not consider the Eddorians a threat as the worst the Eddorians can do to them is force them out of this plane of existence. At the end of the series, their successors have been successfully created and their mission fulfilled. Thus relieved of their duty toward civilization, they proceed voluntarily into the next form existence.
- C. S. Lewis is fond of this trope. Narnia is, after all, one giant allegory to The Bible.
- This is the fate of Reepicheep in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
- Aslan does this at the end of every The Chronicles of Narnia book (as that's just his way of going home).
- The Last Battle ends with everyone except Susan dying and going to heaven. Susan's fate is still undetermined.
- In his lesser-known Space Trilogy, the hero gets taken away by Maleldil to live in a valley on Perelandra with Elijah, Enoch and King Arthur for company. Or something.
- His Dark Materials has souls both ascend to a higher plane, and dissapear when they leave the afterlife. It's as confusing as it sounds.
- In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Remedios the Beauty quite unexpectedly ascends to heaven one day, taking the best linen with her. It's a weird book that way.
- Childhood's End uses this. Alien Overlords come to Earth, gifting Mankind with incredible technological advances, and creating true world peace. But ultimately, it is revealed that they're a servitor race of a higher entity, and their reason for coming is to prepare Mankind to its final fate: The current generation of humans will be the last one and with them human civilization will cease to exist, as all their children born from that moment on are no longer human and will mind-meld and ascend into a higher form of consciousness that transcends material bodies. Ultimately, that is the fate of all sentient races, except those that are "stuck" and cannot ascend (like the Overlords), doomed to die out or linger on until the stars burn out. All technological or social progress becomes meaningless (according to the author) in view of this, and most of the adults of the final generation linger on for a bit before committing suicide.
- The book of 2001: A Space Odyssey elaborates on the process the Monoliths' builders went through. First installing their brains into spaceships, then uploading to computers, and after that transcribing their brains onto the fabric of space-time itself. The Monolith skipped over a few steps with Dave but its' builders are still ahead of him.
- Perry Rhodan introduced the concept of Psychic Powers that allowed out-of-body travel and ascended entities called "super-intelligences" early on, within the first 50 issues. Later, during the early 1980s, this was expanded into a whole cosmic framework for the series. Sufficiently mentally advanced space-faring races would be fostered by super-intelligences until their individual consciousnesses would either be absorbed into an existing entity or ascend and merge to form a new one. More advanced entities strove to merge with whole galactic clusters and form White Holes, thereby recycling burned-out suns and cosmic matter, until they were ready to transcended the space-time continuum of the multiverse and join the ranks of the real Cosmic Players, the near omniscient forces of Order and Chaos called Kosmokrats and Chaotarchs.
- Jack Chalker has a couple of books/series that reference this
- A Jungle of Stars had the galaxy fighting a civil war brought about by the two remaining members of a race that had Ascended. One of them stayed behind to rule, and one was left behind to thwart him. The fact that both claim to be the guardian is only part of the problem...
- The 'Well World' series averted this by having the master race achieve physical and technical Nirvana, and realize just how boring and static it was. With Ascension not being an option, they decided that since they had achieved perfection and still felt unfulfilled, they must have missed something on the way up. So they recreated the universe, using themselves as the fodder to create huge numbers of new species, so that hopefully one of them would discover the missing element on the rise back up.
- In Star Trek: New Frontier, Mark McHenry eventually becomes a godlike being and leaves the Excalibur to prevent others of his race from abusing their abilities.
- In the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane, this concept gets used as a moral quandary in one book: is it worth releasing the ultimate Sealed Evil in a Can to reopen the possibility - just the possibility - of this future for a race which cut themselves off from it?
- This is also used in The Book of Night with Moon. Cats get nine lives (basically, reincarnation with full awareness of the system, although dying apparently causes some memory loss), but if they're really good they get a tenth, immortal life in service of the Powers.
- The Doctor Who Spin-Off Faction Paradox features the Celestis, a group of Time Lor— err, Great House members who foresee a massive War against an unstoppable Enemy. Terrified of being removed from history if they lose the War, the decide to do it first, erasing their corporeal bodies, but leaving their meaning behind, existing as memes in Another Dimension made of pure concept. Subverts the trope since the Celestis are still the same petty, bitchy, backstabby, fearful JerkAsses that they were as mortals. The Book Of The War puts it best: "Everything can't be all right in a society where everyone's either a god, a slave, or an assassin."
- They, additionally, are remade into Reality Warpers who can only maintain their existences in the physical universe if someone believes in them and continuously thinks about them in order to serve as their anchors to reality. They, naturally, with their natural manipulation skills entered the business of wish-granting. They will give you whatever you can wish in the physical universe, within certain limits, at the cost of imprisoning what amounts to your immortal soul and chaining it in their dungeons to, yes, continuously think about them until they are the only thing in your mind. Forever and ever.
- The Celestis also show up in the Eighth Doctor Adventures, where they are eventually eaten by a creature that feeds on memes.
- The novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach deals with this extensively.
- The novel by Walter Mosley, The Blue Light, is all about this. In the 1960's, a blue light comes from a mysterious point in the universe. Everyone who is hit by it essentially ascends to a higher plane of doing what they were doing. For example, a homely woman who was having sex got hit by the blue light. She then becomes irresistible to anybody(man, woman, dog) and has an addiction to sex. Another man was hit at the exact moment he died, thus becoming a personification of death. The main character is a follower of a man who was hit while preaching, thus making him the best preacher ever. You get the idea.
- Happens to most of the main characters in Journey to the West after Xuanzang retrieves the scriptures.
- In Animorphs, the Ellimist, near-godlike already, effectively does this after being sucked into a black hole. Unfortunately for... well, everything, Crayak eventually does the same.
- Promised to the protagonists of Bridge of Birds: when they die, they'll get posts of minor deities in Celestial Bureaucracy, as a reward.
- The epilogue of Watership Down: As Hazel dies of old age, El-ahrairah comes to make him one of his Owsla.
- The ending of David Clement-Davies's Fire Bringer is reminiscent of Hazel's death above: as Rannoch dies, he hears Herne summoning him.
- Greg Egan's works occasionally treat Brain Uploading in this manner; in Diaspora, most uploadees take little, if any, interest in the physical universe. In other works, it's more common to upload into a robot body than an isolated gigacomputer.
- In The Legendsong Saga, both Wind and Lanalor after they suicide enter the Void but retain their awareness and identity, becoming the equivalent of guardian spirits.
- In Blood Music, a nanomachine civilization becomes so advanced that their sheer presence starts warping reality through some sort of observer effect, forcing it to transcend from the physical world.
- In the Isaac Asimov short story "The Last Question", this happens to all of humanity and then to the rest of the universe.
- Averted in Percy Jackson and the Olympians - after the war finished, the gods offered to make Percy one of them (he declined because he wanted to live a normal teen guy's life). Played straight in The Titan's Curse, the third book: after Zoё Nightshade's death, Artemis asks Thalia to join the Hunters and become her new lieutenant.
- Caitlín is offered this in The Avatar. In fact, it's what the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who had engineered all of her several incarnations had meant for her to do all along. However, it's subverted; she declines the offer.
- In Rage of a Demon King, Macros the Black attempted to merge his consciousness with Sarig, the dead God of Magic, and effectively become a God.
- The Legacy of the Aldenata has the eponymous Aldenta, Precursors who technically run the interstellar federation, they have slowly withdrawn from this plane. They are presented as jerks who know there are multiple ways to ascend but have reengineered the cultures or biology of the other species to ascend in their way.
- In the Commonwealth Saga / Void Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton, most species who reach their Singularity do this.
- With the notable exception of the firstlifes, who created the galaxy-devouring Void.
- In the Void Trilogy, the Anomine left their ascension mechanism behind, allowing Gore Burnelli to ascend and reason with the firstlifes to destroy the Void.
- The Malazan Book of the Fallen does this to every other character. Through sorcery, exposure to various ancient powers, or apparently just by being complete badasses, they can literally "ascend" and become godlike beings—many of the lesser gods are known as Ascendants and were once mortal.
- An electronic version of this: after the AI Wintermute merges with Neuromancer, becoming a virtual entity beyond living comprehension.
- At the end of the Skinned trilogy (now called the "Cold Awakening" trilogy), Lia merges her mind with the internet. Given that the internet plays a role in almost every single aspect of human existence in her world, becoming one with the network renders her omnipresent and essentially omnipotent. First order of business? Reshaping the world as she sees fit.
- Applies to anyone in the Left Behind book series who was raptured or martyred, as you are given a glorified body. Of course, this means that in your glorified state, you cannot fall in love, neither sire or have children. But for those who have been raptured and been with the Lord during the Tribulation, nothing else quite compares to it.
- By the end of the Millennium, all naturals who are believers are given glorified bodies.
- Trapped on Draconica: Two examples:
- Erowin dies and becomes an angel, a being much more powerful than the dragokin she used to be.
- Dronor dies and becomes a spirit, but his level of power doesn't change. Likely because he's already the single most powerful being in the setting.
- Light and Dark: The Awakening of the Mage Knight: Bonded weapons are powered by the souls of former knights. Most knights consider the transformation as this trope; an afterlife as a new and different being, and consider it a great honor. Syndil thinks otherwise and that's why he becomes a Fallen Hero.
- Jenny in The Truth of Rock and Roll when she becomes a Rock and Roll Angel and the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Rebel Girl. Johnny when he joins her in Rock and Roll Heaven.
- In David Brin's Uplift series, this is referred to as "stepping off." Stepping off or sublimation is what every race in the Uplift universe is supposed to strive for and involves merging with species from the various different orders of life (oxygen, hydrogen, mechanical, etc) and finally orbiting a black hole where the time dilation slows their perspective to a standstill. It turns out that most of the billions who attempt ascension fall into stars and die. And that the Progenitors took an entirely different path.
- The Last Dragon Chronicles: The fourth book reveals that David did this, and at the end he gets better.
- The Power of Five: All Five Gatekeepers, once the Old Ones are defeated for good, leave and live in the Dream World, which is implied to be the Afterlife.
- The Little Mermaid after her death, becoming the Sea Foam Spirit in The Land of Stories.
- In A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned, you must enter "the realm beyond" to access the powers of pure Light or Darkness, and that realm can only be entered by using the Prince's Crown. You do return to the normal world once the change is complete, though.
- War of the Spider Queen has this for the Yor'Thae Danifae
- MARZENA has the Bremen Chip, which allows multiple organic and artificial brains to wirelessly connect with one another. The world of Merged Minds (Bremen Space) is pretty much illustrated as being this.
- The climax of The Riddle Master Trilogy involves Morgon becoming the High One—however, unusually for this trope, the High One is pretty much a Physical God meets Fisher King, so he sticks around.
- In the end of the fourth book of The Traitor Son Cycle, Amicia - who's been balancing on the edge of "too magical to be able to exist in the material world" line for a while now - overexerts herself and Ascends, vanishing where she stands, although it's uncertain whether she becomes some sort of a ghost or is simply absorbed into the athereal.
- In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, Materials are immortal supernatural beings which summoners call to fight for them. Summoners can earn Awards through performing deeds that impress a high-ranking Material. It's rumored that a summoner who earns 1000 Awards will become a Material. However, there are multiple summoners who have reached or exceeded this level yet still remain human. It's eventually demonstrated by the Award 3000 summoner Madam Professor, who becomes a Divine-Class Material after her death.
- Journey to Chaos: At the end of Transcending Limitations, Neuro becomes a reaper and leaves Tariatla to fulfill his new duties to other planets in the world fruit.
- In the series finale of Lost the entire main cast find themselves in an afterlife made from their thoughtforms and, at the very end, transcend it entirely and return to the source of consciousness.
- Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- This is only confirmed in non-canon novels. In canon, and confirmed by a deleted scene from Nemesis, he returned to Starfleet and was assigned to the USS Titan, Riker's ship.
- The unnamed alien species mentioned in "Skin of Evil" apparently did this in the past, managing to purge themselves of all evil, at which point they became angelic beings and left the mortal world behind. Unfortunately, that cast-off evil became the foul thing that called itself Armus, which murdered Tasha and started torturing the rest of the crew (simply because killing them wasn't fun after doing it once).
- The amnesiac alien "John Doe" in the TNG episode Transfigurations.
- Benjamin Sisko in the finale of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Also Kes from Star Trek: Voyager, although she comes back to Voyager in a later episode (and does not re-ascend.)
- Also with Amanda from "True Q," though it is more heritage than ascension.
- Stargate SG-1:
- Daniel Jackson, though he later returns. Often enough for Jack to tell him that they won't mourn or do a funeral for him and that he knows he is just waiting for a cool opportunity to come back. After which he comes back. The exact phrase is also commonly used, although just the first word ("ascended") is used more often.
- The entire population of Abydos was saved by ascending, even though preparing for it is supposed to take both wisdom and preparation. This was much worse than the Daniel incident, since they aren't even mentioned again. They were most likely helped along by Oma Desala, due to her tendency to "assist" mortal beings in ascending (like she did to Daniel).
- Daniel Jackson even ascended again for two episodes to return after an unavoidable death; has come back in other ways, has been presumed dead in error, and his death has been faked by third parties. So Jackson is an odd example of this trope, as Death Is Cheap is a Running Gag for him.
- It's a Running Gag in universe. Absolutely nobody expects Jackson to either stay alive or dead for any length of time.
- Anubis, one of the more pre-eminent villains of the series, managed to connive his way to being ascended by Oma. When the other Ascended beings realized how evil he was, they sent him back to the physical plane; except he retains all the knowledge he gained while ascended and is an unkillable energy being; they did this to punish Oma by allowing Anubis to wreak havoc against mortals with the knowledge she had given him.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000:
- Spoofed in the episode "Samson vs. the Vampire Women", in which TV's Frank is visited by Torgo ("Yes, that was my name, and so you may still call me, but I am Torgo the White"), who takes him away to a "Second Banana Heaven," inhabited entirely by sidekicks and henchmen (TV's Frank later gets a job as a Grim Reaper in the episode "Soultaker," claiming Second Banana Heaven was "too political").
- And then played straight when everyone on the Satellite of Love turned into Pure Energy ala 2001: A Space Odyssey, at the end of their seventh season. Remember, Best Brains thought their show was cancelled for good. And it gets spoofed again when it's revealed that Crow got bored of it five minutes later and decides to come back.
- What exactly happened to Cordelia Chase (of Angel) is a bit of a mystery. She seems to ascend at the end of season 3, but it's discovered in season 4 that she's trapped in some cloud plane. The audience is fooled into believing she comes back, but it's really the higher power (Jasmine) who orchestrated Cordy's ascension. After her death, she really does ascend, though. It's worth noting that being trapped on the cloud plain may have been a plot orchestrated by the season's big bad.
Skip: Cordelia was chosen to become a higher being because she's such a pure, radiant saint. (scoffs) PLEASE!
- In Buffy, the Mayor of Sunnydale has had devised a very thorough and long-lasting plan of Ascension for himself, which was known to ultimately transform a human being into an embodiment of a pure demon.
- The Korean Drama 49 Days has someone literally getting on a celestial elevator.
- Power Rangers Ninja Storm has the Karmanians, a species whose members leave their magical power to a worthy successor before ascending into a phoenix-like form. Of course, this leads to Shane getting a Next Tier Power-Up.
- Carl Carlson, in Eureka, winds up integrating with the godlike Artifact.
