A character is bored or uninterested in learning something. Or he/she is just completely uninterested in a certain topic and doesn't understand why other people value it so much. Or he/she is just a mean person who doesn't understand why his/her behavior is wrong. In all cases, he/she doesn't care about the topic and even pokes fun at other characters for taking it so seriously.
Then he or she goes to sleep. Before he/she falls into unconsciousness, they might even say: "I wish that certain person/event/product didn't exist." As he/she starts dreaming, some legendary character arrives and provides the person with a lot of background information about the topic. Sometimes the dreaming ignoramus has put in the action him/herself. Or he/she sees a world where the people or things he wished didn't exist now indeed don't exist, with catastrophic consequences. In any case, he or she finally gains knowledge, respect and enthusiasm for a topic he/she originally knew nothing about.
When the character eventually awakes, if they were supposed to be the antagonist, he/she makes a Heel–Face Turn. He/she is glad that it was All Just a Dream and finally realizes the importance of learning math, respect for your country, respect for your ancestors, respect for people he/she formerly threatened or hurt, why a certain product is necessary,... and so on. In most cases, he/she even becomes a vocal supporter of the cause.
This plot device (which some audiences may consider corny if it's not done well) was very popular in old educational films and tv series.
Compare Dreaming the Truth.
- In the final episode of Sands of Destruction, while trapped in the Cave of Memories, Morte dreams of her family. While she desires to stay with them and forget the real world, they convince her that not only should she return to live life, but that the world doesn't need to be destroyed after all - just changed, through her life and what she accomplishes with her friends.
- At one point in Legend of Galactic Heroes, Reinhard von Lohengramm of the Galactic Empire contemplates grinding his rival and Worthy Opponent Yang Wen-li's battlefleet down via attrition with his overwhelming strength, but a visitation by his dead friend Sigfried Kircheis convinces him to offer a cease-fire instead.
- Happens in the 1943 Cabin in the Sky, where a man who gambles too much has a Dream Within a Dream where some angels and devils try to get his soul. As he awakes in real life he throws the dice away and swears to repent and devote his life to going to Church more often.
- Wayne's plan for Waynestock in Wayne's World 2 is the direct result of a dream with Jim Morrison telling him to set up a huge show in Aurora. Others he recruits also mention having the Jim Morrison dream later on. WHOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
- This is the concept of the movie Inception, including the title, which refers to the act of specifically engineering an Opinion-Changing Dream for another person without them realizing it.
- Also the entire point of the film North. The titular character is annoyed with his parents until he wakes up from his dream and accepts them for who they are.
- A Case of Spring Fever: This trope is one possible explanation for the film's plot, in which a frustrated man grumbles "I hope I never see another spring in my life!" and is confronted by Coily the Spring Sprite, who demonstrates how critical springs are to modern life by making the man do without them. He's so affected that he spends the last few minutes of the short lecturing his (clearly annoyed) golf buddies about how great springs are.
- The Family Man: A mysterious man named Cash shows Jack an alternate life where he chose to start a family with his college girlfriend Kate rather than become a Wall Street executive who doesn't yet realize he's Lonely at the Top. Cash describes this as a "glimpse" and thus only temporary, but Jack does wake up in the same place and time before the glimpse began, his downtown bachelor's apartment. The experience leads him to track down Kate and reconnect with her after by giving a heartfelt description of the life he saw they had together.
- In one of the Arabian Nights stories, a princess hates men because she dreamt about a male bird who left his mate to a birdcatcher, to save himself, after she had stayed behind to rescue him. A strange plot device, considering that the princess lives in a world where her father will execute her for losing her virginity ... it's not as if she needs a dream to have a low opinion of men. But, of course, her hate of men is easily remedied by telling her the truth about the end of that story; the hero (who, for some reason, had the same dream) tells her that the male bird was killed by a falcon before he could return.
- One Berenstain Bears book centered on environmentalism had Papa Bear go through one after he decided he didn't need to recycle or plant trees to replace the ones he cut down.
