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Crazy Memory

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How Homer Simpson remembers the last town hall meeting.
"I used to be an Asian Boy Scout! Wasn't that a weird week?"
Chester A. Bum, Up review

This trope is when a character reminisces about something so outlandish and wild, it probably isn't true. Perhaps this character is out-and-out lying in an attempt to be interesting or shocking, or they might just be crazy enough to believe their crap. On occasion, if nobody else believes this person, it may actually prove to be true. In cases such as these they are quickly forgotten and never brought up again.

Typically, this trope is played up for comedic effect and will often occur in lonely old people. Adventurers are also prone to these as they like to brag about their past adventures. Also common amongst the Cloud Cuckoo Lander.

If multiple characters have one of these about the same event, it could lead to a "Rashomon"-Style story. If the event is frequently discussed, but never shown, it could be a Noodle Incident.

Compare Noodle Incident, Cutaway Gag, Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, Self-Serving Memory and Imagine Spot.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Love Lab, Maki does this a lot, like having a flashback of her and Riko having a Lover Tug of War with a human Huggy (Huggy is a pillow with a man drawn on it).
  • Pok√©mon the Series: Black & White: Burgundy recounts her first encounter with Cilan: he thrashed her in a Gym, then he and his Pansage loom over her, much to the horror of poor little Burgundy and her Oshawott. Arguably subverted, since Cilan acted rather unsettling during their rematch.

    Comic Books 
  • The Simpsons: One issue has Grampa trying to recount a story from his childhood. Bart repeatedly tries to point out he's just telling a version of It's a Wonderful Life, but in the mean time Abe also has Zsa-Zsa Gabor as his aunt, his family and house switches between those of The Brady Bunch, Leave It To Beaver and The Monkees and he goes into a modern day version of the Kwik-E-Mart.

    Comic Strips 
  • Bloom County. Milo sometimes did this, but about Binkley's life, not his own. Note that Milo and Binkley are both children.
    Milo: Tell me, Binkley, if you had your life to live over again, would you do everything the same? Would you have left home to join those Bohemian resistance fighters? Would you have married that Turkish leopard smuggler? Would you have spent those twenty years chasing white tigers in the mountains of Ceylon?

    Film — Live-Acttion 
  • In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Dr. Evil describes his father as this.
    Dr. Evil: He would make outrageous claims, like he invented the question mark.
  • The whole premise of Big Fish is that Edward Bloom's stories about his life couldn't possibly be true. In the end it seems that some of the details might have been exaggerated, but the general events actually happened.
  • Happens during the riffing of Pirates of the Caribbean
    Bill Corbett: I don't blame her, I'd rather jump off a cliff than marry a man in a tri-corner hat.
    Kevin Murphy: That's experience talking isn't it. Really brings that lost year in colonial Williamsburg into focus.
    • Speaking of which, Jack Sparrow actually has a couple of moments like these throughout the series. Most notable is an ending to a story he's telling two guards where he claims "and then they made me their chief."
  • The entire point of Secondhand Lions. Great-uncle Hub's story is outlandish and wild about being in the French Foreign legion, fighting a sheik for the love of a princess, and all that sort of nonsense. The ending scene shows that it was all true.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Community:
    • Invoked when Troy is being initiated into the Air Conditioner Repair School so no one would believe him and think he was just remembering a dream. Highlights include a black Hitler and an astronaut cooking paninis.
    • When Buddy (Jack Black) is introduced, he claims that he's always been in their class and a bunch of flashbacks to previous episodes are shown with him reacting in the background. The last one shows Britta and Annie wearing cheerleader outfits having a Fanservice Faux Fight in an inflatable pool, while Buddy watches wearing a toga and eating a burger. When nobody remembers that, he admits that he probably dreamt it.
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor will often slip in references to stories which may or may not involve Michelangelo, arrows, alien super-computers and pepper-pots with plungers. Random bystanders will think he's a madman. Well, he is a madman, but his stories are probably all true. Also, he's second only to Captain Jack at this point in terms of relationships with historical figures.
  • Beans from Even Stevens was a lot like this.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Future Ted occasionally had some of these, which were usually implied to be him simply misremembering things or being unable to recall what happened outside of his biased perspective, leading to the events of the episode suddenly veering into totally surreal territory for a few minutes. Usually prefaced by "Kids, I swear this is what happened next..."
    • Barney often claims to have done some pretty crazy things. On the one hand, he does lie/exaggerate a lot, on the other hand...he is Barney, so really anything's possimpible...
  • In one episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Frank tries to pass off more than one story from John Rambo's life as something that happened to him. No indication is given that he doesn't genuinely believe these things happened to him.
  • The entire history of the Janitor from Scrubs. If you think you know something about him, you don't, or it is disproved later and re-proven after that.
    Janitor: My father died [when I was young].
    JD: I met your father!
    Janitor: You met a man.
    • Also:
    JD: Was any of that true?
    Janitor: I don't know. Someone would have to read it back to me.
    • When the janitor tries to grow facial hair:
    JD: It looks like tiny hamsters died all over your face!
    Janitor: That happened once.
  • Captain Jack Harkness in Torchwood does this often in the form of references to relationships with historical characters (which could very well have actually happened since he's a time traveler and he's taken The Slow Path) and impossible situations like being pregnant.
  • The Twilight Zone episode "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby" was about a man who told outrageous lies to his friends about his past. It comes back to bite him when he's abducted by aliens who have no concept of lying. Fortunately, the one thing he's really good at - playing the harmonica - turns out to give them excruciating pain.
  • The first season of Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place had a recurring character of a crazy patron who would tell stories about his life that were all actually plots of popular movies. Then he was Put on a Bus.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • The late Dave Allen frequently gave different reasons on how he lost one of his fingertips in order to derive material from his injury; the reasons included his brother accidentally bit it off, he maimed himself to avoid war, it was stuck in a bottle of whiskey that eventually dissolved it and he wore it down by obsessively brushing dust off himself (to name a few).