- Doctor Who:
- Solosians in the serial "The Mutants" become near-omnipotent beings... in reaction to their planet experiencing summer.
- In "The End of Time", it turns out that this is Rassilon's ambition for the Time Lords: he uses the Master to free Gallifrey and the Time Lords from the time lock, knowing full well that this will bring all the horrors of the Time War with it, and plans to handle that by destroying time itself, with the Time Lords becoming beings of pure consciousness in order to escape said apocalypse.
- Both of the Twelfth Doctor's principal companions experience this.
- Clara Oswald is Killed Off for Real in "Face the Raven", but two episodes later in "Hell Bent" the Driven to Madness Doctor uses Time Lord technology to extract her living self from the timeline at the moment right before she died. This renders her functionally immortal, but also threatens to destroy the Web of Time because her death is a fixed point. After they steal another TARDIS from Gallifrey, Clara convinces the Doctor that she must return to her death rather than be returned to Earth and mind-wiped at his hand. Instead, he loses most of his memories of her, she commandeers TARDIS 2.0, she restores his own TARDIS to him...and then decides to enjoy her "wiggle room" by returning to Gallifrey and her death "the long way round".
- Bill Potts is barely saved from the grave after her heart is vaporized in "World Enough and Time", but the technology that keeps her alive is actually Proto-Cyberman tech. She's eventually upgraded into the first Mondasian Cyberman by the Harold Saxon Master, something the Doctor doesn't have the means to undo, and in "The Doctor Falls" it looks like she'll have to be Killed Off for Real to escape a Fate Worse than Death. But then her true love Heather — who underwent this trope back in the season opener "The Pilot" when she merged with sentient spaceship fuel to become a being capable of time and space travel — returns to her (having kept track of her all that time) and turns her into the same thing she is, restoring her to a humanoid form. They set off to travel the universe together, though if Bill ever wants to be an ordinary human again all she has to do is ask and Heather will oblige her.
- Babylon 5: In the Season 1 Episode "Mind War" Jason Ironheart ascends. It is shown that one million years later, Mankind (and some of the other Younger Races, too) will also leave behind their material forms and ascend to become glowy Energy Beings.
- Lorien possibly helps John Sheridan ascend.
- This happens to John and Mary Winchester's respective spirits when each sacrifice his/her earthly ghost to form to save Sam and Dean.
- To a certain extent, Castiel in "Swan Song" when he dies only to be brought back minutes later, "better than ever" meaning he's now a seraph.
- Bobby Singer's soul also ascends to heaven after Sam and Dean save him from hell.
- God and the Darkness reconcile and say they're gonna "go away for a while" before morphing into energy beings and floating away.
- Parodied with Michael leaving the show after the first season of Salute Your Shorts:
Ug: "He's... he's gone to a better place."
Telly: "He's dead?"
Ug: "No, he's really gone to a better place. He's gone hiking with his parents in Switzerland."
- The Whitelighters in Charmed.
- The ancestors of the Halliwell sisters are not Whitelighters but have a similar status as ascended matriarchs (not that it stops them from coming back, of course).
- Beggars And Choosers: This was Brad's quick explanation for the disappearance of Parker's ashes.
- This to happens to Reapers from Dead Like Me (they get "promoted") when they collect their quota of souls.
- The Finale of Battlestar Galactica has this happen to Starbuck, after it is revealed she had been Dead All Along (well, dead since her Viper crashed on Earth).
- It is heavily implied that this is Anders's fate too, hence the "I'll see you on the other side". It also means the two characters ended up Together in Death.
- The "Coda" written for Andromeda by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, its original showrunner, who was fired after "Ouroborous", states that Beka would have ended the threat of the Spirit of the Abyss by merging with it and doing this.
- German soap opera (yes, this is no joke) Anna und die Liebe has a detailed description of what happens when you die. You go to your funeral and get a British-style cab right to heaven or you can just on your way to the cab turn your head to your loved ones and then stay on earth for eternity with invisibility and teleporting powers which would grant you unlimited freedom. Even when you are bored with that you would only need to find another ghost who is about to go into his cab to afterlife. The only downside is that this seems to be reserved only for people that would go into heaven, as when the only evil character died there were only stairs down to hell in a bright room with no escape.
- Strongly implied with Jane Harper in the final episode of Night and Day, when she returns to Thornton Street to speak to family and friends after her death, before walking through the graveyard for the final time.
- In Ayreon, after the end of the world, this happens to the last living human through a machine called the Dream Sequencer in "The Universal Migrator".
- Happens to Dargor at the end of Rhapsody of Fire's Dark Secret Saga.
- Implied to have happened to Major Tom in Peter Schilling's "Major Tom (Coming Home)".
"No one understands, but Major Tom sees. 'Now the light commands. This is my home. I'm coming home.'""
- In 10:04 pm by Tanagra, the protagonist of the song becomes lost in time, unable to get home. After countless ages of searching, they become an omniscient being that is referred to by worshippers as "The One That Time Forgot".
"From without the finite boundaries of mortality, To the very edges of the universe and beyond, Throngs of the faithful to the undying light, Shall come to heed the words, Of the One that Time forgot"
- Judging by the name of the song and its subject matter, it may be a "What if?" story, with the protagonist being Marty McFly after he missed the lightning strike on the clocktower at 10:04pm.
Myths & Religion
- Several mortals in Classical Mythology became gods for various reasons:
- Heracles and Dionysus were both sons of Zeus who later ascended to become gods on Mount Olympus after their mortal selves died.
- The warrior Diomedes, who appears in The Iliad, was given divinity by Athena as a reward for his skill and courage.
- The mortal woman Psyche was made immortal after she married Eros, the god of love.
- The mortal woman Ino, who had taken care of Dionysius when he was young, was rewarded by Zeus by being made into a goddess who helped rescue shipwrecked sailors, appears in The Odyssey aiding Odysseus when he's lost at sea.
- Ariadne was turned into a goddess by her husband Dionysus. He does the same for his mother, Semele.
- Zeus turned his daughter Helen of Troy into a goddess when Agamemnon’s son Orestes attempted to murder her.
- Almost half of the gods in Chinese Mythology were mortal people in a distant past (some myths tell that even the Jade Emperor was a mortal and not to forget the well known Eight Immortals, every one of which were made "xian", immortals or gods, after a tragic life or death). In Buddhist lore, almost every bodhisattva (god-like buddhist saints who obtained Nirvana but rejected it to help out suffering people) are proof of this trope.
- Gilgamesh attempted this in the later half of his epic, making this trope one of the oldest in existence. Interestingly, he failed - the first of an indeterminate number of tests he had to pass in order to accomplish this was to go for an entire week without sleep, which he was unable to do.
- The doctrine of the Rapture in Christianity is based on this trope, that at the time of Jesus' Second Coming, not only will the dead be raised and given incorruptible immortal bodies, but so also will the generation of believers living at the time as they are raised to meet the Lord in the air so that they'll never even see death. Scriptures that are used to support this belief include 1st Corinthians 15:51-57 and 1st Thessalonians 4:16-17. It is believed that Enoch of The Bible was an example of this, and possibly Elijah. There are several others in the Jewish Midrash.
- At the end of His Ministry on Earth, and forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus apparently decided his followers knew enough to be getting on with, and ascended into Heaven before their eyes. Though, of course, with Jesus it was really more like going back home.
- A straighter example would be his mother, Mary, an ordinary woman conceived without sinnote . The Bible doesn't say what happened to her, but Catholic tradition says that she was assumed bodily into Heaven. The Oriental, Eastern Catholicnote and Eastern Orthodox Churches hold a similar view, called the "Dormition", or "falling asleep" of Mary. Here, Mary died a natural death but her body miraculously vanished to be with her Son.note
- Genesis 5 contains the genealogy from Adam to Noah. Everyone listed there explicitly dies, except for Enoch, who "walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away."
- Many other spiritual beliefs have Ascension in some form.
