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Cannot Dream
The Nameless One: I... don't have dreams, actually.
Kesai-Serris: Truly? How sad! Even fiends and devas dream, you know. Are you certain you don't?
The Nameless One: Quite certain. No dreams, at all.

For whatever reason, a character cannot dream. Perhaps they are dead already, or has spent too long in cryo-sleep, but their ability to dream is gone. This tends to indicate that something is inhuman or 'off' about them.

May also be caused by a Dream Stealer.

In Real Life there are people who claim to have no recollection of ever dreaming; whether it is this trope or simply that they never remember their dreams is unknown.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kanami in Darker Than Black told her colleague that a Doll who moved "sees a dream". Then she had to clarify that she joked and Dolls don't. Since they got some sort of encephalography equipment on their heads, we can assume that it's the certain knowledge at least as far as catatonics in lifesupport tanks are concerned. Contractors were said to never dream either, but with them and free-willed Dolls, it may be smoke and mirrors again.
  • In Jing King Of Bandits, Campari lost his ability to dream. He subsequently gained the ability to steal dreams from other people.
  • Rei in Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Sandman, people lost their ability to dream during Dream's imprisonment.
  • Villain Dr. Destiny in The DCU lost his ability to sleep and thus dream. He later appeared in The Sandman.
  • BIONICLE has the Dreaming Plague that wiped out most of the Iron Tribe, caused by Annona.
  • The monster Gulgol is the personal bogeyman of Doctor Strange foe Nightmare because Gulgol never sleeps and thus never dreams, making him immune to Nightmare's powers.
  • Morpheus (no relation), who fought Moon Knight in his first series, was driven insane because scientific experiments made him unable to sleep or dream.

    Film 
  • In Inception, one side effect of using the PASIV is that you eventually lose the ability to dream normally.
  • Krank in The City of Lost Children is unable to dream. He's kidnapping children and stealing their dreams, which sets off the plot.
  • In Die Another Day, the villain Gustav Graves was said to be unable to dream.
    • Specifically, he is unable to enter REM sleep, a Real Life condition. He has to use a machine to do it for him, or he'll start suffering from severe psychosis. Well, more severe than his current mental condition.
  • The immortal Eternals of Zardoz cannot sleep or dream, since sleep was strongly related to death.
  • The Villain Protagonist of The Young Poisoner's Handbook. This becomes important when The Shrink in the prison wants him to talk about his dreams, so he "steals" the dreams of his cellmate.
  • Terri from Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, the parents of Springfield use the drug Hypnocil to supress the dreams of the quarantined teenagers who were exposed to nightmare monster Freddy Krueger to destroy every memory of him, as he feeds off of fear. It keeps them safe from Krueger's dream invasions, at least temporarily.

    Literature 
  • Vampires in most incarnations (already dead).
  • Brutha in Small Gods has never had dreams, which may be related to his Photographic Memory somehow.
  • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a man who went mad at The Isle Where Dreams Come True is afraid to sleep because he doesn't want to dream; at the Island of the Star there's food which makes one go to sleep without dreaming. He's thrilled.
  • In The Exile Of Borghild Brynlaging, Scyld (and Borghild, but she is not aware of it as she no longer even remembers dreaming). The reason is that they're dead and have no separate spirit forms that can leave them in their sleep.
  • A character in a Celtic fairy tale (reprinted in Traditional Tales From Long, Long Ago by Philip Wilson) is unable to dream but is otherwise perfectly normal. His employer suggests a way to guarantee he'll have dreams: make his bed in the fireplace. He ends up with a thoroughly bizarre dream that ends when his wife wakes him up and he's halfway up the flue.
  • In the Babylon 5 novel "Clarke's Law", the station plays host to a race whose members do not sleep or dream. Disaster ensues after a riot results in security officers tranquilizing several of them, as it turns out that loss of consciousness causes them to become Ax-Crazy.
  • Discussed in 2010: The Year We Make Contact: SAL asks Dr. Chandra if he/she/it will dream while being powered down. Dr. Chandra replies with: "Of course. All intelligent beings dream", acknowledging that he thinks of SAL as a person. He is not so sure about HAL, though.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kai, last of the Brunnen-G (dead) on Lexx.
  • Most of the Enterprise-D crew temporarily lost their ability to dream in the episode "Night Terrors". This was slowly driving everyone on the ship insane.
  • Alonso from Earth 2 spent decades in "cold sleep".
  • There was a Villain of the Week in Supernatural who couldn't dream, and killed people in their dreams out of jealousy.
  • Jaffas of the Stargate Verse do not dream, as they do not technically sleep, only entering a deep meditative state.
  • Dexter after waking up from a surreal nightmare is mostly troubled about the fact that he had a dream.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Eberron, Kalashtar have lost the ability to dream. That's because they are inhabited by exiles from the realm of dreams, and if they return, they will be destroyed by that realm's despotic lords.
  • The undead of In Nomine have also lost the power to dream, along with many other simple human pleasures. Technically, they don't even need to sleep, but if they do, they can no longer reach the Dream World of the Marches without supernatural help — they've actually severed themselves from humanity's collective imagination.

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Age, mages who have been made Tranquil are severed from the Fade, which prevents them from using magic or being possessed by Fade demons but also robs them of their ability to dream, not to mention their ability to feel emotion.
    • Dreaming in Dragon Age essentially means slipping into the Fade when you're asleep, where spirits construct dreams for you. This is somehow tied to the ability to use magic. Dwarves can't use magic, can't slip into the Fade unless forced by a demon, and by extension can't dream.
    • The dwarf Sandal, a prodigy in enchantment ("Enchantment? Enchantment!"), tells Hawke about some rather odd dreams of his. The very fact that he can dream is one of several hints that Sandal isn't an ordinary dwarf. Snarky!Hawke jokingly suggests at one point that Sandal may be a dwarven mage.
  • Kirby's Adventure starts off with the residents of Dream Land losing the ability to dream because King Dedede stole the Star Rod, which grants them dreams. It's later revealed that he did this to stop a Nightmare from corrupting the Fountain of Dreams.
  • The Nameless One of Planescape: Torment. The above quoted conversation is with a woman who talks about dreams. Her surprise indicates TNO's condition is very extra-ordinary, as she is in Sigl, where natives have a "seen it all" attitude due to the cities stats as a planar cross-roads. It's a bit of an oddity when the Kalashtar (see up) are latter introduced as part of the same "verse".
  • Arcueid is revealed in Kagetsu Tohya as being unable to dream when she complains of a nightmare. Her brain is basically completely turned off when she sleeps. Occasionally, even in this state she recalls things about her past, but says this can't be considered dreaming. This is one of many early hints that the player is supposed to pick up that there's a "Groundhog Day" Loop in effect: She's not dreaming, she's remembering something from another loop.
  • The villain of 40 Winks is causing this for the world, though he's not a Dream Stealer in the traditional sense—he's kidnapping the Dream Weaver species known as the Winks, and he himself suffers from this.

    Web Comics 
  • In a variation, characters in Homestuck whose dream selves are dead are forced into contact with the Horrorterrors instead of actually dreaming when they fall asleep.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures
    • Most sufficiently advanced incubi and succubi can't dream; instead, they experience dreaming by "surfing" the dreams of others. Also, they don't need to sleep, but if they do, they can easily sleep for days or even decades without noticing the passage of time.
    • Abel needing sleep and being able to dream again becomes a plot point. Aaryana believes that this is because Abel hasn't been feeding on emotions lately. Cubi are Emotion Eaters. Abel is starving his Cubi nature so he is becoming more like a Being.
  • In The Dreamland Chronicles, Dan in completely unable to dream. This seems to revolve around a curse that the Big Bad put on King Arthur.
    • Alex himself was dreamless for years between the time the sword he just found was confiscated and the time he got it back.
  • Pibgorn Why am I dreaming? I haven't dreamt in a thousand years!

    Western Animation 
  • In the animated series adaptation of The Neverending Story, one episode states that bag guys, along with some other creatures, don't dream.
  • In Titan A.E., Preed states that Akrennians do not dream. Of course, they are a totally different species...


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