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Amnesiac Resonance

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"I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?"
Jason Bourne, The Bourne Identity

Sometimes a character suffering amnesia engages in acts that do not make sense, or perhaps do not make full sense, without the knowledge of what he or she has forgotten. This can range from knowing skills that he or she learned then, to supporting their friends and opposing their enemies from that time, or even automatically addressing people by names.

This is not incompatible with Amnesiac Dissonance — such moments may horrify the character with the realization of change.

This is usually taken as a sign that the amnesia is fading, and often is one, oddly enough, acting like this is seldom a sign that you are faking it, even if you are not a point-of-view character.

Often Truth in Television, since your brain's "episodic" memories of things that happened to you, factual knowledge, and "procedural" memory of how to perform actions are all stored and processed somewhat separately. In fact, people with Anterograde amnesia who can't form new episodic memories can still be taught some new skills in short increments, though they won't remember they have them.

Compare Wistful Amnesia, for when the amnesiac character seems to retain a sense of loss from their amnesia, particularly about something important.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One storyline of Ayakashi Triangle has Matsuri lose his memories and believe he was always a girl rather than originally being male. However, "she" still takes an immediately liking to Matsuri's senpai Soga Ninokuru—except instead of as a friend, she falls in Love at First Sight. Then Matsuri's memories are restored and, in a comical aversion of Amnesiac Dissonance, he doesn't question this at all.
    Mei: Ninokuru is the only guy around the same age who Matsuri trusts and confides in. If the hypnosis makes him think he's a girl, of course Matsuri would be drawn to him!
  • Can Even a Mob Highschooler Like Me Be a Normie if I Become an Adventurer? has an interesting case. The protagonist Maro is informed as he's signing up to be an adventurer that monster cards sold or traded either between adventurers or back to the association have their memories reset but their personality can not be reset nor reinitialized. We later see what that means when the backstory of Maro's Cu Sith is revealed. The reason the poor canine is so cowardly is that she was horribly abused by her former owner, traumatized into cowardice for "being useless" after trying and failing to comply with insane demands. It takes a lot of pampering and coddling for the beast to get over it, despite having no idea what she endured. But at the end, it was Worth It.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Even after losing his memories at the beginning of the series, Touma still retains his physical skills, and his personality.
  • Fairy Tail: Despite losing most of his memories due to merging with the R-System in a previous arc, Jellal still retains his mastery over various powerful magic spells. His heroic disposition before he was rendered Brainwashed and Crazy is also intact as, when he overhears while still comatose the current Arc Villain's plan to use him to find an Artifact of Doom, with his memory jogged as to what that weapon will do his first order of business is to attack the Arc Villain and leave to reach the device so he can unseal and destroy it himself. Unfortunately, what he still forgets is that the spell he tries to use to destroy the superweapon is one that the Arc Villain taught him, so the villain is still able to stop him from destroying the Artifact of Doom and take it for himself.
  • Lilim Kiss is about a high school student named Takaya Saiki who accidentally releases the titular Lilim, a succubus, from a pendant. Over the course of the series, they slowly fall closer in love, however, in the final arc, another high school student named Souma Yukihiko comes and claims to know Lilim. He had unsealed her before and after she refused to be exclusive to him, he resealed her. She has no memories of this young man. When Souma manages to get his hands on Lilim's pendent, he reseals her, hoping to have her memories of Takaya erased and he would be Lilim's only guy. However, he cannot open it up and desperately allows Takaya to try. After Saiki finally admits his feelings and his love to the pendent, it unseals and breaks. While Lilim has no memories of her time with Takaya, she is crying with joy and wants to be with Takaya.
  • A lot of Kirika's drama in Noir derives from the fact that she is a perfect killing machine who murders people with practiced ease and doesn't feel bad about it, yet has no idea why she is so well trained and conditioned and feels that it's just wrong.
  • Rebuild World: After Tiol undergoes an Emergency Transformation at the hands of the Mad Scientist Yatsubiyashi Playing with Syringes, he loses most of his memories and personality except for basically his strongest feelings. Mainly, those regarding love or hatred, relating to Sheryl and Akira, respectively. This allows Tiol to, despite having A.I. Nanomachines filling his body, be Fighting from the Inside, and go beyond their Restraining Bolt programming to make more lethal monsters for his attacks. It also makes him into a Screaming Warrior and Laughing Mad at different points while fighting Akira.
