Follow TV Tropes


Post–Wake-Up Realization

Go To
"Goodnight, Squidward." "Goodnight, SpongeBob."

"Everyday, it's the same routine; I get up, I head for the kitchen, I walk under the camel, I pick out a doughnut, I walk back under the camel again, I head back for my bed, I eat the doughnut, I... [pause] I... get up, I head for the kitchen, I walk under the camel, I... [realizes] UNDER THE CAMEL?!?"
Garfield, Garfield and Friends, "Odie the Amazing"

So a character just woke up, they got out of bed still half asleep and start going about their morning routine, not noticing their bed is made out of frogs, or that there's a tiger in the bathroom, or that they gained 200 pounds over night, or that there's a homely stranger beside you after drinking a couple of rounds last night. Then suddenly the realization hits them in the face (some times literally) and they freak out.

It may occur after the lights are turned on, they see themselves in the mirror and/or take a close look at their surroundings; it might be something else that snaps them out of their lethargic state, like hearing a loud noise, tripping on something or getting hurt somehow; other times they just have a delayed reaction.

It's practically mandatory for any stories involving a Gender Bender or "Freaky Friday" Flip (assuming the switch occurs overnight).

Whatever the case they didn't see the changes right away because they hadn't fully woken up or couldn't see, and are shocked when they do. When they wake up to the fact, they might think they're still asleep, or drunk if they drank the night before. Usually done for humor, but can be done for horror as well.

Although actually getting out of bed is not necessary it adds to the humor when the audience sees something the character hasn't paid attention to yet. Bonus points if they treat something strange as if it was normal before the realization.

May overlap with Bedmate Reveal, You Wake Up in a Room, and That Was Not a Dream.

Subtrope of Delayed Reaction. May happen during a The Murder After realization.

Compare Unusually Uninteresting Sight, where something weird is ignored even when wide awake. Contrast Instant Waking Skills, where the character goes from asleep to awake immediately and is aware of everything. Somewhat related to Wham Line.


    open/close all folders 

     Fan Works 
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Izuku is too busy reeling from a coma to notice that he completely lost his Geek Physique while he was unconscious. He only realizes the change after Dr. Tsubasa mentions it while doing blood tests.

     Film — Animated 
  • In Finding Nemo, the Tank Gang's second attempt at escaping the tank by jamming the filter so they'll have to be taken out while it's cleaned works up until a new filter gets installed overnight. The morning after this happens, Peach wakes up and does notice that the tank is clean despite their efforts, but she doesn't realise the implications for a few seconds.

     Film — Live Action 
  • In 28 Days Later, Jim has been in a coma since the zombie apocalypse started. He wakes up, leaves the mysteriously abandoned hospital...and slowly realises what has actually happened.
  • A Running Gag in the Back to the Future trilogy is Marty getting knocked out, thinking everything was a dream, and then suddenly getting startled awake when Lorraine or Maggie tells Marty that he's now safe and sound in 1955/on the 25th floor/on the McFly farm.
    Marty: I dreamed that I went back in time.
  • In The Change-Up, Dave Lockwood wakes up in his friend's apartment, and later realizes that they switched bodies.
  • In Click, Michael Newman wakes up after a 10 year time skip caused by the remote. He gets out of bed oblivious to the fact that he's put on a lot of weight during those 10 years.
  • In Groundhog Day, Phil always hears the same snippet of "I Got You Babe" on his alarm clock radio while he's in his "Groundhog Day" Loop. The morning after his "perfect day", he hears that song yet again, but suddenly bolts awake when he realizes it's a different part of the song and he's broken the cycle.
  • The Hangover has one of the characters wake up after they were all hungover and not noticing that there's a tiger in the bathroom.
  • The Last Starfighter. Alex has been replaced by a Beta Unit (android double) while he's off in outer space. Late at night, the Beta Unit takes off his own head to try to repair it. Alex's brother Louis is sleeping in the same room and wakes up. When he sees what appears to be his brother with his head removed, he starts to go back to sleep and then does a Double Take and becomes fully awake.

  • In some versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur is like this about the bulldozers preparing to knock down his house.
    The word 'bulldozer' wandered through his mind for a moment, in search of something to connect with.
  • Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis. The whole novella is based on young cloth salesman Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning and soon realises he has transformed into a beetle-type insect. The transformation is tragically permanent.
  • The Day of the Triffids: Played for drama in the first chapter, combined with a brilliant example of Nothing Is Scarier because the realisation is about what isn't there. The protagonist is lying in a hospital bed with his eyes bandaged, initially thinking he must have woken up rather early because he can't hear any traffic on the nearby main road... But then a clock strikes eight, and he realises that something very queer is going on because the nurse should have come in an hour ago, and it's the middle of rush hour so why is it so quiet...? Turns out he's literally Slept Through the Apocalypse.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In the Goosebumps episode "Say Cheese and Die - Again!", the character Greg wakes up and stretches his arms upward, only for his shirt to rip partially. Then he walks to the mirror and sees in horror that he's fat.
  • The first meeting between the title protagonists of Jeeves and Wooster occurs when Wooster wakes up with a horrible hangover and tries to comprehend what happens to his home, as Jeeves reverses the utter chaos of his apartment at inhuman speeds.
  • On The Last Man on Earth, Phil's brother Mike returns to Earth and starts a Prank War with him. At one point, Phil wakes up and goes to get ready for his day, then looks in the mirror to discover Mike shaved off the hair on one side of his head.
  • Subverted in the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch "Strangers in the Night". A man and woman are asleep in bed. The wife's admirers start entering the bedroom professing their love for her. Each time a new person or group enters the room the husband wakes up and asks what's happening, the woman gives him a bogus explanation for all the noise and he goes back to sleep. He finally gets out of bed and walks away, apparently not noticing all of the men in the room. Later he's shown with his own female lover, indicating he was just ignoring the men.
  • The Prisoner (1967). After being gassed in his flat, Number Six wakes up apparently still in his bedroom. When he opens the blind on his window, he sees the Village outside.
  • In the first episode of Quantum Leap Sam's swiss-cheesed brain doesn't know that he has leaped into the life of someone else until he goes to the bathroom and looks at himself in the mirror to shave.
  • In The Walking Dead, Rick goes into a coma after being shot and only wakes up after the zombies have taken over.

  • In Spinnerette, Sahira greets her roommate Heather as usual in the bathroom and leaves, closing the door behind her. Then she slams the door back open after realizing Heather has six arms.

     Western Animation 
  • In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "The Transplant", Muriel wakes Courage up to go and check on Eustace. After he groggily opens the bathroom door, he finds Eustace transformed into a giant kangaroo monster. He calmly closes the door and manages to make it all the way back to Muriel's bedroom before screaming in terror.
  • The Flintstones: Near the end of "The Surprise", Fred prepares to go to sleep as Wilma tells him he's going to become a father. In this case, he does a triple take before he asks Wilma to confirm the truth.
  • In the Garfield and Friends episode "Odie The Amazing", after Odie gains possession of a magician's discarded wand, the wand produces a camel, which Garfield nonchalantly walks under when he goes to the kitchen to get a doughnut.
  • In The Loud House episode "The Mad Scientist", Lisa wakes up while sleeping at an institute, having had a nightmare. She goes to tell her parents about the nightmare, but then realizes she's not at home.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): Happens three times in succession in "Cross Cross Crisis", in which the girls realize that they've gained new bodies thanks to the Professor's latest invention gone wrong.
    • As the Professor goes to wake up Buttercup, she gets up to tell him to quit bothering her. She goes back under her covers, then goes into a Double Take to see that the Professor has her body and that she has his.
    • As Buttercup has a meltdown, Blossom rises to tell her to shut up, unaware that she now has Miss Bellum's body. She finds this out when Buttercup produces a hand mirror for her to look into.
    • Finally, Bubbles finds out she's in The Mayor's body when she gets out of bed, half-asleep, and sees her reflection in the bathroom mirror while brushing her teeth. And even then, she doesn't realize it at first and believes she's seeing the real Mayor.
    Bubbles: Mayor, what are you doing over at our house? Oh, I'm not in your house, you're in my body. (continues brushing until her eyes pop open and does a Spit Take)
  • A very short one at the end of the Pixar Shorts, Lifted, where the victim of a botched Alien Abduction that turned everything except his bed into a crater wakes up offscreen during the credits and falls into the pit with a Wilhelm Scream.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Nothing to Sneeze at", Mr. Bighead wakes up and doesn't realize his wife has swollen from sickness until after he walks a few feet away from the bed.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Home Sweet Pineapple", SpongeBob loses his house to a nematode infestation and goes to stay with his neighbors. He enters Squidward's house late at night, and is able to get a half-asleep Squidward to bring him a glass of water and wish him goodnight before he fully wakes up and realizes SpongeBob's in his house.
    • In "Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm", SpongeBob does this when his house gets devoured by an ALASKAN BULL WORM!
  • In Teen Titans Go! episode "Hose Water", Robin, Beast Boy and Raven wake up having a drink of coffee only for Robin to yell "WAIT A SECOND!" realizing that Starfire and Cyborg have been abducted by the stork.


Video Example(s):


Men from Mars

In a spoof of Orson Welles' broadcast of War of the Worlds, Porky's cats disguise themselves as Martians in a prank on him that takes a while to sink in.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / AlienInvasion

Media sources: