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Memory-Wiping Crew

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"Searching for a handle on the moment? I can't help you. The only comfort I can offer... is my promise that tomorrow morning you won't remember a thing."
Agent K, Men in Black

When something dramatically outside of normality happens that authorities want hidden, and the Muggles are able to see past the Masquerade, a team (or at the least, a special go-to guy) is often dispatched to erase and/or alter the memories of any witnesses to the aliens/magical creatures/paranormal events to cover up the abnormality of their mundane lives and keep the existence of the weird stuff a secret (often by using some sort of Laser-Guided Amnesia).

Note: This is not about the amnesia, or about what causes it. It's about WHO causes it. (No, not that WHO, either. Or is it...)

Compare The Men in Black, Cleanup Crew, Memory Wipe Exploitation. Contrast the more brutal Killed to Uphold the Masquerade.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In a lesser form, in The World God Only Knows the demons of new hell "restart" (later, they simply changed them) the memories of the girls whose holes got closed.
  • Darker than Black: Gemini of The Meteor features a faction of the military that serves as this for people whom get into contact with the super-powered Contractors. Witnesses that prove too difficult to catch are simply killed.
  • All of the shinigami in Bleach carry around a neuralizer-style device to replace the memories of anyone who gets a glimpse of their activities. They can't control what memories replace the real ones.
  • In Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, each witch group has a so-called "seventh witch" who can erase an individual's memories related to the witches, and such she may be used for this purpose by the student council or choose to dedicate herself to the purpose.
  • Digimon Data Squad has DATS, an organization responsible for keeping Digimon a secret from normal people. Memory-wiping via a neutralizer-type device is how they deal with any potential witnesses.
  • Lucoa usually fills this role in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid when the other dragons accidentally use their powers or transform in front of muggles.
  • In Fruits Basket, Hatori Sohma is the one in charge of erasing the memories of anyone who finds out about the Sohma family's Hereditary Curse of transforming into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. The memory erasure is a form of hypnosis that's been passed down through his line of the family for generations.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes: Doctor Strange rapid-fires a memory wiping spell on museum visitors who've just seen him battle a fire-breathing squirrel (who is secretly Dormammu in squirrel form).
    Strange: [to three Muggles] Leave and forget. Leave and forget. Leave and forget.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Iceman tried to impress a girl by talking her about the School, and everything that happens in it, exposing its secrecy. Xavier had no option but to erase it all from the memory of both.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Touhou Film Comic Osana Reimu, Yukari goes around to erase everyone's memories of Rumia post-sealing. In most cases it's so that Rumia will be allowed to live a new life, but Reimu is a special case because she's too young to cope with the harsh reality of what happened to her mother and her friend.
    • Also happens to Rumia herself as a part of her seal, locking her memories away so she isn't crushed by grief.
  • In the Lilo & Stitch/Star Trek crossover Starlight, this task is performed by Dulmer and Lucsly from Temporal Investigations, although in this case it's to rectify the timeline.
  • One of the main characters of the Harry Potter fanfic The Ollivander Children, Linus, is an Obliviator working for the Ministry of Magic.
  • The Psyche Master in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf uses his mental powers to erase Empath of his infantile memories when he was first admitted to Psychelia as a child to keep himself from remembering Papa Smurf as his actual biological father. This, however, fails, as the Psyche Master still leaves in Empath's mind the memory of those last seconds leading up to the erasure, which he considers to be more of a Mind Rape.
  • This Bites! has the "Cleaners", a subdivision within the New World Masons at the behest of Cross, who prefers those who find out about their group get memories erased rather than killing them. Said Cleaners are composed of Vice-Admiral Tsuru, Miss Goldenweek, Jango, Kalifa and Canon Foreigner Popora.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Incredibles, the government has a team like this who come in, wipe memories and implant new ones when an undercover Super screws up and uses their powers in the open.
    Rick Dicker: We have to pay to keep the company quiet, pay damages, erase memories...
  • In The Boss Baby, when the Boss Baby completes his mission and returns to Baby Corp, a team of babies show up at the Templeton family home and erase all signs of him ever being a member of the family, including erasing the memories of the parents. They offer to do the same for older sibling Tim Templeton as well, but don't object when he decides to keep his memories.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Men in Black is probably the best example. Individual MIB teams had the neuralizer, which could wipe memories for a set amount of time and leave them in a hypnotic state so that new memories could be implanted. While they could often do the jobs themselves, and indeed it was part of their function, for larger memory fixing they could call in special task forces that would come out, neuralize large numbers of people, plant evidence, etc.
    • In Men in Black II they even use a gigantic neuralizer hidden in the Statue of Liberty, capable of wiping the memories of all New York City.
  • Lacuna Inc, from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are a non-MIB version, who are hired to remove memories of things people want to forget, such as bad relationships. They would even set up in the client's home so they would wake up without any idea that something had happened.
  • Discussed in The Adjustment Bureau. The adjusters mention an Intervention Team that takes care of the memory resetting.
  • Paycheck has Ben Affleck's character routinely undergo memory erasure by his best friend in order to hide his reverse-engineering activities from the authorities (even though reverse engineering is not technically illegal), who have the same memory-scanning devices. Later, the job is performed by The Dragon.

