Follow TV Tropes


Amnesiac Dissonance

Go To

"10,000 years of unerasable acts and permanent facts
The record of my unspeakable crimes
In previous lives, in previous times
Indelibly stains the pages of history."
They Might Be Giants, "Reprehensible"

Amnesiac Dissonance occurs when a good or evil person suddenly remembers their past of the opposite alignment. This becomes the epitome of Man versus Themself as the values and memories of their past self collide with their current self. This can result in a complete Face–Heel Turn or Heel–Face Turn, or give a shade of grey to the character that they didn't possess before. Reincarnation can be substituted as a type of spiritual amnesia.

This is not possession, or merely being brainwashed; this is the self, one's own Good and Evil, conflicting in the most direct way possible. The darkest result is the tragedy where whatever goodness might have been is erased. It requires Heroic Willpower to continue being a good guy when remembering The Dark Side and the powers it enables. Sometimes, though, Redemption Equals Death.

Note, Heel–Face Brainwashing and then coming out of it may lead to this.

This tends to be more the good character remembering an evil past because Amnesiacs are Innocent, but it's only a tendency. May overlap with The Killer in Me and Alternate Identity Amnesia. Can stem from Amnesiac Resonance: a character who, for instance, realizes his own familiarity with guns and wonders why he used them.

A variation may be that the person never gets their memory back directly, but does find out who they were previously and has to deal with the implications; be they crippling guilt over past evil, or longing for the simple pleasures after petting the dog.

See Amnesiac Hero (one common recipient of this), Identity Amnesia, Loss of Identity, and Amnesiac Liar. Compare Lost in Character or Pre-Insanity Reveal.

Contrast with Pygmalion Snap Back, wherein a person (sometimes voluntarily; sometimes not) changes some aspect of their personality at the behest or influence of another, and upon disillusionment the old personality trait is restored with a vengeance.

This is almost always a huge character Spoiler. Please take care before reading these examples.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens several times in Angel Sanctuary, subverted with Setsuna and Sara: Setsuna regains some of Alexiel's memories but manages to maintain his identity as a separate person from her, and Sara never regains any memories of her life as Gabriel but played agonizingly straight with Kira.
  • For the first two seasons of Blood+, Saya goes through this after meeting Haji, and starts to remember when she went berserk in Vietnam and older memories.
  • In Battle Angel Alita, Alita eventually discovers that she was a ruthless terrorist before her body was discovered in the Scrapyard at the beginning of the series. In fact, she's directly responsible for the dystopia she'd been rebelling against.
  • Villetta Nu of Code Geass goes through this when her battlefield injuries leave her amnesiac. One of the enemy, Kaname Ohgi, takes her in, conceals her past from her, and keeps her hidden from his comrades. Slowly, she grows infatuated with him...until her memories resurface and she shoots him with his own gun before rejoining her old allies. In spite of this, Ohgi risks his life to confess his love to her, and in the end, Villetta is able to reconcile her identities and marry him.
    • Happens to Lelouch in the side story Code Geass: Akito the Exiled as Julius Kingsley. While Lelouch absolutely hates the Empire and all it stands for, and is a genuine Nice Guy underneath his The Chessmaster and Manipulative Bastard actions, Julius is a Jerkass who sees no problem with killing civilians to win a war and is utterly loyal to the Emperor. The last fact is a major reason for the breakdown of that false personality as it's so against Lelouch and who he is.
  • In Deadman Wonderland, Nagi seems to be a perfectly friendly, polite and kind-hearted widower, whose only wish is to see his child outside of prison. Turns out that's not exactly the case. With the help of a bit of drugs and Mind Screw, he remembers that when he was shown his unborn child's fetus in a test tube, he stewed over it for a week, then went and murdered twenty-two prison guards with his bare hands; he also recalls his general hatred for all of humanity. It's not a pretty moment.
  • Inverted and averted in Death Note: Protagonist Light gives up his memories of being the mass-murderer "Kira" as part of a Memory Gambit, then his mind wiped self tries to clear his name by joining a task force devoted to capturing Kira. Although he still keeps his intelligence and says that his thought patterns are similar to Kira's, his personality changes to that of a decent person rather than the self-righteous, prideful Well-Intentioned Extremist/Knight Templar he was before that would be willing to use the Death Note. Even if he doesn't sympathize with Kira because he wants to clear his name, the personality change was the series' only notable headache. But when he gets his memories back, there's no dissonance — just a Psychotic Smirk. Everything that happened went "Exactly as planned."
    • A jarring difference is the way he treats Misa. While he was perfectly happy to seduce and manipulate her when they first met, amnesiac Light vigorously opposes L's efforts to do the same.
    • Light confronts a troubling question: could he actually be Kira? To answer this question to his satisfaction, he must contemplate: could he, would he ever use the Death Note? Would he kill another person? After genuine, intense introspection, Light reaches a conclusion — No. He would not and could not. He is wrong.
  • Destiny of the Shrine Maiden: This happening to Chikane is the reason for her Face–Heel Turn. Except that she never turned to begin with. You Can't Fight Fate.
  • Played with in Dragon Ball. From all the adventures the main characters had in the first series, everyone thought that our main hero Goku was just a human with ridiculous strength, a monkey tail, and the ability to turn into a giant ape. Just a coincidence right? Wrong! In Dragon Ball Z, Goku's long-lost brother, Raditz, shows up from outer space to reveal that he isn't human, but instead an alien from a ruthless warrior race sent to destroy every life on Earth. Raditz tries to convince him of this by kidnapping his only son and demanding Goku pile up 100 dead Earthlings, but it doesn't fly because Goku got his amnesia as an infant and thus doesn't remember his prior wilder side in the first place. It isn't until the Namek Saga that Goku acknowledges his Saiyan brethren in a positive light, by honoring the fallen Vegeta and representing his race by fighting their tyrannical oppressor, Frieza.
  • In Elfen Lied, when Lucy loses her memories, she goes from being a violent mass murderer to an innocent, harmless and extremely child-like Nyu.
  • In Expecting to Fall into Ruin, I Aim to Become a Blacksmith, after both undergoing a Heroic Sacrifice, Kururi and Eliza lose their memories. After getting a magical treatment to 'loosen' their memories so they can return gradually, Eliza has a crisis where she essentially reverts to her childhood self before her Break the Haughty and Defrosting Ice Queen developments alongside Kururi take place, since she recalls those memories and not those with him, and thus she returns to being a petulant Royal Brat, instead of her current Yamato Nadeshiko Housewife persona Eli, splitting up with Kururi and trying to go back to her now ruined parents. After a Hostage Situation where Kururi rescues her, the trauma of seeing him stabbed In the Back returns the rest of her memories all at once and they make up.
  • Agni and Judah in Fire Punch completely lose their memories at least once. With vague recollection of their past idendities, they think what they've done was too horrible.
  • After Greed is captured in Fullmetal Alchemist, he is given complete amnesia by his creator Father. When confronted by a former companion, Greed kills the companion which causes memories to start resurfacing. One of the images he sees is King Bradley (who killed his three closest companions) and Greed attacks King Bradley's house before running away.
  • Though he didn't exactly turn evil, Sho in Guyver had this happen in the infamous arc where he killed his father after said father had been forcibly turned into a Guyver-killing Zoanoid that ripped out Sho's brain. Notably, Sho was affected by this for some time: he built up a mental block about his powers that only subsided when his love of and duty towards Mizuki overruled his guilt.
  • In the Higurashi: When They Cry manga, Keiichi falls asleep, and forgets he kills Mion and Rena. He wakes up quickly and sees the bloody sight. This is not in the anime or sound novels, though.
    • One example that did occur in all adaptations is when in a later arc, Keiichi recalls said act, which he forgot by virtue of not living in the world in which it occurred.
    • Although he wasn't so much "Amnesiac" as an alternate dimensional self.
  • In Magical Project S, Sasami's friend Misao has the split personality of Pixy Misa created by Rumia. Since she has no memories of being Pixy Misa, she's completely clueless. Pixy Misa seems to be aware of being Misao, though, and the series often plays this up for laughs, such as when Pixy Misa tricks Sasami into believing she's "kidnapped" Misao (by using a giant screen to cover her transformations, all the while Misao is completely confused as to what's going on). After Misao discovers that she's Pixy Misa and had been fighting her best friend all along, she has a mental breakdown over the conflicting personalities.
  • Used and played with in Monster with two of the main characters and some interesting children's books.
  • In Naruto, nearly played straight with filler character Menma. Formerly a bandit, he became kindly and even heroic after losing his memories. However, the trope falls apart when it's revealed that he lost his memories during a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Atori in Noein goes from Ax-Crazy Psycho Electro to a mild, almost childlike guy after losing his memory. When his memory is restored, he becomes rather unstable, but stays a good guy because he wants to keep protecting the children.
  • In a later episode of Noir it appears that Kirika is being brainwashed. The reality is that her self up to that point was the brainwashed self, and the ritual removes it. In the penultimate episode, Mireille fights not only the "true" Kirika, but attempts to get her "fake" version back.
  • Mara from Ah! My Goddess, despite being a demon, is shown to be extremely gentle and kind after she loses her memories. Unfortunately for the protagonists, she was holding Keiichi's sister hostage before she lost her memories, making it necessary for them to restore her memories.
  • In Scrapped Princess, Sim, a cute little amnesiac waif, is taken in by the main characters. She is later abducted by the Peacemakers, ancient humanlike machines out to kill the protagonists, and revealed to be one of them who had been uncompressed from her storage state erroneously. When she is fully uncompressed, she is called 'Cz', has the form of an adult and remembers her original function as the protagonists' enemy, though she retains her 'Sim' memories.
  • Akira in Eden of the East wakes up naked in the middle of Washington D.C. with a cell phone and no clue who he is or how he ended up there. As he tries to figure out what's going on, he at first gets the impression that he was a terrorist, but it's a bit more complicated than that...
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Jellal gets called out for all his past crimes by Erza during the Oracion Seis arc when she's trying to prove she's not going to fall for his tricks again and buy his lie about having amnesia. Except he really does have amnesia, and since neither of them know that he was brainwashed into committing those crimes, and he's actually a good person at heart he's horrified to learn what kind of a person he was. He slowly regains his memories over the seven-year Timeskip Erza spends trapped in suspended animation, including the memories of his brainwashed days, but he still remains a good guy.
    • Natsu as of chapter 416 is blissfully unaware of his past life as E.N.D aka Etherious Natsu Dragneel, the most powerful and dreaded Demon ever created by Zeref. Chapter 436 further ups the ante by revealing that Natsu was originally dead 400 years ago and revived as E.N.D. — by Zeref Dragneel, his older brother.
  • Teito in 07 Ghost flees the military, abandoning a promising career, when he remembers that Ayanami, one of the top military officers, killed his "father."
  • Neo Roanoke in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny comes down with a bad case of amnesiac dissonance once he's taken prisoner aboard the Archangel and meets Captain Murrue Ramius, who was his lover back when he was the heroic Ace Pilot Mu La Flaga. Unfortunately, this and Neo's feelings about the unpleasant things he'd been doing prior to that point are given very little screen time, though he does regret the actions he commited in his amnesiac state.
  • Kurando from Popcorn Avatar. When he was little, he was much more energetic and prone to perverted pranks. When he temporarily regresses to that mental age, he makes such an impression on the girls in his class that they continue to be terrified of him after he reverts back to normal.
  • In Omamori Himari, Yuuto is horrified when some of his memories come back and he realizes that he was once eager to slay demons, instead of befriending them like he does now.
  • Bruno from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is a kind-hearted Butt-Monkey who's eager to remember who he was before he befriended the protagonists. It turns out that he's actually Antinomy, who's opposing the heroes as part of the Well-Intentioned Extremist's plan to destroy the city. He decides that he trusts the heroes more, and acts as a Stealth Mentor to them by pretending that he's gone back to the antagonist's side.
  • This happens a whole lot in PandoraHearts. For example, Gilbert, who has been tracking down and fighting the Baskervilles for the entire manga, finds out that he was actually the heir to the leader of the Baskervilles in the first place.
  • In F-Zero Falcon Densetsu, this trope is taken to the logical extreme when Miss Killer, Black Shadow's most trusted and competent subordinate, is revealed to be Haruka Misaki, protagonist Ryu Suzaku's girlfriend. She had been trying to get revenge on Zoda for almost killing Ryu, when she fell into a trap intended for Zoda and they were both cryogenically frozen. When Haruka and Zoda were thawed by Black Shadow, he erased her memories and raised her anew as his minion.
  • Catarina in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! was a bitchy spoiled brat until she accidentally hit her head and got knocked out for a few days, after which she woke up with memories of her past life and could no longer take herself so seriously. She instantly reformed only to realize that she had somehow reincarnated into an otome game villainess with terrible fates in store for her.
    • In the Alternate Universe spinoff Verge of Destruction Arc Catarina didn't get her Past-Life Memories back until several years later, and so ended up becoming a bullying Alpha Bitch, much to her subsequent embarrassment. She also discovered she was much, much closer to her impending dooms.
  • Hybrid × Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia: Ragrus started out as an extremely cruel and sadistic villainess, and hated her opponent Silvia's guts until Silvia knocks her out. Ragrus wakes up with amnesia and becomes really sweet, innocent, and one of Silvia's biggest fans. Then everyone's memories are tampered with and makes Silvia and Ragrus think they are best friends. Once everyone gets their memories back, though Ragrus regains her strength and harshness, she remains friends with Silvia and clearly values their time together, even if she won't admit it out loud.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • "The Holy Terror": When Eugene Tacitus remembers that he killed his own son and that the entire fictional world he lives in is designed to torture him for it, he is so overcome with guilt that, despite the Doctor's pleas, he makes the Creepy Child that represents his son stab him with the knife he was going to use to kill it.
    • In "Master", the Master is given 10 years of an amnesia-induced normal life if the Doctor agrees to kill him at the end of it. Things get complicated to where the Master has to decide whether to become evil again for the right reasons, or to stay who he is for the wrong reasons.

