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First Time Feeling

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"The smell was bad, but Kronski acted like he was dying. But what Holly did not grasp was the power of the doctor's awakened sense of smell. Imagine the joy of seeing for the first time or the euphoria of a first step. Then square that feeling and make it negative. Take a ball of poison, dip it in thorns and manure, wrap it in a poultice of festering bandages, boil the whole lot in a cauldron of unspeakably vile excretions, and shove it up your nose. This is what Kronski could smell, and it was driving him out of his mind."

In real life, people will sometimes lose or are born without a certain sense. Fiction will take this a step further, giving characters little to no emotions whatsoever. Regardless of what exactly they cannot feel, if such a character suddenly gains whatever sense or emotion they were missing, they are often overwhelmed by it. Depending on the feeling, the character can experience incredible pain, confusion, an In-Universe Catharsis, or even Go Mad from the Revelation.

There is some Truth in Television, as recent studies have shown that formerly blind people who have their sight restored are often unable to process what they see for a long time, and will prefer to continue relying on the senses they used while blind.

Contrast with Is This What Anger Feels Like? (where a character experiences a certain emotion that they usually don't) and Not So Stoic (where a seemingly serious person was actually just bottling their emotions up). Can overlap with What Is This Feeling? and What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?.

See also Sense Freak and Sensory Overload. The opposite of Sense Loss Sadness, though stories using the latter sometimes end with a scene featuring this trope, which is also the case for stories dealing with Tragic Intangibility.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Bleach, this actually gets Tousen killed. He's blind, so his new Hollow Resurrecion form grants him sight, he's so overwhelmed by it that he doesn't notice his opponent attacking from behind until it's too late.
  • In The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon discovers that Emotionless Girl Yuki Nagato set the whole plot in motion by developing emotions and, unable to deal with them, stole Haruhi's powers and remade the world. Kyon even reflects that the fact that she was designed without emotions made her reaction to developing them that much greater.
  • A side effect noted in Fullmetal Alchemist by Al, after regaining his body (and sense of touch).
  • Asagami Fujino of The Garden of Sinners has no sense of pain thanks to being medicated since she was a small child to seal her psychic powers. She first gets it back in fits after she's hit with a baseball bat by a group of thugs who had just raped her, and proceeds to kill all but one of them because the pain makes her feel both more alive and murderous.
  • Sailor Moon: Downplayed example in R with Esmeraude. Despite apparently possessing significant wealth and status, Esmeraude's life on Nemesis did not come with many chances to eat luxury foods and sweets. As such, visiting a bakery in present-day Japan during an all-you-can-eat sales event leads to her discovering her Sweet Tooth and cramming a huge number of pastries before she even realizes what she's doing.
  • In The Rising of the Shield Hero, the psychological damage of his betrayal and branding as a rapist causes Naofumi to lose his sense of taste. After Raphtalia manages to pull him back from the brink, he's shocked and delighted to finally be able to taste again.
  • In Log Horizon, the Adventurers are miserable after the translation in part because everything they try to eat has the consistency and flavor of soggy crackers. When a stand opens selling food that actually tastes like something, people burst into tears while devouring their meals.

