"I dream I'm in a plane, and slowly crashing; it's slowly crashing down on a street in San Francisco, and I'm way up at the cockpit, and I turn to everybody and I say, 'Listen, I don't think this is a real plane crash, 'cause I happened to notice that I'm not wearing any pants.' And whenever I'm not wearing any pants, it's probably a dream."A stock dream where the subject finds themselves in a familiar social institution (usually school or the workplace) wearing only their underwear, or sometimes nothing at all. This is often coupled with a high-pressure task (such as an examination or a deadline), and the thought that you have somehow forgotten to get dressed this morning. Usually, this trope is invoked to simply indicate that the person is dreaming. When played straight, it is simply embarrassing, and not in the least bit erotic or terror-inducing. And it will never, ever be prophetic... although in comedy, it's occasionally subverted by having the "bad dream" turn out to not be a dream at all. This kind of dream is definitely Truth in Television and quite common in fact, though perhaps not as much as media shows it, nor always with the same structure and conclusion. After all, Real Dreams Are Weirder. A Sub-Trope of Anxiety Dreams. See also Fully-Clothed Nudity. See also Out-of-Clothes Experience. Not to be confused with Pants-Free (a specific sight gag where someone is revealed to be partly undressed Behind the Black); the everyday attire of a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal; a superhero who is Not Wearing Tights; or situations where a character isn't wearing pants but doesn't care. Also not to be confused with Going Commando. Expect Goofy Print Underwear to make an appearance in most cases of this. The inversion is Nude-Colored Clothes. To a British audience this trope would be "only wearing pants", since in Britain "pants" are what Americans call "underpants". "Not wearing pants" in Britain would either be "going commando" or "completely nude". If someone finds themselves unexpectedly naked in public when they're awake, see Naked People Trapped Outside.
— Adam Savage, MythBusters
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- In I Killed Adolf Hitler the hero sees himself naked in front of Hitler. No wonder he wakes up screaming.
- In Little Ego, Ego has a dream where she goes to a party only to discover she had forgotten to put her dress on under her cape. While hiding from her hosts and the other guests, she meets a man who had forgotten to put on anything other than his bow-tie.
- In Batman, Tim Drake once commented that normal people have nightmares about accidentally heading to school in their underwear. He doesn't. His nightmares involved accidentally going to school in his Robin uniform.
- In Tintin, the captain has such a dream. He's in the opera, a parrot-version of the Castafiore sings, and the whole audience consists of parrots in black suits, looking disapprovingly at the naked captain.
- Subverted in Grant Morrison's The Invisibles — At one point, Sir Miles and Colonel Friday communicate with one another via dream travel, with Sir Miles appearing in the Dreamscape without his trousers. When Friday makes a snide remark, Sir Miles, unperturbed, calmly points out that it was common dream image and therefore made communication easier.
- Iznogoud once had a naked dream. While wearing a necklace that makes all his dreams come true. And then, the irascible sultan Pullmancar enters.
- The second story in New Line Cinema's Tales of Horror opens with a girl having a dream about showing up at school naked. She is stated to have these kinds of dreams often, but this one is different because the dreamstalking killer Freddy Krueger is after her.
- Hack/Slash: Cassie's first battle with Ashley Guthrie starts out with one of these.
- In Violine, one of Violine's dreams involves her in just her underwear.
- Jeremy in Zits has a dream where he is naked at school and can't decide whether the most disturbing part is that he's naked or that no one notices.
- Jon in Garfield once had a nightmare, where he was about to address the assembly of the United Nations, with millions of people watching by television- introducing himself as a horrible loser and saying that he forgot to wear pants.
- A cartoon in Punch shows a man, naked from the waist down, riding the bus, while explaining cheerfully to a horrified elderly woman that this is simply a recurring dream of his in which he always wakes up before reaching a particular stop.
- Loriot once made a strip with this as a spoof of etiquette guides, recommending for this case that you should try to wake yourself up by pinching yourself - even in case you like the situation.