    Comic Books 
  • There is an instance or two where The Joker, Batman's enemy, loses his memories and becomes a regular family man. This self is always consumed by his madness returning.
  • The Marvel Universe character The Falcon went through something like this in a storyline where it was 'revealed' that he was actually a former street hustler named 'Snap' who had been brainwashed by the Red Skull to be the perfect new partner for Captain America, supposedly so that the Skull could then activate a post-hypnotic suggestion later to make him betray Cap. This was later Ret Conned so that "Snap" was the fake memory.
  • Early on in Ultimate X-Men, Professor Xavier mindwiped Magneto and convinced him that he was a baseline human who taught handicapped children and was having a relationship with a human woman (with whom he eventually moved in). It worked...for a while.
  • When a de-aged, amnesiac Magneto turned up in the normal X-Men titles in the '90s, he spent a considerable amount of time worrying about his past actions and whether he was destined to repeat them. This was ultimately resolved when he was revealed to be a clone instead. And then killed off.
  • Marvel Universe's villain Taskmaster. It was revealed that his Photographic reflex ability comes at the cost of his personal memories. When he's able to remember who he was (A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Tony Masters and that he's married to the woman that was tagging along with him in the adventure who is also a SHIELD agent) he regrets all the bad things he has done as Taskmaster. Sadly, in order to protect his wife Mercedes, he has to use his ability to its limit by combining every move he had learned along with copying the fighting style of the guy attacking them in order to defeat him, causing him to forget himself again.
  • Earth-2 Catwoman had been suffering from amnesia during her criminal career. When she recovered, she was willing to go to prison for her crimes. (Later, during a story where Batman sprang her from jail to help him, she revealed that she had made up the amnesia to make her Heel–Face Turn plausible; in reality, she had wanted to quit.)
  • In 100 Bullets, various characters discover that they were formerly highly trained assassins known as Minutemen who were brainwashed into forgetting their work. As they are awakened to their real memories by various usages of an embedded code word, they must decide whether to return to their old agenda or walk away.
  • In Sonic the Comic, Super Sonic is haunted for a long time by recurring nightmares of a demonic creature destroying the world and saving him for last. Eventually, he discovers these are actually representations of his past destructive urges, remembering in full that he was once the evil, chaotic Super Sonic. This leads him to refuse to use his powers lest he become corrupted by them once more - indeed, each time he taps chaos energy or his inert powers, he reverts to his crazy self. His desire to not become a demon again ends in tragedy, as he turns evil again after draining the energy from Chaos - and he is promptly merged back with Sonic, seemingly ending the pacifist Super Sonic's life.
  • Superman:
    • Subverted with Post-Crisis Supergirl. Kara suffered from amnesia when her rocket landed on Earth in The Supergirl from Krypton (2004), and for a while she wondered whether she was a good person or an evil person pretending to be good. Eventually she remembered everything and it turned out that she was really a good person.
    • In The Phantom Zone, the Phantom Zoners' psychic manipulations force Charlie Kweskill to remember that he used to be a Kryptonian criminal known as Quex-Ul before losing his memory and becoming the Daily Planet's mousey layout designer.
  • In Violine, two of the villains, Van Beursen and Muller, have a Heel–Face Turn after going into a cave filled with amnesia-inducing gas. the other main villain, Marushka, is implied to undergo this at the end of the story.
  • Judge Dredd: After the Total War terror attacks, a member of their assassination unit loses her memory and gains precognitive abilities after a piece of shrapnel get stuck in her head. At first she doesn't even know who she is, and is horrified to discover that she's killed many people.
  • Hack/Slash: Cassie's love interest Samhain, a potentially-redeemable Slasher, turns out to be Akakios, the first Slasher and leader of the Black Lamps, after treacherous underlings cast an amnesia spell on him. After he got his memories back he became the Big Bad of the final arc and never got redeemed, forcing her to kill him.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW): When Doctor Eggman appears in Issue #5, he's suffering from total amnesia, with no knowledge of his past deeds. He's also lacking in his past ambitions, instead being a helpful neighbor and mechanic to the village which takes him in. However, it's left unclear if he's really amnesic, or just faking it. Issue #11 reveals that it's legitimate, as shown by his terror at Doctor Starline's promise to restore his old persona, which he succeeds in doing during the following issue.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Circe mind-wiped herself and took on what she intended to be a temporary mortal identity to mess with Ares' current plans and break Diana's heart as a false friend. Her plan went awry when she came to value Diana's friendship so much that she tried to refuse her own identity even after she knew beyond a doubt she was Circe and her memories returned. Her attempt to save Diana and Artemis failed and Temi died because she tried to do so in her mortal guise without her full power. All of her subsequent interactions with the Amazon were colored by this friendship, as Diana is now one of the only two people besides herself that she cares for even if they're usually fighting.
  • Subverted in XIII. The eponymous amnesiac protagonist quickly learns he's Steve Rowland, the murderer of US president William Sheridan, and is appalled at this revelation. It latter turns out the real Rowland (member number XIII of a far-right conspiracy) had outlived his usefulness, and the series' heroes was a look-alike of Rowland who became amnesiac while he was impersonating the latter to infiltrate the conspiracy.
  • Hellboy: Abe Sapien ends up learning that his original human pre-amnesia self was, alongside all his associates in the Oannes Society, an Ogdru Jahad worshipper who wanted to bring about the apocalypse and rule over what remained. He doesn't take it well.
    Oannes Member: Caul, the real Caul, understood! He would be right beside us!
    Abe: Then thank God he's dead!