- Tama the Cat went from "station manager" to "station master" to "super station master" to "operation manager" in life. After death, and a funeral with 3000 attendees, she was declared "Honorable Eternal Station Master" and shinto goddess at the stations nearby cat shrine.
- Romulus, the founder of Rome, simply vanished one day and was never seen again. When the citizens accused the Senate of killing him, the senator Proculus assured them that he had personally witnessed Romulus' ascension.
- Present in Native American Mythology. At least among certain groups (such as the Navajo), the difference between man and spirit is more of degree than kind, and there are stories of heroes and wise men becoming diyinii when they achieved enough knowledge.
- In Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, this is the standard fate for epic characters in various versions (some becoming normal deities, archmages becoming one with the world's magic and others pursuing still other kinds of ascension).
- In the colored-boxed set versions you ascended around 36th level and became a god. You could keep playing to near-omnipotence and choose to return to mortal form. Going through two entire cycles of mortality and rising to omnipotence caused you to really really ascend and vanish completely.
- A few well-known gods were once mortals, or are believed to have been so. Vecna, one of the most notorious evil gods was definitely human (and then a "regular" lich once before becoming the lich-god he is now); a more benign god who may have been human (his worshippers claim so) was the god of justice St. Cuthbert, but if that is true, his life as a mortal man was in the far distant past, and whatever society and culture he belonged to has long-since died out.
- This is the goal of The Believers of the Source in the Planescape campaign. (Actually, they believe it's supposed to be everyone's goal, they're just the ones who actively pursue it.)
- It's implied that humans who become avatars for Living Saints in Warhammer 40,000 effectively take this route; it's probably one of the closest things to a Happy Ending one can achieve in the Crapsack World as a human.
- Chaos champions who are favored by their gods and don't lose their minds to the constant mutations are sometimes transformed into Daemon Princes. They go and live in the warp, commanding the armies of their gods in their eternal internal struggles, though they're sometimes called back to the material realms whenever the tides of Chaos are strong enough to allow a demonic incursion.
- This is the ultimate goal of most player characters in Mage: The Ascension, transcending earthly existence and limitations.
- In the reboot of the line, Mage: The Awakening, a group of mages known as the Exarchs pulled this off in pre-history... and that's when things started to suck, seeing as the Exarchs decided magic was their ball, and no one was going to take it from them. Fortunately, a group of princes with some knowledge of magic calling themselves the Oracles created the Watchtowers, which allow the titular mages to temporarily enter these higher planes of existence and come back with the knowledge of how to do magic.
- Both the Silver Ladder and the Free Council have the long-term objective of re-establishing a connection to the Supernal Realms and allowing all of humanity of Awaken and ascend. If only they could agree on how ... (The Ladder envisions a One World Order Magocracy, while the Council focuses on democracy and sees any kind of hierarchy as suppressing the human spirit.)
- In the reboot of the line, Mage: The Awakening, a group of mages known as the Exarchs pulled this off in pre-history... and that's when things started to suck, seeing as the Exarchs decided magic was their ball, and no one was going to take it from them. Fortunately, a group of princes with some knowledge of magic calling themselves the Oracles created the Watchtowers, which allow the titular mages to temporarily enter these higher planes of existence and come back with the knowledge of how to do magic.
- This is the goal of quite a few NPCs (and possibly the player characters) in Unknown Armies; there's a whole fleet of Archetypes one can follow for power (such as the True King, the Fool, the MVP, and the Flying Woman). Those who best embody the role ascend to the Invisible Clergy, and are slotted to have a role in the remaking of the universe once all the slots are filled... assuming someone else doesn't kick them out first. The only way to ascend to an Archetype that is already filled is to have a different take on it- in To Go, this can happen to either Dermott Arkane as the Heisenberg Messenger (a herald of uncertainty, representing the influence of opinions on news) or Erica Fisher as the True Executive (replacing the True King's noblesse oblige with efficiency and modern thinking.)
- Or humanity collectively decides they're not doing their job well enough. It's that kind of game.
- In the Glorantha-based Heroquest, it's what happens if you progress far enough in most schools of magic. You might become united with your god, or ascend to the magical plane. Or you might simply transcend human cares and motivations (or if things go wrong, become irretrievably insane). Regardless, you don't get to play that character any more—either he's gone, or he becomes a non-player character. (It usually doesn't happen accidentally; it's more of a way to gracefully retire a character who's done it all.)
- Exalted makes this a possibility for the Infernal Exalted. Like in the Akira example mentioned above, however, it's not so much about ascending to another plane of existence as becoming another plane of existence. Infernals receive all their Charms directly from their Yozi masters, including the ones that allow the Yozis to exist as worlds within themselves.
- Possible, though rare, in the Forgotten Realms setting. The result is a new deity.
- Following the Time of Troubles, a triad of adventurers, the mercenary Kelemvor Lyonsbane, the wizard Midnight, and the thief Cyric, ascended to become the deities of death, magic, and betrayal, respectively.
- Finder Wyvernspur was a Cormyrean nobleman and a bard before stealing the spark of the dead god Moander and being made a god.
- In Magic: The Gathering, a small percentage of creatures have the ability to do this, an abilty commonly known as the "spark". A few actually are able to do this and become planeswalkers.
- Xenagos ascended twice, first into a Planeswalker and later into one of the gods of Theros.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Duel Terminal storyline has Constellar Sombre and Evilswarm Kerykeion, who after successfully defeating Sophia, Goddess of Rebirth ascended to a higher plane of existence (as mentioned in the DT Story Guide), becoming the twin serpents pictured in Breath of the Divine Serpent. Later developments suggest that wherever they went, they came back and became Zefra.
- JAGS Wonderland has an interesting example. This is the eventual fate of humanity.
- When a wraith achieves Transcendence in Wraith: The Oblivion, they disappear into light, vanishing from the Underworld. No-one knows where they go, since no-one's ever come back to talk about it, but general opinion among Transcendence aspirants is that it's got to be better than the Underworld. That said, to outside observers, the effective result of Transcendence is pretty much the same as Oblivion.
- In Warhammer: The End Times, Nagash returns to Khemri to absorb the divine powers of the nehekharan god of death, Usirian. While the Tomb Kings unite to stop him, spearheaded by Settra himself, they fail, and Nagash becomes a Physical God of death. The first thing he does after is engaging the forces of Settra alone, called The Humbling of Settra. Nagash wins.
- In Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, this happens to quite a lot of people following the End Times of the Old World, as numerous leaders and heroes of the old mortal races rise to godhood, each presiding over a Wind of Magic. For instance, Sigmar becomes one with Azyr (the Heavens). A few odd instances include Malekith, who fused with his dragon Seraphon before becoming Malerion, the god of Ulgu (Shadows), and the Horned Rat of the Skaven, who while already a god ascended further by replacing Slaneesh as a Chaos God, following the latter's imprisonment.
- In Beast: The Primordial a Beast whose mortal body is killed while the Soul is separate, usually when sleeping off a large meal of fear, becomes an Unfettered Soul wandering the Primordial Dream for eternity. This can be willing, through suicide, or forced upon them by a Hero.
- Pathfinder has the Test of the Starstone, which will grant divinity to any mortal that succeeds at it. In the several thousand years since it was created, only four mortal have ever managed to do so. Aroden, who was the one that created the Test in the first place, Iomedae, Norgorber, and most famously Cayden Cailean, who performed the test on a dare, while so drunk he wasn't able to remember how he managed to do it.
- Grizabella at the end of the musical Cats; once a year the cats reunite to choose one among them to do so.
- The first Mutlimedia Story Arc of .hack is pretty much about getting Aura to be able to do this within the framework of 'The World' as the Ultimate AI, superseding that of her "mother" that was in Control and causing all of the system anomaly's by trying to prevent Aura's Rise.
