Created By: Earnest on November 16, 2013 Last Edited By: Earnest on December 2, 2013
Troped

(Hats please?) Werewolf Amnesia

Superpowered Evil Side causes memory blackouts.

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Trope

Now has a Name Crowner.

This trope is about characters with a form of Involuntary Shape Shifting or Super-Powered Evil Side that causes them to suffer amnesia whenever they transform to their alternate form or self. Typically this trope is most often used in media with werewolves, though characters with a Jeckyll And Hyde style Split Personality, Demonic Possession, or an Enemy Within may also suffer from this form of amnesia. When it happens it may be immediately noticeable to the character; they will freak out at suffering blackouts and waking up naked in a field, covered in blood, and surrounded by animal carcasesnote .

In some cases the amnesiac lycanthrope actually suffers a combination of Laser-Guided Amnesia and Weirdness Censor about the Missing Time; they might spend weeks, months or years unaware of their condition. It helps if they transition into a type of "sleepwalker" that walks home and cleans up post transformation. The smarter the alternate form is the likelier this is to happen, since it'll likely want its host to stay unawares as long as possible.

One dangerous possibility is for characters to become a Zombie Infectee who willfully ignores or rationalizes away any evidence, symptoms, and lost memories. Whether they cop to it or not, expect Amnesiac Dissonance to kick in once they feel the weight of their crimes.

Typically the memories are merely repressed and come back in a Bad Dreams flashback sequence. If the lycanthopy can be controlled, then learning to do so usually enables the character to remember past events as well as remain lucid and in control during future ones.

The explanation for the blackouts is usually that "the wolf" has taken over and puts the character to sleep or in the passenger's seat. Expect even the most skeptical amnesiac lycanthrope to start to get paranoid and suspect that they're the one responsible for any recent local crimes or murders. There's even odds that it's their fault or their progenitor's. In fact, one popular way for a villain to use the amnesia to their benefit is to get the character to assume they are solely responsible and get them to admit to the guilt or take their own life. It's entirely possible to trick a Wrong Genre Savvy character who isn't even a werewolf in this way by triggering blackouts to coincide with crimes.

Contrast And I Must Scream, when the lycanthrope is aware of whats going on but helpless to stop their wolf-self. Compare What Did I Do Last Night?, the alcohol-induced version. Compare The Killer in Me, especially the "Amnesiac Killer" type. Compare also Identity Amnesia and Amnesiac Dissonance.

Examples:

Anime
  • In Bleach, when Ichigo returns to normal after battling Ulquiorra in his Hollow form, he doesn't remember anything that happened during. When he finds out that he was responsible for destroying his opponent's arm and leg during the fight, he demands that his be cut off too, otherwise the fight wouldn't be fair.
  • The two occasions when Naruto unleashed four tails of the Kyuubi's chakra. He completely forgets what happened during those rampages.

Comic Books
  • Zigzagged with Hulk as there have been periods when Bruce Banner cannot remember anything about what happened when he was the Hulk (and vice versa) times when the memories are kind of fuzzy, and other times when one or both of them remember the other's actions clearly.

Film
  • Wolf Blood, one of the first werewolf movies ever made (it was filmed in the 20's and is silent) has the lead character suffer from this amnesia so completely he doesn't remember if he went out and killed the rival logging boss who almost killed him earlier. While the film itself never actually definitively says he did it or if it was a normal wolf attack, his inability to remember any of the last evening send him across the Despair Event Horizon. He even starts running after the wolf spirits he is now able to see— off a cliff! Thankfully, his love interest stops him in time.
  • In Carry On Screaming, this happens to Sergeant Bung after he is fed the Mr Hyde serum.
  • David from An American Werewolf in London doesn't remember anything about the night he transforms and attacks a young couple, some hobos, and a Tube commuter.