- A Christmas Carol: Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and helping the needy. But after a long dream where he is visited by his late partner Jacob Marley's ghost and then three more ghosts he changes his character completely and becomes a good person.
- The children's book Just A Dream, a classic Green Aesop, is entirely based on this idea. As in the above example, the main character is uninterested in environmentalism until he has a series of dreams showing what the world might be like if no one took care of the earth.
- In the Vita Nuova, the course of the Dante's life is changed when a dream convinces him to give up loving anyone but his deceased One True Love. The dream is probably the least spectacular in the Vita Nuova, since it avoids any cannibalized hearts or crying stars in favor of a lone vision of the World's Most Beautiful Woman at the moment Dante saw her and experienced Love at First Sight.
- Highway to Heaven: Two episodes from the late winter of 1986:
- "Heaven On Earth," where Mark vents his frustration over how unfair it was that a cute 5-year-old girl he had just met was killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, and a number of other more mundane situations, and wishes he could be God for a day to "make things right" in his view. When Mark goes to rescue a teen-aged girl who was trapped in a burning house, he is overcome by smoke and falls unconscious. Instead of burning to death, however, Mark is allowed to have a dream where his desire to play God is played out, only with results that he didn't foresee (such as the aforementioned teen-aged girl, who was a hard-working young girl learning about responsibility becoming an Alpha Bitch that would make Nellie Oleson look like nothing) ... and the little girl that died in the car accident is still dead. Mark soon realizes that God has a reason for things happening the way they are and that some things, as bad or unpleasant as they are, are out of his (Mark's) control. Mark soon realizes that his vision of "Heaven on Earth" is best left to God.
- "The Torch," where a Holocaust survivor, Everett Soloman, who is on the speaking circuit to talk about his experiences and to warn students against complacency, comes into conflict with a neo-Nazi group who try to intimidate him by killing his son. Soloman has a bad heart and needs a transplant and there seems to be no hope ... until the man that killed his son is accidentally killed himself after a machine gun in his basement accidentally discharges. The upshot is that the killer's heart is a perfect biological match for Soloman, and the transplant is a success ... until Soloman learns the identity of his donor. Soloman has a heart attack and nearly dies, but while he is being revived, the trope kicks into play: He has a dream where he is visited by his mother and father (who both died in the Nazi war camp, in a method that would be indescribable anywhere) and his son, who urge him to continue to speak about the Holocaust, how it was allowed to happen and what can be done to never let it happen again. Soloman soon recovers and, with renewed purpose, is back on the speaking circuit.
- An episode of Sister, Sister ("I Had A Dream" (1998)) features Tamera ridiculing the deeds of her African-American ancestors and feeling reluctant to carry on with her own miserable life. In her dream she is visited by several historical Afro-American figures who all claim they want to give up and do something else. She convinces them to do otherwise and do the historical deed that they are famous for. When she wakes up, she respects her ancestors, and realizes that ambition can also help her make important contributions to history.
- In an episode of Cosby, Bill Cosby's character Hilton Lucas is uninterested in studying William Shakespeare, until he has a dream where Shakespeare himself (played by Tom Conti) explains the relevance of his works. One notable Casting Gag moment finds Lucas cast in the role of King Lear, with Sabrina La Beauf(Sandra from The Cosby Show) as Goneril. By the end of the episode he's much more interested in Shakespeare's plays.
- In the Dinosaurs episode "And the Winner Is...", B.P. Richfield runs for Chief Elder and has Earl Sinclair run against him so Richfield would win. At first Earl is willing to lose, until he has a dream of a world run by Richfield, where Earl's family is poor and minimum wage is lowered to a few cents. This dream inspires Earl to try harder to win. Later, when his popularity goes up but the family remarks that Earl might not be smart enough to make a good chief elder, Earl refuses to sleep knowing he'll have a dream convincing him that he'll make a terrible chief elder. And he is right.
- In the M*A*S*H episode "Dreams", several characters have dreams, and for some this seems to affect them.
