"One thousand little worlds die one thousand little deaths as you brush past the veil of your eyelids."So, the whole episode's been All Just a Dream. The Big Bad's subjugation of Canada never happened, the Will They or Won't They? couple didn't really get together and, unfortunately, The Scrappy didn't actually die. So, it's all back to the status quo, right? But wait... what about that Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who helped the fight? The Girl of the Week who fell for the protagonist? That cute ferret-mouse-dog... thing? What'll happen to them when the hero wakes up? More importantly, what if they realize what will happen if he wakes up? This, my friends, is a Dream Apocalypse. Any one of a number of things can now occur: perhaps the characters of the dream conspire to keep the hero asleep forever. Perhaps the hero himself tries to force himself never to wake-up. Or, if the writers don't feel like writing a Downer Ending, there'll be a hint that it wasn't just a dream after all. Often appears as the conclusion to a Lotus-Eater Machine, Cuckoo Nest or Ontological Mystery plot, and is a sure-fire sign of a bona-fide Mind Screw. Compare Noticing The Fourth Wall. Warning for spoilers, as this is often tied into All Just a Dream endings.
— Narrator, Little Worlds
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Anime and Manga
- Zoku Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei uses this trope while playing with All Just a Dream: the characters realise it's a dream and if Sensei wakes up, they'll all die. So they try to kill him instead. Don't think too hard about what happens if they succeed.
- Fate's Lotus-Eater Machine experience in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's had her realizing that everything's a dream and that she needed to escape to help Nanoha stop The End of the World as We Know It. It ended with her tearfully hugging the dream-Alicia while repeatedly asking for forgiveness as the latter slowly disappeared, mentioning how she wished that she had been her older sister in reality too.
- Inverted in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya when Haruhi's dream starts replacing reality. Kyon has to convince her that their original world is better than her new dream world (even though her dream world has such cool giant monsters terrorizing the city).
- The title character of Battle Angel Alita is trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine and shown an idyllic alternate world with Ido and a friendly Desty Nova. She breaks free after a while despite regrets about no longer being with Ido. In a twist, the dream affects Desty Nova even more. Alita was able to hold herself together and simply enjoy the break, while Desty Nova got too absorbed in the father figure role. After the dream ends, Desty Nova is in tears and cannot bring himself to shoot Alita.
- In For the Man Who Has Everything, Superman is stuck in a Lotus-Eater Machine where Krypton never exploded. He eventually has to come to terms with that, and the fact that all of his loved ones will cease to be if he escapes.
Kal-El: You're my son and I'll always love you, but I don't think you're real...
- In The Sandman, Dream destroys an entire dreamscape, but all of the assorted Dream People seem resigned to this. It's softened by later revelations that they all go to an afterlife, and can be resurrected at will by Dream.
- Anderson: Psi-Division: When Anderson investigates the death of a person who was killed inside a virtual reality simulation, some of the projections beg Anderson to save them from ceasing to exist.
- This was the Twist Ending to Bruce Jones' horror comic "You: Illusion", where the main antagonist becomes a lucid dreamer of Reality Warper levels as soon as he falls asleep. In a further twist, the protagonist ends up trying to complete the Apocalypse, because the dreamer in question already briefly woke up, with extremely painful results for everything and everyone in the dream world.
- In the Axis Powers Hetalia fanfiction ''A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes'', Denmark is put in a Lotus-Eater Machine dream world, because of the Black Mercy plant infecting him. At one point, he becomes vaguely aware that he's in a dream, during a nearly successful attempt by the other nations to remove the plant. When the attempt fails and the dream world is stabilized, the dream version of Iceland pleads with Denmark to stay with him forever, because the plant needs Denmark to stay asleep to continue to feed off of him. Iceland creepily reminds Denmark of this promise towards the end, when the nations dose him with LSD to try to scare him awake, and the dream world gets really freaking terrifying.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Perfect Little Village of Ponyville, it’s revealed that the main six (plus Vinyl Scratch) are all stuck in a dream of Twilight Sparkle’s. For them, Twilight waking up is the safest way to get out of the dream, but the actual dream constructs will cease to exist when she wakes. On the other hand, Spike is the only one of these constructs to gain self-awareness—and he’s the first person to figure out it’s all a dream, when Ponyville and its residents begin to fade from existence because none of the dreamers are there. Dream Spike ends up performing an unrelated Heroic Sacrifice, so the moral complications of waking up from the dream become a moot point. The same goes for the sequels to this story, which has Vinyl Scratch going through the dreams of the other Mane Six to wake them up as well, as part of an overarching attempt to take down the Dragon Emperor.
