Pay close attention to my preaching 'cause it will change your mind when you wake up!
A character is bored or disinterested about learning something. Or he is just completely uninterested in a certain topic and doesn't understand why other people value it so much? Usually it has something to do with history. Or he is just a mean person who doesn't understand why his behaviour is wrong. He is comfortable with his ignorance and just goes off doing banal or evil things. Sometimes he even pokes fun at other characters' seriousness about the topic.
Then he or she goes to sleep and has a dream. Usually some legendary character arrives and provides the person with a lot of background information about the topic
. Sometimes the dreaming ignoramus is put in the action himself. Now he gains knowledge and enthusiasm about a topic he actually knew nothing about. Or he finally starts to see things from his victims' point of view.
When the character eventually awakes he makes a Heel-Face Turn
. He finally realizes the importance of learning math, respect for your country, respect for your ancestors, respect for people he formerly threatened or hurt,... and so on. In most cases he even becomes an vocal supporter of the cause.
This corny plot device was very popular in old educational films and tv series.
When a character actually wishes things to be different, only to find out that life has changed for the worse, you have a Be Careful What You Wish For
. In both cases the character always wakes up, glad that things are just the way they are.
Compare Dreaming The Truth
- Happens in the 1943 Cabin In The Sky, where a man who gambles too much has a Dream Within a Dream where some angels and devils try to get his soul. As he awakes in real life he throws the dice away and swears to repent and devote his life to going to Church more often.
- Wayne's plan for Waynestock in Wayne's World 2 is the direct result of a dream with Jim Morrison telling him to set up a huge show in Aurora. Others he recruits also mention having the Jim Morrison dream later on.
- Basically the entire concept of the movie Inception, including the title, which refers to the act of specifically engineering an Opinion Changing Dream for another person without them realizing it.
- Also the entire point of the film North. The titular character is annoyed with his parents until he wakes up from his dream and accepts them for who they are.
- This is one possible explanation for Coily in A Case of Spring Fever.
- A Christmas Carol: Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and helping the needy. But after a long dream where he is visited by his late partner Jacob Marley's ghosts and then three more ghosts he changes his character completely and becomes a good person.
- One Berenstain Bears book centered on environmentalism had Papa Bear go through one after he decided he didn't need to recycle or plant trees to replace the ones he cut down.
- The children's book Just A Dream, a classic Green Aesop, is entirely based on this idea. As in the above example, the main character is uninterested in environmentalism until he has a series of dreams showing what the world might be like if no one took care of the earth.
Mythology and Religion
- An episode of Sister Sister ("I Had A Dream" (1998)) features one of the sisters ridiculing the deeds of her African-American ancestors and is reluctant to carry on with her own miserable life. In her dream she is visited by several historical Afro-American characters who all claim they want to give up and do something else. She convinces them to do otherwise and do the historical deed that they are famous for. When she wakes up she respects her ancestors.
- In an episode of Cosby, Bill Cosby's character Hilton Lucas is disinterested in studying William Shakespeare, until he has a dream where Shakespeare himself(played by Tom Conti) explains the relevance of his works. One notable Casting Gag moment finds Lucas cast in the role of King Lear, with Sabrina La Beauf(Sandra from The Cosby Show) as Gonreil. By the end of the episode he's much more interested in Shakespeare's plays.
- In the Dinosaurs episode "And the Winner Is...", B.P. Richfield runs for Chief Elder and has Earl Sinclair run against him so Richfield would win. At first Earl is willing to lose, until he has a dream of a world run by Richfield, where Earls' family is poor and minimum wage is lowered to a few cents. This dream inspires Earl to try harder to win. Later, when his popularity goes up but the family remarks that Earl might not be smart enough to make a good chief elder, Earl refuses to sleep knowing he'll have a dream convincing him that he'll make a terrible chief elder. And he is right.
- In The Bible (Acts 10:9-23), Peter falls into a trance and sees many animals which were forbidden (unclean) for a Jewish person to eat. He is commanded by God to "kill and eat," but replies that he had never broken Jewish dietary laws before. God replies, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou unclean." Peter learns from this to accept the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) as converts to Christianity and to no longer treat them as outsiders to the faith.
- A few days after firing Kyle in the prologue to Last Window, Ed has a bizarre dream in which he found Kyle dead by the road. He decides not to take his chances and agrees to rehire Kyle if he can manage to prove himself.
- In the Pluto cartoon, "Pluto's Judgment Day", Mickey Mouse punishes Pluto for chasing a little kitten. Pluto then goes to sleep and has a nightmare where he is sent to Hell and tortured by several cats. When he awakes he changes his ways and acts gentle towards his feline friends.
- The Porky Pig cartoon Old Glory has Porky struggling to get through the Pledge of Allegiance. He falls asleep and is visited by Uncle Sam who tells him about the American War of Independence. Porky learns the value of American freedom and wakes up. Now he is able to recite the entire Pledge from memory.
- Subverted in the Looney Tunes short "Pigs Is Pigs", where Piggy is seen eating too much for his own good. When he goes to bed he has a nightmare where a scientist forcefeeds him. Eventually Porky has a Balloon Belly and eats one more piece of food before he explodes. After he wakes up, he still rushes downstairs to continue eating, having learned nothing!
- Another Looney Tunes example, "The Big Snooze" has Elmer Fudd tearing up his Warner Brothers contract after being bested by Bugs Bunny one time too many. Bugs invades his dreams and induces a truly bizarre nightmare as only Bob Clampett can produce, prompting Elmer to get back to work.
- The Tom and Jerry cartoon "Heavenly Puss" shows Tom dying and going to Heaven. There he is told that he should go to Hell, but if he can make Jerry sign a contract of forgiveness he may enter Heaven. Tom goes through great lengths to do so, but in the end he fails and is cooked in Hell. Then it turns out it was All Just a Dream and he hugs Jerry to become friends again.
- In South Park:
- Mocked in "I'm A Little Bit Country" where Cartman acts as if he doesn't care about American history so that he can induce an opinion changing dream. He elaborately stages incidents that would render him unconscious so that he can have the educational dream and thereby avoid the bother of actually studying. After many amusing failed attempts, he succeeds.
- Played straight in "Cartoon Wars: Part I". At first, Kyle opposes Cartman's efforts to have the Family Guy episode pulled, but changes his mind after having a dream in which he sees his brother killed in a terrorist attack.
- Happens a second time with "Jewpacabra", where Cartman's tranquilizer-fueled dream of the Book of Exodus has such an effect that he converts to Judaism.
- In the King of the Hill episode "Trans-Fascism", Hank drives a lunch truck serving then-illegal trans-fat foods. At first he sees himself as a patriot for disobeying an unjust law. A dream featuring George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Tom Landry (on Landry's B-17 during World War II) in which they express their disapproval of Hank's actions gives Hank the strength to tell Buck that he wants out.
- Arthur featured this plot with Binky. Binky regularly does good deeds because he knows they're the right thing to do. He told a teacher to stop his friend from doing a dangerous stunt, causing his friend to get detention and hate him, and doing so made him miss the wrestling special he wanted to watch. He resolved to stop doing good deeds until he had a dream where his favorite wrestler told Binky that doing good deeds was the best thing he ever did and the world would be a much worse place if he didn't do them.