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Hallucinations
I am not the type to faint
When things are odd or things are quaint
But seeing things you know that ain't
Can certainly give you an awful fright!

Bob has been undergoing Sanity Slippage and begins hallucinating. Depending on the show, these may result in a Tomato Surprise at the end, revealing that someone he's been talking to was Dead All Along, or that the person he killed was an innocent bystander or an ally.

In a game with a Sanity Meter, this is one of the signs (sometimes, the only one) that it's getting pretty low. The hallucinations may also somehow injure the character in-game, even though they're not actually there. They may also just result in a Camera Screw, Interface Screw, or Impairment Shot.

If Bob is undergoing a Mushroom Samba, the hallucinations will usually not be shown on-screen, making it look like he's afraid of trees and talking to rocks.

Depending on the nature of the show, the hallucinations could be a source of comedy, tragedy, or both.

If Bob is dying or near death, this may be the cause of his Dying Dream. If Bob has been brought Back from the Dead recently, it may be a symptom of Resurrection Sickness.

If the hallucination takes the form of a person talking with one of the characters, it has a very high chance of lampshading itself by saying "I'm just a hallucination," or something along those lines.

Of course, one attribute of having these is a difficulty to distinguish between real and imagined, leaving plenty of room for Or Was It a Dream? twists. And if you can't even distinguish between the real and the imagined world anymore, well...

If you can't believe the thing you're looking at, ask your friend if he can see it too.

See also Pink Elephants.

Examples:

Entire Situation is a Hallucination

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, The first arc has the arc's main character hallucinating due to his paranoia. Unfortunately for... everyone involved, it ends violently, as it nearly always does in that show.
    • That's not the only case, either. Shmion's freak-out at the end of the fifth arc (although that entire arc is one giant Freak Out) and Rena's hallucination about the maggots in her blood are other prominent examples.
  • Dr. Stein from Soul Eater experiences hallucinations after being exposed to Medusa's madness for an extended period of time that involved various things, like Medusa being next to him and talking to him, her arrows, etc.

    Comic Books 
  • Xadhoom suffers from hallucinations caused by an Evronian superweapon for the most part of "Shooting Star", causing her to think everybody was an Evronian. Unfortunately, her policy with them is to Kill 'em All. Luckily, the kind of energy she uses to kill them is not lethal to humans.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In A Beautiful Mind, John Nash has quite a few hallucinations— including his roommate/best friend, his niece, and even the intelligence assignment he had been working on.
  • In Requiem for a Dream, Ellen Burstyn's character experiences vivid hallucinations as a side effect of her amphetamine addiction.
  • In the 1980 version of The Shining, the ghostly figures seen by Jack, Danny, and Wendy may or may not be hallucinations.
  • Trainspotting depicts several heroin-induced (and heroin-withdrawal-induced) hallucinations.
  • The Science of Sleep is about a young man whose dreams sometimes intrude on his waking state, to the point that it's not easy to tell which scenes are real and which are his imagination.
  • The Fisher King concerns a homeless man who experiences wild hallucinations.
  • In Young Sherlock Holmes, assassins use a poison dart that causes the victims to imagine they're being attacked by inanimate objects, usually leading them to accidentally kill themselves (by jumping out a window, running in front of a coach, etc.).
  • In the Vincent Price film The Tingler, a scientist wonders whether it's possible to literally scare someone to death, and he experiments with a drug that gives its victims scary hallucinations. Later in the film, we see the vivid hallucination of a woman who is the selected murder victim. It is later revealed that the scene was not a hallucination, but set up with props.
  • In The War Between Men and Women, there's one scene where Jack Lemmon's character gets drunk and hallucinates.

     Literature 
  • Fantasia is mentioned to suffer from hallucinations in Idlewild. It's never established whether the hallucinations are a direct result of her schizophrenia or a side effect of the treatment medication since she hasn't been off meds since she was a preschooler.

