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Happy Place

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Brewed double strength for extra Zen.

"I know a place where no one's lost,
I know a place where no one cries,
Crying at all is not allowed,
Not in my castle on a cloud."
Cosette, Les Misérables

Sometimes the outside world can be a cold, cruel place, full of mean, hurtful people and scads of author-induced pain. That's why the best solution to a world bent on making you suffer can be to just curl up into a Troubled Fetal Position, suck your thumb, and go to a Happy Place inside your head. The Happy Place is rarely uninhabited though; it may be populated by scantily clad harem girls/boys, Spirit Advisors, an inner child or three, or if one is particularly unlucky they'll be roommates (headmates?) with a Split Personality, Superpowered Evil Side or Enemy Within. The troublesome roomies usually want to pick a fight.

A character interacting with others (or himself) in their Happy Place is a good way of giving them depth and explaining their motivation without having them act out of character in the show. The Stoic or The Quiet One who will never talk about the trauma that left them so may well relive it inside their mind, confronting a spectre of their guilt in the form of a dead loved one or other inner conflicts. In its extreme the dreamer may make a Journey to the Center of the Mind, sometimes accompanied by another.


Some characters are lucky and have their trip to the Happy Place happen outside of a show's real time, making their time and exposition there happen "instantly." A Cloud Cuckoo Lander is seldom so lucky. They may enter a fugue state or literally go catatonic while visiting their Happy Place, though this may sometimes be for the best if it's induced by emotional or physical trauma. Usually this depends on the nature of the Happy Place. Then again, the reason the Cloud Cuckoo Lander is so strange might be because they live there and visit real life.

There is one significant danger to the Happy Place, that being that if the resident has been sufficiently abused in the real world they might choose not to go back despite realizing it's fake.

Kinds of Happy Place:

For some reason, the Happy Place is often a beach of some sort.

See also All Just a Dream, Convenient Coma, Dream Sequence, Arcadian Interlude, Ghost in the Machine, Journey to the Center of the Mind, Angst Coma, and Spirit Advisor. Compare with Cuckoo Nest, The Final Temptation, Happy Flashback and Lotus-Eater Machine. This is often how Heaven is represented. Contrast Black Bug Room, which is just the opposite of a Happy Place. See also Bad Mood Retreat for a literal happy place.

This is in fact Truth in Television and is a short term way that many people with anxiety use to slowly function in the world.


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  • Sky TV ran a series of advertisements where a person is shown in a stressful situation, reciting lines from their favourite shows. Their tagline being "Sky - your Happy Place!"

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Chrono Crusade, Rosette takes a distraught Azmaria out to a beautiful lake surrounded by forest to cheer her up. Chrono notes that it looks very similar to the area where he first met Rosette, and it seems as though she comes out there often when she's upset. In the middle of their trip there, a demon comes and attacks them, kidnapping Azmaria and setting the forest ablaze. Although it's only briefly shown, it's obvious that Rosette is shocked at seeing her personal Happy Place destroyed.
  • In Shaman King Bokuto no Ryu is constantly on the hunt for his. He joins Yoh to help him in his fight against Hao after he finds out that his best place was on his side.
  • Lily's flashbacks in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force show that she created one for her to escape in during her time as a lab experiment. It was during this period, when she was trying to escape from her gruesome reality, that she started to lose both her voice and her memories.
  • On one episode of Sailor Moon, Lita is making okonomiyaki while obviously in a very bad mood. When her friends try to get her to talk about it she says "I am not angry! I am in my happy place!"
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Sosuke has a real-life Happy Place, revealed at the end of the third novel (or the first anime): It's a secluded corner of Mithril's island base where he can just kick back and do some fishing. It may be the only place in the world where the perpetually battle-ready Sosuke actually unwinds and has fun, and he brings Kaname there because he wanted to share it with her.
  • In the Hinageshi arc of the Higurashi: When They Cry manga, the entire plot takes place in one of these, save for a little scene at the end. Tired and disappointed in herself because she failed a college prep test, a lonely Mion returns to Hinamizawa, her home. Hurt when her friends seem to have moved on without her (they don't make time to welcome her back, a ceremonial doll that represents her is gone from the group of dolls that symbolize them- It Makes Sense in Context-) she gradually becomes more isolated and depressed, thinking that she doesn't have a place in Hinamizawa anymore. Suddenly, she wakes up in her own room, friends surrounding her. They explain that she's recovering from the effects of a bad fever, and tell her that they thought she was coming back a week later than she did, and that her doll was removed to be repainted. This makes Mion feel better, and she cries Tears of Joy, and everyone is happy. And then the manga switches to showing a comatose Mion, propped up in a hospital bed. For the first time since she fell into the coma, a doctor comments, Mion shows signs of life- she's crying, but still doesn't wake up. It's then that the reader learns this arc is actually a sequel to one in which the Hinamizawa Disaster occurred. This means that Mion was the only survivor of her village being annihilated, and, because she couldn't cope with the pain, stayed permanently in her happy place- her dreams. It actually gets even sadder when one realizes the metaphor: Mion starts said arc bitterly disappointed at her failure, and wants more than anything her friends to tell her that they forgive said failure. Does this means she blames herself for the Disaster occurring?
  • School-Live!: Yuki is under the delusion that the decrepit high school that she and her club live in is bustling with people and completely pristine in order to deal with the trauma of a Zombie Apocalypse. One of her friends thinks that she just pretending for her friends' sake. The others are content to let it continue as it keeps her content and likewise takes their minds off things. There are hints that she in subconsciously aware that things aren't great.
  • Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: After Nagito's death in the game, his mind creates a false reality to cope with the trauma, rendering him comatose. In the dream world, he was born with no luck or talent, but lives an idealistic life with his friends where the Tragedy never happened and he does not obsess over hope. Unfortunately, an AI called World Destroyer is sent to break the illusion, which it does by killing the dream's inhabitants. Nagito eventually confronts World Destroyer and attempts to kill both the AI and himself, knowing he could never possibly win. This allows him to remember reality, and World Destroyer explains the the dream was a reflection of Nagito's feelings and desires, which he finds embarrassing and dismisses before waking up in the real world.

