Follow TV Tropes


Species-Specific Afterlife

Go To

"If the worst came to worst, a heaven for mosquitoes and a hell for men could very conveniently be combined."
C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

In a lot of stories, unless they operate on The Nothing After Death, deceased characters will end up in an afterlife. There's a lot of options with this; It could be Heaven and Hell, could be a Personalized Afterlife, or even just a Mundane Afterlife; some will have to greet The Ferry Man, while others may take a ride on the Afterlife Express. However, there seems to be a common theme to these afterlives, and that's the exclusion of other species.

There are many possible reasons for this. Maybe humans are the only species with souls who can ascend to Heaven (or descend to Hell) upon death, while other animals simply die. Maybe each afterlife is simply tailored to each species. Sometimes it's a case of regular humans and magical races, where the magical races have their own part of the afterlife contrasting the more mundane human afterlife. They may even share the same plane, and just be inhabiting different sections, while being able cross through any of them.


Whatever the reason, these afterlives only serve one species. There might be a way to travel between afterlives, or they might be completely isolated from each other. The important thing is that a dead human will wake up in one afterlife, while their dead dog might end up in another, if the dog ascends at all.

Note that to fit this trope these afterlives have to be confirmed or at least heavily implied to only serve one species. Simply not seeing any animals in a Heaven / Hell scene isn't sufficient, as they may simply be kept out for reasons of practicality or relevance, rather than any in-universe reason.

Contrast All Are Equal in Death.

As this is a Death Trope, spoilers are unmarked.



    open/close all folders 

     Comic Book 
  • Creature Tech has an insect-man named Blue, who dies in the third act but gets sent back to life because he's still needed. He's shown relaxing in insect heaven before he gets the memo to go back.
  • B.P.R.D.: One short story involves Johann Krauss being haunted by the ghosts of some frog monster Eldritch Abominations. He eventually solves the problem by leading them to the afterlife specifically for abominations—and he narrowly escapes getting sucked in there himself.

    Comic Strip 
  • The Far Side: A number of comics were based on various afterlives meant for a specific type of creature, and the idiosyncrasies of what these creatures would find as rewards or punishments:
    • One strip features Dog Heaven, noting how once an hour a truck made entirely of pressed ham lumbers through it for the pleasure of habitual car chasers.
    • Another strip shows Dog Hell instead, where damned canines are forced to walk around with pooper-scoopers or deliver mail while wearing the uniforms of the post officers they chased and harassed in life.
    • Another strip shows a lone human soul standing in a crowd of pig souls in a Fluffy Cloud Heaven. The description notes that, due to some celestial management error, this guy's soul was sent to Hog Heaven by mistake.
    • Still another strip shows Colonel Sanders arriving in the afterlife, only to have an Oh, Crap! moment upon seeing the pearly gates indicating that heaven is run by chickens.
    • There is also a strip showing Cat Heaven, which is filled with couches to sit on and scratch.

  • This is implied in Warrior Cats. The possible afterlives shown in the series, being StarClan, The Tribe of Endless Hunting, and the Dark Forest, only show cat spirits inhabiting them. While hunting is possible in StarClan and the Tribe, it's unknown where the prey comes from. It's known that the boundaries between these afterlives are possible to cross between, making it likely that other animals inhabit their own afterlives and might be able to connect to the cats. It's heavily implied that non-Clan cats don't get into StarClan (though Tallstar's kittypet friend Jake visits him sometimes). This is why Ravenpaw initially refused StarClan (because he couldn't be with his loner friend Barley, though it is mentioned that there's a place for both of them in StarClan).
  • The Caster Chronicles: As the mortal world and the caster world are relatively isolated, and people in the Otherworld wake up and live where they were laid to rest, the mortal and caster portions of the Otherworld are just as isolated, though not impossible to cross between.
  • In Tolkien's Legendarium, their respective fates after death are the most crucial difference between Elves and Men:
    • Elves, being strongly tied to the physical world, linger within it after death in the form of shades who are called to the Halls of Mandos, the dour lord of the dead. After an unspecified amount of time in the Halls, Elves are generally reincarnated into new bodies — the most notable such case in the stories is Glorfindel, who died in a Mutual Kill with a Balrog in the First Age millennia before the events of The Lord of the Rings, but reappears there living in Rivendell. Most afterwards remain in the Undying Lands where the Halls are located and the god-like Valar live, with only a few returning to Middle-Earth.
    • Humans, instead, leave the world entirely after dying: where they go exactly isn't known, although it's often assumed that human souls are bound for the Timeless Halls of Eru — God — outside the world.
    • This poses a problem for the children of rare human-elven couples: half-elves inevitably have to choose to be either full Men or full Elves, in order to determine which afterlife they are to be bound to. The cost of this is that human-elven families and couples are forever separated after death, with the exception of the lovers Beren and Lúthien — Lúthien was an Elf, but chose to become mortal, die as a human woman and depart the world alongside Beren at her death.
  • In one of C. S. Lewis's non-fiction essays, he considers the possibility that animals have immortal souls, and wonders if giving them segregated afterlives would be the only way to keep different animals from tormenting each other. Then he cheekily notes that mosquito Heaven and human Hell might easily be the same place.
  • Fablehaven: While the subject of the afterlife is not extensively explored in the novels, the demon Graulas mentions in one book that "certain circles" are appointed for receiving and punishing the souls of demons after death, implying that at least some magical creatures go to specific afterlives of their own after dying.
  • In Seeker Bears it's shown that different types of bears have different afterlives. Black bear spirits live in trees, grizzly bear spirits live in rivers and eventually wash out to sea when no-one living remembers them anymore, and polar bear spirits go under the ice and go into the sky to become stars in the summer when the ice melts.
  • In The Little Mermaid humans are the only animals with souls. Mermaids cease to exist when they die. The titular mermaid is horrified by this. She finds out that mermaids can gain a soul (and thus have an afterlife) if they marry a human. As a result, the little memaid tries to marry a prince.
  • The concept of Rainbow Bridge is this in purgatory form. The poem originates either from the 1980s or 1990s but the exact author is unknown. The poem states that when a pet (normally a dog or cat) dies, it is transported to a meadow near heaven where they're in perfect health. After their owner dies, their owner is transported to the meadow and the two cross "rainbow bridge" into heaven together.
  • In Beautiful Joe's Paradise, upon death animals go to a land where they wait for their owners and help each other recover from mistreatment they encountered in life. Later, they may go into heaven by a balloon.

    Live-Action TV 

  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Celia is a sylph, and as such her soul will merge with the Elemental Plane of Air rather than going to one of the Outer Planes.
    • Downplayed by the Dwarves, whose souls are subject to slightly different rules when deciding which afterlife they will end up in because of a bet between the Dwarven gods Thor, Loki and Hel. An honorable death earns them a place in the Outer Plane which matches their alignment, the same as other sentient species, but a dishonorable death causes their soul to become Hel's property.

     Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: The site has numerous stories depicting possible afterlives for humans. And then there's SCP-1557, which is a version of Hell specifically for giraffes.
  • Mentioned a few times in the Film Cow series Shadowstone Park; Gloves the horse wonders if he'll be sent to horse hell for stealing oats, and Darius the owl admits that he's probably going to owl hell for collecting the skulls of other animals (he isn't a killer, just a massive skull pervert).