Follow TV Tropes


Dream Episode

Go To
He shouldn't have watched a scary movie before bedtime.

Yes, sir, that's my baby
No, sir, I don't mean maybe
Yes, sir, that's my baby now!
Osgood Conklin Junior, singing while playing the ukulele, "The Dream", Our Miss Brooks

Dreams are weird. If a person can imagine it, they can dream it, no matter how surreal, out-of-character, or frightening it may be. With the endless possibilities that exist, occasionally a creator would want to take full advantage of it, and have an entire episode dedicated to exploring the dreams of one or more characters.

While All Just a Dream sets this as a surprise, these episodes play no tricks- the audience knows they're in for a story about a dream, and so the story can be as surreal and strange as can be without breaking the suspension of disbelief or tipping off the audience to any twists. A character may in fact be aware that they're dreaming, while still victim to the oddities of dreamworld. The dream could also be a nightmare, most likely leading to An Aesop about facing one's fears, or even a particularly odd day-dream or hallucination. Sometimes, these dreams may manifest as a Shared Dream between all the characters.

To qualify, this part of a work must be devoted to or heavily reliant on the dream aspect; otherwise, it's just a Dream Sequence.

Similar to All Just a Dream and the typical Dream Sequence, this could possibly end in the character asking, Or Was It a Dream? This is not to be confused with an episode the fanbase had been dreaming of for a while, a la And the Fandom Rejoiced. Finally, see also Fever Dream Episode, which is this trope meets Sick Episode, and Adventures In Coma Land. Due to the bizarre nature of dreams it shouldn't be much of a surprise that this often overlaps with Bizarro Episode.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Azumanga Daioh has a chapter/episode focusing on Hatsuyume, which is a vignette of all the dreams the characters have on New Year's. These include Osaka dreaming about Chiyo flying using her pigtails, and Sakaki dreaming about meeting Chiyo's father, who is a cat, among others.
  • Doraemon: Have some of them.
    • "Livin' the Dream" is about Doraemon using a dream director's chair to direct one of Sneech's dreams to Noby's liking. It doesn't goes well for them at the end.
  • Chapter 11 of FullMaPla has Kyou having a dream where everyone is their opposite (Makoto is talkative, Shiori is flat, and Sumi is serious).
  • Hamtaro has a lot of dream episodes where all the main characters (usually only the hamsters, sometimes Laura too) have a single dream. Many of them are set in feudal Japan, with Hamtaro as a Shinsengumi member.
  • Zatch Bell!: A manga only chapter set before the final battle with Clear Note served as a Breather Episode of sorts in which Kiyo and Zatch have a very bizarre dream with a few returning characters.

    Comic Books 
  • Mister Miracle (2017): Depending on how you interpret it's deliberately vague and surreal plot, the series could be this for Scott Free following his wife Big Barda's forced leave of absence in Darkseid War. What makes sense is that it all pertains to the various things Scott seems to have suffered from or is guilty of, up to and including the deaths of significant figures in his life, Granny Goodness, Orion and culminating in losing his newborn son to his evil stepfather Darkseid, and ends with him killing the evil god. It's believed it could be a deliberately induced Journey to the Center of the Mind to confront his repressed trauma and overcome it.
  • Spider-Man: Web of Spider-Man #7 is an issue-long dream where Peter Parker relives past traumas while being chased by an enraged Hulk. Turns out it isn't a natural dream; the dream-Hulk is actually after Doctor Strange's foe Nightmare, who has drawn Spider-Man into his realm in a last-ditch effort to protect himself from being smashed.
  • Wonder Woman: Black and Gold: "Homecoming" is almost entirely Diana having an eerie dream of returning to a seemingly-empty Themyscira.