- Luann once had a dream where not only did she not have pants, she had mask on her face and shampoo in her hair. Mortified, she suddenly realizes this has to be a dream and waits to wake up. When she doesn't, she runs out in a panic, and then wakes up wondering, "Whatever happened to those beautiful princess in a castle dreams I used to have?"
- Inverted in Mother Goose and Grimm, where Grimmy (a dog) has a nightmare where he's on a busy street while fully dressed.
- Dream Of The Rarebit Fiend is already centered around dreams, and of course has a comic where a pants-less man goes out on the street in search of his missing pants. He gets a lot of stares from people and winds up being arrested, presumably for public indecency.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen of All Oni, Jade has one in the second interlude — and this is the most normal thing about that dream!
- Inverted in Earth and Sky. Since ponies think nothing of going without clothes, their version of this trope is when they dream about being overdressed in public. In particular, Diamond Tiara dreams about being back in school, wearing a ridiculously Pimped-Out Dress in the classroom.
- Mentioned by Ace in the Doctor Who webcast Death Comes to Time. When Casmus tells her about the importance and significance of dreams, she fires back by mentioning that hers are basically useless.
Ace: I just end up with my trousers down in the classroom!
Films — Animation
- In Osmosis Jones, the Live-Action Show Within a Show dream sequence Ozzy watches about Frank's subconscious features a dream in which Frank is in his daughter's class taking a test he don't know about or study for... in his underwear and getting laughed at by the kids, the buffalo-wing-eating champion, some bullies from work, etc. and berated by Mrs. Boyd.
- Appears in the Dream Production sequence in Inside Out. Fear thinks said dream is too cliché.
- Shrek's nightmare from Shrek the Third has a scene where Shrek walks onto a stage, wearing only a mortarboard hat and a medal, in front of an audience of ogre babies.
Films — Live-Action
- In Bull Durham, Nuke LaLoosh had a nightmare about playing naked. When he wakes up on the team bus, wise veteran Crash Davis tells him "it's OK, I have that dream all the time too." Writer/Director Ron Shelton really did play minor league baseball, and this is one of the many parts of the film that are evidently Truth in Television.
- Character: Dreverhaven is a bailiff who is hated by most everybody, due to his business being the serving of eviction notices. In one scene he confronts a Torches and Pitchforks mob outside his office building—while in the nude. They lynch him. Then the entire sequence is revealed to be a Catapult Nightmare.
- In New York Minute, Jane has a nightmare that she gives a speech naked.
- In Another Time, Another Place, Janie worries about Luigi blabbing to the other POWs about having slept with her (made worse by the fact that she can't understand what they're saying) and ends up having a weird, anxiety-fuelled daydream where she imagines herself naked with all the prisoners leering at her.
- Chris Van Allsburg's storybook The Sweetest Fig involves self-centered Parisian dentist Monsieur Bibot receiving two figs as payment for a tooth extraction. The lady who gives him these figs says that all of his dreams will come true. Not believing so, Bibot eats one of the figs. The next day his preceding dream comes true; among other things, he walks his dog Marcel in his underwear without noticing.
- In Bridget Jones' Diary, Bridget has a recurring nightmare where she has to take A-level French while wearing nothing but her Domestic Science apron.
- Older Than Radio: The Dream of Councillor Popov (1873), a satire in verse by Aleksey Tolstoy (a cousin of Leo Tolstoy and himself a famous Russian poet, novelist and playwright)
- In the memoir Reading Lolita In Tehran, the author remembers some women discussing dreams of appearing outside without their veils.
- Referenced in Dinoverse, when Candayce has a lovely dream of lying out beside a pool in the warm sun, then realizes with horror that she feels the air on her bare chest - and when she wakes up she's naked, because she's in the body of a dinosaur.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Cersei Lannister has a nightmare that starts at her sitting on the Iron Throne and everyone admiring her. Then suddenly Tyrion appears and laughs at her, and Cersei realizes that she's not wearing a dress. After that, the dream takes a horrific turn: Cersei stands up, stumbles and is impaled on the blades of which the throne is made of. The throne starts to grind her into fine red paste like a meatgrinder, and she awakes in horror.
- In Ava XOX, a book targeted at older children and written in the form of diary entries, Ava writes in her diary about having one of these. It was brought on because her gym teacher had said that starting with the next grade, Ava and her classmates would be allowed to use the school showers, hence Ava actually could end up naked at school. She swears she will never use these.
- In The Hallowed Hunt, Learned Oswin contrasts the god-sent dreams of his wife with his own dreams of this sort. "The gods walk through her dreams as though strolling in a garden. I just have dreams of running lost through my old seminary, with no clothes, late for an examination of a class I did not know I had, and the like."
- In an episode of Angel, the hero dreams that he comes to work but forgets his shoes.
- Babylon 5 used this with Ivanova in one episode. She dreamed that she was on the bridge but forgot to get dressed. When she mentions it to Sheridan by saying she dreamed that she went to work feeling vulnerable and exposed ("totally... unprepared for my work"), the Captain responded by saying that at least she didn't dream that she went to work naked.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Willow mentions having such a dream in an early episode.
Buffy: Do you remember the demon that almost got out the night I died?
Willow: Every nightmare I have that doesn't revolve around academic failure or public nudity is about that thing. In fact, once I dreamt that it attacked me while I was late for a test and naked.
- In season 1, Episode "Nightmares", Xander is forced to live through his nightmare of suddenly being in his underwear in front of the entire class. It is mentioned that this is a recurring nightmare of his.
- Willow mentions having such a dream in an early episode.
- Dark Angel had a scene where Max dreams she is chatting with Original Cindy. Cindy looks down and asks, "Where are your clothes?" and Max suddenly finds herself naked. Then Cindy wakes her up.
- Referenced in the Doctor Who episode, "Blink"; Sally Sparrow encounters Larry, emerging from the bathroom in the middle of the night. He takes in her presence and offers, "Not... sure, but... really, really hoping... pants?" She tells him No, but with just a hint of a smile on her face. For American viewers to truly appreciate this, they must remember that in the UK, "Pants" are called Trousers — if a Brit says Pants, they mean underwearnote .
- On The Drew Carey Show, Drew told his not-quite girlfriend about a dream he had involving her:
Drew: You were on fire and I was squirting you with a giant hose. Then you turned into my mother and my pants fell off.
- Eureka uses this in the same episode everyone winds up sharing dreams.
- In the Haven episode "Lay Me Down", Nathan dreams that he is in class, naked. It soon turns into an Erotic Dream because Audrey is his Hot Teacher, who gives him a spanking.
- On How I Met Your Mother, Ted has one of these dreams right before starting as a professor. Not only is he missing his pants, but he doesn't even have his hat and whip. Barney comments on it, telling Ted he should have had sex with the hot student in the front row because he already had his pants off.
- Referenced in iCarly when Sam was having a nightmare and Gibby ran into the classroom in his underwear. Sam told him to "Get out! This is my nightmare!"
- Casey Novak in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit mentions a dream where she's naked in front of several of the series' recurring judges. She reveals this while standing in front of those same judges fully clothed because the one she sought out to sign an exhumation order was hosting a poker game.
- Malcolm in the Middle: In the episode with Dewey's chicken pox and the dominoes, Hal has a dream that starts with his wife on a white horse, and transitions to him having a test in school for which he didn't study... and suddenly he's in only his underwear.
- MythBusters: While testing the idea of cabin fever in an Alaska special, Adam, having been stuck alone in a cabin for a few days and acting a little screwier than usual, decides to relate a dream that he had just had to a video camera he is using to keep a sort of diary. It seems to start off as a serious dream about him being in an airliner that's about to crash, but Adam then addressed the passengers on the plane (and follows up with a comment for the camera):
Adam: Listen. I don't think this is a real plane crash 'cause I happen to notice that I'm not wearing any pants. And whenever I'm not wearing any pants, it's probably a dream.