    Audio Book 
  • The French audiobook ("saga mp3" in French) Trimoria. The main character builds a shelter in his own mind and enters into it by getting his head trapped in a microwaves. No comments about the fact that in reality, that would kill him. This inner kingdom has the name of Trimoria and makes the despair of the character's therapist.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Sandman (1989), a confused superhero couple, Hector and Lyta Hall, live inside the Happy Place of an abused boy called Jed. Hector thinks he's a hero called the Sandman who fights monsters that invade the dreams of children, but somehow, he doesn't notice that Jed is the only child he ever meets. This is all based on an older comic, also called The Sandman. In the new continuity, however, it turns out that the Halls' servants deliberately arranged for Jed to be mistreated so he would create this dream-place to escape to, where the servants could hide from the real Sandman.
  • The Maxx was based on this trope, with half of the action taking place in the Outback, a prehistoric dream world created by Julie as an escape from a near-fatal sexual assault. Later in the series it is revealed other people also have their Outbacks, including Sarah, and maybe Dave/the Maxx himself.
  • In The New Universe, One issue of Nightmask involves a man whose wife and young daughter were murdered, and who has slipped into a catatonic Happy Place where they're still alive. The recently-orphaned protagonist is supposed to use his dream-walking abilities to bring the man out, but he's not sure he wants to, especially since it involves "killing" the dream family.
  • In Superman: Red Son, Hal Jordan was a former POW, eventually chosen by Lex Luthor to wear the Power Ring because of the elaborate version of this he constructed as a survival mechanism while being tortured. In his, he literally imagined himself building a prison for his captors in real time. The time it would take him to dig a hole or chop down a tree or take a break was imagined in his head until finally after years of real time imagination, he had "constructed" the prison and set about killing each of his captors in what he called the most glorious night of his life.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Inside Out fanfic Intercom, Riley's Mental World acts as this to her. It's not the only reason she goes there, but it provides her with a very effective means to be free of her problems.
  • In I Don't Want to Be a Hero Harry's is a hut on a white sand beach.
  • In Elfish Welfare Hermione's parents, thinking her magic was telekinesis, taught her to imagine a happy place with rainbows and unicorns to calm her troubled emotions.
  • Experimenting Fear: When the scientist threatens him if his heart rate doesn't slow down, Nando calms himself down by thinking about traveling through Sinnoh with his own Pokémon, playing music for people and making them smile.
  • You Were My Best Friend: Even if she thinks it's all imagined, Bloom's happy place it's the very real Royal Tower of Andros. The reason is that there she can dance without a care for the world and, later, because she met her first best friend there: Laylaisha.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Finding Nemo, Darla is tapping on the fish tank glass where Peach the starfish is, singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". Peach cries "Find a happy place" three times as she falls off.
  • In Shark Tale, Sykes is told to go into his happy place when Oscar accidentally ticks him off so much. He retorts that "there is no happy place with him around!"
    • Later at the seahorse race: When Sykes sees the horse Oscar bet his clams on lose the race, Oscar nervously reminds him to find his happy place again, not that it does any good.
  • In the Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon short film on the How to Train Your Dragon DVD (2nd disc), Snotlout says this twice in a row.
  • Inside Out: During the end credits, we go into the heads of various real-world characters to see their emotional characters. The Bus Driver's emotions (all different colors of Anger) attempt to go to their "Happy Place" to deal with frustrating traffic and calls up a memory, only for the Tripledent Gum jingle to be sent instead. Cue all of them going berserk.
  • In Leap Frog: A Tad of Christmas Cheer, after Edison fails to send Tad back to his proper reality following his It's a Wonderful Life wish, the two discover that Tad tore himself out of the picture of his family and they literally need to find the torn piece. Tad is ready to race to find it, but then he turns back to find Edison floating in the air with his eyes closed and chanting to himself. Edison explains that he was in his happy place.
  • Turning Red: While her parents are testing her ability to control her emotions, Mei imagines being comforted by her friends in order to control herself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • According to the commentary, the scene in The Cat in the Hat where the Cat ends up on a swing while wearing a dress with a unicorn in the background is supposed to be his happy place.
  • In Fight Club, The Narrator's happy place is a frozen cave occupied by his power animal—a talking penguin. He tries to enter it later to escape the pain of chemical burn, but Tyler Durden pulls him out. Now, how would Tyler know about that?
  • In Happy Gilmore, Happy's mentor encourages him to find his Happy Place in order to curb his anger and improve his golf game; said Happy Place consists of his grandmother being wealthy and his girlfriend wearing slinky lingerie and holding a mug of beer in each hand. And a midget cowboy, who appears nowhere else. Subverted when, at one point, the Jerkass rival has him so psyched out that the Happy Place doesn't work, and the rival invades it, making out with Happy's girlfriend and grandmother. Then double-subverted when Happy finally manages to relax, and the Happy Place is idyllic again - and now his mentor, who died in the meantime, is there as a Guardian Angel playing a piano.
  • In Beauty and the Beast (2017), Gaston's Happy Place is revealed to be widows during the war.
  • The plot of the Kids in the Hall feature film Brain Candy revolved around a new anti-depressant wonder drug which worked by constantly replaying the patient's happiest memory, thereby making impossible for them to be miserable.
  • Little Odessa: after the deaths of his mother and brother the morose protagonist sits alone in his car and imagines the three of them sitting quietly side by side in a bedroom in their home (from which he had been banished).
  • In Serenity, River Tam's character is a young woman that the government has done secret psychological experiments and drug treatment on to convert her into an psychic and assassin. Even after her brother breaks her out of the Black Site facility, she is often in Cloud Cuckoo Lander dreamworlds as a way to block out the PTSD.
  • The most infamous scene in the movie Show Dogs has the protagonist Max, a dog, having to endure a genital inspection prior to be accepted into a dog show. He remembers the advice of a different dog who repeats that he has to go to his "happy place", and so fantasizes about a musical scene that parodies Dirty Dancing.
  • Sucker Punch is an especially confusing example- it shifts between at least three levels of reality, and in two of them- you know the badass group of Action Girls who've been following our protagonist and helping her fight her fears and grow stronger? Yeah, they're actually figments of her imagination. A blog entry tries to explain the madness, but even so, the film remains confusing- it's either a disgustingly misogynistic 'popcorn movie' that combined an incomprehensible plot with masses of fanservice, or a serious movie about a girl overcoming the trauma of sexual abuse to free herself from an insane asylum that mocks the very people who watch it for the fanservice. There are arguments to be made for both sides, and neither can really explain why the film has that dragon-slaying scene- though that likely falls under symbolism and Rule of Cool.
  • Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead has "Boat Dreams", when you imagine you're on a boat with your friends, beautiful women, drinks etc. Especially useful when the Mafia is torturing you to death.
  • At the beginning of Nathan's Kingdom, Laura tells Nathan about a kingdom she likes to imagine where she has lots of friends and can do whatever she wants. She tells Nathan that everyone has a kingdom, leading Nathan into a years-long obsession with finding his own kingdom.
  • Toomorrow: While the band play "Happiness Valley," they all imagine themselves in their happy places. Benny lies on a towel while several girls in bikinis smear sunscreen on him, Karl's girlfriend pushes him in a hammock, Olivia sits on a horse, and Vic is a rich celebrity who sips champagne.

