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Species-Specific Afterlife

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All dogs go to... Dog Heaven.

"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 otherwise stated, deceased characters will end up in an afterlife. There's a lot of options with this; it could be Heaven and Hell, 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 to 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. Sub-trope to Overly Specific Afterlife. Compare with Single-Species Nations.

As this is a Death Trope, spoilers are unmarked.


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    Comic Books 
  • Beasts of Burden: The ghost sheep in "The View from the Hill" explain that this is why they don't move on; they don't want to be separated from their sheepdog companion, and from what they've heard from him, the dog afterlife is dogs-only.
    Sheep: He's never mentioned any cats there, or sheep, or humans. Only dogs. When the end comes, and you leave this place... won't you miss your friend, if his path takes him somewhere else?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Simpsons: Dog Heaven is revealed to also be Cat Hell, and Mr. Burns ends up going there after he dies.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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.
  • In one Non Sequitur comic, a dog claims that dog heaven is the same as squirrel hell, which makes one wonder what sins a squirrel could commit that would send it there.

    Fan Works 
  • In Slice of Heaven, most beings reincarnate, but a few especially good animals are allowed to escape from the cycle. They enter an animal-specific nirvana where they're given an anthropomorphic form and allowed to live separately with humans until they can get into heaven. Loki decides to wreck havoc by allowing a human into the animal purgatory.
  • In Warriors Redux, the kittypet-born Firepaw asks the seer Spottedleaf if kittypets can go to StarClan. Spottedleaf acts as if this is a silly idea. Only Clan cats can go to StarClan.
  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, "the smurfy hereafter" is mentioned as the afterlife that's made specifically for Smurfs. In "Smurfing In Heaven", it turns out to be Elysium, and it's more of a Personalized Afterlife, meaning that the good of heart will go to the Elysium that they desire to go to.

    Films — Animation 
  • In All Dogs Go to Heaven, Charlie ends up in Dog-Heaven after Carface has him killed. There, he learns that despite his rather unsavory life, he finds his place in Heaven regardless because unlike humans, dogs are naturally good. With that said, Dog-Hell does indeed exist, but the only way dogs could really go to Dog-Hell is if they sell their souls to Red, a cat-like Satan Expy, rewinding the clock that represents their time on Earth and then dying a second time (Charlie earning his place back there with a Heroic Sacrifice), or when Red nearly succeeds in imprisoning all of the dogs in Dog-Heaven using the Horn of Gabriel.
  • In The Adventures of Mark Twain, Captain Stormfield arrives in the wrong heaven intended for an alien species. It's basically a loud, hedonistic nightclub, far too intense for a Christian man from the early 20th century.

  • "People often say they hope their deceased pet dog is chasing squirrels in doggy heaven. What did all of those squirrels do to deserve an afterlife of torment?" "Dog Heaven doubles as Squirrel Hell. It's a very efficient system."

  • 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.
  • Book of Imaginary Beings: According to Borges, the Bhil people of central India believe that there are hells appointed specifically for tigers.
  • 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.
  • C. S. Lewis: In one of his non-fiction essays, Lewis 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.
  • Feet of Clay: Parodied when we're told cattle believe in an afterlife, and that it involves horseradish somehow.
  • In The Little Mermaid, humans are the only animals with souls. Mermaids cease to exist when they die. The titular mermaid is curious about this, after rescuing a young prince from drowning. She finds out that mermaids can gain a soul (and thus have an afterlife) if a human male loves them enough to marry and share his soul. And this is where the story really starts.
  • Rainbow Bridge is an Afterlife Antechamber version. The original narrative comes from the 1980s or 1990s but the exact author is unknown. The 1990s poem was adapted from the original story by a couple who ran a ferret rescue.note  The poem states that when a pet (normally a dog or cat) dies, it is transported to a meadow near heaven and restored to youth and health. After their owner dies, however, they reunite in the meadow and cross the "rainbow bridge" together to go into the same Heaven.
  • Cynthia Rylant has a gentle take on the idea in Dog Heaven (infinite fields to run in, angel children to play with, all kinds of toys and treats, comfortable cloud beds) and Cat Heaven (fields and trees, angel caretakers, toys and treats, floating catnip plants, God's big kitchen and garden. And hey — they're cats — they sleep on God's bed). Both dogs and cats are described visiting back to Earth to keep an eye on loved places and people.
  • 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 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. Arwen faced the same choice, and ultimately made the same decision, with Aragorn, as is told in Appendix A of Lot R.
  • Warrior Cats: This is implied. 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 shown 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).
  • In Hunter's Moon (1989) and Frost Dancers, predators and prey have different afterlives. Hare mythology is that hares are tempted by deceased predators before entering the afterlife. If the hare gives in, they enter the predator's afterlife and are forced to act as prey for all eternity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Flag Means Death: In "The Art of Fuckery", the pirate Fang has an emotional breakdown when he's reminded about his dead dog. When another pirate tries to console him by saying that he's in doggy heaven now, Fang just starts wailing harder because dogs and people go to different afterlives.
  • Supernatural: Only human souls go to heaven or hell. Monsters (vampires, wendigos, etc.) go to Purgatory when killed. Angels (if killed) go to the Empty, a void beyond even Death and God's control.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Hunt", the angel at the gateway to Heaven says dogs cannot enter heaven, as they have their own place "just up the road". The old man decides he'd rather wander for eternity than enter Heaven without his dog. A good decision, because it's not actually Heaven but the devil trying to trick the man into Hell and trying to get rid of the dog because the pooch would smell the brimstone. Averted with the actual Heaven a real angel leads them to, in which all are more than welcome.

    Video Games 
  • Hatoful Boyfriend: The second game shows that birds spend their afterlife traveling around on the Galactic Railroad, slowly letting go of their memories. Once they have fully forgotten about their previous lives, they are reincarnated. Humans apparently take a different train.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Downplayed in that, unless your soul is not claimed by one of the Deadric Princes, which afterlife you go to seems to be at least partially determined by what race you are.
    • The favored Nord afterlife is called Sovngarde, based on Valhalla. Their spirits eat, drink, and share tales of the glory of battle for all eternity alongside Shor. However, there are also implications that worthy non-Nords are welcome there, and Nords who choose to follow another faith may prefer a different afterlife.
    • Similar to Sovngarde, the Redguards and Orcs each have one, known as the Far Shores and the Ashen Forge, respectfully.
    • Averted otherwise. According to their religious teachings, followers of the Nine Divines religion (Tamriel's most prominent and the official religion of the Empire), spirits of the deceased join the Aedra in Aetherius after death. Some of the more esoteric lore describes a process by which these spirits are later "broken down" and reincarnated via the "Dreamsleeve".

    Web Animation 
  • Shadowstone Park mentions this a few times; 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).

    Web Comics 
  • Housepets!: In Not All Dogs, Sabrina explains to King that a distinction exists between Human Heaven and Dog Heaven, and because of King's uncertain species, his soul is doomed to Limbo when he dies. However, later arcs would retcon this out, featuring all species in a single unified Heaven.
  • 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.
    • As a result of a bet between the Dwarven gods Thor, Loki, and Hel, the rules for which afterlife Dwarves' souls end up in are slightly different to the other races. An honorable death earns them a place in the Outer Plane which best matches their behaviour in life, the same as other sentient beings, but a dishonorable death causes their soul to become Hel's property regardless of other circumstances.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: The site has numerous stories depicting possible afterlives for humans. Then there's SCP-1557, which is a version of Hell specifically for giraffes. SCP-2731 is a hole in the floor of a grocery store in Carolina that leads into a Hell for ice cream.
  • The Weather: Played With; apparently, dogs do go to Heaven with humans...but aren't actually allowed there. Thus, they remain dead in Heaven, even as their deceased owners are alive.
  • In A Heist with Markiplier, the viewer gets a glimpse of Monkey Heaven if they give Illinois the Monkey Statue. Illinois also mentions that he's seen Lion Heaven, Dog Heaven, and Bee Heaven.
    Bee Heaven was not a fun place.

    Western Animation 
  • One of the famous cutaway gags from Family Guy shows Doggie Hell, wherein the Devil torments dogs with a vacuum cleaner.