In cultures around the world, it's common to identify and trace patterns and shapes in the night sky, often in the form of living beings, people and monsters and animals; even individual stars tend to have names and stories associated with them. However, once the night sky is so populated with shapes and figures, it's fairly natural to ask why all these things are up there in the first place. A common answer is that the reason these figures reflect things here in the lower world is because they were, once, things from our world that somehow became shapes in the sky, or at least that the constellations were made using terrestrial models as reference.
Exactly how and why this happens varies, but it's common for this to occur after the original subject dies. Generally, after a great hero, a terrible monster or another notable figure perishes, they will ascend to the sky and become inscribed into it forever. This may be done by gods or godlike figures wishing to honor or memorialize them, or may happen as a spontaneous process. In some cases, this is a physical transformation; how much of their consciousness, if any, endures afterwards varies, but this generally isn't portrayed as a continuation of life. In other cases, stars are simply arranged or created in a pattern resembling the deceased figure.
This typically takes the form of someone being transformed into a full constellation, but it's also fairly common for a being to be transformed into a single star. While these sorts of transformations are perhaps less visually dramatic, the motifs and mythology largely work the same. In some cases all deceased people become stars in the night sky; in other cases, an inversion of sorts happens where a star falls or disappears when a character dies. For instances of these two conditions, see Stars Are Souls.
This is particularly common in works based on Classical Mythology, due to this being a very common occurrence there. Depending on how the constellation turns out, this may also be a case of Sky Face. This is common in Just So Stories describing how the night sky got to be the way that it is. If the constellation does not exist in the real world, that is Fictional Constellations.
As a common Ending Trope, be prepared for SPOILERS.
- Emperor Joker: After the Joker gains Reality Warper powers, he turns Harley Quinn into a constellation to safely watch as he destroys the universe as a reward for her years of service.
- Marvel Comics 2: In Last Hero Standing, after Captain America is mortally wounded stopping Loki's plan, Thor decides to bestow upon him "the tribute supreme". He transforms the dying hero's body into a star, which will inspire future heroes.
- The One Hundred Nights of Hero: At the end of the story, Hero and Cheryl become a constellation.
- Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Diana tells Jason the story her people tell of the binary star Spica. The stars are Zoraida and Agathon placed together in death, after their pride and oaths dedicated that they fight to the death trying to outdo each other even after they'd realized they were in love.
- In The Sun's Bride, a Sami fairy tale, the Sun and the Moon fight over the heroine. The Earth, the Moon's mother, sees her son is getting weaker and will probably lose, and turns the heroine into a morning star. This way, in a Bittersweet Ending, neither of the suitors actually gets the girl but both of them can meet with her in the morning sky, and the girl's Wicked Stepmother can never harm her again.
- To Love the Moon: Luna immortalizes those she particularly cares for by creating constellations based on them. Goldwing's constellation in particular is mentioned several times.
- Hercules: Philoctetes' dream is to train a hero so good that the gods will make a constellation out of them that will be recognizable as "Phil's boy". After rejecting godhood and immortality to be on earth with Megara, Zeus creates a constellation of Hercules, leading one unnamed recurring character to remark "that's Phil's boy!", eliciting joyous tears from Phil.
- The Princess and the Frog: Ray turns into a star next to Evangeline after he's killed by Dr. Facilier.
- Clash of the Titans (1981): The movie ends with Perseus, Andromeda, the Hydra and other characters becoming constellations.
- Dragonheart: The constellation Draco is also known as the Dragon's Heaven. According to dragon religion, dragons that live honorable lives are allowed to become a star in the constellation when they die.
- Hercules (1983): At one point, Hercules throws a bear into the sky with such force that it turns into a constellation. At the end of the movie, Hercules becomes a constellation himself.
- Sesame Street: In the special Dont Eat The Pictures, the ancient Egyptian Prince Sahu and his cat have been trapped on earth by a spell for four thousand years, but Sahu longs to join the spirits of his parents as stars in the sky. With help from Big Bird and Snuffy, he finally passes the tests that break the spell, and both he and his cat become stars.
