Created By: CarrieVS on June 29, 2013

Third Person Memories

When we see a character's memories as though we were standing next to them rather than through their eyes.

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We often visit a character's memories in fiction, whether in a flashback or if another character actually visits their memory.

What we rarely see, however, is the scene as if through the remember-ee's eyes. More often, we're standing nearby and able to see things outside their field of vision, perhaps including the back of their own head.

In flashbacks, that's an Acceptable Break from Reality as filming as if through the character's eyes could be confusing and annoying for the viewer, but when a character, through magic or Applied Phlebotinum, enters someone's memory, they ought logically to be experiencing it as if they were that person. Instead, they are usually a third-person spectator. They can usually look around freely and even move about, though they might be constrained to stay near the person whose memory it is.


  • In Harry Potter, you can enter another person's memories via a pensieve, but inside the memory you'll still be yourself, watching the person whose memory it is.

  • In Last Days Of Foxhound, the rest of FOXHOUND enter Ocelot's mind and experience his memories. In this case they're not even beside him but watching from behind a building a short distance away.
Community Feedback Replies: 4
  • June 29, 2013
    Add in a note that human memory isn't encoded like a computer or a camera: it's encoded in pieces and reconstructed, which is why memory doesn't always happen in first person. This is also why memory can fake, or even self-serving, and a person doing the remembering is Believing Their Own Lies.
  • June 29, 2013
    • This is a staple of Unforgettable, which has Carrie Wells using her hyperthymesia to recall details of crime scenes and the like at least Once An Episode. Not only is the viewer in third-person relative to the remembered Carrie, you're also in third-person from the remembering Carrie (she's sort of walking through her own memory).
  • June 29, 2013
    This is already covered by Third Person Flashback.
  • June 29, 2013
    ^ Ah, right. Managed not to find that when I looked. Thanks.