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Faked Rip Van Winkle

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The hero is rendered unconscious and wakes up in an unknown place.

Seemingly benevolent people appear and claim that the hero has been unconscious for many years, sometimes decades. To back that claim up, the hero is presented various evidence like future-dated newspapers, futuristic-looking appliances, and even people who say they are older versions of individuals the hero knows.

Although he may initially be fooled, the hero either figures out that this is all an elaborate charade to take advantage of him, because of an overlooked detail that would make no sense if the situation was real. That, or an innocent discovers the situation and is taken hostage. In addition, the hero's friends may find him and expose the scam.

In the end, there is often a big battle as the hero tears the trickery down. Once he returns home, he may be relieved that everything is back to normal or he may harbor feelings about the very tempting world-that-could-have-been he was trapped inside.

There's also a lighter version where there's no elaborate hoax (and no harm done or attempted), just a prank that's quickly exposed with either a "just kidding" on the part of the perpetrator, or a "stop messing with him" from some third party. Sometimes, the light-hearted prank can still be elaborate and/or go on for a whole episode.

Contrast the real Rip Van Winkle. Compare Lotus-Eater Machine, Mistaken for Apocalypse, Dream Deception, and Bait-and-Switch Time Skip. May appear as a part of a Fauxtastic Voyage.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Taken to extreme in Blood-C. And poor Saya isn't a hero either, she's more akin to a monster.
  • Elemental Gelade: the female lead is led to believe that she was sealed away (for the second time) for decades and everyone she knew has passed away. Rather than gathering any information, it's supposed to discourage her from leaving the facility and putting herself in danger, since she's part of a protected species of super weapons.
  • One of the Lupin III Red Jacket episodes, "To Be or Nazi Be", had an inverted example of this. The gang is interrogating an old Nazi from WWII, but he refuses to tell them where Hitler's treasure is. When the guy next wakes up, it's the invasion of Berlin, again. Hitler is ready to die, and it's his turn to say goodbye to the Furher. Even Zenigata gets involved in this con! (He's pulling a different one on the gang)
  • This is the plot of an episode of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman,note  used to try and get the scientist G-1 is protecting to give Galactor some important information. Problem is, if it's been so many decades, why hasn't that exposed bolt rusted over?
  • Kurama and Kuwabara do a weak version of this in YuYu Hakusho when Yusuke wakes up after the Four Beasts arc, briefly allowing him to believe Keiko died before he could smash the bug-whistle or while he was unconscious, and that this was discovered in the interim while they brought him out of Maze Castle and put him in Kuwabara's spare room. Just because they're dicks. Let it never be said that Kurama is always a serious or sensitive person.

