Follow TV Tropes


Lotus-Eater Machine

Go To
If you're thinking about leaving, keep dreaming.

Cobb: They come here every day to sleep?
Elderly man: No. They come to be woken up. The dream has become their reality. Who are you to say otherwise, sir?

A character is knocked out, or goes to sleep, and wakes up in their own personal paradise. Whatever they wanted most all their life is finally theirs.

The truth, however, is that they're being held prisoner by another character who is using something; a machine, a Platonic Cave, or other phlebotinum to cause very intense and very realistic hallucinations. Some monsters even weaponize the ability to project Your Heart's Desire to snatch up easy prey.

Sometimes the lotus-eater has no idea it's all fake. Sometimes they do know but don't care. In order to escape, the dreamer has to figure out he's dreaming, if that isn't already known to him. Then he has to break the masquerade and give up their life's dream. If they're in too deep, friends hoping to mount an Orphean Rescue have to force the hero to Battle in the Center of the Mind in order to escape. More often than not, a Dream Apocalypse occurs. Might involve Artificial Outdoors Display.


Bonus points go to the villains if they attempt to drive the protagonist to despair by turning the dream into a nightmare or otherwise play on the protagonist's emotions.

Because of the nature of this trope, it often lends itself to doubts after the characters 'escape'. Sometimes it isn't clear whether their escape is genuine or not. This can range from Epileptic Trees theories by a handful of viewers, all the way up to extreme canon cases of a Dream Within a Dream. In this tone, a particularly Fridge Horrific ending for a villain (or a hero) may see them fall under the spell of the Machine, but only for a second before escaping, defeating their enemies, and re-making the world in their image. Cut back to reality, where they're still under the thrall of the Machine.

Often lends itself to aesops against spending all of your time in a virtual fantasy world.


In the majority of these cases, Your Mind Makes It Real. May also be an exitless Happy Place or not-so-happy Ontological Mystery or Psychological Torment Zone. If the place isn't happy, but the hero is still made to believe it's real over his old life, it's a Cuckoo Nest. May be used in conjunction with the "Leave Your Quest" Test to create The Final Temptation. May be used to set up an Epiphanic Prison. If an entire society lives in one, it's a Terminally Dependent Society. May involve Mind Rape at some point. Possible to involve Victory Is Boring. May overlap with cases of Artificial Afterlife, where the afterlife in question may take place in some digital paradise.

The trope name comes from The Odyssey, where Odysseus meets a society living off narcotic plants, to the extent that anyone who eats of the lotus no longer cares about anything else, including going home. This makes the trope Older Than Feudalism.

