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Don't Wake the Sleeper

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The Sleeper is asleep, and must remain so. Waking them up would be the worst idea ever, and for that reason there might even be some powerful guardians trying to keep you from disturbing their slumber.

Different works have very different reasons why The Sleeper must remain asleep, but the eight major types of reasons are:

  • The Sleeper is dangerous and will cause havoc if they wake up. In effect, this is Sealed Evil in a Can, with a pillow instead of a canister.
  • Along the same lines, the Sleeper desperately wants sleep and will clobber the hapless protagonist if they don't get it (even if it's not their fault).
  • The Sleeper is experiencing a nightmare, and while it may seem counterproductive to not wake them up, doing so would be a bad choice, both for the sleeper and the well-meaning protagonist.
  • The Sleeper is conveniently asleep in the company of other characters who now have an opportunity to discuss something that, for whatever reason, shouldn't be discussed in the sleeper's company, and have an opportunity to do so now that the person's out like a light.
  • The Sleeper is doing something very important in their dreams: protecting something, defending the world from something, maybe even dreaming a world into existence.
  • You should wait until they are most needed.
  • Waking up would be traumatic. Often applies to sleepwalkers.
  • The Sleeper is the Big Bad (and/or one of his henchmen) and has captured The Hero or his friend(s). The Hero or his friends are trying to get the keys to unlock their cage(s) and set them free.

If the Sleeper does wake up, a Dream Apocalypse might occur (even in the real world, if the sleeper in question is a Reality Warper). Can often overlap with a Stealth-Based Mission.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Doraemon: Nobita's Secret Gadget Museum this is how the master Gentleman Thief, Kaitou DX, managed to steal Doraemon's precious collar bell - by opening a portal, sticking a hand into the closet where Doraemon is sleeping, and yank the bell off. Despite pulling really hard, Kaitou DX somehow didn't wake Doraemon in the process.
  • In One Piece, the Straw Hat Pirates have to sneak about a sleeping Big Mom to rescue Brook. She violently lashes out and destroys anything in a half-awake daze before going back to sleep at the most minor provocation, so getting around her is life or death.
  • The Kishin who's sealed in a prison below Shibushen in Soul Eater. They fail to prevent Medusa's minions from waking him up.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the first episode of Crazy Candies, Marshyo wants to sneak past a sleeping Jackey without waking him up so that he can stand a chance of winning a race. He keeps producing loud sounds, but thankfully, Jackey barely even notices and goes back to sleep each time Marshyo makes a sound.
  • In Season 3 Episode 19 of Happy Heroes, Big M. and Little M. are tasked with drawing on Smart S.'s face in his sleep as part of a test to ensure they're standard bad guys. Big M. sneaks around the bedroom, making sure not to wake Smart S. up... and he and Little M. actually succeed in not disturbing his beauty sleep, even when the latter of the two accidentally sets off a disco ball with bright lights, accompanied by loud music and the sound of toys running rampant around the room.

    Comic Books 
  • Near the end of Bone, Fone, Thorn, and Bartleby find that the valley they have to pass through is blocked by Roque Ja, sleeping. They've no idea whose side Roque Ja is on, and they know they can't beat him in a fight, so they sneak past without waking him.
  • In one Donald Duck comic, "The Call of C'Russo", Donald and his nephews have to stop the villain from waking up a Chtulhu-like monster, as the world as we know it is controlled by the monster's dreams. Of course, it wakes up, and while it's awake, the Ducks' bodies mutate horribly. Donald manages to make it fall asleep again by singing a lullaby for it.
  • An odd kind of reverse form of this trope was the basis of The Thinker, a backup story that was published in the Scandinavian edition of The Phantom. Basically, the universe as we know it is the product of an entity called The Thinker. Agents of the Milky Way Empire conspire to shoot him (his physical form is mortal) to prove that it's all just superstition, though they limit themselves to a stun ray. Cue the Thinker getting knocked out... and the entire universe becomes an empty void. Eventually, the Thinker wakes up again, but the new universe he imagines to entertain himself is a surreal one.
  • The fantasy adventure heroine Zethari once encountered a temple protecting a man who was eternally asleep, dreaming up the universe. She is hired to protect the temple from a villain who is trying to end the world by waking him up.