Literature
  • Averted by Angua von Überwald in the Discworld. She remembers perfectly well what she was doing in her wolf-form, especially when on police work. The only difficulty she has is vocabulary, so as to report it accurately in a way that makes sense. Human speech is geared to visual metaphors. As sight is our dominant sense you'd expect this: our visual vocabulary is rich and extensive. But smell, rather than sight, is dominant in canines. A werewolf interprets the world through her nose. And human speech has a very impoverished olfactory vocabulary. The nearest Angua can get is to explain in terms of synasthaesia - blood and violence smell red, sex smells blue-purple, and so on. Which still only conveys a thousandth part of her nasal experience, especially in a city as odour-rich as Ankh-Morpork.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ginny Weasley finds she's having days where she wakes up in one room and has no idea how she got there, over and over. Gradually she starts to put it together that the diary of Tom Riddle is possessing her in order to unleash the Basilisk.

Live Action TV
  • In Jekyll, a modern adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Tom Jackman has no memory of anything that happens when the Hyde personality takes control. Somehow, they've reached an agreement whereby, if something happens to one which they think will affect the other, they leave a message on a Dictaphone that the other personality can listen to when they regain control.
  • Werewolves in Supernatural suffer memory blackouts when they transform.
  • Misfits parodies this with one character. The power he got from the freak lightning storm was to "turn" into a terrier... In mind only. He goes around naked and acts the super friendly puppy, with no memory of it the next day.
  • In Teen Wolf, the Chenema in season two has no memories of what they do when transformed, in contrast to the actual werewolves who have perfect control and recall during their changes.
  • Red Riding Hood in Once Upon a Time suffers from this regarding their werewolf transformations and murders.
  • Heroes: Nikki is like this when her Jessica first starts taking over her body.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons.
    • The 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide said that when a person changed into a lycanthrope (by being bitten by one) first started changing to wereform on nights of the full moon, the next morning they would not remember what happened the night before.
    • Ravenloft supplement RR7 Von Richten's Guide to Werebeasts. In Ravenloft, when an infected lycanthrope involuntarily changes to wereform it will not remember what happens while it's transformed.
  • Call of Cthulhu, Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign. In "The Derbyshire Monster" adventure, a young woman named Eloise Vane is under a curse to become a werewolf on nights with a full moon. Every time she becomes a werewolf she doesn't remember what happens but has evil dreams of ghastly happenings (her attacks on other creatures).

Videogames
  • In Elsword, Ara's backstory has this. After she gained the mystical hairpin with a Kitsune spirit sealed within and almost get killed by her brainwashed brother, she gets unconscious. The next thing she knew after she "woke up" is that she had battled her brother and the demon army unconsciously - it's the fox spirit that did it for her.
  • Cynthia Wit in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has no idea that she's a lycanthrope, or that she's responsible for butchering the rabbits that her father farms. She tells you that she's been hoping to catch the culprit herself, but all she remembers is feeling terribly exhausted, falling asleep before the attacker arrives and waking up the next morning to find another dead rabbit.
  • Hinted to happen to the Dragonborn in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim the first time he/she transforms into a Werewolf: you control him/her in his werewolf form for a few seconds, then the screen fades black. When it ends, the Dragonborn finds himself/herself in the middle of the forest, far from his/her initial position, naked, and his dialogues suggest he/she doesn't remember what happened. This only apply to the first transformation though; after this, you have complete control over your lycanthropy and suffer no amnesia.
  • In The Sims 3 Werewolf Sims that transform back into humans will get a moodlet saying they don't remember what just happened, but they have the feeling it was "something awesome".

Visual Novel
  • Exploited in Dangan Ronpa. Touko Fukawa and Genocider Syo both have this, but when their shared body is hit with a dose of Laser-Guided Amnesia, only the active personality was affected. This means one of them remembers The Worst, Most Despair-inducing Incident in the History of Mankind — unfortunately, they're unable to provide any concrete details, as it was the other who actually experienced it.

