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Imaginary Friend

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"THAT's half the reason imaginary friends are illegal now! Kids always give them the creepiest possible names. Rubby Plop-Plop, Sir Zabblepants, Dingy Donger, Real Live Actual Mr. Blangcaster Next Door..."

Children in their formative years have a lot of imagination. They also need guidance, support, love, and companionship. And stimulation for their imaginations. Happy, precocious children who are bored or just have more imagination than their parents can keep up with will dream up an imaginary friend - or even more than one.


In cases when the parent is physically present but emotionally and mentally a Missing Mom or Disappeared Dad; or when the child is abused or orphaned or otherwise put through upheaval — they cope by creating a friend from their imagination to keep them company.

The imaginary friend can be a Parental Substitute, confidante, playmate, and sometimes protector (especially if the child has mental issues). If the child has Powers, then their Imaginary Friend, if a genuine product of the child, is bound to be slightly more... substantial than usual.

In darker stories, sometimes the Imaginary Friend is a ghost or extradimensional entity who may not have good and kind intentions toward the child. These can be a variation on Our Ghosts Are Different. Sometimes it's just a manipulative or Jerk Ass adult preying on the child's imagination and innocence and pretending to be imaginary, counting on adults not believing the child if the child does happen to speak on it.


There are also the odd adult occasions of an adult imaginary friend turning up or hanging around. Sometimes this becomes a Split Personality.

Occasionally, though, the person who conceived of the imaginary friend is an adult rather than a child. In these cases, it is usually portrayed as a part of already-existing madness or else one of the warning signs of the character's Sanity Slippage.

Finally, it qualifies as Truth in Television, as many children (and adults) in Real Life have or have had imaginary friends. Some authors discuss their characters as if they're imaginary friends.

However, as mentioned in the source of the quote above, for better or worse, imaginary friends are becoming a thing of the past. Possibly due to widespread pop-psychology and a lot of hysteria in the '90s about Split Personality, having an imaginary friend was regarded as an indication of mental illness. Some doctors really believed it was an early indicator of dissociating personality, which is supposedly a flight from reality in response to trauma. None of this is true; numerous sociological studies on imaginary friends have concluded that children, teens and adults have them for many reasons. If we stop mentioning our imaginary friends, that doesn't mean that the friends aren't still around.


Related to I Just Want to Have Friends as the reason imaginary friends are made. Compare with Tulpa, a creature that began imaginary, but formed because people believed in the creature's existence. Contrast with Imaginary Enemy. Super Trope of Not-So-Imaginary Friend, where the imaginary friend turns out to have been a real person in their own right.

The revelation that one of the characters is an imaginary friend is sometimes used as a major plot twist, so beware of spoilers.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Yozora has an imaginary air friend she calls "Tomo-chan". She talks to it as if it were real, which surprises Kodaka when he first sees her at school. She later references Tomo-chan again when they sing karaoke, which Kodaka says she shouldn't be counting her air friend as a second person.
  • The 1979-80 series Kujira no Josephina (Josephina The Whale) is about Santi, a Shrinking Violet Spanish boy who went on adventures with his imaginary whale Josephina and gradually started to see life in a better light. In the last episode, Santi eventually grew up and said goodbye to Josephina... yeah. Though it's implied that Josefina may keep living on as this... but now for Santi's Annoying Younger Sibling Rosa, who had been able to see her before.
  • The manga Noramimi features existing "imaginary friends" (similar to Foster's Home, below) labelled "mascots", who stay ("freeload") with a child until they grow up, and move on to another kid afterwards.
  • The cutesey mascot Maromi from Paranoia Agent who speaks to Tsukiko seems to be quite imaginary, but is a whole lot more dangerous. Somehow.
    • Short version: She's a manifestation of all the paranoia and frustration in Tokyo, with the "active" end being Shonen Bat. The ultimate plot is to make everyone vent their worry into merchandise with her image, and then yank it away, causing the paranoia to spike to the point it turns physical and hits the city like a moving tidal wave.
    • Alternate Interpretation: She was an imaginary friend specific to Tsukiko who gave her comfort and shielded her from the world that was often mean to her because of her behavior as a Cloud Cuckoolander (this is likely the function the original Maromi, a pet dog, served for Tsukiko before it was run over). When Tsukiko grew up and made Maromi for an advertising company, the effect of providing comfort and acting as an emotional crutch spread, which is why it sold so well.
  • In Bleach, Lilynette was this to Starrk, before Aizen stepped in and gave Starrk an upgrade in his powers, allowing him to give her a real form.
    • Or the other way around. They've been together for so long that neither of them can remember which one is 'real', so it's possible that Lilynette created Starrk.
    • Sorta used with Yukio, who as a child used his powers to create imaginary friends that looked like his neglectful parents.
  • Ninja Ninja, Afro's foul mouthed, perverted, jive talking imaginary friend from Afro Samurai was thought up because Afro's entire adoptive family was murdered by a band of thieves and he created him so he wouldn't be completely alone. He is also the polar opposite of Afro, no one else can see or hear him but he can get hurt and once he accepted responsibility for their deaths he let go of Ninja Ninja allowing him to be killed in his place and letting vanish from his life, although he returns in the movie.
  • Yami Marik from Yu-Gi-Oh! started as this with Marik/Malik but eventually turned into a Split Personality.
  • England in Axis Powers Hetalia is assumed to have these- subverted in that they're actually fairies that only he can see. Its revealed that other nations (apart from America) go to his house they can see them too.
  • A pretty major plot point in Copernicus Breathing. We're not sure if Bird's Nest's dead little brother is just a figment of his imagination, or if he's actually a Not-So-Imaginary Friend.
  • In When Marnie Was There, Anna come to this conclusion about her new found friend Marnie when reading her diary.
    Anna: Marnie is...someone I made up. An imaginary girl, only in my mind.
  • In Fairy Tail, there is an arc that goes back to the story of how the Guild was formed. It centers around Fairy Tail's founder, Mavis, and her best friend, Zera. Except the real Zera was Dead All Along. She died in a massacre, and Mavis was the only survivor. To keep her mind from being traumatized by the resulting loneliness, she unknowingly awakened to her illusion magic, and created an illusion that grew up alongside her. And since she was alone, nobody was around to notice her talking to thin air. Well, until her future guild mates showed up...
  • It starts happening to Okabe in Steins Gate 0 anime episode 9, where by he starts occasionally hearing his own thoughts in Kurisu's voice & seeing her in his lab.

    Comic Books 
  • Depending on which story one believes, Bat-Mite is either an imaginary friend, an entity from the same dimension as Mr. Mxyzptlk, or a drug-induced hallucination.
    • One story written by certified madman Grant Morrison implied he might be both.
  • In Doom Patrol, the Reality Warper Dorothy Spinner had a group of disturbingly surreal imaginary friends and, because she had psychic powers, they could actually affect the world around them as though they were real people who just happened to be unpercievable by any sense. She had some who were good, who she used to help her be a superhero, and some who turned out to be evil, who she killed with an imaginary gun.
  • Mr. Immortal had Deathurge in Great Lakes Avengers. Who isn't Imaginary at all.
  • The Savage Dragon features She-Dragon, who, in a parody of She-Hulk's No Fourth Wall tendencies, had five or so imaginary friends, who many issues later turned out to be real people trapped in another dimension with a psychic link to her.
  • John Wayne in Preacher. He first started appearing when Jesse Custer was a child in need of a means of coping with his Evil Matriarch grandmother's abuse, and would occasionally show up during Jesse's adulthood as well.
    • Jesse believes that at one point, Wayne conveyed information that Jesse himself could not have known. Jesse never figures out the full reality of Wayne, but considering the cosmic powers thrown around...
  • Calvin and Hobbes: on the surface, a textbook case of a boy and his imaginary friend. But in execution, things are not quite so simple.
  • Robin from the Belgian comic book series Sarah And Robin. He used to be the imaginary friend of Sarah's grandfather before she met him and he became her only friend. He borders on Not-So-Imaginary Friend since he can interact with the world around him (like grabbing objects or opening doors), even though only people that believe he exists can see him.
  • Garfield has one of his own, known as Clive. Often, Garfield will blame eating food left out on Clive. Jon wises up to this, but sometimes it gets real confusing as to whether he exists or not.
  • In Violine, Violine shows her new pet mouse her best friend, who is a drawing of one.
  • In the comic series Rachel Rising, Aunt Johnny's mind has a tendency to distract her while working at her job as a mortician by conjuring up visions of famous visitors coming into the building. This happens regularly enough that when Johnny's niece Rachel, who Johnny doesn't know was murdered only to rise from her grave, comes into the place Johnny assumes the deathly pale Revenant with clear signs of damage from being strangled is just another vision and refuses to believe it's real for quite awhile.
    Oh, you'd be amazed at the people I've talked to in this building after midnight. Buddy Holly, Jack the Ripper, that beautiful ensign from New Zealand... God, I miss the Navy... one night Christ rode in here on a donkey, palm leaves all all over the place. That was a mess. I saw Elvis in the bathroom, go talk to him.
  • Spencer & Locke, which parodies CalvinAndHobbes, reimagines a young boy as a Hard Boiled Detective with a seven-foot-tall blue panther named Spencer. The result of years of abuse, Spencer seems to be the result of Locke's Sanity Slippage masked by I Just Want to Have Friends... but when Locke's daughter Hero sees him in a critical moment, the line starts to blur.
  • The alter ego of Italian comic book artist Zerocalcare is always paired with his imaginary armadillo friend (a cartoony version of the real animal). His first published book is even named "La profezia dell'armadillo", or The Armadillo Prophecy.
  • Thorgal's son Jolan's Psychic Powers once managed to conjure up a friend for himself by the name of Alinoe. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an evil little bastard.

    Films — Animated 
  • Inside Out has Bing Bong, who used to be Riley's imaginary friend until she grew older. He's genuinely kind and helpful (if a little naïve) and just wants Riley to be happy, which eventually leads to his Heroic Sacrifice.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Chocolat: Due to her mother's being on the run, the narrator has one constant friend, Pontouf who is a kangaroo. It isn't until the end of the movie, after her mother decides to settle in the town, where we see Pontouf from the child's point of view, hopping away to have his own adventures. "I didn't miss him."
  • Jack Flack in Cloak & Dagger was the father figure to the kid whose Disappeared Dad was one of those "present but not here" types. Interestingly, it was implied that a version of him had been the father's imaginary friend as well; also, when the kid rejects Jack Flack out of horror for the real violence to which he's just been exposed, Flack starts to die, and says "I hate this part ... leaving when they stop believing." All this suggests that "Flack" does have some sort of independent existence.
    • It's also interesting that Jack Flack is played by the same actor as the dad, suggesting the hero that his son had always believed him to be, despite everything. The final line just tops it off: "I don't need him, anymore. Dad. I've got you."
  • Hide and Seek had an imaginary friend that turned out to be the Tomato in the Mirror in more ways than one.
  • In Poltergeist the family briefly mistook the poltergeists for Carol-Anne's imaginary friends.
  • Stir of Echoes had the same problem; the family briefly mistook the ghost for the child's imaginary friend.
  • Likewise in Jack Frost [the family film], the snowman everyone thinks the boy is fixated on is inhabited by the ghost of his father.
  • The benevolent title character of Bogus.
  • The Jimmy Stewart classic Harvey has an adult with a Not-So-Imaginary Friend. Harvey is actually a pooka.
  • Drop Dead Fred is about a girl who had her imaginary friend locked in a jack-in-the-box by her mother, and lets him back out by accident after she grows up. Apparently he still exists because Elizabeth still needs him.
    • How Imaginary or Not So Imaginary he really is is pretty open to debate. The film tries to have it both ways. In one scene Elizabeth is taken to a therapist by her mother, and while she's in the waiting room Fred plays with several of his own friends, who are the imaginary friends of the other children in the room. We see the scene from the perspectives of Elizabeth and the other children, and each child can only see their own friend, apparently playing with nobody.
  • In Fight Club, Tyler Durden turns out to be an imaginary friend.
  • In A Beautiful Mind, Nash's college roommate, the little girl, and the CIA agent are just a part of John Nash's imagination.
  • The movie Troll 2 also features the (long-dead) Grandpa Seth being mistaken for an imaginary friend of the child.
  • In Everything You Want, Abby, the protagonist, creates an imaginary friend named Sy as a way to cope with the emotional abandon by her perpetually traveling parents and her incapability to relate with other human beings derived from the above. Sy grows with her until adulthood and becomes her model and her perfect boyfriend. Abby is content with the situation, until she mets a classmate and begins to fall in love with a real person for the very first time...
  • Tomás in El Orfanato (AKA The Orphanage), he is actually a ghost.
  • In Un Sussurro Nel Buio (aka A Whisper in the Dark), the boy's imaginary friend is the ghost of his brother who died as an infant before he was born.
  • In the Disney Channel Original Movie Don't Look Under the Bed, imaginary friends become boogeymen if the child stops believing in them too soon.
  • The giggly, bald Cajun guy in The Machinist turns out to be a figment of the protagonist's guilty conscience. And the airport waitress/single mother the protagonist chats with turns out to be a manifestation of the mother whose son he recklessly killed with his car and fled the scene. The son of the "waitress" is a manifestation of the boy the protagonist killed.
  • The Amityville Horror (1979) has Jodie, a pig-like creature that's the imaginary friend of the little girl member of the Lutz family; at one point in the film the girl's mother Kathy hears her talking to Jodie in her room, goes inside and is told Jodie left through the window. Looking outside, the mother sees a demonic face with red eyes staring back at her. In the 2005 remake Jodie is reimagined as the spirit of one of the murdered members of the Defeo family, instead of a (presumably) demonic entity.
  • In the Kevin Costner film Mr. Brooks, the eponymous character is urged to commit his killings by "Marshall,"(William Hurt), who acts as his id, as well as an extremely close companion who both friendlily taunts him and comforts him in times of despair. Interestingly, many of Brooks' secret talents and mental skills, such as his Living Lie Detector ability and cunning attention to detail, seem to manifest especially through Marshall.
  • Brazilian movie A Mulher Invísivel features an imaginary lover, the "invisible woman" of the title.
  • Reyeb for Malik in Un Prophète by Jacques Audiard. Remarkably friendly (if mysterious) considering Malik murdered him.
  • Donnie Darko's "friend" Frank is considered imaginary by his doctor, even though Donnie's convinced that he's real.
  • In Paper Man, Ryan Reynolds plays the superhero imaginary friend of the main character, a middle-aged failed writer.
  • In the 1961 British film Hand in Hand, Rachel has always had a "pretend sister" and asks her opinion about everyday things.
  • Paranormal Activity 3 shows that the demon terrorizing Katie and Kristi initially introduced itself to Kristi as an entity named "Toby," who the rest of the family assumed to be just an imaginary friend.
  • The movie Sunday at Tiffany's, based on a book by James Patterson. Jane's imaginary friend Michael left her life on her 10th birthday. Twenty years later, on the eve of her birthday and her wedding, he shows up again—this time as a corporeal adult. Neither of them have any idea why he suddenly showed up out of nowhere or what his mission is. Michael falls in love with Jane, who is initally very resistant to his naiive, innocent view of her and the world. Eventually, she realizes she isn't satisfied with how her life has gone since Michael left, and that she loves him...just as he has to leave again. Or does he?
  • Woody Allen's character in Play It Again, Sam is just divorced and not adjusting well to being single. So in order to cope with his insecurity around women he creates an alter ego based on Humphrey Bogart.
  • Haunter: Lisa's little brother Robbie is often playing with his imaginary friend Edgar, who eventually appears before Lisa. It's later revealed to be the killer himself appearing as he did when he was a child, as he originally grew up in the house.
  • In The Spirit of the Beehive, six-year-old Ana, after watching Frankenstein and inspired by a ghost story of her sister, becomes obsessed with the idea of befriending an imaginary monster.
  • The Ladykillers (2004): Mrs. Munson invites the Sheriff in to introduce him to her tenant Prof. Dorr. Since the Professor is trying to keep his criminal scheme under wraps from the authorities he hides from the Sheriff under the bed, which Mrs. Munson finds very amusing. This all conspires to make it seems like the old lady has lost it and is talking to imaginary people from the Sheriff's vantage point.

