Auntie Em: We dream lots of silly things...
Often, usually in a departure from a work's normal setting, such as the Storybook Episode or the Whole Plot Reference for a television series, a work will present a story different from, tangential to, or symbolic of the main story. Frequently, characters in this sub-story will be played by actors from the main story. This is not mere convenience and is often used to highlight or lampoon either relationships between characters or particular aspects of each character's personality that may or may not be readily apparent in the main work. This is an example of And You Were There.
The correlation between the two roles portrayed by the actor are what separate it from others of its kind. A good way to think of it is that the secondary story's characters are not played by the same actors so much as that they are played by the primary characters.
Compare Visions of Another Self.
- In one anime episode of Ranma ½, Genma (as a panda) gets lost in a remote forest and runs into a village of what appears to be all of the main characters. These people have different names, dress from a different era, and different family connections, but their relationships and personalities are the same. The episode ends with the analogs of Ranma and Akane getting married.
- School Rumble has quite a few versions of this. (and the not-Sequel is ENTIRELY this) especially the episode where Hanai ends up on an island populated seemingly by identical duplicates of the cast.
- An odd variation on this theme is played with in MÄR. Koyuki of the real world, and Ginta's love interest, looks exactly like Snow of MAR Heaven. They are different characters, with different backgrounds, but they are connected somehow. At the end of the anime, Snow dies and joins with Koyuki, so that, when Ginta returns, both of them end up his girlfriend.
- Miracle Girls episode 41 does this with ancient Egypt. It is suggested that the characters in the present are reincarnations of the characters in the past. Although the Egyptians are drawn like the modern-day characters, Mika and Toni don't recognize a physical resemblance, which would make sense since Egyptians and Japanese probably wouldn't look alike.
- Tenchi Muyo!: In the Mihoshi Special, all the characters in Mihoshi's dream were doubled with characters from the show itself. Notably Ayeka was a witch, and when the real Ayeka wakes her up, Mihoshi screams "Oh no! It's the old witch!"
- Also in the story she tells, all characters from the show show up in different roles, but their names are kept. Interestingly, this is the first time Sasami appears as Pretty Sammy.
- Angel Sanctuary: Something similar happens at one point in the manga. Setsuna awakes in school, the former story appears to have been a dream. He immediately meets Kira and some former dead guys happy and alive again, as well as Sara, but she is only his girlfriend, not his sister. Comes out soon, that this whole sequence is the dream, Sara still his sister and all guys dead as they were before..
- Hells: After her adventure in Hell, Rinne wakes up in the hospital, her adventure seemingly a dream and quickly forgotten. The next day, she passes by several people who resemble the people she met in Hell, then she saves a little girl who resembles her friend Steela from being hit by a car. She instinctively calls the girl Steela, but the girl says that is not her name and introduces herself. Still, this causes Rinne's memories to return, then she is seemingly contacted by the spirit of the real Steela.
- In the Resurrection Man storyline "Cape Fear", Mitch has an induced hallucination in which he's a "proper" superhero. All his enemies are reinvented as costumed supervillains: his murderous ex-wife Paula becomes The Widowmaker; Mr Fancy becomes the Joker-like Fancy Pants; the Body Doubles become the two-headed Body Double, and Hooker becomes the monstrous Bonehead. Kim Rebecki, meanwhile, is cast in the Loves My Alter Ego role.
- The Far Side ended using this trope, having the creator Gary Larson wake up in bed next to all his family and friends, who happen to resemble a lot of the strip's more popular subjects.
Gary: And Aunt Zelda all the women looked like you and Uncle Bob all the cows looked like you and Ernie there were cavemen that looked like you and there were all these nerdy little kids like you Billy and there were monsters and stupid-looking things and animals could talk and some of it was confusing and ...and...Oh, wow! There's no Place like home!
- In Calvin and Hobbes, the foes of Calvin's imaginary alter egos are patterned on people he doesn't get along with in his own life: his parents, his teacher Miss Wormwood, his classmate Susie Derkins, his babysitter Rosalyn, etc.
- In Sean Bean Saves Westeros, the "real life" Sean Bean is transported into the land of Westeros of A Song of Ice and Fire. Now living as Ned Stark, not just playing him on TV, Sean Bean notes how the ASOIAF characters look compared to the HBO series actors. Many are quite close in appearance, others not. Sean refers to the novel characters as not-Ned (himself), not-Charles (Tywin), not-Peter (Tyrion), not-Michelle (Catelyn), etc.
- The Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", which parodies the film The Wizard of Oz, has lookalikes of Puppy, Hefty, Duncan McSmurf, Vanity, Brainy, Smurfette, Empath, and a gender-flipped version of Gargamel playing various roles in the story, while the Smurflings themselves are thrust into the characters of Dorothy (Sassette), the Scarecrow (Nat), the Tin Woodsmurf (Slouchy), and the Cowardly Lion (Snappy).
- From Neil Gaiman, we have Coraline. In this case the parallels are the result of the Other Mother deliberately modeling herself and the other others after the people in Coraline's life in order to trap her.
"I'm your Other Mother, silly."
- In Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, Nemo sees a circus parade at the beginning of the movie, and most of the people in the parade look very similar to characters who show up in Slumberland later.
- The sea creatures Tom meets in the animated part of The Water Babies (1978) are voiced by people he met in the live action Bookends.
