How would YOU portray lucid dreaming in media (as a lucid dreamer)?

We’ve all seen those TV series episodes where the main character says, “Oh, I get it…I’m dreaming!”
Spontaneous lucidity (though they rarely call it this), usually at the convenience of the plot in which dreams have never been mentioned. I think I usually see this in sitcom shows, but also in many cartoons. (Note: some media that focuses on dreams or metaphysics may do a better job on this, although I can’t think of any off the top of my head).

There’s a part of me that always squeals with delight when dreams are introduced in media, but in the same breath I can’t help but sigh at how lucidity is portrayed in these episodes, like “they didn’t do a reality check! They just immediately have amazing dream control? Well, at least they’re flying, the cliche of lucid dreaming…”

While I understand the format of the genre (typically comedy?) might not justify putting in a lot of effort
into portraying lucid dreams realistically for a single episode, I have always really wished that a show like this would actually show the character doing a reality check or something to become lucid.

So, as a lucid dreamer, how would you portray lucid dreaming in media? (TV shows, books, movies, etc.)

I’ve been thinking about doing a creative project about dreams and would love to hear the opinions of other lucid dreamers on this!


I’m just happy to see it but I do feel like shouting at the TV sometimes.
Most annoying thing is the common ‘pinching themselves’ to check if it’s a dream! It wouldn’t work.


THIS. This for sure. Unless, of course, they pinch their nose as a reality check! hahaha

We will have to change the saying:
Pinch my nose, I must be dreaming!


I think there are some common public misconceptions like the nose pinching which are hard to get out of people’s heads. So I assume if you want to portrait them realistically then you have to spend more time of the show than producers would be willing to permit ;p

But of course there’s nothing preventing us from doing at least little steps at a time. So I’m considering that when answering your question: “How would I portray lucid dreaming in media?“

First of all, I think it’s a solid assumption that incubation and all that stuff that goes on in a lucid dreamer’s life before the lucid dream are not as important as the dream itself or the aftereffects, from storytelling point of view I mean. So I would forego trying to get any of that across.

As for the dream itself, I tink inception did a pretty good job at depicting a cineatistically interesting dreamworld that is also pretty close to the real thing in many aspects, so my idea of a dreamworld depiction is something like that. It must have fantastic and surreal elements and a bunch of instability and randomness. Adding different grades of perception would also be a good idea, e.g. blurring the vision in the periphery or in some specific spots, but also have some scenes that are spectacularly clear and vivid. Especially after attaining lucidity such a trick could be useful to really mark a change in the behavior of the dreamworld.

The most challenging for more would be the dreamer. I’ve recently mentioned in another topic that I don’t have much of an ego in a dream, so I would rely mostly on other dreamers’ stories to get some ideas. One thing you could do is changing body (e.g. gender, growing hair out, growing fantastic body parts…) but keep one thing like the face or the voice to bring across that it’s still the same person.

Dream characters are also an interesting thing to include. Give them erratic behavior on one hand side but make them follow their real life inspirations at other times.

I also mentioned aftereffects earlier. In a story that is not revolving around dreams only (and I think you hardly talked about those in the initial scope for this topic?), just having an instance of a lucid dream all by itself is not going to do much. I think it’s more interesting for the audience to ponder on and linger their thoughts on for some more time if it is embedded in the overall story. It should have consequences of some sort.

For example the dreamer could tell others about the dream. In this case i would use it to make some public advertisement for lucid dreaming, by having him say something like, “I had the strangest kind of dream, I could control everything. It was majestic. If only I could have them more often…“

There are other possibilities to weave it into the rest of the show/book/whatever. Use it as a precognition incident if that’s your thing. Or have the character learn something really profound that they had always been missing, most likely something about themself, but could also be something related to the story, for example how to tackle a certain problem that was a roadblock until now.

Tl;dr: Make sure to have a nice dreamworld which is easy with visual media, have the character do at least one lucid dreamy thing, and make sure it fits into the overall composition instead of being a standalone element.


@Marvin with an insightful and interesting perspective, as always! :slightly_smiling_face:

Well I guess I’ve gotta come clean and say that I’ve never seen Inception. It’s on the lucid dreamer’s bingo card and despite all these years I haven’t crossed it off yet :lol:

I really enjoy the idea of the character’s clothes changing every time the camera cuts away and back to them for something like TV or a movie, oh, and any text in the background too!

The project I want to do is planned to be a small series of vignettes/short stories (comic form), in which each vignette is a dream (who knows if I’ll actually make it happen though, hahaha). But in regards to the different grades of perception, I’ve been thinking of portraying lucidity with color, and non-lucid parts in grayscale. I’m happy to hear that other lucid dreamers might connect with something like that!(?)

