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Catapult Nightmare
My sleeping bag is trying to eat me!

"Any person awaking from a nightmare, must always sit bolt upright in bed and scream."
"Hollywood Rule Book", Vanity Fair

Whenever a character awakes from a nightmare on screen, he will fling himself up from lying down, while panting and looking around confused. Think carefully: how many times do you remember waking up from a nightmare by flinging your torso off the bed? Probably never, right? When most people wake up from one, they lie stunned and confused for a few seconds getting reoriented before looking around. The most you might get is a gasp and a full-body twitch, although children may wake up screaming. But that would be boring on screen, so anyone with a bad dream has to halfway fling himself out of bed to show the audience it is a dream. Used particularly during an All Just a Dream sequence, to emphasize that the previous scene didn't happen. Besides, it's just cool.

This does happen occasionally in the real world, but usually when one is startled by an outside sensation, not a nightmare. Most of the time, certain chemicals secreted while falling asleep prevent the sleeper from acting out their dreams, a condition known as sleep paralysis when it extends to shortly before falling asleep or after waking up. The rare times it does happen in real life involve a neurological disorder where the person is woken up from the dream by the sensation (not the other way around) and often describe the feeling as being "pushed" upright. Nevertheless, the Catapult Nightmare happens every single time on TV. If it's a Dream Within a Dream, expect two. Possibly more.

A night terror can have this effect, but it doesn't involve waking up and doesn't involve a dream—just full-on activation of the fight-or-flight system in the middle of the deepest stages of sleep. People who have them usually don't remember it in the morning.

Bonus point if followed by dramatic Wake Up Fighting. See also Instant Waking Skills.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • As pictured above, it happens to Owaki in The Enigma of Amigara Fault. The dream might just disturb anyone who reads it too.
  • Ranma ½. This pretty much describes every single nightmare Ranma has ever had. Hell, it seems that every time Ranma has a dream in either the anime or the manga, it turns into a nightmare for him. Including (but not limited to):
    • A giant Kunō declaring his love for the pigtailed girl before snatching "her" up effortlessly (which the anime replaced with about a dozen naked Kunōs trapping a naked Girl-Ranma).
    • Being brainwashed into Kunō's adoring, submissive wife and trapped on a tropical island with him — and their many children...
    • Being successfully romanced by a cute handsome guy (disturbing enough to Ranma)... who promptly turns into an ugly, wrinkled old man as he goes in for a kiss.
    • In an anime-only episode, Ranma dreams that Akane is showing him their new baby. When she pulls the covers from the baby's head, it has Happōsai's face. Naturally, he wakes up screaming.
  • Happens to Mamoru in Sailor Moon after he dreams of something bad happening to Usagi. Usagi does this routinely as well.
  • Tower of God: Rachel's Nightmare Sequence ends with a horrified jump start into the new day.
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Bleach
    • The anime, "Bount Arc", episode 97. While sleeping in Rantao's house, Ichigo wakes up from a nightmare muttering strange words.
    • In the omake to episode 63, Isane Kotetsu wakes up like this from a nightmare ("FISH PASTE!").
    • In chapter 238, Ichigo again wakes up like this (but he falls out of bed, too.)
    • In anime episode 287 Isane Kotetsu wakes up like this again after the Arabian Nights dream.
    • In anime episode 304 Captain Komamura wakes up like this after a dream in which the main characters are monsters.
  • Episode two of the 2003 adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist: Cornello has a nightmare of a rainbow-colored snake moving to devour him, and starts awake to see Lust standing there, with the mysterious warning "The real secret of that stone stays between us."
  • Princess Tutu
    • Fakir does this in the episode "Ghost Knight", in which he has a nightmare about...a ghostly knight.
    • And the first episode in both seasons opens with Ahiru having a nightmare, and then waking up from it when she flings herself out of her bed and tries to fly by flapping her arms.
  • Ouran High School Host Club
    • Tamaki awakes from a nightmare about visiting Haruhi and finding that she lives in a hovel. ("That tuna is by NO MEANS fancy!!!") Note: In the anime, the Club all are dressed exactly as they were in the nightmare when they actually DO go visit Haruhi's home.
    • In the beginning of chapter 79, we're greeted with Haruhi standing in front of Tamaki. She's blushing and glancing at the ground. She then says "Tamaki-senpai... I'm in love with you." (Cue the Squee of many fangirls.) Tamaki looks stunned, but then goes off saying that he's so happy because he's in love with himself, too! He takes this and runs with it. Haruhi looks mortified, but then she sits up and we find out it was all just a dream, much to her relief.
  • Chrono Crusade
    • Rosette jolts up in her bed after having a nightmare in her coma.
    • Earlier in the manga, she also jolts awake from a nightmare and punches Chrono in the face (who was bent over her and trying to wake her up). Although this one might be justified in that she wasn't exactly sleeping as much as having an out-of-body experience.
    • In the anime she also catapults out of a nightmare about her missing brother in Episode 2.
    • Interestingly enough, while Chrono has several Bad Dreams, he almost never catapults out of his nightmare and wakes up more realistically. (Perhaps Rosette's more susceptible to this trope because she's Hot-Blooded.) The only time he does to this is when, like Rosette, he's coming out of a coma. While being held in iron restraints, which he rips off to catapult from. Justified in that it wasn't exactly a nightmare and Rosette had dove into his soul in the hopes of bringing him back to consciousness.
  • In the manga version of Maximum Ride, Max has this in the beginning, after her nightmare about Erasers.
  • Sōsuke Sagara is usually The Stoic, but in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu he is a bit stressed out by Tessa bunking with him in his flat. Cue nightmare at the beginning of Episode 9.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
    • Evangeline does this after she gets a fever dream about the Thousand Master.
    • Negi himself goes through this after his defeat and seperation from his students at the hands of Fate which causes him to have nightmares of his students being murdered while he just watches powerlessly.
  • Used in the second episode of Space Pirate Mito by having Aoi do this twice, first in a dream, and then in real life waking up from that dream.
  • Masataka of Sakura Gari does this as he starts having nightmares of all the things he endured recently.
  • Albert of Gankutsuou does this after having a nightmare about the Count.
  • Seras of Hellsing does this while waking up from a nightmare she had shortly after becoming a vampire.
  • In episode 11 of Nuku Nuku Dash, the title character has one.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Tai episode 13. Grace/Cynthia wakes up this way after having a nightmare about being harassed while at college (she was 6 years old at the time).
  • In Saint Beast, Goh has one about the failed rebellion at the start of the first OVA.
  • In InuYasha, this happens with Kagome when she has a nightmare about failing the school exams.
  • Mikoto Misaka of A Certain Scientific Railgun has one during the OVA, after a lot of Paranoia Fuel over the past few days has her thoroughly freaked out.
  • Haiyore! Nyarko-san episode 9 opens with Mahiro having one...except that, what he considers a nightmare (saying "I love you" to Nyarko and kissing her full on the lips) probably wouldn't qualify in most other peoples' books.
  • In Ayashi no Ceres, Aya wakes up like this after dreaming about seeing Tooya on the beach, only for him to turn around and turn into the bleeding, mangled Miori.