    Fan Works 
  • A Backwards Grin: Main character Mawile in Chapter 7, as she's attempting to steal a few things from Paul and escape.
  • In one of Dragon Ball: Insanity School chapters, Goku is sleeping and the rest of the main cast try to take a magazine from his clutch without waking him up. When this happens he's so angry that blast them all away with a kamehameha.
  • In A Gem of a Day, Sunset Shimmer, Sci-Twilight, and Pinkie Pie end up having to sneak up to a chimera in order to recover a mystical gem it is holding. Unfortunately, it ends up being awoken by Pinkie's slide whistle.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic King of Kings, Ruling over Rulers, if Aernus is awakened, the universe (which is the physical manifestation of his dream) ceases to exist. The last time someone tried to "awaken" him in the form of a lucid dream, reality itself (not just the universe) was shattered.
  • In You Call That a Costume?, when Fluttershy is transformed into a giant bat, the Rainbooms find her snoozing from a streetlamp. Unfortunately, while sneaking up on her, a transformed Applejack wakes her up when she screams over breaking a nail.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Mr. Toad and his friends are trying to get the deed to Toad Manor that proves that Toad didn't steal a motorcar from a sleeping Mr. Winky without waking him or the weasels up. Mole nearly succeeds, when one of the weasels who had been following him and his friends makes its way to Toad Manor and wakes them up.
  • In The Aristocats, Edgar succeeds in his catnapping, only to realize that he left his hat, umbrella, motorcycle sidecar, and the cats' basket back in the countryside, and rushes out to retrieve them before the police can. All of those things end up in the possession of Napoleon and Lafayette, a pair of dogs who attacked him the night before. When Edgar finds Napoleon asleep in the motorcycle sidecar and Lafayette asleep in the cats' basket, he has to find a way to get them, as well as his hat and umbrella back, without waking the dogs up.
  • In Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation, Dark Heart captures all of the Care Bears and Care Bear cousins. After Little Star Buddy injures his arm rescuing Grumpy Bear, Tenderheart Bear, and Brave Heart Lion, the three decide to return the favor and get the key from a sleeping Dark Heart to unlock the rest of the cages. The trick is that Dark Heart keeps changing shape as he sleeps.
  • The Emperor's New Groove: When Kuzco gets lost in the jungle, he winds up surrounded by a prowl of sleeping jaguars. He tries to get away from them without waking them up, but a squirrel he teased earlier pops a balloon. It isn't that that wakes them up, though. It's Kuzco saying "Ha!" at the squirrel that does. The jaguars chase Kuzco through the jungle, but Kuzco is soon saved by Pacha.
  • This trope figures into The Fox and the Hound, the scene where Todd is poking around Chief when Chief is asleep in his barrel-house.
  • Fun and Fancy Free: In the "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment, Willie the Giant catches Mickey, Donald, and Goofy trying to squish him with a fly swatter after tricking him into turning himself into a fly. He locks Donald and Goofy in a chest, but Mickey manages to escape before Willie can lock him in as well. As the magical harp Willie stole lulls him to sleep with a lullaby, Mickey has to sneak down to Willie and get the key from his shirt pocket without waking him up. Mickey lands in a box of powder and accidentally wakes Willie up with a sneeze, but fortunately, the powder blows into Willie's face, causing Willie to sneeze and giving Mickey enough time to escape.
  • In Quest for Camelot, Kaylee, Garret, Devon and Cornwall find the Sword of Excalibur in the possession of a sleeping ogre and have to recover it without waking him up. However, Ruber and his henchmen are also after Excalibur. Ruber's Griffin manages to wake up the ogre with an Ill-Timed Sneeze, but the heroes manage to recover Excalibur anyway.
  • In Disney's Robin Hood (1973), Prince John and his henchmen have arrested all the townsfolk of Nottingham for unpaid taxes and are planning to hang Friar Tuck at dawn for treason. Robin Hood and Little John have to pull off a mass jailbreak without waking up the Sheriff at the jail's only entrance or Prince John, who has all the gold in his bedroom.
  • Toy Story:
    • In the original movie, Woody and Buzz try to sneak past Sid's dog Scud. Then Woody's pull string is caught and his voice box wakes Scud up.
    • In Toy Story 2, Woody and Bullseye try to get Woody's missing arm back from Al without waking him up. The trick is that Al has spilled a bowl of cheese puffs all over the floor. Woody nearly gets his arm back when Stinky Pete turns on the TV and wakes Al up.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Babe, Ferdinand enlists Babe's help with going into Farmer Hogget's house to steal an alarm clock so he can go back to crowing and not get eaten. Inside the house, Duchess the Cat is sleeping and it is revealed that Ferdinand needs Babe's help because he is allergic to cats. Babe promises not to wake up Duchess, but after he gets his foot caught in a ball of yarn, Ferdinand decides to help after all. However, on their way out, Ferdinand is about to let out an Ill-Timed Sneeze. It isn't that that wakes up Duchess, though. It's Babe dropping the alarm clock telling him to hold it in and setting it off that does.
  • In Baby's Day Out, Baby Bink wanders from Eddie, Norby, and Veeko and at one point makes his way to the Chicago Zoo, where he winds up in a gorilla's cage and befriends a gorilla who attacks the criminals whenever they get near him. At one point, the gorilla is asleep, so the criminals try to get Bink back from the gorilla without waking him up. They fail miserably, and Eddie gets launched into an orangutan's cage.
  • In Pan's Labyrinth, this is the secret objective of one of the quests given. The protagonist is not told that there is a sleeper, or that horrible things will happen if she wake him up.
  • Towards the end of Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, the Sesame Street gang finds Big Bird imprisoned in a cage by Sam and Sid Sleaze, a pair of wicked carnival owners. Sam and Sid are asleep, so Big Bird's friends have to get the keys from Sam and unlock and open Big Bird's cage without waking them up (and to a lesser extent, Cookie Monster is trying to steal a box of cookies from Sid). Since Big Bird can't keep quiet about what key Maria should use to unlock his cage, Sam and Sid wake up. They drive their truck away just as Maria finds the right key and unlocks Big Bird's cage, leading to a car chase scene.

