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A character is dreaming; they may or may not realize that they are doing so. For once, it is a dream that makes sense, but then there is a sudden non sequitur. The character does a double take and awakens to find the non sequitur reflects what's really happening around them.

Sometimes it's not a non sequitur and makes sense in both the dream and the real world. Or the two things are distinctly connected but not the same exact thing. Common examples include the person's name being repeated over and over again (a person in the real world calling them); a phone call in dream (which turns out to be an alarm clock); and a passionate kiss, (which turns out to be either an animal licking their face or an unappealing friend giving them the Kiss of Life).

This is also fairly common in Real Life, so it's not too surprising that it's seen cutting a dream short in fiction.

Examples of Crashing Dreams include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Azumanga Daioh, Kaorin imagines being rescued by Sakaki and telling her to call her by her real name. Sakaki beings to say "Kaori... Kaori..." -- but then Kaorin wakes up and realizes that it's her mother is calling her. Frustrated, Kaorin throws the sheet over her head and yells "Bring it back!"
  • An Eyecatch in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha featured a scene of Nanoha happily munching on a boiled yam, which then cut to a sleeping Nanoha biting into a now very distressed Yuuno.
  • Akane from Ranma ½ was trapped in a sleeping curse. In her dream, she saw a mosquito and started trying to swat it down... In reality, Ranma had lit a mosquito repellent beside her in order to free her from the curse.
  • In Chrono Crusade, Chrono has a dream where Aion is calling out to him to rejoin him while holding out his hand. Chrono almost takes it, but is stopped by a ghostly-looking woman wrapping her arms around him. He wonders aloud in the dream who the warmth is, and begins to say it's "Mar..." before he wakes up and see Rosette looking down at him--who could tell he was having a nightmare and moved his head onto her lap.
  • The second chapter of Mahou Sensei Negima began with Takamachi declaring to Asuna that he loves her and pulling her in for a kiss. Naturally, this turned out to be a dream, and Asuna found herself kissing a Negi that had crawled into her bed when she woke up.
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: The opening scene displays Makoto playing baseball with her friends, when she hears a voice calling her and an alarm clock falls on her head. Then she wakes up.
  • In To Love Ru, Rito is dreaming of something having to do with a marshmallow while groping his younger sister. While she is part of his Unwanted Harem, it makes her uncomfortable and she tries to wake him up by pinching his cheek. He does stop groping her, whining that the marshmallow bit him, but staying asleep.
  • Chapter 32 of Poor Poor Lips begins with Nako dreaming about lots of meat buns. When she tries to bite into one though, it turns out that they were firmer than expected. Then she wakes up and realizes that she was giving Ren a Boob Bite.


  • In The Mask Stanley is having a (PG-13 rated) Erotic Dream of Tina. Tina starts licking his ear aggressively, and Stanley awakens to find his dog Milo licking him.
  • In Bruce Almighty Bruce is having another conversation with God when God abruptly pokes him painfully in the chest. Bruce awakens to discover he's being defibrillated back to life by the hospital staff.
  • From surrounded by lovely ladies, to playful biting, to waking up and getting half-eaten by vultures in Shanghai Noon.
    • And again in Shanghai Knights--the same character dreams of the girl he likes making out with him, then wakes up surrounded by sheep.
  • Near the start of The Matrix, in the club, the Music turns into an alarm clock sound before Neo wakes up.
    • I don't think they did this to imply that he was dreaming the scene in the club, that scene actually happened. The music changing into the sound of the alarm clock and Neo waking up was just a transition.
      • Of course, it might be accurate to say that Neo WAS dreaming (at least in the sense that his entire life is a dream), though it's not really an example of this trope.
      • When watching the movie, the transition appears to be a way to suggest the All Just a Dream possibility to the audience, setting up a somewhat mysterious atmosphere.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Aragorn and Arwen kiss, and he wakes up to his horse nuzzling him awake.
  • The opening sequence in Kung Fu Panda is revealed as a dream when Monkey and Tigress of the Furious Five start telling Po that he'll be late for work in his father's voice.
  • Happened at the beginning of the first Inspector Gadget movie.
  • In Ali G Indahouse, Ali G dreams he is being, um, orally pleasured by a pair of prostitutes only to awake and discover his dog licking him in a rather intimate place.
  • In Old School, Will Ferrell's character, in the midst of drowning, is dreaming of making out with his wife, which turns into him giving the tongue to a hirsute Sean William Scott trying to resuscitate him.
  • In the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, Alice shouts at herself through the keyhole of the talking door to wake up, and her voice dissolves into the voice of her older sister calling to her.
  • In Dumb and Dumber, a character falls asleep while driving. The headlights of an oncoming truck cause a breast-related non-sequitur that ruins his Erotic Dream, and wakes him up Just in Time.
  • Pee Wee's Big Adventure - Pee-Wee easily wins the Tour de France in his big coaster bike, in his gray suit - a crowd is gathered to watch him get crowned, an alarm bell sounds, everyone runs off, he stands there waiting, eyes shut, giddy with anticipation - then wakes up to the sound of his alarm clock.
  • Similar to the Mask example above, in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Harold falls unconscious and dreams of his love interest licking his cheek. Instead of an animal, he awakens to find Kumar licking him because Kumar "thought doing some gay shit might wake him up."
  • Inception has a wild variation of this; in any dream level above the one any of the characters are currently in, things that happen to their body affect various things in the dream level below. It goes all out, too; areas flood/experience severe rainstorms when characters get wet, the rules of gravity start changing, and one character even starts dying of a punctured lung from a gunshot wound he endured one dream level up. They even use specially tailored sedatives to a allow specific sensations to penetrate between levels of the dreams.
  • In the first act of Girl, Interrupted, the main character has just checked into a psychiatric hospital. Her flashback daydreams are routinely interrupted by a nurse's "checks".

Newspaper Comics


  • In Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, Harry dreams that a mermaid is poking him in the side with a broomstick, then wakes to find that Dobby is poking him in an effort to wake him.
    • In Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, Harry dreams he is in a zoo with a sign that says "Underage Wizard," with the Dursleys shaking the bars of his cage. He awakens to Ron shaking the bars on his window to get his attention.
  • In Village of the Vampire Cat, Matsuzo dreams about cats because he was hearing the villain speak through mutilated vocal chords.
  • Shows up in the Discworld novel Going Postal. After a visit to Posthumous Professor Goitre, who's just a spirit kept in a bottle, "Moist dreamed of bottled wizards, all shouting his name. In the best traditions of waking from a nightmare, the voices gradually became one voice, which turned out to be the voice of Mr. Pump, who was shaking him."
    • Also, in Feet of Clay, Vimes dreams of golems, with their feet pounding a constant beat, which is revealed to be Carrot knocking at his door.

Live Action TV

  • In My Name Is Earl, Earl goes into a coma after being hit by a car and his subconscious takes him into a '50s Sitcom-like Happy Place. Events that happen to the unconscious Earl affect the world inside Earl's mind: for example, Catalina reading gossip magazines to Earl results in random appearances by Paris Hilton.
  • Lost has used the "someone saying the character's name" trick to pull characters out of both dreams and flashbacks. Once Hurley appeared dressed as John the Baptist in Charlie's religious dream, because Hurley was actually speaking to Charlie outside the dream.
  • The final episode of The Brittas Empire gets stranger and stranger as it goes on, concluding with Gordon Brittas waking up on an ark that Colin the janitor has been secretly building in the car park of the leisure center. After a moment, he's jolted out of the dream by Colin repeatedly calling "Tickets, please" and realizes that he's been asleep on a train... also that Colin is in fact the conductor, he's on his way to the interview for the job he's had throughout the series, and the entire fifty-odd episodes of the program have been a dream.
  • The Christmas special of Father Ted: In his dream, Ted is romancing Assumpta from Ballykissangel when Dougal wakes him up to ask him if he wants a peanut. Ted goes back to sleep, only to dream about being chased by giant mutant peanuts instead.
  • In one episode of NCIS Special Agent Caitlin Todd awakes at her desk to see both her co-workers still asleep at their work stations, then turns to see her boss sat at his, only... he's covered in blood and has severe lacerations to his neck. She then turns around to find the terrorist Ari standing right behind her. She promptly freaks out and immediately awakens to find she was still dozing in her chair.
  • Dream incorporation (mostly of the accidental-peeing variety) is the topic of a conversational tangent in the sixth-series QI episode "Fingers and Fumbs." "You were briefly an Arthurian knight, but now you really desperately need to go to the bathroom."
  • Happened to Chumlee in Pawn Stars when dreaming of winning a million dollars in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. Meredith repeatably says "wake up" and transitions to the Old Man waking Chum up for sleeping on the job.
  • In Blackadder III, the episode "Ink and Incapability" features a sequence where Edmund, after falling asleep trying to rewrite Doctor Johnson's dictionary in one night, is told by the dictionary author that it's all right - it's not necessary to worry about it. He realizes he is dreaming when Edmund turns round and sees his auntie has turned up and Baldrick now has the head of an Alsatian.
  • At the beginning of the Young Ones episode "Time", Neil dreams that he is the head of a Texas oil company, giving away oil wells tax-free and randomly throwing money out of his office window. Church bells begin to ring outside, ostensibly in celebration of Neil’s business practices, and Neil, Bobby (okay, Rick) and Neil’s Sexy Secretary jump for joy. Suddenly, Vyvyan is heard off-camera screaming "SHUT UP, YOU BASTARDS!!" Neil awakens to hear the Sunday bells ringing outside, and Vyvyan yelling out the open window for them to stop. "Oh, no."


  • In "Lekker Lekker (Ga Maar Met Me Mee)"--Ome Henk's Dutch parody of "Dragostea Din Tei"--Henk's character's dream of a gorgeous woman whispering screaming in his ear turns out to be his cellmate yelling at him.

Video Games

  • This is the main method of transition between Wonderland and London in Alice: Madness Returns, though they're not so much dreams as self-aware delusions.


Western Animation

 Principal Skinner: This is the best entry at the Science Fair! First prize, first prize, first prize, first prize...

[Bart wakes up]

Lisa: First prize, first prize, first prize.

Bart: Why are you saying "first prize"?

Lisa: Just messing with your subconscious. Heheheh.

  • A little different, but... in The Boondocks episode "Ballin'", Riley's dream of being an NBA superstar is hijacked by Granddad, who appears as his manager. The dream quickly degenerates into them arguing over whose dream it is.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie starts with SpongeBob dreaming that he is manager of the Krusty Krab. As the crowd cheers him, they suddenly start sounding like his alarm clock.
  • In The Replacements episode "Serf's Up" Todd has a dream where he's a peasant and Riley is a cruel and spoiled Princess. At the end Princess Riley shakes Todd saying his name over and over again. Of course this is because the real Riley is shaking him awake.
  • In an episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Flapjack has a dream in which he's cheered by a group of sailors for successfully dredging up a small treasure chest. The sailors start chanting his name, and Flapjack awakens to Captain K'nuckles shouting for him.
  • A later Johnny Bravo episode involves Johnny searching the entire town for Hair Gel. The episode gets weirder and weirder, until he finally reaches an oasis with giant hair gel bottles, and bikini girls. While he's having his hair treated, one of the girls suddenly starts rambling like a radio host, prompting Johnny to suddenly wake up and find out that the entire episode was just a dream. But the main problem still stands: He's out of hair gel.
  • In the Dan Vs. episode "The Wolf-Man," Dan dreams that he's about kiss a supermodel, but she suddenly turns into a screaming monster. The "screaming" is actually his alarm clock ringing.
  • In the Futurama episode The Sting, Leela's fevered coma dream gets crazier and crazier as Fry continually wakes her from her Dream Within a Dream. When she finally awakens for real, she finds he's been sitting by her bed for two weeks begging her to wake up.
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "May The Best Pet Win", while flying across the skies, Rainbow Dash sees Owlowiscious (Twilight Sparkle's owl) and they fly together…until its head then turns to Winona's (Applejack's dog), then Angel's (Fluttershy's bunny), then its body turns to Gummy's (Pinkie Pie's alligator). And then its tongue becomes Opalescence (Rarity's cat), causing her to fall. And promptly wake up. Turns out her freaky dream was a result of the rest of the mane cast's pets being noisy around her tree. But one would wonder how Gummy and Angel even make noises that would get her to think of them subconsciously.

Real Life

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