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Catapult Nightmare

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My sleeping bag is trying to eat me!

"Any person awaking from a nightmare must sit bolt upright in bed and scream."
"Hollywood Rule Book", Vanity Fair

Whenever a character awakes from a nightmare in fiction, they will fling themselves to a leaning or sitting position, panting and looking around frantically, and maybe even screaming, despite this being rather implausible in Real Life.

Think carefully: how many times do you remember waking up from a nightmare by flinging your torso upwards? Probably never, right? Most people might pant, look confused, and take a few seconds to check their surroundings and get reoriented. But actually flinging themselves upright is laughable. The most you'll likely get is a gasp and a full-body twitch, or some odd moaning coupled with sleep paralysis, although children may wake up screaming. However, because these actions are small and don't come across very easily on camera, works of visual mediums employ this trope.

This does happen occasionally in the real world, but usually it's because someone is startled by an outside sensation (like a loud noise), not a nightmare. Most of the time, certain chemicals secreted while falling asleep prevent the sleeper from acting out their dreams, a condition known as "sleep paralysis", which stops us from hurting ourselves in our sleep. This extends to shortly before falling asleep or just after waking up. The rare times it does happen in real life involve a neurological disorder where the person is woken up from the dream by a sensation, not the other way around. Such sufferers often describe the feeling as being "pushed" upright. Nevertheless, the Catapult Nightmare happens every single time in fiction. If it's a Dream Within a Dream, expect two. Possibly more. Sometimes this trope is Played for Laughs, especially if the dream they were having was particularly silly or they catapult in an over-the-top or silly way. It's just as often Played for Drama to show how a character has been traumatized by a particular incident (with their guilt manifesting as someone who hurt them, or someone they failed to help).

A night terror can have this effect, but it doesn't involve waking up and doesn't involve a dream—just full-on activation of the fight-or-flight system in the middle of the deepest stages of sleep. People who have them usually don't remember it in the morning, but witnessing such an incident as a bystander can be both physically and psychologically traumatic.

Bonus points if followed by dramatic Wake Up Fighting. See also Instant Waking Skills. Unrelated to Pivotal Wake-up.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 3×3 Eyes: after losing his status as a Wu, Yakumo is grabbed by the head by a berserk Kaiyanwang, who proceeds to threaten to kill and annihilate him once and for all, telling him how he's destinated to rot alone and forgotten with no chance for an afterlife or becoming a ghost. This is so effective and terrifying that upon recovering Yakumo wakes up with a catapult nightmare, trashing around horrified and screaming that Kaiyanwang's going to kill him.
  • Played for Laughs in The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You. In Chapter 56, Rentarou uses his girlfriends as Lap Pillows, inducing dreams themed around whoever he's sleeping on. Three of them have him getting intimate with one of his girlfriends, which leads to him throwing himself awake before anything goes too far.
  • Bleach:
    • The anime, "Bount Arc", episode 97. While sleeping in Rantao's house, Ichigo wakes up from a nightmare muttering strange words.
    • In the omake to episode 63, Isane Kotetsu wakes up like this from a nightmare ("FISH PASTE!").
    • In chapter 238, Ichigo again wakes up like this (but he falls out of bed, too.)
    • In anime episode 287, Isane Kotetsu wakes up like this again after the Arabian Nights dream.
    • In anime episode 304, Captain Komamura wakes up like this after a dream in which the main characters are monsters and it gets him when he sees his own face.
  • Blend-S: The Stinger at the end of Hideri's introduction in episode 8 has the characters cosplaying preschoolers, with Miu dressed as a teacher. Hideri then shows up wearing that same smock the girls are wearing. He then wakes up, having fallen off his bed, clearly traumatized by Miu and Mafuyu dressing him up in one the previous day.
  • In Ceres, Celestial Legend, Aya wakes up like this after dreaming about seeing Tooya on the beach, only for him to turn around and turn into the bleeding, mangled Miori.
  • Mikoto Misaka of A Certain Scientific Railgun has one during the OVA, after a lot of Paranoia Fuel over the past few days has her thoroughly freaked out.
  • Chrono Crusade:
    • Rosette jolts up in her bed after having a nightmare in her coma.
    • Earlier in the manga, she also jolts awake from a nightmare and punches Chrono in the face (who was bent over her and trying to wake her up). Although this one might be justified in that she wasn't exactly sleeping as much as having an out-of-body experience.
    • In the anime she also catapults out of a nightmare about her missing brother in Episode 2.
    • Interestingly enough, while Chrono has several bad dreams, he almost never catapults out of his nightmare and wakes up more realistically. (Perhaps Rosette's more susceptible to this trope because she's Hot-Blooded.) The only time he does to this is when, like Rosette, he's coming out of a coma. While being held in iron restraints, which he rips off to catapult from. Justified in that it wasn't exactly a nightmare and Rosette had dove into his soul in the hopes of bringing him back to consciousness.
  • Cowboy Bebop:
    • Episode 6 starts with Spike waking up from a flashback-nightmare from when he got his eye replaced with a mechanical one.
    • Episode 11 has a strange life form spawned from an abandoned fridge, poisoning almost the entire cast. Episode 12 starts with Spike flinging himself from his couch.
  • In Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro, the main character wakes up screaming after one nightmare where Senpai runs off to have fun with Nagatoro's friends.
  • As pictured above, it happens to Owaki in The Enigma of Amigara Fault. The dream might just disturb anyone who reads it too.
  • In Excel♡Saga, Pedro has one in episode 2 when he wakes up from what he thinks is a nightmare... only to discover Great Will sleeping next to him.
  • Erza invokes this in Chapter 75 of Fairy Tail when remembering her past as a child slave.
  • Episode two of Fullmetal Alchemist (2003): Cornello has a nightmare of a rainbow-colored snake moving to devour him, and starts awake to see Lust standing there, with the mysterious warning "The real secret of that stone stays between us."
  • Sōsuke Sagara is usually The Stoic, but in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu he is a bit stressed out by Tessa bunking with him in his flat. Cue nightmare at the beginning of Episode 9.
  • Albert of Gankutsuou soes this after having a nightmare about the Count.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Team. In episode 13, Grace/Cynthia wakes up sitting straight up in bed after having a nightmare about being harassed while at college (she was 6 years old at the time).
  • Seras of Hellsing does this while waking up from a nightmare she had shortly after becoming a vampire.
  • In Episode 5 of Hirogaru Sky! Pretty Cure, Sora bolts upright with an arm out after her nightmare about Mashiro getting hurt.
  • In Inuyasha, this happens with Kagome when she has a nightmare about failing the school exams.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: After being menaced by Death 13 for the first time, Kakyoin wakes up like this.
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: Upon seeing the effects of Yoshikage Kira's Bites The Dust after Rohan is killed, Hayato wakes up screaming in bed and assumes the experience was a nightmare, then later finds out it actually happened.
    • JoJolion: During his sudden Plague of Good Fortune, Joshu is suddenly overtaken by a large pounds of money and wakes up in shock back on a sofa at home. Then he walks back to his and room and gets drowned in money again.
  • In The Love and Creed of Sae Maki, Misao has a graphic nightmare of a monstrous Sae tearing Kokai apart after Sae's Court and sits up in her bed, panting and sweating.
  • In the manga version of Maximum Ride, Max has this in the beginning, after her nightmare about Erasers.
  • My Girlfriend Gives Me Goosebumps!: Chapter 4 starts with Haruka having a nightmare of Kisaki killing him, only jolt awake in shock... and then he finds Kisaki right next to him.
  • My-HiME: Natsuki has a dream of Shizuru on top of her in her futon, adorned with red lipstick, kissing her. She bolts upright, covering her mouth. Then she overhears Haruka and Shizuru arguing, and then Yukino reveals that it actually happened, and may have gone further.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Evangeline does this after she gets a fever dream about the Thousand Master.
    • Negi himself goes through this after his defeat and seperation from his students at the hands of Fate which causes him to have nightmares of his students being murdered while he just watches powerlessly.
  • In episode 11 of Nuku Nuku Dash, the title character has one.
  • Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! episode 9 opens with Mahiro having one...except that, what he considers a nightmare (saying "I love you" to Nyarko and kissing her full on the lips) probably wouldn't qualify in most other peoples' books.
  • In an early chapter/episode of One-Punch Man, Saitama bolts up out of his sleep screaming "Don't play Rock Paper Scissors with a booger on your finger!"
  • Ouran High School Host Club:
    • Tamaki awakes from a nightmare about visiting Haruhi and finding that she lives in a hovel. ("That tuna is by NO MEANS fancy!!!") Note: In the anime, the Club all are dressed exactly as they were in the nightmare when they actually DO go visit Haruhi's home.
    • In the beginning of chapter 79, we're greeted with Haruhi standing in front of Tamaki. She's blushing and glancing at the ground. She then says "Tamaki-senpai... I'm in love with you." (Cue the Squee of many fangirls.) Tamaki looks stunned, but then goes off saying that he's so happy because he's in love with himself, too! He takes this and runs with it. Haruhi looks mortified, but then she sits up and we find out it was all just a dream, much to her relief.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon: The episode "Currying Favor and Flavor" opens with Ash going to face Olivia in the Kahuna Battle with her that he is slated to have with her that day. However, when he goes to throw a Pokéball to release one of his Pokémon, nothing happens and the ball just falls to the ground. After several failed tries, Ash picks one up in confusion, and the Pokéball suddenly turns into a Voltorb and explodes right on top of Ash and Pikachu. Cut to Ash screaming and bolting up in his bunk bed so hard that he hits his head and sends Sophocles flying out of the bunk above him. (And Kiawe thanks Ash for being his alarm clock.)
    • A non-human example occurs during Pokémon the Series: Black & White. In the episode "Scraggy and the Demanding Gothita"; Axew, anxious that Ash will lose his upcoming battle against Katharine (and thus have to trade Axew's best friend Scraggy over to Katharine), bolts awake covered in sweat after having a nightmare about Ash losing, Scraggy leaving him forever, and then getting attacked by a giant version of Katharine's Gothita.
  • Princess Tutu:
    • Fakir does this in the episode "Ghost Knight", in which he has a nightmare about...a ghostly knight.
    • And the first episode in both seasons opens with Ahiru having a nightmare, and then waking up from it when she flings herself out of her bed and tries to fly by flapping her arms.
  • One of the Puyo Puyo DiscStation anime shorts has a shocked Minotauros sit upright in bed when he wakes up from a dream where Rulue flirts with him, completely forgetting her feelings for Satan.
  • Ranma ˝: This pretty much describes every single nightmare Ranma has ever had. Hell, it seems that every time Ranma has a dream in either the anime or the manga, it turns into a nightmare for him. Including (but not limited to):
    • A giant Kunō declaring his love for the pigtailed girl before snatching "her" up effortlessly (which the anime replaced with about a dozen naked Kunōs trapping a naked Girl-Ranma).
    • Being brainwashed into Kunō's adoring, submissive wife and trapped on a tropical island with him — and their many children...
    • Being successfully romanced by a cute handsome guy (disturbing enough to Ranma)... who promptly turns into an ugly, wrinkled old man as he goes in for a kiss.
    • In an anime-only episode, Ranma dreams that Akane is showing him their new baby. When she pulls the covers from the baby's head, it has Happōsai's face. Naturally, he wakes up screaming.
  • In Episode 2 of The Rising of the Shield Hero's anime adaptation, Raphtalia wakes up from a nightmare about her parents' death during the first monster wave. Thankfully, Naofumi is there to comfort and calm her down.
  • Happens to Mamoru in Sailor Moon after he dreams of something bad happening to Usagi. Usagi does this routinely as well.
  • In Saint Beast, Goh has one about the failed rebellion at the start of the first OVA.
  • Masataka of Sakura Gari does this as he starts having nightmares of all the things he endured recently.
  • Used in the second episode of Space Pirate Mito by having Aoi do this twice, first in a dream, and then in real life waking up from that dream.
  • Tales of Wedding Rings: After Satou marries his second wife Nefritis, his first wife Krystal has a dream of welcoming Satou home after a day at the office. They go to the bedroom to make love, only for Krystal to suddenly find herself trapped on the sidelines behind an invisible wall as the "Krystal" on the bed morphs into Nefritis. Cue Krystal waking up with a Big "NO!".
  • In GO-GO Tamagotchi! episode 10, Lovelitchi catapults from her bed after she has a nightmare where she physically can't sing with the idol singer hitomitchi.
  • Tower of God: Rachel's Nightmare Sequence ends with a horrified jump start into the new day.
  • Vampire Knight: Zero awakes like this after having a nightmare about killing Yuuki.
  • In YuYu Hakusho: this happens to Hiei after he has a dream about how and why he got the jagan eye.

