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I am not the type to faint
When things are odd or things are quaint
But seeing things you know that ain't
Can certainly give you an awful fright!

Bob has been undergoing Sanity Slippage and begins hallucinating. Depending on the show, these may result in a Tomato Surprise at the end, revealing that someone he's been talking to was Dead All Along, or that the person he killed was an innocent bystander or an ally.

In a game with a Sanity Meter, this is one of the signs (sometimes, the only one) that it's getting pretty low. The hallucinations may also somehow injure the character in-game, even though they're not actually there. They may also just result in a Camera Screw, Interface Screw, or Impairment Shot.

If Bob is undergoing a Mushroom Samba, the hallucinations will usually not be shown on-screen, making it look like he's afraid of trees and talking to rocks.

Depending on the nature of the show, the hallucinations could be a source of comedy, tragedy, or both.

If Bob is dying or near death, this may be the cause of his Dying Dream. If Bob has been brought Back from the Dead recently, it may be a symptom of Resurrection Sickness.

If the hallucination takes the form of a person talking with one of the characters, it has a very high chance of lampshading itself by saying "I'm just a hallucination," or something along those lines.

Of course, one attribute of having these is a difficulty to distinguish between real and imagined, leaving plenty of room for Or Was It a Dream? twists. And if you can't even distinguish between the real and the imagined world anymore, well...

If you can't believe the thing you're looking at, ask your friend if he can see it too.

When caused by drugs, see Mushroom Samba. When caused specifically by alcohol (or alcohol withdrawal), see Pink Elephants. Bloody Hallucinations of Guilt is a Sub-Trope.


Examples:

Entire Situation is a Hallucination

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Albegas: After Julia dies, her father, General Dally, is plagued by visions of her. He believes this to be her spirit guiding him. Dally eventually dies when Julia's spirit orders him to save a kidnapped Hotaru.
  • Future Robot Daltanious: When Earl took Prince Harlin with him to Earth in 1945 after the destruction of Helios, he set up his cryo-sleep device to wake them up in 50 years. Unfortunately, a mishap happened that resulted in Harlin waking up earlier than intended while Earl remained asleep. He was found by a Japanese kite painter named Kazuto Tate, who was shocked to see a three-year-old boy wandering around without any supervision. He decided to take him in as his son, naming Harlin "Hayato" and raising him to follow his traditional Japanese culture. As a child, Hayato would often receive vivid visions of another world, but didn't know where they were from. These were actually his memories of his true home, the Helios Empire. He became a sailor so that one day, he could find the mysterious place that frequently appeared in his mind. Subverted as they weren't really hallucinations and were actually repressed memories, but Hayato and Kazuto referred to them as such.
  • Dr. Stein from Soul Eater experiences hallucinations after being exposed to Medusa's madness for an extended period of time that involved various things, like Medusa being next to him and talking to him, her arrows, etc.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Search, Azula still has visions of her mother after having lost her mind in the series proper. Azula blames Ursa for "turning her mind against her".
  • The Batman Adventures: Hugo Strange creates a machine to remove the memory of his son's death but it only made him go nuts (or nuttier). At one point he walks into a crowded street and sees his son's face in every single person.
  • Paperinik New Adventures: Xadhoom suffers from hallucinations caused by an Evronian superweapon for the most part of "Shooting Star", causing her to think everybody was an Evronian. Unfortunately, her policy with them is to kill them all. Luckily, the kind of energy she uses to kill them is not lethal to humans.
  • Robin: Tim suffers vivid hallucinations of his family and friends while laying dying from the Clench.
  • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: In "Rescue Angel" Lt. Angel Santiago briefly hallucinates Wonder Woman after she gets hit pulling the men to safety and radioing for evac, shortly before losing consciousness.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): In the Huntress feature Helena starts hallucinating after being drugged by Professor Fether.

