Created By: Fett on February 23, 2013 Last Edited By: robinjohnson on January 21, 2016

World Wide Sleep Attack

The world is non-lethaly subdued, but the casualites that would result from this are ignored

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Trope
A specific type of Inferred Holocaust. A super villain uses a device to make everyone in the world fall asleep, or otherwise non-lethally incapacitates them. Our heroes were some how not affected, and after a while they're able to thwart the villain and return everything to normal. But wait, what about all the people who fell asleep while doing dangerous tasks? All the people in the world who were driving just had simultaneous accidents. What about the fires that raged out of control with no firefighters to put them out? What about the air plane pilots, swimmers, sky divers and people in surgery? And since this is happening the whole world over, the death toll must be in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Naturally, this will never be mentioned, or only be hinted at, in the show

Related to Caught Up in the Rapture, which often involves similar Fridge Logic.


Examples:

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    Film 
  • In X2: X-Men United, the eponymous X-Men team with the Brotherhood of Mutants to stop William Stryker from using a Doomsday Device from causing the death of every mutant in the world. Magneto, the only one outfitted with a protective helmet, stopped the device half way and turned it against humans. The film doesn't dwell on it much after the device is fully shut down, but think on this: everyone on earth suffered seizures, first a tiny minority all at once then the rest of the population all at once, within a few minutes. Although many must have died the third movie not only ignores these events, it actually suggests that the relations between humans and mutants somehow got better! Plus, even if no one died, every mutant in the world just had painful, highly visible seizures in front of their normal human neighbors, and in turn was perfectly fine when every human had them. If Mystique's small scale Superpower Meltdown is any indication, some of them will also have very noticeably blown their cover and taken all ambiguity out of existence, and made themselves even bigger targets for hate crimes.
  • Blindness. How people survived the movie at all is a miracle in and of itself, several weeks without food or running water for at least the majority of the populace (in the novel, the female lead is the ONLY person to retain their sight). There are... surprisingly few corpses, considering how food production must have stopped entirely.
  • A strange example in that it's not humans who suddenly shut down, but robots. In Surrogates somebody sets up a plot to destroy all the surrogates and kill the humans linked into them in the process. The hero manually engages the safety overrides on all the pods but at the last minute decides to have the weapon go off anyway, destroying the surrogates while leaving human beings intact. So one billion surrogates conducting business, operating machines, driving cars, etc, suddenly shut down and one billion atrophied shut-ins must now emerge to try to deal with the ensuing mayhem.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In FlashForward (2009) everyone in the world is rendered unconscious for two minutes and seventeen seconds, during which they get a vision of the future. This could almost be considered an aversion as it's made clear that many people did die.

    Western Animation 
  • In Symbionic Titan an ultrasonic signal from a Kaiju makes everyone in the world freeze in place. We do see a bicyclist keep going till he crashes and some crashed cars and a helicopter, but for the most part the world seems to be in good shape.
  • In one episode of Generator Rex were an EVO puts everything in the world to sleep, Holiday mentions they don't have much time before people start dropping dead from dehydration, but it never brings up people who were in the middle of doing potentially dangerous tasks such as driving (which is a bit jarring, considering the show doesn't shy away from the implications of civilian casualties).
  • Combined with this and Caught Up in the Rapture, in Young Justice some sorcerers make a spell that splits the world into two: one for kids and one for adults. To both groups it appears that the other has disappeared. We do see the Team recusing infants from cars and gathering them at the school were teens can watch over them, but there are only a few teen heroes for the whole world. We also see a girl who was flying a plane moments before she turned 18 and was taken into the adult world. If Billy Batson/Captain Marvel hadn't been there she would have plummeted to her death. Not to mention the adults were gone for three days.

Community Feedback Replies: 60
  • February 23, 2013
    Fett
    I'm considering removing the Young Justice example, or making Caught Up In The Rapture a sub-trope
  • February 24, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced, Wiki Worded and italicized the work titles in the OP examples.
  • February 24, 2013
    Oof
    None of the film examples are this trope. For those to be included, you'd have to broaden the name. How about Genocide By Incapacitation?

    Also note that the Young Justice example doesn't fit into this trope. Nobody was incapacitated.