  • In Sailor Moon R, the memory-wiped soldiers see Sailor Moon fighting a monster. Rei is the first to insist that they have to go and help her, only to then lampshade this by asking what made her say that.
  • Summer Time Rendering: In the Shadow-free world, Shinpei remembers Hizuru Minakata and her identity as Ryuunosuke Nagumo despite never having met her before and later finds her niece Haine Minakata very familiar, while Ushio calls Shinpei back to the island because of a feeling that she'll never see him again. He and Ushio both vaguely remember other bits and pieces of the previous world but initially chalk it up to a dream they both had. It's hinted that Shinpei and Ushio regain their memories at the festival, as they both remember the promise at the old clinic in the previous timeline.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds:
    • Bruno is a Gadgeteer Genius amnesiac with a strong desire to protect Yusei. He doesn't know why he's so skilled with techonology, or why he wants to the protect the guy he's apparently only known for a few days.
    • Yusei also suffer from amnesia after he got away from Sector Security and crashed at the tops, although this only happen in the English dub. He still knew how to duel and to repair things, although he didn't question as to why he knew those skills.

    Comic Books 
  • Legion Of Superheroes:
    • When the amnesiac Ultra Boy is taken up by Space Pirates, he switches sides in the fight, to defend their victims from them, and immediately feels that this is more natural to him.
    • "The Unknown Legionnaire": Even though Supergirl forgets her identity completely, she remembers and is able to use her powers instinctively.
  • XIII: XIII wakes up on a beach. Soon after, he finds himself attacked by mooks and discovers himself to be a One-Man Army.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Phantom: In an Easy Amnesia story, the titular hero, being looked after by the Jungle Patrol under the name John X, not only proved to still be an excellent crimefighter, but he felt compelled to keep a journal, and moreover to write it secretly in the boiler room, lit by candles; a shadow of the Phantom Chronicles and their room in the Skull Cave.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Beast Of Gusu, even while Wei Wuxian is stuck in wolf form and has no recollection of his life, he still dislikes and fights the Wen soldiers he encounters, protects children and vaguely remembers enough of Lan Wangji to look for him, be saddened by the moon and by Xiao Xingchen’s white robes.
  • In Encrypt within the Dark, to Save the Clockwork of a Heart, Ai only has a few memories he can base himself on after his reformation, yet he is quick to put himself in harm's way to protect Yusaku, much to his own confusion. Yusaku remarks how he still has the same goofy personality even if Ai claims he's not the same Ai that Yusaku remembers.
  • In Here Comes The New Boss, Nemean is a Case 53 and as such has no memories before waking up on Earth Bet. Despite this, she occasionally has flashes of insight or understanding that can't be explained by her experiences on Bet, such as knowing what kangaroo tastes like.
  • I don't want to forget: During one battle, Shinji and Asuka remember key moments and things about each other without really understanding why.
  • In Jessica, Cameron absentmindedly nicknames his new Pikachu "Jessica" in Pokémon Black, even after having forgotten about the Pikachu with the same nickname on his old Pokémon Yellow Team.
  • In You With Me, despite suffering from Ghost Amnesia, the McFadden ghosts are able to retain a few details of their lives - they know that they're related on an almost instinctual level, Stinkie (who was a botany professor prior to his death) immediately recognizes the scientific name of stinking clover, and Stretch still has his Boston accent.

    Films — Animation 
  • Anya in Anastasia doesn't remember her real identity but picks up very quickly during Vladimir's and Dimitri's coaching her to impersonate Princess Anastasia and even begins to recall details from her childhood before they tell her.
  • In Toy Story 3, Buzz Lightyear is Brainwashed and Crazy by the villains. When ordered to lock up his friends, Jessie, who he's in love with, pleads him to remember them. Buzz angrily calls her a "temptress" and warns that he won't be swayed by her "bewitching good looks".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Drew Barrymore's character in 50 First Dates is an amnesiac who only remembers her life until an accident she had. She wakes up every day thinking it's the day after the accident, when in reality it's been over two years. She can't seem to remember her boyfriend, but near the end of the movie, she makes paintings with "eggmen" (Adam Sandler's character was made fun of for his egg-shaped head).
  • There's a scene in The Bourne Identity in which Jason Bourne instinctively fights but doesn't remember yet who he is or how he knows what he's doing. This recurs several times throughout the movie and is something he finds incredibly frustrating.
  • In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel Barish and his ex-girlfriend Clementine manage to find each other again after getting their memories about their relationship wiped clean.
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight has some examples of this, including the amnesiac heroine discovering an ability with knives that she believes means she was a chef but she's really a government assassin.
  • Exploited in the Korean film Lost and Found (or Sweet Lies). The protagonist is pretending to have amnesia and passes off any of her flubs as this. For instance, when her Love Interest shows her his room, she spouts, "This is just like what my room looks like!" When he looks at her strangely, she quickly adds, "I mean, what my room would look like if I were to make it."
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor: Ragnarok, after returning back to Bruce Banner, he mets a friend of the Hulk in Valkyrie and has been feeling that he knows her, even though he didn't know why.
    • Captain Marvel (2019), Carol Danvers had her memories wipe away by the Kree and went by the name Vers for six years of her life. However, despite her memory loss, Carol still has her traits and skills as a pilot, which she uses during her time back on Earth.
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home:
      • After everyone in MCU has their memories erased of Peter Parker's existences, he tries to reconnect with his friends Ned and MJ, but decides not to, thinking his friends, allies and fellow superheroes are better off without him, thinking he's dangerous to them. However, little does Peter know, MJ stares after him as she has a feeling that she knows him.
      • As revealed in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Doctor Strange, even though he has no memory of him, still carries Peter Parker's positive influences and his belief on second chances, which led him to bonding with a new superhero in America Chavez and giving Wanda Maximoff, Scarlet Witch, various chances of redeeming herself, after she fell under the influence of dark magic, as he knew there is still good within her.
  • Played with extensively in Memento:
    • When Leonard recalls his insurance investigation of the anterograde amnesiac Sammy Jenkins, he notices that Sammy shows signs of recognition when Lenny greets him, and we are meant to wonder whether it's this trope at work or, as Leonard asserts, proof that he's pulling a scam. It turns out to be neither: after suffering brain damage himself Leonard realizes that Sammy was faking recognition, not the disability, so as to blend in and seem less helpless.
    • Inverted with Leonard, whose actions only make sense until The Reveal: that the man he's been tracking has been dead for years and Leonard has been rewriting his own history to create an elusive quest for his wife's killer and repeating it over and over again to give himself purpose in life.
  • In The Muppets Take Manhattan, an amnesic Kermit taps out a melody to a song he wrote.
  • Overboard has the amnesiac Joanna/Annie suddenly stark speaking French and knowing things obviously gained from world travel.
  • In RoboCop, Murphy has no memory of his life before his death and resurrection, but begins to piece together that he Was Once a Man by how others react to things he says or does unthinkingly.
  • X2: X-Men United:
    • On arriving at the Alkali Lake base, Logan finds himself retracing his steps, finding the very lab he received his adamantium skeleton from, flashing back to the events all the while.
    • Also, much earlier on in the film he remembers Stryker's name without any prompting from the man himself.
    • At the climax, Stryker deliberately invokes this, telling Wolverine he was an animal before the procedure that wiped his memories, and still is. Logan turns this back on him when he tries to ply Wolverine into taking him to safety.

  • In the Artemis Fowl series, the fairies mindwipe Artemis of all memories relating to fairykind at the end of the third book. In the fourth, as Artemis admires a painting, The Faerie Thief, he acknowledges that the fairy in the painting can't enter a human dwelling without permission (one of the laws fairies live by), then wonders how and why he knew that. Later, when an assassination attempt against him fails, he recognises the blue light from the incident as a Blue Rinse, a fairy superweapon similar to a bio-bomb.
  • In the first chapters of The Chronicles of Amber the yet-nameless protagonist easily remembers how to beat up people, use firearms and cold weapons, conduct a discreet search, handle guard dogs. He does recognize his sisters and brothers. His Healing Factor doesn't surprise him. Yet his and his sister's names given in the hospital ring no bells, meaning they are fake.
