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Imagine Spot
These girls know the routine.

Elliot: J.D., be sensitive. Don't act like you're at a ping pong match between a ninja and Bigfoot...
Dr. Kelso: [Gives Elliot an odd look]
Elliot: I know that made no sense, but he's totally there now in his head.
[J.D.'s eyes dart back and forth]
Dr. Kelso: Would you look at that...
Scrubs

A brief cut to a Fantasy Sequence and back, usually no more than a few seconds long, and commonly bookended by a Fade to White. Alice yells at Bob, "What am I, your maid?!". Cut to Alice cleaning the house in a French Maid Outfit. Cut to Bob's face — he's clearly just imagined the role, and Alice has just slapped him to snap him out of his imagination trance.

A very popular trope with commercials, so much so that it could almost be considered an advertising trope as much as it is a comedy trope, with the idea being to either convey how much one's life would be better with the product/service or how easily obtainable it is.

Contrast Daydream Surprise (and its subtrope Indulgent Fantasy Segue), where it's not clear from the start that this is only happening in a character's imagination. When other characters can see someone's Imagine Spot, that's Imagine Spotting. For other kinds of imagined sequences — ie., if it's not just a brief, clearly marked cut — see Fantasy Sequence. And when it turns out not to be imagined, it's a Gilligan Cut.


Examples

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     Advertising 
  • One commercial features an Imagine Spot with a middle-aged managerial type daydreaming about becoming president after he discovered the joys of microwaved "gourmet" pasta. It turns out that even in his fantasy, he's not the president.
  • The "switching to GEICO" ads, assuming the cutaway gags count as fantasy within the "reality" of the framing scenarios. With, of course, the exception of the "happy folks" spots, where the guitarists are actually in the fantasies.
  • An early Vat19 ad for a tabletop Frogger LCD game features a man halucinating that his boss is in a frog suit and is able to control him with the frogger game.

