Who Wants to Live Forever?

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"Like a fool, I still have hope that I will meet my Creator again. And if I do, I will tell her just one thing: I wish you had created me so that I could die."
The Bag, Plastic Bag

Put your hand down. This is not a vote. *sigh*

The worst fate possible might well be Immortality. Sure, you might like the idea that you get to live forever and see what the world's like hundreds of years from now, but what's eternal life compared to the pain of life in general, from getting thrown in a Cold-Blooded Torture chamber, to the emotional anguish of seeing your loved ones die, one by one, as you stay fixed in time? See Analysis for more horrifying details.

When done Anviliciously, this can seem like Sour Grapes on the part of the very much mortal writers. May be used as a Fantastic Aesop.

This attitude toward immortality is Older Than Feudalism, going back at least as far as the Greek myths about Tithonos's Age Without Youth and Prometheus's punishme- is your hand still up!?

Compare Blessed with Suck for those that angst as well as And I Must Scream for the mindset this can create. Contrast Living Forever Is Awesome for those who like it, and Immortality Seeker for those who seek it, and Eternal Love where immortals fall in love. See Analysis for more horrifying details.

Examples of Who Wants to Live Forever? include:


Trope Namer[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Trope Namer is a montage in the first Highlander film set to Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever." Connor MacLeod and his wife Heather pass a long and happy marriage together, but Connor must watch his beloved age and die while he lives on, ever youthful. Thus Connor first learns the loneliness of immortality. The upsides and downsides of immortality becomes a running theme in the franchise (see below).
    • It pretty much sucks to be an immortal in the world of Highlander, you can't have any children and you have to watch your significant other die of old age, or in Duncan's case (in Highlander Endgame) you can turn your wife into an immortal, only to have her freak out, run away and become the right hand woman to the guy that wants to kill you.
    • Never mind the fact that many people will want to kill you. Some because they think the fact you're immortal in the first place means you've made a pact with Satan or are otherwise some sort of Humanoid Abomination; others, fellow immortals, want to kill you because doing so makes them more powerful, and the whole idea of your immortality is that "There Can Be Only One" so all of you will have to kill each other at some point, until only a single one is left. By the way, the only way to kill you is Off with His Head- the former group probably don't know this, so prepare yourself for a lot of painful non-deaths. Which, it so happens, is how your immortality was activated in the first place- you died a violent death to get it. And you probably didn't know about it until that happened.
    • And we've seen in the very beginning of the first movie how people react when someone mysteriously survives an horrible death.
  • Pretty much the whole point of Highlander the Series. Many immortals are shown to become psychopaths or devoted to the point of zealotry to some cause that gives meaning to their existence, whether it is "The game" or eliminating potential dictators. Some immortals - namely the good guys - are shown to somewhat avert the trope by balancing the loneliness of immortality by enjoying life to the fullest and using their immortality to develop new pastimes and experience the world like no humans can. For example, Methos - the oldest immortal - has written a journal chronicling most of his life and experiences (at least some of it - he is older than writing, so some stuff went undocumented). The episode "Stone of Scone" shows this very well. The show also explores some of the more tragic possibilities, such as a villain who spends 70 years in a jail cell before finally being released, or an immortal with mental handicaps.
    • Some immortals (at least a couple of them seen in one episode) have solved the "significant other" problem by falling in love with another immortal. Which perfectly make sense and is a very good solution. Duncan himself try this with Amanda and his wife seen in Highlander: Endgame. It is a very good solution, until you remember that "There can be only one."
      • Then again, there's never been a sign that any authority exists to enforce the "rule" that "There can be only one." Duncan and his friends don't seem to particularly care about becoming "the one" and are unlikely to go after the heads of their friends.
  • Also played with in the anime Highlander: The Search For Vengeance, both Colin and Marcus embody this, as neither have been able to get over some large events of their early lives - Marcus still pines for the fall of Rome, hoping to recreate it and working towards that for 2000 years. Colin wants to avenge the murder of his wife, and he has been hunting Marcus for two millenia.


Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Noblesse: Rai is an incredibly powerful being known qw the Noblesse who has lived for millennia. Despite being very kind, he was feared for his incredible power and only received visitors every few decades or so. He was alone. Until the start of the series, when he's found happiness in the practice of masquerading as an Ordinary High School Student in the modern day.
  • Rumbling Hearts references this trope. In the last episode, when Haruka decides she cannot live with Takayuki after the coma, she explains the book "Mayal's Gift," about an immortal fairy who plays with human friends. After a few years of playing, the kids grow up, and Mayal is still as lively as ever. The kids become too old for Mayal, and leave the forest.
  • In Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Saga, eating mermaid flesh almost always makes the eater insane or turns him/her into a monster, but there is a very small chance that the eater will gain immortality instead. The travels of the main character, one of the "lucky" ones, reinforce this property as only a step above insanity or deformity.
  • Rulers in the world of The Twelve Kingdoms automatically gain immortality upon gaining the throne. (Rulers can also grant immortality to their servants and officials). Very few people who've been granted immortality ever come to regret it (even those who were very old when they became immortal). About the only one who saw it as something of a curse was Suzu, but that's only because she spent 100 years of her life being abused by a cruel master. Once free of her employer, she pretty much picked up her former life where it had left off, (and despite the large amount of time that had passed, she still considered herself a teenager). In one of the short stories, however, it is mentioned that some rulers cannot cope with what would have been the end of their natural life.
  • Hohenheim in Fullmetal Alchemist. This was why he abandoned his wife and sons both the manga/Brotherhood and the first anime, although the reasons are different.
    • In the first anime, he didn't want his wife to see his body deteriorating due to too many soul transfers. Also, his ex-girlfriend (wife?) Dante, used the same method and ended up insane - or just really, really cold hearted. She was willing to sacrifice millions of lives just so she could look young and beautiful for a little bit longer, and nearly succeeded. And of course, the anime Homunculi just want to be human and thus are willing to swallow Dante's fairly obvious lies because she's the only chance they have to make themselves mortal. The exception among the Homunculi is Greed, who wants to achieve true immortality. Because he's, you know. Greed.
      • Well Envy as well, who is just around to see everyone suffer. Yeah, Envy is a bit of a dick like that.
    • In the manga and Brotherhood adaptation, Hohenheim left because he didn't want the neighbors to notice he wasn't aging. His wife and their closest neighbor, however, knew all about it, and one of the reasons he left was to find a way to lose his immortality. He didn't want to outlive his wife and sons.
  • C.C. in Code Geass, whose disconnected, sarcastic attitude and disdain for humans are shown to be the result of several centuries of life while being persecuted as a witch; at one point she even remarks "I've been alive so long that I can't even remember who loves me and who hates me."
    • It's revealed in the second season that this is the goal of practically every "Geass Witch," since they were tricked into gaining their powers and immortality by their predecessors; the "practically" comes from the strong implication that C.C.'s real wish is to be loved honestly and truthfully.
      • And then, after the Grand Finale where Lelouch sacrifices himself to bring peace to the world, it's said that C.C. no longer feels this way, because Lelouch never hated or blamed her for the tragedy that his life became, and through everything he honestly cared about her, allowing her to live out her immortal lifespan with the happy memories he gave her.
      • Then of course, there's also the Broken Base-inducing Fanon theory (which was caused by the originally-intended ambiguous ending of the series, before they made the special edition ova) that Lelouch survived to become the immortal LL/RR - (Code Geass: R2, get it?) after inheriting his father's code when he destroyed his parents in the World of C , and is now Happily Ever After in Eternal Love with CC(he's supposedly the cart driver)
  • In Hellsing, Integra's father reveals to her that he believes that vampires hate their immortality, and seek battle and conflict because they wish for an end to their curse. It is implied that Alucard himself wishes to die in battle, seeking a worthy opponent and almost finding it in Anderson.
    • This is elaborated upon in moments where Alucard shows value for human life, seeing death as a necessary event to make life sacred. He expresses disgust when a policeman in Rio shoots himself in the head rather than die by Alucard's hands, showing that he believes suicide is the easy way out, as is succumbing to vampirism. This is why he is dismayed by Anderson's decision to make himself into a monster in order to fight Alucard.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the Wolkenritter lost their Rejuvenation program when Reinforce separated them from her. They considered this to be a gift from Reinforce. No longer bound by the prison of immortality, they can now spend their first and last lives with their beloved master, Hayate, and follow her in death, if they wish.
  • In Mirai Nikki, the thought of this is a source of much angst for both Yuno and Yuki, since, in order to win the Survival Game, one of them must kill the other and become god. Eventually subverted, as, although Yuki does succumb to depression after Yuno dies and he becomes god, eventually third!Yuno breaks in from the third world and joins him as co-god.
  • The hermit in Tail of the Moon, as he's literally watched everyone he's ever loved die around him.
  • Count Magnus Lee's speech in Vampire Hunter D perfectly sums up this trope:

"I have lived for 10,000 years. Believe me, you have no idea what that means for me: boredom. Everlasting, hideous boredom. A never ending search for ways to pass the time, and mating with a human woman is one of the few I enjoy."

  • One of the main themes of Tsukihime is the inevitability of death, despite the fact that every supernatural character has (at least) immortality. The protagonist understands this well, as his eyes can see the fated destruction of everything. In fact, in Melty Blood a character explicitly says, "You can't avoid your destined end."
  • Although it may not appear one of the central themes in Kiddy Grade, it apparently was intended as such. Since all ES members are technically immortal, they have to face all the problems (the least of which are old enemies and their descendants) that pile up during their lives. One consequence of their immortality seems to be their tendency to band together with each other, in other words, with the likes of themselves - hence the obvious affection between the two main girls and the unexpected readiness to forget past conflicts and foil for each other when crap hits the fan.
  • Played straight and subverted in Baccano!:

"The harshness of having to live for eternity... of all people, I gave it to you..."
"What are you saying?! We don't mind it one bit! On the contrary, we're glad we won't die! I feel like going 'Yahoo!'"

    • The last episode in the series is subtitled "Both those who are immortal and those who are not enjoy life equally."
  • Played straight in Flame of Recca in form of Kagerou/Kagehoshi. After literally turning immortal in order to save her son, Recca, she felt like real hell, wandering in eternity to have her son kill her. On the other hand, the two Big Bad of the series, Mori Kouran and Kaima, just simply have limitless lust for humanity's evils, greed and desire (Kouran wants to continue to gain money and possession forever, while Kaima wants to kill forever), so they avert this trope by actually WISHING to live forever, so they can satiate those lusts.
  • In Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix, most characters that seek to drink the eponymous bird's blood fail to do so or change their mind because of this trope. However, in the second volume we get to see a character go on to live forever, to the point of becoming a godlike figure. He isn't truly happy until he is allowed to become a part of the Phoenix so he could be with his long-deceased lover. In other words, he died happily.
  • Fruits Basket, chapter 131. In the true Zodiac legend, the animals regularly meet with the god until finally the cat is the first to start dying. The god creates some sort of reincarnation elixir and gives it to the cat. When the cat realizes what happened, it immediately condemns this action. This only pisses off everyone else, who miss the cat's point and drink the elixir themselves.

I don't want eternity. I don't want 'unchanging'. Even though you're afraid, let's accept that things end. Even though it's lonely, let's accept that lives come to an end. Even though it was only for a short while, I was so happy to be by your side. If we both die and are reborn, and we are able to meet once again, next time, rather than only during the moonlit nights, I want to meet you as you smile in the light of the sun. Next time, rather than only by ourselves, I want to meet you as you smile among people.

  • In Alive the Final Evolution, it is revealed that the Happening-meets-X-Men events of the series was caused by an alien race that escaped the destruction of their planet by turning into living energy. The boredom of traveling through space and their inability to die left them completely insane, eventually concluding that the ultimate form of evolution is death. When they reached Earth, in their desperation to "evolve," they body jumped into several people, and had their hosts gleefully commit suicide just so they could die. Those watching the suicides and are able to resist the command themselves aren't sure if they should be terrified or jealous.
  • In Photon, it turns out the Emperor of the galaxy, having achieved immortality and near-omnipotence, has orchestrated most of the events of the OVA, causing a mutiny to rise up against himself simply because he was bored of being uncontested for thousands of years. This plot eventually leads to his destruction. He doesn't mind (or, possibly, notice, as he's quite mad).
  • What is revealed about Evangeline McDowell's back story in Mahou Sensei Negima contains hints of this, especially the eternal wanderer aspects. Mainly because she is stuck at age 10, considered an undead abomination by those aware of the Masquerade, and apparently cannot maintain illusions indefinitely.
    • Also discussed and debated once Negi ends up becoming the same type of being as Eva. Either pre-pubescent or early puberty for eternity, near-impossible to have children, will outlive all loved ones, etc. On the other hand, as the Smug Snake notes, he can't be assassinated and can become a king and rule for eternity!
  • In The Tower of Druaga, King Gilgamesh's immortality was a curse by Druaga. He had to live through all of Uruk's hard times while a shadow eats away at his soul.
  • In Rebirth - which is really a manhwa series - Rett Butler, the best friend of the main character, was cursed with immortality by the the villain 300 years ago. Why? So he can watch the world be destroyed by said villain.
  • Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal (think Highlander meets Samurai Champloo), in which the title character - thanks to an infusion of 'kessen chu' or 'sacred blood worms' which instantly repair virtually any injury which he sustains - is, to all intents and purposes, incapable of dying (and quickly comes to the realization that effective immortality sucks). When it's suggested that he simply decapitate himself, he protests that he wants to die a *normal* death and suggests that he slay 1000 evil men in return for the "cure" for his immortality (and partially to redeem himself for killing 100 men when he was an outlaw).
  • Cowboy Bebop has "Sympathy for the Devil" where the bounty leads them to a child who at the time is actually over 80 and apparently can neither age nor sustain permanent damage until Spike shoots him with a MacGuffin that causes him to age rapidly and die in seconds. He was pretty crazy by the time we met him, likely from watching his family die and being experimented upon for decades by scientists hoping to figure out how to replicate the freak accident that made him the way he was.
  • Yuko from Xxx HO Li C and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. A Reality Warper accidentally turned her into a zombie-ish thing when she was dying centuries ago. The entire plot, encompassing the death and suffering of millions, revolves around her wanting to finally RIP, and someone else disagreeing.
  • Baku in Nightmare Inspector are immortal, and, well... The original Hiruko let Azusa become his vessel because it was the closest he could get to dying. Then Azusa got sick of immortality and looked for a dream frightening enough to swallow him up and destroy him. The current Hiruko seems to avert this, though.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth: Emeraude. 'Nuff said.
  • In King of Bandit Jing. The title character is given the elixir of immortality, and, while his sidekick encourages him to drink it, instead pours it off a cliff into the ocean. This causes a rainbow to appear, which Jing references by saying "Catching these 7 colors, even for an instant, is more beautiful then a thousand years of gray."
  • Played with in Axis Powers Hetalia fandom, as the characters cannot die until their nation dies (and sometimes not even then, *cough*Prussia*cough*) but they also have to suffer as their nation's do and watch their citizens die.
    • A good example of the above would be Jean de Arc and France's relationship.
    • This was discussed here when a young French soldier meets France (who his grandfather had met when he was younger) and muses to a girl how wonderful it must be to live forever. Only for the girl to interrupt him and ask him if it really was a wonderful thing.