  • Boonie Bears: In Season 3 episode 30, Tiki has a nightmare where some force steals his crown, and he wakes up jolting upright.
  • Clinic is a Russian Medical Horror short film in which an old man staying in a hospital has a series of nightmares that frequently cause him to wake up screaming.
  • Flower Fairy: In Season 2 episode 34, An'an has a nightmare where her best friend Qianhan totally forgets who An'an is, followed by An'an falling through a hole forming in the ground. An'an jolts upright in bed when she wakes up from the dream.
  • Happy Heroes:
    • In Season 8 episode 7, Careful S. sits right up in bed when he wakes up from a nightmare about the death of his friend Kalo.
    • In a few early episodes of Season 14, Smart S. does the same thing after having nightmares about Happy S. being defeated at the hands of the Dark Demon (an event from the end of Season 13).
  • Lamput: In "Meet the Shrink", the docs have a dream where they're struggling to keep up with Lamput and jolt into an upright position when they wake up.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • In Joys of Seasons episode 2, after having a nightmare about Wolffy attacking him, Paddi wakes up and flings himself upward on his bed into a sitting position.
    • In Joys of Seasons episode 39, Wolffy and Wolnie wake up screaming after having a nightmare.
    • Happy, Happy, Bang, Bang! episode 30 has Slowy having this reaction after waking up from a nightmare where Wilie betrays the goats if he lets him into the Goat School.
  • Yamucha's-Kung Fu Academy: Nao's episode-beginning dream in episode 4 about Jubby fighting and eating her ends with her jolting upright in bed, relieved that it's just a dream.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Batman: Black and White: "Night After Night" begins with Bruce sitting bolt upright as he wakes from a nightmare about his parents' death.
    • In Going Sane, a normal-looking, reformed and amnesiac Joker has frequent nightmares of bats and clowns trying to drown him in madness. He would wake up from these dreams and yell "drowning!"
    • Batgirl (2011): In the very first issue, Barbara Gordon wakes up, yells "God!" and sits up in her bed after dreaming the Joker has put one bullet through her spine again.
  • In Black Magick #10, Rowan is asleep in Alex's bed when she gets a psychic flash that a member of the Hammer has broken into her house. This causes her to sit bolt upright with a cry; waking Alex in the process.
  • It happens to Thorn in the first book of Bone, as she awakens violently from a nightmare (actually a flashback) about a massive rat creature attack on a castle. Except she awakens to Fone Bone telling her that rat creatures actually ARE attacking.
  • Castlevania: The Belmont Legacy opens with Christopher Belmont having one, as he dreams with Dracula and his brides kidnapping his son and him arriving too late to see him turned into a vampire.
  • The F1rst Hero: In the first issue of the "Wednesday's Child" storyline, Jake wakes up from a nightmare about being stabbed by Medula by sitting straight up and shouting"WHAT!!!".
  • Judge Dredd: When Dredd is taking a few hours in a sleeping pod and has a nightmare about Judge Fargo, he wakes up so rudely that he actually bangs his head against the glass.
  • Lucy in Lucy Dreaming wakes up from every dream by sitting up and shouting - even in class at school.
  • In Mega Robo Bros, Alex suffers from one near the beginning of Book 1.
  • Orion kicks off with a disturbing dream of an apparently idyllic American town which is slowly revealed to be not quite what it seems and Dan Turpin jolts awake yelling just as he's being cut to pieces by the townsfolk in the dream.
  • Donald Duck has one coupled with a Big "NO!" in an issue of Paperinik New Adventures after a nightmare about some bullies that tormented him at school. It's heavily implied that the dream is a metaphor on how he sees himself as just a "little,frail duck" put against his new foes.
  • In Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, Jonas catapults awake after he escapes from the Night Stalker prison.
  • Samurai Grandpa: When Ojichan is travelling across the lake in the ferry boat, he has a dream about when his son was a boy learning the way of the sword (which he didn't want to do). Then it morphs into a nightmare of a girl offering Ojichan something bloody, causing him to wake up in this manner.
  • Subverted in The Sandman (1989), in which the title character sentences an enemy to the curse of "eternal waking," a neverending coma where he dreams he is waking from a horrible nightmare, only to find he is in an even worse one. This causes him to wake up again, only to be confronted with another nightmare. The curse sentences him to live this way for eternity, with each nightmare a little worse than the last.
  • In The Scorpion, Armando experiences one at the start of the album The Stone Cross.
  • Serenity: Leaves on the Wind: Zoe has one after having a nightmare of Wash's death.
  • Simon Says: Nazi Hunter: Simon wakes up from a dream about Sarah this way.
  • Sleepwalker: Rick Sheridan has this reaction to seeing the title character in his dreams for the first time.
  • Superman:
    • In the 2008 story arc Way of the World, Supergirl does this after a bad dream in which she has been buried alive.
    • In Who is Superwoman?, Kara wakes up screaming and sitting upright after having a nightmare where crowds of angry humans and Kryptonians demand she chooses a side.
    • During Superman: Brainiac, the Man of Steel is captured by Brainiac. As he is unconscious, Clark has a nightmare in which Brainiac abducts more cities and obliterates more planets. He flings himself up when he comes around, inadvertently breaking the restrains strapping him to Brainiac's operating table.
    • In Bizarrogirl, Kara wakes up from a nightmare, in which a legion of Kryptonian zombies try to drag her into Hell, to find she has scorched her bedroom's ceiling black with her heat vision.
    • In The Unknown Supergirl, Lesla-Lar replaces Linda Danvers by brainwashing her into believing she's Lesla herself, but later she needs to return Linda to her proper place; so Lesla puts Linda to sleep, brings her to her bedroom and undoes the brainwashing. Linda wakes up crying out for help, believing she's suffered a nightmare where she was other person living someone else's life.
    • Superboy (1994): Superboy often flings himself out of his hammock or chair as he wakes from the dreams that start some issues.
    • In The Jungle Line, Superman wakes up screaming from a nightmare where his dual identities are arguing.
  • Super Mario Adventures: Princess Toadstool's nightmare (where she and Mario are about to be wed, before Troopas suddenly invade) ends with her turning around to find Bowser leaning toward her, lips puckered. She awakens with a fright to find herself staring at Yoshi's snout.
  • Super Metroid starts with Samus having a dream about hunting winged monsters that shoot out fire, being attacked by one, then waking up with a start in her apartment.
  • In the X-23 series, Megan awakens from a nightmare/flashback of her kidnapper screaming and lurching upwards.
  • Yorrick of Y: The Last Man wakes up from a bad (and possibly prophetic) dream like this, and not for the first time, judging by 355's comment: "I wouldn't like to be in your head."
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Volume 1: In "In Pluto's Kingdom", the Holliday Girls conclude that Lorrie woke up sitting up screaming when the shadowy figure she claims woke her, which caused her to scream and wake the rest of them is nowhere to be found. As she's been abducted by morning by said shadowy figure it wasn't actually a nightmare that woke her.
    • Volume 2: Diana and Donna find themselves plagued with horrific nightmares of their mother Hippolyta's death that wake them with a violent start in the weeks following it which they eventually realize are being inflicted on them by Circe.

    Comic Strips 
  • Adam@Home for September 30, 2012. Adam has a nightmare where he accidentally spills hot coffee on himself through a sunroof. He wakes up by sitting up in bed and crying out in pain.
  • Parodied in one Calvin and Hobbes strip. Calvin dreams that he decided to count all the rocks he could find. Next panel he's up to a billion or so. Third panel he wakes up in this fashion.
    Calvin: Wow. I bored myself awake.
  • In the Dennis the Menace (US) for June 10th 2012, Dennis has a nightmare where his father, Mr. Wilson and his dog Ruff have all been sentenced to sitting in the Corner of Shame with him by his mother.
  • Drabble. In the strip for January 5th 2015, Ralph wakes up, yells "Whoa!" and sits up in bed. He tells his wife that he had a terrible nightmare: that it was 2015 and he was really old. His wife responds "Go back to sleep. People your age need their rest."
  • Used to clever effect in FoxTrot, where Paige experiences a standard "falling" dream. Midway through, she realizes that it's a dream, and concludes that she'll wake up before hitting the ground. Sure, enough, she does. The last panel has her realizing she was right... as she falls out of bed.
  • Little Nemo: Given how often the title Pajama-Clad Hero wakes up suddenly from his dreams (sometimes falling from the bed), he's a regular user of this trope.
    • Little Ego, being a parody of Little Nemo, always has the heroine waking like this. However, in Ego's case, she is not waking from a nightmare but instead an Erotic Dream.
  • Mutts. In the strip for May 19th, 2013 Mooch wakes up from a multilevel dream (having a dream about having a dream, which is about having a dream, etc.) in shock. He says to his owner "Now I've dreamed everything!"
  • The Norwegian comic strip Pondus has this happen to the soccer-loving main character, with the punchline revealing that this is a recurring nightmare for him.
    TV Announcer: Due to heavy rains at Chelsea Stadium, todays Champions League match is cancelled. Instead we'll be airing a documentary about the voices in world literature.
    Pondus: [bolts awake] NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
  • PVT Murphy's Law: Murphy suffers a nightmare in which his parachute fails to open.
  • What's New? with Phil and Dixie. In this strip Phil and Dixie wake up from a dream (shown in previous strips) in which their Character Alignments were changed to Evil. It turns out it was All Just a Dream.

