Alice and Bob
are very much in love. However, due to cruel fate and improbable circumstances, Bob has recently been the victim of some Laser-Guided Amnesia
that specifically targeted their shared memories of being a couple. Now Bob is in the difficult position of neither knowing who he is, nor why this crazy person insists they're in love. Alice has her work cut out for her as well. She'll have to help her Amnesiac Lover
remember these lost memories (or having to create entirely new ones) in the hope that unlike lightning, love can strike the same place twice.
This is no easy task, especially if Bob suffers a case of total amnesia. While helping Bob recover
the lost pieces of his identity
, Alice will be further tortured by being both with and without the man she loves. She won't be able to properly express her love without alienating him, and he's not likely to return her affections, in fact his reactions will fall anywhere from indifferent to creeped out to angry at her and his loss of memory.
Bob may not even want
to love Alice back (at least at first), which is especially likely if Amnesiac!Bob is developing his personality along different lines than his old self
. Complicating matters, he may instead start falling for someone else.
Where this gets interesting is if both Alice and Bob have suffered the effects of amnesia, in which case they'll somehow manage to gravitate back towards each other as if they shared a Reincarnation Romance
. The effects are much the same if Time Travel
is involved, though at least in these cases Alice may be able to convince Bob they're a couple in the future thanks to knowledge of his personal life. If Bob is dead in the present, expect Alice to be especially
melancholy at the situation.
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Anime & Manga
- Used tragically in ef - a tale of memories. Chihiro is only able to remember new things up to 13 hours after they happen. If she doesn't constantly read her dairy and write events in well thinking about events throughout the day, they will be completely forgotten. This also means no matter how hard she tries, she'll never truly be mentally older than 13 years old. Her eventual boyfriend Renji and her are constantly struggling with this fact and it gets worse before it gets better. An underlining theme throughout the story is the fact The Power of Love will not help along this road and Chihiro will never recover.
- She even completely forgets Renji and everything else after she suddenly collapses and sleeps for more than 13 hours, causing her to wake up with no memory of her accident and have to find out everything about her life up until that point all over again, which wasn't the first time this had happened.
- In Strawberry Panic!, Amane loses her memories of both the Etoile election and her love for Hikari. She gets them back after a while, when hearing Hikari sing.
- Ayashi no Ceres inverts this: Tooya is an amnesiac when he and Aya fall in love to begin with. It's when he gets his memories back that he forgets about her. Then those memories turn out to be fake...
- In Meru Puri, a magic spell on Prince Aram wipes all his memories of his human fiancee, Airi. Subsequent plot involves Aram thinking Airi is a Stalker with a Crush, Airi trying to make Aram remember her, and the people who created the spell trying to stop her.
- Unrequited variation in Code Geass: Shirley is very much in love with oblivious Lelouch, yet some very traumatic events in her life force him to erase all memories of him from her mind. Over the next year, she eventually falls in love with him all over again, and again when she eventually regains her original memories, including that part where she discovered that he was responsible for her father's death.
- Also played straight with Kaname Ohgi and Villetta Nu.
- Hibiki no Mahou: Master Shirotsuki must sacrifice memories in order to use his magic. Things become tragic when he continually forgets his lover Yui, even though she tries her best to keep reminding him every time it happens. He eventually ends the cycle when he tells her to leave him the next time he forgets.
- In Sailor Moon, Mamoru/Darien becomes one of these in the anime-only Makaiju arc, due to being the last of everyone involved in the previous arc to regain his memories.
- Princess Sakura in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, at least before the Mind Screw plot sets in. She's even seen forgetting all about her past with Syaoran again after she figured out that he must have been important to her before she lost her memory.
- Played with in To Heart 2 Takaaki an Iron Claw so severe that he gets amnesia, cue every girl within earshot hearing about it and trying to convince the Lucky Bastard that they were lovers.
- Berserk's Casca has a severe, trauma-induced case of this as a result of the horrible events of the Eclipse which drove her insane and rendered her mute. One can hardly blame Guts for being madder than hell at Griffith for driving her into this state, but leaving her to deal with her trauma alone for two years to pursue vengeance against him did not help matters for her at all.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, Neo Roanoke ends up in this position once he's taken prisoner by the crew of the Archangel, who confirm that he's actually Captain Murrue Ramius's presumed-dead lover Mu La Flaga - at least in body. Amnesiac Dissonance sets in immediately, to the point that when Murrue tries to set him free, he comes back of his own accord to help the Archangel in battle, even though he doesn't recover his memories until the finale.
- In the recent (Post-Udon) Taskmaster mini, it is revealed that his ability to copy other peoples fighting styles comes at the price of his personal memories. He eventually remembers that he used to be a SHIELD agent and the waitress that has been tagging along with him is really his wife and also a SHIELD agent. Sadly, To save her he copies the fighting style of the guy who's attacking them, thus causing him to forget her again, leaving Mercedes alone once again. She even implies that this isn't the first time she has managed to make him remember her.
- This happened to Danny and Sam in the Facing The Future Series when Nocturne trapped them in a dream world and sealed away their memories of each other. However, they ended up falling in love again before recovering their memories.
- Many A Certain Magical Index fics, like Twist Of Fate, incorporate the fan theory that Touma was a close childhood friend or even boyfriend of Misaki before he suffered amnesia early in the series.
- Rainbow Dash in Divided Rainbow.
Films — Animated
- Inverted in Toy Story 3, both Evil Buzz and Spanish Buzz are still in love with Jessie. However, because there has not been any Relationship Upgrade, to Jessie this isn't the loss of a boyfriend, but of just a close and reliable friend.
- Both Cinderella and the Prince undergo this in Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, thanks to the Stepmother using magic to reverse time and keep Cinderella from ever trying on the glass slipper. Because they're in true love or some such thing, the two instinctively are drawn together anyway. This makes the Stepmother's plan to get the Prince to marry Anastasia instead much more difficult. At the end of the movie, the Fairy Godmother offers to undo the magic spell so that they all go back to the original timeline (and, implicitly, get back their original memories), but decides not to since Cinderella and the Prince seem to be getting along fine as it is.
- Arashi No Yoru Ni: Near the end of the movie, Gabu gets caught in an avalanche and forgets who he is and his relationship with Mei. It is one of the few times in the movie when Mei really loses his cool, and he damn well does. Made even worse by the fact that Gabu is not just apathetic to Mei - he actually wants to eat him. He gets better, thankfully.
Films — Live-Action
- Inverted in 36 Hours (1965). Major Jefferson Pike is told that during the period which he can no longer remember (from 1944 to 1950) he fell in love with and married Anna Hedler, who is now distraught that he can no longer remember her. It's all part of an elaborate plan of deception. He never had amnesia. He never married Anna. And it's not 1950.
- The end of Dark City.
- At the end of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel and Clementine get a second chance at romance. (Both-have-amnesia variant.) Word of God indicates the sequence during the closing credits is meant to indicate they go through this over and over afterwards
- The film 50 First Dates was all about this. Due to a brain injury, the female protagonist can't form new long-term memories, and when she falls asleep, forgets everything since her car accident. The male protagonist is a Casanova who enjoys "meeting" her and winning her love every day.
- The Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell movie Overboard has this trope invoked. Kurt Russell's character takes advantage of Goldie's amnesia to fool her into believing she's his wife as revenge for stiffing him on a closet he built for her. Of course, they actually do fall in love.
- Done very well in the Harrison Ford movie Regarding Henry. A shooting victim in a store robbery, the main character loses his memory and, in essence, becomes someone his wife has to fall in love with all over again (but a much nicer person than he was).
- In Time Cop, Van Damme's character is in this situation regarding his wife who is dead in the present.
- In A Very Long Engagement, Mathilde eventually learns that Manech is alive, but entirely lost his memory and has been given a new identity. The film ends with their "introduction."
- The Muppets Take Manhattan: This happens to Kermit after he is hit by a car. When he Miss Piggy tries to convince him that they are in love, he makes a series of pig jokes which result in Piggy punching him across the room. This, of course, results in his memory returning completely.
- The Vow: A couple on their way to being Happily Married get into a car accident and suddenly she doesn't remember who she is or who her husband is. Probably Based on a True Story where the poor husband's first conversation after a series of strokes was "It's me, I'm your wife!" "What's a 'wife'?".