Girl: Are you sure you want that? It means to go on with your life and spend time with a different tempo than everybody else Even though we would laugh together, even though we would lead the same life. Had children that would grow up. Even when my hand would grow all wrinkled and I wouldn't respond to your voice. Even when I would die. And after I wouldn't be here anymore, you would watch over so many people. Something like that would a normal human being never withstand. No matter how many people you would fall in love with, they would always leave you behind. And like that, you would be always alone. If you would have to bare such fate, it would be so cruel, I couldn't stand it! To live forever isn't such a good thing after all.
Soldier: You're right! Without this plain mortal body, I wouldn't be able to pursue my dream! To grow old together. Until our hands will be full of wrinkles.

  • Played straight in Nabari no Ou with Shijima and Kouichi's jealousy of other people's ability to die and stay dead. Eventually, they manage to convince Miharu to free them of their immortality.
  • In Karakuri Circus, a 200+ old woman's last words...are that she regretted making the choice that allowed her to live so long.
  • Vampire Knight has pureblood vampires, who could theoretically live forever, as they have eternal youth, don't suffer from disease, and heal nearly instantaneously from wounds, but every pureblood vampire yet seems to either die from their own hand or that of another.
  • Tabris of Neon Genesis Evangelion is immortal and will live forever if he merges with Adam... but that's not his desire. He's driven by the instinct of all Angels, denying him the free will he envies in humanity. He sees death as complete freedom, and so welcomes his defeat.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Lazarus Churchyard, a comic book character, was unable to kill himself because his brain was trapped in an indestructible body.
  • The Sandman issue "Facade" depicts Elemental Girl as a washed-up superhero who takes no joy from life, but finds it impossible to commit suicide due to her powers.
    • There was also a subversion done on this trope: a man is granted immortality by Death and Dream, and Dream visits him once every hundred years. During each visit he asks whether or not he wants to continue to live forever. Even after seven hundred years - including the death of his family and being unable to eat for years on end due to extreme poverty - he continues to want to live forever. When asked by Dream whether he will choose to die because of the pain, he responds simply with "Why? I've got so much to live for!" It's suggested that Dream subconsciously desired this, as he suffered from immortal loneliness.
    • Besides Hob Gadling, another example shows up later in Brief Lives who is an even bigger contrast to most immortals in fiction - he's a dull, unassuming lawyer. People always need lawyers. He still screams "NOT YET!" when he's killed in a freak accident.
      • One of the last issues shows Hob at a low point. He visits a Renaissance Faire and becomes depressed because everything is historically incorrect, and starts to ponder the misery of his immortality. When Death appears and offers him his final death, he still refuses to give up.
    • The demons of Hell in the Sandman series while away their endless time in Hell by coming up with wordplay and slang to use when speaking to each other and the damned. (e.g. speaking only in iambic pentameter).
    • And besides Hob Gadling is Mad Hettie, who's quite determined to keep on going no matter what it takes, even though she's, well, mad. It's unclear whether she was mad to begin with, or whether immortality made her so.
  • On the other hand, in Neil Gaiman's Eternals, Sprite, the only child Eternal goes to enormous lengths to make the Eternals into normal people who age (and can die) because he's sick of being stuck at the same age. (In the end, he only makes himself mortal, the others are restored by the Dreaming Celestial).
  • In Phil Foglio's Comic Book Adaptation of Robert Asprin's Another Fine Myth (but not the original novel), the villain's motivation is to get enough power to cancel the immortality enchantment on him. He never specifies exactly why he wants to die, but apparently he's been trying for a long time.
  • Zzed, a supervillain from Golden Age Airboy series and its 1980s revival, has been immortal for tens of thousands of years. Although originally, he enjoyed the possibilities eternal life afforded him, he eventually grew sick of seeing people around him dying and set out to find a way to end his life. As technology progressed, he took increasingly drastic measures, until, in the Total Eclipse crossover, he set out to destroy the multiverse.
  • The protagonist of Drew Hayes' Poison Elves mentions in one episode that elves find it difficult to care deeply for anything or anyone, because of their long lifespans. Of course he's something of a Heroic Sociopath so his outlook may not really reflect the psychology of the elven race in general.
  • Marvel Comics' Mister Immortal has tried suicide numerous times using increasingly drastic means. It's not until he finds out his true destiny that he finally accepts his "condition."
  • Averted for the most part in Fables, with the notable exception of Pinocchio, but only because he's stuck as a permanent pre-adolescent and wants to age so he can grow up.

"I want to grow up, I want my balls to drop, and I want to get laid.

  • John Constantine's Cromwellian ancestor Harry Constantine wound up cursed with immortality by a supernatural entity. It wasn't a particularly strong curse though, so he was buried alive to keep anyone from ever finishing the job. Over three centuries later, he would be exhumed by his descendant twice, with the second time resulting in his death. Having been left underground for so long to the point that his body was half-rotten and festering with worms, he gladly obliged when John took his head off with a shovel.
  • A minor character from an issue with Lucifer was cursed with immortality by her gods several thousand years ago. Every day, her body is reverted to the way it was the moment of the curse, which means she has had the same miscarriage every day for thousands of years.
  • The Cyborg Superman seeks to end his life after the loss of his human body and suicide of his wife. An immortal Energy Being, he is able to survive any injury, including disintegration or being thrown into a black hole, without being destroyed. As such, he purposely antagonizes Superman, Green Lantern and other powerful beings in the hope that one of them will find a way to kill him.
    • Good luck with that. Becoming a foe of Superman because only he could finally kill you, when Superman will not kill under any circumstances.
      • Yeah, just ask those Kryptonian villains who murdered an entire alternate Earth about Superman not executing them.
    • The whole reason he agreed to join the Sinestro Corps was because the Anti-Monitor promised to kill him.
  • In Scott McCloud's Zot, deranged cyborg Dekko turns 13 people into robots without their knowledge or consent specifically to make them effectively immortal. As they come to realize what had happened to them, not a one of them accepts or likes the change, a fact that broke what used to be Dekko's heart. Dekko himself, however, does want to live forever, one of the many indicators of how far removed from his humanity he is.
  • The Phantom once dealt with a gladiator from Ancient Rome who was cursed with immortality and Nigh Invulnerability (though like an ant, his back is vulnerable). Said gladiator even tried suicide throughout the centuries (and got really happy at his defeat and consequent death by the hands of the Ghost Who Walks).
  • Vogelein the Clockwork Faerie is, well, a clockwork fairy who must be wound every thirty-six hours to stay alive. So she's passed from caregiver to caregiver like an heirloom. She's basically tied to each guardian and has to stay a secret, so when one dies without passing her on...
  • Occurs frequently enough in Transformers comics that writer Simon Furman has made a Furmanism out of "Never did want to live forever!"
  • The Elders of the Universe in the Marvel Universe are immortal due to their fanatical devotion to a specific aspect of life (gardening, playing games, running, fighting). While none of them seem depressed they're pretty much irretrievably insane.
  • Dr. Doom achieved immortality at one point with the intention of trading it away - as he put it,

My years already feel like eons. I fear the eons themselves cannot be endured.

    • He may have done it again, if indeed it's not the same case. Became immortal just to use it up so he could vanquish his only real opponent. His own conscience.
  • DC Comics' Multi-Man is "sort of" immortal. Any time he is killed, he comes back to life with a new super power. It's never explicitly stated whether or not this can happen throughout eternity, or if he will otherwise have an ordinary lifespan. Other super villains frequently take advantage of this, most notably The Joker during the Last Laugh storyline, who kills him repeatedly until he resurrects with the super power that The Joker needs to escape prison. Shortly thereafter duplicated by Shilo Norman repeatedly killing him until he resurrects with the power needed to bring the prison back into normal reality after being pulled into a singularity as part of Joker's escape plan. Needless to say, Multi-Man is pretty traumatized by his power.
  • DC Comics' also has Resurrection Man who has the power not only to come back to life, but also manifest a new power related to prevent the last thing that killed him from killing him again.
  • Elf Quest. Rayek eventually perfected the art of angsting about it.
  • In Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?? Mxyzptlk says that one problem with immortality is that one becomes bored. The first two thousand years he tried doing nothing, being carried on inertia, the next two he was good and after that another two thousand years of being mischievous (as usually portrayed). Things go very bad when he gets bored again and tries to be plain evil.
  • Invincible once visited a future, where, after some serious cataclysm, the Immortal saved remains of humanity and become their leader. However, years later he get tired of his life, and immortality right to the point he decided to turn into a merciless dictator, hoping that the oppressed people will form a resistance and find a way to kill him.
    • Invincible himself isn't exactly crazy about his half-Viltrumite life expectancy far exceeding that of his human friends.
  • In the Hellboy story "Darkness Calls" HB's main enemy is Koshchei the Deathless, a Russian warlord who's soul was hidden in an egg (that's inside a rabbit, that's inside a duck, that's inside a goat) by the Baba Yaga. When we meet him, he is sitting on his throne covered in cobwebs just because he no longer gives a damn. The only way that Koshchei agrees to go after Hellboy is the Baba Yaga promises to let him die if he does.
  • Warlord is fond of reminding the less valiant warriors around him that they never wanted to live forever anyway, during the heat of battle. This is particularly prevalent in his more suicidal periods.
  • Marvel Comics' Deadpool fell in love with the cosmic entity representing Death, and was cursed to never die by a magic using mercenary named T-Ray. In one comic Deadpool waited in a refrigerator for nearly 1000 years, spawning a second personality out of boredom to play hangman with.
    • On several moments many characters talk about how he despises his own immortality. His psychologist Doctor Bong states he is afraid to live.
      • Deadpool himself says: "You know what else is boring? Immortality." Meanwhile he throws a bucket of blood to the sea and dives for a little shark fishing.
  • In The Great Ten, the Seven Deadly Brothers' powers are derived from a curse placed upon him, that he would have seven lifetimes of mastery in the martial arts. This gave him the ability to split into seven bodies that are each unparalleled grandmasters of a different style, but he is fated to live out all seven of those lifetimes. When he is one person, his mind is a jumble, housing so many different personae that all want different things; only when split and in combat does he know peace. He's been living with this for over 300 years and he's got a lot more mileage in him yet. He admits, however, that he feels he deserves it.
    • Contrast Immortal Man in Darkness, who will eventually be killed by the technology of the Dragonwing and replaced by another pilot. There are dozens of men waiting desperately in the wings for the chance.
  • A Harvey Comics Golden Age villain who called himself Satan was originally a 16th century Spanish explorer who discovered the Fountain of Youth. Upon drinking from it, he was turned into a devil-like creature, so he became a villain in hopes that someone would eventually kill him. None of the heroes ever succeed, but not for the lack of trying.
  • One of the reasons Dr. Manhattan isn't all there anymore.
  • At the end of The Thanos Imperative, Thanos goes on a rampage when he realizes that one of the consequences of his Thanatos Gambit to defeat the Cancer Verse is that he can never die. Since he is in love with the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death, the idea of eternal unending life forever apart from her drives him mad.
  • In the EC Comics story "The Precious Years," a perfect future society has extended people's lifespans indefinitely by giving them all rejuvenation shots. The 550-year-old protagonist, who looks 25, has had enough of it all.
  • After dedicating his entire villainous career to cheating death by killing anything in the universe that might be a threat to him (which is everything), Fantastic Four foe Annihilus' latest incarnation has come around to this line of thought. Turns out, in the Negative Zone, everyone is like Mister Immortal mentioned above, and the endless cycle of death and resurrection gets old fast.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • The Azumanga fanfic Forevergreen, is a Tear Jerker that dives into this in detail.
  • There is a Ranma ½ fanfic in which Cologne thinks to herself about her long life. Pretty much it boils down to 1: After the first three centuries it starts to get rather boring. Two: Everyone finds a clutch. Cologne has managing her village, Happosai has Liquor and Women, and another one that she heard about is trying to play every game Go. And finally Three: That Clutch can not turn into your only reason for living. Happosai is unbearable and The Go player has only saw out of his cave once in the last century because he needed a new Go board.
  • This Yu-Gi-Oh! fic. Sniff.
  • Bag Enders doesn't really explore this much, but since the Fellowship are now over six thousand years old and have been having embarrassing misadventures together for most of that time, one wonders if their immortality is really a reward for saving Middle-earth or a punishment.
  • This Wicked fic explores the real meaning of Elphaba's spell on Fiyero, specifically the never die part and the fact spells cannot be reversed, it sets this troper off in hysterical tears every time.
  • This The Legend of Zelda fic features a Big Bad who achieved immortality and is trying desperately to die, even if it means destroying all of Hyrule in the process.
  • One Ecco the Dolphin fanfiction had the eponymous dolphin endure immortality, outliving his family and friends, watching species pass into and out of existence, and even getting to see the sun swell tremendously within the span of his long, long life. He eventually attempts to kill himself with the incredible pressure of the deep ocean, ending in something of a Mind Screw in that he somehow finds the surface of his youth, friends and all. It then cuts to Ecco's dead body, very old by dolphin standards but hardly immortal, and two young dolphins commenting that he'd been off in his own world for most of his old age.
  • Touhou Ibunshu, as a Dark Fic of Touhou, naturally has characters that were originally on the Living Forever Is Awesome side of things take a turn closer to this trope. Mokou is the most spectacular and insane example, having lost her mind completely a long time ago (she claims to have spent a decade or so experimenting on interesting ways to kill herself), but the most altered from the original is Yukari, who is so utterly bored of being confined to the same old Gensoukyou for centuries that she decides to obliterate Gensoukyou entirely, which would finally give her a chance at being free.
    • The theme continues all the stronger into the last story of the series, featuring Kaguya, Eirin and Mokou, three immortals of a different variety than Yukari. The climax of the Final Battle with Mokou has the Phoenix appearing and offering the three the ability to die, either right then and there or after aging naturally. Mokou takes the first option, while Kaguya and Eirin opt to continue on together till the end of time.
  • In Travels Through Azeroth and Outland, the undead narrator isn't worried about this, because he's pretty sure he'll be killed exploring some hellhole before the endless years get to him.
  • This One My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fic has this as the whole theme, and is quite the Tear Jerker. Princesses Celestia and Luna abdicated to Twilight Sparkle so they could die, then she allowed her friends to live as long as they wished to, they lasted a couple centuries before they could no longer take it. At the end Princess Twilight is training her successor so she can join her friends.
  • In A Hero, a crossover between Doctor Who and Puella Magi Madoka Magica,after it is revealed that Puella Magi don't age, Madoka starts to worry inmensely about Sayaka falling into this trope.
  • The Sailor Moon fic A Seedling Among The Ashes have Makoto deal with it since by the time the Sailor Senshi gain their immortality she is already married with two kids. It does have a happy end though.
  • The Axis Powers Hetalia AU Nineteen Eighty Three Doomsday Stories plays with the idea in the case of Austria. While he was eventually able to shrug off, albeit with difficulty, the chaos of Doomsday, his denial of Hungary's death until several years later proved to damage his sanity. Fortunately, things do get better. But had Hungary not shown up, he would have spent the rest of his life in perpetual grief, if not turn into a deranged Yandere.
  • Princess Celestia reflects on this trope a bit in the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfic Whispers:

Celestia: "I am admitting my own inability to experience one of the joys of thy mortality. I will be honest with you, Arcanus, as I always have been. Immortality has precluded me from truly living out a mutually full romantic companionship with another pony. They would grow old, and after a heartwarmingly sincere farewell, they would die. What mortals only truly experience once, we - my sister and I - have enjoyed, and suffered repeatedly, and will continue to do so. She was the only long-term companion I ever truly had, and the bond of friendship carried us through the maddening ages. Now that even she is gone, I am alone."