  • The aforementioned Kujira No Josefina anime series was based on the Spanish children's book Adios, Josefina (Goodbye, Josephina), by author José María Sánchez Silva. The plot's more or less the same: pre-teen boy from post-war Madrid has a whale as his IF, they go on imaginary adventures, boy starts seeing life in a better way, boy slowly grows up and lets go of imaginary friend...
  • In Gone, Spider-Man is Toto's imaginary friend.
  • There's a sequence in Max Brooks' World War Z involving a pilot talking over the radio to another person who got her safely out of a zombie-infested area. Or was she talking to anyone at all...?
  • In the Bagthorpe series of children's books by Helen Cresswell, the youngest cousin, Daisy, has an imaginary friend called Arry Awk (the name comes from a folksong). Daisy is a strange child who has fads, such as setting things on fire and burying sausages in the garden, and she blames Arry Awk for all her misdeeds.
  • The short story "Thus I Refute Beelzy" by John Collier, in which it's strongly implied the child has summoned up a demon.
  • In Andrew M. Greeley's God Game, a man's computer affects a fantasy kingdom (and the people around him) and characters from the game start appearing to him to ask for plot changes.
  • One of the only Kevin Henkes books populated by humans is Jessica, a picture book about a girl whose best friend is imaginary. The girl is initially reluctant to start kindergarten due to fears of leaving Jessica, but eventually befriends a classmate who happens to share the name.
  • Arguably used by childrens' books author Astrid Lindgren in Most Beloved Sister , and perhaps in Karlsson on the Roof. Both of these would have been created out of loneliness on the child's part.
  • In Anne Tyler's Earthly Possessions, the narrator's daughter has an imaginary friend "Selinda" for whom a place must be set at the table; after a while, the daughter sits in Selinda's place and insists that she is Selinda, and that the daughter is the imaginary friend. She is always referred to as Selinda from then on.
  • In Chocky by John Wyndham, Matthew's "imaginary friend" turns out to be actually an alien mind which has come to Earth to teach Humanity how to use cosmic energy. It's only the alien's mind because "mind has no mass" and thus can travel faster than the speed of light.
  • Lola in the Charlie and Lola children's book/TV series has an imaginary friend by the name of Soren Laurenson. This would be one of the cases where the kid with the imaginary friend is perfectly happy and well-adjusted, she just has a somewhat overactive imagination.
  • Sort of the point of the end of The Lace Reader: Towner's best friend as a child was her twin sister, Lyndley, who committed suicide when they were teenagers. Lyndley was really her twin Lindsey, who died at birth. Much of Lyndley's fictional traumatic childhood was based on Towner's real past.
  • The novel The Other. The narrator and his twin brother deal with a host of calamities. The narrator has no brother, and he's a murdering sociopathic monster.
  • In the novel Chocolat, the protagonist's daughter has an imaginary friend who is a Kangaroo.
  • In The Graveyard Book, Scarlett thinks that Bod is her imaginary friend until she meets him again when she becomes older.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's contemporary novel Stepping from the Shadows the narrator's "ugly sister" turns out to be her alternate personality. And this was published at least a decade before Fight Club.
  • The "Dumarest Of Terra" books Haven of Darkness and Prison of Night by E.C. Tubb involved a world where daily flares of stellar radiation induced detailed hallucinations of dead acquaintances, friends and enemies alike. Extensive conversations often occurred with these "ghosts."
  • The Gone-Away World is weird about this. The main character was the imaginary friend of The Ace, serving as the inspiration and motivator for all his deeds, and became real as the result of Applied Phlebotinum. His memories are a hybrid of what really happened and what The Ace visualized as happening, along with a few things that never happened (for instance, he thinks he's married to the woman who the ace original actually married.) Just to hammer in the weirdness a little more, it's heavily implied that the narrator is the imaginary friend of both The Ace and a wizened old kung fu master who really likes tupperware.
  • In John Varley's The Golden Globe, protagonist Kenneth "Sparky" Valentine's imaginary friend turns out to be a symptom of a disassociative personality disorder caused by years of suffering at the hands of his abusive father, Kenneth Sr.
    • This is also the plot to Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock.
  • J.D. Salinger's story "Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut" is about habitually drunk wannabe socialite Eloise's lost afternoon spent with a close friend half-remembered acquaintance, to whom she happily relives moans about their Glory Days in college. Her daughter Ramona seems to have little purpose in the story other than to demonstrate how Eloise neglects her. Ramona—insisting her friend Jimmy Jimmereeno is corporeal—makes room in bed for him (which annoys her mother). No need to use spoiler text, as this short story—like most of Salinger's—is anti-climactic. (Perhaps—after "A Perfect Day for Bananafish", and "Teddy"—Salinger felt he'd written enough jarring endings for a lifetime.)
  • In the Discworld novels, when Agnes Nitt was young, she used to blame things that went wrong on "the other little girl". "The other little girl" is now Perdita; somewhere between a Split Personality and the part of your mind where all the thoughts you don't dare think go. And she and Agnes don't get on.
    • Earlier, in Small Gods, desert-dwelling religious hermit S.T. ("Saint") Ungulant has an imaginary friend called Angus. Because the small gods of the desert don't miss an opportunity to latch onto anyone's belief, even a delusional crackpot's belief in his imaginary friend, Angus is "real" enough to hit a lion over the head with a rock.
    • In Snuff, it's revealed that Sam Vimes' son has an imaginary friend named Mr. Whistle, "who lived in a house in a tree but was occasionally a dragon."
  • Anne of the Anne of Green Gables series starts out having two imaginary friends: her reflection, whom she imagined was another little girl who lived in an enchanted world, and another little girl named Violetta, based on an echo she heard in a meadow near a home she grew up in. Marilla does not approve, and tells her it will be good to have a real friend to replace her imaginary ones.
    • In the sequel Anne of Avonlea, one of Anne's students, Paul Irving, has some imaginary friends that he collectively refers to as the "Rock People".
  • In the book Magic for Marigold, also by L. M. Montgomery, Marigold has an imaginary friend named Sylvia.
  • A teenage example: near the end of The Basic Eight, Flannery discovers that her best friend, Natasha, is a figment of her imagination.
  • In the short story "Faithless Margaret", (appeared in Wiggansnatch 21 in 1986), an old woman has an imaginary companion by that name who takes bus rides with her. Then the pair meet an old man who has an imaginary companion named Arthur. In the final scene the old man and woman ride the bus sullenly apart, angry and bereft — Margaret and Arthur apparently hit it off and now ride the bus together, abandoning their respective people.
  • In Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling, both Martha and Ivy have imaginary friends when they meet; Martha's is a protective lion, and Ivy's is Nicky, a Native American boy. Ivy's baby sister Josie sees and chats with all sorts of people, at least one of whom may actually be a ghost.
  • Adam Gopnik's Bumping Into Mr. Ravioli is an essay about his three-year-old daughter and the elusive Charlie Ravioli, who was apparently so busy that they rarely had time to do more than "grab lunch" or chat for a minute on the phone. Mr. Ravioli even had a receptionist who said "He's in a meeting right now, may I take a message?" Gopnik's sister, a psychologist, tells him imaginary friends and paracosms are actually what children use to orient themselves in reality. Truth in Television as several professionals have recently published books on these subjects.
  • Life Among the Savages, Shirley Jackson's essays based on her family, describes a shopping trip with her son, daughter, and her daughter's seven daughters, all named Martha, whom Joanne has adopted after their real parents killed each other.
  • "Carrie-Barry-Annie" by Ethel Calbert Phillips is the story of Margery and how she looks after her slightly absentminded friend. When Margery starts school she immediately realizes that Carrie cannot come with her. She gives her into the care of a sickly child named Gennifer, who sees Carrie as a winged creature small enough to live in a china house on the mantelpiece. She flies out at night and doesn't come back until morning.
  • The Wind Woman in Emily of New Moon, an Anthropomorphic Personification whose shape changes with the direction of the wind.
  • The main character in Anthony Boucher's "Mr. Lupescu" pretended to be an imaginary friend—a fairy godfather, to be specific—so that he could shoot the father of the kid the pretense was centered on, get off scot free and marry the mother.
  • In Newsflesh adult Shaun Mason conjures one as a result of grief from events in the first book, Feed. As his Sanity Slippage worsens in the second book, Deadline, he goes from just being able to hear the voice of his dead adopted sister (and lover) George, to being able to see the imago before his eyes. On several occasions, he can even feel physical contact.
  • The Swedish children's book series Alfons Åberg by Gunilla Bergström, published in English as Alfie Atkins, has Alfons' imaginary friend Mållgan (Malcolm or Moggy in the English versions), an albino version of Alfons who he often plays with when his father is busy. He also tends to use Mållgan as the occasional scapegoat to get out of trouble. In the 1976 book Vem räddar Alfons Åberg? (Who'll Save Alfie Atkins?), Alfons befriends Viktor, another boy in his building, and Mållgan, aware that Alfons is outgrowing him, leaves in search of someone else who needs an imaginary friend.
  • In The Amy Virus, Cyan imagines a spectral version of her favorite singer Amy Zander following her around and talking to her. Spectral Amy disappears at the end, when Cyan no longer needs her.
  • Dinosaur from Dinosaur Vs has an imaginary whale, which he waters in "Dinosaur vs. the Potty".

