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Personalized Afterlife

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By now, most people will admit that not everyone would want to spend eternity in the same place as everyone else, and really Fire and Brimstone Hell seems a bit boring by now. One potential solution is, assuming an infinite amount of space for everybody, is to give people their own individual heavens or hells.

Super-Trope of Self-Inflicted Hell, Ironic Hell, Nostalgia Heaven, and Overly Specific Afterlife. Polar opposite of Only One Afterlife. The Artificial Afterlife may or may not involve this level of personalization.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Occurs in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F', where Frieza is stuck in a cocoon hanging off a tree in a Sugar Bowl land while fairies, pixies and stuffed animals dance, sing and frolic all around him. He eventually escapes thanks to his men wishing him back with the Dragon Balls, but gets sent back when he's inevitably killed again at the end of the movie.
  • The H-Manga, Alice in Sexland, this is the norm, however, on rare enough occasions, the Queen of Hearts, herself a deceased soul says it could be eons, two souls will inhabit the same afterlife. When this happens, the previous souls goes through reincarnation.

    Comic Books 
  • In the French comic Le Dernier Troyen (The Trojan War, Recycled In Space) has 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 about it, 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 themselves that they thought they deserved no less than the Elysian Fields.

    Fan Works 
  • Queen of Blood (SirWill) shows this happening with the Slaughterhouse Nine, doubling as Ironic Hell. Each gets sent to a separate environment crafted to torment each one individually based on their sins in life (There are two exceptions-Bonesaw/Riley gets to go to heaven because Jack Slash tortured her to the point where she was not acting under her own free will in performing her atrocities, and Burnscar/Mimi gets to be reincarnated because most of her evil deeds were because her power messed with her head).
    • Shatterbird, a silikinetic who caused perhaps the most direct pain of the Slaughterhouse Nine through using her power as a terror weapon, is sent to a beach and tormented with the screams of her victims until she has experienced all their pain.
    • Mannequin/Alan Gramme was a tinker specializing in enclosed environments who went murderously insane after his family died. He gets trapped inside a replica of his family's house, with his actual family gone (with all the pain he caused, he can't go where they've gone) and his dad stopping by to give him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    • The Siberian/William Manton's cannibalistic serial-killing rampage was caused by his failing to save his daughter Annie, and his punishment is Annie telling him how she hates him for what he'd done and never wants to see him again, followed by a "Groundhog Day" Loop of the moment she died, followed by her turning into The Siberian and eating him alive.
    • Hatchet Face, a Hero Killer, is pursued by a wolf pack, now the prey instead of the predator.
    • Downplayed for Jack Slash, the leader of the group. By mutual consent of both Heaven and Hell, who consider his evil to be so petty and pointless that even they want nothing to do with him, his soul is completely erased from existence, not even considered worthy of a custom punishment, which is in turn a massive blow to his ego for the last 30 seconds of conscious thought he has left.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: Smurfing In Heaven", the afterlife version of Smurfette tells Empath that the good of heart will go to whatever form of Elysium it is they desire to go to, indicating that not everybody's version of Elysium will be the same as the Smurfs'.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: As discovered when each of the new Bearers meet their predecessors, people who die in this universe each have an individual Paradise in Elysium, based on where they felt happiest in life. They can travel to other peoples' Paradises for friendly visits though.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The afterlife in What Dreams May Come has some shared spaces but everyone who arrives starts out in a space that's tailored specifically to them. For Chris, the protagonist, this means he finds himself in a landscape based on his wife Annie's paintings, to the point that everything from the flowers to the lake to his cup of coffee is initially made out of paint. It's revealed that suicide victims like Annie do this to themselves as well—committing suicide doesn't immediately consign a soul to Hell, but those who do it are so miserable that they end up trapped in personalized versions of their own despair permanently. Annie's Hell, for instance, resembles her and Chris's home, but it is now a collapsing ruin, while she herself suffers from amnesia and can't remember anything about herself.

