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Amnesiacs are Innocent

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Children Are Innocent. Amnesiacs have memories as short as children's. Therefore, amnesiacs are innocent -- and may have other childlike, or childish, traits to boot. In addition, even if they actually have committed crimes, they may honestly have no memory of having done so.

If there was a Start of Darkness, the amnesia needs only roll back to before then to produce this.

As a consequence, Amnesiac Dissonance is more likely to be a good character fearing having been evil than the other way round.

Could be seen as a subtrope of Rousseau Was Right, since the amnesiac is operating without the social conditioning of their life experience so far, and by extension opposed to Villainous Lineage, since if wickedness were genetic, an amnesiac would be just as evil without their memories as with them, unless the identity loss is so severe that the subject is incapable of focusing on anything at all in which case genetics and experience are both inconsequential. Because they are innocent and not actively good, it may also lead to Criminal Amnesiac, through being too trusting. They may also wreak all kinds of havoc through innocent unawareness. On a darker note, Death of Personality may be employed to invoke this, and people who perform a Memory Gambit are also abusing this trope in order to further their plans.


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  • Agent Ali: In "Mission: Rise", Aaron targets the 3 scientist pioneers of Cyberaya with the "Neuro-link", a device that steals their memories, which leaves them in a child-like mentality afterwards. When Bakar and Alicia just miss Aaron and find Dr. Tong, the scientist is sucking on his thumb and reaches out to Alicia exclaiming "Mama!" Dr. Mala is the next victim, and the agents see footage of her drawing on a wall until a security guard takes her crayon, and she cries on the floor like a toddler.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Joshua Christopher from Chrono Crusade has this happen to him in the anime version—despite being 15, the insanity caused by Chrono's horns make him forget most of his backstory, and he even seems unaware that he's grown older and still acts like a child the majority of the time. In the end, he loses the horns and becomes sane again—but forgets even MORE of his past than he did before and becomes even more childlike!
  • In Code Geass, C. C. loses most of her memory, becoming the sweet, innocentnote , illiterate, medieval child she was before receiving her Geass.
    • From the same series, Villetta goes through this earlier on. She's a knight of Britannia's Purist Faction, and as such, she's deeply racist against the Japanese and is willing to frame Suzaku, one of her own allies, in order to further her political agenda. After a brush with death, she loses her memories, becoming extremely innocent. She's nursed back to health by Ougi, a member of the Japanese resistance, and winds up in a relationship with him, not realizing he's one of her enemies, and not caring that he's Japanese. Shit hits the fan when she gets her memories back.
    • Averted in the Akito the Exiled OVA, in which Lelouch Lamperouge is brainwashed to serve the Britannian Emperor (whom he loathes and wants dead) with complete and utter loyalty, while leaving his cleverness, ruthlessness and cunning. The result is the new Imperial Military Advisor, Lord Julius Kingsley, who is everything Lelouch despises; he carries out multiple aircraft bombings throughout the territory of Euro Britannia, each with the approximate strength of a F.L.E.I.J.A. nuclear warhead, then initiates massive war strikes with absolutely no concern for the massive loss of civilian life, enough to halt his fellow Britannian war leaders in their tracks.
  • In Daimos, Princess Erika aided the Baam military in their campaign to colonize the Earth, but lost her memories when her spaceship crashed and she suffered a traumatic head injury upon landing. She's discovered by our protagonist, and falls in love with him due to his kindness...until she regains her memories and realizes that their planets are at war. Her big brother Richter does not take it well when he finds out she's fallen for a human.
  • Death Note: Light Yagami arranges things so that he forgets that he is Kira. Once L is convinced, he is entirely cooperative and wants to help L catch Kira until his memories are restored. Light was banking on his amnesiac self doing so to clear his own (and Misa's) names, since apparently his guilty self is not convincing enough to divert L's suspicions. It backfires slightly in that, upon losing his memory, Light's entire demeanor takes a conspicuous one-eighty, which makes L similarly suspicious; still, it convinces everyone else, which is more than enough for the plan to work.
  • Dorohedoro has a version of this with Kaiman. We eventually find out who he used to be — in fact, we find no less than FOUR past selves or part-selves for him — but his very distinctive personality is hard to recognize anywhere in that past.
  • The Saiyan Saga of Dragon Ball explains that Goku's entire personality (Idiot Hero, The Pollyanna, and all) is a result of this trope; when he first arrived on Earth in his infancy, he was as violent and cruel as all other Saiyans prior to receiving Childhood Brain Damage. It's not until the Namek Saga that he reconciles himself to his Saiyan blood and acknowledges his natural fighting spirit as a sign of his heritage.
  • Lucy from Elfen Lied: pre-amnesia, she was basically something between Ax-Crazy Yandere and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Post-amnesia, she's The Ingenue and an Innocent Fanservice Girl who has to be taught how to take off her clothes. When she eventually gets her memories back, things get nastier.
