It is Hell knowing that your health
Will keep you out of here for many, many years"
So you've died and Death Isn't Cheap. Luckily, you led a good life and go to Heaven. It's perfect in nearly every way, except for one thing. And that one thing makes Heaven damn near Hell.
It's not about Heaven being bad in general, it's about how things are bad for one person. For example, maybe Heaven has a strict No Pets Allowed policy. While for some people being in a place with animal-less Christians would be wonderful, others may miss their pet. Another possibility is that their significant other is in hell; they may think it's worse than being down there with them. Anyway, heaven without them is "a hell of heaven".
Of course, one of the most common complaints against Fluffy Cloud Heaven is that it would be soul-crushingly boring, especially when even the tiniest amounts of free thought and pleasure carry huge risks of sin. For this reason, it is common for its inhabitants to all be some degree of Indubitably Uninteresting Individuals. There may also be some Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul to mitigate this, but is that really any better? This may also occur if the person is distraught that they’ve died in the first place.
In this trope the actual heaven is horrible in their view, so do not confuse it with This Isn't Heaven! Compare Infernal Paradise for when it's only horrible for outsiders to the faith and contrast A Hell of a Time for when hell is fun for a specific person. See also Rerouted from Heaven, when they're in the wrong afterlife. Subtrope of Esoteric Happy Ending.
- Bleach intends to reconstruct the trope with the Soul Society. Thanks to Ichigo, several characters including Head Captain Yamamoto have changed from their centuries-long rule, villainous criminals like Aizen are brought down, and what used to be a Crapsack World of an afterlife is now becoming A World Half Full.
- The main plan of the Big Bad of Dungeon Meshi is to create one of these. The Winged Lion is an ancient Eldritch Abomination (more accurately, its the Anthropomorphic Personification of all magic) that feeds on desire, so it wants to put all life into its body, from which it will keep everyone in a state of eternal bliss while endlessly consuming their joy and desire produced by this.
- An odd example occurs in Puella Magi Oriko Magica in the epilogue, where Oriko is so burdened by guilt from an act she committed in a past life that she can't move without the help of her accomplice, Kirika.
- The Chronicles of Wormwood:
- One issue involves a road trip to Heaven where one of the residents is a suicide bomber whose promised seventy-two virgins turn out to be infants that he's apparently stuck caring for.
Bomber: The changing of seventy-two diapers! The projectile sick that splatters in my eyes, my mouth! The hundred and forty-four beady little eyes that are ever upon me—it is not what I expected! It is a cruel trick upon the faithful! I mean Allah Akbar and everything, obviously, but—
- An inversion is also seen when they visit Hell: a child molester is so overjoyed to see his little victims waiting for him, he doesn't notice that they have mandibles opening on their backs...
- One issue involves a road trip to Heaven where one of the residents is a suicide bomber whose promised seventy-two virgins turn out to be infants that he's apparently stuck caring for.
- Herman Hedning:
- God once did a trial run of Armageddon, whisking Lilleman and Gammelman off to Heaven and dumping Herman in Hell. Heaven turns out to be pretty boring, as you're just given wings and a cellphone to play with, and that's about it. Lilleman even asks to do some gardening, one of his hobbies in life, and the angels just tell him things like plantlife isn't allowed in Heaven's unbroken perfection due to the inherent chaos in biological life. Somewhat justified, since this is just a very early Alpha version of Heaven, and there's only a handful of souls around at the moment. God eventually cancels it and goes back to the drawing board.
- In another version, God was playing around with the idea that the reward in Heaven would be the ability to fly, and strips it away from any mortal beings who currently have it, even birds, and even erases everyone's memory of it. It ended up being a pretty half-assed job though, and it's also reversed.
- Rhudiprrt: Prince of Fur starts out like this. The recently deceased human protagonist refuses to follow his "spirit guide" to the human afterlife (heavily implied but not quite outright stated to be Fluffy Cloud Heaven) upon discovering that he won't get to meet his beloved pet cat there again because animals aren't allowed in, and ultimately ends up on the planet of anthropomorphic cats where she has been reincarnated — in the body originally belonging to the title character. (A flashback in a later issue shows another inhabitant of the human afterlife complaining about the place being boring as well.)
- Subverted in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye. The Afterspark, when first encountered, turns out to be just generally kind of boring. Some people, such as Cyclonus, get what they most want, but Rodimus is depressed that he didn't get to finish off Getaway first, Ratchet refuses to accept it from the get-go, and Whirl cracks that if he'd known death was like this he wouldn't have bothered courting it. And then it turns out that they're not actually in the Afterspark at all; it's a medical facility, specialising in palliative care and euthanasia, that's gone badly out of control and is having a hard time providing a plausible afterlife to please all of Team Rodimus; it gets even worse when the Scavengers turn up and collapse the whole procedure.
Rodimus: Dunno about you guys, but I'm giving the Afterspark a big thumbs down. Two Matrixes out of five. Would not visit again.
- In one strip of Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin wonders if there are tigers in heaven, since it would be impossible to be happy if one was constantly under threat of a tiger attack, but heaven would be bland if there were no tigers at all. Finally, he guesses that maybe tigers just don't eat people in heaven, but Hobbes complains that the tigers wouldn't be happy.
