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Mr. Imagination

Squidward, you don't need television. Not as long as you have... (makes rainbow appear from hands) Imaaginaaation!
SpongeBob, SpongeBob SquarePants, Idiot Box

A person with a huge imagination, who spends most of the time in his or her own imaginary world, frequently out of touch with reality. Often the main character, and usually a Cheerful Child and/or a Cloudcuckoolander. A show with them has lots of imagination sequences, maybe also dream ones. May have an Imaginary Friend. In many (but not all) instances, the imaginative character is a Reality Warper, and his/her odd daydreams can temporarily become real.

In case you were searching for the series Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai, that's here.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Azumanga Daioh:
    • Osaka, as part of being a Cloudcuckoolander, tends to come up with weird fantasy sequences.
    • Sakaki is prone to imagining stuff as well.
  • Sketchbook:
    • Ryou and Fuu who manage to inhabit their imaginary world together. This is more pronounced in the manga than in the anime, though.
    • Sora is also a dreamer to a lesser extent.
  • Yotsuba from Yotsuba&! has shades of this, but she generally tries to involve other people in her fantasies. Where by "involve" we mean "drag along willy-nilly in her wake".
  • Hosaka from Minami-ke, usually centred around his obsession with Haruka. He even fantasizes that her younger sisters are his daughters after being told Haruka "had kids".
  • Julia from Strawberry Shake Sweet often has very vivid fantasies about Ran.
  • Keitaro from Love Hina was pretty bad about this, at least early on in the series.
  • The character Vincent from Cowboy Bebop The Movie lives in a constantly delusional psychosis that makes him see butterflies everywhere. This is not played for comedy, as his unstable mental state led him to become a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Kisaragi from GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class has the tendency to withdraw into her rather extensive fantasies, which often involve kittens or bunnies.
  • Bud from Transformers Cybertron.
  • Suzu from Amuri in Star Ocean has an elaborate escapist fantasy world in her mind, complete with and Imaginary Friend named General Panda.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya frequently melds her imagination with the Real Life through Reality Warping - and isn't even aware of it.
  • From Kyoto Animation: Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!:
    • All of the main cast are current or former examples of this trope due to their teenage delusions.
    • Yuuta was one when he was in middle school under the persona of "Dark Flame Master". It is a deconstruction, as he was given All the Other Reindeer treatment by his old schoolmates, eventually got over his past tendencies and treated that phase as his Old Shame.
    • Rikka is still one despite being a tenth grader. She constantly sees the world through the lens of her imaginative identity, an Elegant Gothic Lolita "the Wicked Eye."
    • Sanae Dekomori is under the delusion of "Mjolnir Maul", a mid-range fighter/mage.
    • Like Yuuta, Shinka was a former example, under the delusion of being a mage called "Mori Summer".
    • Satone is a special case—she knew her Magical Girl delusion isn't real, but still acts like this trope because it is fun.
  • Denpa Onnato Seishun Otoko has Erio Touwa, who started believing she was an alien after she disappeared for six months, with no memory of what happened. There's also Yashiro Hoshimiya, who believes she's an Alien ESPer, and always wears a spacesuit.
  • Himeka of Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru can't stop talking about past lives and alternate dimensions. It seems that the protagonist, Eita, was an example of this in the past, as well, and being blackmailed over it is what kicks off the plot to begin with.
  • Junichi from Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka suffered from this — it would seem all the "Geno Killer" rumours are based on how he acted back then, but exaggerated and spread by his friends. In fact he still fights with the old version of himself in his mind. He gets called out on this directly in the final episode of the anime when he claims to have sealed his old self, with the aid of his old Fingerless Gloves.
  • Tomoe from the third Yandere No Onna No Ko CD has delusions about being the Protagonist's lover in a past life.
  • Okabe Rintaro from SteinsGate, frequently pointed out by Makise Kurisu
  • Kagerou Days: Kido is a downplayed example; she leads the Mekakushi Dan (Blindfold Gang), and likes to invoke and cultivate a Japanese Delinquents-esque image with simple rules like "always wear your hood up" and "block out the world with your headphones". The lyrics of her Image Song, Blindfold Code, seem like she's describing the gang as a non-exclusive club of heroes, and that secret missions are a daily occurrence. To be fair, the first thing we see the gang do is prevent a terrorist attack, and the story is on a time-loop lasting 2 days, so that last part is technically true.

    Comics 
  • Even though all Green Lanterns have an Imagination-Based Superpower, most of them tend to have underwhelming imaginations and generally fight as Barrier Warriors. Kyle Rayner, however, stands out from the bunch for his powerful imagination, thanks to him being an artist, which allows him to come up with very creative ways to take down his foes.
  • Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes is a major example of this trope, as can be seen in the page image.
  • Fables spin off Jack of Fables introduces us to Babe the Blue Ox, who is generally oblivious to whatever's going on (when someone talks to him their speech bubbles appear as gibberish, and he seems totally uncaring of the fact that all hell can be breaking loose around him,) instead having page-long monologues in his thought bubbles. The monologues are related to various fantastic stories he's making up on the spot (and don't appear to have any relation to what's actually happening,) and there seems to be no continuous narrative thread between them.

    Fan Fic 

    Film 
  • Fight Club: A darker variation on this is the adult (and apparently sane) main character.
  • Brazil has a variant. Sam Lowry has a vivid dreamlife which he thinks about during his waking life. Specifically; the Girl Of His Dreams.
  • The main character, Babydoll in Sucker Punch spends most of the movie in imaginary dream sequences (in which she is engaging in erotic dancing). Near the end, we find the trope amplified since she was lobotomized early in the film.
  • A young French woman Amélie Poulain from Amélie.
  • Antonia's Line:
    • Antonia's daughter. For example, she imagines an angel statue hitting the priest with a wing, and imagines her dead grandmother sitting up and singing at her funeral.
    • Later, Antonia's great-granddaughter has a similar vision the day Antonia dies, seeing family members long dead happily visiting a family picket. Note that only two people in Antonia's line have the visions: the artist (the daughter) and the great-granddaughter (hinted to become a writer). The two that don't have any visions are Antonia (a farmer) and her granddaughter (a mathematician).
  • InThe Fall, much of the movie is made up of sequences Alexandria imagines while Roy tells the story. Her fantasies are the story acted out with people from around the hospital as the main characters.
  • Alice, in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master spent a lot of time in daydreams.
  • Kitten from Breakfast on Pluto.
  • James Barrie spends much of Finding Neverland imagining a more fantastic version of the events he's experiencing, ranging from games with the Llewelyn Davies boys (a western shootout with the boys as cowboys and James as a native; a pirate ship with the boys as pirate captives of James and Sylvia) to "enhanced" versions of the events he's seeing (raining in the theater as his play bombs; the boys starting to fly as they jump on their beds).
  • Nick Chapman, the protagonist of The Big Picture, frequently imagines scenes from his life playing out the way they would in a movie. Understandable, as he did just graduate from film school.
  • Richard Sherman, the protagonist of The Seven Year Itch. He once actually imagines his wife telling him that he has an overactive imagination.
  • Bo Baker from High Stakes.
  • Carl Spackler from Caddyshack is a lowly groundskeeper who spends his days fantasizing about becoming a champion golfer, and provides his own narration as well.
  • The protagonist of The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty has a habit of spacing out and going on elaborate daydreams centered around either romancing the woman he has a crush on or confronting his asshole boss, AKA things that he lacks the backbone to do in real life. However, after he proceeds to go on adventures around the world the dreams become less frequent since he's living them out in real life.
  • Teddy Daniels in Shutter Island thinks he's in an investigation solving the case of a lost patient while seeking revenge against Andrew Laeddis for killing his wife. He actually is Andrew Laeddis and is a patient at Shutter Island.

     Literature  

  • An example with Karen, Kristy's stepsister, from The Baby-Sitters Club.
  • The definitive example of this trope may be the main character of James Thurber's short story The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, first published in 1939. Indeed, "Walter Mitty" is often used as a kind of generic term for any ineffectual dreamer. Other famous Misters Imagination, like John Candy's character in Delirious or Snoopy, were based on his character.
  • Johnny Maxwell, the young teenager from the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy (Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead, Johnny and the Bomb) by Terry Pratchett. He is rather introverted, quiet, sober and has few friends. He isn't one of the cool kids, he isn't uncool, he's socially invisible. Of course, in the books reality is much stranger than Johnny's imagination, or sometimes his imagination spills over into reality. He listens, and the silent people begin talking to him; video game aliens speak to him in his dreams, he can see the spirits of the dead while walking home from school through the cemetery of his small English town, and he learns the ability to travel through time and to take others with him, from an old "differently sane" trolley (a shopping cart, for Americans) lady. In other cultures and times, Johnny would have been a shaman, or a visionary. When asked if the events of the books were "really happening", or were merely Johnny's imagination coping, Pratchett replied that it was probably both: "He deals with all the problems on their own terms and half the time he's projecting reality onto fantasy. So: is what happens in the books real? Yes. Does it all happen in Johnny's head? Yes."
  • Adam from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It also takes on the Reality Warper subset.
  • An alternate interpretation of the novel/film American Psycho is that Patrick Bateman is an horrifically morbid example of this trope.
  • Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon and other books.
  • Billy Fisher from Billy Liar and Billy Liar On The Moon by Keith Waterhouse, and various adaptations.
  • Don Quixote who believes he's a knight and imagines many things that don't exist, such as a herd of sheep being an army and windmills being giants.
  • L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series:
    • Anne Shirley, the main character, is the epitome of this trope.
    • All of her children fit this trope as well, though her middle son, Walter, is closest.
  • The strictly speaking unnamed child protagonist in Tove Jansson's short story "A Tale of Horror" ("En hemsk historia"), who is very imaginative and can't tell apart reality and the things he imagines. After being left without dessert for claiming his little brother has been eaten by a snake, he decides to run away. He encounters Little My, who freaks him out by imagining even more horrible things than he does. Afterwards he's quite affronted that anyone could say such things when they are not really true.
  • Dallas in Sharon Creech's Ruby Holler.
  • Leslie Burke from Bridge to Terabithia.
  • Deconstructed in When the Windman comes By Antonia Michaelis. Pareidoile definitely has imagination - but since she imagines bad' things (like the Windman from the title), she lives in constant fear and is unable do many things other kids can.
  • Tre from Stuck' begins off as one and, while he becomes less so in the later part of the book, he still has it. Definitely in the final chapters.
  • Rafael from Gives Light is an unusually grumpy example of this trope.
  • Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin:
    • Vladimir Lensky is a naive dreamer of a poet. Very cute.
    • Tatyana is Miss Imagination. She's shy, quiet and timid, a great reader, and dreams about perfect love and has deep feelings. When Onegin leaves the country, she visits his mansion and reads his books, imagining what his thoughts were when he was reading the books as she reads his notes and scribbles written on the pages.
  • Little Women: Beth March, the shy and quiet one of the sisters. Her "little world was peopled with imaginary friends," and she cares for her sisters' cast-off dolls as if they were invalids in a hospital.
  • Madame Bovary: Poor Emma, she was a victim of this trope. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman with vivid imagination, but lacked common sense. She saw her life as a romantic novel and imagined herself as an aristocrat or at least a noble city dweller, and best would be Paris. She a farmer's daughter who married a stupid middle class doctor and they live in a small town. She's Wrong Genre Savvy, and suffers terribly. Her family even more so.
  • Fitz Kreiner of the Eighth Doctor Adventures is first introduced using his imagination to pretend he's leading a much more interesting life than he actually has. After he meets the Doctor and his life becomes much more interesting, he pretends to be heroic and glamorous characters to cope with terrifying and stressful situations. He's masqueraded as James Bond, Simon Templar and Frank Sinatra, as well as a few O Cs.

    Live Action TV 
  • J.D. of Scrubs is one of the most well-known and highly-developed adult examples of this trope. His Imagine Spots are rather famous.
  • Elmo from Sesame Street.
  • The kids from Barney & Friends.
  • At the end of the series St. Elsewhere, we find the entire series has taken place in an autistic child's imagination.
  • Blue the dog from Blue's Room, a spin-off of Blue's Clues.
  • Lieutenant Barclay from Star Trek: The Next Generation had at least fifteen holodeck fantasy worlds in the episode "Hollow Pursuits", including one involving the senior officers in the role of the "Goddess of Empathy" and The Three Musketeers. After he realizes that he doesn't need that kind of escapism, he deletes all of his holodeck programs — except for number 9.
  • A constructive variation is in the old Tvontario educational series, Write On! where half the episodes were of Henry, a young reporter, gets reamed out by his editor on a mistake in writing and suddenly has a Walter Mittyesque daydream where he is a dashing hero having strange adventures that illustrate the particular writing lesson. Here's a complete episode with one such daydream.
  • Reginald Perrin in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
  • Andy from Andy Richter Controls The Universe.
  • One of the first examples on a television series, John Monroe (William Windom), the protagonist of My World And Welcome To It.
  • The main character from the Doctor Who episode "Love and Monsters". An unintentionally darker example, as it could also count as a slight Sanity Slippage.
  • This is definitely Played With in House. House, who already has a good deal of psychological problems, is also blessed with a tendency to experience massive hallucinations, mostly because of his drug (ab)use. This can lead to very weird, Mind Screw-esque situations, including (but not limited to) the end of season five, where House hallucinates his intercourse with Cuddy, or the end of season two, where House ends up hallucinating an entire episode after being shot.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: Detective William Murdoch is a highly rational version of Mr. Imagination. He frequently imagines himself to be at the crime scene as an observer of the murder when he deducts who is the killer. He often drifts off into Daydream Surprise and Imagine Spot sequences, involving his love interest, a beautiful pathologist Dr. Ogden, or he imagines his future family life with a much-desired son who shares his passion for science.
  • Ally McBeal:
    • Ally. She dreams constantly and has a very, very vivid imagination. She sees herself literally dumping her boyfriends or being dumped by them, throwing people out of the window, being hit by arrows, hearing music in streets and people dancing to it, people singing and performing a dance number in their office and office bathroom, seeing an animated dancing baby or unicorns. It verges on (and sometimes crosses) the line of mental health and madness.
    • John Cage, a brilliant Bunny-Ears Lawyer, mentions he used to be a dreamer as a child. His fantasies were so intense that he felt them to be real. He also imagines himself to be Barry White in order to be confident with women and increase his charisma and sex appeal.
    • One episode featured Ally's former teacher who imagined a whole new life for herself to avoid facing her real life of loneliness. She imagined having a husband and several kids, though they were rather poor and faced troubles of normal life.
  • In Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger, the To Qgers are all this; their imagination-fueled powers demand it. The clearest example is Pink: normally more the type to duck and cover than do Chop Sockey if a bunch of the Big Bad's goon squad show up, when in battle she's at her most scared she imagines herself having super powers, and we get a cutesy Imagine Spot... followed by her using that power to deliver epic beatdowns. With the power of IMAGINAAAAAATION!!! the least Rangerly Ranger of all time is suddenly breaking metal chains with her bare hands.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Steve Jackson Games' Toon: The Cartoon RPG, the "Toony Tykes Adventures" setting allows players to make kid characters. All of them gain the power "Overactive Imagination" by default, which basically allows them to enact this trope.
  • Dreamers in Grimm were like this in the real world. This is mostly a good thing in the Grimm Lands, as it's based on imagination and fairy tales. Not only do they understand it better than anyone, but they're experts at reshaping it to their will — any child with Imagination as their iconic core trait can do this, but not only do Dreamers have the highest starting Imagination, they get it as a free iconic core trait and can spend their normal one on another to increase their options, or on Imagination to have each Imagination they expend for this purpose count as two. The downside? Their getting lost in their own fantasies, thoughts, and nightmares makes them more susceptible to things that toy with their mind, like illusions or charm spells.

    Theatre 
  • Georgina Allerton in Dream Girl is constantly drifting off into daydreams. Clark eventually notices this and tells her that "dreaming is easy and life is hard."
  • Jojo from Seussical.
  • The song "On My Own" from Les Misérables is all about this.
  • Charlie Bucket in the 2013 stage musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is more in touch with reality than most, prone to daydreaming but also using his vibrant imagination to make the best of his meager circumstances. As it turns out, a certain Mr. Willy Wonka (as suggested in his first song, "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen") started out this way as well, and from there became the Mad Scientist of sweets we know today...

    Video Games 
  • Mana Khemia Alchemists Of Alrevis:
  • Deconstructed in Chaos;Head — main character Takumi is delusionally insane, and much of what he sees is not pleasant. His personality and his whole life for that matter has suffered as a result.
  • The title character of the NES game Day Dreamin' Davey, since his imaginative daydreams often lead to trouble at school.
  • Alice of American Mcgees Alice and Alice: Madness Returns, as per the source material. Deconstructed in that she has obvious issues and is pretty delusional due her Break the Cutie backstory in an insane asylum.
  • Nick, Booker's apprentice from Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs, does this by constantly worrying about negative outcomes of events in the game, to the point where he creates elaborate stories of how everything could go horribly wrong. Booker refers to these as 'daynightmares'.
  • The Pyro from Team Fortress 2.
  • Madotsuki from Yume Nikki, a hikikomori whom spends almost all her time in her dreams... most of which are nightmares.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • Lizzie Bennet of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a toned down Miss Imagination. A natural and hilarious story-teller, she likes dramatizing her life in a vlog series. However, she's also a very intelligent Communications Major student.
  • Jane Eyre in a Setting Update adaptation The Autobiography of Jane Eyre likes dreaming a lot. She says she likes wandering in a rose garden and pretends it's summer all the time. She likes playing, dancing and singing in empty houses. In episode 13, she can't sleep and says that she would like to read, but her book got too scary.

    Western Animation 
  • The Looney Tunes shorts "Boyhood Daze" and "From A to Zzzzz" featured a boy named Ralph Phillips who was always doing this.
  • The titular characters of Muppet Babies. A lot of their adventures had footage from movies such as Labyrinth, Star Wars and Oliver.
  • Orson Pig from Garfieldand Friends occasionally gets carried away with his active imagination and love of reading. "He should be carried away!". Garfield's no slouch either.
  • Many episodes of Rugrats are centered on the babies imagining some mundane task as a great adventure, with occasional flashes of what is really happening interrupting it.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Lisa occasionally drifts off into a fantasy world to avoid the grim reality of living life in Springfield.
    • Homer had several fantasies that would figure out his real life problems. It included life under the sea, the robbing of Kwik-E-Mart or living in a chocolate land. A lots of them are listed under trope If I Were a Rich Man.
    • Averted with Bart. He has lost his ability to use his imagination along with his ability to focus. On? Um? What? Ah, forget it, let's watch some TV. However, he likes his video games for which he needs both focus and imagination.
    • Marge unleashed her imagination when she wrote her clichéd historical novel. However, it ended as a bit of in-universe Self-Insert Fic about a woman who married a boorish man.
  • Stacy and Bradley of Stickin' Around; part of the Theme Song went for your big fat information, this is our imagination.
  • The characters from The Backyardigans. They're quite the Five-Man Band (although a lot of the time they switch character type) and on their adventures they have become many different things. For instance, in a Halloween special, Tasha played a Mad Scientist with Austin playing her assistant, Tyrone playing a mummy, Pablo playing a vampire, and Uniqua playing the part of a werewolf.
  • Bobby from Bobby's World.
  • Eliot from Eliot Kid.
  • The title characters from Little Bear and Franklin.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants provides the page quote. Another example (though it doesn't spell it out as clearly) is an episode where Spongebob manages to have lots of fun with only a piece of paper Squidward discarded. When Squidward tries, he can't do any of the things with the piece of paper Spongebob did, probably because he has no imagination.
  • Ellen from Ellens Acres.
  • Jibber Jabber.
  • Doug.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • It is implied that Isabella Garcia-Shapiro spends much of her time daydreaming about her crush, Phineas, turning into a centaur and carrying her off along a rainbow. She calls this fantasy "Phineasland" and can drift off even while Phineas is actually talking to her.
    • Also Phineas is likes imagination as well.
    • Ferb to a slightly lesser extent. Anything they set out to do, they will do it, even though it seems to break the laws of logic and indeed, physics.
  • It is the premise of the children's show Billy.
  • The "Magnificent Muttley" bits on Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines.
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum.
  • Adventure Time:
    • Jake is sometimes close to being Mr Imagination, particularly in the episode where everything he imagines becomes real.
    • BMO. The episode "BMO Noire" is entirely dedicated to BMO's Film Noir style fantasies.
  • Arnold from Hey Arnold! started out as this, before the show expanded and began to put the spotlight on its Loads and Loads of Characters.
  • Mona from Mona the Vampire.
  • Eddie Storkowitz, the lead character of Birdz, spends a lot of his time fantasizing that his peers are in movie settings.
  • Rufus is this in spades in the pilot for The Dreamstone. Oddly despite being a dominant trait, and the key reason he gets a job assisting the Dream Maker, it is only referred to in a handful of episodes afterwards.
  • Mac of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is the most-often seen one, though his own "imaginary friend" Bloo has an active imagination himself. Goo, however, is this as her main characteristic. In her première episode, she creates a crisis in that her imagination is way too active that her imaginary friends, which become real, immediately overcrowd the mansion the show is set in.
  • Texas in Motorcity, such as coming up with impossible plans to fight Kane or more notably in the episode "Threat Level: Texas!" where he retells the events of previous episodes, only he's the hero and everyone else is out of character.
  • Larry the Cucumber likes to go around pretending to be a superhero named "Larry-Boy", which is the basis of the entire Spin-Off.
  • The Warden of Superjail!
  • Taz is portrayed as this in several episodes of Taz-Mania, such as "Sub Commander Taz" and "The Origin of the Beginning of the Incredible Taz-Man".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: With the power of Inspiration Manifestation, Rarity has this, starting with what she did in Ponyville. Thankfully, the spell was removed before she could change all Equestria and the world with her creativity running amok.

    Real Life 
  • This trait is referred to as a "fantasy prone personality."
  • Many people in the entertainment business and fiction authors of any genre, which are two fields that require a large and constantly expanding imagination in order to be successful.
  • Anyone who's been to Epcot might recognise these lyrics: "'Cause at the start/of everything that's new/just one spark/lights up for you..."
  • In the MBTI, most people who get typed as a INxx type will usually fall under this trope, though INFPs tend to be the quintessential example.


Imagine SpottingFantasy Sequence    
Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of GoldIntroversion TropesNerd
Mouthy KidYoungstersNever Grew Up
Mr. ExpositionUnisex TropesNarrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize
Mouthy KidCharacters as DeviceMr. Vice Guy
Mouthy KidImmaturity TropesNaïve Everygirl
Moral MyopiaImageSource/Newspaper ComicsNoir Episode

alternative title(s): Ms Imagination; Chuunibyou
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