But if I know you, I know what you'll do
You'll love me at once
The way you did once upon a dream
A character, usually male, meets a stranger, usually female and presumably a future Love Interest, in a dream of his. He later meets her in real life and discovers that she wasn't just an invention of his subconscious. Thus, she really is the "girl of his dreams".
How did a real person like her end up in his dreams? Maybe they were his Dreaming of Things to Come, or his dreaming of his own time. Maybe it was Telepathy on her part. Or maybe they happened to meet each other's consciousness in a collective Dream Land.
Either way, meeting someone of your desired gender in a dream always means that the person is special, or otherworldly, or fated to be yours. Romantic love is practically guaranteed.
- In Chrono Crusade, Azmaria has a dream about Joshua near the beginning of volume 2, and finds out in the same chapter that he's Rosette's missing brother. They don't meet in person until volume 5. In the epilogue, Azmaria is shown holding Joshua's hand at Rosette's funeral. A ring is clearly visible, implying that, yes—they did get married. The Distant Finale second epilogue confirms it further as a grandson of theirs shows up.
- Played with in Yumeria where the main character Tomokazu first meets a strange girl named Mone in a dream of his. The next morning the girl appears to have come out of the Dream Land and is currently sleeping in bed next to him... naked. Hilarity Ensues.
- Yaoi Genre example: Koi Wa Ina Mono Myouna Mono or Secret Love, a manga by Taishi Zaou: The high school boy Masafumi Tamura has several dreams of having sex with another boy. To his fear, he meets the boy, Narumi Seiwa, who sure is interested in making the dreams come true.
- Female dreaming of male example: Nanoha dreams of Yuuno via telepathy in the very first episode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. How much they fit the "Romantic love is practically guaranteed" part of this trope mostly depends on which side of the Ship-to-Ship Combat you are.
- Another genderflipped example is from Cardcaptor Sakura: the first time Sakura Kinomoto saw Li Syaoran was in one of her Prophetic Dreams. Unlike the aforementioned example, they're VERY much an Official Couple. She also dreams of what turns out to be the Final Judgment, and the people she'll later come to know as Ms. Mizuki and Yue. Both of whom she crushes on at first. (Well, sorta. Yue is complicated.)
- Digimon Tamers:
- Takato first sees Ruki in a dream, rocking a Badass Longcoat and generally being awesome. Takato/Ruki is a major Fan-Preferred Couple in the fandom; but Takato actually has a crush on one of his classmates, Juri, and she more or less returns it in the end. note
- The English dub has him, after meeting Rika for real, joke about how "it's not every day you get to meet your dream girl - sorry, couldn't resist." She threatens to hurt him if he calls her that again.
- Welcome to the N.H.K.! opens with Sato having a dream that mostly symbolizes his delusions. At one point, however, Misaki appears in the background with her trademark white umbrella, watching Sato with an enigmatic smile. Not only does his dream foreshadow his meeting with Misaki later in the episode, but how his dream ends foreshadows his suicide attempt in the final episode during a last-ditch attempt to convince Misaki not to end her life.
- Girl In My Dreams uses this as a Red Herring and then inverted: Soon after losing his girlfriend Ji-Soo in a tragic accident the protagonist Ji-Hoon starts dreaming of a beautiful girl named Yuna who appears to be playing this trope straight until she reveals she's actually a vengeful aspect of Ji-Soo's spirit intent on committing Grand Theft Me.
- Ai, the male lead of Psychic Academy, believed that he first met his girlfriend Orina at a beach at sunset. It wasn't until years later that he learned that that meeting was actually a psychic phenomena known as the Paradream, or that the girl he actually met there was Mew, who had changed hairstyles in the seven years between the Paradream and their first actual meeting. The poor lighting caused by the Paradream happening at sunset caused him to not realize that Orina's hair color didn't even come close to matching that of the girl he had met.
- Played literally in the ending of Eureka Seven movie. Eureka was able to enter Renton's dream during their childhood, and demonstrated this ability again as the naked long hair girl in Renton's dream, adding the fact that the world might have turned into or connected to Renton's dream world.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica does this as well, as Madoka first sees Homura in a dream before seeing her in real life. As for romantic love, difficult to say whether it's this or just really strong feelings of friendship on Homura's part. (There are arguments for both sides, but let's not discuss them here). Madoka herself refers to Homura "the greatest friend I've ever had" in the end... but she does so while the two of them are having naked-outer-space-hugs. This dream was not a random fantasy, but Madoka's memories of a previous timeline bleeding through her subconscious.
- Very important in Ten Yori Mo, Hoshi Yori Mo. The "dreams" that Mio and Shou/Rei have about each other? They're actually Past-Life Memories.
- In Heaven's Lost Property, Tomoki constantly dreams of a mysterious woman. It turns out that Tomoki's dreams are a portal to Synapse, and he's meeting an angel named Daedalus. Daedalus uses these meetings to warn him of danger and keep an eye on her daughters Ikaros, Nymph, and Astraea.
- Gender Flipped in Yume Gari, since female lead Tatsumi saw Kyousuke, the lead male and her soon-to-be partner, in one of her dreams. That's how she recognized him in Real Life.
- Similarly, Kyousuke himself was told about his own role and about Tatsumi herself this way — by Tatsumi's mother, who entered his dreams and asked him to be Tatsumi's partner/protector.
- Two-way example: In MÄR, Ginta has 103 dreams of MAR Heaven with visions of Princess Snow before he travels there for real. Meanwhile, Princess Snow and Koyuki, Ginta's classmate, Childhood Friend and crush, don't dream so much as they see through each other's eyes when they sleep. Consequently, Snow has known Ginta for her whole life, even though they don't meet until his arrival in MAR Heaven.
- In one of the Fire Emblem: Geneaology of the Holy War mangas, Ayra all but forgot her first love and distant cousin Holyn... save for her dreams. Once she recognizes his adult self, they hook up.
- Scott Pilgrim in the first volume of Scott Pilgrim has his dreams rudely interrupted by a courier-girl named Ramona. This is because one of the "subspace highways" she uses regularly passes through the Dream Land of his mind. (Despite what she says, it is a bit like Super Mario Bros. 2.)
- In W.I.T.C.H., Cornelia dreams of Caleb, a guy living in other dimension before meeting him.
- In X-Men, Professor X meets Lilandra after dreaming of her repeatedly, though when you're the most powerful psychic in the world, it's not as surprising.
- In The Sandman, sleeping people are often conscripted into being temporary servants in Morpheus' kingdom. In the issue "Season Of Mists", one man begs a woman to tell him her name and address before they wake up. It's not shown if they manage to find each other in the real world.
- Druuna: Commander Will starts to have prophetic dreams about Druuna wherein he has passionate sex with her before he actually meets her in real life. It turns out that these visions were sent by the Virtual Ghost protecting Druuna specifically so that the Commander and his crew would rescue her from her centuries-long statis on an artificial asteroid.
- In the oldest version of "Beauty and the Beast", Beauty dreams, repeatedly, of a handsome young man who begs her to rescue him. Technically, she had met him at this point, but she doesn't realize it until the Beast transforms.
- In The Green Knight, both the green knight and the princess dreamed of each before they met.
- Disney's Sleeping Beauty:
But if I know you
I know what you'll do
You'll love me at once
The way you did once upon a dream.
- 12 Monkeys. The recurring dream was caused by a childhood memory of seeing something horrible happen to his time-traveling future self and his lover.
- Total Recall (1990). A psychiatrist is trying to convince Quaid that what he's experiencing isn't real, but an implanted memory.
Psychiatrist: And what about the girl? Brunette, athletic, sleazy and demure? Just as you specified. Is that coincidence?
Quaid: She's real. I dreamt about her before I even went to Rekall.
Psychiatrist: Mr. Quaid. Can you hear yourself? She's real because you dreamed her?
Quaid: That's right.
- Valentine is a male version in MirrorMask.
- The Good Night featured a married man dreaming of a mysterious woman who adores him sexually, played by Penélope Cruz. He is disappointed when he meets the real life version of the girl and finds she's nothing like the dream version.
- Played straight in Interstate 60. Neil dreams and sees vision of a mysterious girl. When he embarks on his adventure on the mythical Interstate 60, he finds and rescues her from prison. They discover that they are, in fact, soul mates.
- A dark version occurs in the horror movie Lifeforce. An astronaut becomes obsessed with the beautiful woman he finds on an alien spacecraft (as she's played by a stark naked Mathilda May that's not surprising) who turns out to be a Life Energy-sucking space vampire. She later informs him that she probed his mind long before his ship approached hers, taking from it an image of his perfect woman.
- Dagon: Paul has recurring dreams of a beautiful mermaid who beckons him to join her. After he and his friends get stuck in a coastal town inhabited by a Fish People cult, he finds out that the girl in his dreams, Uxia the high priestess, is real. At the end he's told that they're both the demi-human offspring of a sea god and that he is destined to become his sister's lover.
- Gender-flipped version in Panna a netvor with Julie, who in the drugged-induced sleep Netvor's minions forced her she dreams of a Dance of Romance with an handsome Prince Charming, actually Netvor in human form.
- This trope is played to an extreme in Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn.
- One fateful midsummer night, Caspian Knoll falls asleep and has an extremely lucid dream. In his dream, Caspian meets the goddess, Ixchel (pronounced ee-shell), who later becomes his love interest. Caspian has at least two other dreams, including a day dream, in which he sees her again.
- Caspian often felt he was unlucky in love, a point emphasized when he misses his chance to talk to a beautiful woman he notices in his job's parking lot. Caspian later sees the woman from before a second time and finally approaches her. To his great surprise, the woman turns out to be Ixchel reborn as a mortal.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Chrome Circle, Tannim and Shar have repeated dreams of one another long before they ever meet... mostly because a dragon decided to make up for a mistake in his past by playing matchmaker via manipulating their dreams. The funny part is, he wasn't trying to matchmake for them — and he was very embarrassed when he found out how erotic their dreams had gotten.
- M'k'n'zy dreams about Elizabeth Shelby before meeting her in Star Trek: New Frontier, and they end up married. Though that same dream also involved Picard ...
- Dune. Paul Atreides has dreams of the future where he sees the Fremen girl Chani he will eventually meet and fall in love with. His son, Leto II, later has similar dreams during his Spice ordeal, but subverts the trope by deliberately choosing a different path, since it was the love for Chani that led Paul to his eventual doom.
- Belgarath the Sorcerer: Riva Iron-Grip dreamt of his future betrothed continuously for years courtesy of his God, Belar... and since Belar knows his people, the dream girl didn't wear much. On the other hand, she was roughly newborn when the dreams started, and had to wait a while to grow up. Riva was very happy to meet her for real finally.
- Inigo and Giulietta in the sequel fragment at the end of The Princess Bride.
- The book Tree of Dreams contains the story "Dream Girl", in which a prince meets a girl in a dream and falls in love. The prince's friend convinces the king that the best solution is to let the prince go out and travel so he can meet a real girl. Then they come to a country where the king's daughter has been locked up because she wants to marry a man she met in a dream...
- In Banco, Papillon spends two hellish years in the Penal Colony's solitary confinement. During that time he dreamed of life as a free man with a beautiful and kind woman he called his belle princesse. In Maracaibo he enters the Hotel Vera Cruz to get out of the heat and sees her in a rocking chair; with the hazel eyes and Beauty Mark he always envisioned, and he's shocked that she even speaks French. He rents a room and takes a cold shower, trying not to panic because she's real, and vows to never tell her that he dreamed of her years before. He eventually marries Rita and they run the hotel together.
- In his Mémoires, Lucien Bonaparte claims that one night where he stayed at a friend's house, he saw a beautiful woman in a dream, in which she was pulling him towards life while the ghost of his dead wife tried to draw him towards death. On the next day, he went for a walk in the garden and saw that same mysterious woman, whom he later married.
- Heroes: Matt Parkman sees a future where he's married to Daphne Milbrook, and they even have a kid together. They end up finding each other back in the present during Volume 3 and become a very sweet (if awkward) couple. Unfortunately, Matt's dreams of the future also predicted Daphne dying in his arms. In the Volume 4 episode "Cold Snap", she passes away in a heart-breaking Tear Jerker of a scene, but from a septic gunshot wound, not a subversion of Outrun the Fireball.
