Converse with the Unconscious
I'm going to keep talking, even if you can't hear me.
Bob is unconscious, for a prolonged time.
But watch out! The curative power of these confessions is mindboggling, though not absolutely perfect. Needless to say, the more embarrassing it was, the more they actually heard.
(A certain amount of Truth in Television, though not much; apparently unconscious people, whether in a coma or just asleep, may hear things, and talking to them is often encouraged.)
Anime and Manga
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, during the Battle City Finals, after Odion is knocked out, Marik's Super-Powered Evil Side takes over, and during the last climactic duel between the Pharaoh and Yami Marik, the spirit of Marik's "good" side manifests in Odion's room to apologize for the way he has treated him up to this point and to say goodbye. In the very next episode Odion awakens, and staggers up to the battle platform to help Marik overcome his evil side, and Yugi wins the duel shortly afterward.
- Famously done in the climax of Ranma ½: as Ranma cradles Akane's body, thinking her dead, he finally admits his love for her. Of course, that's when she finally recovers and wakes up, having heard the whole thing (though the word bubbles are ambiguous enough that the reader can interpret them as a silent soliloquy or an outspoken shout.)
- Ranma also speaks with an unconscious Ryouga after discovering the secret of the Hiryuu Shouten Ha special technique. Ranma thanks his rival for all his help learning the technique, then wishes him a happy afterlife. Cue Ryouga reaching up to strangle him in annoyance.
- The OAV "The One To Carry On" performs a similar scene where Ryouga, conflicted between his need to help Akane and his desire for her to lose the Dojo (and thus break up with Ranma,) watches her sleep and speaks to her in his mind, trying to figure out his feelings. He decides that staying with her would only end up hurting both of them, and leaves, only to find her again the next day.
- At the start of Episode 19 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Alto does this with Vice who had slipped into a coma due to recent events, telling him to rest as she takes over helicopter pilot duties as his Junior.
- In the original series, Arf, before going to help Nanoha, Yuuno and Chrono in the final battle, tells Fate, who is catatonic from a Heroic BSOD caused by learning about her true origins as a clone of Alicia and that her mother hated her, that after everything is over, she'll help her return to her old self and she can use her time however she wishes. After Arf leaves the infirmary, Fate wakes up and after thinking about how Arf has always been there for her and Nanoha's constantly reaching out to her, teleports into the Garden of Time to help them. In the last episode of the second season, Vita tells an unconscious Hayate that as her happiness is the Wolkenritter's happiness, Reinforce promised to leave smiling.
- Monster: Tenma talks to Johann in the hospital twice in this manner. The first time he happens to be conscious, and takes it upon himself to help the doctor out. The second time he remains unconscious. Or does he?
- As with so many things this is played horribly in End Of Evangelion with Shinji taking Asuka's descent into a coma badly to say the best of it.
- It's shown during Instrumentality that she knew what he did somehow. Maybe she heard the "fap" sound?
- Invoked and subverted in the Excel Saga manga, where Iwata and Misaki are stuck in a snowstorm, and Iwata who is now a cyborg has his power source shut down. Assuming that he's out cold, Misaki first time talks to him affectionally, confessing that she appreciates his company, and may even love him. As it turns out, even though his external functions are offline, he's still perfectly conscious and heard the whole thing. Cue Misaki bribing Dr. Shiouji to delete Iwata's memory of the incident.
- In SHUFFLE!, the male lead brought his childhood friend out of a coma by falsely claiming to have been responsible for the death of her mother.
- Seirei no Moribito manages to turn this one around on itself in episode eleven after Tanda performs the "soul call" and gets his spirit stranded out of his body. With no idea of how to return, Tanda talks to Balsa while she watches over his body, admitting that when he'd called her out two years prior about the people she was killing, it wasn't really what he'd wanted to say. Before he gets around to what he did want to say, however, Balsa begins talking to his unconscious body, telling him that she'd let her pride get the better of her back then, and thanking him for what he'd said at the time. Tanda and Balsa being the sorts that they are, neither of them mentions it after Tanda manages to return to his body.
