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Frodo woke and found himself lying in bed. At first he thought he had slept late, after a long unpleasant dream that still hovered on the edge of memory. Or perhaps he had been ill? But the ceiling looked strange; it was flat, and it had dark beams richly carved. He lay a little while longer looking at patches of sunlight on the wall, and listening to the sound of a waterfall.

The Lord of the Rings, "Many Meetings"

When a character has been seriously injured or has overextended themselves, magically or physically and passes out, they will often be Asleep for Days after getting medical attention. When they do wake up, it will generally be a slow process with some blurriness and overly-bright lights. Bonus points if the first thing the character sees is a love-interest's face. The character will often ask:

  • Where they are
  • What happened
  • How long they've been unconscious
  • If they're dead/in heaven.

The more heroic ones also have a tendency to try to get out of bed or sit up, and then either fall over or get pushed down by an angry medic (or loved one). This is often played for comedy.

Oh yes, and they will usually be shirtless if male. In the more modest ones, this will result in an amusing attempt to cover themselves, which will somehow culminate in falling over. Often the setup for a I Found You Like This. May involve a Hospital Surprise.

A kinder, gentler subtrope of Waking Up Elsewhere.

Examples of Unfamiliar Ceiling include:

Anime and Manga

  • Happens a lot in Bleach, ranging from Ichigo passing out during the Soul Society Arc (twice) and waking up cared for by Yoruichi. Probably a bunch in the Arrancar Arc too. Sometimes this is subverted by on-scene medical care (read: Orihime), or the latest arc where he Comes Back Wrong as a mindless berzerker monster who wants to kick everyone's ass into next week.
  • Princess Mononoke: after being either healed or returned from the dead (it's a bit vague), Ashitaka is passed out for at least several days.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is quite a subversion, even though it is the Trope Namer: Shinji is peeved because the NERV sickbay's ceiling is becoming too familiar to him.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Spike, a few times—most notably at the end of the fifth episode, where he had a near death experience complete with seeing his life flash before his eyes, and although he doesn't ask he is promptly informed by Faye that he's been asleep for three days. Sort of bonus points: the last thing he sees in his dreams/coma visions is his lover Julia singing a song as she cares for him, he then wakes up to Faye singing that same song. (Although according to Spike, Faye is singing it off key).
  • In Episode 9 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S, Teana wakes up in the infirmary after being shot down by Nanoha, and is shocked to find that it's already 9 at night; according to Shamal, her taking this long to wake up was a result of not getting much sleep.
  • Happens twice in Claymore, the first being when Raki travels through the desert trying to look for Clare only to pass out from exhaustion and lack of water, so Clare brings him to an inn at a nearby town. The second happens to Clare, when she narrowly escapes being killed by Ophelia after Ilena saves her - but after she had an arm and a hand cut off - and she passes out from over-expending her energy to reattach her hand. Clare wakes up in Ilena's house in her secluded valley.
  • After being rescued by the Skull Knight during the Eclipse, Guts wakes up to an unfamiliar cave ceiling, which turns out to be Godo's mine (which was previously inhabited by elves, so evil spirits attracted to his brand can't follow him) in Berserk.

Comic Books

  • Peacemaker waking up after ripping a scarab out of his back with a broken bit of armor. Also stands up, then falls down, and is funny.

Fan Works

  • In Between Minds, a Half Life X Portal fanfiction, the first chapter begins with Chell waking up to see the ceiling panels in the Extended Relaxation Center. She soon figures out how to escape.


  • In each Back to The Future film, Marty wakes up with his mother (or great grandmother) ministering to him.
  • Barbarella: Our heroine wakes up after getting knocked out and thinks she's dead. Not surprisingly, since the first person she sees is Pygar the angel (or ornithanthrope).
  • Slightly subverted in Vampire Hunter D, with Leila waking up in the road after D bound her wound. Weirdly averted in the first Vampire Hunter D movie—Doris wakes up in her house after being rescued—she was unconscious or in a trance for the entire rescue, so she should have no idea how she got there—but the first thing she does is asks if D is okay.


The trope is played with in this joke:

  • Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go on a camping trip. After a good dinner, they retire for the night, and go to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes wakes up and nudges his faithful friend. "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see." "I see millions and millions of stars, Holmes" replies Watson. "And what do you deduce from that?" Watson ponders for a minute. "Well, astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of the universe. What does it tell you, Holmes?" Holmes is silent for a moment. "Watson, you idiot!" he says. "Someone has stolen our bloody tent!"


  • A Wizard of Earthsea: Turns up surprisingly little, given Ged spends an absurd amount of time being generally passed out. This specific trope only occurs once, at Osskil.
  • Many, many times in The Inheritance Cycle.
  • The Lord of the Rings does this several times—once in the first book, a few times in the third.
  • Happened in Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, with Harry waking up in the hospital ward after defeating Quirrell. He asks Dumbledore what happened to him. In fact this happens to various characters rather frequently.
  • Redwall: This happen to a main character at least once per book.
  • Most of Tamora Pierce's heroines do this at least once. Per book.
  • Twilight.
  • The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya combines this with Timey-Wimey Ball. Kyon wakes up after experiencing being stabbed by Asakura, but by the time he wakes up, the past has been rewritten so that he fell down a set of stairs and hit his head.
  • Guards! Guards!, where it happens to Captain Vimes.

Video Games

  • In the first Golden Sun, during the Inevitable Tournament, dying in battle makes you wake up in the infirmary, surrounded by your friends, who will then inform you that you were just dreaming. Then you have to restart the tournament from the beginning. And if you win... you wake up in the infirmary, surrounded by your friends, who will then inform you that you won.
  • This happens to The Warden after the slaughter at Ostagar, right down to the questions and the shirtlessness.
  • Implied in Myst. After completing each Age, the player is sent back to the Library, looking up at the ceiling. It may well be unfamiliar the first time, as many players may not have thought to look up.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Sahmad has one in Bionicle, where he is told he has been asleep for 750 years. However, it turns out to be All Just a Dream.
  • Red vs. Blue: Recreation: Subverted/played for laughs when Donut keeps passing out and coming to, and each time he's told strange stories about what has been happening while he was asleep, which makes him wonder and ask how long he's been out. Turns out he's only been out for a few minutes, and the stories sound strange because it's Caboose who's been telling him the news.

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has Aang waking up six weeks after getting struck by lightning. This also somewhat happens to Iroh.
  • Mulan gives the general impression of this, although no indication is given of how much time has passed.