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Heaven Seeker

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"There is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on Earth."

The character believes in a very desirable life after death. This may or may not motivate them to do great deeds, including Heroic Sacrifice and becoming The Soulsaver. The motivation can be egocentric, limited to personally getting there. Or it can be altruistic, trying to help others to reach the same ultimate goal.

Even if the desire for heaven is completely selfish at heart, the character is likely to behave well: Depending on what faith they follow they might think either that it increases their chances to get there, or simply that it is what The Powers That Be want. See also Enlightened Self-Interest. However, good behavior can have a touch of Blue-and-Orange Morality, since the character's good deeds are likely to be focused on helping people follow whatever path they think leads to paradise, rather than helping people in this life.

Depending on the setting, the afterlife might be real and rightly understood, miscomprehended, symbolic, or a pure windmill.

If the character starts using abhorrent methods, such as torturing/murdering "heretics", their methods make them a Soul-Saving Crusader if the behavior is justified within the setting and a Knight Templar if it is not.

Although some afterlife inspired by the Abrahamic heaven is the most common in western media, this trope can also include a quest for Nirvana or whatever. The core is that the final goal lies after death.

Contrast Hell Seeker and Refusing Paradise. And see Utopia Justifies the Means, where the character decides to create heaven, rather than to go there.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • Izaya Orihara of Durarara!! intends to create a Ragnarok of his own design in order to reach Valhalla.
  • In Haibane Renmei, Reki ultimately confesses to Rakka that this is her motivation for being kind to everyone. It's never confirmed, but it's heavily implied, that the Haibane's "Day of Flight" involves some sort of afterlife. She is one of the few Haibane who can't undergo her Day of Flight due to being stuck in a Circle of Sin.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Stone Ocean and the dubiously canon Over Heaven establish DIO as this. His plan in Stardust Crusaders was only a small part of his ultimate goal of achieving "Heaven." To DIO, Heaven is not the afterlife, but rather a hypothetical state of reality in which everyone is made aware of their fate and live accordingly without worry or concern. DIO developed a complicated process to achieve this state and after his defeat to the Joestars left the task to his protégé, the priest Enrico Pucci.

    Comic Books 
  • In Chick Tracts, all good characters are Heaven Seekers. Most of them are also The Soulsavers, capable of Easy Evangelism and easy Epiphany Therapy.
  • Disturbingly subverted in Sin City where the Serial Killer cannibal Kevin believed that eating people brought him closer to Heaven.
  • Wanted: The backstory for the supervillain Mr. Rictus is that he dedicated his life to religion in the hopes of being rewarded with Heaven. However, after an accident that caused him to be clinically dead for a minute, he realized that there was no afterlife. Then he became a Straw Nihilist who indulges every sadistic whim he has.

    Fan Works 
  • In Pony POV Series, Dark World Applejack becomes this following her redemption from being one of Discord's brainwashed Co-Dragons. She admits she wasn't a religious pony before, but now she has a very good reason to seek it out: her family is waiting there for her, something she now decidedly knows after meeting and having a conversation with Elysium and Apple Bloom's soul.
  • Shirou in The Hill of Swords can be viewed like this, though the afterlife he's seeking is not the typical Fluffy Cloud Heaven - he's trying to establish himself as a big enough hero to be taken to the Throne Of Heroes upon his death so that he can reunite with Saber there. The last chapter indicates he succeeded.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Constantine: The title character goes around sending half-demons back to Hell in the hope that this will gain him entry into Heaven after he dies. It's not that John Constantine likes the idea of Heaven that much — he just wants to avoid going to Hell, since he knows firsthand (due to trying to commit suicide in his youth) how horrible it is. He also knows that going to Hell will mean that he will be sharing space with the same half-demons he sent back. The flaw in this plan is that doing good deeds for the purpose of getting into Heaven doesn't count. Not until he pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save the world, with every expectation that this would send him directly to Hell, does he finally earn a spot in Heaven — Satan, who had been very eager to claim his soul, opts to heal his body so he'll have time to fall from grace once more.
    John: (to Angela) What would you do if you were sentenced to a prison where half of the inmates were put there by you?
  • Played with in Reality (2012) in which the protagonist Luciano never says that he is trying to get into Heaven, but rather the Big Brother house. However, his journey parallels that of any Christian trying to get into Heaven, complete with Messianic imagery, church and funeral services, and more.
  • The Catholic criminal Gentry from The Abduction of Saint Anne will die of cancer in three months. He plans to spend that time in a monastery atoning for his many sins, thus reaching purgatory, where he expects to remain for a very long time. He plans to abduct Anne and hold her hostage for a papal decree that every religious household on Earth will pray for his soul for ninety-nine years, allowing him to reach Heaven in a reasonable amount of time. Anne is a rare modern-day example of a miracle-working saint, so he's sure the pope will go along with it.