- The Far Side featured a man in Heaven who realizes that all Heaven gives you is a halo, robe and your own fluffy cloud to sit on for eternity, and thinks to himself: "I wish I'd brought a magazine".
- A Sergio Argones comic starts with a group of bikers dying in a traffic accident, and one of them goes to Heaven. When he realizes none of his friends are there, he's visibly upset and begs the angels for help. At the end, he's sent down to Hell, where he's happily reunited with his friends.
- In the Good Omens fanfic Its Own Place, the angel Aziraphale's personal Hell turns out to be Heaven. The real kicker is that he doesn't even realize he's actually on Hell's torture roster because its version of Heaven is exactly as he remembers it, and he expected to be lonely and miserable there After the End (because Crowley isn't th—er, because Heaven is mind-numbingly boring compared to Earth), which makes this overlap with Self-Inflicted Hell.
- In The Times That Zagreus Got Killed By A Very Angry Man Who Was Also His Cousin, Zeus pulled strings to get Calliope, his granddaughter and Kratos's daughter, sent straight to Elysium. Except Zeus didn't care beyond that; since Elysium is the afterlife for the great rather than the good, not only are there no other children to play with, poor Calliope is forever separated from her mother.
- Used in the "Captain Stormfield" segment of The Adventures of Mark Twain. Captain Stormfield of California, Earth, accidentally finds himself in an alien heaven, which is shown as a loud, colorful nightclub full of bizarre creatures, and as a somewhat conservative human from the late 1800's, it utterly overwhelms Stormalong. He's eventually ushered to his own Christian heaven, which...isn't really all that great either. It's portrayed as a solemn, peaceful place of worship where you can't even raise your voice.
Stormfield: Give me a cloud! I'm alright now-Angels: SSSSHHHHHH!Stormfield: Um... I think?
- All Dogs Go to Heaven:
- The first film features a bit of this; Charlie is shocked to learn that in heaven there are no surprises, and sings about how he'd prefer to live unpredictably.
- All Dogs Go to Heaven 2. After the events of the first movie the dog Charlie B. Barkin is in Heaven. However, he's bored with the place and wants to return to Earth. He gets his chance when Carface (Charlie's enemy) steals Gabriel's Horn and goes back to Earth. Charlie is sent after him on a mission to retrieve the Horn.
- Implied to be this in Kubo and the Two Strings. The Moon King, ruler of the Heavens and Kubo's grandfather, seeks to steal Kubo's eye (having taken one at infancy) so that he can be "cold, and hard, and 'perfect'" and come live in the Heavens with him. The Moon King and his daughters are portrayed as being Jerkass Gods with nothing but contempt for the humans they rule over, calling the Earth "Hell" while actively making everything hard for the mortals that live there, lacking "humanity" themselves. The Heavens are implied to be nothing but a cold, unchanging eternity because of this. Played With, as a different, more blissful place is also mentioned as the true resting place of the dead who return en masse at the climax to help Kubo defeat the Moon King, implying the Moon is separate from the afterlife.
- In Heathers, the first Heather to die is seen later in a dream. She complains that Heaven is so boring.
- The psychotic main character in Unspeakable hallucinates that his dead daughter is speaking to him from beyond the grave, claiming that Heaven is terrible and God Is Evil.
- What Dreams May Come has a doctor who goes to heaven after a car accident. Some time later he finds out that his wife, consumed by grief at his death and those of their children (who had died prior to him) committed suicide. Because the afterlife is self-constructed, her suicide means she is too wrapped up in grief and misery to join him in the Heaven he has been building, instead creating a dark corner of Hell in which to punish herself (forever). Without her, Heaven just ain't all that heavenly, and so he decides to go to hell to retrieve her, all Orpheus-style. He even decides to stay with her there when it becomes clear that even he can't save her. Ironically enough, this Heroic Sacrifice snaps her out of it and she ends up saving them both after he's given up hope
- This joke that turns the pitch of Heaven as a paradise on its head:
Religious Person: You're going to Hell.
Irreligious Person: What's in Hell?
Religious Person: People like you.
Irreligious Person: What's in Heaven?
Religious Person: People like me.
Irreligious Person: You really need to work on your threats.
- In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when Huck gets a lesson on heaven from Miss Watson, he is deeply unimpressed by the idea of wearing a white robe and playing a harp for eternity. When he asks her whether his friend Tom Sawyer will be there and she responds with an emphatic negative, he's glad because he figures he won't be there either.
- In Mark Twain's short story "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven" lampoons the cloud and harp heaven — his story's heaven gives the newly-arrived people a chance to try this, since it's what they expect, to get it out of their system. They are quickly bored by it and ask if there is anything else.
- Erewhon Revisited discusses this trope at length and suggests that heaven would have to be a place of continual pleasant surprises. The example the book provides is that, when you first get there, the angel on duty should tell you that your luggage was sent to another part of heaven, or even hell, but when you get to your room, it should be waiting there for you.
