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Dream Intro

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A work or episode that starts with a (typically short) Dream Sequence.

The dream is most often a Catapult Nightmare or Flashback Nightmare, but if it isn't it's usually some version of Psychic Dreams for EveryoneDreaming of Times Gone By, Dreaming of Things to Come, or Dream Spying. If the dream sequence goes so long that it takes over the story, it becomes All Just a Dream.

The trope is commonly used in a show or movie where it can either provide backstory or provide a confusing or surreal hook to keep the viewers watching so that they get answers. In written works, it's usually a vehicle for foreshadowing, prophecy, or a way to promise the readers the more fantastic elements the story can't open with. In video games, the player may have to choose information about themselves or answer a personality test in the Dream Intro, to make the Character Customization process more immersive.

It should be noted that among writers, at least, this is something of a Dead Horse Trope. Aspiring authors are constantly advised that opening with a dream sequence is frowned upon and even something that will get a potential agent to stop reading, perhaps second only to opening with a Morning Routine sequence.

May invoke Caught in the Ripple as characters in a dream are more likely not to react to strange things the way they would in waking life.

Compare Unwinnable Training Simulation, where a work starts off with what appears to be a depiction of combat or some other conflict and when the scene ends it's revealed that it was just a training exercise. In video games, this may transition into Good Morning, Crono. Also compare Daydream Surprise, Danger Room Cold Open and Fake-Out Opening.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The manga of Attack on Titan begins with the protagonist Eren having a cryptic dream, apparently about future events.
  • In the anime adaptation of The Case Files of Yakushiji Ryoko, the first episode starts with someone who looks like Superintendent Ryoko Yakushiji shoot herself in the head. Assistant Inspector Junichiro Izumida wakes up and finds out that he's in his room. The dream turns out to be important as references to it comes to their investigation on Shiba.
  • The last episode of The Devil is a Part-Timer! opens with both Emilia and Chiho having bad dreams involving Satan. In Emilia's dream, Satan regains his full power and declares his intentions to resume his world-conquering ways, while in Chiho's dream, Maou Sadou informs her that he has to return to his own world.
  • The first episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica begins with a scene involving Madoka running through a surreal building to see a girl fighting a monster that has destroyed a whole city, and a strange creature who tells her she can stop the destruction by becoming a magical girl. She then wakes up, but is surprised to meet the girl from her dream at school that day. Ultimately, it's revealed that it wasn't an ordinary dream but a memory of the previous timeline.
  • The Tower of Druaga starts with a humorous dream sequence, after main character Jil gets knocked out, with what he thinks his adventure is going to be.
  • Downplayed in The Wind Rises; in the beginning a young Jiro is shown to be sleeping on his bed. We then see him having a dream where he climbs to the roof of his house and start flying a plane around his town. He then sees a blimp with bombs tied to it, which then drop off and smash Jiro's plane, causing Jiro to fall to the ground. He then wakes up.
  • Go For It Again, Nakamura! starts with Nakamura and Hirose walking home together. Once they are in an empty street, Hirose asks Nakamura for a kiss, and as they're kissing, Nakamura wakes up from that dream.
  • The Kirby: Right Back at Ya! episode "Prediction Predicament - Part I" starts with King Dedede sleeping in his castle, when he is woken up by an intense light, which turns out to be a giant red burning Kirby monster, much to his horror. He attempts to hammer the monster, but a Jump Cut reveals that it was just a dream and he hit Escargoon in the head.

    Asian Animation 
  • Bhaagam Bhaag: "Guud Luck" begins with Sunny having a dream that a monkey is running off with one of his school books. Sunny plays tug-of-war with the monkey to get his item back; in reality, it's his mother tugging at his blanket to wake him up.
  • BoBoiBoy: In Season 2 episode 5, after the Previously on…… for the preceding episode, we see BoBoiBoy being chased by giant cookies who are forcing him to consume them. The scene then cuts to reality, with BoBoiBoy waking up and realizing that he had that dream because Ochobot was force-feeding him Yaya's cookies in order to wake him up.
  • Boonie Bears: Season 3 episode 30 begins with Tiki having a nightmare where his crown starts to float off his head. As he tries and fails to pull it back down, a giant hand appears and heads straight for him, presumably after the crown, before he wakes up.
  • Flower Fairy: Season 1 episode 3 opens with An'an dreaming about her Precocious Crush, Wangke. Wangke has a potted flower with him and explains he wants to give it to someone special. An'an thinks she's that someone, but it's actually Wangke's grandma. An'an is woken up from this dream by her dad.
  • Happy Heroes:
    • The beginning of Season 8 episode 7 is supposed to be a nightmare that Careful S. is having about his buddy Kalo's death, given his Catapult Nightmare reaction afterwards.
    • In a few of the 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 back at the end of Season 13.
  • The Lamput episode "Meet the Shrink" begins with the docs having a dream where they're chasing after Lamput. The two have trouble catching up with him as usual and are distressed enough when they wake up to jolt themselves upright.
  • The Motu Patlu episode "Motu Ka Birthday" begins with Motu dreaming that he is celebrating his birthday with his friends. After they finish singing "Happy Birthday to You", Motu gobbles up the entire birthday cake, causing his friends to get angry with him and pummel him.
  • Nana Moon:
    • Episode 7 begins with Les dreaming she has become the queen of Moon Haven, with Master Satellite as her king. Les is woken up from the dream by Grunt.
    • Les has another episode-opening dream involving Satellite in episode 48. The two find each other in a flower field, but suddenly Les has to use the bathroom. While she's in a conveniently-placed outhouse, water floods the place and separates her and Satellite; Les wakes up from the dream to find that she wet her bed.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Some episodes may start with Wolffy's dream of finally defeating and eating the goats (or being unable to eat/catch the goats but landing himself in trouble), or someone else's dream of other things. This is common in Season 1, though it's far from the only season to use the trope.
    • Episode 101 begins with Wolffy chasing Paddi with a knife, and when he catches Paddi and is about to cut him, Paddi punch Wolffy's eye. It's revealed he is punching Mr. Slowy's eye in reality, causing him to get reprimanded and being forced to stand in the hallway outside the classroom as a punishment.
    • Joys of Seasons episode 2 begins with Paddi dreaming that he enters the canteen, sees a piece of cake sitting on top of a cupboard, reaches for it and drops it on the floor by accident, and then notices a bigger cake nearby and heads for it.
    • Joys of Seasons episode 39 begins with Wolffy and Wolnie having a nightmare about the Lucky Doll and Unlucky Doll.
    • Happy, Happy, Bang, Bang! episode 1 begins with Paddi having a dream where he meets a genie who gives him a flying carpet.
    • Happy, Happy, Bang, Bang! episode 30 begins with Slowy having a nightmare about Wilie betraying the goats "some time later" and becoming a Wolffy clone (complete with an elderly Wolffy appearing in the bush) if he lets him into the Goat School.
    • Happy, Happy, Bang, Bang! episode 33 begins with Wolffy having a dream about him and Wolnie finally eating the goats, only for the little gray goat they're about to eat being revealed to be Wilie.
    • The Athletic Carousel episode 18 begins with the weirdest dream Paddi has had ever.
    • Adventures in the Sea episode 56 starts with Wolnie seeing her beautiful self in a mirror before fading into the same but with added pores on her face. She is shocked after seeing this, and the mirrors grew a face and started laughing at her; as she is about to throw the mirror and throw it, it's shown that she's about to throw Wolffy out of bed in reality.
    • The first episode of Mighty Little Defenders begins with Weslie having a dream about Wolffy and the other wolves trying to attack his friends, only for him to appear with a gun to fend them off. Wolffy admits defeat and says he thinks that goats and wolves can coexist peacefully, only for a shadowed General Wolf to appear and tell Wolffy that there can be no such coexistence between the two species.
  • The Simple Samosa episode "Moong Fu Samosa" begins with Samosa having a dream about his fight with Sumo Momo from the earlier episode "Sumo Momo" (a Call-Back since Samosa trains to fight Sumo Momo's brother Judo Momo in this episode). After stock footage of Samosa giving the wrestler a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown is used, the scene cuts to Vada trying to wake up Samosa, who grabs him during his dreaming.
  • Yamucha's-Kung Fu Academy: Episode 4 begins with a dream where a giant Jubby fights Nao with fire breath.

    Comic Books 
  • Orion: The series kicks off with a disturbing dream of an apparently idyllic American town which is slowly revealed to be not quite what it seems. Dan Turpin jolts awake just as he's being cut to pieces by the townsfolk in the dream.
  • Superboy (1994): Quite a few issues start out in Superboy's dreams until the odd or unsettling occurrences within wake him.
  • Zion begins with Desta dreaming about a giant lion head ball calling out to him, before he wakes up with a shout.

    Fan Works 
  • There's a fanfic based on Bridge to Terabithia, titled The Phone Call, that uses this trope in the first chapter to retcon the original story's ending, in which Leslie Burke's alleged accident and death is Jess Aarons' bad dream. Leading to Jess deciding to take precautions to ensure the accident never happens, but only leads to bigger problems from there on.
  • The Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: The Other Side Of The Mirror" begins with a Nightmare Intro, as Empath dreams that he and Polaris Psyche were captured by the other Smurfs (who have somehow turned evil) and are subject to death by an alternate version of Empath who strikes Empath with the crystal tip of a power staff.
  • Star Trek Online story Bait and Switch and its side story Shakedown Shenanigans both open in Captain Kanril Eleya's recurring Flashback Nightmare of her being near-fatally stabbed defending her ship against a boarding action ten years earlier.

    Film — Animated 
  • A Goofy Movie begins with Max on a field with Roxanne, when suddenly he transforms into his father. Max then wakes up and bolts up from his bed.
  • Kung Fu Panda: The intro starts with Po being an uber-awesome legendary kungfu warrior... and then Po wakes up, revealing that that was just a dream (he's just the son of a noodle cook).
  • In the intro of Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, Stitch has a nightmare about turning bad once again and causing destruction to Earth. This is because his molecules haven't been completely charged by the time of his creation.
  • Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland opens with the hero Nemo having a dream that quickly becomes a nightmare.
  • Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted starts with Alex having a dream about the penguins going away to Monte Carlo, but however initiate warp drive in the process, causing Gloria, Marty and Melman to become old and the scenery to turn black-and-white. When he notices his old self, the latter shakes him which makes him wake up.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie begins with SpongeBob as the manager of the Krusty Krab, saving the day after a guy gets no cheese on his patty. The crowd hoist him over their shoulders and cheer him, but then the cheers turn into his foghorn alarm and SpongeBob wakes up.
  • Waltz with Bashir opens with a fast-paced and visually dynamic sequence of a pack of dogs tearing through a city. The scene turns out to be the recurring nightmare of a supporting cast member.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Ali G Indahouse: The opening of the film is an over-the-top dream Ali G is having of how much of a supposed badass gangster he is.
  • Alone in the Dark (1982) opens with a nightmare that one of the main antagonist mental patients is having, where a normal visit to a diner turns surrealistic and lethal.
  • Batman Begins starts with a Flashback Nightmare by Bruce, retelling his first encounter with bats when he was a little kid. The nature of this sequence is slightly given away by the echoing voices.
  • Bring It On beings with Torrance and her cheerleading squad doing an awesome, boastful cheer in the school gym... then she's suddenly naked and humiliated in front of the crowd. She wakes up realizing it was just a bad dream.
    • All the direct to DVD sequels begin something like this too.
  • In opening scene of The Cell, the protagonist is riding a horse in a desert; the horse turns into a statue. The scene is revealed to be a child's dream which the protagonist (a child psychiatrist) has entered using a new technology.
  • The City of Lost Children opens with a nightmare scene which turns out to be part of an experiment done on a test subject in Krank's lab.
  • Day of the Dead (1985): The film opens with Sarah having a nightmare about dozens of zombie arms bursting out of a wall and overwhelming her.
  • Death Wish 4: The Crackdown starts with the vigilante protagonist offing two bad guys, only to discover that one of them has his face. Then he wakes up, and the implications of his dream are never brought up again.
  • In Dressed to Kill, the opening and closing Hitchcockian shower scenes are revealed to be dream sequences.
  • The Gate opens with the main character walking into an eerie empty house, then climbing a tree which gets struck by lightning and falls down... And then he wakes up to the sound of the trees being cleared in the next lot.
  • Good Burger begins with Ed taking a customer's order, before finding a bunch of hamburgers coming to life and asking him to become one them - they start hovering in the air, bringing him up into the air with them before dropping him into pit; he wakes up just as he supposedly hits the bottom to the sound of his alarm clock.
  • Hostel Part II starts with the Final Boy from the first film dreaming about giving a policeman (and the audience) an infodump on the premise of the franchise.
  • The second scene of Interstellar turns out to be a nightmare of the hero dreaming of crashing his jet fighter.
  • Ivan's Childhood starts off with a Happy Flashback dream of the protagonist, depicting a heartwarming moment with Ivan and his mother. The dream abruptly comes to an end with a scream and a Catapult Nightmare by the boy.
  • The 2008 film version of Journey to the Center of the Earth starts with a Pursued Protagonist intro in which the hero is being chased by a T-Rex, culminating in him falling into a lava pit. A Catapult Nightmare reveals this sequence to be a bad dream.
  • At the beginning of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Frodo has a dream that reminds us what happened to Gandalf at the end of Part 1, although in this case it continues into a sequence which he couldn't possibly have seen.
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout opens with Ethan marrying Julia at a lake, except the priest turns out to be Solomon Lane, who tells Ethan that he should have killed him. A nuclear bomb goes off and incinerates Ethan just before Ethan wakes up.
  • The shootout in the opening scene of The Naked Gun 33⅓ turns out to be a nightmare Frank Drebin was having.
  • A regular occurrence in A Nightmare on Elm Street. EVERY one of the films starts with the main character having a nightmare about Freddy before waking up in a Catapult Nightmare right when he's about to kill them (because otherwise, it would obviously be a pretty short movie). The only mild exception is in the third one, and that's just because the protagonist is awake for a few minutes before falling asleep. And in Freddy vs. Jason it's because the movie opens with Freddy himself recapping his origins.
  • Muppets from Space opens with Gonzo's dream wherein he is denied passage on Noah's ark since there is only one of him on Earth.
  • Orphan begins with Kate having a nightmare about her stillbirth.
  • Pee-wee's Big Adventure begins with Pee-wee winning the Tour De France, but as the crown is about to be place on his head, an alarm is heard, prompting everyone in attendance to just up and leave; we then fade to Pee-wee waking up to the sound of his alarm clock.
  • The third installment in the Porky's series, Porky's Revenge! begins with Pee Wee's dream/nightmare taking place at his upcoming high school graduation, where everyone is naked under their robes as a prank. His robe gets ripped off on the dais, exposing him to the whole graduating class.
  • The Road opens with the protagonist's dream of tender moments with his wife before the apocalypse.
  • One level of the Intro Dump in Serenity shows that Young River's classroom scene is really a dream/memory that River experienced while being "treated" in the Academy.
  • Shiri starts when OP agents Yu and Lee were having lunch when they were assassinated in broad daylight by North Korean commando Lee Bang-Hee, resulting in a Catapult Nightmare for the former when he realizes that he's still at work.
  • The 1925 silent film Stage Struck starts off with a sequence in which Gloria Swanson is playing a famous, glamorous actress. It then turns out this is a dream, and her character is actually a poor waitress.
  • Star Trek: First Contact starts with not one but two of these, as Captain Picard is having nightmares about his assimilation by the Borg seven years prior.
  • Total Recall (1990) opens with the protagonist Douglas Quaid walking above a canyon on Mars until he slips and falls head-first onto a pointy rock that shatters his EVA suit helmet and causes an Explosive Decompression before he wakes up in bed from what it's revealed to be a recurring nightmare.
  • Vanilla Sky opens with the protagonist recounting a dream to his psychologist in which he woke up to find New York completely abandoned.

