"Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it."In works where God Is Evil (or at least impossibly strict), the road to Hell is sometimes defined to be so wide that people with basically slight or even no sin at all will end up there anyway. This is typically done to make sure that people will stick to a very straight and very narrow path, or at least try to. Some authors have taken this ease of entry into Hell Up to Eleven, making it not just easier, but almost automatically assured for everyone. In universes like these, All Sins Are Equal, which tends to lead into It Gets Easier, as once one is trivially doomed to Hell, doing some "worse" things will not change anything. In other words...
— New International Version of Matthew 7:13-14
- Swear once... HELL!
- Think lustful thoughts... HELL!
- Listen to rock music... HELL!
- Browse This Very Wiki... HELL!
- If someone damns you to hell... HELL!
- Damn someone to hell... HELL!
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Anime And Manga
- In Berserk, the two afterlives that we know of are either becoming a restless spirit (likely because of Unfinished Business) or getting sent to the Abyss (if you became an Apostle, are branded as a sacrifice, died with hatred in your heart, or any of a great number of things). While the Abyss is stated to be what most people think of as heaven or hell, any human who goes there gets one's own ego dissolved, so most people would consider it to be Hell. Seemingly the best afterlife in this Crapsack World is no afterlife at all, which might not even be possible.
- Literally going to Hell seems to be pretty rare in Bleach, but since your other options for afterlives are a desert where monsters hunt you until you become one of them or likely live in poverty and Medieval Stasis while ruled over by unquestionable overlords (unless said overlords recruit you, in which case you will serve as a soldier until the aforementioned monsters manage to brutally kill you or you last long enough to get reincarnated), going figuratively to Hell is, to the best of our knowledge, a complete certainty.
- In Hell Girl, all that is needed to go to Hell is if someone hates you enough to be willing to use the Hell Correspondence and make a deal with the title character to send you there — or to make the deal yourself, as once you've sent someone to Hell, you will also go there when you die. People have been sent to Hell for "spilling coffee on someone" on that show. One perfectly nice nurse was sent to Hell by a complete stranger who did it for the sheer hell of it.
- Chick Tracts simultaneously play this straight and invert it: everyone is going to hell for the slightest, and least objectionable, of sins. However all you have to do is accept Christianity as he defines it and you'll spend eternity in heaven, no matter how horrible your previous actions. Some older tracts which pushed this really far past the breaking point note were pulled out of circulation by Chick himself when he realized that the massive Moral Dissonance was too much for virtually anyone not as extreme in their beliefs.
- In both the DC and Marvel 'verses there have been examples of people getting sent to Hell with magic, rather than through any fault of their own. Granted, in most such cases they were able to get out later.
- In DC's The Sandman, Hell is both easy to get into and easy to get out of. This is because going there isn't due to the will of a god, but because some people subconsciously believe that's where they belong. Likewise, getting out is just a matter of deciding to. For example, Edwin Paine was a British schoolboy murdered by some of his classmates, who sacrificed him to the devil. Even though he was innocent, Paine believed that because he was killed in Lucifer's name he would go to Hell, so he did. After 75 years of torment, Hell is temporarily emptied by Lucifer, and Paine meets another student named Charles Rowland. Rowland convinces Paine that "you make your own Hell", and that he doesn't have to return if he doesn't want to. Sure enough, Paine can simply walk away from his "damnation".
- Apparently, being sent to Hell is so easy that a single curse can do it in Drag Me to Hell, regardless of how good you've lived your life or what you've done.
- The Bible verse at the top of the page is quoted directly by William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) in Se7en, and the sentiment is central to the motivation of the film's Poetic Serial Killer antagonist.
- The Bibleis commonly misinterpreted by followers and detractors alike to create this idea that even the slightest sinning will guarantee you eternal damnation and suffering as we know it today unless you just call yourself a Christian. However, it is widely disputed (if not straight up debunked) that this version of Hell actually exists in the Bible by biblical and Christian history scholars. The short version of it is that Hell basically just meant "the grave" and possibly no known afterlife (even that might not be eternal) since the Jews did not believe in Hell and are even suggested to go in for reincarnation. After that, the Christian idea of Hell as we know it today was taken from works like Dante's Inferno and used by the formerly hyper-corrupt church to keep followers following. Even today, the various branches of Christianity and Christian-based spirituality widely interpret Hell differently - from Hell being a place of endless suffering to just a state of being while on this planet or even a place where ALL people go to to have their sins cleansed before reaching heaven.
- Unsurprisingly, this structures much of the characters' journey in the 17th-century Christian allegory The Pilgrim's Progress.
