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For thousands of years, man has gazed at the stars and wondered what they are. He made up stories and legends about them. And one of those stories was that stars were souls or spirits, watching down upon the Earth.
This probably has its origins in modern stories in two sources. The first is Greek Mythology, in which many of the constellations were heroes placed there by the gods for their heroic deeds. The second is Plato's Cosmology
, which asserted that every soul has a companion star that it returns to upon death, so long as it lived a just life.
This is Older Than Feudalism
. Related to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence
and Died Happily Ever After
. Oh, and there's even an entry on The Other Wiki
: Every Soul A Star
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime and Manga
- The final scene of Sailor Moon has Usagi placing her hand over her heart and saying a star was just born (her daughter conceived).
- The Sailor Moon anime has an episode where a dreamy astronomy teacher references this trope during a show in which he and Taiki are participating. He believes that people become stars when they die. Taiki gets annoyed and says that stars can only be made by living people. Particularly interesting because in Sailor Moon a senshi's Starseed is her essence — this is what Taiki is referencing in this case. But a senshi can be reborn after death as long as her Starseed intact, so it's the same thing as a soul.
- Darker Than Black inverts this. Each star in the Alien Sky above Earth represents a living Contractor, which falls out of the sky when the Contractor dies.
- Inverted in Cowboy Bebop. Everyone has a representative star, and it goes out when they die.
- In YuGiOh5Ds, Greiger seems to become a falling star when he disappears.
- In one issue of Man-Thing, Korrek recounts a story where a man ventured into the sky to pick a star to his lover. The stars are made of the souls of warriors, so the upon bringing the thing down it turns into one, kills the man and steals his woman.
- In The Lion King, Simba says he was taught that the stars are the spirits of the old kings, which gets a confirmation when he later gets a starry vision of his father. Timon, on the other hand, claims that stars are fireflies that got stuck in the sky. That also got confirmed...by The Princess and the Frog. Amusingly, Pumba proposes the scientifically correct theory and is brushed off.
- In The Princess and the Frog, when Ray dies, he becomes a star like Evangeline.
- In one Percy Jackson and the Olympians novel, the goddess Artemis's Lancer Zoe Nightshade is killed. She is honored with a whole constellation called "the hunt" Zoe actually knew she was going to get killed before going on the mission, but went on it anyway to save her beloved Goddess.
- This explanation is given in Redwall.
- In Warrior Cats, when a Clan cat dies they go to StarClan. (except the evil ones, who go to the Dark Forest.)
- In the Old Kingdom trilogy, it is eventually revealed that this is the nature of the Ninth Gate.
- In the Darkangel trilogy, this is believed to happen to everyone when they die; when the protagonist frees the darkangel's victims/wives from undeath, they form a new constellation with a gap in it, and she figures they've reserved a space for her, when it's her time.
- Eärendil wasn't killed in the Lord of the Rings mythos, but he became a star anyway. This is because the Silmaril on his ship that he uses to sail in the void among the stars is seen as one.
- Inverted in The Little Match Girl where falling stars represent someone dying.
- Stars over Krynn are portals to the plane of Radiance. But each new one is created upon a Heroic Sacrifice — inhabitants of the world being aware of this fact, and supposedly rejoicing.
Live Action TV
- Rammstein's Engel (Angel) is about this.
Who in their lifetime is good on Earth
will become an angel after death (...)
Once the clouds have gone to sleep
you can see us in god's keep
we are afraid and alone.
Myth And Legend
- Greek Mythology is rife with this.
- Orion was made into a constellation after being killed by Apollo's scorpion (also a constellation).
- Depending on the myth, the constellation Auriga is made up of charioteers placed there by the gods in thanks for the invention of the chariot.
- Bootes is either the inventor of the wagon placed there in thanks, or Icarus who was murdered when his wine was mistaken for poison and placed there by Dionysus.
- Centaurus is Chiron, the wisest of the centaurs who surrendered his immortality after being pricked with a poison arrow.
- Corvis is Coronis, a lover of Apollo's. When she was unfaithful to him, his twin sister Artemis killed her and Apollo placed her among the stars.
- Andromeda and her mother Cassiopeia were put in the sky as constellations for bad-mouthing the gods. How becoming a constellation can be a used as a reward and a punishment isn't clear — maybe it depends if the gods draw a flattering picture?
- Ursa Major and Minor were supposed to be one of Zeus' mistresses and her child (supposedly Hera ensured the two never dipped below the horizon because she carried a grudge).
- The Pliades, who were turned into stars by Zeus to confront Orion, their father (who is also a constellation.) There's also a myth that they were saddened by their father's fate or their siblings' fate, and Zeus turned them into stars.
- The stars Vega and Altair are said to be a pair of lovers separated by a great river (the milky way) in many eastern legends. There's a festival when they meet once a year in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and possibly other places.
- Heaven is sometimes depicted this way.
- In Japan, children are commonly told that a deceased person has become a star in the sky. (Rather than mythology this is more akin to the "babies come from storks" explanation.)
- In Yoshis Island, when you defeat Raphael Raven, he becomes a constellation.
- Maxim and his comrade/wife, Selan, kick the bucket at the conclusion of Lufia II Rise Of The Sinistrals. This was fated to happen, as Maxim's sacrifice has become legendary in the era the previous game took place in. However, the epilogue expands on the events foretold, with Maxim soldiering on even after his party has frittered away and Selan has been killed. He dies from exhaustion after completing his mission, whereupon he sees Selan's spirit and turns into a star. The pair of them float across the world map and take one last look at their infant son, who seems to sense their presence.
- In Kingdom Hearts, the stars in the represent worlds as a whole and they disappear from the night sky when that particular world is submerged in darkness. Then, in Kingdom Hearts II, we have the Pride Lands as a world, which reaffirms the plot point that the old rulers of Pride Rock become stars in the sky upon death. This is also shown in Birth by Sleep, when, after Master Xehanort strikes down Master Eraqus in front of a horrified Terra, Yen Sid notes, "Eraqus's star has blinked out." The contradictions can just be chalked up to the world running on the Theory of Narrative Causality.
- Discussed in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All. A ringmaster uses this as an euphemism for death for his animal tamer daughter. (In the Japanese version, the ringmaster says the dead are sleeping.) Problem is, the daughter truly believes in this, and in a roundabout way, leads to a murder.
- A common interpretation of the bad ending of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (8-bit) is that Eggman kills Tails, because Sonic looks up and sees Tails as a constellation.
- BIONICLE: Spirit Stars appear before a Toa is created or when a Toa completes a certain task.
- In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Last of the Star Makers", the mother Star Maker (Giant space squid) dies and turns into a huge carpet of stars.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Apple Family Reunion", Applejack's absent parents (established to be dead by Word Of God) are represented by a pair of shooting stars.