Giles: You listen to me. Jesse is dead. You have to remember that when you see him, you're not looking at your friend. You're looking at the thing that killed him.
This trope covers situations when a person is treated as effectively dead and gone even though their body is still physically alive. This is generally because the "person" has been erased in some way.
This can cover mild examples (like memory loss) or more serious examples (like Loss of Identity or damage to the soul). It can occur accidentally or through happenstance (e.g. illness or injury), maliciously (e.g. being assimilated by The Virus or invaded by a foreign consciousness), or punitively (Speculative Fiction settings often use mind-wiping and personality overwriting as a form of capital punishment). This trope and its subtropes are often treated as a Fate Worse than Death or a means of making someone Deader Than Dead. Yet some of the following methods are reversible; an amnesiac could remember everything, a possessing entity could be given the boot, Fake Memories could be recognized as fake. So treat these as "death" only if no such reversal occurs.
Subtropes (examples of which should go on their relevant page) include:
- Assimilation Plot: A plan which revolves around doing this to everyone.
- The Assimilator: A specific character or creature who can do this. You lose your individuality to the Hive Mind in the process.
- Blank Slate: When the person's lost all their experiences and memories.
- Brainwashing for the Greater Good: This trope is generally why it's portrayed as a bad thing.
- Clone by Conversion: When someone is "killed" by being turned into a copy of someone else.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: When this is caused by having machinery integrated with your body.
- Despair Event Horizon: When the despair is so intense and horrible that it irrevocably crushes someone's very identity.
- Empty Shell: When the whole personality's gone, essentially leaving a philosophical-zombie.
- Fake Memories: If there are enough of them.
- Grand Theft Me: Something destroys or suppresses the old personality and replaces it.
- Split-Personality Takeover: When a second personality "kills" or overwhelms them from within the same mind (rather than coming from outside the person).
- Lobotomy: Surgical removal of the personality.
- Loss of Identity: When one's very identity is forcibly taken from them in some way.
- Scatterbrained Senior: When played for drama, how a person will begin to forget their loved ones' names and who they are as their memory dies.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: In particularly extreme cases.
- Technically Living Zombie: At least the mindless variety.
- That Man Is Dead: When what's left of the "dead" person spells it out. Can be used both for literal cases of this trope and for when the character merely believes they've changed so radically as to become a different person.
Contrast Un-person, who is merely treated as if they no longer (or never did) exist. Compare Mind Control and Brainwashed, which usually just force a person to act differently without damaging their personality.
- In the original Ghost in the Shell manga there's a mention that the penalty faced by the Criminal of the Week for "ghost-dubbing" is "death or mindwipe".
- Male Shiki's "death" in Kara no Kyoukai.
- A Certain Magical Index:
- Touma Kamijou lost his memories in the first arc. The only thing he retained was his Chronic Hero Syndrome. The original Touma returned Index's love note while present Touma is mystified that everyone thinks he would be attracted to a little girl.
- The amoral psychopath Teitoku Kakine practically gets erased from existence when his creation, the kind and gentle Beetle 05, takes over his body.
- In Letter Bee Gauche Suede lost his "heart" and becomes Noir. He eventually gets better though, but it turns out that he was faking it since his exposure to the sun meant that his lost memories would never return.
- In Claymore, Priscilla is diced to pieces by Clare's Quicksword. While she is able to recover physically, the experience destroyed her mentally. Teresa claims that "Priscilla" is effectively already dead, and all that is left of her is a body driven by mindless hatred.
- Casca of Berserk undergoes one after the horrific events of The Eclipse, reverting to an infantile mental state without any true recollection of her old self, and post-Golden Age, it becomes Guts' first priority to restore her sanity.
- In most incarnations of Digimon, the titular Mons are reverted to eggs upon death. However, they don't always retain their memories or personalities upon hatching despite their body surviving in some form through the process. In Digimon Savers, the protagonist is warned that this is likely to happen to his partner Digimon following the use of a Deadly Upgrade. It doesn't. Agumon remembers everything.
- In Izure Shinwa No Ragnarok, a human possessed by a god has their soul completely overwritten. Raika managed to avoid this fate due to the powers of his cross necklace, which keeps Balor from fully possessing him. He manages to force Brunhild to give Charlotte her personality back, but this only works because their possession was incomplete to begin with.
- The ultimate fate of Pride in Fullmetal Alchemist, reduced to a childlike state by Edward Elric after his defeat. Ironically, this leads to a sort of Birth of Personality as well, as Pride's physical body is now an innocent little boy — just like the one he had long pretended to be.
