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Cannot Dream

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The Nameless One: I... don't have dreams, actually.
Kesai-Serris: Truly? How sad! Even fiends and devas dream, you know. Are you certain you don't?
The Nameless One: Quite certain. No dreams, at all.

For whatever reason, a character cannot dream. Perhaps they are dead already, or has spent too long in cryo-sleep, but their ability to dream is gone. This tends to indicate that something is inhuman or 'off' about them.


May also be caused by a Dream Stealer.

In Real Life there are people who claim to have no recollection of ever dreaming; whether it is this trope or simply that they never remember their dreams is unknown.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kanami in Darker Than Black told her colleague that a Doll who moved "sees a dream". Then she had to clarify that she joked and Dolls don't. Since they got some sort of encephalography equipment on their heads, we can assume that it's the certain knowledge at least as far as catatonics in lifesupport tanks are concerned. Contractors were said to never dream either, but with them and free-willed Dolls, it may be smoke and mirrors again.
  • In King of Bandit Jing, Campari lost his ability to dream. He subsequently gained the ability to steal dreams from other people.
  • Rei in Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Sandman, people lost their ability to dream during Dream's imprisonment. This has bad effects on various people, ranging from perpetual sleepwalking to being comatose for much of their lives.
  • Villain Dr. Destiny in The DCU lost his ability to sleep and thus dream. He later appeared in The Sandman, showing that his lack of ability to dream had driven him completely insane and turned him into an emaciated cripple, while making his powers even stronger than before. A psychotic mind rapist who looks like a holocaust survivor is not a pretty sight.
  • BIONICLE has the Dreaming Plague that wiped out most of the Iron Tribe, caused by Annona.
  • The monster Gulgol is the personal bogeyman of Doctor Strange foe Nightmare because Gulgol never sleeps and thus never dreams, making him immune to Nightmare's powers.
  • Morpheus (no relation), who fought Moon Knight in his first series, was driven insane because scientific experiments made him unable to sleep or dream.

  • In Inception, one side effect of using the PASIV is that you eventually lose the ability to dream normally. Heavy sedation can help with that, but it requires professional supervision.
  • Krank in The City of Lost Children is unable to dream. He's kidnapping children and stealing their dreams, which sets off the plot.
  • In Die Another Day, the villain Gustav Graves was said to be unable to dream.
    • Specifically, he is unable to enter REM sleep, a Real Life condition. He has to use a machine to do it for him, or he'll start suffering from severe psychosis. Well, more severe than his current mental condition.
  • The immortal Eternals of Zardoz cannot sleep or dream, since sleep was strongly related to death.
  • The Villain Protagonist of The Young Poisoner's Handbook. This becomes important when The Shrink in the prison wants him to talk about his dreams, so he "steals" the dreams of his cellmate.
  • Terri from Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, the parents of Springfield use the drug Hypnocil to suppress the dreams of the quarantined teenagers who were exposed to nightmare monster Freddy Krueger to destroy every memory of him, as he feeds off of fear. It keeps them safe from Krueger's dream invasions, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, it puts those the drug is used on in medical comas.
  • Amanda in Carefree (1938) claims that she doesn't dream. However, this is not intended to suggest that something is wrong with her; it's mostly an excuse for a funny scene where she horrifies a waiter by ordering bizarre combinations of food intended to induce dreaming.