  • In Final Fantasy: Unlimited, it's revealed that Ai and Yu are actually avatars of the monster Chaos, but are generally nice kids thanks to the family who adopted them. On the other hand, Earl Tyrant is fully aware of his true nature and is completely evil.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, Weather Report is an ally of the heroes with no memories of his past. When he gets them back, it turns out that he is much more of a sociopathic Jerkass who crossed the Despair Event Horizon a long time ago.
  • In The Kindaichi Case Files, if a murderer somehow loses their memories after being exposed, the narrative will not hold them accountable for the crimes they committed before, and Kindaichi will allow them to "start over" with their new life.
    • The Serial Killer behind the Broken Heart Lake Legend Murder Case blows himself up after his crimes are exposed. However, his suicide attempt fails and he gets an Identity Amnesia instead, after which he is adopted by Shimon Madarame from The Undying Butterfly Case, and assumes a new identity under the name Hikage Miyama. He is found innocent of the second case, and Kindaichi lets him live under his new identity. It helps that he shows none of his previous identity's psychotic thirst for vengeance, but has become noble and self-sacrificing and willing to risk his life to protect his beloved.
    • In Demon God Site Murder Case, the culprit is struck by lightning just as they are about to kill themselves after completing their revenge, causing them to lose their memories of the case, but is left otherwise unharmed. Since they are incurably ill and are about to die anyway, Kindaichi and friends allow them to live the remainder of their days reconnecting with her daughter, Satsuki, and allowing the latter to finally get to know her real mother.
  • Demon Beast Prince Gura in Gigantor. When he's unthawed from cryostatis by the scientists, he befriends Shotaro, the Shikishimas and the rest of the humans. Unfortunately, this friendship doesn't last - he eventually regains his memories (which include the fact that he's the son of Uchuu Maoh) and turns against the heroes.
  • Fujiko Mine in the Made-for-TV Movie Lupin III: The Columbus Files turns from her usual Femme Fatale self into a gentle and naive girl when struck with a bout of amnesia. To the point where she looks different without her memory.
  • Kirika from Noir possibly deconstructs this, as she's an amnesiac 15 year old girl who's extremely naive — who happens to be one of the deadliest assassins in the world. Her first memories upon waking up are finding a gun in her house and shortly after taking out a squad of Mooks sent to fight her, and much of her character arc revolves around finding out just how she learned these abilities.
  • During the Wano Arc of One Piece, Big Mom, a dreaded and gluttonous Emperor of the Sea, gets knocked into the ocean and temporarily loses her memory, reverting to the kind personality she had when she was a young girl before her Start of Darkness. When she ends up attacking Luffy over some food he had eaten that she wanted, it was actually because she wanted to share it with some poor villagers that had helped her when she washed ashore.
  • In the final OVA of Pretty Sammy, Big Bad Rumia suffers amnesia due to an alien attacking her and she becomes a sweet woman. It isn't until she sees Pretty Sammy and Pixy Misa fighting the monster that her evil persona returns in full.
  • Nana, who suffers from "extreme amnesia", from Tripeace is extremely innocent, to the point that he doesn't even know what war is. This is in contrast to Fox, whose personality before the amnesia is highly cynical and cold.
  • Decidedly averted in Yu-Gi-Oh!, where the spirit of the Puzzle is amnesiac, but is a Knight Templar protector of his host who uses dark games to protect him. His amnesia is a cause of a lot of angst and motivates much of his character arc later on.
  • Bruno, from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, is a friendly (if clumsy) guy who wakes up on the beach with no memory and goes on to befriend the protagonists and help them greatly with improving their D-Wheels. His actual identity, Antinomy, is a cold and pragmatic Anti-Villain who was working with Z-One to destroy the heroes' city.
  • Zennou No Noa: a large group of people lose their memories in what's called a terrorist attack and are basically made to live in a separate city built under Tokyo. They're even called KIDz, and regardless of age a lot of them do pick up fairly childish traits. This takes a dark turn as the protagonist was the one who suppressed their memories in the first place as a test run, with the intention of erasing the memories of the entire human race so he could indoctrinate literally everyone and become God. He succeeds, but it's heavily implied it won't end well.

    Comic Books 
  • It seems to be the case with Theo Adam in the short-lived Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, when Black Adam is left as a teenager with little else to his memory aside from "he is 14 years old. And likes unicorns and blowing bubbles", as a part of an order to blank his memory of Shazam. However since Shazam is most of his life the memory-wipe leaves him a little... off in the local children's home. It doesn't stick, but it's the last time we see him for a while, and for a kids comic is a little twisted.
  • It really looked like it would be used to get Iron Man off the hook for his actions in Civil War (2006). Tony ends up having to restore his brain from a backup which he made before the registration crisis. However, to his credit, he refuses to use this as an excuse — he may not remember the decisions he made, but he wasn't a different person when he made them.
  • Played straight in the story, later invoked by the Daltons in the Lucky Luke story "L'Amnesie des Daltons": on seeing an amnesiac inmate be freed, they decide to pass off as amnesiac themselves in order to leave the prison. Averell becomes genuinely amnesiac after a Tap on the Head, and matters are complicated when the local governor decides to send them back to prison for breaking the law by any means necessary: encouraging them to rob banks and trains.
