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But You Were There, and You, and You

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It looks like Dorothy really did know those guys all her life.

Garak: What I find most fascinating about this entire incident is how your unconscious mind chose people you know to represent the various parts of your personality.
Doctor Bashir: Well, it did make things interesting.
Garak: And what I find interesting, is how your mind ended up casting me in the role of the villain.
Doctor Bashir: Oh, I wouldn't read too much into that, Garak.

When a character tells a story or has a dream of a completely unrelated event in which people they already know fill in for the roles of the story.

This is something of a Truth in Television because people do tend to have people they know in their dreams. There’s even a theory that all the people in such dreams are like this - it's just that we don't remember them all because some of them are just random people we've briefly seen at some time in our life, such as a stranger on a bus ride.

Subtrope of And You Were There. See also Visions of Another Self and Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue". Frequently overlaps with Whole-Plot Reference, especially Off to See the Wizard, which is one of the most famous examples. (And the source of this page’s name, of course.) For when a dream is literally being shared by all the characters, it's a Shared Dream. If someone invokes this in a Ghost Story to scare the listener, it's a Scarily Specific Story, although not all Scarily Specific Stories involve this trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • An episode of Azumanga Daioh uses this: Osaka, Tomo, Sakaki and Kaorin have dreams in the New Year's morning involving their friends. In all of them, Chiyo-chan made an appearance - not to mention Chiyo-dad's formal debut in Sakaki's dream.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: Mihoshi Special, Mihoshi tells the Masaki Household a story of her greatest Galaxy Police adventure, casting the various characters of the show in the roles of various players in her story. She doesn't even bother to change their names to those of the characters in her story, to much ongoing annoyance of her audience.
  • Nemo in Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland bases many of Slumberland's residents on people he saw at the parade in the beginning of the film. For example, he bases Professor Genius from the piano player, Princess Camille from the girl who gave him a rose, Flip from the clown who knocked him over, and King Morpheus from the kindly ringleader who gave him a ride.
  • In the Dice-Killing Chapter of Higurashi: When They Cry, Rika gets hit by a truck, and one of the driving mysteries of the arc is whether she entered another Fragment or the whole story is Adventures in Comaland. After she wakes up, Hanyuu tells her to treat it as Adventures in Comaland (though it's implied she's lying for Rika's benefit), and Rika delivers one of these to her friends in doing so.

    Comic Books 
  • Legends of the Dead Earth: In the Guy Gardner: Warrior Annual #2 story "See My Finger. See My Thumb. See My Fist? You Better Run!", Guy connects to the cybertronic inducer and finds himself in the body of his descendant Gunner Gardner. After his mind returns to its proper time and place, he believes that it was "a real brain ride" and says to Bucky Wargo, Arisia Rrab and Tiger-Man II, "You were all there. As kids. You and you and you." Tiger-Man II replies, "Yeah, and if ya call me Auntie Em, I'm gonna bust ya."
  • Legion Of Superheroes Annual #5, part of the 1994 Elseworlds annual theme, is an Off to See the Wizard story with Lightning Lass as Dorothy, Brainy as the Scarecrow, Wildfire as the Tin Woodsman and Timber Wolf as the Cowardly Lion. Unlike most Elseworlds, it had a regular-continuity framing story, which presented it as a story Vi was reading to Ayla after she was de-aged by Glorith.

  • Implied in the 2010 Alice in Wonderland (2010) that Alice used this reaction to dismiss her first visit to Wonderland as a dream. There's an old woman who has traits of the Red Queen, and twins that behave like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Subverted on her return to Wonderland when she decides it wasn't all a dream.
    • In the 1999 version of Alice in Wonderland, many of the people Alice meets in Wonderland make an appearance at her parents' garden party.
  • The 1986 version of Babes in Toyland. Most even have the same names.
  • Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla: The entire jungle adventure turns out to have been a dream that Sammy was having after falling asleep backstage in a jungle-themed nightclub, and all the characters were counterparts of his fellow performers, with Bela Lugosi's villainous Mad Scientist turning out to be just the Jerkass club owner.
  • In the Abbott and Costello film Jack and the Beanstalk, Costello's character dreams that he is Jack, and all the other characters in the story are people he knows in real life.
  • In Jumanji, Sam Parrish and the hunter Van Pelt share a striking resemblance. According to Word of God, it's a nod to the Peter Pan tradition mentioned below.
  • Hilariously parodied in the "A Fistful of Yen" segment of The Kentucky Fried Movie, complete with the (male) chop-socky action hero "waking up" in a blue gingham dress for the "And you were there" scene. Also, the character representing the "dream's" Big Bad (who had a flamethrower hand) is shown to still have the flamethrower hand, which he suddenly realizes is in shot and tries to hide.
  • MirrorMask: The Prime Minister is Helena's dad, and the Queens of Light and Shadow are both her mother. Oh, and the Princess of Shadow is Helena herself. At the end of the movie, Helena meets the real-world version of Valentine.
  • Inverted in Paper House: Anna dreams of Mark, a boy who does exist in reality but also whom she has never met.
  • Sherlock, Jr.. plays this straight, with all of the characters in the framing story playing similar roles in the dream sequence that constitutes the bulk of the film.
  • Sucker Punch: They're hallucinations, not dreams, but still.
  • The Wizard of Oz - The Trope Namer, in which after waking up, Dorothy realizes that the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow bear more than a passing resemblance to the ranch hands.
    • She also notices that the travelling mystic looks an awful lot like a certain wizard and sees Miss Gulch turn into the wicked witch, though she does not mention the latter upon returning home/regaining consciousness.
  • The Woman in the Window: After waking up, the hero recognizes two acquaintances as the victim and the blackmailer.

  • In Les Misérables Jean Valjean has a very strange dream where he meets up with his brother.
  • In I Am the Cheese, it's revealed that everyone Adam met during his delusional "bike ride" were staff and residents of the mental asylum he's trapped in.
  • Piwem i Mieczem ("With Beer And Sword"), an episodic story published in the magazine Top Secret, involved a character hallucinating about going to a fantasy world and meeting characters who were all based on the magazine's editors.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch novels:
    • Unity revisits the "Benny Russell" hallucination/vision (see below) when Elias Vaughn has an orb vison in which he's Eli Underwood, committed to the same institution as Benny Russell, with other characters introduced in the novels as staff and patients. At the end, Underwood and Russell leave the asylum together, symbolising Sisko returning from the Celestial Temple. Later books also revisit this reality, most notably Revalation and Dust, in which Kira had a vision of being Kay Eaton after being lost in the wormhole.
    • Kira also had an orb vision in the novel Warpath where she was an ancient Bajora general, with the rest of the DS9 crew as her warband; her adjunct Jamin, Shirab the apothecary, etc. Even their riding beasts have names that are anagrams of runabouts!

    Live-Action TV 
  • All That had a parody of The Wizard of Oz called the wizard of coz. At the end of the sketch, Dorothy says the quote, and nobody believed her.
  • Arabian Nights (2000 mini-series):
    • When Scheherazade tells Shahryar the tale of the Sultan and the Beggar, Shahryar pictures himself as the tormented and possibly mad Beggar, his brother as the cruel Sultan, and his principled but loyal Grand Vizier Ja'Far as the cruel Sultan's principled but loyal Grand Vizier.
    • There's also the moment where Scheherezade has been telling the story of Ali Baba, including the slave girl Morgiana, who Shahryar says sounds a lot like her. Though in this case Scheherezade says, "Oh, no, she wasn't like me at all," and the face of Morgiana actually changes from being the same actress as Scheherezade to being someone else.
  • The Brittas Empire: The show is revealed to be the entirety of a dream at the end of the series, with Brittas using random bystanders in the real world as characters within the dream. For example, in the real world, Colin is based on a ticket conductor, Carole is based on a random woman who's apparently had a baby with the man who inspired Gavin, Julie is based on an on-board caterer, and Linda is based on a nun and apparently with the man who inspired Tim. The only exception to this seems to be Helen, who's still his wife in the real world.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - comatose child Billy is causing everyone's nightmares to come true - when Buffy and friends finally wake him at the hospital he says "I had the strangest dream! You were there, and you...who are you people?"
  • In "The Blue Butterfly", Castle had Rick reading a diary about a decades-old murder and imagining himself as the private detective, Beckett as the Femme Fatale, and the rest of the major characters in various supporting roles.
  • The Cosby Show: One episode is almost entirely a dramatization of an illustrated story that Rudy made, with all the roles played by the regular cast. As a cute detail, the back of every character is blank white, representing the blank side of the paper that Rudy drew their pictures on.
  • This was used during the Wizard of Oz inspired episode (The Wizard of Song) of The Fresh Beat Band
  • Ghosts (UK): In Kitty’s retelling of her life, she imagines her fellow ghosts, Mike and Alison as people in her past. It does get Subverted however, when she starts remembering her sister’s cruelty and father’s rage, since they're played by different actors.
  • Gilligan's dreams on Gilligan's Island are always like this.
  • Referenced and quoted verbatim by Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls when she and her mother return home from backpacking around Europe. She pulls outfits from her wardrobe and hugs them, claiming to have dreamed about each of them.
  • When Hustle based a con on "The Emperor's New Clothes", they did a quick fairy-tale-theater reenactment of the story with the regular cast members.
  • JAG has three examples - "Mutiny" (re-telling the attempted mutiny aboard the USS Somers), "Ghosts of Christmas Past" (the day Harm's father was shot down) and "Each of Us Angels" (a WWII period piece about hospital ships), where the cast fills various roles after a framing story is established in the present.
  • In the Laverne & Shirley episode "Perfidy in Blue", Shirley has a dream in which the characters are actually meant to be characters from a Show Within a Show she just watched, but they resemble herself and her friends. Frank is a prince, Carmine is the prince's son Ben, she's his wife Charlene, Laverne is Ben's secretary Luann, Lenny is a chauffeur named Leondardo, and Rhonda is a maid named Reina.
  • Leverage:
    • In the episode "The Van Gogh Job", the World War II-era backstory of the van Gogh the team is trying to retrieve gets told to Parker by its current owner; she fantasy-casts members of the Leverage team in all the appropriate roles of the story.
    • And again in "The D.B. Cooper Job", where Nate is shown as the detective hunting the eponymous bad guy. This can result in figuring out what's going on early because Cooper himself is not cast as one of the Leverage team. This is because that's a deliberately misleading description of him, and the real Cooper is indeed one of the people played by the team.
  • The MacGyver (1985) Old West dream episodes: "Serenity" and "MacGyver's Women", and the King Arthur episode "Good Knight, MacGyver".
  • SCTV ended a Fantasy Island parody where a couple of hippie musicians play Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in a Road to ... picture, overlapping others' fantasies of Casablanca and a Fred Astaire musical, which gets taken over by a The Wizard of Oz sequence when they wake up this way.
  • The Noir Episode of Smallville, where Jimmy dreams the entire cast into a world of thirties cynicism. Notably, his casting suggests his subconscious knows more about them than he realises; for instance, he casts Clark as an undercover cop, and on awakening thinks the idea of Clark secretly being a crimefighter came out of nowhere.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    • In "Distant Voices", Dr. Bashir is subjected to a psychic attack by the Villain of the Week. Members of DS9 appear as various aspects of Bashir's personality, but Bashir eventually realises that alleged Cardassian spy Garak isn't any of them—he's actually his attacker in disguise. The real Garak's reaction to being cast as the villain by Bashir's subconscious is humorously typical of him.
      Garak: To think, after all this time, all our lunches together... you still don't trust me. There's hope for you yet, Doctor.
    • Not a dream or a story, but a hallucination in the episode "Far Beyond the Stars". Sisko sees himself as a writer named Benny in the mid-20th century and the other characters look like his acquaintances and are played by their actors. The Benny Russell reality is revisited in "Shadows and Symbols", in which Russell is in an asylum, with Damar's counterpart as his doctor.
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Shadow Play", Adam Grant has a recurring nightmare about being sentenced to death and executed. The roles of the people Grant knows or knew in his waking life are reassigned to different characters on a nightly basis.
  • 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 gives the trope line.

  • From the song "Last Night I Had a Dream" by Randy Newman:
    Everyone that I know
    And everyone that you know was in my dream
    I saw a vampire
    I saw a ghost
    Everybody scared me
    But you scared me the most

    Newspaper Comics 
  • 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.
  • Yet another The Wizard of Oz parody occurs in the final The Far Side strip, when cartoonist Gary Larson wakes up surrounded by his relatives: "All the cows looked just like you [to a relative with a bovine face]...All the scientists looked just like you...All the nerdy kids looked just like you..."
  • One arc of Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! involved Brewster having an adventure in a standard fantasy land with his friends. The last strip has him wake up in bed and comment on how they were all there...including the antagonist from the dream.