Film[edit | hide]

  • In The Fountain, Tom Creo seeks to discover a medical means to immortality through experiments with the bark of a rare tree, but he ultimately learns to accept death as a necessary aspect of life. Though our bodies die, the material is recycled into new organisms, and so we live on through new life. Even planets and stars that die become new stars and bring new life to other worlds. Two parallel stories feature different versions of Tom achieving immortality and finding it fruitless. Tomas the Conquistador seeks and finds the Tree of Life, but ultimately the sap turns his body into flowers, in something of a Literal Genie ending. Spaceman Tom has apparently succeeded in becoming immortal by consuming bark from the rare tree that was grown from the body of his dead wife, but the tree dies before he can resurrect her in a supernova. A vision of his wife convinces him to accept death with joy, and he dies in the supernova, becoming part of a new star. Interestingly, the story also makes room for a very unsympathetic priest to prattle on about immortal souls, which the film seems to dismiss outright.
  • The cult film Zardoz features a future Earth which has degenerated into two classes—a race of mortal slaves, and the immortal "Eternals." who live lives of purposeless luxury. Occasionally, an Eternal will develop a mental illness which makes them fall into a state of catatonia. (These people are called "The Apathetics"). If an Eternal commits a crime, they can be punished by being artificially aged (although they don't die—they just become permanently decrepit). The end of the movie has most of the Eternals joyously welcoming their own destruction at the hands of the "Exterminators," a primitive warrior class to whom the main character belongs.
  • In the 1940s German adaptation of The Adventures of Baron von Munchhausen, the storyteller of the framing narrative is revealed to be the baron, who loves his present wife of fifty years so deeply that he decides to relinquish his immortality to die with her, aging to her exact age before his guests' eyes.
  • The angelic protagonist of Wings of Desire (and its American remake, City of Angels) gives up immortality for love as well.
  • When the title character of Skellig is told he looks like a dead person, he very seriously replies, "I should be so lucky." He has completely given up on life, but says he is thousands of years old and is heavily implied to be an angel, so death is not even an option for him.
  • In Death Becomes Her, the two female leads drink a potion that grants eternal youth, but it does not protect them from damage to their bodies. Accidents and attempted murders leave their bodies dead and permanently mutilated. On the other hand, Bruce Willis's character is offered the potion several times, but he refuses it, giving a speech about how eternal life would be a nightmare even if he didn't fall victim to accidents and mutilation (Furthermore, eternal life with only those two rather horrible women for company really would be a nightmare). He ultimately lives his life happily with a large family and dies peacefully, while the two women bitterly linger on, imprisoned in bodies that literally fall apart at the very end.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2007) has Winters, who, in a subversion, was so happy to have his mortality back that he laughed and told the heroes how happy he was before the result of losing his immortality took place.
  • In Bicentennial Man, the robot Andrew, (played by Robin Williams), accepts aging and death rather than let the love of his... er, life die of old age by herself.

Andrew Martin (on being told that he had violated the Third Law): "No. I have chosen between the death of my body and the death of my aspirations and desires. To have let my body live at the cost of the greater death is what would have violated the Third Law."

  • The premise of Hook is that Peter Pan realized the disadvantages of his eternal youth when he discovered Wendy had grown up and aged into an old woman. Which made him decide to give up his immortality, return to earth, and live a normal life.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Theoden's battle cry "DEAAATH!" seems a less ironic version of the above-mentioned "Do you want to live forever?" because it pretty much points out that death what is what they are all heading for. Points in favor: (1) Instead of being disheartened, the Rohirrim join in and throw themselves into battle, (2) Tolkien's idea of death as a gift (see below in literature).
    • Arwen definitely has shades of this, because if she lives forever she will be parted from Aragorn, who is mortal.
  • Three words. X Men Origins Wolverine.
  • Subverted in Revenge of the Sith because Anakin wants to make Padme immortal; he would just be happy being mortal. Immortality Immorality reigns supreme as Anakin proceeds to slaughter children to become strong enough in The Dark Side to make his wife immortal. Luke similarly comments in the Expanded Universe on what it means if his powers make him immortal. Of course, the secret is that Jedi are immortal; it just takes compassion to make them so. And ultimately their descendant Cade does have the power to raise the dead.
  • This is the premise of Ryuuhei Kitamura's film Aragami, with the titular immortal war god having grown tired of his eternal life and seeking to meet the one who will kill him in battle. It wouldn't be that difficult if he wasn't Miyamoto Musashi
  • Tom Hanks's character in The Green Mile ends up outliving all his family because he receives part of the life force of the death row inmate John's healing power. He believes this is punishment from God for executing John.
  • Scamper the rabbit from Igor is immortal, to the extent that his body will rematerialize even if completely atomized by an explosion. He spends most of the movie attempting to kill himself in various ways, as he believes that life is meaningless and nothing matters. (He gets better, in part because Eva's obsession with acting leads him to discover his hidden passion and talent for costume design).
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, it seems ("Why are these things never clear?") that whoever stabs Davy Jones's heart will have to live forever, ferrying souls to the afterlife and being allowed to step on land only once in 10 years, or, if you don't ferry souls and skip out on your job, turn into a fishman. Davy Jones is depressed/angry, Will is willing to do it despite leaving his fiancee, and Jack Sparrow thinks it's freaking awesome, complete with an internal debate over whether one lifetime with unlimited rum access or an unlimited lifetime with rum every 10 years is more rum.
    • Word of God however states that because Elizabeth waited the 10 years for Will, he is now released from it and gets to live with her and his son.
    • The first movie revolves around Barbossa and his crew trying to recollect all the cursed Aztec gold they stole. They're cursed with Immortality, except that they can never eat or drink and are constantly starving.
      • Point of fact: they can eat and drink to their heart's content, but they cannot feel anything. No taste, or smell, or touch for any of them. Barbossa speaks of how food tastes like ash, and they are numb to the touch of 'pleasurable company,' meaning that they have to choose between an eternity of deprivation, or a lifetime of the pleasures of the flesh.

Barbossa: For too long I've been parched of thirst and unable to quench it. Too long I've been starving to death and haven't died. I feel nothing. Not the wind on my face nor the spray of the sea. Nor the warmth of a woman's flesh.

    • Another example: at the beginning of the second film, Boot-Straps Bill Turner tells of how he, still cursed with immortality by the Aztec gold, was turned upon by the crew and left at the bottom of the ocean. Naturally, Davy Jones offers him an escape from this and he takes it.
    • Early in On Stranger Tides, Sparrow receives an ominous warning from his father, Teague;

Teague: It's not just about living forever, Jackie. It's about living with yourself forever.

      • Ultimately, Jack takes this to heart. He passes on using the Fountain of Youth because, like stabbing Davy Jones' heart, the price of his immortality would have been the life of an ally(albeit one he values much less than Turner). When Gibbs asks him about it later, he waffles, saying not dying would take the fun out of living. Anyway, who says he won't live forever in memory? Or, for that matter, that he won't find a way to become immortal that won't sacrifice his ethics to use, especially as his are actually quite flexible?
  • In Being John Malkovich Lester has been prolonging his life for many years by jumping into another person's head through a portal and taking over their body, forcing the original owner into the subconscious. He seems to suffer no ill effects or guilt, but he is quite insane, whether naturally so or due to this practice is unclear.
    • Not quite, the main guy (the puppeteer) is able to force Malkovich (and anyone who enters the portal while he is in control) down in the subconscious while he walks around in John's body. But Lester and the others who join him don't use the same method. They only enter the portal when the Vessel is matured and ready, merging with each other and the vessel to become ONE being (this is probably why he seems so strange, he used to be 100s of people)
  • Shadow of the Vampire. Count Orlock reads the book Dracula and is saddened by the scene where Dracula leaves a meal for Jonathan Harker, and remembers when he used to have servants to do such tasks for him, which reminds him of when he had a wife, family, estates etc, whereas as now he's just a scavenger living in a ruined castle.
  • In the film version of Queen of the Damned, this is the driving force behind Lestat's actions, and thus the entire movie.

"Immortality seems like a good idea, until you realize you're going to spend it alone."

  • Daybreakers has shades of this when a virus outbreak changes most of the populace to vampires. The opening of the film see a vampire girl committing suicide by sunlight having written a letter explaining how she'll never grow older. The protagonist of the film, Edward, is also weary of never growing old as well.
  • A perfect version of this trope appears in Hocus Pocus where Thackery Binx is cursed to live forever as a cat by the three witch antagonists, forcing him to live with his guilt of being unable to save his sister from them. Actually, a subversion is also present as the three antagonists wish to be immortal (it was their goal when they were originally alive, but after being brought back to life, it was the only way to maintain it) by draining the youthful life forces of children.
  • Parodied in The Emperor's New Groove, when the leader of a group of Mooks shouts "C'mon men! Nobody lives forever!" before jumping into a hole and literally dropping out of the movie.
  • Toy Story 2: Stinky Pete would rather spend the rest of his life in a museum, adored by fans, rather than to be a toy of a child. Understandable, as he was never taken off the shelf, watching toy after toy be sold and never got a chance to be played with by any children... until Woody curses Stinky Pete to be the toy of a girl who decorates her Barbies!
    • An "interview" that used to be on the Toy Story 2 website suggested that Pete found being a child's toy was actually a pretty good life.
    • The third movie is all about the toys being outgrown/forgotten by their owner, and the abandonment issues this entails.
  • In Troy, Achilles says that the gods envy humans "because we're mortal--because any moment might be our last."
  • In The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Doctor Parnassus makes a wager with the Devil, with immortality as the prize. A thousand years later, Parnassus is a broken-down drunk and so miserable that he believes the Devil let him win just to torture him.


Folklore[edit | hide]

  • The Wandering Jew is a folklore character who is cursed with immortality after mocking Christ. He is consistently depicted as a decrepit old man who suffers for his sin.
  • Cain, who is sometimes conflated with the Wandering Jew, may be considered an example. After killing his brother, the Lord promises that anyone who harms him (which may include Cain himself) will suffer God's wrath. He places a mark on Cain, so that everyone will know to leave him alone. Although not explicitly immortal, this guarantees that Cain will have a long time to suffer for his crime.
    • Didn't he find a wife and found a city?
      • Yes, he did.
  • In the Story of the Bamboo Cutter, an emperor is given the elixir of life by the beautiful Princess Kaguya as she departs, but refuses to drink it because if he won't be able to see said princess's beauty again, then he doesn't want to live forever.
  • If you eat a japanese mermaid you don't exactly live forever, but you live for a very long time, and your life will suck for the same reasons.
  • Greek Mythology: When Selene asked Zeus for Endymion's immortality, she carefully considered the consequences of her wish. She had known of another goddess who asked for eternal life for a mortal man, but had neglected to state that she wanted his body to remain youthful. He spent a long, torturous life in a wasting body before he crumbled to dust. Selene phrased her request to keep Endymion perpetually in the state she had first met him in - as a handsome youth sleeping on a hillside.
    • Prometheus' punishment was to live his immortal life as a torture. Every day, deadly wounds were inflicted upon him by an eagle sent to eat his liver. Every night, he would regenerate and heal to await the next assault from the bird.
  • In Christianity this is considered to have been the fate of all humanity, if it weren't for the existence of Jesus Christ. But that was Word of Dante, in The Bible itself those who sinned will just die.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • This defines the Nonmen in R.Scott Bakker's Second Apocalypse series. They gained immortality, but since they only evolved to deal with a couple hundred years' worth of memories, the millennia have driven many of them insane, some of them to the point where they commit major atrocities on purpose in order to so severely scar themselves emotionally and psychology that they can't forget it. Then add on the fact that most of those millennia have been defined by untold misery and suffering...
  • Douglas Adams examples:
    • Life The Universe And Everything: Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, having seen and done everything there is to see and do, decides to dedicate the rest of his existence to insulting every single living being in the universe - in alphabetical order. It is interesting to note that the Guide points out that those who are naturally Immortality are born with the psychological capacity to cope with Immortality and would not suffer from this trope; Wowbagger's Immortality was thrust upon him by accident, which is why he has such a hard time of it.
      • Marvin has also lived several times longer than the lifetime of the universe through various Time Travel mishaps. He still hates it.
        • Yeah, but he gets to die eventually. It's hard to understand why he doesn't just kill himself.
          • Suicide is a sin; he'll go to Robot Hell.
          • Simpler answer: he died once he had something to feel good about. His misery and contempt for life had kept him running up to then.
          • Not to mention the terrible pain in all the diodes down his left side, which were the only components in all his incredibly long existence that nobody ever bothered to replace.
    • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: The character Professor Urban Chronotis, the Regius Professor of Chronology, or "Reg", is, for no reason the book makes clear, an apparent Immortality who is so old that he's forgotten most of his origins. He fears that his eventual fate will be to "sit alone in a darkened room, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything but a little grey old head..." (Knowing the back story clears this up significantly: the story was originally going to be a Doctor Who story, and Reg, a fugitive Time Lord.)
  • Lloyd Alexander's short story, The Stone, was about a man who found a stone that made him live forever - by making everything on his farm exactly the same, day after day after day. He couldn't get rid of it easily, either - the stone was a Clingy MacGuffin.
  • Piers Anthony's titular Incarnations of Immortality are indeed Immortality, but most of them can voluntarily resign their positions and become mortal again. The only exceptions are War, who can die when there is no war on Earth; Time, who lives his life backwards until the moment of his birth, and Death, who must be killed by his successor, only possible if he goes without part of his "regalia".
  • The protagonist from Isaac Asimov's Bicentennial Man is a robot, who can quite literally live forever by repairing himself whenever necessary. However, his wish is to be human. In an age of cybernetic prosthetics and replacement body parts, the boundary between man and machine blurs - and eventually, he gets himself legally declared human, but only after he introduces inevitable decay into his robotic brain, ensuring that he will eventually die like a human, rather than live forever as a robot.
  • Also from Isaac Asimov, The Last Answer has God harnessing dead beings' inevitable desire to snuff it, in an effort to figure out how he himself can do the same.
  • Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting. The main character sacrifices the chance to live forever with an immortal who loves her for a normal life. Note usually this kind of character has to choose between eternal life and a mortal love; here, she can get Immortality and love... but gives up both.
    • Granted, the one who she was going to live forever with's brother told her about his love life as an immortal... he was married, with two children, but when his wife saw that he didn't age, she left him, thinking he had made a deal with the devil... and then she went insane. He also had to watch his two children die... one of whom was older than him.
  • In The Culture novels by Iain M. Banks, citizens of the Culture have the option of dying of old age (after several centuries of life), or having their age stabilized to become effectively Immortality (assuming accidents don't happen). However, there's a cultural bias towards dying when your time is up, and choosing Immortality is thought of as immature - although the Culture is all about IDIC and this bias is probably not a constant. Multiple other options are also present; you can Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence or store yourself to be revived at a later date (either physically or electronically). These options can be combined; not uncommonly, those who elect to die also upload a version of themselves (presumably with tweaks so it won't get tired of living) so that their memories and experiences are not lost. The machine citizens, and especially the Minds, are Immortality by default (again, barring no accidents), but emotional trauma can very rarely lead to a machine mind committing suicide.
  • In Stephen Baxter's Manifold Space, Nemoto keeps herself alive with advanced medical treatments for well over a thousand years, so she can deal with the problem of the alien Gaijin (and whoever the Gaijin are fighting). She doesn't seem to enjoy it much, and becomes extremely crotchety—but she's too much of a control freak to leave things in anyone else's hands.
    • In Baxter's Xeelee Sequence of novels, a group of people known as Jasofts gain Immortality. However they suffer in that ultimately, they can only hold one thousand years' worth of experiences, and live many times that, sometimes able to vividly remember events, before seeing something which brings back other memories and pushes those away.
  • A significant subplot in Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn involves Schmendrick, whose mentor made him immortal until he could come into his real power. When his power transforms the unicorn into a human woman, he tries to tell her about the beauty of things that can die, a lesson she learns all too well before she regains her Immortality (and he loses his).
    • From halfway through the book, when the unicorn is first transformed (and freaks out about being in a mortal body):

Schmendrick: I was born mortal, and I have been Immortality for a long, foolish time, and one day I will be mortal again; so I know something that a unicorn cannot know. Whatever can die is beautiful -- more beautiful than the unicorn, who lives forever, and who is the most beautiful thing in the world.