- On The Sopranos, several characters have opinion changing dreams. Tony has one about Big Pussy which finally forces him to confront the truth that he had betrayed them, and has another after being seriously wounded that lasts several episodes.
- Zoey 101: Chase has one, leading him to return Zoey's DVD to the time capsule.
- The Brady Bunch: In the episode Bobbys Hero Bobby becomes so fascinated with Jesse James that he brings a toy gun to school and makes his teachers and parents very concerned. Eventually an Opinion-Changing Dream in which he imagines himself part of James' gang makes him change his mind, especially when James murders his entire family in cold blood.
- Punky Brewster renounces Valentine's Day, then that night dreams she's a lonely old spinster. When she wakes up, her opinion on Valentine's Day in regards to boys doesn't change (she's a tomboy at this stage), but she does share Valentine's Day love with Henry.
- An episode of Now and Again has the main character Michael Wiseman complaining about a need for reading material which is dismissed as unimportant by Dr. Morris, only for him to then dream that the nanotech used to maintain the artificial body Michael's brain is in that the doctor created have run amock and begun eating all the printing ink off of all paper in the world including money. After witnessing the apocalyptic loss of all printed works from the world when he wakes and realizes it was a dream he changes his mind and begins making reading material available to Michael.
- An episode of Smart Guy uses this, with a twist: Yvette has been struggling with her college applications, afraid to apply to her dream university Brown for fear of rejection and instead "playing it safe" with a less renowned state college. Then she has a recurring dream in which she marries Marcus's dimwitted friend Moe Tibbs, whom she isn't attracted to at all such that the initial dream is treated as a Catapult Nightmare. After several nights of trying to find out why she's having these dreams, she eventually plays along and joins Dream!Moe on their "honeymoon" at a cheap motel room. When Yvette questions Dream!Moe on what their future will be like, Dream!Moe responds that he's content to just coast on by with minimum wage job and his Zany Scheme Of The Week, putting in the bare minimum amount of effort. Yvette, horrified that this is what her future will be like, realizes that because she settled on her choice of college, she settled on love and on life as well, only "choosing" Dream!Moe because he was safe and familiar. Dream!Moe then inspires her to apply to Brown like she had wanted, and when she wakes up she immediately rushes to fill out her application.
- Corey from That's So Raven is initially flippant and dismissive of his black history month assignment. He's motivated to take it more seriously after meeting various African American trailblazers and pioneers in a dream. Realizing that their struggles and achievements are important and need to be remembered.
- In The Bible (Acts 10:9-23), Peter falls into a trance and sees many animals which were forbidden (unclean) for a Jewish person to eat. He is commanded by God to "kill and eat," but replies that he had never broken Jewish dietary laws before. God replies, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou unclean." Peter learns from this to accept the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) as converts to Christianity and to no longer treat them as outsiders to the faith.
- In Guys and Dolls, during the scene when the gamblers are attending the revival at the Save-A-Soul mission because Sky won a bet, Nicely-Nicely Johnson recounts a dream he had that turned him from his wild gambling ways, "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat". (Clip from the 2011 Broadway revival is here; the film version (performed by Stubby Kaye) is here.) The trope is subverted, in that Nicely didn't change his ways and may not (probably didn't, in fact) even have such a dream at all.
- In Fiddler on the Roof, after Tevye decides to cancel the Arranged Marriage between his daughter Tzeitel and the elderly drunk Lazar Wolfe, he realizes that his wife will not accept the decision without some spiritual reason underlying it, so he pretends to have a dream in which he is confronted by the vengeful ghost of Lazar's late wife, who threatens to haunt and kill Tzeitel if the marriage goes forward.
- A few days after firing Kyle in the prologue to Last Window, Ed has a bizarre dream in which he found Kyle dead by the road. He decides not to take his chances and agrees to rehire Kyle if he can manage to prove himself.
- YugiNoNo has a skit in which the Eugene character has a nightmare over being sent to Yugioh Hell for playing Trickstars. He didn't seem to care.
Eugene: (Awakes in terror) Oh, (begins laughing) it was just a dream... Wow that was the worst dream I've had my whole life, that was horrible... Gosh... Phew... The easy wins are so worth it though...
- In the Pluto cartoon, Pluto's Judgement Day, Mickey Mouse punishes Pluto for chasing a little kitten. Pluto then goes to sleep and has a nightmare where he is sent to Hell and tortured by several cats. When he awakes he changes his ways and acts gentle towards his feline friends.
- Looney Tunes:
- The Porky Pig cartoon Old Glory has Porky struggling to get through the Pledge of Allegiance. He falls asleep and is visited by Uncle Sam who tells him about the American War of Independence. Porky learns the value of American freedom and wakes up. Now he is able to recite the entire Pledge from memory.
- Subverted in "Pigs Is Pigs", where Piggy is seen eating too much for his own good. When he goes to bed he has a nightmare where a scientist forcefeeds him. Eventually Piggy has a Balloon Belly and eats one more piece of food before he explodes. After he wakes up, he still rushes downstairs to continue eating, having learned nothing!
- "The Big Snooze" has Elmer Fudd tearing up his Warner Brothers contract after being bested by Bugs Bunny one time too many. Bugs invades his dreams and induces a truly bizarre nightmare as only Bob Clampett can produce, prompting Elmer to get back to work.
- The Tom and Jerry cartoon "Heavenly Puss" shows Tom dying and going to Heaven. There he is told that he should go to Hell, but if he can make Jerry sign a contract of forgiveness he may enter Heaven. Tom goes through great lengths to do so, but in the end he fails and is cooked in Hell. Then it turns out it was All Just a Dream and he hugs Jerry to become friends again.
- In South Park:
- Mocked in "I'm A Little Bit Country" where Cartman acts as if he doesn't care about American history so that he can induce an opinion changing dream. He elaborately stages incidents that would render him unconscious so that he can have the educational dream and thereby avoid the bother of actually studying. After many amusing failed attempts, he succeeds.
- Played straight in "Cartoon Wars: Part I". At first, Kyle opposes Cartman's efforts to have the Family Guy episode pulled, but changes his mind after having a dream in which he sees his brother killed in a terrorist attack.
- Happens a second time with "Jewpacabra", where Cartman's tranquilizer-fueled dream of the Book of Exodus has such an effect that he converts to Judaism.
- In the King of the Hill episode "Trans-Fascism", Hank drives a lunch truck serving then-illegal trans-fat foods. At first he sees himself as a patriot for disobeying an unjust law. A dream featuring George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Tom Landry (on Landry's B-17 during World War II) in which they express their disapproval of Hank's actions gives Hank the strength to tell Buck that he wants out.
- Arthur featured this plot with Binky. Binky regularly does good deeds because he knows they're the right thing to do. He told a teacher to stop his friend from doing a dangerous stunt, causing his friend to get detention and hate him, and doing so made him miss the wrestling special he wanted to watch. He resolved to stop doing good deeds until he had a dream where his favorite wrestler told Binky that doing good deeds was the best thing he ever did and the world would be a much worse place if he didn't do them.
- The Simpsons: "Bart the Lover" sees Bart's class watching a short movie that's a parody of A Case of Spring Fever (see Film, above) except that the man in question wishes to get rid of zinc. It reaches its peak when, in desperation, he tries to shoot himself only to discover that the gun won't work without zinc either, causing him to lament "Zinc! Come back!"
- An episode of Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat centers around a conflict between Dongwa and his father, Baba. They both come from a family of cats that have primarily been scribes, but Dongwa is more interested in practicing kung fu than in doing his "scrolls" homework. When Dongwa coaxes his sister Sagwa into doing his work for him, Baba finds out and scolds them. But when Baba goes to bed, he has a nightmare that flashes back to his younger days, when he wanted to play outside but his grandfather insisted on him doing his scrolls. The next morning, partially due to this, Baba and Dongwa are able to reach a compromise: writing is still an important tradition, but Baba will give Dongwa less scrolls to do so Dongwa doesn't have to think of it as work, and Dongwa can use the additional spare time to practice kung fu.
