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Fever Dream Episode

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"Whether the dreams brought on the fever or the fever brought on the dreams Walter Gilman did not know."
— Opening line of The Dreams in the Witch House

An entire episode as told from the perspective of someone who is very sick, their hallucinations and fever dreams giving everything a very warped slant. Nightmare Sequences are to be expected, whether the character is awake or not. The viewer may feel late to the party if the episode starts in the middle of such dreams without explanation, leaving the viewer to gradually piece together what's really going on.

Does not count as a Fever Dream Episode if other, lucid characters are watching the sick one stumbling around.

Subtrope of Sick Episode. See also Mushroom Samba. May be an instance of Past Experience Nightmare or Dreaming of Things to Come. Compare Talking in Your Dreams, which may be mistaken for this, or result from it. Without the illness aspect, this is a Dream Episode.

See also Adventures in Comaland, when a long-unconscious character goes on a spiritual journey inside their own head.

Not to be confused with a brief glimpse of the world as seen through the eyes of someone who's just taken a blow, had a whiff of poison gas, etc. and is about to go down for the count — that's Impairment Shot.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the anime Black Butler, Ciel suffers an asthma attack and develops a fever afterward. He dreams of his terrible past.
  • Yuno's day with a fever in the anime of Hidamari Sketch. (The manga version of events doesn't delve into Yuno's dreams.) Most of the episode is spent in dream, but there are still scenes in the "real world" from time to time. Oddly, some of Yuno's dreams turn out to be remarkably accurate to what happens at school that day. The episode also contains a very sweet scene, when Miyako decides to help out Yuno.
  • Happens in Super Dimension Fortress Macross. It was actually a Clip Show with clever editing and a new soundtrack, appearing as a dream after Hikaru was shot down by accidental friendly fire.
  • A very fun episode of Crayon Shin-chan is basically a very long fever dream which constantly references heat.
  • Yurie's fever in Kamichu! had the strange effect of casting her out of her body. Being new to Goddess-hood, she wasn't sure what was real and what was dream. Ironically, Kenji actually noticed her for once.
  • A common fan theory about the Cowboy Bebop episode "Toys in the Attic" (the one with the Blob Monster) is that it's actually just a weird dream Spike has while he's sick with food poisoning.
  • An early episode of Windy Tales features this as Nao lays in the nurse's office and incorporates the conversations of those who come and go into her dreams.

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose sees Raven Hex wandering through several classic fairytales, getting increasingly frustrated at the passivity of the heroines therein, and wondering how she got stuck in these stories and how to get home. The ending reveals that the whole thing is a fever dream; she is actually stuck in bed with a magical cold, and Tarot is reading her stories while she recovers.

    Fan Works 
  • Down And Out: Chapter 6 turns out to be this, thanks to Simon getting sick from an infected stab wound.

    Film — Animation 
  • In The Good Dinosaur, Arlo and Spot start having weird hallucinations after eating some berries that were fermented.

  • Ray Bradbury's short story "Fever Dream" combines this with Body Horror and Cassandra Truth. (Oh, God, that poor kid...)
  • A Gaunt's Ghosts short story "The Iron Star" is written fully from the perspective of Gaunt, who's feverish and hallucinating after a deadly wound, imagining that he's fighting a battle over an anonymous bridge on an anonymous planet with the deceased Tanith soldiers as his subordinates. Sometimes, pieces of what the field medics who are trying to save his life are saying come through to him.
  • When sick with malaria in the second Little House on the Prairie book, Laura starts hallucinating.
  • In Piers Anthony's Mode Series, the main character is infected by a psychic virus that makes her go into vivid dreams to destroy her already precarious sense of self-worth. Whenever she thought of anybody, she would immediately go into an indistinguishable dream where the person hated her and would attempt to kill or torture her, with each dream being worse and more savage than the last. She ultimately beats it by thinking of herself and tackling her self-doubts head on.
  • A poem from the Vita Nuova begins with Dante begging for death as some women wake him up from a fever-induced nightmare. The middle and end of the poem are the poet detailing his nightmare, where Beatrice died and ascended to Heaven while all the Earth was left in chaotic mourning.
  • Near the end of Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell comes down with a high fever. It starts simply enough, with him being unsure if he's asked someone to close a window or just thinking he has while half-awake, but the narration becomes steadily more loopy as he sees things that aren't there and couldn't possibly exist, spending most of the next week trying to figure out what's real and what's delirium.
  • In the Kane Series novella "Mirage", Kane is wounded and then slowly dying, and spends most of the story in delirium.