  • In Dragon Bones, Ward's happy place is his home, castle Hurog. He visits it when his brother Tosten is tortured to make Ward talk. Also, his mother's garden, but that's part of the castle. It is the only place where his mother is sober and normal, as it is his memory of her, not her actual self, that talks to him.
  • In the Tamora Pierce Circle of Magic books, Briar creates a magical Happy Place for himself and his foster-sisters; the mental place in question is of the Sitting on the Roof category, and is the place where the four first solidified their friendship as children. It acts as an extension of their returned telepathy.
  • In the book version of The Princess Bride, Westley endures torture by imagining himself with Buttercup. However, this only works until Count Rugen brings in The Machine.
  • Hannibal Lecter built an entire Happy Palace, filled with his memories of culture and fine arts. He used it to endure his time in prison, and on long airline rides.
  • In the Stephen King-as-Richard-Bachman book The Regulators, autistic and telepathic Seth manages to create such a refuge for his aunt/guardian Audrey (using a vacation she took in her college days as source material) to give her a way to get away from Tak's various torments.
    • And in The Dark Tower, Sheemie Ruiz, a powerful but mentally-disabled psychic, can create a physical happy place with his mind, and sends the protagonists there to protect them.
  • In one of the Animorphs books, Taylor tortures Tobias by deliberately putting him in his happy place, then switching to unbearable pain, then back, and forth, and so on. This kept him from using his anti-emotion (including pain) mechanism.
  • In the The Tale of the Five series by Diane Duane, one character has a Hive Mind of dragon spirits in her head, and she's in a relationship with one of them.
  • Sleepy of The Black Company has a secret place to retreat into mentally when very frightened, or when confronted with sexual tension. It's strongly implied, though never really confirmed, that it stems from sexual abuse in childhood.
  • In Anne Fine's Taking The Devils Advice the protagonist had a pretty miserable childhood and would escape into flights of fancy, training his mind for great philosophical feats, allowing him a rewarding career, if not a happy home life.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Jaime and Brienne are captured by a gang of bandits. Jaime advises Brienne to go into her happy place when they try to rape her, instead of fighting back; attacking them will only make them angrier and likely to mutilate or kill her. Brienne, being a very staunch Action Girl, refuses the idea, and later Jaime is able to think up an idea that will keep the bandits from raping her at all...though it's a near miss.
    • We later find out why Jaime advised this in particular. In his youth, Jaime was a knight sworn to protect a very insane, sadistic king. In particular, he was Forced to Watch while said king killed innocent people in horrific ways, and could not reconcile his honour (which demanded he serve the king faithfully) with his conscience. Thus, he used this trope frequently (the thing he visualized, in particular, was being safe and happy with Cersei, his lover.) However, when the king announced his intention to burn everyone in the capital city to death, just to spite those coming to conquer it, Jaime was so completely horrified that he could not stand by. That's why he's known as the Kingslayer when the books begin, and reviled as a traitor without honour. He comments later to Brienne on the irony of being despised by so many for his finest act, especially as it was Ned Stark, the exemplar of Honor Before Reason, that assumed the worst of Jaime when he came upon the scene.
  • Patricia Anne of the Southern Sisters Mysteries reacts to finding dead bodies by mentally wandering the linen aisle of whatever store is having a sale that week, envisioning what kind of towels and throw pillows she's going to buy.
  • Merricat Blackwood in We Have Always Lived in the Castle utilizes this when doing the week's shopping, treated like a pariah by the villagers, including kids throwing rocks at her; she shuts them out and begins to imagine she's living in a little blue house on the moon. She elaborates on this pleasant life all through the book, especially whenever she is anxious or afraid.
  • Eden Green follows a rationalist young woman battling the needle monsters invading her city. As she recovers from a bad injury, she goes to her happy place: A quiet, isolated deer stand she visited years ago. Later, as her adventures begin to wear down her sanity, she mentally returns to the deer stand with increasing desperation.
  • The mind palaces in The Traitor Son Cycle work like this. Every sorcerer has a mind palace, where they store memories and spells, and it's usually modelled after a place the sorcerer feels the most comfortable. Inside, the time passes more slowly than in real world, so on many occasions, people use them to pause, catch a breath and calm their nerves, or simply escape from reality for a moment.
  • A Boy Made of Blocks: During a camping trip, Sam gets scared when night falls. Alex tells him to close his eyes and pretend he's in Minecraft, and the two describe the imaginary landscape they explore to each other.
  • In A Kind of Spark, Addie imagines swimming side by side with a shark, exploring shipwrecks, caves, and reefs.
  • Hoshi from Hoshi and the Red City Circuit calms herself by imagining the skyline of Red City as it looks from her window and mentally tracing it over and over again.
  • In the Bounders novel The Heroes Return, Jasper, who is claustrophobic, find himself uncomfortably crammed into a tiny crate with Regis and Denver. He deals with it by imagining he's with Mira in a field of flowers they visited in The Tundra Trials.
  • Tally from the Can You See Me? books likes being high up, so her happy place is floating on a cloud, miles above everyone else. In Do You Know Me? Skye, who is secretly afraid of heights, freezes up on a climbing course in the trees. Tally, trying to think of the opposite of her own happy place, tells Skye to imagine being in a cave or a dark cellar, which only freaks her out even more.
  • Ginny from The Kitchen Daughter calms herself by imagining that she's cooking or eating food. The more stressed she is, the more elaborate the imagined meal is.
  • Hannibal from Twelve Days imagines himself in "the Game," a giant house that doubles as a Memory Palace. Each wing has ten stories, each story has ten corridors, each corridor has ten rooms, each room contains ten objects, and each object has ten hooks, on which Hannibal hangs his memories. Hannibal loves being in the Game, where he's safe and alone, but never bored. In the real world, he spends most of his time attempting to draw the house, then either erasing it or crossing it out when he's done.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Moss of The IT Crowd visits his Happy Place from time to time.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Gaius Baltar often goes back to his lake house on Caprica when under stressful or dangerous situations. Usually Six, his sometimes-abusive Spirit Advisor would lounge about with him or rub his back and other parts.
    • The Cylons on the same show were a Subversion, because they didn't go into the Happy Place so much as project it over their real environment.
  • Farscape:
    • John Crichton goes into his subconscious when he wants to talk to his Spirit Advisor and former Split Personality Harvey. And then there's the Looney Tunes episode.
    • Don't forget "Out of Their Minds", when Rygel is stuck in John's body.
      Rygel: I'm dreaming, yes that's it! I'm asleep... and I'm dreaming all this. I'll wake up in my royal chamber surrounded by concubines and everything will be fine!
    • Although we don't see it, Stark retreats to such a place when he's being tortured in the Aurora Chair by Scorpius. It's the one memory he won't let Scorpius have, and he ends up sharing it with Crichton when he too is put in the Chair.
  • Titus, of the eponymous comedy show, had a black and white room from where he'd have an Inner Monologue to tell the audience. In one particularly jarring Cliffhanger, Titus is implied to have died in a car racing accident, the camera switches to his happy place, now empty, while the sounds of his friends and fiancee reacting play offscreen.
  • One episode of The 4400 has Tom having a hallucination of a happy life that lasts eight years from his perspective but occurs over a few seconds of real time. It turns out that this is the power of one of the affected: to generate the Happy Place for whomever she's in contact with. It also nearly kills Diana when she choses to stay in the Happy Place rather than coming back to reality.
  • An odd variant appears in The Drew Carey Show, where Lewis has both a Happy Place (that he goes to) and a Happy Spot (the stroking or scratching of which can send him to his Happy Place).
  • In an episode of the fourth season of Coupling, one of the characters accompanies her friend to antenatal classes and disappears to her Happy Place (complete with wine and a string quartet) when the actual mechanics of childbirth get discussed. It is later subverted when the Happy Place itself is invaded by related imagery, such as a knife blade emerging between her legs from the red cushion of her chair.
  • Just Shoot Me!: upon learning the Nina and his father are dating, Dennis retreats into his Happy Place, where he beats an Asian kid and a college professor at a Rubik's Cube competition.
  • In Black Books Bernard, and then Fran, both escape their dinner guests by hiding under the table. There's a bar under there.
  • Scrubs:
    • In an episode, Dr. Cox goes to his happy place (a calm beach where he can hear the waves crashing and flocks of seagulls flying overhead) to escape Elliot's chatter, but while he's there, Elliot and Jordan cheerfully arrange a "couple date". And while this is going on a storm breaks out in his happy place.
    • In another episode, JD's happy place is an Imagine Spot with him as the bandleader for Jay Leno.
  • In the Firefly episode "Objects in Space", River unintentionally experiences a Happy Place, where she retreats to shut out the thoughts of the rest of the crew.
  • Supernatural
    • The Djinn in "What Is and What Should Never Be" sends its victims here while he feeds on their blood. Highly disturbingly, Dean's happy place is where he can "rest", his father's still dead (yet still having the amazing ability to be able to bully him from beyond the grave) because a happy John would probably make his brain short-out, his perfect girlfriend looks the reaper from the season premiere, everyone thinks he's a worthless waste of space (because he's the one who thinks that) and his family all have wonderful lives except him. And the worst thing? He genuinely thinks that "It's still better than anything he has, especially since his mother and Sam are happy."
    • Heaven, for human souls, is a mental world where they re-live their happiest memories, and even in Heaven Dean's life is pain. In Season 5, he visits Heaven and relives a moment of joy he shared with Sam and a time when he comforted his mom. He then visits Sam's version of Heaven, which is made up of memories where Sam escaped his family, including Dean.
    • Angels can visit the heavens created by humans and are seen using them as a happy place. For Raphael, his is the heaven of a corrupt but devout corporate executive. For Castiel, his happy place is a beautiful garden created by an autistic man.
    • Sam is put in a happy place while he is being possessed by the angel Gadreel. It's a mundane happy where he is working on a Monster of the Week case with Dean about ghouls and cheerleaders.
    • When possessed by Michael, Dean is put in a happy place where he has retired from hunting, runs a bar with Pamela, and gets a visit from Castiel.
