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File:PleaseWakeUp 2171.jpg

I'm not gonna cry ... I'm not gonna cry ...


When someone dies, and there is a young character for whom this is the first experience with death. They usually say something to the effect of 'wake up' or 'don't do that, when he wakes up...' Usually implies that the character believes or wants to believe the individual, often their father, is only sleeping, when in fact, viewers are very aware they are dead. It's all the more heartbreaking when it's just after the two have escaped from the danger, just when you think everything's going to be okay...

Even adult characters sometimes exhibit this behavior under stress, or when someone Too Good for This Sinful Earth dies.

Truth in Television, sadly; most young children have difficulty understanding the finality of death and are terrified and confused when they discover people don't wake up sometimes, which does give a little credence to Media Watchdogs being cautious about death on television.

The most common outcome of And Call Him George. Sometimes includes How Dare You Die on Me!. Contrast Talking to the Dead. If the person is unconscious or comatose and not dead, it's Converse with the Unconscious. If the person who sees the death snaps completely, it could develop into a case of Mummies At the Dinner Table.

Examples of Please Wake Up include:

Anime and Manga

  • "No, Daddy has a lot of work to do and if they bury him he can't do it when he wakes up!" A particularly heart wrenching scene in Fullmetal Alchemist spoken by the young daughter of Maes Hughes at his funeral.
  • In the second-to-last or last chapter of the manga Absolute Boyfriend, Riiko says this when Night stops working. Like Zoe below, less of being a kid and more he was her emotional anchor. In this case, her first real boyfriend. Also, since he was an artificial human, it was harder to accept his death since he often didn't function the same way as a real man.
  • DearS Young Miu has a rather heartwrenching example of this in her backstory.

 "Master! I won't make mistakes any more! So please wake up, Master! Please don't leave me alone."

  • In a flashback in Madlax, Margaret tries to wake up her mother... after the plane they were on crashed over Gazth-Sonika.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho uses this in the first episode, where the little kid that Yusuke saved visits Yusuke's funeral. He says something like "Why is he in the box? Is he sleeping? Can I play with him tomorrow?"
    • When Yusuke dies again after being killed by Sensui, Kuwabara rushes over to him and thinks he's faking it too fool him, Hiei and Kurama like he did to Yusuke when Younger Toguro seemingly killed him. He desperately puts his hand over Yusuke's mouth and nose to make him drop the act... but to his horror Yusuke isn't acting.
  • Subverted in Detective Conan when Heiji and Conan find Kazuha looking exactly like the former corpses in a string of murders they're investigating.

 Heiji: "Kazuha...hey...wake up, Kazuha! Kazuha!! KAZUHA!!!".

Thankfully, she was just unconscious because of a stun gun and woke up.

  • Wolfs Rain:
    • Toboe catches a hawk to impress a girl. He puts it in her arms, and becomes confused and starts to poke it when it doesn't move saying, "Wake up" Not realizing it's dead until she says so. And it was the girl's pet hawk.
    • It happened to him again in his origin story the old lady who care for him when he was a pup was accidentally killed when he jumped on top of her and accidentally cut off her oxygen, he nudges and pulls at her body then he howls in sorrow, poor kid.
  • Zetman has one of the earlier chapters with Jin, the main character, raised in poverty by his adoptive grandfather, a former inventor and general handyman. When his grandfather dies from shock and bloodloss after having his arm cut off, Jin takes him to the hospital to get "fixed", only getting truly upset when it becomes clear that it's impossible.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji to Asuka, in the hospital scene of End of Evangelion. And then... the covers slip, showing Asuka's naked body, prompting Shinji to finally break down after 24 episodes of abuse and have A Date with Rosie Palms. In the manga adaptation, Asuka, still in a coma, starts attacking Shinji and screams that she hates him instead.
  • The dub of Digimon Adventure double subverts this when Leomon takes a blast to the back for Mimi and falls down. Mimi says this practically verbatim. He wakes up to use his last strength to defeat the bad guy,and then he dies soon afterwards
  • The climax of Pokémon the First Movie. Ash, having been hit by Mew and Mewtwo's attacks, is turned to stone. Pikachu runs up to him and desperately tries to shock him back to wakefulness, wearing himself out in the process. Amazingly poignant, as at first Pikachu seems confused, playing this trope to the letter, and then in denial, continuing to try and shock Ash awake even when it's apparent that his efforts are useless. Ash gets better, but it takes the tears of a small army of Pokémon to do it. TWO small armies of Pokémon, one of which is comprised entirely of the clones of the entire other one. Along with the tears of three humans. In fact, we're lucky Pokémon tears are full of life or else that would've ended the series right there.
  • Once again in the Pokémon Zoroark Master of Illusions movie. Poor little Zorua.
  • Fushigi Yuugi: "Nuriko, please... open your eyes... for me?"
  • Witchblade: The end of episode 20. Masane falls over unconscious after pleading with Takayama to take care of Rihoko (she knows she's under a death sentence and may well believe her time's up). The episode ends on Takayama's trying to rouse Masane while Riho cries out "Mom! Mom! Mommy!". Truly heartwrenching.
  • S-Cry-ed Has one that's phenomenally brutal in its simplicity. Kimishima has been severely injured amidst his Crowning Moment of Awesome . So Kazuma carries him back home. Somewhere along the way, Kimishima stops talking, but Kazuma doesn't realize what this means. When they get home, Kaname realizes what's happened, and starts to cry. But Kazuma...

 "Hey, now you hold on or you're gonna fall! Kimishima are you listenin'? Hey! Kimishima? Heh heh, say something. Kimishima I am not in the mood to fool around. This isn't funny. Hey, Kaname, what's wrong?...Hey, wait. Kimishima?"

Screen cuts to black

" Come on, wake up. Kimishima..."


 Nunnally: You can't leave me! You can't! Please open your eyes big brother, please! BIG BROTHER!

In this case however, the person in question is old enough to understand death and she saw her brother get stabbed through the chest; her reaction is because they were incredibly close (and possibly because one of the last things she said to him was "You're a devil!"

  • Black Butler: Ciel when Sebastian died, and he kept repeating things like, "Sleeping on the floor doesn't look that comfortable to me," and "Get up". Subverted because it ended up being a fake death, but Ciel's reactions were still particularly heart-wrenching.
    • Alois to Luca in season 2.
  • One Piece: In his flashback in the manga version, Zoro does this when Kuina dies, albeit in a way that's much more angry and hurt. Deeply in denial, he screams at her for abandoning their promise (implied that it's more because he felt she was abandoning HIM). It took an adult man and another boy around his age to hold him back.
  • Subverted in Jack and the Witch. After Jack rescues Allegra from the Ice Caves he floats to the surface of the water and appears to be dead. She tells him "Wake up, Jack!" When she realizes he's dead she cries over him and he comes back to life.
  • Bleach anime episode #178. In a Flash Back to his mother's death Ichigo remembers that he said "Please wake up, Mommy!"
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Kamina, having risen up what could already almost qualify as a "Please Wake Up" moment already. With blood dripping down his face, he climbs back into the seat of his giant mech, rips off one of said mech's arms, and throws it Simon who is already in a premature Heroic BSOD. Cue Crowning Music of Awesome, followed by Crowning Speech of Awesome.

 Kamina: We Brawlers are sustained by will power! Even when mocked as reckless and crazy...

Simon: ...if there's a wall in our way, then we smash it down! If there isn't a path then we carve one ourselves!

Both: The magma of our souls burns with a mighty flame! Super Ultra Combining Gurren Lagann! Just who in the Hell do you think we are?!

Curb Stomp Battle ensues. Softer speech.

Kamina: Listen, Simon. Never forget. Believe in yourself. Not in the Simon that I believe in. Not in the Kamina that you believe. Have faith in the Simon who believes in you.

Simon: B...bro? What are you--

Kamina: Finishing Move! Giga! Drill! BREEEEEEAAAAAK!

Cue Stuff Blowing Up.

Kamina: Later... buddy...

Simon: What was that bro? (screen goes black) Bro?


Comic Books

  • Probably one of the best known examples in a comic is the Spider-Man story where Gwen Stacy died. Spider-Man catches her with a web after she's knocked off the Brooklyn Bridge, not knowing she's already dead. When he pulls her up and realizes he's lost her, he initially can't believe it.

 Spider-Man: I saved you honey, don't you see? I saved you...




 Virgil Brigman: Goddamnit, you bitch! You never backed away from anything in your life! Now FIGHT!

Trope to Trope combat. It worked, thanks to a heaping helping of The Miraculous Bitchslap of Life.

  • In the same director's Avatar, Neytiri tries desperately to wake Jake up. He's not in that body at the time. And again at the end, but this time she figures out what's up and what she needs to do to help him.
  • The Cameron trifecta comes in Titanic, where Rose, excited about a lifeboat coming back, tries to wake Jack up...for a full minute...and then breaks down to the point where the boat passed her by...
  • In Serenity, Zoe had a mental snap and refused to believe that Wash was dead, even though it was very clear. This was less about the tragic misunderstanding of death and more about how Wash was Zoe's emotional anchor. She did revert to her military training by the time she and Mal left the ship, however, and by the end...

 She's tore up plenty. But she'll fly true.

  • In The Astronaut Farmer, the family's youngest goes to get her grandpa from the living room for dinner. She comes back, saying "Grandpa won't wake up."
  • Tony and Gina in the end of Scarface. Though Tony's world was crashing down, and he'd just done about a kilo of cocaine.
  • Non-verbally done in Return of the Jedi, where the AT-STs are firing at the Ewoks, and hit a pair dead on...and one of them gets up and starts nudging the other. Considered a Narm by some viewers, but considering the child-friendly marketing of the Ewoks, also a strong example of What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?.
  • Subverted in National Treasure 2: in the prologue, after the Lincoln assassination conspirator kills his father, young Thomas Gates kneels by the body and begs him to "come back", but then immediately afterward cries out that it is unfair.
  • One of the last scenes in What's Eating Gilbert Grape has Arnie doing this with his mother.
  • Parodied in Italian Spiderman, where Italian Spiderman tries to wake Professor Bernadotti up by punching him.
  • Parodied in Tropic Thunder via Simple Jack, the deliberately awful Oscar Bait film-within-a-film.
  • When Peg asks Edward Scissorhands what happened to his father, he replies, "He didn't wake up."
  • In The Mummy Returns, Rick has the "come back!" one-sided conversation with his wife Evy. His son is being clutched by his uncle, but they all seem aware except for Rick. and thanks to the Book of the Dead, it's only temporary anyway. She gets better.
  • Liz has one of these moments with the red guy himself in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, including citing various reasons for him to wake up. The one that works: "You're going to be a father..." At that point, he murmurs, "I... become... father?" and forces himself back alive. Liz also has a moment in the comics, when Abe dies; it's not an explicit version of this trope, but the way she shakes his body and keeps calling his name, even after other characters have informed her of his death, implies she was still trying to wake him up.
  • The final scenes from The Champ, when Billy Flynn dies of a heart attack with his son T.J. by his side.
  • A prolonged version of this in Steel Magnolias when M'Lynn Eatonton is trying to rouse Shelby when she's in the hospital after her final diabetic episode. Not long after, she's taken off life support.
  • I'm not dead yet! I think I'm getting better!
  • Genuinely tragic moment in The Joy Luck Club when An Mei's mother commits her carefully timed suicide and An Mei does this. Yi Ding was a terrific actress.
  • "It's all right. It's quite all right, really. She's having a rest. We'll be going on soon. There's no hurry, you see. We have all the time in the world."
  • "Westley's only faking, right?"
  • In SLC Punk!, Stevo goes downstairs only to find his best friend, Heroin Bob, dead. In a truly heartbreaking scene, he dissolves into a sobbing mess and screams at Heroin Bob.

 Stevo: ONLY POSERS DIE, YOU FUCKING IDIOT! Now what am I gonna do for a friend? You're my only friend! Please wake up now! Please, I'm sorry!

  • Subverted in I Remember Mama. "Are you still asleep? Y'old sleepy cat. Wake up. S'morning..." And he does! It's beautifully set up. Make him live, Mama. Please.
  • Occurs in the film Godzilla vs. Destoroyah when Junior dies. Godzilla tries desperately to wake him up, and, when he realizes he's lost his son, he cries.
  • Inverted in 28 Days Later, in which the suicide note left by the hero's parents bids him not to wake up from his coma to face the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Occurs in The Fall, when Alexandria tries to wake up Roy, after he falls asleep, having taken "sleeping pills" that we later find out are placebos.
  • In Independence Day, when the President's wife, her mother dies, then-8-year-old Mae Whitman's character asks her Dad "Is she sleeping now?"
  • At the end of The Room, Mark attempts to wake up Johnny... after the latter shot himself through the mouth.
  • 28 Days has flashbacks of the main character and her sister trying to wake their mother when they find her collapsed in the living room subverted, as she was just passed out from alcohol, and just when they're getting worried a sharp slap brings her around. However when she really dies, the girls assume it's the same thing, and suggest "slapping her REAL hard" to their aunt, who's come to tell them.
  • Although Sam's quote from the top of the page is the most famous example, in the extended edition of Return of the King, Eomer rushing screaming to Eowen's side and shaking her has all of the techniques. It's actually quite effective; Eomer is usually The Stoic, seeing him screaming wordlessly in grief is downright shaking.


  • Subverted or averted or something in John Ajvide Lindqvist's Handling The Undead, where a mother and her father refuse to believe that their zombie son/grandson won't get better if they keep trying, to the point of purchasing books on handling children with autism, because they think that will help.
  • Tideland is a freakish example... whereas the daughter doesn't notice her dad's corpse and assumes he is "farting" when he starts to rot.
  • The child Errand, in the final book of the Belgariad, with his hand on Durnik's shoulder, shaking him slightly and looking puzzled when he doesn't respond. Errand hadn't learned many words at that point, so it was a silent attempt.
  • The Bible actually has several points where "sleeping" is used as a metaphor for "dead". When Jesus is on the way to the grave of his (recently deceased) friend Lazarus, he tells his disciples that Lazarus is "sleeping" and he is going to "wake him up". (He then raises him from the dead.) He also uses the same metaphor when he raises a young girl from the dead. Also, Paul refers to dead believers as "sleeping in Christ" in one of his letters. There are also several passages of people going to "sleep" with their fathers. This metaphor reflects the Christian belief that death isn't permanent (and also for some, that there is no afterlife, as an afterlife would require consciousness to be aware of it).
  • The anti-nuclear poem Mother the wardrobe is full of infantrymen by Roger McGough ends with "mother don't just lie there, say something please" (said twice).
  • Used somewhat disturbingly in the Redwall books:
    • The Bellmaker: Three young woodlanders are found shipwrecked on an island by the heroes. The younger two children mention that the adult who was on the ship with them is also on the island. The oldest kid eventually reveals to the heroes that the hedgehog had died from a head injury quite some time ago, but he left the body in the tent and told the other two that they had to stay out of the tent because the hedgehog needed to sleep.
    • This trope also occurs in Mattimeo, the third (in order of publication) novel in the series, which features a scene where a bankvole child vainly tries to rouse his murdered mother.
    • Happens again in The Legend of Luke, with the squirrel Chugger and his granny. This actually reduces an otter to tears.
  • Older Than Dirt: In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh mourns over his friend Enkidu's body for seven days, dressing the corpse, imploring him to wake up, and refusing to allow a burial until he sees a maggot drop out of Enkidu's nose.
  • Appropriately for its mythic style, sleeping is often a metaphor for death in Lord of the Rings. As in, "she laid herself to rest on [some hill], and there is her green grave ..." In both novel and film Sam asks Frodo to wake up after Shelob stabs him, but soon gives up and declares him dead. Of course, he's not.
  • Harry did this to Ginny in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. Although she turned out to be alive, she was in a kind of magical coma and was thus about as responsive as a corpse anyway.
  • In the Discworld novel Feet of Clay, a golem attempts to save a dying priest by inserting words in his mouth.
  • Averted in Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job wherein Charlie's daughter Sophie cries and tells him not to go when he leaves to fight the Morrigan but after it is finally officially revealed that she is the Luminatus (aka Big Death) simply says "Goodbye, Daddy" as Charlie passes on. Most. Tearjerking. Scene. Ever. He got better. Kind of.
  • A harsh variant of this occurs in Katherine Paterson's novel Flip-Flop Girl:

 Mason: (to his big sister, Vinnie) I'm glad Daddy's dead. He smelled bad.

Vinnie: How dare you say that? How dare you say you're glad your own daddy's dead? You're bad, bad, bad. No wonder Daddy died. Who would want to live with a kid like you?

Mason: (later that evening at the funeral home, looking at his father in the coffin) Get up, Daddy. Get up.

Vinnie: I thought you were glad, Mason. You said so your very own self. Don't say you didn't.

Mason: (pretends not to hear her) Get up.

Vinnie: He's dead, Mason. He's dead, and there's nothing you can say to change that.

  • Bluepaw (young Bluestar) in the Warriors book Bluestar's Prophecy does this when her mother Moonflower is killed by Hawkfrost in the attack on the WindClan camp. The sequence is made even more heartbreaking when Bluepaw must relay the news to her sister Snowpaw.
  • In Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan when Darren fakes his own death, at his wake his sister Annie is heard screaming for him to "stop playing around and wake up". He's not actually dead but still...
  • In Night Watch a Dark mage is killed by a rogue Light Knight Templar, when he's enjoying dinner with his human family in a restaurant. This serves as a somewhat educative moment, as the sight of the mage's grieving wife and son trying to wake him up (the magic weapon leaves no traces and he indeed looks asleep) convinces the over-zealos rooky Night Watcher Svetlana that killing Dark Others indiscriminately would indeed bring more harm then good to people.
  • The children in The Blue Lagoon (book and film) think their adult friend Paddy is taking a nap at the opposite end of the lagoon and row over to wake him, only to find him with his eyes wide open, bugs already at work, and a tiny crab crawls out of his mouth when they turn him over.

Live Action TV

  • The ending of Supernatural's "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" had a variation of this trope (in that of course Dean understands death, he just doesn't want his world to come crashing down around him), where Sam is dying in Dean's arms and Dean is in childlike denial;

 Dean: " Sam, Sam, Sam. Hey, hey... Come here, come here, let me look at you. Oh, hey look, hey look at me it's not even that bad. It's not even that bad, alright? Sammy, Sam! Hey, listen to me, we are going to patch you up, okay... You'll be as good as new. Huh? I'm going to take care of you. I'm going to take care of you. I gotcha. It's my job, right, watch out for my pain-in-the-ass little brother.... Sam... Sam.... Sam! Sammy! No.. no-n-n-n-n-no. Oh god... Oh god... Sam!"

Another variation for Sam in Mystery Spot. He's been stuck in a Groundhog Day Loop where he only wakes up after Dean dies every day. When it's a Wednesday and he believes they've defeated the Trickster, Dean is shot by a mugger (of all the things he could die from) and is dead even before Sam gets there. He says, pitifully, "I'm supposed to wake up" and starts crying but, unfortunately, it's for real this time.

  • Heartbreakingly rendered in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit's "Loss" between Alex Cabot and Olivia Benson. Benson and Stabler are escorting Cabot, who is under a death threat from some particularly nasty Colombian drug dealers, when said dealers' mooks pull a drive-by shooting. Benson is the first to notice Alex laying mortally wounded on the sidewalk, and tries her best to stop the bleeding, all the while talking frantically in a futile effort to convince herself that Alex is going to survive:

Benson: Alex? ...Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. Someone call an ambulance! Call 911 now!! Alex, it's okay, Alex, look at me, it's okay sweetie, stay with me, stay with me, you're going to be okay, Alex, you're going to be okay, do you hear me? You're going to be fine, you're going to be just fine, stay with me... Alex, it's okay... Alex? Alex...?

It's not okay at all, of course, as the next scene shows Benson's desk, atop which is her badge with a mourning band and a newspaper headline announcing what most of us already guessed. Then it turns out it IS, in fact, OK, but she has to remain "dead" in order to go into Witness Protection. The scene got worse during the final scene: it's all about Alex and Olivia, and everyone else fades into the background. They just look at each other for eons, and then Olivia says,
  • Once again, in Xena: Warrior Princess, when Xena and Gabrielle are caught in a war zone towards the end of Season One, Gabrielle's head injuries send her to the makeshift infirmary in a temple, where she languishes for some time unconscious before going into a seizure that ends all signs of life. Xena's reaction fills this trope perfectly, as she goes into literally violent denial that she could lose her best friend.

 Xena: She is not dead. I wouldn't let her. Come on, Gabrielle. Wake up. Come on, wake up. Come on, wake up! You're scaring me, wake up! Wake up! Gabrielle, breathe! Come on, breathe! Breathe! She just needs air. I need to get some air in her lungs!

Some time later, after desperately administering ancient Greek CPR while all spectators look on in silent grief, she completely loses it, and, sobbing, pounds on Gabrielle's chest with her fists, screaming, "Don't you leave me! Don't leave me, don't leave me! Wake up! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!" She does. Ensue a shower of grateful tears and kisses.


 Buffy (in tears, childlike): "She's cold. Should... should I-I make her warm?

911 Operator: "... the body's cold?"

Buffy: "No! My mom!"

"Tara?" And they'd just made up...

  • Doctor Who:
    • Possibly the only example to replace the sobbing child with a sobbing 900-year-old alien, this was done in "Last of the Time Lords". The Master lies dying in the Doctor's arms. The Doctor begs him to regenerate; the Master chooses to die instead, accomplishing his final victory by abandoning the Doctor as the last Time Lord in the entire universe. "I win."
    • Rory to Amy in the 2010 series finale The Big Bang:

 Rory: You'd have laughed at that. Please laugh.

    • Amy to the Doctor in "The Impossible Astronaut", after the latter is shot mid-regeneration.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Conscience of the King". After going mad, Lenore Karidian accidentally kills her father Anton Karidian (AKA Kodos the Executioner) while trying to murder Captain Kirk. She talks to her father's body, saying "The curtain rises. It rises. 'Tis no time to sleep."
  • "No no, sir. It's not dead. It's resting! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage."
    • "The plumage don't enter into it. It's bleeding demised."
  • The Pushing Daisies pilot has a variation: when Ned's mother dies due to an aneurysm, he touches her and brings her back to life, like he did before with Digby. Due to the strange rules of his gift, she dies when giving him a goodnight kiss, and Ned just sits there poking her corpse, hoping she will be alive again...
  • Vampire Diaries: Bonnie cries "wake up" towards her presumably-dead grandmother. And later, Anna does the same after her mother Pearl gets staked by Johnathan Gilbert.
  • Mr. Hooper's death on Sesame Street, when the adults broke the news to Big Bird. The big yellow guy had drawn beautiful pictures of all the humans, and wanted to give Mr. Hooper's drawing to him, and they gently explained that that he had died. It took some doing to make him understand that his friend wasn't coming back.

 Big Bird: I'll just give it to him when he gets back.

He's not coming back. And neither is the gentleman who played him.

  • Fraggle Rock: "Mudwell, what are you doing? This is no time to take a nap, I wanna work things out! Come on, Mudwell, wake up! ... Mudwell?"
  • To a lesser extent a video clip shown on America's Funniest Home Videos showed a deer (or a moose, or something similar) trying to mate with a lawn ornament of a deer, which broke into three pieces under its weight. After regaining it's balance the deer (moose?) started lightly kicking one of the pieces, as if trying to get the 'other deer' to wake up.
  • In an episode of ER, Benton's ex-girlfriend Carla died in a car accident. Upon reaching the hospital, he tried to break the news to their 4-year old son, telling him via sign language (the boy is deaf) that "Mommy went to sleep forever". Not understanding, the boy kept signing back to him, "Then wake her up", until Benton finally signed (and said) "Mommy died".
  • In the Season 1 finale of Alphas, Gary doesn't at first realize that Anna is dead. And then he just keeps saying her name and trying to get her to come with him to safety.
  • On The Andy Griffith Show, Opie goes through this in one episode when he shoots his slingshot at a bird. When he realizes he killed it, he starts crying and begs for it to get up and fly away.


  • In Peter Alsop and Bill Harley in the Hospital, the two leads play teenagers (or younger) who both end up in the hospital, and discuss many topics on hospital stays and illnesses from a kid's point of view (through song, at that). One of the final songs is While I'm Sleeping (I'm Alive), which uses two versions of this trope (Rusty, the dog, was "put to sleep" by the vet, while Grandpa "went away" but never said goodbye) and then includes this bit:

 Oh, why do grown-ups say asleep, instead of saying dead?

Only makes kids nervous when it's time to go to bed....

  • Lady D'banville is about a man's lover who dies in bed with him.

 My lady D'banville

Why do you sleep so still

Your heart feels like winter

Our love shall never die

Our love shall never die

  • Used briefly in Avril Lavigne's song, Slipped Away (which is dedicated to her grandfather):

 I've had my wake up

Won't you wake up

I keep asking why.

And I can't take it

It wasn't fake it

It happened you passed by

  • A somewhat more disturbing version is used in the song "Psycho" by Teddy Thompson (among other artists), where the narrator relates to his mother various incidents where he's had blackouts and people have ended up dead. By the end of the song...

 You think I'm psycho, don't you, Mama?

Mama? Why don't you get up?

  • Frank Kelly Freas' cover for News of the World by Queen is a replica of his cover for Tom Godwin's story "The Gulf Between". Even without knowing the context, it's pretty clear that this trope is being invoked.
  • Tom Paxton's song "Jimmy Newman", about a dying soldier:

 Get up Jimmy Newman they won't take my word

I said you sleep hard but they're shaking their heads

Get up Jimmy Newman and show them you heard

Jimmy just show them you're sleeping

  • Eminem's song "My Fault," about a guy who convinces a girl to try shrooms, and then watches as she overdoses, ends with this:

  Eminem: Susan I'm so sorry! I'm sorry! Susan wake up! You're not're not dead! Please...please wake up...

  • Sarah McLachlan's "Hold On" has this in the chorus:

 While you're sleeping peacefully, I'll lie awake and pray

That you'll be strong tomorrow and we'll see another day.

  • Blues Traveler's "Pretty Angry"(written by John Popper about the death of a friend):

 And I want to shout from my guitar,

Come out, come out, wherever you are.

The joke is over, open your eyes,

A heart like yours it never dies.

And I saw your keys behind the chair,

I still can see you sitting there.

It isn't funny, don't fool around,

You let me go, you let me down.

  • Babybird's "I didn't want to wake you up"

 The other night, I saw you lying there,

I didn't want to wake you up

The next day, I saw you lying there,

I didn't want to wake you up

The next evening, I saw you lying there

You hadn't moved an inch

The next day, I saw you lying there,

I wish that I could wake you up



  • Similarly to King Lear, La Boheme concludes with Rodolfo remarking how peacefully his beloved Mimi is sleeping, and wondering why all his friends are staring at him... then it hits him. "MIMIIIIIIIIIIIIII!"
  • Timur in Turandot, at Liu's death: "Liu! Liu! Wake up!"


  • An American radio PSA from the 2000s against road rage features a mom getting impatient in traffic, a little kid saying "Mommy, Mommy, the light is red!", a car crash sound effect, and the kid saying "Mommy?...Wake up, Mommy!". Somewhat Narm-inducing due to its poor production value.

Tabletop Games

  • Particularly dark example in the opening fiction to the Adamantine Arrow Sourcebook for Mage The Awakening, where an Arrow from the American Civil War describes the time he encountered the corpses of an old man and a young boy. The old man had been shot in the head, while the boy (who the Arrow realised must have been the man's grandchild) had no marks on his body. Upon further inspection, he found that the man's corpse had bread stuffed into its mouth, and the boy's corpse was clutching a bread loaf. The Arrow realised that the boy must have thought that his grandfather was only sleeping, and tried to keep feeding him, until he himself died of exposure.
  • In the Vampire: The Masquerade sourcebooks, a short piece of fiction is told from the perspective of a young vampire who has recently drained his mortal girlfriend’s blood and fed her of his own vampiric blood, hoping to turn her into another vampire so they can stay together forever. After half an hour without her giving any signs of life, he starts becoming increasingly desperate, wondering if something has gone wrong (it is implied that his blood might not be strong enough to successfully create new vampires) and starts begging her cooling body to wake up.


  • One of the most gut-wrenching scenes in English literature comes at the end of Shakespeare's King Lear, when Lear comes onstage with the body of his daughter Cordelia in his arms. Lear's recently recovered from a bout of madness due to Cordelia's care, and when she dies, he wavers between howling in grief and insisting that she's just sleeping:

 A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!

I might have saved her; now she's gone for ever!

Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!

What is't thou say'st? Her voice was ever soft,

Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.

    • He dies moments later.
  • Inverted in Romeo and Juliet in which Juliet actually is just sleeping, but Romeo commits suicide out of despair. In some adaptations (such as the Baz Luhrmann movie), she wakes up while he's doing this. Whoops.
    • In the ballet version, Romeo shakes Juliet then picks up her "corpse" and dances with her before laying her back down and taking the poison. When Juliet comes to and finds Romeo dead she shakes him, but comes to the conclusion that he's dead much more quickly.

Video Games

  • In Bioshock, the Little Sisters go "Mister Bubbles, please wake up!" when their Big Daddy is killed. This is apparently a side effect of their mental states, since they get over it rather quickly when the player heals them (you are healing them, right?). They also can't tell the difference between the various Big Daddies, since in the sequel, they will treat the player (a Big Daddy himself) as if he were the same Big Daddy he just killed, with a happy "Mr. Bubbles, you're back!!" Some Splicers also say: "Come on, get up. I was only foolin'!" after they shit-kick you.
  • Baldur's Gate II expansion pack Throne of Bhaal has this as well. Subvertible however in you can solve this with a resurrection spell, easily accessible when you are this high level thus causing him to wake up.
  • Subverted in Final Fantasy Tactics. Rafa wants the dead Malak to wake up to watch the sunrise... and that prompts the one time that God acts through a Zodiac Stone instead of the Lucavi, resurrecting him.
  • Also, from Final Fantasy IX, you meet a Black Mage who's just buried his friend after he 'stopped moving'. "I sure hope he wakes up soon. I'm going to wash him off in the pond'. Semi-subversion in that most of the mages look like adults and don't understand death (or much about the world), while Vivi, the one that looks like a little kid, understands exactly what's going on and only avoids calling it death out of politeness. Some of the mages eventually grasp the concept, but continue to use the term anyway.
  • Done with a heartbreaking extent in Xenosaga Episode 3, though the Bowdlerized version disturbs this with a good measure of Narm — someone tries to put blood back into someone who has died. Since the blood is removed in the English version, this becomes rather silly.
  • Celes's reaction to Cid's death in Final Fantasy VI, assuming you let the old guy die (or killed him deliberately).
  • When the main character dies in Persona 3, your Mission Control will occasionally exclaim "Oh no, please wake up!". In addition, when the protagonist dies at the end of the main game, it's played as just being very tired and falling asleep. Only in The Answer from the Mission Pack Sequel is it confirmed that he did, in fact, die. The other characters also thought he was sleeping, and by the time they realized something was wrong, it was too late, and he was dead. Except for Aigis, who, judging by the tone of her voice, was fully aware that the protagonist was dying.
  • In .hack//G.U. Rebirth, when Haseo defeats an AIDA infected Pi, Subverted when she does wake up and he blushes.
  • Aruruu, the loli of Utawarerumono goes through this after her grandmother dies early on and may have again when Teoro dies.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, shortly after Jaylor, the resident former crewmember of the Athena, now prisoner and seriously sick guy overall, randomly shoots Silverman, another prisoner and resident Wrench Wench, in the back, Riddick, of course, then must kill Jaylor. Of course, shortly afterwards, you soon have an obligatory encounter with Lynn, her daughter. "Is mommy asleep, Mr. Riddick? Is she asleep?!" Different in that it's not actually said to the corpse.
  • In Beyond Good and Evil, as Pey'j lies drained of his Life Force, you have an option of talking to him: "Pey'j, say something ..." (He gets better, eventually). After talking to him, if you only press the action button one, Jade will just stand there, waiting for him to answer. As you might have guessed, he won't.
  • Louis' despair over Zoey's death in Left 4 Dead has a variety of lines, including one that fits the trope perfectly. "God damn it, Zoey! WAKE UP!". Zoey herself will sometimes react this way to Bill's death.
  • In any of the Metal Gear games, if and when you die, 99% of the time, someone from mission control screams the titular "Snake? Answer me! Snake? SNAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!"
  • In the Bad Ending of Path A in Rondo of Swords, Altrius/Serdic is tired after a long battle and decides he needs to rest right then and there. This is followed by Marie trying to continue their conversation, calling his name, "Altrius? ...Altrius?" His lack of a response strongly implies that he has kicked the bucket.
  • In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Elena is caught in a blast during the finale and spends much of it limping, barely conscious. After killing the Big Bad, Nathan Drake carries her the rest of the way out. When they reach the surface, he lays her down on a slab and she is not moving or breathing and appears to be dead. Nate, visibly upset by this possibility, starts attempting to wake her up whilst saying she'll be alright. Turns out, he was right. She is seen recovered at the end of the game. Good thing too, otherwise that could have been a major Tear Jerker.
  • In Alter Ego, this is a possible event. The player owns a goldfish during their early stages of their lives, and the goldfish eventually dies. The player, however, doesn't understand why the goldfish won't go after her food or interact with the player. The player can then decide to either hide the fish's body in their drawer or ask their mom about it. Even if they do the latter and Mom explains the concept of death to them, the player still doesn't seem too fazed about death even after flushing the goldfish down the toilet.
  • One of Carter's sermons you can listen to in Harvest Moon: Friends Of Mineral Town, features this trope, in the form of a little boy deciding to save up his pocket money to buy an alarm clock to 'wake up' his mother, after his father tells him that she's 'sleeping'. Carter then questions whether it was right or wrong of the father to lie to his son.
  • One of the many background cries for help in various Neverwinter Nights levels.
  • In the canon route of Blaze Union, this is Eimi's reaction when the party gets together to mourn Siskier. It's a partial subversion, as Eimi is stated in other routes to have seen a lot of death on her journey to find her brother and has a full understanding of mortality—she just doesn't seem to want to accept it.
  • In Heavy Rain, this is Shaun's reaction if Ethan dies at the old warehouse.
  • In The Reconstruction, upon seeing that Father Sikohlon has killed all his brothers and gone insane, Dehl says "What happened to our brothers? Why aren't they moving?" Justified in that he is a Sikohlon, and probably still pretty young by that point.
  • Orta in the fourth Panzer Dragoon begs her fallen dragon to open its eyes once they have crashed to the ground from their battle with Abadd. He doesn't. But that doesn't mean he left her alone.
  • Tali, in Mass Effect 2, during her loyalty mission, finds her father dead, due to the experiments he was conducting on geth and keeps saying that he would have some way of faking the dead and there is no way he could have died. It takes a second for it to really sink in that he is dead.

Web Comics


 Fighter: "That's the last mistake you'll ever make, ya stinky pile of bones! Give 'im a dose of ultimate destruction, BM."



Fighter: "Go on, make with the blasting."


Fighter: "Black Mage? Get up and yell at me. Black Mage. Get up. Please..."


 "Only one round, and Rockie's already tired"

Done in a similar fashion in this strip of Amazing Super Powers.


Web Original


 "According to family sources, Daddy, 36, can't play Chutes and Ladders tonight, but he loved Ryan and his little sister, Rebecca, very, very much, and nothing is ever going to change that."


 Kitten Please wake up, Mommy!




 SCP-1073-2: Where did Dr. ██████ go?

Dr. ███████: (to himself) Jesus, why did they make me tell it? (to 1073) He, he died. Do you understand what that means?

SCP-1073-2: That happens in the stories. It doesn't happen here. He'll be back.


Western Animation

  • 'Dad, Dad, wake up!'. Pictured Above, Simba says something like this in one of cinema's most profoundly saddening scenes, from The Lion King. Simba was likely aware of what had happened, considering his Big No when Mufasa fell, so this scene comes more from denial.

 "...Dad, c'mon... you've gotta get up. Dad... we've gotta go home."

  • Once Upon a Forest had Cornelius sing a SONG with the title of the trope to his niece when she was injured trying to save her parents from the poisonous gas.
  • The Land Before Time Little Foot's mother. As Randall Munroe puts it, if you didn't cry during this scene, you are not human.
  • South Park:
    • The series mocked this trope in "Woodland Critter Christmas" when Stan kills a mountain lion. Turns out Monster Is a Mommy, and the adorable cubs come out and utter the familiar line. Don't worry, she comes Back From the Dead.
    • Also in South Park, Cartman tries to revive Kyle in the Imaginationland episode, desperately shouting out to Kyle to live, and going as far to doing CPR on he can make him suck his balls later.
  • In one of the stranger Pinky and The Brain episodes, the mice are forced to watch scenes like this in an experiment, which gives Brain the idea to make a movie so sad that all the world's leaders will be too depressed to stop him from taking over. One of the scenes is pretty much The Lion King, but with tigers: "Papa, wake up. You have to wake up Papa!"
  • Subversion in Kung Fu Panda from Shifu to Po: I'm not dying, you idiot!
  • Played for laughs in the Family Guy Season 5 finale, "Meet The Quagmires", where Peter flashbacks to when his goldfish died and he fed it as it overfilled the bowl, saying "It's okay, Lieutenant Shinysides, you're just sleeping! You'll eat it later!" and starts crying.
  • Played devastatingly straight in the episode of The Simpsons entitled "Mona Leaves-a". Homer's mother returns again, and Homer calls her out on her constant abandonment and goes to bed angry. with some wise words from Marge, he decides to apologize, making his mom a card. He goes downstairs, where she's sitting in a chair:

  Homer: (sweetly) Mom, are you asleep? (a little worriedly, then tearfully, looking at her) Asleep with your eyes open?...Mom?...MOM?

  • In the Futurama episode "Rebirth", Leela is dead and nothing The Professor tries wakes her. Obviously she got better.

 Fry: No! (Gets a baseball bat) I refuse to give up! Wake up, Leela! (whack) I! (whack) Love! (whack) You!

  • Justice League: Lex Luthor's Kryptonite Ring finally gives him terminal cancer. He goes looking for Dr. Ivo, the only person who might be able to cure him. He ends up meeting Dr. Ivo's final creation, A.M.A.Z.O., who is patiently waiting for the Doctor to "wake up." Lex sees an opportunity and asks A.M.A.Z.O. to steal medical supplies (oh and kill the League while you're at it) or he'll "go to sleep and not wake up, just like the Doctor."
  • Ralph Bakshi's Wizards jams this one, They Killed Kenny, Not Dead Yet, this one again, and They Killed Kenny again into one short scene for one of the Evil Wizard's Mooks in the major battle scene when his buddy is shot.
  • In Disney's The Jungle Book, Mowgli says this to Baloo when the bear has apparently died fighting Shere Khan. Bagheera begins to try to gently explain this to the boy but, this being Disney, Baloo is of course Not Quite Dead. Walt Disney himself insisted the bear should live, after a previous Tear Jerker movie Old Yeller in which a beloved character died.
  • Hilariously subverted in Chuck Jones' Looney Tunes short A Bear For Punishment, when Junyer Bear attempt to give his dear old Dad a shave with a jagged straight razor.

 Junyer: Ma? Pa won't talk to me. I nudged him and I nudged him ... he's awfully still.

(Dad's hand comes in from off-screen, yanking Junyer into other room. Sounds of Junyer getting the crapola beaten out of him, followed by him poking his head back thru the door.)

Junyer: Pa is all right now!

(beating continues)


Real Life

  • Grimly humorous example from Thinning the Herd (which is basically a Darwin Awards Follow the Leader): someone died, and was left there for months because his sons believed he was just resting. (Insert your own Monty Python reference here).
  • Rachel Nickell was murdered in front of her two-year-old son, Alex; a passerby found him clinging to his mother's blood-soaked body, repeating the words "Wake up, Mummy", with a piece of paper stuck to her forehead as a bandage.
  • In her autobiography, First They Killed My Father, Cambodian Loung Ung imagines what happened when her mother and younger sister were executed by the Khmer Rouge. In the scenario she creates, her mother is killed first and her sister (who is "too young to understand what has just happened") is killed while vainly trying to make the mother get up. Of course, there is no way of knowing what actually happened in this case.
  • Apparently one of the young children in the Donner Party tried to wake up their mother's half eaten corpse.
  • Lakotah warrior and holy man Black Elk said he saw a baby trying to nurse from its dead mother at the Wounded Knee massacre.
  • Apparently, this cat. For that matter, cats do this every day to their owners. They start off with sniffing them, then poke them in the face.
  • Anyone who's ever witnessed a relative die in front of them has likely uttered these words or some variation thereof at some point.
  • This man from Shenzhen, China, whose father suddenly died.
  • Female chimpanzees have been observed in the wild, carrying their dead infants as if refusing to accept that they have died. In another instance, an older female died of natural causes, and her young son didn't stop returning to try to wake her up until maggots appeared on her carcass.
  • Dolphin mothers often behave similarly if their calf is stillborn or dies soon after birth, pushing it to the surface with their noses so it can breathe and carrying it around until decay sets in.