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Beautiful Dreamer
He came across time for this.

"I like you watching me sleep. I miss it."
Raven doing a very bad job of letting Beast Boy know that she's not interested, Teen Titans

This is a romantic trope where one half of the couple or potential couple falls asleep and the other one winds up watching them. Sometimes they initially consider waking the sleeping person up, but decide against it upon seeing just how cute and peaceful they look. Very often a soft, tender smile passes over the watcher's face, giving the viewer a hint of their affection towards the slumberer. Hair and/or skin-stroking may also ensue, as well as a Comforting Comforter.

Not to be confused with the type of behavior stalkers frequently partake in. If it's played for a creepy, disturbing effect rather than a sweet and romantic one, it does not belong here. (Although with some works it can be hard to tell.)

May lead to a Dude, She's Like in a Coma moment. Compare Sleep Cute. See also Longing Look.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Full Metal Panic!: Happens how many times to Sousuke? First, apparently Tessa got into a habit of creeping out of her bed and watching him happily while he sleeps. And then, Kaname gets her turn when she's giving him a haircut, and he falls asleep. Instead of waking him immediately, she stares longingly at him (er, his lips, that is). And then it's implied that a whole group of guerillas that used to be his comrades did this to him while he was sleeping - he was so pretty, apparently all of them were watching him and getting close to jumping him. This includes Zaeid, who is shown in a flashback to have been lovingly watching Sousuke as he sleeps.
  • Howl of Howl's Moving Castle watches Sophie sleep after a hard day's work cleaning. Of course, he's also motivated by the fact that it's the only time the aging spell cast on her by the Witch of the Waste wears off, revealing her true age.
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Shigure watches Akito sleep in a slightly creepy way.
    • In a more platonic sense, Tohru watches Kisa, Hiro, and Momiji all sleeping together on the floor.
  • Invoked in Darker Than Black when Amber deemed the scene of Hei watching his sleeping sister romantic-looking. Then again, for Amber he looks as romantic as possible in any situation.
  • Bleach:
    • Subverted in a scene in which Yoruichi lays her head on Sui-Fengs's lap. With red petals. During the full moon. They're both girls.
    • In the UNMASKED comic, Orihime says she watched Ulquiorra nap. She watched him sleep because she didn't know he could.
  • In Battle Royale, Shuya is shown to watch Noriko while she sleeps here. Of course, she likes him more than he does towards her at this point... but nonetheless, he still has a crush on her.
  • In Sakura Gari, Masataka ends up falling asleep on Souma's shoulder during their carriage ride back to Souma's residence. Due to Masataka being a Beautiful Dreamer, Souma instructs the coachman to take the long way, since he suddenly doesn't feel like going back.
  • In Berserk, Jill (the village girl from the Fairy Arc) does this to Guts when she finds him sleeping in a wrecked, abandoned house. She ends up sitting next to him, watching him sleep until she falls asleep on his lap. Of course, she does have a huge crush on him.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club Haruhi finds Tamaki asleep in the music room, exhausted by his new after-school activity of learning about the Suoh family business. She watches him sleep, pushes his hair out of his face, and thinks his sleep talk is cute.
  • In Wild Ones, Sachie sees Rakuto sleeping a couple of times and comes closer to realizing her genuine affection for him.