     Anime & Manga 
  • Azumanga Daioh uses several imagine spots throughout the course of the series, many of which involve (unsurprisingly) Cloudcuckoolander Osaka.
  • In Bleach, Chad tries to remember what Ichigo's little sister Karin looks like. We end up with Squick as he sees Ichigo with a black wig, Karin's red hat, and lipstick.
  • Ouran High School Host Club has "Tamaki's Inner Mind Theatre", usually with Tamaki fantasizing about Haruhi.
  • Star Driver has Wako doing almost exactly the same thing, complete with Ouran-style captions. Yaoi style!
  • Minami-ke's Hosaka gets really caught up in his fantasies, usually starring Haruka, to the point of acting them out. Everyone else thinks he's weird and a little sick in the head.
  • Pokémon:
    • Meowth of Team Rocket has done this about Once an Episode since Hoenn, thinking about what Giovanni would do with the Pokémon of the day. More often than not, the imagery is pretty weird. Everything from said Boss spontaneously performing a Super-Deformed Gene Kelly dance routine, to said Boss stripping to a Loin Cloth for almost no friggin' reason. It helps that said Boss is The Comically Serious, and the occasions with Meowth's accented voice filling in for what he imagines would be what Giovanni would say help even more. What makes it even more imaginative is that the three were probably the most pathetic excuses for Team Rocket members ever seen on the show, at least until they Took a Level in Badass in Unova, and that Giovanni mostly despises them.
    • Who's an even more Comically Serious than Giovanni? Why, Cyrus, of course. But that only serves to make this scene more hilarious, as the Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure heroes ponder where he could have gone after the Spear Pillar.
    • There's Connoiseusse Burgundy, who has one involving Cilan mocking her and her Oshawott in a particularly cruel manner while Pansage just cackles viciously. Considering what Cilan's really like, plus her evaluation of Ash's Pokemon in a negative light, it just shows how wacked out she really is.
    • Piplup in "Piplup, Up, and Away!" kept imagining Dawn praising him and himself being a total badass.
  • In Digimon Tamers, Takato has one when he can't find his partner Guilmon, imagining Guilmon being shot to death by police.
    • Takato gets a few lighthearted ones in a row when he first meets Culumon. Thinking Culumon would be safer with a human Tamer, he imagines how various of his acquaintances would go about taking care of Culumon; none of them work out very well.
  • Misaki in Wagaya No Oinari Sama is prone to sudden and overthought fantasy sequences about Noboru, her crush. Usually these fantasy sequences involve Kuugen or Kou, his family's resident Pretty Freeloaders.
  • In the Ai Yori Aoshi manga, Mayu fantasizes about being an uh-MAZING cook so that Kaoru falls for her unconditionally. In reality, the complete opposite is true.
  • Used in a Code Geass sound episode where Shirley is imagining all kinds of insane things that could go wrong if she asks Lelouch out to a concert. It starts with him just saying that he will take his sister to the entire student council admitting their undying love for him, even Arthur. That's almost JD level weirdness.
    • Also used in the Picture Drama in which Sayoko first meets Suzaku when he comes over for tea with Lelouch and Nunally. She happens to overhear part of a conversation between Suzaku and Lelouch at the end and somehow interprets it to mean they are secretly in love... and her imagination runs away on her a little.
  • Unavoidable Lucky Star example: Hiyori would often falls into fantasies about portraying her classmates Yutaka and Minami as Schoolgirl Lesbians, but immediate cut short by chastising herself about thinking her friends that way. Said friends are clueless as to what she's freaking out over.
  • Onsokumaru of Ninin Ga Shinobuden does these a lot, usually involving Fanservice images of Kaede and Shinobu, or of himself surrounded by women or doing something awesome.
  • Used several times in a row in an episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, when Nanami is trying to embarrass Anthy (and win Miki's affection) by planting weird stuff in her room. She envisions each ploy going off without a hitch, only to have them fail because Anthy is already keeping weird stuff in her room. And Miki finds it cute.
  • Saitou Hajime of Rurouni Kenshin: Memetic Badass, Inspector Javert, The Comically Serious... and master of the Imagine Spot. He makes the "If Kaoru → Tanuki and Megumi → Fox, then Misao → Weasel" in one and images a broom shooing away a rooster when Chou and Sanosuke get into an argument.
  • Often used in Paradise Kiss. In one instance, Yukari pictures a Love Triangle as a Duel to the Death between Tokumori as a samurai and Arashi as a Lupin III pastiche, for the love of Miwako as a schoolgirl in Sailor Fuku. She notes it's only natural Arashi won, after all, he had a gun.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! has quite a few, as well as a few Imagine Sketches from Haruna (or Nodoka's magic diary). In one notable instance, after Nodoka confesses to him, Negi imagines himself marrying her... without losing the Blank White Eyes he got from the revelation.
  • In Strawberry Marshmallow (the manga), while Nobue is filling out a job application for one of the "zillions of 7-Elevens" in the area, the other girls contemplate what sorts of jobs they would want to get. The question is posed to Matsuri, and Miu imagines Matsuri in a few different kinds of jobs, coming up with the conclusion that Matsuri is not employable. When they consider the job of handing out promotional tissues, Miu remarks that "Matsuri wasn't able to do it at all just now," and imagines herself in the position, sneaking them into people's pockets and bags even if they refuse, and offering entire boxes at once.
    • This also happens in the corresponding anime sequence, except with Miu imagining a single job for Matsuri and Ana (Matsuri as a sweet potato woman (like an ice cream woman, but with sweet potatoes) and Ana as a ball girl at a tennis court.) As for tissue pack marketing, Miu and Chika acted it out in real life with the same level of success as Matsuri.
  • In Macross Frontier, Luca's brain goes to town in not entirely worksafe ways when Sheryl casually declares Alto her slave. Makes you wonder what else goes on in his head, considering Sheryl obviously meant slave in the menial labor-drone sense.
  • Pretty much every character in Ranma 1/2 indulges in this regularly. If there are any other people in the room, they usually comment on the scene.
  • In Nightmare Inspector, Kairi spends a lot of his time fantasizing and daydreaming. We get to see a few of said fantasies, which are... strange, to say the least.
  • The characters in Eyeshield 21 do this sometimes. Usually they imagine themselves pulling of a spectacular play (in Monta's case, it's always followed with Mamori fussing happily over him).
  • In the second episode of Paranoia Agent, Yuichi has these more frequently (and they become more indulgent/fantastical) as things continually get worse for him.
  • Played with and played straight in the second episode of the Ah! My Goddess TV series — when Keiichi mulls over what wish of his Belldandy should grant, he first imagines life as a wealthy man, then Belldandy, who's reading his mind the entire time, says she would gladly "give him more money than he could hope to spend in his lifetime". Then Belldandy says she could also grant the wish of wanting to destroy the entire world, "although [she] would prefer to not do business with that type of client." Cue Keiichi imagining a giant explosion levelling a city, with him off to the side, laughing evilly, in a monocle, a wiry mustache, and what suspiciously looks like a Schutzstaffel uniform.
  • May Chang in Fullmetal Alchemist is prone to daydreaming about the Elrics (first Ed, then upon finding him insufficiently tall, Al) with copious Bishie Sparkle. Already funny, it becomes downright Hilarious in Hindsight when Monica Rial was cast as her English voice actress, leading to many Ouran High School Host Club jokes among fans.
  • Isaac and Miria of Baccano!! have a joint one (fitting, considering their ditzy duo status) complete with Art Shift when they speculate with horror on Jacuzzi's fate at the hands of the mythical Rail Tracer. Which, by the way, they visualize as a giant green worm with fangs.
  • Early on in the anime, Naruto fantasizes about becoming Hokage and beating Sasuke. There's more than that:
    • In the "what's under Kakashi's mask?" episode, Sasuke, thanks to Naruto's goading, imagines an unmasked Kakashi with big red lips, and then big buck teeth; he quickly agrees to help Naruto and Sakura try to see Kakashi's face.
    • In that same episode, our trio treat Kakashi to lunch at Ramen Ichiraku as part of their first attempt. Kakashi is suspicious and has three imagine spots in a row: first, getting buried under a big pile of snow (ironically, after he says "I wouldn't be surprised if it snowed on me,"), then, his order of ramen exploding in his face, and finally, him getting bopped by a giant Extendo Boxing Glove and Squashed Flat against a wall. At the end of each one, Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura triumphantly flash the peace sign and declare, "He fell for it!!"
  • Ayanes High Kick: We get to see one of these from Ayane when Kunimitsu makes a pitch to get her to join his dojo, declaring that she can become a champion. She sees herself in the middle of a ring with a pro-wrestling world title belt and a cheering crowd, unaware that Kunimitsu is actually referring to her becoming a champion kick-boxer.
  • Used so heavily in Brigadoon: Marin and Melan that it's a bit confusing at first. Marin's imagination usually involves violent death.
  • In Soul Eater Not!, new student Tsugumi imagines herself surrounded by pretty boys at the academy, but she snaps out of her thoughts once she sees Black Star punching a guy in the face. She also imagines the aforementioned pretty boys all clamoring to be her partner, but instead finds herself being fought over by two female classmates.
  • Plica has several, though some of the other characters also get in on it.
  • Masamune of Gate 7 get lose in his own Imagine Spot of Cat Girl Hana at the middle of a battle.
  • Switzerland in Axis Powers Hetalia is a surly, gun-toting miser, but Japan imagines him as a befrocked, beribboned Heidi who engages in song and dance.
  • Sangatsu No Lion has a rather grim example of this trope in its first chapter. Rei imagines himself beating his adoptive father to death while Rei's paralleling beating his father in a professional shogi match to a news story of a man murdering his father with blunt force. Yikes.
  • In Is This a Zombie?, Ayumu constantly imagines Eucliwood talking to him, usually praising him and acting sexy. In each imagine spot, she is voiced by a different actress.
  • Wakaba Kumura of Otasuke Miko Miko-chan has these frequently.
  • One Piece employs this often enough, usually for romance/perverse fantasies (Sanji and Boa Hancock being two favorites). Oddly Nico Robin gets a few quite whimsical ones.
  • Manabe from Kotoura-san is so perverted so he often has perverted Imagine Spots about her girlfriend Haruka. Haruka, however, is a telepath, so this and the Dirty Mind-Reading that always ensues becomes a Running Gag.
  • The main character from No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular~, Tomoko, being the anime and Dating Sim-obsessed introvert that she is, has plenty of these, mostly about how the newest tactic she has is going to make her popular. Naturally, none of these work out the way she hoped.
  • This is occasionally used in Fairy Tail, most often when the Yandere Juvia imagines Gray falling in love with her.
  • We see Haruka's fantasies fairly often in Sakura Trick.
  • Imagine Spots are incredibly common in Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?, with at least one instance per episode as the characters start imagining things in response to something another said.
    • A couple happen in the first episode, such as when Cocoa thought Rabbit House was literally a place to play with rabbits, and Rize imagining herself wearing a Playboy Bunny outfit.
    • Rize does this again in episode 3, imagining herself in a Playboy Bunny costume, except this time with a floppy-eared headband like the one worn by Sharo. She decides that it works equally well.

     Comics 
  • Give Me Liberty has a few imagine spots that display the main character as a panther and the villain as a hunter.
  • One of the few almost totally lighthearted moments in Sin City happens when Dwight McCarthy imagines the recently deceased Jack Rafferty talking to him as a Deadpan Snarker. Emphasis on the dead part.
  • In The Pulse, when Jessica Jones, Ben Urich and Kat Ferrell are trying to figure out who murdered a Daily Bugle staffer and dropped her body in the water from hundreds of feet in the air, their mental images range from the highly unlikely(Iron Man, Hulk) to the probably not(Vulture) to the downright ludicrous(Stilt-Man).

     Fan Works 
  • In Kyon Big Damn Hero, after Kyon phoned Yuki in chapter 13 he imagines her in her apartment, kneeling by the phone, her cheeks pink-tinged as she daydreamed about him... But he dismissed that thought. This was Yuki, after all. As much as he might wish that...
  • In Progress, Princess Luna has increasingly bizarre daydreams about the various awkward situations in which she finds herself.
  • Turnabout Storm: Before the trial starts, Phoenix wonders what would his Friendly Rival Edgeworth do if he was the one stuck in Equestria instead. The result is... a little less than useless.
    Edgeworth: This is just like that one episode of the Steel Samurai where he meets the Pink Princess! WHEEEEEE!!!
    Phoenix: (Doctor, I'd like the part of my brain responsible for that image lobotomized please...)
  • In With Strings Attached, during the New Zork chapter, Beagle John tells Ringo that the government is looking for the first “A-plus Plus” (i.e., someone with more than one magical Ability) and such a man will be milked for his sperm so all the women can be artificially inseminated. Ringo, who easily qualifies, pictures “himself hooked up to a sperm-pumping machine, surrounded by thousands of big-nosed, blue-eyed telekinetic kids.”
  • Calvin has a few in Calvin At Camp. Since it's directly based on Calvin and Hobbes, this is to be expected.
  • Happens to Saga and Luna in Under The Northern Lights.
  • Rolling in Beaches: When Spike and Wavedancer wander off together, Rarity has one of these where Wavedancer turns into a cartoony, over-the-top villain who tries to harm Spike, only for Rarity to show up and save him.

