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"Do your dreams change, (name)? Mine do not. I have one dream..."—Arator the Redeemer, World of Warcraft
The more different times you have a dream, the more important it is. If you're Dreaming of Things to Come, the upcoming event is even more plot-significant than you thought. If someone's Talking in Your Dreams, they want to make really sure you get the message. And if it's not psychic in origin, but a plain old Flashback Nightmare or indeed any form of Bad Dreams, you know the event involved really bothered the dreamer. (That last is Truth in Television; the symptoms of PTSD can include recurring dreams of the traumatic experience.) As is having Anxiety Dreams when you are really worried about stuff.
Deep Sleep often can prevent it.
This gets subverted, usually for comedy, with a character having a persistent, bizarre dream that has nothing to do with anything. A recurring "Not Wearing Pants" Dream is a common example.
Anime & Manga
- Cardcaptor Sakura is particularly susceptible to these.
- Mahou Sensei Negima had Asuna getting these. Turns out that the "dreams" are really memories that have been suppressed with Laser-Guided Amnesia.
- Einhard Stratos of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid has her recurring Flashback Nightmare based from the memories she inherited from Hegemon Klaus Ingvalt, her ancestor, and how he had failed to prevent the Heroic Sacrifice of Sankt Kaiser Olivie Segbrecht, his rival and possible lover.
- In an issue of Astro City, an ordinary man has a recurring dream of a beautiful woman he has never seen before. It turns out she was his wife but was erased from existance because of a time-travel battle between a superhero and supervillain.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kanae's favorite dream includes kissing Kyon at a beach and magically teleporting to a shadowy wooded glade surrounded by bunnies and flowers. After the fight with a robot at the beach Kanae, still somewhat dazed, believes she's dreaming when Kyon shows himself like in her dream, and decides to kiss him only to realize later everybody is watching them.
- In Getting Back on Your Hooves, Twilight is awakened repeatedly by nightmares of her encounter with Discord. Spike is also implied to be having recurring nightmares of his greed induced rampage. Trixie had recurring nightmares involving an Ursa as a filly as well. Trixie teaches Twilight, and Spike, who was listening, lucid dreaming, allowing them to successfully conquer them, which her grandmother taught her as a filly.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street centers around teenagers having recurring dreams about Freddy Krueger. Said dreams end very badly to say the least...
- Aki Ross has dreams like this in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within which are very integral to the story.
- Prince of Darkness has everyone involved with the Brotherhood of Sleep having one. Except it's not actually a dream, but an attempt from future scientists to warn the past about the incoming apocalypse.
- In Animorphs, when Crayak finally becomes a visible force in the plot, Jake reveals that he's been dreaming repeatedly of the first time he glimpsed him.
- Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
- There are a few subversions in Discworld of recurring dreams involving giant boots with teeth and such things as that.
- Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain has recurring nightmares. They only begin to impact the plot in The Traitor's Hand, when one of them starts to change...
- Hark has recurring dreams in Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Only In Death, of Tanith pipes. They haunt him so much that he slips and writes about them in the journal. Turns out that Soric was Talking in Your Dreams to warn him. After killing Soric in mercy, he finds himself missing them.
- Faramir in The Lord of the Rings has recurring dreams, both prophetic in nature ("Seek for the sword that was broken") and nightmares of the drowning of Numenor. The last one was based on the recurring dreams that both JRR Tolkien and his son Michael had (see below).
- In Death Star, the Force-Sensitive stormtrooper Nova Stihl dreams often of his own death. There are at least two different scenarios, one in which he's fighting other troopers as a Delaying Action, one in which he's chasing a Corellian smuggler. There are variations on the first one; sometimes he's fighting alone, sometimes with a companion, and the odds against him vary. When the second scenario happens he averts death by not following Han Solo too closely, but in the first he's as grimly willing as he is in each dream.
Live Action TV
- Subversion: One episode of Frasier involves him obsessing over this recurring dream he's been having about waking up in a hotel room and one of his male coworkers coming out of the shower and climbing into bed with him. At the end of the episode, Sigmund Freud comes out of the shower instead. There's another couple of episodes where he counsels friends or callers through understanding their recurring dreams. He's a Freudian, so he obviously believes that recurring dreams are important, but Martin (his father) dismisses it all as 'dreams are weird'.
- Power Rangers SPD has Bridge have a recurring dream that they end up in a battle against some robots and the Megazord is defeated. It worries him.
- In "The House", a segment on Night Gallery, a woman has recurring dreams of walking around a house. She eventually finds the house she's been dreaming of, and the people who live there recognize her... because she's often been seen as a ghost haunting the place! The segment was based on a short story.
- In one episode of Flight of the Conchords, Mel keeps dreaming that Bret is doing awful, offensive things to her and she gets so angry she tells him to apologise in real life (which he does, although a little reluctantly). His dream-behaviour eventually gets so bad she physically attacks him and breaks his arm. There's no real point to the dreams themselves, it's just another demonstration of Mel's insanity.
- In Little Nemo in Slumberland, originally a weekly Sunday comic strip, Nemo's dreams continued as an ongoing story arc, even though he woke up at the end of every strip.
- Arator the Redeemer, an NPC in the World of Warcraft Hellfire Peninsula zone, claims to only ever have one dream. It involves his father trying and failing to tell him something, and is one of the reasons he thinks that father may be Not Quite Dead.
- Edgeworth in Phoenix Wright states in one case that he always has the same dream. (His dream being of the day his father died.) "For fifteen years... I have had a recurring dream. A nightmare... it’s only a nightmare. That’s what I told myself. But now I know, it wasn’t a dream."
- Shepard has a reoccurring dream of chasing the kid who he watched die on Earth through a dark forest in Mass Effect 3, always unable to catch him before the kid abruptly catches fire. It gets creepier with the addition of the whispering voices of the dead in later incarnations of the dream and in the final version, Shepard himself/herself being the one who catches fire.
- In El Goonish Shive, Grace used to have one about a lespuko skull taunting her.
- Ninth Elsewhere: Probably inevitable since the comic takes place in a Mental World.
- A major characteristic of Kate of Kate Modern was that she was troubled by recurring nightmares, which eventually turned out to be of some significance.
- Beatrice of The Dreamer has recurring dreams set in the American Revolution.
- Equestria Chronicles has Dartbreak, who is traumatized over the death of his friends.
- In Winx Club, Bloom had these.
- Dr Venture, of The Venture Bros, has reccuring dreams of being eaten by a twin in the womb all throughout season 1, which become explained in the season finale.
- In an episode of King of the Hill, Hank is upset over recurring dreams about grilling naked with his attractive neighbor Nancy. However the dreams themselves are utterly chaste and not the least bit erotic, they're just speaking normally about the quality of the burgers and such. Peggy worries that this means that he's bored of her, but in the end Hank realizes that he wasn't bored with his wife but of propane and his grill and the dreams were a way to rejuvenate his love of grilling.
- JRR Tolkien conceived of the idea for the Downfall of Númenor because of a recurring dream he had about an enormous wave looming up over the land and crashing down on it.