    Fan Works 
  • The 91st Annual Hunger Games: Ava has one of these after a particularly chilling nightmare about District 4.
  • Ace Combat: Equestria Chronicles: Firefly experiences one at the beginning of the 18th chapter, when the final attack on Gryphus ended up being a failure and Black Star choked her to death after crippling her. Thankfully, it's All Just a Dream.
  • Bait and Switch: It begins in one of these, apparently a recurring nightmare for Eleya, and consisting of the time she was nearly killed repelling a Boarding Party. She catapults awake after her dream self passes out from blood loss courtesy of a knife to the kidney.
  • The Bolt Chronicles:
    • "The Murder Mystery" is revealed to be Penny's Acid Reflux Nightmare, occurring after she eats pizza with anchovies and jalapenos — one which has her sitting up suddenly in bed drenched in sweat when she wakes up.
    • Mittens's lack of sleep in "The Insomniac" stems from a series of bad dreams that wake her up and upset her. Her latest nightmare causes her to awaken with a start, scramble off the bed, and stare off into the darkness.
  • Book 5: Legends: Korra awakens from a nightmare swinging and very nearly firebending as well.
  • Dragon Ball Z Elsewhere: Yamcha has one when he dreams of the time C20 almost killed him, and wakes up jumping, sweating, and with the hands on his chest, suffering from phantom pains.
  • IBoys und Sensha-do!: Akio has this when he has a nightmare about when his father died.
  • Burning Bridges, Building Confidence: It opens with Marinette dreaming about her wedding day, only for it to turn sour when Lila shows up and hijacks the event, fatally stabbing her before marrying Adrien instead. All of her classmates cheer her on, while heaping scorn upon Marinette, accusing her of faking her death just to get attention and ruin Lila's big day.
  • The Child of Love: In chapter 2 of the sequel Asuka does this after a nightmare:
    The girl gasped, and shot up from her sleep. Her red hair glistened in the moonlight from the window, sweat and tears streaked down her face.
    "Asuka-chan," said Shinji softly, sitting up also, "are you having nightmares again?"
  • Code Lyoko Return to the Past, NOW!: Cassidy has her Dreaming of Things to Come up until she unleashes the vortex. Code Wings 3.0 has her have regular nightmares, one of which a screaming one.
  • A Crown of Stars: In chapter 23 Asuka did this after a particularly horrible nightmare.
    Asuka catapulted upright in the dark of their room, a frozen scream trapped in her throat by its own paralysis. It took several seconds of frantic blinking and wiping at her eyes before she could clear enough of the tears to even see where she was. It took even longer to stop them flowing down her face and to control the gasping sobs.
  • Dragon Ball Reboot: Season 2 opens with Gine having a nightmare where Bardock is killed by a laughing Frieza. Gine then wakes up screaming "NOOO!!" and finds herself sitting up on a bed in Grandpa Gohan's house.
  • Ex Tenebris, Lux: Implied. It's mentioned that Cinderella sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night crying. Her husband doesn't understand why, but it's because she has nightmares about her past Domestic Abuse.
  • Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness: After having a nightmare about a giant-sized Marisa raiding her library and being powerless to stop it, Patchouli immediately wakes up and screams the thief's name in doing so.
  • Feralnette AU: Marinette suffers one near the start of Birds of a Feather as she's reliving the whole Chat Blanc ordeal in a horrific way. She's paralyzed by fear and emotional pain (of seeing her best friend in that state) and can't give the akuma her Miraculous because she doesn't have it anymore. Her head gets slowly Cataclysmed and that's when she jumps awake.
  • Harry Potter and The Bonds of Punishment: Ron bolts upright and screams after having an Erotic Dream about Harry.
  • Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past: Harry literally throws himself about of bed when he wakes up from dreaming about the Burrow burning down with himself and all the Weasleys inside. On another occasion, witnessing the deaths of all his friends, one by one, from the original timeline, he not only wakes up in mid-leap, he's also set the blanket on fire with accidental magic. Several medical professionals get concerned about the severity of his nightmares.
    Healer Stanhope: When a boy suffering from broken bones tries to sit up in bed, that’s not a normal dream.
  • In chapter 5 of First Aid Kits and Deep Secrets, May jolts up from a nightmare about her childhood.
  • HERZ: In chapter 2 Asuka is having a dream about her past traumas. When she reaches the part where the white Evas were eating her alive she wakes up screaming and bolting up in bed.
    Asuka screamed and bolted up in bed. Dream. Again. Breathing fast, shallow. Heart pounding. Cold sweat. Lightning flashed outside of the apartment's window. Hands over her face, she began to cry.
  • Kara of Rokyn: In the first episode of the "Last Waltz with Luthor" arc, Lena Thorul jolts up in her bed after a premonitory dream where her brother Lex murders his wife Ardora and then kills Superman.
    Lena Thorul awoke with a start. She almost knocked the lamp off the side table grabbing for it to turn it on.
    She drew in deep breaths to calm herself, and thought, wildly, about scenes in movies where someone wakes up in fright and has a cigarette to calm themselves down.
  • Paul does this every time he manages to fall asleep in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. This is a Justified Trope because he's got Super-Strength and is having nightmares about it, so when he thrashes while asleep, he invariably flings himself into the air. Once he thrashed himself over the side of the mesa the four were camping on, and woke up in a Paul-shaped hole.
  • Meeting A Loud: Due to traumatic events involving his birth family's deaths and his previous foster home, Lincoln suffers from these for a while.
  • The Legend of the Princess starts with Princess Zelda struggling after waking up from a nightmare.
  • The fanfic Long Road to Friendship sees Sunset Shimmer waking up from one of these almost every night she goes to sleep, mostly from nightmares about being a "raging she-demon" in the past. As she goes through her Redemption Quest, she stops having them.
  • In Lost Latte, Latte springs up in her bed after waking up from a nightmare of losing her friends.
  • In the One Piece Peggy Sue/Harem fic Luffy's Renewed Adventure, Ace has one of these in Chapter 79 about Luffy standing at his grave and mourning him, while Blackbeard mocks him for dying. It serves as a harsh reminder of Luffy's warning to him in Alabasta to be careful when he fights Blackbeard.
  • A Minor Miscalculation includes a part in Chapter 7 where Mako springs up from a nightmare about Nui. It's actually subverted, as it's the gunshots from down the hall that caused the reaction.
  • My Little Wesker: Chapter Three has Wesker experience a nightmare where he's stuck as a pony, and being put down by Chris Redfield after ineffectually attacking him. Fortunately, Wesker hasn't been killed, but unfortunately, he still is a pony.
  • From the Death Note AU My Stupid Reality after Light has been drugged and kidnapped by L a second time, he begins mumbling in his sleep having bad dreams when he bolts awake:
  • Downplayed in Naruto: the Secret Songs of the Ninja when Naruto wakes up after a dream where the Kyuubi possesses his body and kills all his friends. He doesn't sit bolt upright, but he does thrash awake so violently he nearly rips his sleeping bag open from the inside, gasping for breath.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide:
    • In episode ten, Asuka does this after a bad dream.
    • And in episode eleven, she falls off her bed.
      Asuka’s eyes shot open and, though the images of her nightmare quickly disappeared, sprang from her bed as if to escape something from her subconscious reaching out to grab her. She was on her feet for only a second before her knees buckled and her legs surrendered her to gravity.
      She landed with a thump and a whimper. She lay on the floor for a few moments, too dazed and confused to feel any pain, struggling to keep her heart from bursting out of her chest. For a second that lasted an eternity, she felt utterly helpless.
  • In Of Births and Deaths and Everything In Between Harry bolts upright and screams after a recurring nightmare about being trapped in a crowd while trying to avoid Sirius Black.
  • The One I Love Is...: Asuka does this in chapter 9 after an awful nightmare where she was forced to relive her childhood's worst bits.
  • On Trial: The traumas of being manipulated by a demon to try and kill your best friends and destroy your home have left Cassandra with these nightmares. As her Trauma Conga Line gets worse, so do her nightmares (to the point that she needs to be sedated).
  • The series Peter Parker Needs A Hug doesn't pull any punches when showing how traumatized Peter is after the events of Infinity War, Endgame, and No Way Home. These traumas culminate into him having one of these in the library, where he sees Stark's lab abandoned and Tony himself the moment he died. His reaction is bad enough that Barbara Gordon notices and asks Red Hood to investigate Peter Parker.
  • In Point of Succession Light often gets these after having nightmares inspired by Beyond Birthday.
  • Shadows over Meridian: Cornelia has one in Chapter 8, of Jade/Kage attacking her in her home.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton:
    • In an omake Asuka does this after having a nightmare where she is wearing a Supergirl outfit which can only be described like a tiny bikini.
    • Subverted in chapter 14's omake. Shinji is actually having an excellent dream (Asuka is about to kiss him right after she and Misato have agreed to share him), and all of sudden Pen-Pen warks and he jolts awake. He did not take the penguin's interruption well.
      Shinji jolted awake, finding himself sitting in his bed. Dazed, he cast his gaze around the room, soon finding Pen-Pen at the foot of his bed.
  • Chapter 31 of the The Legend of Zelda fanfic Sky Lines manages to parody this. Link, having had a nightmare, is implied to have done this just as the nightmare reaches its peak. However, he is sleeping on a berth in a train car with very little headroom, and the result is a nasty bonk on the head. This wakes his traveling companions sleeping above and below him, causing them to smack their own heads doing the same thing.
  • Averted in the RWBY fanfic Various Vytal Ventures, wherein Ruby more realistically awakens after the Nightmare is over with her leg jerking, and then rolls out of bed instead of sitting straight up.
  • In Waking Nightmares, a crossover of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Team Fortress 2, Twilight does one of these after it was her turn to have a nightmare.
  • The Law & Order: UK Fanfic "Whispers In The Night" has Matt and Alesha (they're a couple in this one) each having these. Him about the day he was shot, she about her rape, while in the story "Just A Dream", it's she who has the bad dreams about his shooting.
  • X-Men: The Early Years: In the "Boy Scouts, Sex and Other Mysterious Things" chapter, Scott Summers bolts awake after an intense dream.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion Senshi No Michi, Shinji "sits up in his hospital bed with a start" when he wakes up from a nightmare where he meets an evil-looking, murderous version of himself.
  • In The Price of Flight, leakage between worlds across an unstable border is felt keenly by magic users in Ankh-Morpork. Witch-pilots of the right ethnicity in the Air Watch become subject to seriously bad dreams about a place called Russia in various wars where, inevitably, they die in combat in the air or are killed by attacks coming out of the air. Olga Romanoff, after a dream of flying in an unbelievably fast aircraft which is hit by some sort of missile, has the catapult awakening in her own bed in Ankh-Morpork. Asking around, she discovers all her Rodinian pilots have had this too.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic "Something Wicked This Way Comes" Spock wakes up this way after a nightmare. Then again, not only is he not human and used to lucid dreaming, there is also a good chance that the nightmare in question was actually a psychic attack by the Monster of the Week.
  • In Wake, Asuka sits by Shinji's side as he is tossing and turning in his bed. Finally Shinji jolts up screaming, and noticing Asuka's concerned presence, Shinji explains he was having a nightmare about Third Impact.
  • My Dream Is Yours: Both Oren and O'Malley wake up in this manner after having dreams that are different from their usual ones. O'Malley's dream had something to do with creatures, while Oren's dream was him doing massive amounts of paperwork that wouldn't stop coming.
  • In Endgame Harry shoots up and scans the room for threats after dreaming that Ginny resurrected Voldemort.
  • Spy X Family:

    Films — Animation 
  • The Boss Baby In the end of a deleted scene called "Tim's Nightmare".
  • Francis from Felidae, after he has a nightmare about Gregory Mandel tormenting him with zombie cat puppets.
  • The Incredibles. Helen has one in a deleted scene where she has a nightmare about losing her husband to a bunch of hot cheerleaders.
  • Inside Out represents this as a panic button that the emotion on dream duty presses when a nightmare gets too intense. Near the end of the second act, Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong deliberately try to cause such a nightmare as the Train of Thought, which the three are taking to get back to Headquarters, doesn't run when Riley's asleep. After a failed attempt that results in Bing Bong being thrown into the subconscious, the three lead Jangles the Clown, the representation of Riley's coulrophobia, to Dream Productions, prompting Fear to hit the panic button.
  • The Iron Giant: In the Signature Edition, the Giant has a dream of his past, revealing he was a weapon of war.
  • Simba does this in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride after he dreams of Scar turning into Kovu and pushing him into the wildebeest herd that trampled his father to death. But instead of sitting up, he simply raises his head up.
  • Monster House: DJ springs up awake after having a horrible nightmare about a shadowy hand grabbing him in his sleep.
  • Mulan: Mulan quietly dashes off to the Chinese Army in the middle of the night. Only Grandma Fa, who is closer to the Fa family ancestors, senses something is wrong when she wakes up supposedly not too long after this.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree:
    • Twilight jolts awake after her nightmare on the bus, bolting upright. She also has one at camp.
    • Spike subverts this. He darts awake when Sunset Shimmer wakes him up, but he was having a pleasant dream about chasing squirrels.
  • Ruben Brandt, Collector: Ruben Brandt tries to save a little girl from falling out of a moving train's window but the girl bites his arm and forces him to fall off with her while an another train is about to hit them. Then Ruben Brandt wakes up back in reality where he fell out of his own bed.
  • The Baby Nightmare sequence in Shrek the Third. Twice.
  • Toy Story 2. Woody, after he wakes up from a nightmare where Andy throws him away.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 12th Man: Jan has three consecutive nightmares about the Gestapo finding his hiding place. Each one makes him catapult awake.
  • Justified in The 13th Warrior as Ahmad ibn Fadlan and the twelve other Vikings are sleeping in the mead hall while waiting for the Wendols to attack, so it's not surprising that Ahmad starts awake in a panic after finally getting some sleep. He then realises that the Vikings are already awake, but pretending to be asleep because they can hear something at the door...
  • Aliens:
    • Near the beginning, Ripley has a nightmare of having a Chest Burster rip out of her chest and wakes up in terror. This doubles as an expository Flashback of when she first woke up in the hospital, but isn't quite a Flashback Nightmare or Daydream Surprise.
    • Later on, after Burke informs her that contact with the LV-426 colony has been lost, she wakes up and sits up in fear again. She presumably had another nightmare similar to the first one, but the audience is not shown it.
  • Alone in the Dark (1982) starts with one of the lunatics having a nightmare and waking up like this before the opening credits.
  • Amityville
    • Baxter in Amityville 3-D has a nightmare where he is confronted by his daughter's drowned corpse in the basement, and bolts up in fright as he wakes up from it.
    • Debbie in The Amityville Curse has a nightmare about going down to the basement and being grabbed by a corpse, and wakes up from it screaming and sitting up.
    • Keyes in Amityville: A New Generation sees a nightmare about his father killing his family, and he sees himself in his father's place. He then wakes up as he sits up in his bed in shock.
    • One of the many ways that the house messes with George in The Amityville Horror (2005) is giving him a nightmare where he finds himself with a shotgun, which he uses to blow his brains out. He then sits up in fright as he wakes up.
  • In ...And Your Name Is Jonah, Jonah sits bolt upright after dreaming that his brother's Spider-Man doll is attacking him.
  • Averted in Batman Begins, where Bruce has a Flashback Nightmare and simply wakes up breathing heavily.
  • Bedtime Stories (2008) has Mickey doing this every time he falls asleep, complete with screaming. Justified as a sleep panic disorder.
  • The Borrower: Diana jumps awake after having a nightmare wherein she's sexually assaulted by an escaped sex offender she had a part in arresting earlier.
  • Braveheart: After he betrays William Wallace at Falkirk, the Scottish Noble Mornay has a nightmare in which Wallace is riding towards him, fire blazing all around and the most terrifying Death Glare ever. He wakes up, but moments later, Wallace actually rides into his bedroom and gives Mornay a face full of flail.
  • In film this dates back to 1914 and Cabiria, in which Sophonisba bolts upright after a nightmare of being fed to the fiery Moloch shrine as a Human Sacrifice. Possibly justified in this instance as a slave touches her hand, waking her from the nightmare.
  • Cadaver (2020): Leonora has a nightmare early in the movie where she can't find Alice in her house. She wakes up sitting up with a gasp.
  • Call of the Undead: The Mob Boss has a dream in which he and his gang are fighting the zombies, and then one of his gang gets overwhelmed. At that point, he wakes up with a startled shout.
  • Claw (2021): At the end of the movie, Julia suffers from one after having a nightmare of Kyle being Eaten Alive by a T-Rex.
  • Strieber does this in Communion.
  • In Constantine (2005), Angela Dodson does this after experiencing a nightmare of her twin sister killing herself. It turns out to be real.
  • Countess Dracula: After dreaming that she become old again, Elisabeth sits bolt upright in bed. She relived to discover that she is till youthful, only for the relief to turn to despair when she ages a few minutes later.
  • Cthulhu: Subverted in the first Nightmare Sequence of the protagonist where he bolts upright yelling, but it's actually part of his dream. A jump cut later we see him starting awake in more restrained manner. Until he sees the stone object from his dream lying on his chest.
  • The Curse of Sleeping Beauty: The first night Thomas sleeps at Kaiser Gardens he dreams of the sleeping girl and this time is able to kiss and awaken her. She tells him her name is Briar Rose and that they can communicate now that they are close in the physical world. He has a false awakening to an attack from the Veiled Demon. He wakes up from the nightmare sitting bolt upright in bed.
  • Curse of the Crimson Altar: Robert sits bolt upright with a cry when he wakes from a dream that ended with him being stabbed in the chest by Lavinia.
  • Dead Again: The heroine is first seen sitting bolt upright at the end of the film's Flashback Nightmare Dream Intro.
  • Practically every time Ji-Won wakes up in Dead Friend.
  • Death Wish 4: The Crackdown opens with a dream sequence, which ends with Paul Kersey jumping up as wakes up from it.
  • Dementia (1955): The film begins with the woman waking from a strange dream of being flattened by an ocean wave, bolting up catapult nightmare style. Then at the end she does this again, suggesting that the entire film was a catapult nightmare, or even a Dream Within a Dream.
  • Destroyer (1988): Susan wakes up with a gasp, bolting upright at the start of the film in her and David's bed, and again at the end of the movie in David's hospital room.
  • In Dracula 2000, Mary wakes up thrashing and incoherent after dreaming that a tall dark stranger is about to bite her throat out.
  • Dreamscape: This happens to the President of the U.S. twice. He wakes up yelling after having nightmares of his wife running away from a nuclear explosion and being attacked by mutant children in a post-nuclear environment.
  • This happens at the end of Dressed to Kill when Liz wakes from her nightmare.
  • This is how Dennis general wakes from his nightmares in The Evil Within, except that he often isn't actually awake yet.
  • In Explorers, Ben wakes up from a nightmare this way.
  • The Fifth Element. Our introduction to the hero has Bruce Willis starting awake in his cubicle apartment. Interestingly there's no indication that he had a nightmare, but it's a direct cut from the scene where General Staedert's spaceship has been attacked (and presumably destroyed) by the Unseen Evil, implying that he's had some sort of premonition of the oncoming disaster.
  • The Fly (1986): After Veronica learns that she is pregnant with Seth Brundle's baby, she has a dream of an attempted abortion, concluding in her giving birth to a giant maggot. She understandably responds with this trope.
  • The Fugitive. After escaping, Kimble has a nightmare about the murder of his wife while sleeping in the woods. At the end of the nightmare he wakes up and sits upright.
  • Pete from God Told Me To sits up in bed, screaming, the morning after he sees a sniper kill fourteen people and then jump to his death.
  • The Golden Child: Chandler Jarrell after his dream of being tortured and almost killed by Sardo Numspa and his henchmen.
  • Exercised by the hero in Gozu while waking from an extremely weird nightmare.
  • Hackers. After Dade Murphy has a visit from the authorities, he has a dream where his Slap-Slap-Kiss Love Interest Kate enters his room and starts kissing him, then the authorities enter and arrest them. He wakes up and sits up in bed.
  • Desmond Doss has two in Hacksaw Ridge. In the first, he relives a memory of his fight with his father (see The Atoner above), waking up abruptly when the gun goes off during the struggle. The second one is during the night on the ridge as he and Smitty are resting in a foxhole. Desmond sees a flare go up overhead and lifts his head to look out of the hole, only to find himself face-to-face with a squad of Japanese soldiers, who then proceed to storm the hole, killing Smitty while one of the soldiers is about to kill Desmond with a sword. Desmond wakes up right as he's about to die.
  • In The Hand, Jon sits bolt upright in bed following a dream where he sees his hand scurrying around the woodpile in the cabin.
  • Harry Potter:
    Ron: Spiders! There’s spiders. Spiders. They want me to tap-dance. I don’t wanna tap-dance!
    Harry: You tell those spiders, Ron.
    Ron: Ah, yeah. I'll tell... I’ll tell them. (Immediately falls back asleep and starts snoring.)
  • Hellraiser: Played with. When Kirsty has a nightmare of Frank's resurrection, we cut to her boyfriend bolting up from a bad dream — she's still asleep, and when he touches her she scrambles upright rather than bolting.
  • Horrorvision: Late in the movie, Dez sits up screaming in his bed next to Dazzy, creating a Hope Spot that she's still alive and everything with Horrorvision didn't happen... then Dez wakes up again in Bradbury's car.
  • Hot Shots!. The film begins with a pilot crashing their jet plane and being accidentally killed. The scene cuts to Topper Harley waking up and sitting bolt upright in bed. The entire flying sequence was Topper's nightmare about the death of his father.
  • Hot Spur: Carlo wakes from a Flashback Nightmare of his sister being raped by sitting bolt upright in the stall where he is sleeping.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Katniss bolts upright screaming in her bed from a dream about the previous Hunger Games. In the book, Katniss experiences this kind of dream almost every night and they are described in gory detail, definitely Nightmare Fuel.
  • Incest! The Musical: It's not a nightmare per say, but after having a shocking Love Epiphany by way of Dreaming the Truth (he's in love with his twin sister) Alex wakes up, and sits bolt-upright in bed, and declares, "Holy shit."
  • Junior: Arnold Schwarzenegger's character Alexander Hesse wakes up this way from a nightmare where his baby has his adult face, though he doesn't scream.
  • Lifeforce. While Carlson is asleep, he has a nightmare where he sits up in bed and the space girl visits him. Then he wakes up (for real) and sits upright in bed screaming.
  • Lockjaw Rise Ofthe Kulev Serpent: The present day portion begins with the adult Alan sitting bolt upright in bed after a nightmare reliving the night of his father's death.
  • Mad Max. After seeing the charred yet still alive body of his friend Goose in the hospital, Max is shown in bed; suddenly he bolts upright and the camera zooms in on his spotlit eyes.
  • The Magnificent Seven (1960): Lee (Robert Vaughn) not only bolts upright, but also scrambles across the room in a panic when he awakens from a bad dream.
  • The Manchurian Candidate: In the 1962 version, both Ben Marco and Al Melvin do this after they each have a nightmare about Raymond Shaw killing one of their fellow soldiers in cold blood.
  • The Matrix: After Neo gets the bug put in him, and possibly when he jacks out of the Construct program in the real world hovership after learning the truth about the Matrix.
  • Midwinter Night's Dream: Lazar does this when he dreams about The Yugoslav Wars.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • Completely averted in MI: 1, in which Ethan's so traumatized and sleep-deprived that he thinks he's still trapped in a vivid nightmare he actually woke up from a moment ago.
    • Downplayed in Mission: Impossible – Fallout: Ethan wakes with a start, clearly disturbed, but is completely silent both times and keeps his worry to himself. (The first time, he even leaps for his gun, but does so in total silence and does not bolt upright either time.)
  • Muppets from Space: Played for laughs. Gonzo bolts upright after waking from a Noah's Ark nightmare. Unfortunately, Rizzo is sleeping in a hammock directly above him. The result? Rizzo himself getting catapulted out the the window.
  • The Naked Gun: In the third movie, Frank wakes up after the opening sequence which is a "nightmare" of being in a situation where there's crime he can't stop. Of course, given that the scene (and the rest of the movie) is slapstick and not supposed to be taken at all seriously, it would only be considered a nightmare to him.
  • After the opening credits, The Neverending Story begins with Bastion waking up this way after having a dream his about his mother.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
  • In Werner Herzog's 1979 remake of Nosferatu, Lucy springs up screaming from a prophetic dream featuring the cholera mummies of Guanajuato, Mexico and slow-motion stock footage of a bat in flight.
  • Averted in One Hour Photo. Sy wakes up from his nightmare with a gasp, looking around and touching close to his eyes since his nightmare involved an Eye Scream. A few moments later, he starts calming down and breathing heavily.
  • The film version of Ordinary People opens with a scene of Conrad Jarrett performing with his school choir, which suddenly cuts to him bolting awake in bed.
  • Averted in the opening scene of The Others (2001). Nicole Kidman's character wakes up from a nightmare, but she simply lays awake in bed for a moment before sobbing into her pillow. Of course, she may be a little different from most people...
  • In Paranormal Activity, Katie does this at least one time.
  • In Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge, Melody sits bolt upright in bed after having a nightmare about the night Eric supposedly died in the house fire.
  • The short film Portal: No Escape begins with Chell doing this, complete with an extremely loud gasp.
  • In The President's Barber, Han-mo wakes up from a nightmare about being shot this way.
  • The Princess Bride: Buttercup wakes to fill the screen with her frightened "gasp of awakening" directly after the scene featuring The Ancient Booer.
  • Butch from Pulp Fiction does it twice.
  • Rambo wakes up like this in Rambo IV after having a flashback nightmare which ended with Colonel Trautman shooting Rambo dead.
  • The Recovered: Beverly has several nightmares throughout the film and awakens from each one by bolting upright. In the DVD Commentary, both directors admit that they regret using this trope because no one does it real life.
  • At the beginning of The Right Stuff, the wife of a test pilot starts awake on hearing the crash of her husband's aircraft. The black-clad priest sent to tell her the bad news only confirms what she already knows.
  • In the American version of The Ring, Naomi Watts' character does this after having a nightmare of Samara being in her apartment.
  • Josh in Road Trip has one when staying at the Manilows'.
  • Used a number of times in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... always after Scott sees Ramona in his dreams as she goes through his subspace highway. The best response, though, is how Wallace Wells ALWAYS sits up immediately after as well, sometimes followed by one or two other guys....
  • Somewhat averted in the Korean film Seducing Mr Perfect. After a nightmare, the heroine's body does tense, but other than that, she doesn't move before opening her eyes. After opening her eyes, she stares into space for a few seconds, and then, she pushes herself up and gasps.
  • Larry Gopnik experiences several of these in A Serious Man after moving into the Jolly Roger.
  • Happens several times to Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Shutter Island. On one occasion, however, it is part of a Dream Within a Dream, from which the character later awakens (for real) by simply opening his eyes whilst still lying down.
  • Averted in Signs, where Graham only opens his eyes when he wakes from bad dreams.
  • Suffered by Carol in Slaughter High when she wakes from the nightmare of Marty trying to strangle her from the stretcher.
  • Sleepy Hollow (1999): Director Tim Burton commented that Johnny Depp does some very good fainting/waking up scenes.
  • In Snow Dogs: Miami dentist Ted Brooks receives his biological mother's will from Alaska and his adoptive mother revealing that he's adopted. That night, Ted has a nightmare of being born an igloo.
    Ted Brooks: I'm an ESKIMO?!
  • The opening scene of Some Guy Who Kills People has Ben suffering a Flashback Nightmare where he is tortured by the Jerk Jocks on the basketball team. He sits up suddenly as he wakes, only to discover he is late for work.
  • In Spiceworld, the Spice Girls suddenly sit up in bed one after another, when they hear somebody sneaking through the big house they are staying.
  • Stand by Me: Gordie does a variation on this when he wakes up from a nightmare about his brother Dennis' funeral, when he imagined his father saying, "It should have been you." - except here, since he's sleeping face down, he lifts his head up in shock and gives a yelp of surprise.
  • Averted and then played straight during Picard's Dream Within a Dream in Star Trek: First Contact. When he falsely wakes up from his first nightmare he simply opens his eyes while sitting in his desk chair; when he wakes up for real, he jumps up from his bed.
    • There was however the chime of an incoming call, so it's possible that he was actually reacting to that.
  • Star Wars:
  • Strippers Vs. Werewolves: There's a Nightmare Sequence involving Justice, perhaps involving her killing the werewolf at the start of the film. Then Justice screams, then (presumably) we see her shoot right up out of bed.
  • The hero of Take Shelter is having bad dreams and wakes twice this way.
  • The sequence with the Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl in A Tale of Two Sisters.
  • At the beginning of Total Recall (1990), Douglas Quaid wakes up with a jolt from a nightmare about dying of Explosive Decompression in the Martian atmosphere.
  • Under the Bed: Paulie falls asleep in his theater group and has a nightmare that causes him to wake up screaming and freaking out.
  • Scottie in Hitchcock's Vertigo does this after the haunting dream sequence.
  • Virus Shark: Kristi wakes up on the escape pod in this manner after having a nightmare about being attacked by an infected Anne back on the Cygnus Research Facility.
  • Happens to the protagonist at the end of When a Stranger Calls (2006).
  • In When Evil Calls, Samantha awakes from the Dream Within a Dream that makes her realise she is responsible for unleashing the evil djinn upon the school by sitting bolt upright in bed.
  • In Wild Wild West, the way Will Smith's character flings himself up from a bad dream.
  • Wolves: Intense nightmares are the first symptoms of Cayden's true nature. Violent outbursts are next.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): He freaks out upon waking up from a war-related nightmare, which was possibly triggered by the far-away sounds of night shellings.
  • Wolverine has an especially notable one in X-Men. In all honesty, adamantium claws don't mix well with many activities.
  • Happens when Berridge wakes up screaming in his cell in The Young Poisoner's Handbook. More realistic than most examples as his sitting up wasn't a reaction to the nightmare, but rather to an outside stimulus: Graham shaking his shoulder in an attempt to wake him.
  • In Zoolander, Derek Zoolander does this, only as he shoots straight up, he slams his head into the frame of the bed above his (he and his three roommates slept in two sets of bunk beds) and crashes to the ground.
  • Wonderwall: Not a nightmare, but when Oscar wakes from a dream about Penny, he sits upright and cries out.
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Strange bolts awake in a cold sweat after his "dream" about Defender Strange and America.