- In Song of the Sea, a few magical beings the children encounter share designs and voice actors with people in their everyday lives. These similarities help to highlight the themes, flaws, and lessons each counterpart needs to learn. Specific examples:
- Granny and Macha are both meddlesome elderly women who play antagonistic roles in the story but are actually both well-intentioned Anti-Villains who want to help their loved ones.
- Conor and Mac Lir are both large bearded men who are mourning a lost family member. They are also the sons of Granny and Macha, respectively.
- The ferryman and the Great Seanachai are both eccentric old men with a long beard.
- When the end of The LEGO Movie reveals that it's all in the imagination of a child playing with Lego. President Business turns out to be based on the child's father, both played by Will Ferrell.
- The Wizard of Oz is the Trope Namer and Codifier. All of Dorothy's friends in Oz are played by the same actors that play Dorothy's Kansas friends. This connection was acknowledged in the movie (the connection does not exist at all in the original novel), of course, in the line above. In this case, it's intended to show that it is All Just a Dream.
- Stage versions based on the movie extend this to Aunt Em and Uncle Henry by by having their actors play Glinda and the Door Guard respectively.
- And, by extension, The Forbidden Kingdom, which is just Wizard of Oz as a martial arts epic.
- Return to Oz played this trope as well.
- Oz: The Great and Powerful does the same with its own cast of Kansas and Ozian characters including making Glinda a double for the one woman Oscar has genuine feelings for.
- The Muppets Wizard Of Oz sticks closer to the original book by not claiming it was All Just a Dream, but still has Dorothy's friends in Oz resembling people she knows in the real world (since she's just auditioned for The Muppets).
- The Kentucky Fried Movie ends the segment "A Fistful of Yen" this way, even placing the main character in bed with Auntie Em and Toto.
- Under The Rainbow ,which is set during the making of the The Wizard of Oz, has Billy Barty portraying a Nazi agent in the movie where it all turns out to be a dream that Rollo Sweet has after falling off a roof. After Rollo regains conciousness, a Hollywood agent portrayed by Barty shows up to recruit for the The Wizard of Oz
- Used as part of the Twist Ending to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Lil Dagover (Jane) and Conrad Veidt (Cesare) double as fellow residents of the insane asylum, and Francis even confuses them for the characters he attached to them in his dream. Werner Krauss plays both Caligari and the asylum coordinator. The only character missing in Francis' dead friend Allan (except in the Re Make, which throws him in anyway), as it's implied that he really is dead, and that Francis killed him.
- The plot of The Fall centers around a paralyzed man telling a story to a girl in the hospital he's staying with. Since the audience views his story through the child's imagination, almost all of the characters are based on people she knows and played by the same actors — and, eventually, the girl herself gets to be in the story.
- Hans Conreid voiced both Captain Hook and Mr. Darling in the Walt Disney animated feature Peter Pan, and their character designs are clearly deliberately similar. As a matter of fact, in theatrical and cinematic versions of Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Mr. Darling are almost always played by the same actor.
- This is part of the point of the story. "Never-Never Land" is a fantasy version of the real world.
- This is true in 2003's Peter Pan in which Jason Issacs played Mr Darling and Captain Hook (the first live-action film adaptation to ever do so).
- Hook, a sequel to the Peter Pan story, has a Shout-Out at the end when the adult Peter returns to Earth: He wakes up in Kensington Park and encounters a man sweeping trash; he's played by Bob Hoskins, who is Smee in the Neverland scenes. More subtly, the voice of the plane's captain as the Banning family heads to England at the beginning is provided by Dustin Hoffman — who later appears as Hook himself.
- Considering that Smee was shown fleeing alone with whatever loot he could carry, it's entirely possible that he simply set himself up in a safe, uneventful job in the normal world, or possibly had held such double identity for quite some time.
- Abbott and Costello's Jack and the Beanstalk does this.
- In a manner reminiscent of the Peter Pan example, in the film adaptation of Jumanji, Alan's father and Van Pelt are played by the same actor (Jonathan Hyde).
- The aptly-named MirrorMask does this a fair amount as well: Stephanie Leonidas plays protagonist Helena and her mirror-world equivalent Princess Anti-Helena, Rob Brydon plays Dad as well as the Prime Minister of the White City, Gina McKee plays Mum, the White Queen and the Dark Queen. Taken a step further with Valentine (Jason Barry), whose real-world equivalent is met after his fantasy-world form, as part of the implication that it wasn't all just a dream. It was, after all, written by Neil Gaiman.
- Partially done in Robot Monster. In Johnny's dream, his sisters and mother remain the same, but the annoying Germanic archaeologist is now his dead father and the assistant is now Johnny's sister's boyfriend. It's a dumb movie, okay?
- In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, during the Wedding scene, much of the bridal party is made up of actors who later become the Transylvanians, of note are: Riff Raff (Richard O'Brien), Magenta (Patricia Quinn), and of course, Doctor Frank N Furter (Tim Curry) in the back, nearest the church. Tim Curry actually turns away from the camera, apparently so he won't be as recognised, but, if you attend a Shadow Cast, they tend to comment on their appearance, with lines like, "Even a Virgin recognises Dr. Frank," and, "Hey, Frank, Riff's front! Hey, Riff, Frank's back!"
- In an inter-movie And You Were There, several cast members from Rocky Horror portray similar characters in the continuation of Janet and Brad's life, Shock Treatment
- In TRON, the three or four most important characters in the computer world are played by the same actors as the three or four most important characters in the real world. Note that in each case, the program character has the real-world character as their "user", who in at least 3 cases also created the program.
- Labyrinth: Played more subtly than most other examples as rather than people, it's the objects in Sarah's room that she encounters in the Goblin King's world (as well as her dog), such as the Sir Didymous doll on her bed. The only person to appear in both the realistic and fantastic setting is possibly Bowie as Jeremy (only seen in a photo), the man Sarah's mother ran off with and as Jareth, the Goblin King.
- In Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland (2010), this trope is played with a bit: most obviously, the sisters remind Alice of Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. Less explicit is the fact that both the Hatter and Hamish have red hair, and the Hatter represents everything that Hamish is not. The caterpillar is implied to represent her father, which is probably why he was named "Absalom". There's a nod to Hamish's mother representing the Queen of Hearts, and some have seen parallels between the Knave and Alice's sister's fiance.
- In Spider, the title character begins remembering flashbacks of his mother (played by Miranda Richardson.) Gradually, the actresses playing every other female character are replaced in their respective roles by Richardson to demonstrate Spider's hallucinations.
- In Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, the same actor plays Fukov (in the Star Trek-verse) and Festerbester (in the Babylon 5-verse) as a Shout-Out to Walter Koenig playing both Pavel Chekov and Alfred Bester.
- In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the actors playing the... actors in the theater troupe also play characters within the Baron's "real" adventures.
- In the film made of the Stephen King short story "Umney's Last Case", a 1930's private eye swaps places with the modern day author who created him. He finds that various people he knows from his old life are based on people known to the author — his wife is the Femme Fatale and the girl who comes round to clean the pool is his Sexy Secretary.
- Nightwish: At the end, the protagonist wakes up from her nightmare to find that two Psycho Supporters from her dream were a janitor and security guard in the real world, respectively.
- In The Man Who Invented Christmas many of the characters Dickens creates are based on, and played by, people he comes across while looking for inspiration.
- The 1978 film version of Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang does this, with the the judge of Jacob's trial resembling the grocery store clerk that jokingly asked the police to arrest Jacob for his tendency to say things twice, the guards at the child prison basically being the customers at the store during the incident sporting features based on what they were holding at the time, and the members of Child Power basically being Jacob's older twin siblings.
- Voyage of the Unicorn: After they return to Earth, Alan sees a young Asian woman who looks like Medusa on the campus. It's implied they might get together, and he can move on from losing his wife. Other people who look like those from the magical land are also seen.
- Alice in Wonderland (1949) has a Framing Device in which Lewis Carroll is telling the story to Alice Liddell. The people in Alice's life have counterparts in the main Wonderland story (played by the same actors). The Queen is the Queen of Hearts, the Vice Chancellor is the White Rabbit, Alice's father Dr. Liddell is the Cheshire Cat, and Lewis Carroll is the Knave of Hearts. The film makes a point in drawing parallels between the characters from the real world and those of Wonderland. The Vice Chancellor is described as "hopping about", Dr. Liddell "purrs" when he speaks, and Carroll steals one of the Queen's tarts to give to Alice (as the Knave of Hearts would later take the tarts of the Queen of Hearts).
- In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice Found There (the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), the eponymous character believes that the Red and White queens are the looking-glass versions of her cats.
- In Real Life, Carroll based many of the characters in both stories on his friends.
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch novel Warpath, during Kira Nerys' vision quest her imaginary troops implicitly correspond to the people she interacts with in the real world, in a similar manner to Sisko's "Benny Russell" visions. The names are the most prominent clue, being anagrams of the usual characters' names.
- In the novel Unity, Elias Vaughn's Orb vision makes him Eli Underwood, committed to the same mental institute as Benny Russell in "Shadows and Symbols". The staff and other inmates were all based on characters who were introduced in the relaunch, and therefore hadn't been in the Benny Russell visions previously.
- Played with in The Forty First Wink as Marty creates a dream-version of his coworker Kate to assist him in navigating his nightmare. Then, when he finally wakes up, he finds she had the exact same dream from the point he conjured her...
- Happens practically Once per Episode on Scrubs; JD's daydreams put his coworkers into a number of absurd situations (and costumes). This includes characters from Grease, West Side Story, and Star Wars, as well as occasional scenes that parody a traditional Dom Com.
- The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Far Beyond the Stars" features Sisko as a 1950's African-American pulp-fiction writer named Benny Russell, with his crew-mates (and enemies) taking roles as his co-workers and other denizens of his neighborhood. The ending, as well as the episode "Shadows and Symbols," leaves open the question as to which reality is actually real.
- When The Prophets (who are both Energy Beings and Sufficiently Advanced Aliens) want to communicate with a character, they usually present themselves as various characters from the series walking around in various familiar ambients.
- Both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Stargate SG-1 had episodes where where Bashir and Carter saw the other characters appear as aspects of their own personalities.
- The most famous, but not the only example from that show — there was a holodeck James Bond spoof that played as visions of other selves.
- Star Trek: Voyager:
- In the episode "Jetrel", Neelix sees in a dream the various people who have been killed on his home planet of Talax as various members of the Voyager crew, all blaming him for their deaths.
- Episode "Memorial" has the crew affected by traumatic memories of crimes of war induced by an alien artifact with the characters seeing themselves commiting such crimes in the past.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q makes the crew of the Enterprise into the characters of Robin Hood in episode "Qpid". In any case, most episodes with Holo Deck malfunctions in the Star Trek franchise work as this trope de facto; the main characters assume different (but normally similar) roles in non sci-fi settings like Westerns, Historical Dramas, Detective Noir stories, etc., whether the characters are aware of the situation or they are in some sort of Alternate Identity Amnesia depends on the episode.
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:
- The 1999 Alice in Wonderland TV movie does this, where the guests at the party being held by Alice's parents become the characters in Wonderland.
- Possibly done in the mini-series Alice as well, in which Alice returns to the real world after a series of adventures with Hatter. She awakens in the hospital where her mother tells her that she was found and rescued by a man called "David". No prizes for guessing who David is. It possibly a subversion however, considering that "David" obviously recognizes Alice, implying that David and Hatter are one and the same, rather than worldly counterparts of each other.
- The X-Files. In "Triangle", Mulder discovers the luxury liner Queen Anne in the Devil's Triangle, only it's back in World War II and his friends and enemies are spies, sailors or Nazi soldiers fighting over the vessel. Various aspects of their 'contemporary' selves are reflected: Skinner is apparently a Nazi but turns out to be on Mulder's side, Assistant Director Kersh is shown chained in the engine room, forced to steer the course set by the CSM who is naturally the Nazi Big Bad. Scully is a spy who is initially skeptical of Mulder's claims to be one of the good guys, yet comes through for him in the end. Scully also reflects Mulder's unrequited feelings for her — she wears a red cocktail dress but punches Mulder in the jaw when he gives her a Now or Never Kiss. In the end Mulder wakes up in a hospital bed surrounded by his friends, including A.D. Skinner who responds "Yeah, and my little dog Toto" when Mulder says the And You Were There bit. Other Shout Outs include setting the events in 1939 when The Wizard of Oz came out in cinemas, and the "Lady Garland" boat after actress Judy Garland.
- An episode of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World had Malone find himself in London and facing Jack the Ripper, but his friends are a cop, doctor, etc.
- The Leverage episode "The Van Gogh Job" does this: as the guest-star narrates a WW2 story, scenes are shown from said story, with the main cast playing most of the important characters.
- This was used during "The Wizard Of Song" episode from The Fresh Beat Band
- The Castle episode "The Blue Butterfly" has Castle find a rather Noir diary of a 1940s-era P.I., and as he reads it, we see scenes from it playing out, with all the characters played by the main cast. (Castle's character, of course, falls in love with Beckett's character at first sight.)
- This was a reworking of a Moonlighting plot. David and Maddie both had dreams about a Film Noir murder, in which the same actors played the main roles in the dream sequences.
- Also done in the Lois & Clark episode "Fly Hard" with flashbacks to when the Prohibition-era gangster Dragonetti worked out of what's now the Daily Planet building: Lex becomes Dragonetti, Clark was his more honest partner, Lois the Femme Fatale, the episode's bad guy was a rival gangster, etc.
- WKRP in Cincinnati: when Mr. Carlson has Yet Another Christmas Carol the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future are Jennifer, Johnny, and Venus. Carlson calls them out on it.
- Stargate Universe had the episode "Cloverdale" in which Matthew Scott, infected by an alien organism, vividly hallucinates an alternative life in which he's just returned to his hometown from a tour of duty (on Earth) to marry Chloe. Greer is his best buddy (and best man), Eli is Chloe's brother, Young has been promoted from father figure to literal father and Rush is a Justice of the Peace. Every other major character except Wray shows up in smaller roles: Brody as a restaurant owner, Volker as a pharmacist, Telford as a cop, Park as a bridesmaid, Becker as a groomsman and, appropriately enough, Johansen as a paramedic and James as Scott's ex.
- The Nanny: The animated Christmas episode "Oy to the World" has Fran and Brighton Sheffield working with Santa Claus, being played by Maxwell Sheffield, with his chief elf Elfis played by Niles the butler and his secondary elves played by Maggie and Gracie Sheffield, as they try to stop the Abominable Snowman, or rather, "the Abominable Babcock" since she's being played by C.C. Babcock.
- On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall tells the story of how he learned the "Slap of a Thousand/Million Exploding Suns" from three slapping masters, which are played by Robin, Lily and Ted. They even have Meaningful Names: Robin is Red Bird, Lily is White Flower, and Ted is The Calligrapher (calligraphy is one of his hobbies).
- In the Falling Skies episode "Strange Brew" Tom is trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine, is living life with his family before the aliens invaded (in a nice continuity nod, they even remembered Hal's girlfriend from that time). Anne is a woman everyone thinks he's having an affair with and Dai is her angry husband. Pope (who still doesn't like Tom), Marina, and the alien Cochise (as a human) are fellow professors, with Anthony as the Dean and Jeannie as his TA. Maggie (who aspires to be an Action Girl) and Lourdes are students, and the latter is implied to be having an affair with Pope. Weaver is a crazy homeless person, but may actually be a defense created by Tom himself, as Karen appears as a police officer chasing him off.
- The 2004 made-for-TV musical version of A Christmas Carol, which starred Kelsey Grammer, does this with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. During "Nothing To Do with Me," Scrooge's opening song, he encounters a street barker (Christmas Present) selling tickets to a charity show for children, a young lamplighter (Christmas Past) working to help her sick husband, and an old blind woman (Christmas Yet to Come) begging for money. Interestingly, it's heavily implied that they are the Ghosts in human form, as each sings a line referencing their realm of time as Scrooge storms away from them (for instance, Christmas Past remarks "You'll be sorry, sir, when you look back.)" At the end of the film, when Scrooge has been redeemed, he meets each of them again, and, realizing their true identities, is much kinder to them, which leads to a heartwarming moment when it's revealed that Christmas Yet to Come's vision has been restored. As a merry crowd follows Scrooge, the three humans/spirits hang back and eventually walk away together, cementing their dual roles.
- In the series finale of the Soap Opera Sunset Beach, supercouple Meg and Ben finally wed after three years of drama. The scene concludes with Meg's mother waking her up—on her wedding day. The series started with Meg fleeing her cheating fiance and moving to the titular town for a fresh start, telling viewers that the last three years of the show have a dream. When she goes downstairs, she is greeted by her friends and family, all of whom have been characters on the show. This is obviously a reference to Oz, especially since Meg is from Kansas. Then, Meg wakes up again, next to Ben, revealing that that was a dream and she's been Happily Married to Ben all along.
- Used in Farscape when Crichton talks with different versions of his crewmates inside his head; when the delusion gets really weird they become closer to the Looney Tunes in behavior.
- Another episode is him and Chiana playing a Virtual Reality game with versions of the other characters inside with different roles.
- A common framing device in several episodes of El Chapulín Colorado; a character has a problem, call for Chapulin's help and he tells a story (normally a comedic version of some historical event and/or literary work) with the characters of the present taking the roles of protagonists or antagonists accordingly.
- Weird Science has several episodes that are a parody of famous movies including The Godfather and Fantastic Voyage, almost averted in that they're not dreams but Lisa's Reality Warper powers working at least temporarily, so every character believes that the role they are playing is real. But the series goes back to the status quo every week.
- Whenever an episode of JAG was set in different time setting (usually a character was being told a story by someone else via Flashback), they would use the existing cast to fill in the roles of the new characters. Whenever a story centered on Harm's father, a fighter pilot during The Vietnam War, he would be placed by the same actor, plus a mustache. One episode in particular played with this: Mac has been researching a case where an Age of Sail captain was court martialed for summarily hanging several crewmen suspected of planning a mutiny. She ends up having a dream about the investigation, with her fiancé Mic playing the role of the Captain, Mac playing his wife, and Harmon Rabb (Mac's unresolved love interest eventually revealed (just before the hanging) to be playing one of the mutineers, naturally segueing into Mac jumping awake to ponder the implications.
- The Blackish episode "Pops' Pops' Pops" does this when Pops tells a story about the Johnson family history.
- Use as a horror story in Episode "USS Callister" of Black Mirror: a lonely software engineer uses his highly advance Virtual Reality program to make his own version of a Star Trek-expy using people he knows as counterpart characters. But things get really creepy and is not Played for Laughs at all.
- The series finale of Walker, Texas Ranger includes two parallel stories, one taking place in the present and one taking place in the Old West. They feature the same dozen or so actors playing similar (though not quite identical) characters.
- An episode of The Cosby Show has Rudy read a story that she drew and wrote, with members of the cast taking on the roles of the characters in the story.
- In an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210, Brenda Walsh find the diary of a girl that habited the same house at the end of The '60s, hidden in her room. Then she imagines everything the diary narrates with her friends, family and acquaintances as the characters of the history. At the end Brenda locates and meet the owner of the diary, who shows her the pictures of the people mentioned in those texts, who are obviously very differently from how Brenda had imagined them.
- Stargate Atlantis has "Vegas", a CSI-like episode in an alternate universe filmed in Las Vegas.
- An episode of Lois & Clark had an old security guard tell about how he was betrayed by his girlfriend and business partner, and sent up the river. Cue a flashback with Clark Kent as the young security guard, Lois as the girlfriend, and Lex Luthor as the partner she leaves him for. (This episode was also right before the season one finale, which capped off the Lex/Lois courtship).
- Done fairly often on Northern Exposure. One episode features an old man telling Joel the story of Cicely's founding in 1909. Rob Morrow/Joel Fleischman played Franz Kafka(!) while the other regulars appear as counterpart characters, often with very similar names (Maggie O'Connell, for example, becomes Mary O'Keefe).
- The It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "The Gang Cracks the Libery Bell" is told in the setting of 1776, with all the characters being their normally horrible, wrong selves (with Cricket as an English colonel), occasionally making attempts to speak in the vernacular of the day, badly. At multiple points, the characters note that "it's 1776" to justify crime, and the last scene of the story makes it perfectly clear they're all just making it up.
- MacGyver does several dream episodes along these lines, including a pair of episodes with a period version of MacGyver in the Old West and the two-parter "Good Knight, MacGyver" in which the modern MacGyver imagines himself transported to the days of King Arthur (with Arthur "played" by MacGyver's boss Pete).
- Press Gang devoted much time to the tempestuous romance of leads Lynda (Julia Sawalha) and Spike (Dexter Fletcher). One episode has a flashback to Spike's parents meeting for the first time — played by Julia Sawalha and Dexter Fletcher.
- The Twilight Zone (1959): In "I Dream of Genie", George P. Hanley's co-workers Ann and Roger Hackett and his boss E.L. Watson appear in each of his three fantasies in different roles. In the first fantasy, Ann is the glamorous film star Ann Alexandra and George's unfaithful wife, Roger is her co-star and lover and Watson is the film director. In the second fantasy, Ann is George's secretary, Roger is his chauffeur and Watson is the president of his alma mater. In the third fantasy, Ann is a woman who wants President Hanley to pardon her son for following asleep on duty, Roger is a three-star general who warns him that he must attack the approaching alien ship and Watson is a member of his staff.