    Fan Works 
  • In the Death Note fic by Quiet The Art Of Drowning, this trope is the catalyst of the fic's plot, where the main time line diverges from the original story when Light suddenly realizes that the detective L is actually his "murdered" childhood friend L Lawliet. This triggers his suppressed memories and an inner Battle for dominance Light vs Kira.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Past Sins, Nightmare Moon is reborn as a filly as part of a botched spell by a cult seeking to resurrect her as a mare of her own. She regains some of her old memories, leading her to feel guilt and then loses it when she regains all of them as the same cult recast the spell on her to complete her.
  • A good description of Bellatrix Lestrange's situation in As We Chase the Sun, after she has spent fourteen years as a wolf in her animagus state before she is found by Sirius and taken to Grimmauld Place. While she recognises Sirius, Narcissa and Andromeda as family, her lack of human identity prevents her from initially recalling why she should dislike Hermione Granger solely because she's a "mudblood". She initially responds to Walburga Black's portrait when it commands Bellatrix to attack Hermione as a mudblood, but after bonding with Hermione, the next time wolf-Bellatrix receives that command she instead tears the portrait down with her own claws.
  • In Ditzy Doo: Muffins, Ditzy starts to recover her memories from before she came to Ponyville, and freaks out when she thinks she may have been a mob enforcer who killed a Canterlot guard and his wife. She was actually a secret agent who was trying to take down a griffon mobster, and was too late to warn the guard that the mob was after him.
  • In the Pony POV Series, Discord was once reborn as the child of a mortal pony named Shady. Bereft of his memories as a God of Evil, Discord grew up loving Shady like any good son, and became best friends with Celestia and Luna (who likewise were reborn to G1 Mimic). Then the memories of his past life returned. Discord resisted returning to his old evil self, but ultimately became a villain again when his evil persona consumed his good one.
    • It should be noted that the Alicorns did this kind of thing, in order to better relate to the lives they must help. While we only see three instances (two of which were the same person) their personalities can differ greatly. However, it's stated that normally, their two personas merge back together upon regaining their true memories, allowing them to find middle ground between them. In Discord's case, his pre and post amnesiac personalities were so different Discord and 'Dissy' couldn't accept one another as the same being.
    • Another example is Celestia having been being reborn as an Earth Pony during the Windigo's rampage. She watched her family die and was extremely racist towards the pegasi and unicorns, dying cursing the ones who caused her suffering. It was only after dying she realized she was the one who caused it all and explicitly requested being reborn like this as punishment.
    • Played with in Bright Eyes' story in the 7 Dreams/Nightmares collection. While never evil, she was always a bit of a know-it-all with a mild Jerkass streak; both attributes were lost when the disaster that ended G2 society caused her to lose her memory. And to the surprise of her friends and family, she keeps the Character Development even after her memory is restored. Her storyline's Big Bad — the Shadow of Existence of Discord's brother D___t — tries to invoke this trope when she's on the cusp of regaining her memories, by posing as her Enemy Within Cruel Eyes and trying to convince her that her original self was a monster who caused the disaster on purpose. She sees through his lies and defeats him.
    • It's revealed in the Shining Armor Arc that Minuette is actually the Master in pony form, with his consciousness sealed inside a fob watch. She refuses to give into his attempts to open it and become him again. Like Bright Eyes, after putting up with his attempts to regain control for the entire arc, she manages to destroy him for good by feeding him to the Blank Wolf in the Grand Finale, obtaining a life of her own independent of him in the process (though she may still be a Time Lord)..
    • Another example, from a Loose Canon followup to the Dark World Series: Fluttercruel's spirit is punished for her actions in life by being sent back in time and incarnated as a pony who ended up being one of her own victims. The grief and agony she experienced at her own hooves finalizes her Heel–Face Turn upon her death and return to the spirit world, as she's forced to face the fact that the ponies she hurt were living creatures, not toys for her to torment.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan novel Fragments, the pegasus "Sky" wakes up injured, alone in a forest, and totally unaware that he is a Changeling, and supposed to be an enemy of Equestria. It takes him many weeks to discover his true identity, and by that time he has thoroughly and enthusiastically absorbed Pony culture, so he no longer wants to live in a Changeling Hive — even if he could find his Hive anymore, after the defeat of Queen Chrysalis.
  • Ghost Boy centres around events after Wreck-It Ralph, with the Big Bad of that movie Turbo getting his memory wiped after resurrection, and living with the main cast. Though it's not quite amnesia- Turbo had become corrupted by some malware, which led to him becoming the monster seen in the film.
  • Discussed in Fire Emblem: Awakening fanfic Pretender, Robin believes that his past self before he got amnesia must have been a terrible person since no one bothered to look for him as he probably went missing and was left for dead in a field.
  • Nice Ka-Chan AU is a My Hero Academia fancomic where Bakugou is hit by an Amnesia Quirk which will wear off in two weeks. Under Kirishima's guidance he quickly becomes much nicer, considers Izuku ("Izu-chan") one of his best friends and develops a crush on Uraraka. It seems like he's had a Pygmalion Snap Back when he learns the truth, but after screaming for a moment he breaks down crying.
  • In Steven Universe fangame Flawed Crystals, after Steven wipes her memories, Jasper thinks she and Stevonnie are on the same team. Obviously, this is very much not the actual case. For most of the game, this is turned around from its usual form, with Steven potentially snapping at and abusing Jasper due to his fear and past conflicts with her, much to her confusion. It's ultimately revealed that this is what's driving Jasper's corruption; her memories have been tangled up with Ocean Jasper's, the corrupted Crystal Gem she fused with, and she can't remember which side she's supposed to be on. You can attempt to exploit this by telling her she was a Crystal Gem, but Connie will give you a horrified rebuke and tell her the truth instead.
  • In RWBY fanfic Forgotten Plans, Cinder falls into a coma unintentionally caused by Yang throwing a vending machine in her direction. When she awakens from said coma, the only thing Cinder remembers is Ruby herself.
  • My Hostage, Not Yours: In the third story, Gretchen's family is shown to have a maid who's suffering from amnesia, to the point of not even remembering her own name. She's kind and soft-spoken... then her memory's restored and she remembers that she's actually Tak, and changes into a harsh bitch. Everyone is shocked by the change.
  • In a world forgetting by the world forgot, Tommy, a good-natured and staunchly moral superhero, discovers that he was actually a misanthropic and violent supervillains before having his memories wiped by Dream. It's played with, as Tommy has both obvious and subtle cases of Amnesiac Resonance, and it's heavily implied that his newfound morals were the result of Dream's brainwashing.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of the Spirit, this befalls Darkrai, who goes from the canon game's Big Bad to the protagonist.
  • Rapture Falls plays with it with Atlas and Delta, the two resident amnesiacs
    • Atlas is very different from his past self, Frank Fontaine, but that's because he's not just suffering from amnesia; pre-amnesia, Fontaine suffered a severe ADAM-enhanced mental breakdown that brought his Atlas persona to life as a split personality, who promptly usurped control and subsequently repressed all memories specific to Fontaine's identity. Fontaine acted differently when posing as Atlas, so Atlas doesn't act much like Fontaine now.
    • Delta wonders if this trope applies to him, but flashbacks show that it most certainly doesn't; his human self was just as heroic as his Big Daddy self.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the anime film Colorful "I", a forsaken spirit that possesses a boy called Makoto, is more vocal and forward then Makoto ever was much to the surprise of his classmates, prompting "I" to wonder what kind of person Makoto was. "I" as it turns out is Makoto.
  • The title character in The Iron Giant loses his memory shortly after crashing on Earth (probably when he got electrocuted by the power station while trying to eat it), and is unaware that he is actually a Weapon of Mass Destruction until his built in self-defense protocols start getting activated. When he believes Hogarth is dead, the next army attack seems to undo the dent in his head and his full military programming comes back online (though he still reacts based on self-defense, targeting the greatest threat which is actively attacking him). When it turns out that Hogarth isn't dead, he helps the Giant remember their time together and that he has a choice in his own actions.
  • Invoked in Kubo and the Two Strings. The Moon King is a cruel and sadistic man who despises human emotion and weakness. After his defeat at his grandson's hands, he loses his memories, and is told by the townsfolk that he is Kubo's grandfather, one of the kindest and most compassionate men any of them have ever met.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The eponymous character in Angel Heart discovers that the evil murderer that he was hired to find was himself, and not only that, he also found out that he had had sex with his daughter.
  • Blind Horizon: "Frank", the main character, tries to warn people about a plot against the President which he knows of since in fact he was one of three hitmen hired to kill him.
  • Throughout The Bourne Series, Jason Bourne is horrified to learn what a merciless killer he was before his amnesia. The amnesia works as something as a mental-reset button, as he'd been brainwashed into becoming the assassin. As a result, post-amnesia he is The Atoner.
  • In the Laurel and Hardy short "A Chump at Oxford", while our heroes are visiting Oxford University Stan gets hit on the head and becomes a snob with an English accent, much to Ollie's disgust. Not surprisingly he later gets hit on the head again and returns to his old self.
  • Played with in Dark City: J. Murdoch has no memories, and the only evidence he can find about his past points to him being a serial killer. He's horrified, and soon becomes convinced that it can't be true, that he isn't a killer. Turns out he's right, and the truth is even stranger: Reality Warper aliens had staged the evidence, and implanted everyone around him with false memories—and they've been doing so for years. Murdoch's own amnesia is because he had somehow rejected the latest attempted memory transplant.
  • The protagonist of The Long Kiss Goodnight, a former assassin who ended up as a housewife in a small city.
  • Regarding Henry, where Harrison Ford plays an Amoral Attorney who gets shot and loses his memory. He's appalled at what a jerk he discovers he was.
  • In Overboard, Goldie Hawn plays a Rich Bitch who loses her memory after falling overboard her yacht. Kurt Russell plays an average joe handyman who convinces her that she is his wife (he's widowed) in order to get revenge for unpaid work on the yacht. The two characters fall in love and when Hawn's character eventually regains her memory she must decide whether to go back to her previous life or remain with her new family. Notably, she doesn't automatically become nice when she gets amnesia. She's still pretty much a bitch until living a life where everything isn't handed to her teaches her some humility.
  • Lieutenant Payton in Pandorum is honestly trying to remotely assist Bower in his attempt to restart the ship's reactor. However, when he finds out that he is really Corporal Gallo (he had hypersleep-induced amnesia), he instantly turns into a murderous nihilist.
  • Happens in Resident Evil (2002) with Spence. Gas released by the Red Queen's defences causes him (and Alice) to lose their memories. He spends most of the film as a good guy but, when he regains his memory, he also reverts to his original personality - an amoral shit whose theft of the T-Virus started everything.
  • Douglas Quaid, the central character in Total Recall, discovers that before he had his memories rewritten he was Hauser, The Dragon to the movie's Big Bad, and that he had been on a mission to destroy the people on whose side he had since come to fight. Quaid is shocked and disgusted by this revelation and refuses to become Hauser again, going as far as calling his former self an "asshole".
  • The fear of Amnesiac Dissonance drives the suspense in Unknown (2006). Several kidnappers and their captives wake up in a vacant warehouse, having succumbed to an accidental gas leak that has caused temporary amnesia. They find clues that some of them are criminals, but don't know which of their own number are the bad guys, and need to figure it out before the rest of the kidnapping gang comes to collect their prisoner.
  • Martin Harris, Liam Neeson's character in Unknown (2011) turns out to be a terrorist/mercenary-assassin; when he suffered amnesia after a car accident, he woke up convinced that his cover identity was his real past, leading to him thwarting his successor to the Martin Harris identity as he attempted to complete the original assassination.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Seen in X2: X-Men United; Stryker claims that he and Wolverine were partners before Wolverine lost his memory.
      Stryker: You were always an animal, Wolverine. I just gave you claws.
    • Based on the prequel film, Stryker appears to have been projecting his own moral vacuum onto a member of the subspecies of humanity he despised.

  • Roland from After the Revolution is a Cyborg Super Soldier with Laser-Guided Amnesia, who only remembers that his violent past life was somehow bad for him and refuses to kill people, even as he's haunted by memories of friends, lovers and family that are full of holes and have no context. As Roland becomes more violent over the course of the book he begins recovering more and more memories of his old life and therefore more and more memories of violence, which helps making him even more violent in the present day. This slippery slope disturbs him greatly. In the final chapter, going all-out against an invading army unlocks all of Roland's memories and reminds him that he was a terrorist who planned and executed a nuclear False Flag Operation on American soil. The ensuing dissonance of his former memories drives Roland to blow a hole in his own head rather than go back to who he used to be.
  • In Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju, we first meet Harold Takahama immediately after being attacked by a mind-wiping vampire that has stolen all his memories since 1992, when he was an overweight teenage game coder. Consulting his robot arm (and that comes as his first surprise) he learns he is now a very fit (apart from the robot arm) master hacker and cult leader named Jun Zero. He alternates between finding Zero impossibly cool, being disturbed by some of the things he's apparently done, and occasionally wondering if maybe he's trying too hard to look like an impossibly cool hacker (the barcode tattoo, for instance). It turns out the whole thing was a Memory Gambit to get Zero, whose regular personality is actually uploaded to the arm, through an Only the Worthy May Pass portal, since Hal is "a good person". Hal realises that Jun Zero uses everyone, even his own past self.
  • In Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity, the amnesiac David Webb comes to believe that he is professional contract killer Jason Bourne, which was in fact only a cover assigned to him by the CIA before the incident that caused his amnesia. When the Big Bad comes to realize that something of this nature is occurring, he begins setting Webb/Bourne up to reinforce this belief.
  • In The Broken Earth Trilogy, Schaffa was originally a cruel caretaker of orogene children, using abusive tactics to teach them to control their powers in service of the fulcrum. After losing most of his memories, he is genuinely caring to another orogene child, Nassun, though both of them are aware he was once very different.
  • In Evan Hunter's novel Buddwing a man wakes up in a park with no idea who he is. He creates a name for himself based on seeing a Budweiser truck and an airplane and goes searching for who he is and what has happened to him. At the end he realizes that his wife committed suicide because of his dickishness and the shock gives him amnesia again and the story starts all over again. In the movie "Mister Buddwing" he realizes that his wife is in a hospital, not a mortuary, and he goes to her and apparently reconciles.
  • Cal Leandros gets bitten by a monster that gives him amnesia in Blackout. He immediately figures out he's a morally ambiguous 'killer' and rolls with it, but once he gets reintroduced to his life he is very disturbed by a photograph of himself from before. Most of the book deals with his struggle between wondering if he should stay amnesiac and moral, or try to regain his memories and become who he was before. When he realizes the latter will allow him to protect Niko better, he barely even hesitates restoring himself.
  • In The Candy Shop War, Nate and his friends are given a Blank Slate — a magical food that will cause whoever eats it to lose all their memories and become, well, a Blank Slate — and are told to use it on a rival magician. They can't bring themselves to do it, but Nate holds on to the food anyway. But when it becomes apparent that there's no way to stop the main villainess from drinking from the Fountain of Youth and becoming an unstoppable Child Mage, he crumbles the slate into her goblet of magic water... thus turning her into a harmless and sweet-natured little girl.
  • Diana Wynne Jones' Castle in the Air: It turns out that one of the characters has been given amnesia and memories of a different life in order to teach him a lesson.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: The Eighth Doctor, amnesia-prone as he is, runs into this problem in the Eighth Doctor Adventures after a particularly nasty and long-lasting bout. It's brought up near the end of the series's run by his companion Fitz that perhaps he remembers much more than he lets on, but doesn't want to accept the implications of the cause of his amnesia. Later, he would turn down multiple offers to restore his memories, to the point it became quite suspicious. Turns out, the first time he destroyed Gallifrey, he uploaded its population into the Matrix, which he placed into his own head, causing the multiple memory shorts. Restoring his mind would have doomed the Time Lords.
  • In Don't Look Back, amnesiac protagonist Sam experiences this when she discovers from other people that she used to be an Alpha Bitch before her disappearance and her best friend's death. Because she doesn't remember how cruel she could be and is ashamed at what she hears about it, she tries to use her current amnesia to her advantage by becoming a nicer person again and reconnecting with estranged friends she had previously discarded.
  • Self-inflicted in John M. Ford's short story "Erase/Record/Play", in which the scientists experimenting on prisoners in a concentration camp give everyone — victims, guards, and tormentors — the same experimental memory-wiping drug, and mix themselves into the general population to avoid punishment when the liberators come. They can't be coerced or tricked into revealing their guilt, because even they don't know if they're guilty.
  • Happens in the EVE Online novel Empyrean Age: A high-ranking, slave-keeping Amarrian official suffers amnesia due to a botched assassination attempt. He is found by a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, which includes Minmatar members, who naturally react to his presence with revulsion. While he eventually resumes his position, he keeps the nice guy persona he developed during the story.
  • At the beginning of John C. Wright's The Golden Age, Phaethon learns that he is suffering from Laser-Guided Amnesia and is told he has committed horrible offenses. A Neptunian urges him to flee to have his personality repaired, pointing out that his self-chosen name shows that he is not by nature as acquiescent as he acts.
    • In the third book, The Golden Transcendence, Daphne reveals to Helion that so far from supporting the Horators' attempt to stop Phaethon, in his missing hour of life, he had pledged to support Phaethon.
  • P.G. Wodehouse's novel The Indiscretions of Archie does this for laughs: Archie befriends a man who has lost his memory during the war and, horrified, suspects that his name may be Lancelot.
  • The Legendsong Saga: At the start of Darksong, Ember regains her memory and is forced to face not only the knowledge of her illness and impending death, but also the personality she created to deal with it. This personality becomes known as Dark Ember, and represents the forces of Chaos. They try a Split-Personality Merge, but discover that they are too incompatible.
  • Thomas from The Maze Runner trilogy is so afraid of having to deal with this that he constantly refuses even the possibility of having his memories restored. He gets his way and he never actually learns what kind of person he was.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's fantasy novel Paladin of Souls, the supporting character Goram is a menial servant, well meaning but rather slow-witted, who does not remember his previous life before he was captured by an enemy nation and enslaved. By the end of the book the protagonist, Dowager Royina Ista, discovers that part of his soul—"his memories and his wits"—was stolen from him by sorcery, and she is able to restore his lost self to him. As she herself completely understands, he is not at all happy about this, but deeply anguished; the man he used to be was a nobleman, and also (as Ista herself puts it) "...swordsman, bravo, quondam murderer, destroyer of lives—not just of enemies', but friends'—shall I go on? The sort of fellow whose funeral's orations are all on the theme of Well, that's a relief." Having lived for several years in his amnesiac state in the company of men who are not only of noble birth and skilled fighters, but also men of integrity and true honor, the restored Goram is well aware of what a very mixed blessing the restoration of his old self is, and it seems likely that he will be a genuinely repentant and reformed man for the remainder of his life.
  • In Larissa Ione's Rogue Rider when Reseph remembers what he did while he was Pestilence he suffers a sanity break as the pure evil of the actions he remembers are such an antithesis to his true nature.
  • The entire plotline of K. J. Parker's The Scavenger Trilogy, although Poldarn quickly figures out that he probably won't like what he remembers.
    • The problem isn't just that he has issues with who he was before he lost his memories. It's also that the amnesia fades over time, so he repeatedly regains memories too late to stop himself causing a tragedy and/or realises too late that the tragedies he purposefully caused were committed upon his former friends and loved ones, giving him issues with what he did as an amnesiac. Even more Amnesiac Dissonance is (mostly) averted by the fact that he doesn't remember the horrible deaths he has died in previous incarnations except in dreams. He is (possibly) both the final reincarnation of everyone in the novel and the god Poldarn who is fated to cause the Apocalypse without knowing he is the god Poldarn. Making him both culprit and victim in different incarnations of every atrocity in the series.
  • In a short story by Vivian Vande Velde, a young prince wakes up in a field staring into the eyes of a witch, who tells him perhaps this will help, and leaves. He struggles to survive in the nearby city, selling everything he has on him and eventually working for a living. Finally, he comes across some people who recognize him and take him home. Due to his complete amnesia of anything before, and the fact that he now understands how difficult other people have it, he's a much nicer person. Everyone who knew him before keeps complimenting him on his niceness in a way that's not quite complimentary. Even worse, his Arranged Marriage fiancée has the same eyes as the witch who cursed him, a fact he tries hard not to think about too much.
  • Warhammer 40,000: In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Traitor General, Sturm is deeply indignant about his treatment by Imperial forces. Without the mindlock on his memories, he realizes that he had been treated justly and deserved to die.
  • In Mirror Project, Stan tells Lynn a story about a loud, arrogant, somewhat violent man who developed amnesia from a head injury. His new personality was much more gentle and sensitive, but when his memories started to resurface, so did his violent tendencies. He begged for medication to suppress the memories, but instead Stan and the others held him for observation until all his memories returned. When they released him, he was more violent and unstable than he had ever been, and ended up in jail. Stan learned from the experience that you can never know what's best for another person.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Defied in Dalinar's backstory after he wished to forget the magnitude of his crimes as a Blood Knight, including burning his wife alive. Knowing that the Big Bad could Invoke the trope to drive Dalinar over the Despair Event Horizon, the wish-granter makes it that the memories return slowly on their own throughout Oathbringer, giving Dalinar time to grow as a person and come to terms with his past.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • In "Divided Loyalties", Lyta Alexander arrives on Bablyon 5 to tell captain Sheridan that someone onboard the station is a sleeper agent and that only by sending a specific word into their minds to activate the agent can she find out who it is. It turns out to be Talia Winters, whose sleeper personality seems to be as chaotic and malicious as Talia was formerly calm and helpful.
    • "Passing Through Gethsemane" centers around a mind-wiped Serial Killer who lives as a monk in a religious order. Upon discovering his past, he's aghast. How can he pray for forgiveness when he doesn't even know his sins? Ultimately, he decides the only way he can atone is through death. And so, despite his superior's pleas that he accept the mercy of a new life, he allows himself to be crucified by the families of his old victims. In an ironic Twist Ending, the leader of the lynch mob is sentenced to mind-wipe, and joins the same religious order. The aforementioned superior requested him specifically so as to exercise forgiveness for Brother Edward's murder.
  • Blindspot: The woman known as Jane Doe is found in Times Square with total memory loss, leaving her practically a blank slate, aside from a few triggered memory flashes and muscle memory which help her act as a highly skilled Action Girl as she helps the FBI unravel the mystery surrounding her and fight the crimes that investigation leads to. Which makes it all the more shocking when, by the midpoint of the first season, we learn that she used to be a fanatical true believer of a domestic terrorist organization aiming to bring down the US government, who voluntarily let her memories be wiped in order to be used as a Manchurian Agent. And even more shocking come the end of Season 3, when the drugs used to enact the memory wipe wear off, restoring her original personality.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel:
    • It's written into Angel's curse that every time his soul is returned and he's subjected to a Heel–Face Turn, he gets about 30 seconds of amnesia before the memories of his past evils return all at once, sending him into his usual guilt spiral.
    • Subverted in the case of Angel's son Connor, who didn't get a full-color memory restoration when the Window of Orlon was broken in the Season 5 episode "Origin", but a vague remembrance like a dream. As the major impression is that his experiences from Seasons 3 and 4 were very unpleasant, and he still has his Fake Memories of growing up with a normal family, he seems happy enough with who he is now.
  • In Community, resident Jerkass Chang shows up with memory loss dubbed "Changnesia" and comes off as a much nicer guy who intends to make up for the mistakes he made in the past. Since he's faking, though, it's averted.
  • An episode of Criminal Minds had a serial killer attempting to escape police, only to fall several stories down and end up in a coma. He awakes years later, with no memory of his former life or his actions. Most people believe he's faking, but his amnesia is sincere...until his memories begin returning. He escapes and is tracked to the park he worked at as a ranger, the police believing he's trying to kill one more time. In actuality he dug up a previously-unfound body to confirm whether his memories were real. He turns himself in on discovering this, admitting to all his crimes in exchange for life rather than a death sentence due to his sincere regret for his actions.
  • In the CSI episode "Seeing Red", a young man was found with a bullet in his head that gave him temporary amnesia of recent events, only recalling that other people were hurt. The characters find the crime scene with two dead women and it eventually leads to a recently released convict. While it seems like the convict was the one who did the crime at first, it turns out that it was the young man with the gunshot wound in the head who brought the gun to threaten one of the girls who was his ex. When the other girl defended the ex, the young man started beating on her head as the convict ,who was her brother, entered. In an attempt to defend the girl (who was dead at this point), he shot twice at the young man, one bullet going through the ex in the process.
  • Dark Matter (2015) starts out with six people waking up from stasis on a spaceship with no memories, then finding out that they (apart from Five, a teenage girl who, unlike the five adults, has no wanted file in the ship's database and it's a mystery what she was doing among them) were ruthless mercenaries hired by corrupt Mega-Corps to wipe out planetary populations. They decide to help the people they were hired to kill instead. Despite learning their given names from their wanted files at the end of the pilot (again, apart from Five), they continue to call themselves One through Six based on the order they woke up, since they don't consider themselves to be the same people anymore. One, Two and Six are particularly horrified to learn their original selves were criminals, while Three and Four are more indifferent but still not eager to do things that are outright evil.
