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Afterlife Antechamber

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"I think you could board a train if you were so inclined."
"And where would it take me?"

The trouble with writing about the afterlife is that it's the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns; how do you write about something that nobody who is alive has ever seen (except for maybe a Near-Death Experience), nobody who is dead can explain, and that might not be comprehensible to a living person?

One way of handling it is to divide the afterlife into sections: this here's the bit you're in immediately after you die, which is somewhat familiar. Over there is the afterlife proper, which we're not going to talk about. The story only concerns itself with the nearest part of the afterlife; when characters move on to the afterlife proper (often by Going Into The Light), they exit the story. Only Mostly Dead is relatively easy to fix if the soul is still in the chamber. Once it moves on, it's most likely impossible.

Sometimes the near, familiar part of the afterlife overlaps the living world, so that the deceased can walk around seeing how life goes on without them. (See Near-Death Clairvoyance.) Whether they can interact with the living depends on the story.

If the afterlife includes something like Christianity's (and Egyptian Mythology's) idea of judging souls to sort them between heaven and hell, then this stage may be the stage where the judgment is made, and the soul waits for the verdict and is possibly able to say or do something to influence how the verdict turns out. This stage may be called Purgatory, although it doesn't necessarily have to involve the purging of sins.

Sub-Trope of Purgatory and Limbo. Compare Psychopomp where the soul is merely ushered off to its new (after)life from its mundane location. See also Offscreen Afterlife, in which the afterlife is not depicted at all, and The Afterafterlife, an official afterlife that comes after another afterlife.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Alice in Borderland, we find out at the very end that this is where the whole story was set — a strange borderland between life and death, from which return is possible but very difficult.
  • The Afterlife in Angel Beats! is in fact an antechamber created for the souls of children who died feeling unfulfilled so that they can leave behind their regrets and fears and move on. People who do so disappear, and it's never made quite clear where they go, but it wouldn't be at all unreasonable to assume that they are going to the "true" afterlife, whatever that may be. Another conclusion is that they're reincarnated. The Stinger supports the latter interpretation.
  • The Hazama ("Great Between") in Black★Rock Shooter. The job of the eponymous character is making sure troublesome souls move to afterlife proper, because if they don't, they will nag other souls into their false afterlife. Such false afterlife is usually horrifying, as expected from the troublesome souls.
  • The setting of Death Parade is Quindecim, a bar where two recently deceased, amnesiac people arrive at the same time. Decim, the barkeep, has the two play a game with each other to restore their memories and expose their true selves. From there, a visitor is either sent to be reincarnated or sent to Hell.
  • Fire Punch: When Agni asks Togata about the afterlife, he is told you die, you end up in a movie theater, you watch your life unfold on screen, then move on. From that point, several characters are shown doing just that after they (nearly) die, and it's left to our imagination how literal it is. This leads to one scene where we're introduced to a character in a movie theater, but it turns out they're still alive and in a physical theater.
  • Gantz:
    • People who've just died tend to view the hotel room they end up in as an antechamber or waiting room, before they move on to the afterlife. Subverted slightly because no one's actually dead, and assuming they complete the missions laid out before them, they're allowed to return home. Hardly anyone actually makes it, though.
    • Subverted with the Sponsors' chamber, a square room with an Eldritch Abomination wearing the faces of famous people note . When the people in the room start praising them as a god bringing humanity to salvation, they immediately crush the Puny Humans' dreams by stating there is no god or afterlife. They go on to explain that they only gave the Gantz orbs to humanity for the purpose of preventing a region of space from getting even more messed up with the arrival of the Giant aliens; otherwise, they may as well be things to play with. Then they resurrect and kill a few humans just to show off their powers (the protagonist included). Then they explain that there's a strange phenomenon in humans, where some brain matter gets warped to another dimension when they die and put in newborn humans, and ask if there is any significance to this. The humans just stand in stoic silence until they go back to the physical world.
  • This is one possible theory of what's going on in Haibane Renmei. The main characters are Winged Humanoids called "Haibane" with no memories of their pasts. They live in an isolated village where no one, human or Haibane, is allowed to go past the tall walls surrounding it. Eventually, each Haibane goes through a "Day of Flight" where they Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. Haibane that take too long are forced to lose their wings and halos. They live in isolation away from everyone else as the Toga.
  • There's a two-layered afterlife antechamber in Hell Girl. The first layer is a hellscape filled to the brim with ironically familiar, nightmarish visions and experiences that the Victim of the Week is dragged through when they are condemned to hell. The second layer does away with all familiarity and is instead an eerily surreal river covered with floating lanterns and a great, pulsating jellyfish-thing with a cross-formation on its body hovering in a completely black sky above as the victim is ferried towards the gate of hell.
  • Monster Musume: Lala is a Dullahan who can access the Afterlife Antechamber at will. She first became interested in the protagonist because he kept showing up there (due to the Amusing Injuries inflicted on him by the other monster girls), only to repeatedly recover and come back to life. Later in the series, she puts this to practical use by knocking him unconscious whenever she wants to have a private conversation with him.
  • In Naruto, everyone in Konoha ends up there because of Pain's onslaught. You see Kakashi there, and his dad's there, too, due to his regrets. Pain's revival ability is able to bring back everyone in this antechamber, but he can't revive Jiraiya because he already passed through.
  • Yakitate!! Japan: Azuma's good enough to make bread that gets people to the Antechamber, known as Cabaret Heaven, and back. Nobody throughout the series has made a bread that can get them back from heaven itself, though.

