“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...
This is related to Moral Event Horizon
, only with the bar set so high that nearly everyone has already fallen into irredeemable evil. This makes life very easy for the Hell Seeker
. Also gives more than usual resonance to the remark, "I'm Going to Hell for This
Compare with All Crimes Are Equal
, Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life
, and Failure Is the Only Option
. Usually a form of Disproportionate Retribution
If in-universe example basically sends everyone to Hell, it belongs to this trope.
Anime and Manga
- In Hell Girl, all that's needed to go to Hell is for someone to hate 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.
- 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 and a depressing slum where you will 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), going figuratively to Hell (that is, being sent to an awful and inescapable afterlife) is, to the best of our knowledge, a complete certainty.
- To be fair, only part of Soul Society is poor slums. Plenty of the Rukongai is nice and peaceful, and being a Shinigami seems to guarantee you a nice life in the Seiretei (unless you get put under Captain Mayuri's command, or are too weak to avoid being killed by the Hollows). Additionally, Soul Society serves more as a sort of hostel for the souls of the dead until they are eventually reincarnated anyway, rather than necessarily being a final destination.
- In Berserk, the two afterlives that we know of are either to become a restless spirit (likely because of Unfinished Business) or get 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 has their 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.
- 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 "logic" 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 Bible, as quoted above. It repeatedly states that all men are sinners, cannot overcome this, and are therefore unworthy of Heaven. This is not to say that God doesn't give us the chance, but since Humans Are Flawed at best and Bastards at worst thanks to Original Sin, we're inevitably going to blow it. Thankfully, God was merciful enough to provide a way out: sending Jesus to Take The Heat on our behalf. Even so, He does want us at least try our best to keep His commandments, and to realize that He wants to save us. For this case, if you don't trust and have faith in Him like this - don't accept His authority, don't take His standards seriously, etc. - you're doomed.
- 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.)
- 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.
Mythology And Religion
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- In Nobilis, the standards angels set for Heaven are very, very high. So much so, in fact, that not a single person has ever gotten into Heaven. Ever.
- 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."
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: There was one strip about a priest being sent to hell... for this reason..
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 the 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" . . .)
- 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 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.
- A common urban legend about a paper made on Snopes site: 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.
- 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 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."