- In the CatDog episode "It's A Wonderful Half Life", Cat and Dog go to bed angry after an argument, each wishing he wasn't stuck to his brother so he could live his own life. They have a shared dream done in Inkblot Cartoon Style where Cat is a wealthy and successful factory owner with no friends, and Dog is a happy-go-lucky hobo without a place to call home. They end up meeting and becoming friends after Dog saves Cat's life, and after the two wake up from their dream they reconcile.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
- In "Marco Grows a Beard", Star accidentally gives Marco a beard so long it fills the Diaz house with hair, and she loses her Magic Wand in the mess. After struggling to get through the forest of hair, she's about to give up and lies down for a nap. Star then has a dream where one of the Laser Puppies talks to her, encouraging her not to give up by pointing out she's been able to kick butt since before she got the wand.
- In "Star vs. Echo Creek", Star goes on the run after accidentally wrecking a police car, and ends up in a bubble at the bottom of a river. There, she encounters a jolly talking dragon who tries to convince her to live in his underwater realm, where she can do whatever she wants... provided she never sees her friends and family again. The dragon eventually admits to being a figment of Star's imagination trying to convince her that running away is a good idea, but the experience actually convinces Star to turn herself in to the police.
- Bojack Horseman: Whenever BoJack goes on one of his benders, expect this to happen:
- "Downer Ending": After reading "One Trick Pony", he disowns and refuses to allow its publication out of fear and self-denial, claiming he can do it better. After a night of drug-binging and postponing, he goes into a journey of self-discovery and psychological scars, culminating in the happiest moment he has ever lived, only to have it yanked away. By the time he regains consciousness, not only has he failed to present an alternative to the autobiography and convinced himself that Diane should publish the original, but he has realized what an utter wreck he is and worse, how bad it can affect him and others. He spends the last portion of the episode asking Diane if he is a good person.
- "That's Too Much, Man": Once the Oscar nominations, the groupies and his friends fade out, BoJack contacts Sarah Lynn and they enter a six-weeks long bender with every drug imaginable: vicodin, LSD, heroin, etc. In between his blackouts, the constant shifts in scenery and light-headed visions, he has some flashbacks to his reunion with Sarah Lynn in 2007 when he was planning his comeback and needed a guest star in the first episode. Sarah Lynn was having some problems with stardom and wanted to rely in a true friend...until she realized he had come for the guest spot, leading her to drugs and booze to cope and the state she was at the beginning of the series. And he's repeating the same mistake again. Unlike the example above, BoJack doesn't realize the lesson in time and the bender combined with keeping up with the lower tolerance due to her brief sobriety kills Sarah Lynn just as she was starting to realize what she wanted in life.
- Invoked by Rick and Morty in the episode "Lawnmower Dog", when Rick uses a device to allow them to enter dreams. The original idea was convince Morty's teacher to give him good grades, but things go awry and they end up meeting Scary Terry, a "legally-safe knockoff of an '80s horror character with miniature swords for fingers instead of knives". Scary Terry hunts them relentlessly, until he just gets tired and goes home to sleep. They decide to go into his dreams, where they help him through a nightmare of his own. Terry wakes up thinking they're cool guys and befriends them. He in turn helps them with their original plan with Morty's teacher. The same trick is used in the B-Plot where Rick has to use the same device to get Snuffles/Snowball/Snuffles to leave Earth with the rest of his super smart dogs and not take over.
- In the early 1950s, Lucille Ball had grave doubts about adapting her popular radio sitcom, My Favorite Husband, for the new and untested medium of television... until she had a dream in which her close friend, Carole Lombard (who had been dead since 1942), told her to "give it a whirl". She did, and you may have heard of the resulting series: I Love Lucy.
- According to IMDb, Steve Whitmire was incredibly nervous when taking over as Kermit the Frog for The Muppet Christmas Carol (the first Muppet project since the death of Jim Henson). He felt more confident after having a dream where he met Henson in a hotel lobby and talked about his fears, which Henson assured him would pass.