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Purgatory and Limbo

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Neither up nor down.

"It's like going from nowhere to nowhere."

Heaven and Hell are simple concepts. When people die, good ones go to Heaven, while the bad ones go to Hell. But what about the others, those who aren't good enough to meet the strict prerequisites of Heaven, nor evil enough to deserve Hell?

Enter this trope.note 

This trope is about places, usually called Purgatory or Limbo, which serve as an intermediate afterlife between Heaven and Hell, where morally average people go after they die. The concept not being unique to any one religion or universal to most of them, however, can mean the names get co-opted for any number of other purposes.note 

Often the first place that people come when they die, this may be simply an Afterlife Antechamber: a waiting room of the dead, where the souls of the departed may be assigned to their final destination by some manner of Celestial Bureaucracy. Alternatively, in the event of a Near-Death Experience, this may serve as a brief respite where the hero can confer briefly with a dead loved one or mentor before coming Back from the Dead to fulfill their ultimate destiny.

What these (meta)physical places are actually like varies greatly. Sometimes it's shown as another world, much like our own. Bleaker works may depict it as a dull greyish void where nothing happens, or a misty ruin, shadowy forest, endless cave or desert, or a dark version of the real world. Sometimes it's a literal waiting room, or a bright garden or chamber of white stone with light pouring in from Heaven proper. The Limbo of The Divine Comedy is a serene and beautiful but endlessly dreary castle on the outskirts of Hell. It won't be a place of endless fiery torment, but it won't be paradise, or even as relatively pleasant as being alive.

For some this may be a short stay, while for others it can last anywhere from a few centuries to all eternity. Sometimes the duration is a sentence based on the exact amount of bad karma a given soul has to work off. Alternatively, it may be an Epiphanic Prison which will last as long as it takes for the soul within to realize enlightenment, let go of their past, or truly repent their past deeds — possibly never. It's not The Nothing After Death or outright Cessation of Existence, but some of those trapped in Limbo might start to wish it was.

Another possibility is that this is the setting for The Journey Through Death; an intermediary place that the dead have to cross in order to get to what awaits beyond.

Super-Trope of Afterlife Antechamber.

In a setting that doesn't have any kind of Purgatory or Limbo, a character might instead be Barred from the Afterlife altogether and left to wander the earth for all eternity.

Compare Void Between the Worlds, the emptiness between Alternate Universes or higher planes of existence, which is often depicted similarly, particularly when the various afterlives are portrayed as universes unto themselves.

Also compare Prison Dimension, where a living character may be physically banished to a Limbo-like place as The Punishment, often in the Phantom Zone.

Not to be confused with Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory, an Audience Reaction about literary interpretation, although when the Rule of Symbolism is in play, Angels Unaware and Devils In Disguise may indeed be present in Purgatory, and God could very well be your copilot through Limbo.

As with all Death Tropes, beware of spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage): In the infamous Souls Winter trilogy, it was revealed that the turtles are doomed to not enter heaven nor hell, as they are neither man nor beast, and must spend the rest of eternity alone and isolated.
  • The Sensational She-Hulk: Issue #53 has She-Hulk dying and going to the Postmortem Mall, a bridge between heaven and hell. The good come to the mall to relive their time with the living while the evil come to the mall to be granted reprieve from their eternal punishment.

    Fan Works 
  • Planes of Cordance, a set of fanmade planes embodying the transitions between True Neutral and the other alignments, includes Purgatory as the plane of Neutrality shading into Lawful Neutral. It takes the form of a strip of land spiraling upwards into the infinite, where the only way to climb upwards is to work diligently at something. Some locals believe that, by ascending far enough, they can enter the Upper Planes. Others are content to work forever.
  • Saving Blitzo: Most of Chapter 7 is set in Purgatory, which has been modernized for the story. Everyone enters via an airport and spends most of their time waiting and being tested until they're sent to either Heaven or Hell. Rather than simply one island, this version of Purgatory is made up of nine islands, seven for the Heavenly Virtues, the Island of Knowledge where the atheists are taught by the angels of Gods' existence and the path to salvation, and the Island of Judgement, where the souls in Purgatory are sent for their test, which sends them to either Heaven or Hell. In addition to angels, there are also demons who dwell there, in order to further test the residents with temptations of sinful actions.