      • Later, Amalthea wishes to choose death rather than become Immortality and fall out of love with Lir.
  • In C. J. Cherryh 's Morgaine Cycle the gates can be programmed to provide a kind of Immortality for their users. The user's physical condition can be scanned upon entering a gate for the first time, and subsequently each time they enter a gate they will emerge on the other side in that original condition, thus resetting their biological clock to its earlier state.
    • This pisses Vanye the hell off when he learns he's been thus fixed a few years before his physical prime.
      • He's less unhappy about entering a gate in a serously wounded condition and exiting fully healed.
  • Indigo is cursed with Immortality until such time as she can banish the seven demons whose can she foolishly unsealed. (Her traveling companion the talking wolf is also immortal...but in Grimya's case, it was a reward for being such a good friend to Indigo). Or so you're led to believe, at any rate: In Aisling, Indigo discovers that her Immortality actually isn't a curse after all. Or something like that, anyway: The book doesn't go into what actually caused her Immortality in the first place, only pointing out that the original exposition she received was wrong.
  • All Men Are Mortal, by Simone de Beauvoir. Besides the usual miseries of the immortal, Fosca is tormented by unreliability of people. He chose to become immortal so that he could make a political difference, only to find out that it's not time you need, it's people.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story The Ring of Thoth is about an Egyptian who discovers, and injects himself with, an elixir which grants near-Immortality, only to have the one he loves die of the plague before he can give her the elixir. The story is about his four-thousand-year search for the only poison strong enough to overpower the elixir.
  • Rather chillingly adapted in Lord Dunsany's The Gods of Pegana. "Shall a man curse a god?"
  • In I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, the God-like Master Computer AM has made the five human characters practically immortal. Since AM is a completely insane artificial intelligence consumed with a limitless, bottomless loathing for humanity and a psychopathic glee in sadistically torturing the characters, who are the last humans left on Earth, this is not a good thing.
  • Lyndon Hardy's Master of the Five Magics series. In Riddle of the Seven Realms, it is revealed that demons adopt various hobbies to avoid succumbing to this trope. Palodad the Reckoner, under its influence, turns into a Chessmaster Omnicidal Maniac.
  • In Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein, the main character, after living about 2,000 years, decides it is time to die because he's done it all. He's convinced to stick around in a sort of reverse-Scheherazade Gambit, where he'll tell his life story if they can, by the end, manage to come up with something genuinely new for him to do. Eventually they find two things: Time Travel and Opposite Sex Clones.
  • In Brian Jacques' Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series, the main characters are an immortal boy and dog. Leaving aside the fact that the boy is stuck at age 14 forever, they have to leave everyone they ever get close to before someone notices that they don't age.
  • Mercedes Lackey's auto-racing elves who get involved with humans are in fact traumatized by the deaths of the people around them, especially lovers and spouses, but they live with it.
  • One of the stories in Ursula K. Le Guin's Changing Planes discusses a plane where, it is rumored, immortals live. As it happens, there are a handful of them, the result of bites by a certain fly. They don't get eternal youth, and are condemned to endless agony. One of the plane's natives, who watches over one Immortality in particular, notes that eventually the people bury their immortals, and over centuries their suffering apparently condenses them into a diamond. The narrator asks if the native is afraid of the flies because of this, and is told "There's only one"; as there are many flies on the plane, the narrator theorizes that there is one immortal fly that curses the bitten with Immortality.
  • In C. S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, a tree's fruit comes with the warning that it brings eternal life and despair. The White Witch eats it, and from her expression, the title nephew understands the warning. Narnia is then protected from her by a tree grown from one of the apples; she cannot stand to come near it afterward.
    • The Witch tries to tempt Digory (the Nephew) into eating the apples and living forever as well, invoking We Can Rule Together. Digory promptly responds that he'd rather live a normal amount of time and go to heaven rather than stay living and watch all his friends die.
  • In the Discworld book Lords and Ladies, the not-nice kind of The Fair Folk invade Lancre. Granny, who seems to be going senile (turns out she's not), is mocked by the ever-young elf Queen for growing old... and Granny turns the insult right around:

"What don't die can't live. What can't live don't change. The smallest creature that dies in the grass knows more than you ... you've lived longer'n me but I'm older'n you, and I'm better'n you."

    • Also, in Faust Eric, Eric's third wish is to live forever. The demon granting his wishes sends Eric back in time to the beginning of the universe. He's not too thrilled with the prospect of having to spend several billion years as the only living thing in it.
    • Carrot uses the trope name in an inspirational speech in one of the Watch books. Sergeant Colon snarkily replies that he doesn't know, ask him again in a few centuries.
  • In the non-Discworld Terry Pratchett book Strata, people working for "The Company" can get treatments to which make them effectively immortal. Despite this, most people don't live more than a few hundred years, because they grow tired of life where they have already done everything they can do. Not that they commit suicide as such; they just keep doing more and more dangerous things to get the same excitement, and eventually one of them goes wrong.
    • There are similar themes in many Larry Niven short stories and novellas. (And subverted by Louis Wu in the Ringworld novels).
  • A particularly disturbing twist on this trope is Claudia from Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, a young girl who is made into a (theoretically Immortality ) vampire and matures mentally and emotionally, but not physically. This leaves her perpetually dependent on others, embittered and perhaps not entirely sane. It is later revealed that vampire law prohibits the making of child vampires for precisely this reason.
    • Indeed, several characters appearing throughout the entire series decide to commit suicide because they are bored with eternal life or just tired of living in "The Savage Garden." The usual means is walking into a fire but later on, we learn that many senior, i.e. "powerful," vampires use their power of flight to ascend to high altitude to greet the morning sun.
    • A similar variation can be found in the Anita Blake novels. One of the more disturbing vampires, called Valentina, was turned at the age of eight by a vampire pedophile who was bringing over children to be his permanent companions. The few vampires turned as children who survive a few centuries and described as twisted things. In Valentina's case, "(She) was taken before her body grew large enough for much physical pleasure. She has turned such energies into other avenues of interest," which in this case means torturing others.
  • There are at least three sources of Immortality in Harry Potter.
    • The Elixir of Life, created with a Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone, will keep you alive with repeated doses, and has eternal youth (or at least eternal middle age) added in. However, the books only speak of two people who availed themselves of this, and they eventually decided to stop making it out of fear it could be used to revive Voldemort.
      • The book also states that the two makers do not mind getting rid of the Elixir, because at their advanced ages (both 650+ ), they are bored with life, and death will be the next great adventure.
    • Unicorn blood will keep you alive and rescue you even from the brink of death, but with "a half-life, a cursed life".
    • You can create a Horcrux, a piece of your soul hidden in an inanimate object. It doesn't prevent you from being killed, it just allows you to be brought back. However, doing so will make you progressively less human.
    • The last two are averted though, in that the person using them (Lord Voldemort) is a violent sociopath and simply doesn't care about the negative consequences. However, if you die and your Horcruxes are destroyed, the resulting afterlife is a Fate Worse Than Death, so there is some wisdom to not using the latter
  • In Jeffrey Sackett's Mark of the Werewolf, the main character is cursed with immortality. This results in him forgetting anything beyond two hundred years past (including his own name), transforming into an Ax Crazy werewolf every night of the full moon (unless outfitted with a Restraining Bolt beforehand), and being invulnerable to damage in any form. The book revolves around his attempts to figure out how to die.
  • In Barry Sadler's Casca: the Eternal Mercenary, the titular character is a Roman legionnaire cursed by Jesus Christ to walk the world forever as a soldier. Amongst his challenges are his fear of being buried alive (briefly realized during one of his journeys in the Orient, and notably predating the Heroes episode with Adam being buried), and the problem with never being able to truly find love since he stays young forever while his various wives/girlfriends/lovers age and eventually die.
  • In The Bible, this is subverted. Adam and Eve were originally immortal, but after they sin by eating from the Tree of Knowledge and are cursed, Adam and Eve are banished from Eden by God so that they won't eat fruit the Tree of Life and eventually die. A good portion of the Bible is for either Foreshadowing or explaining God's Xanatos Gambit for returning humanity to its original state. Note that this is not about a single human becoming immortal on the earth AS IT IS NOW, but rather humanity as a whole (or rather, what's left of it) becoming immortal and being cleansed of all the flaws that contribute to making the earth a Crapsack World.
  • In The Book of Mormon, the Three Nephites are granted the gift/curse to live until Christ returns, and (according to the BOM itself) were still going strong roughly 400 years later.
  • Unusual use of an elf with this trope: Drizzt Do'Urden from R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms books. He spends a number of books angsting over eventually losing his friends and loved ones and even debating whether or not to get into a relationship because of it. He gets over it by adopting a carpe diem mentality.
  • In Flash Forward by Robert J. Sawyer, one of the main characters is approached by a man offering to increase his lifespan through new medical techniques. In the second "Flash," he had seen that if he accepts the offer he has the chance to live forever. He saw the future of mankind, with humans eventually dismantling the Earth and using the materials to build a Dyson Sphere, and then spreading throughout the galaxy. He saw himself on another world, in a new, mechanical body. The offer is made later, but we never learn whether he accepted it.
  • The character Tithonus from Greek Mythology and the Struldbrugs from Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels both suffer the torment of eternal life without the benefit of eternal youth. Although they never die, they age at the normal rate, and so are condemned to an eternity in decrepit ancient bodies.
  • In the third part of Gulliver's Travels, there are people in Laputa who do live forever. However, they still age normally and suffer greatly from senility. The Laputans thus do not particularly desire immortality.
    • They consider the ones who became senile the ones who were better off - at least they forgot their bodies were degrading, and what they had once been. Imagine being trapped in a body too weak to move, remembering how you would play, frolic, run, perhaps being too weak to talk but having all these thoughts in your head...it would be torture.
  • Lord of the Rings. Death isn't called 'Eru's gift' for nothing. It is heavily suggested that fear of death is actually created by Morgoth to mess with humans. It's implied that for Men there is a possible life after death, outside Arda; while Elves, who are bound to Arda, may not survive when it is undone. The elves are bound to the world forever; even if they die, they are stuck in the halls of Mandos and can eventually become re-embodied in Valinor. Thus, they experience the entire lifetime of the world, and time weighs on them. The Silmarillion says that even the Valar will eventually envy humans' ability to die and leave the world.
    • Naturally, immortality ceases to be all it's cracked up to be for elves who fall in love with mortal men, and are forced to contemplate a literal eternity of grieving for them.
    • In LOTR, at one point Sam, when pondering Smeagol/Gollum (who is a Hobbit-like creature given, if not immortality, a lifetime extended centuries beyond his proper span), gets a little hint of what Gollum's existence has been like. Preserved out of his time by the Ring, far beyond kin, friends, and everything he knew, a stranger in a different world. Utterly alone, living endless days in the dark, entrapped by a Ring he can't escape and can't give up and loathes. When Bilbo does surrender the One Ring, unique in all its history, with the help of Gandalf, he feels an instant sense of relief as his natural state of being returns.
      • Unique only up to that point. Sam later returns the Ring to Frodo after rescuing him from Cirith Ungol. Maybe Hobbits have an inherent resistance to the Ring's temptation.
    • It is implied in LOTR that Men possess a limited amount of life, and to achieve immortality, Men have to spread their limited lifeforce increasingly thinly over longer periods of time, until they are reduced to immaterial shades.
  • This is the entire premise behind the Tide Lords series.
  • In Gaunt's Ghosts, the Tanith First and Only have a battlecry: "Men of Tanith! Do you want to live forever?"
    • In the Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) novels, this is made fun of, when Cain, upon hearing one of his sergeants yell this line to his men, remarks that nobody talks like that outside badly written combat novels.
      • It was probably aimed directly at the above Gaunt's Ghosts example (Gaunt himself was mentioned in passing in one of Amberly's footnotes).
  • In the story Child of All Ages, the protagonist, having lived several hundred years as a permanent child, is quite happy to continue life. Even if she is stuck as a child. She does bemoan the fact that modern society makes it pretty hard to be independent as a child, but she still can't wait to see what life brings next.
  • Wild Cards has Golden Boy who stopped aging at his early twenties and shows no signs of aging. Since he's also invulnerable as part of his Combo-Platter Powers, it's unlikely anything else will kill him either. His situation is somewhat aggravated by the fact that he's already cut off from his peers, who despise him for rolling over and testifying at McCarthy's anti-Ace hearings. Thus he is presented with the possibility of an immortality of being reviled and hated by anyone who knows who he is.
    • Even after risking his life by falling to his possible death - one of the few events in which he is uncertain to survive - to help foil the plot of a major super-villain to become President, he is still almost universally reviled and only grudgingly given credit for his help by a bare handful of people.
    • Dr. Tachyon, a long-lived Human Aliens, also has to deal with seeing humans age and die around him. To comfort himself, he drinks heavily and sleeps around. (Of course, it's implied he'd do those things anyway).
    • There's also Demise, who had already died from the virus and had been resurrected by Tachyon and may well have been able to live forever had his corpse not been reduced to ashes after he'd been killed for the nth time.
    • The Sleeper wakes up young and healthy (relatively) every time he sleeps, ever since the first outbreak in 1946. He lampshades this with the occasional "they sure didn't (X) like that when I was your age."
  • The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evans. The main character receives a sword which has the interesting property of not allowing him to die until he has killed 100 men with it. He wisely decides to live forever and not kill people, but reverses this decision because of the other problems with the sword. It doesn't save him from age, and it doesn't protect him from injury. At one point he nearly "dies" because of blood loss but is still mysteriously alive the next day. When he discovers his eyesight is fading, he goes off to kill 100 men and rid himself of the sword before he becomes unable to do so.
    • The end of the book subverts the trope: The main character discovers magic that will keep him young and can be added onto the immortality the sword already gives him. Once he does so, he's actually quite happy to be immortal.
  • This becomes a vague plot point in Brisingr, when Eragon and Roran discuss Eragon's immortality. Eragon has concluded that this forces him to marry an elf, who are all immortal, rather than a human woman, and so thus his drooling over Arya (who refused him multiple times) is apparently justified.
  • Some fantasy fiction, such as R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms novels and the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks published in the 1980s and 1990s, depicts demons as being horribly bored and depressed by their endless existence in Hell, the novelty of torturing their servants and fellow demons having long since worn off. Of course, their boredom and frustration make them all the more eager to torture humans and other mortal creatures when they find their way to our world.
  • Twilight. At first played straight with the Cullens (and maybe the other vampires). Later averted, since Edward finally gets to change Bella to be a vampire too.
    • Likewise, the members of the Quileute tribe that are blessed with spirit wolves rapidly age to probably about their early twenties and then stop aging until they choose to willingly give up their ability to transform by remaining human for a certain amount of time. Jacob is lucky enough to have imprinted on the half-vampire Renesmee, who likewise ages rapidly before abruptly stopping somewhere around age 16. While the future is never confirmed, it can be assumed that Jacob probably opted to keep his wolf form for as long as possible.
    • Completely subverted (inverted?) with Bella. She wants to live forever immediately after learning Edward will do so.
    • Fridge Horror adds to this. A lot. Eventually, the sun will expand and the earth will be destroyed, right? So are the vampires killed by fire, or trapped in an And I Must Scream state? Either way, Bella and Edward won't always have their Happily Ever After.
      • Vamps can be killed if you apply enough force.
  • Byron's closet drama Manfred is a melodramatic refashioning of the Faust legend. When he summons seven Spirits who swear to do his bidding, he asks not for power but for forgetfulness. The entire play is his search for death, since the star under which he was born cursed him to live forever.
  • There are many Immortality individuals and species in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, most of whom suffer from this trope. Examples include Kallor, who was cursed with Immortality but not eternal youth for being a genocidal bastard (the punishment also preventing him from ascending - the usual method of obtaining near Immortality for very powerful people[it's a complicated process]), and the T'lan Imass, zombie neanderthals who stripped themselves of their mortality to better cleanse the world from the Jaghut and now wish nothing more than to be freed from their Vow and just die already. Averted with Onrack, a T'lan Imass that's quite happy with his condition, as "there was always something else to see, after all."
  • Nathan Brazil, the immortal Guardian of the Well of Souls from Jack Chalker's Well World saga, suffers this from time to time because his role as the emergency repair man for the universe means he absolutely cannot die. The universe simply won't allow it. Every time he reboots the universe (it's happened at least five times so far) he's been forced re-live all of human history until the next time he's needed. Oh, and did I mention that rebooting the universe requires him to kill every living creature in creation? He's tried various coping strategies, from blanking his memories to recruiting another to be his Immortality companion (they had a falling out after 15,000 years or so) to "accidentally" recreating himself as a woman during the latest reboot, probably in the hope that will make it all different this go-round.
  • While the denizens of John Varley's Eight Worlds books may all be potentially immortal (due to really advanced medical technology) but very few of them actually live much beyond 300 years, largely due to the effects of this trope.
  • As Ijon Tichy finds in Stanislaw Lem's Observation on the Spot, most people who've tried immortality in a seemingly "everything-is-possible" society of Lusania, didn't really like it. It seems that mortals' psychology (the guys in question are aliens, but surprisingly humanlike psychologically) is simply ill-suited to immortality. There are just six immortals who finally learned to cope and hasn't ended it all in different ingenious ways, and all of them don't like to talk about it.
    • In an another Ijon Tichy story, he meets with an inventor who created an immortal soul. However, for that, the body has to be destroyed, and the soul is kept in a box, without any external stimuli. Tichy realizes that this is a fate worse than death. He tells to the inventor that people don't want immortality; they just want to live.
      • And in yet another one, "The Twenty-first Voyage" from The Star Diaries all of the people turned immortal by advanced technique were driven to suicide by the immense machinery that encircled them all the time. As to the example from Observations on the Spot the rub lies in the fact that the nanomachines, as they gradually replace the living tissues of the immortalized, cause biological cells to eventually die out, making the subject became something that's no longer a living organism.
  • Almost the same story happened in Strugatsky Brothers Noon Universe (specifically, Far Rainbow), except this time immortality was brought not by Nanomachines, as in Lem's case, but by full-body cyborgization (although, given the state of technology in Noonverse at the point, nanomachines still would play the role, at the very least). Only one among the subjects remained stable and sane in the end, and it's implied that it was only because he wanted to observe the society and snark at its failings.
  • Night's Dawn. The Western Europe Supervisor, part of a council that has secretly controlled Earth for centuries, leaves Earth when it appears to be falling to the Possessed and exiles himself on a prison planet where he can live a rougher but more interesting life.
    • His Pandora's Star/Judas Unchained and the later Void Trilogy has a range of attitudes to Immortality - everything from I-can't-take-it-any-more boredom to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence (but keep your body so you can visit the material world) to "I will stay in the real world for a thousand years just to make a difference." It's implied that the race as a whole has been modifying itself to cope, though there are few true Methuselahs in the real world.
  • Diana Wynne Jones's The Homeward Bounders, which features multiple characters (including a number of mythological figures) condemned to eternal existence bouncing from world to world by the whim of malevolent beings known only as Them. In the end, They are defeated, but the protagonist elects to keep wandering in order to keep Them away because he cannot accept the place his world has become in the intervening time as "home."
  • In Mockingbird, by Walter Tevis of The Man Who Fell to Earth fame, the robot Spofforth—doomed to live forever—constantly fantasizes about committing suicide, but his programming prevents him from attempting it until the last page, when the protagonist helpfully pushes Spofforth off the edge of a tall building.
  • In Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix, in the year 2000, a group of elderly people participate in a top secret experiment to prolong lives. They receive the first treatment. However, the second treatment is deadly. Two participants, Melly and Annie Beth manage to escape before receiving the second treatment. The book starts in 2085. The main characters have de-aged to the age of 15 and don't know what will happen to them after they de-age to the point of being babies or embryos.
  • In The League of Peoples Verse, Oar's race is unable to die. Their minds eventually become exhausted and shut down, but their bodies continue to live on and on. As a result, they view death as something sacred.
  • The short story "Mortal Gods" by Orson Scott Card has an alien race venerating mortal humans because they all, eventually, die - something they are unable to do.
    • Card addressed this again in The Worthing Saga, which has a particularly sub-par method of "immortality"—go into a comatose state for an indefinite amount of time, and you won't be any older when you come out of it. Just about everyone who can use this does so, but outsiders tend to realize this sort of extended life doesn't allow for any more time spent doing things, and does result in your poorer friends dying significantly before you. (Also, it messes up their society—all their greatest artists and scientists spend so much time sleeping that their rate of creation slows down significantly).
  • In More Information Than You Require, Julius Robert Von Mayer is potrayed as immortal. He goes from regretting it to unregretting it to regretting it again to reconsidering his regret to really regretting it to forgetting it to remembering it again. But he is stuck in a hospital, doing little more pushing pieces of crumpled-up paper around on a tray, and thinking about his kids (which he has outlived), and his numerous suicide attempts. FOREVER.
  • In Peter David's Knight Life trilogy, Percival drinks from the Holy Grail while healthy, and is thus doomed to eternal life. When Arthur returns in the present day, he finds Percival drunk out of his mind in a New York City slum. He quickly whips him back into shape and made into one of his advisors. (And a good thing, too, because the Holy Grail is a big plot point for the last two books in the trilogy).
  • Coleridge's Ancient Mariner brings a curse upon his ship, and the crew spends weeks adrift at sea. Death appears to claim the crew, while the Mariner is claimed by a woman called the "Nightmare Life-In-Death." He lives through excruciating pain and horror, and considers death to be a relief. Although not explicitly immortal, he is seen as an old man who spends the rest of his life telling his cautionary tale to anyone who crosses his path.
  • Tom Holt's Flying Dutch. Most of the main characters are Vanderdecken and his functionally indestructible crew, forced to sea by the horrible stench that hangs around nearly all the time thanks to a dodgy elixir of life. One of them has adopted a hobby of regularly throwing himself off the top of the mast in the hope that this time it'll work. (All it usually results in is extra work for the ship's carpenter.)
  • Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, wrote a short-short story about the problem with living forever, titled "Deep". (The title is a reference to the cosmological concept of deep time.)
  • In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, good-vampire Henry Sturges gives Abe a lecture on the disadvantages of being immortal, to explain why so many of his kind commit suicide in their third centuries. "Without death, life (becomes) meaningless. It is a story that can never be told. A song that can never be sung. For how would one finish it?"
    • Moral kind of broken at the end of the book, when Henry brings Lincoln back as a vampire after his assassination.
  • In Brent Weeks' Night Angel Trilogy, the character of Durzo Blint is given immortality - with a catch. Durzo can still be "killed" in battle, but he always resurrects - with the twist that for every "death" he comes back from, one of his loved ones will die in his place. Over the course of seven centuries he turns from a Knight in Sour Armor into a bitter, sociopathic assassin.
  • This is discussed in Octavia Butler's Fledgling. In the book, vampires (or Ina) can prolong the life of humans they frequently bite (but they cannot turn them into vampires). Vampires themselves live long lives, but this is usually not a problem because they tend to keep to themselves. The humans often have problems, though, because they have to explain to their family why they look so young.
  • The short story Divided By Infinity applies this to the entire human race—it uses the many worlds hypothesis, then asserts that the human soul/consciousness/what-have-you is not destroyed when a given version of a person dies, but is instead transferred to whatever versions remain alive. Nobody ever dies, no matter how much they Wangst about it—they simply become less and less probable. (Not even suicide works, since there's always one version that chickens out.)
  • In German author Wolfgang Hohlbein's Die Prophezeiung (The Prophecy) an Egyptian pharao curses a traitor with immortality for killing him. We're not shown exactly what happened in the meantime, but 3300 years later all he wants is to finally die. As that would also mean death for all the Egyptian gods (being kept alive by the last person to believe in them), they are divided in those wanting to help him and those wanting to prevent this.
  • In the first century Satyricon by Petronius, Trimalchio, a secondary character, tells of visiting the Sibyl of Cumae:

For I myself saw the Cumaean Sibyl with my own eyes, hanging in a basket, and when the boys asked her, "Sibyl, what do you want?", she answered, "I want to die."

T.S. Eliot used the entire quote, in the original mix of Greek and Latin, as an epigraph to "The Waste Land".
  • One of the major plot arcs of the Deverry novels is the life of the wizard Nevyn, who in his youth swore an oath that he would not rest until he had set right the mistakes that had lead to the deaths of three of his friends, and found that the gods decided to make him keep that promise. As part of this, he frequently has to encounter the reincarnations of people he had met decades before, watch them die, and then meet them again decades later. The original three people his extended life centered around he runs into rather frequently over the course of his roughly 500 year lifespan.
  • One of the main characters of the Tide Lords tetralogy is an 8,000 year old immortal who is tired of eternity and wants to die.
  • Rock of Warrior Cats has recently been revealed to be immortal, but unable to interfere with the world.
  • Odysseus rejects immortality when Calypso offers it as an incentive to stay with her. (Somewhat ironically, in one of the non-Homeric continuations of his story, his wife Penelope and his sons Telemachus and Telegonos are all made immortal by Circe after Circe's son Telegonos accidentally kills his father).
  • Succession has the 'pink' faction in the Senate, who want to stop use of the symbiant and let folks die naturally. Several different factions and parties exist within this group with differing reasons for wanting the symbiant gone. Notably, some want this because they think it's better for society, as well as thinking that immortality is bad for individuals.
  • Marcellus Pye in Septimus Heap.
  • In the Old Norse "Tale of Norna Gest" (c. 1300 AD), the immortal Norna-Gest decides to die voluntarily at the age of three hundred years by destroying his own Immortality Inducer.
  • In the science fiction novella "Aqua Vitae," turning immortal is only the beginning of the protagonist's problems...mostly because if you don't have your life in order in the first place, expanding your lifespan indefinitly won't make things any better.
  • In Robert Reed's short story, Finished, when you are "finished" (brain pattern and memories uploaded into an artificial body), the state of mind you had when you were finished will affect the state of mind you have for the rest of your life. If you are finished while in a good mood, Living Forever Is Awesome. If you are finished while terminally ill and in horrible pain, Who Wants to Live Forever?
  • Invoked and deliberately averted in A Dirge for Prester John. The Abir exists to change up people's lives every couple centuries to make sure no one is bored or dissatisfied with living forever.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer's third season, characters seem to take turns pointing out all of the above to Angel. Even Spike (although he mostly mocks the idea of him and Buffy being "friends").
    • Sid the demon slayer, cursed to immortality in his puppet body, points out that his body is dust and bones, but all he wants is to be free of the damn thing. While the EU later shows that he may still be both alive and trapped in the puppet body.
    • Averted with Mayor Richard Wilkins, who enjoyed his long life though his wife cursed him for his youth.
    • Poor Merrick in The Movie was also immortal, and had to spend several centuries wandering the earth to find and train each new Slayer, only to have to start all over again after the girls all were killed or retired. And to think all he wanted was to be a bootmaker....
  • The last season of Angel had an episode with a rather nightmare inducing ending. The gang manages to stop a malevolent spirit of a horrendous sociopathic killer who had been sacrificing other spirits to keep himself "undead" for nearly a century. Angel has the spirit given a physical body that cannot age so that he can no longer use his undead powers. Wolfram & Hart then lock him up in a little room indefinitely. The scariest part is that not only was this room already built for this purpose, there were dozens of rooms like this in the hall they walked through.
  • In the same line, the main point of the series Forever Knight is that, after a long life as a vampire, Nick "wants to become mortal again" (which perplexes the other vampires in the series).
  • 2000 year old Godric from True Blood fits this trope in that he becomes weary of his existence and chooses to expose himself to sunlight at dawn.
  • Alias: In the series finale, Arvin Sloane solves Rembaldi's riddle while in an underground chamber, gaining immortality. Jack Bristow finds him and detonates a bomb. The explosion kills Jack and buries Sloane alive under tons of rubble. Sloane is doomed to be alone and immobile, yet conscious, for the rest of time.
  • In Doctor Who, Jack Harkness was made immortal as a side effect of his death and resurrection in "The Parting of the Ways", and since then, he has been seeking a "cure" for his condition. He gave up after learning that even the Doctor couldn't help him.
    • Several other episodes of Doctor Who have explored this trope, namely Mawdryn Undead and "The Five Doctors".
    • In "The Family of Blood" the Doctor was being pursued by creatures who wished to gain long-lived nigh-immortal bodies like that of the Doctor. The Doctor granted them immortality, but punished them severely. One was wrapped in unbreakable chains. One was thrown into a collapsing galaxy. One was trapped inside ALL the mirrors. One was suspended in time and posed as a scarecrow.

Son of Mine: We wanted to live forever. So The Doctor made sure that we did.

