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Imagine Spotting

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Hayate: Stop hitting me!
Ayana: Then stop projecting your stupid fantasies where everyone can see!

A fourth wall-breaking gag in which one character is inexplicably able to see another character's Imagine Spot or other Fantasy Sequence, taking the perspective of the audience and reacting to specific details that they shouldn't be able to guess. Telepaths are cheaters, so they don't count. Medium Awareness helps.

See also Did I Just Say That Out Loud?, Strange Minds Think Alike, Dirty Mind-Reading. Contrast Inner Thoughts, Outsider Puzzlement, where a character can't see another character's Imagine Spot or Inner Monologue, but does see that they're weirdly spaced out and acting weird because of it.


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  • Lamput: In "Boss'stache", the Boss remembers he made a secret formula to grow his mustache and that it's at the laboratory. Lamput sees the lab in the Boss's thought bubble and confirms if that's where he wants to go.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 52, Mr. Slowy tells the goat kids the story of how some lazy, gluttonous goats invented porridge, with his flashback to the occasion featuring goats that look exactly like Paddi. When Slowy finishes his story, Paddi angrily objects and demands to know why the goats in the flashback look like him.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the 41st chapter of Asteroid in Love, Ao notices Mira having an Imagine Spot of launching herself into the space a la Human Cannonball and tells her that's not possible.
  • Crayon Shin-chan had an episode where the titular Shin's babysitter kept launching into bizarre/perverted fantasy spots about destroying the annoying toddler or hooking up with her boyfriend, immediately followed by an inner narration about how glad she is nobody could see or hear her thoughts. Of course, her boyfriend happens to be secretly psychic and can hear and see exactly what she keeps imagining (including how embarrassed she would be if anyone could read her thoughts).
  • In the first episode of Excel♡Saga, Excel is in an ambulance after being hit by a truck. We see scenes from her life, and one of the EMTs in the ambulance says something like, "Uh oh. Her life is flashing before her eyes. That's a bad sign." The Japanese dub was something along the lines of "You've got so much more to live for, like love — oh wait, you've already done that. Never mind." after he notices the flashback.
  • Eyeshield 21: In Chapter 55, "The 60-Yard Legend", Monta has another of his fantasies about helping the team that ends with Mamori fawning over him and Sena throwing confetti, and Sena comments "Why am I always the one throwing confetti?"
  • In Fairy Tail, Juvia often pictures a Love Dodecahedron in her Imagine Spot, and characters around her comment on the absurdness of her thoughts.
  • Chapter 8 of The Familiar of Zero has several girls looking up at the Imagine Spot depicting Saito's sexy dream of Louise. In the next panel, Louise frantically waves her arms to dissipate it.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, when May Chang goes into an Imagine Spot about Edward Elric (whom she assumes is tall, suave, and handsome), Yoki (who met Ed in the first volume) looks at her thought balloon and wonders who that is supposed to be.
  • In the Fruits Basket manga, Haru wonders aloud what Yuki would look like dressed in a girl's uniform. We see Haru's Imagine Spot and Yuki tells him to stop picturing it. Although it could be justified as a lucky guess.
  • In Hayate × Blade; Ayana has a tendency to see Hayate's imagine spots; and tends to hit her for them.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler, which pulls off Fourth Wall gags all the time, does this.
  • Ryuko spots her friend Mako's Imagine Spot of Ryuko's father when he was revealed to be the founder of Nudist Beach in Kill la Kill.
  • In Love Lab, Riko often gets annoyed by Maki's imagine spots, as they tend to be ridiculous and share Maki's art-style.
  • Early in Martian Successor Nadesico, Yurika remarks that when they were kids, Akito was always chasing her around. This is followed by an imagine spot of Yurika chasing Akito around, which Akito physically points to and says "That's how I remember it."
  • Kimihito from Monster Musume remarks about Miia's fantasy with him. An earlier scene they had together is reinterpreted by Miia with her crush being more badass than it actually was.