- In Kemono Friends, the reason Ceruleans are so feared is because they feed off of Sandstar, the substance that changed the Friends from mundane, unintelligent animals into human-like forms in the first place. A Friend who's drained of Sandstar reverts to their original form, losing all their memories in the process. It's strongly implied that the Serval from the anime is the same one from the original KF mobile game, but she was de-transformed by a Cerulean and re-transformed by another Sandstar eruption between the two stories, meaning she doesn't remember anything before that point.
- Rosario + Vampire: Near the end of the manga, Outer Moka is seemingly destroyed then Alucard destroys the rosary that created her. Ultimately subverted by the end, as Outer Moka's soul remains in Inner Moka's body, leading to a Split-Personality Merge in the finale.
- Dragon Ball Z: Being essentially a fusion, Super Buu is an entirely separate being than the other two main Buus, Fat and Kid. Detaching Fat Buu, according to Super Buu himself, causes him to "cease to exist". While removing Fat Buu doesn't physically kill Super Buu, just reverting him to the pure Kid Buu, it still completely erases Super Buu. Taken to a further extreme when Kid Buu is reincarnated as Uub; Super Buu was only possible via a combination of Fat Buu and Kid Buu, both due to their ki and biology. With Kid Buu's 'soul' being reincarnated in a normal human's body now, Super Buu can never be formed again. Instead of being dead in the afterlife, he doesn't exist at all he's the only DBZ character, outside of Android 16, to be well and truly gone.
- Bartholomew Kuma of One Piece over the course of his transmogrification into PX-0, slowly lost more and more of his humanity until only his brain was left unmodified. By the Paramount War, Donquixote Donflamingo outright states that the old Bartholomew Kuma is ''effectively dead''. His last act of free will being pre-programmed afterward at his behest before being reduced to effectively a soulless machine.
- Date A Live:
- This is Shido Itsuka's origin. Originally, he was born Shinji Takamiya and he met the First Spirit while trying to protect her from Isaac Westcott. Unfortunately, he died in the process but the First Spirit saved his life by absorbing him into her womb and recreating him as her surrogate child. However, Shido developed a completely independent personality, meaning that Shinji had effectively died. Indeed, when the First Spirit dies and goes to the afterlife, she finds Shinji waiting for her.
- The Yamai twins explain to Shido that the original Yamai's consciousness is gone, and they're competing over who should have control when they remerge while the loser will essentially disappear. The original Yamai was actually a human girl who received a Sephira Crystal as she was dying from getting run over, but her vanishing twin absorbed in utero resulted in two Spirits from the same Crystal. The sisters' Fusion Dance into Yamai Kamazachi is actually a mixture of their consciousness, and while they regain their memories of their past life, the original Yamai's consciousness is in fact dead and gone, similar to Shido with his previous life as Shinji.
- Naruto: This is the final fate of those trapped in the Infinite Tsukuyomi. As they are very slowly turned into White Zetsu while they are in the illusion, their personalities and defining traits are drained along with their chakra.
- Boruto: Once the Kama takes full control of Boruto, Momoshiki Otsutsuki's genetic profile will replace Boruto's, effectively erasing Boruto.
- In the Sword Art Online:Alicization arc, it's revealed that anybody who becomes an Integrity Knight is deprived of their memories prior to it, and for all intents and purposes, they're reborn as a new person altogether. Thus, the Alice that Kirito and Eugeo met as children and the Alice they encounter as an Integrity Knight are effectively two different entities, and restoring the former would erase the latter from existence.
- Fairy Tail: This is one interpretation of the final fate of Mavis and Zeref, who later appear at the award ceremony of Lucy's prize-winning book with different names, personalities, and pasts after they disappear into light, neither recognizing the other.
- Subverted in Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, the main antagonist uses a machine to replace the mind of young girls with his late adult daughter's, Melina, in hope to resurrect her. When it happens, Melina's mind and memories, being much stronger than the girls' because she is older, effectively replace their own mind, until they remember themselves, at which time she is expelled from their bodies and they regain their memories. Her father has attempted it so many times that she exists in multiple bodies at once, such as Nina's and her best friend's, Janice, who willingly surrendered herself to her and buried her own mind to allow for the experiment to work. However, Melina does not do all of this maliciously as she has no control over whether or not she takes control of a body since it is her father who copies her mind into them. She even hides from everyone, including Layton himself, that she took over Janice's body in order to get Layton to stop her father's schemes.
- With the exceptions of Akira and a few select others from Devil Man when a person gets possessed by a demon they lose their human personalities and all traces of who they originally were.