  • Madman: The titular character is a pretty innocent and childlike person due to being an amnesiac corpse.
  • The Outsiders: When Halo is introduced, she is very sweet-natured and meek, in addition to having amnesia. Later in the series, she is reunited with her parents and learns that her pre-amnesic self was a sociopathic problem child who got involved with a drug dealer.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Comic, the Ax-Crazy Super Sonic temporarily loses his memories after being separated from Sonic himself. He finds himself haunted by his past as his repressed destructive impulses gradually begin to return to him, though he initially interprets them as being recurring nightmares of a demonic entity destroying the world. Sadly, his newfound pacifism doesn't last, and he ends up merging back with Sonic.
    • In issue 5 of Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW), Sonic and his friends come across Dr. Eggman, who lost his memory after the final battle of Sonic Forces and is living under the name of Mr. Tinker. As Mr. Tinker, Eggman is the exact opposite of his usual self: a humble and modest Nice Guy and Friend to All Children who enjoys helping people. Sonic even decides to let him be and go about his new life. Sadly, that all comes to an end when Dr. Starline tracks Eggman down and brings his memory back, restoring him to his old villainous self again. At most when thinking back on it with some prompting, Eggman expresses a small amount of longing for a life where he was completely content and happy, but he then doubles down that ultimately he's meant for bigger things.
  • Superman:
    • Subverted with Supergirl in The Supergirl from Krypton (2004). Kara is a pretty innocent, naive, scared teenager that cannot remember anything of her past. Batman suspects that her innocence may be an act, especially after Darkseid kidnaps her and brainwashes her. After being rescued Kara also wonders what kind of person she was. When some of her memories appear to return, they are pretty terrible and she believes she was a bad person before losing her memory. However, she eventually got her real memories back, which proved she was always a good, well-meaning girl.
    • The Phantom Zone: Back on Krypton, Quex-Ul poached an endangered species for profit. After losing his memory, he became a meek, quiet and easily scared person who would not hurt a fly.
  • The Transformers (Marvel): An issue had Starscream lose his memories in a freak accident once. Optimus considered this as Starscream's chance to start over with a clean slate. But of course it does not stick...
  • Ultimate X Men: Charles Xavier mindwipes Magneto at one point, and he becomes a rather genial old man fond of a game of chess in the park. It doesn't stick.
  • X-Men: After Necrosha, Emma Frost captures Sebastian Shaw and sentences him to remember nothing but the faces of his victims. He's kept at Utopia as a man with secondhand knowledge of who he was that has managed to form relationships with some of the new mutants that arrive.

    Fan Works 
  • Entity in the Avantasia Protag AU. He doesn't remember anything about his past before the events of the canon album and is extremely innocent and childlike. Despite being the oldest main character, he often needs guidance and comfort by his younger roommates. He also has a bedroom full of plushies. Once he even tries to reason with a demon believing he can convince the demon to become good. When it doesn't work he cries.
  • Concerning a Drifter: In this case, it's more that "Amnesiacs are Vulnerable", as, while she can't remember too much of anything (nor does she want to), Ryuuko's not completely amnesiac but, nevertheless, she's described as childlike and does act a like a child. An instance of this is, earlier, in the story, she asks Satsuki to tell her a story in much a way a child might. Her being traumatized with repressed memories drives Satsuki to want to protect her more.
  • Played With in the Dad Villain AU: When Hawkmoth won, he wished that every person in the world would forget the original reality aside from himself. This includes his former ally Mayura/Nathalie, who thusly is completely unaware of their criminal history. They subsquently wind up as a valuable ally to Viceroy, who's also unaware of the part they played in creating the circumstances that led to his wife's death.
  • Outside of his innate skill, Li doesn't remember who he is in Foxfire. While he's still bad at socializing and hot-tempered as Zuko, he's far more sweeter and less angry. Li even smiles which stuns Iroh. Even Jet, who hates firebenders, gives Li a chance due to the latter's honesty and innocence.
  • The Pokemon fic "Ash's Adventure: Girls' Hunter Edition" is set in a world where human women can be captured and become 'PokeGirls', humans with Pokemon abilities. At one point, Ash is forced to capture Jessie of Team Rocket to save her life, but subsequent events result in Jessie being left with total amnesia of her identity, beyond a sense that Ash is her Master, leaving her horrified when May informs her what she was originally like. While May is still sometimes uncomfortable at the idea of Jessie sticking around with them, she accepts Ash's argument that treating Jessie as a villain is just going to give her more reasons to go back to being a villain, whereas treating her as a potential ally will give her more reasons to stay on their side even if she regains her memories at some future date.
  • The True Blood fanfic How Could You Forget documents how the events of season 4 and beyond would have unfolded if the witches had erased Bill Compton's memories instead of Eric Northman's. Bill gets many of the scenes that amnesiac Eric gets in the actual show. Sookie finds herself liking this new Bill, and it's enough to get her to forgive him for the things he'd done in the first three seasons and resume their relationship.