  • The Temporal Corps of Simon Hawkes' Time Wars do this to any locals who get involved with them, though they made an exception for Jules Verne. Not wanting to interfere with the mysterious processes of creativity and stop him writing the books he was supposed to, he kept his memories of time travellers and submarines and such.
  • In the Harry Potter franchise, if a wizard lost control and accidentally used his powers (or some other event that would endanger the safety of the wizarding world), the Ministry of Magic would dispatch a special group called Obliviators to see to it that people's memories of the event were altered.
  • In the Artemis Fowl series, the fairies can wipe the memories of any humans who learn about them, as they do to Artemis and his friends at the end of the third book (they all get better).
    • There are even two different techniques they use: One is a block wipe that can be performed by field agents which just takes out a huge chunk of memory (the brain supplies its own explanation of what happened), but the longer the interval of time taken out, the greater chance there is for permanent mental damage. The other is a fine-tuned wipe which removes specific events, people, etc., but takes a lot longer than a block wipe.
    • It's apparently reversible if someone comes along to explain what really happened (or rather watches a video of their past self explaining what heppened).
  • In Shaman of the Undead the WON has "oblivion sowers" and "memory sowers", whose function is respectively erasing and implanting false memories to uphold The Masquerade. They work as regular psychologists, too.
  • In Red Handed, the Alien Investigation and Removal agency does this to recruits who don't make the cut.
  • In Memento Nora by Angie Smibert, there is a memory wiping company to erase memories of the frequent terrorist attacks. The book revolves around the main characters trying to remember those memories.
  • Seraphina: The Censors are this for saarantrai which involves trimming the brain's grey matter.
  • In Sixth Watch, the characters wonder how extremely important information about the origins and true nature of the Others could have been hidden or forgotten. It was the Great Others themselves, who have wiped their own and others' memories in order to keep that knowledge from interfering with their plans for a perfect world. One, a witch, has managed to retain the memories by imparting them onto an artifact. Her memories were restored as soon as she touched it.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: The Grand Council of Witches maintains one to wipe the memories of any non-magical who finds out about magic, including any witch's non-magical spouse.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant: The Irish Sanctuary employs Geoffrey Scrutinous and Philomena Random, two Sensitives with the power of hypnotic persuasion, to meet with mortals who have witnessed magic and convince them that whatever they witnessed has a more mundane explanation.