  • Ciel Phantomhive from Black Butler. Subverted in that everyone seems to like watching him sleep, so it can be taken in a non-romantic way as well.
  • In episode 15 of Tenshi Ni Narumon, Raphael explains to Mikael that the reason he didn't wake him up was because he got lost in admiration of his cute sleeping face.
  • At the end of Wild Rose Mikhail falls asleep on Kiri's shoulder which shows he's changing from his old, distant self.
  • This occurs frequently with Kaoru in ...Virgin Love and its sequels because he can only sleep well when Daigo's around, leaving Daigo to just watch him.
  • In an extra chapter of Natsume Yuujinchou, a girl from Natsume's middle school comes across him inexplicably sleeping on the steps of a shrine. She gets close enough to notice that the (supposedly) disturbed boy from her class is quite pretty. And then he wakes up and freaks the hell out.
  • InuYasha and Kagome both see each other sleeping at one time or another. Well, okay, a couple of times. Each one remains surprised at how peaceful/beautiful/defenseless/whatever the other looks no matter how many times they see each other asleep... Guess some people are just that cute when sleepy.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Bulma watched a sleeping Vegeta suffer through nightmares with concern as she nursed him back to health. It is implied that this (and seeing through his Jerkass Façade) eventually led to their Relationship Upgrade during the Time Skip.
  • The final opening of Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood has Winry watching Ed sleep, bathed in sunlight. Compared to his near constant anger in his waking state, he's smiling as he dreams.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Kurumu certainly thinks Tsukune's a Beautiful Dreamer.
  • In chapter 13 of Pandora Hearts Gilbert watches Oz sleep.
  • Rolo of Code Geass once watched over Lelouch while he slept.
  • Happens twice in Boys Love Genre FAKE. First when Ryo falls ill and Dee watches him sleep leading to a Dude Hes Like In A Coma moment. The second time is when Dee is ill, falls asleep and Ryo watches over him. Ryo says to himself that he thinks Dee is "pretty hot too".
  • In the Sailor Moon S movie Usagi comments that she likes to watch Mamoru sleep, Luna then later thinks about Usagi's statement as she watches Kakeru Ozora - who she has developed a crush on, despite her being a cat and he human - sleep.
  • Toradora!: Ryuuji watches Taiga sleep multiple times.
  • In Volume 3 of Demon Diary, Eclipse watches Raenef sleep briefly after he starts reminiscing about the past and feeling uncharacteristically sentimental.
  • Attack on Titan:
    • On many occasions, Mikasa watches over a sleeping Eren, and one such occasion leads Hopeless Suitor Jean to leave the room looking defeated.
    • Subverted and parodied with Bertolt, via Noodle Incident. Jean mentions their classmates used to like to watch him sleep, on account of how bad he looked — his bizarre postures while sleeping were used to predict the next day's weather.
  • In Detective Conan, according to his girlfriend, Wataru Takagi looks really adorable when he's asleep. This Running Gag subtly implies that Takagi and Satou are sexually active.
  • Hilariously subverted in Fairy Tail. In episode 172 (chapter 293) Ichiya, the most handsome man in the series, uses this trope as an attack against Bacchus and Rocker in the Grand Magic Games arc. He was clearly going for Cuteness Overload. The result is.... Well, you know how one picture is a thousand words? Still, his opponents were stunned, Natsu was impressed by his strength and the audience... was eager to move on to the next battle. Did I mention that Erza fainted at the start?