    Comic Books 
  • Blackbird (2018): The night of the big earthquake, Nina has a "dream" where she visits a place called the Grand Oasis Diner, but wakes up the next morning to find a matchbook from there in her pocket. She later discovers that she actually died and was brought back to life that night, partially initiated into being a paragon (magician). All paragons need to visit before gaining their powers.
  • In some DC Comics, this is referred to as 'the Realm of the Just Dead'. Deadman hangs out there a lot.
  • A particular story from DC/Marvel had a rich, ruthless (never named) businessman suddenly find himself in the "limbo" afterlife with someone saying they have to "get in line". The businessman finds the line and sees a tall elevator shaft vanishing up into the clouds. "An elevator to Heaven!" he thinks. "They don't know here that I only gave all that money to charity in order to avoid taxes! Ha ha!" He tries to bribe his way to the front of the long queue. The white-suited officials seem puzzled but agree (while ignoring the money, unnoticed by the businessman). Naturally, it turns out that in this case the trope crosses over with Hellevator.
  • Hexed: The Shade is essentially this, a point where all souls go before crossing over. Some chose to stay longer due to circumstances. Crosses over with Eldritch Location.
  • The Area of Madness in Shade, the Changing Man is part of a much larger and less easily defined place, where Shade meets the ghost of Roger, Kathy's dead ex-boyfriend, then the Angels and Devil. The Land of the Dead is the part of "The Area" described as 'the antechamber to the afterlife'.