    Live Action TV  
  • Occasionally on Star Trek: The Next Generation when the crew would accidentally expose themselves (so to speak) to races that weren't ready for interstellar communication, the doctors would somehow do a little surgery to make those memories go away - basically an Alien Abduction. Dr. Pulaski was more prone to doing it than Dr. Crusher.
    • It was averted in the episode "Who Watches the Watchers" as the procedure did not work on the proto-Vulcanoid Mintaka.
  • The Cleaners in Charmed. In order to keep magic a secret from humanity they remove the memories of anyone who sees a supernatural event. They're capable of Retconning reality to the extent of undoing a person's birth, and yet only appeared in one episode relatively late in the show. So where were they all those other times the masquerade was threatened?
    • The implication is that they're a new institution to deal with the many, many breaches caused by the Charmed ones.
  • UFO (1970): The SHADO organization captures people who see real UFOs and has its medical department use a drug to erase their recent memories, thus preventing the public from learning about UFO attacks.
  • The Troop has a little alien whose song causes short-term memory loss so they can cover breaches of The Masquerade. However, ordinary ear plugs can protect one from the effect.
  • In Heroes, The Haitian is this.
  • One episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker had Kolchak narrating the events into a tape recorder, because the government had done this to him, and it hadn't quite taken, or rather not all at once. His memory of the incident was fading rapidly, and he had to make the recording while he still remembered most of the details.
  • The Memory Police in Ultraman Nexus, who erased the memories of people who saw the Space Beasts and Ultraman Nexus.
  • Torchwood frequently administers a drug called Retcon to people who stumble across aliens. Though they stopped bothering to cover up the big events after the Sycorax invasion.
  • In the pilot episode of Blake's 7, Blake is contacted by La Résistance who inform him that he led a rebellion several years ago, was captured and brainwashed into denouncing his cause, then implanted with Fake Memories to make him forget this. Blake then witnesses the rebels being massacred by Federation troops. The authorities try to erase his memory again, but the trauma causes the memory blocks to break down, so Blake is framed and deported to a penal planet setting in motion the events of the series.

    Tabletop Games  
  • Deadlands: The Agency uses Weird Science devices to hypnotize people who witness the supernatural into forgetting. While the Masquerade is thin enough as is, it's still important as the Reckoners feed off of fear and if enough people are panicking the region can become a Deadland.
  • Hunter: The Vigil: As Task Force VALKYRIE are effectively The Men in Black, there's a good number of members dedicating to dosing witnesses of supernatural events with "Munin Serum," a chemical cocktail that clouds memories.
  • Any kindred in Vampire: The Masquerade with Dominate 3 can be a one-vamp memory wiping crew. Not only can they make the victim forget, they can implant false memories. However, these memories don't always stay undone...
  • A typically dark example from Warhammer 40,000. Since admitting the existence of an elite army of demon slayers would be admitting that there are such things as demons, the Imperium treats the Grey Knights as a state secret enforced by specially-trained psykers. Other space marines who fight alongside them go through a lengthy memory-scrubbing afterwards, while Imperial Guardsmen who distinguish themselves are subjected to a hasty process that is both painful and often fatal. Everyone else is just executed. An especially notable example was after the first war for Armageddon; after the invasion was driven off, the entire population of the planet was sterilized and worked to death in concentration camps. This led to war between the Grey Knights and Space Wolves (who did not appreciate fellow warriors getting fridged like that).
  • In Eclipse Phase Firewall, Project Ozma, and Titanian intelligence all have agents that erase memories with psychosurgery or drugs. Though given the ubiquity of Body Backup Drives in the setting it's just as frequent that they simply kill someone and revert them to a backup made before they saw whatever they saw.

    Video Games  
  • In Sam & Max season 2, Agent Superball will emphatically deny time travel, even though the machine is parked right in the room. Any continued discussion of it will provoke him to employ his hypnotic, memory wiping powers. This is used for a puzzle later.
  • In Ib, after Garry finds out Mary is really a painting, the dolls capture him and force him to play a game with them. If he loses, they make him forget what he learned about Mary.

    Web Comics  

    Web Original  

    Western Animation  
  • Professor X often plays this role in early versions of the X-Men such as X-Men: Evolution, wiping memories when The Masquerade has been blown. During an episode of Evolution where the Brotherhood show off their powers in the middle of a school football game, he dangerously overexerts his powers by modifying the memory of every spectator. Naturally, the one person whose mind he doesn't completely wipe is Principal Kelly...
  • Played with in Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension. The OWCA doesn't have any memory-erasing tools, so they just steal the villain's amnesia-inator.
  • Gravity Falls has The Society of the Blind Eye, a cult dedicated to erasing traumatic memories the townsfolk have of the various bizarre creatures that live in the town. By the end of the episode the Society's memories are all wiped.