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Cessation of Existence

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And that must end us, that must be our cure:
To be no more. Sad cure! For who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perish, rather, swallowed up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated night
Devoid of sense and motion?

This is when you die, and you cease to exist. No afterlife. No feeling, no thought, no perception, no existence. Your existence — everything you were — simply disappears like a popped soap bubble.


The cessation of existence is not a lovely Fluffy Cloud Heaven or a terrible Fire and Brimstone Hell. You know nothing, you feel nothing, you are nothing. If you cease to exist and are gone forever, you have no knowledge of anything, not even of your own death or the life you lived before. In other words, permanent and total unconsciousness. And even that is a woefully inadequate comparison, since even the unconscious can still dream. The term most often used to describe this state of affairs is either "nonexistence" or "oblivion".

This is fairly inconceivable to those who exist, as not-existing and existing are somewhat mutually exclusive. The idea/belief here is that even after death you'll never know or realize you're dead and that there's no afterlife (even if you've believed in one), meaning the two examples above still don't quite give an accurate impression of what it would be like. Then again, it wouldn't be like anything. Perhaps a good way to think about it is like this: try and remember what it was like before you were born (belief in reincarnation notwithstanding).


Perhaps the greatest Primal Fear imaginable,note  and one that is arguably not unique to humans (although other animals feel it on a much more instinctual level). It also easily qualifies as one of the quintessential kinds of Existential Horror.

Not to be confused with The Nothing After Death, where you still exist, if only as a mere shade floating between nothing and nowhere. Also not to be confused with Fading Away — that's when you die and your body ceases to exist.

Compare Ret-Gone, which is when a character not only ceases to exist, but ceases to have ever existed. Also compare Apocalypse How: Class Z, which is where this becomes the fate of everything everywhere. This can be a result from Deader Than Dead. Many examples of the Artificial Afterlife are built either out of fear of this or to try to avoid it.


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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Death Note, Ryuk tells Light that since he's used the Death Note, he can go neither to heaven nor hell, but instead "Mu", or nothingness. At the end of the series, a flashback that shows the entirety of that scene occurs, where Light deduces that that Mu isn't exclusive to Death Note users; there's no afterlife for anyone. This is confirmed onscreen by Ryuk, as well as by the Rules of the Death Note shown between chapters, Word of God, and an Eye Catch in the anime. While this could alternatively entail The Nothing After Death, the Japanese meaning of "Mu" can be interpreted in a When Is Purple sense, leaning more toward this trope.
  • In D.Gray-Man, it's stated that this is what's believed to happen to the soul of an akuma who is destroyed by any means other than through the use of Innocence.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The series has an afterlife, but in anime filler, if someone who kept their corporeal form in "Other World" gets killed again, they are permanently erased from existence. Unknown if the same holds true for disembodied spirits in Hell.
    • Android 16 is fully mechanical, so when Cell destroyed him in Dragon Ball Z's Cell arc, he had no soul to be restored.
    • Super Buu was the result of a Fusion Dance of Fat Buu and Evil Buu. Super Buu was later reverted to Kid Buu, who expelled Fat Buu from himself before being killed by Goku and reincarnated as Uub. Thus, it is impossible for Super Buu to ever be formed again.
    • Dragon Ball Super establishes that a God of Destruction is capable of destroying someone's soul along with body, as demonstrated with erasing Dr Mashirito despite him being a ghost. Beerus later also does it to original timeline Zamasu, simply erasing any trace of his existence in the blink of an eye. Zen'o seems capable of doing this to entire universes (and by extension their afterlife), as demonstrated by erasing what remained of the immortal Merged Zamasu and the future timeline he corrupted, as well as the universes that lost in the Tournament Of Power (though the latter were eventually restored by 17).
  • In the Monster Rancher anime, becoming a Lost Disc and Monsters fusing together are portrayed as this.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, this is basically what happens whenever one's Power of Existence is lost (usually after being consumed by a Crimson Lord). If one's Power of Existence dwindles and fades away, they become increasingly lethargic and slow to react, while their presence starts to go by unnoticed by others. Eventually, they just vanish, and everything continues as though they never existed at all.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, this is what happens if someone who is already dead is somehow killed. In addition, certain creatures can eat a person's soul and cause them to cease to exist.
  • Bleach:
    • There is a wheel of reincarnation at work in this story. Souls born into the World of the Living die and pass into the Soul Society. They live there for a period of time, then die again and are finally reincarnated back into the World of the Living as a new lifeform. There are some souls born into Soul Society. When those souls die, they also move on through the reincarnation cycle. Even if a soul is interrupted in this cycle by becoming a hollow, the hollow can still be cleansed to return to the cycle and pass on to Soul Society peacefully. And then there are Quincies. Their power does not cleanse hollows. It destroys them. The soul is not only destroyed but will never return to the reincarnation and therefore vanishes for good. In other words, the Quincies don't just destroy the current life of the soul, they're destroying all the soul's future lives as well. The story has stated that Quincies are unique in being the only ones capable of destroying the soul. Their reason to do it is because the Hollows can destroy their souls by merely infecting them.
    • Left unclear in all of this is what happens to souls that are consumed by Hollows. When a Hollow consumes enough souls to evolve into a Menos, the souls will fight for dominance. But nothing has ever been said about what happens when one of them wins out. Are the rest still in there as distinct souls, or is their individuality completely wiped away forever? Since we've never seen a Hollow's soul(s) arriving in Soul Society after being purified, there's no way to know. This may be one of the many things that Bleach borrows from Japanese Mythology and folklore; for example, it was common in Shinto practices to believe that most "common" spirits or ghosts are absorbed into larger ones, such as unimportant ancestors or branch family members losing any individuality and becoming part of the family spirit as a whole.
  • In Fairy Tail, this is Mard Geer's plan to kill Zeref. Since he's essentially immortal and thus incapable of dying, the best way to deal with him is to remove the very concept of life and death entirely and erase him from the fabric of existence altogether. He even developed a technique specifically to do this.
  • In Durarara!!, this is what Izaya fears above all else. This is why he plans to initiate Ragnarok. His hope is to create a war only he can win, thus earning a place in Valhalla, but he'll take an eternity of torment in Hell so long as it means still existing.
  • Although souls in Fullmetal Alchemist demonstrably exist, they do not appear to be immortal, and instead disintegrate after death just as a person's body decomposes. They can remain "in tact" by being jammed into a Philosopher's Stone, but eventually reach the same end state when its power is exhausted. Granted, the assessment of where souls go after death comes from people of the largely areligious country of Amestris. The Ishvallan religion appears to believe in some other afterlife, and the way alchemy treats and views souls may be part of why they forbid it.

    Comic Books 
  • This was the primary function of the Ultimate Annihilator, the weapon created by Robotnik Prime in the End Game arc of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics). Robotnik planned to use it to not only defeat the Freedom Fighters, but wipe them and their home from existence. It worked so well, in fact, that when Snively sabotaged it and it annihilated Robotnik instead of Knothole the whole Universe was thrown into chaos when he was removed from it.
  • In Mike Carey's Lucifer, the title character makes his own cosmos with no afterlife. When he destroys the man he creates for disobeying his one command not to serve him, Lucifer says, "Did the ten thousand years before thy birth trouble thee? Well, no more will the ten thousand years after thy death."
  • In the Marvel Universe, this is the forte of the Cosmic Entity known as Oblivion. His sister Death claims anyone who actually dies. People claimed from him are subject to either this trope, Ret-Gone, Deader Than Dead, or some other type of Fate Worse than Death.
  • In The Sculptor, David is willing to give his life for his art. Along comes Death and shows him the void that awaits him after death, represented by two pages of blank white paper. David is freaked out by what he sees, since his mind could barely comprehend the absence itself, but he strikes a bargain with Death anyway.
  • During Day of Vengeance, Ragman tries to attack absorb Eclipso into his suit of rags, but her resistance creates a shockwave that ends up destroying hundreds of the evil souls already trapped there, causing them to simply cease to exist. This sends Ragman into a brief Heroic BSoD; as much as he despised all those souls trapped in his suit, he believed that they still deserved a chance to redeem themselves.
  • For things and beings that didn't make it before (thanks to the Multiversal collapse, courtesy of the Beyonders), during (thanks to simply being killed) and after (more importantly, this is the deciding one) the course of events of Marvel's Secret Wars (2015).
  • The fate of reality, courtesy of the Anti-Monitor, according to the Amazonian prophecy, in DC's Darkseid War.
  • Wanted: Mr. Rictus was originally an extremely religious man who did only good but after briefly dying on the operating table and realizing there was no afterlife, he became one of the world's worst supervillains after becoming enraged that his virtue would never be rewarded by God and realizing there were no consequences for being bad after he died. Of course, being hideously disfigured in the process probably didn't do him any favors either. Weirdly, Mark Millar's other comic Chosen is implied to be set in the same universe, and it's about the second coming of Jesus.
  • The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael: When Charon escapes to the land of the living, he has to be returned to his duties before he is killed. Since in his case he's not supposed to be there in the first place, he won't be sent to purgatory like any regular soul but his demise means he will simply cease to exist.
  • Purgatori: The demon Cremator invents a sword capable of erasing demons from existence, including Lucifer. If they are hurt with any other weapon, they'll just regenerate.
  • The Walking Dead implies this a couple of times.
    • After her death, Rick's hallucination of Lori says that she wishes she could tell him that she and everyone he's lost is in a better world, but reminds him he was never one to believe in the afterlife anyway.
    • After her Happily Failed Suicide, Maggie tells Glenn that there is nothing after death and that she will take what she can from the Zombie Apocalypse.

