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Name Amnesia

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A common problem faced by characters with Identity Amnesia is that they no longer recall their own name. A character struggling to find their identity may become involved in several related tropes under Memory Tropes and The Nameless.

Usually the character will be able to find their original name and identity by the end of the story. However, if this character loses their memory in the backstory, it is possible that they never truly recover their old identity and make use of a new Nom de Guerre. Another character may help them, and they go through a Meaningful Rename and/or Naming Ceremony.

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This is a Sub-Trope to both Identity Amnesia (they cannot recall who they are) and The Nameless (they have no name). Super Trope to Take Away Their Name, where a character's name has been stolen, generally using magic. Can also be a Downplayed Trope to Identity Amnesia, if the character remembers everything about their past except their name.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  
  • Bleach: Ichibei Hyosube has the power to literally erase a person or object's name. I Know Your True Name is very important in this universe, because they affect the power something or someone has. Therefore, anyone or anything affected by this ability loses its powers. Unfortunately for him, Yhwach was powerful enough to completely counter the ability and remember his name.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Accelerator mentioned that he once had a "normal name", but he forgot it. The novels state that his last name consists of two kanji and his first name three, yet his name had no real meaning in it. From Volume 05 Chapter 3 Part 3 of the first series.
  • In Date A Live, Tohka Yatogami started the series with no name and no memories other than constantly fighting for survival. If she had a name, it is never recovered, so her first friend and love interest Shido Itsuka named her.
  • In Death Parade, a character credited as "Black Haired Woman" wakes up with total amnesia. Nona walks up and introduces herself. The woman says she can't remember her name, but Nona flatly says she doesn't have one. She eventually remembers her name is Chiyuki.
  • Dragon Ball: The Namek who split into Piccolo and Kami long before the start of the series is recreated when they merge back together, but it has been so long that they cannot recall their old name. They eventually call themselves Piccolo for the sake of convenience.
  • In Gugure Kokkuri San, Kokkuri have been know by so many names throughout his life that he forgot which was the real one.
  • Madlax: The title heroine has retrograde amnesia regarding everything prior to being left in a warzone by her father twelve years ago, including her true name,—"Madlax" is just a codename she picked for her mercenary work because it sounded cool. It is eventually revealed, however, that her "father" is actually another character's dad, and "Madlax" was actually his old codename.
  • In Spirited Away, Yubaba controls the workers at the baths by taking away their names and giving them new ones. Haku warns Chihiro that if she forgets her real name like he did, she won't be able to escape and will have to serve Yubaba forever. Chihiro manages to free him by reminding him that his true name is the Kohaku River.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Spirit of the Millennium Puzzle has been asleep in the puzzle for thousands of years. He's forgotten his name, along with much of his past. While his friends just call him "The Other Yugi" or "Dark Yugi" ("Yami" in the English dub), others call him "Spirit of the Nameless Pharaoh". His name is finally recovered in the final arc. His name is Atem.

     Comic Book 
  • All members of the Indigo Tribe in the Green Lantern comics forget their names, which is largely because they've been brainwashed into a zen-like trance and lose individuality for the sake of "Compassion".
  • Transformers: In Dreamwave's comic series The War Within: The Dark Ages, a character is introduced who is only ever referred to as "the Fallen," as his name/identity was taken away from him by his fellow Transformers after he betrayed Primus and sided with Unicron. Many years later, his actual name is revealed to be Megatronus Prime.
  • X-Men:
    • The Stepford Cuckoos threatened Triage with making him forget his own name when his lascivious teen boy thoughts offended them.
    • Wolverine's backstory is packed with memory loss and super-secret military conditioning. While he is occasionally called Logan, he was usually certain it wasn't his name. It isn't; his given name is James Howlett.
  • The Captain of Next Wave is never referred to anything but, since his own stupidity prevents him from remembering his actual name.
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     Fan Fiction 

     Film 
  • The Bourne Identity opens In Medias Res as a fishing boat pulls an unconscious man aboard. The man has no idea who he is, but he still remembers how to speak foreign languages well enough to question the boat's Portuguese crew, and also retains his hand-to-hand combat and stealth spy skills. It's not until he discovers a safe deposit box with varying ID papers, most of which bear the name Jason Bourne, that he begins to learn his identity and purpose.
  • Identity Thief: The titular villain doesn't know her own name having grown up as a foster child. She believes that her name is Diana and is adressed as such. At the end of the film, she finds out her real name is Dawn Budgie.
  • Hancock: In his backstory, Hancock lost his memory and with it, his name. He eventually adopted the name "Hancock" after someone asked for his signature (his "John Hancock") and assumed it was his name.
  • In Warm Bodies, the zombie protagonist explains about the Identity Amnesia he has; the most he can recall from before "waking up" as a zombie, is that he thinks his name used to start with an "R".
    R: I wish I could introduce myself, but I don't remember my name anymore. I mean, I think it started with an 'r' but that's all I have left. I can't remember my name, or my parents, or my job... although my hoodie would suggest I was unemployed.
  • According to the animators on Beauty and the Beast, the Beast has been cursed for so long that he has forgotten his own human name.
  • The main character in Who Am I? knows nothing of his past, including his name (though he retains his military and combat knowledge pretty well). We see in the begining of the movie when he's being listed as missing in action that he shares the name of his actor- Jackie Chan.

     Literature 
  • In Deverry, Prince Galrion is stripped of his rank, wealth and even his name by his father. His father issues a decree that ever after Galrion is to only be called "Nevyn". That's not a name. It's a word that quite literally means "no-one".
  • The Baker in The Hunting of the Snark has "wholly forgotten his name."
  • When the dragons of the Inheritance Cycle learned that the thirteen dragons of the Forsaken had turned against their own kind and were actively helping the Forsaken to kill and enslave their own kind, the free dragons grew angry. They gathered their power and performed one of their inexplicable works of magic. Somehow, they stripped the Thirteen of their names. From that moment on, no one could remember, read, write, or speak any name belonging to those dragons. Common names, true names, nicknames, everything. The dragons themselves could not even say "I like this" or "I dislike that", because to do so would be to name themselves. As such, stripped of identity, five of them descended into insanity and all of them slowly lost the ability to properly think.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell the character called "Stephen Black" is apparently not actually named Stephen Black, or so it would seem according to the rules of magic, because 'Stephen' was a slave name and not his true name given to him by his mother at his birth, which has been lost. As such, Magic considers him to be "The Nameless King", which is problematic because there is also a historical figure prevalent in the story, the Raven King, who was also given a slave name that was not his real name, John Uskglass, and is also referred to as "The Nameless King". Spells meant to address the latter Nameless King accidentally affect the former Nameless King.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Narration discloses that Sauron's spokesman had long forgotten his own name; he introduces himself to the emissaries of the West by his function, the Mouth of Sauron.
  • Inverted by Seerdomin from Malazan Book of the Fallen. He goes by the title of his former military rank to show that he won't hide from his crimes under the Pannion Domin, but nobody else can recall his real name was Segda Travos.
  • In Moonflowers, the antagonist is the Horned Hunter of Celtic Mythology, frequently just called "the Hunter." Maidin the river-spirit explains that he's a Force of Nature and must discard his name/identity on taking the position.
    You give up your name to wear the mask. You become a Predator that hunts Prey. That is all you are from that point on, and that is all you will be until something kills you.
  • In the final chapter of The Neverending Story, Bastian overuses the powers of the Auryn (which are powered by his memories) and forgets his own name, condemning himself to an eternity as a nameless shade. Fortunately for him, his friend-turned-enemy-turned-friend finds him and gives him at least his name back.
  • In Pact, Maggie Holt is tricked into giving her True Name to a fairy, causing the fairy to become Maggie Holt while she becomes simply "girl in scarf". Girl in scarf gradually unravels over the course of the arc, becoming more and more nondescript as Maggie Holt "takes back" her memories, traits and relationships (eventually even losing her scarf and becoming just "girl"). In the end she manages to survive by placing herself under a Magically Binding Contract to serve the local magical community as a negotiator named Mags, but if that contract is ever broken then she will cease being Mags and disappear.
  • Servants of the Spells, Swords, & Stealth dark god Kalzidar give up their names as part of their service to him. One such nameless priest is the primary antagonist of the second book. Upon meeting a rogue in the third, the party is immediately wary when she initially refuses to give her name.
  • The Faceless Men of A Song of Ice and Fire gave up their original names when joining, so most have only been identified by ad hoc titles from Arya's POV.
  • In Lockwood & Co.: The Empty Grave, psychic detection agent Lucy has built rapport with the skull in the jar, a Type-3 ghost that she has the rare power to communicate with, to such a degree that she tries once again asking him for his name. He claims, however, that it's been so long since he died that he just doesn't remember.
  • The fae boy in An Encounter and an Offer had his name stripped from him. How is not explained.
  • The Assassin in Fate/strange fake had discarded her name long before becoming a Servant.

     Live-Action Television 
  • In The Addams Family, the episode "Amnesia in the Addams Family" has Gomez getting Identity Amnesia from a strike on the head. When he wakes up, he can't remember his own name or his marriage to Morticia.
  • In Angel, Darla reveals that "Darla" is an alias she took when she became a vampire and she can't remember what her original name is.
  • The very first episode of Cheers has a Downplayed example of amnesia, since the protagonist doesn't forget everything about himself, just his own name. He's been called "Coach" for so long, he didn't recognize it.
    Coach: (answering the phone) Cheers. Just a second. (to the room) Ernie Pantuso?
    Sam: That's you, Coach.
    Coach: (into phone) Speaking.
  • In Dark Matter, the six original human Raza crew members have amnesia and have adopted numbers One through Six as their names. Most of them (except Five, the only one of the six who's not a wanted criminal) learn their names at the end of the first episode, but they continue using the numbers instead. Also, it turns out One is not actually Jace Corso; he doesn't learn his real name until later in the season.
  • In Doctor Who, Ashildr becomes an immortal and lives so long — with a human brain — that she forgets most of her past. However, she retains a sense of her identity because she writes in a diary every day. But she never wrote down her name, and so she forgets it completely until the Doctor reminds her of it. After which point, she disregards her name and continues to go by the name of "Me," but she recognizes "Ashildr" when the Doctor or Clara uses it.
  • In House of Anubis, Fabian's second-season curse is amnesia, which slowly begins to remove every memory he has. At his worst, he forgets what his name is, and asks Nina who "Fabian" is.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles: Callen was brought to the U.S. as a very young child and his accompanying paper work disappeared at some point between many foster homes. The only name he can remember is G. Callen. He does not know what the G stands for. It is not until season 7 that he learns that the G stands for Grisha and that Callen was his mother's maiden name.