- Big Finish Doctor Who: In the Companion Chronicles audio drama Mastermind, the Framing Story has the Master locked up by UNIT, and telling the story of what happened to him after the TV Movie to Captain Matheson (Daphne Ashbrook) and Warrant Officer Sato (Yee Jee Tso). In the flashbacks, Tso plays three generations of the Maestro family and Ashbrook plays Miss Morelli. These characters only appear when he's talking to the UNIT officer played by the same actor, emphasising that the story is letting the Master get inside their heads.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, we are introduced to Mr Prosser, the man trying to demolish Arthur's house to build a motorway bypass. When Vogon Jeltz, the alien trying to demolish Arthur's planet to build a hyperspace bypass, shows up, he's played by the same actor.
- In the musical City of Angels, there is a near-complete overlap between the "Movie Cast" of the Show Within a Show and the "Hollywood Cast" which is making the Film Noir. The exceptions are the main characters of each cast, the private detective Stone and his creator Stine; they don't double each other (or anyone else), and occasionally interact. As for the others, let the writer of the musical (Larry Gelbart) speak for himself:
For instance, in the screenplay portions of the show, Stone's secretary, Oolie, is played by the same actress who plays Stine's employer, the producer-director, Buddy Fidler's secretary, Donna. In some instances, we first meet someone in the screenplay, say, Alaura Kingsley, and later discover the model for the character when the same actress appears as Buddy Fiddler's wife, Carla Haywood. We reverse the process by introducing Fidler himself, oozing fake charm, in Stine's life before revealing him in Stine's screenplay depicted as an equally odious studio boss, Irwin S. Irving, a man with absolutely no charm at all, real or fake.
- In the play based on the Parker-Hulme case, Daughters of Heaven, the adults in the cast double up to great effect, symbolizing the role each of the parents had in the girls' lives.
- In stage productions of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Professor and Aslan usually double up, as do the White Witch and Mrs Macready the housekeeper, perhaps suggesting that the children's adventures might all be a dream. Canonically this is not the case, and adequate theater-craft can avoid the suggestion.
- The original stage version of Peter Pan established a tradition of having the same actor play Mr Darling and Captain Hook, which is carried on by the musical version. A different version is used in the Russian Ice Stars' Peter Pan On Ice, which instead opens with a Framing Story of J.M. Barrie walking through Kensington Gardens; Hook is a policeman, and Peter is a young man in a green Edwardian suit who makes a fool of him.
- The filmed version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has a Framing Device of the show being performed before a group of schoolchildren. Many of the characters are played by their teachers.
- In Gitaroo Man, Kirah, the girl U-1 befriends, and Zowie, the head of the evil empire, are direct analogues of Pico, his crush, and Kazuya, the boy who bullies him. They all share voice actors, and Zowie and Kazuya even have the same catchphrase.
- Whenever a Zelda game is set in a mysterious alternate dimension of Hyrule, expect plenty expys of characters from the preceding game to show up, most of them with similar roles. (For example: Old and young farmer-girl Malon became the farmer-sisters Cremia and Romani.) The best example is The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, which used almost nothing but reused character-models from Ocarina of Time. (In the manga, Link even notices this) The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass also reused a few characters from Wind Waker in the alternate dimension, like boat-merchant Beedle and some other NPCs.
- It gets weirder in the case of Cremia and Romani. Cremia and Romani are parallel universe expies of Malon from Ocarina of Time. But then Malon is inversion of trope, being a real world Hyrule expy of a character that originally appeared in a dream, Marin from The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. And then Marin was supposed to look like Princess Zelda. This results in a four level chain of And Your Were There: Reality -> Dream -> Reality -> Parallel Reality
- Sonic Storybook Series: Almost everyone except the main antagonist and Sonic' Exposition Fairy are alternate versions of all of Sonic's friends. Merlina from Black Knight counts as both exceptions. He starts to get used to it halfway through Black Knight - rather than confuse Gawain with Knuckles, he simply mocks him with comparisons, and when he meets up with Percival he doesn't even mention Blaze; he just raises his blade and accepts the challenge to duel.
- In the 2016 "Junkensteins Revenge" Halloween event for Overwatch, the framing device is a scary story being told by Reinhart. Ana, Hanzo, McCree and Soldier 76 take on the roles of the four heroes who repelled his forces. Mercy plays the Witch, who can bring people Back from the Dead, Junkrat plays the Big Bad himself, Dr. Junkenstein, with his bodyguard Roadhog playing his Frankenstein's monster and Reaper plays an undead monster under the control of the Witch (who was friends with 76 and Ana's "characters" in his former life).
- Fate/Grand Order: In the "Murder at the Kogetsukan" event, the protagonist Ritsuka Fujimaru gets his consciousness sent into another person's while he is dreaming. While in control of the person, Ritsuka has to solve a murder mystery, but it is complicated because he sees everyone as one of his Servants. This leads to misunderstandings because the people's relationships do not always match their Servant counterparts.
- The twist ending of "Hearts for Sale" involves this with a bit of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane. Mainly the comic appears to have been written by a young girl (represented in the story by a heart seller) in the real world awaiting a heart transplant as an allegory to what she's going through. With the heart customer being her doctor and the Heartsmith presumably being her donor. However it's slightly ambigious and it could also mean that if they receive hearts. they'll be reincarnated into our world judging by her dialogue at the end.
