[[quoteright:223:[[ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/amnesia_stuff.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:223:Dad isn't fooled...]]

When a character pretends to suffer from amnesia, or some other kind of memory loss.

The motivation for doing this varies: someone who has recently acted like a jackass or gone through an embarrassing situation may simply not want to relive it with others. A victim of MindControl may seek an excuse to not talk about any pain they may have caused friends and family. A more nefarious character may fake memory loss to remove suspicion from themselves for a crime they committed, or to refrain from divulging sensitive information to their enemies.

The amount of memory a character may claim to have lost can range from just a few [[LaserGuidedAmnesia days]], months, or even entire lifetimes. This can often depend on how vital it is to keep quiet about the incidents in question.

Faking amnesia is usually more believable to others when the individual has recently gone through some kind of trauma, like a [[EasyAmnesia blow to the head]] or DemonicPossession. A suspicious character may attempt to trick the faux amnesiac into mentioning something about the events to prove that they remember it after all. If the faker accidentally slips up and gives themselves away, they may make a big show about their "miraculous recovery." A character who really had amnesia at some point may recover but keep it secret and feign to still have amnesia, to take advantage of it (for example, because AmnesiacsAreInnocent).

This can sometimes overlap with FakeDefector, if the character is faking memory loss for the sake of temporarily joining their enemies.

A sub trope of ObfuscatingDisability. Compare MemoryGambit, in which a character arranges to actually have their memories removed to further their plans. Not to be confused with AmnesiacLiar, in which an individual who truly has amnesia is fooled into believing a falsehood they told before acquiring the condition.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In the ''Franchise/{{Alien}}''-esque {{hentai}} ''Alien from the Darkness'', the lone survivor of a derelict ship pretends to have amnesia, and is thus unable to tell her rescuers what happened to the rest of her crew-mates. This is all to hide the fact that she is in fact the host to the alien being that killed them all.
* Inverted in ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex''. Touma loses his memory but passes it off as a joke so Index doesn't feel bad.
* The water fairy Athena Glory in ''Manga/{{ARIA}}'' does this as a prank to her student, Alice.
* In the second series of ''Anime/CodeGeass'', Lelouch adds this to part of his masquerade early on in order to throw off suspicion that he has regained his memories.
* In episode 26 of ''Manga/HayateTheCombatButler'', after a fight with some baddies, Hayate ends up with a blow to the head, rendering him unconscious. Ayumu, being there when it happened helped Hayate tend to his wounds. When Hayate woke up, Ayumu then asks whether he likes her or not. Hayate then ends up faking amnesia in order to avoid answering the question. HilarityEnsues.
* In an episode of ''LightNovel/OokamiSan'', Ryoko suffers from [[EasyAmnesia actual amnesia]], where she thinks she's thirteen. When she later gets better, she pretends not to remember the entire day due to being embarrassed. [[DeliberatelyCuteChild Ringo]] catches her when she remembers eating.
* In ''Anime/TekkamanBlade'', [[spoiler: D-Boy initially appears to have amnesia, but turns out to be faking it. Late in the series, he starts losing his memory for real.]]
* In ''Manga/BokuraNoKiseki'', Harusumi pretends to be unable to remember his [[{{Reincarnation}} past-life identity]] to keep himself safe from any enemies he might "inherit" from his previous life as Princess Veronica. The bluff is maintained because everyone has gaps in their past-life memories and another classmate, Zeze, also claims he can't (and doesn't want to) remember.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In the Creator/{{Marvel comic|s}} ''ComicBook/AgentX'', The Taskmaster accuses Alex Hayden of being [[{{Deadpool}} Wade Wilson]] pulling this trick. [[spoiler:This ends up being a subversion, as while it's unclear whether he is Deadpool or not, the amnesia is very real. Then, it turns out Alex Hayden isn't even Wade!]]
* About [[EasyAmnesia half]] of ComicBook/NormanOsborn's amnesiac relapses are fake.
* The ComicBook/{{New 52}} version of ''Comicbook/{{Superboy}}'''s cover story in the "small town" simulation.
* In ''Comicbook/{{Supergirl}}'' story ''Comicbook/TheSupergirlFromKrypton'' Batman suspects that Kara is pulling this trick. [[spoiler:However it is subverted: she really suffers from memory loss owing to kryptonite poisoning]].

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'': Calvin once tried this as an excuse for his terrible grades. His dad wasn't fooled.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/TheEndOfEnds'' accuses Terra of this.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/WhileYouWereSleeping'' plays with this: Peter Gallagher's character, upon waking up from a coma, doesn't remember his fiancée (because they really aren't engaged, his family just thinks they are), so his family assumes that he's amnesiac. He figures out there's been some sort of mix-up, but he continues playing along with the amnesia story to avoid upsetting the family too much.
* In French movie ''[[Film/LeGendarmeDeSaintTropez The Gendarme to Stroll]]'', Gendarme Fougasse suffered only from a short amnesia after an accident, but he likes so much the convalescent home he's staying in, he pretends in order to remain longer.