    Board Games 
  • The old Board Game Don't Wake Daddy. But again, that's because of an outside sensation, not a dream.

    Comic Books 
  • Fiendishly subverted in The Sandman, in which the title character sentences an enemy to the curse of "eternal waking," a neverending coma where he dreams he is waking from a horrible nightmare, only to find he is in an even worse one. This causes him to wake up again, only to be confronted with another nightmare. The curse sentences him to live this way for eternity, with each nightmare a little worse than the last.
  • In the Batman story Going Sane, a normal-looking, reformed and amnesiac Joker has frequent nightmares of bats and clowns trying to drown him in madness. He would wake up from these dreams and yell "drowning!"
  • Yorrick of Y: The Last Man wakes up from a bad (and possibly prophetic) dream like this, and not for the first time, judging by 355's comment: "I wouldn't like to be in your head."
  • It happens to Thorn in the first book of Bone, as she awakens violently from a nightmare (actually a flashback) about a massive rat creature attack on a castle. Except she awakens to Fone Bone telling her that rat creatures actually ARE attacking.
  • In Le Scorpion, Armando experiences one at the start of the album The Stone Cross.
  • Donald Duck has one coupled with a Big "NO!" in an issue of Paperinik New Adventures after a nightmare about some bullies that tormented him at school. It's heavily implied that the dream is a metaphor on how he sees himself as just a "little,frail duck" put against his new foes.