- Averted in the Doctor Who episode "Forest of the Dead" — Donna's fake husband turns out to be a real person uploaded into the computer, but his stutter makes him unable to get her attention before she leaves, so she never knows he's real.
- A few of the subplots in Flash Forward invoke this trope. Playing it straight, they have Bryce's flash that involves meeting up with a girl in a restaurant and spends some time trying to find her, but doesn't have all the information needed. In a subversion, Olivia's flashforward shows her romantically involved with Lloyd Simcoe. Too bad she's already married.
- Happens in Star Trek: The Next Generation. A boy with an Arranged Marriage to Deanna dreams of another woman who turns out to be of the alien race of the week, and she has dreamed of him all her life as well. Turns out he's the only one who can cure their horrible disease, and he winds up leaving with the aliens.
- In the Smallville episode "Slumber", Clark Kent dreams of a girl named Sara Conroy before he ever met her. He saves her life in both the dream and real world, but they do not become attracted to each other at all, and she becomes a Clark/Lana Shipper on Deck.
- Tenar is this to Ged in the Sci Fi Channel version of Earthsea.
- In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), Dean dreams about his perfect girlfriend, but the trope is subverted when Dean wakes up and realizes she was based on a model he had seen in a beer advertisement.
- Fastball's song "Falling Upstairs" references this:
Long before I ever saw your face
I got to know you in a dream.
- "29 Years" by The National:
You know I dreamed about you
For 29 years before I saw you
- "I Knew I Loved You" by Savage Garden:
I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life
- In Heart's "Magic Man", the titular character is this. Upon meeting in the real world, he recognizes the dreamer immediately.
It seemed we'd seen each other in a dream
It seemed like he knew me
He looked right through me.
- Older Than Dirt—this happens in The Epic of Gilgamesh with Gilgamesh and Enkidu, who are Heterosexual Life-Partners drenched in Ho Yay. Before Gilgamesh meets Enkidu, he has a dream of him... sort of. (It's a meteor, but symbolically it's Enkidu.) Gilgamesh then goes and tells his mom about the dream, and she says, "Yep, this is the guy for you."
Ninsun: This star of heaven which descended like a meteor from the sky; which you tried to lift, but found too heavy, when you tried to move it it would not budge, and so you brought it to my feet; I made it for you, a goad and spur, and you were drawn as though to a woman. This is the strong comrade, the one who brings help to his friend in his need. He is the strongest of wild creatures, the stuff of Anu; born in the grass-lands and the wild hills reared him; when you see him you will be glad; you will love him as a woman and he will never forsake you. This is the meaning of the dream.
- This can happen to Ness in EarthBound, as a psychic plea from the imprisoned Paula.
- A gender reversed version is found in Earthbound Zero. Ana fell in love with Ninten when she started seeing him in her dreams.
- The player character in Knights of the Old Republic has dreams (in truth, resurfacing memories) of Bastila before their first meeting.
- In Space Quest 4, it isn't quite a dream, but all of the events of that game feel like a really weird dream to Roger Senior. More importantly (as far as this trope is concerned), it is in this game, during a particularly weird segment at the end, that Roger Senior first sees Beatrice, the woman who will bear his son, Roger Junior.
- Chulip starts with the hero dreaming of a girl on a nap while he moves to a new town. Then he discovers that she lives in said town... And he wants to figure out how to win her heart.
- Chrono Cross starts with a dream sequence dungeon featuring the protagonist Serge, a random third party member, and most significantly his future significant other, Kid.
- Played with in the beginning of Shin Megami Tensei I: during the game's opening dream sequence, the protagonist is asked to name his two (male) allies who will eventually become the Law Hero and the Chaos Hero, and depending on your choices one or both will be at your throat by the end of the game before meeting a mysterious woman named Yuriko who claims to be the protagonist's "eternal partner". She's none other than Lilith, and she plans to create a new humankind with the protagonist.
- Although a short while later you get another dream sequence, where you meet the Heroine, the real "eternal partner".
- The 'Moon Goddess' the hero Rudy has recurring dreams of in the H-Game Brave Soul. Interestingly played with; shortly after being woken up from another dream of this beautiful blue-haired girl by his little dragon sidekick Shell, he meets a girl who looks a lot like her called Alicia (who can become his lover depending on your route through the game). As it turns out the girl in the dream isn't Alicia, but her older sister Claire, who she strongly resembles. Subverted Trope, then? Not quite: turns out that Claire vanished because she was turned into a small dragon that was adopted by a swordsman who named her 'Shell'...
- Gender flipped example in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean Xelha first sees Kalas in her dreams where he is holding someone and crying in a dark forest. She felt a great deal of sympathy for Kalas and wanted to help him, even if she never met him before.
- Tanit the chief Ba'al Goddess in Tears to Tiara 2 to Hamil.
- In Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time, one of the possible love interests, Frayne, first appears to Crevanille, while he is unconscious from injuries he got in a fight.
- In the opening cinematic for Wolfenstein: The New Order, BJ has a dream while traveling to Deathshead's fortress. The woman is revealed to be Anya as BJ travels to Deathshead's new compound, 14 years later.
"In my dream I smell the barbecue. I hear children. A dog. And I see someone. I think I see someone. These things. None of it for me. I move by roaring engines. Among warriors. We come from the night."
- Achewood: Roast Beef first meets Molly while clinically dead and in the Mundane Afterlife. When he's brought back to life, his initial reaction is to believe it was All Just a Dream, but they meet again after Roast Beef has another brush with death, and are eventually reunited more permanently when heaven burns down and Molly gets a second chance at life on Earth.
- Subverted in xkcd #240, where a guy dreamed of a girl from a dying world, and right before the dream ended, she told him coordinates for a location and time in the near future. When he went, nothing happened. In real life, a bunch of fans dissatisfied with this ending followed the coordinates and made something happen together. Randall Munroe showed up as well, saying "Maybe wanting something DOES make things happen sometimes."
- YU+ME: dream : Half-inverted, in that the dreamer is the one who moves.
- This is the main conceit of Dreamless: the main characters (who live on opposite sides of the world, so one is asleep while the other one is awake) share each other's waking lives in their dreams. Too bad their countries are about to go to war with each other...
- El Goonish Shive comes with a realistic twist on this. Elliot dreams of his best friend Tedd, who is half-Asian, turning into a girl and then the two kiss. However, he doesn't remember the full dream, in particular who he had kissed. So when he first encounters Ashley, who is Asian, he mentally fills in the blank and thinks that she was the one he kissed in his dream.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: A platonic version. Reynir's first appearance in the story proper was Lalli noticing him running around in the mage-exclusive dream space, but getting overpowered by rogue spirits while trying to get his attention. When Reynir eventually joins the cast, he turns out to not remember the encounter due to forgetting his dreams at the time. Lalli dreamed of Reynir while in a place in which the only living people are the Bold Explorer main cast. Reynir showed up in a crate of emergency supplies delivered by boat that wouldn't have been needed if it weren't for an earlier Unfortunate Item Swap, which makes his joining of the crew a highly improbable event.
- In Homestuck, Aranea visits Jake in a dream, and he is instantly smitten, even calling her the "girl of my dreams." Ultimately subverted, as when they finally meet in person, he isn't in a psychological state for a relationship and . The whole scenario was likely invoked by Aranea in the first place in order to be able to activate Jake's Hope powers.
- Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender sees Toph in a vision before ever having met her (in a semi-mystical swamp with a loose connection to the normal flow of time). When they do run into her a short time later, Aang is positively convinced the she, and no-one else, is destined to be his Earth Bending teacher. The romantic part exists only in the minds of the fandom, as Aang was in love with Katara all along.
- X-Men has Lilandra encountered the same way as the comics, and yet not. Where the comics have bad dreams ending with a girl in a spacesuit who eventually beams down in front of him, the show had ... imagine visions of a great battle in space that are tearing your mind apart. At the end, there's this giant, bug-eyed monstrosity. It sees you. And it's coming for you. The dream always ends there, but the effect on your sanity and powers, not to mention the sheer agony, don't end, by a long shot. It gets worse and worse for the Prof until he realizes that he must not resist it, and takes the creature’s hand. Instantly, the pain and psychic trauma stop, and the creature is there. And turns out to be a spacesuit, with a pretty girl inside. She just needed the psychic link to pinpoint him; his leap of faith to meet her halfway while she was still horrific completed it.