  • During the events of "Oblivio" in The One to Make It Stay, an amnesiac Chat Noir sees evidence that his crush already has a boyfriend and accepts this, only confessing his own feelings to Ladybug so that he can get them off his chest. Naturally, he has no idea that his regular self has no problem making his feelings for Ladybug known, nor that he refuses to take no for an answer.
  • The entire premise of the Reborn Trilogy, in which Darth Vader suffers amnesia in a TIE-fighter crash and is captured by the Alliance. The leaders of the Alliance want to accept him among their numbers in full belief of this trope, a move that's quite controversial but is fully accepted by Vader himself, who knows of his crimes (even if he doesn't remember them) and wants to do penance for them.
  • In Resonance Days, this trope is debated between Charlotte and Kyoko. Witches arrive in the afterlife with no memories of their previous lives, while Magical Girls have full recollection of how they died and their lives before that. Kyoko is determined to find a way to get her friend Sayaka's memories back. Charlotte, however, points out that becoming a witch in the first place requires crossing the Despair Event Horizon, so it might be better for them if they don't remember whatever trauma they suffered to get to that point. The fic doesn't present either side as being in the right, but it's worth noting that magical girls tend to suffer a good deal of Afterlife Angst that witches don't have to deal with, and Sayaka (now going by Oktavia) is quite happy with her current situation.
  • To The Night Sky: After being memory-wiped, Edward shows hints of being much more emotionally vulnerable and easily frightened by circumstances out of his control. When he's forced to trigger a human transmutation array in spite of being unable to fully remember or grasp the consequences, Truth openly compares him to a baby and refuses to harm him since he's wholly a victim.
  • A Very Kara Christmas: In order to avoid uncomfortable questions about her deceased parents or her birthplace and excuse her weird behavior away, Linda pretends she is amnesiac as living in the orphanage.
  • In What If?, this trope applies to Lloyd (who was once Cypher) to a degree; Lloyd might be a fully developed human being, but Thalia/Trinity argues that Neo shouldn’t kill him because Lloyd genuinely doesn't remember committing any of Cypher's crimes (although he ends up killing Lloyd anyway when an Agent takes control of Lloyd's body).

    Film — Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy Movie 2: Shortly after Adu Du first lays eyes on Ayu Yu, he gets an indent knocked into his head from a crash-landing that makes him forget that he's a villain. The heroes are surprised to find him and Probe training under Hang Kasa's supervision, to which Adu Du (now going by Padu Du) says that he's preparing to take back Ayu Yu, who he believes to be his wife, from kidnappers. When Ayu Yu hits him on the head, it gets knocked back into its original shape, and Adu Du remembers himself and forgets about this romantic endeavour when he wakes up.
  • The Iron Giant: The titular Giant is a highly advanced alien robot of uncertain origin who arrives on Earth damaged and with no recollection of his function. He is initially left in a childlike state and rarely utters full sentences, such that Hogarth has to teach him about concepts like life, death, and the soul.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • This trope is pretty much the plot of Regarding Henry. An unethical lawyer who is distant from his family and having an affair gets shot in the head. He recovers, but is very child like at first and rebuilds his family relationships. He also reveals evidence he'd previously suppressed to win a case.

  • After the Revolution: Roland is a downplayed example, as he is a drug-addled Super-Soldier with an at best warped sense of morality and outlook on life, but with a few lines in the sand he will not cross. What few glimmers of memories he has of his previous life implies he was much worse before he lost them. When Roland finally unlocks his old memories at the end of the novel he immediately commits suicide, only for his implants to bring him back in an amnesiac state.
  • Played completely straight in Allegiant. It's heavily implied that Peter losing his memories was more or less a cure for his sociopathy.
  • Cal Leandros gets bitten by a monster that gives him amnesia in Blackout, but it's an interesting case. He immediately figures out he's a morally ambiguous 'killer' and rolls with it, but once he gets reintroduced to his life he is very disturbed by a photograph of himself from before. Most of the book deals with his struggle between wondering if he should stay amnesiac and moral, or try to regain his memories and become who he was before. When he realizes the latter will allow him to protect Niko better, he barely even hesitates restoring himself.
  • The patient known as Bob Smith fits this category in Cherry Ames at Hilton Hospital by Helen Wells.
  • Níniel in The Children of Húrin is initially this, as when she is found sans memories she needs to be taught basic skills such as speech, and her personality is continually compared to that of a child. She learns quickly though.
  • Iapetus from The Demigod Files is a murderous, ten-foot tall titan who kills his enemies with a spear - that is, until he falls into the river Lithe. The river Lethe washes away all his memories, and Iapetus becomes calm, friendly, and is easily convinced that his name is "Bob".
  • The Eighth Doctor, continuing from his characterization as stated below, can be very child-like in his fascination with the world, as well as his fear of the universe he spent a century trying to return to. In this case, he also falls under Amnesiac Dissonance, given that the reason he fears the universe is that he also fears himself, and what he did that caused him to lose his memory in the first place.
