Indulgent Fantasy Segue

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Alice is positively furious with Bob, but she's sitting still and trying her damnedest to keep her rage at a low simmer. Finally, she cannot take anymore; she snaps and breaks a chair over Bob's head, empties an automatic weapon into his body and takes a roaring chainsaw to the remains before cackling like a madwoman over her former friend's corpse.

...Now back to reality: Alice is still sitting there, still giving the evil eye to a very much unharmed Bob. What just happened? We were treated to an Indulgent Fantasy Segue, where the show went straight into Alice's head and showed us what she was thinking without announcing it to the audience first. It's almost exclusively a comedic device, and almost always involves the dreamer inflicting sudden, shocking violence on someone else.

For the nonviolent version, see Daydream Surprise. Contrast Imagine Spot, where it's clear from the start that this is all in Alice's head, sometimes through the use of a Fade to White.

Occasionally the thing the character would like to do is shown to be in complete contrast to what they actually do. A particularly detached individual may even get angry or concerned about events within their fantasy segue, and take these out on whoever they're talking to.

Examples of Indulgent Fantasy Segue include:

Anime & Manga

  • Early in Ranma ½, Akane runs into Ranma and Shampoo in the bath. The next chapter opens with Ranma vehemently declaring the evidence to be entirely circumstantial, all while Akane cries and screams gibberish hysterically. Ranma then slaps her once, decisively, to shut her up... but it was all just his own fantasy. Confident, he strides out to confront the real Akane, who is all smiles and cheer and kicks him into the lower stratosphere.
  • A non-comedic twist in Macross Plus. After a humiliating end to his YF-21 test , Guld's Valkyrie ends up on top of Isamu's. Guld imagines how easy it would be, at the speed and altitude they're flying, to apply a slight downwards force and smash Isamu horrifically into the ground. Unfortunately for the both of them, the YF-21 responds to mental commands, and does exactly what Guld had only imagined.
  • In the Lupin III manga, the titular character finds himself captured by Inspector Zenigata. Lupin then drops his pen and the Inspector picks it up, only to get kicked in the face and to have Lupin escape. The scene then cuts back to Zenigata telling Lupin to keep dreaming and to pick up his own pen.
  • Ghost in the Shell has an episode centred on the protagonists increasingly elaborate fantasy segues of killing the VIP he chauffeurs for political reasons. Given this is interspersed with his plans to commit the attack tension is added to each fantasy segue, though the end of the episode implies he’ll never take the final step.

Comic Books

  • Non-comedic example: issue #7 of the short-lived horror comic Twisted Tales contained a story called "Shut-In" that was almost entirely one long, very gruesome fantasy segue. And then another just before the story's end.
  • After The Authority takes over the USA, they end up having to fulfill mundane leadership tasks such as meeting with foreign dignitaries. Midnighter usually daydreams about violently murdering said world leaders.
  • Detective Hartigan has one of these in That Yellow Bastard. Not played for comedy.
  • V for Vendetta has a short set of these when Evey imagines unmasking V. Not comic, but not particularly nasty.
  • Deadpool has what he calls P.O.V. ('Pool-o-vision), and claims he is editorially mandated to have at least two per issue.
  • The Joker has an indulgent fantasy segue in Batman RIP during a rorschach test. It involved the death of billions from airborne Joker Virus, the lunatics escaping Arkham, and the Joker cutting Batman and Robin's throats with a straight razor. Their blood forms a flower shape.

Therapist: What do you see in this one?
Joker: Another pretty flower...


Spider-Man: It was just a thought.