  • The play The Time of Your Life takes place in a San Francisco bar over the course of a single day in 1938. One patron is an odd old man in strange clothing. Throughout the day, he tells a series of unbelievable stories, every one of which starts with him stating the unlikely event, the place, and the year. In the final act, he tries to make a corrupt vice cop stop harassing a dancer/prostitute and is thrown out of the bar. Minutes later, the vice cop is shot offstage. The old man returns to the bar, and someone says the cop has been killed. The old man says,
    I killed a man once. San Francisco, 1938. I didn't like the way he talked to ladies, so I went and got my pearl-handled pistol, waited for him to get out of the bar, and shot him . . . I had to throw that beautiful pistol into the bay . . .

    Video Games 
  • In LEGO Marvel's Avengers, a quest from the Winter Soldier has him trying to remember his past. His memory is pretty hazy, so the flashback that he fabricates involves robot unicorns, ninja ballerinas, HYDRA chickens, and a bear president.

    Web Animation 
  • A common gag on Homestar Runner, most of the times that any of the characters remember something, it is bound to be something along these lines. Strong Bad himself admitted that he had a very unphotographic memory... More like a drawing or doodle memory actually.


    Web Original 
  • As the above quote indicates, Chester A. Bum of Bum Reviews has a lot of these. He will often talk about times in his life where crazy and outlandish scenes from the movies he saw were actually like things that happened to him. Expect the line "except, instead of (insert activity here), I just did drugs" to follow many of these statements.
  • Red vs. Blue has Caboose who couldn't remember anything correctly to save his life, and Donut who's probably aware that he's making things up, but we never get any proof.
  • Solomon "Duke" Todd of Shadow Unit is prone to these, though it can be difficult to tell when they're real memories and when he's just making them up...

