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That's right: Prismo is nothing but the dream of a wrinkly old man.

A character that exists in the real world because someone dreamt them to be. The relationship between the dreamer and the Living Dream can work in at least three different ways, with quite a bit of a sliding scale between them.

  1. They are the same person, with the Living Dream being a kind of Alternate Self. The dreamer may be fully aware of this, believe it to be All Just a Dream, or be totally unaware that she has this other identity running around in the real world.
  2. They are not the same person, but the Living Dream is acting under the dreamer's orders or in the dreamer's best interests.
  3. The Living Dream is out of control in a destructive way. This Internal Subtrope of this trope is also a subtrope of Reality Warping Is Not a Toy.

In all these variants, she may very well be unaware of the fact that she is someone else's dream, or alternatively be unsure which version of her is the waking one.

Subtrope of Tulpa. Compare Living Memory, where the "person" once actually existed. See also Spontaneous Generation, Puff of Logic, Sleep Paralysis Creature and I'm Not Afraid of You.


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    Anime and Manga  

  • Paprika in Paprika is the alternate self of the main character, who only exists when the main character enters other people's dreams.
  • In Paranoia Agent, both Shonen Bat and Maromi are Living Dreams of the main character. The former eventually gains an existence independent from her.
  • Entei in Pokémon 3, by way of the Unowns' ability to warp reality. For that matter, the entire plot of the movie is a result of this trope.

    Comic Books  
  • In City of Dreams, not only can humans enter the dreamworld physically as well as in their dreams - but this works both ways. People they created in their sleep have a life of their own and may walk through the portal into the waking world.
  • The DCU:
    • In one (pre-Crisis) Superman comic, a group of aliens, stranded on Earth, and convinced they will never be able to leave, transform into normal humans complete with no memories of being aliens. But their subconscious denial is so strong, it causes them to a) refuse to believe aliens are real, not even Superman and b) to subconsciously create a creature with their mental powers to destroy anything that might contradict this belief (eg. spaceships or Superman.) They eventually learn the truth and Superman helps then return home.
    • In a similar but more tragic Superman story, an alien courier bearing an important message to prevent a space war crash-lands on Earth and is buried underground; it manifests a "ghost self" that tries to steal what it needs to fix the ship, which of course draws Superman's attention. He frees the alien from underground but it's too late; turns out the alien had only just woke up from a sleep that lasted centuries, and the war had already happened.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Diana demonstrates the ability to manifest things from her dreams in the real world, and take note of dreams and spirits operating otherwise invisibly to manipulate things from beyond the veil.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Diana is able to grab certain mythological items through a dream like trance and bring the into the real world. This allows her to grab an item (that will fade within half a day) that a hospital is able to use to rapidly treat burn wounds, though it costs her and leaves her passed out for quite some time. The hospital staff starts with the children.
    • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): When Diana is struggling through her false implanted memories and sorting out the real ones certain elements of her dreams keep slithering temporarily into the physical world, but don't seem to be able to physically interact with anything besides Diana herself until someone else gets close enough to be bit.
  • In one Judge Dredd album, the villain seemed to be Judge Death, but at the end turned out to not be him after all: "He" was actually the living dream of a female psionic who (probably subconsciously) used him as an assassin to get rid of her enemies.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The superhero known as Sleepwalker. When bad things are happening, this hero's mundane alter ego doesn't run into a phone booth to change clothes-particularly as phone booths, when found, following the 1940's, usually have transparent sides. Instead, he simply takes a nap, freeing his mind to manifest his superhero self. However, Sleepwalker and his "alter ego" are not the same being nor was he created by him — Sleepwalker is a alien from a different dimension that is trapped in the human host's mind. He is able to exit the mind into Earth's reality when the human is asleep or unconscious but gets instantly pulled back against his will when the host wakes up.
    • Rogue of the X-Men discovered that her long-lost mother had been living in the realm of dreams for years, complete with her own idealized dream version of her daughter Rogue, who had achieved self-awareness and wanted to be a real person. The only way Rogue could grant her this was to absorb her into herself, so Rogue now has her own memories in addition to those of that dream self.
  • In The Sandman (1989), the main character is the Anthropomorphic Personification of dreaming who rules the Dreamlands populated primarily by dreams that have taken on lives of their own. The gods themselves are born from dreams, usually leave the Dreamlands to build their own realms, then return to the Dreamlands to die when they run out of worshipers.


