Since Christianity is one of the world's largest and most pervasive religions, it should come as no surprise that one of its central tenets is featured in many works of fiction: the concept of a Heaven
and a Hell
. This doesn't mean that the works have to represent both sides in strictly biblical terms (or even name them as such
), but should follow the traditional depiction of both sides.
One of the most common ways this appears is having the central plot resolve around an actual physical battle being fought between the two forces. Typically, this battle is being fought in secret
while the rest of the world goes about their "happy" lives.
The motives of both may differ slightly from work to work, but it generally revolves around wanting to Take Over the World
. Granted, this conflict is typically a metaphor for Order Versus Chaos
, but occasionally works will depict both sides as flawed or undeserving.
While the central conflict has its roots in Christian dogma, and may even use names, places, and ideas straight from The Bible
, expect the works to twist the concept to fit the storyline or the themes of the work. Also, expect lots of quotes straight from the good book
and lots of traditional depictions of angels and demons.
Compare: Order Versus Chaos
, Powers That Be
, Harmony Versus Discipline
, Balance Between Good and Evil
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- In the DC Universe, Heaven is known as "The Silver City" and is staffed by badass angels, one of whom joined the Justice League for a while. Hell is actually an evil version of Earth where souls are used as construction materials (seriously) and demon lords constantly struggle for power.
- In the Marvel Universe, there are several realms known as "Hell" but none is the actual Christian Hell, nor is any demon lord actually Satan (though they often pretend to be). Heaven and God have never been seen (except briefly by the Fantastic Four, and how much of that was real and not a trick by some Cosmic Being remains to be seen).
- "Hell" was originally one realm, but in the events that gave birth to the Hell Lords like Mesphisto and Sataanish it was smashed and became the "Splinter Realms", which were then divided between those demons and the Death Gods of the various Marvel pantheons. Also, some stories imply that there is indeed a Satan, and others suggest that this is actually all of these demons who periodically merge to become a composite entity.
- Dogma: No surprise, given the title. The central plot revolves around a mission to save God from the Legions of Hell
- The Exorcist: With the priests representing the forces of Heaven, the battle is particularly vivid here.
- Little Nicky: Not much violence between the two forces, but the battle is there none-the-less. A rare example where Hell is depicted as, at least somewhat, noble.
- The Devil's Advocate is all about Satan's rise to power in modern day New York culminating in an attempt to bring about the Anti-Christ.
- Constantine deals extensively with the battles of Heaven and Hell and how the titular character is mixed up in them.
- Wendy Alec's Chronicles of Brothers series is an imaginative expansion of the Bible story concerning the fall of Satan and the ongoing war between Heaven and Hell that will resolve itself in the (interpreted) events of revelations. Ms Alec is scrupulously diligent in sticking absolutely to the script as Fundamentalist American Christian theology interprets it - Rapture and all - and even though her books are essentially Christian polemic and we all know what way the script is intended to end, contrives to create a readable and engaging story.
- Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens is a beautifully subversive take on the idea of Heaven versus Hell, seen through the eyes of an Angel and a Demon who are fated to be on opposite shoulders of the human race - for eternity.
- Subverted in the His Dark Materials trilogy, in which the afterlife is the same boring, monstrous eternity for everyone and "Heaven" is populated by a corrupt Celestial Bureaucracy. God doesn't seem to be around to keep them in check.
- Many classic literature pieces dealt exclusively with the realms of the divine and the damned. Our "traditional" depictions of them were created by such works as Paradise Lost and The Divine Comedy.
- In the Incarnations of Immortality series, Heaven and Hell (as well as Purgatory) are all places to which a soul may go when it dies. Where a soul goes is based on the actions taken by the person. The actions are judged according to an ancient contract between God and Satan. Ironically, Satan wants to update the contract to be more in touch with modern values (i.e. having a child born out of wedlock is not automatically sinful, nor is the child penalized for it), while God remains totally silent on the matter. The reason for God's silence is a main driver later in the series.
- Robert A. Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice was a re-telling of the classic Biblical story with the author's own take on divine beings and the afterlife.
Live Action TV
- The Holy Bibble is a comic retelling of the Bible. Complete with behind the scenes stories on the angels and demons involved.
- The Brick Testament also retells the Bible. This time using Legos.
- South Park has very unique versions of heaven and hell. Nearly everyone goes to Hell except for those belonging to one religion, so Gandhi, Hitler, John F. Kennedy, and Ted Bundy are all in the same place. Satan is Affably Evil and enjoys throwing big parties. Up above, God is a bunyip who rules over a Fluffy Cloud Heaven. The residents of Heaven are Mormons and Sadaam Hussein (although he was sent there as a punishment). However, God can change the rules so more people can be allowed in. The person who gets to the highest level in "Heaven vs. Hell" for the PSP on Earth is selected to lead the armies of Heaven against The Legions of Hell, but must not be revived in any manner. God created the PSP for this purpose; the individual uses a Golden PSP to do this for real and is referred to as "our Keanu Reeves."