aka: Erased From Existence
"Nothing will remain of you: not a name in a register, not a memory in a living brain. You will be annihilated in the past as well as in the future. You will never have existed.
When some group systematically removes evidence of a character's existence, either through mundane conspiracy, or a little bit of Applied Phlebotinum
(such as brainwashing
). The purposes for doing so vary. This is more commonly done in enclosed or isolated areas, where it's easier to track evidence. This can lead to characters tracking the shreds of evidence
the hiders left behind. Often any shred of evidence they find will disappear
when they show someone
. If they dig too deep or get too involved in their search, there's always the danger that they too will disappear depending on the circumstances.
In Real Life
, this practice is called Damnatio Memoriae
, which is Latin
for "damnation of memory", and was done by the ancient Romans. It often relies on the fact that History is Written by the Winners
, and of course, the winners would always like to remove evidence of opposition against their otherwise tyrannical rule as a warning for others and to perpetuate their power. It is also done for other purposes, such as literally condemning questionable acts done by the person in his lifetime to deter possible future offenders.
This effect isn't always someone's deliberate decision. History is largely reconstructed from the records of the time, and when those records do not exist or get destroyed, history will have gaps of information. For example, ancient times, when very few people wrote, and most documents are now lost (paper, papyrus and similar stuff does not last forever). Another typical example is the people that were largely ignored during their lifetime and did something that gave them a place in history, as the records about an average joe are fewer and harder to locate than those of public figures. A man whose historicity is very complicated is Jesus, see Historicity of Jesus
in the other wiki (which is, in short terms, what do we know about Jesus, besides
the things written in the Bible?)
Compare Ret Gone
, where the affected person is literally
erased from existence. When this happens because of meta reasons, for example, if there are copyrights or other laws involved and someone can not use a certain character anymore, or because the writers have just opted to write them out with no explanation, see Chuck Cunningham Syndrome
. When Gods Need Prayer Badly
, this is a good way to kill them
See also I Have No Son
, where a child is disavowed by his/her family; Expendable Clone
, where clones aren't given person status (or it's revoked upon discovery they're a clone
); and I Was Never Here
, which is requested on one's own behalf. Not to be confused with a UN person
. Contrast Invented Individual
(who never existed but is made to appear that they do), Death of Personality
(when someone ceases to exist from their perspective) and The Spook
(who actively works to keep themselves unpersoned). If the unpersoning is executed poorly it may lead to the Streisand Effect
(see Herostratus under Real life).
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Anime & Manga
- In Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion R2, the Emperor (who has the power of creating Fake Memories with his Geass) erases all knowledge of Nunnally vi Brittannia akla Nunnally Lamperouge from Ashford Academy, replacing her with Rolo Haliburton, now Rolo Lamperouge. This even includes Lelouch, who for a year is convinced that Rolo is his brother... until C.C. restores his memories.
- In the end of the Clow Card arc of Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura is threatened with something like this should she fail: no one will actually be gone except Yukito in the anime, who disappears with Kero, Yue, and the Cards, but everyone will forget that their most beloved person ever meant anything to them.
- Which includes a Nightmare Fuel Les Yay moment when Tomoyo Daidouji cannot remember Sakura at all, despite being her best friend, meaning HER most beloved person ever is Sakura herself!
- This is the whole plot/premise of Madlax. Friday Monday from seems to be able to do this to people, such as one poor detective who got too close to the truth. Eventually even he forgot who he was as well as everyone who once knew him.
- Happens in Yu-Gi-Oh! to the Pharaoh, or 'Yami Yugi' as he's known. When he was king he sacrified his life, name and memories to seal away the Shadow Games and Zorc, effectively wiping himself from history except in vague records. Upon first release 3,000 years later he seems to have adopted the identity of a dark avenger, since his magic is all he knows about himself. A theme of the series is his quest for a separate identity, as even Yugi's friends still refer to him as the other Yugi or just Yugi after learning of his past life.
- Suou has this happen to her in the second season of Darker Than Black, as her family is killed/forced on the run, her house is wiped off the map, and all of her friends (excepting the also fugitive Nika) have had their minds wiped of her existence.
- Johan from Monster is notable since the one who is removing the evidence of his existence is himself. He also did the same to General Wolf. All because the poor sap at one point asked him "how he felt".
- In Shakugan no Shana, a large amount of people have had their power of existence consumed and turned into torches. When a torch's flame dies out, they disappear completely, and no-one ever remembers they existed.
- In One Piece, the prison Impel Down has six levels. The sixth level of the prison—reserved for those who are most dangerous (whether to society or simply the World Government)—does not officially exist; the same could be presumed of its inhabitants. Which is why several of them escaping was covered up.
- The Don Quixote Family member Sugar has this as a side effect of her Devil Fruit power. The main power of her Hobby-Hobby Fruit is that it turns people she touches into toys that she can then place under her total control. The side-effect is that all memory of her victims are erased from those who knew them, though physical evidence still remains.
- Tiger & Bunny has a variation on it: neither Wild Tiger nor Kotetsu T. Kaburagi were stricken from record and memory, but any indication that they're the same person was. Thus, it becomes much easier for Maverick to frame Kotetsu for the murder of Samantha Taylor and have him hunted down by all of his former friends, whose memories were altered to believe Kotetsu is a murderer. Pity that he commited the mistake not deleting the memories of one of Kotetsu's bosses...
- Rukia had artificially created an existence for herself as a transfer student when she was hiding in the World of the Living. As a result, Soul Society removes all traces of Rukia's existence from the World of the Living when she's returned to Soul Society, including wiping human memories. Only those with spiritual pressure remember her.
- Tsukishima's death undoes his power and all his effects. His victims also forget all about him, even his very existence and despite remembering everything else.
- The characters in Another adopt this as a survival tactic. A curse regularly kills a particular class's students (and their immediate family members) year after year. The one common trend is that there always seems to be an extra person each year and Laser-Guided Amnesia / Fake Memories prevents anyone from identifying who it is. One response, is to choose one student and make them an Un-Person in the hopes that will make the curse think everything is correct. It has about a 50% success rate.
- Suicide Island: Any attempted suicide patient who consents to being put on the titular island will be considered this by the Japanese government. The island is apparently isolated, and there seems to be little chance of getting off it in the first place, even if the characters wanted to. Furthermore, the characters find themselves handling a number of issues coming from both themselves and the island to even worry about the outside world!
- In Gundam AGE, this is The Reveal about the Unknown Enemy: they are the descendents of an attempt to colonize Mars that failed when the planet's properties started killing people. Instead of evacuating them, the Federation erases all records of it so that they don't have to admit to such an enormous blunder. It backfires. Ohhh, does it ever.
- A minor case occurs in Eyeshield 21 when a character returned to America to find the real Eyeshield 21, everyone seemingly didn't recognize the name or refused to speak about said person. It turns out that Mr Don filed charges against Yamato that didn't exist and had him expelled from Notre Dame.
- Implied in Vampire Princess Yui. Once Yui leaves her home after the death of her grandmother and last relative, Miyu and Larva erase the memories of her remaining friends (Kyouko and Shouji) so they won't remember her.
- Played with in Fruits Basket. Pretty much everyone from outside the Sohma family who has found out about their secret must have their memories of such a fact and of the respective cursed Sohma member deleted, to not let anyone find out about the curse. This includes: Yuki's pre-school friends after a girl trips on him and accidentally triggers said curse, and Momiji's German mother after she rejects him and falls into illness. Tohru is pretty much the only exception, and the manga explains that there's a huge reason behind it: Akito and her mother Ren betted on what would happen if she stayed around the Sohmas while knowing about their curse: will she be able to stray them away from Akito's grip, or will they stay by Akito's side even if it's through fear?
- This happens to Fuko in CLANNAD, who simply disappears out of everybody's memories after her sister's wedding. She reappears in ~After Story~, even though Tomoya doesn't remember they ever met.
- At the end of Serial Experiments Lain , Lain removes others' memories of her (former) self.
- In Di[e]ce, all records of Kazuki and Haruki's existences are erased when they get sucked into the death games known as di[e]ce. Only the players that serve them acknowledge/remember them.
- Black Zetsu of Naruto erased all evidence of Kaguya's existence as part of his Long Game.
- Any character or event from the many Marvel-DC crossovers fall into this. If, let's say, Superman meets Spider-Man, they should better try all the things they may want to do together in the comic book of the crossover, and close all the plot directions that they may open. Once it is done, goodbye, Superman will never appear or be remembered in the Amazing Spider-Man comic book, and Spider-Man will never appear in Action Comics either.
- During the brief period of time Spider-Man's enemy the Vulture was a young man due to use of stolen technology, he was determined to do this to himself, and delete any evidence that his Adrian Toomes identity existed. (The experience had pretty much caused Toomes to go off the deep end in the process.) Unfortunately, this plan included murdering every person who knew about it (Spider-Man included). He offered to help fellow criminal the Owl (who was having quite an identity crisis at the time and could have benefitted from such) do the same, but the Owl eventually decided against it and broke off their partnership.
- Max Lord did this to himself with his Psychic Powers. Anybody sees a photo of him? They see someone else. They are asked about anything from his past? Whatever it was, they don't remember him. When confronted with what the man did? They blame someone else. The reformed JLI has been shoved into confrontations with the biggest guns of the DCU as a direct result of this, and they still couldn't prove anything... until Batman came back, and he wasn't around at the moment of the mindwipe... Amusingly, about halfway through his master plan, Wonder Woman, who Max wanted revenge on, was herself Un-personed in an unrelated plotline, and only Max could remember she ever existed. He noted the irony of this.
- In a weirdly Meta Fictional case, the DCU actually has an entire realm of this, with Comic Book Limbo, where characters go when nobody remembers them and they're not written about in stories anymore. Grant Morrison introduced this as an actual place in his Animal Man run, and later revisited it during Final Crisis in the Superman Beyond tie-in.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen universe makes use of this trope extensively, outright stating that an incredible number of "fictional characters" are in fact Unpersons, including Sherlock Holmes, Captain Nemo, and Fu Manchu. The third book increases their ranks a great deal, going so far as to imply Lovecraftian horrors are Unpersons.
- Lovecraftian Horrors were involved in the supplementary material for volume 1.
- Batman becomes (or always was?) this in Batman: Year 100 as James Gordon III tries to find any information about him. Arkham Asylum and the Bat's vaudevillians all exist and are widely-known... but Lieutenant Gordon can only find 3 witness reports from wildly different periods of a strange cloaked figure who was once famous enough to attend charity functions. He later burns all the evidence after reading his grandfather's secret laptop, proving the Gordons are ALWAYS hardcore about protecting Bruce Wayne... whatever he is after over a century of crime fighting.
- A Daredevil villain called the Mauler was an accountant who wanted revenge on the CEO who'd kept him from receiving his pension due to an accidental erasure of his work record. He tracked the guy down in a suit of Powered Armor and, instead of killing him as Daredevil had expected, destroyed all proof of his legal identity. Then corporate security shot him down.
- A real-world cross-media example originating in comics: Live-action and animated adaptations of Alan Moore's comic book work routinely include no credit for him, at his insistence. He regards adaptations with horror. Of course, he only made such an insistence because Hollywood burned him over an earlier adaptation deal.
- In The Sandman story "August", Caesar Augustus calmly tells Lycius that, if he gave the order, Lycius would disappear sometime during the night, and the next day, no one would dare to mention that he even existed in the first place.
- In early issues of X-Factor, Mr. Sinister did this to Cyclops' estranged wife Madelyne Pryor—records were altered, people who knew her disappeared, etc. It was never clear exactly why he bothered, since Cyclops knew perfectly well that she'd existed, and the whole thing was infinitely more suspicious than a faked death would have been.
- Rom the Spaceknight, a toy by the Parker Brothers, was promoted by giving a licence to Marvel Comics to publish a comic book about him. It was published from 1979 to 1986, and interacted with the other characters of the Marvel Universe. But, as Marvel does not have the license anymore, Rom is now completely off-limits. He is not around the Marvel universe, but he isn't either mentioned in flashbacks, found in alternate universes, or other similar tricks. Rom simply does not exist. Consider for example Avengers 221◊ (Rom is in the first column, second row), and the parody of that cover made for Secret Invasion, in New Avengers 42◊ (Rom was replaced with Jocasta)
- This was done hilariously in Civil War towards Howard the Duck. When he attempts to register for the Superhuman Registration Act, he's told that he's such a legal quagmire (which is basically true in real life; long story) that the government's decided to just pretend he doesn't exist. Howard's overjoyed at this, mostly because he doesn't need to pay taxes anymore.
Films — Live-Action
- In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers movie, Ivan Ooze plans to do this to Zordon after he wins:
"It will be as if Zordon of Eltare never existed!"
- Flightplan: A woman's daughter disappears, and the other passengers and crew claim that the woman boarded the plane alone. To be fair, most just aren't that attentive, rather than actively malicious. Keyword being "most".
- Capricorn One has the bad guys try to remove all traces of NASA technician Elliot Whittier. They move someone else into his apartment and she pulls out rent receipts to "prove" she has lived there for years. However, they are unable to change every phone book in the city, so the astute reporter finds Whittier still listed as living there.
- In Men In Black, new secret agents have all records of their prior lives destroyed... at least until retirement/resignation/dismissal, where they're promptly neuralyzed and given their old life and previous history back with a bizarre tabloid Hand Wave that they just came out of a long coma. Although in the series it's shown they don't erase people's memories of them; on two separate occasions an old acquaintance of J's recognized him as James Edwards.
- In 300, Xerxes threatens to do this to all of Sparta if Leonidas doesn't bow down to the King of Kings.
- Quoth the Big Bad Amon Göth in Schindlers List:
"Six hundred years ago when elsewhere they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Casimir the Great - so called - told the Jews they could come to Krakow. They came. They trundled their belongings into the city. They settled. They took hold. They prospered in business, science, education, the arts. With nothing they came and with nothing they flourished. For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. By this evening those six centuries are a rumor. They never happened."
- This is the premise of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, which deals with the experiences of a young woman who receives a knock on the head boarding a train and subsequently passes out. When she comes to and looks for the kind lady who tended to her in her injury, she finds that no one on the train remembers the woman existing. When she insists that the woman was real and searches for her, things begin to take a sinister turn.
- In Eraser, the participants in the Witness Protection Program acquired a new identity and had all the fixings of their old one destroyed.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, as in the novel, Hermione does this to herself in order to protect her parents from Voldemort's forces coming after her. It's a real Tear Jerker moment when you see her cast the spell, holding back tears, and her parents are acting like nothing's wrong as their only child is erased from their minds and all of their family photos. Word of God stated that she later reversed the spell, but it still shows the length she goes to protect her family.
- In the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, after it became known that Krueger grows more powerful based on how much he is feared and by how many people know of him, the town of Springwood prior to the events of Freddy vs. Jason tried to erase all knowledge of his existence and his murder spree to spare their children. But anyone who already came in contact with Freddy was put in Westin Hills Asylum and kept on Hypnocil permanently. There's even a ward for those who were put in comas from overdoses of the medication. Summarized in the remake: "Freddy Krueger never existed."
- In the ending of Pan's Labyrinth, Big Bad Captain Vidal, accepting defeat, asks Mercedes to at least tell his newborn son what time he died, but Mercedes coldly tells him that she will make sure that Vidal's son will never even know his name before shooting him dead.
- The Dark Knight Rises has Selina Kyle chasing after a computer program that will wipe her identity off of every database in the world, allowing her to erase her extensive record of larceny and disappear off the grid. Batman gets ahold of it and uses it as a bargaining chip to get her to help him take down Bane.
- In Skyfall, Silva tries to get M to say his real name once he's captured. M retorts that his real name is listed on the memorial wall of the MI6 building he attacked, and she'll have it struck off.
- Wing Commander has the pilots intentionally do this with their fellow pilots who have died, so they won't lose morale when their buddies/lovers are killed. They aren't dead; they simply never existed.
- This was a plot point in John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness, where the Mad Artist Sutter Cane literally writes the protagonist's partner Linda Styles out of existence so that only he can remember her. That's assuming of course he's not just crazy.
- Happened to Anton Vanko in Iron Man 2, which was why Tony didn't know about his involvement in the creation of the Arc Reactor.
- In The Heat Mullins' family effectively treats her like this after she arrested her brother Jason to the point that the family photo in their house is folded down to obscure her face. The only one who doesn't seem to feel like this is said brother, and at the end of the movie she and the rest of the family reconcile.
- In the Apocalypse film series movie Tribulation, Tom Canboro's brother Calvin doesn't remember their sister Eileen (a Christian who was Caught Up in the Rapture) and has her image removed from all family pictures that were taken. Also a fellow police officer who was a Christian was removed from any records of him prior to the Rapture.
- A classic urban legend (occasionally couched as a lateral-thinking puzzle) relates the story of a mother and daughter, on holiday in Europe, who checked into a hotel late one night and booked separate rooms. The next morning, the daughter complained of not feeling well and told the mother to go out and enjoy her vacation. When she returned, the daughter's hotel room had a different occupant and the hotel owner and staff refused to acknowledge the existence of the daughter, telling the mother that she had checked in alone and even bringing out the hotel registry (where guests signed in) to demonstrate that only one signature existed. The mother eventually discovered that the daughter had come down with a fast-acting disease and had died, and the hotelier had covered up her stay entirely because he feared that having an illness and death under his roof would cause travelers to stay elsewhere (whether the mother or anyone else got sick afterward is left to the reader's imagination).
- In 1984, which also used (and popularized) the trope name. As O'Brien says to Winston Smith:
"You must stop imagining that posterity will vindicate you, Winston. Posterity will never hear of you. You will be lifted clean out from the stream of history. We shall turn you into gas and pour you into the stratosphere. Nothing will remain of you, not a name in a register, not a memory in a living brain. You will be annihilated in the past as well as in the future. You will never have existed."
- The Forgotten Realms Finder's Stone Trilogy of novels features the Nameless Bard, made an Unperson by the Harpers as punishment for the accidental death of an apprentice caused by his hubris.
- "Negation of Being" in The Assassins of Tamurin, the third most severe punishment for a crime, after mutilation and execution.
- The Giver:
- The story's dystopian society has removed Rosemary, the previous Receiver of Memory and the Giver's daughter from the public memory, going as far as to forbid her name to be used for a new child ever again, after the memories she received dissipated out into the community when she applied for release (assisted suicide, and she knew what it was) and the members of the community had to feel emotion and pain for the first time.
- There's a variant that is almost kinder: A young child dies, his parents are given a new child, same gender, and the same name, in order to "replace" the child that died. Because everyone's emotions are so dulled, this is an effective emotional replacement, rendering the original child meaningless.
- Holes: The Warden wipes Zero's records after he runs away and announces that "he was never here." This comes back to bite her later.
- Another Star Trek: The Next Generation example, this one non-canonical: in one of the early novels, Peter David's Strike Zone, the worst punishment in Klingon society is to be stripped of one's name. This actually matches pretty well with how the Klingons were eventually portrayed on the show — after Worf accepts "discommendation", he's essentially an Unperson (this happens to him twice).
- Peter David did this again in Star Trek: New Frontier: When the New Thallonian Protectorate is attacked, Si Cwan finds that one Thallonian was away from his post at the time (actually, he was killed by the doppelganger impersonating Si Cwan's sister), and decides to Unperson him as punishment.
- In Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana, the residents of the titular country put up so much resistance to invading sorcerer-king Brandin of Ygrath (especially in killing his favorite son), that when he wins he casts a spell that erases Tigana almost completely. It disappears from all written record and living memory — except the memories of the few surviving Tiganans themselves. Only they can hear it spoken, or read it written, and thus forced to live with the knowledge that when they've died, it will be as if they and their home never existed.
- In Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence novels, the alien Qax attempt to do this to the entire history of humankind, in a project know as the extirpation, in order to make them better slaves.
- Jason Taverner in Philip K Dick's Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is a genetically engineered singer and TV star who goes from global celebrity to Un-person literally overnight.
- In Northern Lights Iofur Raknison vows to do this to Iorek Byrnison by making speaking his name a capital offense and writing him, and his idea of what a Panserbjorne should be, out of history... Just as soon as he defeats Iorek in their ritual one-on-one combat that Iorek cannot possibly win...
- The hero and narrator of My Name is Legion did this to himself. As one of the few people with a trapdoor into the global identification database, he could at will input specifics for a new identity and then erase it when he no longer needed it. The people in his 'Verse were awfully trusting about information they got from their computers...
- Cleverly handled by Brian Stableford in Rhapsody In Black. The subterranean theocracy of God's Nine Splinters has no place to actually banish offenders... so they are simply declared nonexistent. Both loyal and criminals live in the same dismal environment, but nobody will acknowledge that the criminals are there. This is circumvented on occasion when guards decide to do target practice by shooting at the space which "just happened to be occupied by us nonexistent people", and when Grainger tells a captive he can pass the time by talking to his "imaginary" guard.
- In a few Choose Your Own Adventure books, this was the worst, and most disturbing, fate.
- In Thief of Time, all evidence that Lobsang Ludd was ever at the Thieves' Guild is removed from history when he joins the History Monks.
- The Wheel of Time
- The Seachan strike the names of all damane from the records upon discovery.
- Balefire can do this literally. It not only kills you in the present, but it burns you out of existence into the past, undoing things you might have done. Strong enough balefire can make it as if a person was never born, with only the balefire user remembering the shadow of their existence. In theory. In practice, the strongest Balefire ever used (by the strongest human magic user period, with a unusually, but not godly, powerful magic booster) only erased an hour, two at most. It seems unlikely that even the largest possible circle using the most powerful sa'angreal ever crafted could erase any meaningfully aged character from existence.
- Happens in the Alex Rider novel, Crocodile Tears. A journalist investigating the titular spy has this done to him by MI-6, before it is reversed. This just makes him more bitter.
- A threat by King Haggard in The Last Unicorn, made all the scarier by the vagueness of just how Haggard would accomplish it.
"You are losing my interest," the rustling voice interrupted him again, "and that is very dangerous. In a moment I will have forgotten you quite entirely, and will never be able to remember just what I did with you. What I forget not only ceases to exist, but never really existed in the first place."
- This was considered to be the ultimate punishment in Heralds of Valdemar's Eastern Empire. It was enacted on Grand Duke Tremain, for his forging of the Imperial Seal and using fake documents marked with that seal to loot a military supply depot (which he had needed to do in order to get critical supplies his troops needed to survive after being cut off from the Empire by the Mage Storms). Since Tremain had no intention of ever going back home after looting that depot, and ended up getting made king of the nation he was supposed to conquer for the Empire, it sort of fell flat as a punishment. In fact, due to his being totally out of contact from the Empire, he never even found out about it.
- This is the harshest form of punishment the dwarves of The Inheritance Cycle can bestow. Also, the dragons wiped every single memory of the forsworn's dragon's names - including the memories of said dragons. The names cannot be read, remembered, nor spoken.
- In Seven Sorcerers by Caro King, Bogeymen have this as a power. They force people who knew a child to forget him/her, and any document/photo with them is altered. Then they make all things belonging to the child disappear. And then they kidnap the child, and nobody is going to miss him/her!
- In Tale of the Troika by Strugatsky Brothers, the titular Troika possesses the Big Round Seal, which is capable of fulfilling any bureucratic order. So if one uses it on an order "delete all records about XXX", then all records about XXX disappear, and will disappear again if somebody makes them. In story this is used only on a lake, but the possibility to use it on a person exists.
- As noted in the Film section, Hermione does this to herself in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, forcing her parents to forget that she exists. It's not as much of a Tear Jerker in the book as it is in the film, however, because it only gets mentioned several weeks after the event has taken place, when Harry asks Hermione if her parents will be okay. She explains that she not only wiped her own existence from their minds, but also gave them false identities and an overwhelming desire to move to Australia, which is where they remain for the entirety of the book. (Word of God has promised us that after Voldemort is defeated, Hermione gets her parents back.)
- The purpose of the Oblivion War in The Dresden Files is to render certain paranormal nasties into unpeople, as they can only interact with this plane if people know about them.
- In the Circle of Magic series, Daja is made an unperson by the Traders because of their beliefs regarding disaster survivors. At the end of the third book, Daja reroutes a giant forest fire to save another Trader clan, and in gratitude they revoke her unperson status and adopt her.
- Also in the series, the prathmuni of Tharios, who handle the dead. Although now that they've all gone into hiding, their status may change in the near future.
- Stu Redman realizes the army was going to do this after things fell apart in The Stand. They would have burned his body and his records.
"Stu Redman was going to become an un-person."
- Fuku! By E. Evtuschenko is a poem about this trope. Namely, the author discusses the name taboo (the titular "Fuku") and reminiscences about people who should be Unpersoned. His list includes Adolf Hitler, Pinochet and Columbus.
- In Prince of the Blood, this is part of the punishment that Lord Fire receives (In addition to humiliation, mutilation, being fed to a crocodile, and having his sentence recited to him every fifteen minutes for the last day of his life so he can't get any sleep) for attempted treason. His name was stricken from every document mentioning his existence, replaced with 'One Who Betrayed His Country', and it became illegal for any member of the Keshian nobility to give a child his first name ever again. Whenever anyone in Kesh refers to him later in the series, it is never by name, only by indirect reference, such as 'One Whose Name Has Been Forgotten'.
- Discussed and then defied in Mick Harte Was Here, when Mick hangs pictures of Wocket, his dog, on his bedroom mirror to make sure he won't forget her after her death.
- In Those That Wake, this happens to Laura, and eventually the other main characters.
