happens. A character gets into a car accident, or they get attacked by an assailant, or some other situation that results in them receiving a blow to the head that knocks them out cold
Cue a time skip. The character awakens in a daze some time later, usually hours, but sometimes days or even weeks. And they come to only to find that somehow they were transported someplace else whilst they were unconscious - can be just about any place imaginable, but often it is a hospital, a prison, or a kidnapper's lair.
More often than not the character will receive tragic or otherwise unwelcome news upon regaining consciousness, for the sake of drama
. A Water Wake-up
is optional but earns points for good villainous form.
Compare/contrast Unfamiliar Ceiling
, where a character awakens in good hands, confused but generally safe. Compare Abandoned Hospital Awakening
and Waking Up at the Morgue
Because this trope usually marks a major turning point in the story... beware of SPOILERS!
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Anime and Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion - Shinji wakes up in the hospital after his first fight in an Eva and says, "An Unfamiliar Ceiling?"
- Naruto - At the end of Part I, Naruto wakes up in the Leaf Village's hospital and learns that he and his team failed to stop Sasuke from defecting to Orochimaru. After collapsing after Itachi's death, Sasuke wakes up in Tobi's hideout.
- Bleach: Just after Uryuu had defeated Mayuri, he runs into Tousen who knocks him out with his shikai power. When Uryuu comes round, he realises he's in prison, his wounds have been treated and bandaged and that he has manacles on his wrists. Upon realising he's sharing the cell with Sado and Ganju, he's brought quickly up to speed: they're in the fourth division prison and the manacles on their wrists are anti-magic locks rather than movement restraints. Although the prison is a good place to be (the fourth division is the medical unit and they treat even enemies with respect), the manacles are a bit of a gut punch for Uryuu as he realises his power, which he willingly sacrificed to defeat Mayuri, has already gone and the manacles are (in his case) completely unnecessary. This turns out to be a very convenient location for the 11th division to rescue all the ryouka in one act, allowing them to go on to cause havoc in Soul Society.
- A Certain Magical Index: In the beginning of the Agitate Halation Arc, Touma wakes up and finds himself in a box. He breaks free... and finds himself in a girl's locker room, forcing him to fight for his survival and escape the enraged girls. Motoharu calls him and reveals that he knocked Touma out and smuggled him into the locker room somehow without anybody seeing him.
- X-23 has a slight variant of this: The rage induced by the trigger scent causes Laura to black out, during which time she has no knowledge or control over what she's doing.
Laura: The ones who made me, they made a chemical...a scent...when I smell it, everything goes black and when I wake up, everyone's dead.
- With Strings Attached starts out with the four waking up on another planet. There are other instances as well:
- Ringo is thrown off a garage roof in New Zork and wakes up in the Plaza Hotel, where he'd slammed into a bed there and been in a healing sleep for several hours. That's when he first finds out that bad shocks cause him to teleport to safety.
- A similar thing happens when he is scared out of Ehndris and wakes up in the room in the abandoned inn in Ta'akan where the four had spent the previous night. Some 400+ miles away from Ehndris.
- Diamonds Are Forever has two examples.
- This is part of Buffalo Bill's MO in Silence of the Lambs. After spending weeks stalking a victim, he lures them into his van, knocks them out, handcuffs them, examines their skin, changes them into a jumpsuit and puts them in the well in his basement.
- Suspect Zero: This happens to the protagonist, FBI Agent Thomas Mackelway, after the Serial Killer killer O'Ryan ambushes and drugs him at a county fair. He wakes up some time later bound on the floor of the killer's apartment, where a smiling O'Ryan casually threatens to torture him to death.
- This is basically the entire plot premise of The Hangover, including the cast literally waking up in Las Vegas with no memories of the previous night's debauchery.
- Taken to an extreme length in Predators, where the protagonists wake up while falling down from the sky at high speed.
- The Korean film Marrying the Mafia opens with one of these. The protagonist wakes up in bed with a Mafia Princess, with neither of them knowing how they got there. The girl's family assumes they had sex. Hilarity Ensues. At the end, it's revealed how they got there: the girl's family put them there as a ploy to make her marry a man they approved of.
- An author wakes up after a car accident to find he has been rescued by his No. 1 Fan and installed in her remote cabin - a situation that isn't as fortunate as it first appears - in Stephen King's Misery.
- Twice for the heroine in P2. Once in the security office after Thomas kidnaps her. Another time when Thomas tases her and she ends up in the trunk of a car.
- The Simpsons Movie has Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie gassed while imprisoned in a government truck and they wake up back inside the encased Springfield.
- In Pulp Fiction, Butch and Marsellus confront each other in a gun store, only for Butch to be knocked out by the owner and Marsellus to pass out on his own. They wake up in the shop's basement, gagged and tied to chairs. It only gets worse from there.
- RoboCop (2014) has Alex Murphy nearly killed by a car bomb. He awakens weeks later to some serious Body Horror.
- Frozen: Elsa is knocked out by a falling chandelier of ice. She awakens in a dungeon cell in the Arendelle castle.
- In Burned by Ellen Hopkins, towards the end of the book, the main character Pattyn and her boyfriend Ethan (whose unborn baby she is carrying) are fleeing from a police officer on an icy road. The car ends up going off the road and crashing and Pattyn is knocked out cold. She wakes up in the hospital some time later only to be informed that both Ethan and their child have been killed.
- Paolini relies on this trope a lot in Eragon, using it instead of actual scene transitions in many instances. Examples include: Eragon fainting after finding a wounded Garrow and waking up in the care of the village healer, Eragon fainting of exhaustion after using magic against an Urgal, Eragon fainting again after using too much magic against Urgals, Eragon blacking out when attacked by the Ra'zac, Eragon blacking out again while Murtagh rescues him from said Ra'zac, and Eragon getting knocked out in an Urgal ambush which allows him to be captured.
- Seems to happen to Katniss more and more frequently as The Hunger Games series progresses, particularly as Mockingjay is basically one long Heroic BSOD.
- In Night Watch, Vimes is knocked out or kidnapped by people who want to get him alone for a conversation so frequently that by the third or fourth time he wakes up in an unfamiliar room, he's not so much scared as just exasperated.
- Septimus Heap: Boy 412, falls asleep in a heap of snow outside of the Wizard Tower, wakes up in the rooms of the ExtraOrdinary Wizard up in the tower.
- Ghost Story: After being shot at the end of the previous book, Harry spends most of this one as a ghost. When everything is wrapped up, he's fully prepared to move on to the afterlife, but instead wakes up in a cave on Demonreach with his head in Mab's lap. Alive though, so that's probably a step up (though he doesn't think so).
- In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, Roane and Princess Ludorica are drugged in the coach and wake up indoors.
- In Adaptation by Malinda Lo, Reese black out after a car crash. She wakes up to find herself in a hospital, 27 days later.
- Mr Blank: Our hero gets knocked out and awakens tied to a chair in some bunker in San Pedro to be interrogated by a government spook, a dirty tricks specialist, Freemason, an elephantine Russian Mobster, and a Man in Black. It's the first indication he gets not only of people double-dipping in conspiracies (besides him, of course), and that they might not all be communicating with one another.
- Nick Moss in City of Devils is knocked unconscious by Cacophony Jones and wakes up bound in the store room of a biker bar. This presumably happened "offscreen" earlier, when Harley, a member of Cacophony's band the Disasters, wakes up in Imogen Verity's basement in a mummy coffin wondering what the hell happened.
Live Action TV
- Sydney Bristow in Alias
- In the Law & Order: SVU episode "Infiltrated", Olivia Benson (working undercover as Persephone James) is involved in a fight between police and the ecologist's group she is working with. She is hit by a police officer and knocked out cold, and awakens some time later to find herself handcuffed to a hospital gurney and a police officer informs her that she has been arrested.
- In the opening credits of the first episode of The Prisoner, the title character was knocked out via sleeping gas. When he woke up, he was in The Village (no, not M. Night Shyamalan's version).
- The Twilight Zone TOS episode "Stopover in a Quiet Town''. Two people try to drive home drunk. When they wake up the next morning, they're in a completely deserted town.
- There are at least three episodes of Psych where Shawn is struck in the head and wakes up somewhere else. Lassiter's apartment, tied up in a chair, and strapped in a bed respectively.
- In the episode "Strong Arm of the Law" of American Gothic, a drunken thug is given something that knocks him out, only to wake up and find himeself inside a coffin, laying next to the body of the man he killed; the coffin is in the process of being buried.
- Drew Carey, in one episode, wakes up on the Great Wall of China, thanks to Mimi.
- Like in the comic, the beginning of the series The Walking Dead has an injured Rick waking up in the hospital, only to find that while he was sleeping, the Zombie Apocalypse has started and humanity has been almost completely wiped out.
- Happened on Monk, with Monk being attacked in San Francisco and waking up (with amnesia) in a tiny town in Wyoming.
- In Noah's Arc, this happens with Ricky following passing out due to an infection, waking up in a hospital.
- CSI Catherine wakes up in a motel after being given roofies in her drink at a bar.
- Nick probably counts too; he was knocked out at a crime scene with chloroform and woke up buried alive.
- LOST, many many times, with little explanation.
- White Collar has this in the last episode of the second season after Neal and Peter have been drugged.
- In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), Sam wakes up in Cold Oak, South Dakota after being abducted in a diner in Iowa.
- Steely Dan's "Do It Again" has a verse that vaguely implies this; even if the fellow wasn't necessarily unconscious upon arriving, he definitely finds his presence unexpected and a bit unnerving:
Now you swear and kick and beg us
That you're not a gambling man
Then you find you're back in Vegas
With a handle in your hand
Your black cards can win you money
So you hide them when you're able
In the land of milk and honey
You must put them on the table
- Alan Wake: The protagonist wakes up with amnesia in a crashed car after diving into the lake to save his wife.
- Happens a lot in Silent Hill, with characters waking up near or in the titular town. If they're already there, it often happens again when coming across an important bit of information, after defeating a boss, and when the Otherworld takes over yet again.
- In Half-Life, Gordon is ambushed by hostile marines and wakes up in a trash compactor.
- Happens three times in Fallout: New Vegas, once in a doctor's office at the start of the game, and twice at the start of the first and third DLC. It would be funny, considering the trope title, but the Courier never wakes up anywhere near Vegas itself.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, the player character escapes a doomed ship and wakes up in an apartment on an unfamiliar planet, with an ally dropping the news that s/he's been Asleep for Days.
- Has happened at least once to Max Payne.
- In Skyward Sword, Link is knocked out by a volcanic blast as he tries to land in the Eldin Volcanic region. He wakes up with no items and only three filled hearts, in a jail cell.
- Happens pretty much everytime Alice wakes up from her Wonderland hallucinations in Alice: Madness Returns.
- Once you reach a certain level in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the next time you enter a bar you'll find a nice guy named Sam who challenges you to a drinking contest. Regardless of where the party starts, you wake up in Markarth, having trashed the Temple of Dibella (and fondled the statuary) in a drunken stupor. The quest that follows indicates that your alcohol-fueled adventure led you across the breadth of Skyrim.
- A hero is captured along with his friends by a strange villain, and is taken to an unknown location while unconscious, and wakes up to find himself wearing strange armor and forced to fight for his freedom. Now are we talking about Sora, or are we talking about Ratchet?
- In Resident Evil 4 after Leon attacks Bitores Mendez and gets his butt handed to him, he wakes up in a dead-end area of the village, chained to Luis, and with an inbound Mook dragging an executioner's axe.
- If Trevor pass out after huffing gas in front of his house, he'll wake up in another place. Also if any player character gets tasered in a random encounter.
- In Street Sharks, the protagonists apparently drop over dead in a lab. They wake up in a flooded storm drain, very confused.
- An episode of Family Guy had Peter, Brian, Joe and Quagmire getting into an accident and waking up in the hospital with no memory of who they are. It was all a simulation by Stewie, who did the same thing to Lois, Meg and Bonnie.