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"Life, which can be strangely merciful, had taken pity on Norma Desmond. The dream she had clung to so desperately had enfolded her."

Mongul: The Black Mercy is a telepathic species. It reads the heart's desire and feeds the individual a totally convincing simulation of it.
Batman: So, he's dreaming.
Mongul: Oh, far deeper than any dream. I wonder where he thinks he is: Sitting on a throne, ruling the universe? All you human garbage fawning at his feet? More honest, don't you think, than this pretence of being a selfless hero?
For the Man Who Has Everything (DCAU version)

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Superman: Do you have any idea what you did to me?!
Mongul: I fashioned a prison that you couldn't leave without sacrificing your heart's desire. It must have been like tearing off your own arm...
For the Man Who Has Everything (DCAU version)

This world is an illusion. You can hold it in your hand and still hold nothing. You... have accepted this? No, I think not. You still want it, don't you?

"A healthy body, a life with your loved ones. All you have to do is sleep. Just drift off to sleep, and you can live happy in that world for the rest of forever. A lovely, warm, never-ending dream."
Book of Darkness/Reinforce, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's

"In the marvelous tale I had always been irked by the cruelty of Ulysses, tearing his companions from the happiness they had found without offering them other recompense than serving him. I found in this myth a reflection of the irritation always aroused in society by the acts of those who find in love, in the enjoyment of a physical privilege, in an unexpected gift, a way of avoiding the shabbiness, the restrictions, the spying the majority must suffer."
—- Alejo Carpentier, The Lost Steps, Page 199 (translated by Harriet de Onis).

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"Surrender now to your heart's desire."
Caius Ballad, just before sending Serah to one of these in Final Fantasy XIII-2

"I couldn't do it. When I had lost faith in the future, Noel came and gave me hope. Snow left his home and his friends. He traveled through time to save others. Hope worked feverishly to save Cocoon. And then... There was Vanille and Fang, trapped in crystal, holding Cocoon in the sky. I couldn't desert them to live in this world of dreams. I couldn't betray them."
Serah Farron, explaining why she won't stay in the Lotus-Eater Machine that Caius sent her to

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.

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"the Virtual Option - our humane alternative to genocide. Under the Virtual Option, the King does not round up the slum dwellers and execute them with captive-bolt pistols. The King condemns the slum, clears it, and requires all its former residents to obtain civilized housing. If a human being cannot support himself in a civilized manner in the King's economy, which has been carefully tweaked to match labor demand to labor supply, the King does not provide a "safety net" in the 20th-century style, in which he may lounge, sag, bob and fester forever. No - then, it is time for the Virtual Option. If you accept the Virtual Option - always a voluntary decision, even if you have no other viable options - California will house, feed and care for you indefinitely. It will also provide you with a rich, fulfilling life offering every opportunity to obtain dignity, respect and even social status. However, this life will be a virtual life. In your real life, your freedom will be extremely restricted: to the point of imprisonment. You may even be sealed in a pod."
Curtis Jarvin

I could make a pilgrimage into my past. It does not have to be a safari. I could go alone. Pilgrimage purifies. Safaris make me into a tourist. That's the difference. I could go alone into my inner world.
And never return.
Leto Atreides II, God-Emperor of Dune

Jemma: Radcliffe tried to take away people's pain in the Framework.
Daisy: Wait, you're right. May's biggest pain was killing the girl in Bahrain. You take that away, and hundreds of kids are killed in Boston.
Jemma: And Coulson is leading a quiet life; I'm worried he's not the same man.
Daisy: He really let them take a kid?
Jemma: And what did they do to Fitz to make him such an ugly person here?
Daisy: Well, that one's easy; they stole you from his life.
Jemma: (voice breaking) What if he never knew me? What if he can't remember? This-this reality is flawless. It lures you in.
Daisy: I know, I know. Can't even believe what I found myself doing. I... I looked up Lincoln. I... I... I interrogated Vijay for being an Inhuman, and I have been here one day. May's been here weeks; she thinks it's her whole life!
Jemma: A few choices and a few lives... Radcliffe ran a simulation, and now it's a brave new terrifying world.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "What If..."

We're not really here! We're not really talking. It's all made-up, make-believe. We're sleeping, dreaming! The dream became a nightmare. It has to end, it just has to. But we're not in charge. He is, and he doesn't want us to wake up. [...] You need to know the truth, otherwise he'll suck you in just like all the others. Beware!
Old Lady Dithers, Fallout 3

Arlie: You hear what I heard about what the Lost Chapter can do?
Ollie: No, and I don't care.
Arlie: 1650; Cervantes writes the final chapter to his masterpiece. So powerful... that anyone who reads it is lost in their own fantasies - forever. He shows it to a friend, who slips into a coma. Same with a neighbor, never comes out. They live in their own dreamworlds until they die.
Ollie: Sounds swell.
Arlie: Cervantes thought the opposite. He said being lost like that was a Fate Worse than Death.

The Warden: This isn't real, you know.
Sten: I know.
The Warden: What do you mean you know?
Sten: This is a dream. I'm not a fool, Warden. I remember seeing the Karashok there have his head torn off. It's a dream... but it's a good dream.
The Warden: This is a cage, Sten, just like Lothering.
Sten: Here or Lothering or Orlais - it's all the same. Far from home, no place is better than any other.

Do you hear me speaking? Of course you do. I wanted to let you know that I know: you didn't blindly pick me out of the herd. The slow waves of Delta crashing against the shore have an undertone that pulls you into a slumber... it's a beautiful thing. And I won't be selfish: I will help, tuck them in, watch them sleep. They, too, will find peace within the universe of the WAU.
Terry Akers, SOMA

Ten years, Father, stuck in this... this fever dream. Mother kept me sedated in order to "perfect" my mind with ADAM. To her, the ideal child is a genius, serving the common good without questioning it.
Eleanor Lamb, Bioshock 2

For each visitor here, the experience is unique, though there are commonalities for many. Massed throngs may greet a soldier, cheering his name and erecting statues in his honour. Planetary governors may see themselves establishing such complete order that they gain control of an entire system. Whatever the scenario presented to him, the victim of these visions finds it incredibly difficult to pull himself out of the dream. Unlike the dreams experienced when a person sleeps, these illusions do nothing to seem impossible. A soldier has seen others elevated and has been trained for acts of glory. Histories are filled with tales of governors who have carved out greater realms among the stars. These and more offer solidity to the visions encountered, drawing the dreamer farther and farther into illusory depths.
Only self-doubt gnaws at some, and these are the ones who break free. When they do, the dream shatters, revealing - if only for an instant - a vast plain of black soot. Upon it, heaps of bones are buried beneath the bodies of millions of others, standing and lying in the burned ashes, still trapped in their individual delusions.
Black Crusade: The Tome Of Excess

How many games had I played with Father? A thousand? Ten thousand? I tried to refuse, but when I did he simply turned off the illusion of home and I saw who and what and where I was. I was back under the sea, tethered for eternity to the tendril that grew inside me, that reached itself into my brain. I was back amidst the endless forest of tentacles with Lackofa and Menno and poor Aguella still floating, dead but never decaying, never disintegrating, never, never at peace.
But it was more than the loss of illusions that motivated me to play. It was that I had nothing else. Nothing but the game. The game and the tiny flicker of undying hope.
What a sad, desperate illusion. How ludicrous to cling to the hope of escape. And escape to what? Where would I go? What would I be? I was part of Father. There was no Toomin, no Ellimist. There was only Father.
Animorphs - The Ellimist Chronicles

Some of us are still fighting the cyborgs over control of the corpse, but so many more have just given up. I hear life in the pods isn’t so bad, that it’s like a hazy, pleasant dream. But I don’t want hazy and pleasant. I want my own mind and freedom, no matter how terrible reality is.
—"Logical Conclusions - Post-Apocalypse," The End of the World: Revolt Of The Machines

You're a part of my flock now, John.
It's actually kind of a rush. They say you have visions...that your life flashes before your eyes... that all your dreams come true...
Gideon, Minority Report

As [Stanley] wandered through this fantasy world, he began to fill it with many possible paths and destinations. Down one path lay an enormous round room with monitors and mind controls, and down another was a yellow line that weaved in many directions, and down another was a game with a baby. And he called it The Stanley Parable. It was such a wonderful fantasy, and so in his head he relived it again. And then again, and again, over and over, wishing beyond hope that it would never end, that he might always feel this free. Surely, there's an answer down some new path! Mustn't there be? Perhaps if he played just one more time...
But there is no answer. How could there possibly be? In reality, all he's doing is pushing the same buttons he always has; nothing has changed. The longer he spends here, the more invested he gets, the more he forgets which life is the real one. And I'm trying to tell him this, that in this world, he can never be anything but an observer, that as long as he remains here, he's slowly killing himself. But he won't listen to me. He won't stop!
The Narrator, The Stanley Parable

Living in a dream house, with a dream husband and... Lyta loses her train of thought, and commences absently to brush her hair. Is this what she wants? Is this what she wanted? She always wanted to be with Hector, even when they were children, when she was a strong rich kid and he was a hero brat... but she must have wanted more than that. Mustn't she? But Hector's dreams came first. They always did. Lyta and Hector did so much together... they came out of the closet on the costume stuff together, when they were at UCLA. Why did she do that? Become a cheap copy of her vanished mother? It all seems like a dream now. So hard to hold on to. Nothing is tangible anymore. There were the nightmare times when she thought Hector was dead. Well, to be fair, he was dead... and she was pregnant with his child. But Brute and Glob had caught his soul in the Dream Dome, made him the Sandman, the protector of dreams... and after the wedding, she came to live in this house. And she was very happy. They were all so very, very happy...
The Sandman: Playing House

My guess is, if I were to sleep, I'd wake up changed. Of course, if I got to Daine soon, I'd be changed anyway. I had figured that out for myself, without any help from the Governor of Princetown. After a few more spins with this crazy croupier, I'd bet away my independence. I'd be a permanent resident. It didn't appeal as an afterlife, a possible eternity as a private eye in the City. Slugged with blackjacks, kicking in doors, finding icepick-stuck corpses, betrayed by black-lipped blondes. Being beat up, locked up, busted, mistrusted, got at, shot at, framed, maimed, frayed, mislaid and underpaid.
Well, two more hours of independent life, the time it takes to travel to Mars. Maybe ten hours of private existence, and then - swallowed. And all over Mars that his precious drug is being distributed; think, picture, the numbers confined to Palmer's illusory worlds, his nets that he casts. What do those Buddhists in the UN like Hepburn-Gilbert call it? Maya. The veil of illusion.

You descend into the seething energies of the Martyr-King's Cup. The last thing you see is terrible triumph on the Unseen Queen's face—
—And then you are riding atop your destrier, a sword across your back. The sky above is an endless blazing blue. Your companions ride beside you, laughing, singing. The trees are dripping blossom. No time to admire the scenery. You have monsters to slay and innocents to save. There is so much to do before nightfall, which is funny, because nightfall will never come. This day will last.
Sometimes, in rare moments of contemplation, you remember a silver smile.
—"The Golden Day" ending, Sunless Skies

Petrovitch could safely have expected to make ten year's wages if he found a hundred suckers who were prepared to buy the crippling addictive nirvana offered by the deadly Game. And there were always suckers: plenty of them. Not one person who ever entered the Game without believing he could take it or leave it. Once inside, few ever made the painful journey back to reality.
The Cat gently rocked on the sleeping quarters armchair, giggling insanely. The silver headband glimmered menacingly on his forehead, electrodes burrowed deep inside his brain. His face was painted in the harrowingly-familiar vacant grin of the lost soul of a Game head.
Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers

...once it obtained autonomy, the Aureole began to change our society and our lives drastically. It did not just concern itself with our physical well-being; it considered our mental well-being to be a top priority as well.

To provide an example: the Aureole facilitated the creation of virtual realities intended to induce euphoria in participants. It even altered brain chemistry to achieve this. It was no different than taking a powerful euphoric stimulant and hallucinogen at the same time. Worse still, there were no side effects. No physical ones, at least.

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.
Antares, Warp

The multitude of dead watched him from a safe distance in their shroud of mist.
A trickle of cold sweat ran down the side of his cheek. Damn. That had been close. They nearly had him. They had surrounded him with the people he loved and trusted the most so that he would be content to remain in the wraith-trance until he wasted away.


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