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Amnesiac Hero
"If adventure gaming were a medical condition, the first symptom would be amnesia and the second would be kleptomania."
Yahtzee

Wherein the hero has amnesia. He can't remember a thing, except oddly his own name. Sometimes, although rarely, the hero cannot remember his name. Then someone has to say "Well, we have to call you something!" and they have to make up a name for themselves. (Unless the hero is established to us beforehand - in which case he will often unsuspectingly choose his old name, perhaps to avoid confusing the viewers.) Usually, the Amnesiac Hero:

  • Has amazing fighting skills, but no idea how he got them. This makes his origin even more mysterious.
  • Is found by a handsome/beautiful soon-to-be sidekick, who helps them on their journey to remembering who they are.
  • Has a dark and depressing past that they probably don't want to remember anyway.

Amnesiac Heroes are common in RPGs and horror games, and are always the heroes in Ontological Mysteries and Quest for Identity. Even if those plots aren't being used, it's a easy way to get the player up to speed, as they're just being introduced to the setting, while the character lives there and should otherwise know about it already.

Compare You Wake Up in a Room, Selective Memory, and Fake Memories. Gameplay-Guided Amnesia can be a temporary version of this. See also Easy Amnesia, Laser-Guided Amnesia, and Identity Amnesia. Protagonist Without A Past is where this isn't even addressed.
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    Anime and Manga 
  • Eden of the East's male lead suddenly finds himself standing outside the White House with a cell phone, a gun, and absolutely nothing else. The cell phone can only call someone named Juiz, who informs him that he erased his own memories before helping him get back to his apartment. There he finds a ton of guns and passports, all with his picture; he quickly decides to leave the country, destroys all the passports but one, and adopts its name, Akira Takizawa, for himself.
  • Alice from Pandora Hearts fits this to a "T". She's the most powerful chain in the Abyss who knows only her name, and she inevitably goes on a quest to find her lost memories (though she soon discovers that she may have forgotten them for a good reason. Then she discovers that the painful memories she found were actually those of her twin sister's, and that she once tried to destroy them. Too bad her attempts caused her to forget, too).
    • Oz is this, too. He seems to have forgotten his time as B-Rabbit until Jack showed him the truth.
  • Mikage from the manga Torikago Gakyuu is this as well, although he doesn't even remember his name. He's given only the surname "Mikage" by a teacher who promptly reveals to him that he is from a parallel world.
  • Asuna Kagurazaka from Mahou Sensei Negima!.
  • Kirika Yuumura from Noir.
  • Elie from Rave Master.
  • Jeudi from Honoo No Alpen Rose. The plot starts when she and her boyufriend Lundi decide to start searching for her true family.
  • In Yu Gi Oh ZEXAL, Astral arrives on Earth with almost no memories of who he is or where he came from, knowing only that he must aid Yuma in collecting the Numbers. As he gains them, bits and pieces of his memory start to return. (It is eventually implied that the Numbers actually pieces of his memory, which was broken into a hundred pieces and scattered when he arrived.
  • Touma of A Certain Magical Index becomes this at the end of the first story arc when a magical spell destroys his long-term memories. He largely dismisses this as irrelevant and has managed to bluff his way through discussions with associates, friends, and even his family thanks primarily due to maintaining the same personality and personal beliefs.
  • Touta, the protagonist of UQ Holder was in a "car accident" two years before the start of the story, and as a result has no memories from before he was 12.

    Comic Books 
  • This was Wolverine's shtick for many years: he couldn't remember his Mysterious Past, yet kept running into people that were from it. House of M cleared this and had him remember everything, which led to the discovery of his son Daken.
  • Bernie from Death Vigil.

    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • Jason Bourne embodies this trope perfectly.
  • In "The Groundstar Conspiracy" a desperately wounded man staggers away from a sabotaged lab in which several other people are found, so incinerated that they will never be identified. Is he the saboteur or an innocent victim? When they repair his wounds and reconstruct his face (based on the ID badge he was wearing, which may not have been his) - he claims to have amnesia and escapes to avoid being locked away for life. Eventually we find he is not the saboteur, who died on the operating table, but bait put out there to capture the rest of the spies. His permanent amnesia was induced.
  • In RoboCop (1987), Murphy forgets everything about his past life after his death and resurrection as the titular cyborg crime-fighting superhero.
  • In Dark City, John Murdoch wakes up in a hotel bathtub, not knowing how he got there, what his name is, or why there is a mutilated hooker on the floor. He only finds out his own name when he tracks down his wallet at a nearby automat. The reason that John has no memory is because his and everyone's memories have been manufactured by the cabal that runs the city.
  • In the Russian WW2 film White Tiger, Naydenov remembers nothing from before his recovery in hospital ... except how to drive a tank.
  • In Random Harvest, John Smith (real name Charles Rainier) doesn't even remember his name.

    Literature 
  • Oberon Navarro was this in Adam R. Brown's science fiction series, Alterien. He was discovered by a group of US Marines who later called him John Lost, a name that stuck with him until he reunited with his older sister.
  • Caspian of Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn series had all his memories from his current lifetime, but had no memories of his previous lifetimes. Caspian would only regain pieces of his past life memories during a mission to save his previous selves from the Defilers. He also doesn't remember something very important regarding an ancient and powerful being known as Maganu.
  • Jason and Percy in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Sequel Series The Heroes of Olympus.
  • Rachel is this in the first Megamorphs book of Animorphs.
  • Gentle in Clive Barker's Imajica, albeit intentionally self-inflicted. Lampshaded by a character who knew him pre-amnesia: "I was told you'd changed, but not how much."
  • Andrei Belyanin's Jack the Mad King trilogy has this as the plot of the first novel. In fact, while Jack eventually discovers his identity as the true king of the land, he doesn't recover his memories and chooses to go on adventures instead of deposing his brother, who has taken the throne after believing that Jack is dead (the brother's wife was the one who tried to kill Jack). The lack of memories is barely mentioned in the subsequent novels, as Jack has accepted his new identity.
  • Roger Zelazny's 9 Princes in Amber starts with the protagonist, Corwin, waking in a hospital without remembering anything. This allows to gradually introduce readers to the setting. By the middle of the novel he recovers most of his memory, except for a few weeks right before the start. Those lost weeks become a significant plot point in later novels.
  • Warren Peace in satyric SF novel Who Goes There? by Bob Shawnote  wakes up in an infirmary and finds that he has just joined the Space Legion and as any other recruit had all his troubling memories erased. Most people forget only a single misdeed and a few related episodes of their life, but Warren has forgotten everything, from childhood to his decision to join the Legion. Even his name is fake. Everybody assumes he lived a life of crime and every moment of it should either be atoned for or erased. Later he finds he wasn't a criminal, but a career military officer, and he really wanted to forget how many kinds of wrong his life turned out to be.
  • Shonsu/Wally Smith in The Seventh Sword by Dave Duncan is deliberately created that way by gods. He has body, reflexes and professional skills of the best swordsman of that world, but also personality and memories of a chemical engineer from Earth. Gods expect this hybrid to succeed where Shonsu the warrior failed, and deemed warrior's personal memories hampering. This creates tensions when he meets people who used to know the old Shonsu and makes him make dangerous mistakes like swimming in piranha-infested place. Just as Planned.
  • Tzigone from Counselors and Kings. Oh, she remembers the most recent few years of her life fine, but her childhood is a complete blank (and "Tzigone" isn't even her real name) - all she knows for sure is that her mother was a wizard, she was on the run from something, and was eventually captured/killed by her enemies. Tzigone's main goal throughout the trilogy is to unravel her mother's past, and by extension, her own. Tzigone's real name is Ria, her mother was Keturah, who went on the run because she was framed for a murder by a conspiracy who wanted to capture her and make use of her rare magical abilities - which Tzigone also possesses - and Tzigone is actually the illegitimate daughter of Keturah and Halruaa's king, Zalathorm. Oh, and it turns out that Keturah's still alive, but lost her memories too. Working all this out takes the better part of three books.
  • Clocks that Don't Tick has Gary and Martha, immortal slaves to the oligarchs known as the Bosses. The source of their forgetfulness is that they have literally lived too long for all their memories to fit in their heads. Among other things, they’ve forgotten their last names and the faces of their former lovers.
  • In Mariel of Redwall, after being thrown into the ocean, drifting for days, arriving on a beach. Along with repressed memories of torture (And possibly even rape) Mariel wakes up with complete amnesia.

    Live Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider so far had three heroes with Amnesia:
  • This trope, along with his knowing everything, was the premise for the short-lived series John Doe.
    • Slightly subverted in that it wasn't the character's pre-amnesia life that granted him ultimate knowledge but the process itself. This is explained by Word of God after it was clear that the show would not be renewed. Actually, one episodes does attempt this explanation by a villain, only for it to be revealed as a lie.
  • Doctor Who - The Eighth Doctor's delayed regeneration leads to an especially bad case of Resurrection Sickness - Waking Up at the Morgue with no idea who he is. He gets over it, only for this trope to follow him like the plague in his many expanded universe adventures. Whether it's the audios, magazines or books, he loses chunks of his memory with worrying frequency.
    • The Fifth Doctor also had a major post regenerative crisis where he wondered who "The Doctor" was. Not helped by The Master messing with him.
    • It's been confirmed that the 12th Doctor will have amnesia,
as his initial appearance shows he has forgotten how to fly the TARDIS.
  • The final episode of Supernatural Season 6 plays this trope straight: Sam has no memory of who he is, he meets a beautiful girl who helps him, he has innate fighting and burglary skills but then it's revealed its all taking place inside his head, and the dark and mysterious past is his repressed memories of Hell. The beautiful girl turns out to be an Innocent Bystander he killed while soulless.

    Roleplaying Games 
  • Rex and Dr. Cyborg, two player characters from Dino Attack RPG.
  • The Rifts Africa supplement features Katrina Sun, one of the heroes who has assembled in Africa to stop the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from meeting up at Egypt. She's an amnesiac, but incredibly powerful Ley Line Walker and is actually the Egyptian goddess Isis, suffering from microbe-induced amnesia and a partial De-power as part of a plot by Set, the God of Darkness.

    Video Games 
  • Slayn Wilder, the protagonist of Growlanser: Dual Darkness begins the game with amnesia.
  • In Neko Kawaigari, the player is a dog-man named Jack who, you guessed it, has amnesia. He's rescued by the head of a clinic for catgirls. In order to repay her, he becomes an odd-job man at the clinic, helping with the patients.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: In Rescue Team and Explorers, the player is a Pokemon that was once human and lost their memory and in the first game it was more or less self-inflicted. However, unlike a normal Amnesiac Hero who is an inherently good fighter, they do have to slowly learn fighting skills (Pokemon moves) the same way any other Pokemon does: by Dungeon Crawling and Level Grinding.
  • This has almost become a Running Gag in Rune Factory games, with one character in Rune Factory 3 saying that "amnesiacs are a dime a dozen around these parts." The only protagonists so far not to be amnesiacs are Aden and Sonja, perhaps because Sharing a Body would be too awkward for two people who hadn't known each other for quite some time.
  • The Nameless One from Planescape: Torment, except he (obviously) doesn't remember his own name (his name is the last thing he remembers). Oh, and the soon-to-be sidekick who finds him is a floating talking skull who didn't so much 'find' him as was waiting for him to wake up again. However, whether he qualifies as a hero or not in this game depends on the player.
  • Daniel from Amnesia: The Dark Descent with a twist; he induced it himself so he wouldn't remember the horrible things he did.
  • Galuf from Final Fantasy V.
  • Terra from Final Fantasy VI.
  • Tidus from Final Fantasy X pretends to be this, in order to hide the fact that he is actually a Fish Out of Temporal Water. The actual truth is a tad more complicated, but that's beside the point
  • The Warrior of Light in Dissidia: Final Fantasy is an interesting case. He tells the heroes he has no memories of his past, not even his name, and hopes to someday remember. However, it's revealed this is because he has almost no memories to remember — unlike the other warriors he wasn't brought into the war from another world, he was created during their proceedings, and the memories they've lost at the end of each cycle, for him are the only memories he's ever had. That he's able to remember anything at all is proof of his Character Development from a blank slate with no will over the course of the cycles.
  • Raz from Over Blood.
  • The Fateless One from Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Probably due to dying and coming back to life. Hell, the body s/he's in isn't even his/er original.
  • The Featureless Protagonist from Knights of the Old Republic. This is used to hide a Plot Twist: that you are actually Darth Revan, the recently-defeated mega-villain everyone's been talking about, brainwashed and hidden in plain sight.
  • This is the premise of the action/adventure game BioForge.
  • Cave Story begins with protagonist waking up in a cave with no memories. It takes exposition from other characters to learn about his true identity.
  • Zero at the beginning of the Mega Man Zero series.
  • Alice from RPG Maker game Standstill Girl starts out as this. She recovers her memories little by little as you progress through the game.
  • Geralt in the first The Witcher game is an interesting example. In-story, he remembers nothing about his past before being brought to Kaer'Morhen, thus freeing the devs from having to recap the five volumes-long Blood of the Elves saga, to which the game is a (non-canon) sequel and which hasn't been translated to English until after the game came out. Players familiar with the books, however, are treated to a lot of Continuity Nods, which are mostly lost on Geralt and newcomers to the setting.
  • Sissel in Ghost Trick. Of course, all ghosts in the game suffer from amnesia until they remember who they are; it just takes Sissel much longer than everyone else. It doesn't help that he's trying to recall the memories of the wrong person the entire game.
  • The hero of Arx Fatalis has no memory and is quickly given the name "Am Shaegar", which means "The Nameless One". He actually gets his memory back relatively early in the plot; the amnesia really seems to be there just to justify the hero having to learn the nature of the world.
  • Fei from Xenogears. He wakes up in a village with no memory of what he was before that, and all that he can conjure up from his past life is his martial art skills.
  • Luke fon Fabre, main character of Tales of the Abyss, had his whole memory wiped when he was kidnapped at the age of 10 and had to relearn things like walking, eating and not wetting himself. He is actually a clone of the original and was created during that kidnapping. As such, his memory wasn't so much "wiped" as "non-existent" when he was sent home in place of his original.
  • Super Robot Wars UX: According to Fei-Yen HD, she was in a dark area all alone until she heard a voice. Upon reaching it, she became "Miku". What triggered the transformation was the whole concert with Sheryl Nome, which made her excited when she heard the word "concert" & "song", but what reactivates her memory is an attack by the Vajra, which gave her the "shock treatment" necessary to bring her connection (while vague) with Miku. As a result, Grace O' Connor is targeting her as a potential nominee for her plans.
  • Skullgirls has Filia, who has amnesia after having her head get attched by Samson.
  • The hero of Geneforge 5 is a perfect Protagonist Without A Past. Even his captor/savior isn't sure if he was a rebel or a badly wounded loyalist. This should allow him to side with anybody. At first he tries to search for people that might have known him, but eventually gives up. In the end he never learns who he was.
  • In Mother 3, Duster is this for a while after the timeskip. He forgets who he is and everything that happened before, including his own name (the rock band who "adopts" him names him Lucky). We never know exactly why he loses his memory—one can only guess he hit his head or something. The first part of Chapter 5 revolves around getting his memory back, which is done by retrieving the Egg of Light.
  • Knytt Underground opens with a dialogue hanging a lampshade on this trope. Your protagonist then averts this and tells you the NPC is lying about the amnesia.
  • The protagonist of Gingiva, whose was decapitated and had her head replaced with a turnkey device, removing all of her memories of her life from before.

    Visual Novels 
  • The whole point of the otome game Amnesia.
  • In Nameless - The One Thing You Must Recall - this happens to the heroine during Red's route.

    Web Comics 
  • Trace of TwoKinds is this. We've been told some choice details of his past, and his current goals are so drastically different from his old ones that the world may be better off if he stays this way.
  • The Hero of RPG World is also amnesiac, such that he doesn't even remember his own name (Everyone Calls Him Hero).
  • Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name has an undead Supporting Protagonist with Ghost Amnesia, who spent years pondering his own (lack of) life before deciding to forge a new one. Hanna always addresses him by a different (often odd) name, hoping to find one that will jog his memory. In commentary, the creator generally calls him Zombie or {...}.
  • The title character of Jack is pretty sympathetic for a Deadly Sin... but his life as a mortal decidedly wasn't, carrying out a genocide of all humans. Jack's punishment, besides becoming the Grim Reaper, was to lose all memory of his past life — not only is he tortured by the amnesia itself, he also can't repent for sins he doesn't remember, and thus is stuck in Hell. The comic's biggest hook is the very gradual explanation of Jack's former life.
  • The main character of shadowcomic / Keep of Shadows has a scrambled brain and even ambiguous gender, lacking a name and referring to itself as it. As Keep of Shadows is a comic where readers respond, a scrambled brain might be intended to explain why this kid is willing to behave in the somewhat disjointed way someone will act when following orders from a large committee.

    Web Original 

Amnesiac GodMemory TropesAmnesiac Liar
An Adventurer Is YouVideo Game CharactersBare-Fisted Monk

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