  • The House of Shattered Wings: Newly fallen angels are unable to remember the reason they fell, so they are often naive and childlike. The only exception is Morningstar, who didn't lose his memory at all. When Morningstar is resurrected without most of his memories, Selene is disturbed by how innocent and guileless he seems.
  • In L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz stories, Ozma takes advantage of this trope by means of the Fountain of Oblivion, a magic fountain that causes those to drink from it to lose their memory. This way, if an invading army attacks Emerald City, all you have to do to render them harmless is to trick them into taking a sip.
    • It's worth noting that the Nome King reappeared after drinking from the Fountain of Oblivion, and his personality had reset to its previous status. The amnesia rendered him harmless temporarily, in that he didn't remember who or where he was, what he was doing, or how to do harm, but it didn't make him innocent or stop him from being a threat in the future.
  • Subverted in Landslide by Desmond Bagley. The protagonist lost his memory and had to have reconstructive surgery after a car crash where he hitched a lift with another man who died. He's told that he was wanted for a number of crimes including rape, but is horrified and determined to turn over a new leaf. Halfway through the novel someone points out that there's a simpler explanation—he was the other man in the car, whose body was burnt beyond recognition. He doesn't want to commit more crimes because he was never a criminal in the first place.
  • Henry Crawford in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries after being shot is this. He's quite bewildered to find a bunch of strangers are really annoyed with him.
  • The narrator of Piranesi is cheerful, trusting, and earnest to be point of being childlike. It is later revealed that Piranesi is actually a man named Matthew Rose Sorenson, who was trapped in the House by the Other. Matthew Rose Sorenson was a much angrier and more cynical man than the guileless Piranesi, who has a hard time understanding his past persona's behavior.
  • The first chapter of Gordon Korman's Restart shows protagonist (and, throughout the book, pretty decent kid) Chase Ambrose falling off his roof, hurting his head, and waking up in the hospital with amnesia. The second chapter shows deuteragonist (and equally decent kid) Shoshanna Weber and her brother Joel celebrating "Alpha Rat"'s fall off his roof...and explains exactly why they hate him so much.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., most everyone who goes through the TAHITI process comes back as a nice person. Granted, most everyone who S.H.I.E.L.D. puts through it are generally good people to begin with, and it's only used to give people a new chance at life, without the baggage that comes from the terrible things they've done.
  • The Babylon 5 episode "Passing Through Gethsemane" deals with this topic when a kind, pious monk is revealed to be a serial killer whose personality was erased and a kinder one with new memories was put in place. This is a regular punishment for capital crimes, set up in an earlier episode. The families of his victims did not believe he was innocent and came for revenge. In an ironic twist, the man who triggered the monk's memory freely admitted to it, and was also given a memory wash, becoming another monk in the same order, in effect, his replacement.
  • Once the vampire Herik was resurrected in Being Human (UK) it was as an amnesiac because the ritual wasn't performed by his Familiar who safeguarded his memories. As a result he's completely free of sin, to the point that crosses and stars of David have no effect on him. Of course, being a vampire he has a Horror Hunger all the same, and being an amnesiac he has no context for what's wrong with him.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Tabula Rasa", the main characters all get Laser-Guided Amnesia due to a spell cast by Willow. This trope comes into play with Spike — as a vampire, he has no soul and thus literally no sense of innate morality, and only avoids killing people because he has a Restraining Bolt and emotional attachments to Buffy and Dawn. Without his memories you would assume that his amoral instincts would take over, but no, even when he discovers that he's a vampire he assumes that he's a good one.
  • Castle:
    • Discussed in "The Fifth Bullet", when the team briefly believed that amnesiac Jeremy Prestwick was guilty of murder; the team were obligated to arrest him based on the available evidence, but Richard Castle in particular mused that it was unfair that Jeremy be sentenced for something he didn't even remember doing. Luckily, it turned out that Jeremy was genuinely innocent.
    • In "Like Father, Like Daughter", while investigating a man on death row that his daughter Alexis believes is innocent, Castle learns that the man believes the murder he was arrested for was actually committed by his younger brother, who suffered minor brain damage after a car accident the older brother caused that gave him irregular amnesia, so the older brother believed his sibling genuinely didn't remember committing the crime and blamed himself for the original injury. It's subverted as it turned out someone else killed the victim and the younger brother just found the body.
  • Ben Chang of Community claims to be suffering from 'Changnesia' for the duration of season four, presenting himself as the confused and harmless amnesic Kevin. This convinces nearly everyone to let him off the fact that he briefly took over the school via armed coup. When Chang admits he faked the whole thing, he finally gets brought to justice...sort of.
  • Criminal Minds also has an episode named "Tabula Rasa" dealing with this. An unsub they'd profiled years ago had wound up in a coma while evading arrest. While the team were convinced they had the right man, they didn't catch him in the act like usual, and they didn't even have any forensic evidence on him, and when he woke up, he had no memories whatsoever. There's some debate over whether he could or should even be tried, since without his memories, he's not technically the person who committed the crimes either way. When his memories start coming back, the first thing he does is attack a police officer and steal her gun, so there's definitely some less than innocent instincts there, but he doesn't commit any more violence and when he realizes he is guilty of the previous crimes, he pleads guilty and genuinely begs for forgiveness. Interestingly, his defense attorney glossed over the memory issues to focus his case on "profiling isn't a real science."
  • Dark Matter (2015): After the crew of the Raza discover the things they're done before their memories were wiped clean, they are all thoroughly disgusted with themselves. Except Three, who really doesn't have a problem with the idea that he was a "badass" mercenary in his original life and starts out as arguably the Token Evil Teammate. But is still not as nasty as he was before the mindwipe. And Five, of course; a Mysterious Waif who has no such record. When Four later regains his memories, he notes that she's the one who's changed the least from her original self.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Eighth Doctor is easily excited and distracted and an Innocent Alien in contrast to most of his other selves. This seems to be a result of the amnesia which affects him for most of his first stories.
    • Professor Yana in "Utopia" is a compassionate, brilliant and kindly Mad Scientist until he regains his memories of who he actually is. Oh dear.
    • "The Beast Below": Averted; the Doctor holds Amy and Liz 10 responsible for choosing to forget the Star Whale's torment even though they no longer have any memory of it.
  • The Dolls of Dollhouse, having no memory, are purposely programmed to fit this trope between "imprints". They're naïve, innocent, and devoid of sexual desires... so when some of them start exhibiting traits that break these rules, you know something is wrong.
  • In Fringe, Walter is missing pieces of his brain and has many childlike habits—particularly his affection for sweets—as well as later trying to re-learn to be independent. While he seems to remember quite a lot of wrong things he's done, it falls under this trope because he becomes a Jerkass when briefly reunited with those pieces of his brain and another character states that he's a better person and a better father with the damage.
  • Reversed in Gilligan's Island. When Skipper gets amnesia, he turns into a lech and starts chasing Ginger around the island.
  • Inverted on General Hospital. 21-year-old Jason Quartermaine losing his memory through a car accident at the end of 1995 also leads to him losing his innocent Nice Guy personality and going from the Quartermaines' preppy golden boy to their Black Sheep. Interestingly, he never recovers his original memories and his transformation into mobster Jason Morgan has been permanent into the 2020s.
  • In Heroes, this happens to Nathan for a few episodes in Season 4. What's really confusing is that everyone else thinks it's happened to Sylar, whose body currently houses Nathan's mind. note  The Carnival believes he has amnesia, the cops suspect he's faking, but everyone thinks he's Sylar. Only the audience can recognize the few memories he recovers as Nathan's. note 
  • Kamen Rider:
    • In Kamen Rider Kiva: the protagonists meet and befriend an amnesiac, childish, and somewhat clumsy Gentle Giant whom they end up nicknaming "Dai-chan" (effectively, "Mister Big"). When "Dai-chan" recovers his memories, however, all of his innocence is destroyed by the revelation that he is actually the fangire Rook, a merciless mass murderer who makes a game out of killing as many people as he can in a set time limit, and is solely responsible for at least one genocide. Potentially the only remaining vestige of his nice-guy side is his final character arc, where he abruptly decides to do good deeds in the hopes of getting into Heaven.
    • In Kamen Rider Build, the titular hero Sento Kiryu is a Science Hero (and something of an Insufferable Genius), and his Quest for Identity makes up the first major arc of the story. He eventually discovers that he was originally Takumi Katsuragi, "The Demon Scientist" who performed human experiments to create Super Soldiers for the government. This actually puts Sento through a Heroic BSoD, but he gets brought out of it when The Lancer Ryuga (who has plenty of legitimate reasons to hate Katsuragi) says that the person he used to be isn't as important as the hero he is now. Ultimately subverted as it's revealed that Katsuragi was actually a well-intentioned (if arrogant and cynical) person and his reputation as an amoral monster was undeserved.
  • Deconstructed in an episode of NCIS: A woman is brought into a hospital with amnesia, remembering nothing except that a bomb is going to be set off somewhere. The NCIS team comes in to investigate the claim and figure out where the bomb is. Obviously, the woman is their key witness in this regard and they treat her as an innocent victim. Turns out, she was part of the conspiracy to set the bomb in the first place. The minute her memories come back, she continues trying to carry out the original plan.
  • Samantha Who? is built on this trope. The idea that Sam could ever have been "Bad Sam" strains plausibility — she does good and bad things like anyone else, but she never comes close to the casual nastiness of her past self.
  • Notably averted in the Grand Finale of Smallville: a resurrected Lex Luthor gets dosed with an amnesia pill erasing his entire life. Despite this, within a decade he becomes President of the United States and the most evil man in the world.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • In "Riddles", the Vulcan security officer Tuvok loses his memory, causing him to forget the Vulcan practise of control of emotions. Apart from acting like a Manchild he also befriends Neelix, whom he usually treats with polite disdain.