    • Six suffers from a major case of Conflicting Loyalty after he discovers (offscreen during "Episode 8" and not revealed until later) that he was an undercover cop the whole time, whose mission was to infiltrate and sabotage the Raza and deliver the crew to justice, which is a problem for him now that they're his friends. Despite being told the truth by Lt Anders during "Episode 8" and being sent the necessary tools during "Episode 9", he doesn't make a move until the Season 1 finale, after the crew unintentionally cause the destruction of an inhabited planet by delivering a white hole bomb they stole from the Traugott Corporation to the Mikkei Combine's research outpost there (without knowing what the device Mikkei hired them to steal was, or that Traugott intended all along to test it by detonating it in the faces of whatever rival corporation took it). Then at the beginning of Season 2, it becomes clear that the Galactic Authority is riddled with corruption and the crew are due to be whacked in prison, prompting Six to change his mind and help the others escape, shooting and being shot by his old friend Anders in the process (they both recover).
  • Doctor Who: In "Utopia", the Master hides from the Time War by transforming himself into a human being and erasing his memory, becoming the mild-mannered, philanthropic Professor Yana. His original memories are stored inside a watch which, when he opens it decades later, restores his memories to him — and in an instant, he turns against everyone he'd been working with as Yana and hatches a plan to conquer the universe.
  • On Dollhouse, Echo gradually comes to realize that Caroline, the original personality in her body, wasn't necessarily such a good person all the time, and is no longer sure if she wants her old memories back. This may have been a response to the audience finding Caroline, who was a member of an Animal Wrongs Group, to be a rather unsympathetic heroine.
    • Although, as Adelle notes, Caroline isn't evil — she's an idealist (which, Adelle also notes, can be worse). Echo isn't that different from Caroline, but comes off more sympathetically.
  • Played for Laughs and Lampshade Hanging in an episode of Due South where Benton, in a state of amnesia, reacts with total bemusement to the other characters' explanations of what he is normally like, and the quirks that they have all by then gotten used to, like his living in an unfurnished apartment where he sleeps on the floor. ("Why am I living like this? Am I being punished?")
  • Lucas from Emerald City seems like a nice guy, but if Mombi's right about his sword meaning he was one of the Wizard's guards — a force known for their brutality — he didn't used to be. Given the brutal way he kills her, she probably is.
  • In the Endgame episode "The Caffeine Hit", Casey Roman, suffering from stroke-induced amnesia, hires Arkady Balagan to find out who he is and where his vaguely-remembered wife is. Casey is horrified to learn that he's a Corrupt Corporate Executive in the middle of a bitter divorce brought on by his multiple affairs, including one with his best friend's wife. Even worse, the search for the missing woman turns up evidence that someone was trying to kill her (and may have succeeded), and Casey, as the prime suspect, can't remember whether he's guilty or not. Balagan and company expose the real murderer in time to save the intended victim. Said murderer is not Casey.
  • Inverted on General Hospital after Jason wakes from his coma with no memory of his life. All of his family and friends efforts to educate him result in him being inexplicably disgusted with how much of a Purity Sue he was—straight-A pre-med student, varsity athlete, steady girlfriend, etc.
  • Heroes:
    • Inverted. Peter Petrelli wakes up in a cargo box with total amnesia. He resists learning about his past for the longest time, because he fears that he'll find out he's really evil. Naturally, pretty much everyone who hears this- cast and audience alike- laugh their asses off at this possibility.
    • Later played straight when Matt Parkman uses mind control to make Sylar (the big bad) forget his past and think he was somebody else, literally planting some of the memories of the now-deceased Nathan Petrelli into Sylar's mind. When shown his real past he flips out, and the mind control means he still doesn't remember it properly until Nathan is 'killed' so that Sylar can retake control.
  • The "Dead Head" episode of Human Target features a money launderer who contracts amnesia on his way to meeting Chance and the team for protection. This leaves them the job of protecting someone without knowing who he is, who's trying to kill him, or why.
  • In an episode of Hustle, the mark discovered The Con, then came down with Easy Amnesia. The team decided this was an opportunity to run the scam again without making the same mistakes, but when they saw how horrified he was at his own business practices they realised they were breaking The Code; conning an honest man. (It eventually transpired that he'd either regained or never lost his memory, and was setting them up. However, their refusal to con him at the end left him reluctant to follow-through, and may have caused a genuine Heel–Face Turn, but is left ambiguous.)
  • The I-Land: The people on the island are all shocked when they discover their past crimes with the exception of Brody, who was killed off before he could find out. Considering he fell right back into his old habits even after the memory wipe, it's likely he wouldn't have cared anyway.
  • The Incredible Hulk (1977): In the pilot, David Banner cannot remember what happened when he Hulked out, and worries that he killed someone.
  • The TV movie In the Shadow of Evil is about a cop who develops amnesia while on the case of a serial killer whose pattern indicates he will kill again in a month. Towards the end of the month he has regained enough of his memory to realize he's investigating himself.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Averted in Kamen Rider Kiva. Wataru and Shizuka befriend a large, cheerful man who Does Not Know His Own Strength, nicknaming him "Dai-chan" ("Mr. Big", essentially). When he recovers his memories, it turns out that he's Rook, The Brute of the Checkmate Four, who spends most of his time engaging in random acts of murder for fun. Recovering his memories causes him to pretty much go back to the monster he was before, except for a rather weird deathbed conversion-type thing where, in his final appearances, he decides to do good deed in the hopes of getting into Heaven.
    • Another aversion is in Kamen Rider Decade in which Tsukasa is revealed to be Leader of Dai-Shocker, he takes it in stride once his memories return to him when speaking to Tsukikage.
    • Played straight though in Kamen Rider Double. After it's been revealed what family Phillip is a member of, he doesn't take it well.
    • Played straight again in Kamen Rider Build: The amnesiac protagonist Sento eventually finds out his original identity: Takumi Katsuragi, "the Demon Scientist" who founded Faust and created both the Smash and the Kamen Riders as part of a secret government Super Soldier project. He goes into a Heroic BSoD until Banjo tells him that who he was isn't as important as who he is now: a Science Hero who protects the innocent. However, it's eventually revealed that Katsuragi wasn't the monster he was made out to be, but did have a lower moral threshold; when he learned about the evil alien entity Evolt, he was fully prepared to kill both Soichi Isurugi (who was possessed by Evolt's consciousness) and Banjo (who was infected by its DNA in the womb) in order to protect humanity. Late in the series Katsuragi's memories are restored, and he spends most of his time being snarky and insulting towards Sento's friends...while still planning to kill Banjo, despite their protests. When he finally regains his memories of both lives, Katsuragi finally admits to The Power of Friendship and essentially fades away, leaving the Sento personality in charge.
  • In the third season episode of Legacies titled "I Was Made to Love You", Alaric and Josie attempt to use a tracking spell to locate The Necromancer, which points them to a funeral home. Upon arriving there, they recognize the voice of the funeral director as that of The Necromancer, although he claims to have no idea who that person or they are, remembering waking up some time ago with no memory of who he was. He calls himself Ted because that was the nametag on the uniform he was wearing at the time. He's pretty mild-mannered and seems to genuinely want to help. On occasion, though, Amnesiac Resonance crops up, like when he accidentally reanimates a dead body and then, after it's blown up by a grenade, he bursts out laughing maniacally. The more magic he uses, the more he's able to do, and the more his old personality starts to seep through. He decides he doesn't want to become that monster again and performs a Heroic Suicide in order to help Alaric save those he cares about.
  • One episode of Medium centers around a former serial killer whose modus operandi was to hire a prostitute, smother her with a pillow after having sex, and bury her in the desert. But one night his plan goes awry when the woman's pimp breaks into his house as part of a planned robbery, and the killer is shot in the head during the ensuing scuffle. When the prostitute visits him in the hospital, she finds that he has amnesia, and remembers nothing about his murders. Once he is discharged from the hospital, he continues his life minus the murders; the woman leaves her life of prostitution and eventually the two end up married. Despite learning all this from the former prostitute, Allison continues to pursue the issue so the bodies can be found. When pressed, the former killer seems to vaguely remember the murders, and it is implied that he leads the police to the bodies. It's never made clear when the memories began to come back, how many of them came back, or even if he ever truly forgot.
  • Miami Vice had a multi-part episode where Crockett gets amnesia from an explosion while working undercover as a drug dealer. Rescued by another member of the organization, he assumes he really is a criminal and acts accordingly. He even shoots his partner, Tubbs (who was wearing body armor). As his memories slowly return, he walks into the police station where all his friends pull their guns on him.
  • In Nikita, Owen Elliot's efforts to find out who he was before Division recruited him and his memories were erased end when those memories are forcibly returned, and he discovers that the person he was, Sam Matthews, was a heroin-smuggling, comrade-betraying asshole—a stark contrast to the loyal, empathetic "puppy" he was as Owen.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "Blank Slate", an amnesiac is being helped by a woman he met while they are being chased by unknown people. Every so often, he gets an injection of liquid that appears to hold his memories, remembering more and more each time. In the end, he is revealed to be the evil boss of the people chasing them and uses the same procedure to erase the woman's memories.
  • Happened to Divatox in the most infamous episode of Power Rangers Turbo, the one where the Rangers get baked into a giant pizza. When she loses her memory, she also loses all piratical aspects of her nature, and becomes a mildly surly (but good-natured) employee at a pizza place.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In "Back to Reality", the crew wake up from the virtual reality game they were playing, and discover that their real personalities are very different from the people they thought they were. Dave Lister, who likes to think he's a good guy who will usually do the right thing, discovers that he's really a brutal fascist officer; Arnold Rimmer, who thinks he's better than Lister, discovers that he's really Lister's less successful brother; Kryten, who thinks he'd never harm a human being, discovers that he's capable of murder; and the Cat, who defines his whole existence by his sense of style and good taste, discovers that he's really an awkward, buck-toothed, fashion-deficient nerd. Subverted when it turns out that this is all a hallucination created by the Despair Squid, and their "game" personalities are their real ones after all, with the hallucinations specifically intended to drive them to suicide.
    • "Psirens" begins with Lister waking up with total amnesia after two hundred years in stasis, and increasingly disgusted by Kryten's description of him as a "randy, blokish, uncouth, tone-deaf semi-literate space bum".
  • This is the entire premise of Christina Applegate's show Samantha Who?.
  • The Shadow Line teases this with Jonah Gabriel, who is implied to have been a Dirty Cop before he lost his memory in contrast to the good cop he is afterwards. Ultimately a subversion, however. He was a good cop all along; all the apparent evidence of his corruption turns out to have been part of an investigation into actual corrupt officers.
  • Stargate:
    • The Stargate SG-1 episode "Past and Present" has Daniel Jackson fall in love with an amnesiac named Ke'ra, who's a doctor working to reverse a global pandemic that caused the entire population to suffer amnesia. It's later revealed that she is actually a de-aged Linea, an elderly psychopathic Mad Scientist whom the team unwittingly helped escape a just imprisonment last season in "Prisoners", also known as "The Destroyer of Worlds", who created the very plague in the first place to regain her youth and the amnesia was an unforeseen side-effect. When her cure causes her to start regaining her memory, she tries to kill herself, but Daniel stops her and reinfects her with the virus, which unfortunately erases her memories of him.
    • The Stargate Atlantis episode "Michael" features previously unknown Lieutenant Michael Kenmore having nightmares of being a Wraith. As it turns out, he was subjected to an experimental treatment to turn wraiths human, giving him a grudge against both the wraith and humanity, both of whom he later attempts to exterminate.
  • Played with in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Frame of Mind": Commander Riker finds himself in an alien mental asylum. The wardens tell him that he has gone crazy and has brutally stabbed another person to death, but Riker doesn't remember having ever done this, and is of course reacting quite aghast. (It is even implied that he never was the respected Starfleet officer he considers himself, and any memories of his time on the Enterprise are just part of his delusion.) In the end, all this turns out to be just an elaborate ruse by the aliens, as an attempt to extract information from the mind of the Starfleet officer, with Riker protecting himself by focusing on his own memory of a play he was taking part in before this mission.
  • Some episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine have Jadzia and Ezri Dax struggling to deal with the revelation that Dax had a host who was erased from their memories after he murdered people.
  • In the 1996 Made-for-TV Movie Sweet Dreams, Alison Sullivan, played by Tiffani-Amber Theissen, awakes from a coma with amnesia. She speaks to various acquaintances from her life to uncover her past, and thinks that she learned that she was the "other woman" trying to destroy her lover's marriage and that someone attempted to murder her because of her misdeeds. She eventually learns the opposite—SHE was the cuckolded wife and her husband and his mistress tried to do away with her.
  • An unusual variation occurs in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Allison from Palmdale". Cameron's processor begins to glitch due to damage sustained earlier in the series, and she loses her sense of "self". She also begins to recall memories of a girl named Allison, who looks exactly like her, who in reality was a resistance fighter that her appearance was modeled after and she interrogated for information. Cameron begins to think she actually is Allison, and begins to act like her, reciting memories of parts of her life and expressing human emotions. Its isn't until the end of the episode that she remembers who she really is and reverts back to her normal programming.
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, Callisto is eventually redeemed by being turned into an angel, which includes having her memories wiped clean. Despite this, Gabrielle at first refuses to trust her, thinking she's just putting on an act, and cites the many atrocities Callisto did over the years. The newly sweet and innocent Callisto is horrified and refuses to go back to how she was (thankfully, she never does). In the next episode, Xena gets her memories wiped clean and becomes sweet and innocent. She's horrified to learn about her past, but eventually accepts her memories back so she can remember how to fight.
  • Wild Bill: In "Piano Man" Si seems like a nice, ordinary man who can't remember who he is. After he's been accused of robbery and murder, he fears he's guilty. He was framed.

  • The Living Tombstone's song September is about a lonely pony who can't remember what happened in September, when everybody died. He regains a memory of a insane pony who built something to kill everyone. At the very end of the song he realizes that the insane pony was him and he is gleeful.

  • Monster hunter Soren Arkwright in Dark Dice occasionally gets flashes of memory of his time as The Carver of Dreams, the leader of the cult of the Nameless God, who tortured and murdered countless people in order to find where his deity lived and release it. Although remembering damages his sanity, he ends up choosing to remain the noble monster hunter, to the point of making a Heroic Sacrifice to ensure that the Nameless God remains sealed.

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Ronove recovers his memories during the siege of Vanna and remembers that he used to be a Dreadlord of one of the demon hordes. After this realization he leaves his human friends behind, retakes his former position in the horde, starts acting like a seemingly cruel Manipulative Bastard as most demons do, but he also still seems to harbor some feelings for his former companions in the Alliance who he is now forced to oppose. He shows some of his quirky habits from his amnesiac cuckoolander days (such as his love for cake and sand gnome legs) but it's now mixed with his former dutiful yet cruelly efficient persona which has evolved into something more manipulative and vengeful because he's now fully aware of who betrayed him and caused his amnesia in the first place. He even keeps lampshading his sudden personality change every now and then, further cementing the fact that the different sides of Ronove coexist and that he hasn't set aside everything from his amnesiac days.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Swan of Exalted is the nice guy of his circle—cultured, polite, and well-educated—so he should feel real glad that he has very little memory of the former holder of his shard's life. Word of God states that he remembers snippets of his past life: not all of those particular moments, but enough to know that the Usurpation may have had some justification, and that his former incarnation's wife might want him dead.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Jace Beleren spends a lot of the Ixalan Storyline having lost his memories after the Gatewatch's defeat by Nicol Bolas in Hour Of Devastation, and winds up being a great deal more open, innocent, and friendly than his usual brooding and guarded Byronic Hero personality, possibly due to forgetting about his Dark and Troubled Past. However, unlike most examples, he decides to keep his new personality after getting his memories back. Instead, his expieriences on Ixalan led him to decide not to let his past shape him any longer.
  • Pathfinder: The opening to the Strange Aeons adventure path - themed around the Cthulhu Mythos - has the player characters waking up in an asylum with absolutely zero memories of their past life. With this established, they are able to make whatever characters they choose with no attention to backstory whatsoever. After fighting through a place overrun with all manner of eldritch horrors and saving the survivors, at the conclusion of the first act they make it to the nearest town and inevitably seek shelter, work, and a place to offload all the loot that they've accumulated. Whereupon, of course, they find out that they were all universally horrible people, thugs of the worst sort in the employ of a cruel count, about whom they'd found only hints to date. Naturally, the people of Thrushmoor are not exactly willing to let bygones be bygones, and the consequences of actions they do not and indeed never will remember will haunt them for some time. For a player playing, for example, a devout and kind paladin, this is a shock of the worst sort.

  • Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut is a comic example of this trope. Major Sigfried von Koningswald is an evil Nazi sadist who, now dead and in heaven, is baffled by his previous actions. He struggles to explain them to the audience...or to himself.
    von Konigswald: Orange juice! I killed a man with Orange juice?
  • Le Voyageur sans bagage (Traveler Without Luggage) is a Jean Anouilh play about a thoughtful, peaceful man who lost his memory in World War I and spent years in a psychiatric institution, oblivious to his identity. When his true family comes to reclaim him, he discovers that their missing son was a violent, borderline sociopathic egotist. Soon, though, the evidence that this man was him is undeniable. Disgusted, he denies it anyway, lying in order to leave with another, much nicer family he met earlier in the play.

    Video Games 
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent: One of the true horrors of the game is realizing what a depraved monster the player character Daniel was before he gave himself amnesia. No wonder he chose to forget, even though it would make killing Alexander a lot easier if he knew what he was supposed to do and why.
    • Its side story, Justine, is a morality test set up by Justine, to see if she remains a manipulative sadist even after losing her memories. Whether this turns out to be the case depends on the player's choices.
    • The same thing is true in its sequel, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Indeed, Mandus may be even worse of a monster than Daniel was, and he only clings to sanity whilst he can still fixate entirely on his need to rescue his missing kids. And when he finds out that he murdered them, well, it's no wonder he's willing to perform a Heroic Sacrifice if it means he can take the Machine with him in the bargain.
  • Ysuran in Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II begins the game with a bad case of amnesia and a spellbook from which he learns the art of necromancy; probing into his past reveals that he's a former terrorist and ally of the Eldreth Veluuthra, a faction of elf supremacists, who was struck with amnesia when his mentor learned the truth about him and tried to stop him. Upon learning this, he swears off his former identity and decides to use his powers of darkness for the good of the realms.
  • Soma Cruz from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and its sequel Dawn of Sorrow is an Ordinary High-School Student, except for the whole "being the reincarnation of Dracula" thing — something he has to resist succumbing to when he "remembers".
  • Cave Story subverts this. Several NPCs recognize Quote as "a soldier from the surface", or make references to squads of war robots that came to the island ten years ago and massacred the Mimigas. The obvious conclusion for the player (and several in-game characters) is that Quote was one of those killer robots—rather unsettling since Quote is currently trying to save the remaining Mimigas. But, if you complete the sidequest to save Curly Brace and restore her memories, then she remembers that Quote was comrade-in-arms ten years ago. And unlike all the other combat robots, they hadn't fought the Mimigas; their mission had been to destroy the Demon Crown.
  • In the Dark Souls III DLC The Ringed City, you encounter a Hollow who asks you to call him "Lapp". Due to his Hollowing, he has lost all memories of his past, including what his real name is, and he seeks the Purging Monument in the titular Ringed City to reverse his Hollowing and remember who he was, since he's so far gone that Purging Stones no longer work on him anymore. Throughout the DLC he is very nice and friendly towards you. At one point he tells you were some good treasure is, and if you die trying to get it, he'll be waiting at the bonfire when you respawn, having gotten it for you. Along the way, he'll let slip that he's worried that his old self may not have been quite as nice as his current one. If you locate the Purging Monument he seeks and tell him where it is, he will be very grateful and promises you from the bottom of his heart that no matter what kind of man he turns out to be once he regains his memories, he will be a true friend to you always. The next time you see him he'll be back to his old self: Patches. Who immediately tricks you into getting booted off a cliff as per usual. Although dropping off said cliff is the only way to progress through the area, and Patches will be summonable for the next boss, so he may actually be keeping his promise to you in his own way.
  • In Diablo III, one of your partners is part of a zealous organization that does this to its recruits - former criminals who agree to having their memories wiped so that they may seek redemption. You meet him when you're dungeon crawling in a place where one of his companions is hiding, having just turned traitor. Turns out the guy betrayed his organization after gaining the ability to regain his lost memories, and had been horrified to realize that he was just some Average Joe who signed up for a job. Your partner eventually does the same thing, finding the same thing. Subversion! ... Maybe. It's unclear whether the organization actually does take in former criminals that way.
  • In the PS2 game Disgaea 2: it is revealed that the "God of Demon Overlords" Zenon really isn't the Big Bad. She had gotten tired of her role and reincarnated herself into the character who had thought she was her daughter, Rozalin. Whether she turns good or evil after recovering her memories depends on the character's actions up to that point.
  • Played with in Dead In Vinland; party member Brother Angelico is a sweet, gentle, idealistic, and devoutly religious monk, but he doesn't remember that he's a Self-Made Orphan and also a Serial Killer. He's committed all his crimes in a dissociative state or possibly demonic possession — it's left Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane — and the only thing he's aware of is that he has recurring nightmares about blood and an awful lot of people he's known have died mysteriously. Unlike most examples, these evil deeds aren't only in the past; if you keep him in your party long enough after you've accomplished one of the major quests, he murders another party member, and his true nature is revealed some time after. It's a one-two Player Punch, especially if you played out the Romance Sidequest between him and Kari so that they have a Relationship Upgrade .
  • In Fate/Grand Order, Florence Nightingale first appears as an NPC in Prison Tower event as an amnesiac, gentle Cool Big Sis who strictly non-combatant. When she appears in-story chapter with her memory intact, Nightingale is an extremely hot-headed, passionate, somewhat violent Combat Medic who threatens even her patients at gunpoint if they resist treatments. The only thing that both versions of Nightingale share is their tendency to gravitate tortured soldiers in the battlefield toward them, for no matter what personality she has, she's still Florence Nightingale - the Angel of Mercy.
  • Terra from Final Fantasy VI suffers from a variation from the start. Kefka had put a slave crown on her and used her powers for all sorts of casual slaughter with her being utterly oblivious about this. Once it comes off and people mention what she's done, she comes down with massively crippling guilt for a large part of the game. Combined with her fears of being less-than-human, she makes a very effective woobie.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy mirrors this by having Terra learn that in a past cycle, she was brainwashed and forced to fight on the side of Chaos.
      • And Duodecim, the prequel, plays through that cycle, revealing that it was Vaan who helped snap her out of it.
    • Kuja in duodecim was this close to joining the good guys until Kefka ruined his plans and manipulated him into dying in a battle with Lightning. First thing when Kuja was revived in the next cycle, Kefka put it in his head that he loathed Zidane and wanted nothing more than to kill him.
    • Jecht is also a victim of this trope. In the original Dissidia, he's one of the warriors sided with Chaos and acts as The Rival for his son Tidus. However, he really isn't all that villainous, and is a gruff but good-natured guy. Near the end of the story, it's revealed that he actually used to be on the other side in previous cycles; but was captured and Brainwashed to be used as a pawn in The Emperor's schemes.
      • Duodecim reveals that he fought alongside Yuna for the Warriors of Cosmos in the last timeline, while Tidus was brainwashed into serving Chaos. Ultimately, Jecht sacrificed himself to save Tidus's life, and the Warriors of Chaos retrieved his body just before he could die in order to reprogram it.
  • Inverted several ways in Fire Emblem: Awakening with Morgan, the son/daughter of the Avatar from the future. Whereas the other twelve children all come from a future where Grima plunged their world into chaos, Morgan - an amnesiac - is implied to be from another timeline, which itself is noted in all of his/her endings. The subversion comes from the fact that both male and female Morgan exist in the Future Past DLC, which is nearly identical to the timeline the other twelve children are from, only even bleaker. Here, both Morgans are the children of the avatar but enslaved by Grima who took their parent's body. There is no hint in-game, though, that either one is from the Future Past timeline.
    • It gets even more complicated when one takes into account that Morgan's other parent can be any character in the game, including the children characters themselves. Since an Avatar/child pairing is impossible in the future timeline due to the Avatar's fate in the original timeline, this only brings up more questions.
  • In Gems of War, when Ferit finds out that he was once one of the slave-keeping, horror-summoning warlocks he now fights, he's not at all pleased. In the end, he chooses to get his memories deleted again.
  • Ghost Trick spends a lot of time setting this up, displaying the seemingly nefarious doings of pre-death Sissel and making the protagonist wonder if he was really that bad of a person. Of course, the man in red is certainly a monster... but Sissel's not the man in red.
  • In The Granstream Saga, the game alludes to a dark lord who once reigned a century ago. Near the end of the game, we discover that this dark lord is in fact a previous incarnation of the game's hero Eon.
  • Becomes a Discussed and Defied Trope in Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1. Neptune is fully aware that she could only form her band of True Companions due to her amnesia, and while she "knows" who she truly is, having her memories restored would mean recalling millennia of murderous resentment towards her now closest friends. For this reason, she refuses to have her memory restored, much preferring the life and memories she's already made.
    • This is quite possibly a Call-Back to the first game in the series, which Re;Birth1 is a Re Make of. In that game, Neptune does have the possibility to regain her memories, and doing so is actually a neccessary step to get the True Ending. Upon doing so, Neptune does indeed remember the milennia she spent battling against the other CPUs, whom she had become friends with during her amnesiac journey. This, combined with The Reveal that Arfoire is the previous True Goddess and the creator of the four CP Us, causes her to have a minor Freak Out. However, Compa and IF are able to make her calm down, and due to having regained her memories, Neptune is able to convince the other CPUs to join her cause in defeating Arfoire (after defeating each of them in a one-on-one duel).
  • In I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, one of the main playing characters is an elderly German scientist called Nimdok who has a failing memory. The Big Bad of the game, mad and omnipotent supercomputer AM, sends him to confront his past... where it is revealed that he was working for the Nazis, directly under the command of Josef Mengele in a death camp, doing barbaric experiences on dozens of innocents. On top of that, it's hinted he was a jew who gave up some of his people to survive. Apart from that, Nimdok is a kind old man who is horrified by what he discovers in the camp and feels sorry for the detainees here.
  • The hero of the Infinity Blade series, Siris, is nothing like his past self as Ausar the Vile. Prior to having his memory erased, Ausar was a monster who brought nothing but ruin to the world. Siris is horrified by the man he was and seeks atonement for the deeds he no longer remembers. Highlighted in the expansion "Ausar Rising" when Siris faces a soulless clone of himself with Ausar's memories. Siris denounces "Ausar" as a monster and slays him with extreme prejudice.
  • This happens with Garcian Smith at the end of the chapter "Smile" in Killer7. In his last life, he was the assassin Emir Parkreiner, sent to kill the Killer7. He succeeded, but after killing his mentor Harman Smith, he committed suicide out of grief. Hasidic Harman, the godlike being who had manifested as Harman Smith and led Emir to do these things, resurrected Emir as Garcian Smith, with the souls of the other six Killer7 agents bound to him as alternate personalities, along with Master Harman (yet another manifestation of Hasidic Harman).
  • The Legacy of Kain series averts this trope, but only temporarily. The vampire-wraith Raziel discovers that he and his brothers used to be vampire-slaying priests. At first he embraces his former humanity, but upon traveling into the past, he discovers they were just as bad as, (if not worse) than, the vampires they hunted. Raziel renounces and kills his former self, setting the stage for his eventual resurrection as an amnesiac vampire.
    Human Raziel: You're a righteous fiend, aren't you?
    Wraith Raziel: Apparently I am...
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Bowser teams up with the Mario Bros. to retrieve Peach's voice from Cackletta. Along the way, however, an incident with a cannon results in Bowser getting separated from them and losing his memory. When they see each other again, Bowser is working for the thief Popple under the name "Rookie" and vaguely recalls that seeing Mario and Luigi makes him feel really mad. Which is how he usually feels about them, but he totally forgot about the recent team-up.
  • Mega Man X:
    • Much of Zero's story in the games comes from villains attempting to resurrect his "true" personality as a ruthless killing machine. Although even if he does succumb via the Bad Ending in X5, it's shown that Zero's "true" personality, while certainly more malevolent, is a different beast from what he was introduced as pre-amnesia. The pre-amnesia Zero was Ax-Crazy and The Berserker who ripped people to shreds indiscrimately, while "Awakened" Zero is much calmer and rational and mostly focused on killing one person (that being X).
    • Zero suffers this again in the transition between the X and Mega Man Zero series. While he stays a hero in between both series, his memory was lost during hibernation, including one crucial detail: that the body he was inhabiting was a duplicate. Though there's very little of the "dissonance" part in the Zero series though, since most of the few people who knew that Zero used to be evil have been dead for hundreds of years. Almost everyone remembers him as a mythical hero and almost no one knows that "Omega" is in fact Zero's original body. The exceptions would be X (who doesn't care since he knows who his best friend really is) and Dr. Weil.
  • Debatably Venom Snake in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. He starts as a Medic who is simply trying to save Paz's life during Ground Zeroes. He ends up becoming the vengeful leader of a ruthless and nearly cult-like mercenary group that is destined to make a super weapon & die in Outer Heaven after being labeled a terrorist... all as a cover for the actual Big Boss. Made slightly more bitter when revealed that the avatar the player makes at the beginning is the real face of Venom Snake tricked into thinking he's the real Big Boss.
  • The playable character in My Sims Sky Heroes turns out to have been one of the chaos pirates before his plane got shot down, he lost his memory, and joined the heroes.
  • Subverted with Castti in Octopath Traveler II. One travel banter has her fret over the fact that she might have some trauma or other horrible event in her past, so she may be happier if she never gets her memories back. Temenos refutes this, reassuring her that she's a good person due to how well she treats her patients. Sure enough, it turns out Castti was good all along, though her amnesia was trauma-induced in that it happened after one of her co-workers went evil and poisoned an entire town.
  • Onmyōji (2016): This is Seimei's biggest fear, and for good reasons — he keeps being blamed for horrible shit he doesn't remember ever doing, and since he's amnesiac, that means that he could have done all of those things without remembering having done them! And no, nobody believes that Amnesiacs are Innocent. Unfortunately, part of his fear has been confirmed in that he has committed one single soul-splitting crime in his past — namely, forcibly removing all evil motives from his head. This had resulted in the Big Bad coming into existence, but if Seimei just left things as-is, he would have actually become a bad person.
  • Initially, Overlord doesn't even provide a framework for this trope—the game begins with your being disinterred and declared the Overlord, and apart from indications that you were quite evil your past is treated as unimportant. You are informed, however, that the seven heroes who oppose you previously defeated not you, but "your predecessor". You were the eighth hero, fallen in battle and left for dead. How much of a shock this is depends on how you've been playing.
  • In Persona 3, Ryoji's only reason for being is to serve as the vessel by which Nyx will destroy the world. In a subversion, despite the fact that it is against his will, he accepts it as inevitable and gives the Main Character the option of killing him (and erasing SEES' memories of the Dark Hour) to spare them the agony of having to watch the Fall unfold before their very eyes.
  • The protagonist of Planescape: Torment has lost his memory multiple times. He slowly, steadily recovers memories from several past stages, each with their own moral codes (or lack thereof). There's an especially well-written scene, if you've taken the good path to that point, where he recalls a particularly heinous moment from his Manipulative Bastard stage and breaks down in horror at his past selfishness.
    • It's also revealed, if the right actions are taken, that the protagonist's first self was responsible for possibly more evil than the rest of the incarnations put together prior to becoming The Atoner. In fact, that turns out to be the reason for the immortality thing: Whatever the First Incarnation did, it was so bad that a lifetime of doing good would not be enough to atone for it. The solution was to have many lifetimes, but due to the amnesia thing that didn't work so well.
  • In Prey (2017), you play as an amnesiac Morgan, and your Mission Control can be one of two operators programmed by your past self. As each AI was programmed at a time when Morgan had different memories and goals thanks to repeated memory wipes, they have completely contrasting beliefs and mission parameters; one wants to destroy the Typhon (along with the rest of Talos Station) while the other simply wants to get the hell out. The playable amnesiac Morgan, however, may very well have an entirely new agenda and go against both operators. Audiologs suggest that there may have been as many as four operators built by Morgan at one point, which is a fair indication of how chaotic the repeated memory wipes made them.
  • Played with in Primordia (2012). Due to repeated self-induced memory wipes Horatio doesn't remember his original identity, his only clues being a broken-down warship, an unexplained, preprogrammed hatred towards Metropol, and a desire to fly. Fairly early in the game, various characters start addressing him as "Horus", which, according to Memorious's information kiosk, was an Urbanian weapon sent against Metropol and shot down by Goliath on the way. However, if you decrypt Horatio's files near the end of the game, it turns out that Horus — the warship — actually won against Goliath, but refused to kill the last humans in Metropol, and willingly crashed in the desert after uploading a chunk of its AI into its robotic servitor, who took on the name "Horatio". It is left entirely up to the player whether the unlocked destructive powers should be embraced, ignored, or used selectively.
  • Alex Mercer of [PROTOTYPE] hunts down and kills dozens of people and killing several thousand in the crossfire in a combination of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and investigation of the Infection's release and his own transformation, only to find out that the real Mercer was not only one of the very scientists he'd been tracking and killing, but also solely responsible for both. Funnily enough, this means that he was less evil as a Humanoid Abomination; the original Mercer only cared about himself, while Virus Mercer slowly starts to grow a conscience.
    • The game also plays with the trope in that Virus!Mercer is not actually Human!Mercer, as Human!Mercer actually died and Virus!Mercer was created from his corpse. The reason he has no memory isn't trauma, it's that they were never his memories to begin with.
  • In La Pucelle Tactics, two of the characters have lost their memories two years ago. Both of them are now demon hunters on the side of light. Turns out, one of them is actually the "Dark Prince", the emissary of the in-game equivalent of the Devil, and was dead set on destroying all humanity.
  • In the Semi Hero - Hero ending of Shadow the Hedgehog, the titular character comes to the realization that he was a failed experiment gone wrong and has caused so much destruction. Because of this, he wishes that he was never created.
  • Shadowverse: All throughout her story, Eris struggles with her amnesia, but insists that the doppelganger that is tormenting people is wrong about enacting her own will. When the two recombine, it turns out the doppelganger was telling the truth all along, and she embraces her mission willingly.
  • Shining Force II: When the young boy Oddler is left blind and amnesia-stricken by battle wounds, The Hero takes him into his party, protecting the youth from devils that have been hunting him for some reason. Near the end of the game, though, the truth comes out: Oddler is Odd Eye, the most powerful general in the Big Bad's devil army! Though he still remembers traveling with The Hero, his eyes have been opened and his duty is clear. Now they must fight.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Knights of the Old Republic, it turns out that the player character was actually Darth Revan prior to being mind-wiped by the Jedi. No matter whether Revan turns to the light or the dark side, the ex-Sith always ends up killing Darth Malak. They do, however, at least give both choices a motive for doing so. A light side Revan is protecting the galaxy from their former apprentice, while a dark side Revan is reclaiming their usurped throne.
    • However, the sequel Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords suggests this may be less extreme than thought, as Kriea suggests that her former apprentice was a Well-Intentioned Extremist who knowingly and willingly turned to the Dark side in order to protect the galaxy. She also believed that the Jedi didn't rewrite Revan, but rather reset him to who he was before he became a sith lord, with a light side Revan leans more towards well intentioned, and a dark side Revan leans more towards an extremist. However, considering this is coming from Kriea, this should be taken with a massive grain of salt.
  • Cammy from the Street Fighter series joins the good-guy Delta Red faction after her Laser-Guided Amnesia erases all memory of the fact that she was created to be the next body of the Big Bad Bison.
  • In Super Robot Wars Advance, Amnesiac Axel Almer, who serves a stint as protagonist, is actually The Dragon of the Big Bad and the Mad Scientist's lover. He comes to grips with this and proceeds to betray his former comrades, who thought he was just being a really awesome spy. Not a spoiler, as the other protagonist's route warns you of this immediately. The Original Generation games, which chose to go with the other protagonist when covering Advance's arc, had Axel complete a Heel–Face Turn as himself, then later get amnesia in Endless Frontier EXCEED, and go from the other aspect; Axel's change in personality from a serious-minded badass to a goofy Casanova Wannabe... who is still badass.
    • This is also the stint of Cobray Gordon in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3. Certain event causes him to lose his memories and join the team. This gets more complicated as he's under the threat of The dead Ingram Prisken trying to take over his body.
    • Mai Kobayashi is a double case of this. As Levi Torah, she tried to resist the Judecca's control, pleading for someone to rescue her. Then, when the Alpha Numbers/Original Generations save her, she forgets all about the Ze Balmary, only for memories of Levi to come back and try to take control of her again.
  • In Super Robot Wars Z/Jigoku-hen, multiple characters do not recall certain members from absent series in this game. For example, when the eponymous Aquarion EVOL makes its debut, ZEUTH and ZEXIS feel a stinging sensation, forgetting about the original Aquarion cast.
  • Tales of Innocence invokes the reincarnation variation of the trope with every Avatar ingame. Luca, having been the great Overlord Asura, is constantly attacked by friends and foes from his old life. Meanwhile, both Luca and Iria go into brief Heroic BSoD when they regain their memories of the roles their past lives played in the destruction of Devaloka/Tenjo. All the other party members also comply to the trope, to a slightly lesser extent.
  • Played with strangely in Trauma Team. CR-S01 is a surgeon committed to saving lives who was seemingly a bioterrorist behind an attack on Cumberland College prior to his amnesia. However, despite the fact that he can't remember how he did it or why, he's fully aware of this fact — it's actually his knowledge of what he might have done before, absent any of the memories that drove him to it, that motivates his Heel–Face Turn. Then finally outright subverted when it turns out he was never responsible for the attack in the first place, and he was never a villain.
  • In Twisted Metal Black, Roadkill's driver is an amnesiac who came to in the wreckage of a gangland bombing, and finds himself covered with one of the gang's tattoos. He enters the tournament in the hopes that Calypso will restore his memory. In his ending, it's revealed that he was an undercover FBI agent, and saved dozens of lives in the bombing incident. He is, in fact, a hero... and he's standing in front of one of the world's most wanted criminals, who shoots him dead.
    • Another character in the game, Preacher, believes himself to be possessed by a demon that slaughtered his congregation during an exorcism gone bad; he wants Calypso's help to clear his name and reveal the truth to everyone so he can fight the demon. Calypso delivers the truth, but it's not what Preacher wanted to know... that there was no demon, the "exorcism" was just a baptism, and Preacher is a psychotic multiple-murderer. He doesn't take it well.
  • World of Warcraft: This occurs during the starter quests for the Death Knight class. You, the Death Knight player, start the game following orders from Lich King & pals. You run about destroying a town, slaughtering its townsfolk and torturing its guards. Then you're given an order to kill a hostage NPC, but when you confront him/her, he/she turns out to be an old friend of yours who reminds you of your past before you became a pawn of the Lich King—when you were a hero. After you finish the NPC off, you begin your transformation into an Anti-Hero.
  • the white chamber has Arthur reveal to Sarah that she was the one who murdered the entire crew. Whether she redeems herself or not is dependent on the player's actions throughout the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Tanya, who is the android love interest from the science fiction visual novel Bionic Heart, learns that her creator used a serial killer's brain in building her, which explains why she has century-old memories. Unsurprisingly, she has a Heroic BSoD from the revelation.
  • It's made clear early on in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair that everyone has had years worth of their school memories of their removed, with Hajime unable to even remember his Ultimate talent. Upon finding out that they used to be the remnants of Ultimate Despair, the insanely violent followers of Junko Enoshima and the ones responsible for the Tragedy, they are understandably horrified.
  • Happens again in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. This batch of characters finds out, to their horror, that they are just that: fictional characters. Their killing game is a reality TV show based on the massively popular Danganronpa franchise, and all of them willingly signed up for it, knowing full well that they would be mindwiped and implanted with fictional backstories and personalities of Danganronpa characters. Audition tapes of their pre-mindwipe selves show them to be the epitome of Nice Character, Mean Actor, with the boy who would become the heroic Kaito saying he plans on killing everyone else and becoming famous for it, and the boy who would become our protagonist Shuichi requesting to be made into an Ultimate Detective specifically because no Ultimate Detective on the show so far has killed anyone yet and he wanted to be the first. The tape cuts off just before he starts to describe what he would like his own execution to be should he get caught.
  • In Snatcher, protagonist Gillian Seed is an amnesiac police agent who is assigned to take out the identity-stealing androids. However, by the game's end, he finds that he and his wife were both scientists who worked on the Snatchers. Though to be fair, his wife was captured to do it while Gillian was The Mole for the CIA, investigating Russia's secret projects.
  • In Hate Plus, security AI *Mute is utterly shocked by the rude and unladylike behavior displayed by her pre-reset self. In particular, she's aghast at the fact old *Mute would argue with the male Councilors of the Mughungwa without the slightest bit of deference or respect, something completely at odds with new *Mute's Confucian, Stay in the Kitchen values.

