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Death of Personality

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Xander: We've gotta get in there before Jesse does something stupider than usual.
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 (though in that case, it can still involve Death of Personality, for the individual created by said false memories). So treat these as "death" only if no such reversal occurs.

Subtropes (examples of which should go on their relevant page) include:

  • Amnesiac Dissonance: When an innocent amnesiac regains their lost memories and realise they used to be radically different from who they are now. One of their personality may die.
  • 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 to constitute a new identity.
  • 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).
  • Identity Breakdown: One of the possible resolutions to a character's persistent uncertainty about who or what they are involves completely disassociating with whatever identity a character once had in favor of a new one
  • Lobotomy: Surgical removal of the personality.
  • Loss of Identity: When someone's consciousness remains, but they've been changed so much they're not sure if they're the same person anymore.
  • Mental Shutdown: When a character loses their ability to think.
  • Mind-Reformat Death: When a character, AI or human, dies because of an electronic plot device erasing, replacing, changing, or overwriting their minds.
  • More than Mind Control: When someone's original identity, personality and allegiance are completely changed or replaced, usually by The Corrupter.
  • 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. See also Alternate Personality Punishment, where the new, technically innocent personality is punished for crimes they literally cannot remember committing.

As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. You Have Been Warned.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • Bungo Stray Dogs: N tries to use Chuuya's programming to erase his personality and create a new one. Luckily, N is thwarted, though it's unknown if this was ever inflicted on Chuuya in the past.
  • 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.
  • Chainsaw Man: As a Devil, Power will survive anything, but once she dies, her personality and memories of being Power will be gone. As she says goodbye to him, she has Denji promise to find the Blood Devil in Hell and remind it of having been Power so they can be friends again.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • With the exceptions of Akira and a few select others from Devilman, when a person gets possessed by a demon, they lose their human personalities and all traces of who they originally were.
  • 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. This is most evident in Digimon Frontier (though Seraphimon's spirit apparently existing separate from his Patamon form suggest the Digieggs are the physical reincarnations of the dead Digimon) and in Digimon Data Squad, 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, as does Biyomon the first time. Of all the evil Digimon to be destroyed and reborn, Gotsumon is the only one to be seen, and has completely lost his memory and old personality.
  • 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 his mind. 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.
    • In a reverse example, when Supreme Kai and Kibito use the Fusion Earrings to permanently fuse into Kibito Kai, Supreme Kai is dominant and doesn't seem to contain any of Kibito's personality at all, only his power and part of his physical appearance. The same thing happened when a previous Supreme Kai and an old witch fused together into Old Kai/Elder Kai, with the former dominant. This is in contrast to Goku and Vegeta's fusion into Vegito, where they both seem equally present in this fusion, and is also reversed through unique circumstances.
  • 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.
  • At the climax of Fire Punch, Judah blows the regeneration core in Agni's head out of him. Even though he physically reforms, mentally he has become a blank slate. To confirm this, we see Agni in the afterlife before the story continues with the "new" Agni who is now the rechristened Sun—and he ultimately gets his own trip to the afterlife when he dies.
  • 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 one of an innocent little boy — just like the one he had long pretended to be.
  • The Garden of Sinners: The protagonist Shiki was born with two intertwined personalities, the female "Shiki" and the male "SHIKI". However, after a series of confusing events at age 16, she attempts to kill herself but instead ends up in a coma for three years, during which SHIKI dies, leaving Shiki with massive trauma and an ability to perceive the death of all things.
  • 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".
  • In Gintama, the immortal that would come to be known as Utsuro formed countless personalities to cope with humanity being so afraid of him that they would inevitably kill him over and over again. Every time he was killed, one of his personalities would die and be replaced with another once his otherwise fatal injuries healed. Eventually Utsuro got sick of it and personally killed his remaining personalities when the last one, who went by the name of Shoyo Yoshida, was about to be executed by Gintoki in order to spare Katsura and Takasugi's lives. What remained was an Utsuro completely devoid of emotion and dedicated to nothing less than the destruction of the Earth in the hopes that this would permanently kill him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 while retaining his knowledge, skills and memories.
  • One Piece: Bartholomew Kuma slowly lost more and more of his humanity as he was surgically transformed into PX-0, the prototype of the Pacifista, until only his brain was left unmodified. By the Marineford Arc, Donquixote Donflamingo outright states that the old Bartholomew Kuma is ''effectively dead''. His last act of free will before his final modification was a request to Doctor Vegapunk to program him with the directive to "Protect the Thousand Sunny until a member of the Straw Hat Pirates arrives to take the ship back". Vegapunk, for his part, had no delusions about what he was about to do, and having befriended Kuma over the last two years, being forced to erase Kuma's personality by Saint Jaygarcia Saturn broke him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Tamagotchi, victims of the egg curse in episodes 140-143 lose their personality over time, eventually becoming white eggs with no memory of who they are.
  • In Tegami Bachi: 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.
  • To Your Eternity: Downplayed. Partially happens to Fushi whenever the Nokkers steal the vessel form he is in by killing him in that form. He forgets who the vessel once was and can only regain his memories of them by defeating the Nokker that stole the vessel.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Two-Face can get this treatment most of the time. Typically, once he gets maimed, he'll fully become the villainous Two-Face while Harvey Dent is either completely gone or submerged. Though this is Depending on the Writer because there will be some writers who portray Harvey's personality as being alive and active even with Two-Face being an active criminal and both Harvey and Two-Face can have conversations with each other or a third party like Batman.
  • 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.
  • In Identity Crisis (2004), Wonder Woman accuses the Justice League of America of doing this to Dr. Light when she finds out about them erasing his memories and turning him from a sadistic rapist into a bungling goof. Diana argues that it would have been far better to simply kill him since what the League did to him was a Fate Worse than Death.
  • 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.
  • Journey into Mystery (Gillen): 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.
  • This is the ultimate fate of Dream in The Sandman (1989). 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.
  • 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.
    • This is the path Morbius is on after a cure goes wrong and he becomes more and more bat-like, fearing soon there will be nothing left of him except a raging beast with no trace of his human personality.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) has his happen to three people thanks to Dr. Starline:
  • Wonder Woman (1942):
    • 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.
    • The Earth-One/Silver Age Diana cuts ties with her mother and Paradise Island almost entirely, and never trusts them again, after she learns that after her Steve Trevor's second death he was replaced by a version of himself from the multiverse whose mind was overwritten so that he wouldn't realize anything was amiss. Eventually multiverse-Steve was merged with what remained of Earth-One Steve (who always had an odd relationship with dying) which made him feel like a more complete person.

