Oh no! The Love Interest
, little sister, or another emotionally significant character to the hero has been killed by the villain. Woe!
However, it's okay. Because the Big Bad
has been beat, and their souls
can rest peacefully in Fluffy Cloud Heaven
. To demonstrate this, their ashes, ectoplasm, or even (and this one's popular) the clouds themselves form into their faces, and smile serenely down at our (still living) heroes before fading away
to their eternal reward.
Typically a Heartwarming Moment
Common in children's movies where you get a Death by Newbery Medal
, and sentimental films in general.
Peaceful in Death
may be a mundane (or ambiguous
Occasionally overlaps with Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence
. Very likely to occur with two people who are Together in Death
. Compare Winged Soul Flies Off at Death
and Don't Fear the Reaper
. Contrast Go Out with a Smile
, Dying as Yourself
WARNING: Death Trope. Spoilers Abound!
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- Wolf's Rain: When Toboe dies, we see him reunited with his beloved Granny and running playfully in a field of flowers. Talk about emotional manipulation.
- Happens to Elenore in Madlax. Characteristically, it also involves a boundless flower field.
- When Kamina's ghost shows up near the end of Gurren Lagann it adheres to this trope.
- The Shitennou (Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite, and Kunzite) from the original manga version of Sailor Moon end up this way, their smiling souls fading away while saying that they'll always watch over Endymion/Mamoru.
- Darker Than Black does this in the last episode where the protagonist receives encouragement from characters who have died in the course of the series. Kind of a unique example, as nearly all of these characters were antagonists of the protagonist, and most of those died by his hand, but given the Grey and Gray Morality of the series it makes sense.
- Radium Lavans of Zone of the Enders - Dolores finally manages to break free from the insanity that had gripped him since the prequel series, the spirits of Viola and Dolores helping him redeem himself in his last moments. He dies with a smile on his face.
- Cowboy Bebop has a sort-of example: When Spike dies after finally killing Vicious, the final thing seen in the end credits is a falling star, playing this trope out against the audience.
- A Fullmetal Alchemist omake shows Hohenheim and Trisha happily reuniting.
- Not to mention that when Hohenheim dies for real, he has a smile on his face.
- Furthermore, Izumi and Wrath are reunited in The Movie of the 2003 anime adaptation.
- Each volume of the manga that has at least one character die has a panel at the end dedicated to them, showing them floating up to Heaven. There are two exceptions: first, Shou Tucker is the only character to go to Hell instead. Second, in volume nine when Maria Ross is apparently murdered by Roy Mustang, the end of the book features the usual dedication with her floating up to Heaven. In the following book, when it's revealed that her death was faked, the dedication page features Ross falling back to Earth, passing by the characters who did die in that volume.
- Magic Knight Rayearth: Emeraude and Zagato are shown together and joyful in the afterlife. She even thanks the Magic Knights. The manga shows even more.
- Rose of Versailles Andre is shown coming to retrieve Oscar after she is fatally shot the day after he was. In the manga they are even shown retrieving Andre's grandmother.
- Optimus Prime after his Heroic Sacrifice at the beginning of Transformers Headmasters.
- The ending to Puella Magi Madoka Magica is ambiguous about whether it's this trope or just new superpowers, but there's the possibility that Homura is about to go to Heaven and be reunited with her friend Madoka as the series ends. The manga adaptation changes the ending to make this trope more explicit.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! ends with Yami's spirit departing this world for the afterlife. As he passes the threshold, we briefly see him surrounded by the spirits of his father, friends, and other allies.
- Similarly, in the Waking The Dragons arc, after Dartz is defeated and the evil leaves him, the spirit of his daughter, Chris, who was earlier killed in a Heroic Sacrifice, comes to take him from the sinking ruins, telling him "Mother is waiting for us."
- Seita and Setsuko in Grave of the Fireflies. At the start of the movie, we see Seita's soul taking a train ride (which may or may not be a reference to Chris DeBurgh's Spanish Train), and it ends with the now very long dead siblings going to sleep just outside modern-day Kobe. No explanation is offered as to what this final scene actually means, although it is implied that they're at peace.
