Comics: Once Upon a Trope

Exciting Interlude


Hero is reading in bed when a shadowy monster with glowing eyes bursts through the window.

The hero runs frantically through their house, the monster chasing them.

Cornered, the hero screams as the monster leaps forward to finish them off.

The hero wakes up in bed, their book in disarray next to them.

Hero: Whew! I’m okay, everything’s okay.

Hero: Why do I feel strangely cheated?



  1. Cay Reet

    LOL … that was a fun one!

    I think the reader of such a story could feel cheated, because the ‘it was just a dream’ twist is hard to pull off successfully.

    • Gwen

      What would be a successful “It was a dream” sequence?

      Maybe Alice in Wonderland’s embrace of absurdity and focus or reality vs illusion make it more viable?

      • Cay Reet

        I think Alice in Wonderland works because of the absurdity. The book slowly moves the reader out of reality – as Alice follows the rabbit down the rabbit hole – and brings the reader back to it later – as Alice wakes up again. With that, a common reality slips away and that suggests something is happening. That way, it’s not really a ‘surprise! it was a dream’ situation.

  2. Dave L

    The first time I encountered the “it was just a dream” twist was Captain Scarlet. I was blown away. It was amazing

    I must have been about six or seven. Over the past five decades I’ve become more… jaded

  3. Bellis

    I have those exact socks! They were a gift

    But also, I’m currently reading a book that started with an excerpt of a fictional book that the main character was reading and I was not thrilled by that. At least it’s not come back so far. I guess it was to set the tone of the book and establish the main character’s love of reading spooky stories, but it wasn’t necessary for either. Maybe it was done for some fake conflict, maybe foreshadowing?
    Idk but it wasn’t the best choice in my opinion, though it wasn’t terrible either and it was short, which was good.

  4. Alex McGIlvery

    I ran into a new version of this where the author write a time travel loop book and at the end sent everyone back to square one as if nothing had happened. Ouch.

    Then there was the book with the superfantastic first chapter, which was a dream, and it was downhill from there.

    Dreams can be effective, but not as surprise ending twists.

  5. Kisa

    When I was 10 years old, my teacher told us to write a story. I remember her saying that she would not accept an “it was all a dream” ending, because that’s a lazy ending.
    It was already an old cliché 20 years ago, but some writers still think that is a very original plot twist…

  6. Adam Reynolds

    I remember once when I was a kid I used the oh so clever variation that it was not a dream but was an in universe story. I think I was saying that it was a movie. Obviously it still had exactly the same problem.

  7. Erynus

    Here in spain there is an infamous tv show called The Serranos about a widower that raises 4 kids on his own. After 8 seasons, the final episode revealed that it was all a dream, originating the idiom “It is a Resines’ dream” in reference of Antonio Resines, the lead actor.

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