     Films — Animation 
  • In Up, Carl just found out that Russell snuck aboard his house before liftoff and notices that they're passing over some skyscrapers. Cue him trying to lower the kid down onto a building using an improvised towel-rope, and the kid slips and falls... Then the mental image ends with Carl deciding "Well, that's not gonna work."

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Happens in Forrest Gump. When Forrest talks about Lieutenant Dan and Bubba's ancestors, and then happily inverted when Bubba's mom uses Bubba's share of Forrest's shrimping venture.
  • Happens a lot in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
  • In Mean Girls, Cady does it in the lunch room by thinking about how her dilemma would be solved in the animal world. In her spot she imagines tackling Regina George and wrestling with her as the other students howl and yell like monkeys. Subverted when Regina George is hit by a moving bus and dies. Turns out she really did get hit by a moving bus, but only got sent to the hospital.
  • In Monster-in-Law, Jane Fonda imagines smashing Jennifer Lopez's face into a cake and later Lopez imagines whacking Fonda's with a pan. During both instances they put up a facade of liking each other.
  • In Apollo 13, after they are too damaged to land on the moon and just getting back to Earth will be hard enough, flight commander Jim Lovell imagines himself touching down, leaving perfect tracks, running his fingers through the moon dust, and gazing at the distant Earth. He'd really wanted to be there.
  • In Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle, Harold imagines himself finally working up the nerve to flirt with his attractive neighbor Maria in the elevator. In actuality, he and Maria ride the elevator in awkward silence.
  • Happens several times in Girl Next Door.
  • The entirety of Next can fall under this due to its premise.
  • Amélie from Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain frequently lapses into this. One of the more extreme examples is that, if Nino couldn't assemble a torn-up photograph in time, he'd end up living in Tajikistan with only a goat for company — and Amélie refuses to go out with somebody that would wear a teacosy for a hat.
  • In Finding Neverland, James Barrie is prone to having these as fantastic overlays on the events that are actually happening, ranging from imagining rain in a theater to placing him and his companions on a pirate ship as they play pirates.
  • In Pulp Fiction, Jules imagines Bonnie's potential reaction to a coming home and finding "couple of gangster's in her kitchen doin' a bunch of gangster shit."
  • Used in Shaun of the Dead during a scene in which Shaun and Ed come up with increasingly truncated plans on how to rescue Shaun's mother.
  • Most of the music numbers in Chicago are fullblooded imagine spots of the heroine, who hopes to become a jazz dancer. There are even a few snapping-out-of-it moments, and the contrast between the reality and her jazz saturated daydreams is often underlined.
  • In the film Muay Thai Giant, Nathan Jones is trying to come up with ways to make money to repair the small restaurant he wrecked. One of the suggestions is becoming a stripper. The result... must be seen to be believed.
  • Several of the musical numbers in Anchors Aweigh.
  • In The Circus, the Little Tramp imagines himself knocking his romantic rival on his butt. This is done with a then-innovative special effect showing the Tramp stepping out of his own body.
  • Becomes increasingly more common in Brazil. Initially a sign that Lowry's merely bored with his life, it gradually bleeds over into reality. It's wholly possible several major characters don't even exist.
  • How to Marry a Millionaire has a scene with Pola and Schatze dreaming of weath, while Loco dreams of a sandwich.
  • In Ride Along, James thinks about shooting Ben after he asks for his blessing in proposing to James's sister.
  • Lloyd of Dumb and Dumber has two: one in which he imagines making love to Mary (ending with her removing her top to reveal a pair of bright lights over her chest - ending with the reveal those lights are an incoming semi, Lloyd having the spot while driving), and then another much later where, after meeting Mary's husband, he imagines himself pulling a gun and shooting him to death.
  • In the opening of the 1973 Australian cult classic Alvin Purple, the protagonist is complaining in voiceover about all the hot looking women providing innocuous fanservice as he rides a tram. First he tears open a woman's blouse for everyone's shock or appreciation. Then he congratulates another woman on her great see-through top that shows off her naked breasts, for which she's quite appreciative. "I've been wearing it for days; I didn't think anyone had noticed." For the Rule of Three, Reality Ensues.
    Alvin: (voiceover) Of course it wasn't like that at all.
    Alvin: (to See-Through Blouse Girl) God you've got great tits! (Armor-Piercing Slap)
  • Slumdog Millionaire has Jamal imagine throwing his brother and himself off a skyscraper in anger, when meeting him again for the first time in years.