    Fan Works 
  • In An Apple Sleep Experiment, Applejack starts hallucinating after taking a potion that leaves her physically unable to sleep. She starts seeing Filthy Rich everywhere. She attacks him but he always runs off, teasing her. In reality, Applejack is attacking and killing her peers.
  • Flashpoint 2: Advent Solaris features hallucinations prominently in some of the earlier chapters, with Barry suffering from them in a form of severe PTSD following the events of Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. His hallucinations start out as imagining the bodies of those who died in the events of the movie, before evolving to an extent he begins hallucinating the villains such as Darkseid and his Paradooms, culminating in him hallucinating Shadow the Hedgehog as Darkseid before literally getting sense knocked into him.
  • It's (Not) Your Fault: In the present segments, Luna has hallucinations of Lincoln, often telling her that it is her fault what happened.
  • Rabbit of the Moon: As a sign of Bell's Sanity Slippage, the smell of blood on the streets of Orario is able to instantly make him hallucinate being back in Yharnam and Liliruca as Gascoigne's daughter. This hallucination compels him to rush to her aid even though he doesn't know her, all because he doesn't want to see a little girl die in front of him.
  • The Rugrats Theory treats Rugrats as this. Specifically, Angelica hallucinates that Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, and Lil are real, when in actuality they all died before they met Angelica.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In A Beautiful Mind, John Nash has quite a few hallucinations— including his roommate/best friend, his niece, and even the intelligence assignment he had been working on.
  • Bloodthirsty: Grey has had disturbing hallucinations for years of turning into an animal then ravenously eating prey. She takes medication for it, but stops as she dislikes the side effects. They stem from her unknowingly being a werewolf.
  • Compulsion (2016): Sadie starts to have these at the villa, seeing dangerous things often which go away as she turns her attention on them. At least, so she thinks. It's indicated everything was real, she just didn't realize at first.
  • Delirium (2018): Matt hallucinates his deceased father, his father's dogs, and his murderous brother. Unfortunately, the last one is very real.
  • Embrace of the Vampire (2013): Charlotte begins having these in college, such as seeing blood come down from the shower all over... then coming to outside.
  • Final Girl: The boys have these as a result of Veronica spiking the alcohol the trio drank before hunting her in the woods, to help in evening the odds for her. Veronica earlier undergoes them herself as part of her final test, due to being doped with the same substance.
  • The Fisher King concerns a homeless man who experiences wild hallucinations.
  • In The Guilty, Asger finds out that Iben hallucinated that her infant son Oliver had snakes in his abdomen (really his intestines) and cut him open to let them out and get him to stop crying.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen in her first Games, courtesy of tracker jacker venom.
  • Juncture: Anna experiences them several times in the film, mostly of the people she's killed, due to a fatal brain tumor affecting her.
  • Let There Be Light (2017): The doctor Sol consults says his Near-Death Experience was this, the result of what's called the "dying brain" (not always literally, but in life-threatening situations the hypothesis says it can happen). It's then dismissed without ever showing that she's wrong, once Sol talks to a pastor for a second opinion.
  • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials: After downing a drink spiked with hallucinogens, Thomas starts freaking out when he sees hallucinations of his friends turned into Cranks and a Griever, one of the biomechanical spider monsters from the previous film.
  • The Perfection: Charlotte induces them in Lizzie by giving her ibuprofin, which has this side effect if mixed with alcohol (she gave it to her as a hangover cure). She then makes Lizzie there are bugs crawling under her skin (literally) to trick her into cutting off her own hand.
  • In Requiem for a Dream, Sara Goldfarb experiences vivid hallucinations as a side effect of her amphetamine addiction.
  • The Science of Sleep is about a young man whose dreams sometimes intrude on his waking state, to the point that it's not easy to tell which scenes are real and which are his imagination.
  • Shall We Play?: Stacy is having frightening visions, especially of two blonde girls (twins) from the past, which freaks her out as she fears it means she's going crazy. Many however turn out to be real. Stacy being seen talking with what appears to be herself (really the spirit of her dead grandmother) naturally only makes her look more deluded to other people, including her psychiatrist.
  • In the 1980 version of The Shining, the ghostly figures seen by Jack, Danny, and Wendy may or may not be hallucinations.
  • In the Vincent Price film The Tingler, a scientist wonders whether it's possible to literally scare someone to death, and he experiments with a drug that gives its victims scary hallucinations. Later in the film, we see the vivid hallucination of a woman who is the selected murder victim. It is later revealed that the scene was not a hallucination, but set up with props.
  • Trainspotting depicts several heroin-induced (and heroin-withdrawal-induced) hallucinations.
  • Vampire's Kiss: Although a lot is left unclear as to whether it really happens or Peter's imagining it, he does have an entire conversation with a statue believing it's his therapist near the end.
  • The Void: The characters start seeing things that aren't really there when they venture into the basement of the building, which is actually the entrance to an Eldritch Location.
  • In The War Between Men and Women, there's one scene where Jack Lemmon's character gets drunk and hallucinates.
  • In Young Sherlock Holmes, assassins use a poison dart that causes the victims to imagine they're being attacked by inanimate objects, usually leading them to accidentally kill themselves (by jumping out a window, running in front of a coach, etc.).

    Literature 
  • Dead Silence is full of these, courtesy of the space luxury liner Aurora being creepy and full of corpses, even without factoring in the Ghost Ship status.
  • Fantasia is mentioned to suffer from hallucinations in Idlewild. It's never established whether the hallucinations are a direct result of her schizophrenia or a side effect of the treatment medication since she hasn't been off meds since she was a preschooler.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss in her first Games, courtesy of tracker jacker venom.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon Berlin:
    • Gereon experiences them infrequently due to his PTSD.
    • It turns out that Ulrich is quite unhinged, starting to hallucinate that he's lecturing to a rapt audience, oblivious as the police creep up on him.
  • The Firefly episode "Objects in Space" has an instance where River hallucinates the sound of a crashing ocean wave, followed by seeing leaves scattered around the cargo bay and mistaking a pistol for a branch on the ground. Other episodes have her hallucinating and having flashbacks to her time at the Academy. In Serenity, she has several hallucinations relating to Miranda.
  • A major facet of Hannibal is that, due to the stress of being a layman entering serial killer's minds and analysing their crimes, Will Graham really starts suffering from Sanity Slippage. Since he's effectively forcing himself to hallucinate to recreate crime scenes, it isn't long before he can't control it and starts losing his grip, and certain sequences and scenes begin to blur between reality and nightmare.
  • House:
    • The last episode of season 2 involves House getting shot by a gunman who calls himself Moriarity. House attempts to diagnose the Patient of the Week's symptoms from his hospital bed, but the case makes progressively less sense and he starts noticing very odd things, such as a scene transition. He ultimately realizes that he's been hallucinating the whole time and is still being rushed to the ICU after the initial gunshot.
    • Near the end of season 5, Kutner unexpectedly commits suicide. House slowly goes through Sanity Slippage as he tries in vain to decipher the reasons behind his death, and begins hallucinating an evil version of Amber Volakis, who is also dead. He tries to kick his vicodin addiction and gets a Relationship Upgrade with Cuddy, until he discovers that was also a hallucination. When both Amber and Kutner show up to taunt him about unknowingly lying to himself, he checks himself into a mental hospital.
    • House also had a patient who had been hallucinating her (unbeknownst to her) dead mother. In the end, the team manages to diagnose her by asking her to "speak with her mother", through which she remembers symptoms her mother had before dying and the team is able to identify the disease they're both carrying.
  • In Innocent, Tarık suffers from auditory and visual hallucinations, which frighten his wife Emel (and only worsen after her death). At one point, they lead to a bar fight after he imagines another patron imply Emel is a prostitute.
  • Towards the end of the second season of Providence, Sydney Hansen began experiencing these of various characters from Alice in Wonderland, before finally collapsing and being admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of encephalitis.note 
  • Stargate SG-1 has an episode where Jonas' mentor turns out to be schizophrenic and hallucinating the entire plot of the episode.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Hello, Cruel World", Sam goes around yelling at his hallucination of Satan for a whole day before he finally breaks down, at which point he sees Dean taking him to a random office building. He's understandably freaked out when his image of Dean turns back into Lucifer and the building turns out to be a storage facility, and by the time the actual Dean comes to get him, he's shooting at walls.

    Podcasts 

    Radio 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Halloween Party", Mr. Conklin is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He starts seeing things, such as a large dog in the doctor's waiting room.

