Cobb: We create the world of the dream, we bring the subject into that dream, and they fill it with their secrets.The opposite of a Dream Weaver, this is a character that steals/destroys/eats the dreams of others, usually because they gain something from doing so. Perhaps they themselves are normally unable to dream and want to experience it, perhaps dreams are the food source of their species, or perhaps they're just doing it for fun. The effects of having one's dreams stolen vary greatly. Victims of dream theft may become unable to sleep properly, lose their creativity or even go completely insane. In some cases, there may not be any side effects at all, particularly if the dream is merely being shared or copied rather than completely removed. Dream Stealers are usually villains, although heroic and neutral examples do occur. If they are harmful, this is a job for a heroic Dream Walker to stop them. Can lead to Cannot Dream. Compare Anatomy of the Soul. Contrast Dream Weaver.
Ariadne: Then we break in and steal it?
Ariadne: Then we break in and steal it?
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Anime and Manga
- Campari from King of Bandit Jing has the ability to steal dreams from other people and encapsulate them in a ball. He usually sells them to other people so they can dream about some specific thing, though he can also turn them into reality in emergency situations.
- Hello Kitty and Friends had an episode where a monster was eating the dreams of Kitty and her friends. The monster was part of a race of monsters whose job was to eat nightmares, but this monster was a mischievous child who was eating pleasant dreams because they tasted better...until they gave him a stomachache.
- Digimon has Tapirmon, who is based off the dream-eating Baku and is said to have the same abilities.
- Hell Teacher Nube: A baku is one of the creatures encountered in the course of the plot, and this one is the kind who eats all dreams and eventually steals the disillusioned souls of its victims to add to its growing bulk.
- A baku appears in the second Urusei Yatsura movie to help bring the (extra) weirdness to a close.
- Muma (Dream Demons) in Yumekui Merry can do this, though they usually just place themselves in the dreams their host have
- A recurring thing in Pokémon Special. Black's mind is preoccupied with his dream of winning the Pokemon league, so his Munna, named Musha after what it will evolve into, lands on his head and eats his dreams during a battle or when he needs to focus. (see the video game section as well).
- Suske en Wiske: The entire concept of the album "De Dromendiefstal" ("The Dreams Theft") is built around this idea.
- A variation is used in Inception. Cobb does not steal the dreams themselves, but rather uses the dreams to steal thoughts and ideas from people's minds.
- Synonamess Botch's vulture minions from Twice Upon a Time will sometimes find Figmen, who provide good dreams to people, and kill them, destroying the good dreams with them (the vultures deliver nightmares).
- The City of Lost Children is about a mad scientist who cannot dream and kidnaps children to try to steal their dreams.
- German author Michael Ende wrote the book Das Traumfresserchen (The little dream eater) where for once the Dream Eater isn't evil or mean and in fact helpful: It eats the nightmares of a princess.
- The title character in Truman Capote's short story "Master Misery" buys dreams at $5 a pop, but the idea is very similar in terms of the detrimental effect the selling of the dreams has on the heroine and her clown friend.
- In the Dreamblood Duology, Sharers and Gatherers both harvest the dreams of others and are good-aligned exaples. Sharers use the dreamichor harvested from dreams to perform their healing and Gatherers gather dreamblood from those whose time it is to die and shape pleasing final dreams for the departing.
Live Action TV
- The baku (listed below) makes an appearance in Lost Girl as a heroic creature who helps people by eating their bad dreams.
- A rare protagonistic example: Dream Eater On The Sand. It's a song sung by Megurine Luka that tells the story of a distressed boy with terrible memories and nightmares meeting a strange girl who can take them away by eating them.
- And a villainous example appears in Kagamine Len's "Dream-Eating Monochrome Baku," where the titular character eats the nightmares of a young girl but later returns to take away all her aspirations as payment. This is a rather unusual depiction of the baku, which is generally portrayed as a benevolent spirit. The sequel song "Sleeping Beauty" reveals that he is a benevolent spirit... to all of one person, who was his lover and died of an unspecified cause. He steals the dreams of other people and takes away their aspirations in order to give her the energy to stay alive and eventually resurrect, but for the majority of the song she's in a vegetative state.
- Morrigan Aensland is said to be of a particular kind of succubus that, in addition to the usual features, can also feed on the dreams of mortals.
- The move "Dream Eater" from Pokémon is a powerful HP-draining attack, but works only when the opponent is asleep.
- The Slumbering Coven in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer steal and trade dreams and knowledge.
- In Sam & Max: Freelance Police: The Devil's Playhouse, after unleashing his full psychic potential, going insane and becoming an Elder God, Max subsists on making people fall asleep and eating their dreams. One of his aspects can be asked what nightmares taste like, to which he has eight different responses, one of which is "Pepsi".
- Nightmare from Kirby's Adventure/Nightmare in Dreamland, by corrupting the Fountain of Dreams.
- Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is ALL about this (the title is a hint). The most obvious example would be the Starkian Big Bad Alvin Peats who literally leeches off people's dreams. We also have an Eldritch Abomination called Undreaming, which is implied to be this Up to Eleven.
- Antasma of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team was once an ordinary bat, until he gained power by feeding on the dream of a Pi'illo.
- Nightmare in Dragon Age: Inquisition is an ancient fear demon that existed since the First Blight and possibly before it. Nightmare feeds on the fears of mortals, including literal nightmares. It is the reason people do not remember bad dreams in full detail after waking up. While this may have been a blessing once, Nightmare is now actively working with The Elder One to create more fear to feed on by sending the False Calling to the Grey Wardens. It also consumes memories of fearful events such as the Inquisitor's memories of the Conclave.
- In The Elder Scrolls series, this is a power of Vaermina, the Daedric Prince of Nightmares. It is also theorized that she uses the dreams of mortals as some sort of source of power. Her most (in)famous artifact is the Skull of Corruption, a Magic Staff which steals the dreams of sleeping mortals to become more powerful.
- Doremy Sweet, the stage 3 boss from the Touhou Project game Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, is a baku with the ability to eat, create, and replace dreams. Fighting her in the dream world is a rather scary prospect.
- Invoked in an episode of Bonus Stage
Elly: "This show ruins everyone's dreams."
Joel: "It also eats them and grows stronger."
- The 'Cubi race from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures are mind-reading Emotion Eaters, who can enter and manipulate dreams and have an inaccurate reputation for stealing them, but are advised against entering people's dreams because bigger fishes like to do it, too.
- In Builder, people can "room steal" in order to expand their territory.
- In Strawberry Shortcake: The Sweet Dreams Movie, The Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak takes over the Land of Dreams and plans to keep all the dreams for himself, because he never got any dreams as a child.
- Daria uses this in a throwaway line by Artie, a minor character who claims to have been abducted by aliens:
"That's why they come at night. It makes it easier to steal your dreams. They got this big, big suction device that..."
- Nocturne, the ghost of sleep and dreams from Danny Phantom can draw power from dreams.
- Dreamcatchers are objects originally used by the Ojibwa First Nation peoples, but now much more widespread. They're said to be able to filter out their users' bad dreams, and ensure that the users only have good ones.