"In your deposition, you even added that you 'don't feel like a killer'. How touching."Children Are Innocent. Amnesiacs have memories as short as children's. Therefore, amnesiacs are innocent — and may have other childlike, or childish, traits to boot. In addition, even if they actually have committed crimes, they may honestly have no memory of having done so. If there was a Start of Darkness, the amnesia need only roll back to before then to produce this. As a consequence, Amnesiac Dissonance is more likely to be a good character fearing having been evil than the other way round. A subtrope of Rousseau Was Right, since the amnesiac is operating without the social conditioning of their life experience so far, and by extension opposed to In the Blood, since if wickedness were genetic an amnesiac would be just as evil without their memories as with them. Because they are innocent and not actively good, it may also lead to Criminal Amnesiac, through being too trusting. They may also wreak all kinds of havoc through innocent unawareness. On a darker note, Death of Personality may be employed to invoke this, and people who do Memory Gambit also abuses this trope in order to further their plans.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Death Note, this happens when Light arranges things so that he forgets that he is Kira. Once L is convinced, he is entirely cooperative and wants to help L catch Kira.
- Light is actually invoking this trope in order to clear his own (and Misa's) names, since apparently his guilty self is not convincing enough to divert L's suspicions. It backfires slightly in that, upon losing his memory, Light's entire demeanor takes a conspicuous one-eighty, which makes L similarly suspicious; still, it convinces everyone else, which is more than enough for the plan to work.
- Of course, when Light invokes this, he fully intends to restore his memory later.
- In Code Geass, C. C. loses most of her memory, becoming the sweet, innocentnote , illiterate, medieval child she was before receiving her geass.
- From the same series, Villetta goes through this earlier on. She's a knight of Britannia's Purist Faction, and as such, she's deeply racist against the Japanese and is willing to frame Suzaku, one of her own allies, in order to further her political agenda. After a brush with death, she loses her memories, becoming extremely innocent. She's nursed back to health by Ougi, a member of the Japanese resistance, and winds up in a relationship with him, not realizing he's one of her enemies, and not caring that he's Japanese. Shit hits the fan when she gets her memories back.
- Lucy From Elfen Lied: pre-amnesia, she was basically something between Ax-Crazy Yandere and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Post-amnesia, she's The Ingenue and an Innocent Fanservice Girl who has to be taught how to take off her clothes. When she eventually gets her memories back, things get nastier.
- Nana, who suffers from "extreme amnesia", from Tripeace is extremely innocent, to the point that he doesn't even know what war is. This is in contrast to Fox, whose personality before the amnesia is highly cynical and cold.
- The entire background story to the manga Zennou No Noa: a large group of people lose their memories in what's called a terrorist attack and are basically made to live in a separate city built under Tokyo. They're even called KIDz, and regardless of age a lot of them do pick up fairly childish traits.
- Fujiko Mine in the Made-for-TV Movie Lupin III: The Columbus Files turns from her usual Femme Fatale self into a gentle and naive girl when struck with a bout of amnesia. To the point where she looks different without her memory.
- Kirika from Noir possibly deconstructs this, as she's an amnesiac 15 year old girl who's extremely naive — who happens to be one of the deadliest assassins in the world. Her first memories upon waking up are finding a gun in her house and shortly after taking out a squad of Mooks sent to fight her, and much of her character arc revolves around finding out just how she learned these abilities.
- Joshua Christopher from Chrono Crusade has this happen to him in the anime version—despite being 15, the insanity caused by Chrono's horns make him forget most of his backstory, and he even seems unaware that he's grown older and still acts like a child the majority of the time. In the end, he loses the horns and becomes sane again—but forgets even MORE of his past than he did before and becomes even more childlike!
- Bruno, from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, is a friendly (if clumsy) guy who wakes up on the beach with no memory and goes on to befriend the protagonists and help them greatly with improving their D-Wheels. His actual identity, Antinomy, is a cold and pragmatic Anti-Villain who was working with Z-One to destroy the heroes' city.
- Subverted with Supergirl in The Supergirl From Krypton. Kara is a pretty innocent, naive, scared teenager that cannot remember anything of her past. Batman suspects that her innocence may be an act, especially after Darkseid kidnaps her and brainwashes her. After being rescued Kara also wonders what kind of person she was. When some of her memories appear to return, they are pretty terrible and she believes she was a bad person before losing her memory. However, she eventually got her real memories back, which proved she was always a good, well-meaning girl.
- A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode has Shredder lose his memory. Averted in that he still ends up doing evil deeds, just not in costume.
- Played straight in the story, later invoked by the Daltons in the Lucky Luke story "L'Amnesie des Daltons": on seeing an amnesiac inmate be freed, they decide to pass off as amnesiac themselves in order to leave the prison. Averell becomes genuinely amnesiac after a Tap on the Head, and matters are complicated when the local governor decides to send them back to prison for breaking the law by any means necessary: encouraging them to rob banks and trains.
- An issue of the Transformers comics had Starscream lose his memories in a freak accident once. Optimus considered this as Starscream's chance to start over with a clean slate. But of course Status Quo Is God...
- Mad Man is a pretty innocent and childlike person due to being an amnesiac corpse.
- It really, really looked like this trope would be used to get Iron Man off the hook for his actions in Civil War. Tony ends up having to restore his brain from a backup which he made before the registration crisis. But to his credit, he refuses to use this as an excuse — he may not remember the decisions he made, but he wasn't a different person when he made them.
- The Ultimate version of Charles Xavier mindwipes Magneto at one point, and he becomes a rather genial old man fond of a game of chess in the park. It doesn't stick.
- After Necrosha, Emma Frost captures Sebastian Shaw and sentences him to remember nothing but the faces of his victims. He's kept at Utopia as a man with secondhand knowledge of who he was that has managed to form relationships with some of the new mutants that arrive.
- In L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz stories, Ozma takes advantage of this trope by means of the Fountain of Oblivion, a magic fountain that causes those to drink from it to lose their memory. This way, if an invading army attacks Emerald City, all you have to do to render them harmless is to trick them into taking a sip.
- Níniel in The Children of Húrin is initially this, as when she is found sans memories she needs to be taught basic skills such as speech, and her personality is continually compared to that of a child. She learns quickly though.
- The Eighth Doctor, continuing from his characterization as stated below, can be very child-like in his fascination with the world, as well as his fear of the universe he spent a century trying to return to. In this case, he also falls under Amnesiac Dissonance, given that the reason he fears the universe is that he also fears himself, and what he did that caused him to lose his memory in the first place.
- The patient known as Bob Smith fits this category in Cherry Ames at Hilton Hospital by Helen Wells.
- Cal Leandros gets bitten by a monster that gives him amnesia in Blackout, but it's an interesting case. He immediately figures out he's a morally ambiguous 'killer' and rolls with it, but once he gets reintroduced to his life he is very disturbed by a photograph of himself from before. Most of the book deals with his struggle between wondering if he should stay amnesiac and moral, or try to regain his memories and become who he was before. When he realizes the latter will allow him to protect Niko better, he barely even hesitates restoring himself.
- Henry Crawford in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries after being shot is this. He's quite bewildered to find a bunch of strangers are really annoyed with him.
- Played completely straight in Allegiant. It's heavily implied that Peter losing his memories was more or less a cure for his sociopathy.
Live Action TV
- The Dolls of Dollhouse, having no memory, are purposely programmed to fit this trope until "imprinted". They're naive, innocent, and devoid of sexual desires... so when some of them start exhibiting traits that break these rules, you know something is wrong.
- Babylon 5 episode "Passing Through Gethsemane" deals with this topic when a kind, pious monk is revealed to be a serial killer whose personality was erased and a kinder one with new memories was put in place. This is a regular punishment for capital crimes, set up in an earlier episode. The families of his victims did not believe he was innocent and came for revenge.
- Once the vampire Herik was resurrected in Being Human (UK) it was as an amnesiac because the ritual wasn't performed by his Familiar who safeguarded his memories. As a result he's completely free of sin, to the point that crosses and stars of David have no effect on him. Of course, being a vampire he has a Horror Hunger all the same, and being an amnesiac he has no context for what's wrong with him.