Western Animation
  • The title character of Fangface has no memory of his human self, and even when he transforms back into his regular form again, he also has no memory of his werewolf self as well.
  • Mr. Bogus apparently suffered from this in the first act of the episode "Nightmare On Bogus Street". After Bogus became a werewolf from drinking a potion that he created, he puts Brattus in a stewpot, when he suddenly turns back into his regular form once again, confused about how Brattus got into a stewpot. When Brattus explains to him what happened, Bogus denies ever doing such a thing to his own cousin, until he turns back into a werewolf again.
  • In Animaniacs geeky Wilford Wolf turns into a hunky Werewolf that even bunnies and birds want when he sees a full moon, but doesn't remember what he did when in hunky form.
  • In the episode of Futurama, Bender becomes a Werecar, and has no memory of doing anything whenever he leaves this form.
  • The episode of Adventure Time "Hug Wolf" has Finn becoming the said Hug Wolf, and never remembering anything when he's back in his human form.
  • Though it never happened onscreen in Ben10, Word of God stated that it happened to Ben with Ghostfreak, which was when he called his minion to pull out the Thanatos Gambit that serves as the main plot of season 3.
    • Played straight with Big Chill in Ben 10: Alien Force, where Necrofriggians' reproduction instincts cause Ben to regularly turn into Big Chill unconciously and go around eating metal. Ben keeps no memory of those transformations.
Community Feedback Replies: 52
  • November 16, 2013
    CaveCat
    Western Animation
    • The title character of Fangface has no memory of his human self, and even when he transforms back into his regular form again, he also has no memory of his werewolf self as well.
    • Mr Bogus apparently suffered from this in the first act of the episode "Nightmare On Bogus Street". After Bogus became a werewolf from drinking a potion that he created, he puts Brattus in a stewpot, when he suddenly turns back into his regular form once again, confused about how Brattus got into a stewpot. When Brattus explains to him what happened, Bogus denies ever doing such a thing to his own cousin, until he turns back into a werewolf again.
  • November 16, 2013
    KarjamP
    There's a typo in the trope name, BTW. :P
  • November 16, 2013
    KantonKage
    I was wondering does it have to be just lycanthropy. Could it be anything say any type of Superpowered Evil Side.
  • November 16, 2013
    Earnest
    I don't see why not. I'm a fan of tropes are flexible, though we probably should get a more inclusive name if we broaden the scope.
  • November 16, 2013
    Theokal3
    Video game example:

    • Hinted to happen to the Dragonborn in The Elder Scrolls Skyrim the first time he/she transforms into a Werewolf: you control him/her in his werewolf form for a few seconds, then the screen fades black. When it ends, the Dragonborn finds himself/herself in the middle of the forest, far from his/her initial position, naked, and his dialogues suggest he/she doesn't remember what happened. This only apply to the first transformation though; after this, you have complete control over your lycanthropy and suffer no amnesia.
  • November 16, 2013
    Astaroth
    • Cynthia Wit in Arcanum has no idea that she's a lycanthrope, or that she's responsible for butchering the rabbits that her father farms. She tells you that she's been hoping to catch the culprit herself, but all she remembers is feeling terribly exhausted, falling asleep before the attacker arrives and waking up the next morning to find another dead rabbit.

    Non-werewolf example:

    • In Jekyll, a modern adaptation of The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, Tom Jackman has no memory of anything that happens when the Hyde personality takes control. Somehow, they've reached an agreement whereby, if something happens to one which they think will affect the other, they leave a message on a Dictaphone that the other personality can listen to when they regain control.
  • November 16, 2013
    AgProv
    Averted by Angua von Überwald in the Discworld. She remembers perfectly well what she was doing in her wolf-form, especially when on police work. The only difficulty she has is vocabulary, so as to report it accurately in a way that makes sense. Human speech is geared to visual metaphors. As sight is our dominant sense you'd expect this: our visual vocabulary is rich and extensive. But smell, rather than sight, is dominant in canines. A werewolf interprets the world through her nose. And human speech has a very impoverished olfactory vocabulary. The nearest Angua can get is to explain in terms of synasthaesia - blood and violence smell red, sex smells blue-purple, and so on. Which still only conveys a thousandth part of her nasal experience, especially in a city as odour-rich as Ankh-Morpork.
  • November 16, 2013
    DAN004
    So this trope is about someone who doesn't know what his/her split personality does, right?
    • In Elsword, Ara's backstory has this. After she gained the mystical hairpin with a Kitsune spirit sealed within and almost get killed by her brainwashed brother, she gets unconscious. The next thing she knew after she "woke up" is that she had battled her brother and the demon army unconsciously.
  • November 16, 2013
    KingZeal
    Anime:

  • November 17, 2013
    SKJAM
    • Zigzagged with Hulk as there have been periods when Bruce Banner cannot remember anything about what happened when he was the Hulk (and vice versa) times when the memories are kind of fuzzy, and other times when one or both of them remember the other's actions clearly.
  • November 17, 2013
    ZuTheSkunk
    If it's not about just werewolves, then maybe we should change the title to Shapeshifter Amnesia or something?
  • November 17, 2013
    KingZeal
    I changed the laconic for now, at least. Because it was bugging me.
  • November 17, 2013
    KantonKage
    The two occasions when Naruto unleashed four tails of the Kyuubi's chakra. He completely forgets what happened during those rampages.
  • November 17, 2013
    Earnest
    ^^^ While I agree, the name should probably also reflect that characters who aren't shapeshifters can also experience this. Just tossing a few more out there: Transformation Amnesia, Animus Amnesia, Alternate Identity Amnesia.

    ^^ It works. :)
  • November 17, 2013
    KingZeal
    The first of the three sounds best.
  • November 17, 2013
    DAN004
  • November 17, 2013
    JoeG
    • Heroes: Nikki is like this when her Jessica first starts taking over her body.
  • November 18, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons. The 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide said that when a person changed into a lycanthrope (by being bitten by one) first started changing to wereform on nights of the full moon, the next morning they would not remember what happened the night before.
    • Call Of Cthulhu, Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign. In "The Derbyshire Monster" adventure, a young woman named Eloise Vane is under a curse to become a werewolf on nights with a full moon. Every time she becomes a werewolf she doesn't remember what happens but has evil dreams of ghastly happenings (her attacks on other creatures).
  • November 18, 2013
    foxley
    This happens to Sergeant Bung after he is fed the Mr Hyde serum in Carry On Screaming.
  • November 18, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    In The Sims 3 Werewolf Sims that transform back into humans will get a moodlet saying they don't remember what just happened, but they have the feeling it was "something awesome".
  • November 20, 2013
    Astaroth
    Should examples where this is caused by Demonic Possession be included? In Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, Ginny and Harry discuss the possibility that Harry is being possessed by Lord Voldemort, and Ginny mentions that when she was possessed by his diary in Chamber of Secrets she had periods where she couldn't remember what she was doing for hours, and would find herself somewhere and wonder how she got there.
  • November 20, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
  • November 20, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    needs to mention Jekyll And Hyde. I've yet to see an example of that who remembers what "Hyde" does in his rampage.

    other possible names:
  • November 20, 2013
    Earnest
    ^^It'd be a bit silly not to considering we're already adding Split Personalities. I think I'll go up and broaden up the writeup a bit to make it clear this is generally caused by supernatural means rather than, say, What Did I Do Last Night
  • November 20, 2013
    TheTitan99
    • In the episode of Futurama, Bender becomes a Werecar, and has no memory of doing anything whenever he leaves this form.
    • The episode of Adventure Time "Hug Wolf" has Finn becoming the said Hug Wolf, and never remembering anything when he's back in his human form.
  • November 20, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    In Animaniacs geeky Wilford Wolf turns into a hunky Werewolf that even bunnies and birds want when he sees a full moon, but doesn't remember what he did when in hunky form.
  • November 20, 2013
    billybobfred
    • Exploited in Dangan Ronpa. Touko Fukawa and Genocider Syo both have this, but when their shared body is hit with a dose of Laser Guided Amnesia, only the active personality was affected. This means one of them remembers The Worst, Most Despair-inducing Incident in the History of Mankind — unfortunately, they're unable to provide any concrete details, as it was the other who actually experienced it.
  • November 20, 2013
    DAN004
    Compare The Killer In Me (especially the "Amnesiac Killer" type).
  • November 20, 2013
    DAN004
    Edited my own example.