    • Averted in The Happening, the premise of which is, What happens if everyone is incapacitated?
  • February 24, 2013
    PaulJohnson
    Effected -> affected

  • February 24, 2013
    PaulJohnson
    John Wyndham's novel "The Midwich Cuckoos" starts with a sleep attack that affects just the village. Nobody seems to have been driving a car at the time, but at least one house did catch fire. Maybe there is a wider trope of sleep attack here, of which this is just a sub-trope.
  • February 24, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Live Action TV
    • One episode of the BBC's The Avengers had MI 5 demonstrate a wide-dispersion sleep gas for foiling terrorists and hostage-takers. Criminals captured a lorry full of the gas, and used it on greater London, thieving to their hearts' content. John Steed observes an affected bobby and remarks, "They really do sleep standing up."
  • February 24, 2013
    DRCEQ
    • One episode of The Fairly Odd Parents has Timmy wish that he could stay up late enough to enjoy more grown up activities. He wishes that nobody would ever need to sleep again. At first it was fine, but after a few days, fatigue sets in to everyone the whole world over. With some magical assistance from the Sand Man, the whole world is put back to sleep, and we see people still driving, birds still flying, football players hiking the ball, and the world in general just falling asleep.
  • February 24, 2013
    KZN02
    See also Slept Through The Apocalypse?

    BIONICLE: sort of, Makuta Teridax, disguised as Turaga Dume, orders all Matoran in Metru Nui into Matoran Pods to fall unconscious and later erase their memories with the help of Mask of Time as part of his plan. He accomplishes the first part, but is sealed by the Toa Metru before he could continue. Still, with no Matoran left working in Metru Nui, Mata Nui falls unconscious, causing the Great Cataclysm when he crashes into Aqua Magna.
  • February 24, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Actually addressed in the original Day the Earth Stood Still. Klaatu makes it so that all electrical appliances fail to work, but news reporters specifically state that this excludes things like hospital life supports and aircraft in flight, as if acknowledging that if they failed people would die.
  • February 24, 2013
    SharleeD
    Not sleep, but a much weirder form of planet-wide incapacitation:

    • In the Doctor Who episode in which the Master projects his genetic template onto the entire human race and turns everyone on Earth into a copy of himself, it's never mentioned what happens to unborn babies whose mothers suddenly transform into a male Time Lord, or to children or small adults who were in confined spaces where John Simm (the Master's actor) would be squashed to death.
  • February 25, 2013
    Arivne
    I wouldn't limit this to situations where the entire world is affected. It should cover any case where people going unconscious over a wide area should cause accidents and other disasters but inexplicably doesn't.

    It would include cars and planes crashing, people who are swimming drowning, and so on.
  • February 25, 2013
    Larkmarn
    This needs a rename. The current name implies the trope is about that attack itself, when it's about No Endor Holocaust following the attack.

    • Persona 3: There is a "hidden hour" at the stroke of midnight. However, only select few chosen experience and are cognizant of it, the vast majority of people turn into coffins for the duration of the hour every night. However, what should happen if one of those chosen ones gets put on life-support, or eventually needs a pacemaker (no electronics work during the Dark Hour).

    • Gargoyles Oberon casts a spell which puts all of Manhattan to sleep. The casualties from drivers, hospitals, air planes, and the ill are completely ignored, with Oberon mentioning that it would be like "a midsummer night's dream." Word Of God says that casualties were in fact massive, but glossed over due to the fact this is, ostensibly, a kid's show.
  • February 25, 2013
    Oof
    ^ Already suggested the name Genocide By Incapacitation. Thoughts?
  • February 25, 2013
    arromdee
    Doctor Who in the episode with the blood control. I forget which one it was but the aliens caused everyone with blood type A to climb to the edge of a roof. The Doctor claimed this wasn't dangerous because the control could only be used to make them stand there and could not really be used to make them jump off and kill themselves. The fact that that alone could cause a lot of death is ignored.

    I'm sure someone remembers the episode name.

    PS: No Endor Holocaust and Inferred Holocaust have a serious problem which it seems we've been unable to fix: it's not quite clear what the difference between them is. Or rather, everyone knows what the difference is, but they just don't agree.
  • February 25, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • February 25, 2013
    arromdee
    Doctor Who had another one recently in "The Power Of Three". People''s hearts stopped all over the world because of mysterious black boxes, but fortunately the Doctor solved the problem and they all revived. Not only is that questionable by itself, it still won't fix them if they crashed their car in the meantime.
  • February 25, 2013
    Triterope
    In the Christopher Buckley novel 'The White House Mess', the President deals with a terrorist insurrection in Bermuda by deploying a Knockout Gas that makes the entire island fall asleep. The only injury we hear about is to a woman named Mrs. Outerbridge, who fell asleep on her waffle iron.
  • February 25, 2013
    PaulA
    The Doctor Who episode with the blood control is "The Christmas Invasion".

    An early Justice League Of America story had a magic spell cause all technology across the world to stop working. The effect on aircraft in flight, hospitals, etc. was not addressed.
  • February 26, 2013
    arromdee
    I don't think the Surrogates example counts. It's not even a temporary change--the surrogates don't all start working an hour later.

    Persona: edit: never mind.
  • February 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
    The Persona one doesn't count for 99% of people, but it would count for any Chosen people (for whom time passes normally).

    Random guy with pacemaker: Fine. Chosen with pacemaker: Spent an hour with their pacemaker doing nothing.
  • February 26, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    I agree with Arivne that this should be widened to any mass-sleep effect over a large area, not limited to those that affect the entire world.

    For a not-global example:

    • In the Gargoyles 2-part episode "The Gathering," Oberon, Lord of Avalon (and The Fair Folk) knocks everybody in New York City asleep with his magic so he can go kidnap a baby (yes, he's a bit petty). Once the situation is resolved peacefully, and the sleeping people wake up, everybody (including the gargoyles who were awake the whole time) act like everything went back to normal. Nobody ever mentions crashed cars, fires, botched surgeries, or even the narcolepsy itself.
  • February 26, 2013
    criticalmess42
    Another not global example:

    • In Freddie As FRO 7 the evil plan of Snake is to steal national landmarks, shrink them down, and use them in conjunction with a magical crystal to drain the life force from their entire country. This happens to Britain as musicians, atheletes and, more importantly, soldiers are put to sleep in time for a massive Sealion-esqe invasion that can only be stopped by the heroes.
  • June 15, 2013
    Shieldage
    For the X 2 X Men United Novelization the mass effects of both waves are detailed in assorted scenes, such as Gambit's eyes going red for the first time and a female White House staff member, possibly Secret Service but that needs checking, finding out she's a mutant and witnessing first hand the government's reactions.
  • June 15, 2013
    Generality
    • Another aversion: In Torchwood's first special features an invasive alien race commandeering all the children in the world. After the first incident, when the children merely froze in place momentarily, the Torchwood team are able to prove the incident was simultaneous and worldwide by looking at records of accidents.
  • June 15, 2013
    MrRuano
    Ultimate Spider Man has an episode where apparently everyone was put to sleep except for Spidey, Iron Fist and Doctor Strange. They find out that it's caused by Nightmare, who is trying to make everyone trapped in their own personal nightmares, and thus feed off their despair. Apparently, that's all that matters, and any other incidents are left by the wayside, even once everyone else wakes up.
  • June 15, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ Related,
    • The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic comic's second arc started with everypony having nightmares for a week straight. On the one hand actual horses don't need that much sleep (they generally need only 2-3 hours of sleeps a day) on the other hand it very likely that the nightmares wouldn't give them even that, and sleep deprivation is a very real threat to horses.

    Not sure is that counts though, cause it seems to only affect Ponyville so it's not exactly worldwide, and it's more like Fridge Horror (Though to be honest so the the examples on this YKTTW and Inferred Holocaust)
  • June 16, 2013
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Averted in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger short story "The Poison Belt". When the Earth passes through a belt of poisonous ether everyone on Earth who doesn't have access to a supply of oxygen falls asleep. The story makes it clear that this results in a huge amount of death and destruction caused by runaway machines and fires.
  • June 16, 2013
    Koveras
    • Carried out by the good guys in Dances on the Snow to prevent a war with an entire planet worth of brainwashed citizens.
  • June 16, 2013
    eowynjedi
    • Justified in the original The Day The Earth Stood Still. The aliens shut down all electronics and machinery worldwide, but are careful to except things that would cause loss of life--hospitals, airplanes in transit, etcetera.
  • January 4, 2014
    arromdee
    I'm going to bump this because I just saw another example. The Ben 10 Ultimate Alien finale has everyone in the world being turned into Esoterica (minions of the bad guy). Since they act as brainwashed minions, it's unlikely they'll be performing operations, flying airplanes, etc. (and it also raises the question of what happens to infants and small children—when they turn back to human, do they turn back miles from home?)
  • January 4, 2014
    DAN004
    I don't think the Fridge Logic part should be the main point of this trope. It can be mentioned as just bits of trivia. Cuz the title is merely World Wide Sleep Attack...
  • January 4, 2014
    SharleeD
    • Another example from Gargoyles would be the "City of Stone" event, in which every human in New York who'd watched an enchanted TV broadcast simultaneously turned to stone for the night. Logically, this should have resulted in many deaths (e.g. petrified driver's foot pressed rock-hard onto the accelerator), but the only ones acknowledged are the unlucky folks whom Demona personally smashed.
  • January 4, 2014
    GKaiser
    How many people watch broadcasts while driving cars/piloting planes/doing surgery? Especially back in the 90s where mobile entertainment tech was way behind, limiting it to TV broadcasts would actually help cut down casualties in like 90% of all cases, so it's probably more of an aversion for City of Stone.
  • January 5, 2014
    Bibliophile
    A quick note about the Flash Foward example: In it, this trope is heavily averted with the consequences of the initial flashforward clearly shown, including deaths, injuries and cost of damage. In the second series, this issue is brought up again when the heroes discover that a second flashforward is being planned. They are trying to find out as much about it as possible not only so they can try to prevent it, but also so they can warn governments in advance to try and prevent some of the damage.
  • January 5, 2014
    SharleeD
    ^^ They didn't have to be watching the enchanted program at the time they turned to stone, they only have to have seen it previously.
  • February 2, 2014
    arromdee
    The Tomorrow People episode The Blue and the Green. The heroes have to put everyone on the Earth to sleep so that an alien race that needs the energy produced by violence can get it from violent dreams rather than by making people fight. This is especially noticeable because the scenes of sleeping people include prominent cars, including one where someone had been stopped by police and was driving just a few minutes ago.

    Dan004: Then it might need a different name. As noted in the description, this is a subtrope of Inferred Holocaust and is basically about that Fridge Logic. And it's not limited to sleep, but to any sort of incapacitation.
  • February 2, 2014
    Larkmarn
    So... OP hasn't posted or updated in... about 11 months. Anyone want to take this over?
  • February 3, 2014
    DAN004
    Agares's still there.

    Anyways... this is yet another Fridge Logic trope. :P
  • February 3, 2014
    Green5
    Suggested name: Induced Narcolepsy Apocalypse (see: The Other Wiki)

    Suggested Laconic: People around the world fall asleep- and potentially die- while in the middle of something.
  • February 3, 2014
    TheTitan99
    • An episode of The Powerpuff Girls dealt with master of sleep, the Sandman, making the whole world fall asleep, so that he himself could sleep.
  • February 3, 2014
    arromdee
    The main problem is that this can cover incapacitation other than sleep.
  • February 3, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ I think any kinds of incapacitation (other than death itself) would count.
  • September 7, 2014
    jormis29
    The Ultimate Spider Man episode is titled "Strange".

  • September 7, 2014
    Antigone3
    Since we've got some New Who examples, a Classic Who to go with them: The Invasion. When the Cyber signal incapacitates (almost) everyone on Earth, we do see one lorry driver who got in a fender-bender because he was driving at the time, but there should have been a whole lot more death and destruction.
  • November 29, 2015
    arromdee
    Dubiously Non-Lethal Mass Incapacitation?

    Not the best choice, but it covers everything and isn't subject to nitpicks of the form "it says world, that was just a country. And they weren't put to sleep either.".
  • November 29, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    • In the climax of Naruto, a genjutsu is used in conjunction with the moon to put the entire world to sleep (minus our heroes of course) and steal their chakra. It's offhandedly acknowledged that some people did die before the world was saved but it didn't affect any known characters.
  • November 29, 2015
    DAN004
    Again, I don't think the Fridge Logic part should be the main part of this. Just "a mass narcolepsy attack" is tropable enough. The implications may be mentioned as an aside, but it shouldn't be the hard part of the trope.
  • November 29, 2015
    Generality
    • Deconstructed in Torchwood Children Of Earth: The aliens cause all children in the world to freeze in place for periods ranging from a few seconds to about a minute. Later, they use the children as a mouthpiece, but before then the incidents are minor enough to be difficult to track. The Torchwood team is able to prove the phenomenon is worldwide and simultaneous by looking at records of car collisions- there's a huge increase in accidents involving children during the freezes.
  • December 2, 2015
    MetaFour
    Regarding that example from Doyle's The Poison Belt, we do have a page for the series it falls under: Professor Challenger.

    Film:
    • Happens repeatedly in Dark City: everyone in the city (aside from the protagonist and the Strangers) falls asleep exactly at midnight, then wakes back up when the Strangers are done rearranging the city. We're also shown that all moving vehicles stop at the same time, explaining the lack of casualties. After all, everybody is an important part in the Strangers' great experiment, so they take care not to needlessly harm anybody during the rearranging.
  • December 3, 2015
    Oneris
    In most versions of Sleeping Beauty, the entire rest of the castle or even kingdom is put into a deep sleep alongside the titular princess until she is woken many years later, so she would not have to awake alone.
  • December 5, 2015
    Arivne
    Added Professor Challenger to the "The Poison Belt" example.
  • December 6, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    I agree with Dan, I don't think the Fridge Logic should be the focus of the trope.
  • December 6, 2015
    DAN004
    I'm afraid I have to make another ykttw if I wanna fix it, though. What problems me is how examples tend to talk more about the implications rather than the sleep attack itself, and writing new contexts ain't easy. (I'd try, though.)
  • December 6, 2015
    dalek955
    Update with examples, please.

    • In Orions Arm, the insane godling Glorsheeng used nanotech to put everyone on the planet e controlled into a dreamlike state of perpetual worship to em. This explicitly did not occur without casualties; many people were promptly killed or maimed in vehicle crashes or by uncontrolled heavy machinery, and one guy was spacewalking at the time and by the time the rescue teams found him, the nanotech had cannibalized most of his body to keep his brain alive.
  • December 6, 2015
    Loekman3
    • In Card Captor Sakura, Sakura Kinomoto uses her "Sleep" card whenever a Clow Card revealed to themselves in the public full of people (The Firey, The Earthy, Spinel going berserk, and The Void) in order to cover-up her actions as a Magical Girl. Any potential casualties as a direct result "The Sleep" is ignored.
  • December 12, 2015
    arromdee
    1. What problems me is how examples tend to talk more about the implications rather than the sleep attack itself, and writing new contexts ain't easy

    But that's the trope. It's a world-wide attack that is presented as not directly killing anyone and where the fact that it would indirectly kill people is ignored.
  • December 12, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Do we really trope implications like that, though? It's not just the fact that a worldwide sleep attack is trope enough - Fridge Logic is... not really a good thing to trope.
  • December 13, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    ^^I'm just saying the Trope "Everyone in the world Falls Asleep and We talk about the consequences" and the Trope " Everyone in the world Falls Asleep and We don't talk about the consequences" are 1) so similar we don't need two tropes for it and 2) the second is probably so much more common there'd be no point in having two tropes for it anyway, especially when they are literally only separated by something as meta as Fridge Logic.

    Also agree with Dan, Fridge Logic Tropes are like on the borderline of even being an acceptable Trope.

    It's enough just to mention that commonly the Fridge Logic is ignored and having it accept both discussed and non-discussed versions.
  • January 12, 2016
    arromdee
    Examined in With This Ring, which is a fanfic that uses Young Justice continuity and treats the Young Justice spell as mass murder of hundreds of thousands of children.
  • January 21, 2016
    Skylite
    • Fairly Oddparents inverts the trope: Timmy wishes no one had to sleep. The Sandman gets angry about it because the wish starts depowering him. Nobody in Dimmsdale or the rest of the world can sleep, and civilization begins to come apart as people suffer from the effects of ever-worsening sleep deprivation.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=njr98m1zj4ulxxedsvme05en