The main character begins the story with Laser-Guided Amnesia
and is immediately swept into strange events. Gradually it becomes apparent that the character is not a normal person like he thought but a Physical God
or something very close to it. Among the things he forgot were his powers and how to activate them.
When the character finally regains his full set of memories, the only thing that can stand against his Story Breaker Power
and prevent the plot from being solved in short order is another character with the same powers.
Compare Angel Unaware
. A subtrope of I Am Who?
. May lead to the character feeling A God I Am Not
This trope is spoilerriffic.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- This is a somewhat ambiguous example, but in the "Quantum Quest" story arc by John Ostrander in Captain Atom, Cap, who was already one of the most powerful superheroes in the DCU, discovers that he has the power to create (and ultimately destroy) his own universe. He does not, however, have the power to govern that universe at all well (hence the ultimate destruction). Of course, the story left open at least some possibility that the whole thing might have been All Just a Dream.
- This is the basic plot of The Sentry, and the main thing that distinguishes him from other Superman clones. The twist is that not only does he not remember who he is, the entire rest of the world has forgotten the Sentry's existence as well.
- When The Mighty Thor came back to the Marvel Universe after years of being dead, he first had to find his fellow Asgardians, all of whom, had amnesia and were under the impression that they were human.
- Played With in Tron: Ghost in the Machine: Jet, as a User (human), really is a Physical God in cyberspace, but his memory is rapidly decaying through the story, in addition to suffering hallucinations. Turns out, he's not really human, but the most "intact" of three Programs created by the real Jet's time in the system
- Nyx in Past Sins. With the last revision, it's made much more explicit that Nyx is, in fact, Nightmare Moon. Thankfully the events of the story change her for the better.
- Imperfect Metamorphosis. Rumia used to be a godlike, omnicidal fallen angel.
- The Pony POV Series uses this trope several times. First, it's shown that the Alicorns would apparently take turns being born as normal ponies in order to live among them and have a better understanding of them when they die and return to their own plane of existence — it's shown, for example, that Celestia was G3 Star-Catcher, while Cadence was G2 Brightglow. Later, after the Alicorn-Draconnequi War, Celestia, Luna, and Discord were reborn on Earth in their natural forms, but minus the memories, though those were eventually restored later on in their lives. Cadence was likewise reborn as a mortal several years before the series proper began, and is currently missing her memories of her true self as well.
- Luna all but states this is also the case with the dragon Bahamut (the consort of Queen Tiamat).
- Link in The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 is revealed to have been born a god, but was stripped of his power at birth to help protect him from his father and Fate until he was old enough to defend himself.
- Malon's husband Ingo, who came out of nowhere early in the story and is referred to as looking a lot like Link, turns out to be Hadrian, Link's grandfather, with his memories and power temporarily suppressed after a run-in with the Originals.
- John Murdoch from Dark City. He isn't the only Reality Warper, but after the Exposition Beam that teaches him how to control his ability to "tune", he becomes the single most powerful one.
- The creator figure in The Nines grew obsessed with incarnating in human form and living out pseudo-normal lives. (A reference is made to Evercrack.) However, he realized that there was only so much fun in playing in literal God Mode, so he deliberately erased his own memories to make things more balanced.
- An unused premise of Thor would have followed Dr. Donald Blake in his discovery that he was the titular Norse God of Thunder reincarnated.
- The title character in Hancock, who at one point early in Earth's history was considered a God, lost his memory in the early 1900's. However, the story takes place in modern day with him in full knowledge of his powers (but still no memories of how/why he has them).
Live Action TV
- A sort of subversion on Angel, when Cordelia returns with no memory but when she gets them back, it turns out an ancient all-powerful evil is just using her body as a temporary vessel and they just gave it back its memory. It goes on to successfully impersonate her though and causes all kinds of hell (literally) before they figure it out.
- Roger Zelazny:
- The Book of Ptah by A.E. van Vogt.
- Midnight at the Well of Souls by Jack L. Chalker
- Lobsang and Jeremy in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Thief of Time.
- Shadow, aka Balder in Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods.
- Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones.
- A variation occurs in David Eddings' Belgariad and Malloreon series. The child "Errand" is initially thought to be a random innocent kid, who happens to get along with the resident Empathic Weapon. As he grows up he gradually manifests weird powers, starting with surprising insight for a child, and ramping up to Nigh-Invulnerability. It turns out he's really one of the world's seven Physical Gods, and simultaneously knew and was unaware of his identity. It's kind of complicated.
- Hinted at but ultimately left ambiguous with Poldarn in The Scavenger Trilogy (Shadow, Pattern and Memory) by K. J. Parker; part of the myth of the god Poldarn is that he loses his memory before bringing about The End of the World as We Know It, and the main character who takes on that name certainly does lose his memory, but whether he actually is the god Poldarn is never made entirely clear. Although he does bring about The End of the World as We Know It (by accident), and fulfills various elements of the prophecies of the god Poldarn without realizing it, and displays some uncanny abilities which may be superhuman or may just be down to luck and coincidence.
- In Day Watch, Vitaly (the protagonist) starts as an amnesiac. He is actually a "mirror", a human warped by the Twilight to keep The Balance Between Light And Dark.
- Khayman, from The Queen of the Damned, of Vampire Chronicles lore. Turns out he's more or less the third-oldest vampire in the world, not counting the King and Queen, and therefore one of the most powerful. Ever.
- Mina in the Dragonlance novels.
- The children in John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos
- Mirar in Trudi Canavan's The Age of the Five had to brainwash himself to survive after suffering extremely serious wounds because of an assassination attempt. (They collapsed his temple while he and numerous Dreamweavers were in it) He ended up, a hundred years later, as a simple Dreamweaver named Leiard.
- The Last Dragon Chronicles: Actually it'd be Amnesiac Fain, but for all intents and purposes, David and Alexa would be very nearly as powerful.
- The Celestial Exalted in the Exalted RPG are an embodiment of this. The Solar, Lunar, and Sidereal Essences are handed down throughout the millennia, but each new incarnation must relearn all the powers that its predecessors had, helped out by the fact that the Exaltation, the third soul that make an Exalt an Exalt, has some of their predecessors memories still attached. At the height of their power, they can perform feats that can put the gods to shame.
- In AdventureQuest Worlds, The Hero is ultimately revealed to be the very god of his/her world in human form. (S)he was killed in his/her original incarnation, but was reborn along with the universe as a human with no memory of his/her previous incarnation.
- Sonic Unleashed has Chip, also known as Light Gaia, the opposing force to Dark Gaia. While he was given amnesia due to a premature awakening alongside Dark Gaia, Sonic thought he gave it to him when he landed at the beginning of the game.
- Emil in Tales Of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World
- Tales of Legendia Grune. She even forgets what she's doing when spells are interrupted.
Now what was I doing?
- Gig of Soul Nomad & the World Eaters is established early (but he is initially clueless) as Death who got his ass kicked and sealed in the onyx blade. However, the exact details are a whole other story...
- Kang the Mad in Jade Empire. Whether he regains his memory or not matters little over the course of the game. He is a god, but not a very big one. It's hinted that his inventions can be vast and do incredible things but he never offers to make any, nor do the other characters ask. Of course, even in his mortal form the first thing he does is hand you control of the most powerful war machine in the setting.
- Breath of Fire IV's protagonist is a god split across several thousand years. He has no memories, but during the course of his journey he learns his other half saved the world and is now learning that Humans Are the Real Monsters and plans to Kill 'em All once they can merge.
- Agarest Senki 2: Chaos.
- The main character, Vayne from ManaKhemia, kind of. Actually, he is an artificial Mana of Wishes that can cause any wish to come true, which requires god-like powers. It is uncertain whether the powers disappeared after you fight the Final Boss.
- Zelda from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the goddess Hylia reincarnated as a mortal. She spends about half of her time in the game getting Hylia's memories back.
- The Nameless One in Planescape: Torment is essentially a Physical God, having accumulated immense knowledge, experience, and power from his past incarnations. Without his amnesia, he could legitimately be counted as one of the most powerful beings in the planes.
- Neptune in Hyperdimension Neptunia is this seeing as after the Scripted Battle, she gets flung down to Planeptune with no memories of what she's done whatsoever.
- The Fallen Star in a rather short-lived example from Diablo III. Your character's whole reason for travelling to New Tristram was to find out where the Fallen Star landed and just what the hell it actually was. Upon finding the epicentre of the destruction, you find an amnesiac man lying in the glowing crater. After realising that he arrived with a sword, you're sent out to find the pieces and have them reforged before returning the weapon to "The Stranger". Upon receiving his sword, he instantly regains his memories, realising that he is, in fact, Tyrael, the former Archangel of Justice who intentionally shed his angelic power in order to aid humanity; something he was otherwise forbidden from doing.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, the protagonist starts as a lowly Republic crewman who survived the destruction of the Endar Spire, discovers they are force sensitive and gets swept into a race to find an ancient superweapon built by the Rakata. Then comes The Reveal that they're actually an amnesiac Darth Revan, one of the most dangerous Sith Lords that ever lived, who rediscovered the ancient Rakatan superweapon in the first place. In addition, the Jedi Council and your companion Bastilla Shan knew the truth the entire time, having been the ones to implant the fake memories to begin with, believing that Revan was too dangerous to remain as they were. Given that Revan ends up as one of the most powerful characters in the entire history of the setting anyway, they have a point.
- In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, in Sector Eridanus, you can find an insane Kinmamon muttering a couple of deranged phrases. It's actually Amaterasu, Shinto goddess of the sun, resisting the local Negative Space Wedgie's attempts to make her into another guardian deity.
- The Everyman, the protagonist of A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe, is an Anthropomorphic Personification of all of humankind and basically a Physical God. He is able to manifest mild Reality Warper powers since the beginning of the story, but initially they seem just to be a part of the RPG Mechanics Verse. As he slowly recalls his true nature and sacrifices his life for the well-being of humanity, the extent of his powers grows into infinity.
- In El Goonish Shive, "immortals" generally work like this—they are beings of almost unlimited magical ability, but if they don't "die" every so often and forget almost everything, they go insane with power.
- In Sluggy Freelance, Bun-bun's true identity turns out to be Sluggy, God of Power. He got into a fight with his future self and was hit hard in the head, forgetting his past. While he has had little access to his powers post-amnesia, he is extraordinarily fast, strong, and resilient, to the point that he's survived things that really should have killed him.
- In the Avatar Adventures role-playing board, the character Sam G's powers involve manipulation of the Fourth Wall; That is to say, if his poster types something, no matter how outlandish, it comes true (for example, the user Sam G could type "all the villains die" and it'd happen). Realizing that this would make him a Boring Invincible Hero, he sealed all his powers, in addition to his memories, in a golden pocket-watch which he cast to the end of the universe.
- Two main characters of the Whateley Universe are amnesiac gods. They are avatars (or something) of very powerful beings that lives thousands or millions of years ago. Over time, their memories are returning to them.