    I'll vote for Alternate Identity Amnesia, though I also like Hyden Memories.

    Why not making a crowner, btw?
  • November 20, 2013
    SharleeD
    • David from An American Werewolf In London doesn't remember anything about the night he transforms and attacks a young couple, some hobos, and a Tube commuter.
  • November 21, 2013
    Theokal3
    • Though it never happened onscreen in Ben10, Word Of God stated that it happened to Ben with Ghostfreak, which was when he called his minion to pull out the Thanatos Gambit that serves as the main plot of season 3.
      • Played straight with Big Chill in Ben 10 Alien Force, where Necrofriggians' reproduction instincts cause Ben to regularly turn into Big Chill unconciously and go around eating metal. Ben keeps no memory of those transformations.
  • November 23, 2013
    Earnest
    Bump for hats and name votes.
  • November 23, 2013
    chicagomel
    Standard for Buffy The Vampire Slayer werewolves, i think. Can someone confirm?
  • November 23, 2013
    MorganWick
  • November 24, 2013
    Arivne
    This sounds similar to a previous YKTTW proposal: Awesomeness Induced Amnesia.
  • November 24, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    • Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, Ginny Weasley finds she's having days where she wakes up in one room and has no idea how she got there, over and over. Gradually she starts to put it together that the diary of Tom Riddle is possessing her in order to unleash the Basilisk.
  • November 24, 2013
    Itzika
  • November 24, 2013
    Snicka
    I like Transformation Amnesia from the proposed names the most. How about a Crowner for the name?
  • November 24, 2013
    Earnest
    I linked to it at the top of the OP. ;)
  • November 25, 2013
    DAN004
    @ Arivne: Awesomeness Induced Amnesia doesn't mention Split Personality in it, does it?
  • November 25, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    • One episode of Teen Titans has Beast Boy acting Not Himself and much more wild than usual. One night, the Titans find Beast Boy missing with Raven in his teeth. Beast Boy doesn't remember anything but assures it can't be anything bad. Once Raven wakes up, she vouches for him.
  • November 25, 2013
    thewriter
  • November 25, 2013
    Earnest
    I added them to the poll.

    I'm ready to launch this as soon as the name crowner stabilizes.
  • November 25, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    I can't let any variation with "transformation" in it win. shapeshifting and transforming do not by themselves imply the Split Personality part.

    Alternate Identity Amnesia is by far the clearest in the crowner at the moment.
  • November 25, 2013
    JoeG
    • In The Gods Themselves, the Soft Ones are a gaseous alien species with three genders. They are subservient to a solid species known as the Hard Ones. A married trio of Soft Ones learns that a new energy source is endangering an alternate universe and vow to fight against the energy source and its inventor, a Hard One named Estwald. They find out too late that Soft Ones are the juvenile form of Hard Ones and they collectively are Estwald.
  • November 26, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ x 6: No, it doesn't.
  • November 26, 2013
    Earnest
    ^^^ That's a valid point. It's currently tied for first, so I think I'll run with it. I'm probably going to launch it over the break. In the meantime, last call for hats and examples. :)

    ^ I added a little paragraph on possible causes over at Awesomeness Induced Amnesia.
  • November 27, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • Ravenloft supplement RR7 Von Richten's Guide to Werebeasts. In Ravenloft, when an infected lycanthrope involuntarily changes to wereform it will not remember what happens while it's transformed.
  • December 2, 2013
    Dawnwing
    EDIT: Never mind, I somehow missed that this example was already up there. :/
  • December 2, 2013
    DAN004
    So... any consensus yet?
  • December 2, 2013
    Earnest
    Yeah, Alternate Identity Amnesia has the most votes right now with 5, and since it satisfies both the lycanthrope and non-lycanthrope examples I think that's going to be it's launch title. Mostly I'm just fishing for hats. *blush* =D
  • December 2, 2013
    abateman
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=tm3z626328hnperjffg9wcdu&trope=AlternateIdentityAmnesia