    Western Animation 
  • Roger in American Dad! has these on a regular basis. Of course, he's a 1600-year-old alien Master of Disguise who becomes the mask on a regular basis, so no one really knows how many of them are true. Roger included.
  • Archer has numerous characters either remembering odd events, not remembering a particular event (or oddly not remembering one memory out of a chain of similar situations even though remembering any of them at all meant that they should have really known better than to get into their current situation), or remembering stuff that never happened at all.
  • Monterrey Jack from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, likes to tell crazy stories of his past adventures. Many of them are true. Probably.
  • The "Rashomon"-Style plot of the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Once Upon an Ed" goes off the rails pretty quick once Ed —a Cloud Cuckoo Lander raised on a diet of cheesy monster movies— starts telling his part of the story of how they ended up stuck in Jonny's wall. The basic outline of "the Kankers chased us in here" turns into a Kaiju story where the Kanker sisters eat irradiated mashed potatoes and turn into giant, hairy-legged monster versions of themselves who cut off every escape route by firing glowing armpit rays that turn every hiding place into things like giant bars of soap and deodorant sticks, much to Ed's horror. Then they merge their heads into one and start shooting giant, wet kisses at the Eds as an attack, at which point the in-story version of Eddy has to note that things are getting pretty weird.
    Edd: "Gracious, Ed, what an enchanted world you must live in..."
  • Pretty much every Cutaway Gag on Family Guy is one of these, where a character will say something like "This is just like when I..." before cutting away to a crazy situation that almost certainly couldn't have happened.
    • Played with several times and as early as the first season, where Peter set up the memory sequence, only for the clip to play the previous scene that led to the current situation. Lois rightly pointed that out. In another, Stewie sets up the gag only to be baffled that it was just dialog and there was no clip. Another gag revealed that one of Peter's memories was so out of left field, they didn't even have a clip to cut to and frantically looked for one that fit the situation the best.
  • Subverted and parodied in Futurama, twice. In the episodes "Fry and the Slurm Factory" and "A Clockwork Origin," Professor Farnsworth is declared crazy and everything he has just said has been lunacy. In retaliation, he begins ranting and shouts "and he's my uncle" pointing to the much younger character, Fry. This is actually true, as Fry comes from the distant past and is Farnsworth's great great great great great etc uncle (and his great great great great great great great etc grandfather). However, nobody believes him, writing him off as nuts.
  • One episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy opens with Billy trying to take Grim's scythe to attack a gorilla at the zoo. When Grim stops him he's told that they had been in agreement on the idea the previous week. The scene then cuts to Billy's memory of that, where Grim, now a camel-based Mix-and-Match Critter in a surreal landscape, tells Billy to get "those nasty gorillas", and offers to ride him over.
    Billy: Now bend over and let me ride your humps!
  • At the end of one episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Harvey has a flashback of a scene at the beginning of the episode, except there's a plate spinner and sword-swallower in the background, then a scuba diver floating in the middle of the room.
  • Arnold's grandfather on Hey Arnold! spouts these frequently. At one point, Arnold calls him out on a particularly outrageous war story:
    Arnold: Grandpa, you did not fight Adolf Hitler. You're making this all up.
    Grandpa: Heh heh heh. Okay, you got me. I made that part up. Pretty funny, huh? ...It was Goebbels.
  • Gir from Invader Zim tends to fall prey to these. Especially when he is asked to remember something important.
  • During the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", the Cutie Mark Crusaders ask the Mane 6 about how they acquired their marks. Pinkie Pie explains how she grew up on a "rock farm", where there were "no laughing, no fun, only rocks" and she had to push rocks around all day, until the sonic rainboom made her feel joy and she threw a spontaneous party for her family. The scene cuts to the present and she finishes with "...and that's how Equestria was made!" much to the complete bafflement of the CMC. The fanbase is somewhat divided on the issue of whether her story is true or a complete fabrication.
    • Later seasons have ran with it, and it's apparently actually true, if photos of said party on her wall are indication. Though one element left out of the flashback was her 3rd sister, Maude Pie. She was first mentioned briefly in a novel before appearing in one of the photos of the party, later in the same season she appeared in a proper episode named after her.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Many of Abe Simpson's ramblings fall under this.
    • Homer's memory of Marge's comments at town hall in "$pringfield".
      Homer: ...And so I said to the President, "Get this..."
    • In "Children of a Lesser Clod", Homer decides to use morphine to help him remember his basketball accident. Now, instead of crashing into the backboard, he recalls jumping so high he flew into outer space, slam dunked Jupiter, and got hit by George Jetson's spaceship.
  • Izzy on Total Drama may be lapsing into this constantly, but it would be hard to tell—she openly admits that some of her mad stories are just lies, while at least a few others seem to actually be true.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Remember The Time When


Homer's Photographic Memory

Homer has a photographic memory of how he remembered the last town hall meeting.

How well does it match the trope?

4.95 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / CrazyMemory

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