  • The prelude to Alice in Wonderland Jr. takes place in the park where Alice' sister Mathilda instructs Alice on history. There's a boy in a white vest for the White Rabbit, a child blowing bubbles for the Caterpillar, and kids playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie for the Caucus Race.
  • In Fellowship! The Musical, The Balrog sings a lounge act entitled The Balrog Blues, about how he was woken up from a "delightful little dream". His description of the dream parodies this - while pointing at members of the audience, he says: "well you know, you were there, and you were there..." Astoundingly, they took it to the next level by having him say this exact line on the CD, and then calling out the person listening to the CD by adding, "And you were there, and y... who the hell are you? Why don't you get out of your mom's basement and get a job? Sheesh."
  • Peter Pan: It's a tradition on stage that Captain Hook and Mr. Darling are played by the same actor.
    • Peter Pan, the musical, continues the tradition.
    • As does Peter Pan Goes Wrong, although by the end of the play, Chris has got his costumes mixed up and thus Mr. Darling has a hook.
  • She Kills Monsters: Agnes spends the show playing the Dungeons & Dragons module her late sister, Tilly, created and left behind, speaking to Tilly through her in-game alter ego, Tillius the Paladin. Agnes later discovers that the characters in Tilly's game are based on her real-life friends and enemies... including Agnes's own boyfriend as a Gelatinous Cube.
  • In the Matthew Bourne version of The Nutcracker, everyone Clara meets in Sweetieland is someone at the orphanage she lives in. A pair of twins she's friends with become cupids sent from Heaven, other orphans become the various candies she runs into, and the cruel family who run the orphanage become the royal family (with a heavy contrast between their monochrome outfits in the first act and their brightly colored attire in the second.)

    Video Games 
  • Alice: Madness Returns: The Dollmaker, being a direct mental analogue for Dr. Bumby, bears a notable resemblance to him.
  • The Centennial Case: At the suggestion of Akkari, Haruka imagines the characters in the 1972 and 1922 stories as being played by the characters in the present.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • In OMORI, after The Reveal of the existence of Sunny and Faraway Town, it's also revealed that all of the characters who appear in his dreams are based off of people or things he knows in the real world, such as Aubrey, Kel, Basil, Hero, and Mari being based off of his real-world friends and his older sister, respectively, and Captain Spaceboy being from a popular comic book series.
  • Sonic Storybook Series - Sonic is transported into the book 1001 Arabian Nights and finds that Ali Baba, Sinbad and the emperor/sultan take after the appearance of Tails, Knuckles and Eggman, respectively. Happens again in Sonic and the Black Knight: Knuckles - Sir Gawain, Shadow - Sir Lancelot, Blaze - Sir Percival, Silver - Sir Gallahad, Jet - Sir Lamorak, Amy - Lady of the Lake, and apparently Sonic - King Arthur.
  • At the end of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: 8-Bit is Enough, Strong Bad awakens, the events of the episode apparently having been All Just a Dream, and says, of the other characters, "You were there, and you were there, and..." and then he notices that, as was the case in his "dream", Trogdor is rampaging around and adds "uh oh, you were there."
  • In Roadkill's ending of Twisted Metal 2, Marcus Kane claims that he knows the contest isn't real and wishes to be woken up. He wakes up in a hospital bed, with the doctor saying he was in a coma after a car pile-up. Marcus looks around and sees the other tournament contestants are comatose around them, but he can't remember where he's seen them before. Then the game implies a Or Was It a Dream? scenario by flashing Calypso's face.

  • The 'story' variation appears in Boy and Dog where Rowan hears a story and imagines himself as the hero and Murphy the dog as the hero's horse.
  • In El Goonish Shive newspaper storyline "Magic Comic Shop", there's a brief glimpse into the fantasy novel Nanase is reading, which is a love scene between two characters named Nancy and Elaine. Nanase is, of course, visualising them as herself and Ellen.
  • In Fite!, Lucco turns out to have been in a coma. Cub and Skerry from his dream turned out to be another patient at the hospital and a doctor, respectively.
  • Gus does this in one Rooster Teeth Comics strip when he has a dream about the guys competing in a hypothetical DanceDanceRevolution movie.