    Comic Strips 

  • In Luminosity, Edward believes that this is what happens to vampires, post-death, because they lack souls. He and Bella discuss this, though it's worth noting that Edward isn't particularly good at debating in a perfectly rational field.
  • Comes up occasionally in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction:
    • Last One Standing is the first time this happens. Notable because it's left ambiguous as to whether or not that is what actually befalls the dead.
    • Reflections is the second time it comes up. The two immortal protagonists discuss the idea of eternal nothingness. They do not agree.
    • I Did Not Want To Die mentions the well of souls twice as a possible afterlife. Whether or not it's real is ambiguous.
    • In Dying to Get There, Rainbow Dash believes that Twilight's Destructive Teleportation would result in multiple copies of herself in the afterlife, something which upsets her greatly. Twilight comforts her by pointing out that her teleportation doesn't actually work like that, but even if it did, it wouldn't matter anyway because there is no afterlife. Rainbow Dash suffers an off-screen Existential Crisis and reappears at the end of the story wearing a helmet and kneepads to keep herself safe.
    • In the Pony POV Series there is decidedly an Afterlife, with Heaven, Hell, and a form of Purgatory (which is more Limbo). However, there's also Oblivion, where half a person who was erased from existence's soul (called a Shadow of Existence, representing their life, appearance, and experiences) goes which can still one day exist again if merged with a fitting being or becoming part of a Draconequus. Even if this Shadow is destroyed, their Light of Existence (the other half they began with and is the base, core being) will go back to Fauna Luster and be Reincarnated. This does not apply to deities, so if their Shadow of Existence is destroyed, they're gone permanently. D__t had this happen to him, and thus no longer exists in any sense of the word. There's also the Shadow of Chernobull/Makarov, who never had a Light to begin with, so after being devoured by the Blank Wolf his Shadow is all that's left.
    • In the The Freeport Venture story Come and See, Sunset Shimmer inflicts this on Sombra, after extensive experimentation on his soul.
  • In Wisdom and Courage, this happens to Link after the final battle in chapter 34. The hero uses the Fierce Deity's Mask during the battle in order to defeat Veran, but the conflict between his own soul and that of the mask ultimately ends up mutually canceling each other out and destroying them both, leaving Link as essentially an Empty Shell. But thanks to Zelda's wish on the Triforce, they both are restored.
  • In Being Dead Ain't Easy, Joey is in danger of this since he's already dead; dying again would mean he'd utterly cease to exist.
  • In the Danny Phantom/Beetlejuice crossover story, Say It Thrice, this is what can happen to ghosts who end up destroyed rather than moving on or being exorcised. When he forces his way into the human world through the Ghost Portal, Betelgeuse almost succumbs to this fate.
  • In Did I Make the Most of Loving You?, Laura Roslin states that this is the fate of anyone who dies on Kobol as their souls will fade rather than pass on, making it clear to Tom Zarek after she stabs him that she will ensure nobody remembers him once she gets back to the fleet.
  • In My Mother, Anakin and Obi-Wan reveal to Padme that it is impossible for non-Force users to retain sentience after death on their own, and it has even taken time for the Jedi to learn how to manifest as Force ghosts. However, they tell her that they have managed to learn how to teach non-Force-users to retain or even regain their identities after death, with their first success case being Bail Organa.
  • What naturally used to happen to humans (and still happens to Merfolk) in the Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality Recursive Fanfiction Following the Phoenix. The Atlanteans tried to avert this trope by creating souls as a backup of every human's mind, but they failed to give souls the ability to think up new thoughts, or even to do much of anything without some additional charms, so they just ended up with The Nothing After Death. However, this trope can still apply when souls get destroyed, such as after a Dementor's Kiss.
  • The Worm fanfiction Queen of Blood has this happen to two members of Slaughterhouse Nine after the group is wiped out by Taylor and company. Mannequin, Hatchet Face, Siberian and Shatterbird all end up in their own individual Ironic Hell, Bonesaw is simply purged of her sins and sent to the afterlife with her mother as she wasn't completely to blame for her crimes, and we dont get to see where Crawler ends up (he doesn't technically die during the story, Dragon throws the only remaining piece of him into space, where he eventually regenerates several decades later, until he finally dies about a century later while crushed in the atmosphere of Jupiter). However, Burnscar, or rather, the Superpowered Evil Side that embodies Burnscar, is simply erased from existence while her other half Mimi is sent on to the cycle of rebirth, and Jack Slash is told by Death that his soul is so repugnant and pathetically sadistic that Hell doesn't want him, and he's barred from Heaven. So, he's instead obliberated completely.
  • Death Is Forced To Take A Vacation: Fall Harvest, the Reaper for the alicorn race, would rather face this than Princess Celestia, what with their past.
  • In Warriors Redux, the Dark Forest is Adapted Out. Instead, bad Clan cats fade away into nothingness when they die.
  • In Princess of the Blacks, a ghost who loses their way will eventually simply fade away into non-existence.
  • When Dawn starts talking about breaking the rules in Reaping the Whirlwind, George warns her that if a Reaper breaks the rules too badly or too many times, Upper Management will erase them from existence.

    Films — Animation 
  • The ultimate fate of old or unwanted memories and other elements of Riley's mindscape in Inside Out; after being consigned to the vast chasm between the Emotions' Headquarters and the rest of the mind, the memories fade, grow dim, and eventually dissolve away. Bing Bong the imaginary friend pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to allow Joy to escape the pit, symbolizing Riley's need to grow up and leave some of her more childish elements behind.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 2:37, Sean explicitly rejects the notions of heaven, hell and reincarnation, instead subscribing to this view of death. He also notes that he doesn't fear dying.
  • In The 6th Day, religious extremists believe that clones don't have souls and therefore will simply cease to exist when they die. After being killed and cloned, one of Drucker's mooks notes that he didn't experience any kind of an afterlife in between. However, clones inherit the memories of the person they were cloned from, which are obviously stored in the brain; as those memories stop when the brain becomes inactive, it doesn't preclude the possibility of the previous clone existing in a non-corporeal form. One of them even complains about pain from injuries he sustained after his last brain backup.
  • This is what one of the two main characters in The Bucket List initially believes. It's implied that he's changed his mind by the end of the film.
  • In Wes Craven's Chiller, a man (played by Michael Beck of Xanadu fame) is thawed out and revived when his cryonic containment unit fails. When a priest asks him what there is after death, he says, "Nothing. You die and there's just darkness." (It may or may not be true; Beck's character in the movie is an Unreliable Expositor since he Came Back Wrong.)
  • In Dead Birds, Todd encounters a demonic Sam in the field as he’s trying to leave, and evaporates into thin air.
  • Dogma: A Class X-4 Apocalypse will result in this if the Big Bad gets his way. Basically, Azrael was so tortured by the absence of God and the self-imposed suffering of the damned in Hell that he would rather be wiped out of existence than suffer it any longer, consequences to the universe be damned.
  • In Dragonheart Dragon Sean Connery says that only certain dragons get to have an afterlife, branded by the stars. The others just... disappear when they die.
  • This is the effect of the God Killer in Drive Angry. Technically, though, those shot with it do exist in a very specific form... that being their gibbed remains painting everything close by from the explosive power of the gun. Metaphysically, it plays this trope straight.
  • This was the afterlife (or the lack thereof) depicted in The Invention of Lying before the main character invented religion to make people feel better.
  • Jennifer's Body: Colin's mother says he's just a corpse now, not in some better place like his emo friends say (at his funeral, no less).
  • A Matter of Faith: During the debate, Kamen states he believes death is the end, to Stephen's dismay.
  • Night Train to Lisbon: Discussed by Amadeu while giving his speech in the church. He feels that eternal life would in fact be worse than this, saying it would devalue present existence and could be unbearable.
  • Princess Cyd: Discussed by Cyd and Miranda. The latter doesn't believe in an afterlife, probing Miranda about what she believes. Miranda doesn't claim to believe in Heaven and Hell, but does think there's something more. She doesn't answer however when Cyd asks if she really believes that they'll see Cyd's mom again.
  • In the Rampage trilogy, Villain Protagonist Bill Williamson is a firm believer that there is no afterlife, which is first brought up in the second film Rampage: Capital Punishment, where he shoots one of his hostages dead and points out that no soul or spirit is rising from her remains, then later goes on a rant that religion is just a scam because God does not exist and there's nothing more to dying other than your corpse being put into the ground.
  • Both the bad guys and the good guys(!) in R.I.P.D. use "soul-killing" bullets against their respective enemies. The two protagonists are also temporarily threatened with this after screwing up an assignment - perhaps the very ultimate in Disproportionate Retribution.
  • The Student Nurses: Greg is 18 years old and is terminally ill with cystic fibrosis. He's pretty bitter about it.
    Greg: For each person, the end of the world comes after he dies.
  • The Sun Is Also A Star: When talking to Daniel, Natasha indicates that she thinks death is the end.
  • The Sunset Limited: White positively longs for this. He wants to die and have it be the end.
  • Voyage of the Unicorn: Discussed by Alan and one of his students after he asks what if anything happens when we die. Alan calls this view "sad" and "boring". There is a deep subtext here, as he's recently lost his wife.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it's implied this is what happens to Toons who have been killed using the dip, since the weasels who laugh themselves to death become angels, while the one who falls into the dip does not.
  • In Wrath of the Titans, this is what happens when a god dies.