- Vanilla Sky ends with the revelation that most of what happened in the movie was All Just a Dream and the main character, David, had been cryogenically frozen and put into a permanent state of lucid dreaming. The dream turns into a nightmare and the protagonist ends up accidentally murdering his girlfriend. When he realizes it is a dream, he is given the choice to start over again with everything happy again, but chooses to wake up instead. His girlfriend appears and he realizes that though he didn't really kill her, she has long since died of old age. However, it is hinted at that they will see each other again as she says she has something to tell him "in the next life, when we are both cats." When the Lotus-Eater Machine was revealed, a psychologist, David's only confidante, argues vehemently that he is not a figment of David's imagination. The dream technician explained to David that he shouldn't feel bad for him, because he is just a superficial character inspired by a movie David once saw. This was proven when the psychologist was unable to recall the names of his two beloved daughters, because David had not thought of them.
- Implied to be the end for the original Total Recall (1990). The movie is deliberately ambiguous, although hints like "Blue skies on Mars?" before Quaid goes under imply most of the movie has been a trip into a Lotus-Eater Machine with some very unpleasant brain damage for Quaid (i.e. a "schizoid embolism" according to one of the characters).
- Inception has two or three variations: To a lesser extent, the projections who attack any foreign entity in the dream when the host starts to realise he's dreaming; played much straighter, however, is Cobb's projection of Mal, particularly at the end within limbo and inverted with the real Mal, who was convinced that what Cobb thinks is the real world is a dream, and that she needed to die to return to "reality."
- In the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland (2010), the Hatter mentions this possibility to Alice, saying that if she is dreaming it all, then he must not truly exist. He doesn't seem too concerned about it however, even half-jokingly telling her that she must be a little crazy to have imagined someone like him. (Which she doesn't deny.)
- Played with in Alice Through The Looking Glass. Tweedledum and Tweedledee tell Alice that she (and they) are just characters in the Red King's dream, and that when he wakes she will disappear like a candle flame after it goes out. This in a story that is supposedly Alice's dream.
- Alice at one point gets fed up with this whole concept, and considers waking him up just to see what will happen. (She doesn't get a chance to.)
- Though she's left idly wondering at the end if her cat Dina's kitten, the "Red King" behind the looking glass, is still dreaming, and if she and the real world are just part of his dream.
- In a takeoff of the above, there's a cult in The Man With the Golden Torc who alter reality by telling the severed, dreaming, drugged up head of their college professor what to dream, calling him The Red King. Though apparently not the whole world was his dream, just the cult, and when he is awakened they all wink out of existence.
- Well, it's not technically a dream, but Otherland by Tad Williams still employs this. The main characters are trying to destroy a VR simulation from the inside. The people inside seem awfully real—and some of the main characters are virtual and don't know it. Fortunately, it turns out there's a way to Save Both Worlds.
- As the World of Dreams is a constant force of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, it's only natural for this to crop up throughout the story. In fact, it's revealed that every Aes Sedai is forced to undergo this (THREE TIMES, no less!) when progressing from Novice to Accepted of the White Tower. Even worse, almost every time we see it happen, the results persist somewhat.
- Some versions of the Cthulhu Mythos put Azathoth in the role of the dreamer, with the whole universe as his dream. Pray he doesn't wake up.
- Philip K. Dick's short story, The Electric Ant, plays with this. The main character finds that his reality is simulated by punchholes in a magnetic tape reel in his chest. He wonders whether the world would fade away if he cuts the tape. He cuts the tape. The next scene is narrated by his wife beside his dead body and she discusses how ridiculous his delusion was. Then she starts fading away.
