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  • Even The Bible and Christianity in general had some of this trope. It depicts a world where Humans Are Bastards, Anyone Can Die and The Messiahs of the story are rejected, maltreated and crucified simply because the first men and woman ate the Forbidden Fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It gets worse in Revelation, where The Antichrist will end civilization and while we would have eternal life in the end, almost all of us will get thrown to Hell to be punished for all eternity. And there is no second chance after that. In fact, almost all depictions of Hell are pretty grim, whether it's the And I Must Scream prison the Word of Dante described, or a Wretched Hive with A Hell of a Time, or simply a state of Despair Event Horizon more modern interpretations like Eternal Separation advocate. Even Satan and God are rarely immune from the crapsackness. Hell, trying to avoid Hell and enter Paradise is like trying to make a camel enter the eye of a needle.
  • Greek Mythology depicts the world as ruled by a pantheon of Jerkass Gods who will utterly screw over mortals (often literally) for the most petty of reasons, or no reason at all. (The Olympian gods deposed the Titans, who were allegedly worse, but we only have the Olympians' word for it.) Oh, and by the way, destiny rules everything and man has no control over his life. Nice to note that of the two deities in the pantheon that were nice to humans, one was god of the underworld and the other had that as her primary character trait.
    • Despite arguably being worse than the Olympians, the Titans are said to have established a 'Golden Age' where man wanted for nothing. Thanks a bunch, Zeus.
      • To be fair, many would be very pissed off if their father ate their siblings and tried the same to themselves.
    • The ancient Greek word for "safe" translates to English as "free from fear". Their word for "safe" meant that they weren't in danger. It's a negative. To them, the default state of existence was "not safe".
  • Sumerian Mythology only seems to have one afterlife destination, which is a dusty, barren and empty hall described as sucking immensely. The entirety of The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ode to the concept that dying can only result in endless tedium and suffering. Also, the goddess in charge of the place routinely threatens to unleash the angry, bored dead to fuck up the living world if her father, the head honcho god, doesn't agree to her arbitrary whims.
  • And then there's Norse Mythology...
    • At least the Norse live in a World of Badass and get a massive kegger until the end of time.
    • Correction: Viking Warriors get a massive kegger until the end of time. The rest of us are screwed.
    • And in this case, "end of time" means all of them are conscripted to fight against all of the forces conspiring against the Norse gods in Ragnarök, which includes the likes of frost giants, fire giants, possibly other kinds of giants (lots of giants in Norse Mythology), the residents of Hel (made up of cowards, criminals and others not fit for Valhöll or the other afterlives of Norse religion) who arrive on ships made out of the nails of the dead, the Big Badass Wolf Fenrir, a serpent big enough to encircle the world, the Hell Hound Garmr, and...everything else that wasn't a Norse god (the Norse gods made a lot of enemies). Oh, and no matter how hard they fight, they're all destined to die anyway... except for (at least) three gods, two humans and probably Níðhöggr. The gods will win the final battle by virtue of last men standing. (The prophecy goes on to predict that some of the dead gods will come back to share the Plain of Idavöllr, but...)
      • Correction! The 'Valhöll for warriors, Helheimr for everyone else" is a misconception that later Christian scholars touted to make Christianity seem superior to the old Norse ways. In reality, those not fit for Valhöll inhabited the Family Mound or went to Freyja's domain Fólkvangr for the afterlife. Old Norse beliefs were a lot more animistic than most give credit for. Harsh as hell yes, but when you died you were generally welcomed to meet and party with all your ancestors again, as well as help your descendants with advice. The only ones who ended up as Hel's friends screwed up majorly or did some unspeakable act. Or you could become a Draugr, a nigh-invincible Norse proto-zombie.
        • Who says there's anything wrong with going to Hel's Hall after death? That's where Baldr is, so it's not exactly where the 'bad' people go when they die. It's just not where the warriors are.
  • The Aztec afterlife required you to run a big damn gauntlet to get to it, at which point... you spend eternity sitting around inside a pyramid, doing nothing, only even getting to eat on the Day of the Dead. On the plus side, you can read the life stories of everyone else who got there, maybe write your own.
    • If you think the afterlife was bad, in life the god who controls the sun is a bloodthirsty, warmongering psychopath. If the Aztecs do not constantly war with other tribes and perform grotesque human sacrifices, he will refuse to let the sun rise and the entire world will freeze.
      • To be fair to said god, it's not spite: he'll starve if he doesn't get the necessary hearts. And according to one version of the relevant origin myth, he sacrificed himself that the people of the earth could live to become a sun god. Sometimes all the gods except the wind sacrificed themselves to fuel the ignition of the sun and have no bodies but the temple statues, and so require much blood to persist and protect.
  • Should you die in Pharaonic Egypt, you have to take a very long walk across the desert (hope the people who buried you put a map in your tomb), at which point your heart gets weighed. If it outweighs a magical feather representing Truth, its get thrown to the beast Ammit, who eats it and condemns you to Cessation of Existence. If the feather outweighs it ("We made it really heavy"), you get to... work in Osiris's fields for all eternity. Hep hep hooray. You get to do what, in all likelihood, you did for your entire mortal life.
    • Not quite. Initially, only the Pharaohs got an afterlife. Later dynasties would expand the afterlife to all the nobles. The commoners who would actually work in the fields got nothing.
      • This isn't quite true. There just isn't a detailed guide to how ordinary people's afterlife will work, like with the Pharaohs and nobles. Even the commoners were mummified, albeit in a very simple manner, so they must have expected some sort of afterlife for themselves. But that's the ticket - you could expect to be in the same condition in the afterlife as your corpse is in the living world. Think about it for a few moments.
      • At least symbolic animal sacrifices made of clay could be expected to count. I'd have looked forward to having a whole herd of goats to milk whenever after struggling with no livestock, hey?
    • Even at the pharaoh level, the image of the afterlife wasn't quite unified, let alone static.
  • Many mythologies have one or several deities occupied with creating intricate traps and riddles in order to "test" humans. The only problem is that many to most of these tests could only be passed with Light-like levels of omniscience. Which is to say they are impossible, unless you have the Power of Plot on your side OR you don't actually solve it, but are ridiculously lucky.
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