- Stardust: In the ending, after ruling Stormhold for eighty years, Tristan and Yvaine go to the sky and live forever as stars (in Yvaine's case, once again).
- Choose Your Own Adventure: In one ending of The First Olympics you may be transformed into a new constellation called the Guardian of the Bull, the Bull itself being the constellation of Taurus.
- In "Macunaíma, o herói sem nenhum caráter", by Mário de Andrade, the protagonist has lost his family, his home and the talisman that he had been searching for most of the book. With nowhere else to go, he decides to climb a massive vine and join his deceased lover in the sky. Out of pity, the embodiment of the Crux constellation transforms him into the Ursa Major.
- The Malloreon: After the final confrontation between the two Prophecies, the loser's Chosen One and Cosmic Keystone both Disappear Into Light. The winner explains that they'll become a new galaxy to repair the damage from the universal cataclysm that first divided the Prophecies.
The Prophecy: They'll get bigger along the way, of course.
- May Bird: In the final book, Pumpkin tackles Bo Cleevil across the Bridge of Souls, turning both into stars.
- The Midnight Star: At the end, Adelina is turned into a constellation made of seven stars, in return for her sister, Violetta, being freed from the underworld.
- The Moon of Gomrath: The fallen hero Albanac is last seen in the sky. The stars rearrange themselves to show him outlined as a very clear constellation, riding off in the company of the Valkyrie-like Sisters of the Moon.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: In The Titan's Curse, after Zoe Nightshade dies, Artemis turns her into a new constellation called the Huntress.
- The Silmarillion: After the War of Wrath, the half-elven mariner Earendil was made to sail the sky carrying a Silmaril upon his brow, and thus became the morning star.
- The Song Of Hiawatha: The girl that Wabun the East Wind falls in love with is turned into the morning star so that they would be able to be together.
- Beastmaster: The Sorceress turns her unicorns into constellations to protect them from human greed. She's understandably miffed when the Ancient One pulls them out of the night sky and absorbs them.
- Ultra Series:
- Ultraman: In Episode 15, "The Terrifying Cosmic Rays", Ultraman turns Gavadon into a constellation after the children who helped bring the creature to life beg him not to kill it, as the Kaiju was peaceful and didn't hurt anyone.
- Return of Ultraman: In a Call-Back to the original Ultraman, two of Jack's enemies, Magnedon and Stegon, end up being turned into a series of constellations after their defeat. The former is done because it's a Non-Malicious Monster, while the latter is because several children plead for Jack to hold back from killing it.
- Chinese Mythology: The Cowherd Boy Niulang (牛郎) and the Weaver Girl Zhinü (織女) were forbidden one another and placed into the sky as the stars Altair and Vega, respectively, with the Silver River (银河, the Milky Way) separating them forever. Once a year, however, during the Qixi (七夕) festival on seventh day of the seventh lunisolar month, a flock of magpies form a bridge (鹊桥) that crosses the river, allowing the lovers to meet.
- Classical Mythology: Multiple myths describe notable monsters and heroes as being transformed into constellations by the gods in order to commemorate their deeds. In general, a significant majority of the Greek constellations were believed to have been living beings transported into the sky.
- After Orion was killed by Apollo's scorpion, both were made into constellations — Orion and Scorpio — and placed at opposite ends of the sky. In many versions of the myth, Orion's hunting dogs were also brought into the sky when their master was turned into a constellation. Some versions identify the constellations Canis Major and Minor as these dogs, while others only point out Sirius, a bright star within Canis Major, as being Orion's former hound.
- In other myths, Canis Major and Minor are the hound Laelaps and the Teumessian Fox — the hound could catch any prey and the fox could never be caught. Turning them into constellations was the only way out of the Logic Bomb caused by Laelaps chasing the fox.
- Perseus and Hercules each got one constellation commemorating their exploits. Hercules' foes were also memorialized like this: Leo is the Nemean Lion, while Cancer is Karkinous, the crab Hera sent to attack Hercules while he was battling the Lernean Hydra. One version of the myth has it that this Giant Enemy Crab was only a minor inconvenience to Hercules, who kicked him so hard that he flew into the sky and that was how it turned into a constellation.
- Aquarius is Ganymede, Zeus'... cupbearer, among other things. Hera was unamused by Zeus giving him the job (which was filled by their daughter Hebe beforehand), requiring Zeus to turn Ganymede into a constellation to keep him safe.
- Depending on the myth, the constellation Auriga is made up of charioteers placed there by the gods in thanks for the invention of the chariot.
- Bootes is either the inventor of the wagon placed there in thanks, or Icarus who was murdered when his wine was mistaken for poison and placed there by Dionysus.
- Centaurus (or Sagittarius depending on the version) is Chiron, the wisest of the centaurs who surrendered his immortality after being pricked with a poison arrow.
- Corvus is Coronis, a lover of Apollo's. When she was unfaithful to him, his twin sister Artemis killed her and Apollo placed her among the stars.
- Andromeda and her mother Cassiopeia were put in the sky as constellations for bad-mouthing the gods. Notably, Cassiopeia was supposed to be sitting in a topsy-turvy throne, hanging upside down forever in punishment.
- Ursa Major and Minor were one of Zeus' mistresses and her child (supposedly Hera ensured the two never dipped below the horizon because she carried a grudge). Another version of Ursa Major and Minor has the mistress being turned into a bear not by Hera, but by Artemis, as said mistress was her hunter raped by Zeus. In both versions, the child was turned into a bear cub when he happened upon his mother (in bear form), in a desperate bid by Zeus to prevent from the mother bear from killing him. It worked.
- The Pliades were turned into stars by Zeus to confront Orion, their father (who is also a constellation.) There's also a myth that they were saddened by their father's fate or their siblings' fate, and Zeus turned them into stars.
- Gemini, the twins, are Castor and Pollux, (half)twin brothers of Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra. One was mortal, the other was not. When the mortal one died, his brother either got so depressed that Zeus took pity on them and made sure they were never separated again, or marched down to the Underworld, found his brother there, and refused to leave until Zeus made sure they were never separated again.
- Native American Mythology: According to Kiowa and Lakota legends, the Pleiades were formed when a group of young girls were chased by some giant bears. Fearing for their lives, the girls climb onto a rock and pray to the Great Spirit to save them. The Great Spirit hears them, and causes the rock to rise up to the sky. When it reaches the sky, the girls become the stars of the constellation. (Incidentally, the rock is still there. Most know it as "Devil's Tower". The striations on its sides are from the claw marks that the bears left as they tried to climb up to get at the girls.)
- Norse Mythology:
- As part of the Aesir's compensation to Skadi for their slaying of her father Thjazi, Odin throws Thjazi's eyes into the sky and thus makes them into two stars (Prose Edda).
- Prose Edda: Thor mentions how he carried a certain "Aurvandil the Bold" in a basket on his back when wading home from Jotunheim across the streams of Elivagar ("ice-waves"). One of Aurvandil's toes was sticking out from the basket and froze stiff; Thor broke it off and hurled it into the sky, where it became a star called Aurvandil's Toe. (There is no other information on Aurvandil, or why he had to be rescued from Jotunheim.)
- In Thailand the Pleiades are known as the Chicken Stars. The story goes that a monk visited a poor farmer, who only had a hen to feed his guest. The hen, overhearing that she was about to be killed, warned her chicks to be good. As she was set on the fire, the chicks, loyal to their mother, jumped into the fire to join her in death. The monk, impressed by their sacrificial love, blessed the chickens and set them in the sky as a reminder.
- In medieval rabbinic folklore, the fallen angel Shemhazai sought to deflower Istahar, a chaste mortal woman. To prevent this, she tricked him into revealing God's ineffable name. Istahar then pronounced the name and used its power to escape into the sky. As a reward for her virtue, God transformed her into a star.
- In L'Orfeo, Apollo taking Orpheus to Olympus in the ending is sometimes shown as Orpheus, his lyre, or both becoming a constellation in the night sky.
- Donald in Maui Mallard: During the ending, Hernae speaks as if Maui has died in battle (he just got his head stuck on the ground) and promises to get him a constellation in the sky. His grinning face is seen among the stars after she spirits him away.
- In Katamari Damacy, the Prince of All Cosmos Stellifies objects and other characters by rolling them up with the katamari.
- Kingdom Hearts II: At the end of the second visit to the Olympus Colosseum, Zeus puts up a constellation of Hercules, as he did in the film, but he also puts up constellations of Sora, Donald, and Goofy as well.
- Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight: After returning the Moonstone to Stonehenge, your reward is a druidic ritual where you become a constellation and a legend "passed from one generation to the next."
- Ōkami: Following Amaterasu's death over a century before the events of the game, the Celestial Brush Gods hid themselves in the form of constellations, in order to wait for the day when she returns to restore their former strength.
- Poseidon: Master of Atlantis: If your city doesn't have enough food, the Astronomer expresses a wish to become a constellation so he wouldn't be so hungry.
- The Revenge of Shinobi: If you take too long defeating the Final Boss, your girlfriend gets crushed, and you see her in the sky instead of at your side in the ending cutscene.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit): If the player doesn't collect all the Chaos Emeralds, the credits will show Sonic running alone, having failed to rescue Tails, before ending with him looking up to a constellation of Tails. Interestingly, the game's good ending has a non-death example, as it shows Sonic and Tails running together, before looking up to a pair of constellations of themselves.
- Spelunky 2: Getting to level 99 of the Cosmic Ocean causes one to literally become one with the Universe and become a constellation, which can then be seen in the sky above the Hub Level and in certain loading screens. Which constellation they become depends on certain things you did in the run.
- Spiritfarer: When the spirit of a deceased person passes through the Everdoor, a constellation bearing their likeness forms and is permanently added to the night sky.
- Yoshi's Island: After Raphael the Raven is defeated, he flies off into the sky and becomes a constellation.
- DEATH BATTLE!: "Chuck Norris Vs. Segata Sanshiro" ends in a draw where both combatants become a constellation showing their eternal fight.
- Class of the Titans: Orion was a hunter who loved the goddess Artemis and she in turn loved him. After she was tricked into killing him, she turned him into the Orion constellation. In the present, Cronus revives him as a celestial man to get revenge on Artemis but he eventually departs peacefully back to be part of the stars once again.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: In "The Shadow of Courage" , a deceased millionare's shadow starts haunting the farm, prompting Courage to hunt it down. After flickering a flashlight at the shadow, it explains how it never wanted to be the selfish millionaire and wanted to be a star in Hollywood. After hearing this Courage convinces the shadow to instead become a star in the sky, which the shadow likes the idea of and flies into the sky, creating a new star.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "Wishbones", Mindy finds the magical wishing skull and wishes to be a star, famous and renowned worldwide. She ends up tied onto a rocket, shot into space, and blown up like a normal star as part of the Jackass Genie nature of the skull's wishes.
Thromnambular the Wishing Skull: I'll make you the biggest star of all! But the bigger they are, the harder they fall!
- Looney Tunes: The final gag in Beep Prepared has Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the Road Runner with a rocket cart, which ends up going into the sky and exploding, creating a Coyote constellation. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie expands upon this gag by ending with a scene of the Coyote chasing a Road Runner constellation.
- The Simpsons: "Flanders' Ladder" ends with the revelation of how some of the show's characters die. The last of these clips shows Maggie as a constellation and the reveal that she never died.
- Rugrats: In "Starstruck", when the babies hear that Kimi will be "a star" when she gets given a role in a movie, they take it literally. They try to teach her how to float, twinkle, and grant wishes, and Chuckie (Kimi's adopted brother) sulks about her going away.