- This is the ultimate fate of Dream in The Sandman. Dream is one of the Endless, who are practically living ideas, so they can't die in the true sense of the word. After having Mercy Killed his son, Orpheus, Dream is attacked by the Furies, whose job is to punish those who murder their own kin and ultimately chooses to die at Death's hand. However, he's reborn in a new form, who then continues to do his predecessor's work. So the idea called Dream keeps on living, but the character everyone knew as him is dead.
Eblis O'Shaughnessy: Then what died? Who are you mourning?
Abel: A point of view.
- In ElfQuest, this is effectively the fate of One-Eye's body when he is killed in the prelude to The Palace War. After Leetah tries to heal him and only manages to heal his empty, soulless body, it is kept in Preserver webbing for many years until his lifemate, Clearbrook, accepts that he's not coming back and so cuts the webbing and allows his body to die.
- Immortal Hulk: Issue 25 shows this happening to the Hulk in a Bad Future. The One Below All emptied out the Hulk and Banner from the inside aeons ago, and is using what's left as its means of killing everything everywhere.
- The fate of Kid Loki after he is left with no choice but to overwrite his own mind with the memories of his past self to save existence. The worst part is that all of this was set in motion by his past self. Loki essentially murdered himself. It should be noted that the Loki who took over isn't really original Loki either, he's technically a mental clone of the original who feels profoundly guilty for his role in all of this.
- In a profound case of irony, that Loki was later forced to go through much the same thing, sacrificing their own identity in an act of rebranding to foil an older, madder Loki from a Bad Future, becoming a fourth, new Loki who considered themselves different from the last, something they were forewarned about several times.
- Spider-Man: Curt Connors suffers this fate in the storyline Shed, when the Lizard persona murders his son Billy.
- His original good personality later is restored, but he remains trapped in his lizard form with the guilt of what he did.
- Wonder Woman: Queen Atomia has two different ways of inflicting this on her victims to turn them into her loyal "servants", and not even Amazonian medical science can restore them once the process is complete. She can put them through her Proton Chamber which at least leaves them with a human appearance and semi-intact — though severely altered — mind, or force them through her Nutron Machine which leaves them far less intact and almost mindless outside of obeying her commands.
- In the sequel to Child of the Storm, it's feared that this has happened to Harry at the hands of the Red Room (who tried this on the Winter Soldier, repeatedly, with limited success) after the Red Son, Harry's body, is captured and revealed to have no trace of Harry's mind in him, thanks to the powerful telepaths at their disposal. This is dismissed, however, when it's pointed out that in such a situation Harry, a powerful psychic in his own right, would have put up one hell of a fight, and they would have noticed. They then move to the correct conclusion that his mind escaped and is hiding elsewhere.
- In the Stars Above side-story My Sunshine, this is the fate of Mami Tomoe. She is fed on repeatedly by a Demon that eats her memories until she is reduced to an infantile state.
- This is what happens to Piedmon in Zero 2: A Revision thanks to Umbradevimon's touch of evil leaving Puppetmon as the last of the Dark Masters.
- Happens in "Last Rights" to a slain USS Bajor crewman who is resurrected as a Kobali, explained as a result of perimortem oxygen deprivation. The brain damage was repaired during the resurrection process, but the person we knew as Senior Chief Security Officer Athezra Darrod is believed gone for good. The Kobali actually prefer this outcomenote , since it's easier to transition to your new life if you can't remember your old one. Athezra's captain, Kanril Eleya, says in her Internal Monologue that it's harder on her.
- In With This Ring, Martians do this to criminals who commit severe crimes.
- In the RWBY/Hetalia crossover Weight of the World, this is what America fears will happen to him if he accepts the rest of Vale's Aura. After Cinder is killed and all of Vale's soul is released to America, the two fight for control of America's body (with Vale Mind Raping America in an attempt to delete his soul). America is able to reason with her and they peacefully merge, which causes them to lose all of their memories. It seems their memories are not gone forever.
- Tales of Sonic the Hedgehog: After their initial attempts to get through to Robotnik's better side fail, Sonic and Uncle Chuck come to this conclusion, considering Julian Kintobor effectively dead. Sonic in particular declares that when they see Robotnik, they're not looking at Julian, but the monster that killed him, and during the climax of the Westside Island arc, he flat-out tells Robotnik to his face that he's nothing but a "heartless, evil monster" who's wearing Dr. Kintobor's skin.
- Nearly happens in Wall E after Eve repairs Wall-E from near-fatal damage. He appears to lose all his memory and personality until she "kisses" him with an electric spark that reverts him back to normal.
- In Brave, Merida and Elinor must Race Against the Clock to break the spell that gave Elinor a bear's body or she will lose her humanity and become like any other non-sapient bear.