     Literature 
  • Michael, the narrator of The Republic of Trees is established as a notorious daydreamer in the first chapter. His visions in the book get quite bizarre (such as Liberty from Delacroix' "Liberty leading the People" giving him a handjob).

     Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family: A very early episode from the first season, "Archie Writes the President," sees Archie have his own Imagine Spot – he reads his letter to President Nixon in praise for his performance, with the entire family gathered around, nodding in approval as a patriotic hymn plays as background music. (The letter, by the way, was inspired after Archie learns that Mike had written Nixon, critical of his policies.)
  • The Hogan Family: The Season 2 episode "Leave It To Willie," where Willie imagines himself explaining his predicament – causing a hit-and-run accident while stealing his father's car for a joy ride – and basically getting away with it. The moral in this Imagine Spot is supposedly, "Tell the truth and you'll be absolved." Of course, reality doesn't work out that way – he admits his deed to his mother and gets punished, learning instead that actions do have consequences that aren't always good.
  • This is probably the central comedic tool of Scrubs, which uses it to great effect. Usually J.D. does this, to the point where other characters lampshade it increasingly as the series goes on, mentioning how one was really long, messing with him while he is in his head, triggering one on purpose to get him to zone out, and so on. Usually after his fantasy he says something that sounds completely weird if we weren't to be shown the Imagine Spot. And his propensity to do this is apparently infectious, as his friends occasionally indulge in it as well, though far less regularly.
    • Of course, several episodes aren't centered on J.D.'s point of view, so in those episodes this trope happens without the cut, so all we see is J.D. staring off into space and saying something weird when he comes out of it.
      "We're gonna need a lot of gnomes..."
  • An early televison example featured on The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. Every time his wife mentioned her mother, the screen showed a hippopotamus. It even got to the point where we knew the WIFE was thinking of a hippopotamus.
  • Malcolm in the Middle frequently uses it.
  • iCarly: In iFind Lewbert's Lost Love Carly and Freddie have a synchronous daydream on how life in the Bushwell will be much better if the irate doorman Lewbert is "a happy man". Carly, Freddie and Lewbert dance around as balloons fall. Sam breaks them out of their over-the-top fantasy.
  • Ally McBeal and Teachers used it occasionally.
  • Andy Richter Controls The Universe used it as a central theme, often with voiceover commentary by Andy. Example: "I was thinking about what it would be like if I had wheels for feet. In case you were wondering, here's what it would look like!"
  • Possibly the funniest thirty seconds in five seasons of Angel involved Angel in episode 1.13, at a party, being asked if he wanted to dance. The ensuing Imagine Spot is brilliance.
    • Another hilarious imagine spot, in an Angel deleted scene, involved Wesley imagining himself and Fred starring in a ballet. The actress who played Fred was actually trained as a dancer, so Fred was pretty good. Wesley... not so much.
  • Buffy, on the other hand, managed to do the most depressing use of this trope ever when Joyce is rushed to the hospital and saved— cut to the paramedics declaring her dead from an aneurysm.
  • Everybody Hates Chris has this as a main gimmick.You can pretty much expect a few of these per episode.
  • The early-90s HBO series Dream On used a variation on the Imagine Spot as its primary gimmick. But instead of segments featuring the Dream On cast, clips from old movies and TV shows were used for the Imagine Spots of its main character, Martin Tupper.
  • The Doctor Who episode "Love And Monsters" similarly had the main character flash to clips, including one of Elton John.
  • Farscape, episode "Scratch 'n Sniff", though some question exists as to whether they were Imagine Spots or flashbacks.
    • And just about any sequence with Harvey, the Scorpius neuro-clone. Harvey "lives" in Crichton's mind and the two regularly converse. Their conversations usually take place in Imagine Spots - some of them based on Crichton's memories and some of them not.
  • Common in Father Ted.
    • To the point where Dougal needed a chart to tell the difference between dreams and reality.
  • Played straight in nearly every episode of Son Of The Beach, but subverted in one in which Notch Johnson was informed that one of his lifeguards once won a preteen breast size contest. Intrigued by what such a contest would be like, the Image Spot begins to take form, when suddenly the scene cuts to pornographer Larry Flynt saying that, while he is all for free speech, some things are just obscene. Afterwards, Notch clarified that he meant what those girls would look like now.
  • Wendy of The Middle Man often drops into Imagine Spot sequences when people ask her questions she needs to answer, or when she has a "Eureka!" moment.
  • Used frequently in Corner Gas, to the extent that it's been described as "Seinfeld meets Family Guy in rural Canada."
  • Used a lot in Spaced, usually as pop-culture references or scenes from movies done with a fraction of the budget.
  • That '70s Show used a lot of these.
  • Dexter:
    • All the times his dead foster father Harry shows up to remind him of The Code count, as Dexter converses with him. In the sixth season, when a short arc in which Dexter's dead serial killer brother replaces his father in these Imagine Spots (and temporarily convinces Dexter to go Axe Crazy) is used to foreshadow the reveal that Edward James Olmos' Evil Mentor / Big Bad is really a figment of the real villain's Imagine Spots.
    • At the end of the Ice Truck Killer arc, where he's walking up to the office Hollywood style — red carpet walkway flanked with adoring fans.
      "Hey Dex, way to take out the trash!"
  • Subverted and/or Lampshaded in an episode of 30 Rock where Liz and Jack are discussing some of Tracy Jordan's more outrageous antics. Instead of cutting away with clips to illustrate them, however, the scene stays on Liz and Jack who have this exchange:
    Liz: And I am thinking of some of them right now.
    Jack: So am I.
  • Dead Like Me: George lets Mason take care of her dog. She then wonders if he's taking care of it properly or merely using it for some harebrained scheme. Like, say, attracting women, then sitting in a hot tub with the women and the dog. And then she forgets it never actually happened, so she scolds him for bringing her dog into a hot tub.
  • Australian TV series 30 Seconds has a slight variation on this; the main character, who works in commercials, sometimes has delusions that he's watching a commercial in real life. These seem to be superimposed over what's actually in front of his eyes rather than actual full Scrubs style daydreams. Also, they tend to have swear words.
  • The Stargate SG-1 episode "200" is basically built out of this trope, including memorable segments such as "Children of the Gods" done with marionettes, Teal'c as a private investigator, SG-1 cast with teenagers, and a Sam/Jack wedding with a nod to Jack/Daniel.
  • Used liberally in Mongrels, for example here at the 7-minute mark.
  • In the Leverage episode "The Scheherezade Job", Nate has a meeting with the woman who is blackmailing them. After telling him what he needs to know about their current mark, she explains that Nate messed up her date and offers to have dinner with him. Cue to Nate imagining a nice, romantic dinner with her, interrupted by one of her Mooks choking him with a garrote, while she is drinking wine. Nate makes up a lame excuse and, once she leaves, feels his neck uncomfortably.
  • In The Monkees this is Lampshaded and combined with Breaking the Fourth Wall in "Monstrous Monkee Mash" when the episode's villain intrudes on a fantasy scene that Micky and Davy are having. "Hey, what are you doing? This is our fantasy scene!"
  • Hustle "Conning the Artists". The team are being held prisoner by a katana-wielding Japanese man seeking revenge for one of their cons. Danny, realising that taking on the position of leader means that I Know Karate, gets to his feet and takes him on (including Bring It and Exploding Fish Tanks) ending with Stacie throwing herself into his arms, praising his bravery and kissing him. Cut to Danny with puckered lips as he's curtly told to sit down by Katana Man.
  • In Titus, we have Christopher's 'Negative Space', where he reflects upon events in his own mind, which can include flashbacks AND flashforwards. Subverted in 'The Trial' where Christopher insults the judge in the Negative Space, and is apparently heard by those in the courtroom.
  • This is the central trope of Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger, in which a Sentai team battles imaginary threats.
  • Happy Days: In "They Call It Potsie Love," Joanie develops a crush on Potsie. At home Joanie falls asleep and fantasizes that she and Potsie get married—and that Potsie is cool and Fonzie is a nerd!
  • Used frequently in How I Met Your Mother. Given the flashback format of the show, the imagine spots will be told as if they were what actually happened, and then be interrupted by Future Ted saying something along the lines of "That's what Uncle Marshall should have said," or "But unfortunately, that's not what happened."
    • The entirety of the episode The Time Travelers is one. The realization is quite surprising and leads to The Darkest Hour for Ted before he meets The Mother.
  • One day Manny of Degrassi imagines herself as Cinderella with Craig as her Prince. Her dream begins to take reality when they go on their first date in that episode.
  • Austin out of Austin & Ally has a spot where he imagines his voice being changed to a chipmunk voice after a vocal surgery to remove nodules from his throat.
  • In the Las Vegas episode "And Here's Mike with the Weather", Danny and Mike have two pretty funny ones of these when they think Ed may have had an affair with the deranged Monica Mancuso, a previous owner of the casino. The first involves Monica being dominant and Ed submissive behind closed doors, and the second the other way around.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: In daydreams, Ned has a few of these. "Stress" also has a few with both Ned and Moze. One of the more jarring for Ned was when he imagined he was seeing Suzie and another boy in a football uniform getting married. In fact, Suzie was in a white dress standing next to a practice football tackle with a helmet on top. After someone tried to get his attention, he looked back only for someone to come and take the helmet off. Cue Ned looking shocked and confused.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin and Hobbes often combines these with Reality Ensues. One instance: Calvin actually gets an A on a paper for once. The (large) center panel is a huge, mid-city celebration, with confetti, cheering spectators, a gigantic Calvin statue and Calvin himself riding in a limo with the key to the city. Unfortunately, back in reality, Ms. Wormwood just moves along to more classwork, much to a deflated Calvin's chagrin.