    Web Animation 

  • Trace from TwoKinds. He went mad as a result of Necromantic and The Dark Arts, but was subject to Amnesiacs are Innocent due to an enemy god. Interesting in that the only person not aware of his past is Trace, nearly everyone else is well aware of who he is/was and are openly terrified of him. It's gotten to the point that Trace has decided that he's better off not knowing who he was. But when his Superpowered Evil Side starts poking through anyways, he determines that the best way to resist it is to learn his full past before it can take full control.
  • MSF High: Students at MSF High can surpress painful memories as part of their 'second chance'. If these memories are discovered, this can occur.
  • In Fleep, Jimmy is rather horrified to infer that he used to be a terrorist, and that the building he's trapped in was collapsed by a bomb he set off. What's interesting is that he never actually remembers any of this — so he ends up inferring what he did well before he figures out why he did it.
  • Jack of Jack was a genocidal dictator in life but when he died and became the Grim Reaper and Anthropomorphic Personification of Wrath his memories were erased. Now, he's a pretty nice guy all things considered.
  • Hector: Animated Armor and Minion with an F in Evil turned good from A Modest Destiny, were at some point "resurrected" by the resident vampire lord, Fluffy. The only thing he can remember is that it was his own sister that killed him, and she is also a vampire. It is later revealed that she didn't do it personally, she had Fluffy bind Hector's soul to the armor in order to save him. Apparently, Hector was, at some point, a psychopath with such issues that even the baby-eating Fluffy was disgusted by him. When Hector got the offer to be returned to life in a real body, he refused, as he was afraid that he would go back to being whatever he was before.
  • In Homestuck, Gamzee Makara's consumption of sopor slime made him a mellow, spacey weirdo that everyone sees as annoying at worst. As soon as he sobers up though, he remembers his true identity as a violent dogmatic psychopath and begins terrorizing and killing his friends like a slasher film villain.
  • In Sam & Fuzzy, Laser-Guided Amnesia victims occur regularly thanks to Brain, but none of the victims ever recover any of their old memories. Instead they learn about their 'old selves' through second-hand memories (interacting with friends, mementos and so on) and thus tend to react to this kind of knowledge in accordance to their new mentality. When Rexford learns his pre-amnesia self was a conniving opportunist he is outraged and doubles down on his current path, while Fuzzy gets extremely annoyed to learn that Eric used to wear pants and nobody ever told him.
  • In Romantically Apocalyptic, it's revealed Pilot was a private investigator hired to assassinate Snippy before a bomb went off in his face and left him both amnesiac and insane. When he regains his memories, he becomes scarily competent and utterly determined to complete his mission.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • In "Ghost Princess", the helpful male ghost named Clarence who's been helping Finn and Jake investigate Ghost Princess's death, and who has also been falling in love with the princess, turns out to have been the guy who killed her in life. Of course, in life they were Star-Crossed Lovers, so that helps...
    • In "Orgalorg", Gunther the penguin turns out to be a terrifying alien monster of incredible, world-destroying power named Orgalorg. When he was banished to earth by Glob, the gravity crushed him into a "less-threatening cuddly form" and he forgot who he was until he suffered a traumatic brain injury from a pissed-off walrus.
  • In an episode of Aladdin: The Series, Jasmine lost her memory due to a magic rose and Abis Mal convinced her that she was evil, turning her from a sweet princess to the ruthless thief Scourge. This backfired when Jasmine decided the idiotic Abis Mal was beneath her.
  • The Angry Beavers: In "Damnesia", Norbert loses his memory, and finds a video tape he made for just such an occasion. It consists of old home movies spliced together, which mostly consist of Norbert pranking and tormenting his little brother Dagget. Norbert (or "Troy", as he starts calling himself) is horrified to see that he was so obnoxious, and resolves to be a better person... which doesn't last, mostly because Dagget starts to miss the old Norbert.
  • In Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, a Tap on the Head gives Dale amnesia and Fat Cat's cousin Maltese de Sade uses it to convince Dale that he is actually the criminal Ramdale. Ramdale manages to be surprisingly efficient and nearly manages to defeat the rest of the Rescue Rangers.
  • An antiheroic version: in one episode of DuckTales (1987), Scrooge lost his memory and was lost on the streets without a penny to his name. Eventually he moved in and began a romance with his unknowing accountant's extremely working class mother, and when she told him about Scrooge McDuck's employment practices he reinvented himself as a socialist crusader against a man he saw as a Corrupt Corporate Executive. At the end of the episode he regained his memories and had no recollection of what happened, but the protest he unknowingly began forced him to improve worker rights.
  • In the Generator Rex episode "Rabble", Rex is hit hard with this as he meets up with three old friends of his - who he doesn't remember at all - who are stuck working for a crime boss named Quarry. It turns out that in a former life, Rex literally sold out his friends to Quarry in the first place, and Quarry uses this fact to turn Rex's old friends against him.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes animated series, there are two ShapeShifters, one on each side, who undergo processes to forget themselves and become one of the other side's members in order to gain intelligence. Chameleon Boy ends up stuck as Persuader before finally remembering who he is. And Superboy ends up revealing he's actually Ron-Karr in the process and is shocked to discover he'd forgotten who he really was.
  • In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Amnesio", the experiment of the week erases peoples' memories. Lilo, Stitch, and Gantu all get zapped and try to reassemble their pasts together; they don't come up with much that's conclusive about Lilo or Stitch, but reckon Gantu must have been a cop. So they become very good friends and don't worry all that much about their memories until Lilo learns that there's a way to reverse the effect, and learns the codeword. Gantu, meanwhile, has learned that he was not a very nice guy. He's quite vehement that he doesn't want to go back to being a jerk—until Lilo says the codeword, ʻohana, anyway. He then remembers the one bit of context his amnesiac self didn't: he loves being a jerk.
  • An unusual Face–Heel Turn version occurs in the Peter Pan & the Pirates episode "Lost Memories of Pirate Pan". After a disastrous piece of time travel leave Peter with no memories, he turns on his friends, who he sees as intruders in his home, and joins the pirates, helping them capture the others and coming close to letting them drown Wendy before his memories are restored and he switches sides.
  • The Simpsons: in the episode "The Fool Monty" Mr. Burns gets amnesia and acts genuinely nice until Lisa takes him to his mansion here he remembers his true identity.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Action Figures", villainous cyborg Metallo turns up on a volcanic island with no memory of himself; he saves a young girl's life and does other good deeds, but eventually he remembers his battle with Superman and turns evil again.
  • Subverted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): When Shredder gets amnesia the first thing he does is save a man's life, making it seem like this trope is being put into effect, but it turns out his evil instincts are still there when he finds the idea of building an explosive so he can use it to hold the city hostage fun.
  • In Transformers: Beast Machines (the sequel to Beast Wars), Megatron had brainwashed two of the Maximals and given them entirely new identities. Upon recovery, Silverbolt became The Atoner, and Rhinox decided to stay evil and competed with Megatron.
    • Also from Transformers, the character Flip Sides from both G1 and Transformers: Animated, is a Decepticon who has a double-life as an Autobot—in G1 she's a teacher, in Animated she's a pop star. The catch is, while she's an Autobot, she does not know or realize that she is a Decepticon spy. Talk about conflicting moralities.
  • Unicorn: Warriors Eternal: Emma/Melinda. Because the trio's reincarnated souls were reactivated when they were too young this time, their full memories didn't get restored - normally their reincarnated personality just subsumes the one they grew up with. The other two don't have much angst about this because they didn't have much to lose: Dmitri/Edred was a traveling magician (and got most of his memories immediately restored), while Alfie/Seng was an abandoned orphan living on the street (and now overwhelmed by and in awe of his new powers). In contrast, Emma got reactivated on her wedding day, and she had a great life including loving relationships with her entire family. Combined with her initial lack of memories from her past lives, she struggles with whether she's "Emma" or "Melinda" now.
  • Wakfu: The god Iop eventually renounced his power and memories, starting a new life as Sadlygrove. Though both are heroes, the former was a neglectful father to Goultard, while the latter had become incredibly devoted to his wife and children by the time he discovered his origins. He ends up feeling guilty, not only for how his previous identity treated his son, but because he fears he has numerous lovers and children he doesn't even know about.
  • In an episode of Young Justice (2010), the team wakes up in the Biyalian desert with their memories of the past six months erased. This turns Superboy into a mindless berserker (he's not even six months old), Kid Flash and Artemis start flirting with each other and even hold hands right before their memories are restored, and Artemis believes she is there because her father wants her to kill Kid Flash.