  • The Bible, with Jesus and most of his followers.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, most good people simply seek Jesus Aslan, and in book 7, they get to heaven as a side effect of that. In the third book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, however, Reepicheep is actively seeking out what turns out to be this afterlife. It's ambiguous as to whether he knows or not that the thing he's seeking is actually heaven. And regarding The Last Battle, C. S. Lewis stated that Susan would probably seek out heaven on her own after her family died and went there.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice centers on a man who believes the Rapture is at hand. He spends the book navigating the bizarre experiences that test his own faith while trying desperately to save the soul of his Pagan love interest before Armageddon kicks in.
  • In the Gentleman Bastard series, the Jeremite Redeemers are a group of religious fanatics who act as "living sacrifices", fighting to the death against anyone who threatens them. Any Redeemer who falls in battle is considered fast-tracked to the gods' side; consequently, they don't receive any Due to the Dead, since praying on their behalf would be superfluous.
  • Merkabah Rider: Literally. The Rider's astral form is capable of traveling to Heaven, but he was denied an audience with God. In one episode, the Rider recalls that it was common for astral travelers to give up on the material world because they knew, objectively, that they were going to Heaven.
  • Mermaid (2011): Merfolk are The Soulless, but most of them consider themselves better off than humans because they live for 300 years and gracefully dissolve into foam instead of rotting. But Lenia hates the thought of her mind and memories disappearing when she dies. She wants a human soul so she can live forever in Heaven. As in the original story, this is part of what leads her to transform into a human.
  • As a result of his many mistakes as a cat and leader in Warrior Cats, Onestar has this shortly before his death killing his son Darktail, worrying if he'll end up in Starclan or the cat equivalent of hell. He ends up in Starclan after his death.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dana Gray from the Fringe episode "Stowaway" is both this and a Death Seeker, attempting to go along with other dying people so she can rejoin her husband and children.
  • Kryten the mechanoid in Red Dwarf is programmed to believe in Silicone Heaven as his eternal reward for serving humans.
  • Late in Kamen Rider Kiva, Rook (The Brute of the Fangire's rulers) abruptly decides that he wants to go to Heaven and starts doing good deeds. Despite how it may sound, this isn't portrayed as an attempted Heel–Face Turn but simply another of the "games" Rook devises to stave off boredom. Either way, the heroes are far from receptive to this attitude, since Rook has committed genocide of several races.
  • Deconstructed in The Good Place with the character Doug Forcett. After getting high on magic mushrooms as a teenager, Doug accidentally figured out the truth about how the afterlife works and became committed to doing as much good in the world as possible before he dies. Unfortunately, the ridiculous standards of the points system and how it counts every action one commits on Earth has made him terrified of doing anything that could jeopardize his chances of getting into the Good Place, turning him into an Extreme Doormat and "happiness pump" who drives himself to uncomfortable extremes of goodness at the expense of his own happiness and general well-being. When they learn that even Doug isn't earning enough points to get in - and then that neither has anyone else in 521 years - they realize the system is completely broken.
  • Star Trek: This is central to Klingon culture. One gets into Sto-vo-kor, their version of Valhalla, via an honorable death. Dying in the line of duty is good, and there are other paths such as ritual suicide under certain circumstances, but the ideal is to die in glorious battle, taking many enemies along in the process. Thus Klingons seek any and all chances to fight, hoping for a good battle to be the one that finally gets them.

  • In Clawfinger's "Final Stand", the singer firmly believes in an unspecified religion and dreams of dying a noble death so he'll get to Paradise quickly. See the quotes page.
  • "Last Kiss" by the Cavaliers has a man saying he has to be good, so he can be in Heaven with his deceased girlfriend.
  • Parodied in Swedish band Wilmer X's song "Have You Seen My Angel?" where the singer's girlfriend dies in a motorcycle accident and he vows to live the best life he possibly can to eventually join her in heaven ... Until he finds out that she was an absolutely awful person behind his back, and calmly decides to "drink, fight and live like a pig" so he can join her in Hell instead.