- The NeverEnding Story II has The Emptiness slowly do this to Bastien by erasing his memories.
- In Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan explains to Luke that he considered Anakin to be dead after he became Darth Vader.
Darth Vader: That name no longer has any meaning for me.
- Interestingly, this is one of the few things Vader and Obi-Wan agree on. In the end, a dying Vader admits to Luke that he was lying to himself all along and that he really is still Anakin.
- Life, Animated: Owen suddenly began showing the symptoms of autism at the age of three, which gave the impression of this trope. His parents report feeling like their son had been kidnapped at the time.
- The local police chief in the Alex Benedict series was originally a serial killer who had had his memory overwritten. It's a Red Herring, by the way: the apparent Chekhov's Gun never goes off.
- The Jokka from M.C.A. Hogarth's Tales of the Jokka are susceptible to the "mind-death" when they experience physical trauma or heatstroke. Females are most vulnerable, especially during childbirth, but even hardy neuters may fall victim. At the end of A Bloom in the North though they find a Jokka colony on the northern continent where mind death is practically unknown, it's only common on the main continent because of malnutrition in their post-apocalyptic wasteland.
- Inversion: the Auditors are the supernatural bureaucrats of the Cosmos. They begin as grey soul-less entities; for them, to develop a recognisable personality and individual self-awareness is death. They forgot this in Thief of Time when a group of them decided it would be a good idea to adopt human bodies, so as to tidy creation up from the inside.
- Played straight in the Witch novels. A skilled witch can send her mind into an animal's mind, hitching a ride with it to see, hear, and feel what it sees, hears, and feels. However, staying in animal form too long causes the witch's identity to fade, until nothing is left but an unusually intelligent animal.
- In Dragon Bones, Ward's mother eventually falls victim to this, after using herbal potions to escape reality for too long. Ward has the ability to find people in a magical way ... and can't find his mother anymore, at some point, even though she's right beside him.
- In the Chronicles of Chaos by John C. Wright, this is referenced by Vanity, upon learning that all of them are Uranians (or Titans) and prisoners of war of the Olympians, who had their memories erased, forced into human bodies and raised as such, she cries that they committed murder by making them forget their true selves.
- In Mockingjay Katniss feels this way about the hijacked Peeta. She grieves him as if he had died.
- The Demolished Man provides the inspiration and perhaps Ur-Example for the trope namer with the practice of Demolition: erasing a convict's mind to a Blank Slate and building it up again into a more benevolent personality, thus not removing an intelligence that could possibly be beneficial to mankind just because the personality was bad.
- Harry Potter:
- The Dementor's Kiss devours the victim's soul but leaves the empty body behind.
- Prolonged Cold-Blooded Torture by the Cruciatus Curse left Alice and Frank Longbottom permanently catatonic and barely able to recognize their own son.
- Also referenced in Quidditch Through the Ages, in the first chapter. The book says that a witch or wizard who is transformed into a bat will be able to fly, but "having the mind of a bat will likely forget where they were going". This also implies that any Transfiguration of a human results in this unless they are Transfigured back.
- The Emperor's Soul: Shai has five Essence Marks that, when applied to her, temporarily rewrite her history through Retconjuration. While the first four grant differing skills and some physical alteration, they still allow her to remember who and what she truly is. The fifth Mark, if ever used, would overwrite her entire history and identity into a simple farm girl.
- Journey to Chaos: This trope is part of why mana mutation is so scary. All of your personality is wiped out and overwritten with that of a savage beast. As Basilard puts it "If a mana storm doesn't kill you, then it will kill the person you used to be".
- The book version of The Neverending Story also sees Bastian punished by his personality and memories slowly leaking away.
- In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll explains that no matter what happens to him as Hyde, Jekyll will be dead as there's no way for him to return once the formula runs out.
- In the Imperial Radch series, "ancillaries" are human prisoners of war who are given brain implants to link them to a spaceship's Artificial Intelligence, a process that subsumes and destroys the human personality. After Lieutenant Tisarwat is briefly assimilated into Anaander Mianaai's network of mind-linked clones with ancillary implants, people who now treat her as a completely new person formed from the remnants of Tisarwat and the residual personality and memories of Mianaai.
- In the Greg Egan novel Diaspora, AIs can edit their own minds to adapt to a task or for recreational purposes. Inoshiro crosses the Despair Event Horizon and rewrites their entire worldview into a hollow Straw Nihilist philosophy with inescapable logic loops, effectively destroying their old identity.
- What The Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror: What NON attempts to do to John, Dave and Amy. Amy is particularly horrified at this since it will also erase the love that she and Dave feel for each other. Dave is more at peace with it, not because he doesn't also love Amy, but because he genuinely thinks her life would be better without him.
