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"And it shall come to pass in the last days, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams"—The Bible, Acts 2:17
In Real Life, dreams are just dreams. If a friend turns on you or your sister dies or you're living in a palace made of lego that floats in the sky and changes colour, it's not an early glimpse of things to come.
On the other hand, television shows have a strange attitude towards prophetic dreams, whereby it's not necessary to have any actual Psychic Powers to have them. You can just be a super-warrior (as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or a healer (as in Carnivale), and all your dreams about the past, present and/or future will come true/turn out to be true, down to the smallest detail. In fact, it's not even necessary to have any powers of any description, or be in a show where supernatural things occur. May be an example of Mundane Fantastic or Skepticism Failure.
Subtrope of Dreaming of Things to Come.
Anime & Manga
- Once she starts getting involved with the supernatural, Asuna of Mahou Sensei Negima starts getting these. Later Justified by it being some self-induced Laser-Guided Amnesia that's starting to break down.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha begins with Nanoha dreaming of a magical boy fighting a losing battle against a strange monster, which naturally, turned out to have actually happened.
- In an issue of Impulse, Bart Allen has a series of increasingly bizarre dreams including one where he's visited by warped versions of Legion of Super-Heroes members Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, Brainiac 5, Apparition and Spark, based on his own... unique... interpretation of his cousin XS's description of them. Two issues later he does indeed meet precisely those Legionnaires.
- A major theme of Bone. Dreams are an extension of the setting, and nobody ever has a dream that isn't a prophecy, suppressed memory, or psychic message from someone.
- The Movie of The Two Towers begins with a sequence showing Gandalf's battle with the Balrog... which then turns out to be a dream of Frodo's, even though it's an entirely accurate depiction of what really happened.
- Also, in The Return of the King, Aragorn has a dream of Arwen dying. He then wakes up to find that Elrond has arrived to tell him that Arwen's dying.
- Dead of Night: A young man recounts a dream he had while in hospital, in which he has a premonition about his own death, as an ominous hearse driver turns out to look just like a tram driver he meets when he gets out. The tram crashes, after he gets off in a fright.
- This sounds like a retelling of a similar classic ghost story, Room For One More. To whit; the protagonist has a dream where (as time period allows) a mortician/ferryman/hearse driver/whatever is preparing a large number of deceased bodies/souls, sees the protagonist approaching and says "Room for one more." Cut to the waking world, and he encounters a(n) stagecoach/bus/elevator/boat/roller coaster where a familiar (and invariably creepy) man holds them up, saying the same phrase. He declines, waiting for the next one; moments into the trip, something horrible happens and everyone else dies.
- The short film known as 5:45 A.M. features a car crash that sends a psychic shockwave to a nearby motel, as seen here.
- The Stand: The heroes are drawn to Boulder, and the villains are drawn to Las Vegas, by psychic dreams.
- Percy Jackson and The Olympians: In spades.
- Somewhat justified, since it's possible that could be a demigod ability.
- This also happens in the sister series The Kane Chronicles Although there are ways around this problem.
- The Dark Tower has this in spades, at least in the third book. In fact, the dreams are so abundant and proven true that there's really no suspense when you already know what's going to happen because you're beaten over the head with it 400 pages before it happens.
- Under the Dome also has this trope, with all of the children in Chester's Mill having precognitive dreams/seizures, and anyone who goes through the radiation belt surrounding the dome's generator having similar visions. Apparently, Stephen King likes this trope.
- A prominent trope in Micah E. F. Martin's Prophet's House Quintology.
- Nikolai Bolkonsky at the end of War and Peace has a dream that, had the book continued, would most likely have come true. Sonya has dreams of Prince Andrei lying down in bed in a rickety house, and that's where he dies.
- Prophetic dreams in Warriors were originally established as dreams that only medicine cats receive, and when they did have one, it was a pretty big deal. As the series progressed, every dream that every character had contained either a prophecy, a glimpse into the future, or allowed them to speak with their ancestors.
- Actually, prophetic dreams are still limited to medicine cats, it just seems otherwise because from series 2 onward, there's been at least one protagonist who is a medicine cat. However cats in the Place of No Stars are still capable of visiting non-medicine cats.
- Firestar and the four Sun-Drown Journey cats were the only non-medicine cats to have prophetic dreams in any case, but this is Justified, since they were all The Chosen One.
- All the viewpoint characters in Doctrine of Labyrinths. The author has said that everyone in that world, even the ones with no magical powers, has prophetic dreams.
- There's a good deal of "everyone" in A Song of Ice and Fire. Bran starts getting "the wolf dreams" after he's crippled from his fall -- but in later books, Daenerys (after a visit to the House of the Undying), Jon Snow (mainly because Bran's leading him through one), and even Arya (though it's mostly cloaked with symbolism) get them to a degree. However, it's worth noting that three of these characters are Starks, who are implied to have strong, possibly magical connections with the direwolves they adopt, and the fourth is a Targaryen, another family that is implied to have magical connections with animals (in this case, dragons).
- The youngest Stark, Rickon, has the same prophetic dream as Bran did about their father's death. It's the first indication that Bran didn't just have a nightmare, and it supports the idea that this ability runs in the family and/or is connected to their relationships with their wolves as Rickon and Shaggydog are very close.
- There are several in The Lord of the Rings, notably Boromir's and Faramir's recurring dream about Isildur's bane that prompts Boromir to go to Rivendell. Frodo also sees Gandalf's escape from Orthanc in a dream, though he doesn't understand what he saw until he hears Gandalf's story later.
- Alex in A Clockwork Orange has a dream which prophesies his betrayal by his friends.
- Bella has this constantly in Twilight. Meyer attempts to Hand Wave it by saying that Bella is clever enough to make the various connections in her dreams without realizing it. Even when there are absolutely no connections to make, i.e. in her first dream when she sees Edward sparkling and Jacob fursploding, neither of which have happened at all in the text at that point and Bella has no reason or examples to cause her to think/dream of them.
- In Perdido Street Station, this precedes the coming of the Slake-moths.
- In Gone with the Wind, the wording used to describe Scarlett's recurring nightmare is also used to describe a scene in which she realizes she's about to lose Rhett because she let her obsession with Ashley go too far.
Live Action TV
- An interesting thing to note is that, in an episode of Smallville, Clark Kent has semi-prophetic dreams, where the events come true, but not as severely as in the dreams. Also in Smallville Lois Lane mentions having dreams about "a guy wearing a red cape". Interestingly, she interprets them as nightmares.
- Interestingly? Haven't you been to Superdickery?
- There's an old, old theory that Superman's powers are all psychic in some nature ("Tactile telekinesis" instead of actual Super Strength, fooling an entire planet by simply wearing glasses, etc.), so it kind of makes sense if you don't think about it too much.
- A literal interpretation of this is the Centauri in Babylon 5. Most of them are not shown to be any more psychic than the other races otherwise, but they all each apparently have one psychic dream at some point in their life, which shows their death. Some women are prophetesses.
- One has to wonder whether Lord Refa's genocidal intentions were related to a dream of being beaten to death by dozens of Narns.
- This would make this a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy as well. One good way to piss off an entire race to the point where they want to beat you to death is to attempt to wipe them all out.
- One has to wonder whether Lord Refa's genocidal intentions were related to a dream of being beaten to death by dozens of Narns.
- In the new Battlestar Galactica Reimagined series, both human and Cylon characters have on occasion prophetic dreams or visions; there are human oracles who do this "professionally" with the help of drugs to improve their talent, and the Cylon basestar hybrids seem to have visions constantly and are regarded insane by other Cylons, but apparently everyone is a latent psychic.
- Several characters on Lost have prophetic dreams, most notably Locke and Eko. We have never been witness to one of Ben's dreams, but he has indicated he "used to have" prophetic dreams.
- The eponymous Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets these occasionally as part of her Slayer powers, mostly in the earlier seasons. There's a slight parody in one episode: Buffy is telling Willow about a nightmare she had in which she was being chased by an incorrectly filled in answer bubble marked "None of the Above". Willow mentions that she hopes it isn't one of Buffy's prophecy dreams.
- Starting in the pilot of American Gothic, and continuing on to about the twelfth episode, Gail Emory proves to possess some form of this ability, since she continually relives or witnesses the fire which claimed the lives of her parents, even though she wasn't actually there to see the tragedy the first time. Once Buck has revealed to her the truth about how and why her parents died and she realizes they weren't as wonderful as she thought they were, this ability seems to disappear... which considering the trouble she gets into later, is rather unfortunate.
- Dr. Gregory House was shown to have (apparently accurate) visions of his future patients' outcomes during a near death experience (a rather odd choice of subject-matter for a psychic dream). He chose not to believe in the supernatural anyway. Apparently forgetting all about this -- and his other, also very trippy near-death experience -- he deliberately gave himself a heart-stopping electric shock to see if he would have any visions, and declared there was no afterlife because this time he didn't.
- Heroes: In Season 3, after meeting the precognitive African man, Matt suddenly has his eyes turn white a la Isaac and has a dream that happens to be about the same part of the future that Peter has just popped off to.
- It is implied that after his death, the precognitive African man "passed" his abilities down to Matt. Considering that Matt is a telepath to begin with, having precognitive abilities isn't really that far-fetched.
- In Season 1, Peter had these; Season 3 revealed this to be because precognition is his mother's superpower, and he copied it from her.
- Claudia Brown has dreams about Gorgonopsids and anomalies before poofing out of the timeline on Primeval.
- The Terminator series contains no psychic powers, but a recent arc on The Sarah Connor Chronicles concerns Sarah having a series of dreams about a mysterious symbol. Possibly justified by saying that she saw it on the wall earlier and only subconsciously recognised its significance.
- Averted in Supernatural, where the only ones with psychic powers are demon-tainted (Sam and others like him), prophets of the Lord (Chuck), or apparently just natural psychics who do it for a living (Missouri and Pamela).
- The core premise of Flash Forward 2009.
- In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Hal's dream about the slot machine in Vegas comes entirely true.
- The trope is Older Than Dirt. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, both Gilgamesh and Enkidu have recurring prophetic dreams. About one another, about the challenges to come, about the afterlife...
- William Shakespeare was fond of this one; prophetic dreams, visions, and intuitions are all over the place.
- Several characters in Bionicle. Vakama is the most prominent one, but Word of Greg says it was " probably just a glitch in his AI". Gali and Kopaka have also have them, and there was the occasional mention of Nokama being able to have them, too. These have disappeared in later years as the series started phasing out all the fantasy elements.
- Dragon Quest IV has a rather literal example of this during its fifth chapter. Anyone who spends the night at the Strathbaile Inn dreams of the same thing: a Girl in the Tower pleading for someone, anyone to stop her boyfriend's ambitions of wiping out humankind. Later, the dream changes to show Rose's death at the hands of thugs and Psaro Completely Missing the Point of her Last Request.
- Final Fantasy VIII makes use of this in the plot, with characters remembering past events of other people in dreams.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has Princess Zelda and Link with prophetic dreams about Ganondorf (the latter before he's even met the man). And this is before they get their respective Triforces. It might have something to do with legends about Hylian ears being designed to hear the messages of the gods...
- This happens in a series of early Eight Bit Theater strips, collectively known as the "weird ones".
- Parodied in this Cat and Girl strip.
- Pretty much anyone on or near Skaia in Homestuck has these. Although technically, the dreams are just waking up in another body. Eventually, players go there as their waking selves, either by traversing their gates, building/flying their way there, or more rarely, via god tier resurrection.
- That is, for the Prospit players. For the Derse players, their dreams are prophetic in a wholly different manner - they listen to the whisperings of Eldritch Abominations that exist beyond the session.
- Then there's the matter of players of dead dreamselves, who end up dreaming in the furthest ring, as Karkat and Jade find out the hard way while Feferi figures this is the case all along and allows her dream self to get killed to prove the eldritch abominations aren't all that bad. Feferi also convinces the gods to produce dream bubbles for her and Jade to dream within, which seem to allow those within them to lucidly dream.
- Dave Davenport of Narbonic had a couple of bizarre dreams that, in hindsight, outlined the major plot developments of the rest of the webcomic. Dave was a potential Mad Scientist that Helen was keeping artificially suppressed, not a psychic, but that may or may not count given the details of the setting.
- What's New with Phil and Dixie warns that it's important not to overdo this.
- El Goonish Shive has "Sleepy Time" mini-arc when everyone got vaguely symbolical dreams, some of things they didn't know in details in the waking life. Except for Susan who got Flash Back of her life-wrecking story. And Ellen, who right after that gets the "Second Life" mini-arc where she lives through many years worth of consecutive memories from her Alternate Universe counterpart, shared with her new best friend, Alternate Universe counterpart of another magic clone she never met, that of the sorceress who did this for them both.
- In Spes Phthisica, because the dreams are from an external source
- Beast Wars: Even Mechanical Lifeforms can get these, as Cheetor will be the first to tell you.
- In Code Lyoko, William's habit of dreaming about things he should have forgotten after the Returns to the Past was one of the factors that helped them cinch his initiation as a Lyoko Warrior. Not that he lasted more than a day, but anyway...
- Parodied on The Simpsons in one of the Halloween episodes, where Bart has a nightmare about facing terrible danger on the bus ride to school (which of course, comes true.)
Bart: I just had a vision of my own horrible fiery death.
- From The Emperors New Groove:
Tipo: I had a dream that Dad was tied to a log, and was careening out of control down a raging river of DEATH!
Chaca: Well, in my dream, Dad had to kiss a llama!
Tipo: Yeah, like THAT would ever happen.
- To be fair, many, many people either know someone who insists they've had a precognitive dream(or dreams) or have had at least one themselves....