  • Older Than Print thanks to Dante Alighieri:
    • The Divine Comedy: Dante erupts from his Purgatory vision-dream about flying into the sun full of terror and confusion after being truly feeling the sun's heat.
    • Vita Nuova: The poet awakens from his fever dream and immediately screams Beatrice's name in fear, although anyone besides Dante would have a hard time discerning the name between his sobs.
  • Dink in the A to Z Mysteries book The Deadly Dungeon, has a nightmare and then "bolt[s] upright in his bed."
  • The BFG: When the Fleshlumpeater is having a nightmare, his flailing limbs catch two other giants, who attack him.
    The injured giants began pounding the Fleshlumpeater with their fists and feet. The wretched Fleshlumpeater woke up with a bang. He went straight from one nightmare into another.
  • Lampshaded in Emma Bull's Finder when the protagonist wakes up violently from a dream of someone else's death: "They do it in movies. Gunshot on the soundtrack and a fast cut to an actor, sitting up in bed. It's real. I did it."
  • In Galaxy of Fear Zak has a nightmare, opens his eyes, and finds that he's sitting up in bed.
  • Eve, from the In Death series. Certain things will make her lapse into flashback when awake. Often dragged out of them by Roarke.
  • Max And The Midknights Battle Of The Bodkins: After having a nightmare where she's kicked out of knight school and left by her friends for her own Bodkin, Maxx wakes up like this with a "GAH!".
  • In The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly, Charlie sits bolt upright crying after a dream in which a police officer takes Kieran away from his mother on the grounds that she's an unfit guardian who will raise him to be a criminal and sends him to live in an Orphanage of Fear.
  • The Outside: Between the activation of the Shien Reactor and the destruction of the Pride of Jai, everyone on the station has bizarre nightmares that they assume are Anxiety Dreams, but are really due to the Outside. Yasira sits upright in bed after one of them.
  • Derek Robinson's Piece Of Cake: Squadron Leader Barton, at the height of the Battle of Britain, has a recurring nightmare of piloting a plane, without a propeller, at unmanageably fast speeds, with controls that do not do what his experience as a pilot expects of them. He is trapped in an uncontrollable aircraft moving at high speeds with unresponsive controls and no means of escape. He inevitably awakes sweating and in high anxiety
  • Andre Norton's novel Postmarked the Stars begins with Dane Thorson dreaming that he's crawling through steamy, greasy mud. He wakes up with a gasp and pushed himself up to a seated position.
  • Ravenswood, while he's in jail in the Relativity story "August Moon". Since he's psychically linked with the killer, he has a "nightmare" (actually a psychic vision) of a murder as it's taking place. When the murderer begins cutting out his victim's heart, Ravenswood bolts awake, lurching forward and gasping for breath. Unfortunately, he keeps having the nightmare while he's awake.
  • In Shatterbelt and Aftershock!, Tracy does this a couple of times following her prophetic visions, though the first time it happens she wasn't actually sleeping yet.
  • In Super Minion, the april fools' day page ends with Tofu being run over by a truck and then waking up this way.
  • Survivor Dogs: After having a realistic nightmare in The Broken Path, Lucky jerks awake and his head snaps up.
  • At the end of Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins describes his experience with nightmares of Skeleton Island:
    ...the worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts or start upright in bed with the sharp voice of [John Silver's parrot] Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 2008 Academy Awards featured a comedy bit where, in the event that the Writers' Strike lasted through the awards ceremony, the crew had prepared a series of increasingly asinine montages. One, the Salute to Bad Dreams, consisted entirely of these shots from famous movies.
  • Chris Elliot starred in Action Family!, a one-shot detective drama/family sitcom mashup — he has a hollering catapult nightmare wake-up from a dream where he's being spanked by Abe Lincoln.
  • Ally McBeal is the queen of this trope. In one episode, the title character gets two of these in a row (it was Dream Within a Dream), then a third one happens to a supporting character (so it was a dream within a dream within somebody else's person's dream!)
  • Awaken: Jamie flings herself upright after a nightmare about White Night Village.
  • Babylon 5: Ivanova wakes from a dream about walking into the command deck in her birthday suit and needs to check herself.
    • A few episodes later, Sheridan does this in the middle of the night. The dream itself wasn't so bad, but a sudden realization about the nature of the dream causes him to bolt upright: Kosh had been talking to him...while he was being killed.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), this is often how the humanoid Cylons react when they die, their consciousnesses are downloaded to new bodies, and they wake up in a tub of slimy goo, surrounded by their fellow Cylons acting as "nurses". Needless to say, resurrection is a bit of an unsettling experience.
    • Averted as a whole in the case of humans though. Many characters have unsettling dreams (either psychic or PTSD-induced) but this trope is never played straight outside a single occasion where it is strange enough to be remarked.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • In an episode in the first season, Leonard and Sheldon (and Raj and Wolowitz) buy the original time machine, from the movie The Time Machine. After a commercial break, we see Sheldon in the machine, in a steamy jungle, as Morlocs close on him. He wakes up, in the apartment, screaming, in the time machine. Leonard comes out, they have a short discussion about getting rid of the machine, and Leonard calls in some movers (Morlocs wearing jumpsuits that say "Hungry Morlocs") Sheldon awakens again, in his bed this time, and starts screaming, sitting upright rather stiffly as is his manner.
    • Sheldon also has a catapult nightmare about turning into Gollum — this was during an argument about a replica Ring and its ownership.
    • Leonard once has a Sheldon-style rude awakening — he dreams that Sheldon really did reproduce asexually, like an amoeba.
    • Sheldon had another one after a nightmare in which Santa Claus shoots him with a cannon since Sheldon allowed him to die during a Dungeons & Dragons game earlier.
    • In The Hofstadter Insufficiency, Sheldon has a nightmare in which Leonard, is taken from a ship by a Kraken. Cue Sheldon sitting upright in bed screaming.
  • Bones, season 5 episode "The Boy with the Answer". In the opening, Brennan has a classic Catapult Nightmare after a very disturbing dream inspired by the memories of the Gravedigger, and the stress from having to face the Serial Killer at trial.
  • On Boy Meets World Cory does this several times in one episode where he has recurring nightmares about killing his friends.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "What's My Line, Part 1", Willow, when startled awake from a nap, practically shouts "Don't warn the tadpoles!" then admits to having a frog fear.
    • In "Chosen", Spike jerks awake with a shout of "I'm drowning in footwear!"
    • It wasn't a nightmare per se, but in "Out of My Mind", Spike catapults to a sitting position with a choking gasp upon waking up from a dream in which he tells Buffy he loves her.
    • Averted with Buffy's very first appearance in "Welcome to the Hellmouth": she has a (prophetic, as it turns out) nightmare about vampires and apocalypse, and wakes up... pretty much like a normal person would.
    • Actually averted with most of Buffy's nightmares — a notable exception is when she dreams of Angel's death in "Surprise".
  • Played with in the fifth season premiere of Castle, "After the Storm". The show starts with a Previously on… segment that ends with a clip of the man who nearly killed Beckett in the fourth season finale, "Always", promising to finish the job. This cuts immediately to Castle bolting up from a nightmare. The editing makes it look like he dreamed of Beckett's assailant threatening to kill her. He then notices that he's alone in bed, which has him worried. Enter Beckett, wearing his shirt, a cup of coffee in each hand, assuring him that last night was not a dream.
  • Cobra Kai: Samantha bolts upright in bed when she has a nightmare of Tory attacking her and murdering her in the Miyagi-Do dojo.
  • Averted in Criminal Minds where Reid had a creepy nightmare but was very calm about it when he woke up. But played straight with Rossi in another situation.
  • A variation in the Daredevil (2015) episode "Cut Man". Matt Murdock is having a nightmare of when he woke up in hospital as a child to find he was blind. He wakes up on Claire's couch and tries to sit up, only to start choking from a collapsed lung thanks to a stab wound he received earlier.
  • Dark Desire: Alma wakes up from nightmares where she sees Darío dead, or Leonardo is demanding she tell him she's cheating, rising in a panic.
  • A preview photo shows Ballard doing this in the upcoming Dollhouse episode "Needs".
  • The "Eurosong" episode of Father Ted. "We have to lose that sax solo!"
  • In Firefly, River wakes up from a couple of her bad dreams in this way. Most of the times, though, she wakes up normally. Of course, considering who we're taking about, it's entirely possible she was trained to wake ready to fight. She also does so in the movie, first into another dream, finally into full waking. Whedon didn't want to use the Dream Within a Dream cliche, but Summer Glau gave him two very good performances and he wanted to use them both.
  • Forever Knight. Nick Knight seemingly hardly ever wakes up without this trope and blood-sweat on his forehead.
  • Paul Slippery at the beginning of the third episode of Fortysomething in his second Dream Within a Dream awakening. He just jerks his head up and gasps the first time.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Sansa Stark experiences one in the second season. She's dreaming of her experience of nearly being raped in the previous episode. She wakes up, to find out she has started her first menstruation. In any other world, this might be a good thing, except in Westeros, Sansa now knows that King Joffrey will now rape her in the hopes of producing an heir.
    • Bran tends to wake up this way after his recurring nightmares.
  • Ghosts (UK): Alison has one in the third season.
  • The Goodies: In the Kitten Kong episode, Tim returns home determined to wreck vengeance on Twinkles the kitten after his disastrous attempt to walk the over-active purrball. Graham and Bill caution him that it's not a very good idea, then open the door to reveal that thanks to Graham's growth formula the kitten has grown to enormous size. Tim screams hysterically, and then wakes up in bed crying: "Get it off me! Stop licking me!" (Bill: "I'm not licking you!") Unfortunately it's not All Just a Dream.
  • At the beginning of "Harry & Meghan: Escaping The Palace" (Lifetime's third "Harry and Meghan") movie, Prince Harry wakes up this way following a dream in which he envisions his wife Meghan dying in a car accident just as his mother did.
  • In the Here Come the Brides episode "The Soldier", Candy sits upright screaming from a nightmare. She won't say what it's about, but it's implied that it involves Jeremy being hurt or in danger.
  • In the first season of Heroes Peter wakes up screaming after having a psychic nightmare of the Bad Future where he blows up New York.
  • People on TV wake up from nightmares the same way immortals on Highlander wake up from being dead.
  • Horatio Hornblower: Archie Kennedy wakes from a nightmare about his tormentor Simpson flinging himself up in "The Duchess and the Devil".
  • This is a frequently Averted Trope on House. Usually, we cut to an extreme close-up of the character dreaming and see their eyes snap open, sometimes to a shhff sound-effect. Same for hallucinations, when we cut to other characters reacting to the "out of it" character. (In both cases, the character is usually House himself.)
  • Jane does this in Jane the Virgin:
    • She does this every time she wakes up from one of her recurring Past Experience Nightmares reliving the night when she found her husband Michael bleeding out on the floor.
    • She also has nightmares of her son Mateo being kidnapped again after his kidnapping in the series 1 finale.
  • In the Jeeves and Wooster episode "Return to New York", Bertie experiences this after spending an unwanted night on the town with Claude and Eustace. Accompanied by yelling of "NO NO I DON'T WANT ANY MORE CHAMPAGNE!"
  • Done with the titular character in the Cold Open of the Jessie episode "The Talented Mr. Kipling" where she had a nightmare of a giant Mr. Kipling attacking her on the balcony.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze: JK gets this just as he and Monster of the Week Capricorn Zodiarts (Who is also JK's old friend and has the ability to brainwash people]] are about to become famous. Gentaro Kisaragi asks if it was worth stepping on his friends. JK looks down on his feet and he sees that he is standing on the lifeless bodies of his friends Kengo and Tomoko, then turns around to see lifeless Yuki land on him. He wakes up screaming his head off.
  • Le Bureau des Légendes: At the end of the series, Malotru does this as he wakes up from the dream dinner party where all the attendees are those whose deaths he directly or indirectly caused.
  • Lost:
    • Kate does this in the season 4 finale.
    • The series averts this in the first season: Claire thrashes around and hurts herself, but does not sit bolt upright.
  • Lost Love in Times: The emperor flings himself upright after he dreams of Yuan Ling murdering him.
  • The Lost Room: The opening of Episode 5. Lee watches Joe trying to open the door of one of the motel rooms, with Anna trapped and pleading through the window for help.
  • Happens twice in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle. In the episode in question, Resse is unemployed, and is failing all his classes and making no attempt at trying to raise his grades. Lois has a nightmare where she and Hal are being terrorized by a middle aged Reese who still lives with them, and demands that they do his homework, and cook his meals. Lois snaps awake, marches to the boys' room and tells Reeese that she's tired of taking care of him, while he contributes nothing to the house and won't do anything for him until he changes his ways, and she esventually locks him out of the house. Homeless, Reese starts living in the backyard, and even allows a hobo to live with him. When Lois hurts herself trying to get his things off the property, Reeese nurses her to health, and she says she's willing to let him back into the house, but he has to be willing to get a job so he can help help out the family. Back in his bed, Reese has nightmare where he is a middle aged man taking care of a morbidly obese Lois who does nothing but barks orders at him. Reese snaps awake, he macrhes into her room and says that he will get a job and move out eventually because he will not spend the rest of his life cleaning her fat folds.
  • Done in the M*A*S*H episode "Dreams", but in those cases the dreamers are woken by outside forces, either loud noises or shaking (except for Winchester).
    • In the earlier episode "Divided We Stand", Trapper does this when Radar wakes him up in the middle of the night. Considering Hawkeye's laughter immediately after, he probably just did it to screw with Radar.
  • Many episodes of Medium. One of the show's ads turned them into a Fully Automatic Clip Show. Averted surprisingly often, however. Many times she'd just wake up dramatically opening her eyes with a gasp.
  • Happens several times to Morgana in Merlin.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, thanks to Goldar's evil spell, the protaganists dream about their past battles and dream that Zordon has fired them as Power Rangers. All five Rangers are shown waking up, but since it was shown from the side instead of the front it loses most of its dramatic effect.
  • Murder, She Wrote: "Threshold of Fear" opens with a woman experiencing a catapult nightmare as she relives her mother's murder in a dream.
  • Example of a Phlebotinum-assisted Catapult Nightmare: Rowsdower in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Final Sacrifice". Not only does he bolt up in bed, he does so while screaming his head off.
    Crow (as Rowsdower): AHHH! I forgot the liquor stores close at 8!
  • Never Have I Ever: Subverted. Devi dreams about her father Mohan in the first episode and bolts upright, but the dream is not terrifying, just surprising, since Mohan is dead.
  • At the end of an The New Adventures of Old Christine episode, Richard jerks himself awake when a Dream Sequence culminates with himself and Matthew — his ex-wife's brother — kissing each other.
  • Northern Exposure: In "All Is Vanity," Holling becomes convinced fiancée Shelly prefers, ahem, cleaner-looking men and schedules an appointment with Dr Fleischman. He soon has second thoughts.
  • Odd Squad: The episode "In Your Dreams" has the Little O go through two of these after the Dream Weaver changes her dreams into nightmares — and if her words at the beginning of the episode are any indication, this has been happening to her every single night since the Dream Weaver invaded her dreams weeks ago.
  • In Pretty Little Liars episode "The Badass Seed", Spencer manages to wake up normally after a strangling dream: Trope averted.
  • In The Princess Wei Young Chang Le jumps awake after a nightmare about murdering Crown Princess Consort.
  • In the 'Red Dwarf'' episode "Blue", Lister is catapulted not only upright but off the bed entirely, complete with frantic clawing at his tongue, after a dream about Rimmer ends with them kissing each other.
  • Averted in Rescue Me. Tommy often has nightmares and delusions, but usually comes out of them looking disoriented before getting his bearings.
  • The Rise of Phoenixes: Ning Yi jumps up with a scream after having a nightmare about his childhood.
  • In Salem, Anne has one at the beginning of "In Vain".
  • The Sandman (2022). In "Dream a Little Dream of Me", Johanna Constantine sits bolt upright when she wakes from her recurring nightmare of the Newcastle incident and finds herself looking at Dream, who used the nightmare to track her down. Averted the first time we saw this nightmare because Johanna was sitting up already, having fallen asleep in the back of a cab.
  • Saturday Night Live parodied this in their Digital Short when Ellen Page hosted. She wakes up from a bad dream, goes into the bathroom, gets a Jump Scare from a ghoulish Andy Samberg as she looks in the mirror, wakes up from that dream in the same manner, goes into the bathroom again, and gets the same Jump Scare... but it turns out to be Andy's dream instead, only for him to get the same scare from Ellen showing up in the mirror, and so on and so forth to increasing levels of absurdity.
  • In an episode of Saved by the Bell: The New Class, Liz wakes up this way when she has a nightmare about the whole school calling her a loser when she loses a swim meet.
  • In Sex and the City Carrie gets repeated Catapult Nightmares from... nothing... during her relationship with Aidan.
  • John Watson awakes from a PTSD-induced nightmare this way at the very start of Sherlock.
  • Smallville:
    • Lana once woke up this way after having a nightmare of Chloe being kidnapped. ...Turns out that it was a future vision and is very real.
    • In "Beast", Chloe woke up like this after having a nightmare of Clark ripped in half.
    • And she also gets it in "Lazarus" although that is more like a coma.
  • Yvette has these in the Smart Guy episode "Perchance to Dream," after each time she dreams about her and Mo getting married (even during a Dream Within a Dream that occurs after she realizes the reason behind the dreams). At the end of the selfsame episode, a different dream — where Yvette professes her love for Mackey — takes place. It turns out Mackey is the one dreaming about it, but he plays with this trope in that, while he does catapult himself awake, he's thrilled with how the dream turns out.
  • In an episode of Spaced, a slammed door awakens the four main characters, each of whom yell something in a montage format.
    Daisy: I'm sorry!
    Mike: I'm hit!
    Brian: [wearing an eyemask] I'm blind!
    Tim: Buffy!
  • Stargate Atlantis does it frequently for Teyla Emmagan. Particularly in "The Gift" and "Doppelganger". Of course, most of her dreams are plot-important and in "Doppelganger" everyone is doing this. Subverted the first time in "The Gift", when Teyla does this in her nightmare but remains lying in bed when she wakes for real.
    • It's subverted multiple times in "The Gift." Every time she wakes up from a nightmare in that episode, she opens her eyes and collects herself while still prone, and then only sits up after she's fully conscious.
  • Star Trek:
  • Supernatural:
    • Averted — surprisingly — when Dean startles awake from dreams of his time in hell with nothing more than a slight twitch. Same with most of Sam's prophetic nightmares in Season One.
    • Played straight when Dean wakes up from a nightmare in 7.05 "Shut Up, Dr Phil".
  • A variation in The Sweeney episode "Nightmare". Jack Regan's girlfriend has a prophetic nightmare of Jack in danger that ends with her screaming in terror, Match Cut with her awake in the same position screaming as Jack sits up next to her in bed and tries to comfort her.
  • Tales from the Crypt: In "Lover Come Hack To Me", Charles sits bolt upright screaming after he forces himself to wake up from the nightmare of Peggy's mother butchering her father.
  • Averted and played straight with Stiles in the first episode of the second part of season 3 of Teen Wolf. He bolts awake from a nightmare about the Nemeton only to have it be a Dream Within a Dream. The next one, he simply opens his eyes and wakes up. Several minutes later, that's revealed to be another Dream Within a Dream which causes him to bolt upright screaming when he wakes up for real.
  • That '70s Show: Parodied in "Water Tower". After accidentally walking in on his parents having sex, Eric has nightmares about that incident, waking out of his sleep at 4:10 AM. Then, when it occurs again, he sees that it's 4:21 AM, only 11 minutes after the previous nightmare.
  • Torchwood: Averted. Jack has a nightmare but when he wakes up he just opens his eyes.
  • In True Blood Jason does this twice in the same scene as it was a Dream Within a Dream.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Dream Me a Life", Roger Simpson Leeds bolts upright in a distressed state after having a dream in which an elderly woman, later revealed to Laurel Kincaid, begs him to help her prevent something from entering her room.
  • In the UFO (1970) episode "Exposed", Paul Foster spots a UFO while piloting an experimental plane. Sky One destroys the UFO, but the explosion damages the plane and sends it into a dive. Paul Foster wakes up with a yell and sits up in a hospital bed, apparently after having a nightmare of the flight.
  • In the V (1983) miniseries, Mike Donovan has a claustrophobic nightmare where he and his son Sean try to escape a Visitor mothership (Sean had previously been processed to be used as food for the aliens) and are pursued by Visitor soldiers. After Mike sees his son shot to death in front of him, he jumps awake at resistance headquarters with Julie sitting besides him.
  • Vera: Joe's daughter Jessie has one as she relives finding a dead body on a train in "On Harbour Street".
  • The White Queen:
    • Elizabeth Woodville pops out of bed twice in the premiere after having nightmares of her first husband John Grey and Edward IV getting killed in battle.
    • Queen Anne, who fears she's responsible for the deaths of the Princes in the Tower, has a nightmare of them in the last episode. She screams herself awake, and King Richard III, who is at her bedside, is so alarmed that he exclaims, "Anne, what is it?!"
  • Will & Grace: Will does this after having an Erotic Dream about Grace. During the end credits Jack does the same thing after he also has a dream about Will and Grace having sex.
  • Word of Honor: Wen Kexing jumps up after a nightmare about his parents' deaths.
  • The X-Files: Mulder is an insomniac and is frequently seen sleeping restlessly. In "Paper Hearts", he keeps having Recurring Dreams and Flashback Nightmares about his sister's abduction. One of them happens when he fell asleep in his office by the desk. Obligatorily, he wakes up, gasping "Samantha!" and flinging himself up.
    • Scully has a few of these throughout the series, including those in "Irresistible" and "The Blessing Way."
  • Young Sheldon: In "Money Laundering and a Cascade of Hormones", Mary bolts upright on the bed after her sex dream about Pastor Rob.

    Music Videos 

  • Equestria Chronicles has a few of these. Most notably, Clockwork set one up about a foal being brutally murdered... without revealing it was a nightmare until hours later.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The old Board Game Don't Wake Daddy. But again, that's because of an outside sensation, not a dream.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Adventure I10 Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill.
      • At the beginning of the module, the PCs each have a terrible nightmare, then wake up sitting bolt upright in bed, screaming and covered in cold sweat.
      • After the Creature first appears to the Alchemist in a dream, most of the possible results have the Alchemist bolting upright in bed when he wakes up.
    • Dungeon magazine #31 adventure "Bane of the Shadowborn". When the PCs are taken by the Mists to Ravenloft, one of them has a nightmare in which they are killed without any chance to save themselves. When they wake up from the nightmare, they sit up while screaming, their body drenched in sweat.

  • Miss Saigon: Chris does this upon wakening from his nightmare about Kim. Kim herself often does this (depending on the actress) after her nightmare about how she and Chris were separated during the fall of Saigon.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In the introduction, Ann has a Dream Intro of being in some abandoned town while finding herself at an Eldritch Location before immediately waking up in bed.
  • Used in one of the endings of Ao Oni. In version 5, Takeshi has a nightmare about being back inside the house, hiding in the cabinet you first found him in, and getting discovered by the monster instead.
  • Happens constantly in the Chzo Mythos series. Happens about three times in 5 Days a Stranger, twice in 7 Days a Skeptic, and is scripted to happen twice in 6 Days, but it also happens if you die — your death inexplicably becomes a dream, and you just wake up quickly in your bed with a minor scare note.
  • In Fallen London, the icon for the "Nightmares" menace is a little illustration of someone waking up this way.
  • Fatal Frame:
    • This is actually an in-game mechanism in Fatal Frame III: The Tormented, as Rei does this every time she goes through an episode of the story (called "Hour" in-game) to signal to the player that it has been successfully completed. She averts this trope when she wakes up peacefully at the end, after the curse plaguing her has finally been lifted once and for all and the nightmares are over.
    • This is part of a cutscene in Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water. note 
  • Happens in the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night, after Shirou dreams of walking through a Field of Blades and looks down at his arm, only to see that it's turned into a sword.
  • Final Fantasy X, Tidus's nightmare concerning his dad during his stay in the Besaid Island town hut, screaming "I hate you!"
  • In Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, this happens to Gabriel.
  • Combined with a Repeat Cut in Haunting Ground, when Fiona wakes up in the castle bedroom after Riccardo (the housekeeper) informs her of the car accident that killed her parents.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • In the opening to Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, Klonoa has a premonition of darkness taking over the world and awakens with a jolt, only to be greeted by Huepow.
  • The Legend of Heroes - Trails:
  • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Luigi has a dream of Antasma attacking the Zeepelin and as a result, it crash landed. It scares him so much that when he wakes up, he actually dashes across the Zeepelin in panic and falls onto the Pi'illo Blimport tarmac, where he conks out again, with the Zeepelin completely intact.
  • Shepard starts having these during Mass Effect 3. They involve following a kid s/he saw die in the opening through a forest, hearing the voices of dead characters from earlier in the series. However, it's more of an aversion, as Shepard doesn't catapult so much as simply gasp and jerk awake.
  • Mega Man:
    • Zero is prone to these in Mega Man X due to his Dark and Troubled Past and apparently sleeps with his capsule open to facilitate them.
    • In Mega Man Battle Network 5, following Mega Man getting captured by Nebula, Lan wakes up panting after having a nightmare of Mega Man being corrupted by dark energy, which did occur.
  • Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, after he falls asleep in Otacon's helicopter and dreams of Metal Gear Solid's gameplay, complete with PS1 graphics.
  • Thomas, the main character of Neverending Nightmares, does this several dozen times over the course of the game for reasons that should be obvious.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, the player has these starting from after the day Victini first appears and ending at the part before the Forest of Shadows.
  • In chapter 3 of Sakura Wars (1996), Maria wakes up from a nightmare in which she watches her captain die during the brutal 1917 Russian Revolution.
  • Done as a gameplay mechanic in Shovel Knight. Whenever Shovel Knight clears a level for the first time, a brief scene is shown where he goes to sleep next to a bonfire. The following morning, Shovel Knight is still asleep and cannot move, and the only way to wake him up is to jump. Making this significantly worse is that at certain points in the story, right after he goes to sleep, he dreams of his beloved Shield Knight falling out of the sky, and the words "CATCH HER" appear on the screen. The vast majority of players are going to jump to clear the last few feet between Shovel Knight and Shield Knight... and just as they make contact, Shovel Knight jumps awake...
  • The Sims:
    • Sims do this on rare occasions, usually when something traumatic has recently happened. There exists at least one hack to trigger it on command.
    • In The Sims 4 following the June 2016 update, child Sims who have had an encounter with the Monster Under the Bed have a higher chance of waking up this way.
  • In Tomodachi Life, Miis always wake up like this from a dream, no matter if it is about falling, worshiping a Virtual Boy, or becoming a superhero.
  • The opening scene of Valis II for the Sharp X68000. Unfortunately for Yuko, her nightmare is actually real when a monster comes at her window...

    Web Animation 
  • In Anguirus' Vacation, Anguirus wakes up this way from a nightmare he has during his vacation of Godzilla being attacked by King Ghidorah.
  • Bee from Bee and Puppycat does this in the first episode after waking up from a bizarre nightmare.
    "AAH BAD DREAM!!" (points at Puppycat) "AAH YOU WERE THERE!!" (picks up empty lasagna tray) "AAH LASAGNA'S GONE!!"
  • In Damaged, Emily has one in episode 3, "Recycling Day".
  • Lampshaded in one Evil Josh And Billy episode. Evil Josh at first does this, but then notes that nobody wakes up like that in real life, then realizes that this is also a dream. Sure enough, he's right. Unfortunately he was asleep in the middle of driving a car and immediately crashes after he wakes up.
  • In Kirbopher's April Fool's Flash animation $eG@, four versions of Sonic do this in succession.
  • There was a point in Lucky Day Forever where Prole 514 dreamed that he was a White. He was about to score with a Female White until the White tells him that he is just a servant. Trope was used to indicate that was all in 514's head.
  • Musophobia: The elephant wakes up from their rodent-related nightmare in panic, clattering their teeth and finding that they have fallen out of bed and landed in some of the mousetraps they set up around the bed.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In the original script for The Light of Courage, the plot starts with Link having been plagued by nightmares for a year, which always end with him jumping out of bed screaming.