- Babylon 5: This series is the Trope Namer. "Death of Personality" is a mindwipe carried out by the Earth Alliance as a "more humane" form of capital punishment for the worst crimes, but it's still controversial.
- In the episode "The Quality of Mercy" a serial killer is sentenced to Death of Personality because he's considered too dangerous to ship back to Earth and military law only allows spacing in cases of mutiny and treason.
- The punishment is deconstructed in the episode "Passing Through Gethsemane" when one of an order of monks living on the station is horrified to find out he's actually a convicted serial killer who was mind-wiped and reprogrammed with a personality inclined to do service. When his detention center had a fire he got lost, and eventually found his way to the monks. After he's murdered by the brother of one of his victims, the brother is mind-wiped and the abbot recruits him into the order.
- The supposedly dead Anna Sheridan returns at the end of Season 3. In the season finale "Z'ha'dum", it is revealed that she had been used as the CPU of a Shadow vessel, and there is nothing left of her original personality but a false semblance designed to lure Captain Sheridan into a trap.
John Sheridan: The memories are there. The voice is there. The DNA is there. But the personality? I look in her eyes, and the woman I loved, the woman I married... isn't there. She would never go along with this!
- Blindspot has this as its core; the series opens with a naked woman emerging from a bag in Times Square, covered in tattoos but with no memory of her life before she woke up in the bag. It is swiftly established that she has lost her memory due to being injected with a memory-erasing drug (intended to help people overcome traumatic memories), with the person she once was essentially lost forever, but over the course of the series, she learns more about her past while retaining the physical skills she possessed before losing her memory. She eventually learns that she was essentially a terrorist prior to her memory being erased, but nevertheless asserts her rejection of her prior identity and loyalties in favour of her new team.
- In the Buffyverse, vampires in general are portrayed as this. They're essentially a human who's died and had their soul replaced by a demon (who gains their memories and sometimes might even actually believe they're the original person). The exact implications of this aren't clear (vampires have been shown to be able to regain a soul), but this trope has been brought up in regards to it several times. The best being the episode "Lie to Me", where Buffy tries to explain this to a group of Vampire Vannabes (and the episode's villain, who it turns out doesn't care, because he's dying anyway).
- It has been indicated that some vampires may carry a portion of the person they were before. Lampshaded in "Dopplegangland":
Willow: That's me as a vampire? I'm so evil and skanky...and I think I'm kinda gay.
Buffy: Willow, just remember, a vampire's personality has nothing to do with the person it was.
Angel: Actually, (Buffy gives Angel a Death Glare)'...that's a good point.
- It has been indicated that some vampires may carry a portion of the person they were before. Lampshaded in "Dopplegangland":
- Fred had her soul completely destroyed when Illyria possessed her in the final season of Angel. People, including Buffy herself, came Back from the Dead several times, but it was made very clear that Fred was Killed Off for Real, even though her body was still walking around and could do a very good impersonation of her.
- ...at least until she was resurrected in the Angel and Faith comic. Now, Fred and Illyria share a body.
- The Defenders (2017): When Elektra is revived by the Hand following her death at Nobu's hands, her memories are suppressed so that she's essentially Alexandra's attack dog and not much more. Encounters with Matt and Stick cause her to regain her former memories and revert back to something akin to what she was before her death, except much more evil and willing to kill Stick, Alexandra, and anyone who keeps her from acquiring the substance for her own desires.
- Doctor Who:
- People who are transformed into Cybermen are stripped of all personality and individuality, becoming soulless killers. Once a human is transformed, they're considered dead and all that can be done is to destroy the Cyberman. The same goes for humans transformed into Daleks. In a few cases, though (Yvonne Hartman, Miss Hartigan, Oswin Oswald, Tasha Lem, Danny Pink, and The Brigadier), a human has a strong enough will to resist complete conversion.
- The "chameleon arch" converts a Time Lord into a human, complete with false memories and a different personality. In some cases (like the Doctor), the transformation keeps the personality somewhat intact although the Doctor does lose his vicious streak after becoming "John Smith the schoolteacher". In other cases (like The Master), the personality is radically different. The change is reversible, although even with renewed memories, the Time Lord always keeps a bit of his or her human identity.
- Everlasting death for the most faithful companion loss of memories causing the reversion of a significant amount of character development.
- In "The End of Time", the Doctor describes regeneration like this:
"Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away. And I'm dead."
- Kamen Rider:
- Kamen Rider Blade: If Hajime Aikawa ever returned to his original form as Joker Undead for a longer period of time, he would forget his human life and became a mindless beast again. This possibility terrifies him enough to swear to avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, some Undead accepted it as a challenge and try everything to force into breaking it.