- It's especially chilling because it's such an out of character thing for her to say, but in an early Animorphs book, Rachel (correctly, as it turned out) identified the words "we have to win" as "the first four steps down the road to hell."
- In The Adventurer by Mika Waltari, after the peasants' revolt led by Thomas Muntzer fails at Frankenhausen and as the leaders of the rebellion are being executed, a mercenary captain who is about to be executed looks at the bottom of his pint right after Muntzer has been beheaded and claims to see through it to hell where Thomas Muntzer is already along with a bunch of other people. Then he turns it upside down, pretending to look at heaven where he sees no one. (The naive narrator protagonist assures the reader that he probably didn't actually see hell or heaven through his pint.)
- Serves as the premise of Stanley Elkin's 1979 novel The Living End. Protagonist Ellerbee, a man so decent as to border on the beatific, finds himself cast into Hell for such offenses as taking the Lord's name in vain (once), failing to sufficiently honor his biological father and mother (he was adopted as an infant and never knew them), and—most damning of all—thinking that Heaven looked like a theme park.
- Shadow Police: In The Severed Streets, Quill discovers that under the rulership of the Smiling Man, everyone who has ever lived in London is damned to Hell.
Live Action Television
- In The Good Place everything people do is assigned a positive or negative score to be tallied up when they die. The infallible judging standard is somewhat utilitarian, by human standards often petty or arbitrary (supporting a sports team can be positive or negative depending on which one it is), and your net score needs to be extremely high - a running gag is revealing surprising people who were sent to the Bad Place, which includes Florence Nightingale.
- In The Vampire Diaries Hell apparently doesn't care if you're committing arson, murdering, or jaywalking, you will end up in Hell for any of them. Being damned to Hell will not only happen for the obvious like murderers, but accidentally killing someone via drunk driving, being mind controlled into killing someone who doesn't even actually die, allowing someone to kill themselves under mind control because you didn't do what the mind controller told you to do, valuing your own life over the lives of strangers even in an entirely hypothetical situation, etc. In short, unless you are a complete saint and don't end up doing anything bad whatsoever against your will or by mistake you WILL end up in Hell in this universe.
- Thomas the Rhymer has been around since some point in the 13th century. Text taken from a Child Ballad version, though.
"O see ye not that narrow road,So thick beset with thorns and briers?That is the path of righteousness,Tho after it but few enquires."And see not ye that braid braid road,That lies across that lily leven?That is the path to wickedness,Tho some call it the road to heaven.
- One The Far Side cartoon featured a scene in Hell with three rooms, one for terrorists, one for mass murderers, and one for "people who drove too slow in the fast lane". (Curiously, the guys in that third one didn't seem to be suffering as much as the ones in the other two.)
Mythology And Religion
- This is one of the five fundamental tenets of Calvinism (Total Depravity, the 'T' of the TULIP). According to Calvinist doctrines, the whole of humankind is reprobate and predestined to Hell by default. Even one sin is enough to earn a person God's wrath, and everyone is born with an innate tendency to sin. This basically means everyone is destined to go Hell no matter what — if you live in the world, you are going to sin and earn God's wrath at some point. God, in his infinite grace, has selected some people before they are born to be saved, and the Christ's atonement is reserved to them and to them alone. The rest of humankind will go to Hell because of their natural depravity. The Lutherans have compared the Calvinist salvation doctrine to lottery — humans can do absolutely nothing to effect their salvation, and everyone is destined to go to Hell by default (unless, of course, they belong amongst those lucky few whom God has predestined to salvation before their birth). This could qualify as Up to Eleven variant of this trope. It is worth noting, however, that John Calvin believed it was impossible for humans to know who was predestined to salvation and who wasn't unless they demonstrated their salvation (or lack thereof) by their deeds...so the road is a bit bumpier from a human perspective.
- The central point of Old Harry's Game is that nearly everyone ends up in Hell, and Heaven is practically empty. While most of the people we see the demons actually torturing have done something genuinely terrible, Hell is also where the Professor ends up, a genuinely good and kind man who just happens not to believe in God. In one episode Satan mentions that a lot of saints ended up in Hell for one reason or another. When dogs and babies start turning up, though, Satan decides Even Evil Has Standards, and it's time to sort things out.
- In Nobilis, the standards angels set for Heaven are very, very high and stringent. So much so, in fact, that not a single human soul has ever gotten into Heaven. Ever. The only comfort is that you do have to be pretty evil to go to Hell, and the people who didn't qualify for either Heaven or Hell gets reincarnated instead - but still, you have an infinite number of lifetimes and you only have to be evil in a single one of them to go to Hell, meaning that your eternal damnation can never be avoided, only postponed.
