My sleeping bag is trying to eat me!
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. 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
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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
- 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.
- 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.
- Hanaukyo 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.
- The old Board Game Don't Wake Daddy. But again, that's because of an outside sensation, not a dream.
- 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.
- Used to clever effect in Fox Trot, 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.
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.
- 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 2 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.
- Franchise/Stardance contests
- Hitchcock's Vertigo.
- 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.
- 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 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 the original 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. Max bolts upright and the camera zooms in on his spotlit eyes.
- This is what happens to Tina in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street after her first nightmare with Freddy.
- 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....
- 1982 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Final Fantasy X, Tidus's nightmare concerning his dad during his stay in the Beside Island town hut, screaming "I hate you!"
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.