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Afterlife Tropes

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"You know, it's not so much an afterlife, more a sort of après-vie."

Tropes relating to the afterlife.

Humans have often speculated what fate, if any, awaits them after death. This has been depicted in countless different ways in fiction (not to mention religion and philosophy), ranging from eternal paradise to fiery hellscapes to complete nothingness.

Almost all religions have a belief that you go somewhere after you die, but almost none of them are the same. Some say you go to Heaven, some say you burn in Hell, some say you're reincarnated as a small angry six inch tall blue man. The important part is, that this is a place that you go, after you die.

Spoiler warning: many of these tropes detail major spoilers about characters' fates.



  • The Afterafterlife: An afterlife for people who died when they were already in the afterlife.
  • Afterlife Antechamber: An area in the afterlife where a character goes just after they died but before going to the afterlife proper, which is usually not shown.
  • Afterlife Express: A mysterious vehicle (usually a train but sometimes a boat or different vehicle) with a connection to the afterlife, usually taking souls there.
  • Afterlife Welcome: The souls of a character's dead acquaintances are there to greet them just before the character dies or just after.
  • Artificial Afterlife: An afterlife that was created by regular people.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: A character dies (or pseudo-dies) and then turns into a more godlike version of themselves.
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  • Backup from Otherworld: The dead assist the living during a fight.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: A character is unable to go to Heaven or Hell, and is stuck wandering around the mortal realm for eternity.
  • Celebrities Hang Out in Heaven: Dead celebrities hang out with other dead celebrities in Heaven.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: A bureaucracy whose job is to determine where people are supposed to go after they die.
  • Dead to Begin With: Stories set wholly or partially in the afterlife that focus on a dead character.
  • Death Amnesia: A resurrected person has no memory of their death.
  • Defector from Paradise: A character leaves a utopia that may be actual Heaven.
  • Duty That Transcends Death: One or more characters are so dedicated to some duty or other that even when they die, they keep doing it.
  • The Ferry Man: A character whose job it is to help people pass nigh-impossible obstacles to reach a destination that could be an afterlife.
  • Healthy in Heaven: When a character goes to the afterlife, they lose any health problems they had at death and usually the old ones turn young again.
  • Heaven: An eternal paradise where good people go after they die as a reward for living honest lives.
  • Heaven Seeker: A character does good deeds so that they can go to Heaven or their equivalent.
  • Heaven Versus Hell: Heaven and Hell are in conflict.
  • Hell: An afterlife where bad people go to face eternal punishment for their misdeeds after they die.
  • Hell of a Heaven: Heaven isn't half the eternal paradise it is said to be.
  • Hell Seeker: A character who wants to go to Hell.
  • Infernal Paradise: A particular group of people believe in an afterlife that they consider Heaven, but it doesn't sound anything like a paradise to outsiders.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: An inn that exists in two worlds at once.
  • Judgement of the Dead: A dead character is judged about which afterlife they'll end up in.
  • The Lifestream: The place where souls go in between reincarnations.
  • Mistaken for Afterlife: A character thinks they've died and gone to the afterlife.
  • Mundane Afterlife: Heaven and Hell are just like life, only perfect and really annoying respectively.
  • No Animosity in the Afterlife: Being dead makes people forgive each other.
  • The Nothing After Death: The afterlife is nothing but an empty void.
  • Offscreen Afterlife: The afterlife is never shown/described in great detail.
  • Only One Afterlife: All dead people go to the same afterlife.
  • Overly Specific Afterlife: Only certain beings are welcome into a specific afterlife.
  • Personalized Afterlife: Everyone has their own personal afterlife.
  • Psychopomp: A being who guides the spirits of the dead to the afterlife.
    • The Grim Reaper: Death is personified as a skeleton in a black cloak wielding a scythe who shows up to take people to the afterlife when their time has come.
    • Death Is a Loser: Death is unpopular and/or unlucky.
    • Don't Fear the Reaper: The Grim Reaper isn't such a bad guy.
    • Relieving the Reaper: Someone assists, or subs for, the Grim Reaper.
    • Shinigami: A Japanese deity with a similar "job" to the Grim Reaper.
    • Valkyries: A fierce group of women who assist the Norse gods.
  • Purgatory and Limbo: An afterlife where people go who aren't good enough for Heaven but are too good for Hell.
  • Refusing Paradise: A character gets given the choice to either go to Heaven or an equivalent place or keep living. They choose the latter.
  • Reincarnation: When a person dies, they are reborn in a new life.
  • Remember the Dead: You only exist in the afterlife as long as people remember you.
  • Rerouted from Heaven: A person who was supposed to go to Heaven instead ends up in Hell.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: A character can be rescued from the afterlife.
  • Species-Specific Afterlife: An afterlife designed for only one species.
  • Spirit World: A place where all the spiritual characters live.
  • Taking Over Heaven: Attacking Heaven and taking charge of it.
  • Together in Death: Two lovers have died, but the silver lining is that now they'll be together forever in the afterlife.
  • The Underworld: Subtrope of Only One Afterlife— all dead people go to a dark place underground that's a bit gloomy but not hellish.
  • Unfinished Business: A dead person can't enter the afterlife until they take care of some important task that their death prevented them from doing.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: A story centres around a ghost or similar trying to figure out who killed them.
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: After a person dies, their soul ascends to the skies as a winged angel.
  • You Are Worth Hell: Someone's willing to join their love interest in Hell or a similar place.


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