- Futurama: In the third movie, Bender's Game, the characters are dropped into an alternate, fantastical universe where each has a different backstory and motive. This setup was partly in reference to The Wizard of Oz.
- On The Venture Bros.:
- Another example of this trope is in the parallel between the victorian guild and the modern cast. Colonel Venture = Dr. Venture (both are related), Eugene Sandow = Brock (muscular bodyguards to a Venture), Samuel Clemens = Pete White (both have white hair and dress in white), Oscar Wilde = The Alchemist (both are Flamboyant Gay intellectuals), Fantomas = Phantom Limb (again, related), Aleister Crowley = Dr. Orpheus ("wizards" with a penchant for the theatrical).
- In the 4th season episode where Dr. Orpheus goes inside Rusty's mind (not to be confused with the 4th season episode where Brock and the boys go inside Rusty's body), he meets "Eros" and "Thanatos", who look and sound like Billy Quizboy and Pete White, respectively.
- Barbie movies often have Barbie tell a story to one of her sisters and/or her friends, with Barbie and her friends shown in the lead roles.
- There's an episode of Little Bear where the characters double as Little Red Riding Hood characters.
- The French educational series from the Once Upon a Time... franchise (about inventors, explorers, etc.) have the Framing Device of a friendly, bushy-bearded old man giving a history lecture to a group of modern-day kids. All the characters in the "historical" parts of the episodes look just like adult versions of these kids. Invariably, the two ruffians in the group lend their faces to the "bad guys" of the history parts, the other kids play the "good guys", and the old man himself appears as a mentor, tribe chieftain, etc.
- One episode of the 2007 George of the Jungle had George having a dream with all of his friends representing forces of nature.
- The Bloo Superdude episodes in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends:
- In the first one, Bloo tells the story of the Superdude to Mac and he interprets his friends at Foster's as characters in his story, while in reality, the story is just an exaggeration of the events that happened prior to the episode.
- In the second one, Bloo is sick and he hallucinates into thinking that he IS the Superdude and his friends are the (mostly villainous) characters the Bloo Superdude fights.
- In The Flumps episode "Moon Shot", Pootle Flump falls asleep while his siblings are off fetching a picnic, and dreams of traveling to the Moon. There he meets a pair of aliens who are having a picnic, and notes that they seem familiar somehow; they have the same character models as his brother and sister, only with alien headgear instead of their usual.
- Arthur does this in "D.W.'s Name Game" with an Off to See the Wizard sort of plot. In the story, after Arthur and D.W. trade insults, events culminate with Arthur shocking her by calling her "Dora Winifred" (her real name) and her being sent to bed. She has a dream in which she consults "The Great Thesaurus" and Arthur is cast in the role of the Wicked Witch. When she finally wakes up, she tells her family "And you were there, and you, and you were there too." At which point, the Thesaurus (a dinosaur) appears outside her window, saying his Catchphrase, "Ah, sheesh." Notably, though, neither Mr. Read nor Mrs. Read were actually in D.W.'s fantasy in any form.
- The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol , which is an animated Yet Another Christmas Carol story, has lookalikes of Smurfette, Brainy, and Hefty playing the roles of the Three Smurfs of Christmas.
- The Smurfs classic show had several episodes like this with the Smurfs re-telling several classic works like Robin Hood, The Three Musketeers and Romeo and Juliet with the Smurfs as the characters. Technically the Smurfs are making a play in a theater but the audience's imagination turn the scenarios and dresses into the real thing.
- The Orson Acres section of Garfield and Friends has several episodes about Orson Reality Warper-level imagination reading books and turning everyone into characters of said story, including among others Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Moby-Dick.
- Bob's Burgers
- Louise's story in "The Gayle Tales" is a parody of Game of Thrones, with her family members as various fantasy characters.
- In "Flu-ouise", a flu-ridden Louise experiences a fever dream where she meets her favorite toys, with each one of them behaving like her family members.
- Mixed with Portal Book, an episode of Peter Pan & the Pirates has the Lost Boys listening to the story of Alice in Wonderland until Tinkerbell makes a spell transporting them all, and the Pirates, into the story assuming fitting roles (including Wendy as Alice, John as the White Rabbit, and Captain Hook as the Queen of Hearts).
- Episode "The Big Clam-Up" of Captain Planet and the Planeteers has Ma-Ti reading a detective novel imagine himself as the protagonist and all other characters matching characters inside the story. Also a Noir Episode.
- Episode "A Tale of Two Siblings" of Babar has Alexander telling a story to his baby sister Isabelle. Apart from the scenarios that became like child drawings, all other characters are imagined as characters from the show, though in very unusual (and even humilliating) roles.
- The entire concept behind Bobby's World as the show is based around sketches of Bobby's imagination using the recurring characters of the series in his own versions of famous movies and TV shows.
- Similar to Bobby's World, most of the Muppet Babies's episode where the characters imagining themselves remaking famous movies, with each cast member more or less matching the personality of the original characters ala Orson Acres.
- Each episode of Dino Babies has a character read a story that won't be written for millions of years, even taking place in the future setting, and the Dino Babies play the characters in the story.
- The entire point of The Backyardigans, though they only imagine themselves as being in different settings in each episode.
- This was occasionally done on Rugrats.
- The Passover special had the babies act out the story of Moses while Tommy Pickles' maternal grandfather Boris Kropotkin told them the story.
- "Finsterella" had Chuckie imagine himself in the role of Cinderella, with his sister Kimi and Angelica Pickles as his stepsisters and Tommy as his "fairy bob-brother".
- There was a duology of direct-to-video films titled Tales from the Crib, which had the babies act out the stories of "Snow White" and "Jack and the Beanstalk", with the framing device consisting of the babies being read the stories by their babysitter Taffy.
- The series finale of The Looney Tunes Show has Bugs telling Daffy a story which is basically Superman's mythos with Bugs as Sups, Marvin the Martian as Brainiac, Elmer as Luthor and Daffy as Zod.
- The central cast of The Simpsons is often worked into the central cast of whatever they're parodying in the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes (such as the episode where Bart has the Shinning) or other Three Shorts specials: one has the family starring in Bible stories, another has them in Tall Tales, other episodes featured Homer as literary characters like Odysseus or the Count of Monte Fatso.
- Family Guy:
- The episode "Three Kings" uses this technique for adaptations of Stephen King stories.
- And "High School English" does this again, adapting three novels often studied in high school.
- In DuckTales (1987) episode "Scroogerello", Scrooge has a dream during a terrible cold and after misstreating his servants and nephews. He dreams of himself as (a male) Cindirella, with Flintheart Glomgold as the stepfather, the Beagle Boys as the stepbrothers, Mrs. Beakley and Webby as fairy godmothers, the nephews as the car drivers, Launchpad as a frog prince, Gyro as the king and Goldie as the princess. When he wakes up he sees the errors of his ways and apologize to everyone.
Parodies, spoofs, in-jokes and allusions using the quote:
- Inverted in Henry Danger. In the episode "Dream Busters" Henry wakes up to see Captain Man and Schwoz, he tells them he had a very strange dream, but that "You weren't there" to both of them.
- Used in this short film three times for three different video games.
- In Roadkill's ending in Twisted Metal 2, he wakes up from a coma after a car crash. The other characters are in the beds around his, still in comas.
- In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode 5: 8-Bit is Enough, Strongbad wakes up like this. However, Trogdor almost immediately shows up and roars at everyone.
- X-Men: Revisiting Profit, a flash animation parody of the X-Men uses this. The line is spoken by Bishop, in reference to the Age of Apocalypse.
- Played with in one of the (Non-Canon) Alternate Endings to the original series of Red vs. Blue: Church wakes up to find that the last 90 or so episodes were just a dream and that he was in a coma after Caboose shot him with the tank dreaming about Caboose and Tucker but not Jenkins.
Jenkins: Was I there, Church?
Church: No, Jenkins, you weren't there. I don't know why, guess I just forgot about you. Sorry.
- Parodied in Rocko's Modern Life in the episode "Short Story". After a crazy dream inspired by his insecurities about being short, Rocko wakes up to find folks he knows who appeared in his dream, and goes through the usual spiel, but the last person in line turns out to be series creator Joe Murray:
Rocko: And you... um, I don't think I've ever seen you before.
Murray: You're off-model, kangaroo-boy.
- The show turns this one on its head when Leela wakes up from being knocked out and seeing where she came from, with the words directed at the characters who ruined it:
Leela: I had the most wonderful dream... except you [Fry] were there, and you [Amy] were there and you [Zoidberg] were there!
- The show turns this one on its head when Leela wakes up from being knocked out and seeing where she came from, with the words directed at the characters who ruined it:
- Parodied in the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, when Leo wakes Michelangelo:
I had the oddest dream. And you were there, and the tin man, and a wizard, and a cowardly lion...
- The Simpsons, in "Bart Gets Hit by a Car" when Bart awakes after being hit by a car to find Homer, Marge and Lisa surrounding him, along with bottom-feeding attorney Lionel Hutz grinning cheesily at him. Seeing as Bart had just been to Hell, his remark that he saw the others there is particularly hilarious. He's such a horrible child.
Bart: I had the most wonderful dream! You were there, and you, and you... [to Hutz] You, I've never seen before.
- Played literally in Mater's Tall Tales, a series of Pixar shorts set after Cars. Each short begins with Mater regaling Lightning McQueen and the Radiator Springs residents with a story about an exciting career he used to hold (firefighter, bullfighter, drift racer). Halfway through, Mater would turn to McQueen and say "Don't you remember? You was there too!", then continue the story with McQueen as either a Butt-Monkey participant or helping Mater while he's in a bind. Each story ends with a stinger that suggested the story wasn't completely fabricated...
- The MAD sketch "The Buzz Identity" parodies this at the end when Buzz Lightyear wakes up from the crazy dream that made up most of the sketch, complete with everyone randomly turning into the Wizard Of Oz characters for a moment (It...Kinda Makes Sense In Context):
Buzz: Wha- what happened?
Woody: You took a nasty spill, pal. We were worried about you.
Buzz: I had the weirdest dream that I was in The Bourne Identity! Lotso, you were there, and you were there too, Ken. And Matt Damon, you were there, and Julia Stiles, you were there...but you weren't really in anything after that. I don't know why, 'cause you were great in 10 Things I Hate About You...
- Wacky Races (2017): In "It's a Wacky Life", Dick Dastardly has an out-of-body experience where he meets a "celestial accountant" who looks like I.Q. Ickley and shows him scenes of his past and what the other wacky racers' lives would be like if he never existed. Once he returns, he tells the others he had a dream and they were there.