     Music 
  • The music video to "Voices" by Disturbed has the subject imagining doing hostile or even violent things to the people who piss him off, with the voices trying to convince him that this is a good idea.
  • In the music video to "Gonna Get Over You," Sara Bareilles is a leather jacket-clad badass who literally dances into a Mexican supermarket, transforming various shoppers into her outfit-clone backup dancers. At the end of the video, she's revealed to actually be an Adorkable nerdgirl rocking out to a song inside her head, and scaring the other customers.

     Theatre 
  • In the musical Allegro, the Greek Chorus interrupts the awkward hoofing of a college dance to introduce a fantastic Dream Ballet which shows how the students feel they are dancing; this eventually ends and the dance continues as before. In a later montage sequence, the professor's voice droning through their lectures fade away as Joe sees Jenny dancing through his imagination; Joe's buddy Charlie gets his own Imagine Spot showing two girls starting to strip as a professor reads John Keats' poem "The Eve of St. Agnes."

     Video Games 

     Visual Novels 
  • Ryo has a few of these in Brass Restoration, to amusing effect.
  • Kareha in SHUFFLE! has a tendency to go into these whenever thrilled about something possibly romantic. It unnerves the rest of the class, who refer to them as hallucinations. We never get to see what she is actually thinking at these times, perhaps for the best.
  • Fate/stay night: In the Unlimited Blade Works Scenario, Saber argues about sleeping with Shirou in his room due to his having been brainwashed by Caster to go to her base the night before. Shirou stops himself from countering with his belief that Caster won't try it again after he imagines Saber berating him for being such a Wide-Eyed Idealist.
  • In Kanon, there's a rather... unique scene at lunch where Yuuichi is trying to imagine how Sayuri and Mai spend time together. Naturally, with the vastly different behavior and personality between them he finds it hard and eventually comes up with the idea that they're schoolgirl lesbians who then invite him to a threesome. Believe it or not, this is one of the times where Yuuichi refrains from speaking his mind.
  • Happens in Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai a couple of times, such as when a joke choice involving Miyako is chosen.

     Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Recreation has an amusing scene in its first chapter when Sarge has a flashback to the events of Reconstruction. The scene is radically different in that Sarge kills Grif (natch), Simmons turns into a motorcycle and Sarge rides him (no, not like that) out of the base. Grif engages in some Imagine Spotting and calls him out.
    Grif: That's not what happened.
    Sarge: Of course it is!
    Grif: Then how am I still alive?
    Sarge: I ask myself that question every day. Moto-Simmons! Run him over.