  • Robert Cormier's In The Middle of the Night, where the villain went Ax-Crazy after discovering this.
  • H. P. Lovecraft:
    • Ex Oblivione, where the protagonist discovered that oblivion was the natural state of things, and that 'existence', as it is known, is merely a brief nightmare...
    • In The Quest of Iranon the main character is told of such oblivion in terms of similar optimism by the people in one of the towns he visits. When Iranon himself dies at the end the issue of what becomes of him is not spoken of, and the variance and flexibility of Lovecraft's contradictory cosmology and mythos leaves the question open.
    • In The Shunned House, the narrator mentions a POSITIVE form of this, refering to it as a "merciful oblivion".
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion, ghosts who are sundered from the gods drift blindly until they fade away completely. It's called the true death or the death of the soul. Most people go on to the afterlife, though.
  • In On a Pale Horse, it's stated that people generally go to an afterlife, but which afterlife depends to some extent on what they believe; one incidental character is a firm atheist who believes that cessation of existence is what happens to everybody when they die, and although he's wrong about the "everybody", it is indeed what happens to him.
  • In the Night Watch (Series) books, the afterlife is only for Others; muggles just cease to exist. Since the afterlife is the dead existing as ghosts, unable to affect the real world, and always feeling that everything around them is not real, they actually wish for the cessation. Anton grants them this at the end of The Last Watch, but it doesn't stop new dead Others from suffering the same fate.
  • In the Deverry series, this is the ultimate punishment for the principal antagonist of the first four books. Everyone else gets to reincarnate.
  • In a story by Stanisław Lem, a Ridiculously Human Robot called Automatthew ends up stranded on a Deserted Island, along with his artificial friend (called Alfred), a small, intelligent ball. After calculating that the odds of getting saved are next to nothing, Alfrd advises Automatthew to commit suicide to avoid an inevitable and much more painful death, and brings up several arguments for the case that Cessation of Existence is actually the greatest thing that could happen to a person.
    Picture if you will: no struggles, no anxieties or apprehensions, no suffering of the body or the soul, no unhappy accidents, and this on what a scale! Why, even if all the world's evil forces were to join and conspire against you, they would not reach you! Truly, nothing can compare with the sweet security of one who is no more!
  • In Poul Anderson's story "The Martyr", a race of advanced aliens has been systematically steering humans away from research into psychic phenomena to spare them from the knowledge that the aliens have an afterlife but humans don't.
  • His Dark Materials:
    • Iorek insists that there is no afterlife for his people ("We live and then we die and that is all,"), but it's not clear whether this is true or simply his society's belief.
    • Somewhere between this and Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence is what happens to the ghosts who leave the afterlife. Well, It Makes Sense in Context.
  • In Vonda N. McIntyre's The Exile Waiting a character learns that this is what happens after death, through being telepathically linked to someone at the time of their death.
  • Guess what? This is what happens when you are kissed by a dementor in the Harry Potter series, since they lose their soul. And the Ministry actually used this as a form of punishment...
  • In the Warrior Cats series, the characters do have an afterlife - StarClan if they're good, the Dark Forest if they're bad. Either way, when the StarClan or Dark Forest cat is completely forgotten by living cats, they gradually fade away into nothing. However, if they receive an injury that in life would be fatal, they just disappear instantly.
    • Whether the aforementioned 'fading away' constitutes this or not isn't exactly clear. It is mentioned that StarClan cats become more and more wispy over time (having "earned their peace"), but even cats who died ages before the beginning of the series—indeed, long enough ago that even a human would struggle to remember them—are shown to still interact with others and give advice to the living. Dark Forest cats, on the other hand, are outright stated to play this trope straight.
  • In The Skinjacker Trilogy, cessation of existence normally does not occur - you're either living, in Everlost, or you've gone into the light - but a scar wraith can extinguish an Everlost soul by merely touching them. This is the fate of Squirrel in Everfound.
  • In Paradise Lost, the fallen angels discuss this as a possible punishment if they rebel against God again. Some feel this would be better than eternity in Hell, but Satan vetoes them.
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, Hetawa Dream Walkers can inflict this by draining a dying soul of all its dreamblood, causing it to dissipate rather than reach the afterlife. The main character of the second book deliberately destroys someone's soul as a Mercy Kill, as they were a Tortured Monster whose afterlife would have been an eternal nightmare with no hope of rest.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering novel Planeshift, the lich Lord Dralnu claims that this is what happened when he died. You never get to find out whether he spoke the truth, though.
  • In The Wheel of Time:
    • This is what Moridin wants, for himself and everyone else. At the end of the series, the world is saved and Moridin dies. Word of God is somewhat ambivalent over whether or not he actually got the oblivion he craved, though.
    • Wolves in the series have it worse off than humans. A wolf who dies then lives on in the World of Dreams (which only a few humans do). A wolf who dies in the World of Dreams is gone.
    • Characters swear by their "hope of salvation and rebirth", which implies there is a chance of not being reborn (presumably for doing wrong) and thus ceasing to exist. However this is never gone into with any detail.
    • This is the fate of anyone hit with Balefire. Balefire will leave an empty hole in the cosmic fabric the titular Wheel spins where you once were. Get hit with enough of it, and not only do you cease to exist, but the consequences of your actions and proof of your existence up to a certain point in the immediate past are undone as well via a combination of Ret-Gone and Cosmic Retcon. The sheer terrible power of this, plus the strains it put on the fabric of reality, led to both sides of the War of Power to ban its use.
  • Achieving this becomes the main goal of prince Evnos from Darrell Schweitzer's The White Isle after his visit to the afterlife, where everyone is tortured forever regardless of their deeds in life. He succeeds.
  • Debated in John Varley's Steel Beach. Hildy says that people need to believe in an afterlife even when they know that it makes no sense.
  • Implied to be the case in The Night Land and Awake in the Night Land when people have their soul Destroyed, or maybe they are just prevented from reincarnating again.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Elsewhen has a man who crossed over from one universe to another, and predicts that every person, when they die, gets the afterlife they expect to get, because no person can believe in their own nonexistence.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series:
    • Gods who fade away (such as Helios, Selene and Pan) will return to the Chaos, the first goddess and the void from which all existence began. The Burning Maze reveals that Helios, long believed to have faded, had actually managed to temporarily avert this by tethering his will on Earth due to pure hatred. Once Medea is killed, Apollo manages to convince him to move on. Later, it's revealed that anyone who falls into Chaos will also suffer this fate, as Python does in Apollo's climactic battle with him in The Tower of Nero.
    • Tartarus absorbs Hyperion and Krios' essences in The House of Hades, resulting in their ceasing to exist.
  • The Kane Chronicles: Being based on Egyptian Mythology, good people go to Heaven and bad people get their souls eaten and stop existing. It's also specified that people who don't believe in an afterlife just stop existing when they die.
    • This is the ultimate fate of Apophis — all components of his existence are destroyed by the end after his Shadow is execrated.
  • American Gods: Shadow asks for this when he's allowed to choose an afterlife after he dies. What he gets is a mindlessly happy Nothing After Death until he gets brought back to life.
  • Arc of Fire: Myrren reveals that death is simply not like anything after she's revived, implying this.
  • The Sword of Truth: Due to the chimes' starting to destroy magic in Faith of the Fallen, its later revealed that the underworld (being magical) was destroyed, with there no longer being an afterlife. Thus, now people who die simply stop existing. This is just fine, according to the protagonists.
  • Schooled in Magic: This is pondered by Emily in the first book, after she hears the elves can destroy souls. She fears that without an afterlife, people would just do whatever they wanted.
  • Inheritance Cycle: The elves and the dragons believe this happens when living things die, presumably due to their natural telepathic abilities, as living minds always simply fade and disappear during death. In the end, Eragon himself admits that he would prefer this option to some form of eternal existence.
  • It's mentioned in The Little Mermaid that, while mermaids can live three times as long as a human, they have no immortal souls. When they die they turn to sea foam, and that is that. The little mermaid's desire to marry the prince and turn human is inspired in part by her love for him and in part by her want for an afterlife. After she fails to marry him and turns to sea foam, she is given a chance at earning a soul by doing good for 300 years as a spirit.
  • Villains by Necessity: The entire universe will be "sublimated" in a flash of light if the "Good" side isn't stopped.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Stone Shamanism, the religion of Shinovar, teaches that people who follow the religion and sin are tortured after death, but people who refuse the religion simply stop existing. Szeth-son-son-Vallano is so terrified of nonexistence that he continues following orders to slaughter thousands despite being a pacifist who knows it is wrong.
  • The Neanderthal Parallax: The Neanderthals universally believe that death is the end of being. Even "life after death" is an oxymoron to them. Ponter says that our afterlife beliefs might enable war, as we can tell ourselves that the dead are still "here" in a sense. Cornelius hopes they're right before killing himself.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: Discussed by Tansen and Josarian. The latter thinks the Otherworld might not really exist, and that spirits whom the Guardians call up could be just illusions. Josarian denies this though, and Tansen later concedes. This is the fate of anyone taken by the White Dragon too.
  • This might be the fate of humans in the Tolkien's Legendarium, even the Valar don't know. Eru's great gift to humans was mortality. Elves have Biological Immortality, but if their physical body dies by other means their spirit is forced to wait in a sort of limbo at the edge of the world, only finally able to move on when the world has come to an end. Humans don't end up in this same limbo when they die, and only Eru knows if they end up anywhere or simply cease to exist. That said, the canonicity-arguable short story "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in Morgoth's Ring has the elf Finrod positing the opposite: that human souls definitely go somewhere beyond the world after death, while Elves are bound to the world (which includes the aforementioned limbo) and will actually cease to exist completely in body and soul when the world ends.
  • Attempted by Director Fulcher in You Are On Fire (Sign Here Please.) as a last ditch effort to put Nathan's file in order. By destroying Nathan's file entirely, he hopes to make it so that Nathan disappears from existence completely. The book is centered on the gang's attempt to correct this before Fulcher can get done editing adjacent files of any mention of Nathan.
  • Johannes Cabal: The trope is all but impossible; even souls eaten by demons survive in some form. However, the Ivory Citadel, built and abandoned by the newly-fallen Lucifer before he founded Hell, utterly annihilates anyone who enters. Even devils are terrified of the place.
  • The novelization of Ferris Bueller's Day Off has a scene (possibly deleted from the film) where Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron are shooting the bull during lunch, and what starts as a joking talk about food, school, whatever, turns much darker when Cameron starts talking about people thinking about suicide. All three of them turn out to be surprisingly intelligent and mature for seventeen-year-olds. Cameron says he believes the best way for a depressed teen (or anyone else) to deal with suicidal thoughts maybe to take the Anti-Nihilist position: You'll only be alive for a limited time, so you may as well make the most of it, no matter how tough it can be. He notes that he has to take an atheist's point of view and assume death means Cessation of Existence; since if there is any possibility of an afterlife his theory falls apart. Sloane and Ferris see some serious problems with this way of thinking and point them out to Cameron, which he acknowledges. But then he says he still holds to his belief, however flawed it may be, and he drops a bombshell.... "That theory works. It's the only thing that's kept me alive the last two years."
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Daylen hopes that this will be his fate when he dies, as an alternative to an endless, infinite hell for all of his sins.
  • In Diaspora by Greg Egan, Cessation is generally presented as a voluntary option for any being which has achieved everything they might have set out to accomplish. At the end of the novel, having reached a kind of literal end of all things, Yatima and Paolo, probably the last two recognizably human-derived beings in the multiverse, consider their choices. Paolo accepts Cessation; "That's not death. It's completion." Yatima chooses to spend the rest of eternity in abstract research. In the end, there was only mathematics.
  • Reaper (2016): What the deletion weapon does; literally deletes players' minds from Game, leaving their frozen body as an empty shell. For a time, Jex is concerned that the Reaper has used it to Kill and Replace Hawk. In fact, he's replaced another Founder Player, using their position to take Jex hostage and almost use the weapon on her.
  • Russ from Asperger Sunset seems to be a believer in this trope, as he refers to his dead parents as "completely, totally nonexistent."

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Gods: Laura believed this happened when you died, but is proven dead wrong when she's met by Anubis. The punishment for believing this is apparently being sent into "nothing" and "darkness". She escapes though.
  • Discussed in the episode "Shady Acres" of Another Period. Beatrice has an existential crisis after realizing that everyone dies. In her apathy, she goes on and on about how doing anything is useless because everyone'll die either way and how there's nothing after death. Beatrice gets over her depression when her brother tells her that a life's savings can actually keep you from dying.
  • Head Six claims that this is what happens to those who die on Kobol in Battlestar Galactica (2003).
  • Black Mirror:
    • In "San Junipero", Kelly believes this happens when you die. It serves as one of the reasons why she was reluctant to become a permanent resident of the eponymous Artificial Afterlife, since she was certain she'd never see her daughter and husband (who refused to be uploaded because their daughter never got their opportunity and to whom Kelly promised she'd die naturally as well) again. However, at the end, Kelly decides to go into San Junipero to be with Yorkie, her Second Love.
    • In "USS Callister", this is the crew's goal, to escape the living hell of the game Daly created as his own personal power fantasy, and going into a wormhole which represents the update patch will do it. However, since Daly can just copy them again, they blackmail the original Nanette into stealing his DNA samples too. Ultimately subverted - they are uploaded into the actual online game, free to explore the universe.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, this doesn't appear to be the standard death experience (the only reliable witness of the afterlife died under very unusual circumstances).
    • Apparently this is may have what happened to Fred. When Illyria takes over her body, it completely devoured her soul, quite explicitly ruling out any possibility that Fred could come Back from the Dead. Considering that Fred was meant to return in Season Six by her and Illyria splitting in two (had the show not been cancelled), this may not have actually have been what happened, and the person who claimed this may be wrong. In the 'After the Fall' comics, it seemed as though Fred HAD returned, occasionally taking over the body inhabited by Illyria - however, it was later revealed that Illyria was faking it, as she apparently wanted Fred to be back.
    • In the Season Nine comics, Illyria sacrifices herself to restore magic to the world, and somehow this results in Fred being brought back to life in Season Ten. And even stranger, Illyria is still inside Fred, even though Fred's body is fully human.
    • In Buffy's case, she knew there was something beyond because there was "no pain, no fear, no doubt, until they pulled me out..." She is even trying to sketch what is was she saw during the beginning of "Once More With Feeling." However, just like Spock, she can't readily describe what she experienced in human terms and is sketching a white light in a field of black.
  • Conviction (2016): Hayes says this happens when you die, telling one death row prisoner he will be "worm food". She regrets this after he's executed, although she had wished he would go to heaven like he wanted beforehand.
  • Doctor Who: This, along with Ret-Gone, is the fate of anyone who falls into the cracks in time running rampant in Series 5.
  • Evil (2019): Discussed by David and Kristen. David says he can barely fathom the idea, and that if it's true life has no point. In-Universe though it's made clear there's some kind of afterlife, and it likely fits with Catholic teaching.
  • In The Fallen mini-series, a mortally-wounded Fallen Angel reveals that if a fallen angel dies before being redeemed, he or she simply ceases to exist (prompting Aaron to redeem him). Given what they know about the afterlife, this fate is horrifying to them. Presumably, any of the Powers who are killed are simply returned to Heaven, although Archangel Michael implies that the Powers are also being punished by the Creator.
  • Farscape:
    • In season 1 John and Aeryn are stranded in a damaged transport pod which is venting atmosphere, and at one point Crichton begins discussing the concept of the afterlife. After Crichton mentions the belief of some humans in the existence of heaven, Aeryn retorts that Peacekeepers believe there's nothing after death. As part of a gambit to repair their pod, Aeryn is forced to administer a "kill shot" that will stop John's biological functions long enough to complete the repairs. When she revives him again she asks if he saw all the things he mentioned to her in their earlier discussion, but John confesses he saw nothing. He does offer the suggestion that maybe he didn't because it simply wasn't his time.
    • As a Stykera, Stark is strongly connected to the spirits of the dead, making it very clear that an afterlife of sorts does exist in the universe; he's able to be manipulated by and communicate with the spirits of the dead, and the strain of crossing the dying over has largely contributed to his instability. He once even brings a message back from Zhaan to comfort Rygel.
  • A French Village: Discussed by Marcel and Philippe in prison. The former believes in this, while the latter insists there must be something more.
  • Game of Thrones: Upon her meeting with the Brotherhood Without Banners, Melisandre learns that her fellow Red Priest Thoros of Myr has brought Beric Dondarrion back from the dead no less than six times. When her curiosity overcomes her shock, she asks him what is on "the other side". He replies "There is no other side. I have been to the darkness, my lady." She is visibly perturbed on hearing this. After she resurrects Jon Snow, he gives more or less the same answer to the question.
  • The Good Place: Averted, as the explicit existence of an afterlife is this series' whole premise, so the trope is only brought up to be discussed in some way. But in the end...
    • Michael is an immortal who cannot die under normal circumstances, although it's a possible punishment for a sufficiently disastrous screw-up. In the aptly titled episode "Existential Crisis", he completely freaks out at the idea he might cease to exist someday, reducing him to a near-catatonia at first and then having a Hollywood Midlife Crisis over it, having never feared the supernatural equivalent to death before.
    • Simone, being a neurologist and presumably an atheist, seems to believe this is what happens to people when they die. When she dies and is chosen as one of the test subjects for the Good Place experiment, she refuses to believe she's in the afterlife and thinks everything and everyone she's seeing is just an intense Dying Dream. Michael mentions having seen a few people that seemed to believe this as well; they usually began to realize the truth of their situation after a good few torture routines.
    • In "The Funeral to End All Funerals", the threat of this hangs over all of humanity, living and dead alike, when the Judge decides to reboot all of existence because the world and humans in general have become too complex for the points system to judge effectively rather than find some way to fix the system itself.
    • In "Patty", Eleanor says that, while most people go through life a bit afraid of death, it gives them an incentive to care about things and make use of the time which they have, contrasting this finality with how eternal pleasure has turned the Good Place residents into mindless hedonists over time. The solution to that problem is to give the inhabitants of the Good Place a way to leave when they're content to do so. In the Series Finale, the process is shown to end the person's conscious identity, but the way their soul scatters implies something closer to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence mixed with The Lifestream.
  • Higher Ground: Daisy says there's no afterlife when Isaac dies, and states people can't accept it because that makes them sad.
  • House is utterly convinced that there is nothing after death. At one point, he is told that there is no way he can know for sure that that's true. He then induces clinical death on himself and does not have a near-death experience. That's all the proof he needs that he was right all along. Well, maybe. Or maybe that's just House's hereafter.
  • Into the Dark: In All That We Destroy Victoria tells one of the Ashley clones that when someone dies, that's it-everything that they were disappears. Though she states her belief that life is precious and every death a tragedy because of this, it didn't stop her letting her son repeatedly murder the clones.
  • Lucifer: People who are killed by Azrael's Blade don't go to Heaven or Hell, but simply cease to exist. Demons, who don't have souls, also suffer this if they die by any means.
  • Orange Is the New Black:
    • Taystee asserts that when you're dead that's it and ghosts aren't real as Suzanne tries to call up Poussey's spirit in a séance.
    • Possibly averted in the final episode when after Pennsatucky dies from a heroin overdose, we see her ghost standing outside the prison before turning around, waving goodbye, and disappearing into the horizon. Whether this was literal or just simply representational is anyone's guess though.
  • Outlander: Discussed by Roger and Ian after the first stops the latter's attempted suicide. Since he had nearly died by hanging, Ian asks Roger what he saw. Roger says he saw his wife, which Ian interprets as there being an afterlife. He is disappointed, stating that he'd hoped it would be over (it turns out his attempt was due to losing a woman).
  • Red Dwarf features most electronic lifeforms believing in Silicon Heaven, an afterlife for such items ('Where the ion lies down with the amp.'). They themselves think of humans' heaven as foolishness. One episode has Kryten use this as a Logic Bomb against the monster of the week, a mad mechanoid.
    Then where do all the calculators go?
    They just die.
  • Discussed in Rome between Marc Antony and Lucius Vorenus as the former prepares himself for his own suicide after his historic defeat against Caesar Augustus. They get drunk and start waxing philosophical about the prospects of life after death, or whether this life is really all there is and they'll just vanish after death.
  • Star Trek:
    • A later episode of Star Trek: Voyager had Neelix discover, much to his horror, that there was nothing after death. However, he was clinically dead but successfully resuscitated with medical intervention; the question is whether or not that counts as "dead enough" that he should have seen the afterlife.
    • When Q spent some (involuntary) time as a human in Star Trek: The Next Generation, he seemed particularly concerned about dying, convinced that he would simply wink out of existence. This and the above example suggest that either there is no afterlife in the Star Trek universe, or that the afterlife is so mysterious even the sufficiently advanced Q don't know about it.
    • It's implied (and sometimes even outright stated) in the Expanded Universe that there are beings far more powerful than the Q. If there is an afterlife in the Star Trek universe, then it can be assumed the Q in general fear that something may lurk there that is far more advanced than they are. Otherwise, they may simply just fear that, despite all their god-like powers, they too may face the same fate as any other being in the universe, death without anything beyond that.
    • Discussed in "Where Silence Has Lease" by Picard when Data asks him what happens when you die. Picard rejects both this view and Heaven, stating he thinks the afterlife is beyond our comprehension.
    • There was also another thing in the Star Trek universe that seems to negate the afterlife. In the original Star Trek episode "Return to Tomorrow", Sargon says "Thalassa and I must now also depart into oblivion" before he dies. "Departing into oblivion" wouldn't necessarily mean "ceasing to be," though it could. It could just refer to leaving behind the known and entering the unknown.
    • This trope is actually subverted at several points throughout the series' of Star Trek, the most notable subversion is the Voyager episode "Barge of the Dead", where B'Elanna is nearly killed in a shuttle accident (similar to how Neelix temporarily dies) and in her near death experience, she learns that her mother is on the road to Klingon Hell, so she re-creates the conditions of the accident to go back to the "barge of the dead" and tries to get her mother into Klingon Heaven. She succeeds. This subversion initially seems to be subverted at the end, when her mother reveals that she's not really dead, if her words that they'll meet when B'Elanna "returns home" can be taken at face value. However, a future episode indicates that she really is dead, and thus the entire experience was probably real.
    • Voyager 3/15 episode "Coda", Janeway dies on a random planet and she is walking around the ship basically as a ghost. Her father comes to her and leads her to a tunnel of white light, however she realizes this is not her father but a non-corporeal alien who says that this is how his race feeds, they lead the dead into their matrix and feed on their psychic energy. Before she is revived the alien tells her it doesn't matter because she will die someday, and when she does they will then have her. When Janeway is revived she speculates that perhaps there is no after-life, just these aliens who feed on the psychic energy of the dead.
    • Discussed in the episode "Emanations", where it's revealed a species' dead do not physically resurrect in the "next emanation" as they believe, but simply decay on asteroids they're transported to. Naturally, they're horrified to learn about this. Janeway posits their "neural energy" becomes part of the planet's atmosphere and they continue existing that way, but the episode ends without it being made clear either way.
  • Switched at Birth: Discussed by Regina and John. He believes there's some afterlife where you can meet your loved ones again, but Regina doesn't, unfortunate as she finds that.
  • Supernatural: In the season 15 episode "Atomic Monsters", Chuck snaps Becky and her family out of existence, and in "Despair", he ends up doing this to everyone sans Dean, Sam, and Jack. It takes Jack absorbing Chuck's power and becoming the new God for him to be able to bring everyone back.
  • Torchwood:
    • A subplot in the first series has the unwillingly-immortal Captain Jack Harkness questioning people temporarily revived from the dead if they experienced any kind of afterlife. So far, the answer has been "No." Moreover, they only learn they died from these temporary revivals, followed by the realization that they're seconds away from dying again. All this while Torchwood staff is asking them what or who killed them.
    • She's probably not the most reliable witness but, in "They Keep Killing Suzie", the eponymous character posits a different afterlife.
      Gwen: So when you die, it's just—
      Suzie: Darkness.
      Gwen: And you're all alone, there's no one else?
      Suzie: I didn't say that.
      Gwen: What d'you mean?
      Suzie: Why do you think I'm so desperate to come back? There's something out there... in the dark. And it's moving.
    • If the creature that came back with Owen is any indication, there's a reason to fear what's beyond.
    • Surprisingly, however, "Random Shoes" has a (slightly) kinder take on this trope (or maybe not. It's the Whoniverse; just go with it.). After the main character for that episode completes his unfinished business, the audience is given the image of an incredibly fast zoom-out from the Earth, with us suddenly hearing the main character's speech falter and we see nothing but silent nothingness (he did swallow an alien artifact, so that may have something to do with it).
  • Watchmen (2019): Angela's husband Cal tells their daughters this happens when they argue over whether Judd is in heaven or not. She doesn't appear to be entirely happy with this, but he says it's just the truth.

  • John Lennon - "Imagine":
    Imagine there's no Heaven
    It's easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
  • According to songwriter David Byrne, this trope is what he intended "Road to Nowhere" to be about. "Well we know where we're goin' but we don't know where we've been...We're on a road to nowhere; come on inside. Takin' that ride to nowhere; we'll take that ride. Maybe you wonder where you are: I don't care! Here is where time is on our side...."
  • The Gothic Archies' song "The Dead Only Quickly" is about this trope.
  • The Bright Eyes song "At the Bottom of Everything" implies this, if briefly.
    And in the ear of every anarchist
    Who sleeps but doesn't dream,
    We must sing, we must sing,
    We must sing
    • Expanded in another song by them, "Down in a Rabbit Hole," which is explicitly about death.
    If your thoughts should turn to death
    better stomp them out
    like a cigarette
  • The whole point of the Elysian Fields album The Afterlife.
  • The song There Isn't Any God (aka Gospel) by Rusty Cage is about this trope, along with his belief that God doesn't exist.
  • The Monty Python song "Always Look at the Bright Side of Life".
  • The Atheist Tabernacle Choir skit from Spitting Image is a gospel group whose songs had no basis in religion. The choir sings about ending up in a wooden box or little urn and there is no afterlife. They also agree that the idea is depressing.

  • The badass main characters of Wizard People, Dear Reader would greatly prefer this fate to "the perpetual pansiness of Heaven", pontificating on the subject when dramatically appropriate.
  • Mark Twain allegedly said, "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." Though other quotes from him and his relatives reveal an inconsistent opinion on the matter; his daughter Clara said: "Sometimes he believed death ended everything, but most of the time he felt sure of a life beyond."
  • On the other hand, there remains the possibility of someone being born again in the future. From the perspective of someone that would appear to be instantaneous, and of course there's no way to know when and where that would happen and the previous self for all purposes would be lost forever. Both Greek and Chinese mythology postulate that the person would have no knowledge of ever existing previously, typically as a result of drinking some potion that erases memories.
  • In BIONICLE, denizens of the Matoran Universe are resurrected on the Red Star to be able to continue their work, but get stranded there due to a glitch, meaning others think they just disappear. However those that suffer great injury to their "brain" or otherwise lose vital parts (or the entirety) of their body can't be resurrected. Krika for instance: he lost control over his ability to manipulate his own density, causing his body and his spirit to fade into nothing. Only at one point was something resembling an afterlife implied, when Mata Nui's spirit began escaping his body during his temporary death, but this was never elaborated on due to LEGO's policies on avoiding religious topics.
  • This is the fate of Ma, the final Big Bad of the Evillious Chronicles. Having been born as a fusion of three separate souls, Ma lacked a soul of her own, meaning that when she died she would simply cease to exist entirely. Her ultimate goal is to avoid this fate by absorbing the seven demons of sin and later their contractors and escaping the world before its destruction, becoming a "pure being". In the end, said souls are forced out of her and she desperately tries to continue her existence by switching bodies with her daughter Nemesis (the Wrath sinner), not realizing that Nemesis was anticipating that and convinced the Demon of Wrath to break the contract with her that keeps her from dying. Ma proceeds to fall to her death and her consciousness vanishes for good.
  • This is a risk that Tony Hawk runs in the Interstitial Actual Play one-shot Reality and Other Falsehoods because he's using The Memory playbook, where if he loses all connections with other players he fades from memory and existence. That's exactly what happens partway through due to several extremely bad rolls, forcing player Riley to create a new character for the back half of the one-shot.
  • In The House in Fata Morgana it is revealed that if your soul is too damaged while in the land of death, you risk this fate. And then one character directly asks Michel to willingly cause this to them: the White-Haired girl, in order for her to reunite with Morgana's soul and put an end to the curse. She makes it clear nothing of her will survive, that her sense of self will be gone, that nothing will remain of her: she asks purely and simply for the eradication of her soul. Nonetheless, she asks of Michel to go through with it anyway. Depending on how you interpret things, Georges' soul may very well have suffered the same fate.

  • Philip Larkin's poem "Aubade" is about the fear of ceasing to exist, and how there's really no relief from it.
    This is a special way of being afraid
    No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
    That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
    Created to pretend we never die,
    And specious stuff that says No rational being
    Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
    That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound,
    No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
    Nothing to love or link with,
    The anasthetic from which none come round.
  • Algernon Charles Swinburne's poem, "The Garden of Proserpine" describes it as a positive thing that finally brings peace.
    Then star nor sun shall waken,
    Nor any change of light:
    Nor sound of waters shaken,
    Nor any sound or sight:
    Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
    Nor days nor things diurnal;
    Only the sleep eternal
    In an eternal night.

  • While the majority of Christians believe that you go to either Heaven or Hell (and occasionally Purgatory), some Christians believe in Conditional Immortality, also called Conditionalism or Annihilationism. Conditionalists hold that everlasting life is a gift from God, and therefore the final punishment of the unrighteous will be death. The Bible distinguishes between two states of death: Sheol or Hades, the common grave of mankind, and Gehenna, a "second death" from which there is no hope of coming back, though some translations conflate both concepts as "hell". The Bible repeatedly mentions how the consequences of sin is death (Romans 6:23), humans will naturally return to dust (Genesis 3:19)(which most likely refers to the physical body), God can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna (Matthew 10:28), and everlasting life is God's gift to the righteous through his son Jesus (John 3:16). Conditionalists also tend to note Genesis in how we were banned from everlasting life as a result of sin (with Genesis 2:17 interpreted as spiritual, not physical death), but God offered it back (He never offered Fluffy Cloud Heaven) through Jesus, so, if we were immortal in the first place there would never be a necessity for such an elaborate scheme to reacquire everlasting life. The idea of conditional immortality is also helpful in Christian apologetics, since so many are repulsed by the Disproportionate Retribution inherent in the Eternal Conscious Torment view of Hell.
    • Conditionalists include some evangelical Christians, as well as certain denominations (sometimes called sects or cults by other Christians) such as the Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. They reason from these and other scriptures that there is no Hell or afterlife. They believe that when you die, you cease to exist until you are resurrected. Those who died saved will be resurrected soon after the second coming, while those who were lost when they died come back to life in the Second Resurrection where they face probation for their sins; if they fail, they die again, but without hope of further resurrection. They argue that the idea of God imposing eternal torture without parole for a little doubt means that God Is Evil, and that the idea of the permanent and immortal soul is Platonic and influenced by paganism, not Biblical in origin.
    • For more information on the different views within and variations of Conditionalism, helpful sites would include Rethinking Hell and Hell Know.
    • Mortalism is the term for the view that the soul is not naturally immortal, but dies with the body. The opposite view, naturally, is called immortalism. Christian mortalism encompasses the annihilationist or conditionalist view described above, but the term can also describe any view that human beings have no immortal soul.
  • The common Western misconception (not helped by mistranslations as the West began to make contact with the East) of Buddhist Nirvana is this - certainly not helped by Buddhism's teachings to be free of suffering, inherent in life. In reality, Nirvana is more of a "super-state" of sorts beyond all existence, impurity, and physicality, but it's more complicated than that. However, it does involve ceasing to exist as a specific, individual person, something Buddhism regards as only an illusion that is overcome by enlightenment.
  • In the Egyptian Mythology, the soul survives physical death, and thus the believers of this mythology didn't fear death per se that much. But the afterlife is very dangerous, and if a malevolent spirit manages to eat you on the way between the world of the living and the world of the dead, you cease to exist. Additionally, if luckily you had avoided these spirits, you were judged by a council of deities and if you lost your trial they threw you to Ammit, a soul-eating chimera ending the existence of the judged. Somewhat more mundanely, they also took mummification infinitely seriously because they believed that a botched preparation for embalming destroyed the soul of the person whose corpse they were preparing.
  • This is the viewpoint of the Classical Epicureans, who did not fear death, as they would not be around to experience their own, and held that others would not suffer in an afterlife.
  • Stoics in general also didn't believe in an afterlife, though a few did argue in favor of an immortal soul.
  • This appears to be what happens to gods in Norse Mythology when they die. The exception is Balder, who is sent to Hel like humans are, but he only stays there because Hel herself won't allow him to leave, not because he is metaphysically confined there.
  • Many atheists, agnostics and pantheists usually ascribe to this. Most don't have a problem with this either, especially if they left a religion that believed in some kind of Cosmic Horror Story-esque afterlife such as Hell. On the other hand, some are transhumanists (like the folks at Less Wrong) who do not want this and feel immortality would be great, with the goal of achieving it by various scientific means.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • If you kill a demon or devil on its home plane in they're gone for good (see Order of the Stick, below).
    • As mentioned below, though, this depends on the version being played; 3.5 edition, for example, held that Outsiders (demons, devils, angels, etc.) and Elementals could only be restored to life using the True Resurrection spell. On the other hand, it's possible for mortal souls to be outright destroyed by gods or powerful outsiders, and at least one mortal spell (Necrotic Termination), if successful, creates an undead creature that kills the target and devours their soul, noting explictly that nothing can bring them back.
    • In the Planescape setting, there's a group called the Prolongers who believe this is true for everyone. As a result, they're terrified of death, and have used a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that has transformed them into abominations that can drain the life force of others to restore their own youth.
    • Planescape also features the Dustmen, who are the foils of the Prolongers. The Dustmen believe everyone is already dead and trapped in a cruel afterlife full of suffering where we're born, die and continually reincarnated until we can learn to let go. The end state of existence for the Dustmen is "True Death", a state where there is no suffering, or indeed nothing at all.
  • Ironically enough, this appears in the game Wraith: The Oblivion. As in most Role Playing Games, the threat of death is ever present, even though in Wraith, you're already dead when the game starts. The unstated goal of Wraith is to move on from the Shadowlands, and there are two ways to do this (well, two basic ways... anyhow, moving on). The first is the ultimate enlightenment, Transcendence. This is where the ghost accepts its death and moves on. To what, who knows? Transcended ghosts aren't around to tell. That's why it's called moving on. The second way to move on is the titular Oblivion. Ignoring for the moment the fact that Oblivion is also a force of nature and essentially the big bad of the whole metaplot, for the sake of this explanation it is a phenomenon: a very rare form of death after death. When the ghost is damaged enough it goes into a manic/psychotic episode called a Harrowing, and if this happens bad/often enough, the soul obliviates and ceases to exist. And the horror of it all? Transcendence and Oblivion look exactly the same to the onlooker.
  • In Pathfinder, your soul usually get assigned to an afterlife depending on your actions in life. However, your soul isn't immortal and can be killed permanently. This is also the modus operandi of daemons, who can and will utterly obliterate your soul if they kill you rather than allow you to pass on.
  • This is the fate of anything that falls into the void of Oblivion that lies beneath the Underworld in Exalted. There are also certain powers that confine the victim (or, eventually and in exchange for great benefits, the user) to Oblivion. The Neverborn ultimately want to fall into Oblivion, because they regard it as preferable to their torturous and impotent unlives.
  • In the New World of Darkness, it's somewhat implied that this is what the true Afterlife is — there's no obvious difference between when a ghost "moves on" and when it's destroyed — but no-one's actually certain. The Underworld (where ghosts go if their anchors are destroyed but they still aren't ready to let go of existence) is somewhere between Hell and The Nothing After Death, instead. Directly destroying a ghost definitely causes this, though.
  • In both New World of Darkness and Old World of Darkness vampires can preform diablerie, which involves sucking out another vampire's soul. It is strongly implied victims of this simply cease to exist, as such diablerie is commonly considered a Moral Event Horizon by vampires.
  • In Mage: The Awakening, those who are deemed so dangerous that their very existence in any plane —alive or dead— could destroy the world are taken to the edge of the universe and thrown into the collective unconscious and become non-sentient universal energy. This is considered to be such a horrific thing to do that the mage who does so will step down from their seat on their council and cease practicing magic forever.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • During the Horus Heresy, this happens to two people in the span of about 30 seconds, specifically when the Emperor fought Horus in a one-on-one duel and sought to redeem the latter from the Chaos Gods. Horus, however, resisted and committed one last Kick the Dog act by making the Emperor's last bodyguard cease to existnote , which pushed him well beyond the moral horizon for the Emperornote . The Emperor then unleashed such a powerful psychic attack that Horus's very soul was destroyed (much like the bodyguard Horus just killed). It's later shown that this was both due to the Emperor's rage and out of practicality; Chaos Gods can resurrect champions so long as their soul still lives (as with the case of Lucius and Kharn, the champions of Slaanesh and Khorne respectively) but Horus's soul was utterly destroyed, meaning that he's even out of the Chaos Gods' grasp. What the Emperor did not count on was that Horus' first captain, Abaddon, was ruled "close enough" by the Chaos gods, nor did it stop Fabius Bile from just making a thinking clone of Horus with the original's DNA (though Abaddon didn't like that and killed said clone).
    • At one point, Ahriman was offered a reward for being Tzeentch's most favored pawn, which amounted to this. While that sounds pretty bad, this is a setting where dying can result in your soul being claimed and used as plaything by the Chaos Gods, for all eternity. So the reward is a sincere Pet the Dog moment, no matter how twisted, especially coming from Tzeentch.
  • In Warhammer, this is one of two fates that Elves will get upon their deaths via being eaten by Slaanesh. The other is being imprisoned in the underworld of Mirai. Thankfully they have a way to avoid either fate, they can have their souls put inside Waystones that will help protect their homelands, which are almost always in danger.
  • Possible fate of all other living beings in Warhammer 40k universe. For those, who are very, very, very, very lucky, to be exact, as the alternative usually involves eternal torture by the warp itself or the creatures that inhabit it.
  • The inhabitants of Innistrad in Magic: The Gathering believe in something called the Blessed Sleep, which is essentially this. The Blessed Sleep is actually considered the best possible outcome for anyone who dies, since the alternative is becoming a ghost, vampire or any other kind of undead horror.
  • In Forgotten Realms, people who refused to believe in a god during life are punished in the afterlife by slowly having their souls and minds erased in the Wall of the Faithless

  • Frequently discussed in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, mostly by Guildenstern. He turns out to be right, as he and Rosencrantz seem to wink out of existence at the end of the play when they outlive their relevance. Or something.
    Rosencrantz: Do you think death could be a boat?
    Guildenstern: No. Death ... is not. You take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative, a state of not-being. You can't not-be on a boat.
  • The inspiration for the above, Hamlet, has the title character hope for this in his famous "To be or not to be" speech, with an eye toward ending his suffering. He concludes, however, that the chance it's not true and he'll be punished in the afterlife is too great to risk.
  • The underlying message of the "Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow" monologue from Macbeth.
  • In Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol Marley and the Bogle see a few souls in Hell that appear to blink out of existence. At the climax, the Bogle worries this will happen to Marley if he takes Scrooge's place in death.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed I, the Templar Sibrand believes that there is nothing waiting for him after death, and the idea of this terrifies him so deeply that when he learns that the Assassins are coming for him, he begins executing random priests out of sheer blind paranoia because they wear vaguely similar robes to those of the Assassins.
  • In Destroy All Humans!, one of the core mechanics of the game is that if the player should die, the protagonist would respawn in a new clone body. In the fourth game, Crypto will spout bits of humorous dialogue. One of these is "By the way, there is no afterlife".
  • According to Ray in Ghost Trick, this is what happens to ghosts at sunrise. He's lying to make sure Sissel is properly motivated.
  • This is what happens to Magypsies in Mother 3 after the needle they exist to guard is pulled out of the ground. They seem to completely accept this fate.
  • In The World Ends with You, if you are "erased" (aka killed post death), your soul disappears. Players have to escape this fate for a week, and then MAY have the option of returning to life. If not, they play again, become a Reaper (who try to "erase" souls and keep themselves from being "erased"), and a few become angels. Basically, if you play the game you're probably going to cease to exist. However, the secret reports reveal that erasure doesn't actually destroy someone's soul entirely, but it reduces it to whatever souls are made of, which comes down to almost the same thing. One character is actually erased early in the game, but eventually comes back because the energy their soul became was reconstituted into its previous form.
  • Persona 2 had something similar to Shakugan no Shana, and did it first. Someone who loses their "Ideal Energy", the will and energy to pursue their dreams, becomes drained and lethargic, unwilling and unable to do anything, as Muggles forget about them and can no longer see or hear them. After a while, they simply cease to exist entirely.
  • Persona 5: When Yaldabaoth fuses the real world with the Metaverse, human cognition begins to affect reality. Because humanity collectively believed the Phantom Thieves never truly existed, the Player Character and his friends and allies vanish from existence. They manage to reverse this in the end, however.
  • In the Nasuverse there exist such things as "life after death," "the soul," "ghosts," "spirits," "higher planes that exist independent of time," and things like that. That means death is not the end and for some few characters, death may even be cheap. That is unless you are killed by the Eyes of Death Perception. When killed by these eyes, you simply cease to exist and the only way you can see the light of day again is to turn back the hands of time.
    • On the other hand, no character in the Nasuverse is truly immortal; that concept may not even exist, though there are many that pine after it. Those who have achieved something close to it are only hiding or not yet aware of their continued weakness. Wallachia only has to be restored to his original form. Those in the Throne of Souls cease to exist when the Earth dies prior to Angel Notes(only not really, because they exist outside of time. They just can't actually interact with the World anymore. At least not this one.), and they spent the rest of their existence trolled by the Counter Force and Grail Wars. For the otherwise almighty Aristoteles, there is Black Barrel and Slash Emperor. The lone exception to this rule seems to be the the fifth Dead Apostle Anscestor: Type-Mercury, official designation, the ORT. And that's not because its special, its just so far removed from anything the Earth has to offer that its very pretense there gradually rewrites reality. So it might not be immortal, it just lacks Gaia's concept of 'death' altogether. It might have its own - completely different - version.
      • This is because souls in the Nasuverse work in a particularly Buddhist way. While humans do have souls that return to Akasha (the Origin) upon death and are eventually recycled into life, their previous existences' identity is wiped clean, similar to the Theravada concept of anatman ("no soul" or "no self"). One character attempted immortality by permanently imprinting his own identity and memories on his soul, essentially creating reincarnation. On the other hand, since the Eyes of Death Perception don't destroy a thing's soul, just its existence...
      • Note that this might not always have been the case. During the Age of the Gods, genuine deities walked the Earth. Modern Magi have classified their very existence on the same level as the Five True Magic, which in order, allow their user to Create from Nothing, 'Operate' parallel universes, manipulate and materialize the soul(including making it last indefinitely, which is essentially immortality, unfortunately this magic has been lost for over a thousand years), a forth with an unknown effect, and the final one which allows its user to manipulate entropy, which can lead to time travel. The proper use of those magics could potentially stave off the Cessation of Existence indefinitely, and considering that many people believed in an Afterlife, and it was a Clap Your Hands If You Believe world... unfortunately, because of the actions of Gilgamesh, the gods are dead, magecraft is a pale, dying shadow of what it was and the World no longer operates under such laws. To be fair, the gods were definitely jerksasses.
  • Ending D of NieR is all about this. Having accepted to sacrifice himself to bring back Kaine from her Shade corruption, the price is for the main protagonist to be wiped from existence entirely, even from everyone's memory. As a final testament to the permanence of this fate, your entire save file is deleted.
  • Oracle of Tao: although it's temporary. The main character successfully convinces herself that she doesn't exist, and begins to fade away. At the last possible second though, the other heroes have a Clap Your Hands If You Believe moment, and cheer her on, convincing her to exist again. This is after she's stopped existing.
  • In Remember11, when either "Satoru" or Kokoro transfer into a time in which the other is dead, as soon as they realize that they should be dead, they simply cease to exist.
  • In Super Paper Mario, The Void threatens this to all sentient beings. The Void appears simultaneously in all dimensions, and when it reaches maturity, will annihilate that dimension, leaving a blank nothing behind as if that dimension never existed. It turns out the afterlife exists in Mario and is a different dimension. Sure enough, the Void is present there too.
    • The one dimension shown to suffer this fate onscreen did however leave behind a small amount of debris, including the world's Pure Heart, and everyone who died as a result of its destruction was also revived once the dimension was restored.
  • Crysis 2 had Jack Hargreave say he found the prospect of "simple oblivion" to be preferable to an actual afterlife after spending fifty years as a fully aware Human Popsicle.
  • Final Fantasy
    • Not the initial death of Doga and Unei in Final Fantasy III—after forcing the party to kill them in a boss fight, they offer the consolation that they'll remain in spirit. But when the Cloud of Darkness one-shots the kids at the end, Doga and Unei use up their souls to bring them back to life, sacrificing themselves to possibly this fate note .
    • In Final Fantasy VII, when anything dies (be it a person, a bird or a flower), its life energy is absorbed into the lifestream. The lifestream then recycles that energy to make new living things. But then there's the whole mess with Shinra sucking up that life energy and converting it into electricity, which means that this trope may have been the ultimate fate of millions of souls during the game's timeline.
    • Final Fantasy XIV follows a similar world structure to Final Fantasy VII where the lifestream full of aether flows within the planet and living beings that die have their souls returned to the lifestream where a new life can be made. The main problem that occurs within the story are primals, god-like beings that are summoned to help and protect the beast tribe that summoned them and consume aether to sustain their physical form. It is stated that a single primal alone could absorb all of the world's aether (thus fulfilling the trope) if left alone long enough, therefore the player character is tasked with slaying whatever primals that are summoned in order to keep the planet stable.
    • At the end of Final Fantasy XV, Noctis, after the sacrifice of his life on the throne, goes into a spiritual world wherein he kills definitively Ardyn with the spiritual support of his three companions, who have an Uncertain Doom as they are seen for the last time facing a huge amount of dangerous daemons, and of the late Lunafreya.
  • In Receiver, the player is a survivor of the Mindkill, which causes this.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, it's revealed that only a Gray Warden can properly kill an Archdemon, if anyone else does it the Archdemon will just possess the nearest darkspawn and come back to life, however, the Warden's soul and the Archdemon's will both be annihilated in the process.
  • This is what is said to happen to all of the Pokemon from the Bad Future when time is corrected in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers. The two times this is seen to occur, after the player and partner restore Temporal Tower, and in the Explorers of Sky episode where Celebi, Grovyle, and Dusknoir defeat Primal Dialga in their own time, it is not permanent. In the first example, the player character disappears completely, but is brought back by Dialga. In the case of the second, the trio is starting to disappear when it mysteriously stops (possibly due to Arceus' interference).
  • In Heroine's Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok, mess up during some of the end game sequences, and you'll be erased from existence for altering the past.
  • Undertale:
    • Taken a step further than usual with W.D. Gaster. Never heard of him while playing the game? It's because when he ceased to exist, he ceased to exist from the game's narrative itself. It's only possible to find direct references to him by poking through the game's code or by capitalizing the "fun" value in the game's files and setting specific numbers to trigger random appearances. He's essentially a canon character who was literally Dummied Out In-Universe.
    • The trope is downplayed and played straight for Flowey. After being reincarnated and lacking the ability to have empathy due to not having a soul, Flowey thought about ending his life and then stopped himself from doing it after realizing that without a soul, he cannot exist after death. The fear goes out the window once Flowey discovers he has the ability to SAVE and LOAD, effectively cheating death. His death defying abilities were removed when Frisk arrived in the underground since Frisk has the same abilities and theirs are stronger than Flowey's. In the end of the No Mercy path, Flowey is ecstatic that Frisk (who has become the Fallen Child thanks to the player's slaughter spree) shares the same "kill or be killed" mindset and notes that the two of them wouldn't hesitate to kill each other if they got in each other's way... Cue moment of dawning comprehension as Flowey realizes that his "best friend" can and will murder him and fully remembers what will happen to him if he dies without a soul.
    • Possibly played straight for monsters in general, as it is stated that without the power of Determination, their souls don't remain after death the way humans' do. Flowey's dialogue hints that monsters with souls have an afterlife but it's never stated outright.
  • In the Baldur's Gate series, the Player Character's soul has a different nature from other mortal beings. This is because he or she is a partial Soul Jar for their father Bhaal, the dead god of murder. Consequently, if he or she is killed, the essence of their being will merge back with the god, effectively becoming this trope. This also justifies why the Player Character's party can't simply resurrect them. You also have to inflict this fate upon at least five half-brothers and sisters. That said, one of them does come Back from the Dead; his dialogue suggests that this was only possible due to the highly unusual circumstances, and another who happens to be a party member can be resurrected anyway (a scene of party banter between the two aforementioned characters suggests that this isn't a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, either.) And, in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, this is ultimately what happens to the Big Bad Amelyssan, no matter what you decide to do with Bhaal's essence.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode: It turns out this is what happened to the Ender Dragon, as the Order relied on the Command Block's power to delete it rather than actually killing it.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • This is one theory about what happened to the Dwemer. They may have tried, through the power of the Heart of Lorkhan, to break themselves down into their base elements and then reforge themselves into new ascended beings. The theory goes that they got the reforging process wrong and caused themselves to blink out of existence. If asked in Morrowind, Dunmeri Tribunal deity Vivec states that he cannot sense them on any known plane of existence. Adding further ambiguity, the existence of Dwarven Specters suggest that at least some of the Dwemer have come back as ghosts. A prominent theory in the Elder Scrolls lore community suggests that these are the ghosts of Dwemer who died before the cataclysm that caused their race to vanish.
    • Though, to date, they have only been hinted-at in-game or have been mentioned dripping in heavy metaphor, there exist several "ascended" metaphysical states in the ES universe. (Each has been further fleshed out by developer supplemental texts.) Each of these states requires one to become aware of the nature of Anu's Dream and maintain one's individuality. If one fails to do so ("Zero Sum"), they "fade into" the dream, ceasing to exist.
  • Runescape: The Grim Reaper is cagey about what happens to Physical Gods who get destroyed, but admits that their energy disperses into the world and they forfeit the right to an afterlife, implying that they cease to exist entirely.
  • Patapon 3: After defeating the Final Boss, The Hero was given Last Second Ending Choices by Patapon God either he continues to live, or live peacefully in heaven or allow Patapon God to use his soul that sacrifices his both physical and spiritual existences to remove the stone curse which was casted to Patapons after his brother opened the chest that seals 7 Archfiends and Silver Hoshipon at the beginning of the story.
  • The Pkunk in Star Control 2 claim that the only people who reincarnate are those who have been famous, rich, or otherwise interesting. Everyone else kind of ceases to exist.
  • The Darkness II: One of the collectible Relics is "The Ashes of the Unnamed." In a case of Exactly What It Says on the Tin, it's the ashes of a Brotherhood member who saved the world by releasing the Darkness from the Brotherhood's control, preventing them from destroying the world. Just moments after his heroic act, the Angelus showed up and, in rage, completely incinerated his body and soul, making him the first human to ever meet non-existence. All that remains of him, both in Heaven and Earth, are his ashes.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: If a soul is consumed from a Soul Jar or a dead person's spirit is completely stripped of Source, they're destroyed utterly rather than passing to the peace of the afterlife. This is portrayed as an absolutely monstrous act that terrifies even beings who have been trapped in a Fate Worse than Death for millennia.

  • In 1/0, you can become a ghost. However, it is possible to commit true suicide by "pulling a Ribby" by getting lost in your own imagination. A character can also be deanthropomophised, or turned back into whatever they were created from.
  • This is what Gwynn from Sluggy Freelance is threatened with when K'Z'K takes over her body.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • This is what happens to "immortal" creatures like imps and elementals if somebody manages to kill them because they have no soul that can continue on into the afterlife. It's noted at one point that this means "mortal" creatures like humans are actually less afraid of death than "immortal" creatures because they know they'll continue on in some form and may even get resurrected at some point. Celia mentions that she'd just become one with the Plane of Air.
    • It's also stated to be the fate of anyone destroyed by the Snarl, though there's evidence that this may not be true.
    • As the characters live in an RPG-Mechanics Verse (and know it), it's been noted that this isn't always the case, and that the rules of what happens to Outsiders (the immortal creatures of the Outer Planes) if they're killed keep getting changed.
  • Offhandedly mentioned in Misfile. Oddly enough, it's not a universal rule.note 
    Ramael: When a human dies, it's like getting an eternal vacation. A dead angel is just dead.
  • In Slightly Damned, while Medians keep their bodies in the afterlife, Sakido informs Rhea (and the audience) that Angels and Demons have no afterlife. She dies 15 pages later. Much later, Darius and Blue further explained that Angel and Demon souls were immediately recycled into new souls upon death, while Median souls were given an afterlife in order to resolve their worldly sins before being similarly recycled. There's no indication of what happened when the gods regulating this process disappeared.
  • In Homestuck, if you die, you can still continue on existing as a ghost appearing in dream bubbles. Unless, that is, the dream bubble is destroyed while you're inside it, in which case you, too, cease to exist forever.
    • It's hinted this is also what happens if you're still alive when the session is Scratched. Meenah didn't want that to happen so she killed herself and all her friends immediately before the Scratch hit them, hoping that they would be safe as dream ghosts away from the session. It was Crazy Enough to Work.
    • It should be noted that the above only applies to Sburb players. Non-players who die in the Homestuck universe (the guardians, for instance) don't get to join the dream bubble party and simply cease to exist. Additionally, players in doomed timelines who manage to survive until the timeline ceases to exist are erased from existence as well.
  • Off-White:
  • The Walkyverse appears to combine this with The Nothing After Death; after one character dies, he meets several others floating in an empty void; they have a brief debate about whether this is "purgatory" or just the residual energy of their minds bouncing around space before dissipating entirely.
  • In Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal #3566, hell only lasts for sixty seconds, starting out with the devil telling you you're going to fade into nothingness after that and continuing with his spending the rest of the time dancing and singing teenage pop music and refusing to answer your panicked questions.
  • "Life" is a pretty broad concept in Awful Hospital, since almost anything can be self-aware and "death" just changes which bits are eating which, but unexistentialization means that a particular consciousness stops existing "in any form, any place, ever again." It's also the default end for humans.
  • In Ghost Theater, spirits that are Barred from the Afterlife can come to the supernatural theater. There, they are allowed to possess the actors to act out a role in a play, to attempt to free themselves from whatever trauma or unfinished business is holding them back. But it's risky, because failure results in the spirit being permanently extinguished.
  • Instant Death: This is the fate of anyone or anything killed with Yogiri's Instant Death ability.

    Web Original 
  • In Fine Structure, there's supposed to be an afterlife, with dead souls ascending to a higher dimension. The presence of the Imprisoning God causes all souls to be obliviated against the edge of 3+1 space.
    • Paul Klick used the Klick Device to open a hole in reality, intending to take a shortcut to be with his dead wife. A little over 900,000 people - the population of central Berlin - went through the hole. Word of God is that the plan failed utterly - no one gets past the Imprisoning God. Ever.
      • Before Klick used his Klick Device though, and after the Imprisoning God has no need to block the universe, this no longer applies. Word of God states he initially intended for Klick's plan to have accidentally ascended the population of Berlin, but changed it to them having died when it was pointed out that they would've been able to escape the Imprisoning God.
  • SCP Foundation: Happened to one of the test subjects of SCP-896 when he tampered with the SCP's source code to maximize his stats during a containment breach. His account had one single server message on it: "User has been banned for hacking".
    "There is no void, or white plain. There's no self to be stuck in them either. You just cease. And that's why we're here. We're here because we know the Foundation's deepest, darkest secret."

    Western Animation 
  • Due to Never Say "Die", the Decepticons from Transformers G1 regularly threatened their opponents with "oblivion", implying that they and/or Cybertronians in general did not believe in an afterlife. Note that this was before 'sparks' became a part of the franchise's mythology.
  • In the Grand Finale of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, it's pointed out via extreme Breaking the Fourth Wall that anytime a show ends everyone and everything in the universe it takes place in ceases to exist.
  • Adventure Time: Disturbingly implied to be the case if BMO ever stopped working in "BMO Lost"; after having their batteries removed then replaced hours later, BMO cheerfully replies "I didn't have any dreams!"
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In the final arc of the series, this is implied to be what happens to everyone after death who is not force-sensitive or has not become one with the force. Although it is possible that this could be just the Jedi's (somewhat selfish) view on death. (Other sources suggest that an afterlife is possible for all virtuous sentient beings.) Cessation of Existence is also a core belief of the Sith: they don't believe in life after death, and their fear of this motivates them to hold onto life no matter what, even going so far as to try and discover eternal life. Since the only canon Sith ghost turned out to be an illusion, it's probably true at least for them.
    • Although this has been contradicted by certain things that have been suggested in Star Wars sourcebooks and elsewhere, such as that the Sith fear death not because it ends all, but because after it (for Sith and Dark Jedi, at least) comes drifting through the Dark Side forever and permanent insanity. When Sheev Palpatine was cloned back to life in the Dark Empire comic book series, he remembered at the very least the details of his defeat and death at the end of his previous life, about which he was very, very, very angry. This extreme anger, combined with the psychotic tendencies induced in his spirit by a mishandling of the cloning process, turned Palpatine into a maniacal nihilist, causing him to lash out at everyone and everything – even, to some extent, his own former Imperials – and try to bring about the destruction of every inhabited world in existence with his Galaxy Gun, a sort of Death Star on steroids. Though much of this is no longer canon, so it still might be true for dark siders.
  • This was a constant danger for Aelita in the first, second, and some of the third season of Code Lyoko. Unlike the other heroes who were "devirtualized" and kicked out of Lyoko if their health reached zero, Aelita was tied too much to Lyoko itself and would cease to exist if it happened. Around the mid-point of season three, however, her powers and ties to the real world evolved enough so that she could survive it too, the "devirtualizing" effect able to restore her as it did the others.
  • While Family Guy does have an afterlife, this is used as a Cutaway Gag in an early episode when Peter talks about how he used to teach Sunday School.
    Peter: And if you are pure of heart and deed, you'll go to a magical place called Heaven! (laughs) I'm just joshing you, you just rot in the ground. (kids look scared)
  • Rick and Morty:
    • In "The Rickchurian Mortydate", Rick outrights state that "There's no afterlife, everything just goes black." as an attempt to threaten a bodyguard to death.
    • In the comics, a short story revolves around Morty having been so traumatized by his dangerous adventures with Rick that he's been having trouble sleeping because he thinks this is what happens when one dies and he doesn't know how to deal with it. When he asks Rick, Rick shows him an alien device that teenagers use as a dare, because it allows someone to experience death for a moment. We never get to see if it's true or not because Morty chickens out when Rick points out that the experience is why he's watching an old Alf marathon in the middle of the night instead of sleeping himself. Presumably, it's either this or something worse.
    • One of the clips in the episode "Morty's Mind Blowers" alludes to this. Rick and Morty meet an alien warrior who wants to die a warrior's death via Rick so he could go into "an orgasmic afterlife". However, Morty accidentally makes the alien question the afterlife's existence, causing the alien to run away in fear not wanting to die... only to get run over by a passing car and being Dragged Off to Hell. Naturally, the guilt drives Morty to want this incident to be erased from his memories.
  • In The Crumpets episode "Belief Relief", while the family discusses what happens to leeks after dying, Ma explains to her husband that there is no afterlife. Their youngest child Li'l-One agrees with her.
    Ma: When we die, we simply die. Lights out.
  • In The Simpsons episode "The Serfsons", there is a scene where several characters argue about what the afterlife is like. Bart raises the possibility that there is no life after death and that people who die just stop existing.
    Bart Serfson: But what if after we die, that's it? We're just gone?
    (Everyone Gasps)
    Wiggum: So just poof? Really? Poof, and then just super nothing?
    Bart Serfson: (Shrug)
    Wiggum: Well, it's clean, I'll give you that.
  • Bojack Horseman: Implied in the penultimate episode of the series where Bojack has a Near-Death Experience, which takes the form of a sendoff dinner with the characters who had died during the shows run (as well as before it took place); Herb Kazzaz, Sarah Lynn, Corderoy Jackson, Zach Braff, his mother Beatrix, uncle Crackerjack, as well as a composite of his father Butterscotch and his childhood hero Secretariat, all of whom go through a door to a black void throughout the episode. Herb implies this is what is about to happen.
    Bojack: See you on the other side.
    Herb: Oh Bojack, no. There is no other side. This is it.


Video Example(s):


Other Side

In his dream while drowning, BoJack's tentative belief in the afterlife is flat-out denied by Herb.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / CessationOfExistence

Media sources:

Main / CessationOfExistence