  • City of Thieves (1983) have a moment where you need to steal a pouch of Black Pearls from a trio of sleeping pirates. You'll need to do a LUCK Test - fail that, and the pirate wakes up and grabs you before shouting there's an intruder - cue inevitable fight.

  • This is a discussed trope in Through the Looking Glass. Alice talks with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum about the Red King sleeping under a tree. The Tweedles suppose that he's dreaming their world.
    • In Raymond Smullyan's Alice in Puzzle-Land, which uses Wonderland as a framework for its logic puzzles, the Red King reveals while talking with Alice that he had a mirrored encounter when accompanied by the Tweedles he found Alice sleeping under a tree. They cautioned him not to wake her up as she was dreaming their world. This leads Alice and the Red King into a discussion of how they can be sure they're both actually awake at this moment.
  • In The Chronicles Of Narnia The Silver Chair we are introduced to the sleeping giant Father Time. In his first appearance he does nothing but sleep, then in The Last Battle, the last book of the series, Aslan wakes him up and Father Time proceeds to squeeze the sun out with his bare hand, helping Aslan to bring about the end of that world.
  • In the Lovecraft homage "A Colder War" by Charles Stross, the Soviet Union ignores the rule when they try to wake and control Cthulhu (codename: Project KOSCHEI) as a counter to the United States of America's technological superiority. Cthulhu eats everyone who remains on Earth.
  • A running theme in the Cthulhu Mythos, with mad cults trying to wake up Great Cthulhu. The most extreme example is Azathoth, whose awakening would destroy the entire Universe, and has to be kept asleep by the eldritch music of innumerable hundred-fingered flutists.
  • The Famous Five: The Five regularly sneak past sleeping scientists and villains, who are often (but not always) napping in the daytime.
    • In Five on a Treasure Island, Julian sneaks into Uncle Quentin's study to retrieve their confiscated box from the wreck, risking an awful spanking. A bit of the box drops to the floor, waking Uncle Quentin; and Julian hides behind his chair until he falls asleep again.
    • In Five run away Together, Julian raids the larder in the company of a sleeping Mr Stick. He keeps the light turned off to reduce the risk of waking him, but he goes the wrong way in the dark, and walks straight into him.
    • In Five go to Smuggler's Top, George hides in Mr Lenoir's study, and tries to find the entrance to a secret passage when he has a nap. Unfortunately, he wakes. In the same book, Sooty creeps into Uncle Quentin's bedroom, to find the other end of the secret passage.
    • In Five go off in a Caravan, Lou and Tiger Dan sleep by the caravans after they have brought some goods from underground. Nobby climbs the cliff, not realising that they are there, and hauls himself right on top of them.
    • In Five get into Trouble, Julian explores the villains' house at night, when everyone is asleep. He tries to open the mechanical gates, but discovers that they make far too much noise.
    • In Five on a Hike Together, the Five retrieve the loot from the lake at the only time the villains Maggie and Dirty Dick will not be watching them: at night. They have to be very quiet, as the couple are sleeping in tents beside the lake.

  • In Lord Dunsany's "The Gods of Pegāna", the gods created the world, but Māna-Yood-Sushāī created the gods, and from this task he now rests, lulled by the endless drumming of Skarl the Drummer (who is technically not a god, despite having been created along with the gods). If Skarl were to cease drumming even for an instant, Māna-Yood-Sushāī would wake up, and his awakening would destroy the world and the gods.
  • The first Guardians of the Flame novel, The Sleeping Dragon by Joel Rosenberg has the titular creature, which guards the way back into the characters' reality.
  • In Jinx High by Mercedes Lackey, there's a Dangerous Sleeper under Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • In Steven Erikson's and Ian Cameron Esslemont's shared Malazan universe, the whole world is a sleeping goddess, Burn, who dreams reality into being and whom it would be a really bad idea to wake.
  • Mark Thirteen in Monster Hunter Legion, an army experiment Gone Horribly Right. They tried killing him, but it didn't take. So scientists put M13 into a coma and buried him in a nuclear/toxic/nerve gas disposal ground.
  • Ur-Example: Kumbakarna, from the ancient Indian epic Ramayana. He was a giant demon prince who was cursed by the god Indra to sleep for six months of each year, and was cursed with death if he was woken during that sleep. His brother, the demon-king Ravana, woke him so he could help turn the tide of a decisive battle. It was working for a while, but then guess what happened.
  • Jody Lynn Nye's "Waking in Dreamland" and its sequels are set in the world of dreams. All dreams contribute to the setting, but Seven Sleepers give it structure and coherence. When one of these Sleepers wakes up, there is a cataclysmic event called a Changeover in which some other dreamer's vision replaces the previous one. The Big Bad of the first novel wants to find out what happens if they all wake up at once.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Seen a few times in Doctor Who, most notably in "Ghost Light" and "The Rings of Akhaten". Per the Doctor's usual M.O., sleepers are invariably woken. In the latter episode, there are actually two sleepers.
  • Five minutes into the pilot episode of Grey's Anatomy, we have this trope stated as a rule, though we only ever see this rule enforced once (in the same episode).
    Bailey: Sleep when you can, where you can, which brings me to rule number three: If I'm sleeping, don't wake me unless your patient is actually dying. Rule number four: The dying patient better not be dead when I get there. Not only will you have killed someone, you woke me for no good reason.
  • The Horrible Histories skit "Don't Wake the Fuhrer" is this trope. It's about how Hitler failed to react in time to the D-Day landings because he was insistent that his sleep not be disturbed. So our messenger becomes insistent, but the two guards refuse him access because Mr. Grumpy Pants will be in such a paddy if he's woken up prematurely. Then the soldier stationed in the room opens the door and tells the guards that Hitler is awake and has issued his order. The messenger reads it, and to his shock it's "marmalade on toast und apple strudel." The guards explain that that is Hitler's breakfast order, which must be carried out immediately!
  • Prehistoric Planet: In the second episode, several Tarbosaurus are napping after feeding on a sauropod carcass, but the smell of meat coating their bodies attracts flies, which in turn attracts insect-eating lizards that clamber over the sleeping tyrannosaurs to catch the flies. The lizards in turn attract a group of Velociraptor, and one of the raptors accidentally bumps into one of the Tarbosaurus attempting to catch a lizard, waking all of them up. It just barely avoids being snapped up.
  • The Prisoner (2009): The Village is not a physical location, but a shared dreamstate beneath the subconscious level which 2's wife discovered during her meditations, and requires an active "Dreamer" to keep the fantasy from collapsing. The events of the series are part of a plot by 2 to allow him and his wife to wake up from the dream, and 6 to take his place as the leader of the village. 6's Love Interest, 313, who in the real world is a severely mentally handicapped woman, becomes the new Dreamer.

  • Tarsk Tavern has the song "Sleeper", based on the EverQuest raid dungeon Sleeper's Tomb, urging the listener to abstain from waking him up.

  • Later addendums to the Arthurian myth have Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, hidden in a cave and magically kept asleep, only to be awoken when they are truly needed. Waking him up early would be a very bad plan indeed (although in that case, one wonders why Merlin apparently included a giant gong in the cave). Their success would be a very bad thing.
  • In the The Cattle Raid of Cooley, Fergus notes that nobody dares to wake Cu Chulainn when he's asleep — the last man who tried found his forehead smashed all the way into the back of his skull.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Dinosaurs: In "Slave to Fashion", Charlene buys a coat which is a real mink-like creature with the college money that Ethyl gave her. The coat convinces Charlene to accessorize so he can stay in style by stealing Earl's credit card and buying new accessories with it. Charlene finds Earl asleep in front of the television and steals his credit card from him without waking him up, but Baby witnesses this and Charlene has to pay him a dollar (which he eats) for his silence.
  • A Muppet interpretation of the Frog Prince fairy tale had said prince (portrayed by Robin) being held captive by the witch who turned him into a frog. The escape involves putting the witch's henchman (portrayed by Sweetums) to sleep with a lullaby first. Then Robin makes a mistake and wakes Sweetums up, so he has to sing the lullaby again. This process repeats about half a dozen times before Robin actually makes it out of the dungeon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The 1992 board game Don't Wake Daddy, about kids sneaking through the house for a Midnight Snack and trying not to step on a noise that will force you to press Daddy's alarm clock and risk waking him up, because if Daddy wakes up, you get sent right back to start (representing being sent back to bed).
  • In the board game Dungeon Quest (original title: "Drakborgen"), the goal is to reach the Dragon's hoard and steal as much as possible from it. But if you steal so much that you wake up the dragon, you die.
  • In Pathfinder demiliches are what liches eventually transform into if the endless passage of years gets to them and they cease to bother interacting with the world around them, their bodies save for the skull crumbling into dust. These skulls slumber eternally unless someone disturbs the remains or tries to steal from it, at which point it lets out a magical scream that can kill all but the most powerful creatures. This is a sign for any survivors to collect their friends' bodies and leave quietly, because if they don't take the hint it will properly wake up and start screaming and ripping out souls until there's no one left in sight.

  • BIONICLE: Makuta Teridax used a virus to weaken Mata Nui to the point of causing the latter to sleep and cause the Great Cataclysm. A very long time later, Mata Nui is awakened, only to also cause him to slowly dying. Again he is put back to sleep and revitalized until the state of matters improves for him to be reawakened.

    Video Games 
  • The Adventures of Alice who Went Through the Looking-Glass and Came Back Though Not Much Changed, an Interactive Fiction game based on Lewis Carroll's Alice books, includes a version of the scene with the sleeping king who may be dreaming the world. If the player wakes him up, everything disappears and there is a Non Standard Game Over.
  • There's an Arthur flash game on the PBS Kids website called "Don't Wake Kate". The objective of the game is to get D.W. nine glasses of water without stepping on the toys scattered around her bedroom. If D.W. steps on a toy, she increases the chance of waking up Kate. If she steps on too many toys, Kate wakes up and the game is over.
  • In the Expanded Edition for Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, a spacey female thief named Hexxat recruits the player in the Copper Coronet to assist her in entering Dragomir's Tomb in the Athkatla Graveyard to retrieve a great treasure... however, once they are locked in the tomb, she starts ranting in a zombie-like fashion about the need to "Awaken the Sleeper". Said "Sleeper" is the real Hexxat; a Lesbian Vampire who enslaved the unfortunate thief's mind and used her as a puppet to bring down somebody who could slay the vampire who had imprisoned her in that same tomb and free her. Once freed, she drinks her former puppet dry and then, unless the player chooses to kill her right there and then — something they are discouraged from doing, since it gains them no rewards of any kind — she makes her way to the Copper Coronet and from there tries to coax her way into the party.
  • Banjo-Kazooie:
    • In the original game, Banjo and Kazooie have to get a Jiggy from Napper, a sleeping ghost in Mad Monster Mansion, without waking him up. Since the floors creak when Banjo and Kazooie walk across them, they have to sneak in through the chimney and hop across the chairs to reach the table Napper is sleeping on.
    • Banjo-Tooie has two instances in the first world: a sleeping snake and a sleeping caveman, both of whom need to be approached quietly.
    • The sleeping snake is referenced in Banjo and Kazooie's reveal trailer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where they tiptoe to take a cake from in front of a sleeping Ivysaur.
  • EverQuest had The Sleeper — or rather, his guardians — as one of the major bosses of the Scars Of Velious expansion. Waking him up results in destroying his dungeon permanently, robbing the community of an important source of loot. The Sleeper himself comes back in a later expansion.
  • In Final Fantasy X, the summonable "aeons" are each the dream of a "fayth", who sleeps in that aeon's temple. There are also a whole bunch of fayth together on a holy mountain, dreaming something, but nobody knows what. It's Dream Zanarkand — Tidus's home town.
  • The Gauntlet-clone Demon Stalkers has an entire enemy type devoted to this: man-eating plants that don't move until you shoot one of them, at which point they all come alive at once. Some of the (non-random) levels play with this, either by making it difficult to avoid accidentally waking them, or by making it clear early on you can't avoid doing so and making the level about how much you can set up the pending fight to be favorable first.
  • Gothic has the "Sleeper" as a deity worshipped by the cult that inhabits an entire camp in the prison colony. The members of the cult believe that if the Sleeper is woken up, he will free them from the colony. Then they all find out that the Sleeper is actually a powerful destructive demon, and waking him up is a very bad idea. Unfortunately, a particularly high-ranking guru of the cult refuses to accept this, and takes a band of loyal followers to wake him up anyway...
  • In the Crystal Peak in Hollow Knight, there's a large, crystal-covered bug sleeping on a bench midway through the area. It's so large that it takes up the entire bench, so if you want to use it, you have to wake it up. Doing so causes it to attack, starting the Crystal Guardian boss fight.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening inverts it: your mission is to wake the Wind Fish so you can leave Koholint Island, while the monsters infesting the island try to stop you from doing so. As it turns out, Koholint Island is just Link and the Wind Fish's shared dream, so waking the Wind Fish destroys the island and everyone you met over the course of your adventure.
  • The Milkman Conspiracy segment of Psychonauts revolves largely about the Driving Question of "Who is the Milkman?" and various forces preventing Raz from waking him up.
  • A level in Super Scribblenauts had an objective to sneak past a sleeping dragon to get a key. Naturally, the path is filled with chandeliers and piles of junk that will shift and wake the dragon if you so much as touch them.
  • In Sonic Heroes, Team Chaotix's storyline has several missions where Vector, Espio, and Charmy have to get to the Goal Ring without being detected by Dr. Eggman's robots, some of whom are asleep. As a chameleon, Espio can use his Invisibility to easily sneak past the robots.
    Espio: Hey, they're asleep. So stay quiet and move slowly...
    Charmy: (Loudly) OK!!!
    Vector: (Even louder) Whaddya doing?! Be quiet!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom features the aptly named Sleepy-Time robots first introduced in the Rock Bottom stage. If Spongebob is within the area of the searchlights they shine, he has to sneak quietly to avoid waking them and receiving an unavoidable laser attack. It should be noted you have a ranged attack in the form of the bubble bowl at this point, but Sleepy-Time Robots will deflect that if you don't launch it close to them. The only way to get rid of them at a range is with Patrick or Sandy's special abilities or the Cruise Bubble you get later in the game.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In Super Mario 64, you must walk slowly around sleeping Piranha Plant enemies; otherwise, they will wake and attack you. While they are attacking you they are invincible, but you can kill them while they're sleeping.
    • In Super Mario Party, one of the mini-games is "Don't Wake Wiggler!", where each character takes turns petting a sleeping Wiggler without trying to wake him up. As they keep petting him, his Zs become darker and he begins to wake up. The more times Wiggler is pet, the more points the player gets, but the player who wakes Wiggler up loses all their points. The player who ends up with the most points by the time Wiggler wakes up wins, while an angry Wiggler chases the losers away.
  • World of Warcraft has the instance Sunken Temple, where the final boss is asleep and his underlings are fighting to keep you from waking him up. He was originally a guardian, his dreams protecting the world from an evil God — who managed to corrupt him and twist his dreams into nightmares.

    Visual Novels 
  • Invoked in Melody by the protagonist and Isabella if they decide to sleep together in Tim’s house. Since Tim had quite a bit to drink at dinner, they think they’re in the clear, even though they make a lot of noise.
    • However, this becomes a subversion in the High School Sweetheart Ending, in which the two of them actually end up together. When the two of them tell Tim about their relationship, Tim reveals that he did hear them after all, and he was pissed off about it, but in the end, he would give them his blessing, because in the end, he wants his sister to be happy.


    Web Original 
  • The UA Newsletter has a series of articles by Alex D. Karaczun, supposedly about creating a setting and a plot, but the articles seem to mostly be an excuse to showcase Alex's invented setting about the sleeping god "Primion", whose dream is the entire setting of Rothon, and nobody knows if waking him up would cause a Dream Apocalypse or make Rothon a real place. (The articles: Part I, Part II, Part III.)