* In ''Literature/MassEffectRetribution'', when a rescue squad recovers a kidnapped character and asks for his name, he is unable to answer and claims that amnesia is the cause. [[spoiler:As it turns out, he has been implanted with alien tech by Cerberus, allowing his body to be remote-controlled by the Reapers. The claim of amnesia was used by the Reapers to avoid the question as they were at that time unable to learn his name by reading his mind. It works horrifyingly well.]]
* The Title character from the Creator/RobinMcKinley novel ''Literature/{{Sunshine}}'' pretends she has PTSD that made her forget or block her memories after escaping from being held captive by vampires. She ''does'' have PTSD, but she hadn't forgotten anything; she just didn't want to talk about it or explain A) why she saved a vampire and B) ''how'' she saved a vampire. That is to say, by using her magic that she hadn't used since childhood to make it so a certain vampire could walk under sunlight, which everyone agrees is impossible.
* In ''Literature/TheLegendsongSaga'' Glynn does this to hide her ignorance about Keltor. She ‘regains’ her memory as she learns more and can create a cover story.
* The eponymous protagonist of ''Literature/{{Papillon}}'' feigns having amnesia after being caught receiving contraband coconuts and cigarettes while in solitary confinement. The warden is frustrated by the inability to get a name and other details from Papillon and orders him to finish the final four months of his sentence without a dinner meal. Despite nearly dying of malnourishment, Papillon remembers to continue the game upon his release and "mistakes" the end of his solitary time as a pardon from the PenalColony altogether.
* Bobby Pendragon, from ''Literature/ThePendragonAdventure'', feigns amnesia to get the Tribunal of Rayne to trust him. [[spoiler: He fails to trick them. It's later revealed that they played along for completely different reasons.]]
* In ''Literature/JediApprentice: The Hidden Past'', a dictatorship's favorite punishment is to destroy the memories of anyone who causes trouble. Some of them are left to wander the streets, but the worst troublemakers are shipped to dangerous worlds with floating cameras following them and broadcasting what happens. Thirteen-year-old Obi-Wan Kenobi ends up being put through the procedure. Thanks to TheForce he is able to resist and retain his memories, but he pretends to remember nothing in an act of ObfuscatingStupidity.
* Similarly, in ''Rebel Force'' someone who learned how to make amnesiac assassins [[CriminalAmnesiac captures Luke Skywalker]]. Thanks to TheForce -- and Obi-Wan's spirit -- helping, he remembers everything, but fakes it and does a very good job of acting, for days, in order to lull Soresh into thinking it worked so he could turn on him when the time was right.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Xander pulls this in the ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' episode "The Pack", after being possessed by the spirit of a hyena. After Buffy and Willow save him, he tells them that he can't remember a thing and hopes he didn't do anything "too embarrassing". Giles, however, sees right through it.
-->'''Giles:''' I've been reading up on my animal possession and I cannot find anything anywhere about memory loss afterward.\\
'''Xander:''' Did you tell ''them'' that?\\
'''Giles:''' Your secret dies with me.\\
'''Xander:''' ''Shoot me, stuff me, mount me''.
* In a late-season arc of ''Series/{{Wonderfalls}}'', Heidi Gotts gets bumped on the head and decides to fake amnesia because so many people think [[EasyAmnesia that's exactly how amnesia works]].
-->'''Heidi Gotts:''' I wasn't faking it at first! I really did still think we were married!... for a few seconds...
* Used by Mrs. Slocomb in a later episode of ''Series/AreYouBeingServed'' when she pretended to have forgotten everything since early childhood and spent the majority of the episode acting like a schoolgirl. The ordeal was a ploy to scare the management with a possible lawsuit.
* In ''Series/KousokuSentaiTurboranger'', Pink Turbo decides to fake memory loss to join the bad guys after taking a blow to the head in a battle, in a gambit to acquire an antitode for the poisoned Blue Turbo.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'': Dean fakes a case of DeathAmnesia after being pulled out of hell by Castiel.
* Inverted in an episode of ''Series/HumanTarget''. A client who has amnesia takes part in a sting to trick the bad guys by pretending not to have amnesia. To do this he has to convince them that he was faking it. It makes sense in context.
* In the ''Series/StarskyAndHutch'' episode "Partners," Hutch apparently gets amnesia from a car crash at the beginning of the episode. It's played as a standard amnesia story for the rest of the episode, with Starsky trying to jog his memory through a ClipShow, until Hutch admits in the last five minutes that he was faking because he was so angry at Starsky for crashing the car.
* Señor Chang of ''Series/{{Community}}'' fakes a condition called "Changnesia" for the better part of a season.
* After Beckett is shot by a sniper, Series/{{Castle}} admits his feelings for her. After she wakes up in the hospital, he asks if she remembers anything about the shooting. Beckett claims that she doesn't. At the end of the episode, though, after a psychiatrist asks her what she remembers, she admits that she remembers everything. Castle later finds out and is not amused.
** One episode features the "recovers but keeps it secret" variant with a witness who had been mentally stuck in the 1970's.
* An episode of ''Series/PrivatePractice'' has a depressed woman ask to undergo shock therapy in order to be happy again. It appears to work, except she doesn't remember her fiancé anymore. Violet, an experienced psychiatrist, calls bullshit on that, and the woman eventually admits that she pretended, as she feels happy until he walks in the room. In the end, the doctors support her story and tell the fiancé to leave her be.
* In ''Series/GreysAnatomy'', a seriously-hurt woman is found at the site of a ferry accident. Her face is beyond recognition, and she has no memory of who she is. Alex dubs her Ava, and Sloan makes her a new face. Eventually, though, Alex figures out that her memory has returned, but she kept on playing the amnesiac, as her former life sucked.
* In ''Series/BreakingBad'', Walt pretends to not remember anything so he won't have to explain where he's been or what he's done for a period of time. He ''does'' admit to his psychiatrist that he's faking it (so that he can be released from the hospital rather than being held for evaluation), but also points out that doctor/patient confidentiality prevents the psychiatrist from telling anyone else.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'', Vanille pretends that she's forgotten a substantial plot-relevant swath of memory in order to avoid having to share her DarkAndTroubledPast (and its ramifications for their current situation) with the rest of the party. Her partner Fang, who really ''has'' forgotten, eventually tricks her into admitting it by pretending that she's ''also'' been faking her own amnesia.
* In ''VideoGame/HyperdimensionNeptuniaRebirth1'', while pursuing the defeated Black Heart, Neptune runs into Noire (who is really the un-transformed Black Heart). When Neptune realizes Noire is badly hurt, Noire pretends [[BlatantLies very badly]] to have amnesia and not to remember what happened to her. [[OnlySaneMan IF]] sees straight through it, but [[TooDumbToLive Neptune]] and Compa both fall for it.
* At the end of ''VideoGame/Sly3HonorAmongThieves'' Sly pretends to have amnesia in order to get close to Carmelita Fox (and avoid arrest). She tells him that he's her partner.
* In the first ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts'', Kairi claims to remember "nothing at all" about her home world. The way the scene is framed is classic Japanese cinematography indicating she's not being truthful. [[spoiler:She later owns up about it…while inside of Sora's heart, no less!]]
* Archer in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' claims to not remember which Heroic Spirit he is in order to carry out his plan to kill Shirou while making it seem like he was just another casualty of the Holy Grail War. (A Main/DoubleSubversion, as he mentions that at first he really didn't know who he was, but he remembered fairly quickly. He just never let on that he had.)
* Played with in ''VisualNovel/VirtuesLastReward''. K [[spoiler: can be one of two people, depending on the timeline. Kyle really is amnesiac, but on one particular timeline Akane pretends to be Kyle and in her case amnesia was a lie.]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Played for laughs in ''Webcomic/SkinHorse'': when Animal Control shows up to capture Sweetheart, Unity panics and feigns amnesia. She's apparently done this before.
* In ''Webcomic/LostOpportunity'' Louwrens does this after being transported to an alien (but somewhat familiar) planet and transformed into an anthropomorphic dog.
* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'', Lucrezia [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20061117#.VvrgLuIrLIU pulls this]] whilst [[GrandTheftMe possessing Agatha's body]], telling Agatha's rescue party that she's been drugged and can't remember any of them. She manages to pull it off for a while, too, since no-one imagines for a second that it could be anyone ''other'' than Agatha talking to them. It isn't until she encounters someone that knew the original Lucrezia and recognises her mannerisms that it all goes downhill.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Series/FlandersCompany'' season 4, both Hippolyte and Caleb pretend to be amnesiac in the alternate universe. It's Hippolyte's idea, at first because he thinks the true story would be too unbelievable. Afterward, [[spoiler:they don't want their status of supervillains to come into light in a society full of superheroes]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/HeyArnold'', Helga pretends to have amnesia. She did originally have amnesia, but recovered from it in the morning. Her mother told her that Arnold took care of her that day, which prompted her to fake it so he would continue to take care of her.
* Ambiguous but heavily implied to be the case with Terra in the SeriesFinale of ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans''. When Beast Boy claims she was so happy as a Titan she comments that things were never the way he remembered them, and Slade tells Beast Boy she chooses to not remember.