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The opposite of a Dream Weaver, this is a character that steals/destroys/eats the dreams of others, usually because they gain something from doing so. Perhaps they themselves are normally unable to dream and want to experience it, perhaps dreams are the food source of their species, or perhaps they're just doing it for fun.
The effects of having one's dreams stolen vary greatly. Victims of dream theft may become unable to sleep properly, lose their creativity or even go completely insane. In some cases, there may not be any side effects at all, particularly if the dream is merely being shared or copied rather than completely removed.
Dream Stealers are usually villains, although heroic and neutral examples do occur.
Can lead to Cannot Dream.
- Campari from King of Bandit Jing has the ability to steal dreams from other people and encapsulate them in a ball. He usually sells them to other people so they can dream about some specific thing, though he can also turn them into reality in emergency situations.
- Hello Kitty and Friends had an episode where a monster was eating the dreams of Kitty and her friends. The monster was part of a race of monsters whose job was to eat nightmares, but this monster was a mischievous child who was eating pleasant dreams because they tasted better...until they gave him a stomachache.
- Digimon has Tapirmon, who is based off the dream-eating Baku and is said to have the same abilities.
- Hell Teacher Nube: A baku is one of the creatures encountered in the course of the plot, and this one is the kind who eats all dreams and eventually steals the disillusioned souls of its victims to add to its growing bulk.
- A baku appears in the second Urusei Yatsura movie to help bring the (extra) weirdness to a close.
- Muma (Dream Demons) in Yumekui Merry can do this, though they usually just place themselves in the dreams their host have
- A recurring thing in Pokémon Black and White, the manga. Black's mind is preoccupied with his dream of winning the Pokemon league, so his Munna, named Musha after what it will evolve into, lands on his head and eats his dreams during a battle or when he needs to focus. (see the videogame section as well).
- A variation is used in Inception. Cobb does not steal the dreams themselves, but rather uses the dreams to steal thoughts and ideas from people's minds.
- Synonamess Botch's vulture minions from Twice Upon a Time will sometimes find Figmen, who provide good dreams to people, and kill them, destroying the good dreams with them (the vultures deliver nightmares).
- City Of Lost Children is about a mad scientist who cannot dream and kidnaps children to try to steal their dreams.
- German author Michael Ende wrote the book Das Traumfresserchen (The little dream eater) where for once the Dream Eater isn't evil or mean and in fact helpful: It eats the nightmares of a princess.
- The baku (listed below) makes an appearance in Lost Girl as a heroic creature who helps people by eating their bad dreams.
- A rare protagonistic example: Dream Eater On The Sand. It's a song sung by Megurine Luka that tells the story of a distressed boy with terrible memories and nightmares meeting a strange girl who can take them away by eating them.
- The baku of Japanese mythology is a creature which devours bad dreams, and is the base for many references in Anime and Manga series.
- Annona from Bionicle is an entity that feeds on dreams, inducing madness in its victims. It was responsible for the Dreaming Plague that wiped out the Iron Tribe.
- Morrigan Aensland is said to be of a particular kind of succubus that, in addition to the usual features, can also feed on the dreams of mortals.
- The move "Dream Eater" from Pokémon is a powerful HP-draining attack, but works only when the opponent is asleep.
- The Slumbering Coven in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer steal and trade dreams and knowledge.
- In Sam and Max Freelance Police: The Devil's Playhouse, after unleashing his full psychic potential, going insane and becoming an Elder God, Max subsists on making people fall asleep and eating their dreams. One of his aspects can be asked what nightmares taste like, to which he has eight different responses, one of which is "Pepsi".
- Nightmare from Kirby's Adventure/Nightmare in Dreamland, by corrupting the Fountain of Dreams.
- Dreamfall is ALL about this (the title is a hint). The most obvious example would be the Starkian Big Bad Alvin Peats who literally leeches off people's dreams. We also have an Eldritch Abomination called Undreaming, which is implied to be this Up to Eleven.
- The 'Cubi race from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures are the mind-reading Emotion Eaters, who can enter and manipulate dreams and have an inaccurate reputation for stealing them, but are advised against entering people's dreams because bigger fishes like to do it, too.
- In Strawberry Shortcake: The Sweet Dreams Movie, The Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak takes over the Land of Dreams and plans to keep all the dreams for himself, because he never got any dreams as a child.