- In Good Omens, we get the impression from Crowley that Heaven's a boring place with few composers, theaters and films. "Listen, the point is that when the bird has worn the mountain down to nothing, right then...then you still wouldn't have finished watching The Sound of Music. And you'll enjoy it. Heaven has no taste. And not a single decent sushi restaurant."
- "Well, Hell was worse, by definition. But Crowley, who had spent time in both places, could see that they had a lot in common. You couldn't get a decent drink in either place, for example. And the boredom you got in Heaven was as bad as the excitement you got in Hell."
- Many fanworks have Aziraphale feeling the same way, usually because he's become so used to living on Earth with his bookstore and Crowley's company for so long that he feels like an outsider in Heaven. One fanfic even showed Aziraphale being utterly miserable in Heaven After the End, only to then drop the bombshell that he had actually been on Hell's torture roster all along, meaning that Heaven was literally his personal Hell.
- After comparing Heaven and Hell, most of the damned in The Great Divorce choose Hell. This is less because Heaven's a bad place and more because going there means that they have to give up their sins, which most are unwilling to do.
- In Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, Satan takes a trip up to Heaven to speak with the management, and notes that every single layer of it is insanely boring; one soul he brought with him even requests to go back to Hell, because at least all his friends are there. Because of the repeated errors in classification of souls, he sets up a 'mock Heaven' in Hell geared towards what he thinks Heaven should be like: it becomes very popular indeed. The angel Gabriel, the chief administrator, also takes his advice and starts reforms of Heaven to make it more palatable to those there.
- In Jitterbug Perfume, one character travels to the afterlife or at least the first stage where souls are weighed and measured (as in Egyptian mythology). Those souls which aren't sent for reincarnation/recycling, instead board a giant wooden ship that sails over the distant horizon (and back to pick up new souls). The decks are covered in people, sitting at tables, standing around, discussing all matter of things, and generally carrying on. One side of the ship has the name "HEAVEN" painted on it, the other side says "HELL", because for some such a fate would be a reward while others would see it as punishment. Either way, only the most "interesting" people are sent to the ship, and it's unclear if they are able to disembark at whatever location lies over the horizon.
- Job: A Comedy of Justice. After the Rapture, Alex Hergensheimer ends up in Heaven. However, his love Margrethe is not with him because she worshiped the deities of Norse Mythology. He eventually decides to leave Heaven to search for her.
- Susie in The Lovely Bones is in Heaven, but it seems like a rather dull place, and she's absolutely miserable missing her family and watching them grow up without her.
- Justified in that the version of "Heaven" Susie and others are in is implied to be a preliminary stage before the soul moves on. Although it's a wonderful place in theory—it is shaped by the desires of its inhabitants, so that Susie is able to attend an idealized version of the high school she looked forward to entering while she was alive—it's inherently a place for those who have yet to let go of their old lives and who have not yet ceased to watch their living friends and family carry on without them. Only by resolving these issues can Susie go to the true Heaven, and she's working with an assigned psychiatrist to that end.
- In Der Münchner im Himmel, Fluffy Cloud Heaven is this for a recently deceased citizen of Munich such as Alois Hingerl. The reason is because there is no snuff and especially no beer in Heaven.
- The idea is put forth in Paradise Lost. After losing the war, Satan states that "The mind is its own place, and in itself, Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven." This counts as the Trope Namer and possibly the Laconic version. At its heart, this trope isn't that Heaven is a horrible place, just that, for some people, it isn't perfect. It isn't Heaven. It's Hell.
- In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis puts forth that the reason people go to Hell is because their own actions have warped their minds to the point that Heaven would be Hell to them.
- In one of his speeches (published 1910), Mark Twain commented, "Heaven for climate, and Hell for society."
- Richard Matheson's novel What Dreams May Come, source of the aforementioned Film of the Book.
- In the Stephen King short story "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band," from Nightmares & Dreamscapes, any rock star who dies before their time is transported to "Rock and Roll Heaven," an idealized small town in the backwoods of Oregon. They all get fun jobs during the day and have a huge concert every night that, despite needing to be over by midnight, can last for years if they really get into it. It's a rocker's paradise!...except what's the point of music without an audience? That "audience" turns out to be people who randomly stumble into the town. The rock stars—who, regardless of how kind or good they were in life, come back wrong and turn into cruel, malicious, sadistic revenants—force these people to take on mundane jobs that they don't want, then attend the nightly concerts. The townspeople are also permanently trapped at the age they were when they entered Rock and Roll Heaven and can't die themselves, but they can be tortured and feel pain, to the point where they're forced to use massive amounts of drugs to cope with the horror. All of these people end up exhausted, apathetic, miserable husks of humans with no hope of escape, while the rock stars take pleasure in their agony as they perform.
- In Angel, the first words we hear from Cordelia in the higher plane are: "God, I'm bored."
- In the first season of Blackadder, Edmund, having been appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury, uses this trope along with A Hell of a Time to convince a wealthy landowner that Heaven is only for pious people and Hell is where all the fun happens. This convinces the man to leave all his holdings to the king and, in so doing, damn himself to Hell.
- In Good Omens (2019), Heaven is shown to be a sterile, soulless place run by Jerkass angels that's little better than Hell which at least doesn't pretend to be a good place.
- This is essentially the premise of The Good Place: the main character is wrongly sent to Heaven, where her less-than-good nature wreaks havoc on her neighborhood. And then things get worse. And then Season 1 ends with The Reveal that This Isn't Heaven—she and the other humans were chosen as part of an experimental Ironic Hell designed to make them torture each other for all eternity.
- It's then played straight in the series' penultimate episode "Patty": after much trials, tribulations, and ultimately reforming the afterlife, the heroes are able to officially go to the Good Place, being the first humans to do so in over 500 years... and they quickly find out Heaven is not all that it's cracked up to be. The humans that have already made it there have grown bored from the lack of anything new to do, and getting anything and everything they could ever want has lost its novelty to them. The titular Patty herself is Hypatia of Alexandria, who's undergone severe Sanity Slippage that's caused her brain to become a puddle of mush as she can't even wrap her mind around basic mathematics anymore (in life, she was a brilliant mathematician). Even the committee who run the Good Place are miserable as they're unable to fulfill their function and are at a loss over how to fix this. Thus, the Soul Squad has to find yet another solution to this issue. After some debate they do - namely by tying back to a philosophical argument from Season 2 that the finite nature of mortal life gives it meaning. The souls of the Good Place are given the option of ending their conscious existence once they feel ready to do so, however long that might take. What happens afterwards isn't entirerly clear, though it's described as "the ocean wave returning to the shore", and is implied to disperse the soul through The Lifestream, with their life energy dispersing across all of humanity. With the exception of Tahani, the entire Soul Squad eventually take this option after several centuries in the Good Place..
- The group's experiment on 4 test subjects to determine if humans actually can improve in the afterlife functions as this to the unwitting participants, and even relies on it in the last few minutes of the experiment, when Eleanor and Michael use this to their advantage by letting Chidi and Brent "realize" and believe they were in The Bad Place the whole time so that Brent would finally realize he's a bad person, so that he'll have a last-minute point boost.
- Lucifer (2016): Eve, the first woman and wife of Adam, hated being stuck in Heaven because it was so boring. She tried to make her afterlife more interesting by greeting the new arrivals but their stories about life on Earth made her realise how much she was missing out on. When she finds her way back to Earth she promptly becomes The Hedonist to make up for lost time.
- Supernatural: Heaven seems great on paper, but is essentially one gigantic Lotus-Eater Machine when examined. Everyone gets their own private "room" where they get to relive their fondest memories. Unfortunately, since everybody gets a private room, this means a person never gets to see their loved ones again and has to experience the rest of eternity completely alone with only their memories playing on repeat to bring them happiness. Sam and Dean come to the conclusion that Heaven is actually pretty crappy once they see it for themselves. In the second-to-last episode, when someone new takes over God's powers, the first thing he does is shatter the walls so the residents of Heaven can see one another again.
- In one episode of Talk Heathen, Eric asks a caller if he'd be happy in Heaven knowing that those he knew personally were suffering in Hell simply for not believing in God.
- The Twilight Zone (1959): "A Nice Place to Visit" is about a man who goes to Heaven (to his own surprise, as he had been a petty criminal and a selfish, small-minded person in general) to find it's everything he's ever wanted and he is very, very happy about it. For a while. Over time, he slowly starts to lose his mind to boredom as everything is turning out to be exactly the way he planned it out and even if he wanted more of a challenge, it still goes the way he intended. Eventually, he begs his guide to send him to "the other place" as he clearly does not belong in Heaven. Only... "Heaven? What gave you the idea that you're in Heaven? This is 'the other place'!" The man is trapped in an Ironic Hell where he will suffer from an eternity of boredom.
- In The Hunt, Hyder Simpson tells the gatekeeper that if his dog Rip isn't allowed into Heaven, then it would be no better than Hell. It is, indeed, Hell. Dog's aren't allowed through the gate because they can smell the sulpher. The REAL Heaven happily welcomes dogs.
- The Jonathan Coulton song "Don't Feed the Trolls" has lines that allude to something like this.
Lucy had a steamboatSteamboat had a bellLucy went to heavenShe still felt like hellSo she only gave it two stars"Worst place ever"
- Frazier Chorus- Heaven is about exactly this. As one stanza says:
"nobody's happy in Heaven, and that God is a bore and his son is annoying as well. Of the games you could play you're stuck with Monopoly day after day, you'd be just as happy in hell"
- The premise of the Sonata Arctica song "Alone in Heaven" focuses on the potential loneliness of heaven. "Can this be heaven, if my best friends burn in hell?"
- The Talking Heads song "Heaven" describes Heaven as being rather monotonous. "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens..."
- Townes Van Zandt's "You Are Not Needed Now": "heaven ain't bad but you don't get nothing done."
- The Hank Williams Jr. Song "If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like Dixie".
- A minor example in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Everything You Know Is Wrong". The narrator dies in the final verse, and almost doesn't get into Heaven because he doesn't meet the dress code. St. Peter decides to let him in anyway, but assigns him the room next to the noisy ice machine for all eternity (implying that Heaven is basically a cheap motel), and screams the chorus to the song outside his room every day.
- Played for dark laughs in Sparks' song "Here in Heaven", narrated by the successful half of a suicide pact.
- Apparently the viewpoint of late 7th-century Frisian king Radbod. He was drawn to the Christian faith and was about to be baptized by St. Wulfram of Sens, who was a missionary to Friesland at the time. When he asked where his pagan ancestors were, St. Wulfram responded that they were in Hell. Disgusted, Radbod declared "I will go to hell with my ancestors rather than be in heaven without them" and dismissed St. Wulfram. However, it is said that when Radbod was on the verge of dying, he changed his mind and sought baptism from St. Willibrord, another missionary, but unfortunately died before his arrival.
- Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches teach that Heaven and Hell are within the same realm, which is in the presence of God. The damned would needless to say absolutely hate Heaven, since through their warped, sinful perspective and indifference to their creator, they would see the divine light not as loving but identify it as the fires of hell. It possibly overlaps with Good Hurts Evil, since being in God's presence is supposed to be one of the rewards for the people in Heaven. Presumably it's harmful to the damned on this view.
- The New Testament's Parable of the Great Banquet shows that its easy to get to Heaven, and just as easy to get kicked out because the Kingdom of Heaven is God's home, its not your home. As Jesus explains, a king orders a marriage feast for his son, and sent out his servants to usher in the poor and outcast when the original invitees prove themselves unworthy. But the king throws a guest (a tramp) out into the dark simply because he didn't have the right attire on.
- In the Bible, Salvation is a free gift, but rewards are not. You can be saved for accepting the Messiah, but all your achievements are burned in hellfire. Failing to do any good works in life, or following the saviour's example, makes you the Least in Heaven. You don't get any of the Five Crowns from God, none of the additional honours The Son may want for you. You end up little more than a servant in paradise, and don't inherit any authority or treasures that the children of God do.
- A popular claim among Catholic saints is that the highest realm of Purgatory, often dubbed the "Threshold," or the "Purgatory of desire," works on this principle: there is no fire and it resembles an Earthly paradise, akin to Eden. But being cut off from God alone makes the souls endure unbearable, hell-like torments. Of course, this emphasizes that Heaven is the real paradise.
- On a similar principle, many Christians believe this is why Hell exists. The fallen angels and souls of the damned either hate God or love sin so much being in Heaven would be a torment, so Hell is just as much an act of mercy as it is a punishment.
- The poem "Paul Bunyan", by Shel Silverstein has this line, right after the titular character emerges from the grave.
- "Y'know, bein' dead wasn't no fun at all"...says Paul. / He says, "Up in heaven they got harps on their knees, / They got clouds and wings but they got no trees. / I don't think that's much of a heaven at all"...says Paul. / So he jumps on his ox with a fare-thee-well, / He says, "I'll find out if there's trees in hell."
- The title character of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's poem "The Blessed Damozel," who is in heaven, but is sad because her lover is still on earth (although this is an understated example, because the poem implies they will eventually be happily reunited).
- The setting has a plane of existence for each Character Alignment; Upper Planes, the Good ones, are each a kind of heaven. (Though see also Infernal Paradise.) It's specifically noted in source material that people of other alignments may not find them to their liking. How well is a Chaotic Neutral person going to get along with the way a Lawful Good world works? Then again, it's likely that most will prefer them to the Lower Planes, as well as Limbo, since there is a difference between a physically inherently hostile and nice environment. (But see Infernal Paradise again.)
- Mount Celestia is a rather dangerous place for even the most virtuous mortals to enter, as all portals leading to it lead to the Silver Sea that borders the first layer. While this ocean is sweet, fresh (not salt) water, first-time visitors are often unprepared, and risk drowning. fortunately, the zovari inhabit this sea; charitable creatures, they rescue anyone in danger of drowning except obvious threats. In fact, the ocean's purpose may be to defend Celestia. Even an army of demons would be decimated trying to get past an ocean of holy water.
- This is why goblins have such a strong survival instinct. Goblinoid religion holds that when they die, their souls join their tyrannical god Maglubiyet's hosts on the Infernal Battlefield of Acheron. For the martial-minded hobgoblins, this is an Infernal Paradise, but the lesser goblins, who are already treated as Cannon Fodder by the stronger goblinoids, aren't eager for an afterlife that's more of the same.
- In The Adding Machine, Zero winds up in a place called the Elysian Fields, which appears to be the happy place where bad people go after they die. Though he and Daisy have the option of remaining there forever, Zero doesn't like it having to "mix with people that ain't respectable" and wants out. The man who killed his mother and accompanies Zero to this place wonders where's the eternal torment he feels he deserves.
- In Jasper in Deadland, Jasper notices that Elysium is peaceful, but he also seems kind of horrified by the thought of spending a lifetime in there, and when Agnes and Jasper feel like they have to stay there instead of returning to the Living World, it's treated as a Downer Ending.
- In Orfeo ed Euridice, Orpheus is dazzled by the beauty of Elysium and its inhabitants, but finds the paradise empty without Eurydice there.
- Afterlife (1996) makes heaven look like a cross between an upmarket retirement home and a very expensive but slightly tacky theme park. There's an actual game mechanic about siphoning "ad infinitum" from the rocks scattered around the place (because they're infinitely heavy; apparently The Powers That Be had to test the Omnipotence Paradox a whole lot and just left them lying around afterwards) to make everything feel new and interesting all the time, which is really kind of creepy when you think about it.
- Blasphemous: Though most people in Cvstodia need no greater stimulus than guilt or faith to wish for punishment, there are a few Story Breadcrumbs mentioning a realm "beyond the Dream" as their Martyrdom Culture's own take on Heaven. You finally go there in the Golden Ending of The Wounds of Eventide and, sure enough, it's not much better than the Hell on Earth people endured in life. Nothing but an endless procession of velvet banners and pavilions wandering forever towards a blinding light that is forever out of reach. It vanishes when the Penitent One and Crisanta destroy the High Wills, freeing its inhabitants to experience, presumably, a much more desirable Cessation of Existence.
- In The Elder Scrolls most prominent Creation Myth, Lorkhan, one of the et'Ada ("original spirits") convinced/tricked some of his fellow et'Ada to sacrifice a large portion of their power in order to create Mundus, the mortal plane. Most races of Mer (Elves) view this as a malevolent act which robbed the pre-creation spirits of their divinity and forced them into a mortal prison where they experience loss and suffering. However, the races of Men generally view pre-creation as the "prison", consisting of unchanging stasis. Lorkhan, in a benevolent act, freed the spirits from this prison, giving them the opportunity to achieve enlightenment and greater ascension in Mundus.
- In Hades, Zagreus' journey to escape the Underworld takes him through Elysium. There, Zagreus meets Patroclus, who spends his days utterly miserable at the fact that he's stuck in a "heaven" populated by violent and bloodthirsty "heroes" who spend all day fighting instead of the good people he loved while he was alive, especially his lover Achilles (who, in bitter irony, pledged his service to the House of Hades for eternity in exchange for his own place in Elysium to be given to Patroclus ). Luckily, Zagreus can reunite the two, which cheers Patroclus up immensely.
- In Helltaker, the protagonist can accidentally end up in Heaven if he picks the wrong choice when talking to Azazel. While a nice place, the whole point behind going into Hell in the first place was to get a harem of demon girls, which is impossible now that he's in Heaven. Also, the angels are dressed in very familiar clothing.
- After Ascension was introduced in Kingdom of Loathing, up until a revamp in May 2011 Valhalla was just a waiting room for adventurers who had Ascended, where they could either reincarnate and start again as a level 1 adventurer or go through a few non-combat adventures about how boring the afterlife is: the restaurants serve nothing but tasteless health food (rice cake, to be exact), and there's nothing to do but play card games (which are rendered pointless by the fact that everyone plays for infinite stakes with infinite amounts of money, and in some cases infinite amounts of cards), chat with your ancestors (who are largely jerks), or contemplate the infinite (which at least leads to you getting stoned, playing Battleship with Death, fooling around with a Magic 8-Ball, or indulging in a parody of The Matrix).
- Neon White has the ascended sinner Neon White remark that Heaven is both exactly as he thought it would be, and incredibly disappointing.
- Touhou Project's version of Heaven was so dull to Tenshi Hinanawi that she decided starting an incident on the surface, just so she could get beat up by mortals as punishment, would be more fun. She's also snubbed by the other celestial beings for her unorthodox ascension as a small child (since she hadn't developed the virtues to earn or properly appreciate her place in Heaven).
- In The Saga of Biorn by The Animated Workshop, Christian Fluffy Cloud Heaven is presented as equivalent to the Norse Helheim, the home of the unworthy dead who die of old age or disease. Both are essentially tranquil and unchanging places, anathema to the main character who is seeking an honourable death in battle so he can spend eternity in Valhalla. After many failures at finding a worthy opponent, he suffers a mortal blow while defending a convent of nuns from a giant. As Biorn excitedly ascends the stairs to Valhalla, the nuns repay him posthumously with a Christian burial, causing the gates of Valhalla to change into the gates of Fluffy Cloud Heaven just as he reaches the top of the stairs.
- This was the fate of the villain Malikar from Puffin Forest. He got sent to a random plane of existence and through sheer chance happened to land on the worst possible place for him to be, Mount Celestia, the equivalent of heaven. Angels immediately arrest him and throw him in a heavenly prison guarded by baby seals, keeping him from returning to threaten the world for a very long time.
- The Queer Duck episode "Ku Klux Klan & Ollie" ends with Queer Duck and Jerry Falwell dying and going to heaven. Queer Duck likes it in heaven because he gets to hang out with deceased gay men, while Jerry Falwell considers heaven to be Hell for the same reason.
- In Casey and Andy, Andy was punished by being forced into heaven. His girlfriend is Satan, so Hell would not be a punishment for him. But then...
- Existential Comics: Arthur Schopenhauer dies and goes to heaven, and it's perfect in every way. Problem is, Schopenhauer is a philosopher of pessimism who thinks that existence is suffering, so an afterlife — any afterlife, even an absolutely perfect one — is hell to him. He does decide to give it a chance when he finds some music he likes, but he quickly gets bored of that.
- One HATEFARM strip shows an Atheist let into heaven, as "there was a special on." However, he has to spend the rest of forever talking to a Jehova's Witness. There is Funny Background Event of Jesus trying extremely hard not to laugh at him.
- I'm the Grim Reaper: God was born without emotions and only evolved them later on with a poor understanding of how they work. As such, he is unable to relate to his creations, resulting in Unfeeling Heavens.
- Brooke got into purgatory, which is still considered paradise to some because it's a lush environment without the stench of death and you get to talk to a bunch of other non-saint non-sinners... but other than that, it's no different than the first circle of Hell; pointless, endless, and empty. Brooke decided to become a Reaper just so he could have something, anything, to work towards, and used getting his sister out of Hell as an excuse for his hard work.
- The lower levels of Heaven are pleasant enough, but outsiders that learn details about the higher levels of heaven find them disturbing. As you get higher, the residents start showing signs of Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul. At the second highest level, people just exist in a state of perpetual bliss, doing nothing. At the highest level, people go through Cessation of Existence, because while God values virtue up to a point, God has a Lack of Empathy and considers anyone too good to be worthless to their plans.
- Men in Hats had a strip where The Fundamentalist Samuel is trying to convince Gamal to convert to his brand of fundamentalist Christianity with threat of the Rapture.
Samual: You can either spend eternity in heaven with me, or be left behind with the likes of Aram and Jeriah!
Gamal: I have to say, you've managed to make an impressively poor case for eternal salvation.
Samuel: Mayor Jeb will be in Heaven also.
Gamal: So, so poor.
- In Narbonic, Mell Kelly gets assumed bodily into Heaven (It Makes Sense in Context), and when she gets back, says it's pretty nice, but ultimately quite boring. "But do they ever get crabby about declaring fruit..." Being Mell, she might be trolling the rest of the cast, though Caliban (a fallen angel) seems to agree with her.
- In one strip of The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, Wonderella ends up in Heaven, but wills herself back to life after being unable to deal with the fact that in Heaven everyone wears sandal socks.
- Sacrimony: Every soul is judged by the goddess of death, and sent to a specific 'district' based on whichever vice or virtue they represent the most; sinners have greater weight in their vices than their virtues, while the virtuous may need some slight moral failings to concentrate on a single virtue they value above all others. The problem is, they're all treated like mentally-ill patients by said goddess, and she refuses to let them decide where they want to go, even if they would rather go to Dusk than stay separated from their family forever. The Loyal's district in particular is an outright Infernal Paradise. This is implicitly a side effect of the pantheon being psychologically broken by the first apocalypse.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:
- This strip theorizes that Heaven is this for St. Peter.
- According to this one it's only hell for philosophers who overthink the This Isn't Heaven trope.
- This one has this trope as the reason a character doesn't believe in Heaven, until his friend convinces him by saying it's the kind of place where everyone knows the intentions behind your screwups instead of jumping to conclusions.
- A Softer World number 965.
''In Heaven, everything is fine? Ugh.
- There is a creepypasta where a soul ascends to Heaven and is captivated by its majesty and beauty, only to soon discover that the fate of all who ascends to Paradise is to spend eternity just mindlessly praising God (a reference to actual scripture by the way), with an angel telling him this is mankind's sole purpose of existence, and the main character notices that many souls have long since resorted to endlessly repeating God's name rather than actual worship. And Hell is almost exactly the same, except you're also on fire.
- In another creepypasta named "The Heaven Project", "Heaven" is little more than a slaughterhouse. There are two fates that may await you there: either become God's food, or become an angel, which basically just entails getting wings sloppily stitched to your back and getting to work processing said food. There is allegedly no Hell. It's left up to the reader's imagination whether this is the actual "Heaven", the other place passing itself off as Heaven, or possibly even just some kind of sick cult on Earth, as no explicitly supernatural powers are ever displayed by anyone at any point.
- In yet another creepypasta called "In Heaven", it is shown that everybody goes to Heaven when they die, no matter their religion. Even non-religious people go there. Unfortunately, once you've arrived, God turns you into a mindless zombie, incapable of cognitive thought, with your sole purpose being to worship Him forever. It's also implied Hell doesn't exist, since Satan and his angels were made to suffer in Heaven as God's throne.
- In The Salvation War, an afterlife in Heaven means eternal menial servitude to the angels. Better than the tortures of Hell, but if you were the kind of person who qualified for Heaven you're in for a rude shock. Meanwhile, the famous bounty of Heaven consists entirely of "enough food, good weather, no wars and livable housing", the latter still being hovels by modern standards. One character speculates that when Yahweh closed the gates of Heaven centuries ago, he did it because what it offered was no longer certain to be a paradise compared to Earth.
- SCP-7179 is a pocket of spacetime centered on a tropical island, which a few deceased individuals observed by the Foundation have traveled to after death. It's a seeming paradise where people are in perfect health, the weather is a constantly comfortable Endless Daytime, and anyone there is offered all the vices one could ever want. And that's it; the realm never changes, the people there are mindless automatons with no will of their own and there's no way to leave, not even dying. While also there's no way to communicate with anyone trapped there, signals can be sent to us from them, which is how the Foundation documented one subject's experience. This is also how they found that a factorial of One Googol years note in SCP-7179 is equal to one second in our world.
- In Who Says, while it has been established that Heaven was the paradise the Holy Bible said it was at one point in time. Then when "The Dante Incident", they have since reigned in all souls that ascend there and conditions them into babyhood not unlike Limbo. While they struggle at first, long-term conditioning brainwashes them into accepting their new state of existence.
- On American Dad!, Francine renounces her belief in God when her pastor tells her that Roger, who the family thinks has died, wouldn't get into Heaven. (Which doesn't make much sense, since Francine, unable to admit that Roger was an alien, claimed he was a pet, so it's not like the pastor's claim was necessarily valid. Nor does he even care.)
- Except that claim's also been around for a long while, based on the belief that only humans have souls, therefore only humans can go to Heaven.
- In another episode, Jesus comes back and recognizes Roger as one of his father's side projects. Roger is not amused.
- Dog Heaven appears in another episode, and it's pretty nice outside of the Sea Monsters.
Freddy: Yeah, you got to kill those sometimes.
- Stan, during a trip to Heaven, asks a woman there why she is working as a waitress, and gets the response, "Oh, no. I'm a slave."
- Played for Laughs in Beavis And Butthead when Beavis is having a Near-Death Experience and finds himself at the gates of heaven in front of Saint Peter. Unsurprisingly, after having his life reviewed he doesn't get in, and is cast into the lake of fire which he finds much more enjoyable.
Beavis: So, like, in heaven, will all the chicks do whatever I want?Saint Peter: No.Beavis: That sucks! Do I get X-Ray Vision? Do I get some nachos?Saint Peter: No.Beavis: Are you sure this is heaven?
- An episode of Bob And Doug had an old man die and go to dog heaven. It doesn't seem so bad at first, but it eventually does get annoying.
- In a gag in Family Guy, a jihadist suicide bomber arrives in Fluffy Cloud Heaven ready to meet his 72 virgins. A second later we see a bunch of guys on laptops playing Magic: The Gathering. The bomber's response, "OSAMA!!!"
- In Fifty Percent Grey, Heaven is an endless grey plain, marked only by a fancy TV explaining where you are and why. Purgatory and Hell are exactly the same, except the TV is cheaper and the explanation is different.
- On Futurama, "The Beast With A Billion Backs", Leela insists the Fluffy Cloud Heaven the sentient universe Yivo brought the whole population of the universe to is actually a bad place to live, but its implied she's just complaining for the sake of it. "Okay, I admit that everyone's happy, but it's all so wholesome. And that's what's wrong with heaven! It's boring! There's no sleaze!" Naturally, this observation is immediately followed by everyone running off to Mattress Island to indulge in a perfect jealousy-free orgy of Idealized Sex.
- Parodied in Robot Chicken where a man is killed by a car accident and arrives in a Heaven riddled with pedophiles (his creepy uncle), murderers ("I was a serial killer! But I repented in prison and went to Heaven!"), crusaders ("I killed hundreds in the name of our Lord!") and Adolf Hitler ("I'm just as surprised as you are"). He can't handle that it's so lax to get in and is sent back to Earth by an angel... back into his dead mangled body.
- The Simpsons:
- In the episode "I'm Going to Praiseland", a gas leak causes people to have visions of their own personal Heaven. Disco Stu's vision is, obviously, a nightclub full of disco music, dancers... and Frank Sinatra.
Sinatra: For me, this is Hell. Ya dig, pally?
- In one of the "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween episodes, Ned Flanders is killed and as he lays on the ground bleeding out, he announces that he can see Heaven. He is very surprised when Confucius and Milton Berle are there to greet him.
Ned: Boy, have I been barking up the wrong tree. [dies]
- When Homer erroneously predicts Armageddon in "Thank God It's Doomsday" after seeing a Left Behind movie and the Springfield residents are infuriated when it doesn't occur like he predictednote , he gets taken to Fluffy Cloud Heaven in the rapture, only to be miserable knowing that his family and friends are suffering on Earth. He starts vandalizing Heaven, persuading God to rewind time ("Superman did it!") and postpones the end of the world.
- In an episode where Bart and Homer convert to Catholicism, Marge is at first happy they found religion, but Reverend Lovejoy says that different faiths means different afterlives. Marge then imagines herself alone and miserable in Protestant Heaven, which is filled entirely with upper-class WASPs playing tennis and croquet, while Homer and Bart party it up for all eternity with the Irish, Italians, and Mexicans in Catholic Heaven.
- In the episode "I'm Going to Praiseland", a gas leak causes people to have visions of their own personal Heaven. Disco Stu's vision is, obviously, a nightclub full of disco music, dancers... and Frank Sinatra.
- On South Park Satan got God to do him a favor: let Saddam Hussein into Heaven, which is otherwise populated entirely by Mormons. Being surrounded by Mormons was torture to Hussein. Later on, Saddam took over and started building WMDs.