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"Squidward, we don't need television. Not as long as we have our... Imaaginaaations!"
SpongeBob, SpongeBob SquarePants, "Idiot Box"
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A person with a huge imagination, who spends most of the time in his or her own imaginary world, frequently out of touch with reality. Often the main character, and usually a Cheerful Child and/or a Cloudcuckoolander. A show with them has lots of imagination sequences (which they may or may not act out), maybe also dream ones. May have an Imaginary Friend. In many (but not all) instances, the imaginative character is a Reality Warper, and his/her odd daydreams can temporarily become real.

In Anime Fan Speak this is one of the symptoms of "Chuunibyou", and the most famous. You might have been looking for Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions and also the trope itself.


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Examples:

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  • Non-character example: the "Use Your Imagination" promo that ran in the early 2000s on PBS Kids to signal the start of the block as well as being at the beginning of tapes distributed by PBS pretty much is this trope, encouraging children to, well, use their imaginations. It even says "Even when it's raining, you can make the sky blue" in the most cheerful manner possible.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Aharen San Wa Hakarenai: Male lead Raidou has a tendency to imagine elaborate scenarios over any seemingly odd behavior. When Aharen gives him a little decorative skull as a souvenir following a trip to the seaside, Raidou imagines Aharen becoming a fish-poaching pirate who intends to see him join her. What actually happened was Aharen went to the beach by Tokyo Disney and the skull was a Pirates of the Caribbean souvenir.
  • Junichi from Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka suffered from this — it would seem all the "Geno Killer" rumours are based on how he acted back then, but exaggerated and spread by his friends. In fact he still fights with the old version of himself in his mind. He gets called out on this directly in the final episode of the anime when he claims to have sealed his old self, with the aid of his old Fingerless Gloves.
  • Suzu from Amuri in Star Ocean has an elaborate escapist fantasy world in her mind, complete with and Imaginary Friend named General Panda.
  • Azumanga Daioh:
    • Osaka, as part of being a Cloudcuckoolander, tends to come up with weird fantasy sequences.
    • Sakaki is prone to imagining stuff as well, though for the most part it's limited to petting cute animals, with special emphasis on felines.
  • While Teru of Castle Town Dandelion does have a superpower that's appropriate for his delusions, he's the second-youngest child of a very Modest Royalty, rather than a Shōnen hero. He watched too much anime, perhaps?
  • Tsubasa of Comic Girls has a very active imagination and enjoys acting out the characters of her manga in order to write their dialogue. Fall short of Chuunibyou by the fact that she's actually the most mature of the main quartet most of the time.
  • The character Vincent from Cowboy Bebop The Movie lives in a constantly delusional psychosis that makes him see butterflies everywhere. This is not played for comedy, as his unstable mental state led him to become a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • 5 Centimeters per Second: Takaki imagines sequences where he is a bird flying over landscapes, and in his teenage years had dreams of being on an exotic alien planet with a woman who looks like Akari.
  • Kisaragi from GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class has the tendency to withdraw into her rather extensive fantasies, which often involve kittens or bunnies.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya of Haruhi Suzumiya frequently melds her imagination with the Real Life through Reality Warping - and isn't even aware of it. Her friends go to great lengths to keep her entertained and hide the truth from her out of concern that she might destroy the world they know and replace it with something far stranger.
  • Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl has Erio Touwa, who started believing she was an alien after she disappeared for six months, with no memory of what happened. There's also Yashiro Hoshimiya, who believes she's an Alien ESPer, and always wears a spacesuit.
  • Kagerou Daze: Kido is a downplayed example; she leads the Mekakushi Dan (Blindfold Gang), and likes to invoke and cultivate a Japanese Delinquents-esque image with simple rules like "always wear your hood up" and "block out the world with your headphones". The lyrics of her Image Song, Blindfold Code, seem like she's describing the gang as a non-exclusive club of heroes, and that secret missions are a daily occurrence. To be fair, the first thing we see the gang do is prevent a terrorist attack, and the story is on a time-loop lasting 2 days, so that last part is technically true.
  • Midori Asakusa, the principal character of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, has had a big imagination ever since she was a child and sometimes loses herself in flights of fancy while trying to imagine how the background elements in her anime would work.
  • From Kyoto Animation: Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions:
    • All of the main cast are current or former examples of this trope due to their teenage delusions.
    • Yuuta was one when he was in middle school under the persona of "Dark Flame Master". It is a deconstruction, as he was given All the Other Reindeer treatment by his old schoolmates, eventually got over his past tendencies and treated that phase as his Old Shame.
    • Rikka is still one despite being a tenth grader. She constantly sees the world through the lens of her imaginative identity, an Elegant Gothic Lolita "the Wicked Eye."
    • Sanae Dekomori is under the delusion of "Mjolnir Maul", a mid-range fighter/mage.
    • Like Yuuta, Shinka was a former example, under the delusion of being a mage called "Mori Summer".
    • Satone is a special case—she knew her Magical Girl delusion isn't real, but still acts like this trope because it is fun.
  • Keitaro from Love Hina was pretty bad about this, at least early on in the series.
  • Hosaka from Minami-ke, usually centred around his obsession with Haruka. He even fantasizes that her younger sisters are his daughters after being told Haruka "had kids".
  • Himeka of Oreshura can't stop talking about past lives and alternate dimensions. It seems that the protagonist, Eita, was an example of this in the past, as well, and being blackmailed over it is what kicks off the plot to begin with.
  • Takeya Yuki of School-Live! is a tragically deconstructed example: imagining a normal, happy life in the midst of a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Ichigo from Seiyu's Life! created a persona of being a princess from the Strawberry Planet to make herself more memorable and will occasionally switch into it mid-sentence.
  • The band ShingenCrimsonZ from Show by Rock!!, The band (save Rom) generally acts like they're mysterious and powerful both on and off the stage. Aion in particular has A God Am I down pat.
  • Sketchbook:
    • Ryou and Fuu who manage to inhabit their imaginary world together. This is more pronounced in the manga than in the anime, though.
    • Sora is also a dreamer to a lesser extent.