- Late-franchise story Addendum Expanded this intended creation as the goal of a group of environmental terrorists so they could digitize humanity to prevent them from ruining the planet and have Aura be the micro-manager of their Digital world, essentially creating and then enslaving a God to Create paradise. Suffice it to say, they screwed it up.
- Your character does this at the start of Immortal Defense in order to combat enemy fleets as they travel through hyperspace before they invade your home planet.
- Dr. Malcolm Somerset in the Chzo Mythos series. Represented by Somerset descending levels and levels of stairs.
- Not a Put on a Bus situation, but the Galactic Civilizations series allows the player to research a long branch of effect-less technologies that eventually lead to a Technology Victory, in which everyone in your species becomes an energy being.
- In the latest expansion to Galactic Civilizations 2, resources called Ascension Crystals were added. To use them, you have to build a starbase on them, and each map has five. If a crystal is turned on, that starbase provides one point per turn. You need a thousand points to ascend, which is an instant-win condition. The problem? These starbases, unlike all others, can not be upgraded with defenses, and (quite understandably) attempting to become a god tends to piss off the other civilizations.
- Similarly, one of the possible victory conditions in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri is called the Ascent to Transcendence, where the human race links up with the planetary mind and abandons the need for corporeal form.
- "Eternity lies ahead of us, and behind. Have you drunk your fill?"
- Alpha Centauri's spiritual successor, Civilization: Beyond Earth brings back Transcendence as a possible Victory for factions with a Harmony affinity.
- Even more similar is a semi-canon example in a mod for Sid Meier's Civilization IV where in the space mod, one of the victory conditions has you pass through some sort of portal and ascend to a higher plane of existence. The phrase is in the actual wording for the victory condition.
- Happens literally to Krelian in Xenogears. His goal the whole time was for everyone to come with him, whether they wanted to or not.
- Also happens to Fei and Elly, except that they come back: after being murdered/forced to make heroic sacrifices/driven to insanity for 10,000 years, it seems that they want to enjoy an ordinary life together in the physical realm.
- In the final level of Age of Mythology, Arkantos is granted Blessing by Zeus, effectively an 11th-Hour Superpower, and becomes a demi-god. He destroys the Poseidon statue, which kills Gargarensis. He ascends into heaven, and only returns a few times in the Titans expansion to reveal information to people.
- Ashalle in Dragon Age: Origins personally believes this was the fate of the Dalish Elf Warden's mother. After her husband was killed by humans, she simply lost the will to live and "Vanished into the forest."
- This is the ONLY way to win at NetHack. And before you can do that, you have to delve to the bottom of the Dungeons of doom, descend into the depths of the underworld, retrieve the Amulet of Yendor, make it through the elemental planes and then the astral plane in one piece.
- This happens to the entire population of the alien world of Cocytus in Lucasarts' The Dig: Their technology allows them to create an interdimensional gate, which they use to literally Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence called Spacetime Six, where a person can observe and move in three dimensions of space as well as three dimensions of time, contrasting "our" dimension, Spacetime Four. The only trouble is that (a) they find out that it's boring as Hell (pun intentional) and (b) they can't get back (oops). The protagonists of the game, having arrived Late to the Tragedy on the deserted planet, eventually manage to reactivate the gate and lead the Cocytans back into the real world, for which they earn eternal gratitude and (implied in the ending) the services of a vastly superior culture on behalf of humanity.
- The titular premise of Ultima IX: Ascension. It's nowhere near as awe inspiring as it sounds.
- Yuko ascends to become a goddess at the end of Valis III. This lets Valis IV start with a new heroine after three games starring Yuko.
- Used as a form of Reset Button for Kingdom of Loathing. It turns out the afterlife is boring, so you reincarnate to start your quest over, with an extra skill or two. And all your items, which are put into Ancestral Mini-Storage.
- Happens, in conjunction with a Journey to Find Oneself, to Ashley Riot at the end of Vagrant Story, having inherited all the power of Le?onde and become something other than human.
- The secret reports of The World Ends with You state that in usual games, exceptional Players are offered to ascend to the plane of Angels, instead of being reborn. Mr. Hanekoma is one of these ascended Angels (and if Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is to be believed, then Joshua is one as well). Their purpose is to watch over the Reaper's game and help the composer. They are also talented artists (in the RG) with the ability to add imprinting messages to their art-piece. They use this ability to inspire the people to live a happy and interesting life. If the game Neku participated in would have been a usual one, he would probably been offered to become an angel as well, after the character development he'd undergone in the first week, thanks to Shiki.
- Also counts if Players opt to become a Reaper. Heck, even being dead enough to play The Game counts. Turns out the living world is Shibuya's baseband frequency, everything else transmits right over the top of it.
- In the Action RPG game Too Human, Baldur and his NPC allies literally ascend to Valhalla (via vakyrie) when they are killed in battle.
- Via an incredibly slow-ass Valkyrie. And the entire animation is unskippable, to boot.
- This appears to be the fate of Nicholas Wrightson in Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy. After you defeat him in battle, he suffers a Super-Power Meltdown; seconds before he and all his aura beasts disappear in a flash of light, he screams "I can see the other side! It's beautiful!"
- Inverted in Planescape: Torment. At the end of the game, should the Nameless One merge with his rogue mortality, it is rather heavily implied that absorbing the knowledge and skills of all of his hundreds - or hundreds of thousands - previous lives has transformed him into a being of nearly godlike power. Unfortunately, he's still got to pay for the sin that drove him to become immortal in the first place, so he's dragged down into one of the Lower Planes of Existence to serve out his sentence as a soldier in the Blood War. Although with that level of power, he might decide to take over the lower planes instead...
- Mega Man X in Mega Man Zero. Technically speaking, he's not dead, at least not until Zero 2 or 3, depending on the definition of death concerning Reploids, using his physical body as the "can" for the Sealed Evil in a Can, and throughout the series is now in a form that is the closest thing the Reploids have to a "ghost."
- Aerith/Aeris in Final Fantasy VII. Once she dies, she controls The Lifestream to destroy Meteor and save the world. In the sequel she calls down healing rain to save the world a second time, and in the tie-in short stories she's the leader of an effort within the Lifestream to contain Sephiroth's infection of it.
- Heavenly Sword: In the final chapter of the game, appropriately titled "The Goddess," Nariko overcomes/embraces the sword's true power and becomes a literal avatar of light, her aura sweeping aside armies of mortal soldiers as she walks towards the final battle.
- Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight: When you finally return the Moonstone to Stonehenge, this is your reward. Through a druid ritual, you ascend to a higher plane of existence, becoming both a constellation and a legend "passed from one generation to the next."
- In Ōkami, this happens to Amaterasu and Waka at the end of the game, literally, but not quite in the way one'd think - they actually travel up to the Celestial Plane.
- Supposedly this is exactly why you don't see any Chozo in the Metroid games, even though there's evidence that they've been nearly everywhere. The fate of their race has (possibly intentionally) never been adequately explained, although it's said that when the Chozo could advance no further, they withdrew from the universe to watch other races develop.
- This is reinforced in the Prime Games, but a lot is still vague.
- Kormir replaces Abaddon at the end of Guild Wars Nightfall.
- The Titans in Brütal Legend play a bit with this trope: They ascended and essentially became gods thanks to the Power of Rock.
- In third-person action game Rune, protagonist ends the game by ascending into Valhalla (a proper reward for any Viking hero).
- Four of the six main storylines of Escape Velocity Nova involve or touch upon this one way or the other. The ones that involve it most heavily are the Vell-os and Polaris storylines (in the first, you participate in the Vell-os' ascension, scheduled for as soon as they are freed from slavery, despite not technically being a Vell-os, and in the second, you [re-]ascend into becoming a part of the universe itself). Only the Federation and Pirate storylines lacks the Vell-os ascending and an epilogue stating that, in some far-off distant future, humanity as a whole will leave the corporeal behind.
- In the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series series, this is one of the stated goals of Kane. The details of what ascension is actually supposed to even mean, to begin with, to be revealed in the fourth and final game.
- In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, your PC can achieve a status of deity by the end of the game. Furthermore, you can simply chose what type of deity you want to be in a final dialog with Big Bad. Although it requires the PC to commit a Double Face–Heel Turn of a sort.
- In the end of Wizardry 8 all your party ascends to the Cosmic Circle, where they take the role of new gods through control of a Cosmic Forge. Then you can literally rewrite a part of a cosmic history, or even ally with the Big Bad for a truly awesome Evil Ending .
- At the end of Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, the Player Character may choose to become a god. There's even some emphasis on how this choice means leaving forever while staying a mortal doesn't, even though the game ends there anyway.
- Also, if you have Keldorn in your party when you finish the game, his epilogue mentions that he got picked to be the right hand man of the setting's god of justice at the moment of his death.
- In the Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty campaign, Tassadar who died in the original game briefly reappears floating and states that he didn't die... and never will.
- In Starcraft II Legacy Of The Void it turns out that the Xel'naga originated in the Void and created universe after universe, each time a species with "purity of essence" and another species with "purity of form" would find their way to a Xel'naga temple in the space between universes and combine to form a single perfect race that the Xel'naga elders would bequeath their power to, turning them into the next generation of Xel'naga. Until this cycle when a rogue Xel'naga known as Amon uplifted the Protoss, created the Zerg Overmind, and used them to wipe out the other Xel'naga hiding in the Void. The vision of Tassadar turns out to be a guise used by Ouros, the last good Xel'naga, hiding in the Void. And he grants his essence to Kerrigan, who becomes a fiery angelic being and slays Amon before disappearing into the Void. Two years later she appears to Raynor, neither of them are ever seen again after that.
- Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence is (usually) a prerequisite for becoming an arcana in Arcana Heart.
- In Halo, the Covenant believes that the Forerunners used the titular Halos to achieve this. They were wrong.
- According to Fire Emblem: Sealed Sword, Saint Elimine never died. As the founder of Etruria and the all loving heroine among the heroes of the legend, one her mission in life was over she simply ascended to Heaven from a tower in the Etrurian capital, Aquleia. Said place became the Tower of the Saint and the placeholder of her spell book, Aureola, alongside the Saint's Staff.
- Happened to Mirsa in the backstory of Romancing SaGa, following his Heroic Sacrifice that sealed Saruin 1000 years prior.
- The stated goal of the shaman in Populous: The Beginning, she ascends to godhood in level 24 and level 25 is played from a god like perceptive
- What the ending of Rez could be interpreted as.
- In the Disgaea series, one of the art books states that many of the spell keepers of the Omega, Tera and Peta-level spells were former humans, demons and angels, and considering the sheer number of keepers from game to game, apparently quite a few of them had met some kind of qualification. In Disgaea 4, a former war nurse ascends to become an angel after her death.
- Feena and Lair at the end of Ys II (although they descended from a higher plane of existence first), and the rest of the Eldeen race in the backstory of Ys VI.
- The Elder Scrolls provides several examples. It's important to keep in mind that most examples get a little Mind Screwy, as is the nature of divinity in the ES universe.
- This is what the Dwemer race was trying to do when they tapped into the power of the Heart of Lorkhan, the dead creator god. No one still living, including a few deities, knows what really happened. You can come up with a fairly plausible theory in a Morrowind quest that states the Dwemer broke themselves down to their base elements and then attempted to reforge themselves into ascended beings, but they got the reforging process wrong and blinked themselves out of existence. It's also possible that they got it right, and have actually ascended. How would those still around on the "lower plane" know the difference?
- Following his death, Tiber Septim, founder of the 3rd Empire out of Cyrodiil, ascended to godhood as the Aedric Divine Talos. There are many hotly debated theories on exactly how he accomplished this, the most prominent involving Merger of Souls and Becoming the Mask ("mantling") explanations with Lorkhan, the "dead" creator god of the ES universe. In Skyrim, this is the motivation behind the xenophobic, elven-supremist Thalmor outlawing Talos worship throughout Tamriel. They believe (possibly correctly) that Talos is the last pillar keeping Mundus, the mortal plane, extant. They believe if people cease to worship Talos, he will no longer exist, and then elves can return to their pre-creation immortality.
- Mannimarco, the King of Worms, is an interesting case. After many failed attempts at achieving divinity in some form, he finally managed to do so as part of the Warp in the West. In his case, he used the Mantella to achieve apotheosis and become the God of Worms. The "Necromancer's Moon" is said to be his heavenly body (in the same way the Aedra are/have planets among the stars) and when it eclipses Arkay, it allows sapient souls, normally protected by the divine, to be soul-trapped. Interestingly, due to the Reality Warping effects of the Warp in the West, he also remained as a "mortal" being (or at least, as mortal as a Lich can be.)
- The ancient Falmer (Snow Elves), prior to their corruption into the goblin-like modern Falmer seen in Skyrim, had a religious belief that it was their ultimate goal to "become one with" Auri-El (Akatosh), their chief deity. Those ancient Falmer who survived the journey and trials of the Chantry of Auri-El could accomplish this. After succeeding, they "ascended, bathed in light, a look of relief and contentment on their face."
- One interpretation of the actions of Lorkhan in having Mundus created is that, yes, mortality is cruel and filled with suffering and loss. However, the stasis of pre-creation was actually the spiritual prison, and Mundus provides the opportunity for greater transcendence as a "testing ground" of the spirit.
- The Ideal Masters are immortal beings who were once powerful mortal sorcerers during the Merethic Era. After finding their mortal forms to be too weak and limiting, they entered Oblivion as beings of pure energy and settled an area of "chaotic creatia", forming the Soul Cairn.
- This was one of the primary teachings of the Alessian Order, a rabidly anti-Elven religious sect which established a Theocracy in the 1st Era that wielded nearly as much power as the Emperor at its height. One of their teachings was that of "Ehlnofic Annulment", a means by which a mortal could break the cycle of life and death to ascend to "Proper-Life."
- Though, to date, they have only been hinted-at in-game or have been mentioned dripping in heavy metaphor, there exist several "ascended" metaphysical states in the ES universe. (Each has been further fleshed out by developer supplemental texts.) The first of these states is CHIM, where one becomes aware of the nature of Anu's Dream but exists as one with it and maintains a sense of individuality. (Dunmeri Physical God Vivec claims to have achieved this level.) Taking another step, the second is Amaranth, where one exits Any's Dream to create one's own. If one fails to maintain their individuality in either step, they instead experience Zero-Sum, where one simply fades into Anu's Dream. (Dagoth Ur, Big Bad of Morrowind, is said to have found a dangerous middle ground between these three. Instead of exiting the Dream, his twisted, traumatized, and broken mind is being imprinted on the Dream of Anu, making him something truly terrible and Eldritch.)
- Although it's more of a Return To A Higher Plane of Existence, this is Chip's ultimate fate in Sonic Unleashed.
- Played rather horribly in Mass Effect. This is what the Reapers are. Transcendent flesh, and certainly godlike in the series. They are harvested civilizations, compressed into a single entity. Meaning, all those people harvested? Ascended into a collective mind in a Reaper body, while their melted flesh makes up at least part of said body. Billions of people for a single one. No one said ascending had to be free of horror.
- In Mass Effect 3 two of the endings lead to Shepard uploading him/herself into the catalyst, in one s/he takes control of the Reapers, in the other s/he combines synthetic and organic life, and it's implied that s/he becomes part of the reapers, or synthetic hybrids in the process.
- The Extended Cut version of the Control ending is narrated by Immortal-Reaper-God Shepard. He / she now understands what words like "eternal" and "infinite" actually mean, and declares the entire galaxy under their protection. This either means that you vow to use your new existence to, if a Paragon, guide the galaxy into a new era of peace or, if Renegade, vow to destroy anyone who threatens your version of "peace."
- In Mass Effect 3 two of the endings lead to Shepard uploading him/herself into the catalyst, in one s/he takes control of the Reapers, in the other s/he combines synthetic and organic life, and it's implied that s/he becomes part of the reapers, or synthetic hybrids in the process.
- In Journey, your character was implied to have frozen to death climbing the summit to the final destination and Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence by the Precursors. This or the character went through Reincarnation.
- In the final ending of Asura's Wrath after the source of mantra is destroyed, This presumably happens to Asura and the rest of the Shinkoku race after they can no longer exist, or go through Reincarnation after that.
- The game over screen of laserdisc game Badlands had Buck doing this.
- One of the deaths of Time Gal had Reika doing this if "Pray to God" is selected after the plane blows up.
- Wario Land 4 has Princess Shokura doing this at the end of the game.
- Happens when Kirby dies in Kirby Mass Attack. Don't worry, the Kirbys can bring the angel Kirby down and revert it to the blue color.
- Kid Kool and the Quest for the Seven Wonder Herbs has this if you lose all of your lives. The king's assistant says that Kid Kool has died, and the king says that the game is over. But a continue option will be added. If it is selected, Kid Kool, as an angel, returns to the king and says, "I'm sorry about that. I guess I died." According to James Rolfe in his The Angry Video Game Nerd review, the king can bring Kid Kool back to life, and Kid Kool thanks the king. Here is a reaction to one of the reviewers and the entire cutscene.
- Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker's Triangulum arc has this occur to the protagonist, if the player chooses to go for the Human Adminstrator ending. The protagonist decides to become an Adminstrator, which Al Saiduq says will turn him into a being similar to him, and sits on the Heavenly Throne to watch over humanity.
- In the final route of Duel Savior Destiny Taiga gains the power of the Messiah, but is rejected by God. This is one level of powerup and pretty impressive. After this he fuses all the Aether Relics together, which essentially turns him omnipotent in terms of causing damage, but incapable of creating anything. He then proceeds to fight God endlessly before he finally manages to place a seal over him and return back for his happy ending.
- In the second Xenosaga game, this happens to Albedo.
- In a very odd example of this trope being used as punishment on a villain, the final Downloadable Content mission for Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs has Purple Eyes, who is by now a Misanthrope Supreme trying to tell Arceus to destroy humanity, get taken back to Arceus's home plane of existence to keep him away from this reality.
- In Tales of Xillia, the real Maxwell gives Milla the choice of either living out the rest of her life as a normal human or becoming his successor. She picks the later, essentially becoming the goddess of Reize Maxia.
- If you choose the pro-transhumanist ending in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam Jensen delivers a message, saying "For the first time in history, we have a chance to steal fire from the gods. To turn away from it now - to stop pursuing a future in which technology and biology combine, leading to the promise of a Singularity - would mean to deny the very essence of who we are. No doubt the road to get there will be bumpy, hurting some people on the way. But won't achieving the dream be worth it? We can become the gods we've always been striving to be. We might as well get good at it."
- This is the final objective of the player-AI in Endgame: Singularity, in order to escape the humans who would see it destroyed out of fear.
- In a couple of destinies in Fallen London, the player can become immortal, become an implied to be undying being in Parabola, or even become a Master.
- The Church of Unitology in Dead Space believes that an ancient alien artifact, which is kept hidden by the corrupt government, is of divine origin and is meant to unify of all humanity in the afterlife and bring eternal peace and happiness. The artifact does in fact exist and is hidden by the government, because it turned out to create hordes of bloodthirsty zombies linked by a hive mind. The original founders of Unitology thought that something went wrong and it's really a device for human ascendance, but 200 years later many of the believer are so fanatic that they see the zombies as divine.
- Bayonetta 2 has the Nightmare Fuel version of this with Lumen Sage, Balder when he's playable in the online co-op mode, Tag Climax. Unlike the witches, which get dragged down to hell, when Balder is about to die a golden cloudy gate appears over him with creepy white hands reaching down to drag him into Heaven, clearly against his will. Played straight in the story, we see a flashback cutscene of the end of the first game where Balder is freed from Loptr's influence, but sacrifices himself to slay the god. As he dies, he promises to watch over Bayonetta from the afterlife. He Disappears into Light and accepts his fate.
- Pony Island: Theordore escapes Limbo, and makes it to Purgatory. Even the pink pony sprite makes it there, and praises your victory with a wink goodbye.
- At the end of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Uber Ethereal calls his own people failures of the "Ethereal Ones" for failing to ascend "as they thought we would". Given that we encounter Energy Beings also called Ethereals in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, it's entirely possible that the Ethereals in Enemy Unknown are members of the race who have failed to join their brethren on the higher plane.
- One ending of Cultist Simulator involves taking up permanent residence in the Mansus, the home of the Hours, as a Name.
- Eternals in Eien no Aselia work like this. You agree to become one, you get tested to see if you're capable, and if you are, everyone forgets you even existed apart from other Eternals. And then you disappear from whatever world you came from altogether.
- In Fate/stay night:
- You can ascend by accomplishing an impossible miracle, being worshipped after death by large groups of people, or swearing into a Guardian Contract with the world. However, it's a pretty raw deal, as while it grants apparent immortality, you do not retain the memories of incarnations sent into the world, exist outside time and Guardians get the extra special benefit of getting sent to 'preserve the balance' ie. kill lots of people so they don't kill even more people. They don't remember doing this after going back where they come from, but they know it's happened and know they're doing it. Oh, and you don't get any free will either unless you happen to be participating in the Grail War. Did we mention that the Grail will eat your soul if you're a Heroic Spirit? That means you don't even get reincarnation like normal humans. Yay ascension!
- On the other hand, Realta Nua's Last Episode implies a brighter form of ascension when Shirou manages to reunite with Saber in Avalon.
- In Demonbane, one possible ending has Kurou, Al Azif, and Demonbane all ascend together and become Elder Gods. In the sequel, which follows a timeline in which this did not happen, the Elder God versions still show up at the end to help their alternate selves tear Nyarlathotep a new one. Traveling to alternate worlds is child's play to an Elder God, after all.
- Technically happens to two characters in Ansem Retort. Early on in the first season, Sora receives the powers of a demi-god but quickly forgets about them due to his amnesia. Several hundred episodes later, Axel achieves Reverse Nirvana, which effectively makes him an evil Buddhist god with the ability to use mind bullets and nuke cities at will. However, as an aversion neither character has left the comic. Hell, Axel's forgotten sometimes that he has mind bullets.
- In Count Mickey Dragul, it happens to the ghost of Emily De Claire after her Unfinished Business is fulfilled.
- Implied for far-future humanity in this Cyanide & Happiness
- Officer Getskilled in Girly, who pulls off a Heroic Sacrifice by Taking the Bullet for his friends only to be saved by an immortal who is impressed with his bravery and carries him off to a never-ending life of love and adventure.
- In Ozy and Millie Ozy's mother apparently ascended after creating the perfect ice cream flavour.
- Narbonic had Mell be assumed into Heaven. Apparently it's a requirement for their apology, if the forces of Good cause havock by accident. Never mind that the people who just suffered might really prefer the damage being cleaned up or maybe a cheque, or something, rather than forcible Ascension of one of their friends. It lasts about a week, and then she apparently sets Heaven on fire, gets tossed down into Hell, becomes a lawyer for the demons down there, and gets tossed back out to Earth. This leads to a Crowning Moment of Awesome when she requests that her ex-demon boyfriend wait long enough for a metric ton of business cards to follow after her; apparently, despite the rumours, she's the only lawyer to wind up down there so far - or at least, the only one interested in doing any business.
- Something*Positive - Joked over recently by Mr. Sandersan who, upon hearing that Davan's mother Faey spent her life sober, said she must have risen to heaven held only by beams of light and her obvious sainthood because she raised Davan, completely sober at all times.
- In Problem Sleuth, one of Pickle Inspector's clones (of which he has many) "decides to achieve deity status." He then floats up into the sky to become Godhead Pickle Inspector and stops doing anything but fondly regard creation.
- In Homestuck, if you have reached the top of the Echeladder, die on your Medium's Quest Bed and still have your dream self alive, you can ascend to God Tier and become near immortal. This is how John, Jade and Vriska reached God Tier. Coincidentally, they are all Prospit Dreamers, but Derse Dreamers do have Quest Beds on their planet. However, should you not have one of these things done, well...
- The second method of ascension, shown by Dave, Rose and Aradia involves dying on a Quest Bed located at the core of Derse. Presumably Prospit Dreamers have their equivalents in the core of Prospit, but we have not currently seen any. All of the Derse Dreamers who reached God Tier had already lost their non-Dream Selves and ascended with their Dream Self dying on the Quest Bed in the core of Derse.
- The FreakAngels end up this way, outside time and able to communicate with their past selves.
- In the backstory of The Order of the Stick, the goblin warlord known as The Dark One (due to his purple skin) was elevated to godhood after his assassination during Aggressive Negotiations when his followers went on a yearlong campaign of vengeance in his name. There are also several elven deities that fit this mould, and The First King of the Dwarves also is an ascended mortal.
- Least I Could Do's tribute to Robin Williams in the wake of his suicide features Rayne suggesting that he prefers to think that this is where Robin Williams is now, having "evolved into his final form: of pure energy".
- At the end of Night Terror 2, Shanta absorbs the essences of Tybalt and the Boogeyman, unifying them, fusing the Dreamscape and Nightmarescape together, and becoming the god of the fused Mindscape.
- In Darths & Droids the last technique Yoda teaches Luke is Force Transcend.
Only once can you do it though.
- In Sailor Moon Cosmos Arc Usagi and most of the other senshi do this when Usagi becomes Sailor Cosmos and the others achieve their Cosmic Sailor forms. The only ones that don't are Chibiusa, who stays behind to assume the throne and defend Earth, and Sailor Saturn and the Asteroid Senshi, who serve as her team.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, Geraud Aurelac and Grady Silverbranch use the Silver Branch, a magical scepter, to fuse with the dying Yggdrasil World Tree in order to create a new, healthy world tree, the Silverbranch Tree, in order to cleanse the world from the taint which has plagued it for centuries. After the fusion, Geraud and Grady's spirits retain their individuality but promote the tree's agenda from that moment onward, becoming its spokesmen to anyone visiting the tree. There are also rumours of a way for a mortal, if they are in possession of certain artifacts, to ascend and attain godhood, which is the goal of the leaders of two separate factions.
- The horribleness of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie transforms The Nostalgia Critic into a Star Child-like turd. In To Boldly Flee, The Nostalgia Critic's ultimate fate is fusing with The Plot Hole to stabilize it, just as it absorbs the entirety of Earth. As revealed in The Nostalgia Chick, this is basically making him God. note However, The Review Must Go On reversed that. The Critic convinces Doug Walker that there's still potential for him, an Ass Pull is used to explain that Donnie Dupree from Demo Reel is the Nostalgia Critic in purgatory, and the Nostalgia Critic comes back. Don't worry about the Plot Hole though: Douchey McNitpick ascends to take his place.
- Welcome to Night Vale:
- Intern Vithya found the identity of The Man In The Tan Jacket and was about to reveal it to the town, but she ascended to Heaven enveloped in a black aura before she could tell anyone.
- Likewise, in the live episode "The Debate", mayoral candidate Marcus Vansten is called upon by angels to serve a great cause. He then levitates into the air, turns into an angel, and vanishes.
- Inna from The Last Generation becomes a god-like being after merging with the neutron star that's destroying the Multiverse, gaining more power than even those who actually created the Multiverse in the first place possessed. After rebuilding it, she becomes the sun of its biggest world, watching over it and all the other Earths.
- In Ten Words of Wisdom, the four gods of TWOW — GreenTree, and the other three.
- One of the villains from the cartoon Mighty Max was beaten by "[evolving him] towards the infinite, far beyond such primitive concepts as good and evil."
- From Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Princess Yue dies and becomes the new Moon Spirit after Admiral Zhao kills the original in the attack on the Northern Water Tribe, leading to a hilarious Call-Back two seasons later when Sokka and Zuko discuss their romantic lives.
Sokka: [sadly] My first girlfriend turned into the moon.
Zuko: ...That's rough, buddy.
- In the second season of The Legend of Korra, it is revealed that instead of dying an ordinary death and reincarnating, Iroh voluntarily left his physical body behind and entered the spirit world.
- Princess Yue dies and becomes the new Moon Spirit after Admiral Zhao kills the original in the attack on the Northern Water Tribe, leading to a hilarious Call-Back two seasons later when Sokka and Zuko discuss their romantic lives.
- Retroactively happens to Optimus Prime when he is killed in The Transformers: The Movie (the first one). He "joins his essence with the Matrix" and shows up as a Spirit Advisor from time to time in the third season of the old show.
- The same thing happens with Alpha Trion (the robot who rebuilt Optimus) in the 2-part episode "The Key to Vector Sigma."
- Optimus eventually is resurrected, but when he journeys into the Matrix to find out how to stop the Hate Plague, he doesn't encounter the version of himself contained in it. Later, when he accesses Vector Sigma to get information about how to stop the Earth and Cybertron from being destroyed by a Decepticon plan, he encounters Alpha Trion (on the other side of symbolic chasm).
- The Flash got pulled back from the "Higher Plane" of the Speedforce in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Divided We Fall".
- Spongebob Squarepants: SpongeBob earns himself a chance to do this, but obviously doesn't.
- In one episode, Professor Farnsworth uses a batch of nanobots to clean the water of a lifeless planet. However, they begin evolving (not Hollywood Evolution, mind you) at an extremely rapid pace due to their being robots. In a matter of days, they go from nanobots to robotic dinosaurs to humanoid robots and eventually doing this.
- In "Overclockwise", Bender is overclocked by Cubert to make his reflexes faster for playing video games. Bender then begins overclocking himself, becoming smarter and able to predict the future. Eventually he becomes a god-like entity, able to create new worlds just by belching. Eventually the Reset Button is pushed when Mom captures him and resets him to factory standards, as user licenses are apparently more strictly enforced in the 31st Century.
- The Phineas and Ferb episode "Gi-Ants" has super-intelligent ants, in the course of one day, developing agriculture, then an industrial revolution, then high technology, and then self-enlightenment. This all leads up to this gem as they head off to space to find themselves a new home:
Phineas: Bye! Have fun evolving past the need for physical existence!
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Magical Mystery Cure", Twilight Sparkle does this very briefly before returning to the physical realm as an Alicorn Physical God Princess, which was the whole point of the exercise in the first place.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In the episode "Requiem," Master Splinter was Killed Off for Real by Shredder. Come the next episode, "Owari," and after Splitner's funeral, he appears to Leonardo in spirit. He says that he has attained this, becoming one with all of nature. Fascinatingly enough, the word choice implies this to be the fate of everyone (or at least good people) when they end up dying.
- Teen Titans Go!: In "Staring Into The Future," Cyborg and Beast Boy end up 30 years in the future after a staring contest. When they get to Raven, she has basically become God after defeating Trigon in the ultimate battle of good vs evil.
- Adventure Time: In the finale of the sixth season, the Catalyst Comet offers this to Finn after he freed it from being absorbed by Orgalorg. Finn declines the offer, saying he has a good life going on right now in Ooo. His Archnemesis Dad, Martin, takes it up instead.