- In Warhammer 40,000, everyone with a soul ends up in the Warp (this setting's version of Hell) after they die, no matter who they are or what their deeds in life were. Humans are lucky because their souls aren't powerful enough to remain conscious inside the Warp, but the default fate of Eldar take the cake. Their souls are extra tasty to Slaanesh, who will immediately consume any Eldar soul that finds itself in the Warp, so they have to carry soulstones with them at all times so that they don't go into the Warp when they die. And if they indulge too much in any emotion (especially pleasure), Slaanesh will swallow their souls before they die. The sad thing is, the Warp used to be a peaceful afterlife long before it was called the Warp. One cataclysmic war later, that was no longer the case.
- The followers of Chaos and Dark Eldar embrace this trope, but for their own reasons which are slightly complex. Many of the followers of Chaos embrace Chaos out of personal reasons that usually can be boiled down to gaining divine power, revenge or personal gain. While this usually means damnation or being rejected by the Chaos Gods and being consigned to a miserable afterlife as a lowly Fury. Those who truly embrace Chaos one or more of the Chaos Gods have a reasonable-to-slim chance at a decent afterlife...at least, in their eyes. And the grandest and most accomplished champions have a slim hope of being given the gift of ascension to a powerful and immortal Daemon Prince. The undevoted and secular "followers" of Chaos (for example, Iron Warriors and Night Lords, respectively) have come to terms that they would be courting damnation or that they might simply cease to exist in any meaningful way once they die.
- As for the Dark Eldar, they embrace the parasitic sadism and twisted hedonism that first gave birth to Slaanesh, and the emotional highs and utter gratuity means that Slaanesh is constantly "sipping" out their souls. This time around, they add an element of psychic vampirism: drinking up the pain of others helps rejuvenate them and stave off death for a time. In other words, they carry on the acts that carries their own damnation in order to stave it off a little longer. Each Dark Eldar fears death and the torturous afterlife at the hands of Slaanesh the most, and yet, they could stop and keep themselves safe by following the hyper-disciplined lives of the Craftworld Eldar. But Dark Eldar culture and reasoning don't see it worth switching over to this kind of life, as it would be boring and unfulfilling. In the end, the Dark Eldar are the victims of their own hubris and twisted hearts, as the feel that very real risk of one bad afterlife is worth living the kind of lives that they do.
- The Void, kind of, though it has more of an emphasis on "going to Heaven is hard". Ascending to a higher Limit is extraordinarily difficult and requires massive amounts of Color, while descending to a lower Limit is dangerously easy. Master Color even says, "All the easy routes only lead down."
- College Roomies from Hell!!!: Satan plucks out Dave's soul, for no sin at all, essentially just to show he can. Some supernatural force saves him through Margaret and Roger, but that wasn't the author's original plan. And then there's this exchange:
Satan: Now let's say I put you in a situation where you have to kill someone to save [Margaret's] life. Then you die and go to Hell. And once you're there, your ass is mine...
Dave: God would never allow that to happen!
Satan: Sssss. That's what you think. The Other Guy doesn't care if you live or die. You're supposed to settle for eternal life.
- Jack is all about this, seeing as Hell is the setting. Some examples:
- If you cannot forgive yourself for your life sins, you go to Hell.
- If you were enough of a Jerkass, you go to Hell.
- If you commit suicide for any reason, you go to Hell. In "Games We Play in Hell," it was implied that accidentally jumping to your death also counts as suicide.
- If your evil was of such a prodigious magnitude that Hell does not know how to punish you, you become Sin itself. (That's what happened to the protagonist.)
- It is stated that if you don't believe in God, S/He cannot accept you into Heaven, and you end up in Purgatory. But if you die and go to Purgatory, angels will sexually harass you until you agree to be reincarnated and live a harder life than the one you had the first time...which practically guarantees that you will go to Hell.
- If you're an unborn child whose mother went to Hell after being murdered, you go to Hell with her! But your innocence protects you from comprehending any of the horror you witness or being harmed except by your psychotic rapist sin-incarnate father. Fnar is called The Innocent In Hell and is told early on that he's just on standby before he can be born properly, but that doesn't really change the fact that he was sent to Hell for someone else's sins, and ultimately, to be someone else's punishment.
- Similarly, if you were aborted, a deformed, demonic copy of you is sent to Hell to torture your parents (who will definitely be down there) for aborting you.
- If you make the decision to repent of your sins and live a better life while you're still on Earth, an angel may come to kill you before you have the chance to act on that decision, so you'll go to Hell.