  • Part of season 3 of My Name Is Earl has Earl in a coma dreaming of being a character in a pleasant family sitcom called "The Hickeys", complete with many typical sitcom tropes including Laugh Track. It's revealed that the reason his subconscious created a Dom Com like that was because when he was a child, he would turn his attention to the TV when his parents would fight, and he wished he lived in a "perfect" home like the ones on TV.
  • Given a beautiful double-subversion in Burn Notice, with borderline Ax-Crazy Action Girl Fiona, and the reason it's a double-subversion is because before Michael tells her to stop it, Tricia (who had her son kidnapped and is desperate to get him back) is visibly relaxing with a much too peaceful smile:
    Fiona: Tricia, I want you to try something. It's a relaxation exercise I do in situations like this. I want you to close your eyes, and breathe deep... picture a peaceful mountain stream... picture yourself drowning the kidnapper in the stream. You're taking a rock from the stream, and raising it above your head, and with tremendous force you're bringing—
  • In Corner Gas, Brent Leroy's happy place has two scantily clad women, pudding baths, chili cheese dogs and once, The Man from Glad.
    • Also, from the Theme Song: "It's a great big place/ Full of nothing but space/ And it's my happy place!"
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon's Happy Place is Flatland.
  • Mocked in Stargate SG-1, when Daniel starts to complain that a number of artifacts have been moved (they were in the way), O'Neill cuts him off by telling him to go to his happy place.
  • In Community, there is a secret trampoline that can put people into a zen state.
    • A straighter example is in the fourth season premiere, in which Britta instructs Abed to make a happy place to help him cope with the change going on his life. The result is "Abed's Happy Community College Show," a cliche and stagnant Sitcom reality, complete with Laugh Track. When change begins to seep into Abed's imagined world, he retreats even further into "Greendale Babies."
  • In As the World Turns, Luke helps the claustrophobic neurosurgeon Reid calm down while they are stuck in an elevator by telling to go to his happy place. Reid's happy place is the brain, as he is very fascinated by brains,
  • In season 2 of Hannibal, Will Graham spends a lot of time imagining himself fishing in an idyllic river. He has to do something to keep calm while he's stuck in a mental institution awaiting trial for murder. Nasty bits of the outside world do occasionally break in, though: bloated dead bodies floating past him, the Ravenstag walking on the riverbank, and the Wendigo rising from the water to stare hungrily at him, to name a few.
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, when Boyle and Terry find out that Diaz's aggressive attitude at the witness stand is due to her nervousness, they instruct her to find her "happy place" while testifying. It turns out that Diaz's happy place is a bit more violent than the conventional kind.
    Diaz: I'm in a cabin, in the middle of nowhere. Inside it's just me, and that stupid slimy defense attorney. And I'm beating the hell out of him. I break a dining table over his head. Then I rip off his arm and shove it where the sun don't shine. Then I reach down his throat - and shake his hand.
    • Boyle's own Happy Place is him slurping up a never-ending linguine noodle. Every 20 feet, the sauce changes.
  • On Raising Hope, Burt pictures himself on an island where he's rich because he's the only one who knows how to clean the ocean, his favorite food grows on trees, there's a friendly native (named Pupukaka) who he always beats at foozball, and an entire harem of beautiful women (all of whom are his wife, Virginia.)
  • Star Trek: Voyager: The Guiding Tree of the Great Forest, which is part of the Talaxian afterlife which Neelix tells Naomi Wildman before she goes to bed in the episode "Mortal Coil", becomes this for Naomi at the end of the episode.
  • Person of Interest: In "6,741", Sameen Shaw mentions that her trainers instructed agents under torture to "take their mind somewhere else. Someplace safe."
    Root: Where did you go?
    Shaw: Nowhere. The training was bull. There was no safe place. No escape.
    • However, at the end of the episode, she confesses to Root that there was a place she went to:
      Shaw: With you. You were my safe place.
  • This is a common interpretation of Wonderland in Adventures in Wonderland. The series formula is that Alice has some kind of a moral conundrum or thinking about her homework. She then enters Wonderland, where the residents are in a similar situation - and after it is "solved", she returns and mentions she was thinking about it. This fits in with some common interpretations of Alice In Wonderland as well.
  • In the Broad City episode "The Matrix," Abbi is trapped in a hole in the ground with an injured ankle. She smokes weed and imagines going on dates with various celebrities.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) features this trope in the episode "A Stop at Willoughby", in which a severely depressed ad executive dreams of getting off the train at a charming town from the 1800s called Willoughby, but something always wakes him from his dream before he gets off the train. By the end of the episode, he gets off and is able to reach his happy place, but in the real world, it is revealed that he jumped out the window of the train and committed suicide.
  • The Punisher (2017): When Frank Castle is being tortured in "Home", he sustains his morale by imagining himself making love to his wife. This leads to a rather disturbing Interplay of Sex and Violence as his torturer is getting a lot of pleasure beating Castle to a bloody mess.
  • Friends: Monica suffers from a bout of insomnia after breaking up with Richard so Phoebe offers to help her with some meditative techniques. She tells Monica to picture herself in her happy place but Monica's version of that is Richard's living room. As this defeats the purpose of what they're doing Phoebe offers to "lend" Monica her own happy place: a meadow under a starry sky with waterfalls and fountains. This doesn't work either as the water imagery makes Monica need the bathroom.

