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Fake Memories
aka: False Memories

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I recommend we remove all magic. Even memories of magic, to be safe. But don't worry — I'll leave the fun.
Rouge: Do you actually believe that... you're the real Shadow?
Shadow: No doubt.
Rouge: Even your memories might not be real, you know?
Shadow: Even if my memories are not real, it's still me, Shadow.

Sometimes when Laser-Guided Amnesia won't cut it, the villains, heroes, or The Men in Black need to radically alter a subject's very memories to ensure their Evil Plan, Epiphany Therapy or cover-up (respectively) works flawlessly.

In these cases they implant Fake Memories, using things like Psychic Powers, brainwashing, computers, or the week's Applied Phlebotinum to replace true memories with more convenient false ones.

Of course, this never works as planned. Like an itch they can't scratch, the character with tampered memories will notice things aren't as they should be and scratch at the false memories like a scab, questioning their "past" and searching for the truth. Or go crazy trying. Occasionally, a hero will leave a Note to Self or instructions for friends to help. The irony being that the false memories tend to lead the character right back to the people who erased them with enough of an advantage to take them out. A darker, more sinister version of this trope is when the character in question realizes his memories don't add up, but doesn't know which set of memories is true. Often self-inflicted, these memories are slowly revealed through dream sequences, and the experience tends to come with An Aesop about the frailty of human mind and the subjectivity of memory.

Quite common in video games, probably because amnesiac heroes are extremely convenient for the format. Occasionally used as part of a more radical attempt at making someone into an Unperson.

Related tropes include Manchurian Agent, Memory Gambit, Amnesiac Dissonance, and Tomato in the Mirror. This is one of the potential methods used by the Backstory Invader (the other being full-scale Reality Warper). Compare Exposition Beam.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Android Kikaider: The Animation: In the four-part OVA, it is revealed that Reiko was actually a robot without anyone, including her, knowing. All of her memories were made up and the false memories was purposely made to lead her and her friends to their doom.
  • In Another, Class 3-3 is cursed by the presence of an extra student who's already dead. While they're aware of the presence in general, working out the specifics is impossible because everyone, including the "Extra", has their memories altered as if things were like that the entire time. Even paperwork is changed to reflect this. Only after graduation can anything be fully pieced together because everything reverts back to normal.
  • Ao no Fuuin:
    • Ao No Fuuin shows that Soko Kiryu, despite her insistence of just being normal, and memories of the place she had just moved away from, including a bakery shop she went to with her mother often, are fake as no-one can remember her since Soko looks very different from the real Soko Kiryu.
    • One of Takao's powers, implanting fake memories into humans' minds. Does it twice to a couple to make them think that Soko is their real daughter.
  • Everybody's memories in The Big O. Maybe.
  • Appears several times in Bleach:
    • Used by Soul Reapers for covering up spiritual activity in the World of the Living. Rukia is particularly trigger-happy with the device that does it. The Soul Reaper has no control over the replacement memories the target ends up with, resulting in sometimes outlandish results. Ichigo's family thinks everyone slept through a lorry crashing into the side of their house to explain the devastation caused by a Hollow attack that almost killed them; Orihime's bizarre tale for the devastation a Hollow attack causes to her house, is only accepted by everyone because Orihime's fantastic imagination is infamous. Orihime, however, turns out to be immune to the device because she possesses spiritual power.
    • Tsukishima describes his ability as the power to change the past of the person he cuts. He is able to implant memories in those he stabs, making them believe they were always his friends. It's used to agonizing effect to cause Ichigo's friends and family think he is their ally and Ichigo the one acting strange. Tsukishima even takes Ichigo's place in their adventures; they think he was the awesome hero who, among other things, defeated Aizen (instead of Ichigo), rescued Orihime from her Abusive Parents to raise her (instead of her brother Sora), and took care of Chad and gave him his Orphan's Plot Trinket (instead of Oscar, his "Abuelo"). And you better NOT try to fight what he makes you believe.
      • It can also be used quite effectively in combat. A single cut and he can now predict your every move, because he was the one who taught you your every move. His power doesn't just work on people either. He can easily kick your ass just by cutting the ground, making it so that he had already visited that area in the past and set up deathtraps everywhere. Of course, he's quite vulnerable to Indy Ploys. He can't know what you're going to do next if you don't either.
      • Also while Tsukishima can manipulate memories, he cannot manipulate emotions. Orihime, being in love with Ichigo, feels extreme heartbreak watching him be sad even when his role in her life was replaced by Tsukishima. Byakuya, who owes a tremendous debt towards and feels Undying Loyalty to Ichigo, unflinchingly cuts down Tsukishima despite having his memories changed so that the latter was his teacher.
  • The type-6 Probes in Blonde Bombshell are outfitted with, among other things, fake memories to allow them to blend into society better. Lucy Pavlov has been trying her damnedest to erase hers.
  • Code Geass:
    • The second season begins with Lelouch living a quiet, peaceful life. Only after C.C. makes contact with him does he remember being captured and given Fake Memories through the Geass of his father the Emperor, causing him to forget his beloved mother Marianne and sister Nunnally and having been the terrorist Zero, as well as convincing him that the spy Rolo Haliburton is actually his younger brother. Not only that, but everyone in the school is given exactly the same fake memories to make the effect even stronger. They all believe that Lelouch is nothing more and nothing less than a fellow student, and that Rolo is his brother, whereas Nunally is merely a pretty and kind Britannian princess that later becomes the Viceroy of Area 11. And then, Shirley has her true memories back via Jeremiah, but makes the mistake of mentioning Nunnally while speaking to Rolo...
    • Similarly, Action Girl Anya Earlstreim has her memories rewritten to cover up how she's the Soul Jar of Lelouch's mother, Empress Marianne. It really fucks up with her self-worth, as the poor girl never knows which memories are hers or not.
  • Darker than Black: Gemini Of The Meteor has Suou who finds out she is not exactly who she thought and was given Fake Memories of a childhood she never had.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Barry the Chopper taunts Al with suggestions that his memories aren't actually real, and he's just an artificial being created by Ed. He was clearly pulling the idea out of his ass and Al initially dismisses it as such, but soon he can’t get the idea out of his head and starts doubting himself. After angsting about it for several episodes, Winry reassures him that it can't possibly be true; he recalls some events involving himself and Winry from before getting put into the armor that Ed wasn't present for, so there's no way he could've fabricated those memories.
  • Ghost in the Shell:
    • In one chapter of the original manga, the antagonist gets a random garbage man to do some hacking jobs for him by promising to help him getting back his wife and daughter, which both never existed. The adaptation of the story for the 1995 movie had the mook who was the garbage man's direct contact be told that he had been mind wiped, leaving only the basics of his cover identity with no knowledge about his actual boss. In both cases, it works flawlessly until someone Pulls The Thread. The garbage man is told that it's impossible to completely erase the false memories. The 2017 live-action adaptation also includes a version of this story, modified to fit the film's main plot.
    • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the Laughing Man alters the memories of everyone who manages to see his real face so that they just remember his iconic "laughing face and The Catcher in the Rye quote" icon. He's even thorough enough that any police who hear testimony from the few witnesses without hackable cyberbrains at the scene can only remember or sketch the icon.
    • In the prequel series Ghost in the Shell: Arise this is done via a virus to Motoko Kusanagi herself, in order to frame her for corruption and murder.
    • Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045:
      • On returning to Section 9, the Major leaves their American mercenary recruit with false memories of their time together as she wants to cut ties with him, but leaves a password-protected copy of his real memories in his payment file just in case she feels the need to bring him back.
      • Togusa uses a pair of bugging devices to make some goons think they killed him and dumped his body in the harbor. Batou congratulates him for a move worthy of the Major herself.
  • In Gintama, Kintoki does this to the residents of Kabukicho replacing Gintoki with himself as the main character of the story. Only Tama (robot) and Sadaharu (dog) are immune.
  • Gundam:
  • In Kaiba, this is done to Neiro. A few other characters, too. In fact, the villain gets rather memory-rewriting-happy.
  • Happens to Ryuko in Kill la Kill when she is forced to wear Junketsu by Nui and Ragyo, making her believe she grew up living a happy life with Ragyo, so as to turn her against her friends.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has Fate and her memories of a happier childhood with a kinder mother. The memories themselves are real, but they belonged to someone else: Alicia Testarossa, the little girl that she was cloned from. She doesn't take the realization that they're not her own very well.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Asuna has fake memories of a normal childhood in the mundane world as part of her success at becoming normal ten years prior.
    • Later on, Shiori secretly takes Asuna's place by copying all of Asuna's memories, so that Shiori believes that she's Asuna. Yes, she has fake memories of fake memories.
  • In One Piece, Charlotte Pudding ate the Memory-Memory Fruit, which grants the power to pull other people's memories from their heads like a strip of film (rendering them unconscious in the meantime). Once extruded, the memories can be cut, spliced, and otherwise edited like the film that it resembles.
  • In Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, Umika has the ability to alter memories and uses it on the incubator Jyubey, to force him into becoming subservial to the Pleiades Saints. Then it turns out that the Pleiades Saints performed this on themselves and the entire city of Asurano, meaning the beforementioned scene itself was a lie. They cast a spell over the city that makes incubators invisible and soundless to everyone, replaced any memory of Kyubey they had with the artificial Jyubey, and the knowledge Kyubey gave them about the relationship between Soul Gems and Grief Seeds. They wanted to avoid more magical girls being created and eventually turn into witches, as a way for them to rebel against the incubators' system. The true memory returns towards the climax of the series.
  • Read or Die: The TV Series has Joker stating that the British Library did this to The Paper Sisters. Anita was originally a British Library test subject, and Maggie and Michelle were former Dokusensha Agents who were modified. Dokusensha had tried this before, but previous test subjects went insane. Joker tried telling them that even their memories of meeting each other for the first time were false, but they decide it doesn't matter. The ending shows the viewers the statue of Mary and Jesus in the church where they met, with their initials carved into the base; telling us that the events they remember from that point on were their own.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Chibiusa does this with disconcerting frequency to Usagi's family in the second season. Somewhat justified as she doesn't alter their memories too badly and doesn't alter their personalities either: she only makes them believe she's the family niece, rather than Usagi's Kid from the Future.