    • The Fourth Doctor story, "The Brain of Morbius," is a direct articulation of the trope. The Doctor openly states that the Time Lords reject permanent immortality, even though they could theoretically extend their regeneration cycle indefinitely.
  • As a contrast to Jack, in the second series of Torchwood, after Owen dies and is resurrected, there's an entire episode about how his life sucks now that he's super-undead. Great quotes include "You get to live forever... I get to die forever," and "I can't drink, I can't sleep, I can't shag... and those are three of my favorite things." Also, he doesn't heal anymore, leading to inconveniences when he slices his hand open with a scalpel. Admittedly this is more about the character having to live through being dead rather than having to live forever, but it's pretty close. Indeed, Jack's distaste for his own immortality means he probably regrets choosing to resurrect Owen, which he didn't know would last more than a few minutes.
    • In Children of Earth viewers are frequently reminded how horrible it would be to have Jack's immortality. Despite seemingly coming to terms with his 'condition' in series three of the new Who, his weariness towards his immunity to death appears to be rekindling. And if you've seen Children of Earth, you probably understand why.
    • The Miracle Day series shows us what happens when every human being gains immortality but without Jack's Super Healing Factor. People live on as heads with the rest of their bodies destroyed and some people engage in Nightmare Fuel processes to make sure their enemies are destroyed beyond any recovery. On top of that you have all the logistical, political and religious issues inherent with an undying population.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Voyager centered around a member of the Q continuum, who wanted more than anything to kill himself after growing bored with eternal omnipotence, and who had been imprisoned by the continuum to prevent that from happening.
    • In the episode "Time's Arrow" of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data said he took comfort in the idea of being mortal, since otherwise it would mean that he would likely outlive all of his friends, family, and everyone he's ever cared about. Then he would make new friends and people he cared about... and outlive them as well.
      • Star Trek covered this in the original series episode "Metamorphosis." Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the warp drive, was given eternal life and youth by "The Companion," an amorphous cloud that had fallen in love with him.

Zefram Cochrane: Believe me, Captain, immortality consists largely of boredom.

      • They also covered it in "Requiem For Methuselah" with the immortal Flint, who had lived over six millennia (and who is said in a few of the non-canon Star Trek novels to still be alive more than a hundred years after he was stated to be dying). He complains of 'a fragrance, a brief scent, then dust and the taste of death'.
  • Several episodes of The Twilight Zone. "Long Live Walter Jameson" focused on the "friends die, you don't" angle, with the added loophole of only being free of death-by-natural-causes but not invincible to lethal accidents. "Escape Clause" focused on the "everything is boring now" angle, to the point where the character killed his wife, expecting to get the death penalty and hoping the electric chair would be exciting enough. Too bad his lawyer managed to get him life in prison. He pulled the escape clause in his Deal with the Devil, somehow finding eternity in hell more appealing then a prison he could eventually break out of (he had forever to do it) and could have almost instantly by faking his own death.
  • In the Lexx episode "Brigadoom," we find out that the Brunnen-G race had largely become effectively immortal toward the twilight of their existence. They could be killed by unfortunate circumstances, though, and most of the populace was absolutely batshit paranoid about not doing anything that could possibly have a remote chance of having that happen. But when they found out they were going to be wiped out by His Divine Shadow anyway, most decide to not bother putting up a fight and die like animals. A few young ones, born recently and not yet bored with life decide to fight. Their leader, Kai, was punished with the greatest sanction their society had for a prior incident, that punishment was mortality.
  • Heroes: Takezo Kensei/Adam Monroe appears to be one of the immortal. And by extrapolation, the possibility exists that Claire Bennet may be as well. Maybe even Peter and Sylar, since they have Claire's power. And yes, the eternal youth comes as part of the package here. But so far only Adam has addressed this trope, especially when after he's caught, he winds up Buried Alive, where not a single person can hear, rescue, or save him.
    • And when he actually dies, his power is stolen by another character, and the years catch up to him: he ages centuries in a matter of seconds and turns to dust.
    • In late Volume 5, Matt traps Sylar in an exact replica of part of New York City off of Sylar's memories with no people around. Peter ends up trapped in the realm with him. Due to them both having Claire's healing powers (at least, Sylar does -- I can't remember the last power Peter had picked up, probably flight (It was telepathy, which he got from Matt Parkman to try and rescue Sylar)), and that Adam Monroe survived for quite a while with no food, air, water, or anything for his body, it can be assumed that at least Sylar would live forever and ever...alone. It was actually stated that this was Sylar's worst fear. Needless to say...
  • In the new series New Amsterdam, John Amsterdam was given immortality by an ancient spell that will only end when he finds true love. True to this trope, after a few hundred years he wants to do just that.
    • Played to the amusing extreme that his driving desire to find the True Love stems not from romantic inclinations but instead suicidal ones.
      • Well, it could be argued that anyone looking for love really IS crazy...
  • In one Supernatural episode, an increasingly desperate and unhinged Sam tries to get immortality for Dean (and for himself so Dean wouldn't be alone), to keep Dean from going to hell. Completely forgetting that this could be the worst thing he could ever come up with. In so many, many, many ways.
  • In the sixth season episode of The X-Files, "Tithonus," a photographer documents violent crime as soon as it happens in the hope that he will see death and allow death to finally come for him because he is bored with living after two hundred years and wants to know what happens to people after they die. As a result of the events of this episode, Scully is now immortal, but it seems like she hasn't realized it yet.
    • That explains the psychic's answer in the episode "Clyde Bruckerman's Final Repose" when Scully asks him how she will die. (He says she doesn't.)
      • "You know, there are worse ways to go, but I can't think of a more undignified way than autoerotic asphyxiation."
  • Lost: due to Jacob's touch, Richard Alpert stops aging for about 140 years, serving as his go-between with Island's inhabitants. After Jacob's death, he's experiencing a mental breakdown due to loss of purpose in his life and asks Jack to kill him, because he cannot even commit suicide. However, he is eventually given a new purpose and when another person takes Jacob's place, Richard's gift/curse is lifted from him. Beginning to age again and spotting his first gray hair, Richard realizes that he still wants to live.
    • A more straight example is the character known only as "Mother." Tired of being immortal protector of the Island, she uses the opportunity to talk Jacob into taking the job from her and then cons his brother into killing her. Her last words to her killer are "Thank you."
  • On Smallville, it's implied several times by precognitive characters that Clark will have to deal with outliving his human loved ones. He's not looking forward to that.
    • The character of Curtis Knox actually has had to deal with this multiple times, leading him to commit multiple murders to acquire meteor-infected body parts so his (current) wife can live forever with him, since he is immortal.
  • Charmed had Cole go mad after getting immortality. At one point, he's about to put himself in a guillotine and gleefully saying "I can't wait to see how I survive this one!" (only for Piper to save him before he teleported himself away to pursue another unrelated scheme.
  • Red Dwarf. The Inquisitor is a self-repairing simulant who lasted until the end of time and, having concluded that there was no God or afterlife, decided to travel through history eliminating from existence those who have wasted their lives.
  • Invoked and averted in The Middleman, where a character was made immortal as a punishment for leaving others to die on the Titanic. After a few decades of remorse he got a job as a stuntman, invested in some profitable stocks, and started dating.
  • On Babylon 5 Lorien mentions that immortals cease to bother with anything because everything fades with time. Indeed, most of the immortals on the show have fared poorly; the Vorlons and Shadows are both almost universally insane, some of the First Ones have ended up so insular they've never talked to anyone in centuries.

Lorien: At first we were kept in balance by birth rate. Few of us were ever born, less than a handful each year. Then I think, the Universe decided that to appreciate life, for there to be change and growth, life had to be short. So, the generations that followed us grew old, infirm, and died. But those of us who were first, went on. We discovered the Vorlons and the Shadows when they were infant races and nourished them, helped them and all the other races you call the First Ones. In time, most of them died, or passed beyond the rim to whatever lies in the darkness between galaxies. We've lived too long, seen too much. To live on as we have is to leave behind joy and love and companionship, because we know it to be transitory, of the moment. We know it will turn to ash. Only those whose lives are brief can imagine that love is eternal. You should embrace that remarkable illusion, it may be the greatest gift your race has ever received.

  • In the show Roar, Longinus is cursed with immortality after killing Jesus.
  • In Andromeda, the characters encounter a ship which murdered her crew along with an entire planet, and spent three centuries mad. She ends up pulling a Suicide by Cop.
  • The inhabitants of the World of the Immortals suffers from this in Spellbinder: essentially a group of Georgian-era nobles made immortal by a botched cure for world-ending plague, all of them are infertile. Without children, their society is hopelessly stagnant, to the point that the only real creativity demonstrated by the Immortals is in the construction of robots- especially robots that can mimic children. And then Kathy shows up...
  • Helen Magnus from Sanctuary feels this way after the death of her daughter. Her attempt to find a cure for her immortality does not end well.
    • Actually, it does. The episode was a Reset Button showing what would happen if she had taken the cure.
  • In the British drama series Misfits, Deadpan Snarker Nathan Young is somewhat aggravated by his rather idiosyncratic brand of immortality, not so much because he finds the idea unappealing, but because it only causes him to be resurrected several days after his death. By which time he has been buried alive.
  • Laura/Jade from The Outer Limits episode "Last Supper" doesn't age, is immune to all diseases and poisons, and has an incredible Healing Factor. She grows tired of the endless cycle of having to leave her lovers behind. When her boyfriend learns her secret, he's repulsed, until his father (one of her past lovers) lectures him on how she is a good person who deserves happiness, so stay and love her as long as possible.
  • The Xena: Warrior Princess villainess Callisto eventually got sick of her godhood-induced immortality when she had nothing to live for and wanted Xena to kill her with the Hind's Blood Dagger, but Xena refused to give Callisto what she wanted until she saw Gabrielle perish, realizing that Callisto now had something worth living for.
  • The Curiosity episode "Can You Live Forever?" plays with this concept, outlining the practical concerns of immortality - replacing lost limbs, rejuvenating dead tissue, increasing memory once the organic brain is full, etc. - and how they can be addressed through technological means. The "outliving your loved ones" issue is touched upon briefly, but the show does address a bigger problem in more detail: if your immortality is dependent on technology, what happens when that technology is wiped out by an Extinction-Level Event? Luckily the subject is Adam Savage, who is nothing if not resourceful.


Music[edit | hide]

A thousand years have come and gone, but time has passed me by
Stars stopped in the sky
Frozen in an everlasting view
Waiting for the world to end, weary of the night
Praying for the light
Prison of the lost Xanadu

  • Ace of Spades by Motorhead: You know I'm born to lose / And gambling's for fools / But that's the way I like it baby / I don't wanna live forever
  • "The Curse" by Josh Ritter, about an ancient Egyptian cursed with immortality. Set to a waltz.
  • The Boston indie rock band Hayley Jane and the Primates has a song called "Mabel" about a 380-something immortal who can't bring herself to love anyone because everyone she's ever cared about is dead.
  • Queen: "Who wants to live forever... when love must die?"


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • In a Dilbert cartoon, an android make in Dilbert's image boasts that he will live forever and lets out an Evil Laugh. Then, a few seconds later, he complains that he's bored.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In both of the Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, immortality is never considered a blessing. The foremost problem is that one spends eternity wrestling the Beast, but there's the matter of boredom as well. The Masquerade didn't really address this, as the Jyhad kept everyone busy, but it's an important issue in The Requiem: ennui is so pervasive that vampires have constructed a massive political/social framework, the Danse Macabre, almost solely to keep themselves occupied.
    • The main sourcebook for The Requiem also tries to prevent PCs from sitting around and moping about all of the things mentioned at the top of the page by pointing out that anyone who wasn't strong-willed enough to deal with all of the assorted nastinesses of vampire society or didn't have a long term goal in mind would probably have just killed themselves by staying outside during the next sunrise after they were Turned. ...except that the things capable of permanently destroying a vampire (fire and sunlight) are very likely to cause the aforementioned Beast to temporarily hijack control of their body and cause them to flee from the potential source of Final Death.
    • In Promethean: The Created, Prometheans can, provided they take care to go to the wastes often enough, theoretically endure for centuries, if not forever. Too bad their lives consist of being Walking Wastelands with everything trying to kill them.
    • In Mummy the Resurrection, Mummies imagines them as truly immortal beings. Every time they suffer a physical death, their souls go to the Wraith underworld where they wait for their bodies to regenerate. Some choose to stay in the underworld, on the belief that if they search long and hard enough they can find a magical way to end their lives.
  • Dante, the Blood Angels Chapter Master, in Warhammer 40000 is said to be around 1500 years old (or older) but after more than a millenia of fighting he is getting tired of his life, and the only thing that keeps him going is his suspicion that the prophesy of a warrior in golden armour standing between the darkness and the God-Emperor in the final battle wasn't about their Primarch Sanguinus during the Horus Heresy, but is about him and he aims to fulfill that goal.
    • In a way, the Dark Eldar themselves, due to boredom. However what they get for an afterlife sucks many times more(and it's their own fault), pushing them to fight boredom by any means to keep themselves alive.
  • The Soulless in the GURPS supplement GURPS Fantasy II: Adventures in the Mad Lands are an ancient culture whose members neither age nor reproduce, so their civilization has been populated by the same few thousand individuals for millennia. They reached the limits of their creativity in the distant past, got tired of every possible form of entertainment during their culture's decadent period, and now are stuck in an eternity of boredom and repeating variations of the same old pastimes in an effort to discover something that would still interest them.
  • Gamma World adventure GW6 Alpha Factor. The mutant flying squirrels known as Rakees are extremely difficult to kill. They've lived so long that that they're constantly trying to end their lives, such as by attacking adventurers in the hope that they'll be killed.
  • Elves in Eon call themselves "The People of the Curse". Elves can live forever, and get a few other pretty nifty perks. However, as they become older, elves find it increasingly difficult to relate to people around them. This, coupled with the emotional traumas of the few friends they manage to keep dying and degradations of their innate magic inevitably leads to increasingly severe bouts of clinical depression and catatonia. Elves reaching 500 years of age without becoming complete hermits is the stuff of legend. Most open their veins long before then.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • The Makropulos Affair, a play written by Czech playwright Karel ?apek and subsequently adapted into an opera by Leos Janacek, concerns a woman who has been granted 300 years of life through a magic potion, with an option for renewal. She finds that such a long life is an ordeal that leaves her exhausted and numb to human emotions. She decides that death is better.
  • An Ordinary Wonder by Russian Yevgenii Shvarts. There is a wizard in the play, who tells his wife near the end: "But alas, I am immortal, so I will spend the rest of eternity missing you."


