Follow TV Tropes


Evil Takes a Nap

Go To

"Somewhere in a city at the bottom of the sea
Ar-Finn lies dreaming about you and me."
Huey, Dewey, and Louie, The Call of C'Russo

Sometimes a great evil needs a Tailor-Made Prison. Some need to be trapped in a can, maybe a person-shaped one, maybe six, or be stuck fighting another entity in some pocket dimension. And some... just need a good night's rest.

The monster is restrained by its own inactivity, fallen into a hibernation, deep sleep, or even a coma. This can be magically enforced or brought about by severe injury, but in some cases it's self inflicted. In any case, the threat is contained so long as they remain asleep. The circumstances for their awakening can vary from cosmic alignment, certain circumstances being met, a spell being broken, their timer running out, or someone deliberately waking them up, and the results of such an awakening depend entirely on how quickly the heroes manage to react to their release, but generally, it will result in bad things happening — and if worse comes to worst, it could well mean the end of the world (or the solar system/galaxy/universe/multiverse/all of reality) as we know it.

Often overlaps with Sealed Evil in a Can and Tailor-Made Prison, as such measures are more easily constructed when the target is already asleep and docile. See also Rip Van Winkle for when a more mundane individual is trapped in such a sleep.

Compare Don't Wake the Sleeper, which often involves the sleeper being the Big Bad and/or one of his henchmen, who have captured the hero and/or his friends, and the rescuers have to get the keys to the cage to rescue their friend(s) without waking up the villain.

Compare also Savage Setpiece and Awakening the Sleeping Giant (the metaphorical version of this).


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Tamers: In the early days of the Digital World (the mid-80s for us), the program known as the D-Reaper rampaged through the Digital World until it went into hibernation. Unfortunately, four Digimon managed to evolve into the Sovereign, which began to rouse it. It takes a long time for the D-Reaper to wake up, but when it does... all Hell breaks lose.
  • Zig-zagged in Digimon Data Squad: Belphemon is a highly powerful Mega-level Digimon with two modes: Sleep Mode and Rage Mode. In Sleep Mode, he looks like an oversized teddy bear, but is still capable of attacking. But when he awakens, he automatically transforms into the far more vicious and destructive Rage Mode.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and its adaptation in Dragon Ball Super, the main thing keeping God of Destruction Beerus from completely wrecking the cosmos is that he loves to nap for thousands of years at a time. Unfortunately, he had a prophetic dream about fighting a Super Saiyan God, which leads him on a trail to Earth.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency: The Pillar Men have been hibernating beneath the Colosseum (and Santana beneath an Aztec temple) since the Roman era, but are awakened by Those Wacky Nazis in search of supernatural things to weaponize.

