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What distinguishes ascension from "dying and going to a better afterlife"?
Is it the body vanishing?
The possibily of reversal?
Occasional communication with those still bound to the material plane?
The biggest distinction is that ascended characters can still be considered "alive", in that they can still interact with the mortal world to varying degrees and still have their soul or whatever tether held their body to the physical world. Death is also generally not voluntary, and even when it is it's considered an inevitable fate to all living things rather than something that only exceptional individuals ever manage to reach. Ascension is generally the result of some magical artifact, millions of years of evolution, or some otherworldly power and requires a great deal of effort to achieve.
Practically speaking, ascended characters usually get all sorts of godlike/reality warping powers (think the ascended Bhaalspawn in Baldur's Gate or Q in Star Trek) while dead people are just... well... ghosts.
Well, in that case there's quite a few examples on the page that need to be culled.
What happened to the previous, far broader definition of this trope?
I have lurked on TV Tropes for years, never feeling the need to alter the beauty that is TV Tropes, but this has brought me out of lurkerdom.
Previously this trope applied to the far broader, far more applicable definition commonly used in science fiction and fantasy, where entire civilizations could Ascend. This trope does not deserve to be relegated to a variant of Put on a Bus. It is useful in so much more than that.
A lament for Grace Augustine, I have only one lament: Grace Augustine was the best teacher Jake Sully has ever known. She also held the key, the key to Princess Neytiri of the Omaticaya Clan finally growing up. For Neytiri heself was one of Grace’s many students. Grace Augustine Taught Neytiri ho to Speak English. After Gace Passed away , she is bestowed a high reward, or even becomes a god-like species. Grace Agustine, friend to Jake and Neytiri, is with Eywa, Spirit world of the Na’vi in the Afterlife.
Would Chip from Sonic Unleashed count? There's a twist though, He was a god this whole time, and only returns to the pane.
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