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The protagonist in Chakan the Forever Man (based on a comic book) is given eternal life after besting Death in a duel. Problem is, he didn't also get eternal youth, and Death will not take him until all evil has been wiped out. So unlike pretty much every other game ever made, the entire goal is to not survive.
  • In Planescape: Torment, the player character cannot die (unless he pisses off a god or some other damn fool act), but instead returns to the starting point (the Mortuary) - or sometimes some other location - every time his health drops to zero, and regenerates there. The catch is every time he cheats death, another person somewhere in the universe dies in his place. Plus there's the whole memory-loss thing—you start out the game with a case of complete amnesia, and eventually find out it's because if you die in the Fortress of Regrets, where The Transcendent One (who is actually the Nameless Ones mortality and does not want to be reacquired) lives, he wipes your memory to stop you from trying to make yourself mortal again. In every past life you tried to uncover your identity, eventually wound up facing The Transcendent One, got your memory wiped, and started again from square one. In-game, the Fortress of Regrets is the last level, and if you die there you have to reload (true only a few times before that in the game). The goal of the game is initially to recover the Nameless One's memory, and eventually to cure his immortality.
    • In the best ending, He goes to hell. It doesn't seem to bother him either, implying this is better than the torment immortality had turned out to be.
      • It is also partly because he accepted that he deserved to go there, after having sought immortality in the first place to escape eternal damnation for some atrocity he committed in his first incarnation.
  • In Soul Calibur III, one of the fighters and the main mover of the plot is Zasalamel, who discovered the secret to eternal Reincarnation but at this point is tired of life. He pulls a vaguely defined Xanatos Gambit to use the combined power of Soul Edge and Soul Calibur in an attempt to end his endless cycle of lives. This is because he found out in one of his lives that getting Soul Edge wasn't enough. He was just corrupted and enslaved by the sword before being killed normally.
    • His reincarnation is also coupled with a soul-rending agony that he is put through every time he comes back; which seems pretty often to a man of such advanced age.
      • This is subverted in Soul Calibur IV, when while being resurrected, Zasalamel glimpses the future and the zenith of human civilization, and is now determined to see that day in person.
  • In the Suikoden series, one of the side effects of possessing a True Rune is being preserved at the age at which you acquired the rune. Some people revel in their immortality, while others, (like Ted) view it as a curse. The mysterious Flame Champion, bearer of the True Fire Rune, decides to seal it away for 50 years so he can marry and grow old with his sweetheart, Sana. (Of course, the fact that the Rune had gotten out of control and blown up a large portion of the countryside might have had some part to play in that decision as well).
    • Given that the True Runes are supposed to be quite aware and possess the nasty tendency of not only snaking on your OWN soul if you happen to get killed at some later point but many having unfortunate side effects as well. Like Soul Eater taking the souls of friends who die near you, Sun driving you insane, Punishment eating your soul, Blue Moon turning you into a murderous vampire, and so on. It's no wonder that some people come to view it as a curse.
  • According to Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus, this also affects Vincent Valentine.
  • Depending on your interpretation, Fran's relationship with Balthier may also be influenced by the fact that her lifespan as a Viera is much longer than Balthier's human lifespan in Final Fantasy XII.
    • It is possible that Fran could be quite old in Hume years, but be close to Balthier's age in Viera years.
  • In Drakengard, Seere's pact with Golem makes him lose his "time," meaning that he will never age. This wouldn't normally be a downside, except that Seere is six years old.
  • Lost Odyssey may be the most well fleshed out video game example of this trope in recent memory. Main character Kaim Argonar (and supporting immortals Ming, Seth, and his wife Sarah), realize fully and consciously that living forever sucks, and the game is wholly capable through the many unlockable Dreams of a Thousand Years (essentially short stories with some aural assistance) of convincing the player that it sucks too. Kaim has lived for a thousand years, and he's watched hundreds of loved ones die, including his own children, and killed thousands of enemy soldiers in battle. Worse yet for him and the other three "good" immortals, the main villain is the only other immortal on the planet and a power-hungry maniac hell bent on using his eternal life to control the planet. Worse still for the 4 "good" immortals, he's pretty savvy as to how their immortality works: they cannot be killed. Period. Kaim survives a meteor impact at the beginning of the game, and the others have all survived one catastrophe or another. So the villain does something even worse: to each of them, he uses their most beloved friends and family, and his considerable power and, through a combination of mind control and supreme manipulative ability, inflicts psychological pain worse than death, after which he seals their memories, rendering them (in their own words) "walking corpses" who have no purpose in life and can only wander, fight, work, whatever, burdened by the knowledge that they'll never get to go to the afterlife and the emotional pain of the losses he inflicted on them. Immortality sucks, all right.
    • After all of this, however, the game's ending subverts the theme, as Kaim and two of the other good immortals settle contentedly into their immortal lives, reasoning that eternity isn't so bad after all. It helps that two of them are married to one another, and the third, although her husband is mortal, is a queen with a whole country to keep herself busy with throughout the centuries to come. All this was enabled by the Heroic Sacrifice of the fourth immortal who pulled the aforementioned Big Bad back into their home dimension where they aren't immortal- their immortality in the main world is due to differences in physical laws.
  • While technically ageless rather than immortal, Kratos Aurion from Tales of Symphonia doesn't seem too happy about the situation. To be fair, that's partially due to guilt over everything he and Cruxis have done with eternal youth, as well as grief over losing his family. The other ageless characters don't seem nearly as bothered by it. Interestingly, Tales of Symphonia also partially subverts the elf immunity clause, with Genis sadly reflecting in a skit how he's going to outlive all his friends.
  • Sophie in the PS3 port of Tales of Graces. Her knowledge of the fact that's she's immortal, and will thus outlive the friends she's grown to cherish begins trouble her greatly during the f arc. She eventually finds peace in this fact once she adopts the view her friends will never truly die as long as she remembers them.
  • In Diablo II, the mage Ormus gives a short speech that's similar to the one from Vampire Hunter D during a quest related to the lost treasure of a sage who sought immortality:

"What he [Ku Y'leh] did not realize is that there is no life beyond death. There is only life. Once it is prolonged unnaturally, it can become a living hell."

    • As a result of the same quest, Meshif muses:

"Can you imagine having to get up to piss every night for the rest of eternity?"

  • Albedo from Xenosaga. His descent into madness starts the moment he realizes that he is special in his immortality and would outlive all his brothers.
    • Albedo also displays well the problems of having immortality from birth, as he is unable to even comprehend such things as death and pain. This gave him a childishly sociopathic worldview, he seemed genuinely terrified when he learned that other people died when you tore their heads off.
  • In Zork: Grand Inquisitor, Dalboz of Gurth casts an immortality spell on himself, but is forced to endure being immortal when the Zork Underground Empire becomes abandoned. The player can even find his diary, in which he writes about the ways he tried to kill himself, one being "Stabbed myself through the heart; just ended up with heartburn."
  • Final Fantasy XI's Blue Mages probably have it the worst... for Final Fantasy at least. Blue Mages, being artificial super-soldiers developed by Aht Urghan alchemists to be employed in the 'Immortals' military unit, have to deal with soul-threating demons literally waiting to burst from their bodies for every waking moment of their career. Each member of the Immortals are ageless and able to live forever, with the only casualties belonging to Blue Mages that fail to restrain the beast within. Not to mention they're usually screwy in the head, save for important characters such as the Immortals leader, Raubahn, who is responsible for for the player character's transformation into a Blue Mage should he or she decide to become one. Still doesn't prevent the player from being K.O.'d by bunny rabbits sadly.
  • Anything living in Katamari Damacy. Think about it. When you roll up a human, doesn't it still flail around? The answer is yes. Now, wouldn't it make sense that it'd still be living even after the Katamari is done? Well, there's proof. In the final cutscene for Katamari Damacy, the Hoshinos are seen on the moon. They acknowledge that they have been rolled up(spoiler tagged for those who haven't beaten the game). This being said, it's obvious that the humans are still alive, and stuck inside the Katamari. What's even worse is when you choose to make the Katamari into stardust. The King blasts the Katamari into bits. Even more horrible is in We Love Katamari, in the sumo stage. it's obvious that the katamari has become either the Komosubi, Ozeki, or Yokozuna, depending on if you choose Small, Medium or Large, respectively. If you choose to turn it into a planet, the sumo wrestler is stuck in space. When you choose to make it into stardust, the king vaporizes him.
    • In all fairness, it should be the sumo kid who gave you the request that should get vaporized, not the poor rolled-up champ (who didn't have to cheat to get where he was). It's especially heinous if you got the sumo katamari big enough to start eating people.
  • Odin Sphere has the Pooka's Curse, which causes the afflicted individual to become a rabbit-like creature that never ages. The Pooka want to remove the curse so they can become normal mortal humans again. In the unlockable final scene of the game, this trope is part of a conversation between Cornelius and Velvet, when they are finally given the chance to return to human form. Cornelius notes that if they stay in Pooka form, they'll live forever. Velvet replies by explaining the reasons she wouldn't want to live forever, convincing Cornelius to return to human form as well. The curse is broken, and they embrace. Awww...
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has the Gifted, which apart from special powers also seem to live forever (and are immune to deadly illnesses, apparently). Lennart, the first Gifted you meet when Adelle starts to accept that, pretty much became an outcast because of the whole "seeing your friends die" deal. Adelle had a similar experience when her whole village was wiped out by a plague that didn't affect her.
  • The most recent Fire Emblem games feature Lehran/Sephiran, one of the heroes of the war in which the goddess Yune was sealed away, still alive after all of these centuries but without any of his laguz abilities because he fathered a child with the beorc Altina. He responds by inciting a war that will wake up Yune and call down Ashera's judgement on the world, destroying everything, because he thought it was the only way he could die.
    • To a certain degree in those two games, Branded/Parentless (the children of laguz/beorc unions) live far longer than beorc. Since the side they get this from can instinctively sense them (laguz), and they are pariahs in both societies, this trope ends up applying. Reference the relationship between Micaiah and Sothe once you've played through the entire game.
  • In Lunar: The Silver Star and its sequel Lunar: Eternal Blue, the character Nall, the White Dragon of Althena, is forced to deal with this trope. In Lunar 1, Nall is a party member; he becomes good friends with all the heroes. He returns for the sequel as an NPC, eventually revealing that he misses his old friends deeply. He helps Ruby, the Red Dragon, face the fact that she will outlive her friends too.
  • In Arcanum this is stated as a reason that mature elves do not live amongst human society, "In maturity, elves tend to settle down and keep to their own; it may be that burying several generations of short-lived friends and spouses causes them to lose the taste for human company." -Arcanum manual.
  • Yggdra Union has poor Nessiah, a very sad example of this trope, who never wanted to live forever—his immortality is his punishment for not wanting to fight in Asgard's wars, despite the fact that his powers would have made a drastic difference in them. Even if he dies, he is painfully resurrected shortly afterward, and at the outset of the game, he's been trying to free himself from the nearly-unbreakable chains which control his immortality for over a thousand years. He never manages it.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog proves to be a firm proponent of this theory at the end of Sonic and The Black Knight. It may or may not have more to do with the fact that the woman who brought him into the story wanted to twist it into a Hell on earth to do so than ideology, but still.
  • Sort-of immortality is possible in the Nasuverse but most prominently for this trope, Fate/stay night has Heroic Spirits and Guardians. Archer, during his life, swore over his existence to the world so that he could continue to save people. Eventually, he died still believing in his ideals, but after that he, in his position as a Guardian, is sent back repeatedly to stop devastating conflicts by killing people instead of saving them. He doesn't even get to remember any of this, but he knows it happens and it affects his psyche. Small wonder he decides to wait until he can pulled into a time with Emiya Shirou so he can kill his past self and hopefully commit suicide that way and escape his current life, where he has no free will. Then again, that is a pretty sucky form of immortality and no one takes it up for that reason.
  • Tsugumi of Ever 17 has eternal youth, immunity from infection, high healing factor and possibly increased strength. On the downside, the handful of people who know about her really want to study her lots. Oh, and she gets sunburned really easily, but she can see in pitch blackness anything due to infravision. She can even pass the immortality on to whoever she pleases. Except two specific characters, one of whom is implied to be changing into a being that exists in the fourth dimension and is thus outside time and effectively immortal as well. Yet all she can do is whine and complain about how much it sucks. She gets better but never seems to see it as a good thing.
  • This is a constant, omnipresent motif in Lucas Arts' adventure game The Dig: Stranded on a deserted alien planet, a group of astronauts discover crystals that can bring back the dead, and use it to resuscitate their fallen comrade, who turns completely insane and addicted to the crystals in the process. Meanwhile, they discover that the former residents of the desert planet found other means to make themselves immortal, but never found a way to undo this.

You've showed us all the pathway back to life, to reality... to a place where some day we will die yes, but where we'll have a life before we die!

  • Subverted in Final Fantasy III. The three immortal students received the gift of magic, the gift of dream, and the gift of mortality. Mr. Mortality is PISSED.
    • Then again, the other two and their master firmly believe the ability to die was a great gift.
  • Also Subverted by the Night Elves in the Warcraft series. At the end of Warcraft III the race as a whole loses their immortality in a heroic sacrifice. Many members of the race are unhappy with this and are currently searching for a way to restore the race's immortality, despite still being an extremely long-lived race without it. It should be noted that due to the race's reclusive nature and racial Immortality before their introduction in Warcraft III, they never felt the heartache of losing friends of other sentient races to old age.
  • Porky Minch, the main villain in Mother 3, is an odd, but particularly powerful, example of this. Screwing with time travel has aged him, previously a child no older than 13 or so, past the point where he can die naturally. For one reason or another he is stuck in the time period that the game takes place in, and although he pretty much rules what is left of the world, he's still, in the end, a little kid who wants his mom and the closest thing he had to a friend, Ness, giving the viewer sympathy towards a character one has been built up to loathe both for his actions in the previous game, and for the terrible atrocities the player experiences first hand in this game.
    • The entire plot is also caused by a large and convoluted attempt to destroy the world, leaving Porky the only thing left alive in it, giving him the closest thing to death he can possibly achieve, but in the end he is trapped inside an inescapable capsule forever, which achieves essentially the same effect.
  • This is The Punishment for Dr. Weil of the Mega Man Zero series, in addition to eternal exile to the wasteland that he created. Apparently, the ones who gave him this punishment weren't counting on him coming back, seeking revenge.
    • The manual for the first Mega Man X game has a bit a Dr. Light's notes saying that X can function indefinitely as long as he can maintain his energy level.
  • Brought up in the visual novel Songs of Araiah, where it is mentioned that most magicians (who can be immortal) revoke their own immortality after having lived about a thousand years. In addition, immortality works by "freezing" the state that the body is in, meaning that immortals do not age, women can not have children, and their bodies will get neither better nor worse (for example, the lead female, Melissa, will always have to wear glasses, despite the existence of spells which could fix her vision). Outliving loved ones is a minor issue, as a magician can grant immortality to anybody.
  • Ayano from Luminous Arc 2 considered immortality to be a cursed. Although she initially becomes one with the help of the Big Bad, Mage Queen Elicia, it doesn't take long for her to realised that life itself became pointless without death.
    • In contrast, Elicia has a reason, which Althea pointed that Elicia just want to stop suffering in the world, but what she do is wrong and make more people suffering.
    • After they defeat her Shadows. Ayano finally feel the pace of time again.
  • In the Shin Megami Tensei multiverse, there is one God and one Lucifer, but an infinite number of constantly-recycling worlds. Generally, denizens of the worlds are stuck in their home plane, as per God's design, and only demons defy His Will by moving among worlds through the interconnected Interdimensional Sewer System of Hell. But there is one person that Lucifer knows about who is not a demon, but nonetheless moves throughout these multiple dimensions. This person is cursed by God to witness the destruction and rebirth of every world. He is immortal, but has no memory of his original life and is incapable of changing anyone's fate. Fanon suggests that he is Aleph, the main character of the second game, who committed the ultimate sin by punching God in the face.
    • Before you begin learning the truth, the initial prize of the tournament in Chaos Rings is Immortality. This is wrong in several ways: 1: You had to kill 5 other loving couples in order to get it. 2. NOBODY save one person wanted it, and were fighting for their lives, not for the prize. 3. In a rather surprising Mind Screw, even if you win the tournament, you will be given immortality, only to be sent back in time with your partner 10,000 years to the past to raise a human race that will be destined to fight a Time destroying being called the Qualia. And of course, 4: it was artificial Immortality that couldn't survive against fatal wounding.
    • A sad, cruel example of this trope are the combatants Olgar and his wife Vahti. They were the previous winners of the tournament, and to win this "wonderful" prize, he had to kill his two best friends, who happened to be the parents of his partner and wife. Then AFTER they win, they live a sad, sad life where their children age and die while they don't, and have to endure this for 10,000 years until they are SUMMONED TO THE SAME TOURNAMENT AGAIN BECAUSE THE HUMAN RACE THEY CREATED WASN'T STRONG ENOUGH, so not only did they have to kill their friends/parents and watch their children grow up and die, they have to participate in this tournament once more, this time against THEIR DESCENDANTS, who they see almost as their children. The result? Two cold, tired, sad, Death Seekers.

Olgar: ...death is our only salvation.

  • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Gabriel aka Dracula is hit hard by this.
  • In the second Inyouchuu game, Ouka and Kikuka have been cursed with agelessness and immortality by Meiouki, and are pursuing him to have the curse reversed. In the bad endings, they remain immortal and ageless but are kept as sex/breeding slaves by him.
  • In Soul Blazer, the Big Bad Deathtoll is a believer of this and want to teach it to the hero apparently by killing him again and again. It might explain his actions in the game.
  • League of Legends has Urgot: "Eternal life, endless tourment."
    • To elaborate on this, Urgot kept losing limbs and being hacked apart in combat and the doctors kept replacing his limbs with various devices such as a scythe and a gun thing until he finally got cut in half and was reanimated as a cyborg abomination, hardly a fun life.
  • Meta Example: using god mode in any game removes any and all satisfaction from in-game achievements,
  • In Portal 2, GLaDOS makes a comment about how after Chell dies, she will consider working on reanimation, implying that she will force Chell to be her test subject forever.
    • Though on other occasions the insane computer gloats about how she'll outlive Chell.
  • Elh of Solatorobo wishes she could age like her friends. She gets her wish as a result of the final battle.
  • In Sword of the Stars the Liir are immortal but grow continuously and eventually get so large that gravity can't support their bulk, and for some reason would rather commit suicide than live forever. It's because a group of very old Elders who became known as the Suul'ka (loosely translated: lord of winter/enemy/monster) enslaved their children and forced them through an industrial revolution to develop the technology needed to survive in space for eternity
  • In The Exiled Prince, the second installment of the Dark Parables series for PC, the antagonist is The Frog Prince, who is still alive centuries after his fairy tale was said to have taken place. As it turns out, he's miserable because he keeps outliving the princesses he loves, and all he really wants is to die.
  • In Guilty Gear, the protagonist is Sol Badguy, who was turned into a powerful, immortal Gear against his will. He has sought revenge for centuries against the Big Bad who did it to him.
  • In Legacy of Kain, vampires were given a three-fold curse of bloodlust, sterility, and immortality by their enemies, the Hylden. Because they are no longer part of the natural cycle of birth, death and rebirth, the Elder God has come to regard them as unnatural and seeks their extinction. some of the more religious vampires are known to have committed suicide in an attempt to regain his favor.
  • Talia in Darkwatch uses this as a Battle Cry to rally the other agents into battle.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel The Old Republic both feature a Rakatan prisoner who spend millennia in a mind prison. His original body had long decayed, everyone he ever knew had died, his civilization collapsed and his species almost became extinct. He still desperately wishes to get out by occupying another body, since it will finally allow him to die.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 has Caius, who was "gifted" by Etro the Heart of Chaos due to his devotion to the seeress, Yeul. However, seeing her constant deaths and rebirths from the visions she receives made him feel like immortality was a curse, and sought a timeless world as a result. Subverted in that he used that curse to his advantage where, regardless of what the protagonists do to stop him, all his plans lead him to winning in the end.
  • Touhou's cast contains plenty of immortals, but Fujiwara no Mokou is the only one who got hit with this trope. She impulsively drank the Hourai Elixir over a thousand years ago and was ostracized by society until she decided to live as a hermit. Then she completely snapped and mindlessly attacked anything that found her. Then she spent three hundred years in an apathetic depression. But Mokou shook it off when she made her way to Gensokyo, where she rediscovered her archenemy and fellow immortal Kaguya Horaisan. Now she and Kaguya pass the time by pointlessly murdering each other, which is probably a step up from the majority of her existence.
  • The flash game known as Kill Me is about an immortal superhero who can resurrect after death. He has to navigate a warehouse containing an highly toxic elixir that will... well...


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Jix, Kelelder the Planet Thief got bored after immortality was thrust upon him and started killing his own kind and claiming their colony planets as his own.
  • In the webcomic Schlock Mercenary, one race attempted immortality through technology, only to have it backfire on them rather badly - as their people invariably went insane after a few normal lifetimes as their mental health didn't regenerate like their bodies did - almost destroying their civilization. The few survivors altered themselves so as to live in a permanent state of senility to prevent something like this ever happening again. The whole ordeal is described in more detail here.
    • Interestingly, they're not the only ones. Humans and other races have a very top-secret longetivity project going on, and a member of the abovementioned race is actually helping them- he figures they might as well try to get it right this time.
  • Subverted in The Gods of Arr-Kelaan - Claremont asks a fellow god for a favor to bless a potion destined for his daughter to give immortality upon consumption, to which is refused - death is a birthright to all humans - but Thanatria does nuances it the right way. Whomever takes this potion will not die until they wish to.
  • In the Backstory of Rice Boy, a being who identified itself as God gave a mission to three people to find and nominate a Fulfiller, with the promise that as long as they continued searching they would not die. Many centuries and many false Fulfillers later, one of them has abandoned the mission and resorted to prolonging his life unnaturally with the Black Spirit. The second commits suicide by abandoning the mission, knowing that it will kill him. The third, after seeing his friend killed, finally despairs and asks God to kill him as well; but God has something else planned for him.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Dracula thinks he's Seen It All and is interested in dying. However, he's not stupid enough to die without knowing what comes next, so he comes up with an elaborate scheme to perform reconnaissance on Purgatory.
  • In Fetch Quest Saga of the Twelve Artifacts, Lionel has to suffer through seeing his Love Interests and other people close to him die while he remains immortal.
  • In Sluggy Freelance zombies seem to have this deal. For a while they seem content enough (though having to eat human flesh to keep from decaying away to nothing must've taken some adjusting), but once you're reduced to being a Zombie-Head-On-A-Stick ...
    • Done more seriously with Oasis.

Oasis: I love Torg so badly, the thought he won't return that love makes me want to die. And I can't die!

  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, the Nemesites are not immortal, but do have lifespans upwards of a thousand years. That's not a problem for them so far as it goes (indeed, it's what makes their interstellar empire possible in a universe without faster-than-light-travel), but it does mean they outlive any friends they make from other planets. Voluptua is very unhappy to realize how brief Bob's life will be compared to hers.
  • In Eight Bit Theater, Sarda subverts this for the first two weeks of the universe by growing a mustache, but quickly reverts into "Blind, seething rage."
  • Immortals in El Goonish Shive have to "reset" periodically to avoid this, as explained here.
  • Jin from Wapsi Square is an immortal, indestructible golem, and she is sick of it. She eventually reaches the point where she would kill herself if it would make her dead. She gets a bit better later, and instead merely wants to grow old together with her boyfriend.
  • A crossover story in Magellan took this Up to Eleven with Gaius, a once mortal that bought his way to immortality, to become an energy being who could live forever. And he did, well after his planet died, his sun extinguished and even every black hole in his dimension had long since evaporated, he was still floating around.
  • This Something Happens strip.
  • Not an example, but the idea is discussed in this Dinosaur Comics strip.
  • Homestuck: The Handmaid, due to being at the bottom of Alternia's caste system should have died naturally at about the age of twenty-six, but is cursed with immortality by Lord English. The only reason she follows his plans is because at the end of her service, she'll finally get to die.
  • In Goblins spin-off Tempts Fate, a demon Tempts has destroyed curses him with immortality so that when the demon's body regenerates 10000 years later, Tempts will still be around and the demon can take revenge. Tempts, being a thrill-seeker, is initially horrified by the idea of being unable to die, although when he learns he can still die from serious injury, his attitude shifts to Cursed with Awesome.
  • This is a major plot point in Ginpu, where demigods are pretty much doomed to spend their lives losing those they love. Heck, the BBEG's whole plan revolves around making a child who is immortal, so he'll have at least one family member that doesn't die.
    • Guess what Morgan's biggest desire is of God? Live, grow old with family, die like a human.
  • In Raven Wolf the titular tribe was cursed by their totem spirits with "removal from the cycle of life" until the domestics (a faction of "civilized" furries) are no more. The usual angst about outliving one's loved ones is partially averted because anyone who marries into the tribe is cursed as well and their children inherit it, but if they fall in battle their souls are devoured by the wolf spirit. Also they can't hunt, gather, or cultivate, they depend on the charity of others for food.


Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Almost every cartoon, actually. Characters in cartoons don't really seem age... and sometimes even comment on it.
  • Phineas and Ferb: "You wanna live forever?" "Was that an option?"
  • In an episode of Justice League, Superman is sent into a barren future, seemingly devoid of humanity... Save for the lonely, less insane, immortal Vandal Savage.
    • The fact that the reason the Earth is barren and ruined is because he destroyed it probably had something to do with it as well.
    • Savage does acknowledge that if he didn't keep busy, he would go (more) insane with the boredom and loneliness. He occupies himself with many projects, from farming to restoring the ruins of Metropolis to dabbling in time travel (which he explicitly can't use to fix things, as he cannot coexist with his past self... Good thing Superman came along). The only thing that really seems to bother him is his guilt of destroying the planet, to the point where he has constructed a fully operational spaceship but doesn't use it because he feels that his isolation is a suitable punishment for his crimes.
  • Gargoyles plays this straight with Macbeth, while subverting it with Demona, who has no problems with immortality. Mostly because she is too busy trying to eliminate the human race, whereas Macbeth has little else worth living on for. So she thinks he wants to kill her out of vengeance for her betrayal years ago, but he's really just... tired.
    • The 1100-year-old Hudson gives the immortality-seeking Xanatos a whole lecture on the downfalls of living for so long. "Most of my clan is dead and dust, and I am a stranger in a strange land. Demona and Macbeth are immortal. Has it brought them happiness?"
  • The Transformers don't seem to have a problem with their extremely long lifespans, although a race of sentient robots who can theoretically replace any body parts that become broken or worn out are obviously going to have different perspectives on life than humanity.
  • Somewhat mentioned on a much less emotional and spiritual scale in Jackie Chan Adventures - currently made immortal due to holding a magic object, Finn of the show's Quirky Miniboss Squad, hits a low-hanging bridge from being on top of a train as it goes under it. Indenting the bridge, he notes "Immortality... hurts."
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, one episode involves Robotnik traveling to Mobius's equivalent of ancient Egypt to retrieve the Chaos Emerald of immortality, which turns out to be in his ancestor's pyramid. Said ancestor's animated mummy actually thanks Robotnik for taking the emerald from him, as he couldn't bear to spend an eternity with Sonic's ancestor who was also in the tomb.
  • Averted for the immortal main cast of Mary Shelley's Frankenhole, all whom seem to enjoy their immortality. However, there was an episode featuring the Wolfman, who desperately wanted to die. Since he can only be killed by a silver bullet, and that silver bullet must be fired by a lover in order for the death to be permanent, dying was nigh impossible. The episode ends with him not only still alive, but it turns out he brought the curse upon himself, by going back in time, trying to kill himself. Only to turn into a werewolf by the full moon and bite himself.
  • Played With on South Park with Kenny. In his case, he keeps dying, yet somehow spontaneously resurrects, without anyone around him even remembering afterwards. It's not so much the immortality that bothers him—it's having to die over and over again.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Lorelei Signal." The women of the second planet of the Taurean system neither age nor die. However, any men on the planet die quickly. They must lure humanoid males to their planet once every 27 years and drain them of their Life Force in order to survive. They can't escape their planet and they can't even have children.
  • A vlog in a series on Required Secondary Powers found here describes how Immortality can lead to Body Horror, We Are as Mayflies, And I Must Scream and multiple Fates Worse Than Death.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Sergeant Major Daniel Joseph "Dan" Daly is commonly attributed as having yelled, "Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?" to the men in his company prior to charging the Germans during the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I.
  • Some scientists argue that the longer you live, the faster time seems to flow. If you could live forever, then time would go faster and faster until everything was a blur. Eventually, years could pass in a blink of an eye. Your existence would be meaningless, and you wouldn't even remember it.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche argued that Socrates' "defense" was specifically designed to make the jury condemn him to death, since he was tired of living, and perhaps suffered life as a disease (whether this is what Socrates himself actually thought is anybody's guess, though to be fair being a wise man in a world of phenomenal idiots could have one looking for the sleeping pills).
  • If you assume the theories of universal entropy and the big crunch are true, then millions of years floating in completely empty space, eternally suffocating, only to to be eventually crushed into a singularity sound like a very hard price to be for a (relatively) short amount of extra time doing things you enjoy. But you also have forever to get used to it.
  • This. No, really.
  • The modern Transhumanists heavily avert this trope, most holding the opinion that if you do get bored eventually, then you are free to end your own existence, but why not try to see how long you last just in case that doesn't happen, after all. Lots of interesting hypotheses have been made for escaping the universal heat-death, as well, although how well those would work in practice is still anybody's guess. Then again, there're countless of billions of years to test them, so there's hardly any hurry.
  • A recent survey all around Europe from Readers Digest asked the question "Do you want to live forever?" On average, only 30-40% of people said yes.
    • Well, they should have been more specific. When you say that, usually people think you mean living forever on Earth. That would suck.
    • Except that Americans were asked the same question too, and the majority said yes. It's been used to demonstrate cultural differences.
  • Susan Ertz sums it up in a pithy quote: "Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon."
  • Philosophers of the theological theory of Pandeism hypothesize this as one possible reason why an immortal deity would wish to cease to be one, and become the Universe instead. Expounded upon in Gods Debris.
  • Less conventional immortals: Henrietta Lacks and several other people, whose names are generally unknown, immortalized forever in HeLa, HEK239, SH-SY5Y and other cell lines. They're obviously not human anymore, but still distinct living entities that can grow and proliferate, sometimes even running out of control, as summarized here by The Other Wiki. Some even argue that HeLa should be considered a new species, due to its self-sufficiency as well as significant genetic and ecological differences from the human source.
  • Arguably Brooke Greenberg could hold the secret to immortality, or at least looking young, in her genes. Unfortunately, she is a 16-year-old who looks like and mentally (as far as anyone knows) is a baby, and thus cannot talk or take care of herself. But, she miraculously has survived through various illnesses such as stomach ulcers and brain tumors with no explanation.
    • Not really. If you read some of the criticisms lodged against this theory (i.e. her telomeres are degrading at the normal rate; the "immortality" theory heavily relies upon the unlikely notion that the developmental genes in the body go haywire for no reason when people reach a certain age after already haven been "shut off"; and the fact that he body IS aging (for example, she has the bones of a ten year old... yet she has the brain of an infant. She also has teeth which seem to be a different age from the rest of her body as well), just not in any coherent or logical manner), you'd know that it is mostly media hype and what not due to the fact that the theorist himself has admitted that his theory is unlikely.
  • Buddhists, Hindus, and Jainists all believe that life is suffering, and that people are forced to repeatedly die and be reborn until they rid themselves of karma. Buddhists especially believe this as their goal, Nirvana, can be described as non-existence.
    • Then again, it's described in the various texts themselves as neither existence nor non-existence. Understanding it is rather a huge point of the belief systems.

Okay, seriously, PUT THAT HAND DOWN.