    Audio Plays 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama The Spectre Of Lanyon Moor, the eponymous moor is secretly the resting place of a marooned Tregannan scout by the name of Sancreda. Though he's been comatose for over eighteen thousand years, his psychic powers make him extremely dangerous even in sleep: RAF radio operators stationed in the area were driven mad, farmers who tried to flatten Sancreda's tumulus to plant crops suffered catastrophic spates of bad luck, and some travelers have ended up dead courtesy of psychic projections. By the start of the story, Sancreda has become aware enough to reach out to the minds of others in the hopes of finding someone who can find his psychic amplifier and awaken him.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: The Call of C'Russo (a parody of the Cthulhu Mythos) revolves around an octopoid Eldritch Abomination sleeping in an ancient undersea city and dreaming the world into existence until someone wakes it up and causes the end of reality itself.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes The Great Darkness Saga, Darkseid is awakened from a centuries-old slumber by several scientifical probes investigating his long-dead world Apokolips, and he immediately sets out to plunge an unprepared galaxy into darkness.
  • MonsterVerse: In the Kingdom Kong graphic novel, Camazotz apparently went back into dormancy in the Hollow Earth passages after King Ghidorah who originally awakened him was defeated in 2019. Then Camazotz begins stirring again under Skull Island, and Monarch's seismic operations on the Vile Vortex only complete his reawakening.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm reveals that the Elder Wyrm has been asleep for the last million years, since Surtur was defeated. Given that he's still capable of luring everything up to lesser gods into his lair to become either dinner or mentally enslaved minions, this doesn't slow him down much. In any case, he claims that he didn't wake up because he didn't sense anything worth waking up for. Then Harry turned up.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: The dark god, Queen Metallia, is comatose due to the need to heal her injuries
  • In The Gospel Of Malachel, the Harbingers spend unnumbered eons sleeping under the ocean until they are awakened by the deaths of the Angels.
  • Hellsister Trilogy: At the end of "The Apokolips Agenda", Darkseid has suffered grievous wounds, and his power base has been destroyed by the heroes, so he places himself in a state of suspended animation and spends one thousand years sleeping while his body heals. When he awakens in the 31st century, his body and his power are fully recovered and his enemies are all gone.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger:
    • The terentatek from "Fear" had been slumbering beneath Forever Fall for an unknown period of time (implied to be centuries at the bare minimum). When Jaune visits the forest as part of a class field trip, the terentatek is awoken after detecting the Dark Side radiating off Jaune.
    • After his soul is bound to his mask, Darth Nihilus's spirit enters a coma during long periods of inactivity when he has no one's life force to feed off of. The only thing that can wake him up is the presence of a Force-sensitive.

    Films — Animation 
  • Vincent the bear from Over the Hedge is dozing in his cave as part of his winter hibernation. A desperate R.J. tries to raid Vincent's food stash, and almost gets away with it. However, R.J. made the mistake of opening a can of Spuddies, which awakens Vincent. R.J. is given one week's time to replace every crumb in Vincent's stash, or become Grizzly Chow.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Doctor Sleep: The Overlook Hotel has become dormant after so many years without having anyone to feed off in its vicinity; unlike the ghosts in Dan's mind, it's not locked away, just sleeping. Dan has to go inside to wake it up.
  • This tends to be where Godzilla spends his time between movies. Many of his adversaries also appear after being awakened from a centuries-old slumber.
  • The Hobbit:
    • The dragon Smaug in the first two films like in the book, although it's discussed slightly more by the characters to emphasize how powerful and dangerous an antagonist Smaug is. In The Desolation of Smaug (the same film in which Smaug wakes up), Bard calls out the Company because if they disturb Smaug from his long slumber, it could spell the doom of the people of Lake-town, who have for decades been able to live in relative safety in the Lonely Mountain's shadow.
    • The body of the Witch-king of Angmar and all his possessions were sealed by Northmen (implied to be Dúnedain of Arthedain or the Éothéod) inside a dark tomb in the High Fells of Rhudaur after Angmar's fall, as were the bodies of the other eight Nazgûl — this is different from the books, where the Witch-king fled to Mordor after Angmar's fall at the Battle of Fornost, and he and the other Nazgûl went on to capture Minas Ithil (Morgul) and cause the ruination of Osgiliath. It seems the Northmen who buried the Nine in Rhudaur were attempting to make the Nine a Sealed Evil in a Can, but the wraiths had no problem breaking out of their tombs when Sauron summoned them.
  • Mantis from the Marvel Cinematic Universe does this to her foes on multiple occasions, most notably Genius Loci Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and almost succeeds against Thanos himself in Avengers: Infinity War
  • In Pan's Labyrinth, the Pale Man remains in a state of hibernation at the head of his banqueting table, not reacting even when Ofelia picks up the plate on which his eyeballs sit. However, the moment Ofelia dares to help herself to some of the food laid out, the Pale Man snaps awake and goes on the attack.
  • Reign of Fire has a London construction crew dig down to a hibernating dragon, which soon wakes, then roars, then barbecues everyone on site, then wrecks the place and goes flying off. This somehow awakens more dragons, until London gets turned into a scorched no man's land.

  • In The Belgariad, the evil god Torak spent centuries in a prolonged rest in order to recover from the effects of misusing the Orb of Aldur and splitting the world.
  • A common theme in the Cthulhu Mythos. Many Great Old Ones and assorted eldritch abominations are sleeping and bring ruin as they shift in their sleep. Their awakening, which is said to be inevitable, will bring about The End of the World as We Know It, something that is barely, barely averted in "The Call of Cthulhu" when the titular monster wakes.
  • Throughout The Heroes of Olympus, Gaea the Big Bad is slowly beginning to wake from her slumber, but she's still conscious enough to influence events and cause a lot of trouble for the heroes even while asleep. In the end, Gaea is finally defeated when Piper manages to charmspeak her into going back to sleep forever.
  • The Hobbit: The evil dragon Smaug spends most of his time sleeping on top of his Dragon Hoard after wrecking the dwarf kingdom to seize it. It's only after Bilbo wakes him up that he goes outside to spread death and destruction again.
  • The titular It of the Stephen King novel habitually slumbers for roughly 27 years before awakening, spending a few months feeding on the children of the small town of Derry, Maine, and returning to sleep.
  • The Vampire Chronicles: The first vampire Akasha and her consort fell into slumber for millennia as their thirst for blood diminished. In Queen of the Damned, Lestat accidentally wakes Akasha with his music, so she sets out to cull the vampires and Take Over the World.
  • In Worm, the Endbringers (the setting's Kaiju) spend most of their time between their attacks on humanity in a dormant state. Unfortunately for everyone, they take these naps in the mantle or the mesosphere, so simply attacking them during this period isn't an option. As of the sequel Ward, they seem to be in this dormant state permanently, though the fear that they'll wake up remains a looming threat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 has the Shadows. They are in hiding while their agents are gathering. A human expedition to their world "wakes them up".
  • The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Season 2 three-parter "The Wedding" starts off with Lord Zedd entering his Centennial Energy Recharge in which he undergoes a nap while being recharged with evil energy. However Rita Repulsa returns from the exile Zedd placed her in at the beginning of the season while he's asleep and replaces the evil energy with a Love Potion to force Zedd to fall in love with her as revenge.
  • A subversion in Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Enterprise crew manage to put the Borg into sleep (or, regenerative cycle), initially skirting this trope. Subverted when the regenerative cycle in the Borg droids creates eventually a feedback loop and destroys the Borg Cube.
  • Stargate Atlantis: The Wraith are a vampiric hive species who herd humans like cattle to feed on them, but their energy requirements are too much for any human population to sustain indefinitely, so the entire Wraith species spends centuries in hibernation to allow humans to recover for the next culling. The Atlantis expedition accidentally wake the Wraith early by killing the Guardian.
  • Supernatural: The Shadow, the embodiment of Primordial Chaos and the personification of the Empty, has only one desire: to sleep peacefully. It develops a deep antipathy for Castiel after the angel wakes up in the Empty, something no entity has ever done before.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Depending on which versions of Norse Mythology you're looking at, this is the case of Jormungandr rather than simply holding still so he doesn't fall off the world. In these myths, he's in a deep sleep as he continues to grow and his awakening is one of the triggers for Ragnarok.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Arkham Horror, set in the Cthulhu Mythos, the players are trying to prevent an Eldritch Abomination from awakening and ending the world. The Ancient One's ongoing effects on the game world are merely it "stirring in its slumber", and if it does start to wake up, the players face a hellish fight to knock it back out before it can regain its full power.
  • According to main Dungeons & Dragons lore, the Tarrasque can hibernate for 50-100 years between its sojourns to the surface, where it consumes everything in its path until its hunger is sated and it returns to sleep.
  • Exalted: Sacheverell has slept throughout the aeons since his fellow Primordials were defeated and imprisoned by the Gods. While he sleeps, he has perfect knowledge of the present; should he wake, he would see the future and his power would force his visions to come true, spelling the end of free will in Creation.
  • Mage: The Awakening: The Acamoth are Abyssal spirits who somehow became stuck in the physical world and fell into slumber. Certain depraved acts can still catch their attention for long enough to bargain with them, and one fear-obsessed Legacy is audacious enough to peek into their nightmares, usually at the cost of their own sanity.
  • In Pathfinder, Tarrasque is in a hibernation within a sealed cave deep in the Darklands. This is a major concern because it's only asleep, while the other Spawn of Rovagug had to be torn to pieces before their defeat could be certain. Its location is a lost secret, meant to keep away those who would seek to awaken it, but consequently means additional measures can't be put in place to keep it there.
  • According to the Baali clanbook in Vampire: The Masquerade, Earth is secretly home to a race of ancient demigods known as the Children; a cabal of godlike beings native to the darkness prior to the creation of the world, they buried themselves deep beneath the ground to escape the light and have been sleeping there ever since. Unfortunately, primeval humans discovered their existence and have taken to using the power inherent in the true names of the Children to achieve dominance over the land... and in the process, ended up accidentally drawing them closer and closer to awakening them from slumber. Realizing the apocalyptic consequences of their ambitions, their worshippers were forced to commit atrocities gruesome enough to lull the Children back to sleep, eventually forming the basis of the modern Baalite clan: one group of Baali vampires are determined to carry on with these practices to keep the world safe, while another wants to wake up the Children and end everything.
  • The tyranid Hive Fleet Hydra in Warhammer 40,000 fell into a hibernation due to lack of biomass to replenish the energy it was expending on its invasion. Luckily for it, a few millennia later a group of Dark Eldar happened across it and woke it up to continue its rampage.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Krakanrok the Black, father of the Dragon-Ogres, is the size of a mountain but currently asleep (and slated to wake up once the world ends). Archaon, the Everchosen of Chaos, was tasked with retrieving a legendary sword under his claw, and one of his champions was (barely) able to lift it high enough to free the sword. To prevent the possessed sword from screaming and possibly waking Krakanrok up, Archaon killed his champion with it in order to escape safely.

  • BIONICLE: The Bohrok and Bohrok-Kal are mostly hibernating until they receive a signal to activate. Once the former awakes, they cause great devastation on the island of Mata Nui. Though later it turns out they were never evil to begin with and were simply awakened too early for their mission.

    Video Games 
  • In The Banner Saga, this is the main plan to defeat the immortal Bellower: since they can't kill him, they hypnotize him to believe he's already dead. It doesn't work, as Bellower is able to subconsciously take over the mind of the leader of the group that's meant to ferry his body to a secure location, who then frees him from his slumber.
  • Chrono Trigger: After violently crash-landing on Earth in 65,000,000 B.C., Lavos burrows its way into the core of the planet and spends a very long time sleeping until he finally erupts in the Day of Lavos, 1999 A.D., an event which devastated the whole planet to the point where even Earth's ecosystem is dying. There are a few other points along the timeline when Lavos is awakened prematurely, and he is not happy about it.
  • The seven Old Gods in Dragon Age are titanic dragons that sleep deep beneath the earth in special prisons. According to legend, when the Old Gods convinced mankind to worship them instead of the Maker they were punished by being placed into an eternal sleep in special prisons. However, they were still able to reach out to their followers in dreams, eventually in their High Priests invading the Golden City and creating the Darkspawn. Since then, the Darkspawn seek out the Old Gods and when they find one, they awaken it and corrupt it into an Archdemon and start a Blight. The series begins with the awakening of the fifth Archdemon. Some scholars in-universe speculate that the Old Gods where never sealed away, and are simply hibernating like a bear does in winter.
  • In EverQuest, the Sleeper's Tomb is a dungeon where the Dragons of Veeshan imprisoned the prismatic dragon, Kerafyrm. Kerafyrm's strength is unmatched, and he quickly proved to be mentally unstable. When he spoke of waging war against the other dragons, the goddess Veeshan herself stepped in and put him to sleep. The tomb was constructed around him, and the spell is maintained by four dragon wardens. Once all four wardens are killed, Kerafyrm would awaken from his slumber and rampage across Velious and take his revenge on the dragons. Many players were surprised to discover that his awakening only happened once per server, and Kerafyrm himself ended up becoming one of the major Big Bad characters who threatened the existence of Norrath itself.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, dragons can enter a deep sleep to heal themselves of injuries. Because they are a race of The Ageless, this sleep can last for decades or even centuries. The great wyrm Nidhogg's war against the Ishgardians is only ever interrupted when the wrathful creature is injured enough to need his rest. His last sleep lasted for twenty years before he renewed attacks for Heavensward.
  • The Reapers from Mass Effect do this as part of the fifty thousand year cycle that they're a part of. Normally, the Reapers sit outside the galaxy in Dark Space, waiting for galactic civilization to arrive at a certain threshold. They then awaken, invade the galaxy, and wipe out every advanced race that's capable of spaceflight. The species currently in power in the galaxy that we meet over the course of the trilogy were all pre-historic at the time of the last cycle, and the discovery of the Leviathan of Dis reveals that the cycle has repeated itself for over a billion years. Each cycle they leave behind a vanguard that hibernates within the galaxy and awakes regularly to see if it's time for the invasion.
  • Combined with Sealed Evil in a Can in The Secret World: throughout the setting, the Dreamers are kept lulled to sleep through the power of the Gaia Engines - essentially giant eldritch musical boxes playing a perpetual lullaby. The awakening of just one of the Dreamers is a Class X4 Apocalypse event, so agents are warned that the Engines must keep operating at all costs. Unfortunately, it seems like people just can't stop themselves from tampering with the damn things...
  • Skies of Arcadia: All of the Gigas except Plergoth are kept sealed away in various kinds of magical prisons across the world. Yeligar, however, was simply put to sleep beneath the Maw of Tartas. Unlike the others, it does not need to be activated with its respective Moon Crystal, and wakes up on its own when the heroes accidentally disturb it.
  • Trillion: God of Destruction: The titular monster is first sent to sleep with Zeabolos's final strike. However, during the later parts of the game, either it managing to consume large parts of the Underworld or the player damaging it enough will make the monster go to sleep for weeks at a time, granting time to train and prepare for the next battle. It's also noted that Trillion releases a deadly miasma — when sleeping it produces even more as a defense mechanism, hence trying to kill it during its slumber isn't viable.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: Played for Laughs when a scholar searches for a legendary tome in an ancient tomb and opens the sarcophagus of a vampire who isn't quite done slumbering.
    Vampire: [sleepily] Is it 1358 yet?
    Geralt: No.
    Vampire: Then fuck off.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Similar to the Powerpuff Girls example, Dexter's Laboratory, (or rather, one of the Dial M for Monkey skits) had a plot of a giant lava monster being roused from his slumber by the noisy city above, only to be rocked to sleep by Monkey.
  • The Kaiju Monarchs in Kaijudo have been slumbering for centuries, with the duel masters regularly draining their mana to keep them too weak to awaken.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Boast Busters" features a gentler version: Twilight ends the rampage of a terrifying Ursa Major by lulling it into sleep by rocking it and offering it a makeshift bottle of milk. Justified as the terrifying Ursa Major is actually just a baby Ursa Minor.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) concerns a kaiju who is hibernating in a cave that happens to be directly beneath Townsville, and the noise of the city keeps waking him up. When the girls realize this is the case, they are able to stop his swath of destruction by singing a lullaby.
    • Mojo Jojo is taking a nap in his lair when the girls burst in and accuse him of criminal doings he actually didn't commit. He, HIM and Fuzzy Lumpkins are victimized by the Gangreen Gang making prank calls from the Mayor's phone.
  • In Teen Titans, Plasmus is only in his monstrous form while awake. To keep him contained, he's kept sedated and constantly asleep.
  • In Transformers: Prime Unicron is in stasis in the earth’s core, and pretty much has been for billions of years (in fact, the Earth actually formed around the slumbering Unicron). This comes back to bite the Autobots and Decepticons alike in the butt at the end of season 1.