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Prismo is the physical manifestation of an old man's dream. Do not wake that old man up, or you go straight to superjail for murder.
  • The Angry Beavers: The episode "Silent But Deadly" involves the eponymous characters waking up to find that several hundred wolverines have decided that the beaver's dam would be a good place to take a nap. The episode follows Norbert and Daggett's attempts to escape their dam without waking up any of the ferocious creatures up. In the end, the wolverines wind up waking up anyway after a fly lands on one. Norb and Dag run for their lives...only to find even more sleeping (but not for long) wolverines waiting for them outside. They scream in terror.
  • The plot of the Animaniacs episode, "Spell-Bound" is that Pinky and the Brain are the pet mice of Camelot's Merlin, and need a red dragon toenail clipping as one of the ingredients for a spell that will allow Brain to Take Over the World. When the two lab mice come to the Red Dragon's cave, they find the Red Dragon sleeping. While Brain clips the Red Dragon's toenail, Pinky sings the Red Dragon a lullaby to keep him asleep, but when he forgets the rhyme ("Go, my dragon, to sleepyland, it's dreamy-time, here comes the sand..."), Brain yells "Sandman!" to him, waking the Red Dragon up.
  • The Chilly Willy short "The Legend of Rock-A-Bye Point" is half this and half Music Soothes the Savage Beast.
  • The Codename: Kids Next Door episode, "Operation: Q.U.I.E.T." has Numbuhs Two through Five protecting the tree house from enemy intruders (in the form of some of the show's villains), keeping them quiet so that Numbuh One can be well-rested for his Defense Grid Award acceptance speech the following morning. In the end, it's Numbuh Five who ends up waking Numbuh One.
  • In one episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy, based on Rolf's terrified reaction when Eddy beats on his door, waking up his grandmother in the middle of the night isn't a good idea.
  • In the ''Here Comes the Grump" episode "The Grump Meets the Grouch Grooch", everyone in the village has to be quiet so as not to wake the Grouch Grooch, as the villagers fear dire consequences should his sleep be interrupted.
  • The premise of "Le Quiet Squad": The Inspector is tasked with making sure there is no noise within the limits of the Commissioner's digs. Naturally, fate and an obnoxious cat have other ideas.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "Escape from Phineas Tower", Candace spends a majority of the episode asleep in a hammock in the backyard. As part of a Funny Background Event, while waiting for Phineas and Ferb to escape from their Big Idea of the Day, Isabella, Baljeet, and Buford just casually set up pranks around her while conversing with each other about how long they are taking.
  • Popeye:
    • One of the earliest shorts, Sock-a-Bye Baby, has the sailor as an unnamed baby's caretaker, but everywhere he goes, he is bombarded by loud noises, which, of course, he often punches away. In the end, all it takes is the drop of a pin to wake the baby up.
    • Quiet, Pleeze! has Popeye taking care of Poopdeck Pappy, who is suffering from a hangov--I mean, a headache. Some of the gags from Sock-a-Bye Baby are actually reused with their original animation, and it is quite jarring to see how the animation evolved over time.
  • An episode of The Powerpuff Girls (1998) starts with the girls putting an exhausted Professor Utonium to bed after he falls asleep in his lab. That same night, an unusually stupid robber breaks into the girls house, and the rest of the episode revolves around them trying to keep him from waking up the professor. Ironically, it's the professor himself who ends up taking out the robber when he punches him in his sleep, and the girls throw the unconscious thief out of the house. The episode ends with the robber scoping out Mojo Jojo's hideout.
  • In the Tex Avery-directed short "Rock-A-Bye Bear", a dog is rescued from the pound by a loud-mouthed bear who wants someone to make sure things stay quiet while he's hibernating. A rival dog tries to make noise to get the first dog in trouble so he can get the job.
  • Rocko's Modern Life has "Day of the Flecko": After a long night of being overworked, Rocko trudges home to get some sleep. Unfortunately, his slumber is interrupted by Heffer (whom he forgot he had camping plans with), loud car alarms, Brooklyn-accented birds, the sun, and worst of all, Flecko the fly.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has this in a couple episodes:
    • "Survival of the Idiots", when SpongeBob and Patrick visit Sandy's treedome, she's left them a video message warning them to not disturb her while she's hibernating, which they stupidly ignore. While she never fully wakes up, their antics cause her to start Sleep Walking in a feral state where she mercilessly beats them up when she mistakes them for "Dirty Dan" and "Pinhead Larry".