    Live-Action TV 
  • House! The episode where he gets shot, and the patient's balls explode.
  • Into the Badlands. The episode where Sunny is poisoned and enters a dream reality.
  • The NewsRadio episode "Daydreams", where everyone has heat-induced hallucinations while they wait for the AC to be fixed.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): "The Midnight Sun" is like this. The world has slipped from orbit and is falling toward the sun. Consequently, everyone's quite literally being slowly cooked to death. Twist Ending goes: it was a dream the main character had while sick with a high fever. The world has actually slipped from orbit and is falling away from the sun, so everyone is slowly freezing to death.
  • Stargate SG-1 episode "The Changeling" combines it with Cuckoo Nest.
  • An episode of Dinosaurs had Baby Sinclair sick and hallucinating that the tender words of comfort and support his family were saying to him were evil threats to devour his feet.
  • A possible case is the Red Dwarf episode "Confidence and Paranoia", where a mutant disease makes Lister have solid hallucinations that everybody can see and interact with (the Cat was able to eat the hallucination fishes).
  • The musical episode of Scrubs. A woman ends up in the hospital because she imagines that everyone around her is singing. This turns out to be caused by a massive unruptured brain aneurysm, which has some minimal Truth in Television (Such an aneurysm could cause one to hear people's speaking as if they were singing, but would not explain the rhyming or choreography the patient hallucinates in the episode).
  • In the Bones season 4 finale, "The End In the Beginning", Booth is in a coma after undergoing brain surgery and has a dream where he and Bones run a nightclub called The Lab, staffed by the regular cast, and they're the ones being investigated in relation to a murder. He wakes up once the murder is solved. Also, he and Bones are married in his dream.
  • The M*A*S*H episode "Follies of the Living - Concerns of the Dead" combines this trope with Near-Death Clairvoyance: Klinger sees, and talks with, the ghost of a recently-dead soldier while recovering from a high fever.
  • Power Rangers: Dino Thunder. A comatose Tommy has to fight for his life against his past Ranger forms.
  • The German dub of Star Trek: The Original Series changes the episode "Amok Time" into this, in an attempt to remove the references to sexuality. In this version, Spock is ill with "Space fever", and the fight between him and Kirk is a hallucination.
  • The George Lopez Show had two episode in which George drinks tequila with the worm and hallucinates about alternate realities, the first being a What If? scenario where Benny was nicer to him growing up, the second depicting him and Ernie as a gay couple.
  • The King of Queens had an episode where Doug dreams he is in The Honeymooners.
  • Elements of this appear in the Farscape episode "Won't Get Fooled Again", but both John and the audience think it's Scorpius messing with him again. In actuality, it's a different alien inducing a fever dream in an effort to extract information.
  • Angel spends "Soul Purpose" stuck in a fever dream thanks to a demonic parasite.
  • The Even Stevens episode "Influenza: The Musical" is Ren's fever dream. As you probably guessed from the title, this was also the Musical Episode.
  • The Sopranos episode "Funhouse" contains multiple fever dreams after Tony gets a bad case of food poisoning. In one of them, Tony douses himself with gasoline and lights himself on fire. More important for the plot though, the dreams leads Tony to the realization that his friend Pussy has betrayed the gang and has become The Mole.
    • Similarly in some early Season 6 episodes, after falling unconscious from some gunshot wounds, Tony has a series of strange dreams during his coma.
  • Major Dad's Halloween special featured this. In it, Casey is excited about going trick-or-treating. She gets a cold and falls asleep and has a fever dream, where she imagines that every main character is a horror movie monster.
  • Life On Mars is made of this trope, but the most significant and direct example is S02E05, where 2006!Sam's medication has been messed about with and 1973 seems to warp out of control; instead of being realistic, billboards remind him of his thoughts, lollipop ladies' signs read OH SHIT! and other things happen to him which show his stability in a coma is taking a dramatic turn for the worse. At one point during the episode he is actually sedated so deeply he can only watch his comrades on a television screen as they attempt to solve the crime of the week.
    • And of course the US version was entirely a variant of this trope—the whole thing was Sam's dream, though a cryo-sleep one rather than a fever one.
  • Space Cases did this twice:
    • In "Who Goes Where?", Radu is infected with a disease that causes him to hallucinate that all of his crewmates are monsters.
    • In "The Impossible Dram", the crew picks up a self-styled "knight-errant" who's convinced that he's hunting a dragon. While aboard the ship, chemicals from his ship leak into the air vents, causing Catalina to start hallucinating that there really is a dragon aboard the ship.
  • One of the German series Erotic Tales had a policeman fever-dreaming he was seduced by a Femme Fatale Spy who leaves him tied to a bed so she can free the Russian spy he's guarding. He wakes up and goes to work; turns out he's guarding an ordinary criminal at the hospital. His commander sees he's still sick and offers him a day off, but he stays because the nurse is the spy from his fantasy.
  • Forever Knight. In "Curiouser and Curiouser", Vampire Detective Nick Knight is suspended pending investigation into a robbery he tried to stop where an Innocent Bystander was killed. He goes home and falls asleep, then wakes up to find that he's a human Defective Detective married to Janette (who's human as well because vampires don't exit) and having an affair with Natalie who's the precinct captain instead of the coroner, and Always Second Best to his partner Schanke instead of the other way round. The Murder of the Week is "The Nightcrawler" LaCroix who's been stabbed (with an ordinary knife despite being a vampire) at his radio station. Things get weirder with Alice Allusions galore and LaCroix speaking to him from the TV set. Turns out it's repressed guilt over how Nick has been treating his friends on top of his vampire issues. As per Alice in Wonderland, he then wakes up to find that it's All Just a Dream. Then word comes in about a murder at a radio station...
  • Person of Interest. The episode "Terra Incognita" is apparently a flashback where John Reese and Detective Carter (now dead) are on a stakeout, during which he keeps complaining of the cold and turning up the heater. Eventually it's revealed that Reese is actually dying of shock and hypothermia, trapped in a car that won't start in the snow after being shot by the Villain of the Week.

  • An interesting variation occurs in Ride the Cyclone. Ricky Potts' signature song song, "Space Aged Bachelor Man," is presented as a flashback to the madcap dream he had after attending an all-you-can-eat dinner at Uranium, Saskatchewan's Red Lobster (several hundred miles from any source of fresh seafood in either direction), with the Potts family's fourteen pet cats sleeping at the foot of his bed. In his shellfish-induced fantasy, the horny teenage nerd is transported to a distant galaxy where he heroically saves a race of sexy cat-people with many generous donations of his genetic material, then counsels them on making peace with the dog-people from the next galaxy over.

  • The entire plot of Hitman: Contracts is one long example. 47 is mortally wounded and hiding out in Paris. As he slips in and out of consciousness, he relives previous missions which the player experiences.
  • Axiom Verge has a sequence in Ukin-Na railroading the player into a subarea where Trace keeps seeing a double of himself and the screen becomes progressively more distorted. This culminates in a very bizarre Hopeless Boss Fight, after which conditions return to normal.
  • Not for Broadcast: The Lockdown chapter takes place in a dream that Alex Winston has while knocked unconscious by the electric shock from the end of The Tempest chapter.

  • In the Penny and Aggie arc "The Lady and the Tiger" Aggie, due to an allergic reaction to medication, has one of these, doubling as a character-building Near-Death Experience.
  • In Homestuck, after Jade's dream self dies, she ends up on the receiving end of this and the viewers get to see. Karkat and Feferi meanwhile got killed while dreaming and end up getting the same results, though Feferi knew this all along and is more than happy to explain the situation to her.
  • The second arc of Marry Me (Bobby Crosby) is about (and entitled) when Parker met Guy. Parker, doing a babysitting job, is told by her temporary charges that their uncle Guy is upstairs, sicker than an entire pack of effluent dogs. Guy is clearly having a good time with this, because although he's fully awake, he's nowhere near lucid; when he inevitably manages to escape Parker's attention with the boys, he comes to the conclusion that they need hamburgers, and treats their fast food order with all the grave urgency of a black ops mission.
  • Full Frontal Nerdity
    • Happens in a sequence starting here.
    • Subverted in a future plot arc; while Lewis is treated to one of these after eating Mexican takeout, he flatly refuses to go along with it and tells the pixie-like Aesop-deliverer to go screw.
  • Book 27 of Misfile starts with one of these centered on Ash.
  • Twin Dragons: In Chapter 9 Kai has a cold and starts dreaming he's in a fantasy land populated by alternate versions of his friends, and his sister as a vindictive rain goddess.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: Season 7's premiere, "Flu-ouise" has the A plot of Louise going through a fever dream of adventuring through a forest with her toys to get to a shady castle, guided by her favorite toy broken by her family. Meanwhile, the family in the B-plot try to fix the toy they broke.
  • An episode of Rugrats (1991) has Tommy get sick, leading to a sequence where he hallucinates his family members are figurines from his mobile.
  • The animesque Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi has this happen to the main characters, induced by cheap sushi.
  • The Futurama episode "The Sting" has this as the twist of the episode, mixed with a healthy dose of Mind Screw. It turns out the whole plot of Fry being dead after taking the stinger of a space bee instead of Leela was Leela's dream while severely sick and comatose, as she'd gotten all the poison from the stinger instead. Her visions of Fry still being alive were him begging her at her bedside to Please Wake Up.
  • DuckTales (1987): In "Scroogearello", a fever causes Scrooge to have a bizarre fantasy of himself as a Gender Flipped Cinderella with Goldie as his Rebellious Princess.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Earth King" has this for Zuko's side of the story, when he gets sick as a result of doing the right thing.
  • One episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends begins with Bloo as his Superpowered Alter Ego the Bloo Superdude battling his way through a Dungeons & Dragons-type world. Gradually it is revealed that it's just a feverish Bloo wandering around the house and attacking his friends.
  • The Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "Mystery Solvers Club State Finals" has Scooby too sick to take part in the titular contest and has a dream where he and the gang are there. The dream has everyone look more like their original Hanna-Barbera designs, and features characters from Jabberjaw, Speed Buggy, The Funky Phantom, and Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "Shadow of the Bat!" opens with Batman and Jason Blood fighting the pseudo-vampire Dala and Batman getting bitten. The rest of episode involves Batman turning into a vampire and attacking the Justice League, before Batman and the vampiric Leaguers are destroyed by Martian Manhunter and Jason Blood. The end reveals that Batman collapsed immediately after being bitten, and becoming a vampire was just a hallucination brought on by Dala's toxins in his blood.
  • The U.S. Acres episode "Swine Trek".
  • Batman: The Animated Series: "Over the Edge" shows Commissioner Gordon going on a vendetta against Batman after Batgirl is killed in action and he discovers that she was his daughter Barbara. The end reveals that Batgirl was hallucinating under the influence of Scarecrow's fear toxin.
  • In the Bojack Horseman episode "Downer Ending", Bojack, Todd, and Sarah Lynn are trying to rewrite Bojack's memoir and, faced with a looming deadline, they take a shitload of drugs to try and power through it. Naturally, terrifying hallucinations ensue.
  • In a fourth season episode, Arthur eats too much candy, among other things including a well-cooked meal, then winds up bedridden with a stomach ache. Grandma Thora's fairy tales turn into dream sequences involving the various stories.
  • When Curious George comes down with a cold, he has a journey that he is going through his body to fight the germ causing his sickness.
  • Magic Adventures of Mumfie had "Mumfie's Lost Button", where Mumfie has a bizzare nightmare induced by a stomachache about loosing one of the buttons on his coat.
  • Phineas and Ferb: in season 1's "The Ballad of Badbeard", Candace stumbles into some hallucinatory moss and spends the episode tagging along on Perry's mission against Dr. Doofenshmirtz and hallucinating a zebra that calls her "Kevin". The zebra went on to be a Running Gag, appearing to Candace in her dreams, or when she thinks she's dreaming, or in dreams within dreams, et cetera.
  • Sea Princesses: In "Grow Up", after wishing he had bigger muscles, Marcello cuts his leg on some poisonous coral, becomes delirious and faints. While delirious, he has dream where he wakes up with huge muscles that causes him to wreak unwitting destruction wherever he goes.
  • Detentionaire: The A-plot of "28 Sneezes Later" sees Lee, struck by the same illness as most of the rest of the school, go on a wild adventure chasing the Tazelwurm into tunnels under the school before waking up back in detention and dismissing the whole thing as a fever dream. However, it's later revealed that the tunnels actually exist, on top of the adventure foreshadowing some later reveals in the series; the only thing that was unambiguously a fever-induced hallucination was the Tazelwurm inexplicably talking and obtaining a top hat and monocle.