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.
ExamplesAnime & 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In the fourth season opener of Archer, "Fugue and Riffs", Archer has amnesia, and thinks his name is Bob and runs a burger shop. He's able to kill four KGB hitmen while unarmed, then, after being found by ISIS at a spa, he remembers what a Tec-9 is (and wonders how he knew that), and has several flashes of his memories. Dr. Krieger explains why a Tap on the Head with a frying pan Flintstones-style won't work and could cause him to lose his memories forever, but his memory comes back when Lana loses patience and does just that.
- 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.
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