If you’re struggling to do something, nothing can give you more satisfaction then success. That’s why thinking you’ve succeeded at something when you really haven’t, can be really annoying or even downright torturous. Considering that, you have to wonder why the minds of people, both real and fictional, insist on forcing them to experience visions of such things as having dead relatives come back to life, marrying lost loves, escaping life-threatening situations, becoming rich/famous and even just getting out of bed when we’re tired in the morning, even though they all have to inevitably end with the rug being pulled out from under you. Basically, if you don't know the meaning of "I can take the despair, It's the hope I can't stand," this clearly has never happened to you.
Often in fictional works, the audience is led to believe along with the character that the hallucination/dream is real. We learn it wasn’t real only in usually very creepy and ominous reveals, a reveal that usually involves somebody saying something like, “But you never really got out!!!”
Compare: All Just a Dream
, Daydream Surprise
- In Fate/Zero, Matou Karia hallucinates that he was able to save Sakura as he dies right in front of her.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Atticus/Fubuki hallucinates that he is able to finish his duel with Fujiwara in a draw. Moments later, it turns out Fujiwara landed the winning blow a couple turns ago.
- In one of the earliest installments of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and anime, Yami Yugi challenges a would-be psychic to a Yami no Game. When the fake psychic is clearly going to lose, he starts imagining himself having real psychic powers and winning the game, even as he winds up bitterly losing in reality.
- in 127 Hours, when a sudden storm comes, Aron moves the boulder under the flooding waters, and imagines running off to meet his girlfriend. Instead, he realizes at the last moment that he’s still in the canyon.
- In the end of Brazil, the hero seems to be able to escape from the government torture chamber, but it's revealed that he's just hallucinating.
- Requiem for a Dream ends with Harry's mother Sara living in a fantasy world where she won a game show's grand prize and Harry and Marion are happy and successful together, while in reality, all three of them have become drug addicts with zero prospects for the future.
- Dr. House hallucinates sleeping with Dr. Cuddy and getting over his Vicodin addiction. It takes him a full day to figure out that it didn’t really happen .
- in the season six finale of Cold Case, Detective Lilly Rush’s car gets run off the road and into a river. She hallucinates escaping and solving the case of who did it. Weirdly, she apparently guesses right, going by the shots of arrests in the real world at the end of the episode.
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Hard Time". Chief O'Brien said he frequently dreamed about flying back to the station during his 20-year prison sentence. The irony is that the 20-year sentence turned out to be an artificial dream.
- In some episodes of The Drinky Crow Show, the titular character gets drunk and thinks that he's doing something well when in reality he's doing it horribly. In one episode, Drinky is trying to perform surgery on a physically deformed man. In his mind, Drinky made the patient normal-looking, when in reality he smashed the man to a bloody pulp.
- In an episode of Family Guy, Peter and Lois enter a talent show and start taking pot to help their creative process. The night of the show, they imagine they're singing a duet about God accepting all people despite their appearance, when in reality they're just making a whole bunch of loud noises.
- In a Christmas-themed episode of The Looney Tunes Show when Daffy and Foghorn Leghorn are looking for a power outlet in the North Pole to plug a giant fan into, Daffy suffers hypothermia and hallucinates that he finds Santa's workshop. When they play the recording from the camera attached to his helmet it shows that in reality he found a cave and Santa and his elves were a polar bear and its cubs.