Films -- Live-Action

  • The end of Dumb and Dumber, where in a fit of jealousy, Lloyd imagines emptying a revolver into Mary's husband before Mary snaps him out of his violent reverie; so she can introduce him to her husband.
  • The early 1990s rollerblading flick Airborne shows the Jerk Jock getting so angry about The New Guy flirting with his girl, he rushes the kid and tosses him out of the third-story window. Cut back to the Jock, still fuming at the new guy, who is completely unhurt and still flirting with his girl.
  • The scene from True Lies where Arnold Schwarzenegger fantasizes about smashing Bill Paxton's face for messing with Arnold's wife, then bragging to him about it, is particularly hilarious.
  • Mean Girls, where Cady imagines beating the living daylights out of the Alpha Bitch over the guy they both want. But it's Girl World, so she instead puts on a friendly smile.
    • At the very end of the film, Cady's narration reveals that the peace may not remain intact for much longer with the introduction of Junior Plastics. They share a brief death stare- AND GET RAMMED BY A BUS! "Only kidding!"
  • In the British 2001 comedy-drama Mean Machine, based heavily on the classic movie The Longest Yard, you see the inmates-team's psychotic goalie 'Monk' having one of these during the big match. Of course, considering that he's a raving lunatic who has been known to kill people with his bare hands, you really can't tell that it's just an Indulgent Fantasy Segue until it ends...
  • Not exactly violent, but not nice or professional either: Dr. Sobel in Analyze This imagines rudely yelling what he considers obvious at his patient.
  • Spy Kids: the dad dreams of fighting an obnoxious parent and throwing him through the school window.
  • Creepshow (1982) segment "The Crate". While at a party, Professor Northrup fantasizes about killing his wife Wilma by shooting her. The assembled guests applaud him, then Wilma yells at him and he snaps out of it. He does it again when he imagines strangling her.
  • Smiley Face is essentially a string of these stretched to feature length.
  • Throw Momma From The Train with Danny DeVito's myriad ways to kill his mother.
  • American Psycho could invoke this, depending on your interpretation of the movie.
  • Used in Slumdog Millionaire when Jamal meets his brother (on a scaffold in a skyscraper under construction) after years apart, and imagines rushing him off the side and killing them both. (Arguably an Imagine Spot, as this is in a flashback and we know Jamal is alive in the present.)
  • High Fidelity had a scene where Rob's ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend Ian shows up at his store and smarmily asks if Rob can stop acting so hostile. When he says "So, shall we leave it at then?" Rob swears at him and tells him to get out. Then it cuts to Ian saying "So, shall we leave it at that then?" again, to which Rob reacts by trying to physically assault Ian, who flees quickly while Dick and Barry hold Rob back from kicking his ass. Ian says the line a third time, which now depicts Dick smacking Ian in the jaw with a telephone, all three assaulting him and kicking him on the ground, and finally Dick crushing him to death with a massive A/C unit. Finally, it cuts to Ian saying the line again in real life, to which Rob reacts by rather anti-climactically shrugging.
  • A cut scene from Pulp Fiction had Jules in the diner at the end violently killing the two robbers, only to cut back to him sitting there, probably cursing his recently-decided nonviolent ways.
  • Many surrealistically weird and disturbing scenes in the movie Belle de Jour eventually turn out to be the titular protagonist's masochist fantasies.
  • From the movie Monster-In-Law, Viola imagines smashing Charlie's head in to the food repeatedly, while in reality, they were smiling politely.
    • Charlie gets one of these as payback though, when Viola is asking her a list of personal questions Charlie imagines smashing Viola with a frying pan. In reality, once again, she is sitting there and smiling.
  • In Requiem for a Dream when Marion is at the restaurant with her psychiatrist, she imagines herself impaling his hand with a fork.
    • Also at the beginning with Harry imagining stealing a cop's gun to play catch with it.
  • There's one of these in Ravenous, set to a song called "Cannibal Fantasy" of all things.
  • At the beginning of the Soviet film Moscow Cassiopeia, Vitya accidentally reads aloud a note indicating that a girl in his class likes him. Then another boy starts playing a march on his tape player, causing everyone to burst out laughing. Vitya imagines walking through the rows, striking everyone with a finger (It Makes Sense in Context). Cut back to Vitya simply standing there, adjusting his glasses.
  • A not-insignificant part of the film The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is made up of these, with Mitty (a pulp writer), slipping into various Fantasy segues ranging from murders and high adventure to a musical number where he plays a Camp Gay fashion designer.
  • In one of the modern-day interpretations of Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet engages in these frequently, such as throwing a Bible at Collins' head amid cheers from the gathered church congregation, or hurling water into Darcy's face and storming out in a huff. These always take place in slow motion and with specific background music.



"The master's body!" the butler roared into the mouthpiece. "I'm sorry madam but we cannot furnish it. It's too hot to touch this noon!"
What he really said was: "Yes... yes... all right."

  • The Goosebumps book Monster Blood II.
  • Inverted in Pet Sematary, with an extended fantasy segue in which the baby didn't get hit by a car. Not present in the movie, where it's just a series of BigNos over baby pictures.
  • In Apt Pupil, Todd fantasizes about stabbing one of his teachers in the eyes with a pencil.
  • Pride and Prejudice And Zombies has one of these, with Lizzy decapitating Lydia to get her to shut up.
  • A variation is used in Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream. Luke Skywalker has a Force premonition (which is almost always predictive of the future) of his friend Wedge Antilles pulling a blaster on an Obstructive Bureaucrat come to visit, and to give him marching orders that are not to the benefit of him, his friends, or even the New Republic in general. Luke suppresses his reaction when he (quickly) realizes this wasn't what Wedge intended to do...just what Wedge wanted to do.

Live-Action TV

  • Used often on Days of Our Lives, though often for dramatic purposes instead of funny.
  • This joke was used about 50 times in every single Ally McBeal episode ever. For one character, the fantasies turned into hallucinations brought on by a brain tumor.
  • In the Young Ones episode "Summer Holiday", Neil gets so frustrated by the others' insults, that he turns into The Incredible Hulk, bursts out of his clothes and beats up the others. When he snaps out of the fantasy, everything is back to normal, but his clothes are still shredded to bits.

Vyvyan: What's happened to all your clothes, Neil?
Neil: I think I'd better just go upstairs and lie down for a bit, actually.

  • In Scrubs, this happens so often that when something outrageous does happen, such as Dr. Cox punching Dr. Kelso in the nose for berating Elliot, the audience assumes that the show is about to "snap back" at any moment. This isn't helped by the fact that one such "segue" went on so long it became a form of All Just a Dream.
  • One episode of Family Matters did this three times with three different people as a Running Gag.
  • In an episode of CSI, Grissom gets stabbed in the throat. As they were only moments away from a cliffhanger anyway, it's perhaps a pity the incident turns out to be a delusion.
    • Another episode opened with lab tech Archie sorting through a suitcase full of cocaine, documenting all the packets of coke. He lifts one up, and BOOM, a pressure-triggered bomb goes off, killing Archie. Turns out, it was the first in a series of scenarios in Hodge's prototype board-game, "Lab Rats".
  • In one episode of Two and A Half Men, Charlie imagines tearing Alan's arm off and beating him with it.
  • A relatively rare non-humorous example showed up in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, where Tigh, having just discovered that he's a Cylon, imagines that he kills Adama, and then snaps back to reality.
    • Particularly nightmarish since, at the end of Season 1, the exact same thing happened, and that time it was in-continuity.
  • Also happens non-comedically in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Who Are You", with Faith in Buffy's body fantasizing about stabbing Willow.
    • Faith does the same in the Angel episode "Sanctuary." She was a little less than sane at the time.
    • Done painfully in "The Body," with Buffy imagining the EMTs reviving her dead mother.
  • Happens a couple of times with Dr. David Sandstrom in ReGenesis momentarily fantasizing about beating the crap out of Obstructive Bureaucrats and the like.
  • An interesting variant is seen in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager in which Tuvok, bothered by Neelix trying to get him to smile, snaps and throttles Neelix to death ... only to utter those words immortal to the Star Trek universe, "computer - end program."
  • In Dexter, Miguel Prado finds Dexter at the scene of a fresh kill and accidentally gets blood on his shirt. He later gives Dexter the bloody shirt as a token of friendship and a guarantee of secrecy. When Dexter becomes suspicious and tests the shirt, he discovers that it's a fake, daubed with animal blood. His explosion of rage is revealed to be this trope.
  • The remake of Reggie Perrin with Martin Clunes uses this at least a dozen times an episode.
  • After Vogler has been using his promise of money to fight with House in the first season, an episode opens with House telling Vogler he has liver cancer and a better chance of dying than living, but House assures him they'll do everything they can, elating Vogler, who finally admits out-loud that House is damn good and is humbled by this treatment after spending so much time torturing House because of his 'unorthodox' ways. Of course, House is daydreaming.
  • A rare serious occurrence in Medium when Allison helps with jury selection for a trial, using her psychic talents to figure out who the prosecution should try to get on the jury even if their files suggest they're not the types of people who would give them what they want; namely, the death penalty. One of the files marked "rejected" is for a religious woman whom Allison "sees" next to a comatose woman in a hospital, talking about how her beliefs don't jibe with ending another's life prematurely. The comatose woman is her brain-dead mother; cut to massive fit of rage as she rips apart the room, destroying the life-support equipment, revealing that she wants nothing more than to have it turned off and feels smothered by her religion. Cut back to the woman sitting quietly, with the room intact.
  • Spaced uses this quite a lot. The trope was so associated with the programme for Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright that they consciously avoided doing it when making Shaun of the Dead, according to their commentary track for the film. The most obvious moment I can think of from Spaced is when Daisy accuses Tim of sabotaging her relationship out of bitterness:

Tim: "Yes. Yes. And I'd do it again! I do it again in an instant! AHAHAHAHAHA! (Leaps out of the window)."

    • The character of Tyres is also portrayed with heavy use of this, his sudden mood-whiplashes leaving other characters unsure of if they have imagined what he just said. Finally, by the first episode of the second series, Daisy seems so used to her life being full of this, she seems to expect it after she beats up a couple of Matrix-style agents with previously unrevealed kung-fu prowess:

Daisy: "That just happened, didn't it?"
Tim: "Um... yeah."

  • The HBO series Dream On would do this using footage lifted from 1950s- and 60s-vintage television shows for the segues.

Newspaper Comics

  • In one Bloom County strip, Opus fantasizes about taking a firehose to all the people smoking in a no-smoking section of a restaurant, before concluding wistfully that "Ms. Manners wouldn't approve."
  • In a FoxTrot strip from June 2011, Paige is hogging the computer while Jason wants to play Portal. He fantasizes about dropping her through a vertical portal loop.


  • Dragon Age II, what with its Unreliable Narrator Varric, goes into one of these where Varric singlehandedly storms his brother's home, Tony Montana-style. Then Cassandra yells at him and he tells what really happened.
    • Something similar happens at the beginning, only without Varric being there.


Western Animation

  • One episode of American Dad has Stan Smith discovering his daughter when visiting his boss's house. Stan shoots Avery, chloroforms his daughter, points his gun at a blind man who swears he didn't see anything, and flees. Soon after returning to reality, Stan gets angry about being tricked by the hypothetical blind man, as the man would have had to have not been blind to see the gun pointing at him.
    • A later episode had Francine confess to Stan about having become a surrogate mother for a gay couple's child. Stan flipped out and came at her with a broken beer bottle. Then with a chainsaw. Then with a ferocious leopard. Then with a ferocious leopard holding a chainsaw. All this is then revealed to be Francine worrying what would happen if she told Stan the truth. And, since the world of American Dad is so bizarre and Stan is so nuts, all of this actually seemed entirely possible until Francine woke up from her fantasy.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Milo, a third-rate supervillain with a falling position in the Government Conspiracy, has one of these fantasies. After one poor performance review too many, he pulls out a laser gun from under the table and...
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Punch Clock Villain Otto Octavius fantasizes about attacking his domineering boss Norman Osborn mere minutes before massive electromagnetic shock causes him to snap and he does it for real.
  • Family Guy lampshades and inverts this. Peter imagines killing himself with a revolver and splattering his brains on the wall. Cut to reality, they're still in the bar.
  • Megas XLR does this for the benefit of both the main character and a good deal of the audience: Coop, struggling through the endless bureaucracy of the Department of Motor Vehicles, groans that he hates the DMV... then imagines himself piloting Megas in an elaborate destruction of the DMV building, starting with stomping on it repeatedly and culminating in an extended weapons barrage that leaves it as a smoking crater. At which point he opens fire again. Cathartic.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Spike goes into one of these during ‘A Dog and Pony Show’, complete with ludicrous amounts of muscle, a chin so manly Transformers Animated would be jealous, and much Curb Stomp Battling as he epicly saves and seduces Damsel in Distress Rarity (who’s even wearing a very Princess Peach dress for full tropey goodness).