    Comic Strips 
  • Used to clever effect in FoxTrot, where Paige experiences a standard "falling" dream. Midway through, she realizes that it's a dream, and concludes that she'll wake up before hitting the ground. Sure, enough, she does. The last panel has her realizing she was right... as she falls out of bed.
  • Little Nemo: Given how often the title Pajama Clad Hero wakes up suddenly from his dreams (sometimes falling from the bed), he's a regular user of this trope.
  • Little Ego, being a parody of Little Nemo, always has the heroine waking like this. However, in Ego's case, she is not waking from a nightmare but instead an Erotic Dream.
  • In the Dennis The Menace (US) for June 10th 2012, Dennis has a nightmare where his father, Mr. Wilson and his dog Ruff have all been sentenced to sitting in the Corner of Shame with him by his mother.
  • Adam@Home for September 30, 2012. Adam has a nightmare where he accidentally spills hot coffee on himself through a sunroof. He wakes up by sitting up in bed and crying out in pain.
  • Mutts. In the strip for May 19th, 2013 Mooch wakes up from a multilevel dream (having a dream about having a dream, which is about having a dream, etc.) in shock. He says to his owner "Now I've dreamed everything!"
  • Parodied in one Calvin and Hobbes strip. Calvin dreams that he decided to count all the rocks he could find. Next panel he's up to a billion or so. Third panel he wakes up in this fashion.
    Calvin: Wow. I bored myself awake.
  • What's New? with Phil and Dixie. In this strip Phil and Dixie wake up from a dream (shown in previous strips) in which their Character Alignments were changed to Evil. It turns out it was All Just a Dream.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Baby Nightmare sequence in Shrek the Third.
  • Mulan: Mulan quietly dashes off to the Chinese Army in the middle of the night. Only Grandma Fa, who is closer to the Fa family ancestors, senses something is wrong when she wakes up supposedly not too long after this.
  • The Incredibles. Helen has one in a deleted scene where she has a nightmare about losing her husband to a bunch of hot cheerleaders.
  • Toy Story 2. Woody, after he wakes up from a nightmare where Andy throws him away.
  • Francis from Felidae, after he has a nightmare about Gregory Mandel tormenting him with zombie cat puppets.
  • Simba does this in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride after he dreams of Scar turning into Kovu and pushing him into the wildebeest herd that trampled his father to death. But instead of sitting up, he simply raises his head up.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Death Wish 4: The Crackdown opens with one.
  • Averted in I, Robot, where Del Spooner simply opens his eyes after a nightmare. And he's woken by his alarm clock rather than the nightmare itself.
  • Star Wars
  • Scottie in Hitchcock's Vertigo does this after the haunting dream sequence.
  • Averted in Batman Begins, where Bruce has a Flashback Nightmare and simply wakes up breathing heavily.
  • The hero of Take Shelter is having bad dreams and wakes twice this way.
  • The Lord of the Rings, of all things. In fairness, Aragorn pulls a knife in the same motion, and has probably trained himself to do this every time he's suddenly awoken.
  • Averted in Iron Man 3. It takes Pepper's screams of terror at being (apparently) threatened by one of the armors for Tony to wake up from his dreams.
  • In the third The Naked Gun movie, Frank wakes up after the opening sequence which is a "nightmare" of being in a situation of there being crime he can't stop. Of course, given that the scene (as well as the movie's format itself) is slapstick and not supposed to be taken seriously in the slightest, it would only be considered a nightmare to him.
  • Sleepy Hollow: Director Tim Burton commented that Johnny Depp does some very good fainting/waking up scenes.
  • The Matrix: After Neo gets the bug put in him, and possibly when he jacks out of the Construct program in the real world hovership after learning the truth about the Matrix.
  • Averted and then played straight during Picard's Dream Within a Dream in Star Trek: First Contact. When he falsely wakes up from his first nightmare he simply opens his eyes while sitting in his desk chair; when he wakes up for real, he jumps up from his bed.
    • There was however the chime of an incoming call, so it's possible that he was actually reacting to that.
  • The Princess Bride: Buttercup wakes to fill the screen with her frightened "gasp of awakening" directly after the scene featuring "the ancient boo-er."
  • In Constantine, Angela Dodson does this after experiencing a nightmare of her twin sister killing herself. It turns out to be real.
  • Wolverine has an especially notable one in X-Men. In all honesty, adamantium claws don't mix well with many activities.
  • Averted in the 2007 film I Am Legend, when the protagonist wakes up from terrifying flashback-dreams (yanking the viewers out of intense scenes) by simply opening his eyes (where the viewers see a close-up of his face in quiet morning silence).
  • The Golden Child (1986). Chandler Jarrell after his dream of being tortured and almost killed by Sardo Numspa and his henchmen.
  • Aliens: Ripley's nightmare of having an alien rip out of her chest near the beginning.
  • Averted in the opening scene of The Others. Nicole Kidman's character wakes up from a nightmare, but she simply lays awake in bed for a moment before sobbing into her pillow. Of course, she may be a little different from most people...
  • In Zoolander, Derek Zoolander does this, only as he shoots straight up, he slams his head into the frame of the bed above his (he and his three roommates slept in two sets of bunk beds) and crashes to the ground.
  • Somewhat averted in the Korean film Seducing Mr. Perfect. After a nightmare, the heroine's body does tense, but other than that, she doesn't move before opening her eyes. After opening her eyes, she stares into space for a few seconds, and then, she pushes herself up and gasps.
  • Played with in the original Hellraiser: when Kirsty has a nightmare of Frank's resurrection, we cut to her boyfriend bolting up from a bad dream — she's still asleep, and when he touches her she scrambles upright rather than bolting.
  • The sequence with the Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl in A Tale of Two Sisters.
  • Averted in Signs, where Graham only opens his eyes when he wakes from bad dreams.
  • In the American version of The Ring, Naomi Watts' character does this after having a nightmare of Samura being in her apartment.
  • Larry Gopnik experiences several of these in A Serious Man after moving into the Jolly Roger.
  • Happens to the protagonist at the end of When a Stranger Calls (2006).
  • Cthulhu (2007). Subverted in the first Nightmare Sequence of the protagonist where he bolts upright yelling, but it's actually part of his dream. A jump cut later we see him starting awake in more restrained manner. Until he sees the stone object from his dream lying on his chest.
  • Dreamscape. Happens to the President of the U.S. twice. He wakes up yelling after having nightmares of his wife running away from a nuclear explosion and being attacked by mutant children in a post-nuclear environment.
  • Butch from Pulp Fiction does it twice.
  • Averted in the movie version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. After having a nightmare, the camera zooms on Harry's eyes as they open, without him moving.
  • Happens several times to Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Shutter Island. On one occasion, however, it is part of a Dream Within a Dream, from which the character later awakens (for real) by simply opening his eyes whilst still lying down.
  • At the beginning of Total Recall (1990), Douglas Quaid wakes up with a jolt from a nightmare about dying of suffocation in the Martian atmosphere.
  • Bedtime Stories has Mickey doing this every time he falls asleep, complete with screaming. Justified as a sleep panic disorder.
  • Mad Max. After seeing the charred yet still alive body of his friend Goose in the hospital, Max is shown in bed; suddenly he bolts upright and the camera zooms in on his spotlit eyes.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
  • Used a number of times in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... always after Scott sees Ramona in his dreams as she goes through his subspace highway. The best response, though, is how Wallace Wells ALWAYS sits up immediately after as well, sometimes followed by one or two other guys....
  • Alone in the Dark (1982) starts with one of the lunatics having a nightmare and waking up like this before the opening credits.
  • Practically every time Ji-Won wakes up in Dead Friend (a.k.a The Ghost).
  • In Paranormal Activity, Katie does this at least one time.
  • In The Magnificent Seven, Lee (Robert Vaughn) not only bolts upright, but also scrambles across the room in a panic when he awakens from a bad dream.
  • The short film Portal: No Escape begins with Chell doing this, complete with an extremely loud gasp.
  • In Dracula 2000, Mary wakes up thrashing and incoherent after dreaming that a tall dark stranger is about to bite her throat out.
  • The Fugitive. After escaping, Kimble has a nightmare about the murder of his wife while sleeping in the woods. At the end of the nightmare he wakes up and sits upright.
  • Braveheart: After he betrays William Wallace at Falkirk, the Scottish Noble Mornay has a nightmare in which Wallace is riding towards him, fire blazing all around and the most terrifying Death Glare ever. He wakes up, but moments later, Wallace actually rides into his bedroom and gives Mornay a face full of flail.
  • Happens at the end of Dressed to Kill where a character wakes from her nightmare.
  • In Wild Wild West, the way Will Smith's character flings himself up from a bad dream.
  • Christopher Walken's character does this in Communion.
  • Exercised by the hero in Gozu while waking from an extremely weird nightmare.
  • Josh in Road Trip has one when staying at the Manilows'.
  • Lifeforce. While Carlson is asleep he has a nightmare of the space girl visiting him in his bed and wakes up screaming.
  • The Fifth Element. Our introduction to the hero has Bruce Willis starting awake in his cubicle apartment. Interestingly there's no indication that he had a nightmare, but it's a direct cut from the scene where General Staedert's spaceship has been attacked (and presumably destroyed) by the Ultimate Evil, implying that he's had some sort of premonition of the oncoming disaster.