    Fan Works 

  • One of The Berenstain Bears stories that's both a book and a cartoon episode called "The Bad Dream" is about a TV show giving the cubs nightmares.
  • In The BFG, the titular giant's job is to give people dreams and he and Sophie save the day by giving the Queen a nightmare about the other giants eating humans.
  • In the Frog and Toad story "The Dream", Toad has a nightmare where he's a circus performer but Frog, who is in the audience, shrinks and then disappears.
  • Mog:
    • In "Mog's Amazing Birthday Caper", Mog takes a nap on Debbie's birthday and has a surreal dream involving a Native American guy, Debbie's friend Emily being eaten, and a bunch of other things besides.
    • In "Mog in the Dark", Mog has trippy nightmares about mouse/dog/bird hybrids.
  • In the kids' book Mommy Daddy I Had A Bad Dream, a little kangaroo named Joey learns to interpret his nightmares.
  • Uncle Lubin has a chapter called "The Dream" which is about a dream Lubin has. It ends quite sadly with him waking up and crying because he thought it was real.
  • The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan is this from the first sentence Which reads... to the last sentencewhich is The book was written in 1675; back then dream frames were a common way of saying, "I made this all up."

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun: The two-part season two finale is based around the aliens having dreams for the first time, which vary from artistic (Sally's) to musical (Harry's).
  • Awkward. has an episode focusing on Jenna having a restless Sex and the City-themed dream where her ex-boyfriends confront her about their relationship failures, culminating in realizing she still loves Matty.
  • Birds of a Feather: In "Christmas In Dreamland", Sharon falls asleep in front of the TV and dreams about an alternative life involving her being a rich woman whilst her sister is a layabout, and Dorien is a spinster cleaning lady.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • The first season had "Nightmares" where the nightmares and fears of the citizens start keeping true, including the Scoobies (Buffy getting rejected by her father, seeing The Master escape, being buried alive and turning into a vampire herself, Xander's fear of a clown from his childhood, Willow stage fright, etc). Eventually it's revealed to be the power of a comatose boy who was beaten into a coma by his baseball coach for losing a game. Once the boy confronts his fear, does he manage to wake up and things return to normal.
    • The fourth Season Finale "Restless" has Buffy and friends having prophetic dreams as a side effect of the spell they'd cast in the previous episode to fight the season's villain.
  • The Cosby Show: The season six episode "Cliff's Nightmare" is about, well, a nightmare Cliff has after eating a late-night snack. Complete with Muppet cameos!
  • Doctor Who: In "Amy's Choice", the Doctor and his companions find themselves switching between two different settings. A being calling himself the Dream Lord tells them that one is a dream and they need to decide which one is reality. In fact, both settings are dreams — hallucinations caused by psychic pollen trapped in the time rotor of the TARDIS.
  • Hannah Montana: In "I Am Hannah, Hear Me Croak", a good portion of the episode is devoted to Miley having an obvious nightmare about an upcoming throat surgery, in which she fears that if she can't sing again, she'll be demoted to Cinderella-like status, and Jackson will get the love as "Bucky Kentucky".
  • iCarly: In "iDream of Dancing", the trio fall asleep while reviewing videos of their viewers dancing, and thus each has a wild dream that heavily involves dancing. Each dream seems to blend together as well, with the three of them seen together at the start commenting that none of them remember waking up that morning.
  • M*A*S*H had a surreal episode entitled "Dreams" in which each member of the main cast, exhausted by marathon sessions in surgery and post-op, fall asleep and suffer through traumatic dreams related to the war.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: In "Guide To Daydreams", Sweeny traps everyone in his classroom until they can solve a riddle for him. Ned spends the time having a daydream about him and Moze being spies, fighting ninjas, and being aided by Cosmo and Wanda. At the end, his daydreaming actually allows him to solve the riddle, freeing his class.
  • Our Miss Brooks: The third-season episode "The Dream". After reading a book called "Maternity Ward", Miss Brooks dreams that she marries Mr. Boynton and has a baby girl named Cleo. Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Conklin has a second child, a boy named Osgood Conklin Junior. Harriet Conklin marries Walter Denton and they have at least five children in three year. By the end of the dream, Osgood Conklin Junior and Cleo are secretly married and secretly have a baby of their own.
    Osgood Conklin Junior: Yes, sir, that's my baby
    No, sir, I don't mean maybe
    Yes, sir, that's my baby now!
  • Room 104: The episode "A Nightmare." A woman experiences a series of nested nightmares about being murdered.
  • In the Small Wonder episode "My Robot Family", Jamie dreams that his parents have become robots like Vicki, and that he is the head of the household.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "Night Terrors", Deanna Troi has dreams which turn out to be caused by an alien sending her telepathic messages. She needs to lucid dream in order to communicate with the alien and save her crew mates, who have lost their ability to dream.
    • In "Birthright", Data (an android) starts having dreams because he's uncovered a program in his brain.
    • In "Phantasms", Data starts experimenting with his dream program and begins having nightmares that turn out to be because alien parasites are attacking the ship.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Waking Moments", a race of sleeping aliens put the crew to sleep and lock them in the same dream.
  • The Ultra Series have a couple of these, and unsurprisingly they are usually considered the weirdest, and trippiest Bizarro Episodes of the franchise.
    • The Ultraman Tiga episode, "Dreams", have the monster Bakugon being created from cosmic radiation infiltrating the home of an extremely stressed-out and recently heartbroken man named Ikuta. Whenever Ikuta had nightmares, Bakugon will manifest itself in the real world, and in the penultimate battle Daigo / Ultraman Tiga can only confront Bakugon ... by having Daigo going to sleep and transforming himself while in the dream world. The entire episode is as high and as trippy as it sounds, with weird imagery and the camera going crazy at times.
    • Ultraman Dyna follows this with "Ephemeral Dream", in which Shin Asuka gets to pilot a Humongous Mecha into space to battle an invasion force, before the final two minutes concludes with a daydreaming Asuka being waken up by his colleague, Ryo, who then scolds him for dozing off at his job.
    • Ultraman Cosmos have a slightly more normal version, "The Sleeping Girl", with the monster being Inculas, a sheep-like monster that puts people into an eternal sleep full of vivid dreams. It places people across Japan to sleep, including Ayano, which forces Musashi to enter the dream world and transform into Ultraman Cosmos to battle it.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: "Blood Diamonds" in the final season was this. The entire episode detailed Alex having a nightmare about Walker and Trivette being killed by Victor Drake and her, Sydney and Gage almost testing positive for Ebola virus after a diamond smuggler Trivette posed as to lure Drake into a trap gave it to a prostitute they interrogated after he was murdered by her pimp. Alex finally wakes up from her nightmare after Walker is killed by Drake, but he was revealed to be on the case from her dream that morning.
  • The Wild Wild West episode "The Night of the Man-Eating House". Almost the entire episode (the investigation of a Haunted House) is a dream that Artemus Gordon has. The fact that he's dreaming is made clear with a wavy dissolve, one of the Flashback Effects. At the end of the episode Artemus wakes up, and the events that occurred in his dream start to come true in real life.

  • Judy Pancoast: Her song "Swimming in Jello" describes a dream in which the singer is trying to swim through a lake of jello to get to a hot fudge sundae.
  • The narrator of "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel declares at the beginning that he is describing a dream he had.

    Puppet Shows 

    Video Games 
  • Bugs Bunny in Double Trouble takes place entirely within the titular rabbit's dream, coming across a mysterious television-esque device that transports him to his old cartoons after a run-in with Yosemite Sam (as a mad scientist) and Gossamer. Upon waking up, he discovers the giant carrot sitting on his bed as in the opening cutscene.
  • The fourth episode of Farnham Fables starts with Theresa getting ready for bed. Once she's asleep, the rest of the game takes place inside of her dream's world (which is mostly inspired by old-school adventure games).
  • Mario Party 5 is set in the Dream Depot, guarded by the Seven Star Spirits. Bowser and Koopa Kid plan to invade the depot in the game's Story Mode, and Misstar summons the player character to help stop Bowser and his evil plans.
  • Each chapter of Melatonin represents the dreams of the main character on a specific night, with the state of their living room indicating what kind of dreams they'll be having.
  • The 2022 game Nekomew's Nightmares delves into the mind of the titular 4-year-old kitten, who is suffering from horrifying nightmares relating to his traumatizing past and learning to face his fears with the help of a luminous doll which serves as his guide.
  • Nighty Nightmare, a PC game based on the SpongeBob SquarePants television series, explores the dreams and nightmares of SpongeBob, Patrick and Plankton. Unlike its console counterpart, Creature from the Krusty Krab, they are set in the dreams of the three main characters rather than all being set in Gary's dream.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic Shuffle is set in a dream realm called Maginaryworld, as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy are summoned here by Lumina Flowlight to help restore the Precioustone and bring the Goddess of Dreams, Illumina, back to life.
    • The entirety of Sonic Dream Team takes place within Eggman's dreams, courtesy of the Reverie, an artifact that can bring dreams to reality. With the help of the dream guardian Ariem, Sonic and friends race to stop the mad doctor's plan in bringing his dream to life and rescue Cream & Cheese.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 takes place in Subcon, a dream world where Mario and his friends are summoned into to defeat Wart. However, it turns out that the entirety of the game was all Mario's dream.
  • Twisted Wonderland: Early on in arc 7, Malleus activates his unique magic to put the entire school to sleep and control their dreams. Most of the arc from that point onward takes place in various characters' dreamscapes.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: In "I Dream Of Jimmy", Jimmy decides to go into Carl's dream in order to help him prevent his nightmares. The rest of the episode is devoted to Carl's dreamworld antics, such as a giant evil lima bean that chases him around, and Carl being the smart student while Jimmy is the class dunce.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball episode, "The Night", which has The Moon curious of the dreams of the citizens of Elmore and takes us through a few of them. Some ranging from silly to outright disturbing.
  • Arthur:
    • The episode "Arthur's Underwear" (which is also a book story) focuses on Arthur having frequent "Not Wearing Pants" Dreams.
    • The episode "Just Desserts" involves Arthur having an Acid Reflux Nightmare in which he takes part in several fairy tales.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "Nightmares and Daydreams", Aang finds himself too stressed to sleep, and gets sleep deprived. Then, he starts hallucinating surreal stuff like dancing rocks, or Team Pets Appa and Momo talking and walking like humans.
  • Big City Greens: In the episode “Dream Weavers”, Cricket ends up waking up in the middle of the night, and he discovers that he can manipulate his family’s dreams. Tilly dreams about hosting her own comedy show, Bill dreams about being a truck, and Alice dreams about being a lone warrior. Unfortunately, Cricket’s tampering goes awry, and their dreams end up getting messed up.
  • The Bluey episode "Sleepytime" mostly takes place in Bingo's dream, where she floats around in space with a sentient version of her plush rabbit Floppy, but cuts back and forth between the dream and the real world, with various things happening in the real world influencing Bingo's dream.
  • Bojack Horseman: The show's penultimate episode, "The View from Halfway Down", is set inside BoJack's recurring nightmare about attending a dinner party at his mother's house, populated with dead family members and friends. Except this time he can’t wake up, because he’s drowning in his pool as an attempt to kill himself, making the entire episode a Dying Dream.
  • CatDog: In "It's a Wonderful Half Life", Cat and Dog both have dreams where they're separate animals in a world styled after The Golden Age of Animation, and where Dog is a happy hobo and Cat is a rich business tycoon. Their dreams blend together, becoming a story about Dog having to rescue Cat from the Greasers.
  • Most of the DuckTales (2017) episode "A Nightmare on Killmotor Hill!" takes place in a Shared Dream caused by Lena's magic while the kids are having a sleepover.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: "Enter Sandman" in which a Sandman named Stephen hypnotizes the people of Orchid Bay within their dreams to build him a tower to enter the mortal world, causing the people to be exhausted during the waking hours. June, being the magical protector, is immune from his control and has to fight him within the dream realm.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: "Remmy" mostly takes place in Lilo's dream when the titular experiment of the episode invades it as she's sleeping and Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley have to go in and fish it out before it gives her permanent nightmares.
  • The Martha Speaks episode "Fit Fights Fat" has Martha fall asleep and dream that she and her friends are the superheroes known as Book Bots that she and the others made up a few episodes ago, and that Ronald Boxwood is an evil scientist who makes exercise books decrease fitness and yoga books tie people in knots.
  • Mickey Mouse Funhouse: The plot of "Dream a Little Dream" is about Goofy being unable to sleep due to having a fear of dreaming, so the rest of his friends help him out by having a sleepover as Funny transports them to the "Land of Dreams", where Mickey and the gang help Goofy understand that dreaming can be strange, yet fun to experience.
  • Muppet Babies (1984): In "Elm Street Babies", the babies have strange dreams, so they wake up in the middle of the night and tell each other what happened in them. Kermit's dream involves the babies in the Wild West and him getting into a showdown with Gonzo, Rowlf's dream involves him turning into a "wereboy" at a dog prom, Gonzo's dream is a spoof of Leave It to Beaver, and Fozzie's dream is a spoof of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?", a creature from Princess Luna's nightmares starts magically giving other ponies nightmares and threatening to turn into a real creature, so they must do a mass-lucid dreaming scenario to defeat it.
  • Nate Is Late: "The Dream" episode involved Nate having anxiety over a multiplication test and having nightmares from a being called Mr. Multiplication. Malika, with the help of a local scientist, enters his dream to help combat him (to which it eventually revealed Mr. Multiplication was actually Good All Along and trying to help Nate with his Math problems) and everything seems to work out as Nate wakes up and Malika and he got to school...and Malika's head suddenly turns into a fish at the end. And THEN Nate wakes up for real at the end of the episode.
  • PAW Patrol: The Season 9 episode "Pups Save a Lonely Ghost" takes place in Rubble's dream, where he meets a ghost who wants to make friends but is too scary to have anybody's attention.
  • Rugrats (1991):
    • In "In the Dreamtime", Chuckie has two vivid nightmares, then begins to think he's dreaming when he really isn't.
    • In "Spike's Nightscare", the babies try to cheer up Spike the dog when he appears to be having a nightmare.
    • "Sweet Dreams" begins with the babies dreaming. Tommy's dream involves him exploring an ancient temple as "Okey-dokey Jones", Kimi dreams that she's an acrobat at the circus, and Phil and Lil share a dream, wherein Phil rides a frog while Lil rides a flying mud pie. Unfortunately, Chuckie doesn't have an exciting dream like the other babies. When Chuckie tells the other babies that his exciting dreams involve him being a superhero who isn't afraid of anything (which is a huge contrast from his cowardly personality), they try to help him find his missing dream.
  • The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror II" has a frame story in which each segment is a nightmare being had by one of the family after overindulging in Halloween candy.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Sleepy Time", SpongeBob starts out by having a strange, driving-related dream, when a dream version of Mrs. Puff rips away his "dream license". Now out of his own dream, he starts to explore the dreams of his friends and messes each and every one of them up- for example, in Plankton's dream of being a giant monster destroying the town, SpongeBob ends up defeating and shrinking him.
    • Later episode "Dream Hoppers" features a similar plot wherein SpongeBob falls out of his own dream and enters ones that others are having. The episode starts out with SpongeBob having a dream where he's making and delivering Krabby Patties in an airplane, only to lose control of the plane while chasing a sentient Krabby Patty and flies right out of his dream. The rest of the episode follows SpongeBob, and later Patrick as well, as they chase the Krabby Patty across several dreams.
  • Steven Universe has two examples:
    • "Chille Tid" is about Steven and the Gems trying to rest up after searching for Lapis Lazuli all night, but Steven keeps dreaming about Lapis and eventually figures out he's entering her mind.
    • "Kiki's Pizza Delivery Service": Kiki has a reoccurring nightmare about drowning in pizza goo which Steven uses his powers to help save her from every night. She only gets better after she confronts her sister in real life.
  • Steven Universe: Future: In episode “In Dreams” Steven and Peridot try to fix the reboot of their favorite TV series, by using Steven’s ability to project his dreams into the TV. But because of the nature of dreams itself and Steven’s unresolved trauma, things are easy to say than being done.


Video Example(s):


Wes the Mime

Wes dreams of being more than just "The useless one" amongst the survivors.

How well does it match the trope?

4.62 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / DreamEpisode

Media sources: