"If I go like this,
(touches palm to forehead), my wife says, 'Are you feeling all right??' But on television nobody notices, you see."
A close relative of Evil Twin
and "Freaky Friday" Flip
, Not Himself is any plot where a character acts contrary to the way they normally behave. Can be used to provide a mystery to be solved, or to incite bewilderment in the other characters. The deviation is often a marked increase in evil
, insanity, and/or horniness: the emergence of the inner shadow
—or a switcheroo
Sometimes, it's a detective or police character behaving as if they were corrupt, or a criminal. This will usually turn out to be the Fake Defector
If the change is deliberate to save their friends, it's an Out-of-Character Alert
If the change is caused by poor writing or is never given an in-canon reason, this could be Character Derailment
Compare Out-of-Character Moment
and Weirder Than Usual
. Contrast with Something Only They Would Say
. See also Virus Victim Symptoms
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Anime & Manga
- Subverted in Magical Project S while Misao certainly wasn't acting like herself when she tortured the main cast as the evil magical girl Pixy Misa (she wasn't even aware of her other side) it was revealed that it was in fact herself (the repressed aspects of her personality),
- Mimi in Perfect Blue throughout the majority of the movie. Also, Rumi towards the end.
- Lelouch on occasion in Code Geass. As well as Suzaku and Rolo once he starts to become closer to Lelouch.
- Utena after having lost a duel in Revolutionary Girl Utena.
- Shinji of Neon Genesis Evangelion many times, as well as much of the other main characters, mainly Asuka.
- In the anime series Tsukuyomi Moon Phase, Hazuki has frequent periods of Not Himself, during which she "becomes" Miss Luna, a lustful, blood-thirsty vampire girl.
- Aside from Ken during Digimon Adventure 02, the normally nice and affable Takeru has been known to become scarily angry when there is a threat to his Digimon and friends, as a result of witnessing the death of his own Digimon in the first series. These angry moments have caused him to physically attack the then-Digimon Kaiser Ken (while smiling in dark amusement at Ken's injury of his [Takeru's] face◊), advocate the killing of Dark Digimon, and deeply disturb Jogress partner Iori on separate occasions.
- Just to put this into context, Iori is The Stoic of the series. To freak him out would seem to be a very hard task... unless Takeru's pissed.
- This usually sparks the plots in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, but one character stands out in particular: "The person who was there was not the Rika-chan I knew. It was another Furude Rika." Of course, the difference between Rika and the other examples is that the "abnormal" personality is really her True Self, her "normal" self is just Obfuscating Stupidity.
- Bleach: The Ninth Espada attempts to trick Rukia by posing as her former mentor Kaien Shiba. He betrays himself by making a request that was blatantly uncharacteristic of Kaien, suggesting that she could earn his forgiveness by killing all her friends. Rukia, enraged, says Kaien would never say that even as a joke.
- In Dragonball GT, a compromised Vegeta calls Goku "Goku" rather than "Kakarot", thus giving himself away.
- Goku and Gohan both qualify, as their Super Saiyan transformations, at least initially, radically alters their personality from the incarnation of goodness and purity to cold blooded, driven-by-rage, homicidally sadistic Blood Knights.
- Basic corollary: The more pacifistic a Saiyan is in their base form, the more sadistic (and dangerous) they are as they increase in power. Vegeta and Gotenks barely see any change in personality in their Super Saiyan forms, while Gohan, who'd rather go to school and be normal, could give the KYUUBI a run for its money on bloodthirst when he's SSJ2.
- Beware the Internet Backdraft when bringing this up with Mai-HiME, particularly with reference to Shizuru Fujino. The anime is ambiguous about how much (if indeed at all) the HiME star is affecting the HiME as it gets closer to earth. Is it playing with their emotions to provoke them to fight each other (thus causing Shizuru to go completely mad when she's rejected by Natsuki), or is it all a result of their normal psyches, just put under a lot of stress?