- Kamen Rider Build: The so-called "Devil scientist", Takumi Katsuragi was killed before the story started, but was an important character in the story even posthumously through his research. That continued even after it turned out his personality was killed by erasing all his memory and his body lives on as Sento Kiryu/Kamen Rider Build, who reaffirms himself as a different person but acknowledges Katsuragi as the person he used to be. When he regains most of the memories, he essentially becomes a combination of both personalities.
- Sento himself gets hit with this briefly when all of Katsuragi's memories come back and all of his own disappear, so Katsuragi is essentially resurrected in his place. He eventually recedes to the subconscious and leaves Sento as the dominant personality because his final plan requires an emotional drive to active that he doesn't have.
- An episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ends with Munch's clinically depressed uncle coming off his medication to "kill" himself as penance for murdering a suspect while in a mania caused as a side effect of his medication (the medication he was offered was explicitly stated as avoiding these side effects again).
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Sons of Mogh" this ends up being Worf's solution for dealing with his suicidal brother Kurn, who had demanded that Worf kill him so he could die with honor. He hit on this solution after being rather unsurprisingly forbidden to carry out the normal ritual for this. One memory erasure and plastic surgery later, Worf hands Kurn off to a friend of their father's who had promised to treat Kurn as his own son.
- This happens several times on The Twilight Zone. For example, in "The Lateness of the Hour", a woman discovers that she is actually a robot. Unable to cope, she goes mad and her "parents" reprogram her as a maid, effectively destroying her personality.
- Shadowrun. When an insect spirit possesses a human being it overwrites and destroys the human's personality with its own. If the spirit achieves a "Good Merge" it can keep the original personality's memories and use them to impersonate the victim.
- In Monte Cook's World of Darkness, the costumes at one theatre cause this, permanently overwriting the personality of anyone who puts one on with that of the character it's based on. Being a Crapsack World, this is mentioned to be a relatively common method of suicide in that region.
- In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay's second edition supplement Tome of Corruption, rules and stats are provided for a chain of Chaos Warrior careers, representing how a character changes upon selling his soul to the Gods of Chaos. The descriptions of each career state that the character begins to slowly forget their past as they grow more and more corrupt; Chaos Knights forget minor details, Aspiring Champions can only recall the most important events, Champions forget so much that they begin to form new names and identities, and Exalted Champions simply have no knowledge of (or concern for) their past at all. By the end, almost nothing is left of the character's original identity, and what remains is a fractured personality formed from rampant insanity and the overpowering influence of his chosen deity.
- The Feeblemind spell from Dungeons & Dragons reduces the victim's intelligence and charisma to 1, makes them unable to use magic or use magic items, and they can't understand languages or communicate in any way. The only thing they can do is recognize people they care about and fight instinctively. In effect, they become a wild animal. The spell can last indefinitely, unless cured, or the victim succeeds an intelligence save (which is hard, since they now have a -5 modifier in intelligence).
- A couple artifacts, especially evil ones like Vecna's hand and eye or the Book of Vile Darkness, but also some good ones, like the Sword of Zariel, can force an alignment change on the player who uses them, and may even give them new character traits, completely changing their personality.
- Minnie in Trifles is a metaphorical version of this and this is best shown with the use of her names (her surnames especially). When Mrs. Hale (named "Martha" in A Jury of Her Peers) and Mrs. Peters call her Mrs. Wright, they're talking of her recently, referring to the mistreated isolated wife, however, when she's referred to in the past-tense, she's called "Minnie" or, rather, "Minnie Foster", the happy and free spirit that used to be. Essentially, "Minnie" died and was replaced by "Mrs Wright".
- Breath of Fire II: Mina is transformed into a "Great Bird" as a heroic sacrifice. To quote one NPC [paraphrased]:
"If you become a bird, your mind becomes a bird's. Isn't that the same as dying?"
- Inverted in Final Fantasy VIII, where the entire cast is victims of some form of dead personality ( the SeeD are amnesiacs, the sorceresses, Edea and Rinoa, are victims of possession by Ultimecia), but at the end of Disc III, everyone gets better.
- In Infinity Blade, damaging the Quantum Identity Pattern of a Deathless can lead to this. Three Deathless suffer this in the games: Siris, Thane, and the Worker of Secrets. In the first and third cases, the memories of their past lives were almost completely erased giving them both a fresh start in life. Siris starts to remember enough of his past life as an Evil Overlord to feel intense remorse for his horrific deeds and fear of becoming that person again. The Worker is reborn as an innocent child though he shows signs of his past life's genius. Thane suffers the worst fate: when he is brought back, he is a grotesque monster that isn't even sentient any more.