    • Downplayed in "Warhead" when a sentient missile loses its memory and temporarily forgets it's a Weapon of Mass Destruction. Once restored however it proceeds with its mission, but the crew are able to convince it not to after discovering it was launched by accident.
  • On Supernatural Dean discovers an amnesiac Castiel going by the name Emmanuel and working as a faith healer using his angel power of Healing Hands. He has no memory of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and getting Drunk on the Dark Side. Instead, he is a peaceful and kind man who shows great empathy to Dean, despite sensing that Dean is an unhappy and violent man. Dean and Meg eventually jog his memory because they need him to smite some demons, and he becomes tormented by guilt over his past actions.
  • When Eric in True Blood loses his memory, he forgets his bloody and violent past and becomes innocent. This is responsible for much of the character development in season 4 and he even states at one point that he doesn't want to go back to who he used to be.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mummy: The Curse inverts this: your character is at his most monstrous when his Memory is low, and he becomes a better person the more of his memories he recovers.

  • In Eurydice, once dipped in the river, Eurydice becomes childlike and petulant, has to be retaught language and how to read, and expresses frustration when a book doesn't seem to do anything.
  • Zigzagged in Jasper in Deadland. Jasper and Agnes act more optimistic and carefree when they lose their memories, due to no longer remembering anything stressful or traumatic from their lives. However, it's not that they don't know about how awful the world can be, it's just that they don't care. Losing their memories also makes them act noticeably more raunchy and profane, so they're more immature than innocent.
  • Played pretty straight in Ride the Cyclone with Jane Doe. She remembers pretty much nothing of who she was, due to her not having a head when she was found after the disaster, replaced by the head of the doll she carries with her.

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate III: The Dark Urge generally plays with this, as an amnesiac who grapples with an impulse to kill that the player can either indulge or resist, but plays it straight in one instance. If the Dark Urge starts as a Paladin who took an oath against murdering the innocent, they will begin the game with their oath intact even though they were a serial killer before the start of the game.
  • Destiny: Guardians are resurrected with little-to-no memory of their past life and are expected to keep it that way, most likely to invoke this trope. In the event that a new Guardian's past life was a known criminal, the Tower expunges their record, effectively treating the Guardian's pre- and post-revival selves as separate individuals. This is how Uldren Sov was allowed to join after being revived in The Black Armory, even though he killed Cayde-6 in Forsaken (among other crimes) and was killed in turn by either the Player Character or Petra Venj in retribution.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI: Terra has no memories but her name and is a Technical Pacifist and The Ingenue. She had previously been used as a living weapon by The Empire and initially must flee the town she doesn't remember attacking. Locke and Edgar make a point of telling people who resent her that she shouldn't be held responsible for acts she doesn't remember and was mind-controlled into committing.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: Yotsuyu loses her memory as the deadly and sadistic acting viceroy of Doma and takes up a childlike attitude as "Tsuyu", under the watchful eye of the aging samurai Gosetsu. A lot of hemming and hawing happen with the heroes as she was a dangerous person, made clear when she wanders into a village and they all react in horror. Even more so is that her brother Asahi coming to pick her back up to return her to Garlemald. Sadly, Asahi uses Yotsuyu in a cruel attempt to dash the Populares faction's attempt to end the Garlean Empire's warmongering ways and try to regain Doma.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening:
    • Morgan (the avatar's child) is an amnesiac who forgot everything from their past besides stuff about their father/mother. They're bubbly and happy and well-liked, although no one knows a thing about them.
    • The Avatar may count as well. We don't know what they were like before their mind got wiped, but we do know that they made a very different choice in the timeline where they didn't get amnesia.
  • Invoked in Knights of the Old Republic: The Jedi Council decided Darth Revan's powers were too great to waste, so they attempted to erase their identity and replace it with a new one loyal to the Republic. If they succeeded or not depends on that path the protagonist ends up taking.
  • Justified in Lufia & The Fortress of Doom. Lufia's new bout of amnesia at the end of the story comes as a result of her being split completely from Erim, the Sinistral of Death.
  • Abe no Seimei from Onmyōji (2016) definitely qualifies, even though he often fears that he might have done bad things in the past. The only crime he committed then was to accidentally create Kuro Seimei.
  • In Planescape: Torment, the protagonist, The Nameless One, plays this trope straight, inverts it, goes sideways, and wanders all over. The Nameless One is an immortal who, each time he dies, suffers some form of memory adjustment. Sometimes the shock of death may recover lost memories, sometimes a particularly brutal or nasty death may result in the complete reset of his entire mind, altering his core behavior and personality at a fundamental level. One life, he might be a heroic Knight in Shining Armor, the next, he could pass the Moral Event Horizon. Though he may be innocent in terms of knowledge of at the time of reincarnation of previous wrongs done in former lives, there are those who would argue that point. Regardless, he is both innocent, guilty, and everything in between amidst dozens, or possibly hundreds of past lives worth of sins and virtues.