    Literature 
  • Lampshaded in Emma Bull's Finder when the protagonist wakes up violently from a dream of someone else's death: "They do it in movies. Gunshot on the soundtrack and a fast cut to an actor, sitting up in bed. It's real. I did it."
  • Harry Potter has done this on occasion. Violently thrashing around, actually. But considering the unusual circumstances....
  • Eve, from the In Death series. Certain things will make her lapse into flashback when awake. Often dragged out of them by Roarke.
  • Older Than Radio: At the end of Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins describes his experience with Catapult Nightmares of Skeleton Island:
    ...the worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts or start upright in bed with the sharp voice of [John Silver's parrot] Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!"
  • Dink in the A-to-Z Mysteries book The Deadly Dungeon, has a nightmare and then "bolt[s] upright in his bed."
  • In Galaxy of Fear Zak has a nightmare, opens his eyes, and finds that he's sitting up in bed.
  • Squadron Leader Barton, at the height of the Battle of Britain, has a recurring nightmare of piloting a plane, without a propeller, at unmanageably fast speeds, with controls that do not do what his experience as a pilot expects of them. He is trapped in an uncontrollable aircraft moving at high speeds with unresponsive controls and no means of ezcape. He inevitably awakes sweating and in high anxiety. See Derek Robinson's WW2 novel Piece Of Cake for more.

