Quantum suicide and quantum immortality in fiction

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Authors of science fiction have used themes involving both quantum suicide and immortality. The basic idea is that a person who dies on one world may survive in another world or parallel universe.

Quantum suicide[edit]

Quantum suicide themes have been explored in the following works:

Quantum immortality[edit]

Quantum immortality themes have been explored in several works:


  • The Greg Egan novel Quarantine explores topics related to quantum immortality.
  • In the Greg Egan short story The Infinite Assassin, the title character explicitly defines himself this way: "'I' am those who survive, and succeed. The rest are someone else."
  • Other science fiction stories exploring these and related ideas include All the Myriad Ways by Larry Niven, and Divided by Infinity by Robert Charles Wilson.
  • Terry Pratchett's short story Death and What Comes Next has a philosopher arguing the principle with Death, who has come for him.
  • Steven Hall's novel The Raw Shark Texts contains references to Max Tegmark and the Quantum Machine Gun (an alternate name for the quantum suicide thought experiment) suggesting a possible quantum immortality-related reading of the story.
  • In Neal Stephenson's 2008 novel Anathem, Fraa Jad has technology that allows him to take advantage of quantum immortality.
  • In Dan Simmons' Ilium/Olympos duology a mechanism similar to quantum immortality protects the character of Achilles.
  • In Donald Schneider's short story "Pride's Prison," [1] the ending of the piece strongly suggests quantum immortality
  • In Alastair Reynolds' short story Everlasting (from the collection Zima Blue) Ian Caldicot explicitly states the many-worlds justification and proceeds to commit apparent suicide, but the story ends ambiguously with the survival of the protagonist Moira Curbishley in unlikely circumstances following an accident.

TV and film[edit]

  • The episode Perfect Circles in the third season of Six Feet Under contains references and allusions to quantum immortality, as a major character observes several possible outcomes of his life.
  • In Fringe, Peter Bishop finds himself transported to an altered timeline which includes the living versions of characters otherwise dead in the original timeline if it weren't for his actions involving a bio-mechanical doomsday device reversing past events in which time is reset.
  • In David Lindsay-Abaire's play Rabbit Hole, a grieving mother takes solace in the possibility that her dead son may enjoy quantum immortality. She comes to prefer to believe that this world in which she lives may simply be a "sadder version" of other co-existing, parallel universes. Rabbit Hole won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
  • In The Prestige, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) repeatedly duplicates himself and kills his previous copy; his continued belief in the survival of his consciousness in the new (living) copy mirrors the principles of quantum immortality without utilizing parallel universes.
  • In Source Code, Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) repeatedly experiences "death" as he investigates the bombing of a train. Ultimately, he survives in the universe where the train was not bombed and no one died.
  • In the Stargate series, as well as plenty of other science fiction TV shows, the writers regularly brought back "dead" characters for an episode using this mechanic. They also used it to temporarily "kill" characters; in episodes where the timeline is altered and must be fixed, regulars were sometimes killed before the rest of the team finally fixed the timeline, restoring the killed characters in the process.
  • In the Misfits series, especially in episode four of the first season, main characters are killed or end up in terrible situations, but are resurrected as time is rewound.
  • In Third Contact, Dr. David Wright learns of the quantum suicide thought experiment through a patient.
  • In the Higurashi When They Cry series, Furude Rika is brought back from death and sent to an alternative universe set in the past several times.

Video games[edit]

  • In the video game Alan Wake (Remedy Entertainment, 2010), an in-game TV series called "Night Springs" (an interpretation of The Twilight Zone) has a demonstration of quantum immortality, in which a scientist demonstrates that a gun he is holding can't fire. However, the device used to maintain this quantum immortality is accidentally unplugged and the scientist dies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-wAaBoW408
  • BioShock Infinite explores ideas of quantum immortality. In one part of the game, the protagonist enters a space-time tear into a parallel universe where he had already died. Another character, who is discovered to be dead prior to the game's events, periodically makes an appearance throughout the game, suggesting that she has achieved immortality.
  • There is a modified SNES emulator called the Many-Worlds Emulator that creates a new video recording each time the user loads from a previous save state (or, equivalently, a branch point). These videos are then flattened into one, depicting many possible outcomes from a set of choices the user makes. [2]


  • The webcomic Homestuck has a villain cast called The Felt. One of their members, Clover, states that he has an ability similar to quantum immortality in which he has so much luck that all possible attempts at taking his life fail (for example, that the gun pointed at him will jam if the trigger is pulled).
    • In a later part of the same story arc, a character travels between alternate timelines defined by other characters being alive or dead. In each timeline, circumstances have changed (sometimes dramatically) to rationally explain why they are alive or dead.
  • Neal Bailey's webcomic, Cura Te Ipsum features frequently the characters only surviving in a minority of alternate universes.[1]


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