- Interestingly enough, immediately after being resurrected, Shizuru starts crying and apologizes to Natsuki, which she had not done even in the moments before her death, after Natsuki kissed her and told her that she loved her, albeit in a different way. This suggests that she only came to her senses after being resurrected..
- In an episode of Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, Nyanko-sensei has to masquerade as Natsume after he's trapped in a bottle by a youkai. Nyanko-sensei then proceeds to act exactly as he usually does (read:a jerkass), much to Natsume's dismay.
- In one To Love-Ru story, Haruna suddenly became an evil sadist, which was hilarious. It became a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when the artist's wife, who Haruna's design was based on, turned out to be a crazy psychopath who kidnapped their daughter, among other demented things.
- Played for drama toward the last chapter of the Golden Age Arc in Berserk, which concludes the prologue that dives into Guts' backstory about how he came to be the dark, brooding and vengeful man that he was introduced as in the Black Swordsman Arc. Although they were not present at the harrowing Eclipse a tortuous event triggered by Griffith, his former friend, when he turned to the dark side, ending with the sacrifice of his comrades and the rape of his lover Godo, Rickert, and Erica noticed the dark shift in Guts' character, which not only involved the increased blood-lust in his personality, but also his dark dress and intense scowling. Even the audience can notice a clear change in Guts' appearance just chapters apart.
- A frequent occurrence with Yuu from Holyland. More experienced fighters are able to recognise when his heart is not properly in the fight, as his skill takes a corresponding drop.
- Episode 7 of Kill la Kill has Ryuko noting how Mako becomes less and less like her usual chipper self after becoming the Fight Club president. First she becomes increasingly formal and smug, and when she gets a Two-Star uniform, she is noticeably more brutal and doesn't even crack a smile.
- Episode 21 has Ryuko behaving highly sociopathicly following being both brainwashed by her mother.
- Cosmic Boy of DC's post-Zero Hour Legion of Super-Heroes spent a whole Arc being Not Himself and alienating his teammates at every opportunity in order to set up an elaborate Engineered Public Confession which revealed the President's corruption and caused her removal from office. Some Legion fans never forgave him for it. (It didn't help that this particular arc occurred in the first couple years after a total reboot of the Legion, so it wasn't as clear as it might have been that this wasn't just Cos's new personality.)
- Apparently, hacking into Superman's mind is like evil hypnotists' wikivandalism. Some bratty six-year-old in Minneapolis trips over a ouija board, next thing you know our Man of Steel is giving the Batman a wedgie. Supes has probably been brainwashed, hypnotized, or possessed more than any character in fiction. And if you count the times he's pretended to be Not Himself, more than all fictional characters combined. Read any random five Superman or Superman-associated comics from the 50s through the 70s, and see if you can't find one of these stories.
- Or refer to here for the condensed version.
- Since this is practically Superman's only vulnerability besides kryptonite, writers got stuck using it lest he become a Boring Invincible Hero
- There's also the arc in 2000 where Lois and Clark's marriage appeared to start falling apart, with Lois accusing Clark of not caring about her because she was just a human, and of cheating on her with Wonder Woman, effectively turning the poor guy into a miserable wreck and culminating in her walking out on him. Turns out it was actually Parasite masquerading as Lois in order to simultaneously feed off of Superman's powers and destroy his spirit in a plot to kill him. The arc wound up with what looked like a superpowered-Lois Lane beating the snot out of Superman right in front of a flabbergasted Perry White and Jimmy Olsen, and apparently required loads of explanations from the real Lois after everything was cleared up, especially as Parasite had been running around using Lois's know-how to steal millions of dollars.
- In the Justice League International comic, Guy Gardner spends a rather extended period like this after minor head trauma. The abrasive, chauvinistic, arrogant Guy turns into a sweet, Sensitive Guy — who really exists deep down, as exhibited when Guy falls in love. This trope is partially subverted, though, because the League likes him better as Sensitive Guy and therefore makes no effort to return him to his previous state.