  • Brutha in Small Gods has never had dreams, which may be related to his Photographic Memory somehow.
  • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a man who went mad at The Isle Where Dreams Come True is afraid to sleep because he doesn't want to dream; at the Island of the Star there's food which makes one go to sleep without dreaming. He's thrilled.
  • A character in a Celtic fairy tale (reprinted in Traditional Tales From Long, Long Ago by Philip Wilson) is unable to dream but is otherwise perfectly normal. His employer suggests a way to guarantee he'll have dreams: make his bed in the fireplace. He ends up with a thoroughly bizarre dream that ends when his wife wakes him up and he's halfway up the flue.
  • In the Babylon 5 novel "Clarke's Law", the station plays host to a race whose members do not sleep or dream. Disaster ensues after a riot results in security officers tranquilizing several of them, as it turns out that loss of consciousness causes them to become Ax-Crazy.
  • Discussed in 2010: Odyssey Two: SAL asks Dr. Chandra if he/she/it will dream while being powered down. Dr. Chandra replies with: "Of course. All intelligent beings dream", acknowledging that he thinks of SAL as a person. He is not so sure about HAL, though.
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, Gatherers lose their ability to dream when they become Gatherers. This is because their job is to shape the dreams of other people and to navigate Ina-Karekh. As a result, they become addicted to dreamblood.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Myrddraal are dreamless, emotionless, shadow walking Humanoid Abominations in service to the God of Evil. They were an unexpected offshoot of the Trolloc Beast Men and even creep out high-ranking servants of the Shadow for how their minds, powers, and very existence don't quite make sense.
  • Elphaba notes in Wicked that she's never once had a dream. This goes with the generally odd, Ambiguously Evil nature of her character.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel Harvest Of Time, it is noted that The Master does not dream. This is probably to do with their 'condition', as other Time Lords do dream. Dreams of Flying are rather common for them, in fact.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kai, last of the Brunnen-G (dead) on Lexx.
  • Most of the Enterprise-D crew temporarily lost their ability to dream in the episode "Night Terrors". This was slowly driving everyone on the ship insane.
  • Alonso from Earth 2 spent decades in "cold sleep".
  • Supernatural:
    • There was one Villain of the Week who couldn't dream due to brain damage. After using a magic plant that restored his ability to dream, it also turned him into a Dream Walker, and he used the power to kill people in their sleep in order to keep using the plant.
    • Angels don't dream, or need to sleep.
  • Jaffas of the Stargate-verse do not dream, as they do not technically sleep, only entering a deep meditative state.
  • Dexter, after waking up from a surreal nightmare, is mostly troubled about the fact that he had a dream.
  • In Boy Meets World, Eric volunteers for a sleep-study program, and ends up surprising everyone. When the doctor asks if he's able to remember his dreams, and he says no. It turns out when they analyzed him, he appeared to have zero brain activity when he slept.
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: The Skeksis, as it turns out, do not dream. Not until the Emperor (skekSo) began his studies into the Darkening, where upon his sleep was instead filled with horrible visions of the unknown terrors beyond death.
    skekSo: Do you sleep?
    skekVar: Of course, sire.
    skekSo: Do you dream?
    skekVar: Dream?
    skekSo: Yes.
    skekVar: No, Emperor.
    skekVar: Neither did I, until I began my experiments upon the Darkening. Now my slumber is riddled with nightmares.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Eberron, Kalashtar have lost the ability to dream. That's because they are inhabited by exiles from the realm of dreams, and if they return, they will be destroyed by that realm's despotic lords.
  • The undead of In Nomine have also lost the power to dream, along with many other simple human pleasures. Technically, they don't even need to sleep, but if they do, they can no longer reach the Dream World of the Marches without supernatural help — they've actually severed themselves from humanity's collective imagination.