  • Jorge Luis Borges's short story "The Circular Ruins" is all about this, and one of his best. Read it here.
  • It's implied by H. P. Lovecraft all of reality is nothing but the Daemon Sultan Azathoth's dream.
  • Andre Norton did a bunch of books about dreams-within-dreams that had an effect on the higher reality.
  • Hogfather is all about weird examples of those suddenly appearing.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven. George Orr has effective dreams that can change reality.
    • Type 3. When asked to dream of world peace, he dreams up space aliens who invade the Moon and later attack the Earth.
    • Type 2. George later dreams that the aliens become peaceful. After they do so he has a conversation with an alien that ends up helping him.
  • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, there's an island where dreams come to life. This is not a good thing, because all people sometimes have nightmares.

    Live-Action TV  

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In one episode, the monster was a child's nightmare version of his Little League baseball coach.
  • Stargate Atlantis: a woman in one episode is a telepathic projection by an alien time capsule recovered from the ocean floor.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has an episode where Sisko falls in love with a mysterious woman who just keep disappearing. Turns out she's a energy lifeform without a mind of her own, a telepath's mental projection, existing only as a living dream while the real woman is in a kind of coma-like dream.
  • In Ultraman Ace, there was a Monster of the Week named Dreamgillas, who was also incredibly weird-looking. It's origins are even weirder though, as it was created by Yapool from the bedwetting dreams of a child and manifesting from the stained sheets.
  • An episode of Ultraman Tiga saw a monster recurring in a stressed-out man's nightmares come to life when his home is washed over with a weird form of cosmic radiation. The resulting creature Bakugon is every bit as surreal as one would expect for a dream creature.

    Professional Wrestling  

  • La Novia De Jason was described as a living nightmare in LLF

    Tabletop Games 

  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Dream larvae are epic-level abominations best described as living night terrors, the misbegotten creations of deities of dream. They're usually sealed away in the furthest reaches of the Region of Dreams, but should dream larvae ever escape — perhaps unwittingly called forth by troubled dreamers — they subject other creatures to their worst nightmares, potentially making them die of fright.
    • The loumara are a type of demon spawned from the Abyssal layer of the Dreaming Gulf, where the final thoughts of a pantheon of slain deities are being "digested" by the Abyss itself. Each loumara's abilities and desires are shaped by one of the gods they're spawned from, so guecubus are born from the last nightmares of a god of law and peace, and are thus supernatural serial murderers, while dybbuks are born from the twisted dreams of a goddess of love and art, driving them to possess comely mortals and lead them into ruinous depravity.
    • As of 5th Edition, beholders reproduce in this manner. A beholder that dreams of another beholder warps reality and spawns another of its kind. In most cases the two beholders will immediately attack each other for looking "wrong," but in very rare cases, a beholder will dream of seeing itself in a mirror or encountering several copies of itself, resulting in a "hive" of identical beholders that are able to work together. In other instances, a beholder's dream will spawn related beholder-kin — a beholder who survives an encounter with a vampire might spawn a blood-draining "death kiss," a feverish or sick beholder might have its sense of perspective warped and create a tiny "gazer," while a beholder preoccupied with a draconic rival can create an "eyedrake" blending beholder and dragon traits.