- If you manage to make it into Hell while living, you're welcome to buy souls at auction while you're there. But if you try to go back to the living world with them, it's suddenly a sin to own souls, and you'll stay in Hell.
- Maximumble: One person went to hell when died, just because of single snide comment on internet about getting an Android phone when other person asked about iPhone problem. Here
- Sinfest isn't quite as extreme as some examples, but it's hard to say what Slick did to really deserve his various trips to Hell. (And then there are people who fall into hellpits by not looking where they're going, or the guy who mistook the Devil for a T-shirt salesman and now burns while wearing a shirt that says "I made fun of the Devil" . . .)
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: There was one strip about a priest being sent to hell... for this reason.
- In YU+ME: dream , Sister Mary routinely informs the students of things that will send them to hell. These include jumping on the bed, wearing striped socks to school, and running red lights. Then again, Sister Mary is all part of the Dream World of an angst-filled teenager in a coma, so she's rather overblown.
- Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell: No matter how hard he tries to make up for his actions, Darwin Carmichael is going to Hell. Inverted, however, with a character who has so much good karma that she can get away with almost anything.
- Bartleby Tales. The title character went to Hell for being gay, despite barely being pubescent and never having acted on his feelings. And the number of people that made it to heaven that year, in the entirety of the universe? Six. God is such a dick in this universe that Jesus is in Hell, because God wanted Him to tell the world to obey God's laws and hate anyone who didn't, and the Father was pissed when He preached peace and love instead.
- This random comic has 2 persons going to hell for murder... and other guy for posting Game of Thrones spoilers. Then it goes into various alternate reasons such as bad grammar. Here.
- A common urban legend about a paper made on Snopes about whether hell is endothermic or exothermic states that hell must be really hot and getting worse because everyone has been cursed to go to Hell by at least someone else in the world.
- Futurama: There's one robot-church that has an easy condemnation to Robot Hell for robots. According to his agreement with his new church, all Bender has to do is sin once to be dragged off to Robot Hell. Ironically, they never mention robots who never joined that church going to Robot Hell, so Bender may have been better off if he had never converted.
- Hercules indirectly implies this by merit of there being only one afterlife, like actual Greek mythology, but also pulling Everybody Hates Hades. The animated series explicitly shows the underworld is a G-rated hellnote except the Elysian fields, which Hades isn't allowed to control and are only for heroes.
- Parodied in Robot Chicken where a man meets Saint Peter who hands him a book that can answer any question about his life. He rapidly annoys the gatekeeper of heaven as he thinks it would be too boring to ask what he did right or wrong and instead asks how many times he heard I Touch Myself by the Divynils and how big a wall could be built using his entire life's supply of poo.
>Satan: (impressed) 2.7 miles?!?
Guy: I know, right?
- Parodied and subverted by The Simpsons as Bart is on his way to Heaven on an escalator after being hit by a car, but gets sent to Hell for not holding onto the handrail and for spitting over the side (though Satan says it's more for his lifetime of evil deeds, and that the spitting over the side was the straw that broke the camel's back), then gets let back to Earth as the Devil realizes it's not his time yet.
- In the South Park 'verse the only people who can get into heaven are Mormons. Everybody else goes to hell. Which is why Hell is presented as way more fun, and getting stuck with the Mormons is at one point presented as A Fate Worse Than Death.
- In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Kenny has been killed (again) and his soul drifts up towards heaven. However, as soon as he touches it, he gets an "Access Denied" message and tumbles straight down to Hell, which has a "Population" sign showing a huge and ever-increasing number, whilst the equivalent sign for Heaven revealed a tiny population. And it's not as if Kenny has exactly had time to sin much. All Played for Laughs of course.
- The episode "Best Friends Forever" claimed that Heaven had ten thousand people while Hell had ten billion, or a million times as much.
- Also in "Best Friends Forever" this turns out to be a problem as Hell has so many damned souls that Satan is all but assured victory when he attacks. As a result God starts letting more people in Heaven and having Kenny killed in order to lead Heaven's armies so they stand a chance.
- A famous joke philosophy essay of unknown veracity written in response to the impossible question if "Is Hell is endothermic or exothermic?" It states, "Because there are at least two mutually excommunicating religions that say all who do not follow their religion will go to hell, we can confidently predict that all people will go to hell."
- A chaplain for some Canadian airborne troops preparing to embark on the D-Day invasion wasn't happy about the fact that condoms had been issued, so delivered a long rant from the pulpit about them facing death with the means of damnation in their pockets. Allegedly the floor was littered with condoms afterward, disposed by jittery soldiers unwilling to tempt fate.