- In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, Shambry threatens this: he is keeping the queen asleep because if she wakes, they will all vanish as her dream. Imfray's men are frightened, but Imfray himself sees he's lost his mind and stops him, breaking the mind-globe controlling her.
- This is one of the many alternative explanations for Colin Whisterfield's experiences in Alan Garner's Boneland: all Colin's experiences of having visited a narnia-like fantasy land superimposed on his own Cheshire, england, are just a dream brought about by psychosis and treatment for mental illness. This is written in step with the story of a neolithic shaman who fears that if he stops dreaming, his world will end. At the end is an ironic twist - that in one very real sense, the world you dream will inevitably stop and cease to be - at the moment of your own death.
- The Gods of Pegana are either this or very close—some say that everything comes from Mana-Yood-Sushai's dream, while others say that he created everything and then went to sleep. Either way, once he wakes up, "he will make again new gods and new worlds," having destroyed the old. Skarl the Drummer plays his drum to keep him asleep (which is nice of him, since he'll actually survive Mana-Yood-Sushai's awakening). Even Mana-Yood-Sushai's own priests don't pray to him, because you know, that might wake him up.
Live Action TV
- Smallville: In "Lexmas", Lex Luthor is in a coma and dreams about a "perfect" life in which he is married to Lana, with a boy and expecting a girl; Clark is married to Chloe instead, and Clark is perfect about it. He broke off from his father and his ambitions, making them not very rich but very happy. Jonathan Kent becomes senator instead, and announces that Lex is receiving the Kansas Humanitarian Award, and, of all people, says that Lex is the finest man he ever knew. He marvels that he has never felt happier. His mother's ghost informs him that this can be reality if he makes the right choices. The apocalypse rolls by as Lana starts losing blood heavily after delivering the baby girl. Lex begs his father to let Lana get the best treatment, but he cruelly denies it as in reality Lionel orders a risky operation to be done on Lex. He breaks down in the dream world and wakes up in reality.
- Life On Mars ended on this trope - wake up from his coma and go back to being chief inspector, or stay with Annie and Gene in the dream world. Sam wakes up, then changes his mind and jumps off a building, returning to the dream.
- Inverted in Ashes to Ashes, where Series 2 ends with Alex waking up in the real world... but Gene Hunt is still there and trying to wake her back up into the 80's. In Series 3 it is hinted at / revealed (depending on your point of view) that she never woke up at all, but dreamed it within her dream.
- The Twilight Zone (1959): In the episode "Shadow Play": a murderer tries to dodge the electric chair by claiming that the whole universe is just a dream of his, and killing him will end the dream. Turns out, he's absolutely correct, the world is just a nightmare of his - a recurring one, too.
- The Twilight Zone (1985): In the episode "Nightcrawlers", the characters from a sleeping man's nightmares come to life and wreak havoc. When the monsters accidentally kill the sleeping man, they all vanish.
- In Doctor Who, when Donna is caught in a Lotus-Eater Machine in "Forest of the Dead," she starts panicking when she realizes that her two children don't actually exist. Then they start saying, "When you're not looking, we disappear." And then the entire world goes white and she's shown desperately trying to hold onto her husband, who might not be real either. Turns out, he is real, but she just doesn't know.
- This shows up repeatedly in Star Trek in various ways.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- In the episode "The Big Goodbye", one of the holodeck characters who has learned the nature of his existence asks Dixon Hill (Captain Picard) if his world will still exist when Hill/Picard leaves. He can only answer, "I honestly don't know."
- In "Elementary, Dear Data", this served as a motivation for the Hologram of Professor Moriarty who, upon learning what he was, took the ship hostage and demanded that the crew find a way to make him permanently real. They eventually do, for a certain definition of real.
- And then there are the people from Barclay's simulation...
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Shadowplay" featured a lone village on a planet with no other humanoids. And people were disappearing one by one Turns out they were all holograms and the holoprojector was malfunctioning. When they learn the truth, they agree that the machine will be switched off temporarily for repair... and then we get another twist- One of them is real!
- Star Trek: Voyager:
- Much of the show's plot lines revolved about the holographic doctor who knows perfectly well he's just a program, and at some point suggests that he should be restarted to function again, even though this will kill (reset) his individuality.
- The episode "The Thaw" featured a villain who was the personification of fear. He could only exist inside the minds of individuals with their brains wired into a computer simulation. If they are disconnected, he will cease to exist. He is defeated when Captain Janeway tricks him into freeing the others in exchange for herself, claiming to have a better relationship with the concept due to her career as a starship captain. The twist is that though she plugged into the system, she didn't leave reality - she sent a hologram into the simulation in her stead(just as the Doctor did throughout the episode). She left a sympathetic message to the villain, though; "You know as well as I do that fear only exists for one purpose. To be conquered."
- Canadian kid drama The Odyssey featured the hero falling into a coma and arriving in a dream world that reflected his mental state. Oddly enough, even after he woke up, the parallel world continued on without AND with him, complete with a dream version of himself continuing to live there.
- Dollhouse provides an interesting example of this with the imprinting and wiping of the actives. It's even lampshaded by the "Did I fall asleep?" dialogue whenever actives return from an engagement. Further lampshaded at the beginning of Season 2. Dr. Claire Saunders learns that she is actually Whiskey, a scarred - and therefore otherwise unusable - active imprinted semi-permanently as the Dollhouse's physician. When Topher points out that she could have chosen to be 'fixed' - via wipe - at any time, she replies, "I don't want to die..."
- The djinn episode of Supernatural, "What Is And What Should Never Be" features this, as there's a period where Dean still thinks his resurrected loved ones are real, but increasingly believes that the only moral thing to do is take his wish back because of all the lives his happiness costs. Ultimately he suicide-escapes.
- The Prisoner (2009): All the people in the village have some sort of counterpart in the real world. 2's son 11-12 is one of the few people who doesn't have one, and also has no childhood memories. He tries to murder his "mother" and hangs himself when he realizes that he only exists in someone else's imagination.
- Night Gallery has the episode "The Lifeboat". The Lusitania picks up a castaway floating in a lifeboat from the Titanic, despite it having sunk three years before. It eventually turns out that the man is actually a sailor who fled the Titanic in the last lifeboat and has been damned for his cowardice to experience disastrous shipwrecks throughout history over and over, and that all the other crewmembers are just phantoms of who they were, something one of them realizes himself. When he points this out to the captain, he realizes he cant actually remember his past in any detail, and just like that, the ship is empty, aside from the castaway.
- There are certain beliefs in Hinduism that the universe is a dream of either Brahma or Vishnu, and if he ever wakes up... To outsiders, it sounds terrifying, but to those who believe this, it isn't scary. Hinduism believes in Eternal Recurrence. The god will sleep again, and you will be again.
- This isn't just found in Hinduism, either. Buddhism and Taoism also have similar belief sets. Taoism, for instance, believes in something called the "holograph" which is basically a belief that the world is basically a complex illusion based on the self. In Buddhism, this is called the Desire Realm.
- You're not told this at first, but in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, your ultimate objective is to trigger one of these. The entire world is, in fact, the Wind Fish's dream. Adding insult to injury is that the people of the island are completely oblivious to this truth, but the villainous Nightmares aren't, and they are, in fact, trying to save the world they took over. But when the Dream Apocalypse happens, there are two who leave the dream world with you: the Wind Fish, whom it turns out you've been sharing this dream with; and (if you beat the game without dying) potential love interest Marin, who gets her wish of flying to far-off lands and singing... as a seagull.
- The manga version develops this angle a bit more, with Link fully realizing what will happen and actually abandoning his quest when he learns about the dream world, only for Marin (who doesn't know the truth but had her own issues with dreams) and the Exposition Fairies (who do know) to encourage him to get back on track.
- Subverted in Eternal Sonata. Chopin is dying, and enters the game world on his deathbed. Throughout the game, he insists that the entire world is his dream. At the end, in order to prove it's his dream and not reality, he decides to kill the entire party. It doesn't work.
- The PS3 version makes it possible for this to be played straight- if you lose the final fight, Chopin wakes up, then is hinted to die with all his dreams killed.
- An interesting case occurs in Final Fantasy X: The main character Tidus witnesses the destruction of his home city and is swallowed by a gigantic monster, but when he wakes up he finds himself in a fantastic world that is supposedly the future, 1000 years after his city was destroyed. In an interesting twist, Tidus is not the dreamer and his adventure a dream. While the city did exist and was destroyed 1000 years ago, the city Tidus is from is a dream of the few survivors of the destruction, who have put themselves into eternal sleep so their memories of the city are never forgotten. Tidus is just a part of this dream memory, but has been projected in physical form into the dream world. To end their dream, as they request, would mean an apocalypse and suicide, but somehow he gets a vision of an afterlife of some sort, with his father, who was also a dream denizen made real. Fully completing in the sequel results in his living as a normal person.
- In the Touhou fan-game Concealed The Conclusion, Gensokyo is a dream of Reimu Hakurei, and will cease to exist when she wakes up. In the Good End, it is revealed that the game's protagonist (Marisa Kirisame) is also from outside Gensokyo and is sharing the same dream.
- In the Extra and Phantasm Stages, Suika Ibuki managed to survive Gensokyo's destruction, and has started putting the world back together again piece by piece.
- The indie game Oracle of Tao has this played perfectly straight. The world is split into a world of existence (the New Earth), and nonexistence (the Void). Everything in the Void except inside towns has No Ontological Inertia, and just gets swallowed up after 24 hours. If the "real world" exists and the mirror of the real world doesn't exist, what does that really say about the whole? It "sort of" exists. At the end of the game, it turns out God has been sleeping the whole time, and when God wakes up, everything but the main character will wink out of existence (don't ask about the main character).
- In the Game Gear version of Ristar, one of the bosses seems to be a dream master. When he is beaten, the background, which was a fairly normal world becomes overrun with lightning and storm clouds, thus hinting at what happens to the world Ristar is in when he beats the boss.
- In Fear Mythos: The RPG, it is revealed that all the creatures, Fears, that you thought you were fighting for real, were actually twisted trials by a Fear called THE REVERIE, who placed you in a coma.
- In Twisted Metal 2, Roadkill/Marcus Kane's ending is him claiming the game is just him having a bad dream and wishes to wake up from it, Calypso responds that "He would be the one to figure it all out", then gladly agrees, but not before telling Marcus to "Feel free to visit any time, for the rest of your friends will be here for quite a while!", soon after, Marcus awakes in a hospital, surrounded by his family, apparently having survived a 15 car pile-up, with the other contestants being in the other beds by him. However, at the end of it, Calypso's evil laughter is heard. So is it a Dream Apocalypse within a dream? Or an illusion?
- Played with in Ultima VII: Serpent Isle, there's a town that was shoved into the dreamworld after an evil sorcerer's magical experiment went awry.
- In Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter, where the whole damn world is revealed to be The dream of a boy in a coma. When going home from the fair, the car he was in was involved in an accident which killed his parents. And it turns out he has a sister named Heather with a bandage across the left side of her face - the area where Raposa!Heather had the darkness. And to top it all off? The Raposa are based off the toys he and Heather won at the fair - Mari and Jowee.
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance brings up the possibility, but the sequel suggests that it didn't happen.
- One of the episodes of Night Springs in Alan Wake discusses this subject. A man has entered his own dream, only to find many other people conspiring to keep a man asleep. It turns out that it's all a dream within a dream, and that if this man wakes up too suddenly, everybody in the dream will be wiped out. The show ends as an alarm clock sounds.
- The DLC "The Writer" also uses this. Both DLC episodes take place in Alan's dreams as he tries to wake up to avoid being driven mad from isolation. Along the way, you're helped by a dream version of your friend Barry...who then becomes the final boss to keep you from waking up.
- Glitch: The world, the players, everything- took place within the dreams of 11 Giants. The real life shut down of the game was explained as the Giants waking up.
- Magicant. "Take your time, because this country's going to disappear when you wake up."
- Even more so with the first MOTHER's Magicant, except instead of it being your dream, it's the dream of Queen Mary.
- In Dreaming Mary, the Funny Animals who inhabit her Dream Land know that it's a dream, and when Mary wants to wake up, some of them start getting rather distressed.
- In Bloodborne, Micolash, the Host of the Nightmare suffered from this after you forcely awoke him. sadly, he can no longer awake, as he's Killed Off for Real by you.
- The Talos Principle has a variant on this. It's clear from almost the start that the entire game takes place in a VR simulation, and the godlike being Elohim is just an AI designed to monitor the system, so his grandiloquent proclamations that it will be "the end of your generations" if you climb the mysterious tower are easy to take with a grain of salt. However, it turns out that the original designers of the simulation intended the tower as a final test for any AIs who have shown the qualities necessary to survive in the outside world (such as yourself), and should you complete your final ascent, the virtual world will be erased as it's no longer needed. In the end, Elohim accepts his impending deletion with dignity, but as you're finally uploaded to a physical body, you're treated to a montage of all the worlds you've puzzled your way through being destroyed in apocalyptic fashion.
- In The Secret World, the universe is essentially a dream made into reality through the manipulations of the Host and the servitude of a group of Eldritch Abominations called the Dreamers. They're desperately trying to wake up, but are forced to dream and maintain current reality by Gaia Engines, which are explicitly called "lullaby music boxes". And they'll take great pleasure in devouring all the souls in this world and reshaping the universe into something more to their liking once they're awake enough. Oh, and their thoughts, in the form of the Filth are actively subverting these Engines...
- In Mortal Kombat, all of existence is said to be the shattered consciousness of an Eldritch Abomination known as the One Being, who was forced to sleep by the Elder Gods and split into several different realms of existence. If it were to wake up, all living beings would be absorbed into it and become whole again. Its strongly implied that he might be influencing the Big Bads of the story like Onaga, Shao Kahn and Shinnok, since they have aspirations to conquer or destroy all realms, and the One Being happens to awaken in their non-canon endings.
- xkcd uses a rather heartwrenching variation, seen above.
- And in another strip, the dream characters realize that they are in a dream, and decide to go out with a bang.
- Fans! has a hallucinatory Counselor Troi "sense existential terror -- oh wait, that's me."
- Defied in Homestuck. The dreamself and dream bubble mechanic aside, there was at least one character explicitly stated to be the creation of Jake's subconscious, who kept on existing even after Jake woke up. He even remarks that his existence is weird.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal parodies this trope. A woman realizes that the world and everyone in it is just figments in her dreams, including her husband. When he asks her what they should do, she says she has a plan: demand that they make her the ruler of the world or she'll "pinch herself really hard".
- Another strip plays with the idea that our reality is just part of a recursive simulation, and that "our" God is just a dreamer from a higher reality who's put himself in a simulation to make a world that works the way he wants to. The person who finds this out is just about to do the same because he doesnt like the way this world works and wants to run his own.
- Justice League had an episode set on a parallel world that seemed to be a modern day version of The Golden Age of Comic Books, complete with expy of the Justice Society of America, the Justice Guild of America, who decades ago had been comic-book characters that Green Lantern had read as a kid. The League eventually discovers that this world had been destroyed long ago by World War III, and a powerful psychic mutant child created a fantasy world perpetually stuck in the 1950's for himself and the few survivors left. In it his biggest heroes were still alive and battled their enemies endlessly in reenactments of their adventures. When the Justice League tried to defeat the child in order to free the inhabitants and find a way back to their own Earth, the imaginary Golden Age heroes fought beside the JL, fully cognizant that if the illusion ended, so would they. "We died once to save this earth, and we can do it again." Although Green Lantern at first attempts to apologize to the freed citizens for destroying the utopia-illusion, this was shown to unambiguously be the right thing to do, unlike most examples. An ice cream truck driver brushes off GL's apology, revealing that the people were trapped in the illusion against their will, and freeing them finally gave them a chance to live their own lives and repair their world. "Being stuck in an ice cream truck for 40 years, that's a nightmare."