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: After getting shot three times in the chest with a crossbow, Caleb pulls out the bolts then passes out. Five minutes later, after he's been healed and the others are recovering from the ambush that injured Caleb, he wakes up by shooting bolt upright and screaming "TAKE THEM OUT! TAKE THEM OUT!" This goes unexplained until about 40 sessions later, when Caleb explains that as a teenager, he had residuum crystals implanted into his arms as a part of his teacher's experiments.
  • Dad: In "True Value" note  Dad is dreaming of a trip to True Value in which he picks up a bunch of supplies for free...and then the clerk offers him a "way out". Dad then catapults awake in bed.
  • Gayle has one when she realizes she doesn't have any beach towels.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius takes this to the extreme in one episode when it happens multiple times in a row. With the result being several Dream Within a Dream moments. It gets even better when it turns out the whole episode was the the bad guy in bed with his wife.
  • Zachary pulls one of these after a Nightmare Sequence (revealed later to be Mind Rape) in the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers episode "Psychocrypt." Having the Queen of the (Imperial) Crown invading one's head on a nightly basis for at least a week couldn't have been comfortable.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Gumball does a particularly epic one in the episode "The Kiss".
  • Amphibia: At the start of "Best Fronds", Anne has a nightmare about how she ended up in Amphibia and then bolts right up when she wakes up from it.
  • Arthur:
    • Used and subverted in an episode where Buster has a dream in which Arthur and Alan "Brain" are actually aliens, and are pulling him toward them with telekinetic powers as he screams. He wakes up quietly and near-motionlessly, calmly says, "That was scary," and goes back to sleep. Meanwhile, Arthur has a dream in which his sister Dora Winifred "D.W." comes into their tent to deliver the news that her and Arthur's mother said they have to let her sleep in the tent, too. He does the catapult with scream, which his mother takes for being caused by a nightmare about aliens.
    • In the episode "Sick as a dog" in which Pal gets sick from eating junk food with Arthur and he has to remain at the vets overnight, that night Arthur has a nightmare in which a pack of wild dogs tie up the staff, burn down the clinic, and abduct Pal, before they take him Pal calls the Read's house and speaks to Arthur using dog sounds and Arthur cries out "Pal where are you?!" while lightning strikes, Arthur bolts out of bed gasping and says "Woah!... what a ridiculous dream... Pal doesn't know our phone number!".
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Prince Zuko wakes up like this from his Angst Coma.
    • Aang does this a few times himself; most notably in "Nightmares and Daydreams", where he once wakes up everybody with his screams.
      Sokka: [woken up as a result of Aang doing this in "The Storm"] What happened? Did we get captured again?
  • The Boondocks goes here from time to time; most notably Tom's Prison Rape nightmare.
  • Code Lyoko:
    • Aelita has a few screaming wake-ups, especially in Season 2 when she is trying to (re)adapt to life in the real world. This usually ends up ruining Sissi's beauty sleep, since her bedroom is next door.
    • She has one where she doesn't scream in Season 4, but instead is brought to tears from the memory of her mother being kidnapped by The Men in Black.
    • The screaming wake-up happens again in "Fight to the Finish", where she is Dreaming of Things to Come. It comes true.
  • Danny Phantom where Sam, Tucker, and Jazz all do this... triggered by Danny in order to save them from eternal dreaming helmets.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • In the episode "Rock-A-Bye Ed", Ed has a crazy nightmare in which his mother (who for some reason has Johnny 2x4's face and voice) throws him to "the Kanker pit" for accidentally bugging Sarah. Ed wakes up screaming, and Eddy throws a bucket of water in Ed's face to shut him up. It happens again at the end when it turns out the whole episode was All Just a Dream Jonny 2x4 had.
  • Eek! The Cat:
    • In the intro of the first two seasons, Eek (in his superhero outfit) saves Annabelle from the burning house, but his cape gets caught on fire, so he and Annabelle fall down. This cuts to Eek flinging up in a bed and screaming briefly, and then he looks around, wipes the sweat off his forehead and smiles, before jumping off the bed and falling.
    • In the second episode "Bearz 'n the Hood", Eek had a dream in which he is hanging out with one of his owners, Wendy Elizabeth, and has her autograph finally signed. Then they go to the moon, but Eek's head grows bigger because there's no air, and as he screams in horror, his head explodes. After that, Eek wakes up screaming for a long time, but without flinging up. It turns out that one of the Squishy Bears made Eek wake up, and tries to chew him out, but Eek still screams.
  • Ernest Le Vampire: Every episode ended this way.
  • Happens a number of times in the Futurama episode "The Sting". Leela catapults Nibbler in the process of waking up at least twice.
  • Gary the Rat begins every episode waking up from a horrible nightmare, sometimes even leaping clear out of his bed.
  • Gravity Falls uses this and lampshades it in "Sock Opera":
    Bill: [in Dipper's mind] Hey, wanna hear my impression of you in about three seconds? [screams and flails his arms about]
    [Dipper wakes up screaming and flailing his arms about]
    • Later played straight in the Cold Open of "The Last Mabelcorn", where Ford wakes up like that after a confrontation with Bill.
  • Hilda: In episode 6, which resolves around the Marra (creatures that cause nightmares), David is seen waking up like this after the Dream Intro.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Dark Hand member Finn has a nightmare where, for some reason, he and the other members of the Dark Hand (including Valmont and the Shadowkhan) have started a band and their performance is interrupted by Jackie swooping in from a helicopter, claiming they were off-key, and punching Finn in the face. Back to the real world, Finn tosses and turns in his bed for a moment, before catapulting up, panting and screaming.
  • Jean-Luc & Dondoozat: Dondoozat wakes up screaming inthe Movie-Theater Episode.
  • In Justice League, "Fearful Symmetry", Supergirl wakes up from a nightmare in which she cruelly hunts down and kills a citizen, to find she burned holes in the ceiling with her heat vision.
  • Ron in the Kim Possible episode "Ill-Suited".
  • King of the Hill:
    • Episode "Bwah My Nose": Hank wakes up normally after a bad dream.
    • Also in the episode "Sug Night" after his second naked Nancy dream he wakes up screaming and Peggy asks what's wrong and he covers it by saying he hears Ladybird whining.
    • In "Hank's Unmentionable Problem" Peggy has a nightmare about Hank dying from his constipation and Cotton flushing the coffin to Hell and she wakes up screaming.
    • And in "Are You There God?, It's Me Margaret Hill" in which Peggy has a nightmare that Monsignor Martinez abducts her students and takes them to Hell and throws them into a fiery pit because she had lied about being a nun, for a moment it seems that the fire has burnt out only for Hank to light with his propane, Peggy then wakes up screaming.
  • Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny short "Water Water Every Hare". At the end Bugs Bunny bolts upright in his bed and panics, yelling "Who? Where? What? When?"
    Bugs: Must've been a nightmare.
    Tiny Gossamer: Oh, yeah? That's what you think!
  • In the Milo Murphy's Law episode "Sunny Side Up", the kids have been assigned an egg drop competition for physics class. Zack and Melissa each have nightmares about waking up to find either the egg or their protection device ruined.
  • Molly of Denali: In "Tooey's Hero," Tooey jolts out of bed when he wakes up from his bad dream and realizes that Eugene is gonna be in danger.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • Happens to Rainbow Dash in the episode "May the Best Pet Win", after being awoken from a crazy dream in which she is menaced by a mash up of several of her friends' pets.
    • In "Twilight's Kingdom, Part 1", Celestia does this when she gets the vision of Tirek returning. Luna then comes in to confirm it wasn't just a nightmare.
    • An interesting variation occurs in "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?" in addition to the straight version: Luna catapults when she has a dream that ends well.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
  • This has happened to both of the title characters in Pinky and the Brain at different points, most notably in the episode "Snowball".
  • Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker does this multiple times, befitting for a short film about dreams. Some of the jolting awake does have to with Night Terrors...not the actual phenomena, but nightmare creatures.
  • Happens quite a bit in Recess:
    • In "Rainy Days", T.J. has one about the never-ending rain during the week flooding the town.
    • In "The Pest", Gretchen has one about being married to Jeffrey in the future.
    • In "The Lost Ball", Gus has one about the fact that he accidentally lost one of the school's balls by kicking it over the fence being obstacles in his future, even to the point of being unemployed or kicked out of Heaven just for that.note 
    • Vince has one in "Copycat Kid" about Mikey taking over his life after trying to basically become a Caucasian version of him.
    • Spinelli has two of them:
      • In "Mama's Girl", she dreams about moving to the Arctic, only to be frightened out of her sleep by her own mother.
      • In "A Career to Remember", she has one about growing up without a job, and seeing her friends be very successful in life while she's homeless.
    • Mikey has one in "Big Ol' Mikey", about him growing up to be a giant and destroying the city.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show:
    • In the episode "Robin Hoek", Ren dreams that he is Robin Hood and Stimpy is Maid Moron, at the end after saving Stimpy from the sheriff they kiss and Ren wakes up shrieking in terror, he wipes the sweat off his forehead and says "Thank goodness it was only a dream!" and he glances over at Stimpy dressed in the Maid Moron outfit and he faints.
    • Also in the uncut version of the pilot episode "Big House Blues", Ren dreams that he is flirting with a woman, little does he know he's caressing Stimpy in his sleep and he leans over and kisses him, he wakes up and screams and he washes out his mouth in the toilet.
    • "My Shiny Friend" (a semi-parody of Very Special Episode [it's a long story] made during the Games Animations era that vaguely addresses addiction) has Stimpy doing this while screaming Muddy Mudskipper's name after his nightmare where Muddy insults him, then chases him with a hammer, and then eats him.
  • Happens at one point in the Dream Within a Dream ending of the Rocko's Modern Life episode "To Heck and Back".
  • The Rugrats episode "In the Dreamtime" has two. The first one happens to Chuckie early in the episode, and the second one happens to Chuckie's dad at the end of the episode.
    "I'm not Stu! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!"
  • The Simpsons, frequently:
    • Subverted in the second Treehouse of Horror special, where Homer didn't catapult awake because he had a nightmare, but rather because Bart bit him.
    • Also humorously played straight at the end of Bart's nightmare in the same special, not because anything generally scary happened, but to Bart it's a wonderful dream, until Homer kisses him, which causes him to wake up screaming long and loud (complete with the camera zooming into his screaming black mouth.)
    • Subverted again in another episode, where Homer jumps up and yells "NOOOOO!" while still in the dream. He then says, "hmmm, that's funny. That usually ends the dream." Then he wakes up the normal way.
    • Lampshaded on a commentary, where they ask if it's even possible to sit bolt upright. (It is, but you'd have to be a little fitter than Homer.)
    • One of the funniest comes from "Moaning Lisa" in which Homer dreams that he and Bart turn into the characters from the video game "Super Slugfest" and Bart is about to beat him to death, Homer wakes up screaming then almost immediately falls back to sleep.
    • Played with in the episode "The Sweetest Apu". After Homer stumbled on Apu cheating on Manjula with the Squishee girl, he ends dreaming that Apu brings out the Squishee girl in the typical harem room environment, and then tells the eunuch (Homer) to avert his eyes before making love with the Squishee girl. Homer then bolts up and screams, then wonders what a "eunuch" is, consulting to the dictionary, and then screams again when he learns what the definition of an eunuch is. The second scream is what wakes Marge up.
    • Lampshaded at the end of the nightmare in "Bart Sells His Soul":
    Sherri and Terri (and their respective souls): Bart, it's time to end this dream / And don't forget the standard scream! (cue Bart waking up and screaming)
    • In "Homer Loves Flanders", Ned wakes up in this way with an extreme closeup, full of sweat. He telle Maude. "Maude...I think I hate Homer Simpson!" and she gasps. The camera flashes over to the Simpson house and Homer wakes up with the exact same face and camera angle before saying
    Homer: Marge, I think I hate... Ted Koppel! No wait, I find him informative and witty. Night.
    Homer: Marge, I think I hate... Michael Jackson! No, no... Actually he sings pretty good and is a noble guy. Night.note 
    • Happens recently in the episode "Pork and Burns". In a possible parody of House M.D., jars of mayonaise are hospital workers and they help 'cure' sandwiches. The scoreboard has a list of delicate goods, but the last line is what causes Homer to wake up.
    Homer: Fruit?! What a nightmare!
  • Happens to Peter in the The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Blueprints".
  • Teen Titans: Raven does this once in the episode "Fear Itself".
    • Also done by Robin at the beginning of "Apprentice - Part 1".
  • The Transformers. Daniel has one in the season 3 episode aptly named "The Nightmare Planet".
  • Wakfu:
    • A variation in episode 22: Sadlygrove doesn't propel himself upward immediately after the Dream Sequence... but screams at the top of his lungs.
    • Adamaï also has such a wake-up in episode 24, after receiving a dream warning from the Tree of Life.
  • In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Buddies", Wander starts singing a song to Lord Hater about being "Best Friends Forever", and Hater ends up joining in... then it cuts to Hater waking up screaming.
  • Snoopy wakes up this way in the aptly-named special What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown.


Video Example(s):


Fang's Nightmare

Fang the Sniper/Hunter is fighting Classic Sonic, Amy, Tails, and Knuckles in his Marvelous Queen, firing missiles at them. Classic Sonic has himself and his friends distract Fang long enough for Classic Tails to switch the positioning of the Marvelous Queen's battery, causing the bike to crash down with its drill function unwillingly activated and spin Fang's Marvelous Queen round and round to make him dizzy, leaving Classic Knuckles to punch Fang and his bike to Classic Amy, who sports a demonic face to lay the smackdown with her Piko Piko Hammer. Though it turns out to be a dream Fang was having while accompanying Classic Eggman and Trip in the ruins on Northstar Island. He wakes up from it, bumping the doctor from behind with the front of the Marvelous Queen, causing Classic Eggman to scold him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / CatapultNightmare

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