    Fan Works 
  • A mild example in Beyond The Storm. As Max is from an alternate timeline and has a Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory, she is not exactly the same Max who Chloe has been hanging out with or who took the picture of Kate that won the Everyday Heroes contest. Both Max and Chloe are troubled by the question of what happened to that Max.
  • 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.
  • Digimon Codex: This is how DNA Digivolving works for Wild Digimon. While two Digimon with human partners can safely DNA Digivolve with no problems, two wild Digimon can't fuse minds, resulting in one needing to absorb the data of the other, and the other getting deleted. This is explained when Flash talks to a Wingdramon who is training under the Royal Knights with his brother Breakdramon to one day become Examon together. But Wingdramon confesses he is purposely trying to keep himself from Digivolving to a Slayerdramon for as long as possible, since his brother Breakdramon has volunteered to be the one who gets deleted when they fuse, and he wants to protect his brother. Thankfully though, Flash figures out how to work around this, thanks to Gennai modifying a scan of Slayerdramon so it can take the place of the real Digimon and since it doesn't have a mind of its own Breakdramon can safely DNA Digivolve with it without anyone dying.
  • In Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger, this is ultimately what happens to Jaune after Darth Nihilus's spirit pushes him past the Despair Event Horizon and then goads him into donning his mask. What follows is a Transformation of the Possessed, at the end of which Nihilus takes full control of his body and the narration explicitly states that Jaune is "gone". This is also symbolized by the chapter's POV shifting from Jaune to Darth Nihilus. Although this is later subverted when Ruby restores Jaune's mind using her Silver Eyes, the guilt of what he did while under Nihilus's possession, mixed with his inability to resist Nihilus's control for much longer, leads Jaune to commit suicide as a desperate attempt to Kill the Host Body.
  • At the end of Knows if You've Been Naughty, Gaz's brainwashing after her transformation into an elf is specifically shown completely overwriting her old personality and memories.
  • 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.
  • Medicated: Since Hop Pop doesn't know if Anne's true form is sapient, he's terrified that she'll revert to some savage state if she stays in human form for too long. Worries of this are eventually subsided as it is proven pretty clearly that the true forms are also sapient.
  • Misery Loves Company: At the end of the story, Hecate wipes Gaz's memories and personality clean, turning her into a sweet, cheerful little girl who loves her new mom.
  • People Turning Into Smith Clones explores this trope with Ava’s boyfriend after he’s infected surprisingly early on in the webcomic’s run, showing his slow induction into the Hive Mind as he loses his memories of Ava and gains a strong urge to infect everyone in the base.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 his body (with Vale Mind Raping him 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.
  • In With This Ring, Martians do this to criminals who commit severe crimes.
  • 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.

    Films — Animated 
  • 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 prince that became Mor'du, on the other hand, doomed himself in this way as a result of choosing to accept his bear form.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter has The Emptiness slowly do this to Bastien by erasing his memories.
  • In Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan explains to Luke that he considered Anakin to be dead after he became Darth Vader, to justify his earlier Metaphorically True statement about Vader killing Anakin. 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 Anakin Skywalker was still in there somewhere.
  • Total Recall (1990): With Quaid killing everyone who would try to erase his personality then restore Carl Hauser's, the latter is dead for all intents and purposes.

  • 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.
  • In The Broken Prism, using warped prisms to cast magic invariably warps the caster's soul. The first few times just give you a wave of panic and a bad headache, but if you keep going, you become a hallucinating, self-harming monster who thinks nothing of torturing people they once loved. It's also the only thing that can break the familiar/magician bond. Familiars normally cannot work against their bonded magician, even if that magician is an Evil Overlord, but Aleric's prism-usage eventually convinces his familiar that "Aleric" needs to be killed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the Discworld 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 Dresden Files using magic to transform a human into an animal is considered a violation of the Laws of Magic, as severe as using magic to commit homicide. This is because most forms of transformation magic results in the subject having an animal’s brain, with the instincts and limitations that come with it. Over time, the human’s mind will fade, leaving them as an animal with no memories of who they were. Transforming into an animal while keeping one’s human mind requires very particular, very difficult magic.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • At the conclusion of The Last Unicorn, the woman Amalthea is gone beyond all retrieval. While 'she' was originally just the unicorn's alias when she was transformed, she developed her own personality and identity, and came perilously close to a Split-Personality Takeover before the unicorn returned to her true self.
  • The Legend of Sun Knight: Roland killed a Dark Knight and made a powerful minion from the corpse, naming him Illu. Neither Illu nor the people around him consider him to be the same person; Illu goes as far to claim that Roland didn't kill him, just made a corpse to create him.
    Sun: Why did Roland kill you?
    Illu: The monarch didn't kill me.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Katniss feels this way about Peeta after he's been hijacked; she grieves for him as if he had died.
  • The book version of The Neverending Story also sees Bastian punished by his personality and memories slowly leaking away.
  • In the Noon Universe novel The Final Circle of Paradise, Ivan coincidentally runs into an old classmate, Peck Xenai, who is now called Buba and has forgotten his real name. He doesn't recognize Ivan and remembers neither their mutual friends nor the battles they fought against a fascist militia. It's never revealed why Xenai ended up this way, but it could be linked to his alcoholism and the fact that he's addicted to slug; a new, imagination stimulating drug.
  • This is the fate of the victims of the Slake Moths in Perdido Street Station. One character compares a Slake Moth victim to a glass of water that's been drunk up.
  • 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. It's worth noting that Hyde is or was, no different from Jekyll, only with no reputation to uphold, leaving him free to indulge his darker urges.
  • 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.
  • Happens to two characters in Twig. Jamie's personality is completely and irrevocably erased along with his memories. He has to relearn everything, including how to walk and talk. Later, Sy's hallucinations grow worse and worse until they gradually subsume his personality, leaving only "Lord Simon."
  • 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.
  • The Wheel of Time: Perrin meets a fellow Wolfbrother, Noam, who has regressed to a completely animalistic state, and fears that his powers will lead him to the same end. Subverted when they later meet in the World of Dreams, where they can communicate; Noam, now a wolf spirit named Boundless, reveals that he voluntarily left his humanity behind and is happy in his new life.
  • Xanadu (Storyverse): Attendees who were particularly in-character at the time of the Change, or who had been especially invested in the personality and backstory of the character they were dressed as, had their minds entirely rewritten by it. Afterwards, the new personality inhabiting their body is for all intents and purposes a completely different person, with no memories of their former life nor any inherent attachment to it. The resulting Strangers have varying opinions on this — some view their previous selves as something like parents, some try to form new connections with the loved ones of their predecessor, some become wracked with guilt over having been born by erasing another being and some simply don't care at all — but in all instances it's made clear that they aren't the same being, and that the original person is irrevocably gone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 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. The actual wiping and reprogramming is carried out by a machine, and a telepath is present to do before and after scans confirming success.
    • 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, Babylon 5's brig isn't meant for long-term incarceration, and military law only allows spacing in cases of mutiny and treason. Although this episode introduces the concept, the killer in question escapes and is killed by another character in self-defense before the sentence can be carried out.
    • 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 sentenced to Death of Personality, 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 also 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!
    • The canonical Passing of the Techno-mages novel trilogy goes into more detail about Anna's death of personality, and it's even worse than we saw on the show. She had almost no memories of her original life left and instead relied on what she'd been told about herself by records and Morden, thought of herself as a Shadow vessel in a human body and the original Anna as a different person, and the speech she gave Sheridan to lure him to Z'ha'dum was something she had to rehearse word-for-word many times.
  • 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.
  • Buffyverse:
    • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, vampires in general are portrayed as essentially human corpses with souls 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 regard to it several times, the best being the episode "Lie to Me", in which 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 "Doppelgangland" when Willow meets her vampire counterpart from an alternate reality:
      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.
    • Fred supposedly 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 & Faith comic. Now, Fred and Illyria share a body. Not so shockingly, Dr Sparrow lied about her soul being destroyed.
  • 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.
    • In "Human Nature", in order to escape a family of aliens hunting him for his Time Lord's regenerative abilities, the Doctor uses a "Chameleon Arch" to turns himself into a human coupled with Fake Memories of being an Edwardian England teacher named John Smith. The process is actually reversible, his backstory has some holes in it and he still keeps his memories of being the Doctor, albeit subconsciously. The real Death of Personality is actually John Smith himself, who has trouble accepting who he really is.
    • The Chameleon Arch comes back in "Utopia" where it's revealed that the kind Professor Yana is actually The Master turned into a human, and since they're radically different people, nothing much is left of the gentle Yana once he regains his memories.
    • 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."
  • The Flash (2014): At the end of Season 2, Zoom has his life force drained by the Time Wraiths and becomes an undead entity similar to, and loyal to them. Some have considered this death in itself for him and that his new form is a reanimated corpse, others say he still lives as a mindless servant of the Speed Force. Until his death in Season 3, of course.
  • 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 Ex-Aid: When all of his other gambits fail, Masamune Dan shoves the Gamedeus virus into himself to merge with it, with the resulting entity declaring that Masamune is gone. In a subversion, it very quickly becomes apparent that this is just Masamune being a Large Ham, and he acts almost exactly the same except for being slightly more inclined towards fair play than usual during the following episode.
    • Kamen Rider Build: Takumi Katsuragi had all of his memories erased and his face swapped with that of a random bystander, with the resulting amnesia causing him to develop a much more affable and heroic personality as Sento Kiryu rather than the merciless Devil's Scientist that Katsuragi was known as. Late into the show, Sento gets hit with amnesia a second time, reverting him to Katsuragi's personality. Katsuragi soon realizes that he's become too cold and jaded to be the hero the world needs, and willingly kills his personality a third time to put Sento back in the driver's seat, now with full access to Katsuragi's memories and an echo of his personality acting as a Spirit Advisor.
    • Kamen Rider Zero-One: The unfortunate fate of any HumaGear who's hacked by a ZetsumeRiser is to be turned into a Killer Robot with all traces of their original personality gone. What's worse is that the Riser only works on HumaGears who've already grown beyond their original programming. It's not until much later that Zero-One gains a Healing Shiv which can undo the effects.
  • 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).
  • The Outer Limits (1963): The episode "Corpus Earthling" is about alien Puppeteer Parasites that possess human beings. As the parasites take over their victims' minds and bodies, the people they once were are destroyed.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In the 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.
    • Also comes up in the episode "Life Support". Vedek Bareil is involved in a shuttle crash and suffers such a severe brain injury that positronic implants have to take over for several of his cognitive functions. He regains consciousness and is able to function, more or less, but has a drastic lack of emotional affect and is barely able to feel most physical sensations. When his condition deteriorates as the remaining organic parts of his brain begin to fail, Dr Bashir makes the decision that further medical intervention is no longer in Bareil's best interest, because replacing the entire brain with a synthetic substitute would leave nothing left of his true self.
  • This happens several times in The Twilight Zone (1959). 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The spell Feeblemind 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).
    • Some powerful artifacts forcibly change the Character Alignment of their users and might even give them new character traits, completely changing their personality. These are usually evil, like the Hand and Eye of Vecna or the Book of Vile Darkness, but the Lawful Good-aligned Sword of Zariel overwrites all its bearer's personality traits with an "idealized" version of them.
    • The psionic power mind seed implants a target who fails a Will save with a fragment of the psion's own mind. Over the course of a week, it develops and unfolds. The victim begins finding themselves expressing traits that those who know the casting psion might recognize; for example, if the psion idly rolls a coin in one hand when they're bored, the victim might start doing that, too. At the end of the week, the seed blossoms, and the victim's mind is completely erased, replaced by a perfect copy of the psion as they were at the time mind seed was used. Fortunately, other psions can "delete" the seed at any point during the week if they figure out what's happening.
    • Eberron:
      • Keith Baker encourages this for lycanthropes (and it's been picked up by many other settings). If you are afflicted with lycanthropy, your alignment changes, and your personality changes as well. You are not just "the same person, but now evil" (even if it's a strain that matches your original alignment); lycanthropes think and act entirely differently than normal people, and even a Lawful Good werebear paladin will immediately run into the forest and focus on protecting people from there. In simplest terms, this means that anyone who suffers from permanent lycanthropy becomes an NPC under the control of the DM. The point is to avert Cursed with Awesome and make sure players don't deliberately seek out lycanthropes to infect them.
      • Keith Baker thinks of fiends, celestials, and other immortal beings this way. Unlike other D&D settings, immortal beings cannot truly be killed, even in their own plane of origin, and always come back to life in some form. While some immortals can return with their memories, this is not a concrete rule. How much an immortal remembers varies greatly; the most powerful are essentially unaffected by death, while anything less than that will lose pieces of their memories, their personality might change, and they can even undergo major shifts in appearance. The least immortals, like imps, may as well not be immortal at all. While there will always be the same number of imps, the next one won't remember anything that happened to its previous incarnation. One example given is a balor that represents Love Lost in Flames. Even if the individual personality dies, there will always be a balor that represents this concept.
      • This is the fate that the Quori are trying to avoid. The Quori are monsters from the realm of dreams who are trying to take over Eberron to make sure that the central dream, which is currently a nightmare, never changes, because they are afraid that if it did, they would be all overwritten into entirely different beings, thus wiping them out. Although a few Quori disagree and believe that such a change would be positive thing and are actively trying to help the change to occur. The Dreaming Dark tried to kill the rebel Quori because this would cause them to reincarnate as normal Quori, but the rebels fled into the dreams of humans and bonded with them, creating the kalashtar race. This also means that the rebels are the only Quori who are free from the cycle of reincarnation and will be safe when the dream changes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: In the 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.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: In the Time of Judgment scenario in which the Black Furies fall to the Wyrm, the inciting event is their contraction of a supernatural plague from the Wyld that, instead of killing, changes. It begins with only minor alterations — eye color, or taste in music or food — but the changes mount steadily until the original individual is lost and a completely new person exists in their place. Wyld and Gaian rituals fail to stop it, and desperation drives the Furies into the arms of the Wyrm.

  • In Eurydice, the underworld's water reverts you to a blank slate, and by the end of the play both Eurydice and her father submerge themselves in the river voluntarily to forget everything.
  • 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".

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In the bad ending, Ann fully succumbs to her Moment of Weakness upon seeing Ryan getting shot in front of her. At that moment, her Superpowered Evil Side, Amok, uses the opportunity to fully take over her body and unleash apocalyptic destruction on the entire world, with Amok having forcibly removed any trace of Ann to leave nobody that can oppose her.
  • Arknights: Friston-3 is a robot created from the personality of Trevor Friston the Preserver, who was found and salvaged by Ho'olheyak after the self-destruct sequence wiped his memory but before his complete destruction in "Lone Trail".
  • Bomberman 64: The Second Attack!: At the end, Sthertoth, the game's Big Bad, is forcibly reunited with his other half, the goddess Mihaele, becoming the Angel of Light and Shadow. Given the Angel's plans, Mihaele is clearly the dominant, thus Sthertoth's personality is erased. Unless of course the Angel was to separate again, but with Bomberman defending the universe this is unlikely.
  • 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?"
  • You'll be hard pressed not to find a transformation in Changed that doesn't have this, considering almost all of the transfers do this to Collin on a regular basis.
  • In Cyberpunk 2077, the protagonist V faces this; after being double-crossed by their fixer, who executes them via headshot, a piece of experimental cybernetics in their brain called "Relic" activates, which revives V and heals the damage caused by the fixer's bullet, but at the same time begins uploading and overriding their memories and personality with that of one "Johnny Silverhand," a rockerboy and terrorist who nuked Night City 50 years before the game's setting. As a result, V must find a way to remove the Relic from their head since being overwritten on a neural level to the point that they won't just be dead, but completely gone.
  • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, 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 Devil May Cry 5, this ends up happening to V (no relation to the above) 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.
  • Discover My Body: The inevitable fate of anyone who integrates themselves with the fungus, including your perfectly chipper subject.
  • Both mages and Templars believe the process of "Tranquillity" in the Dragon Age series has this result, as mages are cut off from the Fade, removing their ability cast magic but also stripping them of emotion. They speak in a Creepy Monotone which most people find off-putting and operate only on logic, with perfect focus on any given task they set out to do. While intended as a last resort to keep a vulnerable mage from becoming a demon's puppet, the Rite of Tranquillity has often been abused to silence political dissent or, in the most grotesque instances, remove a targeted victim's desire to resist. However, it's a mistake to assume Tranquil mages are nothing but obedient, Empty Shells without preferences, initiative, or memories. Though they often see no logical reason to be disobedient, that doesn't mean it's impossible. Nor is the Rite irreversible. Needless to say, in-universe use of the Rite is controversial, and the Tranquil as a population perhaps more so.
  • Elden Ring: The Night of the Black Knives culminated with Godwyn the Golden having his soul killed. The thing is, because of the particular manner in which this happened, his body was, for all intents and purposes, still alive. And no, this was not a good thing.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Inverted in Final Fantasy VIII, where the entire cast is victims of some form of dead personality (the members of SeeD are amnesiacs, and the sorceresses, Edea and Rinoa, are victims of possession by Ultimecia), but at the end of Disc III, everyone gets better.
    • Final Fantasy X: This is what happens to whoever becomes the Final Aeon; once the Final Aeon destroys Sin, Yu Yevon takes control of the Final Aeon and uses them to create a new Sin, with the end results eventually being the absorption of the Final Aeon's body and mind. As it happens, the most recent one by the time of X is Tidus' own father, Jecht, who had been fighting off Yu Yevon for ten years until Tidus could come and defeat him.
  • Hellgate: London: You help a mad doctor inflict this on his assistant so you can find out what the hell the demons do to their 'encrypted' data to make it literally drive hackers insane. Made hilariously jarring as the assistant continues to casually describe the fracturing and slow dissolution of his psyche in the most British Watson impression imaginable.
  • In the final mission of Hitman 3, one of the ways you can eliminate Arthur Edwards is to inject him with the memory-wiping serum he tries to offer to 47 as a last-ditch effort. With his memories gone and the only cure in the world destroyed, he forgets everything about who or what he was quickly, effectively doing the same job as killing him. Notably, he doesn't so much as flinch if you kill him, but if you pick up the syringe and approach him, he panics and begs you not to do it.
    Arthur Edwards, just as he's about to Face Death with Dignity: At least I'll die knowing what I did.
  • Happens twice in "If on a Winter's Night Four Travelers":
    • In the chapter "The Slow Vanishing of Lady Winterbourne", the protagonist is a senile old woman living in a decrepit manor house. Over the course of the chapter, she repeatedly takes medicine which causes the manor to turn back to the way it was when she was young. However, every time she takes it and every time it wears off, she seems to forget her previous actions. Inspecting items she used previously to solve puzzles has her make comments as if she never interacted with them in the first place. She also seems to become more and more transparent as the chapter goes on.
    • In "The Nameless Ritual", during the flooded library puzzle, the protagonist has to feed books to a leechlike librarian monster to progress. It becomes apparent that the books symbolise his memories in reverse chronological order and every time he feeds the monster a book, he thinks it's the first one.
  • 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.
  • The Master Crown in Kirby's Return to Dream Land empowers the wearer while devouring their soul and sense of self. The crown is sentient and malevolent, and wearing it too long will eventually cause the wearer to become an Empty Shell — nothing more than a manifestation of the crown, imprisoned by the hatred and obsession of all who wore it previously.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the Player Character is revealed to be the Not Quite Dead Darth Revan, who had their memories wiped by the Jedi Council and given a new identity as a Republic soldier. Exactly how much of the old Revan remains is up to the player.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, this is the consequence for draconification. Swallowing a Secret Stone will transform a person into an ultra-powerful immortal dragon, but their mind will be destroyed in the process, reducing them to a mindless, largely docile animal, which is the apparent origin of Naydra, Dinraal and Farosh. This happens to Zelda, who decides to swallow her Secret Stone in order to take The Slow Path back to the present and restore the Master Sword in the process. In the present, she flies around the map as the Light Dragon, showing no signs of her old personality. Ganondorf does the same for the final battle, and after his death, Zelda is restored to her Hylian form with no memory of having been the Light Dragon.
  • This happens to two of the chapter bosses in Live A Live. O. Dio, the Wild West boss, turns back into his original form, a nonsapient horse, while OD-10, the Distant Future boss, has its core programming wiped, leaving only the essential functions that keep the Cogito Ergo Sum going. Notably, these are the only chapter bosses that survive in any form.
  • Mega Man X: Word of God states that Sigma as the Commander of the Maverick Hunters 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", transforming into the Big Bad he's known as in the series proper.
  • Eve in Parasite Eve is sentient mitochondria who aims to take over the world. She manifests in a girl named Melissa, who is taking immunosuppressants that helps with her illness while making her body weaker each time she takes the medicine. Eventually, Melissa's body becomes so weak that Eve is able to take over from within. Melissa tries to regain control of herself, but she's too weak to fight back and Eve completely erases her personality, becoming the dominant one in her stead. A similar case happens with Aya once she defeats the Purebred Eve. Aya discovers that Eve is also within herself and is about to succumb to Eve's influence. The mitochondria containing Maya's cells (Aya's dead sister whom she inherited her cornea to correct an eye defect) awaken and fight's off Eve's cells, absorbing them until Eve's consciousness is gone and saving Aya in the process.
  • 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 (murdered some years ago) being alive, Morgana being a human teenager or Okumura (murdered in the course of the game's plot) being alive as well 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 inherited control of the Metaverse and wants to turn the whole world into a Lotus-Eater Machine. Joker is given two chances to cut a deal with Maruki in order to make all of his illusions into reality, effectively wiping out all of humanity's potential for development or personal growth by making their impossible desires not only become true, but retroactively always the truth. This is particularly the case with Sumire, who would permanently become Kasumi alongside her superior gymnastic performance, effectively murdering the (in Sumire's mind) inferior Sumire.
    • Speaking of Sumire, should the protagonist advance 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. It's less severe in that instance, though, as the "Kasumi" personality was one only Sumire herself believed was real. Everyone else simply thought she was coping very poorly with her sister's tragic death — and in a way that was also the truth.
    • Akechi makes it clear that, after being manipulated by Shido for so long, he would rather go back to being dead in the real world than live under anyone's control. Should Joker choose to accept Maruki's reality anyway, Akechi's personality is severely altered, turning him from a blunt, rude and disturbed young man into a pleasant and friendly puppet with no resemblance to his former self.
  • 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. He took it badly).
  • 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.
  • In Relayer, the Terra that her sister Luna hates mentally "died" due to the experiments done on her. The Terra that the game follows, instead of suffering from amnesia as originally assumed, is a new personality granted by the Will of the Earth. This reveal solves one conflict between the related characters only to open another one: Luna no longer hates Terra, but instead they both have to emotionally figure out how to deal with the fact that they aren't "technically" sisters. They eventually work things out.
  • A rather complicated example appears in Shadow Hearts: From The New World. The Big Bad of the game is actually Grace Garland, Johnny Garland's sister. It is revealed that both died during a car accident, but their father tried to use the Emigre Manuscript to bring them back. It partially worked: Grace was revived, but as she saw that Johnny didn't wake up, she sacrificed her Will to him, saving him but becoming an Empty Shell and a Tragic Monster hellbent on destroying the world in the process.
  • 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.
  • On the Massacre route of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Flynn is killed by Nanashi, and subsequently revived with no traits other than utter devotion to Nanashi. Hammered in cruelly if Nanashi picked up a memento from the ghost of Flynn's childhood friend; on the Bonds route, Flynn will sadly reminisce about his old friend. On Massacre, Flynn sees no significance in it, and it gets thrown away.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei V, the climax of the second arc involves fellow classmate Tao Isonokami sacrificing their life to resurrect the Nahobino, who had been killed by the arc's main threat. Said character returns shortly before the final arc, seemingly unharmed and now going under the name of Panagia Tao. But while the appearance is identical, they basically say that they are not really the same character, but that Tao Isonokami did die during the second arc and was now reborn, modeled into their new form of the role as the Goddess Of Creation.
  • 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.
  • StarCraft: Ghosts of the Terran Dominion under the reign of Arcturus Mengsk are memory-wiped upon graduation, which results in the complete destruction of their original personalities to render them mindlessly loyal super soldiers.
  • Super Paper Mario
    • When Nastasia brainwashes Luigi, he does not become like Bowser's minions whom Nastasia brainwashed, but he becomes Mr. L, who, while Bleck's minion and Mario's enemy, has a mind of his own as he is willing to disobey Bleck and Nastasia's orders. This trope comes around to permanently affect Mr. L rather than Luigi, as after he is killed by Dimentio and goes to the afterlife (returning to life shortly after), he is Luigi again, with no memory of being Mr. L.
    • Luvbi is revealed at the end of Chapter 7 to be a Pure Heart that was transformed into a nimbi to disguise it. This means that she will be gone forever if she returns to her true form. Since the last Pure Heart is needed to save the universe she chooses to do so after making peace with her adoptive parents. In the Playable Epilogue it is revealed that she was miraculously reborn after the universe was saved.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Warcraft and World of Warcraft:
    • Orcish shaman Ner'zhul was tortured beyond recognition by Kil'jaeden and his spirit became the first Lich King prior to Warcraft III with no trace of his former personality.
    • In a similar case to Darth Vader, the personality of Prince Arthas menethil was thought to have been overtaken by Ner'zhul when he became the new Lich King, though he died as himself eventually.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: All the High Entia will eventually evolve into the Telethia; mindless beasts under the control of Zanza - except for the High Entia who possess the genetics of Homs, which include their crown princess Melia.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Blades undergo this whenever their Drivers die, and end up returning to their Core Crystal as a result until another driver awakens them. They end up losing their memories, the traits they inherited from their previous Drivers, etc., leaving them a blank slate to be influenced by their next Driver. The crux of Jin's motivations to find and kill the Architect has to do with the endless cycle of death and rebirth that the Blades are trapped in, and the misery that came with it for him.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed: It is revealed that this ended up happening to Alvis after the end of the first game. Alvis was an incarnation of Ontos, one of the Cores found in the Trinity Processor and one of the first Blades alongside Pneuma and Logos. Alvis came to be because he was inadvertently awakened by Professor Klaus/Zanza/The Architect after the failure of the Conduit experiment that destroyed his home universe. Alvis developed the capacity for empathy and compassion as a result of shouldering the guilt and sorrow felt by Klaus, but once Shulk killed Zanza, Alvis returned to the Ontos core. Later on, the Ontos core ended up becoming the foundation of Origin, which was built to prevent the world of the Bionis and Alrest from colliding and destroying each other, and was eventually hijacked by Z and the Moebius to create Aionios. As a result of Origin malfunctioning, Ontos was once again reawakened possessing Alvis' body, but without being bonded to a Driver, was now nothing more than a machine without the capacity for emotion and nuance - thus becoming Alpha. Alpha then witnessed the Crapsack World created by Z and the Moebius, and as a result of his lack of empathy or nuance, decided that the only solution was to destroy everyone in Aionios while transporting the people of the City to a new world. An offshoot of Alpha known as A eventually came to be, who possessed the memories and compassion of Alvis, but A themselves said that Alvis as Shulk knew him was gone.