    Live-Action TV 
  • John Watson awakes from a PTSD-induced nightmare this way at the very start of Sherlock.
  • Smallville:
    • Lana once woke up this way after having a nightmare of Chloe being kidnapped. Turn out it is a vision and is very real.
    • In "Beast", Chloe woke up like this after having a nightmare of Clark ripped in half.
    • And she also gets it in "Lazarus" although that is more like a coma.
  • The 2008 Academy Awards featured a comedy bit where, in the event that the Writers' Strike lasted through the awards ceremony, the crew had prepared a series of increasingly asinine montages. One, the Salute to Bad Dreams, consisted entirely of these shots from famous movies.
  • Chris Elliot starred in Action Family!, a one-shot detective drama/family sitcom mashup — he has a hollering catapult nightmare wake-up from a dream where he's being spanked by Abe Lincoln.
  • Ally McBeal is the queen of this trope. In one episode, the title character gets two of these in a row (it was Dream Within a Dream), then a third one happens to a supporting character (so it was a dream within a dream within somebody else's person's dream!)
  • Babylon 5: Ivanova wakes from a dream about walking into the command deck in her birthday suit and needs to check herself.
    • A few episodes later, Sheridan does this in the middle of the night. The dream itself wasn't so bad, but a sudden realization about the nature of the dream causes him to bolt upright: Kosh had been talking to him...just before he was killed.
  • In the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, this is often how the humanoid Cylons react when they die, their consciousnesses are downloaded to new bodies, and they wake up in a tub of slimy goo, surrounded by their fellow Cylons acting as "nurses". Needless to say, resurrection is a bit of an unsettling experience.
  • In an episode in the first season of The Big Bang Theory, Leonard and Sheldon (and Raj and Wolowitz) buy the original time machine, from the movie The Time Machine. After a commercial break, we see Sheldon in the machine, in a steamy jungle, as Morlocs close on him. He wakes up, in the apartment, screaming, in the time machine. Leonard comes out, they have a short discussion about getting rid of the machine, and Leonard calls in some movers (Morlocs wearing jumpsuits that say "Hungry Morlocs") Sheldon awakens again, in his bed this time, and starts screaming, sitting upright rather stiffly as is his manner.
    • Sheldon also had a catapult nightmare about turning into Gollum - this was during an argument about a replica Ring and its ownership. And Leonard once had a Sheldon-style rude awakening - he dreamt that Sheldon really did reproduce asexually, like an amoeba.
  • Bones, season 5 episode "The Boy with the Answer". In the opening, Brennan has a classic Catapult Nightmare after a very disturbing dream inspired by the memories of the Gravedigger, and the stress from having to face the Serial Killer at trial.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Willow, when startled awake from a nap, practically shouts "Don't warn the tadpoles!" then admits to having a frog fear.
    • In season seven, Spike jerks awake with a shout of "I'm drowning in footwear!"
    • It wasn't a nightmare per se, but in "Out of My Mind", Spike catapults to a sitting position with a choking gasp upon waking up from a dream in which he tells Buffy he loves her.
    • Averted with Buffy's very first appearance in the very first episode: she has a (prophetic, as it turns out) nightmare about vampires and apocalypse, and wakes up... pretty much like a normal person would.
    • Actually averted with most of Buffy's nightmares — a notable exception is when she dreams of Angel's death in "Surprise".
  • Averted in Criminal Minds where Reid had a creepy nightmare but was very calm about it when he woke up. But played straight with Rossi in another situation.
  • A preview photo shows Ballard doing this in the upcoming Dollhouse episode "Needs".
  • Done in the M*A*S*H episode "Dreams", but in those cases the dreamers are woken by outside forces, either loud noises or shaking.
    • In the earlier episode "Divided We Stand", Trapper does this when Radar wakes him up in the middle of the night. Considering Hawkeye's laughter immediately after, he probably just did it to screw with Radar.
  • The "Eurosong" episode of Father Ted. "We have to lose that sax solo!"
  • In Firefly, River wakes up from a couple of her Bad Dreams in this way. Most of the times, though, she wakes up normally. Of course, considering who we're taking about, it's entirely possible she was trained to wake ready to fight. She also does so in the movie, first into another dream, finally into full waking. Whedon didn't want to use the dream within a dream cliche, but actress Summer Glau gave him two very good performances and he wanted to use them both.
  • Done all the time on Forever Knight, to the point that the poor main character can't seem to wake without it.
  • Paul Slippery at the beginning of the third episode of Fortysomething in his second Dream Within a Dream awakening. He just jerks his head up and gasps the first time.
  • The Goodies: In the Kitten Kong episode, Tim returns home determined to wreck vengeance on Twinkles the kitten after his disastrous attempt to walk the over-active purrball. Graham and Bill caution him that it's not a very good idea, then open the door to reveal that thanks to Graham's growth formula the kitten has grown to enormous size. Tim screams hysterically, and then wakes up in bed crying: "Get it off me! Stop licking me!" (Bill: "I'm not licking you!") Unfortunately it's not All Just a Dream.
  • People on TV wake up from nightmares the same way immortals on Highlander wake up from being dead.
  • This is a frequently Averted Trope on House. Usually, we cut to an extreme close-up of the character dreaming and see their eyes snap open, sometimes to a shhff sound-effect. Same for hallucinations, when we cut to other characters reacting to the "out of it" character. (In both cases, the character is usually House himself.)
  • In the Jeeves and Wooster episode "Return to New York", Bertie experiences this after spending an unwanted night on the town with Claude and Eustace. Accompanied by yelling of "NO NO I DON'T WANT ANY MORE CHAMPAGNE!"
  • LOST
    • Kate does this in the season 4 finale.
    • The series averts this in the first season: Charlotte thrashes around and hurts herself, but does not sit bolt upright.
