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Ghost Memory

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Sharon/Athena: Just being with you and Kara feels like I've come home. It's like I'm back in the fleet.
Helo: But you were never in the fleet. That was the other Sharon.
Sharon/Athena: I know. I know that. But I remember all of it. Like getting my wings. My first trip aboard the Galactica. You know, the memory of being in a uniform is so strong, is so potent, it's, like, I'm Sharon Valerii and this is my family. That's pretty weird, huh?
Helo: That's okay. I like weird.
Battlestar Galactica (2003), "Home, part 2"

A character gets others' memories or abilities through some external means, like magic or... ghosts. Compare with Genetic Memory, which uses genetics, reincarnation, and whatnot. Or Fake Memories, in which the implanted memory is totally made up. Contrast Death Amnesia. Not to be confused with Ghost Amnesia, which is when a ghost can not remember their own memories. Can intersect with Transferable Memory. Also compare Shared Dream, when both characters get the memory/dream at the same time. May explain becoming an Instant Expert.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Immortals in Baccano! inherit the memories of any and every immortal that they kill by "devouring" them. How much they affect you depends on the person — Firo copes with having the memories of a three hundred-year-old Mad Scientist and eighteen of his victims by simply insisting he's too dumb to remember or make sense of any of it, although he admits to Maiza several years later that he's terrified of the possibility that Szilard's sadistic tendancies might surface in his own personality. Czeslaw, on the other hand, doesn't handle it quite so well...
    • While Firo has the memories of a bunch of strangers running through him, Czes picked up the ghost memory of his beloved guardian, who spent upwards of 200 years gleefully torturing the kid under the completely false premise of "For Science!". It's basically Amnesiac Dissonance leading to a(n even more) Broken Pedestal, only the memories he recovered weren't his own.
  • The central premise of Death Parade relies on this trope. Arbiters receive various memories of the dead through some sort of Telepathy in order to judge them properly. The memories are set up to be periodically forgotten so as to not overwhelm them.
  • A rather creepy part of Ghost in the Shell (1995). No, you have no ex-wife, or daughter. A hacker put them in your brain so you would do his bidding. Perhaps even more disturbing is the moment in which he is asked to look at the photo he kept trying to show his coworker of his daughter and it turns out to be a photo of him and his dog.
  • Chimera Ants in Hunter × Hunter can sometimes recall memories from creatures eaten by their queen, to the point that some of them could be considered Reincarnations of them.
  • The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer: The Dog Knight's dying wish was to pass on his martial arts abilities to the Lizard Knight and himself appears when those abilities finally come into use.
  • A variant appears in Naruto: When one of his shadow clones is destroyed, Naruto instantly gains all that clone's memories (though they're technically his in the first place). He takes advantage of this by making hundreds of clones and having them all practice a jutsu at once to speedrun his training, and when he's searching for someone, if one clone is destroyed, the others know where to go (or where not to go).
  • Drifting in Pacific Rim: The Black leaves traces of memories from the other person in a drift pilot's mind, especially if they're drifting with a pilot's memory rather than a real person.
    • After piloting solo using former pilot Herc Hansen's memories, Taylor has some of Hansen's memories, though he finds it difficult to tell them apart from his own.
    • After drifting with fifty other potential pilots in quick succession, most of Joel's memories are scrambled, and he's lost some of his technological skills (on the flipside, he's more proficient with weapons).
  • Used by Gartlant in Saber Marionette J. Each fuhrer gets the memories of his predecessors impressed on him by a machine. It's not a pleasant process, and turned the current Faust from a normal kid to a vicious bastard who mistreated Tiger, Panther, and Luchs/Lynx from that day forward.

    Comic Books 
  • In the DC Universe, this is how the legacy of the Great Ten's Accomplished Perfect Physician works. Each new holder of the title inherits the collective memories of their predecessors; the current one is the seventeenth, giving him sixteen lifetimes of experience to draw on.
