If the reason that humans don't deal with CreativeSterility is that HumanityIsInsane, then this character is just that extra bit more insane than the rest of humanity. They not only make up fantastic art and stories, they then [[CrazyMemory live them]]. Expect them to be the odd ones out in any kind of group, since they're the only ones talking about the adventures they had last night hunting dragons. However, rather than be held in lower esteem for being unable to take reality (or cope with the way that society creates it), they are held in higher esteem within the work for the imagination and vivacity (for these characters are almost always very energetic and emotional) with which they live life.

In a way, this is the artistic counterpart to ScienceRelatedMemeticDisorder and TheSparkOfGenius. It is the ethos behind the BlitheSpirit and the ManicPixieDreamGirl. It's often a very frequent trait of TheOphelia. However, whereas TheOphelia stresses the beauty of the insane girl with less focus on the content of the insanity, this trope focuses on the beauty within the insanity.

In this way, these characters are portrayed very differently from those with [[NapoleonDelusion Napoleon Delusions]]. People with Napoleon Delusions tend to pretend that they are actual historical figures, or at least fictional characters that other people created. Mad Dreamers, on the other hand, are perfectly clear about who ''they'' are - it's their situations where they differ. Part of the reason for the more sympathetic and idealized portrayal of Mad Dreamers may be due to more usage of the character's own imagination, rather than latching onto something that already exists. In other words, authors, who make things up for a job, may be better able to relate to the Mad Dreamer. They are frequently excellent [[WorldBuilding World Builders.]]

Figuring out which characters qualify for this trope can be very difficult on occasion, particularly when the character is on the more insane side of the spectrum. This is because the series that enjoy using this trope tend to be heavily influenced by PostModernism and will tend to play around with whether the character can in fact say IRejectYourReality. These stories will often use the narrative style in order to suggest that the character is also a RealityWarper. Beware in that case, because things will [[WorldGoneMad get really crazy really fast]]. There may be some overlap with MadGod in this variety. On the other hand, a few of the "less" insane examples are more likely to have overlap with MrImagination and LongingForFictionland.

If the Mad Dreamer has had some form of DarkAndTroubledPast, they may use this fantasy as a form of HappyPlace to escape the pain. Of course, taken to extremes will result in a TragicDream.

These characters may often wind up being TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth when reality manages to beat them down after all.

Compare LongingForFictionland, which may overlap with some less extreme cases of the trope; the {{Cloudcuckoolander}}, who is this trope PlayedForLaughs; IRejectYourReality, which is how other characters may see them and DaydreamBeliever describes groups of people who harbor similar beliefs (but usually regarding fiction that someone else wrote) in real life.

[[AC:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* Martina does this in ''{{LightNovel/Slayers}}'' with her over the top theatrics and showy displays of devotion to her dark lord, Zomagustar; and firmly believes she draws her power from him. The scary part? [[spoiler:Zomagustar doesn't exist, Martina made him up!]] Despite this, she succeeds in casting a curse on Lina (that actually works!), because her belief in him is THAT strong. And, yes, she IS that crazy!

* Baby Doll from ''Film/SuckerPunch''
* This trope is the essence of the main character in "Literature/TheSecretLifeOfWalterMitty", a 1941 short story by James Thurber, and a [[Film/TheSecretLifeOfWalterMitty1947 1947 movie version]] starring Creator/DannyKaye. For a few decades after this film came out - from the 1950s to the early 1970s, even - "Walter Mitty" was a shorthand for this trope in everyday life. To call someone a Walter Mitty meant they were made of this trope.
* In ''Film/{{Neverwas}}'', Gabriel Finch (Creator/IanMcKellen) has a beautiful made-up world of knights and high sorcery that he knows is false, but which he uses to deal with the trauma he's faced.

* ''AnneOfGreenGables'' skirts close to the trope and sometimes falls prey to it. (The forest incident comes to mind) She grows more grounded as she grows up.
* Literature/{{Stargirl}}, from the eponymously named book, has some definite moments of this.
* ''Literature/DonQuixote'' might be considered the UrExample. Ironically, it wasn't even the intention of Cervantes, who was hoping to make fun of the ideas for which Quixote fell head over heels, but thanks to MisaimedFandom, he became very commonly portrayed as this, instead of the LordErrorProne that was intended.
** Don Quixote itself is an UnbuiltTrope because, in its attempt to correct the Misaimed Fandom, Cervantes explores all the ramifications of this trope: Don Quixote knows he is just a ImpoverishedPatrician, he really wants to be an KnightErrant, [[DeaderThanDisco but few know what are those and even less care]]. Whenever RealityEnsues, he insists AWizardDidIt. Lord Error Prone is safe [[IRejectYourReality because he rejects the reality of everyone and substitutes his own]]. The second part shows us a lot of people –- nobles, bandits, soldiers -– organizing MassiveMultiplayerScam that convince Don Quixote he really is a Knight Errant… [[ComeToGawk because they want to mock him]]. The OnlySaneMan calls Don Quixote [[RealityWarper a fool for making all the others be as mad as he]]. Only when the novel finishes, Don Quixote realizes that, even when he lived the life of a Knight Errant exactly as the ChivalricRomance books said, he didn’t do any good to anyone. So those books were lies. The FanDisillusionment is so great, he [[DeathByDespair dies]].
* Luna Lovegood of ''Literature/HarryPotter'' although given that she lives in a magic world, she may not be so crazy as she sounds.
* Quentin Coldwater, from ''Literature/TheMagicians''. Of course, this quality of his is subverted at least once (i.e. his mad dream turns out to not only be true, but to in fact be something of a nightmare).

* In one episode of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', a demon made Buffy think that she's not really a Slayer, she's a girl in an insane asylum who has delusions of being a Slayer, Sunnydale, her friends, etc. According to the doctor at the hospital, she must kill her TrueCompanions in the fictional world in order to return to the real world. She decides that the world where she's a slayer ''is'' the real world and the other is a fictional construct. TheStinger of the episode suggests that she might really be a girl in a mental hospital.

* The girl who is the subject of Music/{{Lonestar}}'s song "Unusually Unusual".
* Helen Reddy's "Angie Baby:"
-->Lovers appear in your room each night\\
And they whirl you across the floor\\
But they always seem to fade away\\
When your daddy taps on your door
* In the video for Music/PoetsOfTheFall's "[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ompevuR1644 Lift]]," "Mark" is a mentally ill prisoner of Poet County Jail who has {{Hallucinations}} of [[MacabreMothMotif moths]] and a HappyPlace filled with illusory bandmates. The psychologists examining him make an effort to transcribe his in-universe WordSalad, which looks suspiciously like song lyrics.

* In ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'', many of the witches may qualify for this, but Marriage Sorcierre was created with precisely the intention of being a haven for these. As such, Beatrice (and by extension [[spoiler:Yasu]]), Maria and Ange (at least, before she rejected magic) are the most straightforward examples.