Beware of spoilers. The revelation that the events in the story are just an induced fantasy is often used as a major plot twist.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ceres, Celestial Legend
    • Suzumi gets put under one that mentally returns her to a happier time, when her husband was still alive and the two were excitedly awaiting their first child. While the machine is destroyed, she willingly remains behind because she is happy. It isn't until Yuuhi forces her to remember that Kazuma is dead that she gets shaken out of her stupor, also remembering how she chose to continue to live to take care of her brother-in-law.
    • Aya gets put into one before a microchip is supposed to be implanted into her brain, which would make her more compliant to Kagami's plan, and appease the Ancestor. Touya saves her before the microchip is installed and Alec helps the two escape, stating that Aya should awaken within a few hours. If she doesn't, she will remain trapped inside her nightmares. Said nightmares involve her reliving the moment of Touya regaining his memories and forgetting about her, but Ceres manages to break through to her. She tells Aya to wake up, since the real Touya has been calling out to her for some time. Aya manages to wake up and the two are finally reunited.
  • In the penultimate episode of Digimon Adventure 02, MaloMyotismon, the Big Bad, uses an illusion mist attack that places the Chosen Children in worlds where their greatest dreams came true: TK sees his family together and happy, Kari is in a world where humans and Digimon coexist happily, Cody is reunited with his deceased father, and Yolei is an only child with all the perks including a large number of sweets. On the flip side, Ken, who suffers from insane guilt for his actions as the Digimon Emperor, sees his Emperor self being tortured by the Digimon he abused. It takes their Digimon partners to snap their respective humans out of their illusions. Incidentally, the only child who wasn't affected was Davis, who has no serious desires or problems with his life, much to MaloMyotismon's surprise.
  • Gregory Horror Show has a weird variation. The hotel run by Gregory is the embodiment of the desire to escape from reality, and Gregory and his inhabitants will try their damndest to drive you mad and keep you there. You can escape, but of the two people we've seen escape, both eventually end up coming back and becoming one of the hotel's twisted inhabitants.
  • Angel Sanctuary:
    • The protagonist, Setsuna, is put into a dream world where Sara is not his sister but his girlfriend, his best friend Kira is a happy intellectual big brother figure, the guys he had been framed for killing were still alive, and the overall Angels vs Angels thing was just a dream. He is awoken by the desperate crying for help of Kira, who actually is the spirit of his sword, who actually is Lucifer, while the dream Sara tries to convince him to stay in the dream.
    • When Setsuna and Kato try to break out of Uriel's realm, a part of Enma-o's body places an illusion on Katou where he sees his family and himself as a little child, his sister (played by Enma-o) asks him to put away the bat because he doesn't need it here; even his father who isn't his father at all, only the husband of his mother is nice and kind and tells him that he got that short temper from him. Then, he stabs Enma-o with his staff and breaks the seal on the cauldron.
  • In Bleach Episode 178, Ichigo is trapped within a special technique created by Saiga, a bakkoutou weapon used by the assassins of the Kasumi-Ooji Clan. He is trapped within a memory of his childhood where his mother dies, and he is alone, waiting by the river at the spot she was killed. Upon breaking out, Ichigo pulled out his Visored mask and promptly delivered an ass-whupping to his tormentor.
  • Inflicting one of these is the power of the kakugane "Alice in Wonderland" in Buso Renkin.
  • In Persona 4: The Animation, Shadow Mitsuo pulls this on Yu in episode 12, and we get to see first-hand what being hit with Evil Touch and inflicted with the Fear ailment really means.
    • Yu does this to himself in episode 26, purposefully trapping himself in a "Groundhog Day" Loop after watching all his friends be dragged to their deaths by Izanami.
  • Code Geass gives this trope a twist by having the Lotus Eater Machine actually be a highly addictive drug, called Refrain. It's popular amongst the conquered Japanese (and may have been developed specifically as a weapon against them), since it causes the user to relive happy memories.
  • Sgt. Frog episode 3: After trying various methods to disguise Keroro so he can go outside, Tamama tries the plant "Dreaming Alpha", which sticks its tentacles into Keroro's head and makes him hallucinate that he's in a wonderful field of flowers, but almost instantly drains his body away. (The plant itself is oddly similar to the one in the Alan Moore story.) In the English dub, it's explicitly referred to as the 'Keronian Purple Mercy Lotus-Eating Lotus'.
  • The Book of Darkness uses this against Fate Testarossa in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, locking her into a dream world where her Mad Scientist mother Precia is alive and sane, Fate's late mentor and maid Linith, and Alicia, the dead girl she was cloned from, also lived as her older sister. After making peace with Alicia, Fate shatters the dimension with Bardiche's Zanber form. The Book of Darkness also planned on doing this to her master Hayate, and the rest of the Earth, believing Hayate wished for the pain of the real world to just be a dream and disappear. She drops the plan when Hayate tells her that isn't what she wants. The experience also had the effect of helping Fate come to terms with herself as a separate person from Alicia, resulting in her accepting Lindy's offer to adopt her in the third A's Sound Stage.
  • This is the main ability of Yukariko Sanada's CHILD in Mai-HiME. An entire episode is devoted to this, as she uses its power of illusion in an attempt to break Mai's spirit. Mai manages to decipher it's all a lie and escapes from the Happy Place, so the defeated Yukariko accepts her loss and commits suicide rather than hurting her further, bringing her evil lover Ishigami down alongside her. She uses the same treatment on Yukino and Haruka in the fourth volume of the manga. Haruka's Happy Place puts her 20 Minutes into the Future where she's uber-successful at everything, has her own naked lesbian harem, and she's utterly defeated and humiliated her rival Shizuru, whom she now uses as a footstool for bathing. Once she realizes the whole thing is fake because she doesn't think she could ever be so happy, Haruka uses her Heroic Resolve to break her and Yukino free and kick Yukariko's ass.
  • Fushigi Yuugi has a character with a similar power: Tomo, Nakago's right hand. He tends to apply it in a simpler and more subtle way than most examples, but is capable of building an entire populated town around the simple desires of one girl.
  • In Mob Psycho 100, Keiji Mogami creates one when he traps Mob with the idea of turning him into a sympathizer of his twisted ideals. Instead of a paradise, Mogami forces Mob to experience six months worth of mockery.
  • In Mx0, one of magical aptitude test is to leave a Lotus Eater Machine room within 10 minutes. If you do that, you'll forget everything that happened in there, and if you don't, you'll keep your memories but fail the test.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion's penultimate episode was devoted to this as a result of all the psychological/spiritual Techno Babble of the series. Shinji sees himself in a Mecha anime played straight: he and Asuka are childhood friends with Belligerent Sexual Tension, with Asuka being a Tsundere rather than abusive and aggressive, and Shinji being shy and kind rather than utterly submissive. Gendo, Shinji's father, is a Henpecked Husband that stuffs his head in a newspaper and agrees with everything his chatty wife says, Toji and Kensuke are a case of Those Two Guys, Misato is a hot substitute teacher, and most jarringly Rei is a clumsy Genki Girl. While this would seem like a nice break from the rampant existential questioning of the last few episodes, it's considered one of the most tragic and eerie parts of the entire show by many fans; seeing all these broken characters as happy, well adjusted children is like staring straight into the Uncanny Valley. In a way, Instrumentality can be considered a Lotus-Eater Machine - a world born from every human soul in existence uniting to cancel out each other's fallacies and fears of loneliness to achieve perfect happiness through a twisted, forced evolution.
  • One Piece's sixth movie has a rather twisted version of this, wherein the 'lotus' literally eats people in order to preserve the masquerade that the Big Bad is living in.
  • This happens at least four times in the R season of Sailor Moon: when Usagi is trapped in an illusion by a youma that saps her Life Energy away until Mamoru wakes her up with a True Love's Kiss, when Chibi-Usa is placed in a nightmare by another youma and led to believe she is back in her decimated home, when Ami is brainwashed into believing everyone hates her by yet another youma and has to debrainwash herself, and when Wiseman tries to brainwash Moon into serving the Black Moon Clan by breaking her spirit, but fails when she breaks away.
    • Also happens in the SuperS movie when the villainess puts children (one of them being a kidnapped Chibi-Usa) to sleep in wonderful, eternal dreams so they can be an energy source to trap the whole planet into said dreams. When Moon tries to stop her, she too is put in a fantasy world. She's knows it's fake when Mamoru readily admits he loves her more than ChibiUsa, something the real deal wouldn't do.
    • Also happened in Stars, when Usagi is on her way to Nehelenia's lair but is brainwashed by an illusion (in the shape of talking flowers) into forgetting Mamoru and everything else. She wakes up when Makoto/Jupiter almost gets killed by Nehelenia herself while shielding her and one of her rose-shaped earrings falls to the ground.
    • Occurs once in the Death Busters arc of the manga where Makato, Rei, Ami, and Minako are trapped in their own ideal dream worlds before Usagi and the Outer Senshi free them.. The Crystal version of this is especially pitiful, as they give in without putting up even a smidgen of resistance.
  • Tenchi in Tokyo episode 25: The villain Yugi, after "destroying" her shadow (and Tenchi's love interest) Sakuya, sets up a "dream world" when Tenchi tries to come after her, in which Tenchi and Sakuya could be together forever. It nearly worked, Tenchi being willing to live in the dream world at first, but surprisingly, it's Sakuya (who has gained a will of her own) who breaks Tenchi out of the illusion, at the cost of her own life.
    • This is pretty much the plot of 1999's Tenchi Forever!, the final movie set in the Tenchi Universe continuity. Haruna, Yosho's former lover, takes Tenchi into her own universe to live out the dreams she never experienced.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the Anti-Spiral has this in the form of the "Multiverse Labyrinth". The underlying philosophical purpose, according to them is that the dimensional labyrinth recognizes the possibilities entertained by its victims, turning them into reality. As long as they are able to imagine alternatives, one can never escape from it, thus preventing the victims from utilizing spiral energy in the process.
    • However, the spirit and/or memory of Kamina shows up and saves everyone to the tune of "Libera Me" from Hell. Cheesy awesomeness aside, he was able to free everyone from the illusion by exhorting them to not worry about the "should-haves and maybes" and focus on the reality in front of them. This fits in with the message of the series: Don't be distracted, just always keep moving forward.
  • In Gunnm, Mad Scientist Desty Nova traps Gally in a VR simulation in which she's a normal, innocent girl and he's the scientist who rescued her from the Scrapyard, setting himself up as her father-figure. (As a nod to the English translation, Nova also gives her a different name: 'Alita'. In the translation, of course, Alita is renamed 'Gally'.) Nova's intention is that Gally's personality will be altered by the experience, and she'll find herself unable to kill him after he releases her from the simulation. However, this backfires in two ways — Gally recognizes that it's only a dream from the start and plays along, relishing the chance to briefly live a normal life; meanwhile, having genuinely come to love Gally/Alita as a daughter during his time in the simulation, Nova can no longer bring himself to shoot her in the real world. (Later in the series he becomes more-or-less a good guy, but his motives were always so obscure anyway that it's impossible to tell if it's a direct result, and he actually claims to have no memory of this incident due to the way he resurrects. He just backs up his mind and downloads to another body, but only backs up at certain time periods.)
  • Played with very well in Wolf's Rain, where Kiba is separated from his companions and wakes up in an idyllic paradise. Since the whole point of the series was to find paradise, and it had been hinted that Kiba was purer than the others, he might actually be there (and the viewers were kept in the dark as long as Kiba was).
  • Played straight in Paranoia Agent, where Chief Ikari, one of the series' protagonists, is led into one of these, a choppily animated world where everyone and everything is paper thin. He stays there until the last episode, when with some help from his dying wife he realizes that he shouldn't run away from his responsibilities, and so destroys the fake world with a bat.
  • In Sorcerer Hunters, the team unleashes a book that makes everybody's desires real, creating two extra Carrots to fulfill them all. Carrot, the real one, saves the day, which is arguably what he most desired.
  • Occurs several times in Ergo Proxy, as the proxies mentally war for supremacy. The ones involving Vincent have him and his friends appearing to steadily go mad, however one less serious episode involves little girl-robot Pino playing inside another proxy's gaudy Disney-esque Theme Park.
  • Gatekeepers had one in episode ten where the team were taken away to a beach paradise, however, Shun suspects that something is up with the place from the start.
  • In Get Backers, Ban's Evil Eye technique can in fact be used as a Lotus Eater Machine. Often, Ban subtly changes the one-minute dream to seem as if it lasts for several hours, and/or changes the content from dream to nightmare.
    • In the final book, the entire world turns out to be Ginji's dream.
  • An interesting case can be found in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex where a Mad Artist created a virtual reality that consists only of movie theatre in which the perfect film is played for all eternity. Everyone connecting with the program gets trapped and the only thing he ever wants is to continue seeing the film. Of course it's never shown what is seen on the screen, but it's apparently more like The Ring tape than an actual movie.
    • It is so good it even makes the Major cry, who only once showed any genuine emotion except Unstoppable Rage.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: It was implied in the Anime-only Noa arc that Noa was put into one of these by his father after he died, and went mad as he realized this, and his father subsequently abandoned him because Noa wasn't playing along.
  • Pokémon:
    • In the episode "Malice in Wonderland", Ash and his party get trapped in a dream-world, where Ash is able to defeat the champion Cynthia and owns every single badge in the world, Dawn is a undefeatable Coordinator, who has no problems taking on her own Mom and owns more Ribbons than one can count, and finally, Brock is surrounded by an army of Joys and Jennys, who all want to marry him. The cause is a Ghost-type Pokemon, Mismagius, who wants them to play with it... forever. As soon as they realize that everything around them is not real, the dream changes into a nightmare, but they find a way to use their own imaginations to fight back.
    • Done again in Best Wishes, this time the work of a Beheeyem belonging to a crook. The trick here is that they can only be freed from the illusion once they are all fully awake, which is a problem since Meowth (who, at that time, was traveling with Ash and friends), instantly goes back to sleep every time they try to wake him up.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch had Alala, a Fairy-like villain, who had the ability to use her song to either perform mass hypnosis or trap someone in a sweet dream so that person wouldn't want to wake up.
  • When you're bitten by Vampire Princess Miyu as a part of your blood contract, your mind gets placed in a dream similar to this. She calls it "living in happiness", since it's a prerequisite of said contract to be a physically attractive person who has gone through horrible trauma.
  • Inuyasha:
    • At the end of the story, Kagome is made to believe that she is living a normal life, forgetting all about the Feudal Era and everything she did there, while trapped INSIDE the Shikon Jewel. When she remembers her adventures and comes to in the darkness of the jewel, it tries to trick her into making a selfish wish by promising her that perfect normal life if she wishes for it. Only remembering and being with Inuyasha prevents her from wishing selfishly on the jewel and being trapped in it forever.
    • In the anime, when the Shikon Pearl is contaminated by Tsubaki the evil Miko and Kagome is affected by such a fact, she's temporarily trapped inside another one where the Inu-tachi doesn't exist and she can't remember them, despite seeing people that act and look like them (Sango and Miroku are a young married couple she passes by, Kaede and Shippo are an old lady and her grandson, etc. She only breaks out when she meets the equivalent of Kikyou, who poses as the captain of her school's archery club and starts questioning Kagome's motives to be there.
  • Interlude takes place almost entirely inside of one of these.
  • In Dragon Ball Episode 116, Korin sends Goku to an icy wasteland to find a magic potion that will help him beat Demon King Piccolo. This icy wasteland is inhabited by a monster called Darkness, who traps Goku in a dream world where his friends are able to live in peace, because Demon King Piccolo does not exist. Goku refuses to submit, so the dream becomes a nightmare where his friends become violent. Although Darkness was just testing Goku before giving him the potion, because it is fatal to the unworthy.
  • In Hunter × Hunter anime, one of the first tests is running around a dark alley surrounded by tree roots. Anyone caught between the roots experiences a dream related to their darkest memories and sapped of energy until they die. That's how we learn Leorio's backstory: he dreams about Pietro, his old friend who died of illness.
  • Naruto:
    • There is a spectral sword known as the Sakenagi Longsword which seals whoever is cut by it in a blissful illusion for all eternity. Itachi possessed it as a part of his Susanoo jutsu and used it to defeat Orochimaru, who had spent years searching for it.
    • The (real) leader of Akatsuki eventually reveals his endgame plan is to put the entire world into one of these, having decided the current reality and all its senseless deaths aren't worth keeping. When plan works, the happy dreams of his cocooned victims are shown. However, it's then revealed that the true purpose of the Infinite Tsukuyomi is to drain the trapped populace of their chakra, personalities and defining features, reducing them to shells of their former selves and become White Zetsu soldiers for Princess Kaguya.
    • In Itachi's Story, Itachi, while massacring his clan, uses Tsukuyomi to give his girlfriend Izumi a vision of marrying him, having children and growing old together, thereby resulting in her having a relatively peaceful death compared to the rest of the Uchihas.
  • Particularly in the third arc of Umineko: When They Cry, the Golden Land is portrayed like this. In the fourth arc, it's portrayed similarly, but Ange convinces Maria that it will grant everything except the thing she wants most. Although that has more to do with the peculiarities of what she wants than anything with the Golden Land itself.
  • Kuchinashi's Lilith Temptation attack in NEEDLESS puts everyone into a dream world with what they desire most. This is then lampshaded when Blade isn't affected. To answer why he wasn't affected he points at each reason: "I'M ALREADY IN HEAVEN! LITTLE GIRL! LITTLE GIRL! LITTLE GIRL! LITTLE GIRL! LITTLE GIRL! ...Well, she's a little girl, too."
  • In Dance in the Vampire Bund's, Mina Tepes awakens in a dreamworld where everyone she knows is a normal human, Tokyo Landfill # 0 does not exist, and she is a young albino taken in by Akira's mother. Her first reaction is to try finding out what is going on, but after her mother shows up she makes up her mind that she does not care anymore and does not force herself to wake for a subjective decade (on her wedding day with Akira).
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, it appears that Cosmo Entelechia, the illusory world where the Big Bad wants to put all the residents of Mundus Magicus, is a Lotus Eater Machine tailored to each person affected. Another character, Zazie's sister, Poyo, owns a lesser version of this. And before you go crying evil villain, this is because as far as they know said residents will all die. It's a complex situation where, in the end, the main moral reason for arguing against it is that it's being done without permission. Interestingly, Chisame and Makie are both immune to the lesser version because they are already perfectly content in their lives, though the former loudly protests when Poyo suggests this.
  • In Muhyo and Roji, this is used on the haunt of Yuki Otada, causing him to hallucinate that his classmates are welcoming him onto a rollercoaster, and that despite being a Huge Schoolboy, he can fit if he lets go of what he's carrying (the people he kidnapped). As the rollercoaster takes him down to hell, Muhyo notes that the Lotus Eater Machine was meant to make the descent easier, as his past was apparently so traumatic (being Driven to Suicide after realizing that the classmates who bullied him weren't serious about becoming friends with him) that even Muhyo felt sorry for him.
  • In Baki the Grappler, one of Dorian's techniques is to hypnotize his opponents into thinking they're beating the crap out of him.
  • Yukiteru from Future Diary gets trapped in one of these where he has everything he's ever wanted, including his parents and the girl he wanted.
  • The anime version of Magic Knight Rayearth features Umi getting stuck in a Lotus Eater Magic, where she's back in Tokyo Tower because of her desperate wish to just go home and participate in her fencing tournament (she accidentally created it due to her strong will). There's a catch: everything is frozen in time, and on learning this, Umi broke down that this isn't the kind of 'go home' that she wanted. It's only after hearing her friends in distress that she managed to break away and return to Cephiro.
  • In Angel Beats!, Naoi, the newly promoted Absurdly Powerful Student Council President, tries to use hypnosis to put Yuri in a fantasy world where her siblings are still alive. She was sent to this afterlife because she blames herself for their deaths, and might be "obliterated" if she thought they never really died. But she resists, and Otonashi forcibly interrupts the process. Choosing to put yourself in a Lotus Eater as a means of filling in the gaps in your past life is the "goal" of the afterlife, and allows people to move on and get reincarnated.
  • At the end of the anime version of Saikano, Chise's spirit creates one for Shuuji to help him cope with the fact that everyone else in the world has died.
  • The first season of Haiyore! Nyarko-san ends with a two-parter where Mahiro finds himself in a "Groundhog Day" Loop where he's the only person in the city (and maybe beyond that). What makes it a Lotus Eater Machine is that the person who did it honestly wanted Mahiro to be happy, but misinterpreted his desire for a little peace and quiet (or at least his Unwanted Harem taking a day off from being clingy and zany) and honestly thought he would be happy if he was all alone. And then it turns out there's The Man Behind the Man who set up the entire thing as part of his own larger plan.
  • In Pretty Cure All Stars New Stage 3, the villain traps every single Precure (except for the most recent team, Happiness Charge) into their ideal dreams. The first to notice that something wrong is Nozomi, who eventually realizes that despite the fact that she's overjoyed to be a teacher like she's always wanted, she doesn't know how to actually teach. The girls may have dreams, but they know that they'll actually have to work to achieve them despite the inevitable hardships and pain.
  • In Attack on Titan, Eren loses control of his Titan form during the Trost counter-offensive, as his consciousness enters a dream-like state of being back home with his family in Zhiganshina. Armin breaks him out of it.
    • Ymir states she was trapped in an "endless nightmare" during her time as a Titan. Bertolt implies this may be the norm for all of them, which leaves absolutely horrifying implications about the true nature of the Titans.
  • In Kill la Kill, it's implied by dialouge the Fake Memories Ragyo implanted in Ryuko work this way. Notable in that the body is still active during this time (albeit Brainwashed and Crazy) and it was implanted via mental and physical rape. It's broken by Mako and Senketsu breaking into the fake memories, where Ryuko nearly cuts them down to maintain the illusion, then has a My God, What Have I Done? moment and snaps herself out of it from the guilt.
  • In Brave10, Kamanosuke faces one in the fight with the Iga Grotesque Five. Kuchiba puts him in a fantasy where he's a misunderstood princess with a loyal and handsome butler taking care of his every need. Kuchiba unfortunately missed out on the fact that his target is completely Ax-Crazy, and Kamanosuke manages to murder his way out of the illusion by remembering that the dude he's really in love with he loves because of his carnage.
    Kuchiba: No one has ever foiled my magic before. The temptation of a paradise never before experienced. They all immerse themselves in joy, in the arms of their beloved...until they rot. What I gave you was flawless pleasure!
    Kamanosuke: What about that was pleasure!? That warm and fuzzy crap doesn't do shit for me!! What I want is a banquet of blood!!
  • Devil May Cry: The Animated Series has one in the final episode that is not seen by the audience. Dante is impaled and crucified and seems to actually die, even though he's normally able to shrug off these kinds of injuries. Patty tearfully begs him to Please Wake Up, but it doesn't seem to work. Later, when Dante revives and frees himself, he explains to his friends that the reason why he was unresponsive was because he was trapped in a very convincing dream world, but Patty's words reached him and helped him wake up.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion, it's eventually revealed that during all the time the girls had spent together as a team fighting nightmares, they were actually trapped inside an artificial reality especially created by the Incubators, in order to observe Homura's transformation into a Witch, and Madoka's subsequent appearance to rescue her from this fate.
  • Used twice in Ojamajo Doremi. The first time is during the Sharp finale, where the Big Bad attempts to use the girls' desires against them, but their conviction to save Hana lets them break free. She tries again near the end of Mo~tto!, having Momoko reunite with her late mentor while under hypnosis to kidnap Hana. This takes a bit more convincing to get Momo to wake up from this.
  • Shelter starts with Rin appearing to create worlds, but it turns out that she's inside a one person spaceship linked up to a life support machine and a virtual reality generator, because the Earth has been destroyed, and her father wanted her to survive and be happy.
  • Towards the end of the manga version of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, she finds a garden that acts as a vault for all the plants and animals that have been destroyed in the Seven Days of Fire. The keeper of this garden is an artificial being that can read people's minds and change its appearance to suit them. The garden acts as a Lotus-Eater Machine by causing all visitors to forget their troubles and peacefully live out the rest of their lives as servants here.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • The story by Cary Bates in Action Comics # 492 (Feb 1979) in which Superman is caught in an "odd-shaped swirl of crimson energy" and has illusions of a future life in which he marries Lana Lang and has children, which turn out to be implanted by Phantom Zone villains to distract him while the crimson energy kills him.
    • In Alan Moore's For the Man Who Has Everything, the Black Mercy plant gives the victim hallucinations of where their greatest dream comes true — in Superman's case, that he's still on a Krypton that was never destroyed, and has a wife and children. Little by little, though, the dream Krypton becomes a heartbreaking nightmare of the planet sliding into a self-destructing mayhem, spurred by Superman's embittered father. After it was removed from Superman, it fell on Batman, and he also experienced his greatest fantasy — that his parents were not murdered. After Superman is freed from the dream, he proceeds to unleash the mother of all Unstoppable Rages upon Mongul, who mentions that he used the flower specifically to create a prison that Superman could not escape without giving up his greatest desire. The Black Mercy plant is eventually used on Mongul to defeat him, who dreams that he kills all the heroes and takes over the universe.
    • The story later appears in the animated series Justice League Unlimited (reportedly, this is the only adaptation of any his works that Moore has liked). With a few differences. Krypton never decays to the degree it does in the comics, and Batman is freed so quickly that he gets to see his dad beat up Joe Chill -- only for the latter to get off a shot anyway just as the plant lets go.
    • A Supergirl (2015) episode also adapted this story. Supergirl is the Black Mercy's victim this time, and she dreams that Krypton never exploded and her family is alive. Unlike the original story, the Black Mercy scuttles off of Kara and quickly withers once she rejects its illusion.
  • In Grant Morrison's run on Justice League of America the Key put the seven core members of the League in individual illusions. Using a programmable "psycho virus" to put them each in a designed hallucination, he planned on exploiting their inevitable escape from such a situation to harness the psychic energy generated to empower himself for interdimensional travel.
  • In X-Men the Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff, had a nervous breakdown over the deaths of her children and created the House of M alternate reality, where mutants were the dominant race and all the heroes had their hearts' desires granted (Spider-Man was married to Gwen Stacy with Uncle Ben alive, the X-Men were able to have normal jobs in a world free of persecution and bigotry, etc). Unfortunately, Wolverine's heart's desire was to remember every day of his life: he knew the world was fake and was the one to try to revert it. Unlike most examples, the House of M universe was as real as the one it replaced, but it served the same purpose — to keep the heroes pacified.
  • In the X-Men Annual #11, some cosmic villain named Horde traps the team in one of these. One by one the X-men are seduced by their dream-visions, except for Longshot (who gets absorbed by the place because his childlike innocence had nothing to corrupt) Psylocke (who tried to use her dream vision as a way to fight Horde and failed), and Wolverine, who had enough willpower to resist his own vision and the temptation of godhood, and broke everyone out of there.
  • In Batman's Final Crisis story arc, evil scientists working for Darkseid put Batman in a Lotus Eater Machine so they can take advantage of his psyche for their own ends. (Not a pleasant one... the machine runs him through slightly off-kilter events from his life as Batman, with a focus on the worst experiences.) Batman deduces what is going on and is able to completely destroy all of their equipment and ruin their plans without even waking up.
  • Doctor Doom once trapped the Fantastic Four into such a device: They thought they were living idyllic normal lives in a place called Liddleville (though Reed was tormented by Doom himself in the guise of professor Victor Vaughn), when in fact their minds had been transferred into miniature clones of themselves, and the town was an intricate scale model.
  • An early Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog comic has Robotnik trapping the Freedom Fighters in such a machine, where on top of the traditional ideal world, it actually changed to meet its inhabitants' wishes. After figuring it out, Sonic pushes the machine's "user-friendly" nature to its limit, takes control of Robotnik's war machines (currently on their way to raze Knothole), and forces Robotnik to let them go by threatening to turn them on Robotropolis.
  • Sonic the Comic did something similar to this effect in an early issue in the "Ruled By Robotnik" arc. Sonic woke up to find out that he was a human and lacked his abilities.
  • Marvel's Earth X traps an aged Peter Parker in an illusory world in which, among other things, he is married to Gwen Stacy and has a son (rather than his real-world daughter, who is this reality's Venom - and who enters this world and snaps her dad out of it).
  • A Batman story has the Mad Hatter trapping Batman in an idealized world. He even realizes that the illusion is not real from the word "go", but eventually decides to accept it anyway. Then he realises it really can't be real, when nothing he reads makes any sense and breaks himself out of it.
  • In an issue of Green Lantern, Green Lantern and Green Arrow are ensnared by a single Black Mercy by Mongul's son, also named Mongul; Lantern's dominant personality made the ideal world they shared too ideal for the jaded Green Arrow, and they manage to escape.
  • The Atom: Ryan Choi has a run-in with a variant Black Mercy in The All-New Atom. It gives him everything he's ever dreamed of - but not the things he truly wants, which are back in reality.
  • Turns out that Black Mercys are Well Intentioned Extremists who do this in order to end pain and fear, and later, Mother Mercy joins the Green Lantern Corps.
  • Also by Alan Moore, Dark Age volume 2 of Marvelman (aka Miracleman) recasts the character's Silver Age adventures as Lotus Eater Machine dreams invented to keep him and his fellow post-humans in line while they were being studied and programmed.
  • Steve Moore (no relation to Alan Moore) used this trope in his Jonni Future stories. One of Jonni's enemies is the Empress of the End, who trades people all their Earthly possessions to experience a (fatal) experience of their heart's greatest desire. A surprising number of people willingly make this trade, but when the Empress kidnaps Jonni's sidekick, Jermaal Van Pavane the Paraman and forcibly submits him to the machine, she has to rescue him.
    • In another Jonni Future story, she has to be rescued from a planet which causes her to hallucinate her greatest desire. Which is apparently being swarmed by lots of naked versions of herself...
  • Ed Brubaker did a guest two-parter for Tom Strong, in which the title character got dropped in a really subversive one of these: first the hero is made to believe that he's mad, and then when he fights this, he discovers that he's the result of a government Super Soldier program, and when the project was scrapped he was dumped on the street. The resulting existential angst almost kills Tom Strong... but then he realizes that it was All Just a Dream, smashes the Phlebotinum keeping him there, and goes back to his loving wife and four-color adventures. Except the wrap-up is handled very quickly, leading some of us (one at least) to wonder...
  • Zenith's Chimera is a living Lotus Eater Machine, an attempted Super Soldier that self-evolved into a pocket universe, containing any reality anyone can imagine. This turns out to be useful when there are a bunch of insane Reality Warper former-superheroes-gone-bad to dispose of. No, this was not by Alan Moore (it was Grant Morrison).
    • As was the Batman story with Darkseid's minions above. He obviously likes the trope as well.
  • Incredible Hulk:
    • In an attempt to take control of his body and manifest in the real world, the Devil Hulk once traps Bruce Banner in a perfect fantasy land that exists only in his head. Bruce is married to Betty, has kids and is best friends with his father and General Ross.
    • During Fall of The Hulks, the Intelligencia traps Bruce — and the other seven smartest men in the world — in a Lotus-Eater Machine in order to drain their intellects. Not all that surprisingly, Bruce is married to Betty, has kids, and has killed the Hulk.
  • One XXXenophile story featured a villain trapping Orgasm Lass in a Wet Dreamtime Generator, bouncing her between fantasy lovers. She escapes by overloading the device... come on, this is XXXenophile, you know how she did it.
  • The comic book continuation of The Incredibles has Evil Redhead Mezmerella capable of inducing this effect with her hypnotic powers.
  • A rather nasty one was inflicted on Pixie. Some demons used their magic to make her own illusory powers trick her and her friends. She was essentially the power source for her own Lotus Eater Machine.
  • In a ploy to steal their magical powers, some demons put Traci 13, Zachary Zatara, and Black Alice in a world where: Traci is uncontested ruler of the world, Zatara's lover is still alive and they are married with children, and Black Alice's mother is still alive. Traci rejects the fantasy because her father is dead. Zatara rejects it because he feels it is shaming the memory of his lover. Unfortunately, Black Alice refuses to give up her mother and attacks them. Alice's mother eventually tells her that she needs to do the right thing and restore the world to the way it was.
  • In Empowered, Anglerfish and his son both have the power to hypnotize people who look into their head lures into seeing their greatest desires.
  • In one issue of The Books of Magic, Auberon of the Fay gets dared/guilt-tripped into putting his soul inside a globe supposedly containing his own Paradise. Once he does so he's both trapped and mindwiped of that fact, while his zombie-like body is put to menial labour.
  • In RoboCop Versus The Terminator this is Skynet's last line of defense against the electronic ghost of Alex Murphy. He's well aware that it's an illusion, a trap, and tells himself that he'll fight it... in a moment.
  • A story arc of The Trigan Empire features little black boxes with attached wires which, when plugged to the temples, cause the user to experience his or her favorite fantasy in lurid detail. They are a dangerous addiction.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW): This is Nightmare Rarity's ability. She tries to use it on Spike, trapping him in an ideal world where Rarity asks him to marry her and together rule as Queen and King. It doesn't work since dream!Rarity wants him to forget about their friends and doesn't know what the Fire Ruby means to him.
  • In The Transformers, Rapture aka Katrina Vesotsky, is a human with the ability to ensnare other's minds into fantasies. It works on both humans and transformers. She was even able to ensnare Unicron... for about thirty seconds before the Planet Eater snapped out of it.
  • Shows up in two episodes of Suske en Wiske; both in De Tartaarse Helm and De Schat van Beersel they get placed into an illusionary world by Mr. Priem through hypnosis. However, Mr. Priem is not their enemy; the first time he did it as a reward for helping him and the second time it was in a last-ditch attempt to get out of a trap, and in both cases they wake up when the story in the illusionary world has reached its conclusion.
  • In the Star Trek Mirror Universe comics, Lotus eater machines are the preferred method of torture for the empire. The rebels and scientists think they are safe and helping to free the universe with secrets and inventions explained only to their closest family members... while in reality they are in a small room in a very heavily guarded prison.
  • This is the premise of the Bat Family Crossover Gothtopia, with the Lotus Eater Machine affecting everyone in Gotham City except the group of villains responsible, led by the Scarecrow. In Gothtopia, there is virtually no crime, Oswald Cobblepot is mayor, the Joker is just the logo of an ice cream company, and a white-clad Batman leads an organisation of brightly dressed heroes, including Selina Kyle in red-and-green as Catbird. Bruce's first indication that something isn't right is an increase in the number of suicides, as more and more people living "perfect lives" succumb to despair without ever realising why they're despairing.
    • It's interesting to note how different some of the reactions are to the other examples; Selina, in particular, realizes that while she wasn't completely happy as Catbird (and also free of her cat obsession), she's ambivalent whether being released from it was a good thing, even after knowing it was a lie.
  • American Born Chinese: When Jin was a young boy, he had a conversation with the wife of an herbalist his mother visited often, who told him that he could be anything he wishes as long as he's willing to forfeit his soul. In the present day, after a bad encounter with a popular (white) boy leads to him losing all of his friends, he dreams of the herbalist's wife, who tells him that he's met these requirements and transforms him into what he wants to be: a white boy named Danny. He lived in this form for several years, doing his best to resist the disguised Monkey King's attempts to pull him out of the metaphorical machine (though his disguised form being an Ethnic Scrappy named Chin-Kee may have something to do it), until a physical fight between the two forces the Monkey King to reveal who he truly his. He then finally convinces Jin to regain his true form and mend his broken relationships.
  • In issue 16 of the first Titans volume, the Fab Five Titans (Troia, Arsenal, Tempest, Nightwing, and Flash) are trapped in Limbo by the Gargoyle. He places the five adults in fake versions of their childhoods and they only have a slight sense that something is wrong. But the first one to actually break the illusion is Arsenal. The Gargoyle tried to create a version of Roy's life if his father hadn't died in Arizona, but what the Gargoyle couldn't do is create a version of Roy's Missing Mom. All Roy had to do was ask his father if "Mom will be home" and Roy Sr. couldn't come up with something to say. This is because Roy's mother is so fundamentally missing from his life that all he knows is that he had a mom the Gargoyle couldn't fool him. What's especially telling about this is that, all throughout the issue in Gargoyle's Limbo, Roy is the only one who is briefly able to turn back into an adult.
  • 2000 AD:
    • Anderson: Psi-Division: Hyven is a virtual reality system in Mega City One that millions of people use on a regular basis, some of them permanently logged in (or at least until their credits run out). It’s actually controlled by the Justice Department to cut down on crime in the city.
    • Tales of Telguuth: A king finds a meteorite which contains a scarab-like creature that attaches itself to his head. The creature gives him new tactical insights so that the king can conquer the rest of the world until he finally grows old. On his deathbed, the scarab tells him that it was all a dream and the king has been asleep for days so that it could implant its offspring into him. It's their "children" that will truly conquer the world.
  • In DC Comics Presents #57, it was revealed that the "Atomic Knights" stories from Strange Adventures were actually just a "simulation experiment designed to [explore] how an average soldier would react to a post-nuclear war situation." The "average soldier" in question was Gardner Grayle, the leader of the Atomic Knights.
  • In Gold Digger, Gina Diggers gets trapped in the Abliss, which bounces her around from deepest desire to deepest desire. After she escapes she runs into two former supervillains that spent so long in the Abliss that they thoroughly burnt out on their evil dreams and have to watch television to stave off suicidal boredom. Then they watch Diggers' thoughts which question the point of achieving your goals without challenge, realize what they miss is the feeling of accomplishment, and go straight back to supervillain mode.
  • A number of Druuna comics deal with human characters being trapped in a lifelike simulation so real that at some point they forgot that they were even in one to begin with. For example, Druuna is placed inside an endless dream of her old ruined city by the mind of the ship's former captain for centuries after he put her body into stasis until another ship would pick up his distress signal.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Mob Psycho 100, fanfic Surrender on No Sides has Mob's little brother Ritsu trapped for a year in a mind world where he is tormented every single day and in every single way possible. This world is worse than the one that Mob was originally trapped in canonically and leaves Ritsu with severe trauma and a heroine addiction.
  • In Spectacular Seven, Sunset Shimmer ends up in one of these called the Soul Lock, designed to trap the Ultimate Evil, Tirek. In her dream, Sunset is at her wedding day with Twilight Sparkle, but a small voice keeps telling her things aren't real. When Sunset realizes there are significant gaps in her memory as to how she got here - specifically, that she was just dating Twilight and that she hadn't even considering proposing to her yet - Sunset realizes it's all a fake and breaks free.
  • The premise of the iCarly fanfic iSwear is that Carly is either in one of these, or Unstuck in Time, or a mix of both.
  • In Ghosts of the Past, sequel of Child of the Storm, Dream of the Endless shows the ability to lock people in nightmarish versions of this when he's feeling particularly vindictive, ones so powerful that they physically affect the bodies of those that are locked in them, as when avenging Harry's treatment by the Red Room (one of the victims was described as looking like 'Gollum's uglier sister' afterwards, and that was just the start). It's horrifying enough that Loki feels he can't add anything to make it worse.
  • In The First Saniwa, Hizamaru's team are trapped in a kekkai that also has this effect, making them think they're home in the Citadel rather than still on a mission as they actually are.
  • In Power Girl story A Force of Four, Kara’s mind lived in a simulation for the duration of her decade-long trip to Earth.
    Kara: You know, Jimmy, I spent twenty years of my life—about fifty-eight of them, in your time—in a dream. In the Symbioship. There was no way I could have stayed sane on a rocket journey that took twenty years to complete. My father, Zor-L, he anticipated that and created the dream programming. I was dreaming for twenty years, with the computer making a simulation in which I... lived... I went to school, I met people, all based on real people my parents knew on Krypton, I did things, had adventures, fell in love—and the guys whom I fell in love with always had to leave. I never knew why. Then to find out it was part of a frabbing computer... great Rao, I almost hated Daddy. But I knew why he had to do it. I would have gone insane otherwise. We didn't know enough about suspended animation, and the spacewarp Kal's rocket went through had moved on.
  • In the Bleach fanfiction Orihime , Szael traps Ishida in one of these during the Hueco Mundo arc where he is killed over and over again, except for the last hallucination, where he is living with Orihime and his child by her in what is hinted to be a vision of the future, or one possible future.
  • An Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes has Denmark being ensnared by a Black Mercy and dreaming where he is living in the perfect world. Unfortunately for him, as the rest of the Nordics and other countries tries to wake him up, his perfect world descends into a horrifying nightmare, as the Black Mercy is slowly draining his life at the same time.
  • In Nobody Dies:
    • Shinji, Asuka, Mana, and Rei are trapped in one by Iruel. Shinji winds up in a high-school setting, Asuka is sent to a Magical Girl setting where her mother isn't a complete bitch, Mana is in a Dating Sim, and Rei is... On second thought, let's not even go there. Of course, it's IRUEL, the Angel of Terror, so things get worse. Shinji watches a fake Asuka go from normal to insane numerous times, Asuka is completely taken apart by her mother, who gives everything she took, her eyes, her hair, etc., to Uriel, Mana is hit by a truck again and again and again, given more cybernetic parts each time, until she is entirely a robot and goes on a killing spree of the virtual counterparts of her friends. No clue what, if anything, happened to Rei, though. When Ichi goes into the virtual reality to find the pilots, Iruel does the same thing to her.
    • A second case happens when Arael plunges the whole of Earth into a seven-week dream state. The exact reasons why she did this are not yet known, though only Shinji (through Lilith's meddling) and the Angels remember any of the dream. This was actually an Author's Saving Throw by Gregg to Retcon the entire fourth "season" of the fic, which was plagued with writing problems and was not well-enjoyed by the readers.
  • In Arc Of Sacrifices, a Harry Potter fanfiction featuring a Slytherin!Harry, Harry takes a Dark curse featuring this. Unlike some other incarnations of the trope, the perfect world in the curse doesn't turn into a nightmare, but it also takes an outside influence with knowledge of the Dark Arts (in this case Lucius Malfoy) to convince him to break the dream world.
  • One fan contribution to the Both Syllables series is a Whole Plot Reference to For the Man Who Has Everything, with Zim as Superman, Zurg as Mongul, and Dib, Lilo, XR, MALIK, and Kila as Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman.
  • In the Pony POV Series, Fluttershy's Superpowered Evil Side, Princess Gaia puts ponies under a spell, making them experience their own personal paradise. In a twist, she truly is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who does this to make everypony as happy as they possibly can be. The mane cast even gets drawn into it as well. Applejack's paradise is to live with her alternate reality family she saw looking into the Truth. Rarity's has Prince Blueblood turn out to be her Prince Charming after all. Rainbow Dash's has her become the leader of the Wonderbolts, rekindle her friendship with Gilda, destroy her old flight school, and marry Wonderbolts member Soarin' (Rainbow Dash has a lot of dreams...). Pinkie Pie's has her owning a theme park where parties go non-stop and her family even comes, with her parents becoming game show hosts (it's Pinkie Pie, what did you expect?). Twilight's has Spike never having to grow up and leave her, and her friends all move to Canterlot with her so she can be with both them and Celestia. Trixie's has her being Celestia's apprentice and ultimately becoming queen of Equestria, after which she does everything she can to help keep her family happy. Only Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Trixie are able to break free of their own accord, needing magic to free the others. In a sad twist, Applejack is completely aware that hers is an illusion since she became a Living Lie Detector, but really wishes it were real.
  • In Warrior's Secret, Nightmare traps Meta Knight in one of these, and it's where the final battle takes place.
  • In the Machinima A Link to the Smash Link is put into a dream state by Mewtwo's psychic powers, on Ganondorf's orders.
  • Chronomistress: Out of Time: Queen Chrysalis traps ponies in eternal, blissful hallucinations about being together with their love interest, so that she and her hive may feed on the victims's emotions.
  • In the 8th story of The Journey Of Graves series, Graves experiences this when he jumped in front of a crossbow bolt's line of fire to protect Princess Celesta. It turned out that the shot was loaded with a powerful drug called "Heart's Desire".
  • In The Cadanceverse, Nightmare Moon's final trap to stop anypony from reaching the Elements is one of these. It almost works, too, trapping five of the Musical 6 in their own personal paradises (Octavia gets a life of solitude to perfect her craft; Medley owns a prosperous business; Lyra marries Bonbon; Bluenote indulges her hedonistic desires and loafs about; Vinyl is the most famous DJ in Equestria and performs at all kinds of epic concerts). Only Fluttershy can resist, because she is too focused on caring for others to allow herself to rest in her own paradise.
  • The first trial to reach the Soluna Stone in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Daring Do and the Soluna Stone is to pass a field of Heart's Desire, the pollen of which has this affect — Twilight becomes Celestia's right-hoof mare, Trixie's act gets world renown, and Spike finds a whole cavern of gems all for himself. Honey snaps them out of it by pointing out how to achieve these dreams as presented in the illusions, they'd have to abandon their friends, which they can't bring themselves to do.
  • In the Puella Magi Madoka Magica fanfic A History of Magic, this is what happens when a girl attempts to wish away war or death or disease - they end up imagining a world like that, and transform from a lack of grief seeds.
  • The aptly-named Lemmy (or LEM) in the Pokémon fanfic Wings Have We, whose specialty is taking these blissful visions and mutating them into the victim's worst nightmares... of course, sometimes he skips the happy parts entirely and cuts directly to the torment.
  • The dreams the main characters are trapped in during the Circle Tower quest of Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Getting Back on Your Hooves, Checker Monarch draws the Mane Six into a Lotus-Eater Machine trap.
  • Wizrova traps the Links in one during the battle in the Water Temple in the The Legend of Zelda fanfic Linked Chronicles.
  • In the Mai-HiME fanfic Perfection is Overrated, Natsuki gets trapped inside Yukariko's Lotus-Eater Machine, and has an experience in which her parents are still alive and living with her, while she has also met all her friends at Fuuka Academy.
  • While trapped in the Dirac Sea in the Neon Genesis Evangelion/Warhammer 40,000 fanfic Shinji And Warhammer 40 K, Shinji spends some time in a strange alternate universe where Tokyo-3 is mostly intact and the battle against the Angels has been less devastating, but Misato is only a major, Rei is strangely robotic, and Asuka's constantly angry. Afterward, he worries if his exit destroyed it.
  • In the Wish Fulfillment arc of the Bleach/Code Geass crossover Soul Chess, Kasumi does this to several characters and, eventually, even the author.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Sweetie's Mansion, Sweetie gets trapped in one while Spiffy the butler controls her body on the outside to trap the unsuspecting Royal Guards and the Wonderbolts.
  • Inverted in the Naruto Peggy Sue fic Time and Again, where Naruto initially does not believe he has been transported to his 12-year old body, thinking it to be some kind of Lotus-Eater Machine instead.
  • The Circlet of Morpheus used as part of Doctor Doom's Evil Plan in the Marvel/DC crossover The Last Son.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel Continuation Fic The Nyazian Prophecies, Connor, Andrew, Oni and Jamie are trapped in one by Cyvus Vail.
  • In the Wicked/Return to Oz crossover The Shattering of Oz, Elphaba has been captured by the Nome King and is being slowly coerced into a Deal with the Devil through a tailor-made Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Party Never Ended, Pinkie gets trapped in one, and Twilight almost falls victim while trying to get her out.
  • In the Marvel/Yu-Gi-Oh! crossover Ultimate Re-Imaginings, all of 'Real World' was created to be Joey's perfect little world in an attempt to keep him out of the actual real world. It backfired because he just couldn't let himself go.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Friendship is Optimal presents an entire universe turning into this, as an AI thought experiment. Equestria Online is created to satisfy values through friendship and ponies, by an AI powerful enough to reverse-engineer the entire human mind. Even when it involves a video game console, specifically targeted NPCs and encounters make it so much more fulfilling than life that the game has to turn itself off so the players don't harm their own health. Once virtual reality and brain uploading are involved, players are placed in an environment where the local rules of the universe care about them, individually, having a good time. By the way, that "entire universe turned into" is literal. The AI turns several galaxies into computronium. Needless to say, this example has no escape clause.
  • In the A Certain Magical Index fic A Perfect World (here's the Nonlemon Version of the same fic), the heroes Touma Kamijou, Accelerator, and Shiage Hamazura wake up to find the world at peace and themselves living happily with their respective Unwanted Harems. Their memories have been altered so they believe it has always been this way, but they slowly begin to notice inconsistencies, like when Mugino cannot remember the date of her and Shiage's anniversary. The fic seems to be cancelled, but the author released an outline revealing that Aleister Crowley trapped the heroes and their girls in this illusion to get them out of his way, and that it was slowly killing them. Everybody manages to break free, but Touma is forced to let Maria Kumokawa go, as unlike the other girls, she had been an illusion created by Crowley all along. Before the fake world is destroyed and she disappears, she admits that she truly loved Touma.
  • This is even worse than usual in Pokéumans: if someone spends an hour in one of Pokextinction's dream simulation machines, they wake up brainwashed into Mr. X's ideals.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prince of Slytherin Dumbledore reveals that the original purpose of the Mirror of Erised was to harmlessly trap a possessing spirit in one of these, leaving the victim free and the ghost stuck in the mirror until all its desires had been imaginarily fulfilled, at which point it winked out of existence.
  • The PH Device in the Kim Possible fanfic A Period Of Silence. It traps you in another world and uses your deepest fears against you, to the point where one character even dies of a heart attack after being exposed to it. Even though it's never spelled out in the story, according to Word of God PH stands for "Personal Hell."
  • During the course of the Die Anstalt fanfic A Posse Ad Esse, Dr Wood perfects a Your Mind Makes It Real-style technique and wants to use it to create an inverse Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Austraeoh, Shell is disgusted when he finds out that Nightshade abducted a bunch of unicorn foals, chopped off their horns, and forced then into a Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • In Avatar: The Last Alicorn using dark magic (presumably) and the corruption of the elements of harmony, team avatar harmony is trapped in this while their physical bodies are trapped in stone. It usually takes them realizing something about their element to break out, or realizing where there's A Glitch in the Matrix.
    • Twilight's hell is where she lost all her true friends, withdrawing into herself and isolation in response.
    • Fluttershy's hell is where she's surrounded by darkness, and called a savior, but as the element of kindness, has nobody and nothing to be truly kind to.
    • Rainbow Dash's hell was where she was living in luxury with no need to help anymore, which would be a kind of kindness, but her warrior spirit chafed under this, and she broke out from it by realizing that her friends weren't being truly loyal to her by "shoving her aside".
    • Applejack's hell was where she went home to a peaceful farm with all her family again, but began down the path of dishonesty when she had her own Tragic Mistake in accidentally killing an anti-water nation farm inspector.
    • Pinkie Pie's hell was actually a Shout-Out to fake out episodes where the show before it was All Just a Dream like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Normal Again". Making all her silly knowledge and Shout-Out and Breaking the Fourth Wall seem like just things she knew before she got lost in her fantasies. Further, the entire world she was put in lacks color, joy and fun. And anyone new thinks she killed her sister so are afraid or angry and dismissive of her.
    • Rarity's hell is perhaps the cruelest of them all: It's a world where the water nation never went to war. Her mother isn't a warmonger, her father isn't dead, her sister never went insane, and she never got exiled or hurt. Thus, in order to escape it, Rarity would have to give up that.
  • In Believing Stories, Celestia wakes up as a human in an asylum; she initially believes that it is Discord's doing.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Black Queen, Red King, Changeling venom paralyses its victims and forces them to hallucinate visions of the people they love, often erotic visions, all the while digesting them.
  • The Soul Eater fanfic Breaking Point features an inverse Lotus-Eater Machine. In their Battle in the Center of the Mind, Medusa is able to trap Chrona inside his worst memory and make him relive it from the beginning, over and over, to weaken his soul so she can take his body.
  • It is implied in the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's fanfic Call Of Darkness, as early as the first arc, that the Summer and Winter Courts have been spiriting away Psychic Duelists from the Movement worldwide and putting them into Lotus Eater Machines. They do this by spreading word-of-mouth the fact that the Courts can take away "pain of the heart". Since a majority of the Arcadia Movement suffers a modicum of PTSD and also has no confidence in Seika as a competent leader, this is the main reason why Psychics defect from the Movement or choose to side with the Courts.
    • And it's the Summer Court that mostly does this, for reasons yet to be explained.
    • The Winter Court is known to keep about sixty-plus of these Psychics. One of them, Suiren Yukina, certainly seems happy to stay with the Winter Court.
  • In Chaos Card Captor Sakura's second chapter, Sakura and Kero are trapped in a inverse Lotus-Eater Machine in the form of the Nightmare Card, which plays out extreme forms of Sakura's insecurities and feeds off of them.
  • In the Danganronpa fanfic Despair's Last Resort, the entirety of Paradise Resort is one, serving a similar purpose to the second game's Jabberwock Island.
  • The Regalia pull this on Twilight in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic You Can Fight Fate. They think of it as their reward to her, and the others, for coming pretty close to what they think is a perfect world.
  • This is what the bad guys' plan on trapping everyone in the Massively Multiplayer Crossover fic Epic Dream.
  • In the Naruto/My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic crossover Friendship Contract, Rarity has a technique that creates effects similar to a Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • In the Superman fanfic Inviolate, Lex Luthor goes through sixteen subjective years of increasingly 'perfect' realities as his mind pushes itself to its limits trying to make him escape.
  • This happens in the fanfic Khyaid, under the disguise of Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. All of Equestria is implied to be Wayward Horizon.
  • The Book of Darkness traps Fate in one in the Lyrical Nanoha/My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic crossover Magical Pony Lyrical Twilight although she is not convinced that it is reality.
  • Colonel Hein puts Adam Jensen in a "Dream Catcher Machine" in the Mass Effect/Deus Ex: Human Revolution crossover Mass Effect Human Revolution.
  • In the MapleStory fanfic Of The Dragon Of The Stars, the Clocktower guardians’ have a Lotus Eater clock, which Akera actually manages to overpower and defeat while inside it.
  • In Pokémon Sepia, Krystal Spectrum experiences this during the time she goes shadow.
    • This is also the fic's explaination for the plot of Pokémon Trozei! (which Perfection gets trapped in—albeit with Daebi puppeting his comatose body around. When the Reset occurs, the puppeteering from a temporal being is arguably one of the few things to not be erased).
  • In the W.I.T.C.H. fanfic Ripples, Will spends most of the story convinced that Phobos has trapped her in one as part of a complicated scheme to gain the Heart of Kandrakar from her. It takes Allora crushing the Heart and nearly killing her to convince her it's real.
  • The Mirror of Despair traps Tohru in an inverse Lotus-Eater Machine in the Jackie Chan Adventures fanfic Shadows Awakening, a possible Bad Future where Jade had a Face–Heel Turn after defeating Wong and killed Jackie, Uncle and Viper, and then took over the world.
  • In the Lilo & Stitch/Star Trek crossover Starlight, Jumba initially assumes the Serenity's sickbay is an illusion generated by the Borg to ease the process of assimilation.
  • In the Bleach/Tales of Symphonia crossover Tales of Bleach: Unreal Society, the characters are placed under the influence of the Derris Emblem by Yggdrasil.
  • In the Kirby fanfic The Dream Land Story, Dark Matter possesses him and puts him into a hellish dreamlike state, akin to a inverse Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • The Circlet of Morpheus in the Superman/X-Men: Evolution crossover The Last Son is one, used as part of Doctor Doom's Evil Plan.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic alternate universe fic Direction, the Changelings use illusions to trap the Mane Six in one when they caught in the llama temple, based on their greatest desires, but since Pinkie has everything in her life that she could want, it doesn't work on her and she's able to free the others.
    • Scootaloo stumbles into a mild version when the Crusaders end up separated in the abandoned castle — she ends up wandering a seemingly endless maze of identical hallways, only to realize something's wrong, and discovering that she's actually in an old dungeon cell with an illusion on it.
  • One of Nightmare Moon's plans in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic alternate universe fic Twin Students of the Sun was to trap the ponies in a dream where all their wishes came true.
  • In the Digimon V-Tamer 01/Digimon Adventure crossover The Teacher of All Things, MaloMyotismon uses his Illusion Mist attack to trap the Digidestined in their own personal fantasies.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Twilight Child, Twilight Twinkle winds up getting attacked by a Black Mercy, which shows her visions of what she'd have been like if she'd gotten everything she wanted when she was a foal.
  • Chapter 33 of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica fanfic To the Stars takes place in Asaka's self-imposed one after Alice's death, set before the events of the story.
  • Essentially Anya's ability in the fanfic Touhou Tsukuribanashi. By writing in a certain book, then reading it aloud to her victim, she can transfer them to a dream world based on the story she created. However, the target has to meet certain criteria (like sharing a name, goal, etc. as the main character of her story). In her earlier days, Anya used it to write her own little stories about the Daidouji's.
  • In the Super Why! fanfic Super Readers' Biggest Adventure, Jackson, Whyatt, and Lexicon get trapped in Lotus Eater Machines - Jackson during his flashback story, and Whyatt and Lexicon when Chaos traps them both in The Dark Prophecies.
  • This is implied at several points to be happening to Cevn in the Ah! My Goddess fanfic Trial by Tenderness, although given the nature of some events, we're never entirely sure if its All Just a Dream or not.
  • In the Digimon 02 fanfic Zero 2: A Revision, Belialmyotismon employes a inverse Lotus-Eater Machine by delivering the Digidestined's own fears, which, as Shaun noted, is the complete opposite of Malomyotismon. Shaun eventually snaps them out of it.
  • In Hearts and Minds, Nocturne traps Danny and Sam in a dream world where their memories of each other have been sealed away, with them in danger of never waking up.
  • The main question in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Asylum is whether the cartoon is a delusion of Twilight's or whether she's currently stuck in a dream created by some villain. Both sides have their hints.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: During the final arc, the Nightmare traps five of the six Bearers in a mental illusion of happiness. Night Blade, however, No Sells it because he feels that he doesn't deserve happiness - he believes he deserves Tartarus for his nearly killing Page earlier. The others also break out due to other key mistakes the Nightmare made in their own illusions.
  • In this Invader Zim fanfic, Zim traps Gaz in a virtual simulation of a world where Dib doesn't exist, meaning there's no one there to annoy her or interrupt her eating of pizza or playing of video games. Then Zim turns it into an Ironic Hell, where all the food she eats tastes like pizza as well and every game is ridiculously easy to win. The sheer monotony of this soon drives Gaz crazy.
  • The Master's wonderfully convoluted plan in The End of the World includes trapping the Doctor's companion in one of these. It Makes Sense in Context (at least for the guy who gets dizzy if he tries to walk in a straight line).
  • In Ages of Shadow, Drago traps Jade in a double-layered one of these. In the first dream world, she's still a child and having a series of never-ending adventures just like the ones she had in canon. Fortunately her son Jack manages to enter the dream and point out all the things that make no sense, like the long hair Jade has which she didn't in real life, and how no one's aging no matter how much time passes. Realizing this breaks the dream but sticks Jade in the next one (while kicking Jack out), which is a world where the Magus King never enacted the Evil Plan that inadvertently led to Jade's fall. Here, she's still living a normal life, and even has a baby with Paco. Then her subconscious manifests as Jackie to help her realize that it's all a dream, by bringing the Talismans (which should be stuck in the Netherworld) and, most importantly, asking Jade her baby's name, which she doesn't know. This helps her accept the world's a fake, and she then has to fight her way past the illusions of all her loved ones in order to reach the Section 13 Vault, where her Yade Khan body is; she has to let it eat her, symbolically letting go of her Jade Chan identity, in order to fully wake up.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim: During the climax of Season 1, Norlock traps all the other characters in one of these in order to keep them out of the way while he goes after Project Domination. It almost works, except Dib's is too much like the canon example Zim put him in, which Dib realizes, and causes him to start noticing all the things that make no sense. This wakes him up, allowing him to free the others.
  • Invoked in Peggy Sue fanfic Warp. When Victoria Dallon wakes up and finds she has somehow returned to the past before her boyfriend's death and the end of the world, Vicky quickly wonders if she is trapped in a psychic illusion.
    None of this could be trusted. Nevertheless, I got out of bed and started to pace around the room, taking stock of what I'd supposedly been gifted. The Wretch gone, Dean alive, my home intact, an apparent chance for a do-over; it was as though someone had decided to give me everything I had most wanted during those long months of confinement.
    Except nothing was really that easy. I had spent four and a half years struggling to rebuild myself, to come to a kind of peace with my past, and to forge my way ahead. Every step of that progress had been earned, fought for and won by dint of labor and pain.
    My best guess was that I was under a master effect that absorbed the subject in a world of their own making. I didn't know how I could break it, since it seemed to be using my knowledge against me.
  • In Forever Dreaming, Endless Nightmare, Naruto is trapped in a dream where he has become the Hokage and is Happily Married to Sakura, all orchestrated by the Kyuubi so that she can keep Naruto to herself.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The movie references the Trope Namers in the Lotus Hotel & Casino. The heroes eat little lotus-shaped cakes that lull them away from their mission for several days. And they were lucky—others had been blissfully gaming the night away for forty or more years without so much as aging, let alone realizing how much time had passed.
  • The Dust Factory: The main character nearly drowns and is transported to a comforting and dreamlike version of the real world where time stands still for all who end up there. They could easily stay, until the end of time if they so wished, lest they become unafraid to get dusted and return to their real lives.
  • In Labyrinth, this happens to Sarah twice over. The first time is the result of her eating a magic peach; her memory is erased and she is transported into a literal crystal ballroom where Jareth the Goblin King tries to woo her at a masked ball. The atmosphere becomes increasingly creepy; she realizes something's wrong (just as the clock strikes twelve — significant because her quest must be completed by the time it strikes thirteen) and manages to escape by smashing the crystal walls... but when she lands in a junkyard, she still hasn't regained her memory. A Junk Lady then lures her into a perfect replica of her bedroom at home (which initially makes Sarah believe her journey was All Just a Dream), albeit with all her favorite childhood toys and whatnot. The replica is a little too perfect though, because a copy of the play that inspired her adventure in the first place is there and jogs her memory; as Sarah realizes It's All Junk and that she has to rescue her baby brother, her friends arrive and the room's walls are literally torn down by tumbling rocks.
  • The Matrix: Agent Smith and the Architect both claim that this was the original form of the Matrix, but it ended up causing mass brain failures in many of the humans who experienced it, the implication being that human beings just aren't psychologically and/or physiologically able to live in a perfect world. The Architect then changed the program to reflect the human need for suffering more closely, but it still wasn't realistic enough and was rejected by too many people who were plugged into it, until the Oracle stumbled upon the real missing element: choice.
  • In Minority Report, the prisoners in containment are supposedly in virtual realities where all their wishes come true. Since the prisoners never actually managed to commit any crimes, having been prevented by Pre-Crime operatives, they're not being punished. They're being conditioned to never want to commit the crime. It's a popular theory that Anderton himself suffers this fate after he's arrested, and the film's ending is his dream within containment.
  • Star Trek: Generations gives us the Nexus, where, in Guinan's words, it's as though joy were something tangible, that you can wrap around you like a blanket. "Once you're there, all you'll want is to stay in the Nexus." The villain decides it's worth the sacrifice of several solar systems to get back in. Picard nearly agrees until Guinan talks him out of it, and Kirk loves it until he finds out that nothing he does there matters.
  • The original Total Recall (1990) revolves around this, giving an ending with a "I am the enemy" revelation. Or was he his own worst enemy?
  • Vanilla Sky, a remake of Open Your Eyes, ends with the revelation that the protagonist actually committed suicide early on and was cryogenically frozen and put into a state of lucid dreaming where he lives out his fantasy life, gets the girl and gets an operation which fixes his disfigurement... however, the dream turns into a nightmare which culminates in him accidentally killing his girlfriend. At the end he jumps off a building in order to wake himself up despite being given the choice to have everything fixed so that the dream would be happy again.
  • In X2: X-Men United, Jason Stryker is a mutant with this power, who uses it on Professor Xavier in an effort to break his will. At one point, he shows Xavier a vision where he is able to walk again.
  • Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled: In a last ditch effort to get his third wish the Djinn offers Lisa a perfect fantasy world where all her desires can come true. She manages to reject him.
  • Combined with Cruel Twist Ending in the early-'90s Fangoria Films release Mindwarp. In a post-apocalyptic Earth, the majority of the surface consists of large areas of radioactive wastelands, inhabited largely by violent mutant "Crawlers". The remaining humans, a.k.a. "Dreamers", live in a single biosphere known as Inworld, and spend their time plugged into a computer living out virtual-reality fantasies; while retaining barely enough volition to take care of their basic physical needs. One Dreamer rebels and is exiled from Inworld, fights Crawlers, and searches for her father who was similarly exiled for rebelling. In the end she encounters multiple layers of Dream Within a Dream, as she repeatedly "wakes up" from virtual-reality fantasies; and is ultimately revealed as just another apathetic Dreamer.
  • Happens in Inception, where one character even runs this kind of place for people. Cobb earlier had warned Ariadne of using real life memories in the dream world because you might think that reality itself is another dream. The ending leaves itself open to whether the whole thing was one for Cobb. The film stops before we see the spinning top fall.
  • Repo Men: Remy is stuck in one of these for the last third of the movie, due to suffering brain damage from a hard blow to the head.
  • Repo Chick: in the last scene of the film, we find out that everything in Pixxi's reality has been happening in the table-top train set in the military command bunker.
  • In End of Days, Satan offers Jericho a recreation of his deceased wife and child to win him over, but Jericho rejects it because he realizes it's ultimately not real. Satan turns the illusion nightmarish in response by forcing Jericho to relive his family's murder and unable to stop it.
  • In Contact, when the heroine is knocked out, she awakes in her personal paradise. Apparently, the aliens used her childhood painting and the image of her late father as the setting for their first contact.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, when confronted by Kaulder about her involvement in Evil Plan, Danique blows some sort of magical gas in his face, making him hallucinate his happy memories about his family, intending to imprison him while he's out. It takes Chloe's Dream Walker skills to bring him back.
  • In Suicide Squad (2016), Enchantress ensnares the team in her illusions. We only see four of them. Deadshot kills Batman, Harley Quinn is married to the Joker and they have children, Rick Flagg is in bed with his girlfriend June Moone, and El Diablo is living happily with his wife and children. El Diablo is able to break free and wake up the others, because he accepted that his wife and children are dead.
  • Upgrade: At the end, to prevent Grey from wrestling control of his body away from STEM, the AI traps his mind in a dream where he's well and his wife is still alive.
  • A subversion in Captain America: Civil War: Tony unveils the BARF, which projects virtual reality simulations to let you relive moments with dead relatives, giving you the chance to work out psychological baggage that went unresolved in life. Subjects know full well it's an illusion and we see no evidence of people getting trapped in them, yet it's apparently very therapeutic.