    • In "The Secret Box", SpongeBob wants to find out what's in Patrick's secret box that Patrick doesn't want him to see, so he decides to sneak into Patrick's house in the middle of the night and snatch the box from Patrick without waking him up. Despite the extremely loud sound effects all of his stealth attempts make, SpongeBob doesn't wake Patrick up... at least until he comments to himself relatively quietly that Patrick is a very heavy sleeper.
    • In "A Friendly Game", SpongeBob and Patrick try to play a game of indoor mini-golf while keeping quiet for Squidward. When their balls end up in his house, they have to obey the rule to "play the ball where it lies" while trying not to wake him.
  • There's a Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird cartoon in which Sylvester has to get past dozens of Angry Guard Dogs to get to Tweety. At the end he tries to sneak in at night when they're all asleep, but then Tweety turns on the alarm clock.
    • Same gag is used in the Looney Tunes short "Roman Legion-Hare", this time with Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam and a cage full of lions.
    • Another Looney Tunes short, "A Pest in the House", involves a tired hotel guest asking manager Elmer Fudd for peace and quiet as he sleeps in his room, and threatening to punch Elmer in the nose otherwise. His slumber is constantly disturbed by the blundering of bellboy Daffy Duck, with the expected results.
  • Max and Ruby:
    • The episode "Quiet Max" focuses on Max and Ruby watching the Huffingtons' house while Baby Huffington is napping. Ruby must help Max be as quiet as he can so he doesn't wake the baby, but Max keeps wanting to listen to the radio. In the end Ruby shows Max how to quietly play with her lifelike doll Little Miss Miracle, but she accidentally presses the wrong button which causes it to walk and talk very loudly and that wakes up Baby Huffington, so she rushes upstairs to calm him down while Max tells the toy to be quiet.
    • In "Max's Cuckoo Clock", Ruby has a job with giving Baby Huffington his naptime while Mrs. Huffington is out back at her garden tea party; Max wants to play with the Huffingtons' cuckoo clock but Ruby worries it could wake the baby. However, it's not until Max activates the clock does the baby finally fall asleep.
  • A villain in Teen Titans, Plasmus, is a not-actually-evil guy who has to be kept constantly asleep or he will transform into a mindless, nigh-unstoppable purple goo monster.
  • In the second act of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow", when Buster is about to leave Elmyra's house, he hears the cries of help from Elmyra's captive pets. Feeling sorry for them, he decides to help them escape. To do that, he has to get the keys to their cages above Elmyra's bed without waking Elmyra up.
  • The main plot for the Tom and Jerry short "Quiet Please!", in which Spike tires of Tom's racket in trying to catch Jerry, threatening violence if Tom wakes him up one more time. Tom immediately has to sabotage Jerry's vigorous attempts to wake Spike. A later short, "Royal Cat-Nap", replays this scenario with the Mouseketeers, Tom having to prevent them from waking the king he is guarding. They relent and help Tom get the king back to sleep when they realize the penalty is a beheading, however.
  • House of Mouse: In the short "Hydrosquirter", Ludwig Von Drake tries to fix his shower and accidentally turns it into a teleporting machine; one of the places he ends up is a jungle with sleeping lions. The professor tries to sneak away quietly into the tub, but he ends up activating the alarm he put in.
    "Step away from the tub, you kooky criminal you! This is not a warning! Well, actually it is a warning, but you get the idea."
  • The Simpsons: In a flashback from "The Sound of Bleeding Gums", Bleeding Gums Murphy enters his house with his cymbal player, warning him not to wake up his baby son Monk. However, the cymbal player comically fumbles and repeatedly crashes his cymbals, but the baby doesn't wake up. A confused Murphy then crashes the cymbals at close range, again to no reaction, which makes him realize that his son is deaf.

    Real Life 
  • During WW2, it's been said that some crucial delays in Nazi responses were due to Hitler sleeping when the news arrived at his headquarters. An armored division that could have hampered the Normandy landings instead stayed still as they required orders from Hitler himself to move out, and no one wanted to wake the Fuhrer up to give him the news.
  • The idiom "let sleeping dogs lie" draws on this trope. Basically, if you see a sleeping dog and don't know if it's friendly, you should leave it alone, as if you wake it up it might be annoyed enough to bite you.


Video Example(s):


Mrs. Pigeon

To avoid being jumpscared by her, Nekomew must step in time to the rhythm of her rocking chair.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / DontWakeTheSleeper

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