    Fan Works 
  • The Non-Bronyverse: TD mistakenly thinks he's ended up here in TD the Alicorn Princess, after he gets blasted by the Elements of Harmony. However, it turns out that Celestia can actually escort him there if he desires, to which he rather quickly declines.
  • In the Pony POV Series, there's the spirit realm that exists between the mortal world and the afterlives, Pony Heaven and Pony Hell, which are respectively ruled by (and are) the Father of Alicorns and Havoc. The spirits of the recently departed end up here before Mortis or one of his thestral children show up to escort them to their final destination. That said, Mortis is nice enough of a guy that he'll let good souls stay here to wait for still living loved ones to join them before moving on to Heaven together (like what happened with the G2 Mane Cast and their families). Also, this place doesn't seem to have a fixed appearance — it defaults as either a void or walking invisible amongst the mortals, or they can recreate realistic copies of places they enjoyed in life to spend time in while waiting.
  • In the tale Strandpiel by A.A. Pessimal, one set of supporting characters is in fact dead. Word of God says there was an immediate difficulty in explaining why they were still hanging on around living members of their family, up to a century after demise. Pessimal chose to explain this as (i) giving them something to do; (ii) the novelty of having a living family member — a witch — who they could actually talk to; and (iii) given the disparity between the number of people who are dead and the number actually being born into the world every day, reincarnation is not a given. There is a long, long, waiting list and they're still working their way up it, so looking after the living from the Afterlife gives them something to do in the meantime.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Soul, the souls of people who've recently died ride a conveyor belt to the Great Beyond, depicted as a bright light in a dark void.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Beetlejuice: The afterlife, being part of the Celestial Bureaucracy, has a waiting room where the dead are processed and the waiting time helps them realize that they really are dead.
  • Casper: Being a ghost means that you have unfinished business on Earth; once that's cleared up you go on to the next stage.
  • Defending Your Life: You go to Judgment City, where you hang around until it's your turn to look at scenes from your life in front of a tribunal and defend what you did. If you pass you Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence; if you fail you go back and try again in a new life. Fail often enough, and they "throw you away".
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: When Rocket flatlines on the operating table, his spirit ends up in a White Void Room bathed in light, where he reunites with his childhood friends, Lylla, Teefs, and Floor. Lylla reassures Rocket that it wasn't his fault that they were killed, but that It Is Not Your Time. The two share a hug and a kiss before Rocket's spirit is hurled back into his body and he returns to the world of the living.
  • In The Heavenly Kid, the protagonist dies in a "chicken race," and winds up in "Mid-town." He has to ride the Mid-town train before going "Up-town." He is on the train until his case work comes up, which takes about 18 years Earth-time. Seems he left a pregnant girlfriend and their son is following the same path as he did. When he offers to go "Down-town" in his son's place, it earns him the place Up-town.
  • In Here Comes Mr. Jordan and its remake Heaven Can Wait (1978), when Joe Pendleton dies, he ends up in a place that looks like a Fluffy Cloud Heaven but isn't: it's an intermediate stop on the way to Heaven. He eventually gets sent back because it wasn't his time to die.
  • Ice Angel: When Matt wakes up in what looks like a hotel or hospital: it's an intermediate stop on the way to Heaven. He eventually gets sent back because it wasn't his time to die.
  • In A Matter of Life and Death, airmen shot down in combat find themselves in a huge building lit with heavenly light where they are greeted and allowed to sign in. American flyers are thrilled that there's a Coke machine. There is a hugely poignant moment when there's this exchange:
    Flyer: Home was never like this.
    Flyer 2: Mine was.
  • Poltergeist (1982): When some people die, they get lost or otherwise fail to Go into the Light and end up haunting the living.
  • In Purgatory, a gang of robbers on the run after a bank job end up in a small, off-the-map town called Refuge. The town turns out to be a form of, well, Purgatory, inhabited by dead people who weren't really bad but did some bad things. If they can live peacefully in Refuge for ten years without giving in to hatred or temptation, they get to board a stagecoach and go on to the proper afterlife. Fail, and they get tossed down to Fire and Brimstone Hell.

  • In All Hallows Eve by Charles Williams, the heroine is killed in a plane crash and finds herself in a City that resembles London, but eerie and unoccupied. The narration explains that this is just the first part of the afterlife, where the recently dead can hang around while they get used to their new state, before moving on to what comes next. While in this part of the afterlife it's possible to interact with the living world, which the heroine does several times to help her husband and friends. At the end of the novel, she decides she's ready to move on.
  • In Animorphs, when Rachel dies, she ends up in one and talks to the Ellimist about the events of her life. When she asks what happens next, she is cut off, and the perspective switches to someone else.
  • The dead in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga may not pass directly on to heaven or Raka, staying in a ghostly inter-realm if they have something holding them to the land of the living. In Shadow and Flame it turns out Blaine McFadden's father Ian and Commander Profokiev (the warden of the Penal Colony Blaine was sent to for killing Ian) stayed behind hoping to kill Blaine, and the shade of Blaine's younger brother Carr has in turn stayed behind to protect Blaine from them. Blaine's necromancer ally Tormod banishes Ian and Profokiev to Raka.
  • In The Atomic Blood-Stained Bus, some of the dead end up in a pub called The Halfway House, but there is an implication that there's lots of them.
  • Aunt Dimity seems to occupy an area like this, especially when she's communicating with Lori. In some instances, notably in Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea, she writes of making inquiries among other spirits who have passed beyond, giving the impression that said spirits aren't immediately available for consultation.
  • In Before I Fall, Samantha Kingston dies in a car crash and, immediately after death, is forced to relive the last day of her life in a "Groundhog Day" Loop for 7 days, and "dies" in the same car crash in most of the loops . Once she figures out how to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, she goes into the light and says something to the effect of, "I'll let you see what the afterlife is like for yourself".
  • The Cosmere:
    • When someone dies, their spirit appears in the Cognitive Realm. However, this is not the land of the dead. There are three Realms: The Physical Realm, the Cognitive Realm, and the Spiritual Realm. Living people exist primarily in the Physical Realm, but parts of them are in all three, so when their physical body is destroyed, they are left as a "cognitive shadow" in the Cognitive Realm until they run out of Investiture and are pulled Beyond. People with power (Allomancers and Feruchemists are explicitly confirmed in Mistborn: Secret History, presumably any magic-user would count) last longer, and people who were Vessels of a Shard for any length of time can remain indefinitely. If you manage to secure yourself against going Beyond, if you're mad enough to do that, there are ways of returning to the Physical Realm.
    • Nalthis is a special case, as the Returned vaguely recall meeting someone after they died, being shown a Bad Future and being offered the chance to come Back from the Dead to avert it. The place where they are offered that choice is presumably the Cognitive Realm (and the entity offering it to them can be theorised to be the bearer of the Shard Endowment). Word of God confirms that the Returned are basically cognitive shadows that have been stapled to their original body by the divine Breath, but like all cognitive shadows they must consume Investiture in order to remain; this takes the form of the need to consume one Breath every eight days.
  • Discworld:
    • The Grim Reaper comes to take the souls of the dead, but it is never shown where he takes them; if anyone asks, he refuses to give any hints, saying that the only way to find out is to go and see for oneself. Sometimes, the newly-dead will be depicted having a conversation with Death at the place where they were killed, before fading away to wherever they are going; other times, more commonly in later books of the series, the point of view will follow the dead person as they see the world fading around them and find themselves in a vast black desert, which they must cross to reach the afterlife proper (which, in accordance with the trope, is never depicted).
    • In Small Gods, Death tells Vorbis "At the end of the desert you will be judged." When Brutha dies, he hears the same thing and asks Death "At which end?" In reply, Death smiles.
    • In Going Postal, Anghammarad decides that the featureless desert is his afterlife, because there is nothing to do there and therefore he, who was created only to work, is now free.
  • Cafe Ahnenerbe is depicted as this in The Garden of Sinners, with Shiki and Tomoe going their separate ways; one to life, one to death.
  • Ghost Story:
    • There is a domain which exists Between Earth and what is Beyond. It is populated by some mortals who have decided to aide Archangel Uriel in his duties in protecting humanity. They will remain serving until they are ready to pass on through to what-comes-next or choose to return to Earth, where they could become a ghost or something dangerous.
    • Harry Dresden has just saved the day as a ghost and gets to see his friends before he goes on. Subverted in that the readers see what happens after he moves on as well: he gets resurrected by his very ticked-off boss, who isn't going to let a little thing like a messy assassination keep her from getting her money's worth.
  • The Great Divorce has the Civic Center in the middle of The Grey Town/Hell, the first place that damned souls go after they die. From there, they can choose to remain in Hell so that they can eternally bicker with their neighbors or board a bus to visit the border Heaven and decide whether to accept God's invitation into paradise.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Harry Potter dies, he ends up in a cleaner, emptier version of King's Cross Station. It's more or less stated that this is only how it appears to him, as Dumbledore is surprised when he mentions it aloud. His options are to return, or to go "on", which is not described. There are also the ghosts, who did not cross over either because they had unfinished business or (in Nearly-Headless Nick's case), they were too afraid of what might be waiting on the other side, and are now stuck on Earth for some unspecified amount of time.
  • In His Dark Materials, the Land of the Dead has "suburbs" where the ghosts of the dead arrive and are sent on across the river to the Land of the Dead proper. The suburbs are also where living beings who have, one way or another, found their way into the World of the Dead are forced to remain until they die or can get their Death to show them to the river, where they can try to persuade the Ferryman to let them cross while alive.
  • In House of Leaves, Will Navidson describes a dream of such a place, one that he knows isn't the afterlife but is a "half-way place". People are allowed to linger there for as long as they wish, but the only way out is to accept judgment, either being taken somewhere else as reward or to plunge through darkness forever as punishment. He confides that, upon waking, he's not sure if he should submit to judgment or not.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo: When you die, you go into the Bardo. You don't know you are dead at first, but you have to learn and accept that over time. When you stay there for too long, your body parts will enlarge, based on parts of your life. At certain times chariots will come to get them to move on, but the ghosts will think it's a trap.
  • Susie's personalized heaven in The Lovely Bones, an idealization of her teenage life, is explicitly described as this, with the understanding that there is a real "Heaven" which she ascends to late in the narrative which can't really be understood by the living.
  • In The Night Angel Trilogy, after Kylar dies for the first time (and every other time) he wakes up in an antechamber, with only The Wolf for company.
  • In The Night's Dawn Trilogy, those unable to accept death and move on are sent to The Beyond, where the dead souls leach off each others memories, and while they can turn wish into reality they are stuck in a hellish limbo existence. The rift that separates the universe from the Beyond is sometimes broken, leading to the dead streaming through, possessing the living through torture; many alien civilizations collapsed when they were overwhelmed by their own dead. The Naked God reveals that those in the Beyond are taking The Slow Path to the end of the universe, while those who moved on are waiting there to form the Omega Point and start the universe anew.
  • In the Old Kingdom series, Death is like a river running through a series of caves, the last of which opens out under what looks like, but isn't, a sky full of stars. That's as far as any character goes; anybody who goes on from there never comes back. Undead raised by necromancers are always souls from within the caves, either because they died recently and hadn't finished the journey or because they deliberately lingered in one of the caves in hope of finding a way back to the land of the living.
  • Oliver Twisted: When Oliver is severely weak, he finds himself in the land of Otherwhere, the waiting station for souls who cannot rest. The lady he sees each time he visits is his mother, and she departs from Otherwhere once Oliver confirms to her that he will fulfil his rightful destiny.
  • In Mick Stevens' Poodles from Hell, a dead cartoonist's spirit channels through a living one to describe the afterlife. Right after you die you go to rest and think things over in a typical small workplace break room — a couple of tables and chairs, napkin dispenser, coffee and soda machines.
  • Rainbow Bridge is a poem that tells of a place called "Rainbow Bridge" that acts a sort of Limbo for pets, where they are restored to youth and health and everything is pleasant for them except that they miss their owners. They wait there until their owner has died so they can both go into heaven together.
  • In Remember Me (1989), the newly dead hang around invisibly in the land of the living until they're ready to move on. The narrator is dictating her story to a living person just before she moves on herself, so she has not yet learned, and thus can't reveal, what happens next.
  • The Halls of Mandos function like this in The Silmarillion — both human and elven (and possibly dwarven and orkish) souls end up here after death, but it's not the ultimate destination for either. Elves arrive in Mandos and remain there for a time (and it can be a very long time if Mandos feels that they did things worthy of punishment), but eventually reincarnate (though reincarnated elves rarely return to Middle-earth, Glorfindel being one of the only known exceptions). Human souls stay in Mandos briefly, then go... somewhere... else. The fates of the souls of other sentient beings after arriving in the Halls is left uncertain, if they go there at all.
  • In Thursday Next, when you die you end up at a truck stop/petrol station with a diner. One can return to the living from here, but one can also cross a footbridge into the great beyond, from which return is impossible.
  • Witch & Wizard: The shadowlands are a realm that connects the entire world of the living. It is where half lights, people who are not dead and not alive, live. The half lights can come out of the shadowlands, but if they stay out to long, they will fade away. If you get lost in the shadowlands as a human, you become a zombie-like creature. If you die by magic, you can go back if the one who killed you is murdered. There is a river that brings you further, but the bridge is broken. The river is uncrossable until the third book, The Fire, in which Whit repairs the bridge.
  • Young Wizards:
    • Timeheart, shown in books 1 and 2. Nita and Kit visit there and see those allies of theirs who recently died. Book 8 uses it as a kind of Cliffhanger when Dairine goes into Roshaun's afterlife antechamber and sees no one.
    • In Book 7, on Alaalu, death isn't the same as it is everywhere else, and the souls of the dead enter into an antechamber located in a magically created mythological center of the planet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ashes to Ashes (2008) turns out to be a purgatory created and modeled by Gene Hunt specifically for dead police officers who had a premature and traumatic death. The actual heaven and hell are not seen, only their entrances (the Railway Arms for Heaven and a Hellevator for hell).
  • Being Human (UK): First you go through a door, then there's a hallway (which leads to rooms where people relive their past sins), beyond that there's a few waiting rooms, and then...? Apparently, there's "men with sticks" at some point too.
  • The Crow: Stairway to Heaven has one in the form of a bridge where Shelly waits for Eric. When you cross it, you move on to the afterlife.
  • CSI: NY: Mac is in one in "Near Death" that looks a lot like the lab.
  • Due South calls this the Borderlands. It's cold and snowy and a lot like the Canadian tundra in winter. Fraser goes there after taking a substance that puts him into a hibernation-type state in "Dead Men Don't Throw Rice".
  • The ending of Lost reveals that the Flash Sideways alternate universe is actually this.
  • In the M*A*S*H episode "Follies of the Living - Concerns of the Dead", the ghost of a dead soldier wanders the camp and eventually finds a group of other ghosts traveling along the road to the afterlife. Almost certainly a ripoff of based on "The Passersby."
  • In the first episode of the Fox series Second Chance, Charles Russell dies and goes to be judged; he's found too bad for Heaven and too good for Hell. He is given the opportunity to go back to earth and try to give his teenage self a nudge in the right direction — a "second chance", if you will.
  • In Shtisel, when Shulem thinks he's about to die, he dreams that he's in line to get into the World to Come. In another he meets a member of the Celestial Bureaucracy.
  • In Steambath, people with "a story to tell" spend time in a steambath attended by a Puerto Rican attendant named Morty (a.k.a. "Morte" or Death) who claims he is really God.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "The Passersby", a long column of dead Confederate soldiers walk past a mansion on the way to their final destination. The mansion's owner, a former slave owner, decides to join with the column after meeting the last man walking along: Abraham Lincoln.
    • In "The Hunt", a man dies and ends up on the Eternity Road. He's told about the two possible destinations, Heaven and Hell, but you never actually see them.