    • Ultimately, at the end of the game, you discover that this trope does not hold true for you. The First Incarnation's crime(s), whatever they may have been, were so terrible that the Nameless One's soul has earned an express ticket to the Lower Planes upon death, no matter what else he may have done with his other lives in-between. It says something that the First Incarnation implies he sought immortality just to have enough time to atone for his misdeeds... And then the nature of his immortality only made things worse.
  • Darkrai's memory is erased at the end of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky as a result of being hit by Palkia's attack while escaping through a portal after the heroes and Cresselia foil his evil plans to destroy the Pokemon world. After that, he can be encountered and recruited.
  • In the Red Axe quest series' finale in RuneScape, the player finds and defeats the Ogre shaman that had been manipulated into brainwashing many dwarves into Chaos dwarves over the years, the player is then given the chance to kill him for his crimes or to leave it alive. If the player lets him go, afterwards the shaman can be found in Gu'Tanoth, having given himself amnesia to forget about his past and living a normal ogre life.
  • In the fangame Touhou Mother, Porky loses his memories when he lands in Gensokyo. He's actually a decent person during this period, and makes particular friends with Marisa. Then he gets his memories back and almost immediately begins taking over Gensokyo, becoming the game's Big Bad.
    • Kagura is another example, but isn't focused on as much.
  • The Amnesiac starts out as this in every game of Town of Salem. Whether he stays that way or not depends on what role he picks.
  • the white chamber: Sarah may or may not be this, depending on how you play. Consider her pre-amnesia life that we see involved murdering the rest of the crew, you'd have to work to make her as bad as that.
  • John Yesterday is fairly sweet-natured and romantic if somewhat morose due to his amnesia...but this trope comes fully into effect when you consider his past lives as the demented Choke and the murderous Satanic cultist Miguel. Possibly a Justified Trope considering Choke was a Knight Templar and Miguel had problems with the cult sacrificing a child.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: In Chapter 4, the group enters a virtual world to learn anything about the outside, during their investigation, Gonta is manipulated by Kokichi into murdering Miu after he believed he would be performing a Mercy Kill for everyone. However, prior to entering the virtual world, Gonta accidentally placed his virtual headset plugins into the wrong outlets, as a result, he had no recollection of anything he did during his time in the virtual world, including killing Miu.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In BoJack Horseman, we have this with an elderly Beatrice. Losing her memories (rather, the ability to recognize them) to senile dementia allows her to show a nicer side of herself and she's genuinely mindful of other people, however, while some of her actions (like spiking Hollyhock's coffee with amphetamines for example) can be inferred as well-intentioned , they are not good, so things don't end well.
  • Carmen Sandiego: Carmen runs into Gray after his memory is erased, and he's a friendly, well-meaning guy with none of the criminal impulses that led him to seek out V.I.L.E. in the first place. Carmen and Co. spend some time debating whether that means he's faking, whether he's been turned into a Manchurian Agent, or whether it's genuine. Turns out to be invoked by V.I.L.E. While erasing memories, Dr. Bellum also alters their personality, because becoming involved in criminal acts could trigger their memories altogether. After Gray is deprogramed, his criminal instincts return, and he willingly returns to V.I.L.E.
  • Subverted and Deconstructed like crazy on an episode of Family Guy, where Peter loses all his life memories and thus is rendered childlike. Lois eventually teaches him sex since they're husband and wife, and sex is a beautiful expression of love and commitment. Peter decides "sex feels great!" and proceeds to sleep around on her. When Lois protest that he's supposed to just sleep with her because they're married, he thinks that's a stupid idea because sex feels great, and thus (like a child) he feels he should be able to enjoy it with whomever he wants, whenever he wants. He also goes around acting like an excessively hedonistic, entitled Manchild. When he gains his memories back, the family is relieved, and he apologizes to Lois for cheating on her since he was an amnesiac at the time, and thus he didn't know any better.
  • Harley Quinn (2019) has an especially sad example: it turns out the Joker didn't die, but lost his previous memory and personalty, making him a normal person and a pretty Nice Guy to boot. Unfortunately, Harley ends up having to turn him back into the Joker as his new form can't remember where he left this book with the Justice League trapped in it. At the end of the episode, Harley's very clearly Trying Not to Cry as she pushes him in.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In "Action Heroes", Metallo suffers from amnesia after being caught in an explosion. He ends up befriending a pair of children, and even saves their lives. As soon as his memories return he immediately reverts to evil, and cons the children into continuing to help him while actually planning to kill Superman.
  • Mike from Total Drama Revenge of the Island often has no memory of what he does regardless of good or bad whenever one of his personas take control of him.

    Real Life 
  • Oddly, there is at least one documented case of this in real life, being nothing less than celebrated Spanish poet Luis de Góngora. He was infamous for his compulsive penchant for card-playing, gambling and partying hard, until the day he lost his memory due to a terrible illness. From that point to his death the following year, legend claims he could not believe what a rowdy past he had.