  • The Beach Boys' "In My Room".
    In this world I lock out
    All my worries and my fears
    In my room
    In my room
  • Evanescence's song "Imaginary" describes one of these places. The lyrics talk about a "field of paper flowers and candy clouds of lullaby" that the singer escapes to because her life is "the nightmare I built my own world to escape".
  • Paul McCartney referred to "Yellow Submarine" as this.
  • In David Byrne's "Back in the Box", the narrator keeps going back into his box because he can't deal with the outside world.
    And now love's terrifying.
    I cannot hide what I want.
    You cannot hear me or see me
    when I go back in the box.
  • Poets of the Fall has used the concept more than once.
    • In the video for "Lift," Poet County Jail inmate and Mad Dreamer Mark sometimes retreats to a mental house stuffed with framed and flapping moths, children's toys, and illusory band mates during his psych screening.
    • In "Drama for Life," embracing and working with the rampant creative impulse in his head results in the creation of a "mental Versailles" for the singer.
  • Vocaloid: Deconstructed in Dreaming Beats by Chuna. GUMI plays a girl who has vivid fantasies about being a powerful military general and a Messiah who promises to save a famished land, but all of it is little more than a maladaptive coping mechanism, as she believes she's been through so much pain and trauma that she's no longer fit to live in the real world. She gets so engrossed in her dreams that she refuses to wake up and eventually ends up in a coma.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sometimes, when one of The Pajanimals needs cheering up, they'll all sing a song called "Happy Thoughts."
    Apollo: Mom and Dads' hugs.
    Apollo and Squacky: Happy thoughts.
    Cowbella and Sweetpea Sue: Happy thoughts.