    Comic Books 
  • The Authority: One arc features the release of an extremely dangerous former Doctor, a sociopath who immediately double-crosses the team. Unfortunately for him, when he takes back the Doctor's powers it comes with a big helping of empathy with everyone he's ever hurt, reducing him to a crying wreck and unceremoniously eye-beamed into oblivion.
  • Spider-Man: While he didn't gain new senses, Peter Parker has to deal with Sensory Overload when he gets his current ones expanded and nearly goes insane before figuring out how to rein in his supersenses.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: After having discovered that Rei's medication regimen is full of dissociative, emotionally suppressing, and worse drugs, Asuka adamantly tells Rei to drop it entirely, despite the ensuing withdrawal symptoms. Not only can Asuka relate (having been on such drugs in the past), but she's particularly triggered by the knowledge that NERV is willing to turn its own Pilots into 'emotionless dolls'. Rei undergoes a rather intense period of time where she tries to deal with intense withdrawal (while trying to hide it) and feeling significant emotion for the first time.
  • All Assorted Animorphs AUs: In "What if Marco was Deaf?", Marco hears for the first time when he starts morphing. The first time he hears his mother's voice, it's on the Mother Ship while he's a gorilla but it's Visser One talking through her.
  • A Triangle in the Stars: Bill experiences, and later struggles with, this throughout, since Chapter Three, starting with confusion. But it later grows into indecision of whether he loves it or hates it. And later feels like a train station and like a tree is growing inside him. It's empathy. Something he lost a long, long time ago.
  • Doing It Right This Time: When Rei wakes up in the past, the effects of her feeling-numbing medication have worn off, and she is trying to cope with the rush of different emotions.
    And then she felt a sudden stab of fear at the sheer intensity of the emotion, which was like nothing she'd ever felt before. She glanced over at the untidy stack of pill bottles on the nightstand. They will keep you from becoming distracted, Commander Ikari's voice said in her memory. Apparently whoever was responsible for sending her back in time had decided she might benefit from getting a little distracted, because this was ten times worse -or better?- than when she finally said 'no' to Gendo Ikari for once after skipping her meds for a week.
  • Vegeta gets hit with this in Dragon Ball Z Abridged after Trunks stands up to him for the first time.
    Vegeta: Huh. This is a new feeling: Pride in someone else. *beat* Unfortunately it's overshadowed by all this UNYIELDING RAGE!
  • In Hope for the Heartless, after the events of The Black Cauldron, the Horned King (who's been Resurrected for a Job) is revealed to have lost his heart centuries ago with the countless sins he committed. He lost with his heart his ability to feel real emotions (excluding hatred), but Avalina causes him to feel something resembling positive emotions and some additional negative ones as well (like guilt) with her beautiful piano playing and extraordinarily strong aura of Life. It eventually reaches a point where his heart reawakens. After that, his emotions become stronger, both the positive and negative ones.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Izuku was born a Moon Child who could not produce an Aura or a Semblance. He instantly starts sobbing Tears of Joy when he produces an Aura for the first time after receiving One For All, as it means that his long-impossible dream of becoming a Huntsman can finally become a reality. Many of the early chapters of the story cover his reactions to living with his new Aura, like his giddiness over realizing that he's totally unharmed after falling flat on his face, his excitement over how fast and strong he feels now, and his appreciation for how his Aura keeps him from getting gutted by Beowolves.
  • Scar Tissue: When Rei emerges from the Blood Red Sea she is not under the effects of her old emotion-numbing medication. Unfortunately, it means she is not ready to deal with the sudden influx of emotions, particularly rage, and she picks a fight with Asuka as soon as she sees her because she can not control her temper.

    Film — Animated 
  • Downplayed example: After being kept in a small tower all her life, Rapunzel from Tangled is initially exhilarated by the feeling of grass on her bare feet, the scent of dirt, and other sensations that most of us would take for granted.
    Rapunzel: [singing] Just smell the grass! The dirt! Just like I dreamed they'd be!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • After John Preston goes off his meds in Equilibrium and starts experiencing emotions for the first time, he has a very difficult time keeping a stoic expression and breaks down into tears the first time he hears music while not having his emotions suppressed. (Though, to be fair, it is Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Even the script notes that this is an unfair emotional sucker punch.)
  • Meet Joe Black: "Joe" has no experience with love whatsoever and so falling for Susan completely overwhelms him.
  • Star Trek: Generations: When Data's emotion chip is first installed, he experiences emotions more strongly than the humans around him. Eventually, the chip overloads and his emotions become so intense that he collapses.
  • While it's not their first time feeling, the crew of the Black Pearl in the first Pirates of the Caribbean regain their tactile senses when the curse is lifted. Brought home by Barbossa's "I feel... cold."

  • Alex Rider: The Big Bad of Scorpia Rising is Abdul-Aziz Al-Razim, a sociopath characterised by a complete lack of emotions or empathy, who tortures people to death just to measure physical and emotional pain, and kills Alex's friend and guardian Jack Starbright whilst Alex is forced to watch for no other reason than to see how much it hurts Alex. When he suddenly discovers that Alex has managed to foil his Evil Plan and bring the army to his secret base, he feels emotion for the first time in his life, namely fury and despair. (This ends up happening just in time for him to feel the full terror of one of the most horrible ways to die imaginable.)
    For the first time in his life, Razim felt the full force of his emotions as they rushed in, overwhelming him. Fury. Despair. He was out of control, unable to believe what had just occurred, that everything he had planned so carefully, so brilliantly had been suddenly taken away from him.
  • In the Animorphs series, this happens to everyone the first time they morph into something with unfamiliar senses.
    • Aximili is an Andalite, an alien species with no sense of smell or taste (they have no mouths, and eat by absorbing nutrients through their hooves). When he first morphs into a human, his reaction to eating human food is excessively enthusiastic. He remains something of a food junkie through the series, and cigarette butts become one of his favorite snacks. By the end of the series, this has led to a surge of Andalite tourists coming to Earth, morphing into humans, and trying all the food.
    • An inversion when the team first morph ants: they lose their sense of self due to the ant's Hive Mind instinct.
    • Even worse, it's what happens when an ant gets morphing powers by an accident and morphs Cassie. It freaks out so badly that just watching it freaks out the real Cassie. In the ant's case, however, it also had to cope with suddenly being cut off from the Hive Mind.
    • While we don't see it in quite the same detail, this is what Yeerks experience when they first take on a host body. It seems that they're pretty comfortable beforehand, despite only having sense of touch, chemosensors, and echolocation - but once they are able to witness senses such as sight and taste, as well as all the amazing memories and feelings their hosts possess, being a slug isn't nearly as satisfying.
      Do you see those flowers? Do you see the sunlight? Do you see the birds flying? You hate me because I won't spend my life blind? You hate me because I won't spend my life swimming endlessly in a sea of sludge, while humans like you live in a world of indescribable beauty.
      • It's mentioned in The Hork-Bajir Chronicles that some Yeerks find the experience akin to Sensory Overload and would rather just avoid taking hosts altogether, but we don't see much of them in the other books because without hosts there's no way they can really interact with the world outside their pools.
      • In The Visser One Chronicles, the Yeerk who would become Visser One goes through this when possessing a human, due to the fact that, since humans are of the few — if only — life-forms with a brain split into hemispheres, they have to cope with a dialectic mind.
    • The Taxxons suffer from Horror Hunger that makes them eat anything that looks dead or helpless (including, but not limited to, their enemies, their allies, fellow Taxxons, the half of a bisected Taxxon that doesn't have a mouth at the end...), a hunger so strong even the Yeerk controlling the Taxxon's brain is powerless to stop (and as it turns out, are sentient enough to desperately want the hunger to end). In the epilogue, it's revealed that many of them have gone through voluntary Mode Lock as huge snakes like anacondas, which can survive on just 4-5 large meals per year.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, villain Damon Kronski was born unable to smell anything. So when Holly restores his sense in a particularly foul-smelling Souk, he is left writhing on the floor, clawing at his nose.
  • After the protagonists in Stephen King's short "The Raft" end up trapped on the eponymous object by a killer oil slick, the POV character Randy speculates that his jock friend Deke just might be experiencing fear for the very first time in his life.
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Secret Sense": Lincoln Fields, a hedonistic rich kid, is excited to be given the Martian ability to sense magnetic fields by the voltage and amplitude. His friend has arranged for him to be present during a Martian portwem; basically a concert for this specific sense. When the five minutes are over, Fields is devastated.
  • Discworld: In Thief of Time, a number of Auditors take human form, and find themselves momentarily overwhelmed by the sensory overload of simple existence. They pass out from the taste of dry toast, and chocolate kills them. Of course, this is before they discover the danger of strong emotions...
  • This effect is a major plot point in The Giver.
  • It's not that the Kantri of Tales of Kolmar don't have a sense of touch, but their impressively thick hides and clumsy clawed hands do insulate them quite a bit from the world to the point that when one becomes human he's shocked and astounded by how much he can feel on his new skin, right down to slight puffs of air moving across his hands. Three months later, he still stops "a hundred times a day" to marvel in the sensation.
  • In The Well of Moments, Felice briefly experiences natural hearing for the first time when she looks into the Well and has a "vision" of someone jogging while wearing earbuds. She is profoundly shaken since she was born deaf and has only had a cochlear implant for a few years. Full hearing is her long-term goal, and she's willing to pursue supernatural means to that end.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Arrested Development, Gob and Tony Wonder discover that they aren't so different, and as a result, they both experience a feeling of genuine friendship for the first time in their lives. But since they never have felt this before, they assume that their feelings are romantic in nature.
  • Corner Gas: Davis is revealed to have lost his sense of smell as a child after getting hit in the head with a ball. He regains it after falling out of a tree and at first, he's loving it. Then he realizes that things can also smell bad, and wants to go back.
  • House
    • One Patient of the Week is secretly a clinical sociopath who had only ever faked being in love with her husband. She manages to keep her gullible husband strung along on the slim chance that the cure for her disease might also cure her sociopathy, but when it actually does, her first response is to lash out in disgust at his stupidity, followed by anger and confusion at her new ability to feel.
    • Another patient is a high school student who was born deaf and lived his entire life unable to hear, having grown perfectly happy to go through his life as he was. House under the influence of his hallucinations of Amber has a cochlear implant put into the patient against the wills of him and his mother, and when it is turned on for the first time, Sensory Overload ensues.
  • In the third season of ReGenesis, a treatment undergone by high-functioning autistic Bob Melnikov to save his eyesight has the unexpected side effect of increasing his empathic abilities well past neurotypical levels to the point where he's almost The Empath. The emotions are so overwhelming that at one point he freaks out and has a breakdown while walking down the street.
  • When Q is temporarily Brought Down to Normal in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Déjà Q", he finds falling asleep terrifying, gets stabbed with a fork by Guinan, discovers that he "can stub my toe with the best of them", and...
    Q: [while discussing a plan to push a moon back into orbit] This is incredible.
    Geordi: You see something here, Q?
    Q: I think I just hurt my back. I'm feeling pain... I don't like it. Uh, what's the right thing to say, 'ow'?
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Body and Soul", the Doctor's program is hidden in Seven, and he's overwhelmed by the taste of cheesecake.

    Web Comics 
  • Deor: In the series finalenote , the sociopathic demon overlord Aequali intentionally riles Deor up into unleashing his full might at him just to feel something, anything... and it works. As it turns out, rather than kill his victims, Aequali had been secretly storing and experimenting on his targets, fixing their serious physical and mental issues, because even murder didn't make him feel, and he'd been trying to find out if it was human flaws that made emotions tick. Understanding what compassion feels like finally convinced him to let go of his collection.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Family Guy episode "One If by Clam, Two If by Sea", Peter and his friends get what amounts to a Last-Minute Reprieve from their Frame-Up minutes before Steve Bellows (the Serial Killer put away years ago by the force Joe was on) gets to make good on his threat to kill them in retribution. Left to his own devices, he cuts his arm to see how it feels. Realizing the pain, he happens on the revelation that he really does deserve to be locked up.
  • Futurama:
    • In "Anthology of Interest II", Bender is turned human and is so overwhelmed by taste that he starts overeating and soon becomes morbidly obese.
    • "Neutopia" lampshades this (and gender stereotypes) when an alien accidentally sex-changes the entire crew, plus some passengers and Hermes's wife. At one point the female Hermes turns to her now-husband and mentions "Did you know there's more than two emotions!?"
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In "Nothing To Sneeze At", Bev Bighead accidentally gets plastic surgery that gives her a nose. She's delighted to enjoy smell for the first time, but she's also horrified to discover that her husband Ed has a terrible body odor problem.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The plot of "No Nose Knows". Since he has no nose, Patrick has no sense of smell and wants to experience it, so he undergoes plastic surgery to get one. He initially enjoys it... but things go downhill when he's overwhelmed by bad smells.

    Real Life 
  • As stated above, reports have shown that formerly blind people who have their sight restored are often unable to process what they see and are constantly confused by it.
  • Cochlear Implants are a type of device that can give the ability to hear to someone who is mostly or completely deaf. They may not work for everyone who has a hearing impairment, but when they do work, well just see for yourself.
  • All people (especially children) deal with this at some point in their lives. There is a first time for feeling any very strong emotion.
    • For example, people who grew up in a harsh social environment and never learned what true unconditional love is. The moment they learn/rediscover this feeling, they will most likely break into tears.
  • Newly-developed Enchroma lenses can correct certain forms of color blindness. People who have tried them, seeing colors for the very first time, are often so overwhelmed that they can be moved to tears:
    "Purple. This is purple. This is purple!"


Video Example(s):


"I Hate This!"

Data's new emotions chip allows him to taste things for the first time, and he is absolutely ecstatic to be able to taste something awful.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / FirstTimeFeeling

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