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In the middle of a wacky plot, Bob gets knocked out. When he awakens, he tells Alice that he dreamed the wacky plot that just happened. He will then be in for a nasty shock when he discovers that it wasn't a dream and typically respond in a comedically over-the-top fashion.

As a reveal trope, there will be unmarked spoilers!

Not to be confused with Or Was It a Dream?.

Examples of That Was Not a Dream include:


  • After genuinely falling asleep, Kyon ends up in an alternate reality with Haruhi, who wakes him up as she subconsciously starts remaking the universe. Eventually, he gets her to stop, probably, before winding up back in his own bed, which he falls out of and tries to pretend it was a dream. The next day at school he sees her with a ponytail, confirming that yeah, it really happened. Of course, he's still going to pretend it didn't.
  • Taiga in Toradora! falls down a snowbank and when Ryuuji finds her, she makes some interesting confessions while he carries her back up the slope. Afterward, Taiga thinks it was just a dream, and Ryuuji tries to encourage that notion to save Taiga her embarrassment. Of course, the plan falls apart when Minorin objects to the lie.
  • Sailor Moon thinks she dreams her friends' deaths. It is unfortunately (and not amusingly) real, but they get better anyway.
  • In one episode of Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt, Panty and Stocking become Transformers expies. In the middle of the episode, Brief wakes up from sleeping, wondering if that was just a dream. Then it zooms out to show he is surrounded by robots.

Comic Books

  • A story in a DC Comics mystery/suspense anthology had an accountant find a set of strange disks which he thought gave him especially vivid daydreams where he would be transported to other worlds to commit acts of heroism and derring-do. The final disk sent him to his hometown where he foiled a bank robbery and captured the robbers. When he actually returned home after this 'daydream', he found himself hailed as hero. Learning that he had actually foiled a bank robbery, he realised that this and, by extension, all of his other adventures had really happened. He fainted.


  • 1408: Mike Enslin awakens in a hospital after the experience of near-drowning in the room segues into a surfing accident that occured at the very beginning of the film. But it was not a dream brought about by being bopped on the head by a surfboard: the week or so he lives "outside" is all part of the room's scheme, and it is revealed to him he had never left.
  • Back to The Future: "I dreamed that I went back in time." Repeated in the sequels.
  • ~17 Again~: In one of several blatant references to Back to the Future, the main character wakes up in a bed in a dark room, saying "I dreamed I was 17..." while being comforted by his daughter who doesn't know she's his daughter.
  • Star Trek V: "I dreamt that a madman had taken over the Enterprise!"
  • In Star Wars, after C-3PO wakes up in the Geonosis arena after having his head attached to a battle droid's body (and vice versa), he looks to R2-D2 and says 'I've had the most peculiar dream...'
  • Something like this happens in The Aristocats, in the beginning when Edgar kidnaps the cats while they're sleeping and leaves them in the countryside. One of the kittens wakes up and says:

 "I was having a funny dream. Edgar was in it... (frog croaks) Frogs? (realizes they're outside) Uh-oh. It wasn't a dream."

 Winthorpe: "Coleman, I had the most absurd nightmare. I was poor and no one liked me. I lost my job, I lost my house. Penelope hated me. And it was all because of this terrible, awful Negro." (Upon noticing Billy Ray, Winthorpe leaps out of bed, and starts strangling him)

  • Jacob Marley gives the proclamation to Scrooge in Scrooge (1970).
  • In Dragon Ball Evolution, Master Roshi claimed he had a dream that he was in the afterlife but then Granpa Gohan kicked him out. This was because early on, Goku killed Roshi and made it up to him by bringing him to life with the Dragon Balls.
  • Weird Science has Gary and Wyatt awake the morning after creating Lisa, convinced that it was all a dream. They engage in some Lampshade Hanging about how unlikely it is for them to have had the exact same dream, and then Lisa calls them for breakfast.
  • The Golden Child has Chandler dream of taunting the Big Bad exactly like you'd expect Eddie Murphy to do, who burns a three-inch scar into the inside of his arm for his chutzpah. When he wakes up, the scar's still there. But the part where Kee Nang stripped and flirted with him, "That part was dream!"


  • Possibly an instance of this trope: In The Last Unicorn, almost at the end of the film, Prince Lir is resurrected by the unicorn and says groggily, "Father? Father, I had this dream... I was dead." In the movie this is changed to "No, I was dead", indicating that he didn't dream he was dead, he simply had some other dream but actually was dead.
    • Or he started to go with the "So, it was all a dream!" idea, but realized quickly that it wasn't and corrected himself.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Shadow Kingdom" Kull, in the final scene, keeps sliding to Or Was It a Dream? and has to remind himself when he sees Brule.

 No, that was no dream, that monstrous interlude.

  • This was probably inevitable in The House Of Sleep, since one character is incapable of distinguishing her dreams from memories. The circumstances were less inevitable--she admits to her roommate that she "dreamt" about having sex with her.

Live Action TV

  • Frasier episode rasier Crane's Day Off. Daphne inverts, subverts and Lampshades the Trope after Frasier raced to the studio in a fever and drug induced mania and made an utter fool of himself on the air (Roz: "Captain Kirk's got control of the bridge and he's gone insane.") When Frasier wakes up, Daphne reassures him it didn't happen and it was all a dream.

 (Dick wakes up)

Dick: Oh, Mary, thank god! I had this horrible dream. Your father was there... and he was telling all these boring war stories and I - I couldn't keep my eyes open!

(Dick looks across the room and sees Mary's father sitting on the couch)

  • There's an interesting inversion in the Thunderbirds Clip Show episode "Security Hazard". A boy stows away aboard Thunderbird 2 and ends up on Tracy Island, and the Tracy brothers "accidentally" tell him about their missions. Eventually he gets tired out, so while he's asleep they take him back in Thunderbird 2 and smuggle him back into bed, so that when he wakes up he'll think it was All Just a Dream.
  • A variation and borderline subversion appears in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "The Last Sontaran, part 2". Chrissie, having been knocked out after finding out about Maria's adventures with Sarah Jane wakes up back at Bannerman Road. This has been arranged by Maria and Alan who tell her she blacked out after breaking her new shoe and falling over, and comments on having "The strangest dream". She later reveals to Sarah Jane she knows it wasn't a dream and is going with the bluff to keep Alan and Maria happy.
  • Pushing Daisies, after Chuck comes back from the dead.

 Chuck: I had the strangest dream. I was being strangled to death with a plastic sack...


  • All of the human characters at the end of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, notably Nick Bottom (who has spent the night making love to the fairy queen Titania): "I have had a most rare vision, a dream to pass the wit of man to say what dream it was..." Unusually for this trope, none of the characters is ever disabused of the notion.
    • In fact, at the end Puck breaks the Fourth Wall to encourage the audience to consider the events of the play just a dream.

Video Games

  • Gabriel Belmont has a nightmare about inexplicably shanking his new female companion Claudia in the night, something which she is oddly okay with. He snaps awake, and is advised by the mysterious Pan to take the Dark Gauntlet from Claudia's guardian golem. Gabriel refuses to harm either of his companions, citing the dream he just had. Pan points to the nearby Claudia, sporting a silver dagger from her heart, and the looming guardian near her. Oops.

Web Comics

Web Original

 Joey: Nyeh! Man what a nightmare! That was almost as bad as that dream I had where Kaiba beat me in a card game!

Yugi: Actually Joey, I think that really happened.

Joey: It was a dream!

Western Animation

  • In one Winnie the Pooh episode, Piglet keeps on having a recurring nightmare of he and his friends going out on a picnic, then a storm sweeping all of them away and leaving him all alone. He refuses to sleep because of this, and his friends decide that the only way to placate his fear is to reenact the dream in real life to show him that they're not going to disappear. However, the exact same thing happens in real life, only Piglet doesn't realize that it isn't a dream, so when he finds out that he can actually find all his friends again, he does so to change the dream, and has to be told by them at the end that it wasn't a dream this time.
  • Played straight in an episode of The Simpsons. Lisa, competing with the new girl who's as smart (if not smarter) than she is as well as being younger than her, tries so hard to win first chair saxophone she passes out from lack of air. She wakes up to see the band teacher leaning over her. "Well, that was a close one," he says. "But you made it." "I won first chair?" "No, you regained consciousness. Allison won first chair." She screams...wakes up...and it happens again. "And believe me, this is not a dream!" She screams again.
  • Done three times in South Park's Imaginationland episodes -- once with Kyle, and twice with Butters. The first one with Butters was an exceptionally ludicrous Second Episode Morning; he wakes up in bed at home and tells his parents what happened, only for his father to respond, "You are in Imaginationland. This is a dream." The Mayor of Imaginationland suddenly runs in, screaming, "Wake up, stupid!" Cue reality, in which imagination is running wild...
  • An episode of The Venture Brothers had the Monarch's henchmen wake up after getting completely shitfaced the last night to celebrate Monarch's impending wedding. Then they see Brock Samson in a cage and 24 exclaims "Oh @#$%, I thought I dreamed that part!"
  • In the My Gym Partner's a Monkey episode "The Hyena and the Mighty", Adam had a dream that he came to school in his underpants. Jake informed him that it wasn't a dream.
  • In the first episode after Kim Possible was Uncanceled, a very confused Ron calls Kim to confirm that their Relationship Upgrade was not a dream, and continues to ask about various other things (all of which, other than the Relationship Upgrade, actually were dreams.)
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