- During the "Trinity" arc, it is revealed that Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are "Keystones" of reality, inherent to the fabric of the universe, and that the endless Expies of them across the multiverse are the "Keystones" of their universe (including Apollo, Midnighter and Zealot for the Wildstorm universe, whch makes... a lot of sense). When a trio of villains tries to usurp their position for ultimate power, the spell they use has the side effect of of causing them to take on each others personality traits, meaning on a mission to the Mirror Universe, Superman goes Leeroy Jenkins and Curb Stomps the CSA while Batman tries to negotiate a peaceful solution and Wonder Woman broods on their out of character behaviour. Then when Superman sends Ultraman, Owlman and Superwoman out of their universe, it starts trying to force them to become the new Keystones, and they start acting like their CSA doubles as well as each other. Fortunately Black Canary tells them to go home and get their act together.
- Sonic The Hedgehog: After the Time Skip, Antoine inexplicably became an insufferable Jerk Ass. Writer Karl Bollers wanted to write this off as natural character growth, but fellow writer Ken Penders decided he didn't like that idea, so he changed to Antoine having been switched with his Evil Twin from an Alternate Universe. And about the time of that reveal, Sonic's own twin from that same AU switched places with him as well, so the other Freedom Fighters had to deal with "Sonic" acting out of character too.
- My Immortal: The only reason Dumbledore swore was because he had a headache, okay? (Of course, he then swears regularly for the remainder of the "text".)
- A Delicate Balance: Pinkie Pie immediately realizes that Twilight has something on her mind when the Twilight fails to be an utter perfectionist when decorating cupcakes.
- In the Star Trek fanfic Retribution, Spock convinces Kirk to forgive himself for his harsh words by forcing him to admit that the Rapid Aging was affecting his mind.
- In Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything Takada regularly excuses Light's irritabile moods by telling everyone he has a headache.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, ProtoMan is this post episode 10; the other characters begin to notice midway through episode 11.
- The ponification potion in many Conversion Bureau stories often have this effect. In turning humans into ponies, some personality changes ensue. The deconstructions don't shy away from showing how this can be utterly messed up and frightening.
- In The Conversion Bureau: Not Alone, one of the main human characters laments how much his friend Eddy changed after taking the potion, going so far as to call Eddy's pony self a "pleasant smiling zombie with wings." The chapter "Aftermath Part 1" reveals why - basically the human convert's original personality is completely erased and overwritten by a new one provided by the potion. However, they still retain their memories, basically fooling them into thinking they're the same person who drank it.
- The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum takes it further, where the potion completely destroys the victim's original personality, effectively killing them. The chapter "War March and Past Sins" explains how - basically the human convert's soul is shattered to pieces and then "bound in chains" to Queen Celestia and the Bag of Tirek's will. Even worse, according to the Elder Shaman of the Zebras, it is completely impossible to repair those souls with any medicine or magic; only Mercy Killing them will make their souls whole again and set them free. To quote one ex-HLF member:
Andrew Silas: "We expected them to just be our friends and family with hooves and fur, we expected... I don't know what. The simplest way I can put it is that we expected it to be them. That they'd be something like the people we knew. Henry, though - you've heard this description a million times, but it just wasn't him in there."
Films — Animation
- A tearjerking example occurs in WALL•E: EVE repairs WALL•E after he's been crushed to death. However, once he's started up again, WALL•E has no memories of EVE, and his personality is gone. He's just another trash-compacting robot. EVE especially notices he's not himself when he regards all the trinkets he's collected over the centuries as just more trash, and is completely indifferent to the cockroach he adopted as a pet. Fortunately, he gets better.
- In WesternAnimation.My Little Pony Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks, the Canterlot High School students under the Dazzlings' spell, becoming confrontational and ultra-competitive. Most notable with Flash Sentry, for whom it's completely at odd with his Nice Guy persona from the first movie. He even snaps once at Twilight Sparkle, making her cry.