- Word of God states that Sigma as the Commander of the Maverick Hunters from Mega Man X died when he fought Maverick Zero before the events of the series and was infected by the Maverick Virus, his personality supplanted by it merging with his programming and becoming the sentient "Sigma Virus".
- In Shadowrun Returns's "Dragonfall" DLC, Glory is essentially attempting Suicide of Personality by way of excessive cyberware. As atonement for being made to kill her mother by a cult.
- Starbound: An example in the backstory shows the dangers of Brain Uploading; The original Big Ape got his mind uploaded into a computer once he grew old, but as the decades passed various scientists tampered with it like any other program; the original personality is pretty much gone by the time you meet him, replaced with an insane patchwork of various "fixes" made by the scientists in charge.
- In Undertale, it's revealed toward the end of the True Pacifist route that Flowey is the result of infusing a flower with determination, when said flower had Asriel's dust scattered on it. By absorbing the six human souls and that of every monster in the underground, it was possible for Flowey to turn back into Asriel, leading to the game's final battle. At the end of the battle, Asriel destroys the barrier, then reveals that since he can no longer hold the souls inside him, he will turn back into Flowey, thereby losing the ability to love and all the traits that made him who he was. Just before the ending, while the other monsters are preparing to leave for the surface, you can find Asriel waiting in the ruins where you first met Flowey, asking you to leave because he believes he can't show his face around anyone else, especially his parents since he's no longer the child they knew.
- Every single incarnation of The Nameless One (prior to the current one) in Planescape: Torment. Because of his condition causing Identity Amnesia every time he resurrects, hundreds if not thousands of versions of The Nameless One are 'dead' before you wake up in the Mortuary at the beginning of the game. The current version is immune thanks to Rule of Fun, explained in-game by one of your previous incarnations being able to fix the flaw (but not in time to save himself).
- In Knights of the Old Republic, the Player Character is revealed to be the thought to be dead Darth Revan, who had their memories wiped by the Jedi Council and given a new identity as a Republic soldier.
- In Devil May Cry 5, this ends up happening to V as he fuses with Urizen to become Vergil. As a result, what's left of his humble and affable personality has been subsumed by the latter's arrogant and overly stoic demeanor. On the other hand, V's experiences with Nero did influence Vergil for the better, since one of his first actions upon being reborn is to sincerely thank Nero for bringing him back.
- Parasect from Pokémon qualifies as this. According to the pokédex, once Paras evolves, the mushroom on its back takes over its body.
- Darkrai in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky has his memory wiped after being defeated by the protagonists, it's for this reason he can actually be recruited once found in a dungeon, much like the other legendary Pokémon.
- The process of "Tranquility" in the Dragon Age series is this, as mages are severed of all of their emotions, leaving them nothing but steadfastly obedient servants (or worse) that speak in a Creepy Monotone. It's supposed to be used as a way to prevent mages from going mad with power, and its original creators actually feared it being abused due to what it did, but in the time period of the games, the Chantry uses it as the standard punishment for mages that prove troublesome or to silence dissent within the Circles of Magic. Templars are also known for using it on undeserving mages who won't do what they want, with one particularly sickening example being Ser Karras.
- This happens in Persona 5 Royal as the main focus of the Third Term events. After defeating Yaldabaoth, strange occurrences began to happen to your friends, such as Wakaba reviving, Morgana becoming a human teenager or Okumura now revived and no longer trying to sell his daughter for political gain. It turns out that this is a salvation plan brought forth by one of your allies, Takuto Maruki, who is now a madman that is a meat puppet of his Persona, and it controls him to make everyone Happily Ever After forever. Then you are given two chances to cut a deal with him in order to make all of his illusions a reality, effectively wiping out all of humanity's potential of development or personal growth by making their impossible desires come true. This is particularly true for Sumire, who is now officially Kasumi alongside her superior performances, effectively murdering off the inferior Sumire for real.
- Speaking of Sumire, should the protagonist advances her confidant past Rank 6, he can completely kill off the Kasumi personality and allow her to come into terms from her trauma of "murdering" the real Kasumi.
- In Umineko: When They Cry, it's revealed at the end of the story that Battler had physically survived the Rokkenjima incident, but he had lost nearly all of his memories and went on to live under a new identity as Tooya Hachijo. The narration and Tooya himself make it clear that even though Tooya eventually regained those memories, he and Battler should be considered different people and the Battler we've come to know is long gone.
