Created By: Goldfritha on June 9, 2012 Last Edited By: Goldfritha on September 14, 2013
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Amnesiac Resonance

An amnesiac character acts as if knowing what he has forgotten.

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Trope
Perhaps Needs a Better Title; this one's just a take on Amnesiac Dissonance.

Sometimes a character suffering amnesia engages in acts that do not make sense, or perhaps do not make full sense, without the knowledge of what he has forgotten. This can range from knowing skills that he learned then, to supporting his friends and opposing his enemies from that time, or even automatically addressing people by names.

This is not incompatible with Amnesiac Dissonance — such moments may horrify the character with the realization of change.

This is usually taken as a sign that the amnesia is fading, and often is one. (Oddly enough, acting like this is seldom a sign that you are faking it, even if you are not a point-of-view character.)

There is a certain amount of Truth in Television to it, particularly skills, since memory is not a unitary thing that can be turned on and off.

Examples

Anime & Manga
  • A lot of Kirika's drama in Noir derives from the fact that she is a perfect killing machine who murders people with practiced ease and doesn't feel bad about it, yet has no idea why she is so well trained and conditioned and feels that it's just wrong.

Comic Books
  • In Legion Of Superheroes, when the amnesiac Ultra Boy is taken up by Space Pirates, he switches sides in the fight, to defend their victims from them, and immediately feels this to be more natural to him.

Live-Action Film
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight has some examples of this, including the amnesiac heroine discovering an ability with knives that she believes means she was a chef but she's really a government assassin.
  • A scene in The Bourne Identity where Jason Bourne instinctively fights but doesn't remember yet who he is or how he knows what he's doing?
  • In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel Barish and his ex-girlfriend Clementine manage to find each other again after getting their memories about their relationship wiped clean.
  • Exploited in the Korean film Lost and Found (or Sweet Lies). The protagonist is pretending to have amnesia and passes off any of her flubs as this. For instance, when her Love Interest shows her his room, she spouts "This is just like what my room looks like!". When he looks at her strangely, she quickly adds "I mean, what my room would look like if I were to make it."
  • Drew Barrymore's character in 50 First Dates is an amnesiac who only remembers her life until an accident she had. She wakes up every day thinking it's the day after the accident, when in reality it's been over two years. She can't seem to remember her boyfriend, but near the end of the movie, she makes paintings with "eggmen" (Adam Sandler's character was made fun of for his egg-shaped head).
  • In The Muppets Take Manhattan, an amnesic Kermit taps out a melody to a song he wrote.
  • Deconstructed (?) in Memento.
    • When Leonard recalls his insurance investigation of the anterograde amnesiac Sammy Jenkins, he notices that Sammy shows signs of recognition when Lenny greets him, and sees it as proof that he's pulling a scam. After suffering brain damage himself he realizes that Sammy was faking recognition, not the disability. He was trying to blend in and seem less helpless.
    • Leonard himself is revealed to have developped this, and it's only made things worse. He's become an amnesiac serial killer by learning through repetition. He rewrites his own history to create an elusive quest for his wife's killer and repeating it over and over again to give himself purpose in life. The guy has in fact been dead for years and didn't kill her; Lenny himself did by accident.

Literature
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, Daphne constructs a little world with a prince called "Shining" — a translation of her own husband's name, Phaethon. When she is in a competition, she lets the world run free, and the prince engages in a daring venture to break out of the world. This, it turns out, is a startling parallel to Phaethon's work on a spaceship, which everyone agreed to forget.
  • In Poul Anderson's "A World Called Maanerek", a man was abandoned on a world with his memory blanked, then recovered and restored to his previous memories. Even before he is restored, things come back to him, and afterwards, he turns on his old friends and loyalties to help the people of that world. A psychologist explains it by a mind not being so separated from the body after all.
  • In the Artemis Fowl series, the fairies mindwipe Artemis of all memories relating to fairykind at the end of the third book. In the fourth, as Artemis admires a painting, The Faerie Thief, he acknowledges that the fairy in the painting can't enter a human dwelling without permission (one of the laws fairies live by), then wonders how and why he knew that. Later, when an assassination attempt against him fails, he recognises the blue light from the incident as a Blue Rinse, a fairy superweapon similar to a bio-bomb.
  • Lightsong from Warbreaker, who is a "Returned" demigod, at one point realizes he has some detective skills he never learned, and concludes (correctly) that they must have been retained from his old life as a human. This gets him in trouble later, as he assumes that a former private eye would know his way around a fight, and then finds out the hard way that investigative accountants have no combat skills at all. He also learns that, among other things, he had no knowledge of pottery, could juggle and knew a lot of sailor jargon.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: While trying to identify an amnesiac Miles, a doctor has him assemble a number of guns.

Live-Action TV
  • In Monk, Adrian wakes up from being knocked out in a strange town. He is unaware of who he is, but is baffled when he his experiences his old phobias. He then goes on to solve a murder in the town.

Video Games
  • The Witcher. In the first game, Geralt begins the game afflicted with amnesia, but still competent in the witcher's unique schools of martial arts.
  • In Mega Man Zero, despite his amnesia, Zero can feel that Copy X is very different than the real X, after his fight.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Clive Wearing. He has a memory of only a few seconds, but can subconsciously conduct a choir and guess what will happen in a movie he has forgotten he just saw.


Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • June 10, 2012
    Lorialet
    A good idea. This happens to Monk. He keeps his OCD symptoms and solves a case, as usual.
  • June 10, 2012
    Astaroth
    • In Artemis Fowl, the fairies mindwipe Artemis of all memories relating to fairykind at the end of the third book. In the fourth, as Artemis admires a painting, The Faerie Thief, he acknowledges that the fairy in the painting can't enter a human dwelling without permission (one of the laws fairies live by), then wonders how and why he knew that. Later, when an assassination attempt against him fails, he recognises the blue light from the incident as a Blue Rinse, a fairy superweapon similar to a bio-bomb.
    • In the first Witcher videogame, Geralt begins the game afflicted with amnesia, but still competent in the witcher's unique schools of martial arts.
  • June 10, 2012
    reub2000
    • In Monk, Adrian wakes up from being knocked out in a strange town. He is unaware of who he is, but is baffled when he his experiences his old phobias. He then goes on to solve a murder in the town.
  • June 10, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Yeah, you definitely need a better title, because "assonance" is actually just the vowel version of alliteration.
  • June 10, 2012
    Goldfritha
    Yes, and Dissonance is the vowel version of lack of alliteration.
  • June 11, 2012
    Hertzyscowicz
    Dissonance is also a word for disagreement or conflict, according to wiktionary. Assonance is only the repetition of a similar wovel sound. This is not the place to be expanding the meaning of words.

    Literature
    • Vorkosigan Saga: While trying to identify an amnesiac Miles, a doctor has him assemble a number of guns.
  • March 19, 2013
    Zulaq
    Perhaps 'True to Self' would work better?
  • March 19, 2013
    dalek955
    Amnesia Leakage?

    • Lightsong from Warbreaker, who is a "Returned" demigod, at one point realizes he has some detective skills he never learned, and concludes (correctly) that they must have been retained from his old life as a human. This gets him in trouble later, as he assumes that a former private eye would know his way around a fight, and then finds out the hard way that investigative accountants have no combat skills at all. He also learns that, among other things, he had no knowledge of pottery, could juggle and knew a lot of sailor jargon.
  • March 19, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    • Exploited in the Korean film Lost and Found (or Sweet Lies). The protagonist is pretending to have amnesia and passes off any of her flubs as this. For instance, when her Love Interest shows her his room, she spouts "This is just like what my room looks like!". When he looks at her strangely, she quickly adds "I mean, what my room would look like if I were to make it."
    • Truth In Television with Clive Wearing. He has a memory of only a few seconds, but can subconsciously conduct a choir and guess what will happen in a movie he has forgotten he just saw.
  • March 20, 2013
    Paradisesnake
  • March 20, 2013
    Koveras
    The title should be "Amnesiac", not "Amensiac".

    • A lot of Kirika's drama in Noir derives from the fact that she is a perfect killing machine who murders people with practiced ease and doesn't feel bad about it, yet has no idea why she is so well trained and conditioned and feels that it's just wrong.
  • March 20, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ I took the liberty of correcting that one while I as at it.
  • March 20, 2013
    Alvin
    Live-Action Film The Long Kiss Goodnight has some examples of this, including the amnesiac heroine discovering an ability with knives that she believes means she was a chef but she's really a government assassin. For a similar example in the same category, wasn't there a scene in The Bourne Identity where Jason Bourne instinctively fights but doesn't remember yet who he is or how he knows what he's doing?
  • March 23, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Pretty sure the opposite of Dissonance is Resonance, if you want to keep that metaphor going. Just sayin'.
  • March 23, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Western Animation
  • September 9, 2013
    dalek955
    Seconding Amnesiac Resonance.
  • September 10, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    so this is when a character gets Laser Guided Amnesia but remembers he forgot something but not what exactly it is?
  • September 10, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Because even if the character doesn't remember, memories have ontological inertia, so they still exist subconsciously.

    Or I'm making that up.
  • September 10, 2013
    dalek955
    Or that the conscious memory is gone, but the muscle memory (which lives in another part of the brain) is still there.
  • September 10, 2013
    DAN004
    Does this count?
    • In Mega Man Zero, despite his amnesia, Zero can feel that Copy X is very different than the real X, after his fight.
  • September 10, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Is Ripple Effect Proof Memory related? When someone remembers something that technically has zero evidence of existing anymore.
  • September 10, 2013
    littlemissmuffet
  • September 10, 2013
    Ryusui
    Definitely Amnesiac Resonance.
  • September 10, 2013
    Fawfulster
    Drew Barrimore's character in Fifty First Dates is an amnesiac who only remembers her life until an accident she had. She wakes up every day thinking it's the day after the accident, when in reality it's been over two years. She can't seem to remember her boyfriend, but near the end of the movie, she makes paintings with "eggmen" (Adam Sandler's character was made fun of for his egg-shaped head).
  • September 10, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Star Trek The Original Series a powerful alien probe completely blanks Uhura's mind, so she has absolutely no memory of anything. Later in the episode we see Nurse Chapel teaching Uhura how to read; Uhura is speaking in Swahili and Chapel has to remind her to speak in English. At the end of the episode it's mentioned that Uhura has relearned almost everything that she had forgotten. But Fridge Logic kicks in that Uhura's entire personality has also been wiped and it's never dealt with - she's just back to how she always was in the next episode.
  • September 11, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work names.
  • September 11, 2013
    DAN004
    Dude, Mega Man Zero is a video game. >.>
  • September 12, 2013
    Morgenthaler
    • Deconstructed (?) in Memento.
      • When Leonard recalls his insurance investigation of the anterograde amnesiac Sammy Jenkins, he notices that Sammy shows signs of recognition when Lenny greets him, and sees it as proof that he's pulling a scam. After suffering brain damage himself he realizes that Sammy was faking recognition, not the disability. He was trying to blend in and seem less helpless.
      • Leonard himself is revealed to have developped this, and it's only made things worse. He's become an amnesiac serial killer by learning through repetition. He rewrites his own history to create an elusive quest for his wife's killer and repeating it over and over again to give himself purpose in life. The guy has in fact been dead for years and didn't kill her; Lenny himself did by accident.
  • September 12, 2013
    DAN004
    Fine, gonna edit it myself.
  • September 14, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch plz?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=1f6yuh6kcb7k4lpf924awt68