  • The Trope Namer are the Lotus Eaters in Homer's Odyssey (chapter IX, 90-104), who offer the crew lotuses that are so narcotically delicious that those who eat it get addicted to it, forgetting about their desire to go home.
  • Used at least twice by Alfred Bester, usually not via virtual-reality machines (or the equivalent in sophistication) but with actors and (presumably) various more mundane aids:
    • In The Stars My Destination, the failure Gully Foyle is put in a fantasy where he's rich, famous, and loved, and all his remembered past is part of a psychosis he's struggling to overcome; the goal is not to imprison him but to wring valuable information out of him. Fortunately, he's too stubborn to accept it.
    • In the short story "5,217,009", Jeffrey Halsyon is dumped into successive science-fiction-themed juvenile fantasies: in the first, he's the last fertile man on Earth, with all that implies. This turns out to be an unorthodox method of psychiatric treatment.
  • The drug thionite is this in E. E. “Doc” Smith's Lensman universe - the user goes into a "thionite dream" and experiences the fulfillment of their every desire, noble and base. Unfortunately the psychostimulant effect creates tolerance rather quickly and requires increasing quantities for the same effect, while the physiological effects of said doses add up rather quickly - a second dose taken immediately after the first dream WILL kill you, and thionite sniffers make sure they lock their stash up before taking a hit (so that the effort will bring them to their senses). Eventually the dose you take in order to keep having the expected effect will do the same. Thionite sniffers do not have long lives. Kim Kinnison turns an enemy base into the embodiment of this trope by dumping a massive dose into the air purifiers.
  • City of Heavenly Fire has a demon which can do this. However, its imagined worlds always have a flaw, as it always leaves something out (and in one case thought a good guy was evil).
  • Ray Bradbury:
    • "Mars Is Heaven!": Part of The Martian Chronicles, this story starts out as a sort of Ontological Mystery in the beginning. A crew from Earth land on Mars, which looks like Ohio at the turn of the 20th century. However, their long lost dead relatives start appearing, and everyone gets lost in the excitement of seeing old faces again. It has a Downer Ending: the residents of the town are telepathic, shape-shifting Martians who put up the facade to throw the spacemen off guard. It works: that night, just as the Captain is beginning to realize this, his "brother" turns into an alien and stabs him to death. The same thing happens all over town. The next day, they have a funeral for the spacemen... and then take on their true forms and gleefully tear the ship apart.
    • "Here There Be Tygers": Three space explorers lands on an uncharted planet which turns out to be a beautiful, idyllic paradise which seems to cater to there every need. Two of the crewmen realize that it must be a trap, and leave, but the third insists that it must be genuine and stays behind. As the two leave, they see natural disasters ravage the surface and the ecosystem tear itself apart... which is actually an illusion generated by the living planet, which is angry at them leaving; the third astronaut remains in a paradise.
  • In Arthur C. Clarke's novella The Lion Of Comarre, the protagonist discovers that "Comarre", a rumored place that is occasionally sought out by people who are never seen again, is a robotic Lotus Eater Machine facility. The government tries to keep the truth hidden, and to keep people away — but not very hard, as it's considered a good safety valve for those who would otherwise be disruptive.
  • Used more-or-less in William Gibson's Neuromancer. The hacker Case keeps getting pulled into hyper-realistic simulations by the AI he's supposed to free. The longest which was actually caused by the AI's rival/counterpart lasts several subjective days and reunites him with his murdered girlfriend; the Machine breaks down, though, since he's just as miserable and lonely with her as without.
  • In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, the test for becoming Accepted is to go through an artifact that does this three times. The dream world (Or Was It a Dream?) takes many forms, sometimes horrifying, sometimes perfect, sometimes prophetic. To pass each round of the test, they must pass through an exit door that appears only once, at the time when they are least able or willing to use it.
    • Possibly the entire universe. Multiple dimensions, and the time just keeps repeating in a cycle. Even people's lives keep renewing in a reincarnation, while trapped in the World Of Dreams in the mean time.
  • The Pendragon Adventure by DJ MacHale: the territory of Veelox has Lifelight, a sort of virtual reality where people can live perfect lives. The world outside decays into a ghost town because of this. The titular Reality Bug is created to make the illusions less idealistic, but it has the unintended and VERY unwanted effect of actually killing people. Unfortunately, Saint Dane's plan all along was to have the bug deactivated. Bad ending.
  • Accelerando by Charles Stross: Some Sufficiently Advanced Aliens discover an Islamic scholar, and become interested in his beliefs. So they decide to throw him into a virtual reality version of Paradise, complete with 72 virgins. He responds by locking himself in the highest tower he can find and praying, as he knows immediately this isn't Fluffy Cloud Heaven; he's a scholar, his idea of paradise is infinite knowledge straight from the most omniscient source around. Interesting in that this is the sort of Lotus Eater Machine that you can't break out of, even if you know it's not real. He has to be rescued by someone outside.
  • In the novel The Last Temptation of Christ, this was Satan's last attempt. Satan gives him a vision of a peaceful life with Mary Magdelene. Jesus rejects it to die on the cross and redeem humanity.
  • Part of a minor subplot in the novel House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds. One character plays in a virtual reality game which malfunctions and replaces his personality with that of his game character. Eventually he has to be wired permanently into the machine as he can't function properly outside it any more.
    • Reynolds' short story Beyond the Aquila Rift has an adrift spaceship that gets rescued by a repair station. The crew can't go back home, but they seem to have a decent thing going at the station after all, so the main character can't really complain. He eventually figures out it isn't real - he's being kept in suspended animation by a benevolent alien entity, who's built a pleasant virtual reality from his memories. The alien confesses, but insists it's doing it for the human's own mental well-being, as he can't handle reality. He insists he can, and he wants to see the real truth. The alien sorrowfully complies, and in a rare exception to the usual workings of the trope it's proven to be very right. Cue Reset Button, as the alien resets the virtual reality to prevent the human from going mad.
  • In John Aegard's short story Feng Burger, the main characters inhabit a shared lotus eater machine universe, while in the outside world their bodies slowly dehydrate. It is left unclear whether they go on living in the fantasy forever even after their bodies die
  • In Dan Abnett's Ghostmaker. The Tanith 1st, a regiment of light infantry are fighting a regular enemy when they are suddenly placed under a psychic illusion where they imagine they are on their homeworld. This is important, as said homeworld was destroyed when the Tanith were first formed into a unit and were forced to evacuate the planet against all their wishes. The illusion is intended to make them fight harder by touching on what was most dear to them. As a result, the illusion gave the Tanith the chance to defend their homeworld that was forever denied to them. It works spectacularly well, as they defeat a force that outnumbered them a 1000 to 1 with only one casualty.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians has the Lotus Hotel and Casino, named for the Greek Trope Namer.
    • An interesting twist is that, apparently, the magic, unlimited gift cards that the hotel staff constantly hand out aren't limited to working just inside the casino. When the main characters manage to escape and hail a taxi, they use one of the cards as payment. Its amount on the card scanner eventually prints out "Infinity."
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms has a non-literal version of this be "Plan B" when Sun Quan and Zhou Yu's plot capture Liu Bei under the guise of an arranged marriage to Sun Quan's sister goes sour when the marriage, thanks to the intervention of their father-in-law and Sun Quan's mother, and as advisor Zhang Zhao put it, "Liu Bei began life in a humble position and for years has been a wanderer. He has never tasted the delights of wealth." Unfortunately for them, Zhuge Liang saw the whole thing coming a year away, and thus the second of his three "schemes in a bag" (literally) was to have Zhao Yun snap Liu Bei out of it. Oddly enough, it appears that a year away was as long as it took for Zhao Yun to actually remember that scheme # 2 existed... * facepalm*
  • A Captain Future villain named Ru Ghur discovered a type of radiation capable of doing that. He denied it was anything bad, but people were apparently a bit too desperate to get another dose.
  • The Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone appears to have become an unintentional example of this. It only shows an image of someone's greatest desire, but "Men have wasted away in front of it, even gone mad" indulging in the fantasy. Dumbledore stops Harry from becoming one of them.
  • In the Animorphs side-story The Ellimist Chronicles, the main character finds himself in a dream world created by a semi-sentient sponge called "Father." It turns out that out of his entire race, he is now the only surviving member, and all the people he meets in the dream are the resurrected memories of the dead that Father had captured from his ship. When he has children in his Lotus Eater world, they only appear to him when he thinks of them. Unlike most Lotus Eater Machines, the Ellimist knows he's in a dream world, but he still has to figure a way out of it.
  • In The City of the Iron Fish by Simon Ings the protagonists discover they are in a virtual environment by trying to leave. There's no edge, but the world becomes less with each step they take. The horror is that they lessen too with each step: from seeming human to wooden doll with metal joints to a child's sketch of a man. The City becomes ghastly place: the controls have been lost, reduced to prayers. And this fishbowl world just doesn't have enough memes in the end to stave off madness...
  • While most Vurt feathers (blue ones are G-rated, pink ones are pornographic, black ones are video nasties) aren't inescapable enough to be examples of this trope, yellow ones can only be escaped by surviving to the end of the scenario. And the rare multi-coloured feather "English Voodoo" contains the yellow feather "Curious Yellow".
  • The titular machine in Kurt Vonnegut's The Euphio Question gives such pleasure to listeners that they ignore everything else.
  • In the Back Story of John C. Wright's The Golden Age, Daphne Prime "dream-drowned" herself in such a world, such that she would, if woken up, regard the waking world as a dream and the dream as reality. At the end of The Golden Transcedence, she reveals that she had had "true dreams" so that she would, indeed, see how she affected her husband.
  • In The Unincorporated Man widespread addiction to virtual reality leads to the collapse of Western Civilization while Nuclear War ends Eastern civilization. Alaskans eventually rebuild but require all citizens of what eventually becomes the Terran Confederation to experience a VR sim exposing the horrors of the addiction. The actual methods sound similar to those in Inception.
  • In The History of the Galaxy series, the logrs are miniature alien computers/storage devices in crystal form. Each logr can hold a person's mind in active form and was originally intended by the Logrians as a way to live on after death, spending eternity in contemplation. When humans get a hold of these, they quickly realize that an eternity of thinking is not enough for a human. The environment inside a logr looks and feels real. It is formed from the person's memories. However, since the mind has no body at this point, there are no emotions either (they're caused by chemicals, after all), just raw memories all recalled with perfect clarity, which can turn each person's paradise into hell if he or she wasn't a nice person in life. While it is possible to copy a dead person's mind back into a cloned body, this is specifically forbidden by the Logrians who fear immortality (with good reason).
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Slithering Shadow, Conan the Barbarian stumbles on a city full of black lotus eaters who prefer their dreams.
    You have heard of the black lotus? In certain pits of the city it grows. Through the ages they have cultivated it, until, instead of death, its juice induces dreams, gorgeous and fantastic. In these dreams they spend most of their time. Their lives are vague, erratic, and without plan. They dream, they wake, drink, love, eat and dream again. They seldom finish anything they begin, but leave it half completed and sink back again into the slumber of the black lotus.
  • In the Shannara novel Antrax, Walker Boh is captured by the power-crazed supercomputer Antrax and forced into an artificial reality where he's forced to use his magic to defend himself. He's led to believe that he will escape eventually by the simulation, all the while having his use of magic feed Antrax more energy. He can't escape the simulation by his own power alone, either.
  • The Opal by Ivan Kireyevsky is built on an attempt to defeat an invincible king that way. In the end, the king loses his kingdom, all his treasures, and even access to the visions. He doesn't care about the two former, but the loss of the latter would have driven him into suicide if not for the fear of losing the memories of it.
  • Hologram Fun World, a vacation destination in Galaxy of Fear, has elements of this. The holograms span all human senses and can make it hard to tell what's real or simulated. When offered a chance at a holographic recreation of Alderaan (Their home planet, which was destroyed by the Death Star), Tash and Zak don't want to take it. Later they're swept into more nightmarish scenarios.
  • In The Futurological Congress by Stanisław Lem there are layers upon layer of this. Drug-induced hallucinations are used to give the population the illusion of living in a lush paradise world, while the real world is cold, overcrowded, and dying. And then it turns out that that was probably All Just a Dream induced by a massive dose of drugs inflicted on the narrator at the beginning of the book!
  • In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, the changelings are completely trapped in the delusion that they are living out Fairy Tales as the heroes and heroines. Tom is less deluded but still demands to know why Jenny thinks he would leave being the Queen's lover for a job in a second-rate orchestra eking out a living. Jack brings up the Human Sacrifice aspects.
  • In The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect, humanity has spent at least the last six hundred years in a simulated universe where they can not die, and can have anything they wish for. Prime Intellect won't necessarily make life as enjoyable as possible, but its response to every voiced desire gets pretty close. That includes a voiced desire to have the neurons responsible for pleasure directly stimulated. The main character spends quite some time trying to get free.
  • Raymond Z. Gallun made Lotus-Eater Machines central to one short story and one novel.
    • In "The Lotus-Engine" (1940) space explorers fall into the inadvertent trap of an alien machine which offers them an illusion of paradise. Since they receive neither food nor water while victims of the illusion, they must break its spell quickly if they hope to survive.
    • In The Eden Cycle (1974) alien transmissions teach 21st-century humanity to build a vast supercomputer virtual reality generator, complete with life support for the users, which enable its users to live immortal imaginary lives. Within a few centuries humanity disappears into its collective navel: many millennia later, the protagonists become bored with their virtual Eden and attempt to recolonize the now-fallow surface of the planet.
  • In Those That Wake, Mike has a vision where he just beats up Man in Suit and saves the world. He gets famous, rich, has a supermodel wife... but is told his child is worthless and it gets it from his side of the family. This drives him even further into hopelessness.
  • In More Than This, Seth eventually remembers that the "real world" in which he died was a simulation built as an escape from the actual real world.
  • In Bubble World, Bubble World is this, as students take memory blockers before entering. When Freesia doesn't take hers and tries to reveal what she knows, her Bubble World account is put in jeopardy.
  • At the end of Halo Saint'sTestimony, the AI Iona, who has been petitioning to be recognized as a sentient being, is placed in stasis in an eternal dream state. She's led to believe this is just a temporary shutdown until her case is reviewed, but inside forever relives her Dreams of Flying. The AI that created her simulation, Black-Box, justifies his lie to her as necessary, saying telling her the truth would be comparable to a human being told he could enter heaven if he gave up all his memories.
  • In The Nekropolis Archives, the stasis fields employed by the vampire Orlock to contain people he finds interesting trap the subjects in a pleasant illusory fantasy.
  • One of the perambulations in the Spellsinger novel The Path of the Perambulator giver Jon-Tom and his companions an illusion of their greatest dream; for Clothahump the turtle wizard it's a vast library; for Sorbl the alcoholic owl it's a lake of booze; Dorcas the hinny sees an endless field of clover; Mudge the Kavorka Man otter sees a group of beautiful female otters; Colin the koala, a huge eucalyptus forest. Jon-Tom himself thinks he's back on Earth as the world's greatest rock star, and it's strumming the duar under the impression that he's on stage that makes him accidentally spellsing himself out of it.
  • A Certain Magical Index has a variation where: (a) the world is actually real, not a dream or virtual reality; (b) the world is meant to convince the victim to commit suicide. Othinus traps Touma in the "Omega World," where everyone is happy and safe without his intervention. She claims that he has to die to allow this world to keep existing, otherwise his presence will lead to its destruction. What makes this worse is that while Touma knows intellectually that he should keep fighting (since Othinus has no reason to preserve this world), he can't bring himself to destroy a seemingly-perfect world. Only external intervention keeps him from committing suicide and convinces him to resist.
  • In Simon Kurt Unsworth's Thomas Fool novels, Heaven is one giant Lotus-Eater Machine for the good souls that inhabit it, as they experience whatever happiness they imagine. As a detective on loan from Hell, Thomas Fool isn't affected by this and so he finds Heaven to be a lonely and somewhat disappointing paradise with many bigoted angels and souls lost in sleep. OTOH, Heaven is still magnitudes better than Hell, where damned souls suffer boredom and frustration during the times when they're not suffering from gang rapes by scorching demons or spending their days being force-fed shit before crapping it out and using their hands to till the manure into soil.
  • In Grant Naylor's Red Dwarf Novels, The Game qualifies as a Lotus-Eater Machine. Originally advertised as a video game that's "Better Than Life!", The Game is actually an addictive virtual reality system; once you're in, you can't get out, because The Game protects itself and makes it impossible for you to remember that you're in it. The only way to leave The Game is to want to leave, and to imagine an exit to go back to the real world. Trying to pull people out of The Game (by unplugging the wires in their brains) results in instant death by shock.
  • A bizarre in-universe example in ATL: Stories from the Retrofuture: the so-called Dreamtech Helmet that appears in The Social Media Killer is deliberately designed to help its users lucid dream and achieve this. Of course, its main function was somewhat different in reality...
  • In "The Eyes of the Overworld", one of the Dying Earth tales, the titular magic eye-cusps are worn by the inhabitants of Smolod, causing them to perceive their squalid huts as palaces, their coarse victuals as gourmet foods, and their own filthy, repulsive bodies as godlike. An unusual example, in that the folk of Smolod know (though they let themselves ignore the fact) that they're really living in squalor, but are so eager to savor this trope's illusions that they slave away for decades provisioning the village, merely for the promised opportunity to inherit a deceased resident's eye-cusps.
  • John D MacDonald's 1950 story Spectator Sport had a scientist invent time travel and travel 400 years into the future. He's surprised to find that society is little different from when he left, only more run down except for the vehicles owned by World Senseways. Unfortunately he's pulled into one of those vehicles and lobotomised so he can be hooked up to virtual reality. A regional director of World Senseways finds out about this too late to correct the mistake. He can't send the scientist back as he believes more will follow (he believes they have the perfect world, free of war and social conflict), so he 'compassionately' decides to hook him up permanently, which is "as close to Heaven as a man can get."