- One episode of Night Court has Bull come to work in the buff. "It's okay, I'm just having that nightmare where I go to work naked." "...Bull, this isn't a dream." Cue the slow burn, the girly scream, and the title.
- Pixel Face: Referenced by Rex in "Mrs Dynamo's Son":
Rex: Oh no! Is this a dream? Am I going to have to sit an exam with no pants on in a moment?
- In an episode of Power Rangers RPM, Ziggy reveals that he once dreamed that he had gone to school in just his underwear, only to realize that it wasn't a dream. Apparently there was a rash that had spread down the back of something too...
- In the Red Dwarf episode "Thanks for the Memory", Lister looks in on what Rimmer is dreaming. Rimmer is doing a tap dance in a top hat and tails, but no pants.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch has Sabrina enter Valerie's dream to find her taking a test on which her entire future depends. Then she looks down and all her clothes are gone.
- A Star Trek: Voyager episode about dreams begins with Tuvok having one about being naked on the bridge. Played for Laughs in that Tuvok refuses to tell the other main characters (save for Janeway, and only when she presses him) the details of his dream and they imagine something far worse for this stoic Vulcan than a mundanity such as being naked.
Tuvok: It appears that in my haste to get to the Bridge, I neglected to put on my uniform.
- Gym Class Heroes have a song called “Kid Nothing And The Never-Ending Naked Nightmare” that is partially about this.
- Parodied in the World Builder game Brownie's Dream. One of the dreams involves the title character being back in high school and naked in class. He then wonders what he's worried about, given that he's a cartoon dog who doesn't normally wear clothes, and it turns into a dream about the day he met his girlfriend Jane Doe.
- In Catherine, the protagonist Vincent is forced to run around in nothing but white boxers with pink polka dots during the puzzle sections, which take place in his dreams.
- Dragon Age: Origins: If you nominate Alistair for King of Ferelden, his response is "This is where I wake up, usually. Or everyone points and laughs because I've no clothes on."
- A comment snarky-Hawke can make to Merrill before the final battle of Dragon Age II when she asks if it all feels like a dream: "In a moment, I'll look down and see that I have no pants on."
Merrill: (giggles) The Champion of Kirkwall going into battle naked! Why can't I ever have that dream?
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition, an optional conversation between Solas and the Inquisitor takes place in the fade and thus in their dreams. Afterwards, the Inquisitor can remark that they didn't expect to be talking there, but that it at least beats the dream in which they stand naked in front of the war table.
- Happens in the beginning of The Longest Journey when April sees a "dream" about Arcadia. Justified, as she actually did unconsciously travel to Arcadia while sleeping in her bed (and she didn't sleep fully-clothed, naturally). It happens again much later, when she has to flee after being awakened at night and arrives to Arcadia in just her undies.
- Implied, but ultimately subverted, in the Sam & Max: Freelance Police game "What's New, Beelzebub?". Various characters are living out their worst nightmares, and one is the paranoid Bosco, who is naked, on a stage, and has everyone looking straight at him. Later turns out that it was the "everyone looking straight at him" part that he disliked; he actually doesn't mind being naked in public.
- A quest in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion involves helping a mage who was experimenting with dreamworlds and became lost within his own subconscious, his body having been locked in a coma for weeks. To enter his dream and wake him up, you need to fall asleep while wearing a special amulet and when you enter the dream, you'll find that the amulet is now the only thing you are wearing (it also applies a constant Silence effect to you, so you can't use magic). While granted, this is to make sure that your inventory is empty so you will complete the puzzles in the manner intended, the mage gets to keep his clothes, so why are you the one that's stuck naked, dammit?!
- An early Penny Arcade strip involves Tycho standing naked and waving at people in an arcade while Gabe is playing one of the games. When Tycho asks Gabe is he's ever had one of these dreams, Gabe says that he isnt dreaming.
Tycho: You could have told me that before we left the house.
- This Buttersafe comic where a boy dreams he's at school in his underwear, complete with a Lampshade Hanging on the whole phenomenon.
- Ansem Retort: Pants are for the weak!
- This Giselle strip. She wishes for all her dreams to come true; when she complains about losing her pants, the well tells her "if you want the one about Legolas then you better pay more than 20 cents... cheapskate!"
- This comic from The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, where Wonderella dreams she is naked at the Oscars.
- Dork Tower on reflecting it was not like an anxiety dream
- Escape from Terra has a comic where Guy dreams he has no pants on while talking to Fiorella.
- This Think Before You Think comic has Julia dream she's not wearing pants in public.
- Discussed in The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal.
Amal: So what are you dreaming about?
TJ: I'm on Wheel of Fortune... and I'm naked.
Amal: Oh, the naked-in-public dream, that's a classic.
TJ: Yeah, but it's okay, 'cause Vanna White's naked too.
Amal: Vanna White's, like, seventy years old!
TJ: Hey, this is my dream, so she's still bangin'.
- One of the types of dreams Luna shows in And That's How Equestria Was Made! is 'being naked in front of a crowd', complete with victim on stage staring at the audience in terror. But what do ponies normally wear ...
- Early in the "Squirrel Prophet" arc of El Goonish Shive, Grace is getting chewed out by an old-fashioned teacher for using the Internet in her research assignment. The teacher then points out she forgot to get dressed, at which point her clothes disappear. Ridicule ensues. This one is a bit odd in that Grace is an Innocent Fanservice Girl, and the nature of her emotional distress isn't so much embarrassment as it is a feeling that she's different from everyone else and doesn't belong.
- Two Lumps: Snooch woke up screaming from a dream of being naked in front of everybody.
Eben: We're cats. We're naked all the time.
- Hejibits has this example.
- In the Whateley Universe, one story has Phase going through a long series of nightmares. One nightmare is her naked in the school cafeteria. At which point her physical peculiarity is visible, and the rest of the Superhero School tries to kill her.
- Played seriously in The Nostalgia Critic's editorial on Eyes Wide Shut, as it's only after the main character gets threatened with a Shameful Strip does he mention relating and having nightmares where he's exposed.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: In "I Dream of Jimmy", Carl is seen having one of these prior to Jimmy traveling into Carl's dream-scape.
- In an episode of Aladdin: The Series, Iago and Abu are magically transported to the land of the dead, which gives them the ability to visit living people in their dreams. They manage to convince Aladdin and the Sultan that they're dreaming by pointing out that they aren't wearing pants.
- The Amazing World of Gumball
- Referred to in the episode "The Responsible", where Richard and Nicole have gone to a Parent's Meeting, and Richard is in his underwear.
Richard: This is just like one of those dreams where you go to school naked!
- Played with in "The Dream". Gumball and Darwin, who made themselves share a dream, end up Darwin's dream about being naked at a mall, where everyone is laughing at them. As Darwin wears nothing but shoes, Gumball tries to take his Censor Box. Gumball then points out that since Darwin knows he's in a dream, he can control everything. Darwin then makes it so they're wearing clothes while the customers are only wearing their underwear... and continue laughing at them.
Gumball: Wearing clothes in a nudist mall has just the same level of embarrassment as going to a normal mall naked.
- In "The Night" Teri dreams that she's naked at school. When she finds a pencil and tries to draw clothes on her body (she's made of paper and her features are drawn on), she finds that it's not working, then it shows that she's drawing on herself in her sleep.
- Referred to in the episode "The Responsible", where Richard and Nicole have gone to a Parent's Meeting, and Richard is in his underwear.
- American Dragon: Jake Long:
- The eponymous character ends up in his underwear on a bridge in front of a reporter, his little sister and his home economics teacher who turns out to be another dragon. He figures he must be having a bad dream because of all the stress of his job and begins acting crazy. However, he was not dreaming and pictures of the event were eventually published.
- Played straight in another episode where Jake dreams that Rotwood points out that he's wearing his underwear to school.
- The Arthur episode "Arthur's Underwear" makes the title character endure at least one every day, while suffering a guilt trip from mocking Binky for ripping his pants in front of the class. Arthur does end up splitting his pants for real...in front of the whole school! Buster also dreams about forgetting his pants.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: In Nightmares and Daydreams Aang's first nightmare is facing the Fire Lord and then discovering that he wasn't wearing pants. In his final nightmare, he inverts it by declaring that Dream!Ozai was the pantsless one. Complete with the line "My royal parts are showing!"
- In Bob And Margaret, Bob's nervousness about giving a speech at a Dental convention culminates in him having a dream where he's giving the speech naked.
- In the final episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog, he has a dream in which the bottom half of his fur was shaved.
- Daria has a variant in the first episode, when Daria and Jane have to speak at an assembly in front of the entire school. Jane comments that "Usually when I have this dream I'm wearing pink taffeta."
- In an episode of Extreme Ghostbusters involving nightmares, this was Egon's nightmare. Subverted in that he doesn't have a Naked Freak-Out over it.
- Fry has a dream about being in his old underpants in front of his Ancient Egyptian Algebra class. The dream then turns into an advertisement for Lightspeed Briefs, a much cooler brand of underpants. He then learns that advertisements in the 31st century can be beamed directly into people's brains.
- Subverted in "That Darn Katz" — Amy arrives late for her doctrinal hearing, arms laden with all her papers. Just as she mentions that this is like a terrible dream, she drops the papers and suddenly realizes that she rushed out of her apartment in her underwear.
- In the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode "Nightmare Assault", Lady Jaye says that she had a nightmare that she was forced to sing the national anthem for the Super Bowl. Hawk asks what was so bad about that, and she blushes and says, "Let's just say I wasn't exactly in dress uniform."
- In an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, Jade enters Jackie's dream, and has to point out Jackie isn't wearing pants to prove that he's dreaming, providing the page image. We also discover that Chan likes Valentine's heart boxer shorts.
- Ron Stoppable's reveal to Kim Possible that his worst nightmare is to being in school without wearing any pants. And this is a guy that drops his pants, a lot. And Kim pointed out he actually did come to school with no pants.
- In the My Gym Partner's a Monkey episode "The Hyena and the Mighty", Adam had a dream that he came to school in his underpants. Jake informed him that it wasn't a dream.
- The Simpsons: In the episode where Homer goes to college:
Homer: A test?! This is like one of those bad dreams!
[camera pans out revealing him in his underwear]
[Homer screams in horror]
- In The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat episode "Nightmare on Oak Street", one of the nightmare scenarios Jeepers Creepers uses to torment Felix and Roscoe during his Villain Song involves the two being seen in public in their underwear. It's a rather odd choice, considering that Felix ordinarily goes naked anyway.
- An inversion occurs in the Sonic Boom episode, "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Worse-er"; when Dr. Eggman challenges Tails to catch Sonic, Tails ends up catching Knuckles in a barrel trap he set for Sonic. Later in the episode, when Tails awakens a sleeping Knuckles from the trap, Knuckles thanks him for it, telling him he was having a nightmare where he went to school wearing pants.
- This trope is alluded to in the M.A.S.K. episode "Eyes of the Skull".
Dusty Hayes: Without my mask, I feel like I'm in one of those dreams where you forget to put pants on.
- Pants-less or fully-nude nightmares do occur in real life and are fairly common (as far as nightmares go). The general consensus among health experts is that such dreams are the result of anxiety in the dreamer's waking life. For instance, people preparing for a wedding often report such dreams.
- A subversion was reported in one of the Time Life book series on dreams. A teenage boy reported dreaming that he showed up to class and started stripping to the cheers of his classmates. As he had very recently become sexually active, the researcher speculated he was celebrating his ability to overcome his inhibitions.