- In Tsukihime, the original Shiki, the child known as Shiki Nanaya, is explicitly considered to have died when his adoptive father wiped his mind and brainwashed him. Not everyone sees it this way, but Shiki certainly does. In the words of the fading fragments of the original personality, "I am your foundation but not your past.".
- In Super Danganronpa 2, Hajime Hinata suffered this after undergoing the "Hope Cultivation Plan" and being transformed into the superhuman "Izuru Kamukura". The project either excised or suppressed all of Hajime's senses, thoughts, emotions, hobbies, and memories that interfered with acquiring talent. This came at the cost of making his new personality incredibly sociopathic and susceptible to being influenced by Junko Enoshima when she convinced "Izuru" to join the terrorist group Ultimate Despair.
- In Freefall this is the result of the "Gardener in the Dark" upgrade for robots using Bowman's neural nets. It cuts off all neural pathways not related to their core programming, a Jar Jar Binks robot that was determined to scrap himself and quoting Shakespeare started running around saying "meesa Jar Jar Binks" when infected, and falling over and requesting assistance getting back up. Fortunately, it can be canceled if the robot hasn't had a chance to sleep and commit the upgrade to long-term memory, just wipe their day memory and they're back to how they were the previous day.
- In El Goonish Shive:
Jerry: I haven't been referring to it as "death" to be a drama queen, you know.
- Immortals do this when they "die" in order to reset themselves. While their fundamental nature as a person does not change, most of their memories and personality will be lost upon their "death". And the memories they do choose to keep are retained only as information, not experiences.
- This is the goal of "Not-Tengu" in order to create his "flock".
- Eric from Sam & Fuzzy lost his entire identity and all his memories, and is treated as 'dead' by the cast with Fuzzy being a new person inhabiting the body. While Laser-Guided Amnesia of the type that 'killed' him happens to several characters, Eric is unique in that his personality dramatically changed and he had no memorabilia, friends or support network with which to piece together his former life.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures
- This happened to Devin. He died and was brought back as a soulless undead. When the event that caused the creation of the first undead to retain their souls occurred, Devin regained a soul not his memories. He had to completely relearn how to move and speak. It isn't even known if his soul is his original one, an entirely new soul, or just a random soul that wandered into his body.
- This is the only way that Fae can die, as they are otherwise completely immortal. When they decide by their own free will that they are no longer interested in living, they die, and their soul is then recycled to create an entirely new fae.
- In Red vs. Blue this ends up happening to Agent Maine, who became a soulless killing machine when he was manipulated by the AI fragment Sigma to get more AI fragments and reconstruct the original AI they were fragmented off of. Notably, even after all the AIs were killed in an EMP explosion, he remained the same, his mind having been destroyed long ago.
- In Don Hertzfeldt's far-future Simpsons couch gag, the design of the characters and the show changes so radically that by the year 10,535 the Simpson family has been reduced to a disturbing collection of caricatured mutants that can only sputter broken catchphrases and hock merchandise.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, Clayface forms a portion of his body into a drone in the shape of a young girl. The drone gains autonomy and, with Robin's help, tries to avoid being re-merged into Clayface. Ultimately, Clayface does succeed in re-merging her, and Robin accuses him of murder.
- The Lich from Adventure Time is defeated in this way: he undergoes the Revive Kills Zombie trope and is reborn as an innocent (and giant) baby. Played with in that at least some part of the Lich's personality still exists inside said baby (and is implied to be trying to escape), but there doesn't seem to be much left of him at this point.
- The clones in Star Wars: The Clone Wars undergo this when Order 66 is activated. While always competent and dutiful, once Order 66 goes live, they have a single minded dedication to eliminating Jedi. The process is reversible by removing the inhibitor chip that activates it, but until then no amount of reasoning, even within the parameters of Order 66 will stop them. In follow up works, clones who haven't had their inhibitor chips removed still have a notably more "generic" personality than those seen in the series.
- The title character of Steven Universe was born when his mother Rose Quartz "gave up her physical form" to birth him. Steven exists by virtue of the same "life force" provided by his mother's unique gemstone, he is capable of all the same powers, and referring to him with her name can be considered accurate in a Legacy Character sense, but he is decidedly not the same person that was known prior to his own form and identity coming into existence and replacing hers. "Change Your Mind" brings the complications stemming from this vaguely-defined ontological connection to a head by having the essence of the gemstone itself manifest separately from Steven's human body and taking the form of Steven himself rather than its original identity. It loudly proclaims to the Big Bad, who has for some time been treating Steven as the exact same person his mother was, that his mother is "gone".
- In Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, Dr. Emilia creates a deadly cure in Season 3 that reverts mutes back to being normal animals.