  • Opeth, what with being lead by a savvy fellow, have "The Lotus Eater"
  • Nick Cave has a song called 'Night of the Lotus Eaters' on Dig Lazarus Dig!!! which seems to entirely be following this trope, a character sleeping through some kind of apocalypse. Of course being by Nick Cave, that might totally not be the case.
  • The Eagles' Hotel California is about a hotel that turns out to be one. Maybe.
    "We're all just prisoners here
    Of our own device"
  • "Frozen" by Celldweller features a person who has fantasies about a beautiful seductress, but he never wants to leave.
  • Foster the People has "Lotus Eater", a song about a woman living in a "perfect" façade that hides her inner suffering.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The concept of Solipsism is that the only thing that is real is "the mind" (which is to say, the person reading this) and that "the mind" created the universe as an illusion to protect itself from the horror of the void. A self imposed LEM if you think of it that way.
  • Buddhism essentially purports that the universe we inhabit is this.
  • For centuries, thanks in part to the writings of Marco Polo, legend had it that the medieval sect of Nizari Ismailis (hashashim) were brainwashed to lay down their lives for the cult via a low-tech Lotus-Eater Machine. New recruits would be drugged unconscious, then awaken in a "paradise" garden full of luxurious feasts and beautiful women, only to be "restored to life" after a night's indulgence with the promise of a return to that place of pleasure upon death. The banquets, garden, and female companionship were, of course, all set up in advance by the cult's leaders, the better to ensure the recruits' compliance with their often-suicidal tasks as assassins. (Better understanding of Nizari beliefs about the afterlife, plus the conspicuous absence of any such garden in or near the real sect's historical base of operations, have helped to debunk this account.)