    • At some point she's also at the receiving end of it, and it's much uglier. She's captured while at a very low emotional point, and then Wiseman uses this to make her believe her parents hated her. The Mind Rape leaves her liable to his manipulations and, after being forcibly infused with Dark Energy, she becomes Black Lady.
    • This also happens in the fifth season, where Usagi's family's memories are once again altered — this time to think Chibichibi is Usagi's little sister.
  • Serial Experiments Lain, a Mind Screw series if there ever was one, is largely built around exploring this trope: Lain Iwakura, with the ability to alter humanity's collective memory, is forced to deal with the questions of what reality is. Eventually she writes herself out of existence by removing all memories of herself from the world.
  • Shelter: At the start of the short film, a teenage Rin recalls witnessing the apocalypse herself. However, after viewing her father's memories, the truth is that she was most likely unaware of the apocalypse when she was placed in the shuttle and sent away by Shigeru, implying that she had seen a glimpse of her father's memories of the apocalypse.
  • In Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, Nakanoshita has the ability to implant these in people. One notable victim is Uzuki, leading to a tragic moment on her deathbed when her real memories start resurfacing, at which point Takeru reinforces the Fake Memories so as to Let Them Die Happy.
  • In Soaring Sky! PreCure, Empress Undergu bears grudge against Ellee and her predecessor Elleelain after the latter kills her father, Emperor Undergu, during the sudden back attack. This, however, was proven to be false, as the true main villain, Skearhead, is the one who killed him, and he edited Empress' memories to make her who she is at the beginning of the story. And when that finally wears off, she doesn't take it too well.
  • In Tiger & Bunny Albert Maverick, the CEO of HeroTV, has the NEXT ability to implant and alter memories. He uses his powers twice on Barnaby in order to frame a well-known NEXT criminal for the murder of the latter's parents (though it's implied that his manipulation of Barnaby's memories is far more extensive than what was shown on-screen), and also on a number of other characters to make them forget Kotetsu's very existence.
  • In Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-:
    • Fei Wong Reed did this to Fay as a part of his crazy elaborate plan. He made Fay believe that he sacrificed his brother's life to escape from the hellish imprisonment the two had endured for most of their childhood. Though in reality Fay's brother gave his life willingly in exchange for Fay's freedom.
    • Also used in the anime, during the filler episodes, where Chaos uses fake feathers/memories to convince Sakura that she's known Chaos since she was a child. Of course, then it turns out that Chaos is actually just a big bunch of Sakura's feathers.
  • Used liberally in Undead Unluck. Whenever a rule/UMA is created, the world is altered to act as if that rule had ALWAYS existed, altering the memories of every human alive (barring those with Negator abilities) to fit this altered world. The Union also has similar capabilities, altering the memories of hundreds of people simultaneously to keep up the Masquerade and occasionally remove an individual (usually a new Union recruit) from everyone's memories.
    • The Acks were created mere minutes before arriving on Earth, but have the memories of millions of years of history.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Yusuke Fujiwara gives everyone fake memories of him being their childhood friend so he can infiltrate the school grounds. Judai Yuki was unaffected and eventually confronts the guy.
    • This is a central trope in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, when we learn that Don Thousand toyed with the Past-Life Memories of the Seven Barian Emperors to fill them with hatred and resentment before they perish as part of his Evil Plan, after of course making the necessary arrangements to make sure a cruel demise strikes them early.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, Aigami altered the memories of everyone in Domino City, implanting the notion that he was a new student at Domino High School.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Widow: Natasha Romanov's past as a ballerina was revealed to be a lie created by the Red Room. It turns out she was an orphan taken in by them and raised to be an assassin. The reason for the fake memories as a ballerina was to instill happy memories of Russia in her and thus make her feel more patriotic.
  • Captain America: The Falcon had a major case of Flip-Flop of God concerning his Fake Memories. The original Retcon in the 1970s said that Sam's past as a social worker was the fake memories, that he was really a pimp and a criminal named "Snap" Wilson. Subsequent writers largely ignored this, so for many years it was unclear if this part of his backstory was meant to be non-canon or not. Flash forward to 2014 and Sam taking up the mantle of Captain America, where it was finally clarified that the true memories were of him as a social worker and that the "Snap" Wilson memories were ones implanted into his mind by the Red Skull to not only discredit him, but hope that other people would be racist enough to follow up on it and attack him.
  • Cinema Purgatorio: In The Time of Our Lives, a couple experiences Rapid Aging while they're trapped in a house. Not only does the house suddenly take on traits of having been lived in, like piles of cigarettes appearing in an ashtray and children's heights scrawling themselves on the walls, but the couple starts talking about things they regret not doing "years" ago.
  • Doom Patrol has a minor character under Rachel Pollack's run called the False Memory, whose powers are basically implanting memories into people who only have trouble figuring out when they happened. She's an ally the first time she appears, but the second time she uses her power to insert herself into the team, keeping the Bandage People happy with false memories of barbecuing with Jack Kennedy and George Bush and Robotman with memories of his ex-girlfriend Crazy Jane. However, she also makes Coagula believe she had been sexually assaulted by her nonexistent husband and his buddy when she was 18. Dorothy Spinner, who is already very emotionally disturbed, manages to snap the rest of her teammates out of their funk by refusing to accept the False Memory's lies. When exposed, she states she meant to give the others more meaning in their lives, but Coagula is disgusted at the notion that being raped gave her life meaning.
  • When Rocket Raccoon was retooled for Guardians of the Galaxy, the original Rocket Raccoon (1985) miniseries was retconned to be fake memories created so that Rocket wouldn't remember the real reason he left Halfworld.
  • Immortal Hulk: As part of Dario Agger's evil scheme to discredit the Hulk, he has Xemnu brainwash the entire world, making them forget the Hulk... including the Hulk himself. The world becomes convinced Xemnu is a renowned hero, and Robert Banner is a creepy, sociopathic terrorist. However, it is possible to see through the fake memories, with some effort. Xemnu also gives Dario fake memories to make him believe he's shielded from Xemnu's powers to give him a false sense of security. When Xemnu decides he no longer needs Dario and turns on him, Dario is horrified to realize the truth.
  • Runaways takes this trope to an extreme. It turns out that sixteen-year-old Victor Mancha is actually a cyborg built just a few years ago and that his entire life up till then is one big fabricated memory.
  • In Scott Pilgrim, the reason why Scott thinks that he was a blameless paragon of virtue in high school, even though he was a dick, was because Gideon Graves "spiced up" his memories. Though part of that was Scott's own fault as well. It was mainly his "beating up Kim's former boyfriend" part that Gideon messed with.
  • Sinister War reveals that the past Spider-Man storyline Sins Past was a result of this; Sins Past revealed that Gwen Stacy had an affair with Norman Osborn and conceived twins who grew to adulthood in less than ten years. Here, the villain Kindred (the soul of Harry Osborn reborn as a demon) reveals that those twins were actually flawed clones of Harry and Gwen created to give them new bodies; while Norman Osborn and Mary Jane recall the affair and Gwen telling her about it respectively, these memories were 'implanted' by Mysterio to better sell the scheme.
  • Superman:
    • In The Unknown Supergirl, villainess Lesla-Lar kidnaps Supergirl and implants fake memories in her mind to make her believe she is Lesla-Lar herself. Later, in The Girl with the X-Ray Mind, Lesla kidnaps Lena Thorul and also changes her memories so Lena believes she is a Kryptonian scientist with no memory of her real life on Earth.
    • Power Girl had her original Earth-Two Kryptonian origin dismissed as a fake memory by Arion the sorcerer who reveals to her her at-the-time "true" Post-Crisis origin of being his granddaughter who was genetically manipulated to be given Kryptonian-like powers. Later on, it turns out that her new "true" origin was in itself a fake memory and that she was truly an Earth-Two Kryptonian who had somehow survived the merging of the Earth universes to create the Post-Crisis New Earth.
    • In The Supergirl Saga, Matrix was originally assumed to be Lana Lang from a pocket universe, who was given superpowers by the Lex Luthor of the same universe. As it turned out, though, she was actually an artificial lifeform given both the appearance and memories of Lana Lang to gain Superman's trust, as the actual Pocket Universe Lana Lang had already died at the hands of the Phantom Zone criminals.
  • Shadowplay can produce these in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye. Chromedome specifically leaves some in Overlord's mind subtly altering the Decepticon’s memories of his greatest defeats for the purposes of creating a trigger word that would shut him down with fear when uttered.
  • Venom (Donny Cates) reveals that the Venom symbiote had been doing this for years to gaslight Eddie into staying. These include faking memories of Eddie having a sister named Mary and an uncle named Dan who'd died of cancer and falsifying memories of Eddie's own "diagnosis" of cancer.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • As the start of Donna's impressive Continuity Snarl, Who Is Wonder Girl? reveals that Donna's memories of being rescued from a fire as a child and attending high school are false, and that she was actually grabbed by Rea and given powers by the Titans.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Steve Trevor is disturbed to learn that his actual Earth-One incarnation died (twice) and that he is a Steve from another earth whose memories were re-written so that neither he nor Diana would notice Earth-One Steve had been replaced. Diana cuts ties with her mother over this manipulation when she's told, and Steve ends up merging with the actual Earth-One Steve who wasn't quite dead.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Circe gave herself false memories as part of a gambit that involved tricking both Diana and Ares into believing a disguise was actually human. The trick worked a little too well and she became attached to her false identity, the morals she developed, and the friends she made which meant she was never quite the same after she changed back into Circe.
    • The actions of the New 52's Wonder Woman was later retconned as false implanted memories in Wonder Woman (Rebirth). Even her mother's design was changed in these memories.note 
  • X-Men:
    • Wolverine is notorious for this; for a while there, anything he wasn't amnesiac about was probably a Fake Memory. The confusion has mostly been cleared up by now, however.
    • Cyclops had a number of these for years, regarding his family and the nature of the accident that damaged his brain and powers, partly due to the real head trauma and partly due to Mister Sinister's tinkering.
    • The retconned second team of X-Men, gathered to rescue the first from the clutches of a mad, living island, had this happen to them in a way. Xavier needs trained soldiers so he delves into their minds and speeds up their perception of time. They imagine many, many months of socializing and training and being generally awesome before they go out to rescue the X-Men. And then most of them die. Out of the survivors, one of them turns evil out of revenge and kills a lot of people.