  • In The City Without Memory, anyone who undergoes memory wipe retains some of their skills, and can, with some effort, recall details of their life. In particular, astronauts experience deja vu inside the spaceship they used to pilot, and Tadeusz begins to recognize his wife before his memory-restoring treatment.
  • John C. Wright's The Golden Oecumene: In The Golden Age, Daphne constructs a little world with a prince called "Shining" — a translation of her own husband's name, Phaethon. When she is in a competition, she lets the world run free, and the prince engages in a daring venture to break out of the world. This, it turns out, is a startling parallel to Phaethon's work on a spaceship, which everyone agreed to forget.
  • In InCryptid, after Sarah accidentally deletes Antimony, Artie, James, and Mark's memories of her, Antimony and Artie, her cousins, struggle to reconcile their childhood memories that now make no sense without her.
  • Tales of the Magic Land:
    • The wooden soldiers go through a Heel–Face Brainwashing and turn to more peaceful occupations, however, they retain some skills from their previous life (for example, they know how to march, and their general Lan Pirot, now a choreographer, is proved to be a capable leader if needed).
    • Same goes for the Seven Underground Kings, especially Mentaho, whose military and strategic talents from his reigning days tend to show when danger is near.
    • It is hinted to be the case with everyone who drinks the sleep-inducing magic water, as they can get their memories and skills back, if properly treated, in several days.
  • Temeraire: Early in Blood of Tyrants, Royal Navy Captain Will Lawrence is aware that he has lost about eight years of memory due to a shipwreck that left him washed ashore in Japan; but it is only well into his cross-country escape towards Nagasaki that it hits him that not only has he seen several dragons wandering among the local humans without anything resembling the handlers thought needed to keep them from rampaging, but he was neither surprised nor concerned beyond practical "how the bloody hell can I fight my way past or outdistance a hostile one" matters. (He was, however, immediately confused by the green aviator's coat he was wearing and the fact that he could apparently speak Chinese.)
  • Three Hearts and Three Lions sees a young Dane, whose last memory is of a fire-fight with the Germans on a beach near Frederikshavn, wake up naked in a field on a sunny day. Nearby is a warrior's war-horse, which appears to know Holger. Packs on the horse carry clothing and armour. Holger wonders why he instinctively knows how to wear the clothing, how he instinctively knows how the armour goes on, why wearing a sword feels so right, and above all, why he feels so comfortable riding a horse. note 
  • Vorkosigan Saga, Mirror Dance: While trying to identify an amnesiac Miles Vorkosigan, a doctor has him assemble a number of guns; he does so without ever letting the guns point at a person, a big hint that he used to be a soldier.
  • Lightsong from Warbreaker, who is a "Returned" demigod, at one point realizes he has some detective skills he never learned, and concludes (correctly) that they must have been retained from his old life as a human. This gets him in trouble later, as he assumes that a former private eye would know his way around a fight, and then finds out the hard way that investigative accountants have no combat skills at all. He also learns that, among other things, he had no knowledge of pottery, could juggle and knew a lot of sailor jargon.
  • In Poul Anderson's "A World Called Maanerek", a man was abandoned on a world with his memory blanked, then recovered and restored to his previous memories. Even before he is restored, things come back to him, and afterwards, he turns on his old friends and loyalties to help the people of that world. A psychologist explains it by a mind not being so separated from the body after all.
  • Yumi and the Nightmare Painter: Although the machine could erase Yumi's memories of living out the same day over and over, it couldn't completely erase the skills and muscle memory she developed over the course of the loop. As a result, she got better and better at stacking rocks over the course of the centuries, until she eventually got good enough to pull a spirit free from the machine's grasp and set off the story's plot.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Castle, a Victim of the Week suffers a trauma-induced amnesia because he is shot by the Villain of the Week, and survives only because a book caught the bullet. Even with no memory, he provides help in identifying the bad guy because of a painting in his loft and him knowing something is wrong with it.
  • After Sarah gets memory-wiped in Chuck, a bomb-related crisis triggers memories of the solution to a similar situation in an earlier mission, a sign that it may be recoverable. Morgan also has a theory that one kiss with Chuck will bring all the memories rushing back.
  • Some aspects of Doctor Who have the Doctor doing this, especially during the Tom Baker era. The Doctor has lived so long, and much of his early education was via Sleep Learning or perhaps, as in The Matrix, knowledge uploaded directly into the brain, so he often knows things without knowing how he knows them, has skills he doesn't remember studying, etc. The 4th Doctor's era also established that Time Lords were telepathic, so he might pick up on things without realizing it.
  • Despite a car accident wiping out most of his memories, General Hospital's Jason still retained some knowledge of his pre-med studies.
  • On Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, each of the leads took turns with this and in regards to each other, to boot.
    • "Prince Hercules": Hera ensures that Hercules loses his memory so that he'll believe he's a long dead prince named Milius and wage war in her name. Iolaus eventually learns what's going on and arrives to jog his memory, only to get knocked out and then accused of being an assassin by guards in on Hera's scheme. Though told to kill Iolaus before it's too late, "Milius" can't shake the feeling that this is wrong and orders him spared.
    • "Hero's Heart": Iolaus struggles with failing to save a woman from falling to her death. The goddess Fortune offers to erase his memory of this event, but she accidentally erases all of his memories of Hercules. As such, Iolaus is back to being a thief and ends up in the employ of a local crime boss. One of the jobs is robbing a gold shipment that happens to be guarded by Hercules. As Herc tries to reason with him, Iolaus lunges at him with a sword and instinctively misses.
      Hercules: I knew you wouldn't hurt me.
      Iolaus: I don't even know why I didn't.
  • In the Pilot Episode of John Doe, there's a scene where the title character, who suffers from amnesia so thorough that it has erased even the memory of his own name, plays a song on a piano and notes that not only does he know how to play the song, but the song itself is familiar to him. He takes a couple of minutes to wonder where he might have heard it.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Bumps His Head", Monk is knocked out at a truck stop, then wakes up on the back of a semi truck in a little Wyoming town. He is unaware of who he is, but is baffled when he experiences his old phobias. He then goes on to solve a murder in the town.
  • The Murdoch Mysteries episode "The Murdoch Identity", being a pastiche of The Bourne Identity, naturally plays with this: Murdoch feels like he has to solve the crime, and comments that writing his thoughts down on a blackboard feels natural.
  • The first season of Once Upon a Time hinges entirely on this trope, with all the fairytale charcters rendered amnesiac and provided with new fake personalities and backstories by the Dark Curse. When Emma, the foretold breaker of the Curse, comes to town, her presence and actions jog the resonances, leading the other characters to reconnect with their forgotten loved ones, act more and more like their true selves, and even say the same things they used to say. As the Curse gets weaker, this becomes more and more noticeable, such as when meek elementary school teacher Mary Margaret is suddenly able to mallet a man in the head and kick him off a window because her instincts as badass Rebellious Princess Snow White are kicking in.
    • An even straighter example with Prince Charming, who was put into a coma by the curse and wakes up as a completely amnesiac John Doe. The first thing he does? Goes to look for something unspecified in the forest, the place where he'd promised Snow White he'd always find her.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers episode "When is a Ranger Not a Ranger?", Tommy, Billy and Kimberly had their memories erased by the Scatterbrain monster. Despite not knowing who they are, Kimberly realized that Billy was very intelligent when she heard him talking like a genius and they all trusted their fellow Rangers when they came to help them.
    • In Power Rangers Zeo:
      • In Zeo Beginning Part 1, due to being close to the explosion of the Command Center in the series finale of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Rito and Goldar lost their memories and couldn't remember who they were or how they got to Angel Grove. However, at first, Rito thought that Goldar had big gold wings but dismisses his claim when he doesn't see them on him.
      • In the two-part episode "King for a Day", Tommy had his memories altered by the Machine Empire. However, Tommy felt something wasn't right and still had his fighting skill, despite the many tricks he was played upon.
    • In Power Rangers Wild Force episode "Secrets and Lies", Cole got hit by Signal Org really hard and lost his memory. Despite the memory loss, Cole somehow realized that he can understand animals but didn't question himself about how or why he knew that. Also, Cole felt that he could trust his fellow Rangers when they came to get him and somehow knew he could help during an Org attack as he easily figured out how to use his weapons.
    • In Power Rangers Beast Morphers episode "Rewriting History", all the Power Rangers but Steel had their memories altered by a memory pulsator device to make them think Blaze and Rocky are the real Red and Yellow Rangers. However, Devon used his super speed to save Steel's plant and wondered how he did that, which got him to realize that he's the true Red Ranger.
  • In Quantum Leap, the first time he 'leaps' through time 'swiss-cheeses' Sam's mind. Downplayed afterwards as he fairly quickly regains most of his memory, but context will occasionally bring back a memory, fact or skill he hadn't realized he had even seasons later.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In the episode "Conundrum" an alien invader uses a probe to wipe the memories of the crew and inserts himself as First Officer. His goal is to use the Enterprise's superior weapons to win a cold war between his race and their enemies. Things get tricky when parts of the character's traits, such as Picard questioning the extreme lengths their "orders" are making them go, to destroying an enemy that is about 100 years behind them in technology. Even Worf, who was eager for battle, questions the last.
    • In "Thine Own Self" Data crashes on a primitive planet with no memories. He befriends a child with a dead mother whose father describes the afterlife as "a beautiful place where no one gets sick and everyone loves each other". When she asks Data if he believes such a place exists, he looks up at the stars and says he does.
  • In Supernatural, "It's a Terrible Life" has Sam and Dean (brother monster hunters) put in an alternate universe setting where they're unrelated, don't remember each other or anything else about their usual life, and work desk jobs (at the same company). The supernatural still exists, though. They still manage to team up and hunt monsters.
  • In Kamen Rider Zero-One, Isamu Fuwa is a no-nonsense hardass with only one exception: he finds The Hero Aruto's puns absolutely hilarious (and in fact seems to be the only person in the series who does). Later on in the series it's revealed that Fuwa's memories were altered by ZAIA Enterprises to turn him into a loyal "attack dog" aimed squarely at the HumaGears. After recovering his real memories he goes to see his family (who he'd been convinced were killed by HumaGears) and discovers that his father tells the same kind of jokes as Aruto, explaining why he's so fond of them.
  • In Westworld the robotic hosts of the titular park are wiped clean of memories at the end of every narrative cycle, only retaining their basic backstories and characterisation. However, some start exhibiting small gestures or having flashbacks derived from events that occurred during the narrative cycles, or even outside, such as during mantainance when they're supposedly shut down. Apparently, this is nothing to worry about, it's only a glitch caused by the latest softwer update, the Reveries. Or is it?
    • When a host critically malfunctions, they get decommissioned, which is akin to a lobotomy that not only erases any potentially stored memories from the cycles, but also the core characterisation of the host. Only the hardware (i.e.: the body) remains functional, but everything beyond motor functions is wiped off. And yet, in season two, when a decommissioned Clementine comes across her replacement uttering her former lines of dialogue, she starts mouthing them and looks visibly emotional and distraught, going briefly from just an Empty Shell to wistfully amnesiac.

    Video Games 
  • In BlazBlue: Central Fiction, the cast are drawn into a Pocket Dimension and most of them forget everything that happened in the last three games. However, some of recognise certain things that don't make sense in their 'new world':
    • Ragna wakes up outside Kagutsuchi with no memory of who he is or what's happening at all. However, he still recognises certain things like knowing that something is wrong when Litchi refers to the famous Hero of Ikaruga, Kagura Mutsuki. On encountering Nu-13, he also begins re-creating a conversation he had with her before until he stops and asks why he's saying all of this.
    • Noel is the last to recover her memory, but in her Arcade Modes she still revisits some of the important locations from the previous games like Kushinada's Lynchpin and the Grave Marker of Bases. At the end of her Act 3, Terumi notes that she unwittingly found her way to Adventus without actively remembering what happened to her there in Continuum Shift.
    • Carl remembers Nirvana as being a weapon he brings with him while he looks for a cure for his terminally-ill sister. However, after angrily telling Celica this, he starts crying unwillingly. This is implied to be because part of him remembers that Nirvana actually is his sister, stuck in another body.
  • In Bravely Default, the party escapes a death trap after amnesiac Ringabel realizes that he knows how to pilot an airship.
  • In Disco Elysium, the Defective Detective player character wakes up with massive amnesia and a nasty hangover. However, while his memory of basic concepts like money is very spotty, his skills are entirely up to snuff, often impressing his By-the-Book Cop partner. The player character may not know why he does the things he does, but operating on forgotten training and experience, he gets results.
  • In Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy, which is a prequel, Bartz — the resident Ditto Fighter — copies attacks from the newcomers instead of the cast from the original game. At one point, he mentions that the moves feel familiar, but can't remember where he got them; after all, there's a reason the newcomers are in a PREquel, not a sequel.
  • In Kirby: Planet Robobot President Haltmann, despite forgetting his daughter Susie's identity due to overuse of Star Dream, appointed her as secretary and placed her image on both some robotic statues and, in his 2.0 fight, money.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Link starts off in the Shrine of Resurrection with no memory of who he is. Yet he still instinctively follows the directions of the mysterious but friendly female voice greeting him upon his awakening, and he soon finds he is skilled enough with swords, axes, and bows to take on the monsters roaming the Great Plateau.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: The "Tears of the Dragon" quest reveals that Princess Zelda got Trapped in the Past and turned herself into the immortal Light Dragon so that she could restore a broken Master Sword over the eons and return it to Link in the present. The transformation came at the cost of her mind and personality, essentially leaving her a wild animal flying across the skies. But the Light Dragon still does things to help Link on his quest. She dispels the cloud barrier that prevented Link from leaving the Great Sky Island, she actively leaves behind Tears that let Link find out the truth of what happened to her, and in the final battle against Ganondorf in his Demon Dragon form she literally snatches him from the enemy's jaws and lets him ride on her head during the High-Altitude Battle.
  • In Mega Man Zero, despite his amnesia, Zero can feel that Copy X is very different than the real X, after his fight.
  • In Planescape: Torment, when the Nameless One gains experience levels and learns new skills, he's actually relearning old skills from one of his numerous past lives.
  • In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, we find out that Ingo, one of the two Subway Bosses from Pokémon Black and White, was also caught in a space-time rift that dropped him in Hisui in addition to wiping his memory save for vague remembrance of his brother and Pokémon. Despite this, he still peppers his speech with train-related puns and performs finger-pointing gestures like what he used to do back in Unova.
  • In Sonic Heroes, Shadow makes his return to the series after his Heroic Sacrifice in Sonic Adventure 2, but suffers from amnesia. That didn't stop him from recognizing some of the people he met. One, the first thing he does after being awakened by Rouge is rescue her from Omega. Then, when seeing Team Sonic at the jungle, Shadow says "Look, it's that hedgehog.", implying that he remembers Sonic, and lastly, when Rouge talks about stealing the Master Emerald, Shadow remarks that some things never change.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Knights of the Old Republic, the Player Character advances through Jedi training remarkably quickly; after The Reveal, it's clear (s)he was relearning old skills.
  • The Witcher. In the first game, Geralt begins the game afflicted with amnesia, but still competent in the witcher's unique schools of martial arts.

    Visual Novels 
  • In her tears were my light, Time remembers Space's name even after Nil had destroyed the timeline she(Time) and Nil(as Space) had met, destroying Time's memories of it in the process.
  • Kyoko Kirigiri from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is the only student who can't remember what her talent was, which is later revealed to be Ultimate Detective, which are an insanely useful set of skills for the Big Good to have in a deadly killing game. This winds up being a major problem for the Mastermind since they specifically wiped her Ultimate Detective memories to prevent her from solving the murders and mysteries too easily or risk getting uncovered, yet her impressive deduction and investigative skills still remained enough for the Mastermind to instigate a Frame-Up to get her killed off.

    Web Comics 
  • Fate/Gamers Only: Rikku gets drunk and kisses Mash, but Mash's poison-resistance skill means that she ends up with the hangover instead of Rikku and forgets the kiss. During a battle later the same day as Mash's hazy memory, Rikku notices Mash blushing furiously, who explains that ever since she woke up, she feels embarrassed, her face gets hot, and her heart races whenever she looks at Rikku, indicating that Mash is now attracted to her because of the kiss.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, Yokoka surprises herself when she instinctively remembers how to put on clothes, despite being a cat for as long as she can remember.

    Western Animation 
  • In the fourth season opener of Archer, "Fugue and Riffs", Archer has amnesia, and thinks his name is Bob and runs a burger shop. He's able to kill four KGB hitmen while unarmed, then, after being found by ISIS at a spa, he remembers what a Tec-9 is (and wonders how he knew that), and has several flashes of his memories. Dr. Krieger explains why a Tap on the Head with a frying pan Flintstones-style won't work and could cause him to lose his memories forever, but his memory comes back when Lana loses patience and does just that.
  • Carmen Sandiego: In the beginning of the first season, V.I.L.E. thief Gray has Laser-Guided Amnesia inflicted on him by Dr. Bellum after he's captured on a mission, causing him to forget everything related to the organization. However, when Carmen ends up recruiting him for a heist in season 2, he not only uses a stun baton (his former weapon) to knock out the thief trying to kill her, but also demonstrates familiarity with Bellum's tech, despite claiming that it's way above his pay grade as a lighting technician.
  • In Gargoyles while visiting Easter Island, Elisa comes across an alien who blasts her with a memory-erasing weapon. This makes her forget all about Goliath and others she is traveling with. As it turns out, the alien is a good soldier who has been a sentry on Earth for centuries. He presumes Goliath is part of an alien invasion and attacks. Elisa, despite not remembering Goliath, finds she trusts him still. This is enough to stop the Sentry, as he knows these feelings Elisa has are her true feelings, his weapon cannot destroy them.
  • In the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) episode "Quest for He-Man", He-Man gets amnesia from a spell by Skeletor then was sent away to a different dimension. When he got attack by a giant rabbit like robot, He-Man instinctively used his strength to defeat the robot with ease, even though he wonder how he did that. Also, He-Man knew what Plundor was doing to the planet he got sent to was wrong, after he took over and polluted it. In addition, when Orko came to his aid, He-Man feels that he knows him and could trust him.
  • In the Krypto the Superdog episode "Superdog? Who's Superdog?", Krypto gets exposed to Red Kryptonite and its side effect gives him amnesia. Despite the side effect, Krypto feels something was wrong as he knew somewhere in his heart that he wasn't a bad dog and used his powers, which he wonder how he did or knew about them.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "Oblivio", the Battle Couple hit with an amnesia beam instinctively trust each other, even though they don't remember any names.
    Marinette: I feel like we're...more...than just a superhero team.
  • In the She-Ra: Princess of Power episode "Jungle Fever", Adora gets amnesia from a blow to the head while she was escaping from the Hordes prison. After realizing that the Sword of Protection wasn't for killing when she encounter a beastlike animal, Adora instantly talks to the beast and realizes they could understand each other, even though she didn't know why.
  • In the Sonic Underground episode "Who Do You Think You Are", Sonia loses her memory when Dingo in small robot mode collided with her. When two of Robotnik's robot showed up, Sonia instinctively uses her strength to defeat them, even though she didn't know how she did it. After more showed up, Sonia said her phrase when she does the Sonia Spin, but question where that saying came from.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) episode "Krangenstein Lives", Shredder gets amnesia from falling into a hole when he arrived in the Transport Module. After fighting off against some thugs, Shredder wonder how he knew to defend himself. In addition, Shredder still has his evil instinct as he decided to make an explosive device in order to blow up city hall of New York City, although he didn't know why it promote him to do it.
  • In the Totally Spies! episode "Like, So Totally Not Spies Part 1", The spies had their memories of their spy life erased by the LAMOS, League Aiming to Menace and Overthrow Spies, as they used special bracelet to do just that. However, Sam, Clover and Alex said or think anything spy related things as one thought she had a job while the other thought about sky diving or bungee jumping than the last one wants to see a spy flick. Also, while being attacked by the LAMOS, Alex had a spy gadget that was in a form of a hairbrush as she instantly used it to defeat one of the members from the LAMOS, although she had no clue as to how and why she did it.

    Real Life 
  • Clive Wearing. He has a memory of only a few seconds, but can subconsciously conduct a choir and guess what will happen in a movie he has forgotten he just saw.
  • Memory of how to perform tasks (procedural memory, aka muscle memory) is stored separately from memories of past events. Ever notice how amnesiacs can often still walk and talk, despite those being learned skills? Amnesiacs will often retain skills they had before losing their memory, although they may not know that they have those skills.
  • Spend some time in an Alzheimer's ward, and you'll see this in action. Patients who can't remember how to talk might sing along with a favorite song, someone who doesn't recognize her visitors might still offer them chairs and ask if they want coffee, etc.