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"Up here in Heaven without you

It is Hell knowing that your health

Will keep you out of here for many, many years"
Sparks, "Here in Heaven"

So you've died and Death Isn't Cheap. But luckily for you, you've led a good life and go to Heaven. It's perfect in every way, but not to you. If anything, this is practically hell to you!

It's not about Heaven being bad in general, it's about how things are bad for one person. For example, maybe Heaven has a strict No Pets Allowed policy. While for some people being in a place with animal-less Christians would be wonderful, others may miss their pet. Another possibility is that their significant other is in hell; they may think it's worse than being down there with them. Anyway, heaven without them is "a hell of heaven"

In this trope the actual heaven is horrible in their view, so do not confuse it with This Isn't Heaven! Compare Infernal Paradise for when it's only horrible for outsiders to the faith and contrast Hell of a Time for when hell is fun for a specific person.

Examples of Hell of a Heaven include:


Film

  • All Dogs Go to Heaven 2. After the events of the first movie the dog Charlie B. Barkin is in Heaven. However, he's bored with the place and wants to return to Earth. He gets his chance when Carface (Charlie's enemy) steals Gabriel's Horn and goes back to Earth. Charlie is sent after him on a mission to retrieve the Horn.
    • The first film features a bit of this as well; Charlie is shocked to learn that in heaven there are no surprises, and sings about how he'd prefer to live unpredictably.
  • What Dreams May Come has a doctor who goes to heaven after a car-accident. Some time later he finds out that his wife, consumed by grief at his death, committed suicide. Because the afterlife is self-constructed, her suicide means she is too wrapped up in grief and misery to join him in the Heaven he has been building, instead creating a dark corner of Hell in which to punish herself (forever). Without her, Heaven just ain't all that heavenly, and so he decides to go to hell to retrieve her, all Orpheus-style. He even decides to stay with her there when it becomes clear that even he can't save her. Ironically enough, this Heroic Sacrifice snaps her out of it and she ends up saving them both after he's given up hope
  • In Heathers, the first Heather to die is seen later in a dream. She complains that Heaven is so boring.
  • In 50 Percent Grey, Heaven is a endless grey plain, marked only by a fancy TV explaining where you are and why. Purgatory and Hell are exactly the same, except the TV is cheaper and the explanation is different.

Literature

  • Robert Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice. After the Rapture, Alex Hergensheimer ends up in Heaven. However, his love Margrethe is not with him because she worshiped the deities of Norse Mythology. He eventually decides to leave Heaven to search for her.
  • The idea is put forth in Paradise Lost. After losing the war, Satan states that "The mind is its own place, and in it self. Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven." This counts as the Trope Namer and possibly the Laconic version. At its heart, this trope isn't that Heaven is a horrible place, just that, for some people, it isn't perfect. It isn't Heaven. It's Hell.
    • C. S. Lewis puts forth the same idea in The Problem of Pain: the reason people go to Hell is because their own actions have warped their minds to the point that Heaven would be Hell to them.
  • In the Incarnations of Immortality book For The Love Of Evil, Satan tries to discuss things with God. When he pays God a visit in Heaven, he finds that Heaven fills this trope for many souls who are there because God's lost in narcissism. While there, he finds an unlikely ally who wants to help put things right.
  • In Good Omens, we get the impression from Crowley that Heaven's a boring place with few composers, theaters and films. "Listen, the point is that when the bird has worn the mountain down to nothing, right then...then you still wouldn't have finished watching The Sound of Music. And you'll enjoy it."
    • Many fanworks have Aziraphale feeling the same way, usually because he's become so used to living on Earth with his bookstore and Crowley's company for so long that he feels like an outsider in Heaven. One fanfic even showed Aziraphale being utterly miserable in Heaven After the End, only to then drop the bombshell that he had actually been on Hell's torture roster all along, meaning that Heaven was literally his personal Hell.
  • Susie in The Lovely Bones is in Heaven, but it seems like a rather dull place, and she's absolutely miserable missing her family and watching them grow up without her.
  • Richard Matheson's novel What Dreams May Come, source of the aforementioned Film of the Book.
  • In one of his speeches(published 1910), Mark Twain commented, "Heaven for climate, and Hell for society."

Live Action TV

  • In Angel, the first words we hear from Cordelia in Heaven are: "I'm bored."
  • The Twilight Zone TOS episode "The Hunt" plays with this trope. A recently dead hunter decides not to enter Heaven when a "gatekeeper" tells him that his dog can't go in with him. Soon afterwards, an angel tells him that the gatekeeper was trying to trick him into Hell, which is why the dog wasn't allowed in: "A man, well, he'll walk right into Hell with both eyes open. But even the Devil can't fool a dog!" The hunter and his dog enter the real Heaven together.

Music

  • The narrator of the "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Everything You Know Is Wrong" dies in the final verse, nearly doesn't get into Heaven because he violated the dress code, and gets stuck with the room next to the noisy ice machine for all eternity. (Suggesting that Heaven is a mid-priced hotel.) Also, every day St. Peter runs by his room screaming "Everything you know is wrong!"
  • Played for dark laughs in Sparks' song "Here in Heaven", narrated by the successful half of a suicide pact.
  • The Talking Heads song "Heaven" describes Heaven as being rather monotonous. "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens..."
  • The Hank Williams Jr. Song "If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like Dixie"

Mythology

  • The vita of Wulfram, ex-bischop of Sens and missionary who died in the 8th century tells us of the Frisian king Radbod [died 719], who is about to be baptised by Wulfram. The king asks him whether he'll join his ancestors in heaven after his death. Wulfram, being an honest and scrupulous guy, tells him that they are in hell because they were never baptised. Radbod then withdraws from the baptismal water telling the missionary "I'd rather join my ancestors and friends in hell than to be alone in heaven!" and kicks Wulram out of his territory.
  • Older Than Feudalism: One version of the classic Indian epic Mahabharata has a very similar scene to the Twilight Zone example.

Video Games

  • After Ascension was introduced in Kingdom of Loathing, up until May 2011 Valhalla was just a waiting room for adventurers who had Ascended, where they could either reincarnate and start again as a level 1 adventurer or go through a few non-combat adventures about how boring the afterlife is: the restaurants serve nothing but tasteless health food, and there's nothing to do but play card games that are rendered pointless by the fact that everyone plays for infinite stakes with infinite amounts of money (and infinite amounts of cards, in some cases), chat with your ancestors (who are largely jerks), or contemplate the infinite (which at least leads to you getting stoned, playing Battleship with Death, fooling around with a Magic 8-Ball, or indulging in a parody of The Matrix).

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • On South Park Satan got God to do him a favor: let Saddam Hussein into Heaven, which is otherwise populated entirely by Mormons. Being surrounded by Mormons was torture to Hussein.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, a gas leak causes people to have visions of Heaven. Disco Stu's vision is, obviously, a nightclub full of disco music, dancers...and Frank Sinatra, who tells Stu "For me this is Hell! Ya dig, pally?"
    • When Homer predicts Armageddon, he goes to Fluffy Cloud Heaven only to be miserable knowing his family is suffering on Earth. He eventually persuades God to rewind time ("Superman did it!") and postpone the end of the world.
  • An episode of Bob and Doug had an old man die and go to dog heaven. It doesn't seem so bad at first, but it eventually does get annoying.
  • On American Dad, Francine renounces her belief in God when her pastor tells her that Roger, who the family thinks has died, wouldn't get into Heaven. (Which doesn't make much sense, since Francine, unable to admit that Roger was an alien, claimed he was a pet, so it's not like the pastor's claim was necessarily valid.)
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