  • Marvel Universe limited series Kitty Pryde and Wolverine. The evil Ninja Ogun tries to take over Kitty Pryde by impressing his mind on hers. Among other things, this gives her knowledge such as the ability to perfectly prepare a Japanese rock garden.
  • In The Sandman (1989), the second Corinthian is troubled by occasionally experiencing thoughts and memories left over from the first one.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Sonic, Dr. Eggman, Orbot and Cubot retain the memories of the old universe due to being in the epicenter of the final of Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide and Sonic is able to restore the Freedom Fighters' memories by using NICOLE's energy buildup. However, Eggman points out that the memories of the new universe are asserting themselves and they would lose the memories of the old universe, which has indeed happened.
  • In Starman, Will Payton and Prince Gavyn are merged into the same person and can switch between forms. While in the form of one, they have the Ghost Memory of the other.
  • In Superior Spider-Man, Peter Parker's memories continue to haunt the Superior Spider-Man.
  • This trope affects Chromedome in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye as a severe side effect of his mnemosurgery abilities. The thing is, he can read the memories of the dead, but the side effect of that is that by reading their memories, he also ends up experiencing them, which is in turn recorded in his memory from his perspective. The big problem with that is that he now knows how it feels to die, repeatedly, innumerable times, and in innumerable ways. They have become literal Nightmare Fuel for him, in that these memories torment him irregularly and unexpectedly while he recharges until he flings himself awake in a terror. It's little wonder he was Driven to Suicide (though fortunately he never went through with it). To make it even worse, it's revealed that mnemosurgery is addictive and eventually kills its practitioners.
  • In The Vision (2015), Virginia's personality is based on a brain scan of the Scarlet Witch, and thus shares some of her memories (such as the magical formula for seeing into the future) despite being otherwise distinct from her.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The version of Steve Trevor that was brought to Earth-One after the local Steve seemingly died a second time eventually gains the memories of the Earth-One Steve, who had not actually passed on but was trapped in Eros' mind until what was left of him merged with his multi-verse counterpart. Multi-Verse Steve's mind was already a mess, due to injuries sustained in his home dimension and false memories crafted by the Amazons without his or Diana's knowledge, so the merger actually made him feel like a more complete person.
  • In X-Force, Sunspot is telepathically possessed by the villain Reignfire. Team leader Cable uses his own telepathy to sever the connection, but in the process leaves some of his memories in Sunspot's head. This teaches Sunspot how to speak Askani, and sometimes he subconsciously acts on the memories that aren't his (such as humming a melody that Cable learned in his youth).
  • Absorbing people's memories is one side effect of Rogue's powers in most X-Men continuities, as well.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Final Fantasy VII fanfic, Cissnei's Path, Aerith gains the memories of all the previous Cetra that visited the Temple of Ancients through the Well of Knowledge. The net result leaves her with centuries worth of her people's heritage and the ability to use magic without materia.
  • The Infinite Loops: At the start of every new "Groundhog Day" Loop, any Awake looper gets the full memories of their life up to that point. Considering the many weird variant and Fused loops, this is important. People will occasionally have a "stealth loop," where they decide to run through the whole thing on autopilot from their loop memories, as if they weren't Awake.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: When Jaune received his Force powers from the Mask of Darth Nihilus, he also receives bits of Nihilus's knowledge and memories.
  • In Kage, Jade's Queen of the Shadowkhan persona reveals that she knows about the Shadowkhan and shadow magic surprisingly much because when Jade wore one half of an Oni Mask, the trapped Oni General's mind mixed with her own, sharing memories and subconscious traits as a side-effect. The reason only the Queen remembers this is because Jade subconsciously rejected the memories for being linked to the Shadowkhan. However, the Queen is able to share those memories with Jade when she has no other choice.
  • In the Naruto AU Memories Of Others, Naruto discovers that by shadow-cloning someone, he can get their experiences once the clones dispel. This lets him overcome his previous ignorance since the person he clones most is the one helping him to learn everything he missed out on.
  • In the Mass Effect fic Project Delta, Jane is implanted with some augments on which the past cycles worked like on the Crucible. She somehow gets the pain and vague memories of all the past augmented.
  • In the Five Nights at Freddy's fic, Something Always Remains, this is how Vanna learns what happened to her sister and how Mike realizes Freddy Wickes was Buried Alive.
  • Vow of Nudity: When Haara tackles Fiora to free her from the amnesid's grasp, she receives a dump of memories from Fiora's time in university revealing she used to be romantically involved with a professor while working as his expedition assistant.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Total Recall (1990), people of The Future typically take vacations by having the memory of an exciting trip implanted in their brains, rather than by going on an actual trip somewhere.
  • In the Ray Liotta film Unforgettable, a doctor, accused of the murder of his wife, injects himself with her memories.

  • Animorphs:
    • In one book, they visit the Iskoort, who have a booming trade where people have their memories copied and then sold to others for entertainment. They use the money from selling their own memories to fund everything they need (helped by the fact that Erek, who has several millennia worth, is with them). This technology also proves valuable in finally defeating the Howlers and striking a major blow against Crayak.
    • The Howlers themselves have a collective memory shared by the entire species. The Yeerks also gain memories from anyone they infest. It turns out the reverse is true as well: one Yeerk died in the host's brain, and thus his own memories overlap with the Yeerk's.
    • The Arn have mastered genetic manipulation to the point where they can keep someone's memories in a flask and transfer it to someone else, who then has not just memories but the actual personality in their body.
  • In Avalon: Web of Magic, Kara shares her memories with an elemental horse to heal its Loss of Identity-related angst.
  • The City and the Dungeon: Using a skill from a skillstone feels like reliving memories you've never had; you have a vague recollection of past mistakes and how to avoid them. Spellstones don't have the same feeling, which Xavier theorizes is because no one outside the Dungeon has ever cast a spell, so spellstones are only giving the most basic knowledge.
  • The Daevabad Trilogy: The marids, elemental spirits of water, are telepathic and can share memories as easily as words. It works with non-marids too, allowing Nahri to receive her long-lost birth mother's memories and Ali to relive a frog's experience of happily munching flies.
  • The Devourers: The titular werebeasts gain the memories and skills of the people they eat. Most see this as just another form of nourishment, but Fenrir, who's Intrigued by Humanity, tries to value the insights they provide. He's also used it to become fluent in a lot of languages.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • A Hat Full of Sky has the hiver, a creature that inhabits people, drives them mad, and leaves with impressions of them when they die. A hiver inhabits the protagonist, Tiffany. It is eventually driven out, but for a while Tiffany has trouble figuring out who she is. By the next book it's all been settled, except for the memory of this one wizard who stirs every now and again to translate something or randomly exposit. It's not Sharing a Body or anything like that; he's called "a ghost of a ghost", not self-aware.
    • Also, Jeanie, the Nac Mac Feegle's Kelda, is able to access the memories of all Kelda that have been and will be via a ritual.
    • The Dis-organizer in Jingo is somehow switched for that of an alternate timeline in which Vimes stays in Ankh-Morpork and is killed by the invading Klatchians.
  • In Frank Herbert's later Dune series novels, the Bene Gesserit have the ability to share memories by using their mental disciplines. Some of them have the combined memories of a planet's worth of their fellow Bene Gesserit.
  • The Echorium Sequence's Dark Quetzal: All quetzal have access to the "Memoryplace", a sort of telepathic/magical ancestral memory. By ingesting a certain flower, humans are able to tap in.
  • In The Glass Flower by G. Martin, it's revealed by the end of the book that the memories that the protagonist received were so overwhelming for him that he lost his identity in them and shifted more towards that of the original owner of those memories.
  • Ghostweight, a short sci-fi story by Yoon Ha Lee. A woman plans her Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the mercenary fleet that destroyed her people with the help of one of their 'ghosts' — it turns out the ghost is not all he appears to be.