  • Discworld:
    • Afterlives are based on what the individual soul believes them to be, although it can be played with, such as a murderer who doesn't believe in ghosts being pursued by the ghosts of his victims because they believe in him. You can't go to hell if you don't think it exists (but not believing in anything at all isn't an escape, as if you don't know where you're going to be going, you'll be waiting a very long time to figure it out). The Discworld Companion clarifies that this means where the soul believes it goes sans any form of self-deception.
  • The Dreamblood Duology: The Dream Land of Ina-Karekh doubles as the afterlife for the people of Gujaareh, but functions as an individualized afterlife because it's infinite in scope and it's almost impossible to find another soul there.
  • The Mitch Albom book The Five People You Meet in Heaven has this as its central theme. After Eddie, the elderly protagonist, dies, it is explained that the initial phase of the afterlife is meeting five individuals who deeply affected the deceased's life in some way (even if the dead person never knew them). Those five individuals have their own personally-chosen Heaven to inhabit as they wait for their charge to pass away. Each of the quintet has a lesson to teach their respective soul, and when that task is complete, it's implied that they get to move on to another form of Heaven, while the newly-enlightened deceased receives their own (although there seems to be a a degree of transcendence involved, as people can appear in multiple Heavens simultaneously); that person will, in turn, serve as one of another soul's "five people," and so on into infinity. We get to see six Heavens in the book—one for each of Eddie's teachers and one for Eddie himself.
    • The Blue Man was a nervous child prone to wetting the bed, and his abusive father forced him to drink silver nitrate to cure him, which resulted in his skin turning a bright shade of cerulean. He eventually found work in a carnival freak show at Ruby Pier, the amusement park/boardwalk where Eddie's father, and later Eddie himself, worked. His Heaven reflects the boardwalk as it was early in the mornings—a place and time where he felt accepted and loved, with no one staring at him.
    • The Captain was Eddie's commanding officer in World War II. While at first his Heaven seems like a blown-out battlefield, it is ultimately revealed that it's actually a beautiful island surrounded by a crystal-clear sea. The Captain explains that he chose a world without war because of his hatred of it.
    • Ruby is an elderly, well-to-do woman who served as the "inspiration" for Ruby Pier—her rich husband built it for her as a wedding gift. Her Heaven is, to Eddie's surprise, a small diner nestled in wintry mountains. She explains that she was working in a similar diner when she met her husband, and has recreated where all those who were injured in accidents at Ruby Pier can gather and feel safe since her own experience with the pier ended badly.
    • Marguerite, Eddie's wife, selects a hallway of infinite doors. Behind each door is a wedding ceremony being held in a different country somewhere in the world, and she is free to visit them whenever she likes. She explains that the endless possibilities and joys of a couple's wedding day were her favorite part of life, and her only desire in death was to experience it for others as well. The final wedding ceremony she visits is a recreation of hers and Eddie's.
    • Tala, a five-year-old Filipina girl who Eddie inadvertently killed in the war, plays alongside a riverbank with other children around her age; Eddie theorizes that this Heaven might be assigned to kids that young because they die before they can determine what they truly like. Since Eddie views his murdering her as his deepest shame, he must cleanse her body of her burns (which only manifest when he appears) as a form of forgiving himself.
    • Eddie's own Heaven is a recreation of Ruby Pier from across his long life there, now filled with the spirits of all of the kids who he inadvertently kept safe through his time and service as the park's maintenance worker. Since he died feeling like his life was pointless, it serves as a reminder that he was important in some way, as he was a Friend to All Children and unknowingly protected them with his work.
  • In Ellen Raskin's Figgs and Phantoms Mona Lisa Figg's late uncle's heaven is almost exactly like his life on earth, with the addition of a wife and child as well as no longer being a midget.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "A Nice Place to Visit", a robber is killed by a policeman and finds himself in a world where a mysterious man named "Pip" gives him as much money as he wants, a luxury apartment, soulless facsimiles of people to do whatever he wants with, and everything goes his way all the time. But, eventually he gets bored with the lack of challenges and asks Pip to take him to "The Other Place", only to be hit with the Wham Line "This is The Other Place!".
  • The Good Place
    • The Good Place is divided into neighborhoods of about three hundred people designed specifically to accommodate them. Eleanor for instance has a modest house decorated with clown pictures as the "other" Eleanor who was supposed to go there in her place would have liked. But this particular "Good Place" is actually an experiment of the Bad Place to psychologically torture the four human main characters; the rest of the residents are demonic actors.
    • There's also the "Medium Place" created to accommodate Mindy St. Claire, a woman who didn't fit into either the Good or Bad places. The entire place is tailored to fit Mindy's tastes and interests in the most mediocre way possible e.g. she's provided with her favourite beer but it's always at room temperature.
    • The series ends with the system being revamped so that everyone gets, essentially, a personal Purgatory, through which they can work out all their issues before passing on to the Good Place.
  • Preacher (2016): Hell seems to consist of the damned being trapped with their own sins, reliving them forever.
  • Lucifer (2016) takes the same approach, with the damned reliving their sins until they genuinely believe they've served their time. According to Lucifer, no one has ever managed this until the end of the fifth season reveals that recurring character Lee Garner, a.k.a. Mr. "Said Out Bitch", successfully broke his loop and made it to Heaven.
  • Supernatural:
    • Heaven appears to work like this - an enormous cluster of personalized Nostalgia Heavens, with the Garden at the very center. When Sam and Dean visit, they each get to relive some of their fondest memories - Dean's are associated with family, Sam's with freedom and independence. It's possible to move between them if you know how, but only "soulmates" ever share a heaven by design. Dean is less than impressed, viewing it as a Lotus-Eater Machine.
    • In season six, Castiel and Raphael borrow Ken Lay's heaven for a chat.
    Castiel: I still question his admittance here.
    Raphael: [dismissively] He's devout. Trumps everything.
    • The series ends with Jack as the new God tearing down the walls between these personal heavens, making Heaven a place where everyone can truly be together again.
  • The Brittas Empire: Implied. Once Brittas (who enjoys his work at the leisure center and has been shown to become depressed when he loses that opportunity) recovers his memories of being dead in "Back With A Bang", he remembers being in a leisure center in Heaven.

  • The Chaos Zone has the Dead Zones, individual afterlives tailored to the individual based on their interests and actions in life; the trigger-happy walking arsenal Mars, for instance, is sent to a Dead Zone where everything is indestructible and his weaponry has been stripped from him.

  • Part of the belief system of Mormonism that gets spoofed in The Book of Mormon is the belief that good Mormons will receive their own planet in the afterlife. Kevin Price, one of the protagonists, hopes that his planet will resemble Orlando, Florida with replicas of SeaWorld, Walt Disney World, and a minigolf course.
    Kevin: I believe that God has a plan for all of us // I believe that plan involves me getting my own planet

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed Origins: The Curse of the Pharaohs DLC has Bayek travel to four different afterlives, one for Ramses II, one for Nefertiti, one for Akhenaten and one for Tutankhamen, each designed to reflect the pharaoh they're for. So for example, Ramses II is devoted entirely to making people Look On His Works... or would, if there was anyone there. Akhenaten gets a perpetually sun-lit city where he's worshipped as the only god, and Nefertiti gets an endless farmland dotted with temples.

    Web Comics 
  • In Jack everyone who manages to earn one gets their own personal Heaven, except angels who share a massive tower at the nexus of all the Heavens.

    Web Original 
  • On the Dream SMP, whenever a character loses all three of their canon lives, the Afterlife they're faced with is unique... in the worst possible way, making it more of a personalized hell. For Tommy, it was a colorless, soundless void of sensory deprivation, and for Wilbur, it was a train station platform, where he was stranded for thirteen and a half years.
  • Empires SMP Season 1: The Rune Blade can sever a victim's soul from their body and send the victim to an afterlife of the wielder's own choosing, hence invoking this. After killing himself with the Rune Blade to defeat Xornoth (due to a Can't Live Without You prophecy), Scott ends up in the afterlife he imagined for himself; namely, a life where Xornoth, who is also his older brother, was never taken over by the Corruption. In this afterlife, Xornoth is a normal elven man who dotes on Scott, their parents are still alive, and Scott and Jimmy are in a relationship together, with Jimmy living in Rivendell with them.

    Western Animation 
  • The episode of American Dad! with The Rapture shows Steve and Hayley being shown to their rooms in Heaven after their ascension, where everything meets their desires and needs. A unicorn trots out of Steve's room and poops out a pile of pepper jack cheeseburgers. After Stan dies at the end his room is shown to be an exact replica of his pre-Rapture home, with the exception of a dead and stuffed Klaus hanging on the wall.

    Real Life 
  • Emanuel Swedenborg had a series of visions indicating that what we think of as "heaven" was really like this, more or less; there are many different areas and you go to the one that's most comfortable for you. As you go on learning and exploring you might want to check out more complex areas, graduating from one "sphere" to another like grades in school. If it sounds familiar, this very reasonable Heaven went viral, first among Spiritualists, then to Theosophists, and to the general public, such that many who never heard of Swedenborg believe it (or at least think it makes sense) today.
  • A Chaos Magick collective called The Sorcerer's Guild believes that they can create one using a hypersigil called the 'S1 Sigil'


Video Example(s):


The Medium Place

Mindy's personal afterlife was deliberately tailored to be "mundane" in every sense of the word, the Good Place providing everything Mindy ever wanted and the Bad Place adding a twist to them that makes them less satisfying. She's provided with her favorite beer but it will always be warm, while she was allowed to list her music preferences, the powers that be picked from the bottom of her list and provided her with a jukebox full of The Eagles (live bootlegs only) and William Shatner poetry and all she has to read is The Vampire Chronicles.

How well does it match the trope?

4.93 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / MundaneAfterlife

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