- Another example from Justice League Unlimited (adapted from the Alan Moore classic For the Man Who Has Everything): Superman was caught by a Lotus-Eater Machine in plant form, called the Black Mercy, which had him dreaming he was on a still-existing Krypton with a wife and son, forcing him to consciously will the planet's destruction if he was to escape and save his superfriends. One of the last images from his dream is Krypton exploding as he clung tightly to his dream-son.
Superman: I've loved you and watched you grow, but... heaven help me, Van. I don't think you're real. I'm sorry... But I have my responsibilities, Van, and I have to...go now...
- And then it gets stuck on Batman, who is taken back to the night of his parents' death, except this time, Thomas Wayne rushes Joe Chill and starts beating the ever-loving crap out of him like a badass, while Young Bruce cheers him on. When Superman and Wonder Woman start to pry the Black Mercy off him, Chill starts regaining the upper hand in the fight, and manages to get his gun back. He shoots and kills Thomas just as the Black Mercy comes completely off.
- The Black Mercy gives you the strongest possible reason not to leave until it's done eating you. Mongul equates removing it from yourself and deliberately ending your fantasy to tearing off your own arm, what with the amount of willpower you would need to inflict such pain upon yourself.
- "Rarg", from an episode of Long Ago and Far Away, is a perfectly happy world where the sun doesn't come up until everyone's had a good night's sleep (don't think about it too much). Then scientists probing the nature of reality discover that their world is all a dream in the mind of someone asleep in the real world, and will probably vanish when he wakes up. To prevent this, they manage to open a portal to reality and bring the sleeper though.
- In one episode of Cow and Chicken, an evil milkman from Cow's nightmare materializes in the real world and terrorizes Chicken, Flem, and Earl. When they wake Cow up, he disappears.
- In The Transformers episode "Nightmare Planet", characters and settings from Daniel's dreams and nightmares come to life, including monsters that attack the Autobots, and a lovely fairy tale princess (who looks like Daniel's mom, Carly, and human Arcee) who assists them. When Daniel wakes up at the end, everything from his dreams disappears. Springer, who had bonded with the princess, is distraught and asks what happened to her. Rodimus Prime sadly says that she never truly existed.
- Played with in Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys. The crew and some villains find a crack in a wall where you can whisper anything you want and it will appear, but are warned by a guardian that it is really the ear of a sleeping giant who dreams the universe. Not believing this, they end up wishing for bigger and better weapons as they fight, only to actually wake the giant up, which causes the universe to start to disintegrate until they manage to make him sleep again with a Techno Babble 'lullaby'. However, in the end, appropriately enough, the whole episode is implied to be All Just a Dream.
- The Adventure Time episode "Puhoy" is about Finn entering a pillow world and actually staying there well into adulthood with a wife and kids, before he learns it is possible to go back. After that, his family tries to help him return, but he remains there until his dream-self gets old and dies. Then he wakes up to learn it was All Just a Dream and he can't remember any of it.
- The episode "Everything's Jake" has a similar premise, where Magic Man casts a spell on Jake to make his body shapeshift into an entire world, filled with many characters who may or may not simply be parts of Jake. Either way, Jake still seems upset about having to end their existence by returning.
- In the aptly-titled "Wake Up," Prismo is revealed as a being created from the dreams of a sleeping old man, who is woken up resulting in Prismo's death. Unlike most examples, though, Prismo comes Back from the Dead the next time the man goes asleep—or would have if the Lich hadn't killed that man immediately afterward. As it turns out, though, Jake and he had formed a close enough "bro-bond" that Jake could take the old man's place by sleeping forever. Thanks to a Timey-Wimey Ball, he does and continues living his life, bringing Prismo back.
- A variation of this is also how Finn escapes the titular monster in "King Worm." He's trapped in a dream and escapes it by intentionally thinking of all his worst fears, messing up the dreamscape so much that the titular worm can't maintain control of it and thus Finn is able wake up.