  • Markus Krebs has suggested pranking people waking up post anesthesia by hanging up calendars for three years into the future.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Huey, Dewey, and Louie pull one of these on Donald Duck in an old CarlBarks story, as part of a Zany Scheme to get out of a tropical vacation. It works.
  • This is the plot for a short Monica's Gang comic. Monica is told about the story of Rip Van Winkle, and after she falls asleep under a tree, the boys set up everything to make it seem as if many years have passed. She is fooled for a while (she's 6, after all), but finally figures out the plot when she sees Maggie, who wasn't in on the story and acts completely normal.
  • One issue of Richie Rich had an Homage to 36 Hours (1965) when he realizes he's being conned when a paper cut on his finger hasn't healed.
  • The Smurfs story "The Strange Awakening of Lazy Smurf", which is actually an adaptation of the cartoon show episode "Smurf Van Winkle", where Lazy is led to believe he has been asleep for a few hundred years and his fellow Smurfs have aged while Lazy somehow stays the same physical age. It's basically done to teach him a lesson about not being lazy all the time. In both versions Lazy figures out that he's been duped, but in the cartoon show he finds that out after he's used a potion to de-age them and they all become Smurflings, while in the comic books Lazy uses his knowledge to trick the other Smurfs into thinking he has given them a de-aging potion, which then leads them to Gargamel's lair in order to find the antidote.
  • The Spyboy one-shot "A Manchurian Candy-Date" has Bombshell waking up years in the future in a hospital, her legs atrophied and her long-distant parents happy to see her awake. Comic relief Butch, his face scarred, says she's been in a coma for almost a decade after a raid that went bad, killing Alex's father. Alex reverted to his Spyboy persona full-time and has since become a ruthless crime boss. After physical therapy, Bombshell is sent to kill Alex...but when she looks at her aged face in the mirror, we see her true form as it turns out she's been brainwashed by an enemy to kill the real Alex in the present. Her mind sees everything as part of the delusion (attempting to "fire" a sheet of papers like a gun) before Alex is able to get through to her.
  • Superman
    • A story in Panini Comic's Batman and Superman magazine features this where Superman flies back to Metropolis and is engulfed in a white vortex. He finds himself in a now-ruined Metropolis and finds Jimmy, who tells him he was responsible for destroying Metropolis. It turns out really that Lex Luthor captured Superman by putting him into a simulation tank.
    • An early post-Byrne reboot story has Superman returning to Earth to learn that he was regarded as a monster, Lois was crippled because of him and eventually he starts to lose control becoming more violent and horrified at his own actions. It turns out, the whole scenario is a nightmare triggered inadvertently by telepathic contact with a crystalline alien entity who was trapped on the moon. The nightmare was the manifestation of Superman's worst fear, that he would lose control of himself or his powers and cause untold death and destruction. This fear has been a recurring theme for the character ever since.
    • An interesting variation of this occurred in a comic based on the animated series; after a quantum reactor explodes, it appears that Superman has been thrown over a year into the future, where Clark Kent and Superman have been presumed dead for a year, the Kents have died in an accident, and Clark's friends have moved on with their lives, while a city from Krypton- including Jor-El and Lara- have survived Krypton's destruction and come to collect Clark. Subverted as Superman has actually arrived in a parallel universe and Lara has abducted and brainwashed the 'local' Superman and Supergirl to aid Krypton in conquering Earth, requiring Superman and Jor-El to lure the Kryptonians back to the city before Jor-El destroys it to trigger the necessary explosion to send Superman back to his dimension.
  • Inverted in The Twelve when the titular twelve (superheroes who were put into suspended animation during the final push on Nazi Germany) are woken up in a post 9/11 world. To preserve their psyches, they're at first placed in a reconstruction of a 1940s hospital, but they quickly figure out what's going on (the nurses have more than one piercing per ear and don't need garters to keep their stockings up, the radio plays music but no commercials, the guards' poker game uses 2008 coins) and demand to know what's going on.
  • The Ultimates: When Captain America first wakes up in the modern era in issue #3, he thinks this trope has happened to him due to the "colored" general (Nick Fury) standing in the room telling him 60 years have passed (Fury here is black and Cap met the highest-ranking black person of his time, a captain), and immediately starts beating the crap out of everyone in sight. Justified in that he was fighting Shapeshifting technologically-advanced aliens before he was frozen. (In fact he was fighting them when he was frozen.)
  • In one Winnie the Pooh comic book story, the other characters fake it for April Fools' Day by attaching a beard to a sleeping Pooh and pretending to be their own Identical Grandsons.

    Films — Animation 
  • In NIMONA (2023), Nimona tells Ballister after he wakes up from being hit on the head that he's been asleep for 15 years before telling him not to be so gullible and that it was only a couple hours since he was knocked out.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 1965 film 36 Hours, in which German agents use a Faked Rip Van Winkle on an American officer in an attempt to learn the details of the upcoming D-Day operation. It invented or popularised several common features including the "memory therapy" which is really a disguised intelligence debriefing, and the hero's realisation that he still has a minor injury that ought to have healed if so much time has really passed.
  • The 1990 Captain America movie has the Captain suspect an inversion of this when he notices that the Intrepid Reporter explaining things to him was driving a German car with a Japanese radio.
  • Likewise, in Captain America: The First Avenger, Cap suspects an inversion is happening when he comes to in a hospital room with a baseball game "broadcast live" on the radio — one he attended in person. (It turns out that an inversion is happening with the intent of giving him more time to recover before he has to face the fact that he's been frozen for over seventy years.) The fact that the hospital room is a borderline-paper-thin fake (complete with a WWII-era New York skyline outside the window consisting of a blown-up black and white photo that nobody bothered to colorize) doesn't help matters much.
  • Dark Shadows: At the second time Barnabas Collins got out of a coffin he was sealed in, he was ready to believe he'd been there for decades. (Justified in that it took him 196 years to get out last time) The trope is averted as a relative of his tells him he was only there for a few minutes.
  • Inverted in Goodbye Lenin. Alexander's mother suffers a heart attack, falls into a coma, and wakes years later. Doctors recommend making sure she does not receive any severe mental shocks, as they could cause her to suffer a second heart attack. Before the coma, she was a dedicated supporter of the East German government, and the Berlin Wall fell while she slept. Alex and the family friends proceed to build a complete simulation of East German life around her.
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout has the IMF use a short-term variation on a captured Apostle agent, borrowing a frequent trick from the original TV series. In this case, they claim he's been out for several weeks, and show a fake news broadcast about the Apostles successfully nuclear detonating weapons in several cities. In exchange for reading an extremist manifesto "on air", the agent agrees to hand over access to valuable information on his phone, which he assumes is now of little worth. As soon as the IMF gets onto the phone, they drop the act, revealing the fake broadcast and hospital rooms were in the same warehouse.

  • Older Than Print: An old Japanese story tells of a daimyo and his bodyguard who stop at an inn run by a six-fingered young woman and her brother. They sleep there overnight, only to be greeted in the morning by a six-fingered old woman and her "grandson", who inform them the spirits have drawn them into the future. The old woman tells them she can send them back, but requires money to fund the ritual needed. Before the daimyo can send a message for the funds, however, his bodyguard works out that they're still in the present day — he had spent a short time the previous night meditating in the bamboo, and it all looks almost exactly the same save for an inch of growth (as much as one would expect it to in one night). The old woman was the young woman's grandmother — six-fingered hands run in the family (or, in some versions of the story, the girl simply used make-up).

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In the first book, Rodrick wakes up Greg (the protagonist) at 3 am, claiming that Greg has slept through the summer holidays and it's the first day of school and he's late, and GET UP! In the movie he doesn't explain why the summer has ended, he just counts on Greg being too sleepy to know.
  • Gravity Falls: Journal 3: After Dipper and Mabel shared the events of "Irrational Treasure" with Soos, the Genius Ditz handyman apparently tried preserving himself in peanut brittle. Dipper and Mabel decided to prank him by gluing a fake beard to his face and dressing up like cyborgs from "the year bleventy-billion". Soos only saw through their ruse because he remembered that he can't actually grow facial hair.
  • Rich And Jade Chance Series: This is "The Doctor" tricks Mark Darrow into giving away the location of the nuke. After Darrow wakes up he makes a casual reference to the passing of time. Then he plays faked news footage of the bomb going off and has pistons shake the building. He then furiously accuses Darrow of deliberately targeting civilians, who admits he had a military target, a bomber plane's wing.

  • The Stainless Steel Rat is subjected to this as part of a mind-control torture by his captors. But then he realises he still has a hang-nail that troubled him during his landing on the planet a day or so before he was captured, so at most only another day (rather than weeks or months) has passed.
  • In "The Inn of Lost Time", a short story by Lensey Namioka, set in his Zenta and Matsuzo setting, the above Japanese folklore entry is told as if it had happened to Zenta, when he was the bodyguard to a merchant.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done in reverse on Adam Adamant Lives! in the Missing Episode "A Slight Case of Reincarnation". The villains try to convince Adam, a Human Popsicle, that he's back in 1902 and that his adventures in the 1960s have been a dream. They force his friends to play bit parts in this scheme under false identities, and even bring in a lookalike for his 1902 girlfriend. The telltale clue that it's a setup comes when he mentions Harold Wilson, the 1966 Prime Minister, and is told that he must be thinking of Woodrow Wilson. This is a slip because in 1902 Woodrow Wilson hadn't gone into politics yet.
  • A short version is done to Stringfellow Hawke in the "Echoes of the Past" episode of Airwolf. He's told a mission is underway to rescue his brother from Vietnam, then a crash arranged. When Hawke wakes up in hospital, he's told almost a year has passed (there's a fake news story involving the divorce of Prince Charles and Lady Diana) and during this time his brother was successfully rescued (a lookalike is used), though his friends Dominic and Archangel were killed during the mission. So now Hawke can give up the location of Airwolf as agreed, right? As it turns out, Hawke was suspicious from the start as he woke up with the same callus on his hands as when he "crashed," meaning it can't be nearly a year in the future.
  • Also reversed in an episode of Alias, where, in order to obtain vital information, Jack Bristow is made to think he is back in the 1980s. Sydney plays her mother (and his then-wife, before she turned out to be a Deep Cover Agent), then has a Squick feeling when he attempts to get frisky with her- as he thinks she's his wife.
  • One clip on America's Funniest Home Videos has a twelve-year-old boy so tired from his first day of the seventh grade he came home from school and fell asleep. When he woke up at nine that evening, his dad tricked him into thinking it was the next day and he was going to be late for school. They were already driving before the kid learned from a neighbour it was all a prank.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Although not a strict version of this trope (as little time has passed), the episode "The Farm" when Starbuck is injured during an ambush, and wakes up in what she is told is a resistance hospital, is definitely in the same spirit. This was acknowledged in the podcast; the writers therefore played along with the audience's suspicions by making Starbuck equally skeptical, but too weak from her injuries to do much about it.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: In the Series Finale Heist Episode "The Last Day", Jake is knocked out by fireworks and awakens in a hospital room, where he's told he's been comatose for seven years. His wife Amy emotionally tells him his best friend moved to Arizona and she's become Friends with Benefits with her ex-boyfriend Teddy, who also helping raise Jake's son. This was all a ploy to get Jake to reveal where he hid the prize; once she has this information, Amy handcuffs him to the hospital bed and collapses the fake hospital room around them.
    Jake: ...It's not the future, is it?
    Amy: No. It's only been about...forty minutes? And this isn't a real hospital. [presses a button to collapse the walls around them]
    Jake: You Mission Impossible'd me! Uggghh, I am so happy you're not having sex with Teddy!
  • Inverted in Trick of the Mind, where Derren Brown plays a trick on an American kid in a desert by promising to make the sun disappear ("an old Native American Indian trick", as he claims). He has the kid check his watch and then put on a warm jacket. Then he starts drawing on the ground and counting. The real purpose is to put the boy in a hypnotic trance. Derren then lies him down on a mat and leaves for several hours until it's dark (the boy is watched all this time). Derren then sits the boy back up, sets his watch back to the same time, and snaps him out of the trance. As far as the kid is concerned, only a moment has passed, and he confirms it by checking the time. They tell him everything later.
    • Also, in his Apocalypse special, Derren tricks a guy into thinking that days or weeks have passed since he has been knocked unconscious by a meteorite (it's been a few hours at most) and that England is in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse, mostly through a fake news broadcast and actors.
  • Also tried on Buck Rogers in the 1950s series.
  • In a short-term heroic variant, the team on Criminal Minds used clock-shifting and a fake news broadcast to get a captured terrorist to think his co-conspirators had already unleashed a WMD, so he'd boast about it and reveal the intended target.
  • Doctor Who: In "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", Sarah Jane is knocked out and then told she is on a spaceship which has been travelling for months to a new world. She realizes that this is not true because she still has a fresh bump on her head.
  • F/X: The Series:
    • The show also faked one on a villain to coax him into revealing the location of a bomb the villain had planted.
    • Also done in reverse when an imprisoned assassin develops a brain tumor that is causing him to lose his memories of the last few decades. He still vaguely remembers the time when he killed a US senator so the team takes him back to the small town where it happens and stages things to look like the day before the assassination and make him think that he dreamed of the killing and still has to complete the job. They do this so he is tricked into revealing the identity of the Big Bad who hired him to kill the senator. The assassin's deteriorating mental state makes him very confused and gullible and he does not figure this out till the Big Bad tells him.
  • The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries: "Sole Survivor", where Joe wakes up in a hospital room with no clue where he is or how he got there, only to be told that he's not only been in a coma for a year, but that his father and brother are dead. Cue fake newspapers, fake newscasts, and forged letters from all his surviving relatives and friends. Of course, Frank and Fenton are very much alive, and the whole thing is a Mind Screw to get Joe to reveal information on a defection attempt. He caught on when a shirt that had supposedly been hanging in his closet for 10 years still smelled of his girlfriend's perfume.
  • Mission: Impossible: The IMF used this plot several times. Sometimes combined with a Fauxtastic Voyage, as a common excuse for the extended sleep was that the mark had been in an accident.
    • One of the first cases was in the early first season episode "The Train". After several hours in a simulated train ride and while being put through a simulated train crash, the mark was injected with anesthetics by an IMF member pretending to be his passenger neighbor and was knocked out. When the mark woke up, he was told that he was in hospital, had been in a coma due to said train crash, and that several weeks had passed.
    • "Invasion". A spy who had revealed details of holes in the US radar net was persuaded that he had been unconscious for several days, the invasion had succeeded, and he would be executed as an enemy agent unless he could prove his part in it.
    • "Two Thousand". That same season, they conned a man into thinking a nuclear war had hit and he'd been in a coma for 28 years, and that the only way he could avoid execution was to reveal where he'd hidden a stolen cache of plutonium.
    • "Operation Rogosh". When an enemy agent plans a biological attack on Los Angeles, the IMF must trick him into revealing the type and location of his devices. They convince him that it is three years into the future, that he is back in his own country, and that he is on trial for being an American spy. The only way he can prove his innocence is to give them every detail of the attack.
    • One time, they did it twice at the same time, a con within a con: They first faked a "futuristic" future, then let the suspected crook "discover" via Newspaper Dating that he had only been comatose just long enough for the statute of limitations to run out, whereupon he went to his cache of loot.
    • Done in reverse when they convinced a retired gangster played by William Shatner that he had dreamed the previous thirty or so years and he was back in the 30s as a young man.
    • In "The Execution," a hitman is tricked into believing that he's forgotten the last two years of his life, with him awakening on Death Row awaiting execution later that evening for the murder of two people.
  • The TVB drama, The Legendary Four Aces has one of the four, Chi-San, suffering a Heroic RRoD, and unable to function - just as their services is needed by the Emperor himself. The other three aces - Tong Bak-Fu, Chow Wen-Bin and Man Chun-Ming - devises a rather ridiculous plan to help their friend snap out, by knocking Chi-San unconscious and, when he wakes up, claims he's been in a coma for two decades. Even the Emperor himself is on on this, by ordering the whole nation to adjust their calendars ahead by twenty years.
  • In a Mr. Young episode, Slab falls asleep in class and the other students decide to prank him into thinking he woke up in a future Dystopia by putting up futuristic signs in the classroom, for example, one advertising the cafeteria's Food Pills.
  • Inverted on Perception (2012), when the lone surviving victim of a serial killer from the '80s must provide information to help stop the killings when they resume. The survivor has anterograde amnesia and believes it's still the day before she was attacked; as such, memories of that time are as fresh for her as they were then. Using the bedroom her mother's kept unchanged for decades, Dr. Pierce arranges to humor the survivor's misconceptions and interview her as if she's a 17-year-old girl who might've noticed someone spying on her. It's implied that the mother will keep up the ruse for as long as they've both alive, so her daughter can keep contentedly re-living the same day rather than have to go back to an institution.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man is led to believe he was somehow put in a suspended animation chamber, and several thousand years have gone by. He's outside at night with one of the people involved in the plot, and he knows astronomy; the stars should have moved for it to be as far forward in the future as they claim.
  • Stargate SG-1: In "Out of Mind", after awakening from cryonic suspension, O'Neill, Carter and Daniel are told that they have been frozen for 79 years and the year is now 2077. It turns out that this is an elaborate plot orchestrated by Hathor so that she can learn what SG-1 knows about the current state of the System Lords before she launches an attack.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise:
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • A variation in "The Emissary": a Klingon crew really have been asleep for 75 years and awake to attack the Federation. The crew manage to talk them into surrender by fooling them into thinking that the Klingons won the last war. The Klingons are skeptical, but the Enterprise's superior firepower swings the argument.
    • Subverted in "Future Imperfect", in which Riker wakes up to be told that he is recovering from an amnesia-inducing sickness some sixteen years in his own future, where he is now Captain of the Enterprise and has a wife and son. He realises something weird is going on because his "wife" is a woman who only ever existed as a fictional holodeck creation, and discovers that he is actually being subjected to a Virtual-Reality Interrogation by the Romulans. The twist here is that this is just a second layer of VR - he is actually in a simulation created by his "son" from the first layer, actually a lonely alien child who wanted someone to play with — the apparent Virtual Reality Interrogation plot was the simulation trying to adjust to his suspicions of what was really happening.
      • Interestingly, many of the things Riker found odd (though not impossible) in the first fake scenario came true as the franchise continued.
  • V (1983). In "The Deception", the Visitors make a captured Mike Donovan think he's woken up ten years on when humanity has defeated the alien invaders. Holographic technology is used to make the Visitors appear as his friends, but Mike sees a newspaper with the Star Child who, unknown to the Visitors, has undergone a Plot-Relevant Age-Up, meaning she'd be much older than the picture shown.
  • In The Wayne Manifesto, Wayne's family pulls this on him to make him believe he's slept through Christmas and that it's the first day of school.
  • Another small-scale version turns up on the 1990 Zorro (1990) remake, wherein the entire pueblo, led by Don Diego, works to buy time for an unjustly accused man by pretending that the Alcalde's been delirious for a week and the hanging's already happened. That this elaborate scheme is unraveled by the Alcalde noticing that a recent wine stain on his carpet hasn't dried yet does not speak well of Diego's scheming ability (especially since he-as-Zorro caused the stain in the first place).


    Video Games 
  • In Poker Night 2, if the player wins the Necronomicon, the game will Homage and Parody the ending of Army of Darkness by having them pass out and wake up, to find everyone, including GLaDOS and Claptrap wearing obviously fake white beards.
  • In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, the Time Machine is really one of these. It functions as an elevator to an underground replica of London above, filled with actors.

    Web Animation 
  • With the massive Cerebus Retcons Red vs. Blue, it's heavily implied that the whole "A nuke sent tore a hole in space-time and sent us 200 years into the future" plot was really just Vic and Gary screwing with the Blood Gulch Crew. Either way, this trope was in effect to some extent, as it would SERIOUSLY muck up continuity if it had been a true Rip Van Winkle.

  • "The Lesson" from Brawl in the Family. Kirby wakes up after eating a Noddy. Another Noddy tells him that he's been asleep for years, and in that time King Dedede has conquered Dream Land without Kirby to oppose him. Kirby, guiltily, sets forth to fix the problem. Turns out he's only been asleep for a few minutes — as the title of the strip suggests, the Noddy was teaching Kirby a lesson. "Now maybe you'll think TWICE about eating one of us!"
  • In Cassiopeia Quinn, Zeke is shot in the head and put in a coma. When they finally wake up it appears that a very long time has passed. The next strip reveals that it was just a prank done via hologram.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del: Ethan builds a "time machine". "Time machine" explodes. Roommates pretend to be in the future as a prank, 'cause Ethan's kind of a dick. Immediately inverted when it appears that the time machine actually did work, and a future version of Ethan contacts him with a "dire warning". He ignores... er... himself? assuming it's another prank.
  • Ellen in El Goonish Shive wakes up after dreaming the first six years of memories of her alternate universe counterpart, and is momentarily scared that she slept through six years. (Elliot's "you're finally awake" comment doesn't help.)
  • Grrl Power: Harem attempts a variation of this as a prank on Sydney after she returns from some relativistic travel adventures in Strip 727.
    Maxima: "Sydney, you've been gone for fifty—"
    Harem: "Fifty seven years, Sydney! You've been lost in space for fifty seven years!"
  • And less briefly in Kevin & Kell. The point was to get Fenton to see the future he was risking by becoming a thrill seeker. It works... but Lindesfarne inadvertently accepted his marriage proposal in the process.
  • Happens very briefly in the "That's Just Mean" strip from The Order of the Stick, done solely as an chance for Nale to be a dick.
  • A similar example occurs in "Number 1316: The Familiar Boot Screen", a Questionable Content strip.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal suggests doing it to strangers via an app that makes the viewer look much older.
  • Sluggy Freelance uses this for comic relief. Torg is nearly killed when the demon K'Z'K shows up unexpectedly, and he is unconscious for the entirety of a long fight. His friends decide that in addition to filling him in on the details of the battle once he wakes up, it'd be nice to break the tension by convincing Torg he had been in a coma for five years.
    Torg: "Hey, our friend is in a coma, let's freak him out if-and-when he comes to!" What's wrong with you people?

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Bionic Six: When one of the heroes is knocked unconscious, the villains trick him into thinking it took him 30 years to wake up. He was then tricked into think Dr. Scarab and his gang reformed and went separate ways (Each one was looking older) and that he and his family didn't look any older because they were bionic. He was also tricked into thinking the other Bionic Five became villains. In the end, he told his real family he had figured out because the baseball glove he had with him before being rendered unconscious looked just as new as before.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command had this happen in "Lost in Time", where Buzz is captured by Zurg and made to think he's in a museum hundreds of years later. Zurg plays him by having the "museum" get all manner of details hideously wrong, including his catch phrase (properly "To infinity and beyond!"), so of course he starts fixing details and soon is telling little kids stories about how he defeated Zurg on this or that occasion and how Star Command's weapons and security work. He only realizes the truth when he finds out that the museum's "copy" of his laser-equipped suit is the real thing (the laser destroys part of the set).
  • In Dan Vs. "The Fancy Restaurant", Dan is knocked unconscious and wakes up in a dungeon. When he asks what happened to him, one of the other prisoners tells him he's been in a coma for twelve years, but another prisoner informs him that it's only been ten minutes.
  • An episode of the Diabolik animated series had Eva and Diabolik pulling this on an enemy of theirs after the latter two were involved in an accident which left the enemy unconscious. Part of the act had Diabolik pretending to have been rendered quadriplegic and catatonic after the accident so that the enemy would start taunting him with the information he was after.
  • Futurama
    • Inverted in the episode "A Fishful of Dollars". After being drugged, Fry awakens in a shoddily constructed pizzeria set, where "employees" have him convinced that he is back in the year 2000 in an attempt to get Fry's PIN number. Given Fry's brainless nature, it works.
    • Happens unintentionally in "The Cryonic Woman". Fry and his old girlfriend freeze themselves to go to the year 4000, and when they wake up in a deserted wasteland they assume civilization has collapsed. Only later do they find out that they were really only frozen for a week or two, and civilization is doing just fine. The wasteland is actually contemporary Los Angeles.
  • Gargoyles: In the 2nd-season episode "Future Tense," Goliath finally returns to Manhattan, only to find that the repeated journeys to and from Avalon have taken 40 years of time in the "real world," and Xanatos has become an immortal tyrant in the meantime. He's conquered New York and turned it into a dystopia. The entire thing turns out to be an illusion created by Puck in an elaborate con to get Goliath to give him the Phoenix Gate.
  • The G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode "There's No Place Like Springfield" thrust Shipwreck into the future where he was happily living a life of civilian retirement with Cobra long defeated. He can't remember any of the apparent past six years and seeks out medical help. Turns out, he's not in the future, it's all an elaborate setup by Cobra, and the "treatment" he's receiving for his amnesia is actually an attempt by Cobra to get him to reveal the plans for a chemical-based superweapon.
  • Gravity Falls: Dipper and Mabel tried to prank Soos by making him think he woke up in the far future. Soos immediately sees through it because the twins put a fake beard on him as part of the prank, but unknown to them, Soos can't grow facial hair.
  • In the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "The Man in the Mirror", Fred wakes up in a post-apocalyptic town with animated skeletons and an elderly Daphne. The whole thing was a plot to try to trick Fred into revealing where he hid the Planispheric Disc. Fred reveals he saw through the ruse immediately and led the fake Daphne (actually his mother) on a wild goose chase while finding a way to warn his friends.
  • The Simpsons
    • Played with in one episode. Jasper uses the Kwik-E-Mart's freezer to cryogenically freeze himself so that he can see the wonders of the future. At the end of the episode, he thaws out (much to the chagrin of Apu, who was making huge business out of displaying him like some sort of freak show) and mistakenly thinks he is in the far future. ("Moon Pies... what a time to be alive.")
    • Minor example from the episode where Marge discovers the internet: she stays on the computer all night, and in the morning, Bart lies about the day, saying it's Saturday (it's a weekday, probably Friday or so).
  • In one episode of The Smurfs (1981), appropriately titled "Rip Van Smurf", the Smurfs decide to teach Lazy Smurf a lesson with his habit of sleeping all the time by making him think he slept for over twenty years, during which they had become old and decrepit and Papa Smurf has passed awaynote , forcing Lazy to take care of them all. It backfires on them when Lazy gives them a Fountain of Youth potion to make them young again, resulting in them turning into Smurflings.


Video Example(s):


Amy's Gambit

In an attempt to get information from her husband after he gets knocked out, Amy sets up a fake hospital room and pretends that Jake has been comatose for years. It works.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / FakedRipVanWinkle

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