    Web Original 
  • Parodied in Episode 45 of The Most Popular Girls in School:
    Mackenzie: Oh good Saison, you're still fat.
    Saison: Oh oui.
    Mackenzie: I had this terrible dream last night. You and I were there. And Brittnay and Blaine.
    Shay: What about me?
    Mackenzie: Yes Shay, you were there too, Jesus Christ.
    Shay: How did I look?
    Mackenzie: You looked fine. Anyway, Saison—
    Shay: What was I wearing?
    Mackenzie: The same fucking thing you always fucking wear!
    Shay: Oh. So you dream about me huh?
    Mackenzie: Say one more thing Shay! Interrupt me one more fucking time and I will put your face through that goddamn locker!
    Shay: Jesus, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
    Mackenzie: Yeah you're goddamn right I woke up on the wrong side of the bed! I couldn't sleep after my fucking nightmare that Saison Margeurite gave birth to a motherfucking hipster baby!
    Shay: ...So, how was my hair?
    Mackenzie: What?
    Shay: In the dream. How did my hair look?
    Mackenzie: Alright, Shay, you want to do this?
  • One of the alternate endings of Red vs. Blue partially subverts this.
    Church: Man, I had the weirdest dream. There was an evil computer program, and a bomb, and my ex-girlfriend was there.
    Tucker: Boring.
    Church: Yeah, and you were there Tucker, and you were there too, rookie. And the tank was there.
    Jacobs: (only appearance in the entire series so far) Was I there, Church?
    Church: No, Jacobs, you weren't there. I dunno why. I guess I just forgot about you. Sorry.
  • In the Yogscast 2000th video animation, Simon Lane falls asleep whilst coming up for ideas for the video itself and dreams that many of the hostile mobs were benevolent, and the neutral mobs were hostile. When Lewis Brindley wakes him and he invokes this trope, he appears to be delirious, addressing Lewis (who was not present), several appliances, and the camera itself.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur:
    • Used in "D.W.'s Name Game" with an Or Was It a Dream? twist when a character that was original to the dream appeared outside D.W.'s window.
    • In "Rhyme For Your Life", Binky dreams that he's in a town where everyone speaks in rhyme. Not all his dream characters resemble people he knows, but a few do. For example, the eccentric scientist resembles Mr. Ratburn, and his daughter Clementine resembles D.W.
    • "Mei Lin Takes a Stand" has the 'story' variation. In the story the fleas tell, the main character Princess Lemini looks like Mei Lin, the villain Meno looks like Nemo, Lap the jester looks like Pal, and Dr. Baba Katie looks like Kate.
    • The story version is invoked in "Draw", where the kids draw comics and deliberately make the characters look like themselves and each other and in "I'd Rather Read it Myself", where D.W. bases characters in her story upon herself and people she knows.
  • The Krypto the Superdog episode "Storybook Holiday" has Kevin enter a storybook and finds that the famous characters resemble his visiting relatives.
  • Martha Speaks:
    • In "Verb Dog, When Action Calls", Martha dreams that she is a superhero and her human friends are superheroes too but she doesn't recognize them: Alice is An Ice Person named Al-Ice, T.D. is a robot named the T.D. 603, Helen has her name but she's a giant and can mesmerize people, and Ronald is the bad guy.
    • The story version is invoked in "The Puppy Show", "Martha Spins a Tale", and "Martha the Hero Maker" where people deliberately write characters based on themselves.
  • The Musical Episode of Pepper Ann ended with Pepper Ann waking up from her musical dream, and telling each of the people surrounding her that they were in it. Pink-Eyed Pete asks if he were in the dream, and she answers, "no," causing him to go off and sing sadly about his lack of respect.
  • As an example of the overlap with Whole-Plot Reference, see the Phineas and Ferb entry "The Wizard of Odd".
  • Rugrats:
    • In "Slumber Party", Tommy dreams that his mobile figures have the faces of his family.
    • In "In the Dream Time", Chuckie dreams that "Tommy" is actually a clown who claims he isn't Tommy, then Chas dreams that "Stu" is actually a clown who claims he isn't Stu.
    • In all the "Tales From the Crib" episodes, the fairy-tale characters look like the babies and their friends.
  • The ending to the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Short Story" has Rocko saying this until he gets to the last guy who is an animated version of series creator, Joe Murray.
    Rocko: ...I've never seen you before.
    Joe Murray: You're Off-Model, kangaroo boy.
  • The Simpsons has done a few episodes like this. The original "Treehouse of Horror" featured a sequence based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven", with Homer as the narrator and Bart as the titular bird. This was later done in "Simpsons Bible Stories", "Simpsons Tall Tales", "Tales from the Public Domain", "Margical History Tour", and "Simpsons Christmas Stories", which all tell famous stories with a Simpsons twist.
    • In "Bart Gets Hit by a Car", the end of The Wizard of Oz is parodied when Bart regains consciousness. He points out everyone standing around the hospital bed like Dorothy until he spots someone he doesn't remember from his dream of the afterlife: ambulance-chasing lawyer Lionel Hutz.
  • The Wizard of Oz example is parodied in Futurama.
    Leela: I was having the most wonderful dream. (beat) Except you were there, and you were there, and you were there.
    • Bender is talking in his sleep, droning "Destroy all humans...". Fry frantically wakes him, and he says "Why'd you wake me? I was having the most wonderful dream - and you were in it!"
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Pull Up a Barrel," most of the characters described in Mr. Krabs' story are dead ringers for the main cast; Patrick plays Mr. Krabs' commanding officer Captain Scarfish, Sandy plays a pirate, and Squidward and SpongeBob both play guards who detain Mr. Krabs in the brig. SpongeBob comments that the second guard must have been "a real goofball."