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A character, usually male, first meets a stranger, usually female and presumably a future Love Interest, in a dream of his, before meeting her in real life and discovering that she wasn't just an invention of his subconscious. She really is the "girl of his dreams".
How did a real person like her end up in his dreams? Maybe they were Prophetic Dreams, or his dreaming of his own time. Maybe it was Telepathy on her part. Or maybe they happened to meet each other's consciousness in a collective Dream Land.
Either way, meeting someone of your desired gender in a dream always means that the person is special, or otherworldly, or fated to be yours. Romantic love is practically guaranteed.
- Played with in Yumeria where the main character Tomokazu first meets a strange girl named Mone in a dream of his. The next morning the girl appears to have come out of the Dream Land and is currently sleeping in bed next to him... naked. Hilarity Ensues.
- Boys Love example: Koi Wa Ina Mono Myouna Mono or Secret Love, a manga by Taishi Zaou: The high school boy Masafumi Tamura has several dreams of having sex with another boy. To his fear, he meets the boy, Narumi Seiwa, who sure is interested in making the dreams come true.
- Female dreaming of male example: Nanoha dreams of Yuuno via telepathy in the very first episode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. How much they fit the "Romantic love is practically guaranteed" part of this trope mostly depends on which side of the Ship-to-Ship Combat you are.
- Another genderflipped example is from Cardcaptor Sakura: the first time Sakura Kinomoto saw Li Syaoran was in one of her Prophetic Dreams. Unlike the aforementioned example, they're VERY much an Official Couple.
- In Chrono Crusade, Azmaria has a dream about Joshua near the beginning of volume 2, and finds out in the same chapter that he's Rosette's missing brother. They don't actually meet in person until volume 5. In the epilogue, Azmaria is shown holding Joshua's hand at Rosette's funeral. A ring is clearly visible, implying that, yes--they did actually get married.
- In Digimon Tamers, Takato first sees Ruki in a dream, rocking a Badass Longcoat and generally being awesome. Takato/Ruki is a major Fan-Preferred Couple in the fandom; but Takato actually has a crush on one of his classmates, Juri, and she more or less returns it in the end.
- The English dub actually has him, after meeting
RukiRika for real, joke about how "it's not every day you get to meet your dream girl - sorry, couldn't resist." She threatens to hurt him if he calls her that again.
- Interestingly, though he tries, neither he nor we ever find out what made him dream of her before the subject is dropped on pain of pain. Some think it was the human-friendly Sovereigns' way of getting two characters who needed to team up but wouldn't meet under normal circumstances to meet.
- The English dub actually has him, after meeting
- Welcome to The NHK! opens with Sato having a dream that mostly symbolizes his delusions. At one point, however, Misaki appears in the background with her trademark white umbrella, watching Sato with an enigmatic smile. Not only does his dream foreshadow his meeting with Misaki later in the episode, but how his dream ends foreshadows his suicide attempt in the final episode during a last-ditch attempt to convince Misaki not to end her life.
- Used as a Red Herring and then inverted in the manwa Girl In My Dreams: Soon after losing his girlfriend Ji-Soo in a tragic accident the protagonist Ji-Hoon starts dreaming of a beautiful girl named Yuna who appears to be playing this trope straight until she reveals she's actually a vengeful aspect of Ji-Soo's spirit intent on committing Grand Theft Me.
- Ai, the male lead of Psychic Academy, believed that he first met his girlfriend Orina at a beach at sunset. It wasn't until years later that he learned that that meeting was actually a psychic phenomena known as the Paradream, or that the girl he actually met there was Mew, who had changed hairstyles in the seven years between the Paradream and their first actual meeting. The poor lighting caused by the Paradream happening at sunset caused him to not realize that Orina's hair color didn't even come close to matching that of the girl he had met.
- Played literally in the ending of Eureka Seven movie. Eureka was able to enter Renton's dream during their childhood, and demonstrated this ability again as the naked long hair girl in Renton's dream, adding the fact that the world might have turned into or connected to Renton's dream world.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica does this as well, as Madoka first sees Homura in a dream before seeing her in real life. As for romantic love, Homura is quite definitely in love with Madoka (especially counting the Rebellion movie), but it's VERY complicated. Madoka loves her greatly but whether her feelings are romantic or not are less clear, though she DOES at very least love her as "the greatest friend" she's ever had.
- Sailor Moon: In the first anime, Haruka/Uranus first sees her future partner and girlfriend Michiru/Neptune in a dream that starts as a vision of The End of the World As We Know It, then has Michiru telling her that if she wants to do something about it, she must become Sailor Uranus.
- Used with a Prophetic Dreams spin in Fruits Basket. When Akito "God" Sohma was conceived, the cursed Sohmas who were born already (Ayame, Shigure, Hatori, Kureno and Ritsu) dreamed about her "arrival" to their lives. The first four were quite aware of the meaning of the dream, and the fifth forgot about it since he was too young to understand and the others never really told him.As for romance, Akito has VERY complicated relationships with Kureno and Shigure, and ultimately marries the latter.
- At the beginning of Tekken the Motion Picture, Jun Kazama has dreams of her child self and a boy around her age. It turns out she did meet that boy in real life - and he's none other than Kazuya Mishima.
- Scott Pilgrim in the first volume of Scott Pilgrim has his dreams rudely interrupted by a courier-girl named Ramona. This is because one of the "subspace highways" she uses regularly passes through the Dream Land of his mind. (Despite what she says, it is a bit like Super Mario Bros. 2.)
- In W.I.T.C.H., Cornelia dreams of Caleb, a guy living in other dimension before meeting him.
- In X-Men, Professor X meets Princess Lilandra after dreaming of her repeatedly, though when someone's the most powerful psychic in the world AND his love interest has Psychic Powers as well, it's not as surprising.
- In The Sandman, sleeping people are often conscripted into being temporary servants in Morpheus' kingdom. In the issue "Season Of Mists", one man begs a woman to tell him her name and address before they wake up. It's not shown if they manage to find each other in the real world.
- In the oldest version of Beauty and The Beast, Beauty dreams, repeatedly, of a handsome young man who begs her to rescue him. Technically, she had met him at this point, but she doesn't realize it until the Beast transforms.
- In some renditions of Sleeping Beauty, as she goes through her enchanted sleep, the Princess is given dreams about the Prince who will wake her up by the Fairy that changed her deathly destiny. So when the Prince gives her a True Love's Kiss, she wakes up already knowing who he is and why is he there, and she tells him so before agreeing to marry him.
- Terry Gilliam's Brazil
- ...as well as 12 Monkeys (but the recurring dream was caused by a childhood memory of seeing something horrible happen to his time-traveling future self and his lover.
- Total Recall. A psychiatrist is trying to convince Quaid that what he's experiencing isn't real, but an implanted memory.
Psychiatrist: And what about the girl? Brunette, athletic, sleazy and demure? Just as you specified. Is that coincidence?
- Valentine is a male version in Mirror Mask.
- The Good Night featured a married man dreaming of a mysterious woman who adores him sexually, played by Penelope Cruz.
- A dark version occurs in the horror movie Lifeforce. An astronaut becomes obsessed with the beautiful woman he finds on an alien spacecraft (as she's played by a stark naked Mathilda May that's not surprising) who turns out the be a Life Energy-sucking space vampire. She later informs him that she probed his mind long before his ship approached hers, taking from it an image of his perfect woman.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Chrome Circle, Tannim and Shar have repeated dreams of one another long before they ever meet.
- Mostly because a Dragon decided to play matchmaker to make up for a mistake in his past by manipulating their early dreams. The funny part is, he wasn't trying to matchmake for them — and he was very embarrassed when he found out how erotic their dreams had gotten.
- M'k'n'zy dreams about Elizabeth Shelby before meeting her in Star Trek: New Frontier, and they end up married. Though that same dream also involved Picard ...
- Dune. Paul Atreides has dreams of the future where he sees the Fremen girl Chani he will eventually meet and fall in love with. His son, Leto II, later has similar dreams during his Spice ordeal, but subverts the trope by deliberately choosing a different path, since it was the love for Chani that led Paul to his eventual doom.
- Belgarath the Sorcerer: Riva Iron-Grip dreamt of his future betrothed continuously for years courtesy of his God, Belar... and since Belar knows his people, the dream girl didn't wear much. On the other hand, she was roughly newborn when the dreams started, and had to wait a while to grow up. Riva was very happy to meet her for real finally.
- Inigo and Giulietta in the sequel fragment at the end of The Princess Bride.
- The book Tree of Dreams contains the story "Dream Girl", in which a prince meets a girl in a dream and falls in love. The prince's friend convinces the king that the best solution is to let the prince go out and travel so he can meet a real girl. Then they come to a country where the king's daughter has been locked up because she wants to marry a man she met in a dream...
- Heroes: Matt Parkman sees a future where he's married to Daphne Milbrook, and they even have a kid together. They end up finding each other back in the present during Volume 3 and become a very sweet (if awkward) couple.
- Tragically narrowly averted in the Doctor Who episode "Forest of the Dead"- Donna's fake husband turns out to be a real person uploaded into the computer, but his stutter makes him unable to get her attention before she leaves, so she never knows he's real.
- A few of the subplots in FlashForward invoke this trope. Playing it straight, they have Bryce's flash that involves meeting up with a girl in a restaurant and spends some time trying to find her, but doesn't have all the information needed. In a slight subversion, Olivia's flashforward shows her romantically involved with Lloyd Simcoe. Too bad she's already married...
- Happens in Star Trek: The Next Generation. A boy with an Arranged Marriage to Deanna dreams of another woman who turns out to be of the alien race of the week, and she has dreamed of him all her life as well. Turns out he's the only one who can cure their horrible disease, and he winds up leaving with the aliens.
- In the Smallville episode "Slumber", Clark Kent dreams of a girl named Sara Conroy before he ever met her. He saves her life in both the dream and real world, but they do not become attracted to each other at all, and she becomes a Clark/Lana Shipper on Deck.
- Tenar is this to Ged in the Sci Fi Channel version of Earthsea Trilogy.
- "Falling Upstairs" by Fastball references this:
Long before I ever saw your face
- "I Knew I Loved You" by Savage Garden:
I knew I loved you before I met you
- "Once Upon A Dream" from Sleeping Beauty
- "29 Years" by The National:
You know I dreamed about you
- This can happen to Ness in Earthbound, as a psychic plea from the imprisoned Paula.
- A gender reversed version is found in Earthbound Zero Ana fell in love with Ninten when she started seeing him in her dreams.
- The player character in Knights of the Old Republic has dreams (actually resurfacing memories) of Bastila before their first meeting. Only applies if the character is male and actually does the romantic subplot.
- In Space Quest 4, it isn't quite a dream, but pretty much all of the events of that game feel like a really weird dream to Roger Senior. More importantly (as far as this trope is concerned), it is in this game, during a particularly weird segment at the end, that Roger Senior first sees Beatrice, the woman who will bear his son, Roger Junior.
- Extremely offbeat adventure game Chu Lip starts with the hero dreaming of a girl on a nap while he moves to a new town. Then he discovers that she actually lives in said town... And he wants to figure out how to win her heart.
- Chrono Cross starts with a dream sequence dungeon featuring the protagonist Serge, a random third party member, and most significantly his future significant other, Kid.
- The opening of The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past may be a partial example - Link's sleep is interrupted by a telepathic message from Princess Zelda, and immediately sets out to find her.
- Played with in the beginning of Shin Megami Tensei I: during the game's opening dream sequence, the protagonist is asked to name his two (male) allies who will eventually become the Law Hero and the Chaos Hero, and depending on your choices one or both will be at your throat by the end of the game before meeting a mysterious woman named Yuriko who claims to be the protagonist's "eternal partner". She's actually none other than Lilith, and she plans to create a new humankind with the protagonist.. And a short while later there's another dream sequence, where the player meets the Heroine, the real "eternal partner".
- Moon Goddess in Brave Soul H-Game.
- Fire Emblem: Heroes:
- In the Second Book, this is how the Player Character aka the Summoner meets Princess Gunnthrá, the Big Good of the arc.
- In one of the Paralogues, it turns out that some Brave Heroes (the Brave alters of Roy, Lyndis, Ike and Lucina) had seen the Summoner in their dreams right before being summoned to the continent. They find him/her familiar, but don't know why until their paralogue is completed.
- Achewood: Roast Beef first meets Molly while clinically dead and in the Mundane Afterlife. When he's brought back to life, his initial reaction is to believe it was All Just a Dream, but they meet again after Roast Beef has another brush with death, and are eventually reunited more permanently when heaven burns down and Molly gets a second chance at life on Earth.
- Subverted in Xkcd #240, where a guy dreamed of a girl from a dying world, and right before the dream ended, she told him coordinates for a location and time in the near future. When he went, nothing happened. In real life, a bunch of fans dissatisfied with this ending actually followed the coordinates and made something happen together.
- YU+ME: dream: Half-inverted, in that the dreamer is the one who moves.
- This is the main conceit of Dreamless: the main characters (who live on opposite sides of the world, so one is asleep while the other one is awake) share each other's waking lives in their dreams. Too bad their countries are about to go to war with each other...
- Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender sees Toph in a vision before ever having met her. When they do run into her a short time later, Aang is positively convinced the she, and no-one else, is destined to be his Earth Bending teacher. They become very good friends, but don't pursue any romance since they simply don't like each other that way.
- Disney's Sleeping Beauty:
But if I know you, I know what you'll do
- X-Men has Lilandra encountered the same way as the comics, and yet not. Where the comics have bad dreams ending with a girl in a spacesuit who eventually beams down in front of him, the show had ... imagine visions of a great battle in space that are tearing the Prof's mind apart. At the end, there's this giant, bug-eyed monstrosity. It sees him. And it's coming for him. It ends there, but the effect on the Professor's sanity and powers don't, by a long shot. It gets worse and worse for the poor Prof until he realizes that he must not resist it, and takes the creature’s hand. Instantly, the pain and psychic trauma stop, and the creature is there. And turns out to be a spacesuit, with a pretty girl inside. She just needed the psychic link to pinpoint him.