    Video Games 
  • Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway has plenty of this. The player, as Baker, sees hallucinations of three killed comrades, three German soldiers and a young boy whom he failed to protect. Additionally, there is an instance when a stretcher toppled itself for no apparent reason which could also have been a hallucination. Mostly, this is done in cutscenes but does occur at a few specific points during gameplay. "Well doesn't this look familiar?"
  • Eternal Darkness has this as pretty much its entire soul and fiber. Characters are capable of hallucinating even with a small sanity loss.
  • Fallout 3:
    • One expansion pack adds a questline where you must go into a swamp and meditate in front of the cult´s sacred tree to gain entrance. Once you get to the tree, it sprays some kind of pollen what stuns you and when you turn and start walking away from the swamp, you'll be sent to a 'nice' little trip to horror lane where — for example — ghouls appear out of nowhere, you'll find your mom´s skeleton next to birthday decorations and you'll find the corpses of familiar characters floating in the swamp.
    • To a lesser extent there is the Vault full of hallucinogenic gas, where you find terminals with notes to yourself written by you, 'friendly' characters appear out of nowhere and you are forced to kill them as enemies and more miscellaneous facts.
  • In Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, the title character goes to Hel to bargain with her for her boyfriend's soul, meanwhile fighting various creatures from Nordic mythology. The entire plot is her hallucination due to her psychosis.
  • Jim's Computer: Implied, as Jim starts to randomly sees his door open and close, his TV to randomly turn on, along with hearing things that are not there such as footsteps, scratching, and generally creepy noises. There is also the chance that the stranger messaging him is a figment of his imagination.
  • In the first Max Payne game, after being drugged by the villains, Max hallucinates about being a video game character.
  • After Captain Martin Walker in Spec Ops: The Line uses white phosphorus on a civilian camp, his sanity quickly begins to break down as he cannot accept what he has done. Later on, he comes across a Damned 33rd Soldier and a civilian, both charged with crimes — with their arms tied to ropes hanging from a bridge. Col. John Konrad tells him to choose, but both the people hanging from the ropes are already dead - Walker simply sees them as struggling. In fact, every conversation with Konrad is a hallucination, because Konrad was dead long before Walker even arrived in Dubai. The hallucinations become stronger and more depressing the more the game goes on. After John Lugo dies, Walker hallucinates a 33rd Heavy as Lugo, yelling at him:
    John Lugo: You left me to die!
  • In Twisted Metal: Black, the Preacher was having these in his prologue. What he thought was an exorcism was really a baptism.
  • In World of Warcraft, Herald Volazj, a Forgotten One in the Ahn'Kahet instance uses this as an attack, in combination with a Shapeshifter Guilt Trip — he puts a debuff on the party called "Insanity", which makes the player believe his party is trying to attack him. This can be rather terrifying if no one in your party tells you what's going to happen the first time you battle him.

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Polokoa Quest discusses and invokes this briefly with Rokolo. After the discussion, images of Polo and Rokoa show up whenever the personality fragments speak:
    CAI: You know, Rokolo, a lot of the symptoms of insanity are actually coping mechanisms. Maybe if you let yourself think of the fragments as separate voices in your head, just temporarily, it'd be easier to deal with them? We can help it along right easy by jiggering a few neurons.
    Rokolo: Ugh. I have enough trouble with these girls in my dreams. Alright, bring on the hallucinations.
  • SCP Foundation
    • SCP-943 ("Repayment in Kind"). When SCP-943 is put on a subject's wrist they start to suffer from visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations that are based on their guilty feelings about a crime they committed.
    • SCP-1346 ("Phobia Induction Corridor"). When someone passes more than 50 meters down the corridor labeled SCP-1346, they start to have random audible hallucinations and eventually will hallucinate the presence of an entity or object that causes them extreme fear.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • In "Burgerboss", Bob gets obsessed with getting a high score on an old 8-bit video game, thanks to his rival Jimmy Pesto writing "BOB SUX" on the leaderboard. After popping too many pain pills for his carpal tunnel, Bob starts seeing people as characters from the game.
    • "An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal" has Bob getting bombed on absinthe and experiencing a My Neighbor Totoro-inspired holiday fantasy.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes had Jimmy suffering from them during a Whole-Plot Reference to I Am Legend.
  • The Loud House: The Musical Episode "Really Loud Music" has Luna wonder what a song the whole world will love might be, to which she starts seeing her family randomly sing songs out of nowhere; when she asks them about it, they claim they weren't singing. It's implied by Lisa that Luna was really hallucinating her family singing, because of her brain trying to find the right sound for her song.
  • In one oddly dark Robot Chicken sketch, Calvin kills his parents, believing Hobbes to have done it, and escapes to Mars... or rather, an insane asylum.
  • South Park:
    • During his "cynical" phase in "You're Getting Old" and "Ass Burgers", Stan sees everything and everyone around him (his friends, flowers, the sun, you name it) as literal piles of feces and hears everything (particularly music and other people's words) as the sound of literal flatulence.
    • In "Simpsons Already Did It", after one evil plot too many ends up on the cutting room floor due to being an idea that The Simpsons came up with first, Butters/Professor Chaos starts seeing everyone and everything around him as being drawn in Simpsons-style animation.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Fear of a Krabby Patty", after staying awake and working for 43 straight days, SpongeBob hallucinates everyone he sees as giant Krabby Patties.
    • In "The Night Patty", all the strange creatures SpongeBob encounters at the Krusty Krab were revealed to be hallucinations he had from overworking.
  • In the We Bare Bears episode "Primal", Panda and Ice Bear, who were at the time going insane due to luxury deprivation out in a forest, see a tree as a frozen yogurt machine.