- In Pact, the abstract demon Ur does this to those that it devours, erasing them from the memories of the entire world and damaging those that they leave behind. It's speculated that the reason that it's trapped in an abandoned factory but nobody can remember how it got there is that someone very powerful trapped it, and then went in to try to kill it permanently, but lost, leaving it to steadily eat away at the bindings. Halfway through the story, it does this to the protagonist after killing him, and an extended interlude displays how his friends forgot him and would always wonder who they lost, his Familiar was rendered broken and dying, unable to sustain itself because it couldn't remember how to exist, and the truce he'd brokered among the practitioners of Toronto was rendered nonexistent because he'd done so personally, and none of them remembered making the agreement with him.
- Margaret Atwood wrote a variant of this trope into The Handmaid's Tale: Feminists, lesbians, and any other rebellious women are deemed "Unwomen." Deformed births are labeled "Unbabies." Making it feasible, in advance, to then dispose of them as though they'd never existed.
- In The Clan of the Cave Bear, Ayla becomes an un-person in the eyes of the Clan when she is "cursed with death" - twice. The first death curse (imposed by Brun after Ayla is caught breaking the Clan's prohibition on females hunting) is of temporary duration and Ayla is allowed to rejoin the Clan when the time expires; she is even granted special hunting privileges. The second (imposed by Broud, who has hated Ayla almost from the start) is permanent. In both cases, the rest of the Clan cease to acknowledge Ayla's existence, though this takes a while to happen in the second instance since Broud orders her cursed without preparing them for it - not to mention that she hasn't done anything to merit being cursed in the first place.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome is a television example of making someone an "unperson" – a character that has some importance to the show's main premise will be dropped, with no proper farewell or explanation, and are not referred to again. Even "dated" photographs will have the ex-family member cropped out. This "unperson" trope was named for a Happy Days character who was Richie Cunningham's older brother, Chuck. Chuck ended up being a superfluous character who usually appeared only in transitional scenes, was never given any meaningful dialogue, and was eventually written out without explanation. In fact, in the series' 1984 finale ("Passages," where Joanie and Chachi are married), Cunningham patriarch Howard toasts his family and mentions that his two children have married well ... leading longtime fans of the show, who were aware that originally there were three children, to scratch their heads and wonder "Where's Chuck?" (In a blooper reel, Tom Bosley indeed asks that question after the final cut.) Numerous other "unperson" examples of the Chuck Cunningham Syndrome exist; see that page for more details.
- The Brady Bunch: Temporarily, in the 1972 episode "Jan, the Only Child." Here, Jan feels insecure about her place as the middle daughter of a six-child blended family. When she is unable to get along with her siblings – almost always, these arguments are over privacy, courtesy and personal space issues – and declares she wants to become an only child, her sibilings (who tried to accommodate her) are so offended that they declare her invisible ... ignoring her and staying out of her way. It isn't long before a tearful Jan declares she wants to become a person again in her siblings' eyes.
- Step by Step: Young Brendan is shunned (unfairly) by his older siblings and stepsiblings in "Back to Basics." Why? For the "send him to hell" crime of having a months-overdue video that was found under his bed. Carol had found it, declared it the last straw in a series of increasingly irresponsible behavior by her children/step-children, and imposed a crackdown on privileges. Brendan is immediately targeted and is yelled at and/or shunned ... then becomes an "unperson" when Carol stiffens the punishment for their abusive behavior. Brendan eventually has enough and runs away to the only place where he's considered a person ... Cody's van! Carol and Frank eventually realize they were being too harsh on Brendan and help him to become a person again — by making the others apologize.
- Alice: The 1983 episode "Sweet, Erasable Mel" humorously plays with the "unperson" concept when Vera accidentally erases all of Mel's financial records on his new computer. Naturally, Mel panics and believes he's been virtually erased from existence, but when he and Alice go to the bank to recover the information, the computers there go haywire, and it appears everything there is lost, too. (Of course, everything works out in the end.)
- The Dukes of Hazzard: Coy and Vance, who were "unpersons" before their arrival in Hazzard in 1982 – to replace Bo and Luke, after John Schneider and Tom Wopat sat out most of Season 5 as part of a dispute – and became "unpersons" after Bo and Luke returned. Indeed, the two "fake Dukes" are never spoken of again (in first-run episodes, anyway; their legacy remains in reruns) ... and it is as though they never existed.
- The Price Is Right: Bob Barker's ill-will toward the classic Barker's Beauties – Janice Pennington, Dian Parkinson, Holly Hallstrom and Kathleen Bradley – has grown to the point where he refuses to talk about them in interviews, and in his autobiography doesn't even acknowledge they were even on the show; their work has gone completely unacknowledged by Barker, in essence making them, in his view, "unpersons." For instance, in commentary about the pricing game Cliff Hangers, he remarks simply that "one of the models" – giving no indication that the model in question was Pennington – ran off the set crying after that game's first playing when nighttime host Dennis James unwittingly and unknowingly referred to the "mountain climber" as Fritz. (Pennington's husband – Friedrich "Fritz" Stammberger – had disappeared in Afghanistan while mountain climbing a year earlier). Barker's dislike for Hallstrom in particular has led to speculation that he refuses to allow reruns of shows featuring Hallstrom as a model.
- Good Times: Happened with Carl Dixon, a recurring character toward the end of Season 4. To explain Esther Rolle's departure from the show, she married Carl and left for Arizona (to tend to his failing health) in the 1976-1977 season finale. Rolle agreed to return in 1978 under a number of conditions, one of which was that Carl — a hardcore atheist who somehow marries a devout Christian — never existed. The producers met her demand, and indeed, during the final season (1978-1979), there is nary a mention of Carl.
- Jeopardy: Any contestant who finishes Double Jeopardy! with $0 or a negative score is disqualified from the game's final round, Final Jeopardy! Not only are they not behind their lectern, they aren't even shown with the other players chatting with host Alex Trebek during the closing credits sequence.
- In Doctor Who, the Doctor gives Mickey Smith a disc that contains a virus that will erase all existence of the Doctor from the internet, as if he never existed. Mickey chooses not to use it, and explains why on a tie-in site.
- We learn in Series 7 of the new series that the Eleventh Doctor has been doing this to himself. Wiping out all mention of himself from every database he can get to. One of the ones he can't (the Dalek semi-Hive Mind), someone else does it for him.
- Although River Song later comments that this has only partially worked, since in his over-eagerness to wipe all traces of himself from history, he's left a giant "Doctor-shaped hole" where he used to be, making his existence fairly obvious to anyone who bothered to look.
- One of the weapons used by the Time Lords or the Daleks in the Last Great Time War was "the Could-Have-Been King with his army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres".
- In "The Name of the Doctor", an incarnation of The Doctor (played by John Hurt), who crossed the Moral Event Horizon is this to The Doctor to the point that he's suppressed all memories of this incarnation and denied him the very name "The Doctor."
- It is eventually revealed that this version of The Doctor is the one who fought in the Time War, and ended it by destroying both races. Subverted, when the Tenth and Eleventh versions realize how unfair this is, saying he was the Doctor more than any of them.
- Nowhere Man: Tom Veil's identity is scrubbed from all records by the conspiracy, and his family, relatives and friends no longer recognise him. Over the series, he meets a number of other people who have suffered this too - even a whole town of them.
- Subverted when it's revealed in the final episode that Tom Veil never existed in the first place; it was simply a false memory given to the protagonist and presumably the other unpersons he'd encountered in the series.
- In Prison Break, all evidence of Paul Kellerman's involvement with the president was erased after he fell from the Company's favor.
- In the last season of Blake's 7 a character mentions that Servalan is now considered an unperson by the Terran Federation.
- Lex Luthor threatens to do this to a corrupt journalist in an episode of Smallville.
- And Chloe does a variation of this to herself when she leaves in season ten. It's not fully complete (Lois was able to access high school newspaper articles she had written, for one) but it works well enough.
- In the Twilight Zone episode "The Card", a mercilessly efficient credit card company will repossess parts of a person's life if they overdraft, including the protagonist's children. It's left unclear as to how they do this: at the beginning of the episode it appears that they merely take people, reprogram them to believe that they are someone else, and change all records, but, as it goes on, it appears that it may be something much more sinister.
- The original series episode "Person or Persons Unknown" concerned an average man who wakes up one morning and finds that no one recognizes or has any memory of him. Not his wife, his boss and coworkers or the bartender he sees once a week. He knows all of them and the facts are unchanged but no memory of him (pictures with his wife have her standing alone) exists. The episode ends with an inversion: the man wakes from his nightmare only to find that he doesn't recognize his wife.
- "And Then The Sky Was Opened" is basically this trope in a nutshell. Three men return home from a space mission and then one man starts disappearing from sight and no one remembers him. All evidence he exists (the glass he dropped, pictures) either aren't thee or don't show him. The newspaper now says 2 spacemen return instead of 3. Soon after he disappears. Then the same happens to another spaceman, the newspaper now saying 1 returned. And finally it ends with the last man disappearing when the nurse offers the room to 3 malaria patients. Even the hospital beds aren't there. It's then taken Up to Eleven when the spaceship disappears.
- In "To See The Invisible Man," an episode of the '80s revival of The Twilight Zone, a man is sentenced to a year of Unperson status as a punishment for "coldness." The authorities affix a mark to his forehead so everyone else will know to shun him.
- A very localized version occurs in an episode of Monk, where Monk meets a stranger at an inn. The man disappears, and then the next day everyone acts like the guy never existed, prompting Monk to worry that he might have hallucinated him (he was under the influence of alcohol at the time). Tthe man really did exist; the other guests found him dead then covered it up so they could steal his money.
- The Syndicate in The X-Files is fond of this to cover its tracks with people who give Mulder too much information or people who are no longer of use.
- Played for laughs in an episode of The IT Crowd, where Roy removes his ex-girlfriend from photos of the two of them together. Moss says it's "like breaking up with Stalin".
- In the Red Dwarf episode "The Inquisitor", the title character does this as part of his sentencing on those whom he feels wasted their lives.
- Aliens do this to a salary man in an episode of Ultra Seven.
- The character of Kevin Webster, who for twenty years has been a fixture of soap opera Coronation Street, may well go this way, as the actor playing him, Kevin Veill, has been accused of several serious counts of (alleged) child rape. Whichever way his trial goes, the actor has been suspended from the show, and storylines featuring him have fallen into a plot void. It is possible that even if found not guilty of such serious chargers, his reputation has been tainted so badly that he may never return and is finished as an actor. Fortunately, Veill has been cleared of all charges and is returning to the series after a year long absence.
- In Banshee the local Amish community treats Kai Proctor like this. Proctor was born Amish but was thrown out of the Actual Pacifist community when he used a hammer to defend himself against an attack by some local criminals. Instead of seeking atonement and forgiveness, he instead embraced a life of violence and became the local crime kingpin. In the series premiere he saves some Amish, including his father, from a beating by a bunch of toughs and instead of thanking him, the Amish act as if he does not even exist.
- In Breaking Bad, the fear of becoming this is one of the things that drives Walter White/Heisenberg to make his final moves in the Grand Finale, after previously resigning himself to his fate. Even the tagline for Season 5B, the final eight episodes of the series was, Remember My Name!
- Late Night with Conan O'Brian had a segment focusing on the ill-fated XFL note . One of the jokes was that the last game of the season would begin with the burial of all XFL merchandise in a landfill, taking the executives responsible for the failed league in a helicopter and dropping them from the sky into the field, and having an orbital satellite erase everyone's memory on earth of the XFL.
- On Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill accused the Republican party of doing this to George W. Bush and his presidency at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
If your party can run the country for 8 years, and then hold a convention and not invite Bush, [Dick] Cheney, [Donald] Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, or Tom DeLay, you're not a political movement, you're the witness protection program. If you're gonna hold a convention and not invite your most recent president, your most recent vice-president, your most recent vice-presidential nominee
, or most of the runners-up from your most recent primary, why not just wave one of those Men In Black
memory-eraser wands and make us forget everything we ever knew about you?
- Trope is mentioned by name in M*A*S*H when a clerical error declares Hawkeye dead. At first he sees it as a way out of the normal military grind until he finds he can't tell his father he's all right... and isn't getting paid.
- Events far outside his control turned Eddie McCleister into this in the miniseries The Lost Room. Specifically, the Event which created the title room and its Objects also included the man inside, hereby immortal, erased from history and known only as either John Doe or "The Occupant". Even his wife had no memory of him, being very disturbed by the Wedding Photo which depicted them married in the previous timeline.
- Machinae Supremacy's The Wired is entirely about this, due to being inspired by the ending of Serial Experiments Lain.
- This is commonplace in bands and music ensembles when members who were with the band before they hit it big, leave or are kicked out prior to the group becoming famous.
- Iron Maiden has gone so far as to in many a Greatest Hits Album have singer Bruce Dickinson on all tracks, even in songs originally performed by his predecessor Paul Di'Anno (helps that band leader Steve Harris developed some Creator Backlash with Di'Anno's albums) and his not-very-popular replacement Blaze Bayley (though Dickinson has denounced fans who like to pretend Bayley's era of the band never happened and has made several of the songs of his era songs regulars in the band's set list).
- You can't blame them if you know Paul's reputation for violence (including against women and audience members), the fact he is banned from the US, and the fact he claimed benefits even whilst touring the world, and went to prison many times. Upon leaving the band, Rod Smallwood actually made him sign over his rights to the songs so he wouldn't get royalties for them, instead getting one large payoff. Of course, Di'Anno spent most of the money on drugs and alcohol.
- In all biographical material sanctioned by Devo, the band was formed by Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale, who were classmates at Kent State. Wikipedia and the only (unofficial) book on Devo tells us that a third co-founder, Bob Lewis, was edged out before their first major label release, and as a result took legal action over his contributions to the band's concept and aesthetic. The only real acknowledgement of Lewis comes in being credited on older songs like "Be Stiff."
- One particularly infamous example is the 2002 "remasters" of Ozzy Osbourne's first two albums. In an effort to avoid paying royalties to Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake (the original bassist and drummer), the rhythm tracks were rerecorded by Ozzy's current bassist and drummer, Daisley and Kerslake's names were removed from the songwriting credits, and they were completely removed from the photos in the liner notes, all without any indication that the albums were anything but straight reissues. The move caused massive backlash, and the subsequent Bark at the Moon reissue contained Daisley's original bass track (Kerslake had left the band by that point).
- Ever since Dave Holland's arrest for having sex with a minor, Judas Priest prefer to pretend he was never in the band, including editing him out of band photos from that era.
- Country Music group Gloriana was in the middle of recording their second album A Thousand Miles Left Behind when Cheyenne Kimball left the group for reasons only really known to her. They ultimately re-recorded the tracks that originally had Kimball on them (including the first single, "Wanna Take You Home"), and omitted a song she co-wrote from the track list. This will happen frequently when a musician leaves, since intellectual property is involved and there can be legal and economic reasons to Unperson someone.
- The 2003 Greatest Hits Album for the country band Lonestar has only one mention of bassist John Rich (who was fired in 1998): specifically, as the co-writer of the #1 single "Come Cryin' to Me". All the pictures show only the most famous four-man lineup of Richie McDonald, Keech Rainwater, Dean Sams, and Michael Britt. But Rich has nothing to worry about, as he's well known as a songwriter and producer, not to mention one-half of the duo Big & Rich.
- When Blondie were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, Debbie Harry tried to have two founding members of the band, Nigel Harrison and Frank Infante, excluded from the ceremony. She was tactfully informed the induction was for all members of the classic lineup, and whether she liked it or not, Harrison and Infante were part of the Blondie who were being honoured.
- While on the Hall of Fame, a minor case revolves around who is listed as an inducted member regarding bands. Sure, there's no problem streamlining a Revolving Door Band, specially regarding members who are borderline footnotes, unpopular replacements or reminiscents of a Dork Age. But some musicians reacted badly upon their exclusions.
- When searching allmusic, you can find stray mentions to Bryan Adams, but not his own pages - because he's such a Reclusive Artist that he asked the site to take them down.
- Even though Gary Glitter was an important and significant artiste in the seventies' glam-rock scene, try finding any radio or TV station that will acknowledge this, after his convictions for child sex abuse. Glitter has effectively been airbrushed out of 1970's music history, and nearly every playing of his crowd anthem Rock and Roll Part 2 in a stadium or arena is always a Suspiciously Similar Song so he doesn't get royalties from the original song. His name only lives on as a dubious piece of rhyming slang for "anus". (Work it out)
- Megadeth's Dave Mustaine always gave the impression just him and Dave Ellefson formed the band, but eventually mentioned in his book the names of several ex-members of Megadeth before he settled on a touring lineup. Early on, Dave was seriously considering hiring somebody else to be a lead singer, and even tried out a few, one of whom actually suggested the name Megadeth for Dave's band. Mustaine felt that most of the auditionees were too glam metal for the band, and eventually just decided to sing himself.
- The Plasmatics: Guitarist Richie Stotts was a co-founder of the band, but after the release of "Coup d' Etat" he was edited out of band videos and not referred to by name in a 2006 compulation DVD of the band.
- This is what In Extremo's Spielmannsfluch is about. Two musicians come to the court of a king, and the queen falls in love with the younger musician. The king then kills the young musician, and the old musician curses him with the Spielmannsfluch (the musicians curse), causing every musician, poet, writer etc. to never mention the king or any of his deeds.
- It's based on the ballad Des Sängers Fluch (The singers curse) by Ludwig Uhland, which has basically the same plot.
- In recent ABBA documentaries, the importance of manager Stig Anderson - who wrote most of the band's lyrics up to 1979, used his business savvy to promote and market the band worldwide, and was generally considered the "fifth member" of the group - has been downplayed to the point that he is rarely mentioned at all. Depending on who you believe, this is either because of Stig's falling out with the band before his death or it's part of Benny and Bjorn's sinister plot to take over the world.
- John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent a lot of time not only telling the world about peace and love, and how much in love they were... But also how no other women had ever existed in John's life.
- John's first wife, Cynthia Lennon, was portrayed as a dead weight he had been forced to marry in a shotgun wedding. They had been together for ten years, but after John started using drugs they divorced. He later claimed to never have written love songs about her and that their marriage was rushed because of her pregnancy. This extended to incivility after his death. Lennon's first wife and their son were pointedly not invited to the funeral rites. They still do not know the secret location where Yoko interred or otherwise bestowed the ashes and cannot even pay private respects there. Julian Lennon had to fight Yoko for years to be acknowledged as a son with a right to some part of his father's estate.
- John's girlfriend for eighteen months, May Pang, got a worse treatment. In 1972, Yoko Ono told Pang she should have a relationship with John. Pang refused at first, but accepted afterwards. John moved with May Pang, and in eighteen months produced three records (including his most successful solo work, "Walls and Bridges") and reunited with long time friend Paul McCartney and estranged son Julian. Still, when John went back to Yoko, he called his time with May "the lost weekend". It had been a very productive weekend, on musical and personal accounts.
- A number of outsider musicians have done this to themselves, to varying degrees, some prominent examples being The Residents, free-jazz pioneer Sun Ra, and reclusive singer-songwriter Jandek.
- Jandek is a particularly unusual case: While the man himself has almost certainly been identified, his musical collaborators prior to his live debut in 2004 remain unknown. Take into account that this man has been making records on a yearly basis since 1978...
- Technically outdone by The Residents (active since at least 1969), but the identities of (most of) the group members has been all but public knowledge since the late-'70s. Unless we're wrong, in which case all bets are off.
- In a case of "too expensive to keep" instead of falling out with the person, many Jesse Ventura commentaries are cut from recent DVDs. That said, there actually was a falling out between WWE & Jesse Ventura over video game rights in 1990. The next year, Jesse sued WWE over home video royalties that were withheld from him. He won almost $900,000 in back royalties and walked away with a court decision that significantly increased his royalties for subsequent WWE video releases. When WWE began releasing WCW footage as part of compilation DVDs, Jesse's commentary (unless absolutely necessary) was muted, resulting in many cases where Tony Schiavone would be heard on commentary in between periods of silence.
- Another person WWE has almost completely scrubbed from their memory, Chyna. Thanks to a large number of reasons, such as general backstage conflict (Chris Jericho's second book paints her as difficult to work with), being on the bad side of the heirs to the WWE throne Triple H and Stephanie McMahon (sources indicate she became the hypotenuse in their love triangle), and her current career as a porn actress (while WWE is trying their best to make a move into a family-friendly direction), WWE has done everything in their power to completely erase her existence (see how WWE currently removes her rather significant contributions to the formation of D-Generation X). They'd have more success if she didn't do so many firsts in WWE, such as first woman to hold a men's title, first female to compete in the Royal Rumble, first woman in the King of the Ring. There's also some buzz from within, with WWE darling Trish Stratus saying Chyna definitely deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. They have begun relenting on this somewhat. She is featured prominently in the Triple H documentary during the behind-the-scenes timeline of the formation of Degeneration X and Trips/HBK convincing Vince to hire her. As of January 2015, they even included her in a WWE Vintage episode on bodyguards.
- WWE tried, and did a pretty good job of this, after Chris Benoit's murder of his family and suicide. You can find examples of this in WWE.com's title history section where articles on Benoit's championship reigns have been deleted - Benoit is still listed in the title histories, but you can no longer see the summary of the title win. As far as archive footage goes, the WWE will no longer show Benoit matches or segments, unless Benoit's just a background figure, and will mute any audio referring to him. On DVD, if the match features Benoit but needs to be highlighted (such as the first 'Money in the Bank' ladder match on an Edge DVD), they cut it down to highlights and either completely edit Benoit out of the match, or acknowledge that he was in the match but not show his in-ring performance. VERY rarely, WWE has included Chris Benoit footage in full-length matches released on DVD, but with edits made. For example, in the 2010 Elimination Chamber collection DVD, Benoit's EC match from New Year's Revolution in 2005 was shown in its entirety, but when the commentators said anything positive about him, they were muted and replaced with crowd noise. For the 2013 War Games collection, the Four Horsemen's entrance is cut from the 1997 match, which was the nWo (Kevin Nash/Syxx/Konnan/Buff Bagwell) vs. the Four Horsemen (Ric Flair/Benoit/Steve "Mongo" McMichael/Curt Hennig). In the 2013 Money in the Bank collection DVD, the same methods used in the two aforementioned DVDs were implemented again, as well as the use of a wide-angle camera instead of a close-up in the climax of the first MITB match at WrestleMania 21 in 2005, which showed Edge rushing in to cost Benoit the win, likely to telegraph what would happen and lessen the heroic effort Benoit showed in the match. Even in the documentary the company did on their history, despite going over many other dark periods of their company (like the steroid scandal of the 90s), Benoit is never touched on. While in line with their usual M.O. with Benoit, given that this was a history of the company, omitting the Benoit tragedy is fairly jarring.
- Chris Hero was one of the men who shaped Chikara, but after he left in 2007, those in charge of the promotion decided to do their best to forget about him and make sure no one else reminds them of him. Fans get around this by instead talking about Kassius Ohno, the ring name that would have come with his WWE repackaging had it worked out.
- Vince McMahon tried to invoke this with CM Punk after he left the company after winning at the Money in the Bank PPV, and taking the WWE Championship with him. Of course this only lasted one or two weeks as he came back after they had held a tournament to crown a new winner. Then when Punk legitimately quit the company in January of 2014, WWE went full force with the unperson treatment. His absence has only ever been acknowledged twice (both times in his hometown of Chicago) in the half a year as of this writing that he's been gone. They even did the classic editing out of photographs with his likeness removed from the Summerslam 2013 poster on the WWE Network and hilariously a post it note covering his face on a poster in the background during an Ultimate Warrior documentary.
- The Big Finish Doctor Who audio "Neverland" introduces us to a world of Neverpeople, which is a mix of this and government-sanctioned Ret Gone. Being Time Lords, they didn't have to just settle for this trope; Gallifreyans were thrown into the Oubliette of Eternity for crimes of "treason" (they knew too much) and erased from Time.
- Alluding to this trope, when the Fifth Edition was thrown to Canon Discontinuity, it was officially declared an un-product.
- In the second edition's post-MegaWhoops period, there were still information terminals hooked up to The Computer's old personnel database, but due to data corruption, a few clones weren't recognized: the terminals would glitch and cough up random unrelated data instead, both a blessing and a curse.
- The XP edition supplement The Underplex had DELETED citizens. All records of them were wiped from computer data banks (including those of the Computer itself) as a result of error, revenge, system failure or bureaucratic idiocy. It also happens to Troubleshooters who are out of contact for too long.
- Often attempted to varying degrees of success in Warhammer 40,000, when the Inquisition or other Imperial agencies try to sweep some information under the rug. Nobody's sure what happened to the 2nd and 11th of the original Space Marine Legions, only that all records of them have been scrubbed, "order designation unknown," and likewise the Space Marine chapters of the so-called "Cursed Founding" got this treatment after breaking out in severe mutations. The Imperium has tried to erase all references to the Horus Heresy to hide the fact that Space Marines can fall to Chaos from citizens, but depending on the planet Horus may be completely unknown or commonly referenced as a bogeyman. This is either due to GW's relatively low standards on canon, or because it's hard to eliminate every trace of someone from countless sprawling data-crypts spanning the entire Imperium.
- Games Workshop's actions regarding the Squats are eerily similar to this trope. The official stance is that the Squats never existed, and to reinforce this the publishers have removed all mention of the Squats from publications and even ceased distributing any works where the Squats played a significant role. When the GW website was active, so much as mentioning the Squats would get you banned and the thread you posted in deleted. Ask questions about Squats at GW-sanctioned events and they'd have security remove you from the event. GW really, really did not like the Squats. It was nearly two decades before things finally relaxed, and the writers were allowed to give Squats an in-canon send-off (eaten by Tyranids). They were even referenced in the 6th Edition Rulebook.