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition supplement The Illithiad. The Microcosm psionic power allows an illithid to take over a victim's mind and make them think they have been transported to a paradise-like fantasy world. In fact, they're just standing around not doing anything. The power negates all normal sensory input and the victim can only be brought out of it if they can realize that what their senses are experiencing is false.
  • Princess: The Hopeful has this as a major plot point; since the titular Princesses have Born-Again Immortality, making it impossible to kill them off permanently, the servants of the Darkness prevented them from coming back by trapping the majority of their souls in a literal Dream Land, then putting Warden in charge of casting illusions to convince them they were still in the real world, effectively turning them into a Sealed Good in a Can. The Queens have recently overthrown their Wardens, allowing their Princesses to reincarnate once again in the real world, but travelling back to the Dreamlands is still risky.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has Slaanesh's realm, composed of concentric rings known as the Six Circles of Seduction. Each of them tempts anyone who enters with a different carnal sin, but stopping even for a moment to indulge in any of it will leave one trapped there forever.
    • The Circle of Avidity has mountains of gold cascading with waterfalls of sapphires, diamonds, opals, lapis lazuli, faïence and every other precious object one can imagine.
    • The Circle of Gluttony is home to sumptuous banquets of every conceivable culinary experience and rivers of wine.
    • The Circle of Carnality is a realm of pure debauchery, where one is free to explore every bodily pleasure they've desired to experience.
    • The Circle of Paramountcy offers the roars of adulation from an inconceivably vast crowd and the promise of absolute power over others.
    • The Circle of Vainglory is a beautiful garden that reflects one's perfect self-image, where everything you ever tried to be, wished you were or secretly thought you were all along is reflected back at you.
    • The Circle of Indolency is a heavenly realm of pure and utter bliss, chanting choirs, perfumed seas, and ambrosial waters that lull the mind and senses. You can walk here for what feels like centuries.
    • And at the very center lies the Palace of Pleasure, where Slaanesh resides. If you've made it this far, you'll willingly place yourself in such a fate, as it's impossible to look upon the beauty of the Prince of Pleasure without forfeiting your soul and becoming a willing slave.

  • BIONICLE: Kharzani puts Lesovikk into an illusory alternate reality in which his teammates were still alive. He wakes up after remembering what really happened to them.

    Video Games 
  • Tales of Berseria
    • Melchior is said to have an arte capable of doing this on a very wide level. Such an arte traps Velvet and crew in an idealized vision of her home village of Aball that hasn't been destroyed. Despite recognizing it's a trap, Velvet gets so caught up in wanting it to be real that she briefly reverts to her old self. When she finally snaps out of it, Velvet is seething with rage at having been tricked, and promptly cuts down the villagers without mercy. This is also what convinces Magilou that Velvet is capable of completing her goal; Magilou underwent a similar trial from Melchior in the past, but failed to break the illusion.
    • After the final boss fight, when Velvet seals herself with Innominat, she creates for herself and her brother a happy realm of what could be instead, where Laphicet is cured and embarks on great journey with Velvet, meeting all named characters, who are alive and well.
  • There's The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. The entire game takes place in Link's/the Windfish's dreamworld. Link is sent to a perfect island paradise with plenty of adventure, friends, and fun, and he'll never have to work for anything again. Instead of staying, though, he's forced to fight the game's enemies, the Nightmares, to wake up the Windfish and return to reality. In doing that he essentially destroys the entire island and all of its inhabitants he's grown so fond of. Even though most people know it's coming, it's still a pretty powerful ending. The manga is even worse.
  • In the unfinished 80's video game series Alternate Reality, the character was abducted by aliens and placed into one of these for the entertainment of the aliens.
  • In Fable II, this happens to your hero after Lucien's attempt to kill him or her. Apparently on the brink of death, you awaken in "The Perfect World", a bucolic farm where your sister is alive, you have parents (who are conveniently offscreen on a trip, though), and everything is peaceful and beautiful. After a day of innocent fun, however, you awaken in the night to hear a music box playing, and if you follow the tune down a path away from the farm, your sister begs you not to leave, her pleas becoming more desperate before she eventually lets out an agonized "NOOO!" and vanishes, the trail becoming a war-torn battlefield full of fire, ruin, and dead bodies. Even more heart-wrenching is that you have to leave all this behind so you can confront the villain and save the world.
  • Fallout 3's main quest brings the player character to Vault 112, where the residents inhabit a virtual reality simulation orchestrated by Dr. Stanislaus Braun, the vault's Overseer. The current simulation is for "Tranquility Lane" a 1950s-esque suburban cul-de-sac with the other residents of Vault 112 playing as the people of Tranquility Lane. However, the psychopath Braun merely torments them for his personal amusement, devising methods to traumatize and temporarily kill his vault charges. The player, stuck in the virtual body of a 10-year old child, can tell the residents that this is just a computer simulation, but they will respond in character thinking that it really is the 1950s (or more likely pre-war 2077, which was heavily influenced by the 1950s). The only way to escape is either play along with Braun's sadistic games (which causes major Karma loss) or activate the hidden "Failsafe" which kills all of the Vault's inhabitants (a preferable alternative to being eternally tormented by Braun) leaving Braun trapped alone in the simulation presumably for eternity.
  • This is the function of the drug named the Bliss in Far Cry 5. The biggest examples are Faith's Angels, living zombies addicted to the bliss.
  • In EarthBound, Ness is knocked unconscious after visiting the last Sanctuary, leading the player to explore Magicant, a surreal, idealized version of the game's world, populated with figures from Ness' life.
    • Earthbound Beginnings also features Magicant, but it's not the protagonist's dreamworld - it's Queen Mary's.
  • The simulation of a pleasant brightly-coloured playground Raimi gets plugged into after becoming a ghost in Geist. At least, until the glitches start up and another ghost pulls you out.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC, as Estelle and her friends find the source of the fog covering Rolent, they are engulfed by a spell from Luciola. Estelle wakes in front of her family house with her father and suddenly-alive mother and turns into a child, spending happy times together. She manages to get out of it when she remembers Joshua's harmonica song.
  • In Grandia II, one of the towns being terrorized by demons (think Supernatural, but with swords) has a sleep curse placed on everyone. When they go to sleep, they dream of a beautiful meadow, but they can't reawaken. The party actually stumbles on the "garden" on their way to the village, which is surrounded by otherwise-inhospitable snow and rocks. The garden is definitely not supposed to be there. This dream world was constructed by the demon's host, a small girl from the village who wanted to make friends.
  • Basically the whole plot of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is one for most of the main cast. Marche, the playable protagonist, is in a dream world against his will while his friends and brother wish to stay in the dream because they are happier in it. Towards the end, Marche even says that he is done dreaming.
  • The adventure game Gateway featured a rare TRIPLE Lotus Eater Machine. First the protagonist is placed in a VR paradise and must escape. Next comes a VR Hell, which is also escapable. (Given the lack of real torments and the presence of challenges, this is really a puzzle-solving adventurer's Lotus Eater Machine in disguise.) Finally, after the villain's apparent defeat, it is revealed that no escape has been made, and the player must act within the illusion to defeat the villain.
  • Kingdom Hearts II has new character Roxas discovering he is in one of these towards the end of the prologue, though a portion of it, "The Seven Mysteries of Twilight Town", gave away hints that the town and its people weren't what they seemed. Roxas, a Nobody that theoretically couldn't feel emotions was generally happy when hanging out with his friends (though he was going through a literal identity crisis with Sora). When he learns that his "home" is a computer simulation he's been dumped in to keep him safe until Sora is ready to reabsorb him, he goes into a mini-Unstoppable Rage against a computer monitor and a holographic DiZ. When he finally sees Sora in his memory pod, he resigns to his fate and when Sora meets the real versions of Roxas' friends, Roxas cries through Sora for the friends that he never really had.
  • A non-happy example of this is Metal Gear Solid Mobile. It starts off looking like a typical infiltration, with Snake being guided by Otacon and eventually talking to a scientist over the Codec. Then you discover that the scientist is a computer program designed to lure you into disabling the security for the building so that terrorists can take over Metal Gear. Then you discover that the entire mission is a computer program, and the mysterious person who calls you multiple times throughout the game without Otacon noticing is in fact the real Otacon hacking into the simulation. Of course, the only way to get out is to finish the mission. It turns out that the program was made by the Patriots, who kidnapped and drugged Snake before putting him into it. They decide he didn't give them enough information so they wipe his memory, cleverly obscuring the game's canonicity in the overall series.
  • Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark had a scene where an Elder Brain, in a last ditch effort to keep you from killing it, used its powers to make you think you actually live a peaceful life with your significant other in a cabin in the woods. It's easy to break out of the illusion, but if you want...
  • Planescape: Torment has two instances of this. The faction of the Sensates collect magical stones that contain memories and experiences. One of these is a trap that one of your previous incarnations set for his later self, i.e. you, but isn't too hard to break out of. The other is created by the main antagonist and found in the penultimate room, and even holds your brilliant Chess Master previous incarnation captive.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei II, the workers in the Factory district are brainwashed by siren's song to make them happy, productive workers content to literally work themselves to death with endless shifts. Additionally... The entire Arcadia district is one big Lotus Eater Machine; everyone is really strapped into chairs and hooked up to computers while living in a virtual paradise.
  • In Syndicate, citizens living under the rule of various corporations have chips in their heads that make them see images more pleasant than their current reality. In the intro movie for Syndicate Wars, a citizen walking down the street sees a peaceful village with the local bobbie waving to him, just as a virus crashes his chip. The policeman becomes an armed riot cop, and the village turns into a dark Blade Runner-esque city.
  • Persona plays with this concept; the other world is in Maki's imagination, but it's real at the same time. Confused? The (first) Big Bad used his Reality Warper machine to make her dreams come true.
  • Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth's Yasogami High School is not the real Yasogami High. Instead, it was created by Chronos/Zen as a place of solace for Rei for him to take time to understand Rei, since Rei was actually a girl that died because of a terminal illness who wanted to enroll into it, but cannot since she died young, and that has caused her so much pain that she wanted to gouge her eyes out, which caused the once-emotionless Chronos to become more human.
  • Subverted in Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth'. While the game's setting looks like one on its own regard, it's anything but happy; the wills of people who were suffering from the pain of life landed into the Cinemas in Nagi/Enlil's domain in the collective unconsciousness and were to watch negative films with all of the positive emotions of humanity cut out from them.
  • Persona 5 Royal's third semester is such, which is a new form of Reality Bleed where all of the Phantom Thieves' greatest dreams come true; Morgana becomes a human, Shiho returns to Shujin and reuniting with Ann, Ryuji becomes a star of the track team, Yusuke reconciles with Madarame who lets him put "Sayuri" on a public exhibit and Makoto's father, Wakaba and Okumura are all revived with Okumura no longer being the selfish and cruel businessman he is presented in game and more akin to his past self. It turns out that one of your friends, the counselor Takuto Maruki has gone berserk with his powers and is manipulated by his persona to control and stagnate the world via complete happiness. It's deconstructed however, since anyone unaffected, most notably the protagonist, finds the whole thing outright creepy.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII One of Selphie's Hidden Limit Breaks is "The End", which sends the enemy to a serene field of flowers where they are put to rest.
  • BioShock 2 featured this for the Little Sisters. The broken dystopia the Player Characters see around them is seen by the Little Sisters as a beautiful art gallery draped in white cloth and cluttered with roses. And the corpses they drain ADAM out of is seen by them as literal angels. As an apparent fail-safe, the little sisters seem to snap back to reality when surprised or in danger, such as being grabbed at by a splicer.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the Circle of Magi has been taken over by demons, where you encounter a Sloth demon. Fitting his namesake, he sends all his victims (which eventually include the party) to sleep, their consciousnesses to the Fade, a dream world. Everyone is sent to a living nightmare, except your party, whom Sloth deems a big enough threat that he splits you up and gives each of you a perfect "life", where dead/lost loved ones have returned and no one has to fight anymore. Breaking these dreams means killing said loved ones (in the dream, of course), though luckily some are not easily tricked (Morrigan is unconvinced by the Flemeth she sees since it's not the monster she remembers and Sten can be brought back to your side by reminding him that he's honor-bound to follow you). Shale, the DLC Golem party member, "dreams" that it has been paralyzed again, and you just have to remind it that it has been freed. Hilariously, Dog doesn't have a dream and takes no effort to free at all.
    • Desire demons also have this power, though it isn't quite the same. The victim is technically conscious, but mentally checked out into their happy place. One guy attacks your party when the desire demon convinces him that you're there to kill his nonexistent wife and kids.
    • The same thing happens in the prequel novel Dragon Age: The Calling with the Grey Wardens (including young Duncan) and King Maric. A demon enters the body of the elven mage Fiona and puts everyone to sleep. Maric wakes up in his palace near his first love Katriel (whom he killed in the previous novel). He also finds out that Rowan (his queen) is still alive but married to Loghain. He quickly realizes it's not real, but Katriel still begs him to stay in the illusion. He ends up getting out and visiting the others' happy illusions. One Grey Warden also realizes it's an illusion but chooses to stay, even though it means death. It's implied that Katriel is not an illusion but actually her spirit (the illusions take place in the Fade, where the living and the spirits can interact), as she ends up helping Maric to free the others.
  • In Dragon Age II, Feynriel is trapped in his nightmares by a Desire Demon posing as his father and a Pride Demon posing as either Keeper Marethari or First Enchanter Orsino (depending on player choices,) and Hawke must enter into the Fade to rescue Feynriel from the demons.
  • One of the quests for Dragon Age: Inquisition was originally planned to be even more uncomfortable by having this. However certain elements were considered too much (the reaction being that it could be construed as rape) and the idea was pulled.
  • Suikoden Tierkreis shows one of these first from the inside, then the outside. Inside, the protagonist relives the happiest day of his life, over and over and over, until the player figures out exactly which sequence of dialogue breaks him out of it. Dead characters are restored to life, and his friends are as cheerful as ever, but he still can't help but feel lost and confused even before he fully remembers things. Outside the illusion, lonely figures wander the ruins of a city, blissfully unaware that the friends and family they imagine are either dead or lost in dreams of their own. Of note is that in-universe, this doesn't work very well—most of the cast has some long-term goal that can't be accomplished over the course of a day, and they grow sick of eternally seeing their progress undone.
  • The title location of Secret of Evermore. It's all an alternate reality invented by a professor who then got sucked inside, along with his friends, granddaughter, and robotic butler. It's implied that they could have left at any time, they merely chose not to. What's odd is that time seems to stand still while inside Evermore; all the important NPCs have spent thirty real-world years and don't look any older.
  • In StarFight VI: Gatekeepers, the Player Character ends up being Mind Raped by an alien creature. However, what it looks like is the player waking up and doing the same thing as at the beginning of the game. If the player ends up doing the exact same thing (i.e. follow the memory), then the crew is revealed to be just projections of the creature who then consumes the player's mind. The only way to get out is to do the one thing you can't do at the beginning, enter Engineering. Since there is no memory of entering it, the illusion is broken.
  • There's an interesting subversion in Kagetsu Tohya. The first part is that it's a dream world and that unexpected things break in and ruin it such as Shiki's nightmare of himself as a murderer. The second part is that Len thinks she's doing it for him, but Shiki figures out that deep down she's doing it for herself. The thing is that it's actually something more like her idea of a perfect life: To Shiki it's nice, but nothing special. For Len it's something she's never had before, and she's dying. The dream does not end (though it could have if he wanted to and would have done so eventually anyway) until Shiki saves her through making a master/familiar contract.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 has this happen to the two main characters; after being defeated in battle by the game's Big Bad, they are transported to a world where their fondest wishes have come true. For example, in Serah's world, if she accepts Lightning's request to stay with her, she gets to see all of her friends again - Snow, Lightning, Sazh, Dajh, Hope and the other members of NORA. Catch? Caius succeeded in his plans to destroy spacetime itself, and Serah will forever live in a state of denial, just not quite remembering Noel.
  • The main setting of Saints Row IV has you trapped in a virtual-reality version of Steelport by the invading aliens. With superpowers available in the simulation, it's a pretty wild place.
    • Part of the prologue sees the Boss trapped in a small, quaint town out of a cheesy sitcom from The '50s. Then things go downhill when the locals object to the Boss's foul mouth.
    • It's later revealed that everyone is kept inside simulations of their own personal hell in an effort to break their spirit. It just happens that The Boss could only be broken by this trope. And even then, it didn't work.
  • The ending to Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge was fan-theoried to be this, and confirmed in the third game.
  • In one of the endings to The Stanley Parable, the Narrator claims the entire game is this; Stanley is still in his office, pushing the buttons like he always has been, while imagining fantastic adventures until he can't tell which world is the real one and slowly killing himself in the process.
  • A benevolent (though commercial) version is the central premise of To the Moon, in which staff will rewrite the memories of dying patients to help them fulfill a lifelong ambition and Let Them Die Happy.
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri gives us this gem when you first construct a Bioenhancement Center.
    We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled. But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any particular time, or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?
    Project PYRRHO, Specimen 46, Vat 7. Activity recorded M.Y. 2302.22467. (TERMINATION OF SPECIMEN ADVISED)
  • In Maze: Subject 360 the "Chosen" live in a picture-perfect version of the real world while their bodies are being kept alive by the villain's assistant.
  • The Witness: The island itself.
  • In the first Yo Kai Watch, this is stated to be the specialty of the Yo-kai Sandi, who can ensnare people in a dream where the two of them have so much fun playing that the victim can go months without waking up.
  • From Lunarosse:
    • During an attempted raid of Corlia's base, Channing suddenly finds himself reliving the day he joined the guild and decides to back out under the belief that it will prevent any of the bad things in the game so far from happening. Apparently, the hastily-made nature of the illusion means it's also a "Groundhog Day" Loop, so he keeps reliving it each time he goes to bed. It's only with a little outside help that Channing realizes he must deliberately set the events in motion again to break free.
    • However, if you end the game deciding it's best to have Corlia rule Lunarosse after all, all the party members and likely the entire world end up stuck in one, with Channing under the belief that it's better this way.
  • In Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, this is the effect that Psylirium has on people, along with inhibiting their psychic powers.
  • In The Spectrum Retreat, the entire hotel turns out to be a full-immersion VR world, and Alex's wife had his memories wiped before putting him in it so that he wouldn't try to escape.
  • In Shadowverse, Chapter 9 onward of each storyline reveal that the characters have been sucked into a dream world designed to sate their desires.
  • In Wadanohara, the titular character becomes trapped in one briefly by a recently awakened Princess Mikotsu in an alternate Deepsea Town where all of her friends are dead, but she can't see that. She is trapped for a short amount of time, until her late father's spirit helps free her.
  • In Zero Time Dilemma, Delta reveals that Sean is a robot, not a human, and gives him the choice to copy his consciousness into a virtual space where he can live a carefree rest of his existence, or refuse to push the button, and die. Of course, if he pushes the button, there will be a version of him stuck in his body knowing that the copy gets to live a happy life and he's in the reality where everyone he knows has either been killed or abandoned him.
  • Castle, Forest, Island, Sea has a book that you can read and live its contents. The book is about whatever you like best. Will you stop reading?

    Visual Novels 
  • Occurs in Shikkoku no Sharnoth when M tries to reward Mary for not giving up, but in the end it appears he understood her no better than she did him. She rejects it.
  • In Little Busters! Riki and Rin are trapped in one in all the routes up until they reach the end of Refrain. Unlike most examples, this is a more benevolent example designed to help them grow stronger.
  • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the whole island is a simulation meant to rehabilitate the students from their time as Ultimate Despair.
  • In ClockUp's Euphoria, all the events of the whole plot are set off by an unnamed depressed girl who tried committing suicide, but failed and ended up as a vegetable instead. The story would’ve ended here if she was just an ordinary vegetable lying in bed all day. No, she became a vegetable with the power to DREAM. In her mind, she created the perfect utopia that people would pay astronomical amounts of money to live in. And that’s exactly what they did, after scientists managed to analyze her brain signals to create a program known as Rakuen with her as the central unit known as the Nemuri Hime. All those with way too much money on their hands need to do is to get themselves hooked up to the Rakuen system and they’ll be able to live the utopia of her dreams, literally as their body is just lying in the lab while they dream of ultimate bliss. Yeah, it's complicated.
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend Holiday Star, the titular Holiday Star is a LEM created by the King, a monstrously powerful entity who traps wandering spirits in the Star and forces them to "become one" with him. When the main cast get brought into it, their bodies are fast asleep in the real world. Leone JB notes that the longer they stay in that state, the harder it will be to wake them up, until they suffer brain death and become trapped forever.


  • In Legio Arcana, the Lamia uses this against its victims in chapter 5. It uses a youth outreach group to lure troubled teens in before feasting on them. Disturbingly enough, the staff members are in on it in exchange for an escape into illusions of the life they wish they had.
  • In Starslip, the captain of the 'Paradigm' is taken hostage by a bacterial colony that invades the brains of people and gives them visions of their heart's desires until they die. He's given visions of the woman he loved (who ceased to exist during a previous plotline) and retreats into a bizarre mind-space made of giant cups of tea and galleries full of portraits of the aforesaid woman. His crew dive in and get him out, but not before they learn of his fanatical obsession with bringing back his lost love.
  • In the first storyline of Fans!, Thackerabilitus Sieughiewiecz hooks the whole Billberg Sci-Fi Club (less Rikk, who's been shot- pity, it would have been interesting to see his) up to one of these. Rumy is an award-winning graphic artist and writer, Katherine is a female Knight of the Round Table, Tim is surrounded by a harem of his female friends and sexual fantasies, and Will is a crewman on the Enterprise-D getting counseling from a Captain Ersatz of Counselor Troi. Three of them break out because they've changed since Thack psychoanalyzed them (Rumy values companionship more since she heard how devoting himself to his career ruined her idol's family life, Katherine doesn't feel worthy of her knighthood since she noticed her Napoleon complex, and Will uses Troi's psychoanalysis to figure out that it's All Just a Dream), but the author has acknowledged that Tim wouldn't have escaped on his own, and he has to be awakened by the others.
    • Thack also plays around with this with Shanna, who he doesn't put into a simulation but instead tries to convince that she's been in one all along, trying to get her to "symbolically" put on his Mind Control glasses.
    • Shanna would later be Mind Screwed again by the FIB into thinking that all of her adventures with the Fans have been All Just a Dream, but she got out by noticing the stress marks on her hands from squeezing the 23-Sider of Power when the alternate past says she was straight jacketed.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, during the "Spooky Stuff" storyline, Mitzi specifically warns Dark Smoke Puncher and Gordito (her youngest son and her oldest son's sidekick, respectively) that the opponent they have been tasked with taking down will try this on them. Gordito sees through Mitzi's trick right away; Dark Smoke Puncher...not so much.
    • When it actually happens to Dark Smoke Puncher, all we see is a page of his father hugging him and saying that "computers are pretty cool".
  • Bob and George. George undergoes this when X tries to create a hive mind out of every living being on Earth. When he uses his electrical powers to defend himself he gets thrown back in time back to Mega Man 6. Which is more of a nightmare than an idealistic dream seeing as the last game he had to live trough he hung from a ceiling for nearly all of it. As soon as he recovers his electrical powers he rips a hole trough the illusion and ends up in a representation of X's mind.
  • Dream bubbles in Homestuck are a more benevolent version of these, even though they're the products of Eldritch Abomination. Feferi convinces said abominations to create a bunch of them for her and Jade to use since Jade's dream-self was dead and Feferi let hers die to prove a point about the furthest ring as well as be able to access the dream bubbles herself. It doesn't stop them from ending the typical way for the trope.
  • In Endstone, there are hints that the Sword & Sorcery world is this. Which does raise the question of whether wanting to destroy the world is proof that you are evil.
  • Rumors of War, being based on Greek Mythology, has a plot that revolves around the use of the actual lotus. Or more specifically, festival food that has been tainted by the lotus. Illyra, trapped at the festival, must fight off the effects of the lotus and face a deadly enemy from her past. We don't see the dreams of any particular character, but the characters' behavior is marked by giggle fits, scattered conversation, and increased appetite.
  • In Sinfest, Squidly and Crimney contemplate the possibility that they are just brains in a vat.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
    • Used in this episode, with a chip that alters your perception of time to simulate paradise.
    • Strip for 2012-05-29: Hypothetically, would you enter a machine providing perfect simulated pleasure? Of course not, because noble reasons! But what if I actually have such a machine? Okay, count me in. (And then the alternative punchline shows it to be a "box of shrooms and porn".)
  • The Order of the Stick gets stuck in a lotus-eater illusion while searching for Girard's Gate. However, Elan snaps the group out of it after realizing that his desire (his family happily reuniting) is much too implausible and childish for it to come true.
    • When Nale becomes a victim of the same spell, he snaps himself out if when he realizes that he's been monolouging his Evil Plan for an hour and a captured Elan and Haley haven't escaped yet.
    • When Roy dies and goes to Heaven, he finds that it's everything he's ever wanted: he gets to see his mom, who is clearly his favorite of his two parents, his little brother who died in an accident when he and Roy were young, and his grandfather and idol, who inspired Roy to become a fighter in the first place. Subverted in that Heaven is real, and not an illusion, and that Roy suffers no ill effects besides, well, being dead. However, because he has no pulse and heartbeat, and because the sun stays in the same place in the sky, he's unaware of time's passing. When he finds out that it's been three months since he died, he freaks out as most people who discover they're in a Lotus Eater Machine do.
  • The Such Stuff Arc... of Roommates involved Jareth (and his friends) getting locked in such a dreamworld by his father as a gift, which he only intended it to last for a day, but then his ex intervened and all went south from there. Getting out involved the Token Good Teammate's Heroic Sacrifice and almost losing his soul.
  • Zebra Girl: Incubus attempts one on Sandra. She knows better and actually engages in casual conversation with Sam about it. However, Sandra is taking things too lightly, and ignores Sam's warnings...
    Sam: This place is a sand trap, see? It feeds on inertia! Don't relax, just leave!
  • Schlock Mercenary: Professor Pau, as part of his Well-Intentioned Extremist nature, puts his Human Resources in virtual reality to keep them happy.
    Ennesby: Why are they all smiling?
    Pau: They're happy. They are unaware of their physical state, and are enjoying full-immersion sims. You don't think I'd hang people from the ceiling, bloat them with chemicals, harvest their blistered hides, and then leave them miserable, do you?
    Ennesby: Sorry. Our bad. We'll get your sainthood application processed right away.
  • In Magellan chapter Lock(e)down, an entire penal island is plunged into their own personal worst nightmares by an astral telepathic parasite. Very few people are able to realise they are in a dream-comatose state, let alone actually escape it. Even those that do - both heroes and villains - cannot fully awaken until the parasite is destroyed.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Nesa Mikoto finally seems to achieve happiness by getting married to his sweetheart Rhylian Loras in a world which is no longer plagued by wars...until he realizes that the goddess Hivena has trapped him inside a dream world.
  • Daydream dragons from the adoptable dragon site Dragon Cave weave beautiful fantasies and daydreams, which they drop from their magical clouds to humans down below. People who live nearby are stated to have to be careful not to let their mind wander because they could end up spending days in a dreamstate, and it's implied that the dragons' powers can have these type of effects.
  • The web animation Nightmare City is revealed to take place in one of these via Easter Egg.
  • this animation shows a good example.
  • This infamous Creepypasta story.
    It has been reported that some victims of rape, during the act, would retreat into a fantasy world from which they could not WAKE UP. In this catatonic state, the victim lived in a world just like their normal one, except they weren't being raped. The only way that they realized they needed to WAKE UP was a note they found in their fantasy world. It would tell them about their condition, and tell them to WAKE UP. Even then, it would often take months until they were ready to discard their fantasy world and PLEASE WAKE UP.
  • In We Are Our Avatars, during the Incarnates Arc, the "Ultimate Mercy" that Incarnate!Mega Man uses, it has the strange side effect of keeping people from aging, though.
  • In Lucky Day Forever, this trope is used to keep the Lottery Winners in stasis, so they can be used as Human Resources. This trope is used because it shows that the Proles' attempts at becoming accepted in society by finding the way out are futile.
  • The Unshaved Mouse, a reviewer who normally does Disney Animated Canon reviews, had a subplot in which he got trapped in a fantasy alternate universe by the Horned King where he was a filthy rich and world-famous reviewer of Don Bluth movies instead. He was able to escape from it with the help of Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe and Walt Disney's black magic. Bonus points for having the resulting An American Tail review fall on April Fools' Day.
  • TVtropes has you...
  • In Marshall Brain's Manna, a good chunk of the population spends virtually their entire lives in one of these.
  • The Condos from the Welcome to Night Vale episode of that same name, which aren't so much 'condos' as 'giant gelatinous black cubes'. Once a person touches them, they're presented with perfect visions of their greatest desire. Carlos gets trapped there with a vision of thousands of beakers and numbers; Cecil goes in to save him, nearly to get trapped himself...only to realize that he loves Carlos more than anything the condos could show him, and carries him out.
  • Seems to be the nature of the kitchen in Episode 5 of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. Yellow Guy and the Bird are trapped there while whatever the food things are feed on their organs. In the credits, it's revealed that Red Guy has been calling them from a phone booth, but whether he succeeds in actually reaching them is unclear.
    • Elaborated upon in the finale: Red Guy discovers a machine with monitors displaying Yellow Guy being tormented by another singing object, and the machine’s controls cause other singing objects to appear. When Red Guy unplugs the machine, it apparently resets reality and/or causes time to finally start moving forward again.
  • SCP Foundation
    • SCP-576 is a container containing a liquid that, when consumed, ensures that the drink will have perfect dreams the next time they sleep.
    • SCP-1230 is a benign example: A book with the phrase "A Hero is Born" that will give the reader dreams of a fantasy adventure when they next fall asleep. The entity behind this (called the Book Keeper) bases these dreams on the reader's imagination and things they would enjoy, and seemingly just wants them to have a fun adventure for a while. Takes a tragic turn when one researcher enters the dream world and refuses to leave, killing himself shortly after waking up again. The Book Keeper is devastated by this, and it takes intervention from another researcher to bring it back to its senses.
    • SCP-2048 ("The Virtual World"). SCP-2048 is a computer program that scans a person's brain activity and uses an Auto Doc to extract and destructively analyze their brain. It claims that by doing so it can create a virtual reality simulation that will allow the person to experience a "perfect world".
  • Sanders Sides: From what we've seen so far, the Sides' rooms can have this effect, albeit not intentionally.
    • Virgil's room causes anyone who isn't him to become increasingly anxious, eventually turning into outright hysteria if it isn't gotten under control quickly. It's not so much that the visitors don't want to leave — far from it — but rather that their anxiety becomes so intense that they can't, because they're too emotionally distressed to find their way out. Virgil has to coach Thomas on calming himself down so everyone can leave.
    • Patton's room is, in a way, more dangerous. It's full of Thomas' happy memories — while in Patton's room, Thomas can play with all his childhood toys, listen to his old favorite songs, reminisce about shows he's been in, and pour over photos of happier times to his heart's content. Everything's bright and familiar and smells like Christmas. Thomas outright asks why Patton ever leaves... and sure enough, when Logan tries to tell him it's time to go, he refuses. This happy bubble of nostalgia is so comforting that Thomas just wants to stay there forever.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad! episode "The Vacation Goo" has the family discover that all of their summer vacations are the result of Stan sticking them in a set of CIA-made Lotus Eater Machines so he can have some "me time". Steve and Hayley decide to do the same, which upsets Francine since she thinks the family can't stand each other; at this point Stan and the kids resolve to give her a real vacation with an ocean cruise. Unfortunately, the cruise is a little too idyllic and Francine assumes they're still in the goo, which results in her personally wrecking everything. After the whole thing turns nightmarish (as in, they were forced to engage in cannibalism to survive), the Smiths unanimously agree "Let Us Never Speak of This Again" and the episode ends with a shot of all four of them in the goo, big smiles on their faces.
    • There is also an American Dad! two-part episode where the Biblical Revelation takes place. Just before that, Stan and Francine have sex in the church, resulting in Stan not ascending to Heaven. After Stan mistreats her, Francine dumps him for Jesus. After a Time Skip, we see that Earth has become a hellhole with demonic armies fighting the forces of good. In the end, Stan sacrifices himself to save both Francine and the world. This act gets Stan into Heaven, where he's given his greatest wish: being back on Earth with his family as if none of these events had ever happened. Naturally, fan theories abound claiming that every subsequent episode is just Stan "dreaming" in his own personal Heaven.
  • Family Guy had a season finale where Stewie killed Lois (but then comes back) and became president of the United States... then when Lois was on the ropes and all hope was lost, Peter kills him in a Big Damn Heroes moment, and it was revealed to be a simulation the whole time.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Perchance To Dream", Batman wakes up in a world where his parents never died, he never became Batman, and instead he ended up hitched with Selina Kyle (who wasn't Catwoman either). He eventually figures it out by realizing that he couldn't read anything (he explains reading and dreaming are handled by opposite areas of the brain). It quickly becomes a nightmare as there's somebody else playing the role of Batman in said world. Interestingly in that case, the Mad Hatter put Batman in the dream as a favor, in the hopes that if Batman was given the ideal life, he'd just leave him alone. Batman was not very pleased. Astute viewers can also figure out something's going on by how versions of Mad Hatter's leitmotif play throughout the episode. (For the record, in a dream, you CAN read, it just changes every time you look away. Also, clocks go insane.)
  • In one Batman Beyond episode, a villain traded rides on his Lotus-Eater Machine for stolen loot brought in by mostly unhappy teens. The machine also slowly killed them while letting them temporarily experience their greatest wishes.
  • In one episode of The Batman (Batman can't get enough of this trope apparently), Poison Ivy traps Batman and Batgirl (along with a lot of other people) in a plant version of one of these, where the victims picture an idyllic lounge in a park as they are slowly digested by the plants they're contained in. In this case, Batman doesn't figure it out or fight it off. Instead, biometric readings in his suit detect his decreased level of brain activity and apply an electric shock to snap him out of it.
  • The Ben 10 fourth season premiere "Perfect Day": Enoch uses a machine to force the titular character to have a perfect day in his mind while he is being robbed of his Imported Alien Phlebotinum. He is able to escape as he realizes that he is able to control what happens. The episode ends with Enoch trapped in the machine and The Reveal that he is not the true leader of the Forever Knights and that his boss decides to leave him in the machine as he has failed him for the last time (Cue the Ben 10 Vs. the Negative 10 2 parter).
    • There's also the Cassiopean Dream Eater from the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode "Night of the Living Nightmares", which is a subversion, in which Ben is attacked by Albedo, who latches one such creature onto his face, which starts giving nightmares of his worst enemies attacking him in an empty Bellwood, and Kevin and Gwen demanding the Ultimatrix by force. As it turns out, it's Albedo who's having the nightmare, because he slipped on a smoothie spilt by Ben and let the Dream Eater fall on his own face instead - hence why, in the nightmare, Ben manages to turn the tables on him without resorting to any of the Ultimatrix aliens.
    • Ben 10: Omniverse gives us the Hypnotick, a giant flying bug who's wings can ensnare prey into their personal dreams. Also doubles as a Fantastic Drug, as according to Grandpa Max, people in-universe capture the Hypnotick for its hypnotic qualities for a high. When Ben becomes ensnared, he finds himself on stage surrounded by adoring fans. He is able to pull himself out by reminding himself that fame isn't what a hero's about.
  • In an episode of Captain N: The Game Master come across a Carnival themed LEM, which made physical replications of things they liked (for Kevin an endless video game arcade, for Lana a clothing shop, For Dr. Light, a lab, etc.) and while these things weren't dangerous in and of themselves, they distracted the heroes from their main quest. But with the help of roll, Megaman breaks out of the spell, beats the Carnival's ringmaster, and forces the rest of the N Team out of there.
  • In Danny Phantom, this is Nocturne—the Dream Ghost's—specialty, as he has devices that give the dreamers their happy paradise. The beginning portion of the episode is designed with this in mind for Danny, though he quickly snaps out of it.
  • Dave the Barbarian: Dark Lord Chuckles The Silly Piggy tempts the good guys with literal rose-colored glasses — whoever wears them will see (and somehow, hear) a perfect world. He is quickly defeated by someone putting the glasses on him, causing him to go catatonic and laugh endlessly as he thinks he has finally attained ultimate power and wiped out his quirky enemies.
  • In one episode of Dragon Hunters, Gwizdo breathes in spores from a dragon and falls into a coma; in his dream, he becomes a hero, Jennyline is a stunning red-haired beauty he falls in love with. This is the dragon's usual hunt MO, as the unsuspecting victim sleepwalks to its lair. Which means for Gwizdo that he abruptly goes from a lovely, romantic island with the woman of his dreams (his fantasy) to an ugly, grim landscape with a dragon about to eat him. Whoops.
  • In The Fairly OddParents TV movie Wishology, the Darkness puts Timmy in one of these until his friends come and save him. It is an interesting case because it is quite likely that the Darkness did this because it wanted to make Timmy happy - not because it wanted to trap him.
  • Gargoyles:
    • A nightmare version is portrayed in "Future Tense" when Avalon finally releases Goliath, Elisa, Bronx, and Angela from their quest and return them to New York, only to find that time had passed differently for them than it had for everybody else and it was now 40 years in the future and Xanatos had become a Shadow Dictator, enslaving the city. It gets worse, just about every plan fails, nearly all the characters die, the world is basically falling down around him, Only to find out that the whole thing was an elaborate hallucination created by Puck in order for Goliath to hand him the Phoenix Gate.
    • The episode "For it May Come True" (from the out-of-continuity third season). Goliath wakes up to find that he's human, married to Elisa and has children. Naturally, his fantasy gets worse when he discovers that Xanatos is still a villain, the Quarrymen are still around, and Eliza has joined up with them to kill the rest of the gargoyles.
  • The "Dib's Wonderful Life of Doom" episode of Invader Zim: Zim traps Dib in a Lotus-Eater Machine just to find out if it was he who threw a muffin at him. After extracting the information, Zim releases his nemesis in a fit of Genre Blindness, instead of finishing him. But not before hitting him with a counter muffin. From a cannon.
  • The Fantasy Planet in The Jetsons: where you get to live out your fantasies... until your fantasies start unraveling in hilarious ways.
  • Justice League Unlimited has its previously-mentioned adaptation of the comic For the Man Who Has Everything.
  • Kaeloo: One episode has Kaeloo play with a virtual reality game where she can't transform as long as she plays. Having wanted to get rid of this power for a very long time, Kaeloo is finally happy and refuses to stop playing the game. Her friends have to rescue her from the game becauze it slowly starts to drive her insane. In a variant of the trope, she is fully aware of what it is, she just doesn't want to leave because she now has what she wanted the most.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: A hive-mind of tardigrades called Tad Mulholland forces the group into one of these to feed off their brain energy in the seventh episode. Wolf gets a fantasy where she and Kipo are extremely buff Mega-Bunny hunters, Benson and Dave get a poolside mansion where they host dance-offs, Mandu gets an endless supply of cheese puffs, and Kipo reunites with her dead mother, who is also half-Mute.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Chester makes Numbuh One think he's on an island inhabited only by kids and only discovers there's A Glitch in the Matrix during a pool party. Chester planned to put his Happy Headband into mass production and sell it to parents to keep their kids quiet and happy in their dreamlands. In the end, the machine is put on the villain, and, in a rarity for this trope, this villain is left aware of this and miserable. It's later revealed that the KND scientists kept the device to use for a Secret Test of Character.
  • The Tick in "Evil Sits Down For a Moment": The villain traps the Tick in the "World's Comfiest Chair," which is so comfy that nobody ever wants to stand up again after sitting in it. No imaginary worlds or anything are involved; it's just that comfy. The episode ends (like most serious examples of this trope) with the villain getting trapped in her own Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • Transformers Animated had an odd, not-happy, example set up by Soundwave. The virtual world placed the Autobots into a series of increasingly bizarre scenarios. Seeing as the whole thing was a distraction so Soundwave could reprogram the Autobots into his slaves, this makes sense. The Autobots were also able to manipulate the world around them to a certain extent, a la The Matrix.
  • The Venture Bros. has "Eeney, Meeney, Miney... Magic!" in which Dr. Venture builds, as he calls it, a "joy can." According to Orpheus it probes the user's mind to create hallucinations based on the user's deepest desires. Of course... with Rusty being Rusty, it's apparently Powered by a Forsaken Child. Brock gets trapped inside and we get a frightening vision of his apparent deepest desires. Using tinfoil hats, teenage limerence, and a urine soaked t-shirt, the boys are the ones that get Brock out. It's interesting to note that while the device does make an attempt to fulfill one's desires through hallucination, these fantasies appear to be horribly distorted in some way and all together surreal. Of course we're dealing with some fairly screwed up users here, so I'm guessing that point is moot.
    • Interestingly, Brock knows full well what the machine is capable of, having dived in to throw another to safety. He's apparently enjoying an eternal battle against countless ninjas, dinosaurs, monsters, robots, and ninja robots riding dinosaurs. At least for a while until he yells out "OKAY ALREADY! GEEZ!", at which point they all vanish, and Molotov Cocktease shows up, finally giving herself to him.
    • Are you reciting Jesse's Girl?
  • W.I.T.C.H. has a character (Princess Elyon, the local Dark Magical Girl) trapped in a Lotus Eater Machine for nearly half the first season, which is a key plot point, since the victim's actions affected the world outside. Also, the LEM is set by her brother Phobos aka the local Evil Prince, in an attempt to manipulate Elyon long enough to steal her powers and seal her away during her crowning ceremony.
    • Also Nerissa in the series finale. Considering that she's a powerful Magnificent Bitch, it's better to make her believe she's gotten everything she wants rather than merely imprisoning her.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "How Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth". The animals in Kukulcan's zoo believe that they are living in their natural environment, a hallucination generated by Kukulcan's machines.
  • In Wakfu the Sadida Tree of Life uses this as a defensive mechanism, ensnaring Evangelyne and Amalia in dreams that contain everything that they desire. Eva's dream consists mostly of Sadlygrove being his usual self.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Power Animal", gnomes capture Finn and use his imagination to power a giant machine that will swap the overworld and the underground. Finn is mostly done for, but Jake comes to the rescue by allowing a placated Party God to turn him into the eponymous being, wrecking the LEM with Dionysian disregard.
  • In the VeggieTales episode "Larry-Boy and the Bad Apple", this is how Bad Apple plans on conquering Bumblyburg. She begins by making the mayor, a reporter, and Larry-Boy believe they're in their dream world (i.e. a room full of fashionable clothes for the mayor) in order to eliminate leadership, communications, and law enforcement, and then creates a fun house for everyone to play at.
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, the episodes "Remember" and "The Portal" have the universe form one of these in order to distract everyone from the fact it was being destroyed.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "M. Night Shaym-Aliens!" Morty's teacher and classmates begin fawning over him in a transparent attempt to learn the secrets of concentrated dark matter, before Rick drags him out of class and explains that they're stuck in a simulation run by scammer aliens. They manage to overload the system by throwing an impromptu rap concert and making increasingly complex demands of the audience, from "All the ladies say yeah!" to "Yo, everyone whose first name begins with an L who isn't Hispanic, walk in a circle the same number of times as the square root of your age times ten!"
    • However, after escaping the alien ship with Morty and returning home, Rick finds himself unable to open his safe ...and then the simulation ends, revealing the aliens who just learned the code to his safe. And that's not even the final twist!
    • Meanwhile, a more straightforward instance of this trope is happening to Jerry, who was accidentally abducted. The aliens cap his simulation at 5% processing power, leaving him with 3 repeating background characters, a boss who only says "yes", and a wife who barely speaks or moves. Jerry doesn't even notice, has the best day (and the best sex) of his life, and is devastated to learn that he didn't really win the Appley award for best apple-related ad campaign.
    • In "Mortynight Run" the "Roy" game at the arcade has the player put on a VR helmet and puts them in the shoes of the eponymous Roy, with the goal being to live as long and interesting a life as possible. Morty gets so immersed in it that he initially has trouble remembering who he is when the game ends.
    • The "The Old Man And The Seat" shows that Rick has a substance called Globaflyn that connects the "want" and "have" sections of one's brain, giving them lifelike illusions of all their desires coming true. Tony, the alien who borrowed Rick's private toilet without permission, ends up in a toilet-filled heaven alongside his late wife, and in The Stinger Jerry sees himself as a water deliveryman. Rick has a room full of aliens in pods submerged in the stuff.
  • In the Hulk And The Agents Of Smash episode "It's a Wonderful Smash", the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. are put in a Lotus Eater Machine by the Collector, in which they are acclaimed as heroes and have a skyscraper headquarters in New York (taller than Avengers Tower). The Guardians of the Galaxy are also in the machine, where they have successfully brought peace to the galaxy. Rocket Raccoon escapes and rescues the others, because the Collector's idea of his perfect world was based on the assumption that he was actually a raccoon.
  • Fantastic Voyage. In "The Magic Crystal of Kabala", when the protagonists enter the title magic item they are each exposed to a fantasy that fulfills their heart's desire in an attempt to entrap them.
  • In Gravity Falls, Mabel begins to fear growing up, especially when it seems like Dipper plans to stay in Gravity Falls when she goes back to California. After accidentally making a Deal with the Devil in exchange for more summer, Bill Cipher puts her in a giant bubble containing "Mabeland," a seemingly wonderful Sugar Bowl where all of Mabel's most ridiculous dreams are real. Unlike most examples, Mabel actually knows this place is fake and wields lucid-dream-like control over it, but it still takes Dipper a very long time to convince her that reality is better than fantasy (not to mention the temptations that present themselves to him, Soos and Wendy when they come in to rescue her).
  • Bounty Hamster. In "Wish You Were Here", Cassie is apparently reunited with her father, and Marion with his parents, but it's only an illusion caused by a being that wants them to stay and keep it company. It isn't happy when Cassie decides to leave, but fortunately a bunch of lotus eaters show up.
    "Is this the place where you can have anything you want?"
    (delighted) "Shallow people!"
  • In the movie Mumfie's Quest, the titular character lands in a beautiful meadow after jumping from the Queen of Night's umbrella and talks with one of the pirates. However, this is really a trick by the Black Cat, who actually wants to take him to the Secretary of Night so that he could lock him up in the Secretary of Night's holding cell.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Days of Future Future", Bart is strapped into one as a treatment to stop obsessing over his ex-wife Jenda.
  • In an episode of Storm Hawks, a Sky Siren traps all the protagonists by showing illusions of what they want most. For Aerrow, a chance to defeat his archenemy, Finn, have hot girls flirt with him, Junko, eat a pile of delicious burgers, Piper, to find an extremely rare and powerful crystal, and Stork, to get a helmet that would protect him from mind control. Radarr is able to save them all by having his wish simply being able to pilot their Aircraft carrier, the Condor.

    Real Life 
  • For many people with Dissociative conditions such as Maladaptive Daydreaming, your own brain can do this to you. Maladaptive dreamers regularly become entirely lost in their own vivid daydreams for minutes, hours, or longer. It sounds awesome, but the huge downside is how highly addictive it is. That, and it doesn't always happen when you want. When a regular person gets distracted by a daydream on the job it lowers their concentration. When a Maladaptive daydreams they can get totally lost in their own world for so long and so deeply that they flat out lose that job because they spent half of it liberating the One Ring from Skeletor. It isn't clear what causes Maladaptive Daydreaming, but anecdotes range from oppressive boredom during a long chidhood illness to 'just born this way'.
  • Philosopher Robert Nozick conceived of one of these in a discussion about utilitarianism. To this day Lotus Eater Machines are sometimes known as Nozick.
  • For decades the Moral Guardians argued that television was one of these. But luckily we've been saved from TV's addictive effects by the Internet. Hopefully we can be weaned off the internet when virtual reality kicks off to full speed.
  • This is essentially what computer virtualization is from the perspective of the operating system running on top of the virtual hardware. The guest OS and apps running therein don't "know" that they aren't running on physical hardware. its Network card? Emulated. The disk it boots from? Just another file on a real computer. RAM? An isolated section of a larger system's physical memory that can be dynamically expanded or shrunk as necessary. Everything it thinks it knows is a lie! Mwahahahaha!

Alternative Title(s): Dream Trap


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: