Headcanon: when Danny eventually dies and becomes Phantom for good, he doesn’t stick around on Earth or in the Ghost Zone - maybe he worries that since he’s now full ghost he’ll turn out like his alternate-future self? - so instead he flies out into space - he only needed a mask the last time because he was still somewhat alive. He spends his whole afterlife exploring the universe, just like he always dreamt of doing.
Optional add-on #1: for the next few dozen generations of Amity Park, parents tell their kids that maybe, just maybe, that shooting star they just saw was the legendary Danny Phantom coming back home.
Optional add-on #2: Danny never returns to Earth, and eventually he forgets it and everything on it, because human minds were only built to hold so many memories and space is so infinitely vast and infinitely beautiful that everything else just pales in comparison.
Ok but can you imagine though
Centuries after Danny’s death and retreat/escape into the stars he comes across a spaceship full of pilgrims from Earth en route to colonize a new solar system, and it’s been so long since he’s been home the primary languages have evolved into something completely different so he can’t even speak to any of them, the cultures have transformed, maybe even basic physiology has changed (due to dramatic upheaval in the environment and/or body modifications, due to any dozens of things that happened since he fled)
And at first he’s frightened and wary of these people, who point at him and hiss and bare their teeth (excited whispering and smiles, but he’s been alone for so long he’s forgotten even basic human gestures, or maybe culture has evolved so people do hiss and bare their teeth, options), and he nearly phases through the hull because noppppe people are weird, he has forgotten how the hell people work, swimming in the ice rings of gas giants in the radioactive light of distant stars is much simpler wow bye folks
But then someone says his name, it’s awkward and accented but undeniably Danny Phantom so he looks back and there’s some old historian flapping their hands excitedly, says his name again and pulls out a holofeed or some other bullshit sci-fi info dump device
And then, for the first time in centuries (but what’s time to a ghost in the furthest reaches of outer space, where time is such a huge and unknowable concept he gave up keeping track because the mental calendar in his head grew too long, it was easier to stop counting, to take fistfuls of alien soil in hand instead and marvel at the squirming of tiny lifeforms uncountable miles from Earth), he sees himself, he sees his human face, his family, his friends, his whole life written out like a Wikipedia article in a language he can’t begin to parse but there are movies about him, novels, historical reenactments, documentaries, statues and famous buildings, he’s even been on money, everyone knows him still, recognizes his face from a hundred different places because Earth never forgot him, humanity never forgot him because how could they? He saved them all, proved to everyone that it was possible to band together in times of crises and not go for each other’s throats, that Peace with a capital P was possible
And he looks at all the people around him, and they’re all so happy, talking to him in languages he can’t understand but they’re saying his name, the same words again and again (“thank you” maybe, or “it’s really him,” or “sign my boob,” i’m not picky here), and it’s just so overwhelming, it’s so much, he can’t help but be frightened because he was just one man, one ghost, why would anybody bother to remember him
And then the old historian pulls him aside and in halting, broken English tells him that the only reason these people are all out here, traveling to a new planet, throwing away their lives on Earth to begin anew on a planet scarcely terraformed, scarcely developed, is all thanks to Danny’s descendents, the children of his children’s children, and the historian asks him to please, stop wandering, you don’t need to run anymore, you can come home
And Danny looks at the historian, and he realizes that under all the superficial changes, physiological, cultural, whatever, that this stranger has Jazz’s eyes, and the historian smiles just like Jack, a little too big, a little too boistrous
damn my sci-fi feels, damn them to hell
anthropwashere You should write this… That was awesome.
Ahhhh I really want to! But I don’t see it happening. I’m good at short bursts of fic with generous doses of handwavium and second-person points of view. Writing about a ghost who used to be obsessed with space and NASA and being an astronaut when he was a kid would deal with too many facts, which I’m not very good at! I’d get too focused on tracking down inane discoveries about the universe and what glitters in it from 2005 and earlier and write myself into a corner, and that’d happen wayyyy before I tried tackling the daunting concept of interstellar space vehicles and transhumanism and the evolution of language/culture and I’m sure politics would want to creep in somehow and do you see what I mean? None of that has anything to do with ghost!Danny phasing through brilliant clouds of space dust, circling a will-be star.
I like sci-fi, I’m just no good at writing it haha. Hopefully somebody out there on the Internet takes a crack at it though! I’ll just be over here doing tiny metaphic in the meantime.