Inception Wiki
Cobb's various projections

Cobb's various projections

Projections are the images of people or objects within dreams that are "projected" by the sleeping subject's subconscious mind.


While any sleeper can project these images, part of the subject's role in a shared dream is to populate a dream space with projections. A lucid sleeper can consciously affect the existence of their projections, but the actions of those projections are still always controlled by the subconscious. As manifestations of a person's subconscious, interrogating projections is one method by which an extractor can obtain a person's secrets.[1]

Cobb's projections protecting him

Cobb's projections "protecting" him from Ariadne

Projections of humans are compared to "white blood cells fighting an infection";[2] as the subject's subconscious becomes aware that the subject is being manipulated by a dreamer, they will attack to defend the subject's mind from invasion, such as extraction. For this reason, it is advised that the dreamer not make too many unnecessary alterations to a dream while the subject is populating it.[3] It is generally believed that killing projections has no negative effect on the subject, because none of them are real.[4] For this reason, when deemed necessary, extractors will mercilessly dispatch projections without a second thought.

Militarized projections[]

Fischer's militarized subconscious

Fischer's militarized subconscious

Known also as subconscious security (or "sub-security"), militarized projections exist as a result of training one's mind to defend itself from invasion. In these cases, certain projections will become militarized and more difficult to defeat. Such projections will be more heavily armed, intelligent and aggressive, capable of surrounding targets and coordinating assaults upon them. Projections become stronger, more coordinated and more heavily-armed the more levels down a subject is in the dream. An example of this occurred in Robert Fischer's dream, where, in level one, his projections consisted of security agents with assault rifles attacking one at a time or in two-to-three man groups, with a significant delay between each attack. In the second dream level, his projections attacked in two-man teams and did so faster and more aggressively. In the third level, Fischer's projections attacked with large numbers of coordinated, well-trained and heavily-armed soldiers and a machine gun-equipped Humvee, with no clear end to their numbers.

Mal preparing to shoot Fischer

Cobb's projection of Mal invading Fischer's dream

A common defense against projections is to have an architect construct a dream world in the shape of a maze, so as to confuse and delay the projections. However, the only ones who can know the maze are the dreamer and the architect; if anyone else is aware of the dream's structure, then their projections are aware of it as well and can use said information against him,[5] as seen with Cobb and his projection of Mal.


  1. Inception
    Cobb: "That's one way we get at a subject's thoughts - his mind creates the people, so we can literally talk to his subconscious."
  2. Inception
    Cobb: "They feel the foreign nature of the dreamer, and attack-like white blood cells fighting an infection."
  3. Inception
    Cobb: "Because you're changing things. My subconscious feels that someone else is creating the world. The more you change things, the quicker the projections converge on you."
  4. Inception
    Ariadne: "Are you destroying those parts of his mind?"
    Cobb: "No, of course not. They’re just projections."
  5. Inception: Ariadne: "You won't build yourself because if you know the maze, then she knows it. And she'd sabotage the operation."