    Web Comics 
  • Anthony Solair of Archipelago washes up ashore the Ruin Island already "dead", his body inhabited by a raven spirit and "that shred of sanity" who gets named Blitz after he tells his rescuer he can't remember his actual name. We learn who he used to be after Anthony's former shipmates land on the island a couple of weeks later, but how he came to be in this situation is gradually revealed throughout the story. In any case, Blitz, the Kindhearted Simpleton, carries himself, thinks, speaks and sees the world completely differently than Anthony used to and is generally considered a different person.
  • 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 but 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.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • 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 (as if read from a book), not experiences.
      Jerry: I haven't been referring to it as "death" to be a drama queen, you know.
    • This is the goal of "Not-Tengu" in order to create his "flock".
  • Freefall: This is the result of the "Gardener in the Dark" upgrade for any 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. However, once the upgrade is fully installed, the damage is irreversible.
    Florence: The pruning program has affected his entire neural net. This is permanent damage. Whoever this robot was before, his personality, his life, it's gone.
  • Homestuck: Jade creates Jadesprite by fusing her deceased dream self's taxidermied body with the preexisting Becsprite. Later in the comic, Jade achieves god tier, a process that involves a player dying and reanimating in their dream body... which, in Jade's case, happens to also be Jadesprite's current body, causing Jade to essentially "overwrite" Jadesprite's personality with her own.
  • Sam & Fuzzy: Eric 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.
  • Long before the storyline, Trace Legacy from TwoKinds was part of an organization known as the Templar Order who were prejudiced against the Keidrans and tried to kill them off. However, his fight with a demigod caused him to lose his memory, reverting him to a timid young man. He starts off trying to recover his memories, but as he learns more about the person he used to be, he decides he's better off not knowing. Unfortunately, his old personality still exists in the back of Trace's mind, and it's determined to get out again...
  • Unsounded: Waterwomen can regenerate their entire bodies so long as their pearl "heart" is intact and submerged in water, but their minds are completely reset if their brains are destroyed. In Chapter 15, a group of waterwomen ask for this when they're rescued from prolonged torture.

    Web Original 
  • 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 A.I.s were killed in an EMP explosion, he remained the same, his mind having been destroyed long ago.
    • Church meets his death this way. He powers the Meta's suit so the Reds and Blues can survive their last stand aboard the Staff of Charon, but the only way for him to successfully do it is to erase his memories, effectively killing himself. So he does.
    • This is the final fate of Genkins, who Donut tricks into sending himself to the beginning of time. Genkins' insanity and the eons he spends alive result in him forgetting his own identity and becoming Chrovos.
  • Orion's Arm: Transcendence is said to involve this, especially if it involves multiple minds merging into one new one. The resulting elevated mind retains memories and aspects of personality from the original(s), but has changed so much on a fundamental level that it can't be considered the same "person". (Crossing The Singularity without losing your identity is referred to as "Ascending" rather than "Transcending", but this is only possible at lower levels.)

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • The Lich 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 Wham Episode "Bonnibel Bubblegum" shows that extremely minor characters Crunchy, Manfried and Punchy used to be members of Bubblegum's artificial family who got transformed into candy people via Gumbald's dumdum juice. They're still alive but they're effectively new people. The aforementioned transformation was reversed of "Elements", returning them back to their normal selves.
  • 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... a technical act of murder that marks Clayface's moment of crossing the Moral Event Horizon.
  • It is implied in The Boss Baby that if a Baby Corp. Baby doesn't drink their special formula after a certain time, they effectively become normal babies, their original personalities completely dead despite them still getting to live. In Season 3 of The Boss Baby: Back in Business, this is all but confirmed by Mega Fat CEO Baby when his formula runs out and it happens to him.
  • DuckTales (2017): Bradford Buzzard's ultimate fate upon defeat, as he is turned into a mindless vulture by Magica. Theoretically Magica can restore him since it’s heavily implied she learned the reversal spell for Poe’s sake, but there’s no reason to believe she'd bother.
  • In Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, Dr. Emilia creates a "cure" in Season 3 that reverts mutes back to being normal animals. While characters affected by the "cure" are still alive, they lose all the aspects that their mutation gave them, including their advanced intelligence.
  • In Kong: The Animated Series, De La Porta's life force is sucked out by Harpy to release Chiros. Though it is returned to him when Chiros is killed, his spirit has been broken by the ceremony, leaving him in a catatonic state that his doctors say he is unlikely to recover from.
  • Following the final battle in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Chrysalis, Tirek, and Cozy Glow are turned to stone by Celestia, Luna, and Discord. It's implied that, like with Twilight but unlike with Discord, these three villains will be in a dreamless sleep, and Discord also implies it will last forever, thus leaving their minds in a perpetual state of nonexistence for all eternity, even though petrification in MLP has generally been non-lethal (except for the Storm King, who was shattered to pieces), and they could potentially be restored if a releasing spell were to be cast on them.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In Don Hertzfeldt's far-future couch gag for the season 26 premiere episode "Clown In The Dumps", the design of the characters and the show changes so radically that by the year 10535 the Simpson family has been reduced to a disturbing collection of caricatured mutants that can only sputter broken catchphrases and hock merchandise.
    • In the "Treehouse Of Horror XXXIV" segment "Loutbreak", Homer eats a donut contaminated by nuclear waste, which soon brings about a mutagenic virus which starts to turn all Springfielders into clones of Homer (excluding Bart, Lisa, and Maggie because they already have his DNA), overriding their personalities with their own (e.g. the infected Nelson uses Homer's catchphrase, "Woo-hoo!", in the cadence of his own "Haw-haw!" catchphrase).
  • 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 being that his mother was 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 take the form of Steven himself rather than re-birthing Rose Quartz (or her previous identity Pink Diamond). It loudly proclaims to the Big Bad White Diamond, who has for some time been treating Steven as the exact same person his mother was, that his mother is "gone".

    Real Life 
  • This phenomenon occasionally crops up in medicine. For example, strokes have been reported to totally change people's personalities. There is also evidence that some psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin (the one found in magic mushrooms) can rewire the brain and cause this to happen to some extent.
  • If you believe in the concept of Reincarnation, one can effectively view it as this trope. Sure, your soul will still continue on, but you won't have any of your memories from your previous life(s). Effectively, at the end of the day, you'll still be a completely new person; and the old you will cease to exist regardless.
  • Prefrontal Lobotomy was a surgery designed to damage the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that stores most of a person’s cognitive abilities, including thoughts and executive functions. Victims of said surgeries were observed to retain all of their memories and most of their cognitive functions, but come out with a markedly different personality. It essentially kills the part of a person’s brain that makes them that person.


Video Example(s):


Veyle Breaks Free

After having been convinced by Alear in the afterlife to not give up and revive her as a Corrupted to re-summon the Emblems, Veyle regains control of her body from her evil split personality and destroys the mind control helmet that's been keeping her evil personality going, killing off her evil side for good.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / SplitPersonalityTakeover

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