  • Several jokes in Chapter 99 of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun rely on most of the cast being able to see the quickly-evolving romantic interpretations of mundane interactions in the mind of Rei Kashima, who's very uninformed about co-ed relations due to going to an all-girls' school and has more imagination than sense.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • At one point in the manga, Konoka has a brief thought about how bishonen Negi will be when he's 18. Negi looks up and is shocked, asking who that is.
    • Happens again when Yue and Nodoka request instruction in magic. The image is of how they would look as mages, with an alternative possibility supplied on the next page in the manga. The funny thing is that during the Magic World arc, when they both start becoming legitimate mages, it turns out that their imaginations were spot on.
  • One Piece:
    • During the Thriller Bark arc, after Franky's second call for the crew to do Tactics 15, Robin angrily declared that she would never do such a thing, and Sanji agreed with her, until he imagined what she would look like in the combo attack (hint: it involved her being held upside-down while she wore her miniskirt). Robin saw inside and gave him an icy glare of death.
    • During the Punk Hazard arc, it was Robin's Imagine Spot and Usopp doing the spotting, where Luffy, Zoro, Usopp, and Robin were debating how to get across a lake, with Luffy and Robin unable to swim, Robin imagined Usopp and Zoro bearing them across the lake, and Usopp calling her out on it.
  • Occasionally occurs in Ouran High School Host Club, usually with characters commenting on Tamaki's daydreams about Haruhi.
    Kyouya: I have no idea what you're talking about, but it's evident that your fantasies are completely incoherent.
  • Please Twins!: "Miss Mina, that fantasy of yours is getting awfully close to breaching Love Alliance rule #1."
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Croagunk performs his usual stint of attacking Brock while flirting with a girl, except the flirting occurred in Brock's daydream. A downplayed example, where Brock could have just been saying things out loud, but still.
      Brock: Imagination is against the law?!
    • When Meowth used to fantasize about their Boss Giovanni in weird and crazy situations with the Monster of the Week, the rest of Team Rocket can sometimes be fully aware of all the things that happen in the aforementioned fantasy.
  • Ramen Fighter Miki has a subversion at "Want to wipe the tears from that kid": Akihiko, an Otaku of the Sentai Star Rangers series, is a Day Dream Believer who Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality, thinks of himself as the Red Ranger when he is fighting against an Angry Guard Dog to protect a child. In that moment, Idiot Hero Kankuro sees him as Akihiko thinks of himself, and acts very surprised:
    Kankuro: Eh, what happened? For just a moment, I saw Akihiko as Star Ranger, nya!
  • A frequent gag of the Ranma ½ manga. "You actually have the gall to picture yourself like THAT?" "Leave me OUT of your sick fantasies!"
  • Rebuild World: Justified example due to Akira being connected to his Virtual Sidekick Alpha via Bio-Augmentation wireless Brain/Computer Interface. Akira imagines running around fighting Guns Akimbo with two assault rifles, leading to Alpha scolding him that it'd break his arms without the strength of Powered Armor as Required Secondary Powers. This foreshadows a later scene when Akira has armor and it's down for reprogramming mid-battle, making him resort to doing so and it causing him excruciating pain.
  • In an early chapter of Sgt. Frog, Fuyuki realizes that their mother, who doesn't like animals, is probably going to be angry about Keroro's presence, and imagines her as EVA-01. The next panel has Natsumi glancing back at the last panel and saying "That visual might have been a bit exaggerated, but..."
  • Star Driver: "Wako! That fantasy was tres bien!"
  • This happens to Ken from Student Council's Discretion, who follows the same rules in life that he does in an H-game. At one point, he visualises a conversation with Kurimu as a selection of options, and wonders how each will affect the "ending" he gets. Kurimu not only cuts it short by taking out a floppy disk, but pulls it off the screen, and wonders how it has any relation to reality.
  • Elsee spots Keima's grandiose imaginings in The World God Only Knows all the time.

    Comic Books 
  • I Feel Sick: Tenna takes exception to Devi's imaginary portrayal of herself. "That's BULLSHIT! And why the fuck am I wearing a bear suit?!!"
  • Invoked and exploited to cross the language barrier in Marsupilami. Backalive realizes that Tapamilastiko doesn't understand what he is saying, so he chooses to go for something more visual and imagine what he would do once the Marsupilami is captured: bringing it to a museum. Tapamilastiko sees the Imagine Spot but disagrees and uses the same method to show what he wants to do: bring the marsu to his tribe to eat it. They start a fight over it.
  • In the The Wizard of Id comic for 24th of July 2019, an applicant is asked by the King where the applicant might see himself in five years' time. The applicant has a thought bubble of himself as the king on the throne, which the King sees and is shocked by. The applicant is then seen in the dungeon in irons muttering, "Stupid thought bubble."

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen (2013): During Olaf's song "In Summer", there's a brief moment when Anna, Kristoff, and Sven are present in his fantasy. Anna and Kristoff both look a little disconcerted to be there. It's not clear if they're actually perceiving Olaf's fantasy (and weirded out by being in it), or if their off-kilter looks are just how Olaf imagines them.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Magical Movie Night: In the "Dance Magic" segment, during each of the Imagine Spots, the girls other than the one narrating seem to be perfectly able to see what's going on and react accordingly. Notably, Rarity being aghast at her clothes in Applejack's scene, all of them panicking from the danger in Rainbow Dash's romp or looking around in confusion from Pinkie Pie's rambling.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Finding Neverland, most of the Imagine Spots seem to be only in James' head, but the final one of Neverland is shared with the boys, Sylvia, Emma, and the actors putting on Peter Pan.
  • In How High, Jamal is participating in the rowing meet when he has a marijuana-induced hallucination of his mother yelling at him from a large projection in the sky. For absolutely no explicable reason, everyone else at the meet can see her too.
  • In Upstream Color, the Sampler can observe his subjects remotely through the use of a parasite that connects minds to each other. While he's doing so, we see him walking around his subject and observing them. In the end, Kris figures out what he's doing. During his Imagine Spot, she abruptly turns to face him and delivers a Death Glare.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Richmond did this in his introductory ep of The IT Crowd. He even points things out as if he's actually showing them.
  • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger Gai's plea to join the team includes him remarking on how he'd make it better. This leads to an Imagine Spot where the team acts like a Lighter and Softer Sentai team, telling the kiddies to brush their teeth and such. Marvelous, Joe, and Luka are put off, Ahim remarks that she didn't change all that much, and Don complains about the fact that Gai didn't even include him in it.
  • In Kamen Rider Den-O, Ryotaro states outright that he likes Climax Form even though it's strenuous for his body, and for some reason imagines it as a dancing sensation. The Taros all stare at him in disbelief, before saying these lines:
    Momotaros: Ryotaro... your sense...
    Kintaros: makes me cry!
  • My World… and Welcome to It: In "Rules for a Happy Marriage," the various men who work at The Manhattanite present brief cutaways of recent fictional and non-fictional discussions with their wives. Their co-workers act as if they can see them and react accordingly.
  • In Scrubs some characters can accurately guess what someone, usually J.D., is thinking about. Such as this.
  • Shotaro, half of Kamen Rider Double, has a series of web-episodes called "Hardboiled Delusion Diary". In the last episode, Philip, Akiko and Ryuu all notice Shotaro's been having delusions, so they try having one of their own: "What If Everyone Was Hardboiled?" This consists of the three of them doing Shotaro impressions.
  • Done a couple of times in 30 Rock with Liz and Jack. In one, Liz has a flashback scene in which she has blonde hair, and Jack remarks "You're blonde in your fantasies, I knew it." The show also did a live episode, which required different actors to be used for Imagine Spots. Liz is played by Julia Louise Dreyfus, and Jack notices and observes that Liz is more attractive in her own head.
  • It appears to be the norm on That '70s Show; even though this show has no other forms of Breaking the Fourth Wall, other characters will still comment on someone else's Imagine Spot fantasy, or make one of their own with modifications, talking as if they are seeing the same Imagine Spot that we the viewers saw. (This seems to be a feature of their times hanging out in the circle; maybe it's an effect of smoking weed?)
  • In the iCarly episode "iFind Lewbert's Lost Love", Carly and Freddie imagine what would happen if they brought Lewbert back to his long-lost wife, daydreaming a happy sequence where Lewbert is happy instead of being an irate doorman and they dance around in a shower of balloons. After the sequence ends, Sam remarks "I really doubt balloons would rain down."
  • In the Odd Squad episode "License to Science", Oona imagines Otis as a Flying Face when taking her Lab Director's test. True to the wacky nature of the show, Odelia can see the face and tells it that there's no outside help allowed during the test, only for Oona to inform her that it's imaginary, at which point Odelia says that imaginary help is fine.
  • In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, London gives Maddie some advice. Later, at a point when Maddie is recalling the advice, London's face appears in a pink bubble, which annoys Maddie to the point that she tells London to go away and then pops the bubble.
  • In the Sherlock Christmas special "The Abominable Bride", when Lestrade recounts the events of the reported shootings, Sherlock, John and Mary seem to be viewing the events with him. Played with by having the Baker Street room appear to be transplanted into both scenes. Subverted when the events in 1895 are revealed to be entirely within Sherlock's mind.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock has an episode where Boober warns Wembley about "the greatest evil the world has ever known" with the song "Talkin' Bout Germs." As he sings, he and Wembley see Monstrous Germs flying about, darting at the two terrified Fraggles.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine: there is a power quite early along the Reality Syndrome arc that allows you to let people see your daydreams, or whatever Experience you choose for the Arc.

  • Tom Stoppard's play Travesties is presented to the audience through the recollections of an Unreliable Narrator, Henry Carr. In one scene, as his Hot Librarian love interest gives a long lecture on politics, she accuses him of tuning out and imagining her naked. He denies this, but as she continues lecturing the lighting changes, music plays, and she starts performing a striptease. A minute later, Carr sheepishly asks the audience if they "noticed anything" in that last scene...

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner
    • In the Strong Bad Email "couch patch", Homestar claims that he knows where the patch on Strong Bad's couch came from, but has an unrelated flashback of himself lying on the couch, spitting Teddy Grahams on the ceiling. Strong Bad points out that the patch is clearly visible in Homestar's flashback.
    • In "from work", Strong Bad is unable to have an Imagine Spot because "the suits" firewalled his imagination. Homestar walks in, however, and has an Imagine Spot just fine. When Strong Bad complains, Homestar explains that he has "admin privileges".


    Web Videos 
  • In the episode "Born Villain" of ''Flander's Company, when Damien reveals how he manipulated Nadège, the latter suddenly interrupts and protests that she might have been mind-controlled, but she'd never "stroked his shell" (It Makes Sense in Context) as just seen in the unreliable flashback.

    Western Animation 
  • Taken to extremes in the US Acres shorts on Garfield and Friends: Orson's literature-inspired fantasies feature himself and the other cast members as characters... except that everyone is experiencing it as vividly as he is. It may or may not be really happening.
  • Subverted in one example in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic when Celestia is talking about an event from the past for Twilight Sparkle and Spike. Her explanation acts as if everyone can see the associated Imagine Spot and as such she leaves out details that are visible to the viewer, but Spike complains that they can't see what she's talking about and asks for clarification.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "And Maggie Makes Three", at one point Bart takes over and claims that Homer got so scared his head exploded. After Homer gets back to telling the story himself, Marge notices that he was imagining himself without a head and that he should have weighed a few more pounds.
    • In "E Pluribus Wiggum", Lisa says, "I feel like I'm in a think tank," leading Homer into a surprisingly accurate vision of policy discussion. When he comes out of the reverie, the other Simpsons are staring at him and he says, "What, I'm not allowed to get one right?"
    • And again, Bart imagines having a "Moon Party in Outer Space", complete with a theme song. After he comes out of the daydream, Homer walks into the room and starts singing the song.
    • Subverted in "Kill Gil, Volumes 1 & 2". Marge starts a flashback sequence during a conversation with Homer but when she finishes, Homer is clueless as to what she was thinking, meaning she was only thinking it and not explaining it.
    • In "Throw Grandpa from the Dane", Lisa has an elaborate fantasy sequence about dating the Prince of Denmark and eventually marrying him, only for Bart to show up, dressed as a ninja, and stop an assassin who was taking aim at Lisa.
      Lisa: Bart, get out of my fantasy!
      Bart: Aw geez, I saved your life! How about a "you're welcome"?
    • In "Highway to Well", Bart breaks up Homer's thought cloud before his Imagine Spot about working at a liquor store could properly start, wanting Homer to focus on the conversation about Marge becoming a marijuana saleswoman.
    • In "Three Men And A Comic Book", after Bart is told to earn the money to earn the comic, he begins to have an Inner Monologue like Kevin from The Wonder Years until Homer tells him to stop it.
    • In "Lisa Gets An 'A'", Lisa imagines that an F in second grade will keep her from getting accepted from every Ivy League school (except for Brown University), leaving her to say "No, not Brown, Brown, Brown..." until Miss Hoover interrupts her, saying "Lisa, you're saying 'Brown' an awful lot. Are you okay?".
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Her Wacky Highness", Babs is daydreaming about being a queen and Plucky gets annoyed with her thought bubble and pops it.
  • Hilariously Lampshaded by Grumpy Bear in Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot after Wonderheart does a song number in her head in which she imagines using her belly badge power. "Even had a fantasy sequence and everything."
  • Arthur adores this trope — it is not at all unusual for characters to have a good idea of what happened in a character's fantasy sequence or imagine spot, even though there surely wasn't enough time for the character to have described it in that much detail. In one example, when Arthur isn't getting enough sleep because D.W. keeps crying and screaming at night, he fantasizes a show called Temper Tantrum 911 and Binky walks by and comments on how cool such a show would be.
  • In the Littlest Pet Shop episode "Bad Hair Day", a not-amused-by-having-paint-splashed-on-her Blythe makes Minka's art exhibit fantasy disappear with a snap of her fingers.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Spider-Man and Deadpool engage in a fourth-wall-breaking Imagine Spot duel.
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "Cheer Up, Star", Marco is having a flashback to how he got Star and himself into the mess they're in. When it gets to the part where Star meets Oskar Greason and starts crushing on him, the flashback suddenly turns into a wacky romantic fantasy. Marco then admonishes Star with "Can you please keep your fantasies out of my flashback?"
  • Mickey Mouse: In "Duck the Halls", Mickey triggers a flashback about spending Christmas with his family, which fascinates Donald into wanting to stay for Christmas instead of going south. Daisy gives an "Ahem" to Mickey to alert him he's tempting Donald, so he pops the thought bubble the flashback is in, causing everything in it, including the house and snow, to drop on the floor.
  • Exploited in one episode of CatDog, where, upon seeing that Dog has a completely different Imagine Spot from him, Cat pushes his own Imagine Spot into Dog's to convince Dog to go alone with his Zany Scheme.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: In "Seasons Change", K.O. insists that nothing out of the ordinary happened to him over the summer, and has a flashback to some of the things he did with his mom. Enid and Rad are able to see his flashback and point out that Mr. Gar was in all of K.O.'s flashbacks. K.O. doesn't get that Carol and Mr. Gar are dating until he sees the two kiss.
  • Played With in Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, where it looks like Perry is remembering Major Monogram warning him that he'll never see Phineas and Ferb again if his cover is blown, and Doofenshmirtz asks if anyone else hears someone talking. Turns out Monogram was talking through Perry's new hologram communicator. Perry had to turn it off before anyone heard.
    • Combined with Medium Awareness in an episode set in ancient China. Phineas and the others have sought out Old Master Perry for training so they can save Princess Isabella from Doofus Khan, and ask about Perry's backstory. While they (and the audience) don't see Perry's flashback, they do see a ripple effect spontaneously appear around him. Ferb states that this means that Perry must be having a flashback, while Phineas wonders if they should give him some privacy. When the ripple stops, they know Perry's flashback is done, and that it must’ve been pretty intense given how long he was staring into space.
    • The entire episode "The Monster of Phineas-n-Ferbenstein" is a story being told to the kids by their Grandpa Reginald. Near the beginning, Candace complains about the fact that the story is in black and white.
      Candace: Can you at least tell the story in color, Grandpa?!
      (Change to bright Sugar Bowl color scheme with a rainbow in the sky.)
      Phineas: Perhaps muted color would be better.
      (Shift to Real Is Brown palette.)
      Reginald: (popping up in the frame) Who's telling the story anyway?!
    • In "Thaddeus and Thor," Doofenshmirtz takes it for granted that Perry can see his flashback, which contained a performance by the band Love Händel.
      Doofenshmirtz: How do you like that, Perry the Platypus? Love Händel. In my flashback! I know people.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: In "Dying For Pie", upon hearing that the last thing on SpongeBob's list is watching the sunset, Squidward recalls Mr. Krabs saying that's when the bomb hits his lower intestine and kills him. His Imagine Spot doesn't go unnoticed.
    SpongeBob: Hey, it's Mr. Krabs! Hi, Mr. Krabs! [thought bubble-Mr. Krabs runs off crying like the real Mr. Krabs did] Okay! See ya later!
    • In "Truth or Square", during the flashback where Mr. Krabs had told SpongeBob the Krabby Patty secret formula, Plankton interupts the story by trying to get ink for his pen to write down the formula. Just as he gets the pen working, Mr. Krabs in the thought bubble throws Plankton away. After Plankton has been thrown off, the real Mr. Krabs had showed up.
  • In a Boomerang short featuring Wally Gator, after an Animal Wrongs Group 'liberates' him from the zoo and takes him to a swamp, Wally thinks about how luxurious his life at the zoo was. This doesn't go unnoticed by a couple of swamp-dwelling gators, who decided to go back to the zoo with Wally while leaving the activists in the swamp.
  • In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Brainstorm," Lord Hater keeps finding flaws in Commander Peepers' latest Evil Plan that necessitate changes to prevent Wander from interfering. Just when it seems like the scheme is Crazy-Prepared enough to go forward, Hater raises the objection "Banjo." Cue shot of Wander with his banjo hoisted triumphantly in the air above Hater's wrecked ship and defeated army. Peepers is flabbergasted:
    Peepers: HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?!


Video Example(s):


When Is That Going to be On?

In "D.W.'s Very Bad Mood" from "Arthur," Binky wants to know when the show "Temper Tantrum Patrol Squad" is going to be on, even though it only appears in Arthur's imagine spot and he wasn't even there when Arthur was explaining the situation that prompted the imagine spot to the group.

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImagineSpotting

Media sources: