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Mistaken for Afterlife
Barman: [greeting Arthur & co. at Milliways] It's not unusual for customers to be disoriented after the time journey.
Trillian: "Time journey"?
Ford Prefect: You mean... this isn't the afterlife?
Barman: The afterlife? No, sir.
Arthur: So... we're not dead?
Barman: Sir is most evidently alive, otherwise I would not attempt to serve sir.

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.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Fan Fiction 
  • 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.

    Film 
  • In Servitude, Godfrey passes out drunk and awakens with Josh hovering over him. He thinks Josh to be Jesus.
  • In The Frisco Kid, Rabbi Avram (Gene Wilder) passes out after having too many berries at an Indian Bonfire, even though Tommy (Harrison Ford), his gunslinger companion, tells him to ease off. He awakes in a small room, attended by a silent figure in robes, with a large cross on the wall. When he starts to panic, thinking he died, Tommy shows up and tells him that he was brought to a local monastery for help.
  • In Never Weaken Harold Lloyd, thinking he just committed suicide by way of rigging the trigger of a gun to pull with a string when a door is opened, assumes he's gone to heaven when he opens his eyes and sees an angel. Turns out it's just a statue, and his chair was whisked away by a steel construction girder leaving him dangling hundreds of feet in the air.
  • In Happy Feet, Mumble ends up trying to chase down a fishing boat in order to ask the "aliens" why they're taking the penguins' fish. Exhausted, he washes up on an Australian shore and is put into a penguin exhibit. He wakes up in a strangely quiet and bright area with other penguins walking around in a mindless state. He asks the nearest one, who's staring blankly into nothingness, where he is. The penguin tells him "You're in Heaven, Dave". Then Mumble walks into a glass wall and tries to take a swim, only to see strange giants looking at him.
  • In Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe Jackson is confused about finding himself in a baseball field after he died.
    Shoeless Joe Jackson: Hey! Is this heaven?
    Ray Kinsella: No. It's Iowa
  • Played for laughs in Diamonds Are Forever - Bond is knocked out and put into an incinerator in a coffin - when things are looking desperate the lid suddenly opens and Shady Tree, one of the diamond smuggling group, angrily curses him out. Bond smiles "Now, don't tell me - you're Saint Peter."

    Literature 
  • 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.)
  • The title villain in Goldfinger has captured James Bond at his factory and has him strapped down on a circular saw table, expecting him to talk. Bond tries willing himself to die, and comes to disoriented and thinking he's in heaven, before he realizes he's being wheeled drugged through a New York airport.

    Live Action TV 
  • An episode of Fraggle Rock had Boober and Wembley pulling scare pranks on each other until Wembley pulls one and thinks he scared Boober so hard that he blew up. Later, Wembley falls for one of his own pranks and faints, when he comes to, he thinks he blew up, later, he meets Boober, he thinks they are in The Land of Having Blown Up which strangely looks like Boober's bedroom.
  • In one Scrubs episode, Ted is on the roof trying to work up the courage to jump, and then Dr Kelos startles him and he falls. He lands in the huge pile of garbage that the Janitor said he could get rid of, but has apparently just been piling up at the back of the hospital.
    Ted: Is this heaven?
    Janitor: No. It's garbage.
  • In an episode of One Foot in the Grave, Victor falls asleep and awakens in a fog, believing his backyard to be purgatory.
  • In Tensou Sentai Goseiger Vs Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, Kotoha thinks she is dead after Hyde and Moune explain they are Gosei Angels and have come to pick her up (they just need her to help everyone fight.)
  • In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ro and Geordi are caught in a transporter accident and become insubstantial and invisible to the rest of the crew. Ro assumes they're both dead but Geordi insists on searching for a scientific explanation. He finds one.
  • Happens in The Lost Room, whenever Wally uses the Bus Ticket on someone. Specifically, he usually tells that that, for their "crimes against humanity" (really, minor annoyances), he condemns them to Hell. After touching them with the Ticket, the people are transported above a road near Gallup, New Mexico, immediately falling to the ground. These people can be forgiven for thinking that a road in the desert is Hell. The orderly whom Joe sees on the road is seen with his hands spread out walking towards the sun.

    Machinima 
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Played for laughs in Hey Arnold! Where Grandpa Phil believes he had died after turning 81 due to a "family curse".
    Phil: I must be in Heaven now. (opens his eyes, sees Oskar) Oh no! Oskar's here! This must be the other place!

     Real Life 
  • A Formula 1 team owner recalled that once , when one of his drivers had an accident, he was knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital. When he came to, he was being fussed over by some pretty and blond (and female) nurses and thought he was in heaven, Until he saw his concerned team owner standing to the side.

Like a Badass out of HellAfterlife TropesMundane Afterlife
Mistaken ConfessionMistaken for IndexMistaken for Aliens
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