- The "Zeroed" advantage in GURPS, available to secret government operatives, The Men in Black and the like.
- Vampire: The Requiem: Back during the days of Rome, it turned out an entire clan was suspected of working with the strix. The clan was wiped out down to a man, and all references to their name stricken — they are only known as the Traditores (or "traitors").
- In Exalted some advanced Sidereal charms are capable of killing someone so thoroughly that they were never actually born.
- Magic: The Gathering:
- Revoke Existence, which does this to artifacts (machinery) and enchantments (long-lasting effects). Even the flavor text fits this.
- Door to Nothingness reads, "All memory of your existence will be wiped from reality. You will die, and no one will mourn."
- In the Points of Light D&D setting, Asmodeus erased the name of the god that he rebelled against from history. Very few people know the god existed, those who do know him only as He Who Was. This is because Asmodeus feared what would happen if someone said the slain god's name even once.
- Iron Crown Enterprise's Cyberspace cyberpunk RPG. Blanks are people who have either never had a file on them (born without being documentated) or have had their file deleted from all databases. They don't have to pay taxes and are hard to track down, but if caught they are subjected to "thought reorientation" (brainwashing/mindwiping).
- Last Unicorn Games' Star Trek: The Expanded Universe supplement All Our Yesterdays: The Time Travel Sourcebook has the Disadvantage "No Past". It's usually caused by either a character coming from outside of civilization or all of their records being deleted. It could also be caused by a time traveler altering the timeline and erasing the character's personal history or if the character is from an alternate timeline. The character is difficult to track down or identify and is thus a valued espionage operative. They also have all of the disadvantages of not having their existence acknowledged: can't own property, doesn't have any rights, etc.
- Mass Effect 2: Tali states that if her father were found guilty of bringing live geth to the fleet, he'd be written off all records and become a bogeyman used to scare children.
- ex-C-Sec agent Harkin had taken up a job where he makes people 'disappear' under the apt pseudonym of 'Fade'.
- In Quest for Glory III, being deemed "Without Honor" in Tarna does this: No one will trade, or even talk with you. The hero catches a thief at the beginning of the game. Said capture leads the thief to being declared honorless. The hero showing kindness to the thief and giving him food leads to said thief becoming an ally at a crucial moment.
- Keep in mind that, under normal circumstances, those declared honorless could still at least catch the nearest caravan out of the city. But since caravans stopped coming to the city due to the looming threat of war, the thief would very reasonably starve to death without the hero's intervention.
- Freelancer has the forced disappearance and the deletion of all the records of anyone that had something to do with alien artifacts. Juni finding this out is the moment that kickstarts the Conspiracy Theory plot.
- The first story arc involving Crey Industries in City of Heroes involves the attempted assassination and [unperson=]ing of a woman (and her sister, when she becomes suspicious and gets involved), all because she had convinced her husband to quit his job with Crey.
- The one of the primary directives of the titular organization in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Government agency is to "Erase" any records or physical evidence of extraterrestrial invasion.
- Featured in Sharin No Kuni in the form of The Maximum Penalty, the worst punishment an individual can receive. Basically, you're virtually isolated from society; no one can befriend you, no one can speak to you, no one can touch you, no one can even look at you. No jobs, no fun, nothing. The only person allowed to interact with you is your assigned Special High Class Individual, and only for strictly monitoring purposes. Everyone subject to this punishment has a strange spiral-like mark tattooed in its skin and sewn in its clothes, so everyone can know its punishment.
Ririko, being the daughter of Saburou Higuchi (the one that started the uprising years ago), receives this punishment, and Houzuki is the Special High Class Individual in charge of her. He uses her to put pressure on Kenichi (actually Ken, Ririko's brother) to become a Special High Class Individual, promising him that once he does, he'll let him take care of Ririko.
- In Arcanum there is this disturbing quest involving a Government Conspiracy, which among other things standard for this sort of story, also includes the man-disappears-and-is-replaced motif.
- Touhou's Keine Kamishirasawa is a were-hakutaku with the power to "devour" history, which she uses in Imperishable Night to hide the human village from harm - afterward she returns it without any damage done. Fans have planted Epileptic Trees about whether Keine used this power on the PC-98 continuity, or on Rin Satsuki, the Dummied Out third protagonist from the first Windows game.
- In Red Alert 2, Yuri brands general Vladimir a traitor and a "non-person" after setting him up for Romanov's murder. Having known Stalin personally, he probably picked up the habit from the man himself.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, in addition to being exiled and sentenced to die in the Deep Roads, the Dwarf Noble is permanently erased from the Memories of the Shaperate. As far as the rest of Dwarven society is concerned, the second child of the King of Orzammar never existed.
- The Casteless were never written into the Memories to begin with, and thus actually start out having never existed, as far as greater Dwarven society is concerned. Czibor even outright tells the Dwarven Commoner Warden that their ever having been to Orzammar at all are "delusions," and that s/he does not exist.
- In both cases, after the defeat of the Archdemon at the end of the game, the Dwarf Noble and Commoner Wardens are risen to Paragon status by the Dwarven Assembly, leading to their names being restored/recorded within the Memories of the Shaperate as "Living Ancestors".
- Defied in Awakening. Visions of the past reveal that a warrior rallied the Casteless of Kar-hirol to help him buy time for everyone else to escape the Darkspawn. They all perished, but the warrior spent his final moments right before an Ogre killed him inscribing all of their names into a stone tablet. He wanted their bravery to be remembered forever.
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Solas mentions that in his travels through the Fade he encountered a spirit that had once ruled an empire more vast than any in recorded history. When Solas asked what kind of spirit it is, it said:
Spirit: "They have forgotten. There is no longer a word for what I am."
- In Fallout: New Vegas, you can get yourself declared "in damnatio memoraie" by Caesar's Legion, like the Real Life instance of the trope below - not that you'd care what they'd think of you if you earned enough infamy to reach that point. This also happened to Legate Joshua Graham after the Legion's first major military defeat at the First Battle of Hoover Dam, so now the slaves can only whisper about the Burned Man who somehow survived Caesar's wrath...
- This happened in the backstory of Dark Souls to Gwyn's firstborn, the God of War after his foolishness allowed the destruction of annals of ancient history, with his deity stripped from him, his name stricken from history, and his altars destroyed.
- This was actually one of the devices used by the Five Gods in Guild Wars to imprison their fallen brother, Abaddon. His followers and any literature, art, or structure associated with Abaddon was banished into the Realm of Torment. Even long after his defeat, souls touched by Abaddon's power were taken to the Realm to be cleansed. Unfortunately, enough escaped their efforts to guide new followers in bringing about Nightfall. In the case of Abaddon, it was actually very important this happen. He was the God of Secrets, so a mortal simply possessing knowledge of his existence was enough to give him a connection to Tyria.
- In The Captive Curse, it's implied that tales of "the Monster" had their roots in the case of a medieval criminal who'd been declared an Un-Person after he escaped from the castle dungeon. As no one was allowed to speak his name, rumors about this fugitive eventually re-cast him as an anonymous inhuman freak.
- In the Mega Man Zero series, Dr. Weil is said to have been so heinous (having kicked off a war that wiped out 60% of mankind and 90% of reploidkind ) that all records of him have been suppressed by Neo-Arcadia, to the extent that libraries containing records of his actions have been flooded and anyone who finds out about him is declared a Maverick. Of course, this is intended to prevent anyone from doing what he did again.
- Similar to Dragon Age example above, seems to be practiced by dwarven society in The Battle For Wesnoth.
"The Law speaks: you are cast out. You are un-dwarf. I AM A WITNESS!"
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the sons of Archmage Gauldur, who after discovering the source of their father's power was the amulet he wore at all times, betrayed and murdered their father to get ahold of the enchanted amulet and went on a killing spree before being shut down by another Archmage, Geirmund, have all record names and deeds purged to seal away the power of the amulet.
- The Aldmeri Dominion are attempting to do this to Talos, the Ninth Divine, by banning his worship in the Empire and hunting those who still worship him. This is because they want to unmake him as a Divine through Gods Need Prayer Badly, and from there go on to do the same to Shor, thus erasing even the possibility of humans, which they despise, from existence. And no, they don't give a shit if this means destroying creation itself.
- This comes from the belief that the High Elves (and all elves in general) are direct descendants of the Eight Divines. Talos is the God-Name for the man Tiber Septim, who was the first Dragonborn Emperor of Tamriel. The idea that the Elves would have to share divinity with mere men was downright insulting to them.
- BioShock 2 explains the absence of any mention of Sophia Lamb in the first game by Andrew Ryan ordering that all records of her existence be destroyed.
- In the first System Shock Edward Diego removes all mentions regarding the presence of the Hacker from the records aboard Citadel Station. It works so well that SHODAN has no idea about his existence while he spends six months in an artificially induced healing coma.
- In Breath Of Fire 2, this happens to The Hero. At age 7, a demon arrives in his hometown, kidnaps his father and wipes the memories of all the townspeople. No one recognizes him when he returns from a quick outing.
- In a very literal example, in one of the endings of NieR, the memory of your protagonist and all his actions are purged in-verse, and your real life save data is deleted!
- In Stonekeep, one of your dwarven companions is declared an "uck-togoth" and cast out of his clan for disobeying his clan elder.
"An uck-togoth cannot be heard or seen!"
—Two clan elders when he objects.
- In Guild Wars 2 Mad King Thorn found his son, Bloody Prince Edrick, to be a severe disappointment and a constant source of trouble. After Edrick's latest attempt to overthrow his father by riling up the peasants, Thorn had him sealed in a sarcophagus to consider his actions. Before he could be released, the peasants stormed the castle and butchered Thorn. One of the king's last orders was for his courtiers to erase all evidence of Edrick's existence from their library, resulting in Edrick being forgotten for four hundred years.
- In Einhänder, both Selene and the Earth Forces delete every record of the protagonist's existence and endeavours. Only "those who actually fought and were wounded in the war know the name of 'EINHÄNDER'."
- In It's Walky, it is revealed midway through the story that the Government Conspiracy that employs the main characters is frequently infiltrated by an even shadowier conspiracy who edit their records and memories and then vanish again. If anyone has to be killed: "Well, they never existed."
- The Eastern Gods and the First World of The Order of the Stick were completely destroyed by the Snarl. The surviving gods don't tell anyone about them lest they get the bright idea to try and harness its power. Similarly, the Paladins of Azure City traveled the world to purge all mention of the Rifts. Given Girard's bitter comment to Soon regarding Kraagor, there is a hint that the memory of their dead friend would be part of this purge.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, the founders of the Court attempted to erase all evidence of Jeanne's existence, to hide their guilt in killing her, and the fact that it was her ghost stalking the banks of the Annan. They succeeded, with one exception: Diego kept a record of her in secret.
- It later turns out that they actually killed Jeanne's forest elf boyfriend, who is also written out of existence by the Court. Even Diego's secret record mostly ignores that "detail," probably because Diego was jealous of him. Jeanne herself died of grief.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Earth is part of the Nemesite Empire but is a nature preserve, and the Nemesites regard humans as "wildlife". Jean takes offense at this, and Voluptua points out that, considering what citizenship in the Empire would entail, their unpersonhood is actually a blessing.
- The hyenas of Digger use this as their ultimate punishment, even worse than 'mere' death. One's name is eaten and one is cast from the tribe and forgotten...in theory.
- In the backstory of Homestuck, on planet Alternia, a troll known only as The Signless or The Sufferer led a revolution much more subversive than any the war-torn planet had seen. When the Sufferer was killed, all record of him was stricken from history, and it was made illegal to speak or write of him, even in private journals. However, his movement went underground and secretly kept his memory alive.
- Downplayed in The Dragon Doctors. Mori is revealed to have genetic engineering in her backstory chapter, and as a child she was exiled from her home country and her family name was obliterated magically so that nobody, not even she herself, can remember it. "Genetically engineered people have no family" was Thoria's rule.
- In Silver's time in Sonic the Comic – Online! this happens to Sonic who is replaced in the history books by Tails.
- The episode of Batman: The Animated Series series "What is Reality?" has the Riddler erasing all of the records of his existence as Edward Nygma, including birth certificates, drivers licenses, employment records and so on.
- An episode of Beast Machines has Megatron destroying statues of Cybertronian historical figures and wiping the archives, turning all of the planet's history up to that point into "nothing more than a rumor". The reason this isn't listed as a Propaganda Machine is because there was no one left to be told anything at that point.
- In the end of the Transformers Animated episode "The Elite Guard", Powell takes control of Sumdac System from Sari under the assumption that he found no evidence that Isaac having any offsprings.
- In one promo for Cartoon Network, Yogi Bear arrives at the studio for work, but forgets his ID card. Much to his confusion and frustration, everyone, including Booboo and Ranger Smith, acts like they have no clue who he is.
- In the Double Dragon cartoon, the Shadow Master intends to destroy the Dragon Dojo (the Dragon Warriors have been banished to the Shadow Mural, and the Lees are in another dimension), saying that once it occurs, "it will be as though (the Double Dragons) never existed."
- Happened to Ron in one Kim Possible episode after he angered a hammy supervillain called the Mathter (yes, really). It was relatively easy for Wade to fix, however.
- In a rare benign example, this happened to Timmy Turner in the first Wishology film. Turns out he was mistaken for The Chosen One, and Jorgen wiped him and his name from human memory in order to protect him from the Eliminators attempting to hunt him down. They have really good hearing and appear whenever his name is spoken.
- On Gravity Falls, this was the fate of Quentin Trembley, the 8th and 1/2 President of the United States. He was kicked out for being utterly looney and all evidence of his brief term was erased from history. Trembley eventually founded Gravity Falls itself (after plummeting to it on a horse), but his role in it was covered up in order to ensure that he was completely erased from history. He was replaced by William Henry Harrison as the official 9th US President (which is incredibly ironic, considering that Harrison died barely even a month into his term), and they made a waste shoveling village idiot the founder of Gravity Falls.
Real Life general
- Adobe Photoshop (and other computer photo editing/manipulation software programs): Professional photographers sometimes are requested to remove undesirable people from professional (and sometimes, other) photographs. Using the different cropping and cutting features, the "unperson"-ee is seamlessly removed from the photograph, and the background or another person's features are restored. The end result is a photograph that appears exactly as it might had the "unperson" never been in the original photograph. Usually, someone will request such photos be altered only in extreme cases – for instance, a professional photo of single mother, her children and her boyfriend ... but then the couple has a big falling out, and it is obvious the man will never have any contact with anyone in the family again. Yet, the photo – with or without him – is perfectly good to display (as opposed to disposing of them in a burn barrel), and the woman wants to do just that ... only she doesn't want anything with the jerk (the now "unperson") hanging on her walls.
- In addition, some people remove unwanted people from other types of photos, such as a high school sports team photo where several members are no longer part of a team. It can be a hassle to have a new picture taken, and rather than use other techniques (such as simple cropping or using blocks to cover up the ex-teammates), the photographer simply PhotoShops the ex-players out of existence ... as far as that picture is concerned. Usually, this will be done only if the player(s) are kicked off a team for severe offenses, such as drinking or serious crimes; if one simply leaves the team, even if on not the best terms, the original team photo will be left intact.
- Most restaurants have policies where the waitstaff can refuse service to a particular individual for any reason, sometimes by refusing to acknowledge them (and thus, fitting the trope). Usually, this is done to customers who have been particularly rude or obnoxious, drunk or acted "creepy" toward waitresses in the past.
- Archie Comics did this to Dan DeCarlo after he attempted to sue them over ownership rights to Josie and the Pussycats. They refused to even refer to him in the company's history, even though he contributed much and was someone artists were previously instructed to imitate. Years after he died, they reversed their stance and started openly referring to him in compilations and Best Ofs, and even individual Digest stories (historically almost completely without notice of the original writers and artists) now often carry his name under the title.
- As we can see at this link, DeCarlo: There were two panels of two editions of a comic where Betty was visiting a museum with the gang and she is asked about her favorite artist: In the original version of the comic, she says "Dan DeCarlo, because where'd this story be without him? In the second (maybe from a compilation), her favorite artists are "the Archie comic staff" instead. Doesn't help that the new text is very obviously made using a typed font, as opposed to the hand-drawn letters used in the original version and the rest of the sequence.
- The band The Spring Standards used to be called Old Springs Pike and had a forth member, actor John Gallagher Jr, who very suddenly quit the band a while back. Looking at anything official related to the band now, you wouldn't think they ever even knew him.
- One of Amnesty International's primary mandates is finding and, when possible, freeing "disappeared" persons - individuals who have been secretly imprisoned, deported or executed by governments, militia groups, etc. You would be shocked not just by how often this happens, but where.
Real Life history
- This happened in ancient Egypt to perceived traitors (most notably, the heretical Pharaoh Akhenaten, who had tried to Unperson the entire Egyptian Pantheon). These disgraced people had their carved images, monuments, etc. either effaced or obliterated, wiping out not only their images but also their names. Given the Egyptian focus on the afterlife, and the need for a perpetual image and name to ensure that afterlife, this was a very serious punishment.
- Ironically, because of this modern scholars often have a better idea of the lineage of pharaohs than they themselves did, because we have access to records that were sealed in tombs and thus not altered to erase someone the way the records they would have access to were.
- The 25th Dynasty was virtually erased from existence by the first of the 26th simply because a Pharaoh from the 25th executed his great-grandfather, as mentioned in a National Geographic Special on the subject of the 25th.
- The latest to receive this punishment are former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his wife — one of the first things to happen after the Revolution of 2011 was a ruling by the administrative court that declared that everything with their name/s on it had to be renamed.
- The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was burned down in 356 BC by a guy named Herostratus. He had done this specifically to get his name in the history books, and the Ephesian authorities, in an attempt to deny him this goal, executed him, erased his name from all their records, and made it a crime to mention his name on penalty of death. As you can well imagine, it didn't work that well, as people needed to know what the name was in order to know which one not to say on pain of death. Thanatos Gambit much?
- The Romans did this and they called it damnatio memoriae or "damnation of memory".
- Among Norse this was called Nithing. It was a standard punishment and was decreed lawfully by the Thing (assembly) for extremely serious crimes. It was the equivalent of a capital sentence for it decreed that the law no longer protected a given person.
- At West Point there is a series of portraits of generals of The American Revolution. Among them is Benedict Arnold—turned face inward. He is no longer publicly acknowledged as a former Commandant of West Point, due to his plan to surrender the fort to the British during the American Revolution. Similarly, there is a monument commemorating his victory at Saratoga that which only depicts his foot without mentioning him by name.
- George Washington was the first person to hold the office of President of the United States. Some wags have suggested, however, that the real title should go to Peyton Randolph, Thomas McKean, or John Hanson, who held the office of "President of the United States in Congress Assembled," the officer who chaired the meetings of the Congress of the Confederation (which was officially known as "The United States in Congress Assembled"). Good luck finding Randolph, McKean, or Hanson in the history books. Of course, the President of the Congress' powers were so few and duties so stultifying that those of the Vice President under the Constitution look impressive and fascinating by comparison.
- The Nazis did this too: In this photo◊, Goebbels was removed due to a falling out with the Fuhrer. Ironically, he and his wife, as seen in Downfall, went out the same way as did Hitler and his wife: they committed suicide, and their bodies were burned in a gas-fueled funeral pyre.
- They also suppressed, and tried to destroy, Leni Riefenstahl's documentary Victory of Faith for presenting SA leader Ernst Rohm as Hitler's most loyal follower. A few prints managed to escape destruction.
- The Soviet Union did this often; 1984's use of it is a direct allusion.
- Josef Stalin was the biggest practitioner of this as alluded to in the main article, manipulating historical accounts and photographs to remove certain people, or, more rarely, insert people (usually himself). Leon Trotsky, former head of the Red Army, is probably the most◊ famous case of this◊.
- The page picture demonstrates this with Nikolai Yezhov, who was the head of NKVD (the precursor of KGB) for less than a year in 1936-37. Stalin heaped blame for the Great Purge on Yezhov, and accused him of conspiracy against himself. After Yezhov's execution, Stalin ordered all evidence of his existence removed.
- After Stalin died the Soviet Union did this to Stalin (to a limited extent) after they remembered how much they should hate him. For example, say Stalin had inserted himself into a movie with himself playing a historical role he never did using the actor Aleksei Dikiy as himself. The de-stalinized version would have the Aleksei Dikiy edited out, perhaps in one scene being covered up by a new unnamed extra.
- This continued even after the tyrant's death: Cosmonauts were edited out of pictures. It is believed by some that other cosmonauts in earlier space missions died in various horrifying ways and Yuri Gagarin was merely the first cosmonaut to make it back to Earth alive. It is known that one cosmonaut, Valentin Bondarenko, was killed in a training exercise in March 1961 and the Soviet government covered up his death to save face. His existence wasn't revealed until 1986.
- A lesser example occurred during Brezhnev's time, when a movie about Gagarin was being made, and they needed footage without Khrushchev. Due to the latter's ego, the only samples of such footage were found in the trash.
- Soviet actions frequently utilized this in Warsaw Pact countries, usually when leaders in nations such as Hungary dared to propose a more efficient form of communism that dealt with problems through means other than repression.
- Everyone who did not agree with Soviet collectivization policies, along with anyone associated with a suspected rebel was subject to relocation to the Gulag. This led to huge numbers of people in the western regions of the Soviet Union (the Baltic states and western Ukraine in particular) falling to this.
- Poet Robert W. Service was an un-person for the Soviet literary science and literary criticism. Soviet officials were so enraged by Service's narrative poem The Ballad of Lenin's Tomb that he wasn't just branded as "anti-Soviet" or "anti-Communist" - his name and poetry were forbidden to mention at all.
- North Korea has erased the Soviet Union from the history of their country's founding. While the earliest North Korean propaganda portrayed the Soviets as paternal figures, it wouldn't last long. In 1958, Kim Il-sung decided he didn't like the Soviet Union anymore and ordered history revised so that the nation was founded by him alone. Subsequently, every pro-Soviet and pro-Stalin monument in the country was destroyed. A couple decades later, the founding of the Korean People's Army was moved from 1948 to 1932, tying it to Kim's earlier anti-Japanese guerrilla activities and erasing its Soviet origin. In 2009, North Korea amended its constitution to remove all references to communism. It wasn't until 2012, however, that the portraits of Marx and Lenin were finally removed from Kim Il-sung Square.
- Benjamin Cardozo (1870-1938) was a New York judge appointed to the Supreme Court by President Herbert Hoover in 1932. He and his family were Sephardic Jews, making him not only the second Jew to serve as a Supreme Court justice,note but also the first Hispanic justice. But since the term "Hispanic" was not used to refer to people during Cardozo's lifetime, and since Cardozo was Portuguese (as opposed to Spanish) and white, he does not fit current perceptions of what a Hispanic-American is. note As such, when President Barack Obama named a Puerto Rican woman, Sonia Sotomayor, to the Court in 2009, she was acknowledged the first Hispanic justice, effectively erasing Cardozo's existence, at least as a Hispanic-American. To be fair, however, Cardozo wouldn't be terribly miffed; he considered his Jewish identity higher-priority than his Portuguese one, and in any case fair-skinned Latinos were in his day simply considered white.
- Lin Biao, Mao Zedong's Chessmaster Sidekick, was unpersoned after his unauthorized departure from China on 12 September, 1971... for just two days, as Beijing thought he defeated to another country. Two days later, when if became obvious (outside of China of course) that Lin died in a plane crash in Mongolia, China ceased to unperson him "to dispel rumours," such that there was no leadership activities during National Day celebrations on 1 October. Report of his death, plus a smear campaign, only started when the propaganda people have a game plan, a month after Lin died.
- During the Pinochet regime in Chile from 1973 to 1990 people would randomly disappear; so much so that the verb "disappear" became transitive, as in "He was disappeared". Most simply never returned and their homes/possessions were taken by the government but in a few cases some of those who were disappeared would also lead to their family and anyone who spoke of them to disappear as well effectively removing a person's existence. Official estimates are around 3,000 people but some believe as many as 5-10,000 people had gone missing.
- The government of the late Argentine President Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) sought to discredit all former military rulers of Argentina by removing any official reference to their "presidencies" from government records and history, including the removal of several portraits from halls of presidents around the nation. Similarily, all the info about the terrorist guerrillas of the 1970s is downplayed.
- This was a case of Laser-Guided Karma. Tens of thousands 'disappeared' in Argentina under the rule of the military junta. Even today you can still find fresh graffiti in some areas with messages like "Free all political prisoners!" despite the government's assurance that all prisoners have been freed. This is due to the fact that only about 9,000 of the 30,000 people estimated to have been disappeared by the dictatorship have been accounted for and speculation that some may still be alive continues to this day.
- Speaking of Argentina, the Peróns were this for 16 years after the military junta that led to Juan Perón's exile. Eva's embalmed body was moved by the military to a tomb in Italy. The body was later returned to Argentina after the junta rule ended, and Juan Perón himself made a political comeback with a third election in 1973 (though he died just nine months into it), with Peronism still going strong today, even surviving a second military junta in the late '70s/early '80s. During Perón's exile, Peronism was proscripted and the very mention of Perón's name was forbidden; the media had to use terms like "the runaway tyrant" when needing to say something about him.
- It's popular for monarchists in Commonwealth countries such as Canada and Australia to argue that "stealth republicans" are systematically removing references to the Queen in government and the popular culture, in order to downplay an institution they supposedly loathe. Though not nearly as widespread as monarchists often imagine, it is true that public acknowledgement of Queen Elizabeth II as head of state is considerably less conspicuous in many Commonwealth countries than it was in the 1960s and 70s, when the monarchy was far less controversial.
- After the successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011, the White House released a photo◊ of the President and his associates watching a live feed of the assault from the situation room. Newspapers were given strict orders to not alter the photo in any way, but Der Zeitung, a Yiddish newspaper stationed in New York catering to the ultra-Orthodox, Photoshopped Hillary Clinton and one other woman out of the photo◊ due to their standards against showing women in any photo.
- Subverted ultimately with Spiro Agnew, Vice President of the United States (1969-1973) under Richard Nixon. During Agnew's term, he had to resign from office because of bribery and tax evasion charges during his time as governor of Maryland. From 1979 until 1995, he was not allowed to have his portrait in the Maryland State House Governor's Reception Room due to those scandals. It wasn't until 1995 that Governor Parris Glendening allowed Agnew's portrait to be put up; he even invoked 1984 by saying it wasn't right to alter history.
Real Life film
- Following Heaven's Gate and the subsequent sale to MGM, Transamerica basically did this to themselves as far as the United Artists library was concerned; however, some United Artists films have shown up with the respective original logo, including the Hexagon logo used by UA before being bought by Transamerica, restored/intact.
- David Schmoeller, director of Puppet Master, accused Charles Band of doing this to directors of Full Moon's productions (including himself—he actually stated that Band wouldn't let him do a commentary for the aforementioned film when it was released on DVD) in an online interview.
- Disney considers The Black Hole, not the sports film Take Down, to be their first PG-rated film. This could be somewhat justified considering that Disney didn't actually produce the latter filmnote . Probably doesn't help that Take Down, unlike The Black Hole, hasn't been released on DVD or Blu-ray disc at all, likely because Disney couldn't care less about the movie to re-release it.
Real Life television
- The 700 Club, hosted by televangelist Pat Robertson, has done this a few times throughout its run:
- The original co-host of the show was Jim Bakker, who had a poor working relationship with Robertson and eventually left the ministry. He and his wife Tammy Faye went on to co-found TBN with Paul and Jan Crouch, but similar issues ended their times there as well. After the Bakkers' own PTL ministry collapsed amidst a fraud scandal, both The 700 Club and TBN erased the Bakkers from their official histories.
- Another co-host, Danuta Soderman, was on the show for five years in the late Eighties, then was fired after writing an autobiography detailing her longtime affair with a married man. Aftewards, she spoke publicly about her dissatisfaction with the show's conversative politics (she was a feminist in a TV ministry run by men) and faded into obscurity. The 700 Club makes no mention of Soderman, even during anniversary specials.
- There is also Pat Robertson's son Tim, who co-hosted the show while Robertson ran in the 1988 Republican presidential primaries. Tim did not share his dad's charisma and ratings and contributions for the show suffered, necessitating Pat's return when he left the campaign trail. Tim moved to behind the scenes work but has also never been acknowledged as a former co-host.
- Cee Lo Green was given this treatment by TBS after he expressed controversial views regarding rape on his Twitter page related to a 2012 sexual batter incident he was accused for. His comedy show The Good Life was canceled before production of a second season could begin, and TBS proceeded to yank the show from the schedule and On Demand services, took down the show's website, and even removed it from the TBS mobile app from viewing. Basically, TBS did everything to ensure that their ties with Green were cut off for good.
- Once a dozen rape allegations against Bill Cosby came into light, TV Land not only pulled all reruns of The Cosby Show from their schedule, but they removed all mention of the series from their website, taking down any links to the show's section on the site. Only time will tell if he will be unpersoned in a similar manner as Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris and Jian Ghomeshi mentioned below.
- Fans of anarchic comedy clowns The Goodies - and the three Goodies themselves - all suspect the BBC has done exactly this to erase a long-running spectacularly popular show from the 1970's that ran for the entire life of the decade. When the BBC has exhumed and repeated practically every other 1970's comedy show, including some which have far more spectacularly politically incorrect moments than the Goodies, this series (hailed as a serious competitor to Monty Python) remains uncelebrated and unrepeated. Perhaps the fact the show fell foul of joyless senior executives with a lot of clout has to do with this. One episode - and far from being the best - was grudgingly repeated on the show's thirtieth anniversary. And that's been it.
- Comedian Michael Bentine, a The Goon Show founder, alleged right up until his death that the BBC had blacklisted him for refusing to insert political satire he disagreed with into his TV shows. He also pointed to virtually his entire archive of TV work having been erased as proof of this. While this might have been right-wing paranoia - Bentine's extremely conservative views did not sit well with an allegedly liberal-left leaning BBC - after objectively considering what happened to Chris Langham and the Goodies, it does open room for wondering. The BBC also erased virtually every early Goon Show episode in which Bentine performed, leaving the impression that the Goons were only ever Milligan, Secombe and Sellers. Spike Milligan may have encouraged this, as "creative differences" were the cause of Bentine leaving the group. Milligan always underplayed Bentine's contribution to the Goons.
- Even TV shows can be unpersons: Mystery Science Theater 3000 is this in the eyes of Comedy Central; this was most blatantly on display during a 13th Anniversary special the network had. Not only was the show utterly ignored, but what was the network's first major hit was ignored in favor of "Politically Incorrect" (the network's second major hit), which was declared the network's first big hit.
- After the end of Conan O'Brien's run on The Tonight Show, NBC proceeded to remove every single trace of his career at the network from their website and video sites across the internet. With the exception of an episode of Saturday Night Live he hosted and a first season episode of 30 Rock in which he and his show play an integral part in the plot, no other Conan footage appears on Hulu or NBC.com.
- After Craig Kilborn left The Daily Show in 1999, Comedy Central did everything they could to ensure he is never mentioned on the program again. The official Daily Show website has no Kilborn-era episode clips (besides a small flashback in one episode from the Jon Stewart era), no VHS or DVD release has showcased Kilborn's run, and fans have to rely on home recordings in order to continue enjoying them. The mixed reception of the series during that era as well as Kilborn making crude jokes about Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead on an Esquire magazine interview didn't help matters.
- Only a year after his death, the once beloved British TV presenter Jimmy Savile was unmasked as having been a gigantic child molester. He is now completely transformed into an unperson: memorials, street names, statues, archive recordings, his gravestone, two charity organisations carrying his name, and honorary degrees have all been removed/renamed/disbanded. In addition, despite his significant contribution to Top of the Pops (on which he was a regular host for twenty years) he has largely been airbrushed out of the show's history and BBC 4 no longer airs episodes which he presented. While he was also knighted and given an OBE medal, these accolades died with him since knighthood is for life, and only for life, and there is no knighthood to be stripped. This has been misunderstood in the past by people who criticise the monarchy for not stripping him of his honours.
- As of July 2014, Rolf Harris has also begun the unperson process after being convicted of sexual offences against underage girls. His art withdrawn from public view, honours stripped, TV programmes featuring references to him or his music pulled off the air and plaques around Australia and the UK taken down.
Real Life religion
- Shunning is used as a severe punishment in many religions, including Christianity and the Church of Happyology, among others.
- It's an especially strong punishment in Amish communities, since individual Amish often have no social connections outside the Amish community. Enough to drive the individual in question to suicide in severe cases.
- In the same way, exile could be a very severe punishment in tribal societies, not much better than execution.
- After Pope Benedict XVI confirmed that Fr. Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, was really a pederast who sexually abused numerous underage seminarians and fathered at least three children with two women, created a "system of power" built on silence and obedience that enabled him to lead an "immoral" double life "devoid of scruples and authentic religious sentiment" and allowed him to abuse young boys for decades unchecked, the Legionaries of Christ, an economically and politically powerful Catholic organization have divulged new norms regarding their founder: They will not display any photo of him in their installations, they will not sell any of his writings nor cite him as the author when giving a sermon, they will not celebrate his birthday or the anniversary of his death, they will not build a mausoleum in his tomb.
- This rule is not universal, however. On the Legion's website, they do acknowledge Fr. Maciel as their founder, and do display a small photo of him in a timeline charting the group's history. At the same time, they pull no punches on showing just how off the rails he went, and describe his actions as "gravely reprehensible," among other terms.
Real Life sports
- After the Atlanta Spirit Group sold the Atlanta Thrashers (now known as the second generation Winnipeg Jets) to True North Sports and Entertainment, Atlanta Spirit erased most, if not all, references to the old team, including the Thrashers' only divisional title banner and a mural from when the team hosted the 2008 NHL All-Star Game from Philips Arena. Also, several Canadian hockey outlets tend to disregard the existence of the former Thrashers; however, many hockey purists tend to be biased against any NHL team in warm-weather markets.
- Averted with the Calgary Flames. While the team only celebrates anniversaries based on their time in Calgary, they do acknowledge their history as the Atlanta Flames, and their alternate captains wear a small version of the Atlanta "flaming A" logo.
- In April 2014, when the Chicago Cubs celebrated the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field (their stadium), they brought back many of their past greats for the celebration. One glaring exception: Sammy Sosa, who hit 60 homers in three different seasons with the team (though allegedly with the help of steroids), and was the face of the Cubs in the late 1990s and early 2000s, wasn't invited. He had left the team on bad terms in 2004.note
- Following investigations that implicated poker player Russ Hamilton in what is perhaps the largest instance of online gambling fraud ever committed (his company, Ultimate Bet, would eventually refund over $22 million that was taken from its members by "cheating software"), Hamilton has been shunned by the World Series of Poker, who covered up his portrait from when he won the main event in 1994 and declined to invite him to an anniversary event that all other living main event winners attended.
- Since being charged with murder, Aaron Hernandez was cut from the New England Patriotsnote , his player stats were temporarily blanked at NFL.com (they are back now, but his photo is gone), he lost all his endorsement deals, the Patriots allowed fans to exchange jerseys bearing his name for any other playernote , and a photo of him was removed from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- Following allegations of child sexual abuse against Jerry Sandusky, Penn State is going to great lengths when it comes to obliterating him completely: not only has his image been removed from the school's mural◊, an ice cream named after him was also pulled by the university's ice cream parlor.
- Even Joe Paterno himself, the coach on whose victories Penn State enjoys its reputation, is being purged. The Penn State administration even debated pulling down a statue of him, then did so. Given his death not long after the allegations came to light, however, and the public outpouring of grief, this may wind up being a subversion of this trope, and even after the statue was removed there was a vocal minority, led by Roger Ebert (of all people), that condemns the removal as Too Soon, particularly in light of Paterno's death.
- The NCAA ordered Penn State to vacate 14 years of victories, thus effectively stripping Paterno of the record for most wins by a head coach. (The governor of Pennsylvania is currently initiating a legal battle to fight against many of the NCAA's sanctions, since quite a few of them penalize innocent students; the wins were restored in January 2015.)
- The NCAA is also essentially doing this to both Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo by the University of Southern California. Both were found to have illegally taken money from agents while they were playing at USC, and as a result of NCAA sanctions, USC cannot recognize either of them in any way. Their names cannot appear in any school record books (not so bad for Mayo, as he only played one season of basketball before moving onto the NBA and probably didn't even want to be there in the first place; however a much bigger deal for Bush, up until then one of the best college football players of all time), the university cannot display any images of them or hang their jerseys anywhere, nor can Bush or Mayo assist in recruiting or be in any way involved with USC. In addition, they were forced to vacate any victories while Bush and Mayo were playing for their respective teams. In Bush's case, this even included the 2004 National Championship.
- The NCAA effectively did this to Morehouse's men's soccer program for 2004 and 2005 after particularly egregious rules violations. Two Nigeria-born players were allowed to play despite previously having played professional soccer, and were also allowed to play before enrolling at the school. Other players were allowed to play without proper paperwork, and for a time not even the athletic department knew a soccer program even existed. The so-called "death penalty" is now rarely used due to the fallout from the only football team (SMU) to be slapped with the death penalty back in 1987, including the disbanding of the Southwest Conference. The NCAA has imposed the death penalty five times, according to The Other Wiki, but only once on a D-I football squad (in the aforementioned SMUgate); however, there had been talks about slapping the death penalty on Miami (due to massive improper benefits provided by booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro) and Penn State (due to a possible cover-up of Sandusky's crimes), and in 2002 they stopped short of slapping the death penalty on Alabama for using a booster to reel in a Memphis player after receiving a tip from Alabama rival Tennessee's then-coach, Phillip Fulmer.
- As it turned out, neither Miami nor Penn State received a death penalty. Penn State did receive crippling sanctions, though after the school showed clear progress in the cleanup process, the sanctions were eased. As for Miami, they received only modest scholarship reductions and "show-cause penalties"note for some assistants. The NCAA badly botched the Miami investigation, and the school self-imposed postseason bans in 2011 and 2012 despite being bowl-eligible in both seasons.
- It's highly unlikely that the measure will ever be used again in the future (at least on a football program, due to the popularity of the sport). After SMU's sentence was laid down in '87, it took close to 20 years for their program to recover, and it is highly unlikely that it will ever enjoy the same kind of prominence it once did; this naturally makes the NCAA wary of such a harsh measure.
- In February 2013, trading card manufacturer Topps erased all mention of disgraced slugger Pete Rose from its 2013 Major League Baseball trading card series, which has several mentions of players chasing famous lifetime records. Rose himself has not appeared on any officially-licensed MLB product since his lifetime ban in 1989.
- "Replacement players" who participated in Spring Training in 1995 (during the 1994 player's strike) are similarly treated, because they cannot be members of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Their names cannot appear on any merchandise, they cannot have official baseball cards, and they are replaced with expies in MLBPA-licensed video games.
- Chris Webber was disassociated from the University of Michigan for his illicit association with booster Ed Martin from 2003 to 2013. The basketball team will remain stripped of its 1992 and 1993 title game appearances, and all wins in the 1992-93 season will remain vacated. Maurice Taylor, Robert "Tractor" Traylor, and Louis Bullock received similar sanctions for their involvement with Martin, though they were allowed to associate with the school again in 2012 (although Traylor died in 2011). The team wins from 1995-1999 were also vacated, although the Wolverines were awarded a win by forfeit for the 1995-96 season due to Purdue's own recruiting scandal, even though they were swept by the Boilermakers that year.
- Lance Armstrong has become this in cycling. Between 1999 and 2006 he won the Tour de France seven times, a record! In the 2010s, however, it turned out he had used doping to obtain this goal. The official Tour de France committee has effectively stripped him from his titles, without saying who won the tours in those years, but did comment: "There is no place in cycling for him."
Real Life other
- There are professional people in this world who will do this for you for a price if you happen to be on the run from any number of horrors like a Psycho Ex, the mafia, etc. They will help you to disappear, change your identity and remove all records of your previous existence.
- Psychologist and founder of the self-esteem movement Nathaniel Branden had this happen to him after the collapse of his affair with Ayn Rand. Rand removed the dedication to him on the title page for Atlas Shrugged and his voice was edited out of taped lectures by her.
- After Goelitz purchased the rights to Jelly Belly, they removed any mention of the candy's inventor, David Klein, despite Klein having numerous television and magazine appearances in the 1970s as "Mr. Jelly Belly." Klein's son made the documentary Candyman to set the record straight.
- This is culturally mandatory in Japan, especially in corporate ambients for face-saving reasons, and there have been many cases of this:
- Noriko Sakai's drug-abuse scandal caused her albums to be recalled, all info about her career to be deleted by her agency and, as an additional consequence, barred her popular anime theme song Active Heart (used as the OP theme) from being used in any Japanese-made product, i.e. Super Robot Wars.
- Haruki Kadokawa's cocaine scandal is the most infamous example, since as soon as the allegations arose his own company fired him, and one of his movies was banned as Too Soon by its distributor, Shochiku, simply for having his name attached to it. Presumably his other 59 works became much more difficult to find as well.
- Happened to a guy in India back in 2003. He married the wrong girl and his wealthy family declared him legally dead. All of his belongings and land were seized and when he went to the police they told him he's only dead on paper and if he doesn't bugger off he'll be dead for real. When he went to New Delhi they told him the only way to generate case documents proving he exists is for him to commit a crime. He has aims towards subverting this by running for president.
- Although the edits will still be there, you can do it to yourself on Wikipedia.
- Being declared outlaw in the medieval age and the Old West meant literally being outside the law, including all the protections ordinarily granted — you could be captured, tortured, robbed, killed, whatever with impunity.
- Scott Jarkoff, deviantART's co-founder, was fired by the current CEO Angelo Sotira ("Spyed"). Wikipedia was edited to say that he had no involvement in the site's founding, whereas Sotira did.
- Jark kinda sorta did the same thing to Spyed within the site itself: he claimed that Spyed had nothing to do with DeviantArt until about 2003 or so. Also, after he fired Matteo (another co-founder) in 2003, he regarded Matteo as an unperson...until he was fired; then he suddenly revived Matteo's relevance and made it look like Spyed fired him. Finally, in December 2003/January 2004, he tried to get anime and anthro artists banned from what was then called the "Daily Top Favorites", but it didn't work. The controversies surrounding Scott Jarkoff are incredibly ugly.
- The same thing happened to Wikipedia itself as Jimmy Wales attempted to distance the site from departed co-founder Larry Sanger. Lampshaded hilariously here.
- This happens all the time on the Internet, though rarely for nefarious purposes. Anything you delete is gone from the only official record that it ever existed (The Internet Archive exists as an attempt to keep old versions of pages available, but its abilities are limited).
- Subverted though in that between backups and the highly interconnected nature of the web, while you may personally delete and erase a specific instance of something, it's more than likely that a copy exists somewhere for some reason.
- Something similar to the above example happened with Amazon's Kindle e-book service. The DRM system used allows Amazon to remove books that its users have already purchased. Appropriately, this actually happened — to 1984 and Animal Farm. It turned out that Amazon had not properly secured the copyright to either book. Users were refunded the purchase, but it's one of the more frightening aspects of the push from owning physical copies to accessing digital ones over the Internet.
- The Nazis' "Night And Fog" (Nacht und Nebel) decree.
- Chile, Brazil, Guatemala and Uruguay, among many other countries in the region, also suffered under the governmental policy of forced disappearances.
- There is an interesting case of this in Colombia. In 1985, the Palace of Justice of Colombia and its workers were taken hostage by the guerrilla movement M-19. After much gunfire the government was finally able to gain control of the place. A few of the low-class workers were stated to have died in the gunfire. Cue to the 2000s, and some recordings are made public showing that the military forces did took those people out all fine and alive. Good luck trying to find out what they did to them.
- LG Corp tried to do this to the PlayStation 3 in the Netherlands over a patent dispute with Sony, though that backfired spectacularly as the Dutch injunction on PS3s was lifted before it could happen, and LG wound up having to pay a fine for their aggressiveness.
- An interesting subversion: Witness-protection programs more or less make you an Unperson—for your own benefit, so that you can live in peace while waiting to give evidence in a trial (and sometimes after, if you're testifying against someone who still has free friends willing to kill you).
- Due to an injunction in Germany, Samsung can't even advertise its Galaxy Tab 7.7" at the IFA or on the German branch of its own website. In fact, it's illegal for them to even mention the tab in Germany.
- Prior to modern record-keeping (e.g., birth certificates, newspapers) and widespread use of grave markers, billions of people are simply lost to history. It isn't a sinister plot to strike these people from history, but simple truth: People who were not well-known and lived fairly anonymous lives, everyone connected to them is dead, stories of an individual lost through the generations, and absolutely no printed records exist of that person's life – either never created or long since lost – no headstone was created of that person and his/her remains have long since decayed into the earth are examples of this "unperson" trope ... there is no evidence available that those particular people ever lived.
- Here's◊ a less drastic example: while the person was not removed from history, he was still cut out of a photo for political reasons: On the left we see Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and King George VI. The doctored photo on the right was used on an election poster for the Prime Minister. It is thought that he removed King George VI so that he was shown in a more powerful light.
- A strange (and thankfully non-permanent) version of this occurs in English senior courts. If, while appearing as counsel, you are not correctly attired, the Judge will insist that they cannot see or hear you - and not in the sense that you cannot make an appointment, but in the sense that you are an un-person in the eyes of the law until you don your second pair of stockings or put your wig on properly. Several attempts to modernise the standards of court dress have met strong opposition, although the requirements are relaxed in Family Division, at the trials of minors, or if the Judge opts to do so.
- In Augusta, Georgia, students and alumni within the former Augusta State University already did not sit well with the adopted name of the merger between them and Georgia Health Sciences University, Georgia Regents University, since it removed "Augusta" from the consolidated university's identity; however, the unpersoning of Augusta State became more apparent when GRU removed the Augusta State name and logos from its athletic teams' uniforms in a university brochure.
- The Western practice of spin-doctoring involves erasing not people, but inconvenient facts from biographies and history to ensure good political ratings of candidates. But it is definitely related.
- Corporate profiles can do this to executives, especially if they leave on less than good terms.
- McDonald's regards Ray Kroc, not the McDonald brothers, as the company founder. During Kroc's lifetime, the brothers were mentioned in the official company history only as users of multiples of the milkshake machines Kroc was selling. Since he died it's become fairer but still glosses over things like the fact that the brothers had begun franchising at several locations before Kroc entered the picture.
- Early in British Royal Marine training, each company takes a group photo while at full strength. As training progresses and recruits start getting "backtrooped" (either due to injury or not making the cut), the CO will black out each man who washes out. Because Royal Marine training is infamously long and arduous (it's rare for a commando to make it through training in one try), there are often more blacked out men than not in the photos by the time of the much smaller company's passing out parade.
- The Internet Movie Database has been known to do this to users who engage in egregiously bad behavior, not only deleting their accounts but also everything they ever posted in the site's forums.
- Blocking people on Facebook results in the other person being unable to see your profile or posts. A Revealing Cover-Up, aside from other people mentioning their names, comes from "likes": if only the blocked one did so, hovering above the hand makes it disappear! Past conversations with the person have them with a blank avatar and "Facebook user". Even worse if it's a deleted profile, as the things they said can be replaced with an error message.
- Similarly, most online dating websites have an option to block people you don't feel are right for you. If you block them, your profiles disappear from each other's feeds, and any correspondences you sent each other (email, questionnaires, etc.) are deleted. eHarmony actually used to have the option of allowing the user to briefly explain why he/she chose to block another user, but this was dropped when the website was revamped in late 2011.
- In the US state of New York, anyone sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for a crime automatically becomes an unperson in the eyes of the law. Any existing contracts they made (such as marriages and last wills) are automatically cancelled under New York law and these convicts are barred by entering into any future civil contract.
- Wikipedia has done this to subjects not considered "notable" enough to justify having an article about it. In some cases, fans of that particular subject have incessantly tried to recreate deleted articles on non-notable subjects so much that Wikipedia admins have stepped up efforts to protect the deleted articles from recreation. High-profile examples of this include The Tourettes Guy, YouTube Poop and the Angry German Kid.
- Happened to a woman in Texas. When she left home with the help of her grandparents, she found she had no identification records whatsoever. She was born at home, after which her parents, both fundamentalist Christian anti-government types, didn't file for either a birth certificate or a social security number, she was homeschooled and therefore has no school records and she has never been to a hospital and is without medical records. Furthermore, her parents refused to help her in any way. She was informed that she should apply for a delayed birth certificate, but she can't go to court to get records without already having the records she needs to go to court to get.
- The CBC did this to popular radio host Jian Ghomeshi in 2014 after it emerged that he had sexually assaulted several women and had multiple affairs. They've even considered renaming his former show Q to distance it from him.
- Channel Awesome isn't in the habit of keeping its former producers' content on their web site, so really anyone who leaves automatically becomes this. However, there are at least three occasions where the site did this purposefully:
- Daniel Rizzo, a.k.a. That Aussie Guy, was an early personality at Channel Awesome who was fired after slutshaming Lindsay Ellis during the filming of the First Anniversary Brawl and inappropriately editing pages Channel Awesome's Wikia site, among other "issues, ill-advised actions, and other various events." As a result, Rizzo's videos were abruptly taken down from That Guy with the Glasses without much fanfare and the wiki only briefly mentions him.
- Brad Jones was forced to do this to Jerrid Foiles first in 2012 (under circumstances similar to That Aussie Guy's dismissal from Channel Awesome) and again in 2014. Despite making limited appearances between those dates, it appears Brad and Jerrid have had a permanent falling out and Jerrid's characters have either vanished or have been killed off.
- Obscurus Lupa was fired rather controversially in early 2015 from the site (allegedly over being out of the house while CA management was trying to contact her), which caused her boyfriend Phelous and Andrew Dickman to quit in protest. Within five minutes all of their content was removed from the site (in Phelous' case, videos that dated all the way back to 2008) with the exception of a few crossover appearances. Made worse by the fact that fellow long-time contributors Lindsay Ellis, Oancitizen and Smarty also left around the same time, and were all given a "farewell" period to say their goodbyes to the site.
- Most social media and forum sites use bans as a disciplinary measure - no records of the banned account exist, links to posts will 404. Hellbanning or shadowbanning is a variation where all the content still exists, and from the perspective of the account user everything is working normally, but for everyone else the content is completely invisible. It can't even be searched for.
- 60 Minutes did a segment on the US Social Security "Master Death List" and people who were accidentally declared dead (for example one guy tried to notify them that his wife had died but discovered they had somehow listed both of them as deceased). Because they're "dead" they can't open bank accounts or get their social security checks and this can take years to sort out.