    Web Comics 

     Western Animation 
  • Phineas and Ferb has Isabella of all people seemingly quite often breaking off into an Imagine Spot where she imagines Phineas as a centaur. It's just as weird as it sounds.
    • Specifically, he turns into a centaur and flies away with Isabella after suddenly having given her a dramatic declaration of love. Yeah.
    • Also one with Ferb, answering the question of how he managed to pick up the wrong blueprints by going into a brief fantasy about his meeting with Vanessa.
    • Candace had one in "Bowl-R-Ama Drama". Apparently, she believes that busting her brothers will result in her being allowed to use Dad's credit card ("You have our permission to ruin us financially.") and Jeremy proposing to her.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, when asked to try out for the football team with his friend Harry, Peter has a brief, absurdist fantasy of making touchdowns while in costume as Spider-Man, wearing a football helmet.
    • Pre-Doc Ock Otto Octavious has one of "taking care" of his abusive employer, Norman Osborn.
  • The second half of every single episode of Angela Anaconda is an Imagine Spot of Angela dreaming about disgracing her snooty rival Nanette Manoir, in steadily more ludicrous ways.
  • Stickin' Around is built from this.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer envisions what would happen if he used his new gun to rob Apu's store — somehow, the logical outcome is that he becomes a Southern senator with a giant mansion and Marge dances the Monkey in a bikini.
    • Homer gets these very, very frequently, and they often devolve into bizarre tangents (such as a fantasy about meeting various junk food spokespersons ending in him accidentally killing a stand-in for Twinkie the Kid.) He also tends to comment on these fantasies in real life, as if the other characters have seen them as well (in the same example, the dream cut back to him chanting "Blood For Cream" in front of a bewildered Lisa.)
    • In one memorable instance, Homer combined this with the Smart Ball: Lisa suggested forming a brain trust, and Homer started to fantasize... about a group of intelligent people discussing the issue at hand. When the Imagine Spot ends, the rest of the family is staring at Homer, who responds "What? Can't I get one right for once?"
    • After Homer is late picking up Bart from soccer practice in "Brother from the Same Planet", an angry Bart imagines Homer turning into a creepy skeleton covered in rotting flesh as Homer says "NOW HOW BOUT A HUG?"
  • Mona the Vampire has a lot of this. There's a very clear visual effect to let you know when things are transferring between reality and imagination.
  • Little Elvis Jones and the Truckstoppers has at least one of these per episode, as Lil' Elvis speculates on who was responsible for his status as a Doorstop Baby. (They went all the way up to "UFO" level.)
  • A Justice League Unlimited episode has Dr. Milo, an Evilutionary Biologist whose funding has been cut by Cadmus, imagining himself taking out a laser gun and wildly shooting at the people responsible.
  • Doug might hold the record for most time per episode spent in fantasy sequences. Often these would feature lengthy trips to the comic-book universe Doug created around his Marty Stu superhero Quailman, whose outcomes ultimately led to Doug figuring out a solution to the problems in his own life.
    • By the end of the Disney run, they started abandoning the wrapper story altogether and just making whole episodes that were Quailman cartoons.
    • Parodied by Nostalgia Critic wondering "What is everyone doing while Doug is fantasizing" in which he shows Skeeter concerned about Doug who is frozen in place staring into space for who knows how long.
  • If Doug holds the record, Arthur is the contender.
  • Another mention, Rugrats, which has a large number of fantasy sequence episodes from being pirates to being superheroes.
  • This is a recurring theme in Birdz.
  • On Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable has one of these during "Ill Suited" when he figures out wearing Kim's battle-suit will make him awesome at football. Lampshaded seconds later when Monique asks how long he's had that goofy look on his face while imagining his victory.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants: Several instances of Mrs. Puff doing so, at least one occurrence for several other characters.
  • In Jimmy Two-Shoes, after Jimmy predictably messes something up for Lucius, Samy worries about what he'll do to them... leading to them imagining a bunch of horrible (and amusing) punishments.
  • Family Guy employs these with some of their cutaway gags. In one episode, Peter pulls onto the runway staging area of the airport with his new truckExplanation . As he watches them fuel the planes, he fantasizes about filling his truck with jet fuel and then flying it through the sky to the theme to Top Gun.
    Peter: Well, that's all the convincing I needed to actually do this!
  • Owen's song "Oh, My Izzy!" in Total Drama World Tour slips into this, since he was really too injured to dance and was thinking about all his times with Izzy during the song, complete with a crayon-drawn Art Shift.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic features this prominently in "The Ticket Master", with each of Twilight's friends imagining what they'd do if they could attend the Grand Galloping Gala: Applejack hopes to set up a stand and drum up business for her family's apple farm, Rainbow Dash wants to show off for the Wonderbolts, Rarity hopes to meet the stallion of her dreams, Fluttershy wants to see the royal gardens, and Pinkie Pie just wants to enjoy the festivities.
    • In "A Dog and Pony Show", after Rarity gets kidnapped by the Diamond Dogs, the rest of the girls have a spot where they imagine Rarity freaking out over her captivity in a filthy cell, then one with her being threatened by the Diamond Dogs. Later, Spike gets an imagine spot where he's a brave, muscular knight rushing to save Rarity (who is inexplicably dressed like a princess) and getting a Smooch of Victory.
    • In "Hearts and Hooves Day", Apple Bloom imagines that the love-poisoned Cheerilee and Big Mac's neglect of their duties of teaching and apple harvesting will lead to Ponyville being destroyed by famine and lack of education.
    • In "A Friend In Deed", Pinkie Pie has one as she runs down her mental checklist of friend-making tasks. Apparently, Pinkie imagines in felt.
  • Bobby from Bobby's World would often go into one of these after he's misinterpreted something and he imagines what he thinks the thing might be or he imagines what he would do in a situation in a movie or book.
  • Muttley has an Imagine Spot once a week on his Magnificent Muttley segments.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends:
    • In "Mac Daddy", Bloo finally ditches Cheese, only to have a series of crudely-drawn imagine spots that involve Cheese getting himself injured.
  • ''Gravity Falls":
    • In "Legend of the Gobblewonker", Mabel imagines spending her half of the prize money for a monster photo contest on a human-sized hamster ball. Later, Dipper imagines himself becoming famous and getting interviewed on TV for catching the Gobblewonker on film... only for Mabel (still in her hamster-ball) to barge onto the set and demand an interview.
    • In "Double Dipper", Dipper imagines himself winning Wendy over with his twenty-step plan to ask her to dance. Later, he has a jealous fantasy in which Robbie steals Wendy away, and she ends up punching Dipper in the gut.
  • The Smurfs Wedding Day special "Smurfily Ever After" has Smurfette imagining her marriages to various Smurfs, each of them ending in some sort of disaster: Greedy loves food too much, Vanity loves himself too much, Hefty loves exercising too much, Farmer loves farming too much, Handy loves fixing things too much, Jokey loves playing pranks too much, and Clumsy is just...Clumsy.

     Real Life 
  • "Do not think about pink elephants."
  • At times a blessing or a curse for those of us who are "visual learners". Visualizing things can be reflex and incredibly hard to filter out - a predictably exploitable trait.

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