- In GUN×SWORD, the mortally wounded Ray Lundgren has a vision of himself living peacefully with Shino and dies with a smile on his face.
- The case for most heroes in the Dragon Ball series. Shining example is Goku's Grandpa Gohan who as we retroactively discover, was accidentally killed by Goku when he transformed into a giant ape, but later shows up just fine when he gets to spend one day back among the land of the living and see his grandson again. There's also Goku himself when he died during the Cell Saga, who talked with the others via a telepathic message to let them know that even though he was dead he was perfectly okay. Of course in his case he (eventually) wound up coming back.
- Kikyou's death in InuYasha. As she traveled alone, she was more strategic in fighting the main villain, Naraku. Unfortunately Naraku eventually gets the upper hand and drives her into a corner and, finally, deals a fatal blow to the priestess. During her final moments, she visited her sister, Kaede, in spirit form, and apologizes for the suffering she has caused her and shares a final kiss with her former lover, InuYasha. She then exclaims that she's finally become what she always wanted, an ordinary woman, and her soul leaves her fake body and embraces all present as if saying farewell.
- The Lyrical Nanoha Tribute Comics that comes with the pamphlets for The Movies typically ends with a scene that shows the deceased loved ones of The Movie continuity characters happily watching over the cast from Fluffy Cloud Heaven. Well, except for Movie!Precia, who's still feeling guilty about the things she did.
- This is how the Witchblade anime ends. The titular weapon ultimately claims Masane's life, but first she is able to tie up all the loose ends in her life and secure a safe and happy future for her daughter. Then she goes out in a blaze of glory destroying the I-weapons and the remaining Cloneblades, ensuring the villains will never be able to threaten her legacy.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- In the movie American Beauty this is how Lester's life ends. He just learned his daughter is happy, and is remembering the good times with his family, when he is murdered.
- This seems to be the ultimate fate of the dead stitchpunks in 9.
- In the movie Casper, after the bad guys have been defeated, the ghost of the dead wife of one of the protagonists appears to him and assures him that she's happy.
- In Ghost, Patrick Swayze's character finally goes on to heaven once his murder is avenged and his fiancee protected, but not before a final, phantasmal kiss is shared.
- At the end of Gladiator, there's a few brief shots of Maximus in a field, walking towards his house; this is actually Elysium, the section of the Underworld for the heroic and the virtuous, which is mentioned several times earlier in the movie.
"If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you're already dead!"
- Parodied in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, where Mushufasa signs off with the line "And remember: This is CNN". Which itself seems to be an homage to The Simpsons' parody of that same scene (see the page picture). Or Mufasa's voice actor.
- Darth Vader in Star Wars fits this trope perectly. Having died of a Heroic Sacrifice, his blue force-ghost appears before Luke, restored to his previous self along with Obi-Wan and Yoda.
- Teenagers from Outer Space.
- Getting to this trope is the entire goal of every soul in Defending Your Life. If they fail, they get reincarnated to try life again. Apparently, the only way to succeed is to live completely without fear.
- Van Helsing ends with the death of Anna Valerious. But Van Helsing gets to see her reunited with the family in heaven as the sky opens to show them. She lingers a moment longer to smile him goodbye.
- In The Haunting (1999), Eleanor dies confronting the ghost of Hugh Crain, who kept the spirits of the children he killed imprisoned in the house. He is banished to Hell, and her spirit joins those of the children as they all float up to Heaven.
- Parodied at the end of Happy Gilmore. After he gets his grandma's house back, he escorts her back to the house, and we see the ghost of his father, his tutor and the crocodile that took his hand in a bluish ghost form, waving happily at him. Oh, and Abraham Lincoln.
- Variation: Since the wife is one of the trapped ghosts in the remake of Thir13en Ghosts, she leaves the destroyed mansion with the others in the end. She's still quite a ragged sight from the "burned to death" thing, but becomes beautiful again as she fades away.
- At the end of The Adventures of Mark Twain, Twain dies awesomely ever after by first merging with his dark side, and then Ascending To A Higher Plane Of Existence by actually becoming part of Halley's Comet. His smiling face appears in its celestial ripples to bid the three Tag Along Kids farewell.
- In the 1944 original, Twain is called away by Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and they walk down the road to heaven together while Halley's Comet zooms by overhead.
- The film of the musical Reefer Madness plays this one for laughs. The hero's girlfriend Mary Lane, ingenue of ingenues, is sent to Hell for being tricked into smoking pot once, and subsequently turning into a sex-crazed dominatrix. The hero eventually destroys the demon weed, which sends Mary back to Fluffy Cloud Heaven. The hero then asks her to wait for him. "One day I'll get cancer, or hit by a train!" She's overjoyed at the idea.
- Depending of your interpretation of the ending, this seems to be the final fate of Ofelia in Pans Labyrinth. It is still pretty sad to watch, tough.
- Hocus Pocus: Thackery Binx and Emily both appear in death at the end.
- In an alternate ending to Fourteen Oh Eight, Mike dies burning down room 1408, but reunited with his dead daughter. The final version just has him getting back together with his estranged wife.
- The whole movie What Dreams May Come is a prime example of this trope: We follow the protagonist as he explores the afterlife and is ultimately reunited with his deceased family, and decides to reincarnate with his wife after saving her from hell.
- At the end of the Les Misérables (2012) film, Valjean dies knowing that his daughter is happy with her husband, and is led smiling into the afterlife by Fantine, where all the characters who died in the film sing happily on a giant barricade.
- During the final battle of Dragonheart, Draco tells his friend Bowen to kill him because it's the only way to truly defeat King Einon. After much hesitation Bowen does so, and afterwards Draco's body vanishes in a ball of light as his soul ascends into the Dragon's Heaven, (the constellation Draco) where Brother Gilbert's closing narration states that in times of trouble Draco's star shined out with particular brightness as he watched over his friends and their subjects.
- Almost every single story by Hans Christian Andersen ends like this. It has reached the point where danish students are taught to specifically look after this trope while reading his works
- The Little Mermaid. When she dies, she becomes a spirit of the air who will be able to shape a true soul for herself - mermaids don't have them naturally - because she was not willing to kill her human lover. She bids her prince and his bride goodbye (though they don't sense her) before joining her fellow spirits. (The 1984 Fairie Tale Theatre adaptation has a version of the smiling from the clouds bit for the final shot.)
- The 'not sensing her' part is played with in Megurine Luka's Version of The Little Mermaid to add a real punch to the already insanely sad Tear Jerker. Though, an arguably less sad example not long after that has the sisters hearing her voice and smiling, also fitting the trope albeit in a non-visual sense...
- The ending of "The Little Match Girl", in which the little match girl dies, but her soul joins her beloved grandmother in Heaven.
- Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince ends with the prince and the swallow in heaven.
- "The Angel" starts with a child's death.
- Ella and Drum in Shade's Children, possibly.
- Shows up near the ending of Coraline, when the ghosts of the children that the heroine has rescued come to her in a dream, have a lovely picnic, thank her for allowing them to pass on, and finally mention that the Big Bad is still alive and coming to get Coraline.
- Harry Potter has several variations; probably the one that fits the trope best is the portrait of Dumbledore at the end of Deathly Hallows. Since an exact replica of his consciousness now lies in a painting, he is, essentially, still alive.
- The Chronicles of Narnia ends on this trope. In The Last Battle,after finding themselves in a new, perfected version of Narnia, the heroes from all the previous books, except Susan, are informed that they are in fact dead, but they're happy with this. (They were afraid they would be sent back into their own world like they had after all their other adventures.)
- One of the better Goosebumps books, The Ghost Next Door, ends with the heroine ascending into heaven, having saved someone from a terrible fate.
- The Lovely Bones ends with Susie moving from the in-between into heaven after she completely accepts her death.
- The canonical ending of Laura and the Silver Wolf. The heroine dies in the real world but lives on in Ice-Land, where she "will have it warm and comfy" - and there she will be always healthy...
- Atonement by Ian McEwan plays with this. The film has a straighter use of the trope.
- Common in the Septimus Heap universe. That's because almost everyone who dies in that universe, with a few exceptions, becomes a ghost—and although there are a few hazards to that, including things that, yes, can kill a ghost, the deceased can continue to have happy existences. The biggest example is probably Alice Nettles, who gets to be with her beloved after her death, in ghost-form.
- In Croak, the Afterlife pretty much rocks. You get to hang out with dead presidents, pull pranks on Edgar Allan Poe, and build roller coasters.
- The bittersweet ending of Mistborn: The Hero of Ages. Survivors of the apocalypsenote emerge out of their shelter to find dead bodies of the central characters — Vin and Elend — and a letter from the new god — Harmony, formerly known as Sazed. The letter says that while he is a god that rebuilt the world, he still cannot resurrect the dead, but he assures the readers that those two are happy in the place where they are.
Live Action TV
- Two words: Cold Case. Plays it quite straight.
- The entire point of Ghost Whisperer.
- This appears to have been the eventual fate of nearly all the major characters on LOST.
- Samantha Mulder reassures Mulder that she is fine (but dead) with a hug during season 7 of The X-Files.
- Robin Hood of the recent BBC television show dies at the end of the series but in his last moments is rejoined by the spirit of his wife Marian (murdered at the end of season two) who promises him that: "the greatest adventure is yet to come."
- Lieutenant Ken Shea dies in the series finale of Rescue Me, but the crew stays together, Tommy is finally happy with his life, and Lou's "ghost" becomes the first one that doesn't horribly abuse Tommy.
- In season 5 in Supernatural, Sam and Dean are sent to heaven. (They get better.) There, they find Ash, who had died a few seasons earlier. He's quite happy to see them, and is enjoying himself living in his favourite place and getting to meet all kinds of other dead famous people.
- The two mentors in Angel Moxie.
- Parodied on The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, at the end of the D.A.R.E. arc.
- In The Order of the Stick's "Start of Darkness: Dorukan fails to rescue Lirian's soul from a magical gem and ends up trapped with her, she assures him it is no longer a prison to her.
- In the comic proper, attempts to raise Lord Shojo fail; Belkar points out that all Shojo had to look forward to in life was a trial and death from old age, so there's no reason for him to come back from the Chaotic Good afterlife.
- After his Heroic Sacrifice the titular hero of It's Walky! has a joyful reunion in the afterlife with his old friends and comrades. Even though he's just passing through. In fact more friends keep arriving all the time, signifying that the final battle against the Martians is still going on.
- Played with in Homestuck, the dead heroes are shown to be concerned at first because the Big Bad is still active and their friends who are still alive are in trouble, but pretty shortly they relax because they no longer have to worry and basically gain the opportunity to build a sort of mutual afterlife with all the dead versions of themselves and their friends from other potential timelines. That is of course until Lord English enters the happy afterlife they've built together, double-murders it's inhabitants and proceeds to destroy it so thoroughly that the only remaining evidence is a pulsing crack in space and time.
- Oh, and just because you died happily doesn't mean everyone did, and some of these angsty teens have been stewing in grudges and insanity for billions of years (see Damara, who wants to work with Lord English so she can watch her "friends" become Deader Than Dead (again (permanently))).
- In Our Little Adventure, this is deduced rather than seen, the raise dead having not reason to fail except that Pauline is happy in the afterlife. Then confirmed with a Picnic Episode.
- Dresden Codak gives us Onald Creely, the regret salesman who had the R in his first name withheld as payment for his parents' hospital fees. As he's dragged off by the might-have-beens, Kimiko tears off the R badge on her school jacket and hands it to him. We see him smiling as he is taken away.