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A character whose defining characteristic is being ridiculously forgetful. Not the type who forgets to wear a watch every now and then, but the type who can't find it because they happen to be wearing it on their other wrist. They don't just misplace their reading glasses, they misplace them by pushing them up onto their forehead. They may try using a String-on-Finger Reminder, but they'll forget what it's supposed to remind them to do.

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Usually played for comedy, this trope does not cover characters with Alzheimer's or brain injuries that medically impair their short-term or long-term memory.

Compare Absent-Minded Professor, Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!, and Scatterbrained Senior. For showrunners assuming their audience's memory is this bad, see Viewers Are Goldfish. Not to be confused with Forgettable Character, which is a character that everyone else constantly forgets about.


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Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Come Dragon Ball Super, Goku developed a bad habit of forgetting key items. This bites him in the ass big-time during the Future Trunks Saga; their plan to stop the immortal Future Zamasu by sealing him away with the Evil Containment Wave would have worked... had Goku not forgotten to grab the Paper Talisman needed to actually complete said seal.
  • Fairy Tail: In the Key to the Starry Skies Arc, former Arc Villain Erigor returns having exchanged his memories for incredibly powerful weather magic. As a side-effect, his memory periodically resets itself, to the point he occasionally forgets about his abilities, his enemies while he's still fighting them, and doesn't even remember his very name and identity. Played for Drama, as he admits when Wendy manages to force his memories to return in full that losing them was one of the worst experiences of his life.
  • Monster Musume: Papi's memory borders on nonexistent. She forgets the protagonist literally five minutes after meeting him (she doesn't forget his name, she completely forgets that she ever met him in the first place), and routinely has difficulty getting her own name and species straight. This is mainly because her characterization is based on a Japanese legend that birds forget everything after taking three steps. Kimihito eventually figures out that he can get her to remember stuff for longer periods of time by carrying her.
  • Shinnosuke in Ranma ½ remembers his own name, what his duties are... and that's about it. His forgetfulness is Played for Laughs most of the time, including the time when he forgets his own grandfather, who has been his sole human company for much (if not all) of his life, much to his grandfather's annoyance.

    Asian Animation 
  • Careless S. of Happy Heroes has a habit of forgetting stuff, even at the cost of easily winning a battle - it's not uncommon for him to forget to load the ammo into a weapon he's using, or load the wrong kind of ammo into it.

    Comic Books 
  • One Achille Talon story involved a man with some kind of memory disorder that caused him to constantly forget or misremember things, along with a healthy dose of Insane Troll Logic. To give an example, he begins the story knocking on Achille's door asking to see "the Marquess", then when Achille goes to check outside who brought this loony at his door slams it behind him then proceeds to go to bed, firmly convinced he's at his home. When Achille manages to prove that he's not him, the man then admits he has forgotten his own name, and asks the police if they have found someone on the street with a name that could be his.
  • Ira West (Iris' adoptive father, Wally's grandfather) in The Flash. In his first appearance, he was told Barry Allen's Secret Identity and helped create his super-compressed costume, but had forgotten all about it the next day.
  • Senilo in the Swedish superhero spoof Kapten Stofil. His superpower is being incredibly forgetful. While generally useless, this sometimes allow him to perform marvelous feats as long as they occur off-panel and he doesn't remember what he did. ("How did you get free?!" "I haven't the foggiest. Where are we?")
  • Monica's Gang has the dog Zé Esquecido (nearly the trope name: Forgetful Joe), whose faulty memory causes many problems to himself and Bidu\Blu.
  • Quinton Zempfester from Thieves & Kings.
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    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Dory from Finding Nemo
    Dory: I suffer from short-term memory loss. It runs in my family. Well, at least I think it does... Where are they?
  • Nangi from Zootopia is supposed to have an excellent memory due to being an elephant. Yet, she cannot remember a single detail about Emmitt Otterton despite him coming to her yoga class for six years.
    Nangi: I have no memory of this beaver.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Absent-Minded Professor and its remake, Flubber, start with Professor Brainard getting so wrapped up in experiments that he forgets his own wedding for the third time!
  • The Absent-Minded Waiter: This self-explanatory title is a 1977 short film with Steve Martin as the waiter. His absent-minded blundering starts small-scale, when he asks for their order without giving them menus, and gets bigger-scale, like when he pours water all over the dinner table because he forgot to set the glasses down first.
  • Accident: Unknown to the rest of his team, Uncle has a medical condition that is causing him to lose his memory. This ultimately has tragic consequences.
  • Uncle Billy in It's a Wonderful Life: Besides his big blunder toward the end of the film, an earlier scene shows him with reminder strings tied on several different fingers, indicating that he is generally prone to forgetfulness.
  • The Lookout plays this for drama, with a main character who suffered brain damage and must now write reminders to himself to do basic things throughout the day.
  • Memento: Leonard. It's the driving force behind the whole damn film.
  • Mother (2009): Played for drama with the mentally deficient Do-joon, who will instantly forget things he's done and is very pliable about believing what other people tell him. In an early scene, his friend breaks a car's car mirror and then tells Do-joon that he did it, which he readily believes. When Do-joon is accused of murder, his mother does not believe that he is responsible, but Do-joon must struggle to remember what did happen.