- In Fringe, Walter is missing pieces of his brain and has many childlike habits—particularly his affection for sweets—as well as later trying to re-learn to be independent. While he seems to remember quite a lot of wrong things he's done, it falls under this trope because he becomes a Jerk Ass when briefly reunited with those pieces of his brain and another character states that he's a better person and a better father with the damage.
- When Eric in True Blood loses his memory, he forgets his bloody and violent past and becomes innocent. This is responsible for much of the character development in season three and he even states at one point that he doesn't want to go back to who he used to be.
- In Heroes, this happens to Nathan for a few episodes in Season 4. What's really confusing is that everyone else thinks it's happened to Sylar, whose body currently houses Nathan's mind. note The Carnival believes he has amnesia, the cops suspect he's faking, but everyone thinks he's Sylar. Only the audience can recognize the few memories he recovers as Nathan's. note
- Notably averted in the Grand Finale of Smallville: a resurrected Lex Luthor gets dosed with an amnesia pill erasing his entire life. Despite this, within a decade he becomes President of the United States and the most evil man in the world.
- Ben Chang of Community claims to be suffering from 'Changnesia' for the duration of season four, presenting himself as the confused and harmless amnesic Kevin. This convinces nearly everyone to let him off the fact that he briefly took over the school via armed coup. When Chang admits he faked the whole thing, he finally gets brought to justice...sort of.
- Doctor Who:
- The Eighth Doctor is easily excited and distracted and an Innocent Alien in contrast to most of his other selves. This seems to be a result of the amnesia which affects him for most of his first stories.
- Professor Yana in "Utopia" is a compassionate, brilliant and kindly Mad Scientist until he regains his memories of who he actually is. Oh dear.
- Samantha Who? is built on this trope. The idea that Sam could ever have been "Bad Sam" strains plausibility — she does good and bad things like anyone else, but she never comes close to the casual nastiness of her past self.
- Reversed in Gilligan's Island. When Skipper gets amnesia, he turns into a lech and starts chasing Ginger around the island.
- Deconstructed in an episode of NCIS: A woman is brought into a hospital with amnesia, remembering nothing except that a bomb is going to be set off somewhere. The NCIS team comes in to investigate the claim and figure out where the bomb is. Obviously, the woman is their key witness in this regard and they treat her as an innocent victim. Turns out, she was part of the conspiracy to set the bomb in the first place. The minute her memories come back, she continues trying to carry out the original plan.
- In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., most everyone who goes through the TAHITI process comes back as a nice person. Granted, most everyone who S.H.I.E.L.D. puts through it are generally good people to begin with, and it's only used to give people a new chance at life, without the baggage that comes from the terrible things they've done.
- Dark Matter: After the crew of the Raza discover the things they're done before their memories were wiped clean, they are all thoroughly disgusted with themselves.
- Kamen Rider Kiva: the protagonists meet and befriend a childish and somewhat clumsy Gentle Giant whom they end up nicknaming "Dai-chan," on account of his size and inability to remember anything about himself, even his name. When "Dai-chan" recovers his memories, however, all of his innocence is destroyed by the revelation that he is actually the fangire Rook, a merciless mass murderer who makes a game out of killing as many people as he can in a set time limit, and is solely responsible for at least one genocide.
- Mummy: The Curse inverts this: your character is at his most monstrous when his Memory is low, and he becomes a better person the more of his memories he recovers.
- Terra of Final Fantasy VI has no memories but her name and is a Technical Pacifist and The Ingenue. She had previously been used as a living weapon by The Empire and initially must flee the town she doesn't remember attacking. Locke and Edgar make a point of telling people who resent her that she shouldn't be held responsible for acts she doesn't remember and was mind-controlled into committing.
- Isabella in Advance Wars: Days Of Ruin.
- Darkrai's memory is erased at the end of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky as a result of being hit by Palkia's attack while escaping through a portal after the heroes and Cresselia foil his evil plans to destroy the Pokemon world. After that, he can be encountered and recruited.
- Knights of the Old Republic. The protagonist is a perfect example of this trope: not only were their memories gone, they were also programmed with a new identity, loyal to the Republic. That is, if you follow the light side path.
- In the fangame Touhou Mother, Porky loses his memories when he lands in Gensokyo. He's actually a decent person during this period, and makes particular friends with Marisa. Then he gets his memories back and almost immediately begins taking over Gensokyo, becoming the game's Big Bad.
- Abe no Seimei from Onmyōji definitely qualifies, even though he often fears that he might have done bad things in the past. The only crime he committed then was to accidentally create Kuro Seimei.
- Kagura is another example, but isn't focused on as much.
- In Planescape: Torment, the protagonist, Nameless One, plays this trope straight, and inverts it, goes sideways, and wanders all over. Nameless One is an immortal who, each time he dies, suffers some form of memory adjustment. Sometimes the shock of death may recover lost memories, sometimes a particularly brutal or nasty death may result in the complete reset of his entire mind, altering his core behaviour and personality at a fundamental level. One life, he might be a heroic Knight in Shining Armor, the next, he could pass the Moral Event Horizon. Though he may be innocent in terms of knowledge of at the time of reincarnation of previous wrongs done in former lives, there are those who would argue that point. Regardless, he is both innocent, guilty, and everything in between amidst dozens, or possibly hundreds of past lives worth of sins and virtues.
- John Yesterday is fairly sweet-natured and romantic if somewhat morose due to his amnesia...but this trope comes fully into effect when you consider his past lives as the demented Choke and the murderous Satanic cultist Miguel. Possibly a Justified Trope considering even Miguel had problems with the cult sacrificing a child.
- Morgan (the avatar's child) from Fire Emblem Awakening is an amnesiac who forgot everything from their past besides stuff about their father/mother. They're bubbly and happy and well-liked, although no one knows a thing about them.
- The Avatar may count as well. We don't know what they were like before their mind got wiped, but we do know that they made a very different choice in the timeline where they didn't get amnesia.
- In the Red Axe quest series' finale in RuneScape, the player finds and defeats the Ogre shaman that had been manipulated into brainwashing many dwarves into Chaos dwarves over the years, the player is then given the chance to kill him for his crimes or to leave it alive. If the player lets him go, afterwards the shaman can be found in Gu'Tanoth, having given himself amnesia to forget about his past and living a normal ogre life.
- Justified in Lufia & The Fortress of Doom. Lufia's new bout of amnesia at the end of the story comes as a result of her being split completely from Erim, the Sinistral of Death.
- The Amnesiac starts out as this in every game of Town of Salem. Whether he stays that way or not depends on what role he picks.
- In Sinfest:
- Zap of Zap! has Laser-Guided Amnesia and is cheerful, naive, and rather childish. His pre-amnesia self, however, was far more scheming, bordering on a Chess Master.
- TwoKinds: Pre-amnesia Trace Legacy is a genocidal Fantastic Racist. Post-amnesia Trace Legacy falls in Love at First Sight with a Keidran.
- The infamous Avatar comic How I Became Yours uses this trope to redeem Azula (and hook her up with Sokka).
- The Trapped Trilogy: The protagonist in the first game, who turns out to be the leader of a crime syndicate.
- Subverted and Deconstructed like crazy on an episode of Family Guy, where Peter loses all his life memories and thus is rendered childlike. Lois eventually teaches him sex since they're husband and wife, and sex is a beautiful expression of love and commitment. Peter decides sex feels great! and proceeds to sleep around on her. When Lois protest that he's supposed to just sleep with her because they're married, he thinks that's a stupid idea because sex feels great, and thus (like a child) he feels he should be able to enjoy it with whomever he wants, whenever he wants. He also goes around acting like an excessively hedonistic, entitled Man Child. When he gains his memories back the family is relieved, and he apologizes to Lois for cheating on her since he was an amnesiac at the time, and thus he didn't know any better.
- In an episode of Superman: The Animated Series, Metallo suffers from amnesia after being caught in an explosion. He ends up befriending a pair of children, and even saves their lives. As soon as his memories return he immediately reverts to evil.
- Mike from Total Drama Revenge of the Island often has no memory of what he does regardless of good or bad whenever one of his personas take control of him.