Catapult Nightmare

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
My sleeping bag is trying to eat me!

Whenever a character awakes from a nightmare on screen, he will fling himself up from lying down, while panting and looking around confused. Think carefully: how many times do you remember waking up from a nightmare by flinging your torso off the bed? Probably never, right? When most people wake up from one, they lie stunned and confused for a few seconds getting reoriented before looking around. The most you might get is a gasp and a full-body twitch. But that would be boring on screen, so anyone with a bad dream has to halfway fling himself out of bed to show the audience it is a dream. Used particularly during an All Just a Dream sequence, to emphasize that the previous scene didn't happen. Besides, it's just cool.

This does happen occasionally in the real world, but usually when one is startled by an outside sensation, not a nightmare. Most of the time, certain chemicals secreted while falling asleep prevent the sleeper from acting out their dreams, a condition known as sleep paralysis when it extends to shortly before falling asleep or after waking up. The rare times it does happen in real life involve a neurological disorder where the person is woken up from the dream by the sensation (not the other way around) and often describe the feeling as being "pushed" upright. Nevertheless, the Catapult Nightmare happens every single time on TV. If it's a Dream Within a Dream, expect two.

A night terror can have this effect, but it doesn't involve waking up and doesn't involve a dream—just full-on activation of the fight-or-flight system in the middle of the deepest stages of sleep. People who have them usually don't remember it in the morning.

Note: This trope may be somewhat justified if the "nightmare" the hero wakes up from was actually caused by a Phlebotinum-wielding villain. (After all, dark magic or a piece of advanced alien technology could conceivably cause a human brain and body to react in a way that's different from how they would normally.)

All that being said, however, one must admit that simply cutting to an extreme closeup of a character's eyes opening isn't quite as dramatic a way of portraying sudden awakening from a dream.

Can sometimes be Truth in Television: sleep paralysis prevents most of us from acting out our actions in our sleep, but there are exceptions. See also Instant Waking Skills.

Examples of Catapult Nightmare include:

Anime and Manga

  • As pictured above, it happens to Owaki in The Enigma of Amigara Fault. The dream might just disturb anyone who reads it too.
  • Ranma ½. This pretty much describes every single nightmare Ranma has ever had. Hell, it seems that every time Ranma has a dream in either the anime or the manga, it turns into a nightmare for him. Including (but not limited to):
    • A giant Kunô declaring his love for the pigtailed girl before snatching "her" up effortlessly (which the anime replaced with about a dozen naked Kunôs trapping a naked Girl-Ranma).
    • Being brainwashed into Kunō's adoring, submissive wife and trapped on a tropical island with him—and their many children...
    • Being successfully romanced by a cute handsome guy (disturbing enough to Ranma)... who promptly turns into an ugly, wrinkled old man as he goes in for a kiss.
    • In an anime-only episode, Ranma dreams that Akane is showing him their new baby. When she pulls the covers from the baby's head, it has Happôsai's face. Naturally, he wakes up screaming.
  • Happens to Mamoru in Sailor Moon after he dreams of something bad happening to Usagi. Usagi does this routinely as well.
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Bleach
    • The anime, "Bount Arc", episode 97. While sleeping in Rantao's house, Ichigo wakes up from a nightmare muttering strange words.
    • In the omake to episode 63, Isane Kotetsu wakes up like this from a nightmare ("FISH PASTE!").
    • In chapter 238, Ichigo again wakes up like this (but he falls out of bed, too.)
  • Episode two of the 2003 adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist: Cornello has a nightmare of a rainbow-colored snake moving to devour him, and starts awake to see Lust standing there, with the mysterious warning "The real secret of that stone stays between us."
  • Princess Tutu
    • Fakir does this in the episode "Ghost Knight", in which he has a nightmare about...a ghostly knight.
    • And the first episode in both seasons opens with Ahiru having a nightmare, and then waking up from it when she flings herself out of her bed and tries to fly by flapping her arms.
  • Ouran High School Host Club
    • Tamaki awakes from a nightmare about visiting Haruhi and finding that she lives in a hovel. ("That tuna is by NO MEANS fancy!!!") Note: In the anime, the Club all are dressed exactly as they were in the nightmare when they actually DO go visit Haruhi's home.
    • In the beginning of chapter 79, we're greeted with Haruhi standing in front of Tamaki. She's blushing and glancing at the ground. She then says "Tamaki-senpai... I'm in love with you." (Cue the Squee of many fangirls.) Tamaki looks stunned, but then goes off saying that he's so happy because he's in love with himself, too! He takes this and runs with it. Haruhi looks mortified, but then she sits up and we find out it was all just a dream, much to her relief.
  • Chrono Crusade
    • Rosette jolts up in her bed after having a nightmare in her coma.
    • Earlier in the manga, she also jolts awake from a nightmare and punches Chrono in the face (who was bent over her and trying to wake her up). Although this one might be justified in that she wasn't exactly sleeping as much as having an out-of-body experience.
    • In the anime she also catapults out of a nightmare about her missing brother in Episode 2.
    • Interestingly enough, while Chrono has several Bad Dreams, he almost never catapults out of his nightmare and wakes up more realistically. (Perhaps Rosette's more susceptible to this trope because she's Hot-Blooded.) The only time he does do this is when, like Rosette, he's coming out of a coma. While being held in iron restraints, which he rips off to catapult from. Justified in that it wasn't exactly a nightmare and Rosette had dove into his soul in the hopes of bringing him back to consciousness.
  • In the manga version of Maximum Ride, Max has this in the beginning, after her nightmare about Erasers.
  • Sōsuke Sagara is usually The Stoic, but in Full Metal Panic!? Fumoffu he is a bit stressed out by Tessa bunking with him in his flat. Cue nightmare at the beginning of Episode 9.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima
    • Evangeline does this after she gets a fever dream about the Thousand Master.
    • Negi himself gets his chance to re-enact this trope after his defeat causes him to have nightmares of Fate killing his students.
  • Used in the second episode of Space Pirate Mito by having Aoi do this twice, first in a dream, and then in real life waking up from that dream.
  • Masataka of Sakura Gari does this as he starts having nightmares of all the things he endured recently.
  • Albert of Gankutsuou does this after having a nightmare about the Count.
  • Seras of Hellsing does this while waking up from a nightmare she had shortly after becoming a vampire.
  • In episode 11 of Nuku Nuku Dash, the title character has one.
  • Hanaukyo Maid Tai episode 13. Grace/Cynthia wakes up this way after having a nightmare about being harassed while at college (she was 6 years old at the time).
  • In Saint Beast, Goh has one about the failed rebellion at the start of the first OVA.

Comic Books

  • Fiendishly subverted in The Sandman, in which the title character sentences an enemy to the curse of "eternal waking," a neverending coma where he dreams he is waking from a horrible nightmare, only to find he is in an even worse one. This causes him to wake up again, only to be confronted with another nightmare. The curse sentences him to live this way for eternity, with each nightmare a little worse than the last.
  • In the Batman story Going Sane, a normal-looking, reformed and amnesiac Joker has frequent nightmares of bats and clowns trying to drown him in madness. He would wake up from these dreams and yell "drowning!"
  • Little Ego, being a parody of Little Nemo, always has the heroine waking like this. However, in Ego's case, she is not waking from a nightmare but instead an Erotic Dream.
  • Yorrick of Y: The Last Man wakes up from a bad (and possibly prophetic) dream like this, and not for the first time, judging by 355's comment: "I wouldn't like to be in your head."
  • It happens to Thorn in the first book of Bone, as she awakens violently from a nightmare (actually a flashback) about a massive rat creature attack on a castle. Except she awakens to Fone Bone telling her that rat creatures actually are attacking.
  • In Le Scorpion, Armando experiences one at the start of the album The Stone Cross.

Fan Works

  • Equestria Chronicles has a few of these. Most notably, Clockwork set one up about a foal being brutally murdered.... without revealing it was a nightmare until hours later.


  • The Baby Nightmare sequence in Shrek the Third.
  • Mulan: Mulan quietly dashes off to the Chinese Army in the middle of the night. Only Grandma Fa, who is closer to the Fa family ancestors, senses something is wrong when she wakes up supposedly not too long after this.
  • Toy Story 2. Woody, after he wakes up from a nightmare where Andy throws him away.
  • Francis from Felidae, after he has a nightmare about Gregory Mandel tormenting him with zombie cat puppets.
  • Averted in I Robot, where Del Spooner simply opens his eyes after a nightmare. And he's woken by his alarm clock rather than the nightmare itself.
  • Star Wars
    • Avoided in Attack of the Clones. Anakin dreams about his mother dying and merely opens his eyes.
    • Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith. Anakin has frequent nightmares foreshadowing Padme's death. Comes complete with a free Shirtless Scene.
  • Hitchcock's Vertigo.
  • The Lord of the Rings, of all things. In fairness, Aragorn pulls a knife in the same motion, and has probably trained himself to do this every time he's suddenly awoken.
  • In the third The Naked Gun movie, Frank wakes up after the opening sequence which is a "nightmare" of being in a situation of there being crime he can't stop. Of course, given that the scene (as well as the movie's format itself) is slapstick and not supposed to be taken seriously in the slightest, it would only be considered a nightmare to him.
  • Sleepy Hollow: Director Tim Burton commented that Johnny Depp does some very good fainting/waking up scenes.
  • The Matrix: After Neo gets the bug put in him, and possibly when he jacks out of the Construct program in the real world hovership after learning the truth about the Matrix.
  • Played straight/parodied in Muppets from Space. Gonzo bolts upright after waking from a Noah's Ark nightmare. Unfortunately, Rizzo is sleeping in a hammock directly above him. The result? Rizzo himself getting catapulted out the window.
  • Averted and then played straight during Picard's Dream Within a Dream in Star Trek: First Contact. When he falsely wakes up from his first nightmare he simply opens his eyes while sitting in his desk chair; when he wakes up for real, he jumps up from his bed.
  • The Princess Bride: Buttercup wakes to fill the screen with her frightened "gasp of awakening" directly after the scene featuring "the ancient boo-er."
  • In Constantine, Angela Dodson does this after experiencing a nightmare of her twin sister killing herself. It turns out to be real.
  • Wolverine has an especially notable one in X-Men. In all honesty, adamantium claws don't mix well with many activities.
  • Averted in the 2007 film I Am Legend, when the protagonist wakes up from terrifying flashback-dreams (yanking the viewers out of intense scenes) by simply opening his eyes (where the viewers see a close-up of his face in quiet morning silence).
  • The Golden Child (1986). Chandler Jarrell after his dream of being tortured and almost killed by Sardo Numspa and his henchmen.
  • Aliens: Ripley's nightmare of having an alien rip out of her chest near the beginning.
  • Averted in the opening scene of The Others. Nicole Kidman's character wakes up from a nightmare, but she simply lays awake in bed for a moment before sobbing into her pillow. Of course, she may be a little different from most people...
  • In Zoolander, Derek Zoolander does this, only as he shoots straight up, he slams his head into the frame of the bed above his (he and his three roommates slept in two sets of bunk beds) and crashes to the ground.
  • Somewhat averted in the Korean film Seducing Mr. Perfect. After a nightmare, the heroine's body does tense, but other than that, she doesn't move before opening her eyes. After opening her eyes, she stares into space for a few seconds, and then, she pushes herself up and gasps.
  • Played with in Hellraiser: when Kirsty has a nightmare of Frank's resurrection, we cut to her boyfriend bolting up from a bad dream—she's still asleep, and when he touches her she scrambles upright rather than bolting.
  • The sequence with the Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl in A Tale of Two Sisters.
  • Averted in Signs, where Graham only opens his eyes when he wakes from bad dreams.
  • In the American version of The Ring, Naomi Watts' character does this after having a nightmare of Samura being in her apartment.
  • Larry Gopnik experiences several of these in A Serious Man after moving into the Jolly Roger.
  • Happens to the protagonist at the end of When a Stranger Calls (2006).
  • Cthulhu (2007). Subverted in the first Nightmare Sequence of the protagonist where he bolts upright yelling, but it's actually part of his dream. A jump cut later we see him starting awake in more restrained manner. Until he sees the stone object from his dream lying on his chest.
  • Dreamscape. Happens to the President of the U.S. twice. He wakes up yelling after having nightmares of his wife running away from a nuclear explosion and being attacked by mutant children in a post-nuclear environment.
  • Butch from Pulp Fiction does it twice.
  • Averted in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. After having a nightmare, the camera zooms on Harry's eyes as they open, without him moving.
  • Happens several times to Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Shutter Island. On one occasion, however, it is part of a Dream Within a Dream, from which the character later awakens (for real) by simply opening his eyes whilst still lying down.
  • At the beginning of Total Recall, Douglas Quaid wakes up with a jolt from a nightmare about dying of suffocation in the Martian atmosphere.
  • Bedtime Stories has Mickey doing this every time he falls asleep, complete with screaming. Justified as a sleep panic disorder.
  • Mad Max. Max bolts upright and the camera zooms in on his spotlit eyes.
  • Arguably, this is what happens to Tina in the original Nightmare On Elm Street... 'cept the waking-up part.
  • Used a number of times in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World... always after Scott sees Ramona in his dreams as she goes through his subspace highway. The best response, though, is how Wallace Wells ALWAYS sits up immediately after as well, sometimes followed by one or two other guys....
  • 1982 Alone in the Dark (1982 film) starts with one of the lunatics having a nightmare and waking up like this before the opening credits.
  • Practically every time Ji-Won wakes up in Dead Friend (a.k.a The Ghost).
  • In Paranormal Activity, Katie does this at least one time.
  • In The Magnificent Seven, Lee (Robert Vaughn) not only bolts upright, but also scrambles across the room in a panic when he awakens from a bad dream.
  • The short film Portal: No Escape begins with Chell doing this, complete with an extremely loud gasp.
  • In Dracula 2000, Mary wakes up thrashing and incoherent after dreaming that a tall dark stranger is about to bite her throat out.
  • The Fugitive. After escaping, Kimble has a nightmare about the murder of his wife while sleeping in the woods. At the end of the nightmare he wakes up and sits upright.
  • Braveheart: After he betrays William Wallace at Falkirk, the Scottish Noble Mornay has a nightmare in which Wallace is riding towards him, fire blazing all around and the most terrifying Death Glare ever. He wakes up, but moments later, Wallace actually rides into his bedroom and gives Mornay a face full of flail.
  • In the 2005 Bewitched, actor Jack Wyatt wakes from one where he both meets Uncle Arthur for the first time, and then walks out naked onto the set of Late Night with Conan O'Brien.


  • Lampshaded in Emma Bull's Finder when the protagonist wakes up violently from a dream of someone else's death: "They do it in movies. Gunshot on the soundtrack and a fast cut to an actor, sitting up in bed. It's real. I did it."
  • Harry Potter has done this on occasion. Violently thrashing around, actually. But considering the unusual circumstances....
  • Eve, from the In Death series. Certain things will make her lapse into flashback when awake. Often dragged out of them by Roarke.
  • Older Than Radio: At the end of Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins describes his experience with Catapult Nightmares of Skeleton Island:

...the worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts or start upright in bed with the sharp voice of [John Silver's parrot] Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!"

  • Dink in the A to Z Mysteries book The Deadly Dungeon, has a nightmare and then "bolt[s] upright in his bed."

Live-Action TV

  • The 2008 Academy Awards featured a comedy bit where, in the event that the Writers' Strike lasted through the awards ceremony, the crew had prepared a series of increasingly asinine montages. One, the Salute to Bad Dreams, consisted entirely of these shots from famous movies.
  • Chris Elliot starred in Action Family!, a one-shot detective drama/family sitcom mashup—he has a hollering catapult nightmare wake-up from a dream where he's being spanked by Abe Lincoln.
  • Ally McBeal is the queen of this trope. In one episode, the title character gets two of these in a row (it was a dream within a dream), then a third one happens to a supporting character (so it was a dream within a dream within somebody else's person's dream!)
  • Babylon 5: Ivanova wakes from a dream about walking into the command deck in her birthday suit and needs to check herself.
  • In an episode in the first season of The Big Bang Theory, Leonard and Sheldon (and Raj and Wolowitz) buy the original time machine, from the movie The Time Machine. After a commercial break, we see Sheldon in the machine, in a steamy jungle, as Morlocs close on him. He wakes up, in the apartment, screaming, in the time machine. Leonard comes out, they have a short discussion about getting rid of the machine, and Leonard calls in some movers (Morlocs wearing jumpsuits that say "Hungry Morlocs") Sheldon awakens again, in his bed this time, and starts screaming, sitting upright rather stiffly as is his manner.
  • Bones, season 5 episode "The Boy with the Answer". In the opening, Brennan has a classic Catapult Nightmare after a very disturbing dream inspired by the memories of the Gravedigger, and the stress from having to face the Serial Killer at trial.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Willow, when startled awake from a nap, practically shouts "Don't warn the tadpoles!" then admits to having a frog fear.
    • In season seven, Spike jerks awake with a shout of "I'm drowning in footwear!"
    • It wasn't a nightmare per se, but in "Out of My Mind", Spike catapults to a sitting position with a choking gasp upon waking up from a dream in which he tells Buffy he loves her.
    • Averted with Buffy's very first appearance in the very first episode: she has a (prophetic, as it turns out) nightmare about vampires and apocalypse, and wakes up... pretty much like a normal person would.
    • Actually averted with most of Buffy's nightmares—a notable exception is when she dreams of Angel's death in "Surprise".
  • Averted in Criminal Minds where Reid had a creepy nightmare but was very calm about it when he woke up. But played straight with Rossi in another situation.
  • A preview photo shows Ballard doing this in the upcoming Dollhouse episode "Needs".
  • Done in the M*A*S*H episode "Dreams", but in those cases the dreamers are woken by outside forces, either loud noises or shaking.
  • The "Eurosong" episode of Father Ted. "We have to lose that sax solo!"
  • In Firefly, River wakes up from a couple of her Bad Dreams in this way. Most of the times, though, she wakes up normally.
  • Done all the time on Forever Knight, to the point that the poor main character can't seem to wake without it.
  • Paul Slippery at the beginning of the third episode of Fortysomething in his second Dream Within a Dream awakening. He just jerks his head up and gasps the first time.
  • The Goodies: In the "Kitten Kong" episode, Tim returns home determined to wreck vengeance on Twinkles the kitten after his disastrous attempt to walk the over-active purrball. Graham and Bill caution him that it's not a very good idea, then open the door to reveal that thanks to Graham's growth formula the kitten has grown to enormous size. Tim screams hysterically, and then wakes up in bed crying: "Get it off me! Stop licking me!" (Bill: "I'm not licking you!") Unfortunately it's not All Just a Dream.
  • People on TV wake up from nightmares the same way immortals on Highlander wake up from being dead.
  • This is a frequently Averted Trope on House. Usually, we cut to an extreme close-up of the character dreaming and see their eyes snap open, sometimes to a shhff sound-effect. Same for hallucinations, when we cut to other characters reacting to the "out of it" character. (In both cases, the character is usually House himself.)
  • In the Jeeves and Wooster episode "Return to New York", Bertie experiences this after spending an unwanted night on the town with Claude and Eustace. Accompanied by yelling of "NO NO I DON'T WANT ANY MORE CHAMPAGNE!"
  • Lost
    • Kate does this in the season 4 finale.
    • The series averts this in the first season: Charlotte thrashes around and hurts herself, but does not sit bolt upright.
  • Many episodes of Medium. One of the show's ads turned them into a Fully-Automatic Clip Show.
    • Averted surprisingly often, however. Many times she'd just wake up dramatically opening her eyes with a gasp.
  • Example of a Phlebotinum-assisted Catapult Nightmare: Rowsdower in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode The Final Sacrifice. Not only does he bolt up in bed, he does so while screaming his head off.

Crow (as Rowsdower): AHHH! I forgot the liquor stores close at 8!

  • Northern Exposure: In "All Is Vanity," Holling becomes convinced fiancée Shelly prefers, ahem, cleaner-looking men and schedules an appointment with Dr Fleischman. He soon has second thoughts.
  • In Pretty Little Liars episode "The Badass Seed", Spencer manages to wake up normally after a strangling dream: Trope averted.
  • Lister of Red Dwarf is catapulted not only upright but off the bed entirely, complete with frantic clawing at his tongue, after a dream about Rimmer ends with them kissing each other.
  • Averted in Rescue Me. Tommy often has nightmares and delusions, but usually comes out of them looking disoriented before getting his bearings.
  • In Sex and the City Carrie gets repeated Catapult Nightmares from... nothing... during her relationship with Aidan.
  • In an episode of Spaced, a slammed door awakens the four main characters, each of whom yell something in a Montage format.

Daisy: I'm sorry!
Mike: I'm hit!
Brian: (wearing an eyemask) I'm blind!
Tim: Buffy!

  • Stargate Atlantis does it frequently for Teyla Emmagan. Particularly in "The Gift" and "Doppelganger". Of course, most of her dreams are plot-important and in "Doppelganger" everyone is doing this.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • Happened frequently to resident psychic Counselor Troi, usually caused by the Monster of the Week. The writers seemed to have a thing for having her suddenly wake up in her nightgown while panting and covered in sweat for some reason...
    • Hell, even Data got one of these in the episode "Phantasms". Granted, he may have programmed himself to react to nightmares in the way he thought humans do.
    • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Waking Moments", Janeway, Tuvok and Paris all do this in the teaser. Averted with Kim, who merely screams bloody murder before falling back asleep.
  • Torchwood: Averted. Jack has a nightmare but when he wakes up he just opens his eyes.
  • Horatio Hornblower: Archie wakes from a nightmare about Simpson this way in "The Duchess and the Devil."
  • In True Blood Jason does this twice in the same scene as it was a Dream Within a Dream.
  • In Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, thanks to Goldar's evil spell, the protaganists dream about their past battles and dream that Zordon has fired them as Power Rangers. All five Rangers are shown waking up, but since it was shown from the side instead of the front it loses most of its dramatic effect.
  • On Boy Meets World Cory does this several times in one episode where he has recurring nightmares about killing his friends.
  • Averted--surprisingly—in Supernatural, when Dean startles awake from dreams of his time in hell with nothing more than a slight twitch.
    • Played straight when Dean wakes up from a nightmare in 7.05 "Shut Up, Dr Phil".
    • Averted in most of the season one episodes where Sam is having prophetic nightmares.


Newspaper Comics

  • Used to clever effect in FoxTrot, where Paige experiences a standard "falling" dream. Midway through, she realizes that it's a dream, and concludes that she'll wake up before hitting the ground. Sure, enough, she does. The last panel has her realizing she was right... as she falls out of bed.
  • Little Nemo: Given how often the title Pajama-Clad Hero wakes up suddenly from his dreams (sometimes falling from the bed), he's a regular user of this trope.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons adventure I10 Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill.
    • At the beginning of the module, the PCs each have a terrible nightmare, then wake up sitting bolt upright in bed, screaming and covered in cold sweat.
    • After the Creature first appears to the Alchemist in a dream, most of the possible results have the Alchemist bolting upright in bed when he wakes up.
  • The old Board Game Don't Wake Daddy.


  • Miss Saigon: Chris does this upon wakening from his nightmare about Kim. Kim herself often does this (depending on the actress) after her nightmare about how she and Chris were separated during the fall of Saigon.

Video Games

  • Combined with a Repeat Cut in Haunting Ground, when Fiona wakes up in the castle bedroom after Riccardo (the housekeeper) informs her of the car accident that killed her parents.
  • Happens in the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night, after Shirou dreams of walking through a Field of Blades and looks down at his arm, only to see that it's turned into a sword.
  • Happens constantly in the Chzo Mythos series. Happens about three times in 5 Days a Stranger, twice in 7 Days a Skeptic, and is scripted to happen twice in 6 Days, but it also happens if you die—your death inexplicably becomes a dream, and you just wake up quickly in your bed with a minor scare note.
  • Happens to Thrall in the opening cutscene of Warcraft 3.
  • Sims do this on rare occasions, usually when something traumatic has recently happened to the Sim. There exists at least one hack to trigger it on command.
  • Zero is prone to these in Mega Man X due to his Dark and Troubled Past and apparently sleeps with his capsule open to facilitate them.
  • Used in one of the endings of Ao Oni: in version 5, Takeshi has a nightmare about being back inside the house, hiding in the cabinet you first found him in, and getting discovered by the monster instead.
  • Shepard starts having these during Mass Effect 3. They involve following a kid s/he saw die in the opening through a forest, hearing the voices of dead characters from earlier in the series.

Web Animation

  • In Kirbopher's April Fool's Flash animation $eG@, four versions of Sonic do this in succession. Seen here.
  • Lampshaded in one Evil Josh and Billy episode. Evil Josh at first does this, but then notes that nobody wakes up like that in real life, then realizes that this is also a dream. Sure enough, he's right. Unfortunately he was asleep in the middle of driving a car and immediately crashes after he wakes up.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons, frequently.
    • Subverted in the second Treehouse of Horror special, where Homer didn't catapult awake because he had a nightmare, but rather because Bart bit him.
      • Also humorously played straight at the end of Bart's nightmare in the same special, not because anything generally scary happened, but to Bart it's a wonderful dream, until Homer kisses him, which causes him to wake up screaming long and loud (complete with the camera zooming into his screaming black mouth.)
    • Subverted again in another episode, where Homer jumps up and yells "NOOOOO!" while still in the dream. He then says, "hmmm, that's funny. That usually ends the dream." Then he wakes up the normal way.
      • Lampshaded on a commentary, where they ask if it's even possible to sit bolt upright. (It is, but you'd have to be a little fitter than Homer.)
    • One of the funniest comes from "Moaning Lisa" in which Homer dreams that he and Bart turn into the characters from the video game "Super Slugfest" and Bart is about to beat him to death, Homer wakes up screaming then almost immediately falls back to sleep.
    • Played with in the episode The Sweetest Apu. After Homer stumbled on Apu cheating on Manjula with the Squishee girl, he ends dreaming that Apu brings out the Squishee girl in the typical harem room environment, and then tells the eunuch (Homer) to avert his eyes before making love with the Squishee girl. Homer then bolts up and screams, then wonders what an "eunuch" is, consulting to the dictionary, and then screams again when he learns what the definition of an eunuch is. The second scream is what wakes Marge up.
  • Arthur
    • Used and subverted in an episode where Buster has a dream in which Arthur and Alan "Brain" are actually aliens, and are pulling him toward them with telekinetic powers as he screams. He wakes up quietly and near-motionlessly, calmly says, "That was scary," and goes back to sleep. Meanwhile, Arthur has a dream in which his sister Dora Winifred "D.W." comes into their tent to deliver the news that her and Arthur's mother said they have to let her sleep in the tent, too. He does the catapult with scream, which his mother takes for being caused by a nightmare about aliens.
    • In the episode "Sick as a dog" in which Pal gets sick from eating junk food with Arthur and he has to remain at the vets overnight, that night Arthur has a nightmare in which a pack of wild dogs tie up the staff, burn down the clinic, and abduct Pal, before they take him Pal calls the Read's house and speaks to Arthur using dog sounds and Arthur cries out "Pal where are you?!" while lightning strikes, Arthur bolts out of bed gasping and says "Woah!... what a ridiculous dream... Pal doesn't know our phone number!".
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy
    • In the episode "Rock-A-Bye Ed", Ed has a crazy nightmare in which his mother (who for some reason has Johnny 2x4's face and voice) throws him to "the Kanker pit" for accidentally bugging Sarah. Ed wakes up screaming, and Eddy throws a bucket of water in Ed's face to shut him up.
    • It happens again at the end when it turns out the whole episode was All Just a Dream Jonny 2x4 had.
  • Aelita has a few screaming wake-ups in Code Lyoko, especially in Season 2 when she is trying to (re)adapt to life in the real world. This usually ends up ruining Sissi's beauty sleep, since her bedroom is next door.
  • Happens to Candace at the end of Phineas and Ferb Get Busted. And Perry thanks to a Dream Within a Dream.
  • South Park uses it very frequently.
  • Ron in the Kim Possible episode "Ill-Suited".
  • Danny Phantom where Sam, Tucker, and Jazz all do this... triggered by Danny in order to save them from eternal dreaming helmets.
  • King of the Hill
    • Episode "Bwah My Nose": Hank wakes up normally after a bad dream.
    • Also in the episode "Sug Night" after his second naked Nancy dream he wakes up screaming and Peggy asks what's wrong and he covers it by saying he hears Ladybird whining.
    • In "Hank's Unmentionable Problem" Peggy has a nightmare about Hank dying from his constipation and Cotton flushing the coffin to Hell and she wakes up screaming.
  • Happens to Peter in the The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Blueprints".
  • Happens a number of times in the Futurama episode "The Sting". Leela catapults Nibbler in the process of waking up at least twice.
  • Both Helga and Arnold do this a few times in Hey Arnold!
  • Teen Titans: Raven does this once in the episode "Fear Itself".
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Prince Zuko wakes up like this from his Angst Coma.
    • Aang does this a few times himself; most notably in "Nightmares and Daydreams", where he once wakes up everybody with his screams.

Sokka: (woken up as a result of Aang doing this in "The Storm") "What happened? Did we get captured again?"

  • Wakfu
    • A variation in episode 22: Sadlygrove doesn't propel himself upward immediately after the Dream Sequence... but screams at the top of his lungs.
    • Adamaï also has such a wake-up in episode 24, after receiving a dream warning from the Tree of Life.
  • The Boondocks goes here from time to time; most notably Tom's Prison Rape nightmare.
  • Gary the Rat begins every episode waking up from a horrible nightmare, sometimes even leaping clear out of his bed.
  • The Rugrats episode "In the Dreamtime" has two. The first one happens to Chuckie early in the episode, and the second one happens to Chuckie's dad at the end of the episode.


  • Happens at one point in the Dream Within a Dream ending of the Rocko's Modern Life episode "To Heck and Back".
  • Ren and Stimpy
    • In the episode "Robin Hoek", Ren dreams that he is Robin Hood and Stimpy is Maid Moron, at the end after saving Stimpy from the sheriff they kiss and Ren wakes up shrieking in terror, he wipes the sweat off his forehead and says "Thank goodness it was only a dream!" and he glances over at Stimpy dressed in the Maid Moron outfit and he faints.
    • Also in the uncut version of the pilot episode "Big House Blues", Ren dreams that he is flirting with a woman, little does he know he's caressing Stimpy in his sleep and he leans over and kisses him, he wakes up and screams and he washes out his mouth in the toilet.
  • This has happened to both of the title characters in Pinky and The Brain at different points, most notably in the episode "Snowball".
  • Zachary pulls one of these after a Nightmare Sequence (revealed later to be Mind Rape) in the Galaxy Rangers episode "Psychocrypt." Having the Queen of the Crowns invading one's head on a nightly basis for at least a week couldn't have been comfortable.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Dark Hand member Finn has a nightmare where, for some reason, he and the other members of the Dark Hand (including Valmont and the Shadowkhan) have started a band and their performance is interrupted by Jackie swooping in from a helicopter, claiming they were off-key, and punching Finn in the face. Back to the real world, Finn tosses and turns in his bed for a moment, before catapulting up, panting and screaming.
  • Parodied in Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation, when Phineas lies in a bed and catapults repeatedly, hoping the episode up to this point will turn out to be All Just a Dream.
  • In the intro of the first two seasons, Eek! The Cat (in his superhero outfit) saves Annabelle from the burning house, but his cape gets caught on fire, so he and Annabelle fall down. This cuts to Eek flinging up in a bed and screaming briefly, and then he looks around, wipes the sweat off his forehead and smiles, before jumping off the bed and falling.
    • In the second episode "Bearz 'n the Hood", Eek had a dream in which he is hanging out with one of his owners, Wendy Elizabeth, and has her autograph finally signed. Then they go to the moon, but Eek's head grows bigger because there's no air, and as he screams in horror, his head explodes. After that, Eek wakes up screaming for a long time, but without flinging up. It turns out that one of the Squishy Bears made Eek wake up, and tries to chew him out, but Eek still screams.
  • Happens to Rainbow Dash in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "May the Best Pet Win", after being awoken from a crazy dream in which she is menaced by a Biological Mashup of several of her friends' pets.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Gumball does a particularly epic one in the episode: "The Kiss".