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Irritation Nightmare

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"I dreamt I had nothing to eat but chickpeas. Talk about a nightmare."
Obelix, Asterix

Most, if not all, people have nightmares. We might have them because we're worried about something in the future, or haunted by something in the past, or we're psychic or not psychic but having a psychic nightmare anyway, or maybe we have acid reflux or food poisoning or we feel guilty. But maybe we're just annoyed, and that's the Irritation Nightmare.

Maybe the character has had a bad day or something in particular happened that annoyed them, but maybe it's just a nightmare about a pet peeve they have (which could be a Berserk Button).

More likely to be Played for Laughs than other nightmare variants, and any sleep-talking during this nightmare will usually be annoyed grumbling, but they may scream or shout, "NO!" for the Faux Horrific trope. It's also a funny way to reveal what annoys the character without exposition.

Sub-trope of Nightmare Sequence. Can overlap with But You Were There, and You, and You if someone dreams about a person they find annoying, Does Not Like Spam if they dream about a disliked food, or Ear Worm if someone dreams about a song they find annoying. Sometimes overlaps with Crashing Dreams if some annoyance from real life is going into the character's dream. Is the least likely kind of nightmare to have the Catapult Nightmare awakening, but it's not unheard of. Contrast I Was Having Such a Nice Dream for when being put out of a dream is what bugs the character. Not a nightmare about itchiness, although that could qualify.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • One Asterix comic shows the main cast as seniors, but then it turns out to all be a Shared Dream that everyone was having. Obelix considers the dream to be a nightmare because he only has chickpeas to eat (he's a Big Eater who wants variety in his food, and especially favors boars).

    Fan Works 
  • While The Nightmare House (a fanfic of The Loud House) never plays this straight, it does play with it on occasion:
    • Leni's nightmare starts with her wearing leg warmers which she hates, but then it becomes a legitimately terrifying nightmare involving her being immobilized and fed to spiders.
    • Luan's nightmare starts out with her just having a Tough Room at a comedy club, but then it takes a left turn into horror when she discovers that the audience is all statues.
    • Lynn's nightmare starts as a good dream about boxing with Lincoln, then turns into an irritation nightmare when she has trouble boxing, then turns into a more serious nightmare when she accidentally decapitates him.
    • Lucy's nightmare is another subversion: it begins with her being simply annoyed by loud music, but then the dancers appear possessed and start yelling at her and puking on her.
    • And finally Lana's nightmare is a downplay. It's mainly a fear-induced nightmare stemming from the fact that she's Afraid of Doctors, but the doctor doesn't just torture her like a normal Mad Doctor. Instead, he forces her to wear clothes she hates.

    Films — Animation 
  • Shrek's nightmare he has in Shrek the Third combines this with Anxiety Dreams— it comes from being nervous at the prospect of Fiona being pregnant, but it involves things like babies spitting up a torrent of vomit on him and other gross/annoying things.

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In "The Ugly Truth", Greg is having trouble learning to wake himself up because the sound of his alarm clock keeps coming into his dreams instead of waking him up. He's illustrated dreaming about a rabbit making the alarm's noise and Greg shouting, "Cut it out!".
  • In Jam by Margaret Mahy, Mr. Castle makes plum jam, but his wife and kids grow bored of it and start to have nightmares about sentient jam pots.
  • In the Mog book "Mog on Fox Night", Mr. Thomas threatens to stop feeding Mog the cat eggs if she doesn't eat her other food. Then, she goes to sleep mad at him and has a "cross dream" about Mr. Thomas binning all the eggs in the world.
  • In the children's book Who Loves Mr. Tubbs?, Mr. Tubbs the sentient teddy bear is annoyed by his owner's doll Suki's singing, and he has a nightmare about an annoying bird singing Suki's song.
  • In the Winnie the Pooh story "Piglet is Entirely Surrounded by Water", Pooh's house is flooded with cold rainwater, and the cold goes into his dreams, but the dream renders it as Woozles stealing his fur while he's in the cold East Pole.


    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street:
    • One episode involves Oscar having nightmares about happy people and butterflies. He finds them scary in the night, but usually, happy people and butterflies are just pet peeves of his.
    • One skit involves Cookie Monster having a nightmare about cookies flying around and him being unable to reach them.

    Web Videos 
  • The Nostalgia Critic: In "Jurassic Park III", the Critic gets recurring nightmares of memes that he never wanted to do again but keep popping up anyway, which he dubs "night-memes".

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur:
    • The nightmare Binky has in the episode "Binky Goes Nuts" is a combination of an anxiety dream and an irritation nightmare. He's made to sit at a different lunch table from his friends specifically with kids with allergies (because he's allergic to peanuts), but he's also made to eat Brussels sprouts.
    • In "Arthur's First Sleepover", Arthur screams due to having a nightmare where D.W. joins in with the sleepover.
    • In "Arthur Babysits", Rubella once babysat for the Tibble twins and it gave her nightmares.
  • Family Guy: In "Stewie Loves Lois", after she fixes his stuffed bear Rupert for him, Stewie finds himself getting attached to Lois and getting clingy with her. It all reaches a point where he overwhelms and irritates Lois. She has a nightmare where she takes Stewie to the laundry room and puts him in the washing machine. She bashes his head in with the lid and shuts him in there. Lois wakes up and has a What Have I Become? moment.
  • In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Mac Daddy", Bloo has a nightmare involving a crossdressing Cheese ruining a fantasy moment saying, "I'm a lady!", then kissing Bloo and saying, "Now we're brother ladies!"
  • In The Loud House, Leni often has nightmares about out-of-fashion clothes, which she seems to find legitimately scary.
  • In an episode of Milo, Milo has a nightmare where he lives the lifestyle of a baby bird he found and finds it annoying because he has to eat worms. This is also an Opinion-Changing Dream because he previously wanted the bird to live a lifestyle like his own, and it made him realise that one species can't live like another.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Do Princesses Dream Of Magic Sheep?", Rainbow Dash has a nightmare that involves sappy singing flowers, which annoy her greatly.
  • Rugrats: In "Real or Robots?", Stu is Sleepwalking and dreaming that he's hosting a cooking show but that Drew is trying to steal his recipe.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Homer Loves Flanders", Ned Flanders is so cross with Homer that he has a nightmare about shooting a bunch of Homer clones.
    • In "Treehouse of Horror II", Bart dreams that he can read minds and turn people into anything if they don't think happy thoughts. After Bart turns Homer into a jack-in-the-box, Marge takes him to Dr. Marvin Monroe, who suggests that Homer spend time with him. Homer and Bart form a strong bond, and after Bart turns Homer back to normal, they say they love each other. Cue Bart waking up screaming.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Dying for Pie" opens up Squidward dreaming that he's playing piano on a tropical island until he hits a sour note and looks up to see SpongeBob ringing a bell and shouting, "Order up, Squidward!"
  • In Winston's Potty Chair, Winston dreams about being at the beach and water going into his diaper. He then wakes up to find that he has wet his diaper.

    Real Life 
  • The "having to pee" dream is a common dream, in which the dreamer has the annoying problem of needing to pee but being able to find an available, non-awful bathroom. This usually occurs when the dreamer has to pee in real life.
  • A common dream is being unable to do things that you can do in real life. Sometimes, this is legitimately scary (for instance, a monster is chasing you but you can't run), but other times it's just annoying (for instance, you can't read).


Video Example(s):


Cookie Monster's nightmare

Cookie Monster has a nightmare about cookies that keep flying away when he tries to eat them.

How well does it match the trope?

4.25 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / IrritationNightmare

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