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Andy Griffith Show: The preeminent example came in "Mr. McBeevee." Yes, Mr. McBeevee is very much real, and its an averted trope, but the way an overly excited Opie describes his new friend, a telephone lineman he had met in the woods, to his Pa, it seems that this man is fictional. (After all, anybody who — as Opie describes him — walks in the treetops, wears a silver hat, has 12 extra hands, blows smoke from his ears and jingles when he walks as though he has rings on his fingers and bells on his toes is surely fictional, right?) Andy laughs it off as a childhood phase and even encourages Opie ... but the fun and games end when Opie brings back a quarter McBeevee had given him, as Andy suspects that Opie may have stolen it. Opie stands his ground, but after going to McBeevee's work site only to find him not there (McBeevee had been called away to assist another worker on his team), Andy threatens his son with a spanking; even then Opie tells him McBeevee is real ... and Andy relents. In the end, Andy's faith in Opie is rewarded: He walks past a tree in the woods and fumes, "Mr. McBeevee" ... and on cue, McBeevee greets his new friend and is confirmed as real.
    • During the original airing, a commercial for Jello pudding played on the episode's theme of imaginary friends, with Barney complaining that Opie has gone too far with his imaginary friends note , including a black stallion named Blacky. As if on cue, a black horse with physical features just as Opie described sticks his head through the kitchen window, once again proving Barney wrong. The commercial is included as a bonus feature on the Season 3 DVD set.
  • Harry Morgan on Dexter is a pretty good reminder of how disturbed Dexter actually is.
  • Prior to playing the title role on Dexter, Michael C. Hall played David on SixFeetUnder, an undertaker who was similarly prone to having imaginary conversations with his dead father and the other corpses he was working on. David was also a devout Christian who struggled to reconcile his homosexuality with his faith and one of the most memorable of his imaginary "friends" was a young gay man followed him around taunting him about how he would go to hell. There was also a friendly young gang member who had been killed in a turf war, who convinced the normally meek David to take a firm/threatening stand in a business meeting with a rival real estate company. David also becomes badly traumatized at one point and - when he realises he has healed enough to resume his life again. The imaginary friends make David seem a little bit schizoidal, but they were a useful storytelling device because otherwise David , who was very introverted, anal and poor at communicating his feelings, would have come across as very one-dimensional and incomprehensible. His imaginary friends also seem to make him more functional, both because they act as a support network for him and because they make him more sensitive to the needs of his clients.
  • M*A*S*H - the "Tuttle" episode.
  • Played very darkly on Lost. Hurley's best friend while he was in a mental institution was Dave, a bad influence who encouraged Hurley to overeat, try to escape the hospital, and other bad ideas. Hurley only started improving after he accepted that Dave wasn't real, rather a manifestation of his darker impulses. We learn all this in flashback during an episode where Dave shows up on the Island. He tries to convince Hurley that the island, not him, is the hallucination, and tries to prove it by pointing out all the unlikely things that have happened to Hurley since he left the institution.
    • However it gets more complicated when it turns out that Hurley can see and interact with the spirits of the dead, meaning that Institution!Dave could very well have been real. Also, the Big Bad of the series turned out to be capable of taking on the form of those who had died, creating another possibility for the identity of Island!Dave.
  • An SNL sketch featured an "imaginary friend-off" competition, which had guest star Fred Savage talk about his imaginary friend Mike Podium.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: in the episode "Imaginary Friend", the title character turns out to be quite real. And she manifests herself as August Leffler.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise. In the Mirror Universe episode, Mirror Archer is furious to discover his alternate universe self is a famous explorer, as Mirror Archer has yet to be assigned his first command. As Mirror Archer sinks into resentment and paranoia, his alternate self keeps appearing, taunting Mirror Archer into greater acts of ambition and recklessness.
  • A long-running gag on Sesame Street was that everyone thought Mr. Snuffleupagus was Big Bird's imaginary friend. This idea was dropped in 1986 by revealing Snuffleupagus to the adults once the producers decided it might lead kids to think Adults Are Useless and therefore might not believe a kid's "unbelievable" story about, say, molestation.[1].
    • Of course, since Snuffy was real I think you could technically categorize this as an It Was Here, I Swear!.
  • Supernatural, "Playthings": Two little girls, Tyler and Maggie, are shown playing, and it's implied that they're sisters. It's only revealed later that Maggie is Tyler's imaginary friend and the other characters can't see her. She turns out to be the ghost of Tyler's great-aunt, who died decades ago in the same house.
  • The producers of Teen Wolf have set forth that Greenberg, the student Coach Finstock yells at often, may or may not exist. He's never been shown onscreen, at any rate.
  • In Space Cases, Suzee is NOT Catalina's "imaginary" friend, she's her "invisible" friend. At first, it's thought to be a case of Insistent Terminology. She even insists that she's the only one who can see her, and gives various scientific explanations for why Suzee is "invisible", and not "imaginary", but then a Negative Space Wedgie brings Suzee out from another dimension and places Catalina in that dimension, revealing that Suzee literally was Catalina's "invisible" friend.note 
  • Tales from the Crypt— in "Operation Friendship", it's an adult nerdy video game designer with an imaginary friend. Their relationship sours when the man starts dating a psychologist and the imaginary friend, in fear for his existence, tries to turn the man against her. In the end, the imaginary friend takes over his body.
  • Medium— in "Night of the Wolf", this is how Allison realizes that her daughter Bridget has inherited her psychic powers— she starts playing with an invisible friend who turns out to be a child's ghost.
  • Charmed used the evil version of an imaginary friend; in this case, it was a demon trying to turn Wyatt evil. Like many Charmed episode titles, this one consisted of a pun; it was called "Imaginary Fiends."
  • Merton spends most of an episode of Big Wolf on Campus trying to convince his friends that his imaginary friend Vince really is real, really does have superpowers, and really is trying to kill them all.
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus Dinsdale Pirahna was perfectly normal . . . except that he was convinced that he was being watched by a gigantic hedgehog named Spiny Norman. Normally, Norman was wont to be about eight to ten feet from snout to tail, but when Dinsdale was really depressed, Norman could anywhere up to eight hundred yards long.
  • In the Sci-Fi show The Invisible Man, one episode features a little girl who's witnessed a murder and only wants to talk about it to her imaginary friend. Cue the protagonist pretending to be him.
  • On The 4400, a Muggle who took Promicin to get powers ended up with an imaginary friend who gave him seemingly prescient instructions.
  • In a heartbreaking example, Fitz in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hallucinates his best friend Simmons after suffering a traumatic brain injury. The hallucination helps him to organize his thoughts in her absense, though it has the unfortunate side-effect of inhibiting his recovery and isolating him from the rest of the team.
    • Fitz again hallucinates his sociopathic Framework self, "The Doctor", during a psychotic split in order to deal with the stress of saving the world. It doesn't end well.
  • On Huff the title character imagined and developed a good friendship with a Hungarian composer.
  • On 7th Heaven, Ruthie had an imaginary friend named Hoowie for a good part of the first season; he even had part of an episode's plot focused on him when she claimed Simon "sat on him and squished him".
  • House went a somewhat dark route with this trope near the end of Season 5, as House starts hallucinating that Amber, a.k.a. "Cutthroat Bitch" is following him around at all times. House knows it's got to be a hallucination and ends up taking advantage of the relationship, seeing as Amber represents "an all-access pass to [his] own subconscious." That is, until Amber's arrangements for Chase's bachelor party result in him going into anaphylactic shock due to an allergy House would've known about... which leads to him wondering why he would possibly want Chase dead. It gets worse, much worse, as he starts to lose his grip on reality and ends up getting committed to a mental hospital at the end of the season.
  • In Ghost Whisperer the title character is aware some children can see ghosts. The child of a storekeeper on the same square as her antique store, Dylan, appears to have the full-fledged medium gift, and his mother reacts poorly to her son talking to people who aren't there.
  • An episode of The Weird Al Show has Weird Al talking about his imaginary friend Gilbert Gottfried. Who is standing there the whole time, trying to prove he's a real guy.
  • Played with in Doctor Who. Young Amy Pond's first meeting with the Doctor has such a profound effect on her, that as she grows up, he becomes a part of her play, almost as if an imaginary friend. To the point of four psychiatrists trying to tell her he's not real. However, as it turns out, he's real — very real. And recognized by everyone Amy knows, from the days of childhood play.
    "Hello, everyone! I'm Amy's imaginary friend... but I came anyway."
    • Something similar happens in "The Girl in the Fireplace", when the Doctor appears in a little girl's bedroom to save her from the Monster of the Week. When he next pops in to check on her, he's accidentally jumped forward in time and discovers that She Is All Grown Up.
    Reinette: It is customary, I think, to have an imaginary friend only during one's childhood. You are to be congratulated on your persistence.
    • In "The Lie of the Land", Bill creates an imaginary version of her deceased mother as a confident on a brainwashed Vichy Earth.
    Bill: I er, made up a version of her. Yeah, I talk to her all the time.
    Nardole: Oh well, that's not that weird. I used to have an imaginary friend, 'til he left me for someone else.
  • There was an episode of The Twilight Zone (1985) where a dad scoffs at his son's imaginary friend, then is shocked to realize that he can see and hear the friend as well.
  • The non-supernatural interpretation of the Bones episode where Booth is trapped on a soon-to-be-sunken navy ship is that "Parker" is his Hallucinatory Friend rather than a ghost. This presumes that the obstacles Parker helps Booth get past were also hallucinations brought on by his brain tumor, and he was really just stumbling around at random below deck.
  • A The Sketch Show sketch took this to an over-the-top degree. The sketch concerned a psychiatrist running a group therapy session to persuade people that their imaginary friends weren't real; her patients were a guy who used his imaginary friend as a cover for alcoholism, a lonely and lovesick woman, and a guy who thought he himself was the imaginary one. At the very end of the sketch, it turns out the psychiatrist was actually addressing an empty room.
  • The A-Team has Murdock's invisible dog, Billy. At the end of one episode, it appears that Billy actually knocks Murdock over and drags him along the ground.
  • In one episode of Boy Meets World, Manchild Eric makes an imaginary friend version of his former mentor Mr. Feeny to help him with his college work. At the end of the episode the imaginary Feeny convinces him that he has the skills to do well without him so Eric lets him go.
  • In an episode of The Nanny, Gracie is traumatized when Fran unwittingly "kills" her imaginary friend, going so far as to hold a funeral for her (burying her in a shoebox containing Fran's favorite boots). After talking with a family counselor though, Gracie admits that she'd been looking for an excuse to get rid of her imaginary friend anyway, since she created her shortly after her mother died, and Fran's presence was filling that void in her life. Fran is touched, but she still isn't happy about having to sacrifice her boots.
  • In an episode of Would I Lie to You?, David Mitchell claimed to have had a painted bucket he played board games with called "Stephen Tatlock":
    Holly Walsh: I don't think many people give their imaginary friends surnames.
    Lee Mack: He's one of the few...
    • Robert Webb claimed in series 5 that he had so many imaginary friends he formed an imaginary gang.
  • During a Daily Show report on "Imaginary Black on White Crime," Wyatt Cenac says at one point that all of the imaginary friends he grew up with are now "either dead or in jail" thanks to a terrible "imaginary public school system that has failed a whole generation of imaginary youth."
  • In an episode of 30 Rock, Tracy randomly refers to Dot Com, one of the show's regular characters, as his "imaginary friend". Dot Com tries to point out that he's not imaginary, but Tracy keeps interrupting and telling him to stop talking since no one can hear him anyway.
  • In Jessie Zuri has at least one imaginary friend, Millie the Mermaid. Used as a plot point in one episode when Jessie assumes her new friend, Nana Banana (Joanne Worley) is imaginary.
  • In The Strange Case of Arthur Conan Doyle, Doyle, between writing "The Final Problem" and The Hound of the Baskervilles, meets a man called Seldon, who wants to write his biography, and in doing so forces him to confront the shadows of his past. It eventually transpires that Seldon is a manifestation of his guilt over his father, and is also Sherlock Holmes himself.
  • The Big Bang Theory establishes Sheldon as having these, though he refers to them as imaginary COLLEAGUES.
    • Interestingly, Niles Crane in Frasier is revealed to have had an "imaginary protegé" during early childhood, who he blamed for wetting his bed and running away. The name of this imaginary protegé... Sheldon.
  • Anthony from Doc Martin, an invisible 6-foot squirrel.
  • Martin from Moone Boy has Sean Murphy. All the other children have them as well and the imaginary friends are capable of interacting with each other and even have a bar they all hang around in.
  • The Haunting Hour: In "My Imaginary Friend", Shawn has an imaginary friend named Travis who quickly becomes all too real and dangerous. Shawn's older brother David convinces Shawn that he has outgrown the need for imaginary friends, which dispels Travis. Sadly, David was also Shawn's imaginary friend all along. And Shawn has to let him go as well.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Emu Hojo was a lonely child who wished for a friend. This happens to be a problem for someone who is Patient Zero of a video game disease as the idea materialized into Parado, Psychopathic Manchild Monster of the Week.
  • In one episode of Lizzie McGuire, Lizzie's little brother Matt seems to have made up an imaginary friend much to the concern of their parents as Matt is far to old for such things. The parents react by showering Matt in attention and gifts but it doesn't seem to be working...until Mrs. McGuire hears Matt talking to a real friend on the phone. It turns out that there was no Jasper, Matt was faking in attempt to trick his parents into giving him all their attention(and gifts). He is punished for this prank by being forced to wash an invisible donkey.
  • A rather dark version appears in one episode of Criminal Minds where a man's imaginary friends (actually hallucinations caused by schizophrenia or another similar disorder) continue to push him into killing people.
  • This is the premise of Barney & Friends. Barney is actually a stuffed doll the children on the show have, and the whole series is them pretending to go on adventures with an imagined version of the doll that's adult-sized.
  • In The Golden Girls episode "The Truth Will Out", Rose's granddaughter Charley has an imaginary friend whose visage, according to the little girl, is modeled after Bruce Springsteen, lives in a castle and has a personality based off of what she has been told about her late grandfather (being an upstanding man who works very hard). Rose is thrilled about the character and explains that she once had an imaginary friend herself, but "he never would tell me his name."
  • In Korean drama It's Okay, That's Love, protagonist Jang Jae-yeol has an imaginary friend high schooler Han Kang-woo, born of childhood trauma and guilt.
  • One set of sketches on Sorry, I've Got No Head featured a character with one of these. The imaginary friend could be seen by anyone, apparently because of how well he was imagined, and could interact with real objects, but still preferred to use imaginary versions.

  • Neil Diamond's "Shilo", wherein a boy develops an imaginary friend to help him cope with a dad who just doesn't have time for him - and then, years later, when a woman enters his life but proves just as distant, he cries out for his old friend, who no longer shows up.
    Shilo, when I was young, I used to call your name; when no one else would come, Shilo, you always came... come today.
  • Trout Fishing In America's "Nobody", about a boy with an invisible imaginary friend with that name.
  • Telekinesis's aptly titled song "Imaginary Friends".
  • Freezepop did an album called "Imaginary Friends", including a title track about a girl who meets a mysterious man, who happens to be imaginary.
  • The title character of "Whiskey Man" by The Who is the imaginary friend of an alcoholic. It's heavily implied that the friend disappears forever after the narrator is locked away in a mental hospital.
  • Snow Patrol's "Favourite Friend" is interpreted by some as being about one of these.
  • Reel Big Fish's "My Imaginary Friend", either taken literally or possibly about a real friend who "doesn't come through in the end" as the singer says has to "find a real one".
  • Averted with the Nada Surf song "Imaginary Friends," which is about unreliable friends.
  • Tom Smith inverts this trope with "Mythical Frederick", about a man's imaginary nemesis.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One The Far Side cartoon features a father being held up in the air by an invisible grasping fist while his young son announces "Big Bob's tired of you saying he doesn't exist!"
  • Calvin and Hobbes is built largely on playing with this trope. Watterson has gone on record saying that the "true" nature of Hobbes - imaginary friend or doll that comes to life - really doesn't concern him. In any case, though, there's definitely a lot of weird blending of the two interpretations, like Hobbes taking periodic baths in the washing machine or the time Calvin somehow got tied to a chair.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi's air guitar. Rare, one and only in 100 years time!!! Has the transparent solid body and delivers the true clear sound!!! The guitar supports him, even when the fans turned him.
  • For a time, R-Truth was followed around by a boy he called Little Jimmy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Dreaming had a story in which some of the Changelings survive through pretending to be the imaginary friend of a child gifted with vivid imagination.
    • Furthermore, there are chimera, beings of the Dreaming that can interact with changelings but which are invisible to ordinary humans.
  • Another RPG based entirely around this: Monsters and Other Childish Things - The imaginary friends are real, in fact they are manifestations of beings from beyond the veil with incredible power which just happen to latch onto children as their medium into the real world.

  • Hilariously and disturbingly deconstructed in Mr. Marmalade. The title character is the imaginary friend of a five year old girl named Lucy, taking on the appearance of a short tempered workoholic who has a problem with pornography, cocaine and beating up his assistant. This contrasts with the plant imaginary friends of the character Larry, though Larry is somewhat suicidal.
  • The South Coast Repertory children's play Imagine is about a lonely boy with an imaginary friend. The boy meets an unimaginative girl, and lends her his imaginary friend. This goes well until the boy gets trapped in a sort of Imaginationland, causing the imaginary friend and the girl to journey there to rescue him. At the end of the play, the imaginary friend says goodbye to the two friends, who no longer need him, and disappears for good.
  • The play The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of is about an adult who never outgrew his imaginary friend.
  • The tragi-comic one-act play Goodbye To The Clown is about a little girl with an imaginary clown friend who is constantly getting her in trouble at school and home and eventually reveals himself to be a coping mechanism for her father's death.

    Video Games 
  • Dr. Cid in Final Fantasy XII subverts this. In his early appearances in the story he's often seen talking to someone who isn't there, even when he's in a room with other people. Others largely seem to ignore this because, well, he's a Mad Scientist, which pretty much makes him contractually obligated to be screwy. Later, however, it's revealed that his imaginary friend is really Venat, a god-like being who's pretty much been pulling the strings on the story all along.
  • Dark Seed II pulls the full Fight Club, revealing that Mike Dawson's friend Jack is really the shape shifter and Mike's Dark World counterpart, meaning that the two of them are really the same person. Or something
  • Manhunt 2 does this with Daniel and Leo which isn't that surprising as Leo, who is somewhere between imaginary friend and alternate personality, always seemed to be the one talking Daniel into dangerous decisions as opposed to really doing anything.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops, Mason has Viktor Reznov as an imaginary friend, as a result of Dr steiner's experiments on him. It is heavily hinted so when no one else could see or interact with Reznov. The player could even shoot through him during the mission.
  • The Sims 3 adds in these in the Generations expansion. They start as an ordinary, colourful doll that arrives in the mail after a baby is born, as a gift from an offscreen relatives. Should the baby bond with the doll before aging up to child, they can put the doll on the floor, upon which it grows to the same size as the owner, and begins to take a life of it’s own. Using the chemistry set, or an opportunity from the science lab, it’s possible to make a potion that will turn the imaginary friend real, upon which they transform into a regular looking human, though with some bizarre clothes and abnormal hair colours. They also retain their Silly Walk, and can swap between human and doll form whenever they want. If an imaginary friend turned real has children, there is a chance their offspring will be born as an imaginary friend, allowing them to swap forms and strut oddly as soon as they age up to child.
  • In Winter Voices the player can choose a feat that gives the main character one. The friend is a named character that she can talk to who will help battle the other manifestations of her troubled mind.
    • There's also the possibility that Ven is another one of these manifestations.
  • In Deadly Premonition, York often converses with his imaginary friend Zach about everything he does, from investigations to 80's B-movies. In the end, it's revealed that Zach is a split personality, specifically the original personality of York who retreated into an Eldritch Location after being traumatized by the Big Bad. York is actually the true Imaginary Friend manifested in order to protect Zach.
  • Ayer of Granblue Fantasy has this relationship with Bowman. But the thing is, Bowman isn't real, but a split personality that's a lot more amoral than the regular Ayer. Though he's been known to actually take over the body himself a few times, and wants to make it permanent.
  • In Mark of the Ninja, Ora, the ninja chick that guides the protagonist throughout the game turns out to be a hallucination brought on by his tattoos.
  • In the Touhou games, Koishi Komeji from Subterrean Animism happens to be the (not so) imaginary friend of children. Due to her having sealed off her heart and mind, people cannot create an emotional connection with her, nor can they percieve her presence even if she stands right in front of them, and because of this they immediately completely forget all about her the moment they take their eyes off her. In addition to this she has the power to read and manipulate people's subconscious minds which sometimes leads her to befriending children, who are unaffected by her powers. Most children forget all about her when they grow up, though, creating the illusion that she never was anything but a figment of their imagination...
  • In MySims Agents, there's a girl, Clara, whose friend, Taylor, thinks Clara's kraken friend is imaginary. He's not, but given that Clara's had two other friends that she fully acknowledges are imaginary (and don't like Taylor much), this is understandable.
  • In Episode 2 of To the Moon, Finding Paradise, we have a new patient by the name of Colin. Unfortunately, with his parents working constantly, and being an outcast in school, he was almost completely alone as a child. Luckily, he had Faye, who pushed him to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot, and helped him practice the cello. The entire game you're wondering where Faye is in the present since she was so important to Colin's past. Turns out she was his imaginary friend that he wrote about in his journal, which he brought with him everywhere. Any scene where they were talking, he was actually writing her responses in his journal.