- In "Random Harvest", based on a novel by James Hilton, a shell-shocked amnesiac veteran wanders away from a hospital and meets a music hall performer. They make a life together until he is hit by a car and gets up off the ground with his old memories back, and no memory of being with the other woman. He returns to his old life and we are surprised to find that a few years later his secretary is his wife, who tracked down her missing husband and got the job to be near the man she loves hoping that his memory will return. It does. Check out the Carol Burnett version "Rancid Harvest".
- Oblivion (2013):After a fashion, Jack is this to Julia.
- In It's a Wonderful Life, Mary naturally loses all memory of George after Clarance made it as if George had never been born. George is extremely upset to find that his wife doesn't recognize him, and tearfully tries to get her to remember. Because this version of Mary grew up in a Crapsack World and thus is extremely withdrawn, she just freaks out and runs for it.
- Of a sort in About Time. Tim and Mary have a brilliant first date, but it gets erased when he goes back in time to help a friend instead of going to the restaurant.
- In The Hunger Games, this is the case with Peeta after he is tortured by the capitol. While he isn't completely amnesiac, he does forget that he was once in love with Katniss. And then he tries to strangle her.
- In The Dresden Files, Lea temporarily takes away Susan's memories of her relationship with Harry. Which wouldn't be as bad if it didn't happen in the middle of a vampire ball, just as Harry needed her to trust him and just run for her life.
- Chris from Percy Jackson and the Olympians becomes this to Clarisse after getting Mind Raped by King Minos.
- Sequel Series The Heroes of Olympus plays with this trope in a few ways:
- Jason and Piper subvert this trope as they were never dating in the first place.
- Percy is an Inversion, since Percy has forgotten everything except that he is in love with Annabeth.
- Jason and Reyna possibly. It was never clear how close they were, and they do not get back together.
- One of the Amelia Peabody books features Amelia's husband Emerson losing his memories of meeting, falling in love with, and marrying her.
- The trilogy that makes up the final Sword of Truth books features a spell that destroys everyone's memory of Richard's wife Kahlan, including Kahlan's memories of her own life and her marriage to Richard. Richard is immune to the spell and needs to find a way to help Kahlan and reverse the spell without revealing their relationship to her for fear that knowledge of their love would interfere with the counterspell. She does find out, but because she had already fallen in love with Richard again, it didn't matter.
- In L. M. Montgomery's A Tangled Web, a World War I veteran has grown somewhat fond of his wife over the years as she nursed his injuries, but he doesn't remember their falling in love and marrying. Until his head gets whacked at the end.
- Louise Cooper's Aisling inverts this trope: a Dogged Nice Guy lies to the heroine after she loses her memory due to head injury, claiming that she's engaged to marry him. They'd known each other, but she was uninterested and engaged to someone else anyway. He's treated surprisingly sympathetically for someone who takes advantage of her in that way.
- In The Innkeeper's Song, Lukassa can't remember anything of her life or her lover Tikat, because of her recent death and subsequent revival.
- In Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom novel Magic to the Bone, having caused Victory Guided Amnesia in herself, Allie learns at the end that she had fallen in love in the course of the novel. She and the man meet again, tenatively, at the end.
- In the Piers Anthony Xanth novel ''The Source of Magic", a Forget Spell is damaged when magic is temporarily taken away. A common farmer is eventually brought back to his home and family whom he doesn't recognize. Fortunately, he finds his "wife" quite comely and looks forward to falling in love with her again.
- The Participants by Brian Blose has the character Zack, who spent thousands of years as the love of Elza before repressing his memories after being buried alive.
Live Action TV
- In Smallville, Abyss, Chloe completely forgets about Jimmy due to Brainiac's influence.
- Back in the olden days (like the '70s) on As the World Turns, heroine Kim lost her memory, including those of her love Dan. Scheming Susan worked this to advantage, even going as far as to attempt erasure of Kim's answering machine message proclaiming that she did indeed remember Dan and their love. Susan failed and Kim and Dan were reunited.
- The plot of an episode of "Doc", made more complicated by the fact that the fiancée did remember him, just as her boss, not her lover.
- Happens towards the end of Dollhouse to Paul specifically. Victor and Sierra, being Dolls, have their memories wiped constantly and yet still gravitate towards each other regardless of imprint.
- Occurs in an episode of Castle. The man suffering from the amnesia never really gets his memories back, but since he can't remember why he and his wife divorced, they are able to get back together. Also subverted in the same episode where a woman claims to be the man's wife after seeing on the news that he had amnesia and figuring it to be an easy way to get a husband.
- In an episode of Medium, Ariel flashes forwards to being married with a child and not remembering anything beyond high school. This is what it looks like to her husband. Then she flashes forwards again and he tells her that she never recovered her memories the last time. Yikes.
- An episode of House featured a patient who turned up in the ER with no memory of who she was. The team pieces enough together to figure out who she is and upon showing up at her home to do their usual search (with the patient in-tow IIRC), they find out she is married. Her husband spends the rest of the episode trying to help her remember their life together, only alienating her in the process (she also had forgotten the traumatic death of her brother which catalyzed her to make many changes in her life years earlier, and she is shocked to learn many details of her life contradict her naturally reckless attitude). At the end of the episode she still lacks her memories, but the husband shows up with flowers and simply begins courting her again (per House's off-screen suggestion) and she seems very receptive.
- Subverted in a One Life to Live storyline. "Todd" (actualy the real Todd's brother) rescues an amnesiac Marty from a car wreck and nurses her back to health. He convinces her that they were friends in college and that he was secretly in love with her from afar. She falls in love with him based on this "friendship" and seduces him while in his care. It's only afterwards she learns that not only did he neglect to tell her that she had a son who was convinced she was dead, but that when they were in college together, he was the ringleader of her gang rape.
- Used in Chinese Paladin 3 between Changqing and Zixuan, due to two previously failed Reincarnation Romances. In this case, it's the "I don't know why this person is bugging me (but I kind of like it)" version. Changqing eventually regains his memories, but doesn't stay with her. Initially.
- Occurred in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch that parodied daytime soaps. Sabrina's beau Harvey was knocked out and lost his memory. Libby tried to pretend she and Harvey were in a relationship, but eventually Sabrina got through to him.
- In the episode "Adam" of Torchwood, the titular Adam is actually a memory altering alien which infiltrates the facility. While inserting memories of himself into Gwen, he accidentally erases those of her fiancee Rhys. When she gets home, not only does she not remember who is he, but thinks he's some psychopathic stalker who wants to rape her. However, once she gets over the initial shock (and her friends try to jog her memory), she is perfectly willing to let Rhys remind her of their relationship.
- Interesting example in Doctor Who. When Rory not only dies, but is erased from existence, Amy forgets everything about him. Eventually he manages to remind her (he comes back as a Roman- don't ask).
- A season later, they both manage to forget who each other are due to the Time Crash. All Amy knows is that she's in love with a man named Rory; she just doesn't know what he looks like. What a shame that Officer Pond never asked what Captain Williams' first name was. They still sort it out anyway.
- Virtually the entire cast of Once Upon a Time. The very premise of the show is that all the characters have been ripped apart from the people they love, and their memories have been erased. The separated lovers still find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other, but they don't know why, which is especially troublesome when many of them have already married other people since the amnesia set in.
- In the pilot for the spin-off series The Bionic Woman, Jamie Sommer's brain-damage causes her to forget who her fiancee, Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, was. Eventually, though, she gets her memory (and feelings back) and they wed in the last of the series of tele-movies.
- Played with in the episode of A.N.T. Farm when Olive loses her memory completely. Olive's Abhorrent Admirer, Angus, introduces himself to her as her boyfriend. She may have lost her memory, but not her mind, so she doesn't fall for that one.
- Season two of Grimm has a plot where Juliette can't remember Nick due to a spell. It actually turned out to be a good thing because as a result of what she went through while under the spell, when she finally remembers what Nick told her about the masquerade, she actually believes it.
- In a Star Trek: Voyager episode the crew are abducted and their memories wiped so they can be used as labor; Official Couple B'Elanna Torres and Tom Paris manage to gravitate towards each other despite their memory loss.
- An Inverted Trope occurs in an alternate future episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. Captain Archer suffers from a condition where he loses his long-term memories, and T'Pol is forced to nurse him and constantly remind him each day of his condition. Both Archer and the viewer are left unclear as to just how intimate this relationship has become over the years.
- In the Series Finale of Chuck, Sarah has had her memory of the past five years destroyed when Quinn used a faulty Intersect to wipe her mind and brainwash her, and Morgan suggests that Chuck can restore her memories with a kiss after commenting he's watched too many Disney Princess movies with baby Clara. It's hinted that Sarah's memory hasn't been totally destroyed, and while by the end of the first half Sarah acknowledges Chuck has been telling the truth about their relationship, she tells him she doesn't feel it anymore. Over the second half of the finale Chuck attempts to help restore her memory entirely and there are more bits and pieces that shows she might be able to recover, but by the end of the episode Easy Amnesia has been averted and Sarah still doesn't have all her memories. Fortunately, however, the final shot of them kissing on the beach where they met at the end of the pilot and Word of God suggests that Chuck and Sarah will ultimately remain together.
- Once on All My Children, Ryan got amnesia that made him forget the past four-or-so years of his life. He couldn't even remember meeting his current wife, much less anything about her, and instead believed he was still seeing and in love with one of his ex-girlfriends. Also he had a child with another woman (which was a botched surrogacy, not another romantic relationship) he didn't remember to complicate it even further.
- "I Don't Remember Loving You" by John Conlee is all about this trope.
- In "Yoiyami No Uta" from Sound Horizon's Märchen album, the amnesiac Märchen gets the feeling that he had once been in love, only for the seven dead princesses (except for one: the very girl he loved) to assure him that it's only his imagination.
- Sly Cooper plays with this trope by faking the amnesia at the end of his third game and then starting a Relationship Upgrade with Inspector Fox
- Rachel is this to Locke in Final Fantasy VI. While exploring a cave, she falls and loses her memory after some nasty head trauma. Her family basically forces Locke to leave and say that him being around and trying to get her remember him just causes her more pain. He becomes a Failure Knight after he later learns that Rachel was killed when The Empire invaded the village she lived in, and she remembered him right before she died. The whole flashback where this is revealed in the World of Ruin is just a massive Tear Jerker.
- Again with Sir Fratley, amnesiac lover of Freya in Final Fantasy IX. A particularly bittersweet example in that the game shows this to still be the case in the epilog. However, he is beginning to return Freya's affections and she plans on trying to start over anew anyway.
- Cave Story: The protagonist and Curly Brace (if you hold to the interpretation that they are a Battle Couple). In the aftermath of the Core fight, Curly sustains damage and can't remember you at all the next time you meet. You have to backtrack to nearly the beginning of the game to find an item that restores her memory. When she does get her memory back, she realizes that all your in-game interactions with her were amnesiac romance—you had been partners ten years ago, and then both she and you sustained amnesia prior to the start of the game.
- Subverted in Tales of the Abyss. Natalia and Luke are arranged to be married and have a Childhood Marriage Promise. But later, Luke loses ALL his memories, and seven years later Natalia still can't make him fall in love with her. Then it turns out that Luke DOESN'T have amnesia, he's a clone of the real Luke and took his place, the real one having adopted another identity but having his memories intact. Needless to say, Natalia stops bothering the clone.
- In Planescape: Torment, Deionarra has this problem: She loves The Nameless One, but the incarnation she fell in love with is long since gone and subsequent ones do not know who she is. Her love is so strong that it binds her to the world even after death. It takes on a decisively tragic bent when you learn that the incarnation she fell in love with never loved her in the first place, but purposefully deceived and used her so she would stay bound to the planes and keep on serving his designs even after death. The Nameless One has the option to reciprocate her feelings at the end of the game (or at least claim that you do out of kindness) to grant her peace.
- A non-romantic instance in The World Ends with You. Rhyme has suffered Laser-Guided Amnesia, and fails to remember that her partner Beat is her older brother. However, Rhyme is such a pure, happy little girl that she still remembers what a good person her older brother was, and talks about him and his good deeds endlessly to Beat. However, Most of that was either lies told by Beat for Rhyme's benefit, or instances from several years ago, back before he grew away from her and began to hate her just as much as the rest of his family.
- Wait, what? Beat died trying to save her, how did he hate her? Not to mention that apparently her memories of him were his most important thing, since they were taken as his entry fee.
- Rule of Rose makes an extremely unconventional twist of this trope. It turns out that Jennifer swore everlasting true love with Wendy when they were children, but Wendy went Yandere when Jennifer got a puppy on the side, eventually leading to the deaths of everybody in the orphanage except Jennifer who lost her memory from the trauma, and the game is set in her muddled memories trying to reclaim what she lost, even though both subjects of her love are long since dead.
- In the Dating Sim Always Remember Me, Amy's boyfriend Aaron loses his memory of the past few years (including their relationship). She goes through a lot of stress and a couple of emotional breakdowns while trying to help him regain his memories. That is, if you choose to stay with Aaron instead of pursuing other eligible bachelors in town.
- Downplayed in To the Moon. Johnny meets River in high school, marries her as an adult, and lives happily with her until she dies from a illness in old age. What he isn't aware of is that him and River had met long before high school, and back then made a promise that if they ever got separated in some way, they would meet each other again on the Moon. But Johnny has forgotten this since his twin brother, Joey, died in an accident and he was given beta blockers to cope with the experience, and this had the side effect of suppressing almost all memories of his early childhood. When River discover that he has forgotten about their old promise, she tries for the rest of her life to subtly jog his memory, as she is implied to have Asperger's Syndrome and therefore have difficulties with telling him outright, but Johnny never realizes this. In the end, after River's death, all he remembers is a inexplicable longing to visit the Moon.
- In Little Busters!: Every time Riki tries to ask her out, Kurugaya turns up the next day as if nothing happened. Even after they start going out, she forgets every night and has to remind herself with a Note to Self. In this case, though, the amnesia is specifically caused by the fact that they're lovers - the world they are in didn't expect that and so can't cope with it, causing it to break down.
- If you screw up the time line in Tick Tack, Nerine will eventually forget who Rin is, though since she still longs for him for some reason it manages to work out okay anyway.
- In Frozen Essence, the protagonist Mina suffers from Trauma-Induced Amnesia after she's freed from her Crystal Prison and hence has no memory or clue that the Oracle who rescued her and the mysterious voice that occasionally comforts or helps her is actually Zareh, her childhood friend who's in love with her and has worked hard for a long time to be able to help her. Zareh chooses not to tell Mina about this in most story paths because he believes that she'd be happier not remembering anything about her past and/or being with someone else, but his own story path has Mina regain her memories and choose to either accept or reject him.
- Becoming an Eternal in Eien no Aselia causes everyone to forget that person ever existed. Only similar people will remember the way things were before. Which means that if it happens to you, your lover isn't going to remember. Except while they don't remember, their emotions will still be there. They'll just be very confused.
- In Vinci and Arty, a knock to the head makes Vinci forget everything that has happened since he moved from Greece to the United States, like learning the English language or being in love with Arty. What makes it worse for Arty is that pre-immigration Vinci was apparently kinda homophobic.
- An episode of American Dad! took it a step further, with Francine not just losing her memories but reverting to herself from college, where she was a drunken free-spirited party girl. Stan, who's just about the definition of "The Man", had to try to win her back by convincing her that he had a sensitive side (which he managed to do after failing several times by saying I Want My Beloved to Be Happy).
- Kim Possible suffers Phlebotinum-induced amnesia in the fourth season episode "Clean Slate". She soon remembers that Ron is her best friend, but finds it laughably unlikely that they were dating.
- The trope is the main focus on the The Simpsons episode, "Regarding Margie", in which Marge got amnesia from bumping her head on a stool.
- In the Futurama episode "Fun on the Bun", Leela undergoes literal Laser-Guided Amnesia after thinking she ate Fry, who was presumed to have fallen into a sausage maker. Fry however fell down a chasm, hitting his head, and discovered a hidden society of Neanderthals who assumed he was one of them because of his swollen forehead and natural stupidity. Fry eventually leads the Neanderthals to battle against the Homo Sapiens, and just has he and Leela are about to kill each other, they both regain their memories and unite the two species.
- The episode "Betty" in Adventure Time ends like this — once Betty restores the Ice Crown's magic in order to save her fiance, Simon/Ice King, from succumbing to No Immortal Inertia, it erases his memories and he once again has no idea who she is. However, she is still in Ooo searching for a cure for him, so there may be hope yet.