Alternate Identity Amnesia
This trope is about characters with a form of Involuntary Shapeshifting
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 Jekyll 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. Occasionally the memories really are irrecoverable, usually if the character is essentially comatose while someone/thing else is in control.
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. It's worth noting that the alternate identity isn't necessarily hostile to the character note
and in these cases both personalities may try desperately to find means to communicate.
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
This is probably the most "realistic" presentation of dissociative identity disorder — the individual identities may not be aware of the existence or experiences of the other identities, and consequently suffer from time disturbances.
- In Bleach, Ichigo's involuntary Hollowfications cause him to black out. After he returns to normal after battling Ulquiorra in his Hollow form, he doesn't remember anything that happened during his rampage. 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.
- In the occasions when Naruto entered the Version 2 stage of the Kyuubi's chakra cloak, he completely forgot what happened during those rampages, such as almost disembowelling Jiraiya and trying to kill Sakura.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Ryou Bakura doesn't remember anything from the episodes when he is taken over by the spirit of his Millennium Ring, seemingly unless the spirit intentionally allows him to. Conversely, the spirit seems perfectly aware of whatever Bakura experiences. Early episodes suggest this was also the initial relationship between Yugi and the spirit of the Puzzle before they forged a partnership. This is, in fact, how it was portrayed in the manga.
- 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.
- This is how the first Cheetah (Priscilla Rich) expressed her multiple identities, with the Cheetah and Priscilla being unaware of each others' actions unless they saw physical or documentary evidence of it, and consequently try to foil their other persona's plots.
- Spider-Man: Norman Osborn is sometimes unaware of the Green Goblin's actions.
- Rose and Thorn of The DCU. In The Golden Age of Comic Books you had a standard Jekyll & Hyde case. At first Thorn was an enemy of the Jay Garrick Flash, and after being cured of Thorn, Rose became the wife of the original Green Lantern. Too bad it couldn't last; Thorn resurfaced and Rose had to stop her for good with a Heroic Sacrifice. In the modern era, Post-Crisis Rose and Thorn are another story. Thorn is a Badass Normal superhero initially out to bring the gang that her/their police officer father died against to justice. Each knows the other exists, but don't remember what the other did while in charge, so they have to write to each other.
- 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.
- In Carry On Screaming, this happens to Sergeant Bung after he is fed the Mr. Hyde serum.
- 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.
- The protagonist in Fight Club doesn't remember any of his alter-ego's activities.
- In Werewolf: The Beast Among Us the werewolf's human persona is completely unaware of his full moon activities and has been since birth.
Live Action TV
- 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.
- This gets a Call Back in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Midway through the book Harry fears that his dreams telling him what Voldemort is doing are because the Dark Lord is possessing him. Ginny quells him of this fear, pointing out that he hasn't had any periods of amnesia just like she had when being possessed.
- Averted in A Wolf In The Soul. Greg remembers everything he does as a wolf, which is the only reason he has a fighting chance.
- Heroes: Nikki is like this when her Jessica first starts taking over her body.
- In Jekyll, a loose 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.
- Averted in the source novel, where both personalities know perfectly what the other did. In a letter to his friend, Jeckyll even recalls some of Hyde's actions in first person.
- 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 My Own Worst Enemy the main character has as close to a benevolent version of this trope apply. He's a spy with a manufactured cover identity which can be turned on and off by a chip. When the chip starts malfunctioning, both personalities have to communicate via short video messages to avoid compromising the spy's cover.
- Red Riding Hood in Once Upon a Time suffers from this regarding their werewolf transformations and murders.
- Werewolves in Supernatural suffer memory blackouts when they transform.
- In Teen Wolf, the Kanima 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.
- In season 3, Stiles is possessed and appears to have no knowledge of what he does when the thing possessing him takes control.
- At the end of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Pack" where several students are possessed by hyenas, Xander says he doesn't remember what happened during that time. Giles privately confronts him, saying none of the other students displayed amnesia, and Xander admits he just doesn't want to talk (or think) about it.
- Buffyverse werewolves start out with a classic case of this trope, not remembering anything of what they did during the full moon, but as the time they have been cursed lengthens they will start to remember bits and pieces.
- In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, initially Trent doesn't remember what he does when the White Ranger dino gem takes control. Eventually, he remembers, but can do little to stop it. This proves to be a bad thing - after a certain point, his dark side is in control all the time. Eventually, the gem is drained of some of its energy, resulting in Trent being himself full-time, but at the cost of some of its power. For once, the way a Sixth Ranger is never quite as powerful after his early appearances is justified.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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".
- One blink-and-you'll-miss-it line in Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django states this is a drawback to using his Super-Powered Evil Side along with losing control of his actions. Not that this affects the game in any way.
- 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.
- This happens a lot in the Slender Man Mythos.
- In Marble Hornets, the original Slender Man series, Tim aka Masky remembers precisely jack shit about his masked moments. He's not happy to find out about them when he googles the series by accident, hoping to find out how the titular film went.
- The Adventure Time episode "Hug Wolf" has Finn becoming the said Hug Wolf, and never remembering anything when he's back in his human form.
- Simon/Ice King has two main personas: his "real" self, who is a Badass Bookworm and a massive Woobie, and his Crown-possessed self, who is a rather unstable Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. As the latter, he has no memories of being the former, only subconscious desires. As the former, he has some vague impressions of what he did while under the Crown's influence but no concrete memories.
- American Dad! had an episode in which Roger has an ongoing rivalry (based totally on Disproportionate Retribution, because this is Roger we're talking about) with an unseen adversary... until we learn that the unseen adversary is in fact one of his (many, many) personas!
- Slight subversion, in that far from being evil, the persona is actually a decent human being--um, person, that took on a life of its own because of the trauma of Roger caring for someone else. Eventually, Roger kills the poor guy because he'd just "slow Roger down".
- Stan ends up going through something similar in "Cock of the Sleepwalk"; after his 100th kill, Stan keeps waking up to discover he's been doing good deeds he can't remember in his sleep. Eventually Stan watches a video made by "Sleepwalking Stan" explaining everything: "Sleepwalking Stan" is Stan's long suppressed conscience, determined to atone for all the people Stan's killed and to ensure that Stan never kills 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.
- Given he knows he's a werewolf (when Minerva finally confronts him about what kind of wolf he is and he says 'were') and doesn't show any problems remembering anything as he shifts between forms it's more a subversion, with his only issue not being aware how attractive his were-form is.
- Though it never happened onscreen in Ben 10, 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' reproductive instincts cause Ben to regularly turn into Big Chill unconciously and go around eating metal. Ben keeps no memory of those transformations.
- The episode of Cybersix where Lucas is infected and turns into a werewolf have him suffer from these memory blackouts. Notably, he's able to use The Power of Love and Heroic Willpower to break through the animalistic domination of his werewolf mother and help Cybersix.
- 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.
- In the Futurama episode "Curse of the Were-Car", Bender becomes a were-car and has no memory of doing anything whenever he leaves this form.
- 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 a Legion of Super Heroes season 2 episode Timber Wolf fears he's losing control of his transformation into his more feral state, the symptoms were mainly headaches and memory loss. However during one of his blackouts he ended up murdering his father (actually a clone of him) in a fit of rage and in the aftermath he was hounded by most of the Legion for the crime. The memory loss and headaches were caused by nanites his real father used to control him in an elaborate scheme to get him back.