  • The radio version of Little Britain has a recurring sketch of a masseur who attempts to relax a very uptight client with various, horrifically inappropriate, methods, including a whale music CD which ends with the whales being slaughtered. In one episode, the masseur suggests thinking happy thoughts, though his idea of 'happy' involves a weeping old man being pushed down a hill in a wheelie bin by stone-throwing children.

  • Harper from Angels in America has a great many (Valium-induced) hallucinations that fill this purpose.
  • In Trouble in Tahiti, Diane sings of a garden "where love will lead us to a quiet place." The thought of it is the only happy escape she finds from her life in Stepford Suburbia.
  • Young Cosette's song "Castle on a Cloud" in Les Misérables.

    Video Games 
  • Xenogears' lead Fei not only has several Split Personalities, but several hang out in their own Happy Place apart from each other and Fei. Poor guy's head must feel like a condo.
    • Fei's MPD was a coping mechanism that young Fei's developed to deal with the painful experiments that his own mother (who was Not Herself, long story) put him through. Young Fei created a second personality (named Id, who calls the original "the coward") to bear the brunt of the trauma while the original personality retreated to a literal Happy place; a vault that contained all the happy memories that he had ever experienced. The inversion of this Trope also applies to Id, who's stuck in land containing nothing but the "unhappy" memories, due to the presence of a 3rd personality (the current Fei) that was created to contain the psychotic Id.
  • The entire plot of Kagetsu Tohya is based on how Shiki comes to realize that he's trapped in Len's version of a Lotus-Eater Machine, which is really more of what he would consider this trope. All she really wants is a normal, happy every day life. While inside, he's always fairly happy while staying in the bounds of Len's script. He doesn't have to fight vampires, he can be with all his friends and love interests, it's always exciting and hey, maybe there's a festival going on! But that's Len's happy place, and she's a dream familiar that dragged him with her while thinking she was helping him after Arcueid knocked him out on accident.
  • In the second large DLC for The Witcher 3, "Blood and Wine," the Duchess Anna Henrietta has a physical happy place, a land of fairy tales and what not, that a sorcerer had made for her and her sister as a pocket dimension to play in when they were children. Though in the intervening years of their absence, the magic had started to wear thin, and stuff started getting a little warped. Rapunzel losing hope of ever being rescued, hanging herself with her own hair, then becoming a wraith that attacks Gerlat when he shows up. The Little Matchstick Girl gettign desperate and moving from selling matchsticks to selling fisstech. That sort of thing. Though the place later comes in handy when the Duchess needs to hide her sister from a mentally unstable High Vampire who wants her dead and simultaneously imprison her while they figure out what to do about the sister manipulating that vampire into killing knights she justifiably had a grudge against.
  • In Project Origin, one of the recurring visions Becket keeps experiencing from Alma is of a hilltop amidst tall, waving grass with a single swingset hanging from the tree. The significance of this scene doesn't become apparent until the end of the game, when you reach Still Island. The tree and the swingset were real, but sandwiched into a muddy corner of the nuclear power plant's sewer system, and the place you ended up visiting is what she kept trying to imagine it as: the only Happy Place she had amidst all the experimentation and misery she experienced as a child.
  • In Rayman 2: The Great Escape, there is an odd alternate ending in the middle of the game. After beating a level called The Cave of Bad Dreams (actually the Black Bug Room of the god of that world), Rayman can choose whether or not to accept a huge pile of gold he does not need. If he does take it, the game ends on a shot of Rayman, very fat and happy, relaxing on a tiny tropical island, with the entire world around him in ruins. However, The Cave of Bad Dreams is a large Schrödinger's Butterfly, so it can't be known if the island is real or not.
  • Subverted. Wonderland used to be this, in American McGee's Alice.
  • Duke Nukem Forever: Duke Nukem's Happy Place is a strip club called Titty City.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has Sanguine, the Daedric Prince of Debauchery and Hedonism, and his "Myriad Realms of Revelry". His Realms constantly reform to become the pleasure paradise of whoever is visiting.

  • In the Magic: The Gathering webcomic UG Madness, R&D director Mark Rosewater's happy place is inhabited by talking consumer products, three post-mortem samurai, and a giant red hairball named Thomas.
  • This Something*Positive strip recommends the use of a Happy Place to avoid giving unwanted raises.
  • A MegaTokyo guest comic done by the guys at Mac Hall showed Piro at a convention attempting to commit seppuku. As they're trying to wrestle the blade out of his hands, someone yells out, "Go to your happy place, Piro! Sad girls in snow!"
  • When Fumbles is tortured in Goblins, he suffers a Heroic BSoD. However, it's shown that he's actually in his Happy Place, having Monty Haul adventures as Senor Vorpal Kickass'O.
  • The current page image is from Questionable Content, depicting Bubbles (an AI equipped with highly advanced olfactory sensors designed to detect chemical/biological hazards) deriving great pleasure from the scent of tea.

    Web Original 
  • This infamous Creepypasta story turns this trope into high-octane Paranoia Fuel.
    It has been reported that some victims of violence, during the act, would retreat into a fantasy world from which they could not WAKE UP. In this catatonic state, the victim lived in a world just like their normal one, except they weren't being raped. The only way that they realized they needed to WAKE UP was a note they found in their fantasy world. It would tell them about their condition, and tell them to WAKE UP. Even then, it would often take months until they were ready to discard their fantasy world and PLEASE WAKE UP.
  • The World of Warcraft fan song "Happy Place" is about an undead rogue whose happy place is picking flowers. Just don't pick his flowers or he'll gank you 'til the cows come home.
  • For Brows Held High, it's ads of Shakespearean actors reading classic poetry while classical music plays. "Pretension Nirvana!"
  • The Nostalgia Critic's happy place is being with Catherine Zeta Jones and she's wearing only a hat, tie, glasses and a long sweater.
  • Mr. Mendo's happy place is where every movie is dubbed over by lines from Son in Law. (Well, technically Encino Man, but would you really know the difference?)
  • In Midnight Screenings, Jake admitted his happy place is playing the theme to DuckTales (1987) in his head.
  • Battle for Dream Island has the Waterfalls for Roboty.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of The Amazing World of Gumball Gumball suffers a traumatic event (being kissed on the lips by his grandmother) and Darwin tries to help him recover by finding his happy place.
  • In the famous The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Attack of the Clowns", Billy goes to his "happy place" to get away from Grim and Mandy, who are trying to force him to face his fear of clowns. There, he has a conversation with his "inner frat boy", who convinces him to face his fears... by beating the crap out of any clown he sees.
  • Freakazoid! has the Freak-a-Zone, where the titular Super Hero goes when Dexter Douglas is in control.
  • One of the pilots featured in Cartoon Network's "Big Pick" was Commander Cork: Space Ranger, a thickheaded space explorer who could retreat into his idyllic Happy Place at a moment's notice. At the episode's climax, with the villain torturing him with a manifestation of his inner rage, he desperately retreated into his Happy Place, only to somehow bring his nemesis along with him; he himself was promptly kicked out, leaving the villain in control of his Happy Place. "Whoa. That can't be good." As the pilot was never picked up, nothing ever really came of this.
  • In the second Robot Chicken Star Wars special, going into this was how Anakin was able to bring himself to kill the Jedi children — retreating into his memory of Naboo, where he and Padme fell in love. Instead of children, he now sees sunflowers... The punchline is that he leaves a pile of the resultant "fresh-cut sunflowers" on a table for her afterward.
  • In the MTV adaptation of The Maxx the antagonist Mr. Gone narrates thus in the intro: Most of us inhabit at least two worlds: the real world where we're at the mercy of circumstance and the world within, a safe place where we can escape.
  • "Calm Blue Ocean. Calm Blue Ocean," chants Miss Hoover, after Lisa Simpson steals every teacher's guide in the school.
    • Arguably, this is the reason why Homer envisions the disgusting fantasies while chanting "Think Unsexy Thoughts" during the episode "The Last Temptation of Homer Simpson".
  • In the Family Guy episode "Petergeist", Stewie's Happy Place is being on MTV's Jackass, kicking his father's ass.
  • Tweek has one in South Park.
  • The Tick: Recovering Punisher-expy Bigshot ends up adopting this to resolve conflicts in "The Tick vs. The Tick". He doesn't hold up very long...
    Bigshot: I said PUT IT IN THE HAPPY BOX!!
  • In Gravity Falls when Mabel gets too stressed, she hides herself away in her sweater, as seen in "The Hand that Rocks the Mabel" and in "Dipper and Mabel vs. The Future".
    Mabel: Mabel's not here now, she's in Sweater Town...
  • The Ice King from Adventure Time has his "Imagination Zone," inhabited by numerous princesses and happy sunsets. He seems to enter it when knocked out, but can also magically teleport there and bring others along.
  • When Clarence gets bored at the doctor's waiting room, he retreats into his own mind, and after trying out a few happy places, settles on "Candy Brain", where everything is made of candy.
  • For Metalocalypse's Doomstar Requiem, Abigail tells Toki to retreat to his, which is his getting hired to play as the rhythm guitarist for the band.
  • On Doc McStuffins, in "Toy Hospital: Check-Up Chilly" Chilly states that stacking charts puts him in his happy place.
  • The Sonic Boom episode "Just a Guy" has Sonic deal with Mike the Ox by trying this, imagining himself in a hammock on the beach. When Mike's chatter intrudes on that, he goes to a happy place in his happy place, a white void. Mike gets in there too.
  • Wander over Yonder: In "The Time Bomb", Wander tries to help Sylvia control her temper during the Galactic Conjuction 6000 by having her imagine running through a grove of "marshmallaffle apple" trees.
  • Oh Yeah! Cartoons: The titular character of the Dan Danger shorts sometimes calms himself down and endures the hazardous situations he has to go through by putting on a headset themed after a cute animal (such as a rabbit or a puppy) and imagining that he's in a world filled with said cute animal.

    Real Life 
  • Going to your "happy place," or taking a mental vacation, is a recommended coping strategy for people with a variety of mental conditions (anxiety, depression, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, etc.) to deal with stressful situations, so long as these trips remain short term. If a person begins spending a significant portion of his or her time away from reality (this is called maladaptive daydreaming), it may be time to use other coping methods more often.
  • Autistic fantasy is a form of withdrawal into the mental world to avoid dealing with real people and situations. Despite the name, it is not restricted to those on the autism spectrum; individuals with personality disorders may also use this as an (unhealthy/lower level) coping strategy. Rather than a mental vacation, those who live these fantasies substitute the mental world for the real one and avoid taking actions that might resolve their problems.
  • Some autistic people have healthier variants. Some have a task, like writing or drawing, that acts as their 'happy place,' where they can be undisturbed and work out their emotions. Others don't retreat into imagination at all, but just need to cool down in a quiet, private place.


Video Example(s):


The Brain Friends

After taking an onslaught of verbal abuse from Red Guy and Duck Guy, Yellow Guy retreats into his imagination, where he knows his memories will be kind to him.

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Main / HappyPlace

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