    Visual Novels 
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: Rika Furude, who is regarded by some as a prophet, had a childhood imaginary friend named "Oyashiro-sama", which is coincidentally the name of Hinamizawa's guardian god. (This is only briefly referenced in the anime, in Meakashi-hen, but is more explicitly spelled out in other material). Oyashiro a.k.a. Hanyu is real, though no one else can see or hear her until Matsuribayashi-hen.
  • Umineko: When They Cry has a few different cases of this, depending on which explanations you go with. Most evident is Maria's relationship with Sakutaro, a plushie of hers. Lord help you when he breaks. Later on, Ange has Maria, Sakutaro, and the Stakes of Purgatory as her imaginary friends. More spoileriffic is an example from the seventh arc - Sayo Yasuda originally created Shannon and Kanon as imaginary friends, but later dresses and acts as them as a way to cope with their various issues. This series really knocks around the line between Imaginary Friend and Not-So-Imaginary Friend.
  • A rather creepy example comes from Chaos;Head, where Takumi experiences regular delusions of Seira, the lead character from Blood Tune. Seira tries to encourage his hikikomori habits every time she appears. In the final episode she is one of the last opponents he faces as he goes off to rescue Rimi. After he defeats her and continues on his way, the discarded Seira figure says "I've been dumped..."
  • When she was young, Mio from Little Busters! wasn't very good at making friends and was quite lonely. To ease her sorrow, she created a friend for herself. Who then turned out to be real, even if no-one else could see her. Or not. Given the nature of the world Kyousuke created and Kurugaya's comments, it seems highly likely that Midori never actually existed and that Mio really was always hallucinating.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner
    • Teen Girl Squad has Brett Bretterson, So and So's imaginary boyfriend introduced in Issue 4.
    • According to the Strong Bad Email "imaginary", Strong Sad had an imaginary friend as a kid named Scotty Titi. After several failed attempts at getting rid of Scotty, Strong Bad eventually drank three gallons of Blue Drink in one sitting and made up "Frishy Freshy Dragon Man" to take out Strong Sad's imaginary friend. Strong Bad discusses the phenomenon of imaginary friends in general in the email, claiming that "insane parents made imaginary friends illegal for kids to have" since he was a kid, largely because of the creepy names they always have.
  • Ultra Fast Pony: In the source material, Twist was implied to be Apple Bloom's close friend in one episode, then barely ever seen in any of AB's later episodes. UFP parodies this by revealing that Twist was Apple Bloom's imaginary friend all along. In later episodes, AB keeps talking to "Twist", and her other friends give up on trying to convince AB that Twist doesn't exist. Also, Twist is a toxic friend, constantly encouraging Apple Bloom to solve her problems with violence.

  • 8-Bit Theater. King Steve's Right Hand Man Rodney the Coffee Stain.
  • Count Your Sheep. The twist is typically Katie's mother Laurie can also see her imaginary friend, because he was the mother's imaginary friend when she was a child.
    • The boy Laurie hated could also see him, and grows up to marry her and be Katie's father... and then gets sick and dies, but not before leaving Ship a whole bunch of messages to give to Katie and Laurie at the appropriate times.
    • Laurie's parents can also see and hear the imaginary friend, but actively deny his existence. By contrast, Laurie's sister believes he exists, but can't see or hear him.
      • Until she got pregnant herself. At which point she became able to see him. Her new baby can see him as well.
      • When Laurie was going into labor she asked Ship to call the ambulance, implying that the ambulance crew could hear him over the phone.
      • It's a Weirdness Censor thing. Ship's had conversations with people over the phone before; the trick is to keep them from figuring out they're talking to a sheep. (Laurie's parents seem to be in the position where they have to rationalize this away consciously rather than unconsciously.)
  • Mr. Pingoo of Star Bored is strongly hinted to be Ham Luca's imaginary friend.
  • The Imaginaries is about new residents of the extradimensional limbo that imaginary friends go to when their creators don't need imaginary friends anymore.
  • When Minus could not play with the other children, she took their suggestion.
    Go make a magic friend to play with.
  • Lucy and Ruby from A Day of Lucy have an interesting case. You may know Japan (Dad) and Lithuania (Liet) from Axis Powers Hetalia. The twist? They have no idea that they are really countries.
  • Jodie from Loserz kind of, for a while... hard to explain. See this strip.
  • Garfield in Garfield Minus Garfield is portrayed as Jon's imaginary friend who we the viewers can't see, making Jon often appearing to be talking to and arguing with himself.
  • Drowtales creates the unusual case where the audience is an imaginary friend of one of the characters! This makes it some sort of subversion?
  • Dreamless Eleanor is upset and wonders why she can't have imaginary friends when her mother is allowed to. The thing is, Eleanor's friend is a real person. He just happens to live in Japan and have a psychic connection to her that she can only see while sleeping. The same was true for her mother but her mother rejected rather than embraced the connection and had a breakdown as a result.
  • Kay And P Kay has an imaginary friend, a skeleton by the name of Peaches, or just P. Thing is, Kay is now in college.
  • Stairwell has an imaginary friend as a main character. The roll is filled by a manifestation of main character Norman's brain.
  • In Rhapsodies Peaseblossom, a pixie who shows up in the strip's annual Christmas story, moonlights as an imaginary friend to Shilo's daughter, Bonnie.
  • In Homestuck, Jade's imaginary friend is Her own dead grandfather, who she is aware is dead. We are led to believe this is the case with Rufio, but he's not an imaginary friend, just an imaginary backbone.
  • Precocious has an arc in which Jacob starts hanging out with an imaginary friend, and the others follow suit, leading to a series of imaginary incidents that end with everyone's imaginary friends leaving them.
  • Sandra on the Rocks: The adult Lavali has the Goddess of Clothing. (Aania's view is apparently that Lavali may have some kind of shamanic potential, but that may just be an excuse to propose tantric sex.) She first appeared at a rather difficult time for Lavali.
    "I'm not so much a "goddess" as a "stress-and-dehydration-induced hallucination."

    Web Original 
  • There exists a scary series of videos on Youtube about an alleged ghost in a house's pantry that is a young girl's imaginary friend Mabel. It is generally under "Pantry Ghost", though a few of the videos that focus on "Mabel" are not actually in the pantry.
  • Gaia Online has an evolving item called "imaginary friend", featuring various types of strange creatures (and a robot) that correspond to the colors of the rainbow.
  • Mirrorfall has a fairy court that organises imaginary friends for troubled children (in particular victims of abuse or neglect).
  • The narrator of The Places the Mind Cannot Go from The Wanderer's Library is one, created to help boost a child's self-esteem. When the child begins to feel good about themself again, it's left without purposes, begging to be noticed again.
  • The Music Video Show has Fluttershy.
  • El Chigüire Bipolar: Maduro beings dialogue with imaginary friends and they leave the table.
  • Board James has Motherfucker Mike and Bad Luck Bootsy.
  • In the SuperMarioLogan episode "Bowser Junior's Imaginary Friend!", after finding out that his friends are too busy to play with him, Bowser Junior makes one up from his imagination and names him Gumbo, with the episode continuously switching between Junior's P.O.V. and reality. However, Junior later finds out that part of Gumbo's body disappears when he comes into contact with water, and when he tries to tell Chef Pee Pee, he accidentally sprays water all over Gumbo, disintegrating him. At the end of the episode, Chef Pee Pee himself is revealed to have an imaginary friend as well, named Lippy the Lion.
  • In Twig, Sylvester has frequent hallucinations of Evette, the Lamb whose place in the gestalt he took after her project was canceled and she was stillborn. She provides him guidance and direction as he delves into forbidden sciences.
  • In the The Last Podcast on the Left's series on Mark David Chapman, killer of John Lennon, Chapman is described as having had an imaginary society of Little People he ruled over as a child. As an adult, as his mental state deteriorated, the Little People came back of their own accord and actually proved to be more sensible than Chapman himself. He credits them with balancing his home budget and trying to talk him out of his eventual assassination of John Lennon. Henry Zebrowski is quick to note the issue with this scenario.
    And if the Little People aren't the problem, that's a problem!

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: "See No Evil" - the little girl's imaginary friend was really her father, using Applied Phlebotinum to become invisible.
  • Teen Titans: One girl had an imaginary friend who was invisible to those she didn't trust. It was the expression of her telekinesis. Expression of telekinesis in this case being a gigantic teddy bear with razor sharp claws and fangs that beats the shit out of a French gorilla. As she puts it, just because she imagined him doesn't mean he's not real.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends takes place in a world where Imaginary Friends are actual, physical beings who pop into existence whenever a kid with enough creativity thinks them up. Unlike most examples, everyone can see them and acknowledges their existence. However, almost all kids stop needing their Friends as they grow up, and the show is centered on a "foster home" (which is more like an Orphanage of Love) where they wait to be adopted by other children.
  • The Fairly OddParents! Timmy had an imaginary friend he called Imaginary Gary, but when he got Cosmo and Wanda (and therapy) he abandoned the the figment's immense displeasure.
  • In the second season of Code Lyoko, Aelita is plagued by nightmares of of wolves, some of which involve a strange, elf-like creature fleeing from them. Eventually, she and her friends find a doll that resembles this elf (with the key to a bus station locker that holds Franz Hopper's journals) which she recognizes as "Mr. Puck". For some strange reason, the doll makes the nightmares go away, giving her more pleasant dreams of Mr. Puck. The doll is eventually revealed to have been a gift from her father, likely why it helps her feel safe.
  • The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Who Let The Ed In?" revolved around Ed's imaginary friend Jib... who was apparently real enough to pummel Eddy.
    • That same show has Plank, Johnny's Companion Cube, though again his status as "imaginary" is often left up in the air.
  • Dee Dee of Dexter's Laboratory has an imaginary friend called the Koos-A-La-Goop-A-Goop. Dexter has also met him, but was so Not Now, Kiddo about Koosy's presence that Koosy was banished forever, and only then did Dexter realize how much he missed the figment.
    • Dee Dee is also Koosy's imaginary friend, as revealed when she went to his world.
  • In one episode, The Powerpuff Girls had to fight an imaginary friend named Patches who was causing trouble at school. They defeat him by imagining a friend of their own to beat the snot out of him. Since the creator went to create Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, this can be seen as a first try how the concept would work out. This raises the question of what exactly made Mike Believe (the kid who dreamed up the villain) imagine out an evil Monster Clown as a friend?
    • Although it's implied that the friend found Mike — Mike is first seen sitting alone on the playground and suddenly acting as though someone is calling to him ("Who said my name?"). It's possible that Patches just needed someone in the physical realm to be his partner.
    • Before the girls create their own friend, Bubbles starts to suggest the Koos-A-La-Goop-A-Goop from Dexter's Lab (see above), but Buttercup shoots it down by saying "Not that Koos jerk!". The friend they create has the same opinion of Koosy.
  • In Arthur, his little sister D.W. has an imaginary friend named Nadine who at times seems to be smarter than her.
  • In the '80s special Puff the Magic Dragon and the Incredible Mr. Nobody, an excessively creative boy named Terry creates an imaginary friend named Nobody (since nobody was his friend). Since his creative talents got him teased by his peers and weren't understood by his teachers, he starts to tell everyone that Nobody was responsible, and eventually he comes to believe that his talent was actually all from his friend. After his father tries to explain that Nobody isn't real, Nobody vanishes, so Terry goes on a quest to find him, aided by Puff. With Puff's help, Terry realizes that he and Nobody are one and the same, and he embraces his talents.
  • Played for laughs in South Park, Chef has an imaginary friend called Foo Foo the dinosaur who turns out to be Loch Ness trying to getting $3.50 from Chef's father again.
  • In Kim Possible, Ron's pet mole rat Rufus is named from his imaginary friend as a child.
  • Played with in an episode of The Simpsons where everyone becomes convinced that Homer, feeling unappreciated, has invented an imaginary friend. In fact, his friend is real, and the reason nobody ever saw him is a series of insanely Contrived Coincidences.
    • Also played with with Lisa and Milhouse: Lisa knows a lot about Jewish culture because she had a jewish imaginary friend, and Milhouse had an imaginary friend named Walter who tried to murder him several times.
  • Kinga from Polish animated series Hip-Hip and Hurra has an imaginary firend - a potted flower named Adelka. Not only can Kinga hear what Adelka is talking, but in the second season she spends all of her free time trying to entertain her (including taking Adelka to cinema and ice skating). At one point she even throws her a birthday party.
  • In The Mighty B! Bessie has Finger, her left index finger. When she sprains Finger in a competition, her right index finger, Finger's French Cousin Fingaire, shows up — but he is not a nice finger, and Finger has to defeat him in combat.
  • In King of the Hill Bill has alluded to creating imaginary friends for himself because his regular friends don't often listen to him and are unsupportive.
  • One episode of Family Guy introduces Lois' long-lost brother, who was put in an insane asylumnote . Lois thinks he's perfectly normal...until he starts talking about an imaginary wife. Of course, this being Family Guy, they play around with it a bit: at one point, Stewie jokingly suggests leaving a cucumber on the couch where "she" is sitting and seeing if it pickles. A couple of scenes later, Lois finds a pickle on the couch.
  • In an episode of Almost Naked Animals, a head injury reunites Howie with his childhood imaginary friend, Platymoose. Turns out Platymoose is a Jerk Ass who just wants to annoy all of Howie's friends.
  • In one episode of All Grown Up!, Dil makes an imaginary friend. Tommy and co. tease him for being too old for imaginary friends... until Dil's imaginary friend somehow manages to become one of the most popular kids in school. Until he gets run over by a lawnmower, when some of Dil's friends actually start mourning for his imaginary friend.
  • One episode of Neds Newt had Ned's parents overhearing him talking to Newton (his shapeshifting pet newt, though Ned's parents don't know this), and they believe that Ned's childhood imaginary friend Shoe (who they'd gotten rid of through therapy) is back.
  • In PB&J Otter two-year-old Butter has an imaginary friend named Buddy. Apparently Jelly also had an imaginary friend at that age (an octopus named Bobo).
  • One episode of Sabrina: The Animated Series had Sabrina using magic to bring Harvey's old imaginary friend Mort to life in an attempt to cheer Harvey up. Naturally Mort ends being far more trouble than Sabrina bargained for.
  • In an episode of Rugrats, Chuckie creates an imaginary friend named Barney (no, not that Barney), who seems to be a lot braver than Chuckie.
  • An early episode of Caillou was about Caillou having a race with his imaginary friend, George, and knocking a pot over during it, which makes his parents mad. Caillou tells his parents George did it, but then confesses it was his fault when he is told that George is not real.
  • Kaeloo: Stumpy apparently has a whole bunch of these, which is why everyone believes that his girlfriend Ursula is also imaginary. Ursula turns out to be real, but the others are still imaginary.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Hamton, who was feeling left out and bored, created an imaginary friend, who in spite of being tall and handsome and created by him, was a Jerkass who stole all his friends and treated him like a loser. By the episode's end, he had faded away and Hamton felt included back in his group of friends again.
  • In Daft Planet, Hudson's older brother, Albert, had one when he was a kid. His name was Nanigans.
  • On Fancy Nancy, Nancy once had an imaginary friend called Genevieve. When she tells JoJo about this in "Nancy vs Dudley," JoJo at first doesn't get it, but finally creates an imaginary friend called Dudley. Then, she gets annoyed when JoJo wants to play with Dudley instead of her, even though she hadn't initially wanted to include JoJo in her fun in the first place.


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