When a character dies and turns into spirit form, they'll usually turn into their ideal form. A character that died of old age will become young again, while a character that died of illness will often become healthy. Disabled characters might also become able-bodied, while characters who died of injury almost always never show sign of that as spirits. And they are whatever gender they considered themselves to be.
In exaggerated form, this might be the reason why a person becomes a Cute Ghost Girl (with the other option being they died as a child). They died as an adult but returned to a healthy, childhood form as a ghost.
- Jojos Bizarre Adventure: Played With.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable: Introduces Ghosts and they bear the markings of their death. Reimi looks fairly healthy at first glance until she shows the fatal wound on her back which (though never showed to the audience) is implied to be quite hideous. Her dog Arnold, by contrast, has a nasty gash on his neck from where Kira killed him. Kira himself seems to play the trope straight at first, until he gradually realizes that he's dead and his ghost gains the wounds he had in life. Though as of Dead Man's Questions his form returns to a fairly healthy image.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo: Polnareff is badly disfigured in this part and ends up dying with his spirit bound to the Stand Mr. President. Though his full body isn't seen, his ghostly form still retains the facial scarring and damaged eye he had while alive.
- Ghost Girl in Sgt. Frog died of a congenital illness in real life. As a ghost, she shows no signs of it.
- Discussed in Robin Williams' stand-up special Weapons Of Self-Destruction, as he dealt with Michael Jackson's then-recent death.
Robin: Do you think that when you die and you get to the other side in the afterlife, they give you things you had in life? Like Michael got to the other side and its like, "Michael?" "Yes?" "We have some of your things here." "Really?" "One African-American nose. Is this yours?" "Yes." "We have four others here. Are these yours?" "Three of them are mine. Ones Latoyas."
- Cerebus: When Cerebus dies, he de-ages to his prime and stops being ill.
- Discussed in a Titeuf comic where Titeuf and his cousin Julie see a dead cat on the road, Julie then explain him that the cat will go to heaven and that everyone who go there will be healed and look young again. at the end of the page Titeuf tell his friend François that it's useless to tear off mosquitoes' wings because they will gets new ones in heaven.
- Played with in Life in Hell while pondering within one strip that if you lost a limb in life, it will be waiting for you in heaven.
- The tale Strandpiel by A.A. Pessimal introduces the first Witch to be born into the Smith-Rhodes family. From an early age, Rebecka realises she has spirit guides to call on: ancestors on her mother's family line, who are delighted to have a family member they can actually talk to. In an inversion of this trope, she sees them taking the forms they feel most comfortable with. Johanna Livinia Smith-Rhodes, who founded the Family, demonstrates she could, if she so chooses, appear as a young woman in her twenties; but is most comfortable as a grey-haired matriarch in her early seventies, as she was when she died. Her daughter Johanna Cornelia Smith-Rhodes manifests as a woman with disfiguring facial scars, from a battle she survived when she took a Zulu spear straight through the face. Johanna Cornelia demonstrates to Bekki that she can appear as she used to look before she was wounded; but she's comfortable with the scarring and doesn't really see the point of correcting it.
- Maria's ghost in Echoes Of Eternity doesn't have any of the Ill Girl traits that she had in life.
- In The Addams Family fanfiction Gomez and the Sweet Hereafter, elderly versions of Gomez and Morticia die and go to the afterlife. When they're in the afterlife, both of them are young again.
- Not Completely, Altogether Here: Nessarose was born paralyzed from the waist down. In the afterlife, she can walk.
- In Grave of the Fireflies, the protagonist and his sister both starve to death. When depicted in spirit form, they're both healthy again.
- Marnie from When Marnie Was There is actually a Cute Ghost Girl. She died of old age and is actually Anna's grandmother who wanted to reunite with her granddaughter.
- In Coco, Frida Kahlo, who spent most of her life severely disabled from an accident, is presented as completely mobile in the afterlife. Interestingly, for everyone else in the afterlife, they look the age they died at, such as the children residents who still have the emotional maturity of living children and Coco who appears as her elderly self, older than how old her parents and husband were when they died.
- Played Straight and Subverted at the end of Return of the Jedi. Anakin Skywalker shows up as a force ghost, along with Yoda and Obi-Wan, to show Luke that he has redeemed himself with his final moments. Before the prequel series, Anakin was portrayed by Darth Vader's character actor Sebastian Shaw outside of costume, but was later portrayed by Hayden Christensen in every re-release of the film afterward. Obi-Wan, on the other hand, remains portrayed by Sir Alec Guinness as he appears throughout the trilogy, even though there was the option to change him into Ewan McGregor.
- In Deadpool 2, the third time Wade is having a Near-Death Experience, he finally goes through the invisible wall to reach his dead girlfriend Vanessa. In doing so, he no longer looks like a mutant disfigured by cancer, but his original, handsome self.
- When the title character of Happy Gilmore is trying to find his happy place during the final game, he imagines Chubbs in Heaven. His severed hand has been restored.
- Scary Movie 2: Averted for laughs in the alternate ending where everyone but the Final Girl is revealed to be ghosts who died unawares during the film. Dwight is furious to realize that he's still wheelchair-bound in the afterlife.
Dwight: This is bullshit!
- The Frighteners: Cyrus and Stu both appear healthy and happy after their ghostly forms are "killed" and they're finally sent up to heaven.
- Inverted but also played with in Beetlejuice, as spirits generally look the way they did at the moment of death, resulting in some varieties of Body Horror. But the Maitlands, ghostly protagonists of the film (who implicitly drowned after their car fell off a bridge), look perfectly alive and healthy.
- Implied to be the case in Heaven Is for Real, when young Colton recounts his experience of having gone to heaven while being briefly dead on the operating table. He mentions to his father Todd that he'd met "Pop," Todd's grandfather, who has been dead for several years. When Todd finds a photograph of his grandfather and asks Colton if this is the man he saw, Colton irritably replies, "No one wears glasses in heaven, Dad!"
- Ghost Whisperer: One episode revolves around the main characters trying to help the ghost of a severly autistic man pass on, which is harder than usual due to him being nonverbal. However, the ending shot implies that he sheds his disability upon passing to the afterlife, and earlier, Melinda had mentioned that "souls are perfect", so apparently this only happens when they move on from their earthly ties.
- In the poem Rainbow Bridge it's mentioned that animals become fit and young again once they die.
- Warrior Cats: This occurs to Clan cats who go to StarClan. In StarClan, cats' illnesses disappear and they're presented as the age they were happiest in life (for instance, Yellowfang appears as the elder she was in ThunderClan, while Bluestar appears in her prime.)
- Ill Boy Tobi dies early in Seeker Bears but is later shown much healthier as a spirit.
- In Philip José Farmer's Riverworld, the resurrected human population brought back after death on Earth are all forever twenty-five. Also, everybody is able-bodied; the disabled become abled, people born dwarves find they are suddenly of a normal height, and among other little quirks, the bald get to grow hair again...
- The afterlife of The Salvation War has everyone in their prime - including Hell.
- In The Wish List, an elderly man who has just been admitted into Heaven by St Peter gets visibly younger and healthier as he skips down the path towards the afterlife.
- In the Russian novel Light in the Window by Svyatoslav Loginov, afterlife is depicted as a boundless plane inhabited by the spirits of the deceased, who can shape it into anything they like by expending the memories that living people have of them. While all people arrive in the afterlife in the health state they died in, the first thing most spend their memories on is usually restoring their bodies to their prime condition, so there are mostly healthy, fit people running around afterlife.
- Evoked in The Fault in Our Stars. At Augustus's funeral, the minister says in the sermon that in heaven, Augustus will be "healed and whole." Hazel is offended by the notion that he wasn't "whole" just because he was sick and missing a leg.
- In Mort, one of Mort's first solo jobs as Deaths apprentice is to attend the death of an elderly witch. After she dies, her spirit takes the form of a young, quite disturbingly attractive woman. Self-image is everything.
- One episode of The Golden Girls has Sophia going to heaven during a near-death experience. Although she's still an old woman, some of her ailments have been healed, and her false teeth have turned into real ones.
- One episode of Pose sees Pray Tell stuck in the hospital and convinced that he's dying. In one of the nicer hallucinations, he is reunited with his late lover Costas. When he was still alive, Costas was ravaged by the effects of AIDS, but here he is healthy and mobile again.
- In American Horror Story: 1984, Xavier, Montana, and Ray are all healed of their wounds in Purgatory.
- The quandary is discussed in the Crash Test Dummies song "God Shuffled his Feet":
And if your eye got poked out in this life
Would it be waiting up in heaven with your wife?
- Usually averted in Classical Mythology, where the shades in the Underworld of those who died in battle still bear the wounds that killed them. In some versions of the Orpheus myth, Orpheus's tragic backward glance at Eurydice takes place because Eurydice's foot is lame from the snakebite that killed her she lags behind Orpheus as he leads her upward, so he reemerges into the living world before she does and looks back a moment too soon.
- In Islam, it's mentioned that everyone will be around 25 (i.e. age of prime) in the afterlife, whether it's heaven or hell.
- The LDS Church teaches that all post-mortal spirits and resurrected beings are in their perfect form, though their state of being depends on what they did during this life.
- In Christianity, it is believed that there is no sickness in Heaven. One of the best-known and most frequently used Orthodox prayers for the departed is "Rest with the saints, O Christ, the soul of Thy servant, where there is neither sickness, nor sadness, nor sighing, but endless life". The Book of the Revelation also states that after the Second Coming of Christ, when the righteous get resurrected for their eternal reward, "there shall be no more pain/sickness [depending on the translation], for the former things have passed".
- This is generally the case in Dungeons & Dragons. If someone dies and becomes some form of Undead, they might retain old wounds, but if they pass on to the afterlife they generally become what's known as a Petitioner, which takes on the form they had in life, but typically as a healthy adult, with some modifications based on the Plane and Deity their soul went to.
- In Fate Series, "Heroic Spirits" (notable souls of history, myth, or old-fiction), when summoned as "Servants" (i.e "souls" given a body out of mana), tend to be taken from their prime, i.e relatively young and healthy. Okita Souji (a member of The Shinsengumi, class Saber), however, is a subversion — she's well known for being sickly (with tuberculosis) and dying young because of it that it becomes part of her "legend" and as such, even as a Heroic Spirit, she still has her sickness (it's even a skill called "Weak Constitution"), even if it won't kill her.
- The Order of the Stick: While Roy's father is as old and curmudgeonly in heaven as he was in life, Roy's mother is far younger than he ever remembered her. It's explained as people's personalities shaping their appearance—she never stopped thinking of herself as 19, while Eugene had been a grumpy old man on the inside for most of his life. Roy also meets his grandfather Horace, the warrior who originally owned Roy's signature greatsword, and he looks to be middle-aged, which ironically still makes him look much younger than his son.
- Implied to be the case in Slightly Damned as Death explains that those who die and get sent to hell retain any injuries they received when they died.
- In the final season of Samurai Jack, the Scotsman (now an old man in a wheelchair) sacrifices himself in order to ensure that his daughters could safely escape Aku's wrath. He almost immediately comes back as a ghost thanks to the magical Celtic runes on his sword, looking exactly the same as he did back in the earlier seasons (which he lampshades). This trope is slightly subverted, as the Scotsman's ghost still has the machine gun peg leg of his youth.
- The Legend of Korra: Avatar Wan appears to Korra in his prime, despite dying as an old man from battlefield wounds.
- In one of the final episodes of Star Wars Rebels, Hera feels (or imagines) her shoulder being held by Kanan's ghost, who bears his appearance from the first half of the show instead of his appearance from the second half of the show or even his last haircut from right before his death. He also isn't blind, which he was for the last half of the show (unless you think the color returning to his eyes when he died meant something).
- Family Guy: Averted, when the guys visit God to ask why he keeps screwing over the New England Patriots, Joe is frustrated to discover a handicap spot sign in Heaven.
God: Oh yeah, you're like that forever.