- In Bleach, Inoue Orihime is forced to go into Hueco Mundo but given a chance to say goodbye to one person. She sneaks into Ichigo's room while he's out cold, and is perhaps able to confess because she knows he is not knowledgeable of the event. He does later realizes that she was there, since when awake he says that he cn sense her feel her reiatsu on him.
- Also, after Momo Hinamori is put in a coma by Sosuke Aizen, Unohana tells Hitsugaya that if he talks to her it would help, because she needs to hear the voice of someone who cares for her. He doesn't, and probably regrets it later when she wakes up and, still utterly traumatised and in denial by what happened, starts proclaiming Aizen's innocence.
- In Lamune, Nanami does this a number of times to Kenji, who was in a coma due to a motorcycle accident. In a twist, Nanami confesses her love to Kenji way before he wakes up a year after the accident.
- In the Pokémon Special manga, this happens in the Emerald arc between Gold and Silver, the latter of which is petrified at the moment.
- Hilariously, the only reason Gold did so was because he assumed that Silver wouldn't be able to hear him, when in fact Silver was indeed conscious during the petrification.
- In Spirited Away, Chihiro tells the unconscious Haku that she was going to be leaving for some time (to return the golden seal to Zeniba) and that he had to get better. Later when Haku wakes up, he reveals to Kamaji that he heard Chihiro's voice calling him and he followed her voice back to consciousness.
- In Kyou Kara Maou, while Wolfram is technically dead, Yuuri doesn't have any doubt that he'll get better and promises to save him.
- A nigh-screaming variant happens in Fullmetal Alchemist when Riza's throat is slashed. She loses so much blood she slips into unconsciousness, and Roy basically demands that she not die and leave him. This does bring her back, albeit in an indirect fashion. May Chang overhears the anguished Colonel, and interrupts her own agenda to perform the alkahestry ritual that will close Riza's wound and save her life.
- In Fruits Basket, after Tohru hits her head and is unconscious after falling down a collapsed hillside, Kyo cries and pleads for her to get better. She wakes up just long enough to comfort him, before passing out again.
- In AKB 49 Renai Kinshi Jourei, Minoru disregarded his masquerade completely and poured his heart out to his crush Hiroko during the time when she had collapsed due to fatigue.
- The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg has an unconscious character to whom the main character talks and (after moving away) sends letters.
- Geordi spends a lot of time talking to Data after he's damaged in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Fifth Annual.
- During the One Year Later timeskip, Cyborg was deactivated while repairs were under way. During that time, the other Teen Titans used him as a sounding board, even ones who'd never met him in person.
- The one time Snake-Eyes of G.I. Joe ever speaks is whispering Scarlett's codename to her while she's in a coma. Naturally, this is enough to wake her up.
- Just to note, this happened in the Marvel comics run, where he wasn't completely mute, but his vocal cords were so damaged that he could only speak in a very low whisper, and it was implied that is was painful to do so.
- Rising Stars: Not only does the muscle superhero guy talk to the special cop guy for like ten years, when he recovers he remembers every single word of it. Yeah, it's a superhero comic.
- In issue #50 of Spider Girl, Mayday (Spider-Girl) sits at the bedside of her comatose friend Courtney Duran, even bringing up things she did as Spider-Girl earlier in the issue. Their mutual friend Moose arrives at the point, and Mayday and Moose are telling each other not to blame themselves for the accident that put Courtney in the coma, when Courtney awakes. It's not clear just how much of the conversation Courtney heard, though if her behavior in subsequent issues is any indication, she doesn't know that Mayday is Spider-Girl.
- In Rocky II. Rocky was talking to Adrian after she spent time in a coma following a complicated childbirth. Fortunately, she got better, but not well enough soon enough to be present for his rematch with Apollo Creed.
- The Matrix: Something similar happens after Smith kills Neo, and Trinity is talking to his dead body in the real world.
- In Star Trek III the Search For Spock, McCoy pours his heart out to a comatose Spock whose soul has been protected from death by being kept in McCoy's body:
McCoy: Spock. For God's sake talk to me! You stuck this damn thing in my head, remember? Remember? Now tell me what to do with it. Help me. I'm gonna tell you something that... I never thought I'd hear myself say. But it seems that I've missed you. I don't think I could stand to lose you again.
- Subverted in Big Fish: Will is sitting quietly with his unconscious father in the hospital, and the doctor tells him how annoying it is when people talk to unconscious patients, since they can't hear you anyway.
- In Imagine Me and You, after Heck falls asleep Rachel confesses that she fell in love with someone else, but is going to stay with him anyway. Subverted in that he was faking it.
- Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. I think the movie title is pretty self-explanatory.
- In Ocean's 13, since Basher is stuck monitoring the tunnel-digger that the crew is using to set up their caper, he writes a series of letters which he asks Linus to read to the catatonic Reuben. Linus only manages to read a few lines before the unbearable sappiness makes him give up and leave the letters on Reuben's nightstand.
- Reuben, however, is very appreciative once he recovers enough to read them.
- Parodied in Talladega Nights, with various characters saying increasing...strange...things to their comatose comrade.
- Also done in Walk Hard.
- Happened in K9. Yup, he's talking to a dog.
- Except the dog was perfectly fine, which leads to Belushi's deadpan delivery of "I hate you."
- This trope forms much of the basis of the Spanish-language film Hable con ella (Talk to Her) by Pedro Almodóvar.
- Painfully subverted in the movie Uptown Girls, when Molly tells Ray to talk to her comatose dad because she heard it works. She spends the whole day talking to him and it seems to work alright, but he dies the next morning.
- Also subverted in Steel Magnolias. M'Lynn talks to her daughter trying to get her to wake up from her diabetic coma. She ultimately dies.
- Superman Returns: Lois brings her son to the hospital to see a comatose Superman and reveals certain information to him.
- In the 2011 dark comedy The Descendants multiple characters talk to the main character's wife while she's in a coma. Justified in that she is a driving character of the film and spends the entire film in a coma.
- Played with hilariously in the film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. When Ron is unconscious from a poisoning, Lavender Brown (who he had been dating) rushes to his bedside. She starts to call his name, which causes him to stir...and croak out Hermione's name. Cue Lavender running away in tears, while Hermione takes her place sitting by Ron. After Ron recovers, he apparently remembers none of this and has no idea why Lavender is angry with him.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts short story In Remembrance, both Corbec and Rawne talk to the severely wounded and unconscious Gaunt: Corbec saying that he thinks that Gaunt did the right thing on Tanith, and Rawne saying How Dare You Die on Me!, he was The Only One Allowed to Defeat You. Gaunt woke during the second.
- To clarify, the entire story is set in Gaunt's mind as he tries to come to terms with his horrific mutilation (both eyes ripped out, lots of torture, etc) while the Ghosts are trying to save him. As he fights a war inside his own mind (that sheds light on his growing disillusionment with the crusade), various Ghosts come to his bedside to talk to him. The climactic moment is his memories/the ghost of Colm Corbec (who had died many years prior) and the still living Rawne at his bedside talking to him while the doctors perform life saving surgeries. So, to summarize: the entire short story is this trope.
- In Only In Death, Dalin Criid does this to his adoptive mother, pointing out he has lost his adoptive father. She does not wake. (Though she does get better later.)
- In Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn novels, Eisenhorn never confessed to his love to Bequin while she was conscious -- "I was a psyker, she an Untouchable. That way pain and madness lay."—but when she is rendered comatose, he confesses to her before leaving her under medical treatment. (She does not recover, not then, not even years afterward, in the Ravenor novels.)
- In Lee Lightner's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolf's Honour, Mikal feels heavily burdened by the role that fell on him when Berek was gravely wounded. He sees the unconscious leader and asks why him—and is enraged when he realizes that the skald, Morgrim, listened to him. Morgrim is able to reassure him.
- Titus, the protagonist of M.T. Anderson's dystopian novel Feed, does this at the end of the book, to his girlfriend Violet, who's mental state has deteriorated to comatose and will never improve. Talk about Downer Ending.
- Septimus Heap is a very good example of this. He spends much time every day to talk to the unconscious Syrah.
- Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets; McGonagall catches Ron and Harry sneaking about while the school is on lockdown, and the best excuse they can come up with is they want to tell a petrified Hermione that the mandrakes are almost mature and a cure for her can be made soon. McGonagall actually buys this and lets them into the infirmary. Subverted in that they don't actually tell her anything: Harry at least is well aware it's pointless to talk to a petrified victim and that they're wasting their time - at least until they spot the piece of paper - holding a very important clue - in Hermione's hand.
Live Action TV
- During season 2 of Lost, Kate, believing that the spirit of the man she killed is somehow inhabiting an unconscious Sawyer's body, confesses her crime and says that every time she feels something for Sawyer, she thinks about him. Sawyer comes to, however, and says, "That's about the sweetest thing I've ever heard."
- It happened in Babylon 5 when Lennier was knocked out while saving Londo from a bomb. Londo sat by his side and spoke to him, and later Lennier woke up by finishing a joke Londo told earlier.
- Also, Neroon does this for Marcus Cole, after having beat him into the coma due to Marcus invoking You Shall Not Pass to stop Neroon from interfering with Delenn's appointment as leader of the Rangers.
- On News Radio, the staff take turns talking to a comatose Jimmy. He wakes up just in time to hear Lisa want a baby with Dave, and relapse from the shock. He finally revives after Bill plays Foghat's "Slow Ride" in a recreation of his college radio DJ gig.
- Not surprisingly, this is a time-honored trope that happens a lot in Soap Opera.
- Interestingly subverted in Life On Mars, which shows this going on from the perspective of the guy in the coma.
- In Dollhouse, Echo talks to Paul even though he's brain-dead. Seeing Paul, even like that, is implied to be necessary for her mental state and she freaks out when he's moved.
- Not longterm unconsciousness, but in Scrubs the Janitor's conversation with Dr. Kelso bears mentioning:
Janitor: [After Kelso slips on a wet floor] I liked the way blond-haired-doctor looked. She brightened my day. But you don't care, do you? 'Cause you're unconscious.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Becoming", Willow is left comatose after a skirmish and Xander tries to talk her out of it. The expected result of this trope is slightly subverted, in that when he says "I love you", she hears him and wakes up... thinking she'd been talked around by her boyfriend Oz.
- Monk once spent an entire episode talking to a comatose brother in a family that is being targeted by mail bombs (His regular psychiatrist was vacationing in Costa Rica, so he needed to commence a therapy session with someone). He turns out to be the perp.
- Invoked by the Genre Savvy Magnificent Bastard House in a fifth season episode. The team is taking care of a man who is conscious, but has lost all motor function. Each team member spends time by his bedside, monitoring him, and when he finally regains function, House reveals that he had planted a recorder under the patient's pillow. He now has his team's private thoughts on tape!
- In Merlin, Gwen speaks to Arthur while he's unconscious after having been bitten by the Questing Beast, telling him she know he's going to be alright because he's going to be king. A few scenes later it turns out he heard everything she said (though admittedly his memory seems a little hazy).
- Near the end of season 4 of Angel Connor tracks down the hidden and comatose Cordelia to explain his motives for the first time. When she eventually wakes up there's little to indicate she heard any of it though.
- Technically, she didn't actually wake up, and Connor wasn't around at the time anyway.
- In "Birthday" Angel appears to be going to make an Anguished Declaration of Love to the unconscious Cordy, only to start railing on her for not telling him that the visions were slowly killing her.
- In "Orpheus" Lorne sings to an unconscious Faith, who hears the song in a dream she's having, playing on a jukebox.
- In Freaks and Geeks, Alan puts peanuts in Bill's sandwich as a prank, not believing he is actually allergic to them, and as a result Bill winds up in a coma in the hospital. Alan makes a heartfelt apology to him while he is unconcious because he believes Bill won't be able to hear. (Of course, Bill hears everything.)
- Aeryn speaks to John while he's unconscious during Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. When he wakes up he gives no sign that he heard her, though in fairness she wasn't saying anything particularly suprising considering they were already married with a child at the time.
Aeryn: You did it, John. All the fighting has stopped. There's no more dying. And all of a sudden, three is not such a scary number. But no matter how wonderful this is, I will not accept it as a trade-off for losing you.
- Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. Starbuck goes in to see a brain-damaged and comatose Anders, admits that she doesn't care whether he's a human or a Cylon, and then pulls out her gun to give him the Mercy Kill, which is only averted by Anders suddenly grabbing her arm and babbling like a Mad Oracle.
- In the Doctor Who story "Battlefield", the Doctor cradles the apparently-killed-by-exploding-daemon body of Brigadier, and later Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart bemoaning the pointlessness with the comment "you should have died in bed." Obviously he got better, gave the Doctor a tart retort "Really Doctor. Do you think I'd have been so stupid as to have stayed inside?" and went back to his gardening. As for his eventual fate (according to the expanded universe) - yeap the Doctor was right. In bed. Aged roughly 125 (after being rejuvenated by accident, and becoming a lord in the Human Dreaming (kind of like Avalon in the marvel Universe)).
- Happens again in New Who episode The Christmas Invasion where the newly regenerated Tenth has hit a bad case of regeneration sickness and Jackie Tyler is sitting with him, trying to get him to tell her what's wrong.
- Whenever the Doctor does this with a sleeping/unconscious Amy, she somehow manages to hear every word. It was a Time Lord mind meld once, but only once. It's unknown at this point if it's a side-effect of the time cracks thing that makes her able to remember parts of altered timelines.
- In Hannah Montana, Oliver tells Miley, "I love you" while she's unconscious in the hospital, although she could hear him. Subverted in that he was practicing to say it to Lily.
- Used seriously in Kingdom Hospital, where the comatose artist could overhear what was being said around his body while his consciousness wandered in the spirit world.
- Variation on Supernatural: Sam and Dean have an actual conversation while Dean is in a coma, because Dean is astrally projecting and can communicate via Ouija board.
- In the first episode of series 3 of Ashes to Ashes.
- Conversed/Lampshaded in Nurse Jackie, where Akalitus told an unconscious movie critic how she hated movies where people talked to coma patients.
- There is a touching scene from The X-Files episode "One Breath" that invokes this trope. Scully is dying after being returned from her abduction, and Mulder spends much of the episode trying to save her. Her family decides to honor her living will and take her off life support. As she is slowly fading away, Mulder is at his home waiting for people from the Syndicate to break in and steal important files. Scully's sister Melissa arrives and encourages him (loudly and angrily) to stop wallowing and tell Dana how he feels. Mulder does, and he has a lovely conversation with the unconcious Scully:
Mulder:I feel, Scully... that you believe... you're not ready to go. And you've always had the strength of your beliefs. I don't know if my being here... will help bring you back. But I'm here.
- Scully wakes up shortly thereafter and tells Mulder that she had the strength of his beliefs.
- Lightly invoked in Episode 2x03 of Glee ("Grilled Cheesus"), in which it's not Finn's grilled cheesus, the prayer circle or Rachel's soulless rendition of "Papa, Can You Year Me?" at his bedside that brings Burt Hummel out of a week-long coma, but (by implication) the moment when - harking back to their conversation/argument in the episode - his son Kurt says, "I don't believe in god, Dad, but I believe in you. I believe in us. That's what's sacred to me."
- Given that Ayreon's The Human Equation is about a man in a coma except that it's really a computer program, it's not surprising that this trope shows up with Wife and Best Friend and their affair.
- Subverted in FoxTrot, after Peter tells his brother Jason to get up on the roof to retrieve their football- then Jason falls down the ladder, getting knocked unconscious. Out of guilt, Peter stays by Jason's hospital bedside all night;
Peter: Jason?.... Jason I'm really, really, really sorry.
- Mary Worth's storyline from September–November 2009 featured Scott (new fiance of Adrian) participating in a drug bust, getting shot, then being comatose in the hospital with non-specified injuries. While unconscious he is spoken to by Adrian's father Jeff, then Adrian herself. Concluded, of course, with him waking up just after Adrian has just concluded her speech about agreeing to marry him (he had proposed to her before the bust) and loving him no matter what.
- Subverted in Doonesbury, where Mike talks to JJ about their relationship problems while she's in a coma, only to find that she was faking it. Furthermore, she was filming him talking to put in a movie.
- Played with in Peanuts. Lucy fell asleep on Schroeder's piano, and Schroeder began to confess his love to her. Of course, she was only pretending to be asleep--and he was just trying to make her blow her cover.
- Ianto gives a heartmelting speech to an unconscious Jack in the Torchwood radio play "The Dead Line". (Link contains spoilers)
- He does so after telling Jack never to bring up what he said. Later, when Jack is awake, Ianto asks him whether he remembers anything; Jack answers he doesn't...and then proceeds to (very laconically) answer Ianto's concerns anyway.
- Squall in Final Fantasy VIII has a fairly extensive one-sided conversation with Rinoa while she is in a coma. Of course, Squall is used to having extensive one-sided conversations. The irony is that he actually wants a conversation now and can't have it - and he even makes the observation that "this is like talking to a wall," which is a callback to his blow-off of Quistis early in the game (when he says that if Quistis wants someone to listen to her but not say anything, she should talk to a wall).
- In Police Quest 3, the main character does this on a daily basis after the villain puts his wife in a coma. It's Personal, of course.
- In Kingdom Hearts, Riku would talk to a comatose Kairi, desperate to retrieve her heart back in order for her to awaken.
- Commander Shepard can do this in Mass Effect 3 after Ashley/Kaidan is severely injured... until s/he gets interrupted by a doctor entering the room.
- In Penny and Aggie, Penny visits her ex-boyfriend Rich, who's comatose after being stabbed. Encouraged to talk to him, Penny initially lets out her anger over his risky lifestyle, ending with, "Just hurry up and die!" After getting that off her chest, on a subsequent visit she whispers something presumably more gentle into his ear. Of course, when Rich regains consciousness and returns to school, he reveals what he actually heard: "'Hurry up and die'? You know I never do what you tell me."
- In The Dreamland Chronicles, Alex to Felicity—miracle cure!
- In Fite!, Cub to Lucco.
- In The Phoenix Requiem, Anya. Enough to be commented on.
- In an episode of Futurama, when Leela falls into a coma, Fry stays at her bedside for at least two weeks straight, constantly pleading her to wake up. It works.
- In the film Once Upon a Forest, an adorable little badger girl named Michelle is put into a coma by toxic fumes leaking into the forest, which kill her parents. Her Uncle Cornelius sings a song called "Please Wake Up" to Michelle as she's lying unconscious in bed. It's quite the Tear Jerker.
- In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer is sent to the hospital in a coma after a failed April Fools prank by Bart (he put one of his beer cans in a paint pot shaker, and when Homer opened it, it caused a massive explosion). Late into the episode (which was a Clip Show episode, by the way), Bart comes into the room to confess the prank he pulled on Homer. As he tells it all, Homer's condition improves, until he gets up... and starts strangling Bart.
- It's not like Bart did it for malice, though: ever since he woke up for April Fools, Homer had been tormenting the living hell out of the boy. He just didn't think his act of revenge would be such a Disproportionate Retribution.
- In the episode Separate Vocations Wiggum gives a pre-arrest one-liner to an unconscious thug named Snake.
Chief Wiggum: "Ah, looks like you just bought yourself a lottery ticket... to jail."
- This is the thrust of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episode "Tales of Leo". After a severe smackdown by The Foot two episodes ago, Leonardo is unconscious and dying. The A-plot of the episode consists of his familiy's conversations with him about his childhood, told in the form of flashbacks.