  • Okabe Rintaro from Steins;Gate, frequently pointed out by Makise Kurisu. Faris also has frequent bouts of this, which leads to some very entertaining scenes where she and Okabe build off each other's imaginations to create some truly epic fantasies. Okabe sometimes claims that Faris has an even more active and delusional imagination than he does, which is saying quite a lot.
  • Julia from Strawberry Shake Sweet often has very vivid fantasies about Ran.
  • When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Andou's defining characteristic is being a super chuuni. He is referred to as such multiple times per episode. And then there's Kiryuu. Ironically he's the most emotionally and socially mature of the club.
  • Tomoe from the third Yandere no Onna no Ko CD has delusions about being the Protagonist's lover in a past life.
  • Yotsuba from Yotsuba&! has shades of this, but she generally tries to involve other people in her fantasies. Where by "involve" we mean "drag along willy-nilly in her wake".

    Comic Books 
  • Cath et Son Chat occasionally has gags with Sushi (the cat in question) imagining something he would have wanted to be, or wants to do someday. This has left Cath and Nathan confused by his behavior at least once.
  • Even though all Green Lanterns have an Imagination-Based Superpower, most of them tend to have underwhelming imaginations and generally fight as Barrier Warriors. Kyle Rayner, however, stands out from the bunch for his powerful imagination, thanks to him being an artist, which allows him to come up with very creative ways to take down his foes.
    • John Stewart, an architect, also sometimes (depending on the artist) creates very detailed and precise constructs. Lampshaded in one story where it's mentioned that Hal's tend to be kind of cartoony, Kyle's are very artsy, and John's seem like machines with intricately working parts.
  • Fables spin off Jack of Fables introduces us to Babe the Blue Ox, who is generally oblivious to whatever's going on (when someone talks to him their speech bubbles appear as gibberish, and he seems totally uncaring of the fact that all hell can be breaking loose around him,) instead having page-long monologues in his thought bubbles. The monologues are related to various fantastic stories he's making up on the spot (and don't appear to have any relation to what's actually happening,) and there seems to be no continuous narrative thread between them.
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    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes is a major example of this trope, as can be seen in the page image. More than half the time, he's in his own little world trying to escape the harshness and boredom of reality.

    Fan Works 
  • Deconstructed in the Sonic the Hedghog fanfic Fallen Angel. Amy has a big imagination, however, being one of the only hedgehogs in town and being ignored by older kids at her orphanage, she needed to be imaginative in order to stop herself from getting bored or depressed.
  • Played with in a dark way for The Rugrats Theory. In it, Angelica from Rugrats made up the babies (except Dil) after Tommy was stillborn, Chuckie died, Phil and Lil were aborted, and Kimi was taken away by social services. However, in some versions she's just imagining them because she has no friends apart from Susie, and in others, she's hallucinating them. In the original story, it was a bit of both— she initially simply imagined them, but when she turned to drugs, she started hallucinating them.
  • Vale, from the Hunger Games fanfiction Some Semblance of Meaning, used to be a female version, due to her writing aspirations, but she has little time for daydreaming these days, seeing as she is currently stuck in the arena in the 44th Hunger Games.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Boss Baby, Tim has a greatly vivid imagination and his teaching the Boss Baby to share in the joys of this is a plot point. His greatest moments are often presented as an Imagine Spot, with an accompanying Art Shift.
  • Despicable Me: Agnes has very fanciful desires, such as wanting a pet unicorn and wanting to live in a house made of Gummi bears.
  • Horton Hears a Who!:
    • Horton is a bit of a dreamer, imagining himself as an anime hero and planning to build a secret society where everybody wears a funny hat.
    • Katie spends most of her time daydreaming, and she thinks up a world full of ponies who eat rainbows and poop butterflies.
  • Inside Out: Implied for Riley. Her imaginary friend at age three was a cat/elephant/dolphin hybrid who cried candy, and she has a place in her mind-dimension called Imagination Land, which is very vast and full of places with kooky names, such as "Princess Dream World".
  • Toy Story: Andy has a vivid imagination and acts out elaborate stories with the toys (who, unbeknown to him, are sentient). While he stops playing with them in Toy Story 3, the imagination never goes away, as demonstrated by him making up a story with Bonnie. Bonnie herself is also a Ms. Imagination, thinking up even crazier stories (such as a bakery haunted by pie-throwing ghosts).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Antonia's Line:
    • Antonia's daughter. For example, she imagines an angel statue hitting the priest with a wing, and imagines her dead grandmother sitting up and singing at her funeral.
    • Later, Antonia's great-granddaughter has a similar vision the day Antonia dies, seeing family members long dead happily visiting a family picket. Note that only two people in Antonia's line have the visions: the artist (the daughter) and the great-granddaughter (hinted to become a writer). The two that don't have any visions are Antonia (a farmer) and her granddaughter (a mathematician).
  • Nick Chapman, the protagonist of The Big Picture, frequently imagines scenes from his life playing out the way they would in a movie. Understandable, as he did just graduate from film school.
  • Brazil has a variant. Sam Lowry has a vivid dreamlife which he thinks about during his waking life. Specifically; the Girl Of His Dreams.
  • Carl Spackler from Caddyshack is a lowly groundskeeper who spends his days fantasizing about becoming a champion golfer, and provides his own narration as well.
  • In Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Dora and Diego were like this as kids— the original series and its spinoff are rewritten to be just the childhood imaginings of Dora and Diego.
  • InThe Fall, much of the movie is made up of sequences Alexandria imagines while Roy tells the story. Her fantasies are the story acted out with people from around the hospital as the main characters.
  • Fight Club: A darker variation on this is the adult (and apparently sane) main character.
  • James Barrie spends much of Finding Neverland imagining a more fantastic version of the events he's experiencing, ranging from games with the Llewelyn Davies boys (a western shootout with the boys as cowboys and James as a native; a pirate ship with the boys as pirate captives of James and Sylvia) to "enhanced" versions of the events he's seeing (raining in the theater as his play bombs; the boys starting to fly as they jump on their beds).
  • Gleahan and the Knaves of Industry: Gleahan thinks he lives in a fantasy world.
  • Dr Wai In "The Scripture With No Words", starring Jet Li as Chow, a writer struggling with writer's block, who often daydreams himself as his fictional creation, Dr. Wai the badass Adventurer Archaeologist (also played by Jet Li, in an Acting for Two moment) while he writes his stories.
  • In The Man Who Invented Christmas Dickens' imagination is so vivid the characters come to life and converse with him and each other.
  • Nathan from Nathan's Kingdom has built an elaborate mythology around the titular kingdom, with an entire book full of writings and sketches, and costumes and personas for himself and Laura. He's constantly seeing things from his kingdom in real life.
  • Alice, in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master spent a lot of time in daydreams.
  • A heartbreakingly darker version is from Precious with the main character, an impoverished, morbidly obese, illiterate and pregnant through incestuous rape Black teenager deals with her painful existence by fantasizing about how she is a world-famous and well-loved celebrity with a light-skinned boyfriend and respected by her abusive mother and her indifferent teacher. Even when her mother informs her that father is dead from AIDS and that she possibly has been exposed herself, Precious goes back into her fantasy world briefly, only for her mother to point out how irritated she is by her not listening to her due to her fantasizing.
  • In Ramona and Beezus, Ramona has many imagination sequences, most involving her as a Bold Explorer.
  • The protagonist of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has a habit of spacing out and going on elaborate daydreams centered around either romancing the woman he has a crush on or confronting his asshole boss, AKA things that he lacks the backbone to do in real life. However, after he proceeds to go on adventures around the world the dreams become less frequent since he's living them out in real life.
  • Richard Sherman, the protagonist of The Seven Year Itch. He once actually imagines his wife telling him that he has an overactive imagination.
  • Teddy Daniels in Shutter Island thinks he's in an investigation solving the case of a lost patient while seeking revenge against Andrew Laeddis for killing his wife. He actually is Andrew Laeddis and is a patient at Shutter Island.
  • The main character, Babydoll in Sucker Punch spends most of the movie in imaginary dream sequences (in which she is engaging in erotic dancing). Near the end, we find the trope amplified since she was lobotomized early in the film.
  • Too Many Husbands: Miss Houlihan, the secretary at Lowndes and Cardew, was in love with both her bosses; she fantasized about being Vicky and marrying both of them.
  • George Newman, "Weird Al" Yankovic's character in UHF, often has flights of fancy parodying famous films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, First Blood and Gone with the Wind. One daydream takes the form of a parody of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" video.

    Literature 
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom, and to a lesser extent, his best friend Huckleberry "Huck" Finn, like to have imaginary adventures such as reenacting Robin Hood and fantasising on their futures.
  • In the Alfie books, Alfie and Bernard like to pretend they're pirates, and at one point they pretend Annie Rose (Alfie's sister) is a crocodile.
  • In Alice the Fairy, Alice isn't really a fairy— she only dresses as one and pretends to be one. She also pretends that her dinner is poison and legitimately tries to make her dog levitate.
  • An alternate interpretation of the novel/film American Psycho is that Patrick Bateman is an horrifically morbid example of this trope.
  • L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series:
    • Anne Shirley, the main character, is the epitome of this trope. She likes imagining herself as a wealthy lady named Lady Cordelia, pretends her reflection and echo are separate girls, and thinks up creative names for various objects and places (e.g. calling Barry's Pond the "Lake of Shining Waters"). While she learns some lessons about not letting her imagination run away with her, she never completely outgrows this trope, even as an adult.
    • All of Anne's children fit this trope to some degree, though Nan is easily the most like her mother in how imaginative she is. Like Anne, as a young girl she learns how she shouldn't let her imagination blind her to reality.
  • Best Friends by Steven Kellogg has Kathy constantly come up with elaborate fantasy sequences that often change in tone depending on her mood.
  • In The Boy Who Made Things Up, by Margaret Mahy, the eponymous boy likes to go for walks and make some of the things he's saying up. He's such a good pretender that he even convinces his father that he has a sunburn when they pretend to go to the beach.
  • Leslie Burke from Bridge to Terabithia. The titular magical kingdom is something she created with her imagination, and later on the magic is passed on to Jess Aarons after her death.
  • Charlie and Lola: Lola plays pretend on the regular, and when Charlie explains something to her, she will often have a daydream sequence about it.
  • In The Day I Lost My Superpowers, the girl pretends that she can fly, make things disappear, turn invisible, speak to animals and plants, breathe underwater, move things without touching them, and go back in time to when she was a baby.
  • Don Quixote who believes he's a knight and imagines many things that don't exist, such as a herd of sheep being an army and windmills being giants.
  • Fitz Kreiner of the Eighth Doctor Adventures is first introduced using his imagination to pretend he's leading a much more interesting life than he actually has. After he meets the Doctor and his life becomes much more interesting, he pretends to be heroic and glamorous characters to cope with terrifying and stressful situations. He's masqueraded as James Bond, Simon Templar and Frank Sinatra, as well as a few Original Characters.
  • Emily's Runaway Imagination: The titular character has an imagination that "runs away" with her— she pretends the washing machine can talk and the house is haunted, and is convinced that her neighbour wants to kidnap her in the last chapter.
  • Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin:
    • Vladimir Lensky is a naive dreamer of a poet. Very cute.
    • Tatyana is Miss Imagination. She's shy, quiet and timid, a great reader, and dreams about perfect love and has deep feelings. When Onegin leaves the country, she visits his mansion and reads his books, imagining what his thoughts were when he was reading the books as she reads his notes and scribbles written on the pages.
  • In Fire and Hemlock, Polly is a daydreamer. When she meets Tom Lynn, and they start to make up stories together, those stories have a tendency to become real.
  • Adam from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It also takes on the Reality Warper subset. Namely, he likes to imagine things like UFOs and being leader of a fantasy kingdom... but because he's the Antichrist (albeit an Anti-Antichrist) his imaginings change reality.
  • Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon and other books qualifies, though to what extent is unclear. On the surface, it looks as though he's imagining things, drawing, and then the drawings come to life, but the coming to life may also just be his imagination too.
  • Johnny Maxwell, the young teenager from the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy (Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead, Johnny and the Bomb) by Terry Pratchett. He is rather introverted, quiet, sober and has few friends. He isn't one of the cool kids, he isn't uncool, he's socially invisible. Of course, in the books reality is much stranger than Johnny's imagination, or sometimes his imagination spills over into reality. He listens, and the silent people begin talking to him; video game aliens speak to him in his dreams, he can see the spirits of the dead while walking home from school through the cemetery of his small English town, and he learns the ability to travel through time and to take others with him, from an old "differently sane" trolley (a shopping cart, for Americans) lady. In other cultures and times, Johnny would have been a shaman, or a visionary. When asked if the events of the books were "really happening", or were merely Johnny's imagination coping, Pratchett replied that it was probably both: "He deals with all the problems on their own terms and half the time he's projecting reality onto fantasy. So: is what happens in the books real? Yes. Does it all happen in Johnny's head? Yes."
  • Little Women: Beth March, the shy and quiet one of the sisters. Her "little world was peopled with imaginary friends," and she cares for her sisters' cast-off dolls as if they were invalids in a hospital.
  • Madame Bovary: Poor Emma, she was a victim of this trope. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman with vivid imagination, but lacked common sense. She saw her life as a romantic novel and imagined herself as an aristocrat or at least a noble city dweller, and best would be Paris. She a farmer's daughter who married a stupid middle class doctor and they live in a small town. She's Wrong Genre Savvy, and suffers terribly. Her family even more so.
  • Peter Pan: Subverted for the Darling children, who seem to be having fantasies about the eponymous flying boy and his fantasy dimension called Neverland, but then it turns out that Peter and Neverland really exist.
  • In Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine, Sam is very imaginative and makes things up such as her mother is a mermaid and she has a pet kangaroo.
  • The definitive example of this trope may be the main character of James Thurber's short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", first published in 1939. Indeed, "Walter Mitty" is often used as a kind of generic term for any ineffectual dreamer. Other famous Misters Imagination, like John Candy's character in Delirious or Snoopy, were based on his character.
  • Tre from Stuck begins off as one and, while he becomes less so in the later part of the book, he still has it. Definitely in the final chapters.
  • Swallows and Amazons: All of the children spend most of their time imagining they're sailors on a stereotypical island with cannibals, etc. They refer to anyone not in on their game as "natives", and even when "Captain" Nancy gets the mumps, they incorporate it into their game and make a plague flag.
  • This is how Tailchaser from Tailchaser's Song got his face-name. He was a dreamy kitten growing up. At his Naming Ceremony, the elders thought that he was the type who wanted his tail-name (which cats must find on their own) before his face-name.
  • The strictly speaking unnamed child protagonist in Tove Jansson's short story "A Tale of Horror" ("En hemsk historia"), who is very imaginative and can't tell apart reality and the things he imagines. After being left without dessert for claiming his little brother has been eaten by a snake, he decides to run away. He encounters Little My, who freaks him out by imagining even more horrible things than he does. Afterwards he's quite affronted that anyone could say such things when they are not really true.
  • Deconstructed in When the Windman comes By Antonia Michaelis. Pareidoile definitely has imagination - but since she imagines bad' things (like the Windman from the title), she lives in constant fear and is unable do many things other kids can.
  • In The Worst Thing About My Sister, Marty loves to make pretend adventures with her toy animals and write stories and draw comics of herself as a superhero.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ally McBeal:
    • Ally. She dreams constantly and has a very, very vivid imagination. She sees herself literally dumping her boyfriends or being dumped by them, throwing people out of the window, being hit by arrows, hearing music in streets and people dancing to it, people singing and performing a dance number in their office and office bathroom, seeing an animated dancing baby or unicorns. It verges on (and sometimes crosses) the line of mental health and madness.
    • John Cage, a brilliant Bunny-Ears Lawyer, mentions he used to be a dreamer as a child. His fantasies were so intense that he felt them to be real. He also imagines himself to be Barry White in order to be confident with women and increase his charisma and sex appeal.
    • One episode featured Ally's former teacher who imagined a whole new life for herself to avoid facing her real life of loneliness. She imagined having a husband and several kids, though they were rather poor and faced troubles of normal life.
  • The main character from the Doctor Who episode "Love and Monsters". An unintentionally darker example, as it could also count as a slight Sanity Slippage.
  • The Go Show has Norman, the sentient teddy bear. His favourite thing to do is pretend to be different occupations, such as pilot or submarine driver.
  • This is definitely Played With in House. House, who already has a good deal of psychological problems, is also blessed with a tendency to experience massive hallucinations, mostly because of his drug (ab)use. This can lead to very weird, Mind Screw-esque situations, including (but not limited to) the end of season five, where House hallucinates his intercourse with Cuddy, or the end of season two, where House ends up hallucinating an entire episode after being shot.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: Detective William Murdoch is a highly rational version of Mr. Imagination. He frequently imagines himself to be at the crime scene as an observer of the murder when he deducts who is the killer. He often drifts off into Daydream Surprise and Imagine Spot sequences, involving his love interest, a beautiful pathologist Dr. Ogden, or he imagines his future family life with a much-desired son who shares his passion for science.
  • One of the first examples on a television series, John Monroe (William Windom), the protagonist of My World And Welcome To It.
  • The Noddy Shop has Kate Tomten, who often tells stories using dolls to help herself solve problems that she and her younger brother run into, and Planet Pup, who constantly pretends that he is a superhero from outer space.
  • In Ressha Sentai ToQger, the ToQgers are all this; their imagination-fueled powers demand it. The clearest example is Pink: normally more the type to duck and cover than do Chop Sockey if a bunch of the Big Bad's goon squad show up, when in battle she's at her most scared she imagines herself having super powers, and we get a cutesy Imagine Spot... followed by her using that power to deliver epic beatdowns. With the power of IMAGINAAAAAATION!!! the least Rangerly Ranger of all time is suddenly breaking metal chains with her bare hands.
  • Kasumi of Samurai Gourmet is a subdued example. His imagination produces vignettes where a nameless samurai shows him one way he could solve his current social dilemma. Since Kasumi is not a samurai, the amount of inspiration that can apply to the real world varies.
  • J.D. of Scrubs is one of the most well-known and highly-developed adult examples of this trope. His Imagine Spots are rather famous.
  • Lieutenant Barclay from Star Trek: The Next Generation had at least fifteen holodeck fantasy worlds in the episode "Hollow Pursuits", including one involving the senior officers in the role of the "Goddess of Empathy" and The Three Musketeers. After he realizes that he doesn't need that kind of escapism, he deletes all of his holodeck programs — except for number 9. There's also Geordi and Picard, who both like reenacting detective stories on the holodeck, although they do this more for fun than escapism.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Janeway, Paris, and Harry Kim aren't "in their own worlds" by any means, but they do like running a simulation of an old-timey Irish village. Janeway and Harry have even dated some of the simulated people!
    • The EMH becomes one in "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy" when he adds a program to his mind that enables him to daydream. He ends up spending most of his time imagining himself as a hero.
  • At the end of the series St. Elsewhere, we find the entire series has taken place in an autistic child's imagination.
  • A constructive variation is in the old Tvontario educational series, Write On! where half the episodes were of Henry, a young reporter, gets reamed out by his editor on a mistake in writing and suddenly has a Walter Mittyesque daydream where he is a dashing hero having strange adventures that illustrate the particular writing lesson. Here's a complete episode with one such daydream.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The kids from Barney & Friends are the Reality Warper version of this— they imagined that Barney, their stuffie dinosaur was real, which causes him to come to life.
  • Blue the dog from Blue's Room, a spin-off of Blue's Clues.
  • Chica of The Chica Show, as well as Kelly, Stitches, and Bunji.
  • Sesame Street:
    • Zoe, who pretends that her pet rock Rocco can talk, and holds conversations with it.
    • Dorothy, Elmo's goldfish, who keeps imagining Elmo as different things.
    • Susie Kabloozie has a song called "I Can Do it in My Head", about the things she can do in her head, but not in real life. They range from the mundane (be a movie star, leap a great big hurdle) to the bizarre (ride on the back of an ant, go to the moon on a manatee).
    • Ernie tends to have an imagination that runs away with him, worrying, for instance, that he's not there when Bert says, "I didn't know you were there". He also plays pretend a lot.
    • Telly, much like Ernie, keeps imagining ridiculous scenarios and worrying about them (e.g. that Maria will buy too many balloons and float up to space).
    • Cecille has a song called "The Game of Make-Believe", in which she imagines she's on the beach, doing things like dancing with a mango and swimming in chocolate.
    • One Claymation skit features a boy named Arnold, who imagines his chair can fly, that the birds can talk, etc.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dreamers in Grimm were like this in the real world. This is mostly a good thing in the Grimm Lands, as it's based on imagination and fairy tales. Not only do they understand it better than anyone, but they're experts at reshaping it to their will — any child with Imagination as their iconic core trait can do this, but not only do Dreamers have the highest starting Imagination, they get it as a free iconic core trait and can spend their normal one on another to increase their options, or on Imagination to have each Imagination they expend for this purpose count as two. The downside? Their getting lost in their own fantasies, thoughts, and nightmares makes them more susceptible to things that toy with their mind, like illusions or charm spells.
  • In Steve Jackson Games' Toon: The Cartoon RPG, the "Toony Tykes Adventures" setting allows players to make kid characters. All of them gain the power "Overactive Imagination" by default, which basically allows them to enact this trope.
  • In Dark Alleys: one the character types is a Wonderlander. People who find that the vivid imaginary worlds and friends they had as children are beginning to bleed into the real world. Wonderlanders can draw power from this but sometimes the effects can get out of control.

    Theater 
  • Charlie Bucket in the 2013 stage musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is more in touch with reality than most, prone to daydreaming but also using his vibrant imagination to make the best of his meager circumstances. As it turns out, a certain Mr. Willy Wonka (as suggested in his first song, "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen") started out this way as well, and from there became the Mad Scientist of sweets we know today...
  • Georgina Allerton in Dream Girl is constantly drifting off into daydreams. Clark eventually notices this and tells her that "dreaming is easy and life is hard."

    Theme Parks 
  • Dreamfinder in the Journey into Imagination ride at Epcot is all about imagination, though in this case he's actually able to bring anything that comes out of his or Figment's imagination to life.

    Video Games 
  • Alice of American Mcgees Alice and Alice: Madness Returns, as per the source material. Deconstructed in that she has obvious issues and is pretty delusional due her Break the Cutie backstory in an insane asylum.
  • The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is all about this.
  • The trailer for Private BEMANI Academy, a cross-game event with various BEMANI in-house musicians in a High School A.U., features MAX MAXIMIZER as a New Transfer Student introducing himself as "the last guardian of corruption and despair" in a hammy distorted voice while wearing a hooded cloak. It's clear he's just Lost in Character in-universe and his antics aren't taken seriously, as his friend DJ TOTTO chimes in casually introducing himself as a fellow transfer student.
  • Melvin, one of the Nerds in Bully, seems to be so addicted to his tabletop game persona that he appears to lose his touch with reality every now and then. He sometimes asks where his "rings of protection" are when being beat up, leaves conversations to "save a princess", and speaks in broken Shakespearian English occasionally.
  • The title character of the NES game Day Dreamin' Davey, since his imaginative daydreams often lead to trouble at school.
  • In Disco Elysium you play as a police detective who can conduct conversations with the various pieces of his own mind, and with inanimated objects, provided enough points are put into the Inland Empire skill. How much of what's going on in his head is just his imagination versus hallucinations he can't control versus the real possibility of some kind of supra-natural sixth sense is something of a sliding scale, and the game doesn't confirm anything one way or the other. In particular, the skills Esprit de Corps, Shivers, and most of all Inland Empire all provide "visions" of other people, places, and times he couldn't really be seeing — yet the information is often scarily accurate. Even Visual Calculus, one of the game's most straightforward, sensible skills, fills your vision with glowing images of diagrams and measurements.
  • In Granblue Fantasy Versus, Lowain's victory animation reveals that the entire battle was simply a story he and his bros told each other at a tavern.
  • Sachiko Tanaka, one of the many recruitable characters in Love Live! School Idol Festival, is always depicted as wearing a witch cloak, pretending to channel some sort of power, or otherwise putting her imagination to use.
  • Max: An Autistic Journey: Max takes ordinary life situations and imagines him and his friends fighting monsters and going on adventures throughout. The exposition near the beginning even mentions that Max is creative and imaginative.
  • Moshi Monsters: Potty Pipsqueaks are a whole species of this. They steal the eggshells of another species so that they can pretend to be astronauts, pilots, or deep-sea divers.
  • Ned Needlemeyer from the obscure pc game Nightmare Ned, about a young boy with a hyperactive imagination, which mixed with his anxiety is the cause of his wacky and terrifying nightmares.
  • Deconstructed heavily in Omori through Sunny, who is quickly established to be using his fantasy world to escape from his harsh reality. Deliberately indulging in his ultimately unhealthy coping mechanism does not end well.
  • Nick, Booker's apprentice from Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs, does this by constantly worrying about negative outcomes of events in the game, to the point where he creates elaborate stories of how everything could go horribly wrong. Booker refers to these as 'daynightmares'.
  • The Pyro from Team Fortress 2, who sees everything in the waking world as a Sugar Bowl known as Pyroland.
  • Yandere Simulator has Oka Ruto, who has some chuunibyou-type personality traits. She's the president of an Occult Club, claims to have Aura Vision, and stalks two of her classmates to find evidence that they are supernatural beings. Her idea of a fun club activity? Attempting to summon demons on campus (she never succeeds).
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon contextualizes the fights in the game as Ichiban Kasuga imagining the brawls he gets into as Dragon Quest-inspired turn-based RPG battles. He and his comrades employ fantastical over-the-top attacks, calling for backup plays out like Summon Magic, and his enemies fill various RPG tropes.
  • Madotsuki from Yume Nikki, a hikikomori whom spends almost all her time in her dreams... most of which are nightmares.

    Visual Novels 
  • Deconstructed in Chaos;Head — main character Takumi is delusionally insane, and much of what he sees is not pleasant. His personality and his whole life for that matter has suffered as a result.
  • Gundham Tanaka in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair sees himself as an Evil Overlord with a mastery of Black Magic, which keeps him from being as useful as he could be during investigations.
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend, Okosan and later on Anghel are prone to mix the real world with their imagination and drag you along their fantasies. It goes even further than that, as this syndrome is rationalized by a scientific biological explanation.
  • Both Maria Ushiromiya and Sayo Yasuda in Umineko: When They Cry are this, namely by creating Imaginary Friends to make up for their lack of real friends and in Sayo's case, dressing up and acting like their imaginary friends. However, they're both more depressing examples of this trope; Maria is this in order to cope with her mother Rosa's abusive behaviour, while Sayo is this to deal with being friendless at first, but they retreat more and more into their fantasies once their life gets progressively worse.

    Web Comics 
  • The main character of Alice is this with her frequent fantasy sequences. At one point she actually got lost within her own imagination when it disconnected from her and decided to become its own being.
  • Pebble and Wren: Both main characters seem to be very imaginative, frequently playing games such as pretending they're in space, having fun lucid dreaming, etc.
  • Problem Sleuth:
    • This is an actual power there and the imagination world is an actual place that can also be accessed by jumping through a window. But only when that window is turned on. It makes sense in context. It was introduced originally as a euphemism for being drunk.
    • Pickle Inspector has the highest IMAGINATION stat, which grants him potent reality warping powers while in the imagination world. This is at the expense of his VIM (strength) stat.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • Jane Eyre in a Setting Update adaptation The Autobiography of Jane Eyre likes dreaming a lot. She says she likes wandering in a rose garden and pretends it's summer all the time. She likes playing, dancing and singing in empty houses. In episode 13, she can't sleep and says that she would like to read, but her book got too scary.
  • Lizzie Bennet of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a toned down Miss Imagination. A natural and hilarious story-teller, she likes dramatizing her life in a vlog series. However, she's also a very intelligent Communications Major student.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • Jake is sometimes close to being Mr. Imagination, particularly in the episode where everything he imagines becomes real.
    • BMO. The episode "BMO Noire" is entirely dedicated to BMO's Film Noir style fantasies.
  • Arthur: Downplayed for the main child characters. They play make-believe games on occasion and sometimes have elaborate fantasy spots, but describing any one of them as "in their own world" is a bit of a stretch.
  • The characters from The Backyardigans. They're quite the Five-Man Band (although a lot of the time they switch character type) and on their adventures they have become many different things. For instance, in a Halloween special, Tasha played a Mad Scientist with Austin playing her assistant, Tyrone playing a mummy, Pablo playing a vampire, and Uniqua playing the part of a werewolf.
  • This was the case in Bali, a somewhat obscure Slice of Life French animated series that aired for a while on PBS in the United States by way of PBS Kids. In every story, the title character, Bali, would have an extended (generally running about 3-4 minutes) segment in which he would go into his imagination and explore what was happening in the story with an imaginary character, complete with a song for each Fantasy Sequence.
  • The eponymous character Ian from Being Ian. Ian is intelligent, if somewhat naïve, and he has a very large imagination, and often gets lost in daydreams (many of which are parodies of famous films).
  • Billy revolves around Billy, a boy who lives an ordinary life but goes on wild adventures in his daydreams. The bulk of each episode is spent in his imagination.
  • Eddie Storkowitz, the lead character of Birdz, spends a lot of his time fantasizing that his peers are in movie settings.
  • The titular character of Caillou is a preschooler who uses his imagination to make tasks that may seem hard fun or activities that are impossible for him to do.
  • The Casagrandes has C.J., who spends a lot of time pretending he's a pirate or a superhero.
  • Chirp from Chirp, as well as Squawk and Tweet.
  • Chloe from Chloe's Closet, as well as Jet, Tara, Danni, Lily, and Mac.
  • Craig of the Creek is about the everyday adventures of a kid named Craig and his friends JP and Kelsey, whose vivid imaginations turn ordinary playtime into epic quests.
  • Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: The titular Daniel loves to imagine scenarios related to the plot of the episode he is in.
  • The "Magnificent Muttley" bits on Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines.
    Dick Dastardly: Wake up there, Muttley! You're dreaming again!
    You're not Robin Hood, and you're not Gunga Din!
    You're not a brave knight, or a king who's been crowned!
    You're just plain old Muttley, the snickering hound.
  • Doug is constantly going into imagine spots.
  • Rufus is this in spades in the pilot for The Dreamstone. Oddly despite being a dominant trait, and the key reason he gets a job assisting the Dream Maker, it is only referred to in a handful of episodes afterwards.
  • Eliot from Eliot Kid; a little kid with an overactive imagination that turns the most commonplace situations into Hollywood action-adventure blockbusters.
  • Ellen from Ellens Acres. Each episode begins with Ellen narrating the adventure she had in her imagination, but she says, "Actually...",
  • Elliot from Elliot Moose, as well as Socks.
  • Mac of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is the most-often seen one, though his own "imaginary friend" Bloo has an active imagination himself. Goo, however, is this as her main characteristic. In her première episode, she creates a crisis in that her imagination is way too active that her imaginary friends, which become real, immediately overcrowd the mansion the show is set in.
  • Franny from Franny's Feet.
  • Orson Pig from Garfield and Friends occasionally gets carried away with his active imagination and love of reading. "He should be carried away!". Garfield's no slouch either.
  • Arnold from Hey Arnold! started out as this, before the show expanded and began to put the spotlight on its Loads and Loads of Characters.
  • Jibber Jabber. The eponymous protagonists of the series, Jibber and Jabber are seven-year-old fraternal (non-identical) twins. They have very active imaginations, and both share the same vision of their adventures.
  • Justin from Justin Time (2011).
  • Kaeloo: The titular character is a very imaginative young girl who uses her imagination to make even the most mundane things seem exciting. Nobody else on the show does this - they see mundane things as boring and mundane, and they don't understand her imaginative approach (in one episode, Mr. Cat actually asks her if she's been smoking weed).
  • This is the basic idea of Kate & Mim-Mim. Kate's imagination is so powerful that in each episode she goes on detailed adventures in Mimiloo with an animate version of her stuffed bunny friend, Mim-Mim, and their other friends Mimiloo.
    Kate: Mim-Mim, funny bunny friend, it's time to come to life again!
    Mim-Mim: Kate and Mim-Mim, me and you, let's twirl away to Mimiloo.
  • The title characters from Little Bear, especially the title character, frequently lapse into imagination sequences, which can make the show kind of surreal at times since it's sometimes unclear where an imagination sequence starts and ends. They also play make-believe games a lot.
  • The Looney Tunes shorts "Boyhood Daze" and "From A to Zzzzz" featured a boy named Ralph Phillips who was always doing this.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Daffy Duck is this in the short "Daffy Duck the Wizard", imagining himself as a mighty wizard while doing various mundane things.
  • The cartoon version of Milly, Molly has Humphrey, a boy who often pretends he's from outer space.
  • In Milo, the eponymous bunny spends a lot of his time playing pretend games, and in one episode, he and his father George spent the whole episode pretending the vehicles were wild animals.
  • Mona from Mona the Vampire. The series follows the adventures of Mona Parker, who refers to herself as "Mona the Vampire", as well as her two best friends, Lily Duncan ("Princess Giant") and Charley Bones ("Zapman"), and her pet cat, Fang, as they imagine themselves confronting a new supernatural foe, or solving a supernatural mystery, in every episode, but there are always rational explanations for what they see.
  • Texas in Motorcity, such as coming up with impossible plans to fight Kane or more notably in the episode "Threat Level: Texas!" where he retells the events of previous episodes, only he's the hero and everyone else is out of character.
  • The titular characters of Muppet Babies (1984). A lot of their adventures had footage from movies such as Labyrinth, Star Wars and Oliver.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: With the power of Inspiration Manifestation, Rarity has this, starting with what she did in Ponyville. Thankfully, the spell was removed before she could change all Equestria and the world with her creativity running amok.
  • The premise of the Oh Yeah! Cartoons short "Earth to Obie", where Obie imagines that he's at a prison for breakfast cereal mascots when his mother takes him to the supermarket.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • It is implied that Isabella Garcia-Shapiro spends much of her time daydreaming about her crush, Phineas, turning into a centaur and carrying her off along a rainbow. She calls this fantasy "Phineasland" and can drift off even while Phineas is actually talking to her.
    • Also Phineas is likes imagination as well.
    • Ferb to a slightly lesser extent. Anything they set out to do, they will do it, even though it seems to break the laws of logic and indeed, physics.
  • Sydney from Ready Jet Go! has this as her defining character trait. Her purpose on the show is to represent the power of imagination in science. She often leads the gang in various Imagine Spots, usually themed after her favorite franchise, Commander Cressida.
  • Many episodes of Rugrats are centered on the babies imagining some mundane task as a great adventure, with occasional flashes of what is really happening interrupting it.
  • There was a cartoon called The Secret Life of Walter Kitty. If you're read the rest of this page, no points for guessing what 'inspired' it.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Lisa occasionally drifts off into a fantasy world to avoid the grim reality of living life in Springfield.
    • Homer had several fantasies that would figure out his real life problems. It included life under the sea, the robbing of Kwik-E-Mart or living in a chocolate land. A lots of them are listed under trope If I Were a Rich Man.
    • Marge unleashed her imagination when she wrote her clichéd historical novel. However, it ended as a bit of in-universe Self-Insert Fic about a woman who married a boorish man.
  • South Park:
    • A literal Mr. Imagination who takes the kids to "Imaginationland", a place where all imaginary things exist (and of which he's the Mayor).
    • Among the actual kids, Butters is this. He's depicted as a savior of Imaginationland because of this trait, and when he's playing ninjas as Professor Chaos with the four boys, he beats them all. At least, up until he's hit in the eye with a real shuriken.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants provides the page quote. Another example (though it doesn't spell it out as clearly) is an episode where Spongebob manages to have lots of fun with only a piece of paper Squidward discarded. When Squidward tries, he can't do any of the things with the piece of paper Spongebob did, probably because he has no imagination.
  • Stacy and Bradley of Stickin' Around; part of the Theme Song went for your big fat information, this is our imagination.
  • Taz is portrayed as this in several episodes of Taz-Mania, such as "Sub Commander Taz" and "The Origin of the Beginning of the Incredible Taz-Man".
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • The short, "Bunny Daze" from the episode, "Rainy Daze" provides a female example; Babs Bunny uses her imagination to make household chores fun.
    • In the short, "Fit to Be Toyed" from the episode, "Playtime Toons", Montana Max get his old toys taken away by his father when he is caught blowing them up to make room for new ones. He goes to the attic, where he meets his imagination, who has shrunk down to the size of a mouse, and teaches him new ways to play with a paddle ball.
  • VeggieTales: Larry the Cucumber likes to go around pretending to be a superhero named "Larry-Boy", which is the basis of the entire Spin-Off.
  • The titular Winston from Winston's Potty Chair is a very imaginative little boy. When he tries wearing his potty on his head, he imagines that he's the chief of a tribe, and when his older brother Tony tells him he's supposed to sit on his potty, Winston imagines that his potty is a car seat, jet ski, and saddle. He also imagines that he's in a prehistoric forest when he reads a book about dinosaurs.

    Real Life 
  • This trait is referred to as a "fantasy-prone personality."
  • Many people in the entertainment business and fiction authors of any genre, which are two fields that require a large and constantly expanding imagination in order to be successful.
  • Children, from preschool to school age, can be this, as they often use their imagination and play "make-believe".
  • In the Myers–Briggs test, most people who get typed as a INxx type will usually fall under this trope, though INFPs tend to be the quintessential example.
  • Despite stereotypes saying the opposite, many autistic people are exactly this.
  • Some people write them down, or paint/draw them; they're called 'authors' and 'artists.'
  • By technicality, everyone is this trope. You cannot do a single action without imagining first.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Ms Imagination

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Testing the Limits

Walter has a habit of spacing out and having elaborate daydreams, often involving romancing Cheryl.

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