  • In the Godzilla vs. Kong novelization, Ren Serizawa appears to experience this through his psionic connection to Mechagodzilla when it malfunctions, and the consciousness in Ghidorah's skull which fuels the system takes over. The novel says that Ren can feel "a million years of rage rising in him, hatred that transcended time and space", which is presumably Ghidorah's memories and feelings.
  • In the novel Green Rider, Karigan is briefly possessed by a dead swordsmaster and fights another swordsmaster to save her own life. Later, the moves and skill he used is available to her, making her a better fighter than before.
  • The long-dead character Need in Heralds of Valdemar can share her memories in full immersion with others and sometimes uses them to teach. Through memory-sharing reinforced with physical practice she gets Nyara reasonably proficient at slings, archery, swordplay, horseback riding, and being around big crowds of people in just a few months. Not quite Instant Expert, but much faster than normal.
  • Kiln People by David Brin has clay golems that you can copy your soul into. They only last 24 hours, but if your 'ditto' makes it home before it expires you can copy its memories back into your organic head.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: Apsalar is possessed for a while by Cotillion, the god of assassins, and gains some of his memories along with great skill at knife-fighting.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: Oliver Horn has his deceased mother's soul within him and can access some of her memories, which lets him use the Fourth Spellblade, Angustavia, which his mother had mastered.
  • The robotic beings in Saturn's Children can obtain the memories of their sibs (other individuals of the same model) by putting in the sib's "soul chip".
  • A center point in Six Chances in which the memories, thoughts, and feelings of six very different individuals begin to bleed into one another. As the six individuals are from different countries in a fantastical world that resembles a post-WWI time period, many things come into question such as identity and loyalty.
  • In E. E. "Doc" Smith's The Skylark of Space, the heroes befriend an alien race that builds mind-reading machines. They use one of these machines to learn each others' languages. Later, they use one on the brain of a dead enemy to learn his secrets, effectively gaining the memories of the dead person.
  • The Sword of Truth: Richard channels the skills of the titular sword's previous users in order to defeat a large group of master swordsmen.
  • In Robert Westall's Urn Burial, the Fefethil war-leader Prepoc's tomb included a 'memory-helmet' which gives it's human discoverer, Ralph Edwards, insights into Prepoc's past life by showing him 'snapshots' of things that had happened in it's owners life.
  • Ashley from Ward is a clone of the supervillain Damsel of Distress, created after the death of the original Damsel. The mad scientist who created Ashley gave her some, but not all, of Damsel's memories. When Ashley woke up, not only did she have all of Damsel's memories, she also had memories from the two heroes who fought Damsel the most.
  • The Wheel of Time: Mat blurted out a wish to have the holes in his memory filled, and the wishgivers responded by filling his head with spare memories of other people who had visited them. This turns him into a brilliant general, and his already obscene luck doesn't hurt either. He also demonstrates cases of Genetic Memory early in the series.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sharon "Athena" Valerii still had all of the memories of Sharon "Boomer" Valerii up to a certain point in Battlestar Galactica (2003). This goes true for other Cylon models as well, but the Eights are the only model who we have seen sharing memories. Another Eight does it again in 'The Hub'.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Potential Slayers have a subconscious memory of the actions of past Slayers. While this usually only manifests through bizarre, monster-filled dreams, in the case of Dana (in the Angel episode "Damage") the memories combined with her already fragile psyche send her on a killing spree.
    • Another example comes from the Buffy episode "Halloween"; Xander is magically transformed into a soldier, giving him memories of various military tactics and operational rules that come in useful in "Innocence" and "Graduation Day".
    • Illyria has Fred's memories, but not her soul.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Next Doctor", a man named Jackson Lake became the next Doctor when a gadget called an "infostamp" backfired and disgorged its contents into his mind. He also watched the Cybermen kill his wife and kidnap his son. His already-broken mind readily accepted the information.
  • Dollhouse Actives usually have Fake Memories, but sometimes get the memories of other people. Some of their fake personas are constructed from bits of actual people (anyone scanned by a Rossum medical brainscan), such as "Ellie Penn" in "Ghost".
  • In Fringe, this is done to Olivia to convince her that she is her alternate universe counterpart.
  • Proof:
    • In "Memento Vivere", three comatose patients in one hospital ward suddenly flatline all at the same time, just as another patient in the same room regains consciousness. She cannot recall anything about herself, but mysteriously has the memories of the other three patients who died.
    • In "Reborn", a woman claims that her son Matthew, who has been dead for 8 years, was somehow reincarnated as Kyle, another woman's child. Both boys were piano prodigies, who exhibited the same tics while playing the piano, had the same favorite piece, and had the same extremely rare heart condition. A recurring dream Kyle had also happened to match an event in Matthew's early childhood.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Thanks for the Memory", Lister gives Rimmer 12 months of his memory as a birthday present. He really should have bought him a tie...
  • Star Trek:
    • The Trill are small slug like creatures that can bond to a host body, and when the body dies it is implanted in a new one, giving it all the memories and experiences of the previous hosts
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Inner Light", Captain Picard is convinced that he is a man named Kamin on a dying world through Alien Phlebotinum. The memories of the planet are a combination of the environment and his own personality. Whether the real Kamin's life, if there had actually been one, was the same is never addressed.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: some of the more ancient wargear available to humans and Eldar can retain a "ghost" of previous users' experiences. This tends to go badly when the equipment is wired directly into the user's brain, such as Titans, or a previous user turned to Chaos.

    Video Games 
  • In Baroque, the brothers "Left" and "Right" retain each other's memories when each of them die to replace each other. The kicker: For quite a bit of the game, they don't know the other exists. That wacky Amnesia.
  • In BioShock, it's revealed in an audio diary found near the beginning of "Arcadia" that the visions seen throughout the game are from the genetic memory of any person whose ADAM was extracted (by the Little Sisters) from their blood to be recycled after they died. Those who splice up with the ADAM (including the main characters, Jack and Subject Delta) end up getting some of these memories with it, experienced in the form of seeing such "ghosts". This becomes a very important plot point in the sequel.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II:
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The extinct Dwemer counted among their many technological achievements a machine which could safely read an Elder Scroll and imprint the information gained from it on a special cube where it could be more-safely accessed. ("More-safely" is a relative term, as the cubes have still been known to drive non-Dwemer mad.)
    • The extinct Ayleids (Wild Elves) had memory crystals which could store memories and release them to the user. Overuse of these crystals was said to cause a "problem of capacity" for mortal minds.
    • The ancient Yokudans, ancestors of the Redguards, had memory-stones which enabled those who used them to master complex sword techniques overnight, although the user needed to have some knowledge already to understand what was being taught and many of the maneuvers required extensive physical training to actually use them in battle.
      • Such a memory stone shows up in an The Elder Scrolls Online quest which allows one to witness the final days of the legendary Redguard hero, Gaiden Shinji, prior to his death via Cavalry Betrayal during the siege of Orsinium.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The very first Final Fantasy game had a race called the Lufenians, who pass down the memories of their ancestors in some type of ceremony, which seems to explain why they're the only ones who know much about what happened 400 years ago.
    • In Final Fantasy V, Krile inherits the abilities of Galuf after his death.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV, one of the main abilities of the Echo is the ability to look into the past and experience the memories and emotions of others as if they were there.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • It's implied that Bastila Shan from Knights of the Old Republic is experiencing some... feedback from her Force Bond. Probably explains the Sanity Slippage.
  • In Mass Effect, if Shepard does a certain quest early in the game, they receive a small and apparently useless Prothean device as a reward. Much later while exploring an alien planet, they can find a Prothean artifact that will react with the device, uploading several years worth of memory from an ancient human that the Protheans had been studying into Shepard's brain. The Beacon encountered on Eden Prime also worked in this way, but due to its damaged state the images it uploaded were indistinct and required Shepard to find several other parts before they made sense.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, The Sorrow was a telepath who would channel the spirits of dead soldiers to imbue himself with combat prowess.
  • Moonrise: Played with throughout the sapphic werewolf interactive novel. Since the player is inhabiting the body of their character, the character's past is separate from the player, and the memories "haunt" them. The player can choose to continue their body's past and relationships, or abandon them altogether.
  • System Shock 2 has these as a result of the game's Applied Phlebotinum. While walking along, your character will occasionally see ghosts acting out what usually turn out to be their last moments alive.
  • In Torment: Tides of Numenera, the main character can use merecasters to change the pasts of others, causing a Ret-Gone of a number of things. People whose memories (and past) you alter will remember both the original timeline and their new timeline at the same time, often causing no small amount of confusion. Matkina, whose original timeline gave her Laser-Guided Amnesia, gets the Ghost Memory of amnesia about things she now remembers fully due to you altering the past.
  • In Winter Voices, these are the vast majority of the enemies you face, especially The Nameless or when you enter The Seid.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night: Masters and Servants can see each others' memories while they sleep. This reveals Saber and Archer's backstories, goals, personalities and identities. They also tend to depress both Servants and Masters because the things they see tend to be real downers.
    • In the Unlimited Blade Works route Shirou gets glimpses of Archer's life and death due to their souls being in sync as Archer is an alternate version of Shirou.
    • Shirou's Reality Marble allows him to see the history of any sword it records, including how it was wielded. This allows him to experience some of the weapon's memories and reproduce the wielder's skills to some degree.

  • When the nameless protagonist of Chitra is hit by a truck, she's offered the chance to take over the duties of a priest-princess who serves the God of Beauty in another world. As the protagonist awakens in the original Chitra's body, she gains all of Chitra's memories in a painful, sudden burst.
  • El Goonish Shive: Ellen is an Opposite-Sex Clone of another character, with all of his memories up until her creation. Then later Nioi showed up. Nioi claimed that since Ellen's soul was barely a couple months old, while she has the body and mind of a 17-year-old, she'll end up going insane. So Nioi "offers"note  to "fix" the problem. For the next few weeks, when she slept, Ellen dreamt of life in another world, where she was born a girl (not a clone of a guy) and grew up normally. She retained all the memories of this other life, down to her own birth. It's so far caused her as much angst as relief.
  • In the webcomic Inverloch, Neirran absorbs the mind of another mage who was dying. This gives her all his memories and access to all the spells he knew.
  • Due to the way that godhood works in L's Empire, Pix is born with a complete memory of the past events of the comic (including the appearances of his future self). However, this only includes things that have actually been seen by the audience. His own private thoughts, muscle memory, and knowledge of how to use his Fusion Dance powers did not carry over. It takes him at least a week before he's able to talk properly, and his first two fusion attempts cause misfires (along with a half hour cool-down time that his future self lacks).
  • In Homestuck, future Dream Rose "survives" her time line ceasing to exist by fusing with her present dream self, giving her memories of the alternate timeline.

    Web Original 
  • Agent Washington from Red vs. Blue received the memories of the Alpha AI and its creator/template, the Director via its Living Memory component, Epsilon.
    • The A.I.s in general, particularly Alpha, are examples of this, with their memories being based on their creator's. Epsilon!Tex is arguably also an example, with her memories being based on Epsilon's memories of what she should be like... which are in turn based on Church's memories, which are based on the Director's. It gets confusing.

    Western Animation 
  • Steven Universe: Steven occasionally has dreams that turn out to be the memories of Pink Diamond, allowing him to simultaneously learn more about her while also giving him more questions. It turns out he can see her memories due to her actually being the true identity of his mother, Rose Quartz, leading this to fuel his identity crisis.