    Tabletop Games 
  • All recent editions of Dungeons & Dragons (probably almost all the way back to the first edition) are designed so that a Good player character can easily be designed to desire a heroic death and subsequent eternal reward in paradise. Scarred Lands even has a holy spell that makes this inevitable: The spell, called "Hero's Death", makes the hero more powerful, but will inevitably kill him at the end of the duration if he's not already dead by then. The spell can only be cast on a Good person who fully comprehends that it will mean his death as well as making resurrection impossible. The only benefit for the hero is that his last stand will secure his place in Paradise.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade, the Kindred who sought Golconda were kinda this. Since they are already dead and eternally damned, they cannot really go to any paradise after their final death (not that anything like that is known to exist in this Crapsack World, anyway), but Golconda was said to be a state of eternal bliss wherein the vampire is freed of most of their curses.
  • The culture of Amonkhet in Magic: The Gathering. The entire society is built around pursuing a place of honour in the afterlife - most citizens strive to complete the Five Trials to earn a favoured position there, while a few are kept back by one of the gods to serve as a vizier (with an honoured death as the ultimate reward). Any who aren't this trope are cast out into the desert, which is a blasted wasteland where even death is no release. The discovery that their entire belief system was a Path of Inspiration set up to make a self-maintaining super-zombie factory for Nicol Bolas was...somewhat hard on them.

  • Before the creation of the world of The Order of the Stick, a bet made between the Northern gods Loki and his daughter Hel granted the latter domain over the souls of all dwarves who die without honour, while all others get sent to the afterlife associated with their respective god (usually Thor). As a result, dwarven society was built around the idea that dying with honour was paramount, to the point of Deliberate Values Dissonance with the other races.

    Western Animation 
  • This is the reason why Stan from American Dad! ruins the life of his atheist best friend (thinking that if his life becomes miserable enough he will turn to Christianity); they had a lot in common and Stan thought that him being an atheist would prevent him going to heaven, so they wouldn't be able to spend eternity together.
  • In Episode 92 of Kaeloo, Stumpy challenges Death so he can go to Paradise, which Kaeloo tells him is full of his Trademark Favorite Food, acorns. In the end, he commits suicide to get there, but since suicide is a sin, he winds up in Hell.
  • In the Samurai Jack episode "Jack and the Lava Monster", the titular monster is actually a viking warrior who was cursed by Aku and sealed inside a mountain, denying him death in battle and entry into Valhalla with the rest of his people. He goads Jack into fighting him so he can finally be defeated honorably and pass on.

    Real Life 
  • Mother Teresa. Some consider her a saint whose deeds were great regardless of whether her faith was correct or not, while others have reported that she made no secret that she considered the souls of those she helped the only important thing and encouraged poor people to embrace their poverty. She felt that suffering would bring people closer to Jesus.
  • Pretty much all Christians and Muslims want themselves and everyone else to go to Heaven. This is quite unproblematic if you believe that only Heaven is an actual place while Hell is the absence of God, and if you believe that God will let all decent people into Heaven whether they are Christian/Muslim or not. It becomes more problematic if you believe for example that only Christians go to Heaven while everyone else will suffer forever in Hell. Then, of course, you think that people ought to know what's at stake and make an informed decision about their eternal destiny, then of course you don't "hide your light under a bushel". Instead, you want to make sure that everyone changes their beliefs and way of life so that they will think, feel, believe and act in the same ways as you do, so they can go to Heaven with you instead of suffering forever for not being like you. Of course, it's best to figure out how to evangelize without offending and alienating half the people you interact with. Though realistically, you can't avoid offending everybody except by keeping your mouth shut... which is like having the cure to cancer and not telling people about it because some people won't believe you.
    • Of course, adherents of other religions want to go to Heaven as well. Those who believe in the ancient Norse Pantheon (the one with Odin and Thor, and yes, there are several religious organizations for people who follow that faith) have Valhalla, and so on.
    • Averted in many forms of Buddhism: they believe that Heaven and Hell exist, but are dead ends. Going to Heaven is nice, but will use up your good karma and eventually you will reincarnate anyway. Only Nirvana gives lasting salvation.
    • In the early days of Christianity, there was a sect that would threaten passersby with murder... unless said passersby would kill them. The idea was that Heaven is the only place worth being, but suicide's a sin (they didn't think murder threats were though, apparently).
    • The Greek Orthodox saint Demetrius the Neomartyr was definitely one of these. Once a Christian barber living in Tripoli (the Greek city, not the Libyan capital) in the times of the Ottoman Empire, he converted to Islam for some time, but then recanted, fell into a deep depression, and decided that he could only atone via martyrdom. The abbot of a monastery he was living in tried to dissuade him, but to no avail. From then on, Demetrius did all he could to pretty much shout at the Muslim Ottoman locals "I'm a Christian! I apostatized from Islam! Execute me already, please!" A Turkish friend he had in the local police even tried to falsify his confession to a Tripoli judge, only for Demetrius to realize it and insist that he wanted to die and go to Heaven. He finally got his wish and was beheaded.

Alternative Title(s): Paradise Seeker