     Live Action TV 
  • The Firefly episode "Objects In Space" has an instance where River hallucinates the sound of a crashing ocean wave, followed by seeing leaves scattered around the cargo bay and mistaking a pistol for a branch on the ground. Other episodes have her hallucinating and having flashbacks to her time at the Academy. In Serenity, she has several hallucinations relating to Miranda.
  • House: The last episode of season 2 and some events from the last few episodes of season 5.
    • House also had a patient who had been hallucinating her (unbeknownst to her) dead mother. In the end, the team manages to diagnose her by asking her to "speak with her mother", through which she remembers symptopms her mother had before dying and the team is able to identify the disease they're both carrying.
  • Stargate SG-1 has an episode where Jonas' mentor turns out to be schizophrenic and hallucinating the entire plot of the episode.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Hello Cruel World", Sam went around yelling at his hallucination of Satan for a whole day before he finally broke down - at which point he saw Dean taking him to a random office building. He was understandably freaked out when his image of Dean turned back into Lucifer and the building turned out to be a storage, and by the time the actual Dean came to get him, he was shooting at walls.

     Video Games 
  • In ''Twisted Metal: Black'', The Preacher was having these in his Prologue. What he thought was an exorcism was really a baptism.
  • In World of Warcraft, Herald Volazj, a Forgotten One in the Ahn'Kahet instance uses this as an attack, in combination with a Shapeshifter Guilt Trip- He puts a debuff on the party called "Insanity," which makes the player believe his party is trying to attack him.
    • This can be rather terrifying if no one in your party tells you what's going to happen the first time you battle him.
  • In the first Max Payne game, after being drugged by the villains, Max hallucinates about being a video game character.
  • Eternal Darkness has this as pretty much its entire soul and fiber. Characters are capable of hallucinating even with a small sanity loss.
  • One ofFallout 3's expansion pack adds a questline, where you must go into a swamp and meditate in front of the cultīs sacred tree to gain entrance. Once you get to the tree, it sprays some kind of pollen what stuns you and when you turn and start walking away from the swamp, you'll be sent to a 'nice' little trip to horror lane where - for example - ghouls appear out of nowhere, you'll find your momīs skeleton next to birthday decorations and you'll find the corpses of familiar characters floating in the swamp.
    • And lesser extent there is the Vault full of hallucinogenic gas, where you find terminals with notes to yourself written by you, 'friendly' characters appear out of nowhere and you are forced to kill them as enemies and more miscellaneous facts.
  • "Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway" has plenty of this. The player, as Baker, sees hallucinations of three killed comrades, three German soldiers and a young boy whom he failed to protect. Additionally, there is an instance when a stretcher toppled itself for no apparent reason which could also have been a hallucination. Mostly, this is done in cutscenes but does occur at a few specific points during gameplay. "Well doesn't this look familiar?"
  • After Captain Martin Walker in Spec Ops: The Line uses white phosphorus on a civilian camp, his sanity quickly begins to break down as he cannot accept what he has done. Later on, he comes across a Damned 33rd Soldier and a civilian, both charged with crimes - with their arms tied to ropes hanging from a bridge. Col. John Konrad tells him to choose, but both the people hanging from the ropes are already dead - Walker simply sees them as struggling. In fact, every conversation with Konrad is a hallucination, because Konrad was dead long before Walker even arrived in Dubai. The hallucinations become stronger and more depressing the more the game goes on. After John Lugo dies, Walker hallucinates and sees a 33rd Heavy as Lugo, yelling at him:
    John Lugo: You left me to die!

     Visual Novels 

     Webcomics 

     Western Animation 

Single Character is a Hallucination

     Anime & Manga 
  • In the Dragon Ball Z anime (though not in the manga), Frieza hallucinates seeing Goku a few times after he lands on Earth. It shows just how far off the deep end he is at this point.
  • In Afro Samurai, Ninja Ninja turns out to be either this or an Imaginary Friend depending on how the viewer looks at it.

     Film — Live Action 
  • In Fight Club, Tyler Durden isn't real.
  • Played with in Sin City. Jack Rafferty existed and was dead but Dwight hallucinated an entire conversation with him. Unlike most of the examples here, Dwight knew he was hallucinating due to stress.
  • In Rob Zombie's Halloween II (2009), Michael Myers has hallucinations about his mother (and a selection of other random things, including pumpkin-headed aristocrats and white unicorns.)
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry thinks he sees Voldemort standing on the train platform, then when he looks back nobody is there.
  • In Vanilla Sky and the Spanish movie it was based on, Open Your Eyes, the protagonist keeps seeing the woman he's with as having the face of the woman who died in a car crash.
  • In Jacob's Ladder, the protagonist is a Vietnam vet beset by visions of demons. The movie later suggests that he's really dead and in limbo, or on the verge of death, having never survived Vietnam.
  • In Ray, Ray Charles suffers from hallucinations about his dead brother.
  • In Holes, as Stanley is being led by bus to the camp, he stares out the window and briefly sees Onion Sam with his donkey. Later in the film, the dying Kate converses with the dead Sam outside her overturned wagon. Given the movie's supernatural overtones, it's possible Sam's spirit is really present.
  • In Go, one stoned character thinks a cat is talking to him.
  • In Hitchcock, Hitch has repeated visions of murderer Ed Gein, who is the inspiration for Psycho, the film he's directing. Some of these visitations are nightmares, but others happen while Hitch is awake. At one point, Gein even functions as a Helpful Hallucination by pointing out the sand on the bathroom floor.

     Literature 

     Live Action TV 
  • In a couple of episodes of Scrubs, dead or dying friends of the characters are hallucinations.
  • The title character in the LOST episode "Dave" is Hurley's hallucination.
    • Watching in retrospect, it seems the Dave in the flashbacks was a hallucination, while the Dave on the island is an apparition of the Smoke Monster, attempting to get Hurley to kill himself.
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles has Sarah hallucinating long-dead Kyle Reese as she tries to get a bullet removed from her leg. Possibly brought on due to her medical condition.
  • In an episode of The Inside, Rebecca, injured and dazed from a plane crash, is helped through the woods by what she thinks is the little girl whose family she's trying to save, but who turns out to be a hallucination of herself as a child.
  • House. House hallucinated Amber for a while, which turned out to be very entertaining.
  • Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined): "You're not Leoben." "Never said I was."
  • In Dexter, Harry Morgan has progressed from a flashback character into a hallucinatory spirit advisor for Dexter. Given the state of Dexter's mind, it's not clear whether he is literally seeing Harry, or if he's merely the avatar for an imagined conversation between the two.
    • Dexter would appear to be a psychopath/have an antisocial personality disorder. Nowhere is he shown to be actively psychotic.
  • In Farscape, Harvey is a Not-So-Imaginary Friend implanted in Crichton's mind by Scorpius. Even after the device causing the hallucination is removed, Harvey sticks around, much to John's consternation.
  • Izzie Stevens hallucinates the ghost of Denny Duquette due to her brain tumor.
  • In Monk, Monk sometimes talks to a hallucination of his dead wife, and one time when he's trapped on a submarine, he has imaginary conversations with his psychiatrist.
  • In season 7 of Supernatural, the wall Death puts in Sam's mind breaks down. That, of course, leads to him seeing Lucifer follow him around, throwing around suggestive remarks and trying to convince Sam that he's still in the cage with him. Didn't take too long for it to shift into the first type.
  • On Bones, Booth, while trapped on a ship at sea scheduled for remote demolition, hallucinates the presence of a dead former squadmate. Another time, he gets helpful advice from a hockey player after a blow to the head. Yet another time he has involved conversations with Stewie from Family Guy. All of this leads Bones to conclude that something is seriously wrong. He has a brain tumor.
  • On The Walking Dead, Rick hallucinates a ringing telephone and a long conversation thereon in the third season following Lori's Death by Childbirth.
  • One episode of Doc Martin had a patient whose husband just died. As occasionally happens in real life, in her grief she hallucinated that her husband was still present and giving her advice.

     Video Games 

     Visual Novels 
  • Chaos;Head has two notable cases.
    • First one is Orgel Seira, a character from a Show Within a Show, "Blood Tunes The Animation". She occasional talks with the main character, Takumi, trying to encourage his tendencies as a shut-in.
    • The second example, Takumi Nishijou (that is, the main character) is a bit different case than one would usually except from this trope. He is a hallucination that was manifested into reality, meaning that no one can tell that he is a hallucination.

     Webcomics 

     Western Animation 

This page is not real! It is only a hallucination!


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