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For whatever reason, a character is convinced that he's died and is now in the afterlife. If there's someone nearby (especially if they're very attractive), they tend to be taken for an angel. This usually lasts very briefly, until someone tells the not-quite-dead character otherwise, or until they notice something that conflicts with the theory.
This usually happens if the last thing a character remembers is being caught up in some unsurvivable disaster.
Usually a comedy trope
. Compare All Just a Dream
Not to be confused with This Isn't Heaven
, when they are
in the afterlife... just not the one they were expecting
; and Rerouted From Heaven
, where they've gone to the wrong one.
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Anime and Manga
- In Saiyuki, Hakkai wakes up in Gojyou's room after passing out from blood loss and remarks that he expected Hell to look more interesting than this. Gojyou then hovers over him and tell him that, no, he's not dead yet.
- In an early Thorgal comic, Thorgal falls into a gorge and wakes up days later in a beautiful garden. He's initially convinced that he's in Valhalla, but in reality he's in a magical place Beneath the Earth.
- In an Archie Comics story, a chemistry lab explosion knocks Mr. Weatherbee out. When he comes to, the first thing he sees is Betty and Veronica in angel costumes for a school play and he assumes he's gone to Heaven. Then he sees Archie in a devil costume and flees in horror.
- A tragic example in The Youth in the Garden; a soldier with mortal wounds gets transported from the American Civil War to Equestria and as he lies dying, he sees Fluttershy's garden, her peaceful animals, and Canterlot in the distance and concludes that he is in Heaven, and Fluttershy is an angel. Moments later, he dies for real.
- In the Naruto fanfic "Scorpion's Disciple", Naruto has a near-death experience and suddenly finds himself in what looks like a sewer. He immediately protests that he wasn't that bad, before the Kyuubi corrects him that no, this isn't his afterlife.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfing In Heaven", Empath thinks that he's in heaven with all his fellow Smurfs who have died. It turns out to be a magical illusion created by Ares the god of war, who wanted to lure Empath into receiving his gift of godhood.
- In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, after being teleported to the eponymous restaurant in a rather sudden and spectacular way, the protagonists find themselves sprawled on the floor and start morosely monologuing about how they must have all died in an abrupt explosion. Arthur comments: "Not so much an afterlife, more a sort of après-vie."
- A darker example occurs in Return from the Stars. An astronaut gets lost on a dark planetoid, and the protagonist arrives to rescue him. He finds the astronaut, who has gone insane: he is convinced that he has died and gone to the afterlife, and eventually attacks the hero and runs away, never to be found again.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels:
- The Nac Mac Feegle believe that the world is Heaven, and that getting killed there merely means having to go back to "life" in their former world. Given that the Feegle are ex-Faerie who did considerable dimension hopping, there may be an element of truth to this.
- In Wyrd Sisters, after Felmet finally goes off the deep end, he runs around convinced he's dead, to the confusion of everyone else present (including Death). He even goes around in a bedsheet as Death keeps trying to convince that he's not dead, even when standing on one of the castle battlements. When he falls, however, Death is waiting at the bottom, for real this time.
- Also in Wyrd Sisters, the Fool gets stabbed by a dagger, and Margrat clutches him to her bosom in grief. When she realises it was a fake dagger, she asks him if he's dead, to which he replies "I think I must be. I think I'm in paradise."
- Werewolves don't have Magic Pants, so when Angua turns back into a human on the Klatchian ship in Jingo, she's naked. She then proceeds to crash into the room of the ailing Prince Khufurah, who says "I believe that I have died and gone to Paradise. Are you a houri?" Angua, characteristically, replies, "I don't have to take that kind of language, thank you," and jumps out the ship's window.
- Ciaphas Cain: After being teleported in the nick of time from a Necron ship by Space Marines, Ciaphas wakes up in a bright light hearing impossibly huge voices, and deduces that he's finally died and is about to meet the Emperor, and gets ready to change the subject of conversation to something other than his behavior as soon as possible. However, as his eyes adjust he realizes he's in an infirmary, and the voices are huge because they're coming from eight-foot-tall Super Soldiers.
- When Hans wakes up in the American hospital in 1632, he assumes he's dead and the black-skinned human watching over him must be an angel of death.
- In New Moon, Edward attempts Suicide by Cop, thinking that Bella has died. She finds him just before he reveals himself to humans, and he briefly believes that the Volturi have already killed him and that he's in the afterlife with Bella.
- In Angels of the Silences by Simon Bestwick, two girls are murdered and return as ghosts. They don't realise at first that they are still on earth, and when a bus comes down the road towards them, they initially think it is a bus to the afterlife (it's not.)
Live Action TV
- In the first season of Red vs. Blue, Sarge gets shot in the head and travels to a black-and-white version of Blood Gulch, where he meets Church, who died earlier that season. He asks if Church is an angel, which he says yes to (he's really a ghost, and trying to extort money from Sarge). Come season 8, we find out that there's no such thing as ghosts and possibly no afterlife, and that grayscale Blood Gulch is an armor protocol known as lockdown that occurs when a soldier takes severe damage.
- In Goblins Quest 3, Blount wakes up in a dark room being bit by a wolf, and the first thing he sees is his own tombstone. He doesn't fall for it though, and just remarks that somebody must want him to think he's dead.
- In Girl Genius, at one point Klaus rejects the notion of being dead because he hurts too much. Then Gil tells him something, and he declares that it's very unfair — he must be dead, and he still hurts.
- When Robot from Gunnerkrigg Court is re-activated, the first thing he sees is Katerina's smiling face, and he asks: "Am I in heaven? I see an angel before me!" (Later on, the Court robots' shared mythology has Katerina in the role of an angel figure of sorts.)
- Schlock Mercenary had Karl Tagon (already as a head in a jar) expressing the opinion that he's dead and in heaven. His version of Heaven, evidently, involves cute ladies kicking ass while flying robots sing Ride of the Valkyries.
- In Doc Rat, his reaction to coming to with Danielle looking anxiously down on him.
- In Reds Planet, one alien wonders if they really are on an alien planet, they might be dead and in the afterlife.
- RPG World: Eikre runs off a ship into the ocean and nearly drowns. The last thing he sees is an angel...who turns out to be Reka rescuing him, which he thinks is "just as good."
- In The Order of the Stick, when Elan awakens in the Empire of Blood, he assumes Malack to be the "lizard grim reaper" and himself and the others with him to be dead. (It doesn't help that the first thing Malack says to him is "I will have the pleasure of escorting you to your final fate.") Haley tries to convince him Malack's just an albino lizardfolk, but Elan remains set in his delusion until the next comic.
- In South Park episode "The Death Of Eric Cartman", Cartman assumes that he is a ghost when all of the other boys stop speaking to him.
- In the 1950 Looney Tunes short The Hypo-Chondri-Cat, mice Hubie and Bertie torment the neurotic cat Claude by convincing him he has various ailments, making him pass out at the prospect of surgery, then dressing him in an angel costume for when he wakes up. They finish by surreptitiously attaching a helium balloon to Claude so that he can ascend to "Heaven."
- In the 1961 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color short Kids is Kids, Huey, Dewey and Louie trick their Uncle Donald into thinking an accident with a boulder has killed him and that he's now an angel.
- In the 1952 Herman And Katnip short Mice-Capades, Herman and his mouse friends concoct an especially elaborate scheme, complete with a vinegar bottle mislabeled as "poison," angel costumes, and a cotton-ball Fluffy Cloud Heaven, in order to make Katnip think he's dead and has to earn his wings by serving the mice a banquet.
- In one episode of The Simpsons, Abe thinks that he has been euthanized. Meeting a guy dressed as Charlie Chaplin at first confirms this assumption for him, but then he gets quite puzzled upon encountering his whole family at home. He assumes that either Bart or Homer must have run amok.
- The Smurfs purposely evoke this trope on Gargamel in the episode "Heavenly Smurfs" to make him think he's being sent to his final judgment in order for him to change his ways and stop chasing after the Smurfs. However, the charade is revealed when one of the Smurfs posing as a visiting angel loses one of his wings.
- The Stunt Dawgs once tricked Fungus into thinking he's dead and needed to relinquish his controlling interest on them to enter heaven instead of hell.
- In the Justice League episode "The Savage Time", Wonder Woman rescues an unconscious Steve Trevor. When he wakes up, he assumes he's in Heaven and she is an angel.