    Comic Books 
  • An Empowered comic has Thugboy describing the way he comforts Elissa when she's having a nightmare as he does it.
  • Played with in the Catwoman miniseries When In Rome (the conclusion to The Long Halloween). Selina is rendered briefly comatose after being frozen by an ice gun stolen from Mr. Freeze. The Riddler (whom she brought along to help piece together the mystery of her parentage) watched her the whole 3 days she was unconscious, which Selina initially thought was very kind of him, until he adds, "Of course, getting you out of the outfit was hardly unpleasant."
  • There is one point in the current run of Teen Titans when Beast Boy resists the urge to wake Raven because of this. She admits that she liked it, but she's still not interested. Yeah, sure.
  • Spoofed, naturally, in an early issue of Deadpool. Deadpool watches his X-men girlfriend Syren sleep through her bedroom window. He thinks how what he's doing used to be considered romantic, but nowdays is considered "stalking" and generally frowned upon.

    Fan Fiction 
  • This gets used a lot in fanfiction, romantic and pornographic.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Little Mermaid:
    • This happens after Ariel rescues Prince Eric. She smiles at him and strokes his hair affectionately before he regains consciousness.
    • A non-romantic example is Sebastian watching Ariel fall asleep in the palace and softens a little, having previously been very disapproving of her various antics.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Happens in Disney's Enchanted, when Robert is about to throw Giselle out of his apartment, but changes his mind when he sees her sleeping serenely on his couch.
  • In the movie The Painted Veil, Kitty stumbles upon Walter who has fallen asleep at his desk. This marks the point in the movie where she does start to feel affection towards him. The scene isn't in the original novel, however, and there's generally less of an indication that she has any feelings for him in the novel.
  • Pictured above: In The Terminator, Kyle Reese gently strokes Sarah Connor's hair and watches her while she's sleeping in his arms.
  • Slightly averted in Blade Runner, when Deckard, fearing Rachael was killed by Gaff in her sleep, cries and kisses her when he hears her breathing.
  • What a Girl Wants has a (hopefully non-sexual) scene in which Colin Firth sees Amanda Bynes sleeping.
  • Sunshine has a scene in which Capa wakes from a nightmare to find Cassie in his room, presumably having been watching him sleep. (Deleted scenes stated that Capa and Cassie were in fact sleeping together, which would give a better reasoning for her being in his room watching him.)
  • Wimbledon has Kirsten Dunst watching Paul Bettany sleep.
  • The Break-Up has Gary find his now ex-girlfriend Brooke asleep in their condo's living room. He watches her for a moment, smiles, and then makes his exit instead of waking her up.
  • In The Ice Pirates when Jason first sees Princess Karina she is sleeping. He leaves her asleep after being rudely interrupted just as he was about to grope her breasts, then comes back for her before the pirates leave her ship.
  • In Don Juan DeMarco there's a sweet little bit where Dr. Mickler keeps watch over the peacefully slumbering 'Don Juan'.
  • In the second Hellboy movie Hellboy and Abe are looking at a sleeping Liz after they've had a beer or three.
    Hellboy: Look at her. She's it, Abe. She's it. She's my whole wide... You know?
    Abe Sapien: Yeah. Yeah.
    Hellboy: I would give my life for her. But she also wants me to do the dishes.
    Abe Sapien: I would die and do the dishes.
  • Played for creepiness in Animal Kingdom. Pope carries the teenage girlfriend of his brother to bed, then lingers and stares at her as she sleeps. The brother catches him looking at her, prompting Pope to hastily leave.
  • Used humourlously rather than for romance in a line from The Avengers, when Captain America hears the following from his biggest fanboy, Agent Coulson:
    "I watched you while you were sleeping." *beat* "I mean, I was present during your period of unconsciousness."
  • A short and platonic version occurs in The Thin Red Line: Sgt. Welsh spends several seconds watching the peacefully sleeping Witt, betraying that he does harbor affection for his men and is not as cold-hearted as he seems.
  • Colombiana. This backfires on Cataleya when her boyfriend takes a photo of her sleeping and shows it to a friend, who decides to run a check through another friend in the police department to find out who the mystery girlfriend is, right when the FBI are trying to match a security camera shot of an unknown female assassin.
  • In Miao Miao, Ai finds the titular character sleeping and takes to chance to put fake whiskers on her face, take pictures with her, and cuddle. It's Less Disturbing in Context.