    Literature 
  • Another P. G. Wodehouse example: Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle.
  • Professor Plum from the Clue book series.
  • Neville Longbottom of Harry Potter, long before his Memetic Badass days, was this for the first four (and part of the fifth) books. It's implied that he was this because of his lack of self-confidence and drive to be better.
  • "Biffy" Biffen from the Jeeves and Wooster stories, who has found the girl of his dreams, but can't remember her last name! Also applies to the TV show.
  • Mr. Forgetful from the Mr. Men series. In his book, he even has to memorize a message (and, being Mr. Forgetful, gets the message wrong, of course).
    Mr. Forgetful: There's a goose asleep in the rain!
The original message was "There's a sheep loose in the lane."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Drake & Josh episode "Football" Drake and Josh meet the school janitor, Zeke Braxton, who used to be a pro football player until a head injury affected his memory.
    Zeke: Who are you kids?
    Drake: I'm Drake.
    Zeke: And you are?
    Josh: Josh.
    Zeke: And I am?
    Drake: Zeke... you're Zeke.
    Zeke: Right... And you are?
  • Extraordinary Attorney Woo: The head of Sodeok-dong (a neighborhood) often asks one of the residents to complete his sentences.
  • In Kaamelott, Dagonet doesn't even remember where the borders of his lands are. In The Movie, Kaamelott: Premier Volet, he even has to be reminded that the Isle of Thanet belongs to him.
  • Creed from The Office (US) has a phenomenally poor memory, to the point that he has trouble remembering his coworkers' names, or even telling them apart. In one episode in Season 3, he thinks Meredith is new to the office, despite having worked with her for years.
  • The Saturday Night Live sketch "Mr. Short-term Memory", with Tom Hanks.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Jeremiah Tortoise from Bear in the Big Blue House often forgets things and often stops in mid-sentence because he can't remember what it was that he was saying. Other times, he will repeat greet someone a second time after having just greeted them.
  • The Trope Namer is Forgetful Jones, the cowboy Muppet from Sesame Street. A Running Gag on the show is his inability to even remember that his memory is so bad.

    Radio 

    Video Games 
  • Advanced V.G. II: There's only thing Tamao seems able to remember: which is how much she admires Yuka. Aside from that, don't expect her to remember anyone else's name for more than a few seconds (literally) before she forgets it. Kaori actually had to reintroduce herself three times, within a minute, after first meeting her.
  • Cooking Diary: Forgetful Customers, whose orders blink on and off as they attempt to remember.
  • Qiqi from Genshin Impact, being a zombie, lacks much of a long term memory, and thus forgets things easily. She carries around a notebook to write down important things to remember them, though there are times when she forgets about the notebook as well.
  • Larry Da Vinci in LittleBigPlanet even forgets his own name.
  • Nethack: Who was that Maud person, anyway? (This is a reference to the eponymous poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.)
  • Ollo in The Sunny Valley Fair: The character Rose. The narrator points out how often she forgets where she put her watering can.
  • Koishi of Touhou Project had become this as a side effect of her completely sealing her ability to read any minds, including her own. By Hopeless Masquerade, she mentions that she tends to forget everything now, so she's surprised that she could still remember the Mask of Hope that she found some time ago.
    • Yoshika is a far more basic example of this trope. She forgets things the second she was told them and part of her character is built entirely off her forgetfulness. It doesn’t help she’s a Jiangshi.
  • Gaboonga from Wonderland Adventures frequently forgets his own name.
  • Finch from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will forget her own name in the same sentence she just used it. This is actually a gameplay mechanic for her, If she uses a special and her "Birdbrain" ability kicks in, she will "forget" to drain her special charge meter, letting her use it again immediately after

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has Akane Owari, who, in her Free Time Events, repeatedly forgets people's names. Given that she grew up in a crime-ridden slum where there wasn't much point in remembering people's names because they're probably going to be dead in a week, it's understandable. In the third game's Talent Development Plan mode, she tells Himiko that she usually forget the name of anyone who seems too weak to survive, and in a later event, still has trouble with Himiko's name, even though they've been going to school together for three years.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has Monotaro, one of the Monokubs, who's even worse than Akane. He repeatedly forgets important or obvious information, and when he does remember, it's usually because he forgot that he'd forgotten it. Crosses over into Achievements in Ignorance where he spontaneously becomes a computer genius just because he forgot that he wasn't one. Which is very lucky for the player since Miu, the class's actual computer genius, had just been killed, and someone else with her skills is needed to solve the murder. Since Monotaro is under the impression that she was his mother (probably because he forgot she wasn't), he is happy to help you with the investigation this time despite normally being on the villains' side. Of course, he forgets all of his newfound computer knowledge just as quickly. Since the killing game turns out to be a reality show based on the fictional Danganronpa franchise, the crew running things behind the scenes are most likely remotely adding and deleting knowledge from his memory banks as they see fit.

    Web Animation 
  • hololive vtuber Mumei Nanashi — by her own admission — has a really inconsistent short term memory, and often questions to herself before giving explanations on things whether or not she already explained it before. Part of this is built into her "persona" as an avatar of human civilization, having forgotten most of what humanity has accomplished over the ages.
  • Ultra Fast Pony has Rose, in her one scene from the episode "So Random!"
    Pinkie Pie: I can't help but notice that despite your name and cutie mark, you're growing flowers that aren't roses.
    Rose: Sorry about that, I've got a very bad memory.
    Pinkie: Oh, don't worry. I'm sure we'll get that fixed one day.
    Rose: Get what fixed?
    (beat)
    Rose: 'Allo, Pinkie Pie!
    Pinkie: Goodbye, Rose.

    Webcomics 
  • In City Face 2, City Face forgets what Torus said, mere seconds after she said it.
  • Jade Harley of Homestuck starts out somewhat like this, hence why her fingers are covered in reminder strings.
  • Gunshow: "Please go to the hospital already, your short term memory is a burden to us all."
  • Tyler from Morph E is so forgetful that he needs to keep a journal for reminders.
  • Ira Rosenkrantz the security guard, in Skin Horse, had way too many memory wipes, so his memory after a certain period a couple of decades ago until, oh, a few seconds ago, is shot. He's still mostly able to function, though, and his lack of need to sign any NDAs makes him a great asset for a black ops social services group. Turns out it's all a sham, and he is in fact Mr. Green.

    Web Original 
  • All of the bots of the Jolly Roger Telephone Company are this. All of them will eventually claim, often multiple times, not to know what the caller called them about and that they need the caller to start over.
    Whitey: What is it? What are you... are you selling anything?
  • Noob:
    • Spraradrap, thus extending his The Watson role to things that his guildmates have presumably already explained to him previously off-screen and mild cases of Viewers Are Goldfish.
    • He seems to be getting it from his father. The latter has chronic case of Accidental Misnaming concerning his sons and forgetting whith which woman he had each of them. This is a problem when an established female character turns out to be someone's Missing Mom.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Lumpy Space Princess can be ridiculously forgetful at times. In "Video Makers" after Jake tells her they're filming a food fight scene she immediately forgets they're filming a scene and gets mad when Peppermint Butler throws food at her.
  • In the Aladdin: The Series episode "Mission Imp Possible", Genie, Iago and Nefir end up in The Bog of Forgetfulness.
    Iago: You know, you're big, blue and funny looking; you must be a genie. Turn into something that will help us out.
    Genie: How about an elephant? An elephant never forgets. (Turns into a hippopotamus) Was this what I was suppose to turn into?
    Iago: You weren't always a hippo?
  • In one episode of Care Bears, Beastly was written as having an extremely bad short-term memory. To the point where he would often lose his train of thought mid-sentence. He wasn't written that way in other episodes.
  • The Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Bride of the Swamp Monster" had a swamp monster's girlfriend (also a swamp monster) who forgot things instantly. She even says that she never got his letters because every time she got off work she forgot where she lived.
  • Booey Bubblehead from Galaxy High was frequently shown to have a poor memory. For example, she'd often forget that she already introduced herself during her conversations with other characters.
  • On one of the U.S. Acres segments of Garfield and Friends, Wade's cousin Newton, who has a really bad memory, visits. He keeps forgetting who Orson is less than a minute after he tells him. One hilarious dialogue between them:
    Orson: You really do have a bad memory.
    Newton: I know, I'm in a club for people who have bad memories.
    Orson: What's the name of the club?
    Newton: I don't remember.
    Orson: How often does it meet?
    Newton:: I forgot.
    Orson: Where are the meetings held?
    Newton: Beats me.
    Orson: Why don't you just quit??
    Newton: I can't! I'm the president! By the way, uh, what was your name again?
  • The Harlem Globetrotters: Bobby Joe Mason was a patented forgetful Ned. It didn't stop him from contributing to the team's victories.
  • In Lost in Oz, Scarecrow sacrificed his own memory to the Waters of Oblivion to protect Glinda's secrets (no one could force the information out of him if he couldn't remember it). However, this affected his ability to form new memories, and now he has trouble remembering anything.
  • Mr. Scatterbrain from The Mr. Men Show.
  • In Ready Jet Go! the Propulsions always forget not to tell people that they come from Bortron 7.
    • Jet especially, who always needs to Sean to teach him the Scientific Method over and over, and often forgets things that he learned in previous episodes.
    • A Running Gag in "Mars Rock for Mom" is Jet leaving his things behind and forgetting where he put them. First, he forgets his jacket. Next, he forgets his wallet. Then, he devises a plan to get Jet 2 to pick up after him so he doesn't leave his stuff behind, only to realize that he left Jet 2 on Mars. Finally, Jet leaves behind Mindy's camera. Luckily, the camera was inside Jet 2's stomach compartment.
  • This is one of the characteristics of Special Agent Oso from the series by the same name and one of the reasons why needs help from the viewers. He has a tendency to almost immediately forget things he's been told, such as in "Thunder Berries" when he forgets Dotty's instructions that the invisibility paint can be washed off simply with water.
  • Patrick on SpongeBob SquarePants is so stupid he'll sometimes forget things in seconds. Like when he and SpongeBob were hiding out in the desert and he decided to eat his only food, a chocolate bar, in one go and then immediately forgot he ate it, leading him to believe that SpongeBob stole it.
  • The Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird cartoon "Red Riding Hoodwinked" features a version of The Big Bad Wolf who can never remember Red's name and has to be prompted by other characters. Another, even more forgetful wolf was Bugs Bunny's antagonist in "The Hare-less Wolf".
  • This is the main trait of Lily the fox on Timothy Goes to School. It's not played for comedy, though, so much as An Aesop that she is working to get better about it. For example, one episode had her take care of the class pet (A fish) which Doris thinks isn't a good idea. Lily always remembers what to do with her pet fish and proves it in that episode. She can also be seen wearing a string around her hand to remember things and would talk to herself to remind herself.
  • The entire elephant village is depicted as this in ThunderCats (2011).
  • On Young Justice, Klarion, since he's a Lord of Chaos whose mind works differently than a human's. Upon being told that T.O. Morrow is in a coma, he pauses to ask "Did I know that already?" Word of God also noted that while everyone in the Light knew about Black Manta being Kaldur's father, "whether Klarion remembers is a legit question."


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Birdbrain

Papi isn't very good at remembering things.

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