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Only One Afterlife

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Jaunty: There's no reward waitin' when ye die. There's no punishment. It makes no difference what ye do with yer life...
Michael Le Roi: Because all that's next is Deadside.

This is a situation where regardless of personal morality, you're sent to the same place after death by default. Whatever the actions one may have initially committed in life, anyone who dies gets sent to the same fate.

Here is an example of such a situation so you can better understand. Let's say you're meeting two characters for the first time. You find out that one character is a veritable saint and the other is a rude and completely unfriendly person who has committed crimes that you would believe had grievously crossed the line. You would think (if you believe in an afterlife for the just and unjust) that the saint would go to one and the sinner would go to the other, right? In this case, you're dead wrong. This trope can land on the Cynical or Idealistic extreme of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism depending on the nature of the afterlife in question and the setting that is mentioned in the story. Regardless of what end of the spectrum the story lands on, All Are Equal in Death is the way of the story's hereafter.

This kind of situation can be seen in stories as result from the factor of there being a Devil, but No God. Then again it might just happen that God Is Evil or the fact neither the God nor the Devil happen to exist. Sometimes this may be a case of Rerouted from Heaven, if it's happening because evil forces have taken control of the system of the hereafter.

In an unlucky case, everyone who dies gets sent to Hell. In a fortunate case, everyone who dies gets sent to a type of Fluffy Cloud Heaven. Other mythologies will use The Underworld or some other spirit world or realm of the dead for their afterlife. In any case, moral choices and conduct in life play no part in where one goes after death.

The circumstance of a Self-Inflicted Hell (or Heaven) form of this trope can be present if the single afterlife has the same conditions for all, but its resident can make it Heaven and Hell for themselves depending on who they are.

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Berserk, all human characters who perish in the series (Apostles especially) end up being sent to the Abyss, a realm consisting of only nightmarish forms and a swirling ocean of writhing souls known as both Heaven and Hell. Considering the Crapsack World that Berserk is set in, many would consider the Abyss to be Hell, especially since it is the source of the setting's primary supernatural villains, the demon gods known as the God Hand and the Idea of Evil that created them. It's implied that the Abyss is actually the astral plane, the realm of the human subconscious mind and soul, which is why The Idea of Evil is there in the first place, having been brought into existence by the collective subconscious of humanity.
  • Death Note sees Ryuk inform Light at the start of the series that "Those who use the Death Note don't go to Heaven or to Hell". Near the end, a flashback shows Light applying some thought to this and concluding that Heaven and Hell don't exist, which Ryuk confirms. The Death Note's own rules state that all humans who die "go to Mu" - whether that's The Nothing After Death or Cessation of Existence can be argued (most fans lean towards the latter), but either way, there's nothing there, and everyone goes to it.
  • Dorohedoro: Everyone goes to Hell when they die. At least they do in the world of the magic users (what the afterlife situation is like in the world of Hole isn't mentioned). This is because the creator of the magic user world is basically Satan, who made Hell, the magic user world, and everyone in it all out of boredom. The best you can hope for is to become a Devil yourself, but that's an option only available to a few magic users hand-picked by other Devils and involves strenuous training and testing. Everyone else gets tortured for eternity. This is implied to be common knowledge, but nobody seems particularly broken up about it.
  • In Naruto, everyone who dies ends up in a realm called the Pure Land, the afterlife in which the souls of earthly beings generally reside in death. Oddly, this is casually portrayed as a verifiable fact, even though Zabuza talked about whether he'd go to heaven and hell much earlier.

    Comic Book 
  • The Darkness. According to Danny Estacado, a previous host of the Darkness Entity, and Nick (who is actually the true Devil that religious stories of Lucifer and The Devil are all based on), all souls - whether they were good or evil in life - eventually fall into Hell. A rather disheartening side note is that there actually is a Heaven in the series but no human soul has ever been seen to enter it due to the fact only "beings of light" are allowed entrance.
  • The French comic, Le Dernier Troyen (basically the Trojan War Recycled IN SPACE!), offers a self-inflictive case of this trope in terms of afterlife treatment. One arc features the protagonists visiting the underworld, seeing some of their friends and enemies who'd died. To their consternation, some of their friends are in horrifying torment, while their despicable enemies are enjoying perfect bliss. When they ask Hades, he answered that everyone shares the afterlife, but the dead decide what they become in it. Their friends thought they deserved to suffer eternally for failing to defend Troy, while their enemies had such a high opinion of himself that they thought they deserved no less than bliss.

    Film - Animated 
  • Subverted in All Dogs Go to Heaven: Every dog is immediately sent to heaven after death. And this applies specifically to dogs because, according to the greeting angel known as Annabelle, "All dogs go to Heaven because, unlike people, dogs are naturally good and loyal and kind." The catch is they don't always stay in the same afterlife. Dogs that aren't good boys tend to find it a Hell of a Heaven and try to return to life. Doing so makes them lose their automatic amnesty after which they are just as likely as men to end in the other place.
  • In Coco, everybody goes for the same afterlife as long as their family/descendants remember them. It's theorises that they might move on somewhere else when their descendants forget about them but it's ultimately unknown.
  • Corpse Bride features the Land Of the Dead, a twilight but colorful realm under the Earth where everyone goes to when they die, regardless of how they acted in life. In many ways, the realm is a huge improvement over the grey and stifling land of the living, as the dead lose their earthly pain and ailments and often feel better than they had when they were alive. The first stage of the afterlife that is, since the Underworld isn't the final resting place as those who find true closure and let go of all their earthly wants will Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence and reach true enlightenment. However, while the dead won't touch the living, they will go after anyone who's wronged them once the perpetrator has died and is thus fair game, as Lord Barkis discovered. It's implied that the unrepentantly bad ones like him will just be tortured by the other undead in their conscious corpses rather than being sent to an analogue like Hell.
  • The primary setting of Even Mice Belong in Heaven is an afterlife that all animals end up in, regardless of how they behaved when they were previously alive.
  • Soul has dead people moving on to an Offscreen Afterlife called The Great Beyond, apparently with no Hell analogue. There is however The Great Before where souls originate before they're born on Earth. Some dead people go to the Before to coach a soul before they move on to the Beyond themselves or you could fall off the Stairway to Heaven like the protagonist.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • In Defending Your Life after death everyone goes to an Afterlife Antechamber called Judgement City for a few days where their life will be reviewed; if they were good enough - which boils down to whether or not they were able to overcome fear - they Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, but if they weren't good enough (too fearful) they're reincarnated to try again. Everyone goes through it, but one perceives it differently based on their culture.
  • Beetlejuice: All dead go to the same afterlife were apparently they remain somewhat looking like the way they died and just live in a twisted gothic version of our world (some may haunt their old homes however), which is not really heaven or hell (depending on your liking) the only ones truly punished are suicides, who are forced to be government workers.
  • Poltergeist has "the light" where all of the lonely/sad/lost spirits go to because of The Beast, which traps them in Earth. The entrance is the children's room's closet and the exit is the living room ceiling.

  • There's a joke where an atheist dies and goes to Fluffy Cloud Heaven. As he's being shown around, he sees Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists all coexisting peacefully, and an enormous wall. When he asks what's on the other side, he's told "Christians- they think they're the only ones around." There's variations of the joke with other groups instead as well.

  • In His Dark Materials, everyone, from all possible universes, ends up in the same queue for the same underworld, a barren gray wasteland shared with harpies who torment them about their regrets and mistakes in order to feed on their misery. Lyra and Will end up cutting a hole in this underworld and allowing the dead to leave, whereupon they dissipate and become one with the universe.
  • In Riverworld, there are two afterlives: one for children who die before the age of five, and the Riverworld itself for those who die at an age where they'll be able to care for themselves once they're resurrected.
  • In The Salvation War, God had already accepted his most blindly devoted worshipers (historically maybe 10% of the population) and closed the gates of Heaven. This action had the effect of ensuring that everyone else (faithful or not) would burn in Hell after death. Humanity is not pleased when this becomes common knowledge.
  • In The Silmarillion, one's fate after death is determined by one's race, not one's actions. Elves go to the Halls of Mandos (although once there, Mandos can decide to keep them there or resurrect them), while humans go somewhere outside the known universe. The fate of Dwarves is unknown, but speculations among the learned inhabitants of Tolkien's universe range from them also going to the Halls of Mandos (though being kept separate from the Elves) and awaiting the day when they would help in the rebuilding of the world, them (or at least their legendary Kings, such as Durin) experiencing rebirth, or their spirits simply returning to the earth and turning back to the stone they were created from. Hobbits are generally considered a sub-race of Men and presumably share their fate. If there's a particular destination for ents, orcs, trolls, et cetera, it's never specified.
  • In some Redwall books, characters both good and bad go to "Dark Forest" when they die, which appears to be a neutral place of eternal slumber. This trope is somewhat subverted as later books make mention of "Hellgates" regarding villainous deaths, but there appears to be no Heaven equivalent.
  • The Last Trump by Isaac Asimov has the Devil convince God to bring about the end of the world, with everyone dead being resurrected and put under the same conditions - endless existence with nothing besides the people. One person claims this is heaven, but then another points out that there is nothing beyond Earth, buildings are crumbling, hills are flattening, desires are gone... Soon, there will be nothing but a featureless plain and people. Fire And Brimstone Hell is unworthy of divine imagination; an eternity of nothingness is a different matter. This was the Devil's idea, with him claiming that since every group has their idea of afterlife, the proper design should be the greatest common divisor-nothing but eternal existence.
  • Stephen King's novel Revival has a particularly bleak example: everyone goes to the same hellish place. Everyone. Every single human being who has ever existed, including teens, children and babies, no matter their actions, end in the same nightmarish wasteland walking naked in an interminable line harressed by monstruous Lovecraftian ant-like creatures and prey upon by giant Eldritch Abominations.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Supernatural, it is described how the soul of a monster, regardless of moral alignment, is sent to a realm collectively known as Purgatory after the monster dies. Once there, the soul is placed in a constant struggle of "prey or be preyed upon" by the souls of other monsters for all eternity.
  • In Torchwood (and considering it's in the same universe probably Doctor Who) everyone sees The Nothing After Death with the added bonus of "something in the dark" moving about in the shadows.
  • Legend of the Seeker. Like in The Salvation War, everyone who dies goes to a Fire and Brimstone Hell. However, Darken Rahl implies at one point that it's only because the veil has been torn that everyone who dies goes there — in the normal course of things, only bad people go there, while good people go to some mostly unspecified but presumably much nicer place to "bask in the Creator's light forever".note 

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Underworld of many mythologies (notably Greek) is seen as the final destination of all mortals (and some immortals), in which they either receive eternal rest or torment and often with their deeds in life giving no difference to their fates. Some examples would include realms such as Hades (Greek) and Irkalla (Mesopotamian).
    • Though Hades' realm is often described as split up into special areas for the worst and best of humanity. Most people go to the bleak Asphodel fields, those who have particularly offended the gods are tormented in Tartarus, and the greatest heroes and philosophers resided in the Elysian Fields.
    • Mesopotamian Irkalla is a partial example, as people who did not receive a proper burial (having been burned, died alone in the desert…) simply ceased to exist instead of going there.
  • Some theological models have such an outcome.
    • The teachings of Universalism holds that everyone goes to Heaven eventually. Some Universalists don't believe in Hell, the ones who do think it's temporary.
    • In Pandeism, the idea is that all people (and everything in our Universe) is simply part of a God which has chosen to become our Universe to experience our lives, and so cannot separately intervene in them; when we die we simply go back to being one with our Creator. This ultimate idea is reflected in pandeistic branches of Hinduism, though in those theologies we may be reincarnated many times before that happens (and through those reincarnations, become enlightened).
    • Certain forms of Judaism have Sheol, where all the dead, regardless of their actions and/or righteousness in life, congregate. Originally, it was described as a place of darkness cut off from God. Thanks to centuries of evolving ideas and Lost in Translation, the concept was conflated with Hades, and was understood as Hell by the time of the New Testament.
    • Even some theologians of Christianity have proposed models by which everybody ultimately is saved, and so a Hell exists — but as a place where wicked people are cleansed of their evil instead of a place of eternal punishment.
    • Most atheists believe this as well, if only in the sense of a Cessation of Existence counting as an afterlife. However, some atheist adherents of religions like Buddhism (and atheistic faiths such as Jainism) exist, in which case they would follow those beliefs concerning an afterlife.

  • Depending on the production of Les Misérables, Inspector Javert may be among the deceased in heaven during the final scene, despite being the antagonist responsible for many of their deaths and his own suicide.

    Video Games 
  • According to Shadowman, everyone who dies ends up in Deadside—basically, hell—where they gradually lose their identities and become mindless zombies. The sole exception is the titular protagonist, due to the power of the Mask of Shadows.
  • While both Heaven and Hell exist in the Diablo universe, neither are afterlife destinations. Instead, all mortals go to the "Unformed Land", which has yet to be detailed.
  • In Sunless Skies, it's confirmed that all dead, regardless of deeds or species, have a single destination: the Blue Kingdom, a vast, uncaring Celestial Bureaucracy ruled over by the nastiest god in a cast brimming with Jerkass Gods.

    Western Animation 
  • In a Robot Chicken sketch, a man dies and finds out that everyone goes to Heaven. He passes by several people, most mass murderers and rapists, before seeing Adolf Hitler.
    Hitler: I'm just as surprised as you are.
    • In this case it's a logical exaggeration of the "repent and be saved" dogma, as everyone there says they accepted Jesus as their savior before death.
  • Dilbert: When Dilbert has a near-death experience, he finds himself in a white void that contains nothing but an office cubicle and struggles with the implication that this is all the afterlife is. After meeting The Wallyites, a cult focused on his co-worker Wally who believe we spend the afterlife with Wally, Dilbert has another near-death experience and finds that Wally is now sitting in the cubicle next to his. The ending leaves it ambigious wether or not anything Dilbert saw was real or if his brain just dreamed up his own expectations.
  • Played for Laughs in South Park: everyone who is not a Mormon goes to Hell disregarding of his actions in life. This is a Take That! to those fundamentalist groups that truly think that most of humanity from Gandhi to Hitler would go to Hell for not being part of their very specific group.
  • In The Simpsons episode "How I Wet Your Mother", as the family are falling to their deaths, Professor Frink tells them that he's managed to prove there's no doubt that Hell exists and everybody goes there. Though people have been seen going to Heaven have appeared in other episodes.
  • This is New Death's goal in the Adventure Time: Distant Lands story "Together Again": in addition to cutting off reincarnation, he destroys every Dead World but the First, condemning everyone to eternal suffering.
  • Implied in the "Caveman" episode of Sealab 2021 as that's the only explanation for Sparks, known immoral megalomaniac, Stormy, technical mass murderer, and a bunch of hookers making it into Heaven. Other episodes do suggest there's a Hell though (And that Sparks does indeed belong there).