Never Wake Up A Sleepwalker

Did you know that waking up a Sleepwalker will cause severe shock and even DEATH to the person?

Well... no, that's not actually true — it's an old wives' tale that still persists despite scientific evidence to the contrary. However, in TV-land, no one has heard this update (and some media predate this myth being busted) and will continually dance around whatever strange or frightening behaviors the sleeper exhibits.

Never mind that the sleepwalkers half the time tend to wander off into pretty dangerous situations completely unawares, where one would think that waking up the person would be much less dangerous then risk slipping up and letting that one crocodile eat them.

But nope. It's too dangerous.

To add insult to injury, the sleepwalker will almost always end their night of hilarious sleepwalking hijinks by walking right back into their own bed, and then immediately waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, remarking that they had a wonderful night's sleep, as their companion collapses from exhaustion.


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  • In Power Pack, the children bring Franklin back to Avengers Mansion after witnessing the Morlock Massacre. When the adults find out about this, Franklin claims he was sleepwalking, and the other children say that they didn't wake him because it would be dangerous.
  • One Archie comic has Jughead, for some unexplained reason, sleepwalk through almost all of his entire school day. To avoid waking him up, the teachers give all of their students tests. During lunch, Jughead stays asleep but eats the food off of everyone's trays. He eventually wakes up when the school bell rings, suffering from no ill effects. The other students aren't very happy.
  • Once in a postwar comic, Donald Duck had a case of sleepwalking happen, in a revisit of his previous brush with it before the war. This time around, his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie tried to wake him up with firecrackers. Donald awakes to the loud noises, mistakes the firecrackers for a Japanese-laid minefield, and has a violent episode, forcing his nephews to flee to the garden.
  • The Simpsons: In an early issue, Springfield goes completely health-crazy, much to Homer's horror. At one point he's caught in the middle of the night trying to quietly eat a cupcake, by Rainier Wolfcastle and his G-Men. Acting quickly, Homer pretends to be sleepwalking (despite the fact he just screamed as they came in the window). It works, because Wolfcastle doesn't want to risk getting sued if Homer has a heart attack.

  • In Secondhand Lions, the warning is more for the safety of the person waking the sleepwalker, than that of the sleepwalker himself. When Walter tries to wake his sleepwalking great-uncle Hub, his other great-uncle Garth pulls Walter's hand back and says, "Don't. Last time I tried to wake him he nearly tore my head off."
  • In Step Brothers, both lead Man-Child characters are mischievous, almost sentient, sleepwalkers. Nancy warns Robert to not wake them up, but after their sleepwalking gets out of hand on Christmas Eve (including bringing the tree in their parents' bedroom), Robert finally tries to shake them awake; they promptly beat him up, carry him, and toss him down the hallway stairs.

  • In Interesting Times, one of the wizards says that his grandmother always claimed that if you woke a sleepwalker their legs would fall off. A more skeptical wizard asks "How many times did she see it happen?"
    "The Bursar sleepwalks most nights, you know."
    "Does he? Tempting..."
  • Downplayed example in a book in The Babysitters Club that featured a giant sleepover as a reward for a fundraiser; one of the kids starts sleepwalking and one of the supervisors follows him around until he goes back to sleep. All in all, it was one of the less annoying things that happened during the event.
  • Cujo: During the first night they spend at her sisters' house, Charity finds her son Brett sleepwalking. Although she has enough common sense to know that all those horror stories about the dangers of waking up a sleepwalker are just myths, she still can't bring herself to wake him up and instead watches him untill he goes back to bed. She also recalls how she took Brett to the doctor when he was six because of his frequent sleepwalking, and the doctor blamed poorly researched movies for the wrong ideas people still have about sleepwalking.