  • The Al Stewart song "Joe the Georgian" is about the many comrades Stalin betrayed, now sitting in an "anteroom to hell" and waiting for him to arrive, when they'll finally get their revenge.

  • The prophet Alma in The Book of Mormon explains that the spirit goes to a sort of antechamber when it separates from the body at death. It remains there for some time until it is ready to be brought before God for judgment, and then is reunited with the body in a resurrection before being assigned to a final afterlife in a kingdom of glory proportional to the righteousness of the individual whilst alive.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Forgotten Realms setting has the Fugue Plane, where the dead are sorted into afterlives by the god of the dead (Kelemvor as of the year 1372 Dalereckoning). Though for people who worship the god of the dead himself, it's the final stop, as is the case for the False (betrayers of their patron deity, who are punished according to the nature of their offense) and the Faithless (naytheists, who are entombed in the wall encircling the capital of the plane).
  • In Pathfinder, the Boneyard doubles as this and The Underworld. Everyone comes there for at least a while to be judged and assigned their proper afterlife, but those of the correct alignment are assigned to the Boneyard itself.
  • The Underworld in both the Old World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness is like this. There's an unknowable afterlife that souls (human ones, anyway) are supposed to go to, but ghosts can loiter around the place indefinitely, and Wraiths can scheme against one another to get a place in the hierarchy of the dead. In the old version, it's a place of infinite horrors, in the new, some part of it are kind of cozy.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, whenever the immortal goblin Squee is killed, he wakes up in a banquet hall filled with delicious food, but is always pulled back to life before he can eat anything. When he is killed by Phyresis, it happens again but he is not pulled back; Instead, an entity named Salvation (or Sally, as he calls her) appears and reveals that she has been protecting his soul from the strain that would usually result from endless resurrections, but now that his soul and body have been sepparated by Phyresis he has a choice to make; Go back to life as usual, or go through the door on the far side of the hall, where his friends are waiting for him. Squee decides to Take a Third Option; He'll go back now, but never again. He wants one more life to life, but after that he will rest.

  • In Carousel, after Billy dies, he goes to what is explained to be "the back yard of heaven", where stars are hung on a celestial clothesline. He is not permitted to enter there even through the back gate, but he is given the chance to return to earth for one day.
  • In Our Town, the spirits of the recently departed are shown hanging around their graves, with the older ones increasingly detached from the cares and concerns of their mortal lives. The Stage Manager, who narrates the play, describes them undergoing a process of being "weaned away from earth" and "waiting for the eternal part in them to come out clear", preparatory to whatever happens next, which he is unable to reveal.

    Video Games 
  • The Beach in Death Stranding is an alternative universe that the Ka (the soul) of dead people passes through before transitioning to the Seam, the definitive afterlife. Generally speaking, the Beach takes on the appearance of a beach of black sand under a grey sky, but Beaches are said to differ between individuals. Sometimes a collective of violent deaths can create a mass Beach, where several Ka are trapped and forced to relive their last moments repeatedly. For instance, the dead from a warzone will share a Beach looking like a battlefield.
  • Everhood: The very last room of the game in the Normal ending is the Waiting Room, a large, open space where you can find every character you met in the game one last time. It appears to be the last stop post-death before a soul can truly move on into what appears to be reincarnation, and it's mostly there so you can reconcile with everyone whose prolonged, stagnant immortality you just had to end.
  • The setting of Grim Fandango is the Land of the Dead, which is vast but still only the lead-up to the real afterlife, the Ninth Underworld. What lies beyond the entrance into the Ninth Underworld is unknown and unknowable, and nobody who goes through ever comes back; the game ends when the protagonist goes through. The Land of the Dead contains an entire city of people putting off the final step, either because they were evil in life and have reason to suspect the afterlife is going to be unpleasant, or because they've got some tie back to life (like family they want to keep an eye on), or just because they find the irrevocable step into the unknown inherently off-putting. One character, Membrillo the coroner, has decided that there is no way out, and the Land of the Dead is hell, where he is punished by living a shadowy, unreal, yet all-too-human existence.
  • The Domain of the Lost in Guild Wars 2 is where the souls of those who died in a shocking or traumatic manner end up, losing their names and memories of their lives and purposes. They need to recover these before they can be assessed by the Judge of Grenth and be sent on to their reward or punishment. You end up there yourself when the rogue god Balthazar kills you, but you manage to return to life by, with the Judge's consent, slaying a soul-eating demon and using the life energy it stole to reanimate your body.
  • Kingdom Hearts has the Final World, introduced with Kingdom Hearts III. It appears as an endless blue sky over perfectly still and very reflective shallow water. Chirithy describes it as a place where the hearts of deceased who still have people attached to them in the living world go, before they move on to what comes after.
  • In King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, you can access several stages of it. Namely, a player will most likely see it first upon his death, but in a twist, for a player taking the long path, it's actually possible to come there alive and challenge Death. You can see several stages, the surface where lost souls wander, along with ghouls, and the Underworld proper leading to Death's throne and the Sea of Souls.
  • Ghosts in The Sims are implied to be in this stage of the afterlife; in the third and fourth games, there's an option to "Release to Netherworld". In the third game, this makes playable ghosts unplayable, and in the fourth game, this deletes them from the game.
  • The last chapter in the original Twilight Syndrome duology features this in the form of the "Reverse Town", where an eternal sunset slowly strips recently deceased souls of their earthly memories until they are ready to cross the (literal) bridge into whatever lies beyond. Unfortunately, this mystical sunset is shown to affect everyone, including living people who ended up there by complete accident.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has purgatory, which is a restaurant where everyone eats all their sins. There is one waiter. Service is terrible.
  • DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything: Near the end Dongtae is knocked out from the battlefield and dreams of his perfect world. He's not bullied and is dating Eunju, who has a flirty personality. Then Mio's ghost appears, shows Eunju doesn't have a scar, and tells they're in a fluid where the unfulfilled wishes are digested by the Final Die, after which he chooses to return. With the Final Die itself being aware of it, it's implied it was a Lotus-Eater Machine as well. Dongtae escapes by a lucky Dice thrown from above landing on him.
  • In The Dragon Doctors, Kili the shaman describes the afterlife as being a place that cannot be accurately described whatsoever by the living, since it is not a paradise for the living, but a paradise for the soul. We see the Spirit World many times but never someone's final resting place.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the dead Eugene Greenhilt is pissed because the Blood Oath he swore leaves him stuck waiting in the antechamber. What is seen of the other side applies to some extent as well: the Lawful Good afterlife takes the form of a mountain, arranged by altitude in layers of increasingly abstract pleasures. Souls are expected to go to the level they wish, then climb higher as they get bored and seek greater enlightenment. The lower levels are relatively mundane, and are all you get to see.
  • Roomies!, It's Walky!, Joyce and Walky!: Near the end of It's Walky!, characters killed by the Martians reunite, along with Ruth and Dina, in a bizarre void that Ruth insists is Purgatory, and more rational characters a shared sink of severed consciousness before it's claimed by entropy. The technology exists to retrieve the minds of people in this state, but they remember none of it.
  • Second Empire: Pleasantly insane Dalek warrior Grexzol dies taking out countless enemy Daleks, and awakens in a bright-lit void to find his old platoon in its entirety had patiently waited for the death of its last member so all of them could go into eternal glory together. He even gets his toy back as the platoon Disappears into Light.

    Web Original 
  • Puppet History features this as the twist of their 2021 Holiday Spectacular!. All of the puppets from Seasons 1 through 4 have recently been Killed Offscreen, and the giant theater that they're holding The Professor's funeral in (as well as the areas where they've been creating television content) are constructions God made to distract them from that fact. They're really there because God and Satan don't know how to accurately judge puppet souls yet, so they let them mess around for a while until they come up with a solution.
  • RWBY has one of these, described as "between realms". This area is seen in Volume 6, where the God of Light summons Ozma's soul from the afterlife and gives him his task of uniting the second wave of humanity.
  • The After in "Welcome to the After (music video)" by Daniel Thrasher is a White Void Room with nothing but a couch and television where dead souls go to be judged.
  • When Sips dies from his curse in Dingo Doodles, he wakes up in a seemingly normal room filled with trinkets from his life where he talks to an apparition of Elowen representing his subconscious (or possibly the real Elowen, it's not clear) who encourages him to see his life as worth living, despite the hardships. The scene ends with him stepping through the door beyond and being reincarnated.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Dawn of the Dead Man!", when you die, you hang around the world of the living, invisible and inaudible, until you are called to Go into the Light. What's beyond the Light is not shown, and it's stated that once you go into the Light, there's no returning.
  • This turns out to be the setting in the Bojack Horseman episode "The View from Halfway Down", in which BoJack encounters several deceased characters that had some connection to him in a warped version of his childhood home as he comes to terms with the fact that he's dying... sort of. It's played with, because it's explicitly just a Dying Dream that is only happening in BoJack's head, which claims that there is no afterlife; nothing comes next.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, there's the Sitting Room, which is described as the boundary between life and the afterlife.
  • In the ThunderCats (2011) arc "Trials of Lion-O", when young hero Lion-O dies suddenly, his Amulet of Concentrated Awesome, the Spirit Stone, activates to force him to go on Adventures in Comaland. He wakes up in a metaphysical waystation where Spirit Advisor Jaga awaits to provide exposition about Lion-O's impending Vision Quest and open the gateway to his Mental World. Once Lion-O is finished there, he travels back to the antechamber for another talk with Jaga.
  • In the Star Trek: Lower Decks episode "In the Cradle of Vexilon," after Boimler dies in the explosion, he suddenly appears in a purple room with a zigzagging floor design which contains a purple sofa chair, a purple door, a lamp, a table with a bowl on it, and a window where the Black Mountain can be seen outside. After Boimler looks out the window at the Black Mountain, the Cosmic Koala appears sitting on the purple sofa chair and tells Boimler it's not his time yet in Sdrawkcab Speech, and then Boimler suddenly wakes back up in the world of the living.


Video Example(s):


Boimler's First Mission Death

Boimler dies when he stays behind to shut down Vexilon's power relay and the building he's in blows up and his team is devastated by his death, but luckily he's brought back to life by Dr. T'Ana who's surprised that she's able to revive him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeathIsCheap

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