When I have that sudden lucid moment (I’m a MILDer), it’s like some kind of veil comes down and it feels so totally different. Like taking a pair of glasses off and suddenly realizing what you thought was normal vision wasn’t quite right. I realize as I’m typing this that I probably don’t need to describe the feeling of lucidity in this forum :rofl: But in the effort to stay on topic, I would love to see media try to capture that change in perspective and perception too.

Interesting thought! With the exception of a short series of dreams I had way back in 2014, I’m almost always myself in my dreams. I wonder if maybe keeping the eyes/eye color the same would work in visual media.

Yes! Dream characters! I haven’t quite figured out how I want to visually portray those background DCs. But emotionally I think they could serve a great opportunity for comic relief. Some DCs can be so so silly. I have recurring DCs that are a little more profound, though.

This made me chuckle, I just imagined it as a false awakening that turns into a live TV commercial where they’re advertising lucid dreaming.

Thanks for your perspective @Marvin , I think of lot of lucid dreamers would connect with your ideas.

It also took me years to get back to it. I think I watched it with Wulf at some point when I was over for a visit, because I always put it off.

I’d love to read that. The world needs more dream focused media content :slight_smile: So it’s goinng to be a series that is really focusing on dreams, right?

Reading your lines about the emotional significance of dream characters, I remembered that a common thing is deceased people re-appearing in dreams. I guess that could be a good motivation for a character to want to lucid dream; after finding they can see their friend who died in a tragic accident in his dreams. Maybe they got into an argument the last time they saw each other and the dreamer felt regret the whole time.

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Aww I’m flattered! Unfortunately I have little to no experience in comics and I’m a bit of a lazy artist so my rendering isn’t very good and I’m slow haha. I’m still in a conceptual phase. Ideally, I’d really like to make it a story that’s only told through dreams, but that might be a little ambitious. Hope it’s not too much of a cringe to make it somewhat autobiographical though :lol: (I think this is different from a self insert though? because it would be my actual lived experience? I’m treading carefully haha).

This would make such a sweet story. Or it would be a good arc in a series that isn’t necessarily focused on dreams.

What I would like to see in media is a bigger focus on the dreaming aspect of lucid dreaming. Too many of these movies, shows, etc. I see relegate lucidity or dreams to a secondary or tertiary role in service of the more “realistic” plot or end goal. It makes it seem like these are just more fancier action movies. To me it sounds like they limit themselves too much. The more fantastical elements, what really makes the idea of lucid dreaming truly special, is fleshed out at a barebones level.

Imagine if you stumbled into a theater to watch a movie about magic. The spells are introduced, the “rules” and world building is explored for a bit, and then, it stops. The rest of the movie is a series of scenes watching ordinary people doing ordinary things in an otherwise fantastical setting. There’s no spells, no magical creatures, unless required by the movie to move the plot in exciting ways in some action piece or something. There’s no universe fleshed out, it’s all a framework that is captivating at first glance but never commits to enrich the viewer. It’s supplementary at best.

Take Inception, for example. The introduction of lucidity to the viewer was handled perfectly. It was weird, intriguing and mind blowing. I was engrossed, in awe at what I was watching. And then… for the rest of the movie everything else appeared very grounded in reality. I mean, what’s the point then. Never did I reach a similar moment for the remainder of the film, except for a few action set pieces sprinkled out in between. Yes, those were a spectacle to watch, but it does little to none in expanding the dream world you’re trying to create. It’s only a taste; we’re left at the tip of the iceberg for no more than a few seconds at most. Even the concepts the film is trying to describe are very interesting subjects to discuss, but it’s all carried out in the most boring ways, in a more reality-like environment. At that point it’s like watching any other action movie.

I believe if lucid dreaming media is to be concerned, then your most important element, the star of the show, should be the dream itself. I mean, this is what people look forward to the most in these movies. They want to see what this lucid dreaming is all about, to discover what lies inside this infinite world that spawns every night they go to bed. It’s the answer to the question, “Why do you want to lucid dream?”

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@Marvin @Noon Alright. Alright. Haha. Due to this discussion I buckled down and watched Inception and WOWieow it is an injustice to what lucid dreaming is.

Oh man this sentiment absolutely nails my frustration as a lucid dreamer.

My disappointment exactly! It’s like the dream-ness of the dream wasn’t there? Why aren’t they flying? Walking through walls? Why all the guns?

This is also a lovely sentiment. I think that the dream world is the key to the magic many of these films/shows are missing.