When a character dies, with rare exception, they end up in an afterlife populated by other deceased. Some of these people will have been friends or loved-ones in the living world, reunited at last. Some of these people...well, let's just say not everyone in Heaven were on good terms before they died. Some of them were even bitter enemies!
But in the afterlife, there's little reason to care about former rivalries and disagreements. It stops mattering what happened when you were alive, and so the people you used to hate, suddenly, aren't so bad at all.
This may happen because the afterlife brings a sensation of peace and understanding. A character once consumed by rage or jealousy or power can gain some perspective after death, and become a much calmer, friendlier person. At the same time, there's nothing left to pick a fight over, anyway. You don't need money, land, or authority when you're a ghost— so why continue to hate the people that challenged you? With the entire reason for the animosity being nullified, rivalries can be put aside. However, it doesn't have to happen instantaneously. The afterlife is supposed to be eternal, after all. There's more than enough time to mend bridges with the people you used to fight with, so some works portray this process as being about a gradual bonding and forgiveness process while there's nothing left to do but talk to each other, rather than an immediate shift.
Having this occur between individuals is most common, but it could also happen on a larger scale. Entire warring nations could become friends in the afterlife, and though their descendants will still fight, at least the afterlife brings them a truce.
Due to this trope dealing with deceased characters, spoilers be unmarked. Tread carefully.
- Space Runaway Ideon: At the end of the movie Be Invoked, the souls of the main characters are shown to interact peacefully with the Human Alien Buff Clan, with whom the main characters have been at war with for the entirety of the series. This is likely due to the understanding brought about from the Ide.
- In ElfQuest, Strongbow was beating himself up when he was forced to fatally shoot down Kureel, a Glider elf at the end of Siege of Blue Mountain in defense of his son and a sympathetic young human. In Kings of the Broken Wheel, the tribe suggests that Strongbow get this off his chest by going to the Palace where most of the spirits of late Elves dwell after death to ask forgiveness. He makes the journey and contacts the spirit of Kureel, and it turns out that he is completely at peace and barely remembered the circumstances of his death. As such, Kureel was willing to forgive Strongbow immediately, if only to make a fellow Elf feel better.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: Smurfing In Heaven", Empath (who thinks he's dead) goes to Elysium and sees all not only are all his fellow Smurfs there, but also nobody has a problem with anybody up there — especially with the likes of Grouchy, Brainy, Jokey, and Clumsy. Of course, this all gets undercut by the fact that this version of Elysium that Empath visits isn't real.
- In Oh Shit, There's Fanfiction of Us!?, the various victims of the Killing School Life are shown to be quite civil and happy with each other in the afterlife, even the ones who murdered each other. This may be due to the fact that all of them were friends before the killing game and wouldn't have killed each other if the Big Bad hadn't wiped their memories.
- A more serious version of the above scenario, A Collection of Afterlife Reunions feature this trope eventually happening, with even the Big Bad being welcomed back into the group's True Companions, but it takes a lot of forgiving to get there.
- Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: After Darth Vader sacrifices himself to save his son Luke and destroy the Emperor, his redeemed self appears as a Force Ghost in the movie's final scene alongside Obi-Wan and Yoda. Neither of them seem to bear him any enmity, despite him having previously aided the Empire in slaughtering their entire order and sort of killed Obi-Wan.
- This concept is discussed by Ivan and Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov. Ivan says that he couldn't accept a world where a mother embraces a torturer and murderer of her son, and they exclaim aloud with tears, "Thou art just, O Lord!" Alyosha has to agree with him.
- In The Letters to a Sleeping Brother by Andrey Desnitsky, the narrator, a resident of Heaven, writes to her brother (in Hell but with a chance of survival) and tells him how former enemies turn to friends in Heaven. In particular, she says that Peter, a Latvian soldier whose arrest her brother had (unwillingly) caused, is in Heaven now and sends him his love. She also mentions a pagan priest who reconciled with the victims of child sacrifices he used to perform.
- In the books by C. S. Lewis:
- In The Great Divorce, nearly everyone makes enemies with each other in Hell and there is no enmity between anyone in Heaven. In particular, two of the Saved, Len and Jack, are on perfectly friendly terms, even though the former had murdered the latter. Len is also ready to make peace with his previously hated boss (one of the damned who ultimately refuses Heaven).
- In The Last Battle, some people who have opposed Aslan turn towards him in the end. Some of the dwarves manage to give up their cynicism, and there is that famous heartwarming story about the young Calormene soldier, formerly a devoted worshipper of Tash, who accepts Aslan and makes peace with the Narnians.
- In Space Wolf the Fenrisians consider recruitment by the Space Wolves after falling in battle to be something like Valhalla, but Ragnar gets picked up alongside Stybjorn, a warrior from a rival tribe who may have killed his father, and they spend most of the first book as bitter foes. By the end of the novel they've fought together against a Chaos Space Marine incursion and put aside their dispute from their old life.
- The Roald Dahl short story They Shall Not Grow Old, a British WWII pilot has a near-death experience where he almost ends up landing at a heavenly airstrip; he sees airplanes of both sides landing, with both Allied and Axis airmen on the field cheering the new arrivals side-by-side.
- In Warrior Cats, the Clans all have an intense territorial rivalry with one another. However, all borders break down when they die and join StarClan. Cats live in peace together in StarClan.
- Legends of Tomorrow: When Ray Palmer's soul is temporarily in hell after his body is stolen by the demon Neron, he runs into his team's former archnemesis Vandal Savage, who was sent to torture him. However, it turns out Vandal has mellowed out a lot since his death, and the two of them end up becoming friends and playing multiple games of Giant Jenga together.
- The Good Place:
- One of the new arrivals in Season 4 is John, a gossip columnist who often mocked Tahani on his blog. Turns out that he was specifically chosen by the Bad Place to torment Tahani, and it almost works, but Tahani, determined to not let the Bad Place win, extends an olive branch out to him. After an initially bumpy start, they find that they have a lot in common and become friends.
- After a truly ridiculous Love Triangle between Chidi, Simone and Elinor (involving both women being Chidi's girlfriend repeatedly at different times across multiple timelines and all involved parties having their memories of each other wiped and un-wiped several times over), the series finale shows all three happily getting along in the Good Place without any sign of awkwardness. When you consider that awkwardness had been Chidi's defining character trait on Earth, this is a remarkable testament to the afterlife's ability to make people better.
- The M*A*S*H episode "Follies of the Living - Concerns of the Dead" had an American soldier's ghost hanging around the camp because he was in denial that he had been killed (only a delirious Klinger could see or hear him). At the end, another GI's spirit says it's time to go and he joins a procession of soldiers from both sides as well as Korean civilians as they head into the afterlife.
- An episode of Criminal Minds plays with this, as Aaron Hotchner collapses and is taken for emergency surgery, where he has a vision of his late wife, as well as the man who murdered her and whom Aaron had beaten to death, both chatting with him and each other casually. Whether they were legitimately in the afterlife, or just a dream by Hotch as he was under anesthesia is open for debate.
- It is one of the characteristics of the Heavenly Kingdom in Christianity. The Book of Isaiah, in particular, has a detailed passage on the post-Last Judgment world:
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.
- Depending on the staging, some performances of Les Misérables have Javert and Valjean meet during the finale, shake hands, and make peace with each other.
- The Haunted Mansion theme park ride features a ghost decapitated knight singing happily next to his ghost executioner in the ghosts' graveyard jamboree at the end.
- The finale of the main quest line in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim brings you to Sovngarde, the Nord afterlife. Any major characters you killed before that point will show up there:
- One such character is Galmar Stone-Fist, the second-in-command of the Stormcloaks. Initially, he bitterly accuses you of trying to continue tormenting him in the afterlife. But once you defeat Alduin, who had been eating the souls of the dead in Sovngarde, he warms up considerably, both out of thanks for defeating the World Eater and also figuring that "eternity is too long to hold a grudge."
- One quest has you assisting the ghost of the bard Svaknir, who was punished for writing a satirical work attacking king Olaf One-Eye. During your visit to Sovngarde, you can meet king Olaf and he tells you that he considers Svaknir a Worthy Opponent and is looking forward to his soul arriving in Sovngarde so they can greet as equals.
- In Hades, The Dual Boss that Zagreus faces in Elysium is Theseus... and Asterius (more commonly known as the Minotaur), who is now the eternal comrade of the one who slew him in life. In this case, it's because Theseus helped Asterius redeem himself in the afterlife, granting the Bull of Minos access to the realm of the greatest heroes.
- Zig-Zagged in Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, where Johnny and Kinzie travel to Hell and run into a bunch of the Saints' long-dead enemies, some of whom still hold a grudge against them, while others are quite amicable. Most notable of the latter is Dane Vogel, the Big Bad of Saints Row 2, who was murdered by the Saints at the height of his power and achievement, but used his time in Hell to reflect and realized that he would rather be friends with them when they also inevitably end up down there. Similarly, Kiki DeWynter, one of the enemy gang leaders in Saints Row: The Third, is quite happy to work with the Saints in Hell — although her enmity was never personal, and her twin sister (now also in Hell) ran over to the Saints while she was alive.
- The Sniper's parents in Team Fortress 2 disapprove of his job as an assassin, until the three briefly reunite in Heaven. The Sniper's father, who disapproves more, tells him to return to the world of the living to shoot more people who deserve it.
- In Homestuck Vriska and Tavros are weirdly chill with each other in the afterlife, especially considering she was the one who killed him in the first place. Most alpha trolls in general are also pretty chummy with Meenah, despite the fact that she laid the bomb that killed them all.
- Downplayed at the end of Everyman HYBRID. Evan and Vinnie were quite literally at each other's throats, having a fight to the death after it was revealed that Vinnie had betrayed everyone and had deliberately lured Alex to death-by-Slender-Man. They then both arrived in the "Candleverse" — the realm where they all get sent to after death before they get reincarnated back on Earth and get haunted by monsters all over again — where they were not only met by Jeff and Corenthal, but were back to acting peacefully. All four of them, despite what they'd been through and how bad things had gotten, calmly walked off together, waiting their new cycle.
- The Call of Warr ended with multiple characters dead, several of whom had spent their last few days fighting or killing each other. Despite this, they all teamed up to help Ashes and save the day, and then proceeded to have a picnic with Ghost Lady, sharing food and enjoying each-other's company without concern for what happened in life.
- Futurama: In the movie The Beast with a Billion Backs, the titular beast, Yivo, brings everybody in the universe to his universe so they can live on his planet-sized body, which is essentially a Fluffy Cloud Heaven where everyone gets along. Even Wernstrom and Farnsworth, who are bitter rivals on Earth, can be seen working together on science projects.
- Comically subverted in Robot Chicken when Tupac Shakur meets The Notorious B.I.G. in Heaven. They cheerfully greet each other, then immediately gun each other down.
- The Sealab 2021 episode "The Policy" ends with Sparks attempting to kill Captain Murphy for the insurance money, but Murphy manages to cause Sparks to die as well. In The Stinger, both are in hell, casually conversing about their respective punishments.
- Filmation's Ghostbusters: The ghosts of Captain Ahab and Moby-Dick are Fire-Forged Friends, serving out a sentence on the Phantom Prison Planet.