    Literature 
  • Twilight tries to invoke this trope with Edward sneaking into Bella's house at night to watch her sleep, but since he's actually sneaking into her house at night to watch her sleep, the effect sort of backfires. It fits better with this after Bella and Edward are actually in a relationship, and she allows him to snuggle with her every night and watch her sleep.
  • The protagonist of Beggars in Spain who doesn't sleep ends up doing this multiple times. Her boyfriend jokingly accuses her of having a fetish for it.
  • Katsa admires Po this way at least once in Graceling. Of course, after making sure he's really asleep. This being because while he's awake he can hear her thoughts.
  • Bones from the Night Huntress books thinks that Cat is cute when she's sprawled on the bed snoring with her mouth open and hogging all the covers.
  • Star Wars: Luke Skywalker, in Vision of the Future, watched Mara Jade sleep while trying to convince himself that he couldn't love her. Three guesses how that turned out! In an earlier book, Splinter Of The Minds Eye, he woke up while camping with Leia and looked at her while asleep, tempted to kiss her. Fortunately this ended differently, and he vowed instead to protect her from everything.
  • Happens in The Trumpet of the Swan. The main (swan) character watches his main (swan) love interest sleep, and contemplates what song to play to wake her up. He picks Beautiful Dreamer, the trope namer.
  • There's a charming scene in Gaudy Night in which Harriet Vane watches over Lord Peter Wimsey after he falls asleep in their punt. In the narration, author Dorothy L. Sayers even points out that one must love someone for the sight of them sleeping to inspire tenderness rather than mockery.
  • The last book of Artemis Fowl is a slight subversion of this; Artemis does watch Holly while she's unconscious, but she was knocked out earlier and isn't actually sleeping.
  • In The Hunger Games Peeta tells Katniss when she wakes up for her watch that he likes watching her sleep because she doesn't scowl.
  • In Rogue Sorcerer, Aiden watches Claron sleep after she rescues him from the Tower, taking solace in her peaceful appearance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Smallville:
    • In epsidoe "Fever", Chloe watches Clark sleep. It's paired with an Anguished Declaration of Love.
    • In "Abyss", Clark returns the favour when he carries her unconscious form to the Fortress as Brainiac is slowly destroying her memories. He even kissed her on her forehead before Jor-El restores everything except his secret.
  • An important part of Minbari courtship in Babylon 5, and something of a final test: The female watches her prospective husband while he sleeps, to see what he is like when at his most peaceful and vulnerable. If she doesn't like what she sees, she can end the relationship right there. Naturally, the way we learned about this was when Delenn explained it to Sheridan. She liked what she saw.
  • Pushing Daisies has an instance where they're already a couple - Ned watches Chuck sleep in the bed next to his, and when she wakes up she asks if he was watching her sleep, and he says watching her sleep and wake up is like seeing her come back to life again. However, it turns out that this is a Dream Sequence, and when Ned actually wakes up and sees Chuck wake up, she asks him if he was watching her sleep. He dodges the question because he doesn't want to repeat dialogue from the dream.
  • In the Scrubs episode, "My Nightingale" Dr. Cox realizes he likes his ex-wife again when he catches himself watching her sleep.
    Dr. Cox: I like you...again. There, you win. You can ahead and do your victory dance or slaughter a goat or whatever it is you do when you're happy.
    Jordan: You don't like me.
    Dr. Cox: I watch you when you sleep.
    Jordan: Well that just gives me the heebie-jeebies.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Angel manages to watch Buffy sleep both in the cute way and in the stalkery way, albeit on different sides of a Face-Heel Turn.
    • Spike watches Buffy when she is asleep in his arms in the episode "Touched". It was very heartwarming and had major character development. When this happens, Buffy has been chased out of her house by her friends and her own sister. To comfort herself, she let herself sleep in the arms of the guy with which she had a self-destructive purely sexual relationship not more than a year prior that ended up in her being almost raped by him note . To make it even more poignant, during this time, Willow was having sex with Kennedy, Xander was having sex with Anya and Faith was having sex with Robin Wood.
    • Buffy does the exact same thing the next morning in "Touched"; she wakes up before Spike does, and spends a few moments tenderly stroking his hair and watching him sleep. Awww.
  • The X-Files: Used fairly frequently when one of them was in the hospital (which happened often) and the other kept a vigil at the bedside.
    • The following quote is from "Redux II" when Scully is dying of cancer.
      Mulder: I came by last night, but I... I didn't have the heart to wake you.
    • At the end of episode "all things", Scully falls asleep on Mulder's couch while they talk; he looks lovingly at her for a moment before tucking a lock of hair behind her ear and covering her with the blanket on the back of his couch. Adorable.
  • In the Alias episode "Salvation," Sydney wakes to Vaughn watching her sleeping while they are both being held under quarantine.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • Elena watches Stefan (the vampire) while he sleeps. He calls it creepy, while she defends it as being romantic. Almost certainly a Take That to Twilight.
    • Damon has watched Elena sleep, he even reached a hand out to tenderly stroke her face.
  • Merlin:
    • Despite the rampant amount of Ho Yay in the show, it is actually the Platonic Life Partners Merlin and Guinevere who end up doing this to each other. In an early episode Gwen nurses Merlin while he's in a fever, and Merlin later repays the favor by lending her his bed after her father is killed and stays all day with her, just watching and waiting as she sleeps off her exhaustion.
    • Toward the end of series four, Guinevere is injured in the forest; once again Merlin stays by her side all night, watching her sleep.
    • In a late season two episode, the entire kingdom is put under a sleeping spell. Arthur finds Guinevere on the floor, moves her to a bed and watches her for a few moments. Extra points for brushing a curl off her face.
    • Tristan watches Isolde sleep after she's been injured in a sword-fight.
  • In Being Human, Nina wakes up in one episode to find George watching her. He confesses that he loves watching her sleep. Nina replies that that was sweet, though creepy.
  • Dean Winchester of Supernatural has made his opinion on this trope very clear: he calls the Twilight example "rapey" and refuses to let Cas watch over him while he sleeps.
    "Dammit, Cas, how many times I gotta tell you? It's just creepy!"

    Music 
  • "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (also known as "The Armageddon Theme Song") by Aerosmith is about this.
  • The Trope Namer, "Beautiful Dreamer", written by Stephen Foster.
  • Queensryche's "Silent Lucidity".
  • REM's "You Are the Everything".
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer's acoustic ballad "Watching Over You". It's a pretty generic take on the subject (what else would one expect from Greg Lake?), so it can easily apply to either guy-love interest or parent-offspring. The second interpretation seems slightly less prone to causing Fridge Squick.
  • The song "En Sólo Un Segundo" by Amaral.
  • "Song for a Sleeping Girl" by Devics.

    Mythology 
  • In Classical Mythology, Selene, the moon, loved the way Endymion looked when he was sleeping in a cave so much that she asked Zeus to give him eternal youth. Zeus gave him eternal sleep.

    Radio 
  • In the Torchwood radio drama "The Dead Line", Ianto watches over Jack while the latter is in a coma and reminisces about how he likes to watch Jack smiling in his sleep in his Tearjerker monologue.

    Video Games 
  • Persona 3:
    • Aigis (Robot Girl) watches the male main character sleep at more than one point. She doesn't just watch him sleep, she picks the lock of his room (and has gotten good enough to time her improvement) and watches him all night; making sure his pillow is fluffed, etc. It would be creepy if she weren't utterly and completely innocent.
    • At the very end of the game, it looks like the story is going to invoke the trope in the most basic form... but the sleep he's falling into is final.
    • Note that all of the above is also applicable to the female protagonist in Portable. Les Yay ahoy. A New Game+ will let you choose who gets to be with you at the end, for both genders.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • If Leliana is successfully romanced, the scene after she and the PC consummate their relationship will have her doing this.
    • Happens in a romance with Alistair. After he and the PC spend their first night together, there is a brief shot of the PC sleeping and Alistair watching her with a look of tender affection.
  • In Xenogears, Elly tells Fei that she watched him sleep through the whole night after their love scene.
  • Breath of Fire IV features this briefly at the beginning of Act 3, where a very exhausted Ryu sleeps with his head on Nina's lap. Made jarring, however, when you learn why Ryu was like that in the first place...
  • If you romance Aerie in the second Baldur's Gate game (and provided you don't screw it up), there'll come a point where she'll admit to having watched you sleep the night before and how it made her feel safe doing so.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • Hisao has a moment like this in Lilly's route, after Hanako's birthday party. He notices that when she's asleep, she no longer has the confident facade she does when she's awake.
    • Hisao watches Rin when she sleeps on her desk. Then Rin kinda cries in her sleep...
  • Little Busters!: As protagonist Riki has narcolepsy, several times he wakes up to find a person watching him and waiting for him to wake up, but the only unquestionably romantic example is when he falls asleep while on a date with Kud.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In season two of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Barriss Offee and Ahsoka Tano are trapped aboard a Meat Puppet-infested starship in "Brain Invaders." Barriss is herself taken over and turns against Ahsoka, who can not bring herself to kill her friend. When Ahsoka finally manages to subdue Barriss, she cradles her in her arms and holds her unconcious body until Ahsoka passes out as well and lies with her.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy finds Heloise in hibernation. He's desperate to wake her up, and finds a book about kissing the fair maiden to wake her. He looks at Heloise for a moment...then tosses the book aside, muttering "Can't believe everything you read.
  • The Legend of Korra: This happens between Mako and Korra while she's recovering from being kidnapped by Amon. One morning, you see him sitting by her bedside while she's resting and place his hand over hers. It's not treated as an "aww, look at how cute she looks" thing in the show (as he seems rather troubled while doing it). He was more likely thinking about all the danger she had been in and trying to receive some comfort from her presence. Later on, we find out that that whole worrying experience had made him realize he loved her, so he was likely going through that as well.


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