  • Blackbird (1986) begins with Randy's dream in which he and his crush Todd in front of the church choir singing a duet, after which they disrobe and start kissing passionately.
  • Tris's Book, the second book of the Circle of Magic series, begins with Tris having a Flashback Nightmare about what happened at the end of the first book.
    • Briar's Book is an odd case: the first sentence of the book is "Briar Moss knew he was only dreaming...", and the content of the dream is not particularly significant: sitting in a tree admiring a bag of jewels, then being arrested. It's a logical dream for a street-thief-turned-plant-mage, but not directly related to the book's plot.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire begins with a man checking on what's going on upstairs, only to be confronted by Wormtail, then Voldemort. Turns out it was a nightmare Harry was having. A psychic nightmare, as that was actually happening.
  • Liv in the Future appears to begin with Liv as a badass secret agent... at least, until the giant singing pufferfish and the glowing-eyed cat appear. She's having a dream the night before her high-school graduation. The corridor the dream began in and the cat later appear once Liv travels to the future.
  • Andre Norton's novel Postmarked the Stars begins with Dane Thorson dreaming that he's crawling through steamy, greasy mud. He wakes up and finds himself not in a humid, gluey swamp but in a room in a small, cheap inn near a spaceport.
  • Quarantine (1992) has a justified instance: Cop-turned-private-investigator Nick Stavrianos has a neural mod that allows people to implant information directly into his head, but only while he sleeps, because the information transfer can be dangerously traumatic for a conscious brain. The end result is that the recipient wakes up feeling as if they dreamed the communication (although in this case, it's a one-way transfer, not a conversation). The story opens with a new client offering him a job this way.
  • The Darkness that Comes Before, the first novel of the Second Apocalypse series, starts with a Distant Prologue describing the first Apocalypse several thousand years ago. Then it Time Skips to the present day, and begins with a Dream Sequence in which Anasurimbor Moenghus contacts the Dunyain monks in their dreams to tell them to send his son Kellhus to him, which kicks off the plot of the entire series.
  • Several Warrior Cats books start out with dreams. Many of them involve the characters receiving a prophecy/warning from StarClan (Midnight, Twilight, Tallstar's Revenge) or speaking to other dead cats (Sunrise, Thunder Rising). The First Battle's prologue involves Gray Wing talking to another living, dreaming cat over a great distance. There are also several "ordinary" dreams as well:
    • The first chapter of Into the Wild opens with the protagonist dreaming of chasing a mouse. This inspires him, upon waking, to explore the woods: a small decision that affects the entire series.
    • SkyClan's Destiny's first chapter begins with Leafstar having a nightmare about a flood.
    • The Sight's prologue is Firestar dreaming a flashback of him receiving the Power of Three prophecy from Skywatcher.
    • Though it is very brief, Fading Echoes' first chapter opens with Dovepaw having a Flashback Nightmare of Rippletail's death.
  • Frozen II: A Forest of Shadows opens up with a Nighmare Sequence in which Anna encounters a gigantic wolf. Seeing blood on its paws, she's terrified it's gotten her sister, Elsa.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ally McBeal: In "The Blame Game" (season 1 ep. 17, if pilot is ep. 1), the opening has eponymous young lawyer and her colleague Georgia (who is also Ally's ex's wife) on a plane exchanging usual pleasantries, when the plane starts to shake and apparently rapidly crashes. It being a dream is revealed by the cut to Ally's waking up in panic. Dialogues with a trusted friend reveal that although Ally could have been influenced by the plane crash case they work on, there is also that fact that offscreen part of the dream included decapitation of Georgia and miraculous survival of Ally.
  • Subverted in the pilot of American Gothic (1995). After the Action Prologue, Gail has a Catapult Nightmare and we are to assume the opening sequence was a bad dream of hers. But then we see that the story is on TV.
  • Babylon 5: One episode starts with Ivanova dreaming that she's reported for duty on the command deck naked. She naturally has a Catapult Nightmare wakeup.
  • One episode of Criminal Minds starts off with Reid dreaming that he is about to get married, only to find out that his bride has no face.
  • CSI: NY: "Rest in Peace, Marina Garito" opens with Stella dreaming that she gets in a traffic accident and is helped out of her vehicle by a young woman. She awakes with a start, and that day gets presented with a new case - the murder of the very woman she was dreaming about, whose missing twin brother Stella has been searching for for quite some time.
  • The start of The Dumping Ground webisode "Liam's Story" opens with Liam dreaming he is a music artist. We see him learn from his agent that he's number one in the US, France, and Germany, but only number two in New Zealand. Liam sacks the agent, but tells her to get a glass of water. The agent throws a glass of water into Liam's face. He then wakes up and it turns out Jack (Liam's brother) chucked the water into Liam's face to wake him up.
  • Legion: "Chapter 26" begins with Charles Xavier experiencing a nightmare where he watches himself (dressed in a bull costume) being killed onstage by a matador, and then the Devil with the Yellow Eyes snarls at him, "You should never have come."
  • Lovecraft Country opens on a scene of trench warfare, which quickly devolves into a sci-fi battle with Martian Tripods, flying saucers, scantly clad, red-skinned princesses and a miniature Cthulhu which is fought by a bat-wielding Jackie Robinson. It turns out to be the dream of the African American protagonist Tic, a Korean War veteran who's a fan of science fiction.
  • Men Behaving Badly: "Babies" begins with Gary seemingly about to marry Deborah. It's not until the marriage gets weird (culminating with both of them becoming pregnant) that it becomes apparent that it is a dream.
  • Episode 12 of Mimpi Metropolitan apparently starts with Alan and Pipin having a romantic moment after closing Pipin's shop, although the dream filter is noticeable. When Alan kisses Pipin's hands, he notices something smells off and it turns out that he is kissing Prima's feet in real life, making him wake up.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: "Murdoch Air" opens with Murdoch in bed dreaming of his and Julia's wedding. She balks at the word "obey" on her vows, he turns and jokes to the guests about negotiating that part, then there's a pounding sound and Julia thinks it's her first husband Darcy. In fact, Constable Crabtree is pounding on Murdoch's bedroom door. Murdoch wakes up and Crabtree urges him to hurry up and come see the flying machine in the sky over Toronto.
  • An episode of Northern Exposure starts inside Joel's sex dream where he's Robert Palmer singing "Simply Irresistible". There's a Sexy Discretion Shot fading to the opening credits when things turn steamy.
  • Power Rangers Megaforce has a couple of episodes, including its first one, open with Troy (the red ranger) having a dream involving numerous Power Rangers teams fighting a massive battle.
  • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive opens with Mack (the red ranger) on an adventure where he escapes from a plane. We then see him fall out of a hammock and turns out he was just daydreaming.
  • Every episode of Providence starts this way, with protagonist Syd having a dream featuring her mother who is in limbo.
  • One episode of Quantum Leap opens with Sam on a beach making out with Terry Farrell - but then he wakes up, discovering that it was a dream and he's actually a Navy ensign accused of murder.
  • The Space Cases episode "The Impossible Dram" opens with Catalina dreaming that she and her friends are all in a medieval court.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Phantasms" starts with Data's dream program giving him his first nightmare.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Waking Moments" starts with four of them simultaneously, including one with Tuvok naked, which turn out to be induced by a telepathic alien.
  • Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles - the PILOT episode begins with a very expensive one with CGI robot fights and an atomic explosion.
  • An episode of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger opens with Umeko going to the control room of the base, only to find the other rangers have been knocked out by a monster, she tries to chase the monster down one of the tubes leading to their mechs, only to wake up in the bathtub, having apparently fallen asleep. She then goes to the control room where Jasmine changes into the monster from Umeko's dream. They then have a fight with each other which ends with Umeko being killed, only for the audience to discover this was also a dream.
  • V: The Final Battle, the second miniseries in the V1983 franchise, opened with a slow-motion nightmare in which Mike Donovan tries to escape from a Visitor ship with his captured son before he's shot to death in front of his father by a group of pursuing soldiers, prompting a Catapult Nightmare.
  • Wimzie's House: "Am I Dreaming?" starts with Wimzie running from Jonas, both in silhouette, as Jonas continues to grow larger and larger, taunting Wimzie by saying he was never her friend and her never liked her, which turns out to be a dream, that causes Wimzie to spend the rest of the episode holding a grudge against Jonas, much to his confusion.
  • The Wonder Years episode "Heart of Darkness" begins with Kevin having a dream where he's in a cave but then ends up in math class wearing pajamas.
  • The The X-Files episode "Demons" begins with a Flashback Nightmare for Mulder. It's not much of a surprise opening because of the standard flashback effects and the fact that it depicts him as his younger self together with his sister Samantha.
  • The Man in the High Castle: The season 2 episode "Land O'Smiles" opens with Frank Fink performing a Judaic prayer with his deceased sister Laura and her children before gas suddenly starts to come down from the ceiling when he wakes up from this nightmare.
  • The Expanse: The second episode opens with a dream that Jim has of the time he met his recently-deceased girlfriend while he was actually dozing off for a brief moment.
  • Napoléon: After Napoleon's defeat in Moscow, the next episode opens with him quietly watching his troops retreat and slowly freezing to death while being relentlessly hunted down by Cossacks. This is revealed to be a nightmare when Napoleon wakes up in Paris.
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse A episode called [[Camping Out]] where Pee-Wee has dream called Allegretto in the beginning of an episode, after the dream Pee-Wee finally wakes up and noticed that the viewer has come for him.
  • The Seinfeld episode "The Slicer" opens with Elaine waking up in bed with Jerry. As she starts to tell him that she needs some space, it's revealed that George is in bed with them too. And Kramer.
    Elaine: I can't breathe...I'm suffocating...I can't breathe... (wakes up) You're all killing me!

    Video Games 
  • The first mission of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is a nightmare the protagonist is having about his own impending death. Towards the end of the game, the Remixed Level version of it is played in the waking world, although the outcome is slightly different.
  • Just before the first case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All, Phoenix has a dream of the Judge slamming a giant gavel on him to the tune of Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. It turns out it was just a meaningless Anxiety Dream triggered by a cell phone with the Toccata's first few bars as its ringtone. And then the exact same dream comes back during the fourth case, this time with more meaning behind it, since Phoenix now has to defend a blatantly guilty person in court.
  • The introduction of Albion shows an odd gold-and-crystal humanoid figure flying through a cloud of bubbles that each have an object or concept in them, Albion's logo being the first. The view then leaves the scene and zooms in on a spaceship, eventually reaching Tom's cabin and showing him sitting up and saying "That strange dream again..."
  • BROK the InvestiGator begins with Brok having a nightmare about finding himself in a burning building and attempting to get his deceased wife out of the rubble. He eventually hears her voice telling him that it's all his fault for her death, which causes him to wake up abruptly, beginning the game proper.
  • Choro Q starts out with Norahike having a nightmare/flashback of his best friend dying at the grand prix.
  • Chrono Cross starts with a Dreaming of Things to Come sequence in which ther hero Serge, Kid, and a third person infiltrate Fort Dragonia. He wakes up after reaching a plot-significant door.
  • Subverted in Dragon Quest VI. The game starts with a trio of heroes entering a demon lord's castle, getting their asses kicked, and then one of the three wakes up, starting the game. Turns out it wasn't a dream, the demon lord turned their bodies into statues and sent their spirits to the dream world.
  • Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter for the DS begins with Heather joining her friends over for a picnic, then they suddenly turn dark and creepy, that the darkness covers up the area. Heather was almost caught by it, until she sits right back up in bed.
  • The opening cutscene of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is a dream the Player Character is having before being awakened on the prison ship. In it, you see various landscapes of Vvardenfell and receive some cryptic guidance from a mysterious woman, who eventually turns out to be the Daedric Prince Azura.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening begins with a playable dream that foretells an event of a later chapter.
  • Half-Life 2: "Rise and shine, Mr. Freeman. Rise and... shine." This occurs at the beginning of the second game after Gordon Freeman was put into storage stasis by G Man. Upon awakening, he is met with the mysterious and very dreamlike image of G Man, who attempts to awaken him with a cryptic message.
  • Kingdom Hearts starts off in a dream to help the player design his character, to give Sora a Psychic Dream, and to establish the bizarre nature of the plot.
  • The opening stage of Shade: Wrath of Angels have you suddenly thrown into the action, where you're immediately fighting mummies in a cursed pyramid. And then you wake up, and it's another one-third of the game before you enter the actual cursed pyramid.
  • StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm begins with Kerrigan (as Queen of Blades) laying waste to Augustgrad, before cutting back to her dezerged form waking up from the nightmare. It's also Dreaming of Things to Come, since the last few levels are you doing exactly that.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time begins with a scene of Ganondorf chasing Princess Zelda on horseback, which turns out to be a nightmare that Link is having. This ends up occurring for real later in the game.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword begins with Link dreaming first of Fi, then of the Imprisoned, despite not knowing of either.
  • Life Is Strange starts with a scene of Max at night by the lighthouse during the storm which turns out to be a Daydream Surprise she was having in class.
  • The Longest Journey is a subverted example: while it looks like a dream, when April visits the same location in the waking world, she can see the traces of her actions from when she was "dreaming" about it at the start of the game. In other words, it was real from the start, she just didn't realize it then.
  • In Mega Man X4, Zero's storyline starts with him having a nightmare of a mysterious figure telling him to destroy the world.
  • Need for Speed: Underground uses this to justify giving the player A Taste of Power. After you finish your first race, driving a fully pimped-out car, you're dragged out of your fantasy by your female companion and prompted to purchase your first actual car, which is much slower and plainer.
  • Warcraft III starts with a cinematic of the orcs and humans going to war (again), before it cuts to Thrall waking from his Catapult Nightmare.
  • WarioWare: D.I.Y.: In the intro, Dr. Crygor dreams about playing a Nintendo Wii, when suddenly several characters come out of the TV screen and fly towards him. He wakes up and is then inspired to make the Super MakerMatic 21.

  • The "Power Fantasy" arc of El Goonish Shive opens with Sarah having a dream about battling a hedgehog monster in her Wizard Sarah alter-ego. The author jokes about the obvious Title Drop in the commentary here.
  • Metempsychosis begins with a dream sequence, wherein a dragon is hunted by another creature on an alien planet.
  • The story of PRISMWING begins with a flash from Indigo's dreams.
  • Sleepless Domain: Chapter 16 opens following Undine and Kokoro's first kiss and Relationship Upgrade at the end of the previous chapter. At school the next day, Undine approaches Kokoro and begins to gently apologize for the previous night, saying that she "might have done something [she] shouldn't have." Kokoro promptly awakens in her bed with a start.
    "AAAAAAARGH! Shut up, brain!"

    Web Original 
  • The Bee and Puppycat episode "Food" opens with Bee dreaming she is floating in the middle of nowhere with a group of Puppycats. She touches her Puppycat, gets an electric shock and wakes up.
  • Done in Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers' "Retarded64: the 1337 p0lice". At the start, Mario has a dream about a paradise where he flies past Wario and Toad, and lands in front of a distorted Peach, whom he dances with. Then the dream switches to him and Luigi reuniting together, when suddenly Luigi says he's pregnant, causing Mario to wake up with a start.
  • The SuperMarioLogan video "Mario The Babysitter!" starts with Bowser kidnapping Rosalina, when Mario appears in a Superman suit and defeats Bowser with his hair. When he grabs Rosalina, they both bump into a wall and Mario instantly wakes up. Needless to say, he is less than amused.
  • Technicolor Dreams begins with Joseph asleep in bed having visions of a tornado destroying a town, which is then further destroyed and set ablaze by gangbangers, which then turns into visions of Hell, before waking up.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Season 1's The Storm starts off with Aang dreaming that he is flying with his friends. Aang is with Appa, Sokka is riding on Aang's glider, and Katara is flying on a giant version of Momo. However, the dream suddenly turns into a nightmare when Aang notices that his friends vanished and sees a vision of Monk Gyatso. Then Aang relives the terrible storm that led to Aang and Appa being frozen in the first place. Then, Aang wakes up realizing that it was a dream.
  • An episode of Ben 10 has Ben transform into Wildmutt (one of his aliens) in order to rescue a boy stuck up a tree. The viewer then notices something is wrong when Ben, as Wildmutt, starts talking. The reason this is wrong is because Ben cannot talk while he is Wildmutt. The boy then transforms into Ghostfreak and then Ben wakes up.
  • The first episode of The Boondocks starts with Huey having a dream where he told a garden party full of white people that "Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9/11." This supposedly shatters the white man's ignorance, spark a riot. When Huey wakes up, Granddad Dope Slaps him.
    Granddad: Mm-Hmm. You were having that dream where you were making the white people riot!
    Huey: But Granddad, I was telling the truth!
    Granddad: What did I tell you boy? You'd better not even dream of telling the truth! You'd better learn to lie like your Granddaddy! I'm gonna find me a nice white man and lie to to him right now...
  • Early in the Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels episode "Cavey's Mexicali 500", Captain Caveman is dreaming that he and Taffy Dare are alone on a small island. A giant hawk snatches Taffy, and Cavey flies to the rescue. Cavey wakes up, clutching his alarm clock bird.
  • The Danny Phantom episode "Frightmare" starts with Danny dreaming his life his perfect, complete with Sam being his girlfriend.
  • The Defenders of the Earth episode "The Mystery of the Book" opens with a dream sequence in which Mandrake and Kshin are being menaced by a demonic creature named Kronos. The sequence ends with Mandrake being sent plunging into an abyss, at which point he wakes up and goes to check on Kshin, who has just had the exact same nightmare. This turns out to be a case of Dreaming of Things to Come, as Mandrake and Kshin soon find themselves facing Kronos in the waking world.
  • The Dexter's Laboratory episode, "The Dream Machine" begins with Dexter having a nightmare where he is having trouble with completing an important test while he sees his sister DeeDee writing the scientific theory, "The Purpose of Meaning". As such, Dexter fails the test, and wakes up in utter defeat.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • The episode "Rock-a-Bye Ed" opens with Ed having a nightmare of Johnny 2×4 as his mother ripping off his mouth and lowering him into the "Kanker pit" for annoying Sarah. This sets up the conflict of the episode, in which Ed develops a crippling fear of Johnny.
    • The special "The Eds Are Coming" opens with Jimmy having a dream of living in a sunshine-and-rainbows wonderland before it turns into a nightmare when aliens attack.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: The Season 10 episode "Girly Squirrely" starts with Timmy and his dad at camp, with the latter winding up burning the entire forest surrounding their tent. He is then noted about his shoe being on fire, and a bus behind them explodes. Cue Timmy waking up screaming like a girl.
  • FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman: This happens in Season 3 Episode "Mission Improbable" as well as the ending of the same episode. Both times Ruff was dreaming about his ancestors and both times Ruff wakes up with a scream.
    • Season 4 episode "Ruff Bounces Back" opening up in a dream where Ruff was given a test from Professor Fange, who asks him three questions, Ruff could only say " I don't know!". Ruff then wakes up with a gasp, relieved that he's not back at Dogwarts after all.
      Professor Fange: [off-screen] How do you say 'Fetch the Stick' in Chinese?
      Ruff: I don't know!
      Professor Fange: What are the leash laws in Ecuador?
      Ruff: I don't know!...
      Professor Fange: George Washington's Dog invented Kibble! True or False!?
      Ruff: I DON'T KNOW!!! I DON'T KNOW!!! [Sobs]
      [The scene is revealed to be a dream Ruff was having, the scene cuts to Ruff waking up with a gasp.]
      Ruff: [Gasps] Whew.... It was just a dream... I thought I was back at Dogwarts.
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • The episode "Arnold's Hat" starts with Arnold flying onto a kite in the sky when he hears several voices saying "Hey Arnold" continuously. Arnold is then woken up to find that his potato alarm clock went off.
    • "Heat" begins with Arnold climbing into some giant ice cream cones. He makes it to the top of one, but just before Arnold gets to taste his victory dessert, his potato alarm clock wakes him up before the radio's morning news comes on.
    • The two-parter produced Grand Finale "The Journal" starts with Arnold dreaming about traveling with his parents on a ship in a vast ocean. However, Arnold spots another ship as his father discovers that it belongs to some pirates and he and Arnold's mother leave Arnold behind to deal with them. The pirates fire cannonballs at Arnold's parents, resulting in a massive explosion. When the smoke clears, the pirates' ship is destroyed, but Arnold doesn't see them and his parents anywhere and he shouts for them to come back. Cue Arnold waking up in his bed, gasping for breath.
    • Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie begins with Arnold exploring the jungles of San Lorenzo as he heads to the temple and finds his parents. Suddenly, Eduardo comes in flying a biplane and picks them up for another mission, leaving him alone. As he looks down to see a heart-shaped hole in his chest growing, the screen whitens and Arnold wakes up.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures:
    • One episode has Finn dream that he and the other members of the Dark Hand are playing in a band, only for Jackie to show up and beat up Finn for playing off key (that's the reason Jackie gives). Finn then wakes up.
    • Another episode has Jade dream she's in school and is supposed to give a report about what she did over summer vacation. Problem: she does not have a report. She then wakes up and she sees (on a calendar) she still has a few days before school starts.
  • The Justice League episode "Only a Dream" starts with John Dee having an Dream Sequence about curb-stomping the League.
  • Kim Possible:
    • The series has an episode where Kim and Ron are on work experience at the Middleton Hospital. The episode opens with Ron dreaming that he is at the hospital and ends up performing an operation where he needs to swap Kim's brain with that of someone else to cure her of a disease that has left her smiling goofily.
    • The fourth season's first episode opens with a reprise of the end of the third season finale "So The Drama" (except the sign on the outside reads "Not the End" instead of "The End") with Kim and Ron kissing each other, only for Kim to dissolve like sludge. Ron yells and wakes up.
  • The Littlest Pet Shop (2012) Season 2 two-parter finale begins with Blythe running through the International Pet Fashion Expo, trying to find her clothing kiosk as it's nearly her time to be judged. She is surrounded by her friends and the judges unprepared, until she finds herself in pajamas and holding a teddy bear and subsequently wakes up from her nightmare.
  • The Magic School Bus episode "Out Of This World" begins with Dorothy Ann having a nightmare about an asteroid crashing into Walkerville Elementary School and destroying it. She's awakened by the sound of her alarm clock.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The episode "May The Best Pet Win!" begins with Rainbow Dash flying and seeing Twilight's pet owl Owlowiscious. Suddenly, Owlowiscious starts growing body parts of the other pets (Angel Bunny, Gummy, Winona, and Opalescence), which scares Dash so much that she actually falls into a seemingly endless black void, causing her to wake up from this nightmare.
    • "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?" starts off with Princess Luna dreaming about her becoming Nightmare Moon again and the mane six using their rainbow power to stop her. When the dream ends happy, that's when Luna realizes that the Tantabus, a creature that turns dreams into nightmares, which she created to punish herself for the all the trouble she caused as Nightmare Moon, has escaped.
  • Subverted in the Ned's Newt episode "Newt's Ned"; within the first few minutes, a scene is shown where Ned has a dream inside his ears. This is however interrupted by Newton disturbing him with loud speakers.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:
    • The episode "There's No Camp Like Home" opens with Piglet having a nightmare about being chased by heffalumps and woozles.
    • "Rock-A-Bye Pooh" likewise opens with Piglet having a bad dream where he is going on a picnic with Pooh, Tigger, and Rabbit, only for the three of them to suddenly disappear in strange waysnote , leaving poor Piglet all alone as a terrible thunderstorm approaches. Piglet then wakes up, but winds up afraid to go back to sleep.
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series:
    • "Most Dangerous Witch" starts with a nightmare Zelda is having about Tim the Witch-Smeller.
    • "Wiccan of the Sea" opens with what appears to be a Crowd Song celebrating the summer, but it turns out Sabrina was just daydreaming in the middle of class - and it's actually winter outside. The teacher says she was humming the song rather loudly too.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The episode "Duffless" has Bart at the school science fair where his entry is a gun called the "Go Go Ray" which when zapped at people makes them do dances from the 1960s like The Monkey, which Bart demonstrates on Prinicipal Skinner, who then awards him first prize. Bart then wakes up to Lisa repeating the words "first prize" repeatedly.
    • The episode "Kamp Krusty" has Bart in class on the day before summer vacation where Skinner makes an announcement over the speakers to tell them to take out their hardware tools to destroy the school, leading to a montage of the kids destroying the school as the song "School's Out For Summer" plays in the background. The dream ends with Bart destroying the school with a wrecking ball and then being woken up and having to attend the last day of school for real.
    • "When You Dish Upon a Star" begins with Homer dreaming he is Yogi Bear mauling Ranger Smith, and was about to maul Boo-Boo when Bart wakes him up to remind him that they're going to the lake. Homer goes back to sleep and dreams he's Magilla Gorilla mauling Mr. Peebles.
    • "Homer the Heretic" begins with Homer dreaming he is in a womb when a pair of hands attempt to pull him out. Fade to Marge trying to drag Homer out of bed.
  • A few episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants begin like this.
    • The episode "Suds" begins with SpongeBob dreaming that he is eating raining Krabby Patties, only to wake up and find he is chewing on his pillow.
    • The episode "Dying for Pie" begins with Squidward dreaming that he is playing the piano on a tropical island. SpongeBob appears ringing a bell and saying, "Order up," when Squidward is awakened by what is actually the sound of his ringing alarm clock.
    • "Blackened Sponge" begins with SpongeBob dreaming that he is saving a woman from Jack M. Crazyfish in an old silent movie style (minus the black-and-white format). The villain is tieing the woman to the train tracks and SpongeBob takes on a muscular form to try and stop the train. Just before the train hits him head on, he is startled awake by his foghorn alarm clock.
  • The first episode of Trollz began with Amethyst having a nightmare that she went to the mall and her friends didn't know her.
  • The story "The Asparagus Of La Mancha" from the VeggieTales episode "Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler" starts with Don Quixote (played by Archibald Asparagus) having a bad dream where he is confronted by a horde of pea soldiers that start throwing giant hamburgers at him. This is one of several bad dreams that he has throughout the entire story.


Willow's dream

Intro to S2 E11 "Premonition".

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