    Video Games  

  • In Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, Type 1 is used for interdimensional travel. This is the power of Dreamers (of whom Zoe is the only one known so far): if they sleep particularly soundly, they can not only dream of the Parallel Universe of Arcadia (which all humans can) but also manifest a physical presence there that can interact with objects and people while the Dreamer's actual body sleeps in our world. Zoe can also create such projection into her own world, Stark,—in fact, for the first four Books of Dreamfall Chapters, she is actually still in a coma, and you, in fact, control her Living Dream, which she believes to be her real body.
  • In Final Fantasy X, everyone from Zanarkand falls under this trope, including Tidus.
  • The final boss of Kirby's Adventure is a living Nightmare who attempts to use Popstar's Fountain of Dreams to spread malevolent nightmares to all of the planet's inhabitants at once. Naturally, he is sealed away temporarily when King Dedede removes the Star Rod from the fountain and splits it up between himself and six other bosses, preventing anyone on the planet from dreaming him up. Kirby eventually repairs it and puts it back, despite Dedede trying to stop him, but fortunately, Kirby uses the Star Rod to defeat Nightmare for good.
  • The Klonoa series, which is heavily themed around dreams, has multiple candidates for this trope, although it is a bit confusing because there is an Ambiguous Situation concerning which characters and worlds are "real" and which are dreams.
    • The titular hero Klonoa. In the first game, Door to Phantomile, Klonoa thinks he is a normal resident of the world of Phantomile, but a Tomato in the Mirror twist reveals that he's from a different world. The residents of Phantomile consider him a "strange dream," and they brought him to their world to fight the villains, giving him Fake Memories so he would think he had lived there all his life. However, the webcomic Dream Traveler of Noctis Sol shows Klonoa in a normal-looking house, and implies that he goes to other worlds by falling asleep in a normal-looking bed. It's hard to tell if he's the dream or the dreamer, or maybe even both.
    • Ghadius, the Big Bad of Door to Phantomile, is a living nightmare. He hates the world for rejecting nightmares like him, and so wants to destroy everything.
    • Nahatomb is an Eldritch Abomination made from all the world's nightmares.
  • In League of Legends, there are two champions that fit this trope: Nocturne and Lillia.
    • Nocturne is a living nightmare demon. In the original lore he was a fairly straightforward example: a nightmare who took physical form, who was trapped by the Summoners in a nexus fragment. In the current lore, however, his origins are somewhat more vague—but more likely the result of many nightmares either amalgamating into one or collectively corrupting a conjured Spirit Realm assassin late in the Rune Wars.
    • Lillia, meanwhile, is a fawn spirit and the living dream of the Dreaming Tree—a tree in Ionia that gathers human dreams to itself. To help both her mother tree and the humans whose dreams it gathers, she wanders Ionia, bashfully helping humans realize their own dreams.
  • Later Rayman games have established that many of the beings in the Glade of Dreams were created through the dreams of the Bubble Dreamer. The eponymous hero is special in that he is one of the few beings who isn't a living dream.
  • In RuneScape, creatures called nightmares are the product of the elder god Mah's dreams.
  • The Secret World: The Dreamers are Eldritch Abominations whose reality-warping dreams sustain the real world. Unfortunately for everyone, they have some warped conceptions about how reality should work, like birds being giant, pus-filled, six-winged griffons from heck. Near the beginning of time, the Gaians trapped and mind-controlled the Dreamers to ensure reality conforms to specific lawsnote , but the Dreamers have been fighting back, producing The Filth, which infects across time, space, and even immaterial concepts. It can infect literally everything, because its creators developed the 'battery' and 'source code' for literally everything.


  • 18th-century Beatrice in The Dreamer (or is she?).
  • In Goblins, this is the explanation for the Lesser Finger Horror: a demon kept a promise to cure a little boy's recurring nightmares, but did so by bringing them into the physical world.
  • Homestuck: The dream selves of Sburb players are a type 1. They exist as physical entities which actually coexist alongside the players in the Incipisphere (though owing to the scale of the game they're generally restricted to operating on Prospit and Derse), can serve as an "extra life" should the player's real self be killed, and merge with/become the player's real self in the process of God Tier ascension. To "awaken" one's dream self and thus be able to be it in one's sleep isn't particularly easy and usually involves some sort of trauma. By default they're the same person as their real self, sharing a mind and consciousness, but rare circumstances can cause a dream self to become a autonomous entity, as Jadesprite did.
  • Almost the entire cast of Roommates is this. To describe: they are self-aware fictional characters in a world where their original stories exist as fiction (they also know that they are still in a story). So yes. They were literally created by author creativity, are kept alive by the hand clapping of fandom and know this. This comes with some interesting side-effects like The Nth Doctor... which can also be invoked for a limited Voluntary Shapeshifting.

    Web Original  

  • From the SCP Foundation: SCP-781, "Unwitting Dreamshaper", creates short-lived instances of these in his sleep. Which usually cause him a painful death.
  • Lucids: Since pretty much everyone within a dream is a fully conscious person, they can also become Lucids, and leave their original dream. This also means they can enter the reality of whoever dreamt them up, since that is almost certainly also a dream.

    Western Animation  

  • In Adventure Time, Prismo is an old man's dream made manifest. He'll stop existing if the man stops dreaming, but come back once he goes back to sleep. The Lich kills the old man, but even someone else dreaming in the old man's place brings Prismo back.
  • The Crackler, a Kaiju from Godzilla: The Series.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The Tantabus in the episode "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep" is a monster from Princess Luna's dreams who escapes into other ponies' dreams and later tries to break into the real world.