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.
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.
- Azumanga Daioh has an episode focusing on Hatsuyume, the episode was a vignette of all the dreams the characters had on New Years, which includes Osaka dreaming about Chiyo flying using her pigtails, and Sakaki dreaming about meeting Chiyo's father, who is a cat, among others.
- Doraemon: "Livin' the Dream" is about Doraemon using a dream director's chair to direct one of Sneech's dreams to Noby's liking.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Circumstances 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.
- 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 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.
- The narrator of "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel declares at the beginning that he is describing a dream he had.
- Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: Episode 6, aptly titled "Dreams", is a Double-Meaning Title: not only does it focus on Yellow Guy being tormented by an annoying lamp singing about dreams and nightmares regardless of his pleas, it also involves dreams as in goals, with the episode also focusing on Red Guy working in the boring real world and wanting to inject some creativity into his life.
- 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.
- The Arthur episode "Arthur's Underwear" (which is also a book story) focuses on Arthur having frequent "Not Wearing Pants" Dreams.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Rugrats: "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.
- 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.