  • Many episodes of Medium. One of the show's ads turned them into a Fully Automatic Clip Show. Averted surprisingly often, however. Many times she'd just wake up dramatically opening her eyes with a gasp.
  • Happens several times to Morgana in Merlin.
  • Example of a Phlebotinum-assisted Catapult Nightmare: Rowsdower in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Final Sacrifice". Not only does he bolt up in bed, he does so while screaming his head off.
    Crow (as Rowsdower): AHHH! I forgot the liquor stores close at 8!
  • Northern Exposure: In "All Is Vanity," Holling becomes convinced fiancée Shelly prefers, ahem, cleaner-looking men and schedules an appointment with Dr Fleischman. He soon has second thoughts.
  • In Pretty Little Liars episode "The Badass Seed", Spencer manages to wake up normally after a strangling dream: Trope averted.
  • Lister of Red Dwarf is catapulted not only upright but off the bed entirely, complete with frantic clawing at his tongue, after a dream about Rimmer ends with them kissing each other.
  • Averted in Rescue Me. Tommy often has nightmares and delusions, but usually comes out of them looking disoriented before getting his bearings.
  • Saturday Night Live parodied this in their Digital Short when Ellen Page hosted. She wakes up from a bad dream, goes into the bathroom, gets a Jump Scare from a ghoulish Andy Samberg as she looks in the mirror, wakes up from that dream in the same manner, goes into the bathroom again, and gets the same Jump Scare... but it turns out to be Andy's dream instead, only for him to get the same scare from Ellen showing up in the mirror, and so on and so forth to increasing levels of absurdity.
  • In Sex and the City Carrie gets repeated Catapult Nightmares from... nothing... during her relationship with Aidan.
  • In an episode of Spaced, a slammed door awakens the four main characters, each of whom yell something in a montage format.
    Daisy: I'm sorry!
    Mike: I'm hit!
    Brian: (wearing an eyemask) I'm blind!
    Tim: Buffy!
  • Stargate Atlantis does it frequently for Teyla Emmagan. Particularly in "The Gift" and "Doppelganger". Of course, most of her dreams are plot-important and in "Doppelganger" everyone is doing this.
    • Subverted the first time in "The Gift", when Teyla does this in her nighmare but remains lying in bed when she wakes for real.
  • Star Trek
  • Torchwood: Averted. Jack has a nightmare but when he wakes up he just opens his eyes.
  • Horatio Hornblower: Archie Kennedy wakes from a nightmare about his tormentor Simpson flinging himself up in "The Duchess and the Devil".
  • In True Blood Jason does this twice in the same scene as it was a Dream Within a Dream.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, thanks to Goldar's evil spell, the protaganists dream about their past battles and dream that Zordon has fired them as Power Rangers. All five Rangers are shown waking up, but since it was shown from the side instead of the front it loses most of its dramatic effect.
  • On Boy Meets World Cory does this several times in one episode where he has recurring nightmares about killing his friends.
  • Supernatural
    • Averted — surprisingly — when Dean startles awake from dreams of his time in hell with nothing more than a slight twitch.
    • Played straight when Dean wakes up from a nightmare in 7.05 "Shut Up, Dr Phil".
    • Averted in most of the season one episodes where Sam is having prophetic nightmares.
  • In the first season of Heroes Peter wakes up screaming after having a psychic nightmare of the Bad Future where he blows up New York.
  • JK gets this just as he and Monster of the Week Capricorn Zodiarts (Who is also JK's old friend and has the ability to brainwash people]] are about to become famous. Gentaro Kisaragi asks if it was worth stepping on his friends. JK looks down on his feet and he sees that he is standing on the lifeless bodies of his friends Kengo and Tomoko, then turns around to see lifeless Yuki land on him. He wakes up screaming his head off.
  • The X-Files: Mulder is an insomniac and is frequently seen sleeping restlessly. In "Paper Hearts", he keeps having Recurring Dreams and Flashback Nightmares about his sister's abduction. One of them happens when he fell asleep in his office by the desk. Obligatorily, he wakes up, gasping "Samantha!" and flinging himself up.
  • Played with in the fifth season premiere of Castle, "After the Storm". The show starts with a Previously On segment that ends with a clip of the man who nearly killed Beckett in the fourth season finale, "Always", promising to finish the job. This cuts immediately to Castle bolting up from a nightmare. The editing makes it look like he dreamed of Beckett's assailant threatening to kill her. He then notices that he's alone in bed, which has him worried. Enter Beckett, wearing his shirt, a cup of coffee in each hand, assuring him that last night was not a dream.
  • Sansa Stark experiences one in the second season of Game of Thrones. She's dreaming of her experience of nearly being raped in the previous episode. She wakes up, to find out she has started her first menstruation. In any other world, this might be a good thing, except in Westeros, Sansa now knows that King Joffrey will now rape her in the hopes of producing an heir.
  • UFO episode "Exposed". Paul Foster spots a UFO while piloting an experimental plane. Sky One destroys the UFO, but the explosion damages the plane and sends it into a dive. Paul Foster wakes up with a yell and sits up in a hospital bed, apparently after having a nightmare of the flight.
  • Averted and played straight with Stiles in the first episode of the second part of season 3 of Teen Wolf. He bolts awake from a nightmare about the Nemeton only to have it be a Dream Within a Dream. The next one, he simply opens his eyes and wakes up. Several minutes later, that's revealed to be another Dream Within a Dream which causes him to bolt upright screaming when he wakes up for real.
  • In the 1980s V miniseries, Mike Donovan has a claustrophobic nightmare where he and his son Sean try to escape a Visitor mothership (Sean had previously been processed to be used as food for the aliens) and are pursued by Visitor soldiers. After Mike sees his son shot to death in front of him, he jumps awake at resistance headquarters with Julie sitting besides him.
  • In Salem, Anne has one at the beginning of "In Vain".

    Music Videos 

    Puppet Shows 
  • Played straight/parodied in Muppets from Space. Gonzo bolts upright after waking from a Noah's Ark nightmare. Unfortunately, Rizzo is sleeping in a hammock directly above him. The result? Rizzo himself getting catapulted out the the window.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons adventure I10 Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill.
    • At the beginning of the module, the PCs each have a terrible nightmare, then wake up sitting bolt upright in bed, screaming and covered in cold sweat.
    • After the Creature first appears to the Alchemist in a dream, most of the possible results have the Alchemist bolting upright in bed when he wakes up.

    Theater 
  • Miss Saigon: Chris does this upon wakening from his nightmare about Kim. Kim herself often does this (depending on the actress) after her nightmare about how she and Chris were separated during the fall of Saigon.

    Video Games 
  • The opening scene of Valis II for the Sharp X68000. Unfortunately for Yuko, her nightmare is actually real when a monster comes at her window...
  • Combined with a Repeat Cut in Haunting Ground, when Fiona wakes up in the castle bedroom after Riccardo (the housekeeper) informs her of the car accident that killed her parents.
  • Happens constantly in the Chzo Mythos series. Happens about three times in 5 Days a Stranger, twice in 7 Days a Skeptic, and is scripted to happen twice in 6 Days, but it also happens if you die — your death inexplicably becomes a dream, and you just wake up quickly in your bed with a minor scare note.
  • Happens to Thrall in the opening cutscene of Warcraft 3.
  • Sims do this on rare occasions, usually when something traumatic has recently happened. There exists at least one hack to trigger it on command.
  • Zero is prone to these in Mega Man X due to his Dark and Troubled Past and apparently sleeps with his capsule open to facilitate them.
  • Used in one of the endings of Ao Oni: in version 5, Takeshi has a nightmare about being back inside the house, hiding in the cabinet you first found him in, and getting discovered by the monster instead.
  • Shepard starts having these during Mass Effect 3. They involve following a kid s/he saw die in the opening through a forest, hearing the voices of dead characters from earlier in the series.
    • However, it's more of an aversion, as Shepard doesn't catapult so much as simply gasp and jerk awake.
  • Final Fantasy X, Tidus's nightmare concerning his dad during his stay in the Beside Island town hut, screaming "I hate you!"
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, the player has these starting from after the day Victini first appears and ending at the part before the Forest of Shadows.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Luigi has a dream of Antasma attacking the Zeepelin that scares him so much that when he wakes up, he actually dashes across the Zeepelin in panic and falls onto the Pi'illo Blimport tarmac, where he conks out again.
  • In Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, this happens to Gabriel.
  • Thomas, the main character of Neverending Nightmares, does this several dozen times over the course of the game for reasons that should be obvious.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens in the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night, after Shirou dreams of walking through a Field of Blades and looks down at his arm, only to see that it's turned into a sword.

    Web Animation 
  • In Kirbopher's April Fool's Flash animation $eG@, four versions of Sonic do this in succession.
  • Lampshaded in one Evil Josh And Billy episode. Evil Josh at first does this, but then notes that nobody wakes up like that in real life, then realizes that this is also a dream. Sure enough, he's right. Unfortunately he was asleep in the middle of driving a car and immediately crashes after he wakes up.
  • There was a point in Lucky Day Forever where Prole 514 dreamed that he was a White. He was about to score with a Female White until the White tells him that he is just a servant. Trope was used to indicate that was all in 514's head.
  • Bee from Bee and Puppycat does this in the first episode after waking up from a bizarre nightmare.
    "AAH BAD DREAM!!" (points at Puppycat) "AAH YOU WERE THERE!!" (picks up empty lasagna tray) "AAH LASAGNA'S GONE!!"

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Equestria Chronicles has a few of these. Most notably, Clockwork set one up about a foal being brutally murdered... without revealing it was a nightmare until hours later.

    Western Animation 
  • In Justice League, Fearful Symmetry, Supergirl wakes up from a nightmare in which she cruelly hunts down and kills a citizen, to find she burned holes in the ceiling with her heat vision.
  • The Simpsons, frequently.
    • Subverted in the second Treehouse of Horror special, where Homer didn't catapult awake because he had a nightmare, but rather because Bart bit him.
    • Also humorously played straight at the end of Bart's nightmare in the same special, not because anything generally scary happened, but to Bart it's a wonderful dream, until Homer kisses him, which causes him to wake up screaming long and loud (complete with the camera zooming into his screaming black mouth.)
    • Subverted again in another episode, where Homer jumps up and yells "NOOOOO!" while still in the dream. He then says, "hmmm, that's funny. That usually ends the dream." Then he wakes up the normal way.
    • Lampshaded on a commentary, where they ask if it's even possible to sit bolt upright. (It is, but you'd have to be a little fitter than Homer.)
    • One of the funniest comes from "Moaning Lisa" in which Homer dreams that he and Bart turn into the characters from the video game "Super Slugfest" and Bart is about to beat him to death, Homer wakes up screaming then almost immediately falls back to sleep.
    • Played with in the episode "The Sweetest Apu". After Homer stumbled on Apu cheating on Manjula with the Squishee girl, he ends dreaming that Apu brings out the Squishee girl in the typical harem room environment, and then tells the eunuch (Homer) to avert his eyes before making love with the Squishee girl. Homer then bolts up and screams, then wonders what an "eunuch" is, consulting to the dictionary, and then screams again when he learns what the definition of an eunuch is. The second scream is what wakes Marge up.
    • Lampshaded at the end of nightmare in "Bart Sells His Soul":
    Sherri and Terri (and their respective souls): Bart, it's time to end this dream / And don't forget the standard scream!
    • In "Homer Loves Flanders", Ned wakes up in this way with an extreme closeup, full of sweat. He telle Maude. "Maude...I think I hate Homer Simpson!" and she gasps. The camera flashes over to the Simpson house and Homer wakes up with the exact same face and camera angle before saying
    Homer: Marge, I think I hate...Ted Koppel! No wait, I find him informative and witty. Night.
  • Arthur: All of the time. Here are some early examples:
    • Used and subverted in an episode where Buster has a dream in which Arthur and Alan "Brain" are actually aliens, and are pulling him toward them with telekinetic powers as he screams. He wakes up quietly and near-motionlessly, calmly says, "That was scary," and goes back to sleep. Meanwhile, Arthur has a dream in which his sister Dora Winifred "D.W." comes into their tent to deliver the news that her and Arthur's mother said they have to let her sleep in the tent, too. He does the catapult with scream, which his mother takes for being caused by a nightmare about aliens.
    • In the episode "Sick as a dog" in which Pal gets sick from eating junk food with Arthur and he has to remain at the vets overnight, that night Arthur has a nightmare in which a pack of wild dogs tie up the staff, burn down the clinic, and abduct Pal, before they take him Pal calls the Read's house and speaks to Arthur using dog sounds and Arthur cries out "Pal where are you?!" while lightning strikes, Arthur bolts out of bed gasping and says "Woah!... what a ridiculous dream... Pal doesn't know our phone number!".
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy
    • In the episode "Rock-A-Bye Ed", Ed has a crazy nightmare in which his mother (who for some reason has Johnny 2x4's face and voice) throws him to "the Kanker pit" for accidentally bugging Sarah. Ed wakes up screaming, and Eddy throws a bucket of water in Ed's face to shut him up.
    • It happens again at the end when it turns out the whole episode was All Just a Dream Jonny 2x4 had.
  • Aelita has a few screaming wake-ups in Code Lyoko, especially in Season 2 when she is trying to (re)adapt to life in the real world. This usually ends up ruining Sissi's beauty sleep, since her bedroom is next door.
  • Happens to Candace at the end of Phineas and Ferb Get Busted. And Perry thanks to a Dream Within a Dream.
  • Ron in the Kim Possible episode "Ill-Suited".
  • Snoopy wakes up this way in the aptly-named special What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown.
  • Danny Phantom where Sam, Tucker, and Jazz all do this... triggered by Danny in order to save them from eternal dreaming helmets.
  • King of the Hill
    • Episode "Bwah My Nose": Hank wakes up normally after a bad dream.
    • Also in the episode "Sug Night" after his second naked Nancy dream he wakes up screaming and Peggy asks what's wrong and he covers it by saying he hears Ladybird whining.
    • In "Hank's Unmentionable Problem" Peggy has a nightmare about Hank dying from his constipation and Cotton flushing the coffin to Hell and she wakes up screaming.
    • And in "Are You There God?, It's Me Margaret Hill" in which Peggy has a nightmare that Monsignor Martinez abducts her students and takes them to Hell and throws them into a fiery pit because she had lied about being a nun, for a moment it seems that the fire has burnt out only for Hank to light with his propane, Peggy then wakes up screaming.
  • Happens to Peter in the The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Blueprints".
  • Happens a number of times in the Futurama episode "The Sting". Leela catapults Nibbler in the process of waking up at least twice.
  • Teen Titans: Raven does this once in the episode "Fear Itself".
    • Also done by Robin at the beginning of "Apprentice - Part 1".
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Prince Zuko wakes up like this from his Angst Coma.
    • Aang does this a few times himself; most notably in "Nightmares and Daydreams", where he once wakes up everybody with his screams.
    Sokka: (woken up as a result of Aang doing this in "The Storm") What happened? Did we get captured again?
  • Wakfu
    • A variation in episode 22: Sadlygrove doesn't propel himself upward immediately after the Dream Sequence... but screams at the top of his lungs.
    • Adamaï also has such a wake-up in episode 24, after receiving a dream warning from the Tree of Life.
  • The Boondocks goes here from time to time; most notably Tom's Prison Rape nightmare.
  • Gary the Rat begins every episode waking up from a horrible nightmare, sometimes even leaping clear out of his bed.
  • The Rugrats episode "In the Dreamtime" has two. The first one happens to Chuckie early in the episode, and the second one happens to Chuckie's dad at the end of the episode.
    "I'm not Stu! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!"
  • Happens at one point in the Dream Within a Dream ending of the Rocko's Modern Life episode "To Heck and Back".
  • Ren and Stimpy
    • In the episode "Robin Hoek", Ren dreams that he is Robin Hood and Stimpy is Maid Moron, at the end after saving Stimpy from the sheriff they kiss and Ren wakes up shrieking in terror, he wipes the sweat off his forehead and says "Thank goodness it was only a dream!" and he glances over at Stimpy dressed in the Maid Moron outfit and he faints.
    • Also in the uncut version of the pilot episode "Big House Blues", Ren dreams that he is flirting with a woman, little does he know he's caressing Stimpy in his sleep and he leans over and kisses him, he wakes up and screams and he washes out his mouth in the toilet.
  • This has happened to both of the title characters in Pinky and the Brain at different points, most notably in the episode "Snowball".
  • Zachary pulls one of these after a Nightmare Sequence (revealed later to be Mind Rape) in the Galaxy Rangers episode "Psychocrypt." Having the Queen of the Crowns invading one's head on a nightly basis for at least a week couldn't have been comfortable.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Dark Hand member Finn has a nightmare where, for some reason, he and the other members of the Dark Hand (including Valmont and the Shadowkhan) have started a band and their performance is interrupted by Jackie swooping in from a helicopter, claiming they were off-key, and punching Finn in the face. Back to the real world, Finn tosses and turns in his bed for a moment, before catapulting up, panting and screaming.
  • Parodied in Phineas and Ferb's Christmas Vacation, when Phineas lies in a bed and catapults repeatedly, hoping the episode up to this point will turn out to be All Just a Dream.
  • Eek! The Cat
    • In the intro of the first two seasons, Eek (in his superhero outfit) saves Annabelle from the burning house, but his cape gets caught on fire, so he and Annabelle fall down. This cuts to Eek flinging up in a bed and screaming briefly, and then he looks around, wipes the sweat off his forehead and smiles, before jumping off the bed and falling.
    • In the second episode "Bearz 'n the Hood", Eek had a dream in which he is hanging out with one of his owners, Wendy Elizabeth, and has her autograph finally signed. Then they go to the moon, but Eek's head grows bigger because there's no air, and as he screams in horror, his head explodes. After that, Eek wakes up screaming for a long time, but without flinging up. It turns out that one of the Squishy Bears made Eek wake up, and tries to chew him out, but Eek still screams.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Happens to Rainbow Dash in the episode "May the Best Pet Win", after being awoken from a crazy dream in which she is menaced by a mash up of several of her friends' pets.
    • In Twilights Kingdom Part 1, Celestia does this when she gets the vision of Tirek returning. Luna then comes in to confirm it wasn't just a nightmare.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Gumball does a particularly epic one in the episode "The Kiss".
  • The Transformers. Daniel has one in the season 3 episode aptly named The Nightmare Planet.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron takes this to the extreme in one episode when it happens multiple times in a row. With the result being several Dream Within a Dream moments. It gets even better when it turns out the whole episode was the the bad guy in bed with his wife.
  • Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny short "Water Watrer Every Hare". At the end Bugs Bunny bolts upright in his bed and panics, yelling "Who? Where? What? When?"
  • Ernest Le Vampire: Every episode ended this way.

    Real Life 
  • Certain people will react this way, most notably to dreams that feel real(dreams where you are in your bed for instance).
    • Will often wake up kicking, punching, or screaming.

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