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Age, mages who have been made Tranquil are severed from the Fade, which prevents them from using magic or being possessed by Fade demons but also robs them of their ability to dream, not to mention their ability to feel emotion.
    • Dreaming in Dragon Age essentially means slipping into the Fade when you're asleep, where spirits construct dreams for you. This is somehow tied to the ability to use magic. Dwarves can't use magic, can't slip into the Fade unless forced by a demon or a powerful mage, and by extension can't dream.
    • The dwarf Sandal, a prodigy in enchantment ("Enchantment? Enchantment!"), tells Hawke about some rather odd dreams of his. The very fact that he can dream is one of several hints that Sandal isn't an ordinary dwarf. Snarky!Hawke jokingly suggests at one point that Sandal may be a dwarven mage. They could be right.
  • Kirby's Adventure starts off with the residents of Dream Land losing the ability to dream because King Dedede stole the Star Rod, which grants them dreams. It's later revealed that he did this to stop a Nightmare from coming through the Fountain of Dreams.
  • The Nameless One of Planescape: Torment. The above quoted conversation is with a woman who talks about dreams. Her surprise indicates TNO's condition is very extra-ordinary, as she is in Sigl, where natives have a "seen it all" attitude due to the cities stats as a planar cross-roads. It's a bit of an oddity when the Kalashtar (see up) are latter introduced as part of the same "verse".
  • Arcueid is revealed in Kagetsu Tohya as being unable to dream when she complains of a nightmare. Her brain is basically completely turned off when she sleeps. Occasionally, even in this state she recalls things about her past, but says this can't be considered dreaming. This is one of many early hints that the player is supposed to pick up that there's a "Groundhog Day" Loop in effect: She's not dreaming, she's remembering something from another loop.
  • The villain of 40 Winks is causing this for the world, though he's not a Dream Stealer in the traditional sense—he's kidnapping the Dream Weaver species known as the Winks, and he himself suffers from this.
  • Koishi Komeiji, from Touhou Project, lost her ability to dream when she gave herself a Poke in the Third Eye according to local Dream Eater and Dream Weaver Doremy Sweet. Of course, given that Koishi lost the ability to read her own heart and mind when she did that, one may very well argue that her inability to dream is the least bizarre effect that event had on Koishi's mind.

    Web Comics 
  • In a variation, characters in Homestuck whose dream selves are dead are forced into contact with the Horrorterrors instead of actually dreaming when they fall asleep.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures
    • Most sufficiently advanced incubi and succubi can't dream; instead, they experience dreaming by "surfing" the dreams of others. Also, they don't need to sleep, but if they do, they can easily sleep for days or even decades without noticing the passage of time.
    • Abel needing sleep and being able to dream again becomes a plot point. Aaryana believes that this is because Abel hasn't been feeding on emotions lately. Cubi are Emotion Eaters. Abel is starving his Cubi nature so he is becoming more like a Being.
  • In The Dreamland Chronicles, Dan in completely unable to dream. This seems to revolve around a curse that the Big Bad put on King Arthur.
    • Alex himself was dreamless for years between the time the sword he just found was confiscated and the time he got it back.
  • Pibgorn Why am I dreaming? I haven't dreamt in a thousand years!
  • At the end of Dominic Deegan, Dominic is unable to dream as a side effect of his magic and second sight having been taken from him.
  • Wonderlandians in Alice and the Nightmare don't dream. Alice, the main character, is an unusual exception.

    Web Original 
  • Local58: True Sleep posits that true, restful and proper sleep is one that has no dreams at all, and the tape itself is put out as some kind of therapy/brainwashing to reach this state of real, dreamless sleep. Of course, there is an undertone of disapproving of sleep as a concept, and treating dreams as the worst part of it all, almost like an omnipresent parasite that only affects unworthy, uncivilized brains.
    The lie of sleep seeks many vessels
    The primitive mind deserves its nightmares

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: Zigzagged. Spud does have vivid, detailed dreams about being a superhero, but he never remembers them when he wakes up. When he uses a dreamcatcher to enter his dream world, he's pleased by what he finds.
  • In the animated series adaptation of The Neverending Story, one episode states that bag guys, along with some other creatures, don't dream.
  • In Titan A.E., Preed states that Akrennians do not dream. Of course, they are a totally different species...
  • In an episode of Doug, Mr. Dink tells Doug about how when he was a kid, he fell out of a tree, and after that he kept having nightmares about them. He finally decided to face his fear and end his nightmares for good by climbing to the same branch he fell out of last time. It worked... sort of. He fell out again, hit his head, and he never had a dream since.
  • Ninjago: both Zane and P.I.X.A.L. have claimed that nindroids cannot dream, though in other episodes they're shown to be perfectly capable of dreaming. In fact, Zane's prophetic dreams have been a plot point more than once.


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