    Films — Animated 
  • Anastasia: Rasputin is stuck in Limbo thanks to a) his curse on the Romanovs being incomplete and b) him selling his soul for the power to cast said curse. Here, Limbo is portrayed as being in the center of the earth, with not much to offer except talking bugs.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Como caido del cielo ("Like a Gift from Heaven"): The Mexican singing legend Pedro Infante is in purgatory, which for him is and empty, dark auditorium, where he has spent decades singing to a nonexistent crowd. He demands that he be let into heaven, stating that his music brought joy to the people of Mexico, but the unseen angels tasked with looking after him say that, yes, his music did bring joy to millions; but they can't ignore the fact that, in life, he was an unrepentant adulterer. They make a deal with him, if he can fix the marriage of an impersonator within two weeks, he'll be allowed into heaven, if he doesn't, it'll be purgatory for all eternity.
  • Jacob's Ladder: A major influence on Silent Hill, the final reveal is that Jacob died in combat in Vietnam, and what he saw as his life falling apart and the demonic visions he wasn't sure were actually real was actually all just a Dying Dream, preparing him for the afterlife.
    Louis: Eckhart saw Hell too. He said: The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul. So the way he sees it, if you're frightened of dying and... and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth. It's just a matter of how you look at it, that's all. So don't worry, okay? Okay?
  • The Others (2001): Discussed throughout. Grace explains to the children that lying would send them to Limbo when they died when they both agreed they would deny Christ to save their lives. Anne later calls her on this, saying she knows Limbo is only for the unbaptized. In the end, they contemplate their existence as ghosts and wonder if they are in some form of either, but at this point Grace admits she has no answers.
  • Reeker: The Reveal is that the characters were Dead All Along and suffering in Purgatory by being Slasher Movie'd by a malodourous zombie cyborg who represents Death by Car Accident, and inflicts wounds that mirror the ones that killed them.
  • Tales from the Hood: It's highly implied that Crazy K's "experimental treatment" in prison is actually some form of Purgatory. It would fit with a lot of the symbolism in the segment, including the fact that it occurs after he was shot, the staff of the institution tend to dress in all white, the offer of redemption being accompanied by the need for purification, the state of torment while there, etc.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey: The "white hotel room" Dave Bowman finds himself in after entering the monolith is a secular version of this, as it is an intermediate step between his existence as a human being and his existence as the immortal Starchild.
  • Van Helsing: The priest/bishop at the beginning states that if Dracula isn't vanquished by Anna Valerious, her whole family will stay in Purgatory. He also hopes Van Helsing has to spend a week in Hell for breaking one of Notre Damme's windows.

  • The Black Parade: Both are referenced. Zora, the Seer who was married Uriel but was secretly Belial's servant, was banished to Purgatory as her soul was mated to Uriel, but her betrayal was such a great sin that she couldn't be allowed into Heaven after she died. There is also a void between Heaven, Hell, and Earth where souls pass through that Jordan wakes up in when Mulciber strangles her to a near-death state.
  • Corum: Anyone that Corum kills ends up in a dimension called Limbo. He can summon their souls to fight for him and anyone they kill will take their place so they can move on to Cessation of Existence.
  • The Divine Comedy:
    • In Inferno, two locations of this sort are found:
      • The Vestibule of Hell is not strictly part of Hell proper, but rather the barren hinterland skirting the Pit. Here, Dante comes across the souls of opportunists, ditherers and fence-sitters, who chase naked through the mist in endless pursuit of a wavering banner, alongside the angels who refused to take sides in Lucifer's rebellion. As these figures refused to take sides or make moral choices in life, they are kept out of both Heaven and Hell and doomed to an afterlife of futility.
      • Limbo is the outermost true Circle of Hell and the final destination of "failed" souls who never attained salvation but aren't evil enough to merit any worse punishment than simply being estranged from God forever; many of them are people who, by virtue of their location in time or space, couldn't accept Christ through no fault of their own. It's largely portrayed as a fairly pleasant place to be in, with green fields and many famous people to talk to; the main punishment is simply the knowledge that there's something better you could've gotten but didn't.
    • Purgatorio, the middle work, is set in Purgatory, a sort of tough-love reform camp for saved but flawed souls who need to finish the process of becoming perfected enough to enter Heaven. It takes the shape of an immense mountain with several terraces, each dedicated to making souls purge themselves of a specific sin — a sort of spatial inverse of the circles of Hell.
  • Grounded for All Eternity: Purgatory is one of the great hereafters and is reserved for those who seem redeemable. Malachi mentions that repentant souls in the Pit can earn time and be sent to Purgatory for a more peaceful existence.
  • Heck: If a minor is bad, instead of going to Hell, they go to a place called "Heck" that is like Hell, but not as bad. It's essentially a reform school where the kids are taught to drop the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • Incarnations of Immortality: Limbo is where the various Incarnations live when they aren't on Earth actively running the universe. Their "support staff", the people who serve and support the Incarnations in their jobs, are all dead people who weren't good enough to get into Heaven, nor evil enough to be sentenced to Hell.
  • Inferno (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle):
    • Allen starts the story trapped inside a brass bottle in the Vestibule of Hell, the sentence given to atheists who were not sufficiently moral to join the virtuous pagans. He remains stuck there for a long but otherwise unguessable time, before being released when he angrily yells "For God's sake, let me out!" Once the bottle breaks open, he ends up in the muddy fields of the Vestibule proper, where ditherers and the undecided chase after fleeting banners while being hurried along by stinging insects to give them the movement that they lacked in life. In the sequel, its revealed that the banners are pulled by the Vestibule's other residents, the angels who refused to pick sides during Satan's rebellion.
    • The first true Circle, the home of the virtuous nonbelievers, is essentially an earthly paradise where upright non-Christians and unbaptized children enjoy pleasant surroundings and good company. It is divided into areas matching multiple areas and historic periods of Earth; the story mostly visits the part inhabited by Greeks and Romans plus a few modern people. Benny claims that this is the cruelest of the Rings, since its inhabitants think that they are in Heaven.
  • Number Seven Queer Street: Strangely enough for a work that focuses on Reincarnation Romance. Rather than enter the cycle of reincarnation, Princess Tang H'sien has been waiting in the afterlife for Chen Hwang's reincarnated soul to stumble over a relic of their time together. Pennoyer makes it clear to H'sien that even if she snares Hwang's soul, they won't be able to "move on" together until his karmic debt is paid off.
  • Over Heaven Under Hell by Margo Lanagan is set in a realm where "the only hunger is for hunger", where people who commit suicide or never heard the gospel go, and the inhabitants of which eventually earn entry into Heaven by working for the Celestial Bureaucracy.
  • Warrior Cats: The Dark Forest was originally treated as a purgatory for warriors that betray the Warrior Code and are sent here to wander in a cold, starless forest. Later books stray from this idea.
  • Wintersmith: Parodied when the Nac Mac Feegle help Roland visit the (or rather, an) underworld and explain "This one used tae be called Limbo, ye ken, 'cuz the door was verra low."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow has both a literal and metaphorical example. The island where Oliver Queen was stranded after the sinking of The Queen's Gambit is named Lian Yu, which means "purgatory" in Chinese. On the island, Oliver was forced to "cleanse" his past life as an idiot playboy in order to transform into a hardened warrior. Years later, during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Oliver dies saving billions of lives in Earth-38, and his soul goes to Purgatory, which just so happens to look like Lian Yu.
  • Life on Mars (2006)/Ashes to Ashes (2008): The final revelation is that the setting is Purgatory for dying and dead police officers.
  • Logan's Run: In "Night Visitors", Gavin plans to sacrifice Jessica in order to release his wife's spirit from Limbo.
  • Lost: A common fan theory in the early years was that the Island was purgatory and that the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 were in fact Dead All Along. The creators denied the theory, which was ultimately Jossed by various characters escaping the Island, before ultimately returning. In the Grand Finale, however, it turned out that the final season's Flash Sideways, rather than being an Alternate Timeline, were actually a Flash Forward to a point where all the characters who had died by the end of the series were in purgatory, awaiting the realization of their own death that would allow them to move on
  • The Good Place:
    • The simple view taken in the series of goodness, though progressively getting more complex, is also applied to the names of various afterlives — the Good Place and the Bad Place. Originally, the architects' system was so cutthroat that it was one or the other, no matter how bad or good, until Mindy St. Clair died under unique circumstances - she was a cocaine addicted shark lawyer and a generally nasty person in her earthly life, but then had a drug-fueled epiphany to set up a charity, only to die after withdrawing her whole life savings and her sister was so inspired by this that she opened the charity in Mindy's name which went on to help millions of people. The Celestial Bureaucracy wasn't sure what to do with her, as her actions in life would've sent her straight to the Bad Place but much good was accomplished in her name, so they came to a compromise, decreed her a medium person and invented the Medium Place, where she languishes all alone in complete and total mediocrity. She doesn't mind it too much, but she would love to have some cocaine again.
    • A different version is applied when the main characters, who are in the Bad Place at the start, have become good enough that had they died then, they'd be in the Good Place. This shakes the architects' simple belief that people can't inherently change, which could break their entire system. So the Judge sends the group back to Earth the moment they died as a holding situation to allow them more time — they'd all died young — to prove that they can be good people and that change can happen if you let it.
    • Eventually the main cast discovers a serious problem: the interconnected nature of the world has inadvertently created a situation where — due to the rippling unforeseeable consequences of almost any action — no one has qualified for The Good Place in more than 500 years no matter how "good" they might have been in life. This, combined with the aforementioned issue of people being able to improve even in the afterlife, ultimately results in them convincing the Judge to fully reform the system in a way that turns The Bad Place into a sort of purgatory: those condemned to The Bad Place will be subjected to certain forms of torment based upon the more negative attributes of their personalities and they will periodically be tested to determine if they have changed for the better. If and when they do so — and the series philosophy is that most people are capable of this kind of improvement — they are allowed to enter The Good Place.
  • Sleepy Hollow: Purgatory, or the World Between Worlds, is a Dark World in which the spirits of the dead and undead are imprisoned, "trapped in the middle" as they wait to go to either heaven or hell.
  • St. Elsewhere: In "After Life", Dr. Wayne Fiscus has a near death experience after being shot. His visions include a trip to Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory (which surprises him, since as he says, "I'm not Catholic"), during which he meets the souls of patients and friends who have already died.
  • Supernatural: Purgatory is Another Dimension which serves as an afterlife for all the setting's monsters and a prison for Sealed Evil in a Can such as the Leviathans and Eve, the Mother of All. It's an endless, mistbound forest where all souls are fated to perpetually prey on one another. It's "vast, underutilized, and hell-adjacent", according to the demon Crowley.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • "A Passage for Trumpet": After the drunken Joey Crown deliberately steps off the curb as part of a suicide attempt, he is hit by a truck and enters a limbo state between life and death.
    • "The Passersby": It turns out that the dirt road outside Lavinia Godwin's house is Purgatory. She and Abraham Lincoln are the last people to walk down the road and into the afterlife.
    • "Five Characters in Search of an Exit": Discussed. When the characters are guessing over the nature of the featureless room that they woke in without memories, the hobo speculates that they are trapped in Limbo. The other guesses are an alien abduction, a dream, and Hell.