    Live Action Television 
  • One All That sketch was built around this, with a teacher being repeatedly told not to wake up a sleepwalking student, in spite of him doing some incredibly bizarre things. By the end of the sketch, however, it's implied he was only faking it.
  • Averted in Desperate Housewives: Susan finds Orson standing on her front lawn naked and muttering to himself. Once she figures out he's sleepwalking, she slaps him awake.
  • In El Chavo del ocho, Doña Clotilde and Doña Florida are seen sleepwalking and Don Ramon refused to wake them up or even disturb them recalling that it'd be bad for them. El Chavo later abuses this by pretending to sleepwalk in Kiko's house to take some bread.
  • Averted on an episode of Gilligan's Island. The Professor has no problem snapping his fingers to wake up a sleepwalking Gilligan despite Skipper's protests. Gilligan wakes up only slightly disoriented, which is practically normal for Gilligan.
  • Also averted in an episode of Hannah Montana. When Miley starts sleepwalking, her friends and brother repeatedly try to wake her up so that she stops, but for the most part she keeps doing it. At one point, her brother Jackson comments that you're "supposed to wake a sleepwalker gently".

    Video Games 
  • In Day of the Tentacle, Bernard will refuse to awake Dr. Fred because he has heard it is very bad to wake up a sleepwalker.
  • One of the play modes in the old NES game Gyromite involves moving pistons up and down to protect a sleepwalking scientist.
  • The 90's platformer Sleepwalker would have been far, far shorter if this wasn't in effect. Ralph the dog has to lead around his sleepwalking master Lee without the latter getting fatally hurt or waking up. If Lee wakes up, he dies.

    Web Comics 
  • In Girls Next Door, Erik advises Sarah not to wake Christine when she finds her sleepwalking toward his room for some late-night music lessons. Sarah dryly informs him that modern science has disproved that notion, then makes him promise to forget the potential trauma and just dump a bucket of cold water on her if he ever finds her sleepwalking toward Jareth's room.

    Western Animation 
  • Daisy Duck once had to race ahead of her somnambulist boyfriend Donald to remove obstacles out of his way, which considering he was doing gravity-defying tricks such as climbing up walls, was quite a feat.
  • Bluto and Popeye had to join forces to save Olive Oyl from herself in "A Dream Walking", especially once she wandered into a construction site.
  • One Merrie Melodies short involved a Fox disguising itself as a Guard Dog using this trope to smuggle chickens out, counting on the real Guard Dog's fear of causing him to his advantage.
    • Another, "The Unbearable Bear" featuring Sniffles the Mouse, involves a policeman chasing a burglar in his own home, but both parties trying to stay quiet because the policeman's wife is sleepwalking. Though it's more because they're both afraid of what she'll do to them if she wakes up.
  • This was the main plot point of the The Angry Beavers episode "Food of the Clods". Although somewhat subverted in that the instant things get really dangerous Dag decides it's not worth the risk and tries to wake Norb anyway, but he's too deep to be woken.
  • One episode of Dexter's Laboratory has Dexter's dad wandering into his secret lab which was filled with dangerous machines and experiments. The most amusing part is that his dad claims he is a light sleeper yet all the machinery and lasers don't wake him up — a simple thing like Dexter shutting a door does. Interestingly, this episode has a legitimate justification for Dexter not waking up his dad: He doesn't want him to see his secret laboratory.
  • In Milo Murphy's Law, Melissa actually does say that this is an old wives' tale, but Zack insists that it's not, so they chase Milo around the woods anyway.
  • The Spongebob Squarepants episode "Don't Wake Patrick" has SpongeBob following a sleepwalking Patrick around Bikini Bottom to try and bring him home. In this case, SpongeBob actually did try to wake him up, but Patrick is a Heavy Sleeper.

    Real Life 
  • In Real Life, the myth originally began from the belief that soul separates from the body during sleep, and waking up a sleepwalker would separate them from their soul, potentially with all kinds of horrible results. While the myth has been debunked in practice several times over, it does still apply in situations where a sleepwalker ends up in dangerous locations, like an edge of the roof, in which case the shock may well end up killing them, albeit indirectly, as they stumble in panic.
    • Which only goes to underscore the importance of waking the sleepwalker before they get into such a dangerous situation in the first place.