Waking Up Elsewhere

Something bad 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, Waking Up at the Morgue, You Wake Up in a Room.

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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.

     Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, after the four's boat falls apart and George drowns, he wakes up in a hut with the others, all asleep. They soon find out they've spent nine days in a telepathic MMORPG, and the problems they had in there were nothing compared to the problems they really have.

    Films — Animated 
  • 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.
  • Frozen: Elsa is knocked out by a falling chandelier of ice. She awakens in a dungeon cell in the Arendelle castle.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Diamonds Are Forever has two examples.
    • After receiving a Tap on the Head, James Bond wakes up inside a coffin, just in time for an attempt at Murder by Cremation.
    • After being rendered unconscious by sleep gas, he wakes up in an underground pipe and must face an electrified tunnel integrity checker.
  • In The Living Daylights, James Bond is drugged in Tangier and wakes to find himself on a plane bound for Afghanistan.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Happens twice in XXX. First, Xander Cage is shot with a tranquilizer dart at a party. He wakes up at a diner just before a robbery occurs. After diffusing the robbery, he reveals he knew it was just a simulation when he noticed some discrepancies. Then he's shot with another tranquilizer dart and wakes up on a plane bound for South America. He initially figures it's another simulation before realizing that it's real that time.
  • After her car accident in the beginning of 10 Cloverfield Lane, Michelle wakes up in an unfamiliar room which turns out to be an underground bunker of a Crazy Survivalist.

  • In Burned by Ellen Hopkins, Pattyn is knocked out cold and wakes up in the hospital some time later.
  • 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 B.S.O.D..
  • 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.
  • In Heart of Steel Julia is attacked by Scarface the shark-man while she and her boyfriend are scuba diving off the coast of Shark Reef Isle. She is knocked out and wakes up in a very posh guest room with a new leg.
  • In the Illuminatus! series novel The Widow's Son, lead character Sigismundo Celine is consigned to the Bastille. He ends up under a heavy security regimen after escaping and being recaptured, effectively confined to his cell where he has ample opportunity to memorise all the details of his room. One day he wakes up after a deeper sleep than normal to realise he is on the ceiling and looking down at his room - the floor has become his new ceiling. Gravity has seemingly reversed itself in the night. But he looks carefully and sees small inconsistencies in placement and arrangement of furniture. He also realises the window has suddenly been boarded over. He deduces he has been drugged and moved to an elaborate hoax set-up.

    Live Action TV 
  • Sydney Bristow in Alias
  • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 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 (1959) 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 (1995), a drunken thug is given something that knocks him out, only to wake up and find himself 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.
    • In fact, this has happened to Sam and Dean a number of times.
  • The episode “Alive and Kicking” from Tropical Heat is another example. Here, Nick passes out from blood loss after being shot. When he comes to, he finds himself in the care of a beautiful lady, who turns out to suffer from severe delusions and doesn't want to let him go.
  • In Day Break, Hopper gets knocked unconscious in county prison and wakes up Bound and Gagged at the rock quarry, where he is told to confess to Garza's murder.

  • 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

    Video Games 
  • Alan Wake: The protagonist wakes up with amnesia in a crashed car after diving into the lake to save his wife.
  • After slaying a certain boss in Bloodborne, hooded Snatchers start to appear around the Cathedral Ward. Should one of them kill you, instead of respawning next to the last checkpoint, you wake up inside a hypogean gaol in a wholly different part of town, to the sounds of extremely unsettling Latin chanting.
  • 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 every time 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.
  • A possible outcome of gameplay in Grand Theft Auto V, especially in Trevor's case. No stranger to waking up in strange places in the aftermath of drunken rampages, one of the optional activities available to this particular character is - wait for it - huffing gas from a sock; actually doing so will result in Trevor passing out and waking up in a random location. One particular random encounter also results in this: players have the option of inspecting a suspicious-looking van in the street... only to get tased by the driver and wake up naked and lying in the path of an oncoming train.
  • New recruits to the Dragon find themselves subjected to this in The Secret World. Shortly after gaining control of their powers in the prologue, Dragon players then receive a visit from one of the Silent Monks, who promptly knocks you unconscious with a touch. You then wake up alone in Seoul, with no money, no passport, no explanations, and no umbrella. Suffice to say, the Dragon like tossing their recruits in the deep end.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • The Simpsons episode "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind" opens with Homer passed outside in the snow with no memory of the past 24 hours.

Alternative Title(s): Waking Up In Vegas