     Music 
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     Roleplay 
  • Crestfallen: Charade's true name was taken away from him by Ensenial.
  • Delicious Friends: It is said of The Seventh Man that "He has no name. It died with him in the first fire brought by Lakewood."
  • White Wolf:

     Tabletop Games  

     Video Games  
  • Mega Man Zero: In the first game, the protagonist is awakened from his long slumber with some amnesia, including his name. He's repeatedly told that "You're Zero, the legendary Reploid" but he's not sure if he's really the Zero that the Resistance wanted (the Resistance took him into their place). At the end of the third game (where he encounters issues regarding his past and identity), he finally asserts "I am Zero".
  • Metal Gear has a Zig Zagged Trope example in Snake and Liquid. Snake says that he has no name, despite characters calling him Big Boss (his title given to him by the CIA), John (his birth name), and Snake (his code name from MGS3, and the name he dislikes the least). When Liquid implies that he and Solid Snake have no names and no history, Snake counters that he does have a name. Liquid is pissed at the idea of identifying with his birth name. The end of the game reveals that his first name is David.
  • The Nameless One from Planescape: Torment had a name, but due to his amnesia, he can't remember what it is. The majority of the game is about his attempts to recover his memories and atone for his past. He can eventually relearn his name, but you can't.
  • In Touhou Project, Junko's special ability is the ability to purify beings to a priordial state by removing their True Name. She used this power on herself, too, in order to turn herself into an Anthropomorphic Personification of pure resentment, which is why she's the only character with no Boss Subtitles.
  • Given its popularity with pieces involving wandering samurai, this trope shows up in Way of the Samurai, where 'Nameless' is the default name given to the player's ronin character. You can always choose to change it, but the character is apparently some kind of amnesiac swordsman, so it fits.
  • Dark Souls II: The Great Old Ones are so old that their names have been lost to history. The fact that the Duke's Dear Freja has a proper name is a hint that it is not a true Great Old One. The Great Old One is actually the fossilized dragon that Freja and her kin are using as a nest.
  • In Deadly Rooms of Death's Empire, one's name and one's job are the same thing, so the old First Archivist becomes The Nameless, ultimately averted in his case as when he gets replaced Beethro nicknames the new First Archivist "Arky" to distinguish them. The old First Archivist is still referred to as "First Archivist" by the fandom and on this page.

     Visual Novels 
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star you encounter a bird who calls himself Nemo and says that he has lost his real name.
  • Divi-Dead: The true identity of the person you know as Nishizaki through most of the game may have been magically erased.
  • Dies Irae uses this in mixture with The Fog of Ages for one the main antagonists, Mercurius. He is so inconceivably ancient that even he has forgotten his original name. Even the name "Mercurius" that most refer to him as is just his oldest known alias.

     Webcomics  
  • Inverted by the denizens of the shovel-beam-powered hamlet in Blank It. Their society takes pride in their namelessness, and anyone who is given a name is immediately rejected from the society. Here it is in action.
  • A Downplayed Trope example in Earthsong; the leader of Haven's Guard is unique for remembering her entire past except for her name. She goes by Nanashi, which is Japanese for "no name."
  • HERO the protagonist is an amnesiac who is not only nameless, but doesn't even get a descriptor like the rest of the cast.
  • The Hazards Of Love: The protagonist has their name and identity stolen by a magical cat in the prologue of the comic.
  • Siren's Lament: Even after the poseidon forces Ian's old memories to return he can't remember what his name used to be.

     Western Animation 
  • Arthur had this occur with Binky. His real name is "Shelley", which he thought was an Embarrassing First Name until he found out it was his grandfather's name. Binky had been consistently called "Binky" his entire life to the point where he thought it was his name.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: Professor Paradox forgot his own name because of the countless eons he had spent trapped outside of time. For this reason, he is known by the title "Professor Paradox".
  • In a Madagascar-related animated series, one Christmas Episode features Santa Claus getting amnesia and forgetting his own name.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Squilliam Returns", Squidward gives SpongeBob a mental conditioning to forget everything but fine dining (and breathing), which turns the sponge into an ultracompetent waiter. However, when Squilliam asks him for his name, he has trouble remembering and has a massive breakdown.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Name", we find out that "Gumball" is just the guy's nickname and that he's been called that so much that he forgot what his real name is. He decided to go out and find his real name no matter the cost... but his mom just casually reminds him it's "Zac". Zac becomes a Split Personality who turns out to be a huge jerk compared to Gumball, so by the end of the episode he ends up having his name officialy changed to "Gumball" to get rid of him.

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