  • "The Sinners' Grove down by the river by the trestle where the willow and the dogwood grow" in Johnny Cash's Down There By The Train, a song Tom Waits wrote for him about an Afterlife Express is a version of Purgatory. The attentive compassion and almost tender curative care with which the souls of the damned are fitted to then be able to travel to Heaven (by taking the eponymous slow train waiting for them) wildly differs from the brutally traumatic way in which the trope is usually played. While it's more alluded to than outright stated, the beneficial process by which the worst of the worst are re-made into good people all through stands in stark contrast to the majority of examples in that it is neither painful, nor frightening, nor involuntary - rather it's portrayed as a very comforting, soothing, and all around positive experience for them. Waits later recorded his own version.note 
    You can hear the whistle, you can hear the bell
    From the halls of heaven to the gates of hell
    And there's room for the forsaken if you're there on time
    You'll be washed of all your sins and all of your crimes
    So if you live in darkness, if you live in shame
    All of the passengers will be treated the same
    If you've lost all your hope, if you've lost all your faith
    I know you will be cared for and I know you will be safe

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Averted in the Catholic depiction of Purgatory. It's very much *not* a neutral afterlife. It's more like a temporary Hell where imperfect (but not Hell-worthy) souls have their sins "burned away" (or purged, hence the name) before they're eventually allowed into Heaven. Limbo was once seen as the place where otherwise good/innocent people went if they died without being baptized, though that belief has been largely abandoned in recent decades.
  • Over the years, many Catholic mystics have also claimed some souls spend their Purgatory on Earth.
  • While only briefly touched upon in The Bible itself, the descent of Christ into Limbo and subsequent Harrowing of Hell were explored in greater depth in the apocrypha and became a common subject of medieval artwork. Following his crucifixion but before his resurrection, the soul of Christ descended into the realm of the dead and brought salvation to the "Limbo of the Patriarchs" — the outer part of Hell inhabited by those righteous folk who lived and died in the days before they could be baptized and redeemed. Christ "trampling the gates of Limbo underfoot" seems to have been an especially popular (and vivid) image.
  • Islam:
    • There is A'raf. Said to be a wall separating Heaven from Hell, it is a limbo where people who are neither good nor evil enough are to live after the final judgment. It's said that God, being the ever most forgiving, will eventually let them enter Heaven, but only as its last visitors.
    • A related realm, Barzakh, is a place where the dead are due to wait until the final judgment. In the meantime, sinners are punished, while the good enjoy a state of bliss.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Erebus was pretty much a shadowy limbo for "neutral" souls, between Tartarus (Hell) and Elysium (Heaven).
    • The Asphodel Meadows are also a limbo, although from the way that they're described, they're quite a nice place. The destination for most ordinary people, who were neither evil nor great heroes, their souls were free to wander through nigh-boundless meadows of asphodel flowers, but with one caveat; should any soul drink from the waters of the Lethe, which ran through the fields, they would lose their identity. It's thought this somewhat bittersweet aspect of the Meadows was added to encourage people to seek employment in military roles, as this would grant them access to Elysium.

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • George Carlin mentions the four places "Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Limbo" in his album "Class Clown." When the Church purged Limbo, he mentions that he hoped they promoted everyone and sent them to Heaven and, "didn't just cut them off and send them into space."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Against the Dark Yogi: Naraka is a place in the underworld where all but the most virtuous people go after they die. There, they suffer torments until they've burned off their bad karma and are ready to be reincarnated. Inverted with Svarga, which is a heavenly realm on Mount Niru where the truly good burn off their good karma through blissful living until they are ready to be reincarnated.
  • Forgotten Realms: The Fugue Plane serves this purpose: a flat, gray wasteland under an equally colorless sky, the sole features of which is the City of Judgment, ruled by impartial Kelemvor, god of the dead, and the Wall of the Faithless. The souls of mortals are left to wander the city for ten days before being collected by the servants of their gods, during which time they're tempted by devils (per the Nine Hells' agreement with the city) to join the latter's ranks. The Wall, meanwhile, is where the souls of those who worshipped no gods in life (even if they never knew they had to) are pressed into the wall itself and left to languish until their minds and souls disintegrate into nothingness. Controversial in-universe, many see the Wall as a punishment even harsher (the process is said to be agonizing) than that faced by the False (those who betrayed their gods) or souls damned to the Hells.
  • In Nomine: Limbo is... something... that Celestials go to if they lose their last physical vessel but cannot return to their Heart in Heaven or Hell. There's some debate regarding whether it's actually a place or a state of being. Either way, a Celestial in Limbo cannot see, touch, or otherwise interact with anything, whether in Limbo or in the rest of the universe; they can only think, and reflect, and very slowly regenerate essence until they have enough to get out. However, such a celestial also cannot be tracked or interacted with in any way as long as they stay there, making it a useful last-resort hiding spot.
  • Pathfinder has an afterlife for each alignment (and then some). The explicitly neutral ones are Purgatory (also called the Boneyard), where the souls of the dead are judged by Psychopomps working for the local Goddess of the Dead and those deemed sufficiently True Neutral are kept indefinitely; Limbo (also called the Maelstrom), where the inscrutable Proteans and Chaotic Neutral souls sail through ever-shifting seas of primordial chaos older than the universe; and Utopia or Axis, where Lawful Neutral souls are watched over by the eternally strict Axiomites and Inevitables.
  • Wagadu Chronicles: the material plane in Wagadu Chronicles is something like this, the Upper Realms are a more Utopian Perfect reality and periodically people from there end up falling to Wagadu, as far as anyone knows this is a one way trip.

    Video Games 
  • Astra Hunter Zosma: In Aquila Arena, Zosma learns that the Crescent Moon Tower contains the spirits of people who are unable to move on due to regrets. Later, it turns out he's also dead, since he wouldn't be able to enter the Crescent Moon Tower otherwise. Unlike everyone else, he has a chance to come back to life, due to the two wish granting rings and because his blob companion preserved his soul.
  • Bayonetta: The Trinity of Realities that make up the universe consists of three realms: Paradiso, the Human World, and Inferno. Between them is Purgatorio, a realm existing parallel to the Human World outside of the Trinity where angels, demons, and magical humans can travel to. Here is where Bayonetta is free to wreak havoc on her foes without regard to property damage or bystanders.
  • Brutal Orchestra: The game is set in Purgatory. Nowak and company travel through a shoreline surrounding a great sea, a rainy city under the watchful eye of the Ungod, and a vast, black-and-white landscape that reflects one's deepest fears and aspirations. For Nowak, this manifests as the various creatures occupying "The Garden of Earthly Delights," a painting made by Hieronymus Bosch.
  • Disco Elysium: Several characters mention that Martinaise is "in limbo" during your stay, and the dreamlike state of your own addled mind makes this seem like a real possibility. Your visions of messianic Joan Of Archetype pope-figure Dolores Dei don't help. Garner enough 'proof' and you can declare that Martinaise is in fact the "antechamber to the afterlife".
  • Dormitabis: The game is set in a purgatory where the enemies are children (and adults) who are unwilling to pass on since they are driven by rage, which is part of why they're stuck there. The player, John Write, has to help them find peace and finally cross over.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory introduces the "Final World", which is described as a plane where powerful souls tend to linger after death before moving on to the afterlife.
  • Limbo (2010): The primary character is a nameless boy who awakens in the middle of a forest on the "edge of hell", looking for his missing sister. The atmosphere in general is a gray place with only silhouettes and the eyes are seen as monochromatic white eyes.
  • The Medium: In the Spirit World, the souls of the dead reside until Marianne gets them to move on.
  • Nirvana Game Of Life: When you die, you get into the Limbo, the place where you remain until you're reincarnated into a new body. This is the location where you talk to the Lost Soul for the first time and where the Creator communicates with you.
  • Pony Island: As the game slowly reveals itself, you discover that you are a crusader from the 1200s stuck in purgatory — which here is a badly-programmed arcade game made by Satan.
  • Silent Hill: The titular town is a kind of fog-covered no-place in which the main characters are faced with horrific Jacob's Ladder-esque Body Horror monsters/demons, manifestations of their crimes, failings, and regrets, and their actions and choices in-game determining whether they escape with their sins expiated, remain trapped in the town, or die there.
    'Tis doubt which leadeth thee to Purgatory.
  • ULTRAKILL: Limbo is depicted as a false paradise: the clear skies are projected onto monitors, the water is holographic, and the sounds of tweeting birds are actually coming from speakers. The primary punishment is driving the residents mad with the artificial serenity, though any notions of serenity are quickly dropped once the enemies start appearing.
    "Lucid vistas painted in insidious tones, hollow walls that scream to the touch. A mocking song plays at all hours, even the sounds of birds are fake. All reminders of my enduring damnation."
  • Valheim: The game is essentially a Norse Mythology version of Purgatory: Warriors' souls are dropped off by Valkyries in Valheim, a tenth world which serves as a prison for the Forsaken, giant monsters that rejected Odin's authority. The player character is not the first to come there (and while none of those who came before remembers their life in Midgard, one runestone muses that they weren't exactly paragons of virtue as "warrior's souls are never clean"), and must defeat each of the Forsaken to mark themselves as worthy of entering Valhalla. Sometime Odin himself pops in to check on your progress.
  • View from Below: Below is a realm where the spirits of the dead are trapped, unable to move onto the afterlife because of the Crimson God. The only thing preventing it from being an outright Hell is that there are some safe towns for lost spirits to live in, though most of them would rather ascend to Heaven. In the good and true endings, the party defeats the Crimson God and the lost spirits form a line at the Soul Gate in order to enter the afterlife.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • When a player dies, they have an out-of-body experience as bodiless ghosts looking for their corpses. The limbo they briefly exist in is devoid of colors and has a rather interesting skyscape, what with a void making the atmosphere rotate in spirals. This plane is called the Veil and is guarded by Spirit Healers (transparent, angelic Winged Humanoids) that can resurrect the player. This is, of course, a Game Mechanic but the lore behind it states that the Spirit Healers are also tasked with judging the deceased's souls and determining whether they are to go to the Shadowlands or return to life.
    • Shadowlands: The realm of Revendreth is home to a race of vampiric beings who feed on souls' pride and sin, purging them of wickedness until they can safely go to one of the other realms of death. It's not pleasant, but since the alternative is eternal damnation in the Maw, it's a much better choice for anyone sent there.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: While Ben Franklin is dead (again) he spends his time in Purgatory, which resembles a ritzy restaurant where the dead are purified of their sins by consuming them as meals. The place is infinitely large, but there's only one waiter, so two hundred years later he's still on the bread.
  • Beyond the End: The entire story takes place in Purgatory, as the world has ended and all that is left is Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Purgatory constantly shifting with specific zones for the people and creatures that live there, creating an ever changing landscape as the characters journey through. Purgatory has a mix of people from the Beforeworld, native Purgatorians, angels, and demons.
  • Jack has one of the tamer versions of Purgatory. What we see of it appears to be a nice suburb where people act like they did in life, except that nobody can die and angels drop in occasionally to try and persuade the residents to try reincarnation and possibly earn Heaven in their next life (or sin badly enough for Hell).
  • The Order of the Stick: The Lawful Good heaven is shown to have a Fluffy Cloud Heaven-like entry area where the newly deceased wait in line to be checked out by the Celestial Bureaucracy to see if they qualify to be admitted to Heaven proper. Player Characters, however, can optionally just wait there until they are resurrected.
  • Slightly Damned starts with Rhea arriving in Limbo, which is a white void where all souls first appear in the afterlife. Death judges that she fails to qualify for Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory, and so she is instead sent to the Ring of the Slightly Damned, which is a mostly abandoned section of the afterlife just outside of Hell. The Ring of the Slightly Damned is a pretty boring place consisting of brown rock, and the adorable teenaged demon Buwaro who is assigned the job of punishing Rhea ends up treating her like an older sister instead.
  • Undead Ed has Limbo turn out to be very key to its titular protagonist. He goes to Limbo after finding out he's become a zombie on Earth because he's committed an entirely equal amount of good and evil deeds, preventing both Heaven and Hell from laying claim to his soul. His case is so unlikely that he'll certainly be in Limbo for an indeterminate amount of time until he can finally end up in a true afterlife.

    Web Original 
  • Dantes Infanzia: Limbo is established as being where all unbaptized babies end up, managed by St. Jude and Judies, angels who's job is to act as the baby's caretakers and surrogate mothers. This seems to extend to all unbaptized non-believers that do not qualify as adults in their respective society (Dante winding up in Limbo when he died mere seconds before he turned 18). Since God decreed that all who wind up in Limbo are to be treated as babies, Limbo is considered to be a type of Ironic Hell for anyone who winds up there that isn't an actual baby. They are treated as babies (forced to wear and use diapers and baby clothes, are unable to walk, etc.) by the Judies taking care of them and prolonged exposure to this causes them to regress until they start acting as babies without some type of hobby to keep them anchored. After Dante sacrifices himself by throwing himself into Hell, Lysa's continued defiance against Jude's rule regardless of the odds convinces him that she is allowed to leave Limbo and enter Purgatory (which Jude implies will be a type of pre-school for her) as a "Saint-in-Training".

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: Featured in a Cutaway Gag showing the family floating in a white void, feeling ambivalent about the situation.
  • God, the Devil and Bob: Discussed. In Episode 11, when Bob's abusive father dies, Bob goes to Hell to visit him but the Devil informs Bob that his dad is not there. When Bob asks if he's in Purgatory then, the Devil admits that the place doesn't actually exist.