Films — Live-Action
- Inverted in Dangerous Liaisons, when the Vicomte Sébastien de Valmont, known to be a ruthless, womanizing manipulator genuinely falls in love with Madame Marie de Tourvel. He is forced into the situation by Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil, and with tears in his eyes has to push away the woman he loves through cruel manipulation. She is aware that it's odd for the Vicomte to speak thusly to her, but is heartbroken nonetheless.
- In Everyone Says I Love You, one of the characters becomes a Republican to the great surprise (and dismay) of his family. It turns out it was because of some sort of brain problem. Subtle, we know.
- Quite a lot of this in Fallen: "I wanna tell you about the time I almost died...."
- Definitely seen a lot in Face/Off, when plastic surgery for an undercover operation results in Sean Archer (John Travolta) getting the face of Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), and subsequently, Castor retaliates upon finding out his face has been stolen by stealing Archer's face for himself. By having Cage and Travolta swap roles, one sees how the two characters react differently when in the company of the other's inner circle. One contrast is how they take victory celebrations: when Archer gets his for putting Castor into a coma, he looks depressed and turns down a bottle of champagne, then decides to remind them of the agents killed by Castor in the shootout. When Castor is being congratulated for "locating" and disarming his own bomb, he wears his sunglasses and seems unusually chipper. Elsewhere, when Castor gets his first glimpse of Archer's daughter Jamie, he inadvertently calls her "Janie", and also lights up a cigarette, two things the real Archer would never do, but which are glossed over.
- In Dragon Bones one of his allies tries to stab Ward. They later find out that the man was magically controlled by the real traitor. He gets to apologize and be forgiven before he dies.
- There's also the creepy moment when the Cute Mute girl suddenly speaks. With a male voice, no less. Turns out she's possessed. By a god, who is not actually evil, but Good Is Not Nice and he's rather impolite.
- Ditzy but loyal vampire queen Betsy Taylor becomes a real bitch after reading too many pages of the Book of the Dead in a row in Undead and Unappreciated.
- In the V. C. Andrews novel April Shadows, April's father starts to act like a jerkass to his family for seemingly no reason. The reason turns out to be that he found out he had terminal cancer and he didn't want his family to feel sad for him when he died. So, he decides to make them hate him. Once April, her mother, and sister find out, though, they feel sorry for him anyway.
- This is one of the main plot points in the Animorphs series due to the fact that the primary villains are aliens who take over the bodies of humans and mimick them near perfectly. In one book, Jake is taken over. The only reason the Yeerk fails is because of a momentary slipup in which he shouts Andalite Filth.
- That was only the last straw. It was obvious to everyone that something was wrong when as a precaution to have fallen into the pool they suggested that Jake be tied up for 3 days in order to starve any possible Yeerks that might have infested him. The paranoid and cautious Jake would have either immediately agreed or given into peer pressure and reluctantly agreed but since that would have meant the death of the Yeerk controlling him it had him act OOC and continually and desperately try to talk them out of it, which they quickly caught onto.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero in Hell, Miranda admits that she had not noticed that Mab had been replaced with a shapeshifter, just that he was acting oddly.
- Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. After she is jilted she falls into a despair and eventually after months of barely eating or sleeping she stays out for hours in a rainstorm while insufficiently wrapped up. She nearly dies of fever or has a bad flu (YMMV) but when she recovers she has suddenly gained about five years worth of emotional maturity and not long afterward marries someone much older who she was not in love with. Marianne is passionate and talented and struggles to conform to what her society expects of a young unmarried woman. It feels as though Austen is building up to tragically killing her off but at the last minute she backs off and Marianne is suddenly able to deal with the pressures of hiding her feelings in the public space.
- Most probably intentional, as Austen didn't like the overly tragic endings that were the fashion at the time.
- After Tash is injected with The Virus in Galaxy of Fear: The Planet Plague, she develops a rash, then a growing bump, and acts increasingly more irritable and angry than is usual for her. She was showing some signs before the injection, but they got worse after it. Turns out that anger makes the disease progress more quickly and speeding her transformation into a Blob Monster - when she made herself calm down and embrace more positive emotions, it helped.
- In Those That Wake, Brath is this once the heroes are trapped in the forest.
- In Emily The Strange The Lost Days, Earwig knows she is not Molly and Molly's parents know she is not their daughter for various reasons.
Live Action TV
- Zidane in Final Fantasy IX displays this for a short while near the end of the game. Given his normally cheerful personality, this moment is notable as it hints at what he was really capable of if he had been acting towards his intended purpose — i.e., an angel of death and destroyer of worlds.
- A good chunk of the game's first half is driven by Princess Garnet wanting to find out why her mother was not acting like herself. Turns out she was being influenced by Kuja.
- In Final Fantasy IV, it is said at the beginning of the game that the King's behavior changed. Of course...
- HK-47 can have a Not Himself moment in the second game if the player installs a Pacifist Package into him. Needless to say, this genuinely scares the hell out of him.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, one of the sidequests you need to complete for 100% Completion is helping a little girl, Romani, with defending the ranch's cows from aliens on the night of the first day. If you fail, the aliens abduct the cows and Romani, since she was also in the barn. They bring her back on the third day—but she can't think straight, doesn't recognize Link, and shakes her head, trying to remember or forget things. It's assumed by the whole fandom that she was lobotomized.
- Video games in general bring a unique version of this where the out of character behavior is caused by the player controlling the action either being a jerk or having a sense of humor toward the choices the game throws at him.
- Final Fantasy Tactics, in an early mission, you find a man being menaced by bad guys. You have a choice to either prioritize beating up the bad guys, or saving their victim. Choosing the former prompts the main character's best friend to ask if he's flipped his lid.
- Choosing this option actually makes the mission easier though, as your goal becomes merely to defeat the enemies rather than save the NPC. The NPC is sometimes suicidal, and will live even if knocked out, so there's no loss to doing so. Said NPC is also a colossal jackass, so repeat players can only wish he could die permanently.
- Super Paper Mario, there's a funny mini-game where you play as Peach trapped in a dating sim and can choose her reactions to the other character's fumbling attempts to court her. You can of course choose to have her react favorably... An interesting case in that doing this repeatedly will cause the princess to call -herself- on her bizarre behavior.
- In episode 105 of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, you find yourself in a virtual world where four computers are in charge, each one controlling a certain setting (pop-ups, height control, gravity and three-dimensional view). In order to progress you need to place a bug on each one of them at one point or another, with the side effect of completely reversing their personalities. An old Atari console who communicates through beeping and booping begins playing a melody, a smarmy, conversational telephone's voice gets hacky and hoarse, an aggressive arcade machine starts belting out showtunes and an outdated Osborne 1 starts spouting youth slang.
- In Faria, a gardener in Teodoor says, "The princess hasn't been eating any of her favorite apples. I wonder if she is sick?" The reason why, of course, is that she's been replaced by the Big Bad in disguise.
- RWBY: When Professor Ozpin gives the induction speech to the academy's new students, his speech is oddly clipped, one-note and lifeless. He also cuts the speech very short, leaving Glynda to complete the speech. Ruby and Yang both notice something seems to be wrong and that he doesn't seem to sound or act like himself. Ruby even exclaims "It's like he's not even there!". Played for mystery, as the girls have no answers to why he's behaving so oddly and the next time he appears he's his normal self again.
- Parodied by Nodwick.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Chapter 18, Robot S13 — previously the comically Pollyanna Chew Toy — abruptly begins acting deadly serious and proves to be a dashing swords-bot after being transferred to a much older body, much to the surprise of Annie and Kat. He returns to normal after his body is changed once again.
- After a trip in Zimmy's twisted mind, Jack began becoming more and more unstable. He gets better after Zimmy kills the spider that had him possessed. This is an interesting case, however, since the audience only really has a chance to get to know Jack's real personality after he's cured.
- In Fans!, when Alisin's incurable and deadly blood disease starts to kick in, she sets out to pull an April Shadows in order to leave her loving boyfriend less sad when she goes. Despite (or perhaps because of) the best efforts of the Big Bad and the traitor, he not only figures it out but time travels to a period when the disease has been cured thanks to the FIB's efforts to save her, lets a teammate trick the Big Bad into contracting the disease, and thus distracts her long enough to get some of the cure for Alisin. Everything works out- well, sort of.
- In Dead Of Summer, Panther falls under this. At first he seems normal (and awesome), though breaking a bad guy's finger may raise some eyebrows. But later on, he tears out Dr. Light's eyes, kills him, and proceeds to reveal that he's in league with the Big Bad.
- Turns out he's literally not himself; the Panther we'd been following was the Evil Twin. The real one sets things right.
- In Casey and Andy, Satan places Andy by the Soul-Keeper, an ancient and complicated machine. She was able to tell later he'd been replaced by Azrael because he hadn't started taking it apart to see how it worked.
- It appeared this way with Varsuuvius in The Order of the Stick, but accepting that it was consistent with his character was part of his Character Development. A straight and more striking example would be Belkar's very brief wisdom boost turning him repentant and pacifistic.
- In Newshounds, Rochelle being afraid of danger instead of craving it was the first sign of her pregnancy.
- In Alien Dice, Lexx has one of these events later in the comic. It's rather obvious and jarring, considering his usual "nice but distant" personality.
- In UC, when Naim begins to break his normally stoic attitude to talk to Iku about her love life in great length, it's a sign that the world they have entered is messing with his head, and that she needs to be on guard.
- Several illnesses or psychological factors can lead to a person's behavior changing dramatically. One of the most well known examples would be Phineas Gage, a railroad worker who was said to have been honest and reliable prior to an accident which lead to a metal pole being blasted through his head, damaging both his frontal lobes. Afterwards, he became a much nastier person. The accident shed light on the effects that frontal lobe damage can have on personality.
- Maybe it wasn't the accident. In the words of the clearly well-researched website Cracked:
[...]scientists have come up with all kinds of theories about the damage affecting his impulse control. But, holy crap, some of us turn into dicks after missing morning coffee. Can we not cut a guy some slack after surviving a fucking spike through the skull?
- He wasn't competent to run his crew anymore. He didn't have respect anymore. Plenty to get mad about.
- He lost his hypothalamus and frontal lobe connection, meaning less stuff was routed through the frontal lobes, particularly emotion.
- Reportedly, Gage started drinking heavily after the accident — which could be either a direct result of brain damage, or an attempt to dull chronic pain from the injury. In either case, the new personality might be simply be him being a mean drunk.
- He was also reputed to have taken to gambling as well as drinking after the injury. The part of his brain that was damaged is also involved with planning and predicting future events, so he may have become reckless, in part at least, as a result if impaired ability to appreciate the consequences.
- On the other end of the brain damage spectrum, it's possible to damage the part of your mind responsible for recognizing people. Not that you'd forget who they were, mind you. You'd know who your mother is, exactly what she looks like, but your mind just won't recognize the person who acts like and looks like your mother as actually being your mother. People with this type of brain damage believe that everyone they know has been replaced with an imposter. All of a sudden, everyone else in the world is Not Him/Herself.
- Lobotomies. Goddamn lobotomies.
- Which starts by ramming an ice pick into your eye. Hey! Where are you going? I only got started!
- Rosemary Kennedy (sister of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy) was having mood swings and underwent a lobotomy at age 23, which left her permanently incapacitated. After the experience her speech was unintelligible, she would stare blankly at walls for hours, and was left mentally handicapped.
- The US first learned about the Soviet plan to put nuclear missiles in Cuba when their spy planes captured a bunch of new soccer fields being built, since the most popular sport in Cuba is baseball, applying this trope to an entire country.