Single Character is a Hallucination

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Afro Samurai, Ninja Ninja turns out to be either this or an Imaginary Friend depending on how the viewer looks at it.
  • In the Dragon Ball Z anime (though not in the manga), Frieza hallucinates seeing Goku a few times after he lands on Earth. It shows just how far off the deep end he is at this point.

    Comedy 
  • Eric Charles Nielsen has this bit from his stand-up routine:
    Eric: Lately, I've been suffering from hallucinations. I saw a doctor. [Beat] There was no doctor.''

    Comic Books 
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (2016): Despite being free from Rita, Tommy is plagued with waking visions of her telling him he's a monster.
  • Superman:
    • In The Jungle Line, the sickness caused by the Bloodmorel fungus causes strong hallucinations. As driving to the South, Superman sees visions of Krypton's Scarlet Jungle -Bloodmorel's native environment- spreading around him, and a giant skull of some Kryptonian tusked beast filling the -red- sky in front of him.
    • The Killers of Krypton: As battling among the radioactive remains of Krypton, Supergirl suffers from Kryptonite-induced hallucinations where her parens transform into zombies and attempt to kill her.
  • In Violine, Muller sees wall paintings come alive while in a cave filled with amnesia-inducing gas.

    Fan Works 
  • In Codex Equus, this is what happened to Golden Scepter during his reign over the Imperium of Ponykind. One of the symptoms of his war-related trauma from the "Twilight of the Alicorns" is that he would sometimes hallucinate images of his old enemy, Morning Star, even though the latter is long dead by this point. It became one of many signs of a severe Sanity Slippage that would go untreated for millennia, and contributed to Golden Scepter's deteriorating leadership. He would eventually get better after he regularly visited Mentálne, the Bogolenya Deer goddess of Mental Healing, on Luminiferous's suggestion, and her influence would help him recover and come to terms with his trauma.
  • In the first chapter of Kindred, Cinderella becomes obsessed with scrubbing a coin-sized stain off the chateau's carpet. She keeps on trying to clean it for days on end but it won't fade away. As it turns out, there is no stain. Cinderella occasionally hallucinates a stain due to her years of being a maid to her abusive step-mother.
  • Throughout the second part of Frost Killing Hour, Elsa suffers from visions of a frozen version of her brother haunting her.
  • In Little Miss Heropants, due to Lilac's PTSD, she has auditory hallucinations of Lord Brevon even though he isn't there.
  • RWBY: Scars:
    • Weiss has schizoaffective disorder and hallucinates a hateful version of herself when she's near mirrors (a reference to how Weiss is loosely based off Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). The reflection shouts negative remarks at her and pokes at her insecurities. Weiss can call upon it herself, but it doesn't always come around. Weiss has dealt with this so long that she even has a name for her reflection called "Mirror". Only her older sister Winter knows of her hallucinations. Later on, Weiss' twin brother Whitley shows a video of Weiss talking to herself to her parents, but Weiss' father refuses to "tarnish" his family's reputation by getting Weiss help. For what it's worth, Weiss herself also avoids seeking help for her hallucinations. It's show that Mirror first appeared relatively recently when Weiss received her facial scar.
    • Subverted with Coco. Her teammates think she's started to hallucinate and ask her to see a therapist. While she is diagnosed with PTSD, what CVFY doesn't know is that the "hallucination" was an illusion made by Emerald.
    • A few months after the Fall of Beacon, Pyrrha begins seeing her boyfriend Jaune's burnt corpse staring at her.
    • Weiss' mother Willow is schizophrenic but went undiagnosed for over 30 years. Her alcoholism stems in-part as a way to self-medicate.

    Film — Animation 
  • Played with in The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Quasimodo frequently confides in three sentient gargoyles, and at first it’s ambiguous as to whether they’re real or only in Quasi’s mind. However, more and more evidence that they may, in fact, be truly alive begins to pile on as the movie progresses.
    • Frollo has many disturbing hallucinations, including a choir of faceless hooded monks, a fiery specter of Esmerelda, the statues of Notre Dame glaring menacingly down at him, and the gargoyle to which he clings roaring and giving him a huge, demonic grin.
  • In Ratatouille, Remy has lengthy conversations with what appears to be the ghost of Gusteau. Possibly to avoid that interpretation, "Gusteau" makes it clear that he's just imaginary. He morally lectures Remy, suggesting he may be a projection of his conscience.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Cassanova Was A Woman: The first time she tries to have sex with Lola, Cassanova hallucinates that a hot naked man is there with them due to her insecurity, freaks out and leaves. It turns out "he" is a representation of her feeling anxiety due to having identified as straight. Near the end a naked Latina woman also appears, clearly representing her attraction toward women. The ending reveals the man was also based on a real guy whom she dates.
  • In Fight Club, Tyler Durden isn't real.
  • In Go, one stoned character thinks a cat is talking to him.
  • In Halloween II (2009), Michael Myers has hallucinations about his mother (and a selection of other random things, including pumpkin-headed aristocrats and white unicorns.)
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry thinks he sees Voldemort standing on the train platform, then when he looks back nobody is there.
  • In Hitchcock, Hitch has repeated visions of murderer Ed Gein, who is the inspiration for Psycho, the film he's directing. Some of these visitations are nightmares, but others happen while Hitch is awake. At one point, Gein even functions as a Helpful Hallucination by pointing out the sand on the bathroom floor.
  • In Holes, as Stanley is being led by bus to the camp, he stares out the window and briefly sees Onion Sam with his donkey. Later in the film, the dying Kate converses with the dead Sam outside her overturned wagon. Given the movie's supernatural overtones, it's possible Sam's spirit is really present.
  • In Jacob's Ladder, the protagonist is a Vietnam vet beset by visions of demons. The movie later suggests that he's really dead and in limbo, or on the verge of death, having never survived Vietnam.
  • Jungle: At the greatest depth of his Sanity Slippage, Yossi believes that he is being accompanied by a native woman he finds abandoned in the jungle. Believing that he is caring for someone else is enough to keep him pushing forward.
  • Miss Meadows: It's revealed that Miss Meadows' conversations with her mother only happened in her mind. Her mother's been dead for years. Near the end, she manages to banish them.
  • In Open Your Eyes and its remake Vanilla Sky, the protagonist keeps seeing the woman he's with as having the face of the woman who died in a car crash.
  • In Ray, Ray Charles suffers from hallucinations about his dead brother.
  • Played with in Sin City. Jack Rafferty existed and was dead but Dwight hallucinated an entire conversation with him. Unlike most of the examples here, Dwight knew he was hallucinating due to stress.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Accused: Stephen sees Alastair Campbell telling him from the television screen to kill his stepmother to save his family from what he believes to be her poisoning them.
  • At the start of season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fitz hallucinates that he's talking to Simmons, when he's actually talking to himself due to brain damage brought on by oxygen deprivation.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): "You're not Leoben." "Never said I was."
  • In Bones, Booth, while trapped on a ship at sea scheduled for remote demolition, hallucinates the presence of a dead former squadmate. Another time, he gets helpful advice from a hockey player after a blow to the head. Yet another time he has involved conversations with Stewie from Family Guy. All of this leads Bones to conclude that something is seriously wrong. He has a brain tumor. Though there is also a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane aspect to the first one, since there were a couple unexplained things related to it.
  • Dark Desire: Alma sees Darío dead several times quite vividly when he's actually alive. She also sees her friend Brenda, who is dead. It's later said to be a symptom of PTSD.
  • In Dexter, Harry Morgan has progressed from a flashback character into a hallucinatory spirit advisor for Dexter. Given the state of Dexter's mind, it's not clear whether he is literally seeing Harry, or if he's merely the avatar for an imagined conversation between the two. Dexter would appear to be a psychopath/have an antisocial personality disorder. Nowhere is he shown to be actively psychotic.
  • Dickinson: Emily sees fantastic things frequently, usually unaided by drugs although once when she uses opium too. Ben later also suffers them when he's struck by fever.
  • One episode of Doc Martin had a patient whose husband just died. As occasionally happens in real life, in her grief she hallucinated that her husband was still present and giving her advice.
  • Echo (2024): Maya has frequently recurring visions of women from the past. She fears it means she's lost her mind and these sights are hallucinations. Her grandmother tells her they're genuine visions of her ancestors.
  • In Farscape, Harvey is a Not-So-Imaginary Friend implanted in Crichton's mind by Scorpius. Even after the device causing the hallucination is removed, Harvey sticks around, much to John's consternation.
  • Gotham: After seemingly murdering Penguin, Ed Nygma spends an entire episode talking to a drug-induced hallucination of his dead best friend. Played with in that he's fully aware that the character is a hallucination, and intentionally summons it out of repressed guilt.
  • In Grey's Anatomy, Izzie Stevens hallucinates the ghost of Denny Duquette due to her brain tumor.
  • Himmelsdalen: Helena imagines seeing Siri gazing back at her in the mirror at one point, then attacking Dr. Fisher with a hammer.
  • House. House hallucinated Amber for a while, which turned out to be very entertaining.
  • In an episode of The Inside, Rebecca, injured and dazed from a plane crash, is helped through the woods by what she thinks is the little girl whose family she's trying to save, but who turns out to be a hallucination of herself as a child.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): Paul de Pointe du Lac has hallucinations which make him think that birds in his head are talking to him, imparting God's will. His family put him in a mental hospital to treat this, but he only got worse.
  • Keep Breathing: After she's left alone in the wilderness, Liv hallucinates that Sam is there and he criticizes how she'd dealt with it. She also hallucinates herself as being in previous situations from her life prior as well at times, sees herself as a girl running around, her mom, entire situations etc.
  • The title character in the Lost episode "Dave" is Hurley's hallucination. Watching in retrospect, it seems the Dave in the flashbacks was a hallucination, while the Dave on the island is an apparition of the Smoke Monster, attempting to get Hurley to kill himself.
  • In Monk, Monk sometimes talks to a hallucination of his dead wife, and one time when he's trapped on a submarine, he has imaginary conversations with his psychiatrist.
  • Next (2020): Paul increasingly suffers these as his neurological disease progresses, to the point that he's having entire conversations with imaginary people (including a double of himself). He eventually resorts to giving himself improvised electroshock therapy to make the hallucinations go away.
  • In the seventh season of One Tree Hill, Clay Evans has hallucinations of his dead girlfriend Sara. This may have or may not have been related to the mental illness he was diagnosed with in the ninth season
  • The Outer Limits (1995): Discussed in "Corner of the Eye". Father Jonascu sees a police officer as having a demonic visage initially but is unsure what's going on. After his doctor tells him he has a terminal brain tumor causing him to hallucinate, he accepts this. However, when a homeless man is revealed to have seen the same things, he learns it was real.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has Sarah hallucinating long-dead Kyle Reese as she tries to get a bullet removed from her leg. Possibly brought on due to her medical condition.
  • In a couple of episodes of Scrubs, dead or dying friends of the characters are hallucinations.
  • In the Star Trek: Enterprise Mirror Universe episode "In A Mirror, Darkly", mirror-Archer is taunted by images of his alternate self telling him that he'll never amount to anything.
  • In season 7 of Supernatural, the wall Death puts in Sam's mind breaks down. That, of course, leads to him seeing Lucifer follow him around, throwing around suggestive remarks and trying to convince Sam that he's still in the cage with him. Didn't take too long for it to shift into the first type.
  • Vagrant Queen: Elida suffers from them after being poisoned with Clabwrok venom. They're severe, with her delirious and not recognizing Isaac (who she attacks, believing that he's an insectoid monster). Gradually she recovers however.
  • In The Walking Dead (2010), Rick hallucinates a ringing telephone and a long conversation thereon in the third season following Lori's Death by Childbirth.
  • Why Women Kill: Bertram hallucinates a lovely woman who he bares his soul to.
  • The Wilds: Leah experiences a series of lengthy hallucinations featuring musician Ben Fold, who encourages her.
  • Willow: The characters experience a number of these while sheltering in Nockmaar castle, seeing visions of the past and other things, indicated to be a result of the residual evil magic there.

    Music 
  • Poets of the Fall:
    • In the video for "Lift," Poet County Jail inmate and Mad Dreamer Mark suffers from persistent visions of moths during his psych screening, even in an Inkblot Test that's later revealed to have a very dissimilar shape. He pleads with them to make him fly, and they similarly feature heavily in his Happy Place, from which they bleed into reality.
    • In "Psychosis," the chorus Discusses the singer's hallucinations, which they frame as a source of fleeting inspiration until they decompensate again.
      Revelation leading to my psychosis and inspiration
      Digest another hallucination, psychosis by recreation
      Happy 'til the next deterioration, psychosis

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Chaos;Head has two notable cases.
    • First one is Orgel Seira, a character from a Show Within a Show, "Blood Tunes The Animation". She occasional talks with the main character, Takumi, trying to encourage his tendencies as a shut-in.
    • The second example, Takumi Nishijou (that is, the main character), is a bit different case than one would usually expect from this trope. He is a hallucination that was manifested into reality, meaning that no one can tell that he is a hallucination.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • In Twig, after the deaths of several of his friends, Sylvester begins to experience auditory, visual, and even tactile hallucinations of them which offer him advice and comfort. This eventually expands to include enemies and even people who he's only met once or twice, and rather than advice and comfort, these hallucinations start trying to take control... at his worst points, he even starts hallucinating scenes of gruesome violence as even the "real" people around him appear to be horrific monsters, to the point he can't distinguish reality from what his mind is conjuring, and can't be sure whether he's fighting actual monsters or just killing anyone nearby...

    Web Videos 
  • In the JonTron review of the animated movie Titanic: The Legend Goes On, Jon is mourning his girlfriend who died in the Titanic disaster, when he happens upon the movie, which claims to be based on the legend of the Titanic. Jon realizes that if the Titanic was just a legend, then it never really existed, which means his girlfriend never really existed either.
    Jon: I guess there were some signs along the way. [flashback starts] When we were at that restaurant, the waiter, he said, "Why did you order two meals and not eat one of them? You just left it there to get cold." and I said, "Curb your tongue! That's my lady, and soon she will be departing on the great steam liner known as the Titanic, that is definitely a real ship in the real world." and he said, "...Wait, what?" [flashback ends] She was real to me...
  • WitchCraft SMP: Invoked; the Insanity curse causes the victim to hallucinate monsters which do not actually exist. The hallucinated mobs can attack the victim, but the victim cannot attack them back. On the SMP itself, Scott tries to test out the curse on his friend El with her consent, but quickly removes it after the hallucinated monsters cause El too much trouble while she's collecting resources.

    Western Animation 
  • In the American Dad! episode "The American Dad After School Special", Stan receives weight training from an abusive trainer named Zack, who turns out to be an anorexia-induced hallucination. He fades away into nothing when Stan starts eating again.
  • Arcane: After sustaining a grievous injury courtesy of Sevika, Vi begins suffering hallucinations of Powder as she's bleeding out in their childhood home, still overwhelmed with guilt for what she had done to her as children.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the Grand Finale, Azula, while giving herself an insane haircut, hallucinates that her mother is talking to her.
    • Played for Laughs in the episode "The Desert", when Sokka goes through a series of hallucinations after drinking cactus juice.
  • In the season three finale of The Legend of Korra, Korra, under the effects of mercury poisoning, is taunted by visions of former enemies from the first two seasons morphing out of the faces of the current villains in front of her.
  • In the Mickey Mouse (2013) short "Wonders of the Deep", when Mickey and Donald are at the bottom of the sea, they're greeted by two Minnie and Daisy-esque mermaids, who turn out to be hallucinations caused by oxygen deprivation because Goofy was standing on the hose supplying it to them. When he gets off the hose, it turns out the mermaids were a Giant Squid.
  • In the fifth season of Samurai Jack, Jack struggles with hallucinations stemming from his guilt over the fact that he has been trying for fifty years to return to the past to defeat Aku, but to no avail. Nightmarish visions he has include his family and clan chastising him for forsaking them, his younger self trying to convince him that dying would be preferable to fighting a losing war, and another samurai cloaked in shadow on horseback.

 
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Big Mouse... Big Mice

Changho hallucinates that there's a mouse on his leg that suddenly attacks him, then the whole room becomes full of mice him much to his horror.

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5 (2 votes)

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Main / SwarmOfRats

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