    Fan Works 
  • Betastuck: While playing the game, many of the betatesters did not remember that they were playing a game at all.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager fic “Distortion” features former Maquis Ensign Anne Rudbeck managing to plant false memories in Seven of Nine by hacking into her alcove as she regenerates. These memories are intended to create the idea that Seven and Rudbeck have been in a relationship that Janeway didn’t approve of, but in reality Rudbeck intends to hand Seven over to other representatives of Arturis’s race (“Hope and Fear”) in exchange for a ship home. When studying the false memories implanted by Rudbeck, the crew are able to determine where the two have gone by identifying a memory of a safe sector of space that Voyager hasn’t visited yet, allowing them to intercept Rudbeck’s shuttle and prove that she’s been manipulating Seven.
  • A major aspect of Divided Rainbow.
  • In Dungeon Keeper Ami, Tiger lost her mind and memories upon entering a new world. Due to her employer, Keeper Mercury possessing her body too much, she imprinted on her all her memories. Giving poor Tiger a severe Loss of Identity once she regained consciousness.
  • Empath: The Luckiest Smurf:
    • Vanity's duplicate Century has the same memories as Vanity, being duplicated from the mirror that created him in "The Hundredth Smurf" from mainstream Smurfs media. In the fanfiction story "Vanity's Double", Papa Smurf tells Century that if those memories that he had of his past are real to him, then they are real.
    • In "Little Sister Smurf Lost", Sassette's origin of being a magically-created Smurf created by the Smurflings also turns out to be a fake memory, one that Avengelica, the spirit that trapped her within a Crystal Prison, made all but Empath believe to be the truth, since he was the only Smurf not present at the time when she was released from her prison to continue living out her life as a Smurfling.
  • In Ginny Weasley: Double Life, hypnotic snake Milikan, seeking a friend, hypnotises 26-year-old Ginny to remember the two of them meeting and being friends when Ginny was seven years old until Milikan vanished when Ginny was nine. Despite this relatively significant tweak to Ginny's history, which includes a chain of events that led to Ginny regarding Milikan as her best friend and Mistress, Milikan leaves Ginny's basic personality and memories alone, so Ginny still loves Harry and her children.
  • In Hurricane Suite, Naruto hides his memories of Akatsuki and the reasons he returned to Konoha from the Yamanaka Mind Probe he’s subjected to upon his return, by casting a genjutsu on himself and sealing away the memories with fuinjutsu. He shows them an altered memory of when Nagato found him in Tea Country, with Nagato replaced by Itachi, warning him about Akatsuki.
  • Happened to the Trevans, a couple of minor characters in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. As they explain it, "old friends" Folse and Andela Tarmi arrived at the Trevans' inn, spent several weeks reminiscing about their past together and throwing parties for the staff, and sent the overworked Trevans off on a vacation while promising to look after their inn. However, nine days into their vacation, the spell wore off the Trevans, who realized that the Tarmis were total frauds. They raced back to the inn, only to discover that they were now magically prevented from approaching within sight of it. Cue John and George being enlisted to go see what's going on.
  • In Long-Term Memories, Spinel implants fake memories into the Crystal Gems' minds to make them think they've known her for millennia, and to make them either think that Garnet died quickly after her first fusion, or to make them forget about Garnet's existence entirely.
  • In Manehattan's Lone Guardian, Illudere's Luminous Cruelty bestows Leviathan with more than two centuries worth of these. While she directly experiences all of them—essentially living an entire other life—while detecting little out of the ordinary, the fact remains that it was all a monstrous illusion that never actually took place in reality.
  • Misery Loves Company: One of Hecate's potions creates new memories for Gaz after erasing her old ones, based on what the witch tells her is true. So when she hears Hecate call herself Gaz's "Mommy," that is what the girl believes she is.
  • In Perfection Is Overrated, Meiko has the power to insert fake memories in addition to her ability to delete old ones, and uses this to convince Mai and everyone else in Fuuka Academy to think they knew her and Bachiko.
  • Pokéumans: Pokéxtinction use Psychics to delete the memories of any witnesses to a transforming Pokéuman or anything relating to their secret war. This means that The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.
  • Discussed in Psyche Ward, when Taylor worries that her memories of Earth Bet are just the result of whoever dumped her in the path of the Psychonauts tampering with her mind for some sinister reason.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawn is magically inserted into Buffy's life, giving everyone fake memories — but the events of the series still remain the same. Not in the fic Remember When, which drastically alters everyone's memories so that Buffy and Spike are in a happy relationship and Spike has been accepted as part of the Summers' family.
    • A Letter to Riley takes another look at this; when Angel visits Sunnydale, he initially doesn't know who Dawn is until Buffy and Giles explain the situation, and after he meets Dawn, it takes a few moments for the new memories of his history with Dawn to settle into Angel's mind.
    • Osiris Makes a Counteroffer sees the ritual to resurrect Buffy instead bring the Buffy from the Wishverse into the main reality just before the Master snapped her neck. As a result of her arrival in this universe, Wish!Buffy starts to receive memories of Dawn in her life, although she can recognise that they aren't real as they fit into the life of the original Buffy rather than her own experiences. Angel speculates that the spell that created Dawn is still in effect, but since Wish!Buffy's life is so different she's more aware of the difference, and the false memories stop at the point when Wish!Buffy was taken from her reality and placed in this one.
  • In "An Excessive Amount of Politeness", an attempt is made to conceal the fate of Mr Crouch by stunning Harry and Krum and planting false memories that they had a duel over their respective feelings for Hermione. However, since Harry has been in a thourple with Cedric Diggory and Cho Chang for the last few weeks, it is easy enough to establish that the "duel" and related memories are a complete fiction.
  • Eirin of the Touhou Project doujin The Silence of the Rabbits turns out to be quite skilled at this. Her experiments in cloning were responsible for the creation of Reisen as a Super-Soldier, and Reisen's memories of her past turn out to be these. In addition, Eirin, after finishing off the monstrously evil clone that is responsible for the doujin's copious amounts of Nightmare Fuel, does a heroic variant of this by rewriting both Reisen and Tewi's memories so that the horrible things they endured at the clone's hands (which necessitated putting their brains into new bodies) is remembered as nothing but a bad dream.
  • In Truth and Revelations, Harry Potter's new life as Daniel Jackson includes fake memories of a muggle childhood, incorporating such details as the deaths of his parents and basically downloading in most of the knowledge he'd need to actually be an archaeologist. As Daniel explains to the rest of SG-1, he needed the fake memories to help give himself the experience needed to be good at his new career, while the unpleasant past (including the deaths of his parents in an accident when he was eight) was intended to give him a reason why he wouldn't like to discuss it too much, thus saving him from feeling like he was lying to people.
  • In the Bad Future depicted in You're My Density the Ministry of Magic blocks Harry's magic and gives him and his abusive relatives shiny new memories after he throws a fit during his underage magic trial summer before fifth year. When Hermione takes him back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong this results in a conflict between the Dursleys' treatment of him and his memories of a reasonably-happy average family.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Frozen (2013), Grand Pabbie cures a young Anna of the "brain freeze" Elsa accidentally inflicted on her. He also modifies Anna's memories so that she forgets that Elsa has magic, to be safe. He assures her family that while he removed the magic, he "kept the fun". This is shown by the image of a memory of Anna and Elsa playing in magically created snow replaced by an image of them playing in ordinary snow instead.
  • Interstella 5555: During the "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" sequence, the Crescendolls' memories are altered so they believe that they were born and reared on Earth — such as kid Arpegius riding a hover-scooter being changed to him riding a tricycle.
  • Waltz with Bashir deals with the various ways in which the human mind defends itself against unpleasant memories, or the lack of memories altogether. In Ari's first conversation with his psychologist friend, the psychologist describes an experiment where people were shown several photographs from their childhood, one of which was completely faked. They were then sent home for a few days, and when some of them returned they had invented a complete backstory to explain the faked photograph — fully believing it was just as real as the other photographs.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Everything the game characters remember about their backstory didn't actually happen; it's just part of their character design. It's specifically noted how, for Hero's Duty, Calhoun was designed with "the most tragic backstory ever". A second layer of fake memories were added to all the Sugar Rush characters after Turbo hacked the game and locked away their official memories so they'd all remember his "King Candy" persona as if he'd always been a part of their game and would think Vanellope, whose place he usurped, had always been a glitch.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Buck from The Accidental Spy, who's an orphan raised in Hong Kong and working as a salesman, suddenly had a premonition from dormant memories after being knocked unconscious during a robbery, and recalling his past that he's the long-lost son of a Korean millionaire, leading to his lengthy quest to discover his true parentage. Except that's a lie — it turns out that his memories are caused by a powerful hallucinogen spiked in his drink.
  • In Blade Runner, the new experimental replicants have literal Fake Memories to give them a semblance of a childhood and more humanity than older models. When they find out, Tomato in the Mirror occurs.
  • Blade Runner 2049: Like in the original, Replicants have false memories implanted of a life before they were activated. Between movies it was made illegal to use real memories for this purpose which is why K is shocked to find one of his memories is real, thus proving he was born, not made. However, this becomes a Double Subversion when K discovers that these memories actually belonged to the engineer who tested their authenticity for him.
  • Bloodshot uses this for Ray; where Ray thinks he's going after the man who killed his wife, Doctor Emil Harting has been implanting false memories of his former business partners killing Ray's wife and changing their faces after each "assassination" so that Ray will eliminate everyone else who knows about Harting's work, reasoning that Ray will fight harder if he thinks he's avenging someone.
  • The fear of this is an important element in Captain Marvel — Vers has a repeating dream that may or may not be from her past, and after the Skrulls use a mind-reading machine to try to dig into her past and she goes to Earth, she begins to remember more and more of a past as Carol Danvers... but she isn't certain what she remembers is real, contributing to her identity crisis. The dream is false, although it isn't clear if it was deliberately faked or simply shifted around as dreams are wont to do — she later remembers what actually happened, which is almost exactly the same... except it wasn't a Skrull that menaced her, it was Yon-Rogg.
  • Dark City (1998) has an entire city of people whose memories are removed, remixed, and reinserted thousands of times. One police detective figures it out and commits suicide to escape.
  • Extinction (2018): Peter, Alice and the majority of others had false memories implanted. In his case it gives him a created past history with his new children.
  • Hardcore Henry: After being rebuild as a cyborg Super-Soldier, Henry was given fake memories to give him a motive for pursuing Akan and so they could study the feedback from his responses. In fact, it's implied that Henry's false memories of "his wife" Estelle, like having passionate sex with her, are actually Akan's.
  • Inception is a process of entering a person's dream and, instead of extracting info (as is fairly common in the story's setting), implanting false beliefs or ideas into a their mind. While it is usually regarded as impossible, the protagonist claims to have done it once before (though with disastrous consequences based on the idea he implanted). In the course of the film, the team he recruits comes up with a plan to do it again by making their target believe he's on a Vision Quest, but instead of finding his true feelings hidden in his subconsciousness, the revelation at the end will be something prepared by them. When the person wakes up, the memories of the dream will fade, but the belief that he resolved his internal conflict will remain and the fake revelation become part of his consciousness, leading him to the course of action desired by their employer. In this case, they note that it won't work if it's not something "organic" to the target or if the idea is too complex. It has to be simple and feel like his own or he'll subconsciously know it's not his own and reject it entirely.
  • In The Island (2005) the clones are revealed to be given fake memories of a life from before they were cloned, tailored to perpetuate the lie, and apparently drawn from a rather limited pool.
  • Memento. Turns out that Leonard, unable to make new memories since being attacked, has not only been intentionally lying to himself in order to give himself fake clues to get revenge on people he's taken a dislike to in the last five minutes... but he's also purposefully remodelled some of the aspects of his life from before his laser guided amnesia struck as a way of dealing with the guilt of killing his wife.
  • In Mindscape, psychics can enter people's memories, but their presence in their minds tend to alter the memories in some way. It later becomes a plot point.
  • Moon. A few weeks from the end of his solitary three-year contract on the Moon, the protagonist discovers he is a clone of the real Sam Bell. It turns out that the wife he's looking forward to seeing died years ago, his baby daughter is actually fifteen years old, and his body is beginning to break down whereupon he'll be incinerated and replaced with another Sam Bell with the same implanted memories, who'll believe he's just starting his three year contract.
  • This is the premise behind the film Other Life, which deals with the titular company, which has developed a means, through nanotechnology, to create manufactured memories. In practice, these act like miniature virtual worlds that the person experiencing them only has access to for a short amount of time. As these simulations take place mentally, Year Inside, Hour Outside is in full-effect, and things turn sinister when the government wants to use the technology to accelerate prison sentences, by having inmates experience potentially years of imprisonment in only a few minutes.
  • Used in Push, by people called Pushers. Kira is a very powerful Pusher and once causes one of the guys guarding her to kill his partner by convincing him his partner killed his little brother in a rather gruesome way. The kicker? He never had a brother.
    • At one point Kira is made to think that her entire relationship with Nick was a false memory that she gave him and she's been pushing his thoughts the entire time they were together. She even believes that she made up the existence of Coney Island. The reality of a photo taken at Coney Island is the key evidence that causes her to realize that this was a fake memory.
  • They Cloned Tyrone: the clones are given fake memories to flesh out their personalities. For Fontaine, he has the memory of having a younger brother who was killed by police which happened to the real Fontaine, the scientist who made the clones. Meanwhile, Slick's major fake memory is winning the International Pimp of the Year at the 1995 Player's Ball.
  • In the original Total Recall (1990), the main character has visions of a life on Mars that contradicts his memories of a quiet blue-collar life on Earth. He starts to regain his earlier memories with the help of a Note to Self, but it turns out those were fake memories, too, all part of an elaborate Manchurian Agent plot. But then, you never really know whether it was All Just a Dream anyway.
  • The Total Recall (2012) remake removes the ambiguity and makes it clear that Hauser did indeed have a change of heart and switched from being Cohaagen's top agent to La Résistance out of love. What Cohaagen was going to do after killing the leader of La Résistance was to implant Hauser's pre-Heel–Face Turn memories in him, so he could get his agent back.
  • Unknown (2011) has a case crossing these with Identity Amnesia, leading to a total Death of Personality. Dr. Martin Harris was only a cover story for the mercenary, but after he suffers a car accident and spends four days in a coma, all he could remember was this backstory as a scientist, rather than the assassination mission. And as he discovers his true story, Martin is disgusted and decides to stop the evil plot.
  • Ultraman Ginga S The Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors! has a powerful Space-Time Demon, Etelgar, who invaded the peaceful planet, Zant, and abducted their Princess, Arena, implanting fake memories into Arena's mind so that she believes it's the Ultramen who attacked her home planet, turning her into Etelgar's pawn to help him hunt down multiple Ultras.
  • Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning: Cloned Unisols can be implanted with false memories of their past lives. It's revealed that John himself never had a family that was murdered by Deveraux. He doesn't let that stop him from killing Deveraux, and he ultimately holds the government agent who gave him the memory responsible for killing his "family".
  • In The Wolfman (2010), as a child, Lawrence's memories of his mother's death were re-formed during his time in the asylum so he would believe that his mother killed herself and concealed his real memories of his werewolf father tearing her throat out.

  • A peculiar version occurs in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: the citizens of Oceania alter their own memories, in a way, whenever the Party RetCons the past. Through the process of doublethink, they can recall past events if need be (hence, if the Party "tells" them to). And of course, recall the previously forgotten and forbidden memory when required by the party to do so. The definition of 'doublethink' and a common ability of non-fictional political animals. One of the points of the book. Monday: 'We are at war with Eastasia and have always been at war wih Eastasia'. Tuesday: 'We are at war with Eurasia, and have always been at war with Eurasia'.
  • ALiCE (2014): Seems like a possibility given the nature of the characters’ existence, as they wouldn’t be able to know anything about themselves other than what Michael knows or made up, but Christopher DOES seem to have at least some of the real Christopher’s memories since his entry into Wonderland mimics the way the real Christopher died, which Michael has no way of knowing about.
  • Area 51: Majic-12 has a technology which can give people memories of false events, such as being abducted by aliens. It's used to cover up what's really going on at Area 51. We later learn that Turcotte and Duncan's memories are fake too.
  • Cradle Series: Early in the series, Suriel shows Lindon the most powerful people in the world, physically transporting him around the world so he can watch them at work. Later, he gets a mind spirit named Dross who can organize his memories. Later still, he needs to show these memories to his allies—but when Dross tries to project them, they come out noticeably changed. Suriel is replaced with someone much less impressive (and closer to the power level the world is used to), she conjures visions instead of physically taking him places, and the secrets she revealed to him are edited to be more in line with what is public knowledge. Lindon quickly realizes that what he remembers has to be the truth, as too little would make no sense if he was delusional. In particular, one of the memories talks about Northstrider in the past tense because he had been Faking the Dead at the time, even though he was already revealed to be alive and well less than a month earlier. Everyone is very confused that his memories would be protected in such a way, since this doesn't even prevent him from talking about it.
  • The Curse Workers: The first book of the trilogy involves this in a big way:
    • The protagonist discovers that his brother, a memory worker, has been tampering with his memories for years on order of the criminal elements his family is connected to so that they can use his rare transformation talents to assassinate their enemies, and he's been made to think he doesn't have any powers at all.
    • He then turns the tables on said brother and gets him on his side by replacing the extensive journals his brother keeps due to the backlash of his power on his own memories with new ones that make him think he has always been The Mole.
  • In the Firebird Trilogy, the Shuhr are capable of inserting and manipulating memories. The trope is played with, though, in that their changes are undetectable to the victim, which makes it even creepier.
  • In the Forgotten Realms novel Azure Bonds, the protagonist Alias is confused to find that people she knows don't remember or recognize her; it develops that all her memories are fake, because she's a magical construct who was only given life a few days ago.
  • Frameshift by Robert J. Sawyer has a side plot where one character's daughter says he molested her. However, it turns out that she went to a therapist (to treat an unrelated condition) who's convinced virtually everyone has been molested, and implanted memories of this during hypnosis. This turns out to be because she and her sister were themselves molested, so they take pity on her rather than filing a lawsuit.
  • In The Girl from the Miracles District, Robin was implanted with Nikita's memories, as leaving him as a Blank Slate led to him repeatedly committing suicide in the past, yet leaving him with his own memories was apparently not an option.
  • In The Golden Age by John C. Wright the hero Pheathon is attacked by exosolar assassin Scaramouche, except that the attack, and the events leading up to it, never took place. They were implanted by the villain in order to discredit the hero, and lure him into opening a Pandora's Box containing yet another set of false memories, which he removed to avoid lawsuit.
  • A rare version occurs in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where Horace Slughorn does this to himself in order to erase the guilt of having given the young Voldemort information on horcruxes. Fortunately, he does a sloppy job of it, which allows Harry to procure the memory from him with some help from a luck potion.
    • A more traditional example was featured in the same book where it's revealed via Pensieve flashback that Voldemort framed his uncle Morfin for the murder of the Riddles by committing the murders with his wand and magically implanting the memories of the murder in Morfin's mind so that he believed he had killed them. When the authorities arrived, Morfin confessed to murder on the spot, proved it by giving details only the murderer would know and showed them his wand as proof. He was then sent to Azkaban and Dumbledore only managed to find the real memory of Morfin encountering Voldemort through a very powerful Legimency spell which he used on Morfin near the end of the latter's life. The same with the house elf Hokey, made to think she accidentally put a rare poison in her mistress Hepzibah Smith's tea.
    • And in Deathly Hallows, Hermione gives her parents fake memories to protect them from Death Eaters during the Second Wizarding War. After the war ended, Hermione found her parents in Australia and restored their memories.
  • In The Lost Hero, the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series, everybody at the Wilderness School is given fake memories of Jason having been there for the whole school year. He even gets a fake best friend and girlfriend.
  • The Hunger Games. Peeta Mellark is subjected to this in Mockingjay as part of the Capitol's plan to brainwash him and turn him into a weapon against the rebellion. This is achieved through a brainwashing technique called hijacking where they use venom to alter a person's memories. Once the rebellion get a hold of him they try to reverse the effects but it mostly leaves him confused as to which memories are real and not real. After a while he begins to notice that the fake memories are shinier and brighter than the others. In the end he ends up getting a lot better, mostly through sheer force of will, and he no longer thinks Katniss is a threat to him. In fact, he falls back in love with her and they end up starting a family together. However the effects never truly go away and he occasionally has moments where the hijacking threatens to take over.
  • In Dan Chaon's Ill Will Dustin and his cousin Kate both offer evidence against Dustin's adopted brother when their parents are murdered. Dustin has sharp memories of a Satanic ritual where he wasn't present. Dustin is highly suggestible. Kate plants images of the rite in his head, but also takes on his fantasies as part of her own memory.
  • In InCryptid, the humanoid telepathic wasp-things, called Cuckoos, do this from the cradle, when they are dumped on random human families' doorsteps (because all cuckoos hate each other) and instinctively convince the humans they've always had a baby. After they invariably murder the hell out of their adoptive family, they retroactively insert themselves into people's lives as best friends/family members/spouses either to get something or just because it's fun.
  • Everybody in the City of Elua (but Imriel) in Kushiel's Legacy, after a great magical working has been done.
  • In Left Behind, Chaim Rosenzweig is given the fake memory of Jonathan Stonagal killing his partner Joshua Todd-Cothran and then killing himself in a closed United Nations security council meeting, when in truth, as witnessed by Buck Williams who was under the protective hand of God, Nicolae Carpathia killed both Stonagal and Todd-Cothran with one single gunshot. Because Buck was immune to Carpathia's brainwashing, the memories of Chaim and the others present were also rewritten so that they have no memory of Buck even attending the meeting. In The Mark, when Chaim becomes a believer in Christ, he realizes that he and those present in the room with him except for Buck had all been brainwashed into believing that fake memory.
  • The Man with the Terrible Eyes has gotten his memory rewritten so many times, he's not even sure what his name is anymore.
  • In MARZENA the Narrator hints several times that Lauren's memories of her past may not be quite all that accurate. We learn later on that Lauren's memories were actually incepted inside her head via a virtual reality created from the life of the real Lauren. All that done while she was in a drug induced state, ironically the same process she was using on her patients while working for Marian.
  • The Maze Runner series has Thomas, Newt and Minho defy this trope. In The Death Cure, WICKED's surviving subjects are told they are going to have the memories that were taken from them before they entered the Mazes note  restored. However, though most of the kids go through with the procedure, Thomas and his friends decline because they suspect WICKED may be planning to plant false memories in their brains.
  • The "screen memories" experienced by people after they encounter aliens in More Information Than You Require.
  • The Princess 99 has an example of altered and fake memories since Well-Intentioned Extremist group Birds of Prey does this to their assassins. Their method is glossing over bad, violent memories with sparkly good ones so that their assassins remain loyal only to them.
  • Raybearer: Tar is able to give people pleasant dreams, based on their desires and memories.
  • The backstory of the latest Rizzoli & Isles novel. Three murder victims are found to have attended a daycare center that was the center of horrific child abuse allegations, but as the investigation continues, it's learned that the accusations were false and that the children had been forced or encouraged to make them up.
  • Safehold: The original Operation Ark mission plan called for the colonists, who were aware of this when they signed up, to be given new memories of living in a low-tech society, instead of the high-tech one they came from, so they would be able to easily adapt to life on their new planet. Unfortunately, the megalomaniac administrator and his second-in-command changed the plans and reprogrammed the colonists to believe the colony command staff were gods.
  • In Septimus Heap, this is done to the Hunter so as to prevent him from chasing Jenna again.
  • So I'm a Spider, So What?: Kumoko's memories of her past life in Japan are largely fabrications planted there by D, mixed in with her actual memories of being a spider in the classroom. While the memories are real-ish due to being from D's perspective as Wakaba Hiro, they were also maliciously edited just to make Kumoko feel worse about herself. The entire goal of planting these memories was an overly-elaborate prank on D's subordinates in the afterlife which failed because Kumoko didn't die as planned.
  • In Star Trek: String Theory, a Nacene inserts herself into the starship Voyager’s crew, and takes the form of Captain Janeway’s sister Phoebe. Almost everyone suddenly has an entirely altered set of memories, in which "Phoebe" was aboard the ship all along. The only ones not affected were the Doctor (due to being a hologram, though "Phoebe" reprograms him), and Harry Kim and Naomi Wildman (due to being slightly out of "quantum sync" with everyone else).
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • During the second to last book of Galaxy of Fear, an automated system for growing clones impossibly fast and implanting them with the scanned memories of their templates is stumbled upon. Clones with scanned memories usually seem to have different emotional responses to the memories than their templates did. A Darth Vader clone, looking for minions, gives the facility skin and hair samples scavenged from an abandoned Rebel base, but since these don't come with mind scans the clones are not very useful... yet, when the protagonists find them, these clones can all speak, believe they're Rebels, and have names, even if those don't match the names of their templates.
    • New Jedi Order: Tahiri Veila, during her elaborate brainwashing. She gets busted out before the Yuuzhan Vong can finish the job, but still has the implanted memories alongside her own. Cue problems. Later in the series, she actually meets the woman whose memories they were originally.
  • Sword of Truth: As a side effect of making the subject Ret-Gone, the Chainfire spell falsifies memories of events that included the subject. Naturally, the characters hanging around with Richard, who was immune to the spell's effects, think his memories are the fake ones.
  • This is a plot point in the sequel to Those That Wake. Remak can implant these, and he's done so to Laura.
  • Thursday Next spends most of the novel First Among Sequels convinced that she has three children: Friday, Tuesday and Jenny. Jenny is eventually revealed to be a fabrication, placed in Thursday's mind by mnemonomorph Aornis Hades to torment her; Thursday's family have been playing along, laying a place at the dinner table for Jenny and telling Thursday she just left the room and so on, to try and save Thursday from the trauma. The full-on horror comes at the end of the scene, where Thursday has already forgotten the conversation and asks where Jenny is, making one wonder just how many times her family have had to go through this.
  • In The Traveller in Black, John Brunner uses this in one city; an evil magician takes a seat on the city Ruling Council, the better to cause the citizens to make a choice that will increase Chaos in the area. His plan includes implanting Fake Memories in the rest of the Council members that he has always been a member of the Council himself.
  • Uprooted: The Dragon removes Prince Marek's memory of being beaten unconscious by Agnieszka for an Attempted Rape. Knowing that it was premeditated, he needs to replace it with something that seems plausible to Marek and won't motivate him to Pull the Thread. To Agnieszka's annoyance, he gives Marek a memory of consensual, really bad sex.
  • In the Philip K. Dick short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" (basis for Total Recall above), people can buy, fake memories of vacations or exciting adventures as a cheaper alternative to real experiences. Problems arise when memories of being a spy turn out to be real for the protagonist... or were they?
  • What The Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror: Fuckroach larvae can change their appearance and even change your memories of them to completely integrate themselves into your life. It turns out that the parents of these missing children never had any kids to begin with. The Fuckroaches can even do this in real-time, altering the memories of a host's senses immediately after they are perceived, so that things like a blank piece of paper are instead perceived as a birth certificate.
  • A.E. van Vogt's World Of Null A may be the first example in literature of this trope. Gilbert Gosseyn has a false memory of marriage to Patricia Hardie, who turns out to be the daughter of the leader of a conspiracy that has secretly seized control of the world government. The memory was implanted by the Chessmaster to bring him to the attention of the conspiracy, so that he could be killed and resurrected, since His Death was Just the Beginning.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agent Phil Coulson, of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., was given memories of a beautiful tropical paradise to account for his recovery following his death at the hands of Loki in The Avengers. Every time someone mentioned Tahiti, the place where he supposedly recovered, he parrot back, "It's a magical place." When he found out the truth, he responded, "It sucked!"
  • During season 4 of Alias a man was implanted with fake memories to make him believe he was Arvin Sloan.
  • Angel: Connor is given a set of fake memories when he's removed from the cast and given a normal family. Most of the characters he interacted with during seasons 3 and 4 have their memories altered to no longer include him, too.
  • Babylon 5 has the "Death of Personality", a 'merciful' alternative to capital punishment in which the convict's memories and personality are erased by a machine and replaced with something that will make him useful to society. A telepath performs scans before and after to confirm its success (and the "before" scans can be quite stressful, since a sociopath's mind isn't a nice place to visit). In the Season 3 episode "Passing Through Gethsemane", a good-natured monk discovers that he was actually a Serial Killer whose previous identity was erased in this way, which causes him a great deal of distress. He ends up allowing the families of his victims to lynch him to death (they tracked him down to the station and triggered his memories on purpose). Then the ringleader is subjected to the same punishment (and ends up joining the same order), since legally this was cold-blooded murder.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • "I'm not a Cylon, I'm Sharon Valerii. I was born on Troy, my parents were Katherine and Abraham Valerii." BUZZ — Wrong.
    • "I am Samuel T. Anders. I was born on Picon, I went to Noyse Elementary School." BUZZ — Wrong.
  • Integral to Blake's 7's first episode (and unfortunately dropped after that). Ordinary civilian Blake discovers that he was once a famous revolutionary who got captured, was forced to renounce the rebellion he'd led and had his memories replaced in order to turn him into a model citizen. Later, the Federation gets Blake convicted of child molestation by modifying the memories of children so they'd remember being attacked by Blake.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Superstar", everyone gets fake memories of Jonathan being Sunnydale's own resident Marty Stu.
    • The introduction of Dawn at the start of Season Five. Not only does she believe she's Buffy's little sister, everyone else believes it, too. "You've always had to take care of Dawn." The strangeness of this is shown when Faith returns to Sunnydale is Season 7. Dawn is visibly cold to the rogue Slayer for Faith's past actions against Buffy, despite the fact that Dawn and Faith have never really met, and Dawn knows that she was actually a glowing ball of energy at the time.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood", this is one of the functions of the Chameleon Arch, which turns the Doctor into a human — memories and all. However, Joan Redfern eventually points out that "John Smith"'s memories are strictly factual, with no emotional content.
    • The big twist of "Utopia" is that the Master used a Chameleon Arch to escape the Time War, turning himself into the friendly Professor Yana.
    • In "Lie of the Land", aliens take over Earth and brainwash almost everyone into believing that the aliens have always been there to guide humanity, from the formation of life on Earth to the first Moon landing. Only a few have the willpower to resist the false history.
  • The point of the Dollhouse. It's a company which takes operatives called 'Dolls' whom they can program to be whomever they want; prostitute, spy, medical officer, assassin, perfect girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse, the list goes on. The Dolls are mostly volunteers who signed five-year contracts with the promise of having some personal trauma fixed at the end of their service, but some were... not volunteers. Each time the Doll has a full set of memories imprinted on them, at least until it's wiped and a new set is downloaded. Except, what happens if a Doll begins to keep his or her memories from past engagements? That's what starts to happen to the series protagonist, Echo.
  • Farscape:
    • This is done to John in an early episode. A group of Delvians make him think he is married and his wife is with him on the planet, complete with fake memories of her being involved in all of his adventures. The point is to distract him and fracture his mind so they can get to Zhaan. Interestingly, he doesn't discover the truth on his own and is only released from the delusions when one of the bad guys has a change of heart.
    • Another episode has a farming colony who are basically kept as slaves via perpetual use of this trope to have them wake up every day thinking it's the last day of the work week, so they never have to actually get paid and can't even organize a resistance to protest the terrible conditions.
  • The Flight Attendant:
    • Cassandra "Cassie" Bowden has done this to herself regarding her childhood memories through a combination of alcohol and rose-colored wish-thinking regarding her relationship with her father and brother. In "After Dark", she ends up in jail and goes into one of her "memory palace" hallucinations with Alex Sokolov, the dead guy whom she woke up with at the beginning of the series and has been trying to figure out who really murdered him. She recalls a happy birthday party with her father, mother and brother, only for the scene to change and it show her abusive, alcoholic father and herself taunting her brother Davey by playing around smashing his cake and then their father knocking him to the ground when he protests. She asks Alex why it changed, what it is that he's doing. "Stop doing this," she tells him, but he replies, "Whatever this is, you're doing it." As the scene continues, he explains "Cassie, this is what really happened."
    • In the second season, Cassie has constructed a perfect life for herself in which she has a year sober. In reality, she's relapsed twice and has been suppressing the memory of having done so.
  • In the third season of Fringe, Olivia is trapped on the Other Side and is given fake memories of Fauxlivia's life. Eventually Olivia starts to adopt Fauxlivia's personality, mannerisms, and skills, and for a time she truly believes that she is Fauxlivia. This isn't helped by most of Fauxlivia's colleagues, boyfriend, her mother honestly believing Olivia is Fauxlivia. (Walternate told nobody but Broyles that he had replaced Fauxlivia).
  • Season 2 of Haven appears to indicate that Audrey's memories are fake and that she's really Lucy Ripley, when the real Audrey Parker shows up. Then it turns out that she's not Lucy either. She's seemingly ageless, and returns to Haven every 27 years with a new set of someone else's memories, and each time helps with the Troubles. She was Sarah Vernon in 1956, Lucy Ripley in 1983, and now Audrey Parker in the present. Season 4 reveals that this body's original personality, Mara, is super evil. She created the Troubles, and her punishment is to have altruistic overlay personalities take over every 27 years and help people she cursed. For eternity, it seems, until she's released in season 5 and becomes the new Big Bad.
  • As of the end of Heroes Volume 4, Sylar has been implanted with the suggestion that he is Nathan Petrelli, if not with the man's actual memories.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
    • In one episode, a young woman "recalls" that her father sexually abused her in her youth after a psychiatrist "recovers" memories of the abuse. In typical SVU fashion, it goes downhill from there, with the father being vilified as a monster by everyone, including the SVU department and his own family, culminating in the father being shot by his other daughter in a misguided attempt to protect her sister from him. Only then does the truth come to light.
    • A similarly themed episode goes in a different but still typically dark direction. When her imprisoned father reaches out to her, a young woman testifies in court that the testimony she gave as a child that sent him to prison for raping her was false and that her mother had convinced her the rape took place. Her father's conviction is overturned; however, she ends up unsure if her mother convinced her as a child that her father raped her, or, as the prosecutor argued, her father convinced her as an adult that he didn't.
  • In one episode of Legend of the Seeker, this was used by a murderer to make someone else believe they had committed the crime. Especially tricky because not only would the person with the fake memories admit to the crime under Confession, but once the heroes had figured out that fake memories were involved, the killer planted the memories of planting the previous false memories in yet another innocent person.
  • The Millennium (1996) episode "Through a Glass, Darkly" involves an accused kidnapper/child killer. False memories of his crimes have been implanted not only in the minds of the victims, but also in the alleged culprit. Even Frank is misled.
  • In Nowhere Man, a man comes out of the bathroom to rejoin his birthday party, but no one knows who he is. He goes Walking the Earth, even visiting his mother at one point — she doesn't know who he is. All the while, he is being pursued by some secretive organisation who clearly must have manipulated everyone. In the end, we learn that he isn't who he thought he was — everything up until he left the bathroom was implanted memories.
  • Once Upon a Time: The entire town of Storybrooke is full of fairy tale characters with Identity Amnesia who were given false memories that make them believe they are normal people, thanks to the Dark Curse that transported them from the Enchanted Forest to the Land Without Magic. Jefferson (The Mad Hatter)'s punishment is instead to have memories of his real identity, which drives him nearly mad. Regina (The Evil Queen) and Mr Gold (Rumplestiltskin) both also know who they really are (as the enactor of the Curse and the creator of it, respectively), and they presumably have fake memories that allow them to blend in with their amnesiac neighbors and other modern-day Earthlings, but these memories have no effect on their personalities. The only difference being that Regina knew the entire time, and Word of God states that Gold only remembers in the pilot after hearing Emma introduce herself.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): The episode titled "The Sentence" has almost the same plot as on Deep Space Nine, with David Hyde Pierce as the creator of a virtual prison which works by implanted memories. However, it works too well, such that the first prisoner put into it dies of shock after he gets caught up in a virtual riot. Then the creator is himself sent to prison when he's convicted of causing the man's death by negligence. It turns out this all happened inside of his head after he went inside the virtual prison to save the man. Feeling guilty in creating it, he sent himself to a virtual prison for twenty years.
  • It even happened in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, where they revealed that Mack Hartford was in fact a robot and his memories of his childhood were implanted by Andrew Hartford.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Thanks for the Memory", Lister gives Rimmer memories of having had a girlfriend as a present, but it backfires, and they end up having to do mind wipes. (Of course, that too backfires due to natural curiosity, and they find out what happened anyway.) A problem with this trope is lampshaded when Rimmer wonders how he could have his appendix out twice, and why he ended up dumping this girl who wanted him to get a proper job and a stable relationship — something Rimmer wants but Lister hated.
  • In Sisters, second-youngest sister Georgie's therapist queries whether she had been molested by anyone, citing that it is frequently a cause of the depression and anxiety that she's been battling. That very night, Georgie apparently has a flashback of her father touching her inappropriately. Within weeks, she's not only convinced that her father repeatedly molested her, she accuses her mother of turning a blind eye to it and her sisters of being in denial as well (when they repeatedly deny being similarly abused), claiming that it would explain the myriad of problems that they've had, accusing her husband of being unsupportive, ultimately cutting them all out of her life, all with her therapist's encouragement. Only months later, watching one of her sisters, a doctor, examining her ill son, does she realize that what she remembered was not her father abusing her, but examining her (he was a doctor as well). She's horrified to realize that the whole thing was a ploy by her therapist to isolate her from her loved ones and ultimately seduce her.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In a first-season episode, the whole team was made to believe Daniel was dead. Naturally, the truth was uncovered through hypnosis.
    • Another example: "The Fifth Man" in which an alien with this as a power becomes the fifth member of the team, there all along. Unusually, he's a friendly alien seeking to ally with them, and the pheromone that lets his species do this is extracted and used in a later episode to allow Daniel to infiltrate a Goa'uld summit.
    • In another episode, the team discovers a village on a toxic planet protected by a force field. Each villager also have a direct mental link to the city computer (like an always available Wikipedia to seek information). When suddenly villagers' memories start to contradict events the team recalls from previous days on the planet, they discover that the computer can't sustain the energy field due to a power shortage and is slowly shrinking it. Since the field cannot hold as many people each time it shrinks, the computer uses the mental link to send people outside the shield to die and modify the other villagers' memories to make them Ret-Gone so no one is mourning their deaths. Since the team aren't linked to the computer, they are not affected by the false memories and can discover the truth.
    • And yet another (it appears that Stargate loves this trope): SG-1 was given "memory stamps" to believe they're part of a tiny colony working day and night to keep their civilization going during a massive ice age. Truth is, the ice age is on the wane, but a privileged class is keeping the workers at it for the extra energy. SG-1 found out and had to be hidden away. Teal'c jinxes the attempt because he forgets he needs to meditate and his symbiote literally can't restore his health until he does.
    • And one more: Mitchell is implanted with fake memories to frame him for a crime. Turns out that the real murderer erased his own memories of the crime, then grieves over the victim's death — she was his ex-wife, and he killed her in a fit of jealousy when he found her with Mitchell — and helps SG-1 track down the real killer, unwittingly exposing himself.
      • In a later episode, Mitchell uses the same device to let a dying friend of his experience his adventures. It's not like that friend is going to tell anyone.
  • Starsky & Hutch: The evil conspiracy in "The Set-Up" manufactures untraceable assassins by brainwashing random people and giving them memories that make them want to kill the target.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: In the episode "Day of the Dove", the entity using the Enterprise crew and Klingons against each other plants memories of Ensign Chekov's brother Piotr being a victim of a Klingon massacre. After he goes off to seek vengeance, Sulu points out to Captain Kirk that Chekov doesn't have a brother.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • "The Mind's Eye" has Geordi leave for a two-week vacation and come back full of stories, only to find out that the Romulans abducted him just after he left, implanted fake memories of the vacation he was supposed to be taking and hypnotized him in an attempt to turn him into a Manchurian Agent. The episode ends with him trying to reconstruct his memories with Troi's help.
      • "Conundrum" featured an alien who erased the memories of the crew, altered the Enterprise's records to convince them the Federation was at war with the enemies of his people, and infiltrated them as a never-before-seen crewmember. He planned to use the Enterprise's superior weaponry to win the war for his side.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • Subverted in "Whispers", in which O'Brien returns from an away mission and realizes that something real nasty is going on. His wife is distant, his friends are acting strange, and his subordinates are sneaking around behind his back (with the help of his superiors). He's convinced that everybody has compromised or replaced as part of a trap for some soon-to-be visiting diplomats. When the entire station is suddenly trying to capture or kill him, he manages to escape and rushes to warn their allies. It turns out that O'Brien himself is not real, he's a hidden assassin with fake memories copied from the real one to make him a perfect undercover sleeper agent. The memories are actually too good, if anything, because he acts just like the real O'Brien would have and thus refuses to let it slide when he feels something is wrong.
      • There's a particularly effective example in "Hard Time", where Chief O'Brien is punished (by aliens) for a crime he didn't even know was illegal (he asked some minor questions about tech they consider classified), and the punishment is to simulate 20 years of prison in his mind while only a few hours pass in real life. While the Federation's medical tech is good enough that they could actually remove fake memories via medical and psychological treatment, in this case it's explicitly noted that O'Brien really did experience these events within the artificial environment. This is part of what haunts him, despite being fully aware of their nature once he's brought out. He still feels guilty about certain choices he made and things he did in the prison he experienced in his mind. The guilt has a profound effect on his emotional state, nearly driving him to suicide.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • In "Course: Oblivion", the entire crew discovers their memories are fake. They're actually not the Voyager crew at all, but Silver Blood duplicates who think they're the originals.
      • In "Memorial", the members of a recently returned away team start having memories of a horrific massacre, to the point of experiencing various forms of PTSD. Turns out the actual massacre had been committed centuries earlier, and a system had been created (the titular "Memorial") to project the shameful memories of committing this massacre into the minds of passers-by, in order to ensure as best they could that it would always remain a visceral memory rather than a dusty note in a history book, and thus hopefully never happen again.
      • In "Workforce", the crew is brainwashed to believe that they belong on the planet they are being forced to work on.
    • Star Trek: Picard: In "The Impossible Box", Soji realizes something is off with her memories after discovering that all her belongings and photographs are 37 months old.
  • In a season 4 episode of Supernatural, Dean "Smith" and Sam "Wesson" work for a large corporation, where they stumble upon a deadly ghost. After they instinctively work to get rid of the ghost, and both quit their jobs to "hunt" full-time, the angel Zachariah, who was disguised as their boss, appears and explains to Dean that he gave them fake memories to show Dean that hunting is in his blood; no matter who he is, he is always a hunter. Of course, Zachariah is obviously trying to push Dean "Smith" away from his "job". He offers him a huge bonus but wants Dean to be, effectively, chained to his desk for the next several years with no social life or any other thoughts but work. Not many people, especially young people, would be thrilled by this prospect.
  • The Torchwood episode "Adam" is another instance of false memories being used to infiltrate the team. Adam also uses them to begin a sexual relationship with Toshiko. It's particularly dark when Adam makes Ianto think he murdered several women in order to prevent him from exposing Adam; Ianto cracks underneath the guilt, horrified he would do anything so terrible. It's also physically painful for him — he screams and thrashes in pain with each new implanted memory. Thankfully, in the end, the team wipes all their memories of the day in order to banish Adam back to the void.
  • Total Recall 2070: Olivia Hume's memories have been tampered with. She used to be a woman named Carol, but Rekall used a brain implant to wipe her mind and use her as a spy.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, this trope is used so often that the plot practically runs on it. At points in Season 1, it seems that Caroline's brain is going to melt out of her ears with the frequency that she's mindwiped by Damon. It's still not that clear what exactly she knows when.

  • Referenced in "Da Anniversary Song" by Da Yoopers. The wife in the song repeatedly drops hints that it is their anniversary, while the husband is stuck recalling amusing anecdotes from a funeral which may not have happened at all (including taking the dead body to a bar and someone passing gas in the church).
  • In Paul Shapera's Miss Helen's Weird West Cabaret, all of the players in the cabaret were subjected to this in order to ensure they kept the show going. The plot starts to go off the rails when Han-Mi, who plays the Dragon Lady villainess in their shows, realizes that she doesn't have any memories of her life outside the cabaret at all, leading to the revelation that they are all trapped inside a simulated reality.

    Other Sites 
  • SCP-1211 ("King in the Castle"). When a man 35 years of age or older spends enough time in the Castle, it implants memories in him of being an Irish king of the distant past during a time of war with rival clans.

  • Calumon can do this in Interstitial: Actual Play thanks to using The Linksmith playbook. He has a bad habit of implanting memories in people he touches to make them believe that they've always been his friend.

  • Played with by the Man in the Shack in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978), who insists that he has no reason to believe he doesn't have fake memories, and therefore cannot comment on the past. Zarniwoop finds this incredibly frustrating.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Fetch from Changeling: The Lost are magical doppelgangers created by the True Fae when they abduct a human. The Fetch live out the lives of the people they've replaced, oblivious to the fact that their whole life is a shame...until the taken human, now a Changeling, escapes from Faerie. Most Fetch aren't aware anything's amiss until this happens, and most take the news they are fakes with memories stolen from a small piece of a person's soul poorly. Of course, sometimes the Fetch's memories are imperfect to begin with...
  • The Nazzadi in CthulhuTech were given an entirely fake history, including fictional memories, when the Migou were creating them to conquer Earth. Finding out how badly they'd been manipulated triggered a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 has a spell called Programmed Amnesia which allows you to remove and add memories on the affected target. The caster could give the target a whole new life and new personality.
    • There is also a less powerful spell call modify memory that still has power perversion possibilities.
  • In Eclipse Phase it is possible to implant these via psychosurgery. The "Edited Memories" trait indicates that a character has them as part of their backstory.
  • There a several magical abilities in Exalted that can modify or remove memories. Most such effects cause false memories in the place of whatever was tampered with. For example, the Sidereal charm Avoidance Kata teleports the user out of a fight and makes everyone present forget that he was ever there to begin with. If the Sidereal has done something important during the scene, then those present misremember the deed as being done by someone else.
  • In Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution the Memory Alteration, Improved Memory Alteration, and Psychic Surgery talents allow you to add, remove, and alter memories.

    Video Games 
  • Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Ed Miller's memories of his childhood have been greatly influenced by his aunt Claire sugarcoating it. Upon reliving them through hypnotherapy, the events are seen in a new light, case in points:
    • Ed remembers how his father used to hide treats in the house and played pretend with him as a "secret pirate brotherhood" behind his mother's back. In reality, it was alcohol his father was hiding from his mother, and he used him to retrieve it, there was also no "pirate brotherhood".
    • Ed also recalls that a broken tire, bursting in the middle of the road caused a car accident when his family and he were going on vacation. The car stopped on the ledge of a cliff, his father evacuated him from it, but the car slipped into the canyon with his mother and sister before he got time to do the same for them. In reality, John had voluntarily crashed the car and pushed it into the canyon to prevent Maddy from starting anew and taking the children from him.
  • Trace/Another has the ability to do this to people in Another Code. Bill did this to Richard, to make him think he killed his own wife.
  • The main character's life before coming to Rapture in BioShock.
  • Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite has a recurring M.O. in the form of the phrase "Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt." What he (and the player) believes this to mean throughout most of the game is that he has been sent by a mysterious employer to retrieve a girl named Elizabeth from Columbia's founder Zachary Comstock in order to wipe away his gambling debts. As it turns out, Elizabeth is actually Anna—Booker's daughter—whom he gave away to Comstock as a young man soon after she was born, an action which he heavily regretted once he realized what he had done. He went to Columbia to save her from Comstock, but crossing a dimensional portal to get there wiped many of his memories and created false ones in order for him to properly function. The opening quote of the game, attributed to the Lutece twins, foreshadows this:
    R. Lutece: The mind of the subject will desperately struggle to create memories where none exist...
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!: In "Claptastic Voyage", the Vault Hunters, adventuring in Claptrap's mind, have to go to his memory of his time spent in Overlook much to his reluctance. What they see is a party thrown for Claptrap whom is beloved by all, when in reality it's all an alteration done by the Denial Subroutine to hide the shameful truth. Once the Subroutine is defeated, the revealed truth shows that Claptrap used explosives instead of fireworks during the party resulting in havoc, deaths and hatred toward him.
  • In Cyberpunk 2077, one questline reveals that the prospective mayor Jefferson Peralez's security team is a front for someone that's been tampering with the minds of him and his wife, doing everything from implanting false memories to altering their personalities. When V goes over his findings with Jefferson's wife she says she had her suspicions as he went into detail about a vacation they supposedly never went on, and is horrified by the concept that they potentially did and they made her forget. Despite V's best efforts there's no way to uncover the true culprits, but Johnny Silverhand theorizes it's a rogue AI manipulating them for its own ends.
  • In Drakengard 3, it is established that when Zero attempted to remove the Flower from her body and inadvertently created her five sisters, each of them was born with memories of lives they did not, and obviously could not, have lived. While it is implied that most of them realized this, Four never really gained a grip on reality.
  • In Fallout 4, when Danse learns that he is actually a synth and not a human, one of the reasons why he's extremely distressed is because he realizes that all the memories he has of being a child are fake, since Synths don't grow up, and are instead created by The Institute as adults, mentally and physically, right out of the gate. He believes that The Institute implanted those memories into him (putting aside the fact that that belief doesn't track according to in-game events and information) and is doubly upset that his memories are of being an orphan and growing up completely alone — he's angry that they didn't even bother to give him a fake family.
  • The Crusader games do not reveal anything about the protagonist's past—but one thing that is known is that if he was genetically engineered, he was never told it, and finds the suggestion surprising.
  • In C. E. Forman's Interactive Fiction game Delusions, the PC is an android, implanted with fake memories about everything.
  • Deus Ex: An email suggests that JC has these of his younger days, and is actually only a few years old in reality. However, other emails also talk about his time in school, and Bob Page mentions his parents in one taunt, so the truth is still up in the air.
  • Digital Devil Saga 2 has a horrific form of these, coupled with Demonic Possession. Turns out there's this virus that can transform you into a demon. Certain cases are worse than others, some reaching the degree where your mind is essentially overwritten and then it's just the demon driving your body. The worst part? The four or five cases where the victim's mind is permanently obliterated? All of them turned into angels.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • A more famous example of this in video games is Final Fantasy VII: The hero Cloud came back from Heroic BSoD with a set of memories half-borrowed from his now dead best friend, Zack. Zack's former girlfriend becomes a potential Love Interest (and Hilarity Ensues for some time before tragedy hits). Surprisingly subtle Foreshadowing occurs despite Tifa trying to keep the truth from him, leading to one of video game history's perennial Tomato in the Mirror scenes.
    • This is also a plot point in Final Fantasy XVI: For roughly the first half of the game, protagonist Clive Rosfield is motivated to find the second dominant of fire who murdered his younger brother in the game's prologue. He eventually learns that he had been lying to himself the whole time, and that ''he'' was the other dominant who went on a rampage outside of his control.
    • In Dissidia Final Fantasy: Duodecim, this is how Kefka brainwashes Kuja into becoming a full-on antagonist for the next cycle, rather than the Anti-Villain he had been up to that point, by giving him fake memories of hating Zidane.
  • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, if Aversa survives to the end of Paralogue 22, she learns that Validar, her former master, had implanted false memories of him saving her as a young orphan. In actuality, he brainwashed her into serving him, killing anyone with any connection to her so that she would never learn the truth. Horrified by this revelation, Aversa joins Chrom's army to help him take down Grima.
  • Flip Dimensions: Due to every world being imagined by Lily, all the characters' backstories are fabricated memories to motivate them to play their roles. This means background characters like the previous king of Theiweth and Ilva's parents don't truly exist and cannot be found in the afterlife. Amaterasu compares this phenomenon to Last Thursdayism.
  • In the final game of the Galaxy Angel II trilogy, Eigou Kaiki no Toki, this is revealed to be a plot point in Kahlua/Tequila's chapter. Her mentor, Madame Caraway, was the one who helped her create the Split Personality to cope with the trauma that prevented her from using her magic, but also partly modified the memories so that Kahlua believed she was the original personality, while in reality it was actually Tequila.
  • As a general rule, any event referenced in Gemini Rue that isn't explicitly shown onscreen has at least a chance of having been artificially implanted. In the end, Kane is the only surviving main character who knows anything of his real backstory.
  • Halfquake (including the comics): All victims (including the protagonist) are clones with artificial memories.
  • Hitman: The comic miniseries Agent 47: Birth of the Hitman shows that Agent 47 was originally best friends with another clone named Subject 6 who escaped from the asylum and went on to live a life under the name Lucas Grey. Hitman 3 reveals that Doctor Ort-Mayer used an experimental serum to alter his memories into thinking 6 was a bully he killed, as shown in Hitman: Enemy Within.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Pratically the entire premise of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, as the character of Naminé has the power to rewrite memories. She peformed this (unwillingly) at two people: Riku Replica and Sora.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas has a false past of happy friends and a pretty hometown. He's really a Nobody, who has to effectively die to wake the player character Sora from a Naminé-induced coma.
  • Klonoa: Door to Phantomile has a Tomato in the Mirror moment at the end to give it a last-second Bittersweet Ending. Not only is Klonoa actually from a different dimension, but his entire life in Phantomile up until the game's beginning was fabricated by Huepow to give him a personal motivation to stop Ghadius. He doesn't take it well.
  • In Mother 3, all of Tazmily Village suffers from this. After their world was destroyed, they came to Nowhere Islands via the White Ship and replaced their memories with new ones in order to avoid a similar corruption. This is foreshadowed throughout, such as Duster and his father not really knowing how he got that leg injury.
  • Persona 5: Any time you get a Nonstandard Game Over for failing to clear a dungeon before the time limit, it's due to the protagonist mis-remembering events in his How We Got Here interrogation after being drugged with too many Truth Serums at the start of the story.
  • Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: One of the things that makes the Witch Trials difficult for Phoenix is that witnesses can simply claim their memories were tampered with by magic and revise their testimony. The real example is the secret behind Labyrinthia. The people living in the town are all volunteers for a long term hypnosis experiment. Everyone there had their memories suppressed, and replaced with a couple of details. They filled the rest in on their own. Taken further when Eve tampered with people's memories to make it seem like Phoenix had always been a baker in the town.
  • The Ur-Example of this in video games is Shin Megami Tensei II: Hiroko was implanted with fake memories of being a Temple Knight in order to conceal the fact that she was forcefully used in an experiment as the surrogate mother of Aleph.
    • The reason why Aleph has amnesia is that he never had any memories to begin with. He is an artificial human abducted/rescued before he could have any memories implanted, and everyone who claimed to know him before is either lying or has false memories.
  • The main issue driving James Sunderland through Silent Hill 2 is that he has immersed himself in a fantasy quest based completely around a fabricated recollection of his wife's death, which has replaced the truth in his mind.
  • There's some questions throughout the Sonic the Hedgehog series about whether the Shadow you play as is in fact the "real Shadow". In Sonic Adventure 2 these questions come about when Rouge finds information on the original Project Shadow, the Biolizard. The question is never actually answered, but the caption before fighting Biolizard refers to it as "the prototype of the ultimate life", meaning that there is a final product: Shadow the Hedgehog. In Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, this is modified to suggest that the ultimate lifeform is either Shadow or Sonic the Hedgehog, although only Shadow has reason to suspect this. In Sonic Heroes, it comes up again, as several Shadow Androids are discovered, leading Rouge to believe that Shadow is a robot himself. It's finally settled in (what else?) Shadow the Hedgehog, but only if you take long enough at the final boss to hear Eggman tell you that you're the real Shadow. The various endings throughout the game vary between Shadow accepting himself as real, or as an android. To sum up: Biolizard is created as an ultimate life form. Shadow is then created as the ultimate life form as well, using extra alien DNA. Then, Shadow nearly died, got recovered by Eggman with amnesia. He used Shadow's template to create a bunch of robots. So, Shadow's fake memories are real memories... but since (as Eggman acknowledges) this was not the result of Project Shadow, Shadow the Hedgehog is the "real" one. At least one of his memories is fake for sure: in Sonic Adventure 2's Last Story, his Roaring Rampage of Revenge was set off by Gerald changing his memory of the promise he made to Maria.
  • In StarCraft, many marines and other low-ranking Terran infantry have their memories altered (usually to remove criminal character traits such as serial killing, cannibalism, etc.) using technology; this is called neural resocialization. It can be undone by trained psychics, and makes the individual more resistant to mind control by the hybrids. Multiple characters in the Expanded Universe novels and short stories have undergone the process.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The Player Character of Knights of the Old Republic seems to have a generic and unimportant background, as revealed in dialogue with Bastila Shan, giving no explanation for the interest the villains are taking in them. This lack of explanation turns out to be due to the relevant memories having been lost and replaced with fake ones: Everything in their memories until relatively recently is fake. They have been reprogrammed to think they have always been a loyal subject of the Republic, so as to motivate them to help the Republic to find the Star Forge — and hiding the fact that they were one of the villains.
    • In The Force Unleashed II, Darth Vader and a hallucination of Rahm Kota taunt the protagonist on how he's not Starkiller, redeemed Jedi and the founder of the Alliance To Restore The Republic, but a clone. It is left ambiguous as to whether he was the original Starkiller with false memories of being a clone, or a clone with false memories of being the original Starkiller. And depending on the ending, it might not matter.
      Rahm Kota hallucination: You're Vader's puppet, just a body filled with the memories of a dead man.
  • Part of the conflict regarding the "School Kids" storyline in Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 is that the kids on the bad guys' side of the fight are having their memories altered to not only forget their friends, but to see them as enemies.
  • Super Robot Wars X: Both of the protagonists. In reality, they are Ordinary High School Students in their 3rd year who both come from a world without Humongous Mecha. One day, they were brought over to Al-Warth and inducted into the Order of Mages, complete with false memories of training there for several years.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World protagonist Emil Castagnier's memories of growing up in Palmacosta are vague and lacking in detail. He's a six month old alter ego of a "demon lord" and thinks he has sixteen years of memories.
  • To the Moon: The two protagonists work for an entire fake memory company. People on their deathbed hire this company to provide them with fake memories of them doing something that they had always wanted to do in life but were unable to do or had just never gotten around to doing, so that they can die without regrets. The process actually works akin to Time Travel, in that they cannot simply create a new memory and stick it in somewhere, they have to travel into the "past" and alter it so that future events play out differently in the client's memories.
  • In Vagrant Story, main character Ashley's generic tragic Backstory is picked apart through the game to explain his incredible fighting prowess, but neither one seems to quite add up. Ultimately he chooses to leave his past behind him, and we never find out which one is true.
  • The Hypnotist from Town of Salem specializes in creating them for The Mafia. They take the form of a bogus system message.

    Visual Novels 
  • One of the main uses to which Shiki in 10 Days with My Devil puts his mind control power is to edit people's memories, facilitating the work of the demons by inserting them into convenient cover roles or making people forget seeing anything unusual.
  • Takumi in Chaos;Head. Specifically, his life from the age of maybe 12 or so until starting high school.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: All the students in the killing game this time around are actually normal students who willingly auditioned to be on the latest season of the popular reality TV show based on the Danganronpa games and anime. Their memories and personalities were replaced with fake "Ultimate Student" personalities and backstories, and every chapter has them recovering new fake memories designed to progress the scripted plot of the season. When they find out, they are appropriately horrified, especially after watching videos of their old selves auditioning, happily boasting that if they get picked they will surely provide some gory kills for everyone's entertainment... assuming that these aren't fabrications or lies themselves, considering that it's coming from Tsumigi, who is trying to persuade them to give up.
  • Marco & the Galaxy Dragon: The Love mutants can insert false memories into a person’s mind, making them think that the mutant is a dear friend. They only give their victims happy memories, however, meaning that the victim can realize they’re being tricked if they can’t dredge up any bad memories of whoever the mutant is impersonating.
  • No Case Should Remain Unsolved: Everything the protagonist remembers about the case is a mix of her own experiences and what the real Jeon Gyeong told her. The events themselves did happen, but she is not the police officer who lived through them.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, the beginning of EP3 where a young Beatrice meets Virgilia turns out to be this. However, this is a variant where the memory is fake on purpose; it's really just Yasu's memory of his/her time spent with Kumasawa, but with a very heavy layer of fantasy to make it more idealized and magical.

  • In Beyond the End, Everyone believes that Eremiel was the true good among angels, the martyr that was slain by Lucifer when he rebelled against Heaven. As it turns out, Eremiel was a Magnificent Bastard with a God complex that smoked the Devil's lettuce at the pearly gates. He loved rebelling against Heaven. Eremiel had used the last of his power to make everyone forget what he was truly like, hoping they'd just forget about him entirely, only for it to backfire and he became a martyr instead.
  • In Commander Kitty, the minds of android clones are altered to "remove imperfect thoughts". This apparently also includes memories, seeing how Android Nin Wah remembers the more glamorous story she fabricated to explain her cyborg arm as what really happened.
  • In El Goonish Shive, when Tedd declares that the test he had Sarah perform was a success despite nothing seeming to result from it, Sarah jumps to the conclusion that Tedd might have transformed her and gave her fake memories of always having been a woman. Tedd hurriedly explains that indeed nothing had happened and goes on to explain why that was the case.
  • In Misfile, reality shifted thanks to Rumisiel misfiling Ash and Emily's files. Everyone but those three (and it's implied God though He doesn't seem to be taking any action) have fake memories that lead them to believe that Ash was always a girl and Emily has yet to be a Harvard bound senior. Rumisiel can't confess his mistake to his superiors since they would likely just make the changes permanent which would alter the main characters' memories as well.
  • The main cast of Schlock Mercenary had their memories altered, voluntarily since the alternative was being killed for knowing too much about the UNS's super-soldier and immortality projects. Because they didn't want to stumble back into the same situation again, Tagon made a point of asking their brainwashers to do as good a job as humanly possible, and the only one who left himself a Note to Self did it so he could act on a grudge and reminded himself to keep it a secret. Eventually, Petey reveals to them what happened, and though he can't restore their memories (Except Kevyn's), he offers to subtly alter the fake memories so they can tell them apart from the real ones.
  • This is one of the many, many, MANY theories regarding Oasis in Sluggy Freelance. Like almost anything else concerning Oasis, it's highly uncertain.

    Web Original 
  • The Amazing Digital Circus: "Candy Carrier Chaos!": When they're first introduced, Gummigoo and his crew talk about his sick mother and their village. However, these are just implanted memories that Caine gave them. Gummigoo later realizes that he doesn't remember his mother's face when he sees that she doesn't have a model in the gallery of model references for the kingdom's residents, which is a major part of his crisis of self once he realizes that his life is just elaborate fiction.
  • Critical Role
    • Jester Lavorre in can cast the spell Modify Memories, which works a bit like this. Her most notable use of it is when facing the hag Isharnai. The party needs a favor from the hag, but she will only grant it in return for a source of great misery. As an artist, Jester offers her hands, so she wouldn't be able to paint anymore, but requests that Isharnai share a final cupcake with her first. Jester has sprinkled the cupcake with a magical drug that weakens Isharnai's mental defenses, leaving her vulnerable to Modify Memory. Using it, she convinces the hag that they had such a good time sharing the cupcake that she voluntarily granted the favor, asking nothing in return.
    • This was used to devastating effect in Caleb Widogast's backstory. Near the end of his training as a Vollstrucker, Caleb returned home to his parents for a holiday, and overheard them talking about plans to betray the Empire. Knowing what he had to do, Caleb returned a few days later with two of his fellow trainees and, after they both murdered their own parents for the same reason, blocked the exit to his parents' home with a cart and set it on fire. Seeing and hearing his parents burn to death shattered him mentally, and he was admitted to an asylum for eleven years. At the end of those years, he met a woman who cast a spellnote  on him that "took the clouds away"... as well as the false memories his teacher had implanted in him to make him think his parents were traitors.
  • All of the supersoldiers in the e-novel E.H.U.D.: Prelude to Apocalypse have these, as well as liberal amounts of Easy Amnesia when they stumble too close to the true memories.
  • Numerous Gender Bender stories involving Magic Transformations have the world reality-shift around the main character, so that everyone sees things as if they had progressed naturally from the beginning in the new reality.
  • The website The Mandela Effect is dedicated to the idea that people's memories being at variance with reality might be due to them remembering events which took place in an Alternate Timeline. The name is taken from people who remember Nelson Mandela as having died in prison sometime around the early 1980s when, in fact, he was released alive in 1990 and became the first black president of South Africa in 1994.note  Other discrepancies reported include the number of states in America, the location of Sri Lanka, and the spelling of "The Berenstain Bears".
  • Paradise by Jon Buck has a bit of an aversion, when characters are TG'd the past is retconned by "Random Omnipotent Being", but they keep their, no longer true, memories... in one story this leads to an oddity. As a woman discovers that she dated someone that in her male life she never actually met.
  • A mixture of someone else's memories and Fake Memories is how Church lives for years without realizing he's an AI in Red vs. Blue.
  • The Taste of Static: Rohadia is a videogame that people remember playing in detail, but simultaneously accept never existed. Whether this is the Mandela effect in force or something more sinister is up for debate.

    Western Animation 
  • The American Dad! episode "The Vacation Goo" reveals that all of Steve, Hailey, and Francine's memories of family vacations were created by a CIA machine Stan borrowed so that he could use the time to watch football.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: The Rooters implant fake memories in the heads of innocent children they had mutated creating a false backstory about them having alien blood and Kevin's father being an Osmosian Plumber and an old partner of Max.
  • In the Drawn Together episode "Toot Goes Bollywood" Wooldoor Sockbat, acting as Foxxy Love's therapist, intentionally implants a false memory in her mind of her being gang raped so she'll think she has a Freudian Excuse for being a slut and thus feel better about herself. He claims all therapists do this.
  • Doug: In the pilot episode of the Disney series, Doug is upset about all the changes happening lately in his life and waxes nostalgic about the way things used to be. He pictures himself enjoying magic mystery meat at school, even though a whole episode of the previous series was devoted to how much he hated it, and having a bubble gum-blowing contest with an inexplicably friendly Mr. Bone. Skeeter calls him out on how skewed those memories are.
  • Family Guy: In "Stewie Loves Lois", Peter somehow convinces a judge, who is presiding over Dr. Hartman's medical license hearing, that he too was raped during what was supposed to be a prostate exam. It leads to the revocation of Hartman's license and ruination of his career.
  • Goldie Gold and Action Jack, "The Goddess of the Black Pearl" has the villain using a herb to give Goldie Gold, the personality of the Goddess of the Black Pearl. This would be under Demonic Possession, but the fake king is really Tylar, the Art Director.
  • The original Ultimen of the Justice League Unlimited episode "Ultimatum" have implanted memories, covering for the fact that they're all less than a year old. In this case, the memories are supplemented by minimizing contact with their "families".
  • In one episode of Legion of Super Heroes (2006), Chameleon Boy intentionally undergoes having fake memories written onto him for the sake of espionage... only for the Legion to discover that the bad guys did the same thing with their shapeshifter.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "Total Rickall", the Smith family's memories are manipulated so that they believe they know various characters who are actually alien parasites that use those same memories to replicate and create even more characters. Eventually, Morty realizes that the characters can only replicate positive memories whereas the Smiths have plenty of unpleasant memories with one another.
  • Shockwave produces one of these in Transformers: Cyberverse in order to convince an amnesiac Bumblebee that he's actually a Decepticon double agent. Bee is distraught and can't believe what he's seeing, but when the memory reveals that Optimus Prime was also a double agent, he rejects the memory and destroys it.
  • In X-Men: Evolution, Magneto has Mastermind alter Scarlet Witch's memories so that she no longer wants revenge on him, specifically editing out all the horrible things he did to her and replacing them with happy moments.

    Real Life 
  • Human memory is highly fallible and prone to filling in gaps, and is deeply vulnerable to pre- and post- event suggestions of what happened, regardless of what actually happened. Incorrect memories can be formed under a number of circumstances, especially periods of high stress or adrenaline. There is a video of a police officer firing a full magazine, reloading, and firing again, in front of a dashboard camera the officer set himself, and then thinking he only fired his gun twice.
    • Another video of a police officer went similarly: the police officer, in this case a black woman, stopped her car at a traffic light. An elderly white man on crutches stood on the sidewalk, waiting for the green signal. Suddenly she got out of the car and hurled abuse at him, claiming he insulted her. Dashcam and sound recordings proved he did not provoke her in any way, but she testified that he did before being shown what actually happened, and could not believe it.
      • Of course, it should be noted that when a person says "I remember X" and the evidence shows that X did not happen, it's often difficult to know if the person has a faulty memory or if they're simply lying about what they remember.
  • Anton-Babinski syndrome, or Anton's Blindness, is a condition in which an individual is blind to a large degree, but makes up an entirely false imagination, experience, and memory of vision. It's very rare, but interesting enough to be seen in House MD.
    • Human visual analysis was proved to be error-suppressing. If a little part of the eye's field of vision is partially blocked by something immovable relative to the eyeball, this part is filled with "repaired" texture extrapolated from the rest of the scene. Sorry guys — error tolerance, lack of artifacts, good signal-to-noise ratio and high sensitivity seem to not to be fully compatible qualities.
    • The reverse can also happen, a phenomenon known as Hysterical Blindness. A person can see completely, but is fully convinced they are blind. (It's tested by having people who are actually blind/them go through a room. They either have close to 0% success, or close to 100% success at key tasks, while people who are actually blind have about 50% success.)
    • There also is a similar condition called blind sightedness, where a person has suffered brain damage to the connection between their consciousness and their visual processing. A person with this condition cannot consciously see anything but will still walk around obstacles as though they can see and won't be aware that they are doing it.
  • In the most infamous real-life case of this trope, between 1980-1995 the United States and elsewhere experienced a number of trials in which children's day care center owners and staff were accused of Satanic ritual abuse, based entirely on testimony of events that were simply impossiblenote , which the individual did not remember until after being questioned. A clinical psychologist who reviewed the videotaped interviews with the children called them "improper", "coercive", and "problematic", and concluded that "many of the kids' statements in the interviews were generated by the examiner." The "recovered memory" testimony was finally fully discredited after a psychologist testified that the techniques used for "recovering suppressed memories" were exactly the ones she had been using in research to create false memories.
    • The real clincher was the "Impossible Bunny" experiment. Using the same techniques used to "reveal" memories of abuse, a researcher got somebody to recall meeting Bugs Bunny at Disneyland... something which is impossible, due to Bugs not being a Disney character, but a Warner Bros. one.
    • More generally, it's been demonstrated that even without this prompting many real victims of crime can have their memories falsified, just by things like being shown the picture of a suspect that wasn't the actual perpetrator. The "show-up" where a victim is presented with the suspect on their own, in a picture or personally, is particularly suggestive (which is one very good reason for the use of identity parades or photo-array identification, where the suspect is only one among many similar options). Many suspects were wrongly convicted of crimes due to mistaken eyewitness testimony, and only exonerated by objective evidence like DNA testing (it does not do one good to think of how many are probably still in prison where this does not exist or is not affordable to the prisoner). In the US, it's especially disturbing that a number of them were sentenced to death and in some cases came within days of being executed.
  • The most common form of false memory creation operates by something called the misinformation effect. As an example: if you ask someone to recall a scene (say, of a car accident) and then ask them if they saw "the STOP sign" as opposed to "a STOP sign", the majority of participants will report- and sincerely believe- that they witnessed such a signpost, even if there was no such sign in the original scene. This is a major problem with eyewitness testimony interviews, particularly because the police officers doing the questioning can inadvertently (or otherwise) transmit their own knowledge of the crime to an innocent party in the questions they ask or the way they phrase them, which — when the innocent party later repeats this knowledge back to them — "confirms" to the interviewer that this seemingly innocent person knows something that makes them look guilty.note 
  • There is also the process of refutation. When we receive information, the brain considers it as just it would any other input — say, seeing or hearing it. If the brain does not have sufficient information to refute this new suggestion, or if the process of refutation is simply disrupted or prevented from occurring properly- which is precisely the function of hypnosis- then we are inclined to accept that information as true.
    • For instance, even if you weren't even at an entire event, if a relative or friend mistakes you for being there and insists that you were there, you can end up creating your own memories of those events because you begin to second-guess yourself. "I wasn't there, I'm sure of it... was I?"
    • Related to this is Source Amnesia, where you recall a piece of information but forget what the source was. For example, suppose as a child you watched an episode of The Doodlebops where one character goes to the moon and, while there, is weightless. Nobody would cite a children's show as a source of serious scientific information, yet your brain will register the "fact" that a person on the moon will experience weightlessness, while forgetting that the source was a silly children's show.
  • The ease with which false memories can be implanted actually borders on terrifying. There are quite a few cases of bad lineup procedure causing witnesses to 'rewrite' their memories, resulting in such absurd things as people getting wrongly convicted merely because they happened to have a sign above their head, or were the right answer to "Which of these is not like the others?" Perhaps the worst part is that the witnesses may even be flat-out ''certain'' that their choice from the line-up is the right person, despite whatever later hard evidence proves. This frequently leads to harassment of the first person accused of a crime long after they are acquitted, and the actual guilty party has been found and convicted.
  • Increasing amounts of research demonstrate that memory is as malleable as sand. It's possible to recall a memory, specifically have someone change a part of that memory through forceful suggestion, and then believe that that's actually what happened. While scary, it has practical applications: soldiers suffering from PTSD can be asked to relive the memory, then use specific drugs (in this case, beta blockers) to rewrite the memory and remove the shellshock. It's not an instant fix, however, requiring multiple treatments.
  • Contrary to popular belief, your brain does not record everything that ever happened to you, so attempts to "uncover" stuff you don't remember will lead to Fake Memories quite often. Your brain only registers impressions, not straight sensory input, and if you weren't paying attention to an event (or never experienced it in the first place), there might be no record of it in your mind. (This is why you can lose your keys and rack your brains trying to "remember" where you left them, and fail — if you weren't paying attention when you dropped the keys, your brain may not have registered the event at all, and you're trying to retrieve a memory that simply doesn't exist.)
    • It is possible to have incredible passive recall, however. This takes several forms:
    • Savants capable of recalling entire books, or huge numbers of digits of pi do so by focusing entirely on something they are paying attention to. This variety is no better at remembering things outside of their area of memorization than anyone else.
    • Competitive memory champions practice constantly to develop the Charles Atlas Superpower variant of this, focusing on honing highly efficient methods of short and long term recall. When they are not actively paying attention to memorizing something, their accuracy drops sharply, but remains significantly above the average person's passive retention.
    • The condition known as Hyperthymesia is a rare condition in an individual recalls with great accuracy the major and minor events of every day of their personal lives. Recall of events outside of their own lives, however, is significantly less accurate.
    • The rarest form, only recently experimentally proven to actually exist is true Eidetic Memory. These individuals, of which fewer than 20 have been confirmed so far, are capable of recalling with extreme levels of accuracy not only their personal lives, but minute details like the weather and minor news stories of any given date past early childhood. Research is ongoing into exactly how they are able to do this, but the current leading hypothesis is that in these individuals the normal mechanisms the brain uses to filter what information is worth memorizing and what can be safely forgotten are disrupted, while the mechanisms that the brain uses to organize and correlate memories and chronological information are hyper efficient. In one test, an individual with true eidetic memory was able to recall with near-perfect accuracy the pairings of major league baseball teams on given dates from the mid 70's. The individual was not a baseball fan.
      • One reason true eidetic memory enjoys the profile it has despite its extreme rarity is it just so happens that one of these extremely few people in the world who has it is Marilu Henner, already a celebrity as an actress (best known as Elaine Nardo on Taxi). Henner's friend Lesley Stahl chose to involve her in a 60 Minutes story on eidetic memory because she recognized that Henner had the condition from how it was described to her. She makes for an ideal subject in the experimental testing that researchers do on people with true eidetic memory because, as a public figure, it's very easy to find out verifiable information about her past.
  • Even the collective memory is prone to fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, at times totally different from recorded evidence.
    • To demonstrate that this trope is Older Than Feudalism, the Roman historian Suetonius mentionsnote  that news of a failed usurpation against the emperor Domitian became so widespread in Rome that people swore that they personally saw his head paraded around the streets of the city, despite the implausibility of that scenario.
    • Many viewers supposedly remember scenes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when it was shown in theaters such as Ron playing Quidditch. This is impossible as those things were never shot for this film.
    • When Back to the Future was first released on VHS, a To Be Continued caption was added at the end to set up the coming sequel. Many people "remember" seeing this caption when the movie was originally in theaters and the filmmakers have had a hard time convincing them that this would be impossible. At the time, most of the films directed by Robert Zemeckis had flopped and so his only hope for Back to the Future was that it would make its money back. There were certainly no sequels planned at that stage.
    • Star Wars: A New Hope:
      • Similarly, many people remember seeing the scene on Tatooine between Luke and Biggs in the original release. This is a Deleted Scene (watch it here) which has never been included in the actual film. However, stills from the scene were publicized at the time and the scene was included in the Novelization and the Comic-Book Adaptation. Plus, this was in the days before VHS.
      • The scenes with Biggs on Tatooine were included on a CD-ROM version of Star Wars called ''Behind the Magic." Some one seeing this might have "remembered" them from the movie, or misremembered them being in the Special Edition version.
      • There are endless debates on the nature of Threepio's silver leg, with some fans clearly remembering the leg being gold in A New Hope despite the fact that every single behind the scenes photo show it being silver.
    • Countless fans of The Wizard of Oz "remember" that the first time they saw the movie (either on TV or on an early VHS), the camera panned down at the end to reveal the Ruby Slippers under Dorothy's bed, proving that her adventure in Oz was Real After All. No such ending to the movie has ever existed.
    • Some fans of Big claim that the film ended with a scene where Susan becomes a student in Josh's class by using the Zoltar machine to de-age herself. A mention of this ending was even published in a 2005 Canadian print of The Book of Lists, which claimed it was only used on test screenings. Most people theorize that people remembering this ending are instead remembering the ending to 14 Going On 30, a movie with a similar premise.
    • During the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, many witnesses reported having seen a white van at the scene of the crime; it turned out the killers used a blue Chevy Caprice.
    • The Mandela Effect stems from this trope; it hypothesizes that fake memories are in fact glimpses into alternate universes. Its name is derived from a blog post where the OP said that she thought she remembered Nelson Mandela dying in prison, and shared that memory with several people at Dragoncon 2005, when in fact he was still alive at the time (he died in 2013). The more prosaic explanation is that people were mixing up Mandela and Steve Biko. A much lighter example often cited by Mandela Effect proponents is people having memories of a kid-friendly comedy movie in The '90s called Shazaam, with Sinbad as a genie, which they insist was completely different from the well-documented Shaquille O'Neal genie movie Kazaam.note  Another common variant is insisting The Berenstain Bears used to be spelled "Berenstein" and pronounced like "Beren-steen"; some old products like VHS tapes actually do sport this typo, and they do show up from time to time in the TV guide sections of local papers in countries where the name is very uncommon, but all things considered they're incredibly rare.
    • One article on Stanley Cup handoffs notes that in spite of many people remembering it that way, when the Anaheim Ducks won, the first person to receive the Cup from captain Scott Niedermayer wasn't Teemu Selanne, a veteran who was basically the face of the franchise, but his brother Rob — who then gave it to Selanne.
  • Last Thursdayism is a satirical (we hope) religious doctrine that claims God created the entire universe last Thursday, and that any evidence of the world existing before then (including our own memories) were implanted by God to trick us. Oddly enough, there was once a similar idea seriously put forward, which Last Thursdayism parodies by taking its claim even further.
  • Elizabeth Loftus carried out much of the original psychological research to prove the fallibility of human memory, and repeatedly served as an expert witness in court cases to impress on the jury the inherent unreliability of eyewitness testimony.
  • A rather funny example. Artist Gianluca Gimini did an art project where he would ask a bunch of people to draw a bicycle from memory then create an image of what the bike would look like in a real life using a 3d program. The results can be seen here and often include Egregious mistakes such as having the chain run between both wheels (which would make it almost impossible to turn the bike) or even leaving out vital features all together. The reason for this? While almost everyone knows more or less what a bike looks like, people asking to picture one on the spot tend to leave out the finer details, or even just fill them in with whatever their brains happen to come up with at the time.
  • Yakov Perelman, in one of his books, suggested pranking a friend by asking him how long he had his watch, then calculating how many times he must have seen it, and then asking him to draw how the digit 6 looks upon it. He then noted a lot will draw it, but will do so wrong. Back when he wrote that book, male watches didn't tend to have a 6; a smaller face with a hand for seconds in its place was the norm.
  • Gaslighting tends to weaponize this trope. An abuser will insist on a false version of events (one where they didn't commit any abuse, for instance), and if the victim says they remember things differently the abuser will insist that's just because the victim has a faulty memory. In these cases, the victim's memory is more accurate than they realize and the abuser is just lying to them.
  • For an extra layer of Mind Screw, consider the fact that many of the examples in this section don't come with sources attached, meaning that whoever added those examples simply heard about them somewhere and then used their memory when adding them to TV Tropes. Isn't it possible that some claims about memory are themselves the product of faulty memories? Isn't it possible that you will misremember some of the examples from this section sometime in the future?


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): False Memories


Devin Levin

Max realizes that "Devin Levin", Kevin's alleged father who was his Plumber partner, was actually a fake memory implanted in his mind by Proctor Servantis to get him to look after Kevin.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / FakeMemories

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