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Not Himself
aka: Not Herself

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"If I go like this, [touches palm to forehead] my wife says, 'Are you feeling all right?' But on television nobody notices, you see."

A close relative of Evil Twin and "Freaky Friday" Flip, Not Himself is any plot where a character acts contrary to the way they normally behave. Can be used to provide a mystery to be solved, or to incite bewilderment in the other characters. The deviation is often a marked increase in evil, insanity, and/or horniness: the emergence of the inner shadow—or a switcheroo.

Sometimes, it's a detective or police character behaving as if they were corrupt, or a criminal. This will usually turn out to be the Fake Defector. On other occasions, it might be the result of Demonic Possession.

If the change is deliberate to save their friends, it's an invoked Out-of-Character Alert.

If the change is caused by poor writing or is never given an in-canon reason, this could be Character Derailment.

Compare Out-of-Character Moment and Weirder Than Usual. Contrast with Something Only They Would Say. See also Virus-Victim Symptoms. Not to be confused with Not as You Know Them, where an established character's significance in a production is derailed or minimized order to benefit another character (usually to replace them).


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  • This is the premise of Snickers' "You're Not You When You're Hungry..." commercials, featuring normal people acting more like larger-than-life celebrities, including Robin Williams, Betty White, and Danny Trejo as Machete, being brought back to normal after having a Snickers bar.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • Played for drama toward the last chapter of the Golden Age Arc, which concludes the prologue that dives into Guts' backstory about how he came to be the dark, brooding and vengeful man that he was introduced as in the Black Swordsman Arc. Although they were not present at the harrowing Eclipse a tortuous event triggered by Griffith, his former friend, when he turned to the dark side, ending with the sacrifice of his comrades and the rape of his lover Godo, Rickert, and Erica noticed the dark shift in Guts' character, which not only involved the increased blood-lust in his personality, but also his dark dress and intense scowling. Even the audience can notice a clear change in Guts' appearance just chapters apart.
    • During the same chapter, Casca is shown taking a fully-dressed shower under the waterfall and overall looks rather serene and maybe a little tired. But when she turns around to look at Guts, and the reader's point of view, the way she smiles makes it clear that this isn't the Casca from pre-Eclipse. She has gone insane from the preceeding events.
  • Bleach: The Ninth Espada, Aaroniero Arruruerie attempts to trick Rukia by posing as her former mentor Kaien Shiba. He betrays himself by making a request that was blatantly uncharacteristic of Kaien, suggesting that she could earn his forgiveness by killing all her friends. Rukia, enraged, says Kaien would never say that even as a joke.
  • Lelouch on occasion in Code Geass. Rivalz and some of his other classmates notice that he's been acting strangely and avoiding them, but they'd never guess that the reason for it is that he's the masked rebel who's currently the biggest news topic of the day.
  • In DEVILMAN crybaby, after Akira Fudo becomes Devilman for the first time, his personality changes from a meek, kind-hearted young man who cries at news of deaths, to a debonair, devil-may-care badass who watches porn in his school's AV room with the volume cranked up without a care in the world.
  • Aside from Ken during Digimon Adventure 02, the normally nice and affable Takeru has been known to become scarily angry when there is a threat to his Digimon and friends, as a result of witnessing the death of his own Digimon in the first series. These angry moments have caused him to physically attack the then-Digimon Kaiser Ken (while smiling in dark amusement at Ken's injury of his [Takeru's] face), advocate the killing of Dark Digimon, and deeply disturb Jogress partner Iori on separate occasions.
    • Just to put this into context, Iori is The Stoic of the series. To freak him out would seem to be a very hard task... unless Takeru's pissed.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Goku, when he first goes Super Saiyan, goes from a peaceful, All-Loving Hero, to a highly arrogant, cold-blooded, sadistic Blood Knight who wants to make Frieza suffer, physically and mentally. King Kai is outright frightened when he witnesses the change in Goku's personality.
    • Gohan during the Cell Games. Compare Gohan before he unlocks Super Saiyan 2 and after. Before SS2 - a humble, soft-hearted Martial Pacifist who makes it clear on more than one occasion that he doesn't like to hurt people, not even truly evil monsters like Cell. After SS2 - an arrogant, borderline sadistic, revenge-driven Smug Super who eagerly beats Cell within an inch of his life and even deliberately prolongs the Curb-Stomp Battle just because he wanted Cell to suffer as much as possible before he died, even deliberately ignoring Goku ordering him to finish Cell off before he did something desperate. It takes Cell's imminent self-destruction, and Goku's semi-Senseless Sacrifice to stop it, for him to snap out of it.
  • This usually sparks the plots in Higurashi: When They Cry, but one character stands out in particular: "The person who was there was not the Rika-chan I knew. It was another Furude Rika." Of course, the difference between Rika and the other examples is that the "abnormal" personality is really her True Self, her "normal" self is just Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • A frequent occurrence with Yuu from Holyland. More experienced fighters are able to recognise when his heart is not properly in the fight, as his skill takes a corresponding drop.
  • A peculiar example from K - the Silver King Adolf K. Weismann has lived alone in an airship for decades with no contact with anyone. Blue King Reisi Munakata realize that something has been strange with him and that this should be investigated because the flight patterns of his airship change - he usually follows the optimal route based on the weather, but recently, he's been flying randomly. Since the night of the murder the characters have been investigating, actually. Sure enough, he's been body-snatched.
  • Subverted with Hayasaka in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Post class trip (now released from her service to the Shinomiya family), she behaves harsher and more distant in school, which is actually truer to how she usually behaves. Her Gyaru Girl friends in school assume it's how she copes with having her heart broken by Shirogane.
  • Episode 7 of Kill la Kill has Ryuko noting how Mako becomes less and less like her usual chipper self after becoming the Fight Club president. First she becomes increasingly formal and smug, and when she gets a Two-Star uniform, she is noticeably more brutal and doesn't even crack a smile.
    • Episode 21 has Ryuko behaving like a sociopath after being brainwashed by her mother.
  • Subverted in Magical Project S while Misao certainly wasn't acting like herself when she tortured the main cast as the evil magical girl Pixy Misa (she wasn't even aware of her other side) it was revealed that it was in fact herself (the repressed aspects of her personality),
  • My-HiME. The anime is ambiguous about how much (if indeed at all) the HiME star is affecting the HiME as it gets closer to earth. Is it playing with their emotions to provoke them to fight each other (thus causing Shizuru to go completely mad when she's rejected by Natsuki), or is it all a result of their normal psyches, just put under a lot of stress?
    • Interestingly enough, immediately after being resurrected, Shizuru starts crying and apologizes to Natsuki, which she had not done even in the moments before her death, after Natsuki kissed her and told her that she loved her, albeit in a different way. This suggests that she only came to her senses after being resurrected..
  • In an episode of Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, Nyanko-sensei has to masquerade as Natsume after he's trapped in a bottle by a youkai. Nyanko-sensei then proceeds to act exactly as he usually does (read:a jerkass), much to Natsume's dismay.
  • The Ranma ½ filler episode "Am I Pretty? Ranma's Declaration of Womanhood" sees Ranma take a very nasty knock on the back of the head when he falls into the koi pond whilst escaping an angry Akane. When he regains consciousness, he's gone from a rough, brash, bluntly spoken macho boy to a soft-spoken, gentle, timid and pacifistic girl. Fortunately, another blow to the head reverts him back to normal at the episode's end.
  • In one To Love Ru story, Haruna suddenly became an evil sadist, which was hilarious. It became Harsher in Hindsight when the artist's wife, who Haruna's design was based on, turned out to be a crazy psychopath who kidnapped their daughter, among other demented things.
    • Rito in an extra chapter of the sequel To Love Ru Darkness. Thanks to one of Momo's plants, he becomes a pervert and abuses Lala's inventions. He even agrees to the Harem Plan under its effects.
  • In the anime series Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase, Hazuki has frequent periods of Not Himself, during which she "becomes" Miss Luna, a lustful, blood-thirsty vampire girl.

    Comic Books 
  • Cosmic Boy of DC's post-Zero Hour Legion of Super-Heroes spent a whole Arc being Not Himself and alienating his teammates at every opportunity in order to set up an elaborate Engineered Public Confession which revealed the President's corruption and caused her removal from office. Some Legion fans never forgave him for it. (It didn't help that this particular arc occurred in the first couple years after a total reboot of the Legion, so it wasn't as clear as it might have been that this wasn't just Cos's new personality.)
  • Apparently, hacking into Superman's mind is like evil hypnotists' wikivandalism. Some bratty six-year-old in Minneapolis trips over a ouija board, next thing you know our Man of Steel is giving the Batman a wedgie.
    • Supes has probably been brainwashed, hypnotized, or possessed more than any character in fiction. And if you count the times he's pretended to be Not Himself, more than all fictional characters combined. Read any random five Superman or Superman-associated comics from the 50s through the 70s, and see if you can't find one of these stories, or refer to here for the condensed version.
    • There's an arc in 2000 where Lois and Clark's marriage appeared to start falling apart, with Lois accusing Clark of not caring about her because she was just a human, and of cheating on her with Wonder Woman, effectively turning the poor guy into a miserable wreck and culminating in her walking out on him. Turns out it was actually Parasite masquerading as Lois in order to simultaneously feed off of Superman's powers and destroy his spirit in a plot to kill him. The arc wound up with what looked like a superpowered-Lois Lane beating the snot out of Superman right in front of a flabbergasted Perry White and Jimmy Olsen, and apparently required loads of explanations from the real Lois after everything was cleared up, especially as Parasite had been running around using Lois's know-how to steal millions of dollars.
  • One memorable Silver Age story did to Lois (who, believe it or not, could be almost as big on Superdickery as Superman himself back then). Specifically, a minor car accident gave her just enough brain damage to suddenly become a "ruthless female" that would try to blackmail Superman into marriage with photos proving his secret identity; this was supposedly a line the "real" Lois would never cross, though Depending on the Writer she's done worse even in her right mind.
  • In the Justice League International comic, Guy Gardner spends a rather extended period like this after minor head trauma. The abrasive, chauvinistic, arrogant Guy turns into a sweet, Sensitive Guy — who really exists deep down, as exhibited when Guy falls in love. This trope is partially subverted, though, because the League likes him better as Sensitive Guy and therefore makes no effort to return him to his previous state.
  • During the "Trinity" arc, it is revealed that Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are "Keystones" of reality, inherent to the fabric of the universe, and that the endless Expies of them across the multiverse are the "Keystones" of their universe (including Apollo, Midnighter and Zealot for the WildStorm universe, whch makes... a lot of sense). When a trio of villains tries to usurp their position for ultimate power, the spell they use has the side effect of of causing them to take on each others personality traits, meaning on a mission to the Mirror Universe, Superman goes Leeroy Jenkins and Curb Stomps the CSA while Batman tries to negotiate a peaceful solution and Wonder Woman broods on their out of character behaviour. Then when Superman sends Ultraman, Owlman and Superwoman out of their universe, it starts trying to force them to become the new Keystones, and they start acting like their CSA doubles as well as each other. Fortunately Black Canary tells them to go home and get their act together.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): After the Time Skip, Antoine inexplicably became an insufferable Jerkass. Writer Karl Bollers wanted to write this off as natural character growth, but fellow writer Ken Penders decided he didn't like that idea, so he changed to Antoine having been switched with his Evil Twin from an Alternate Universe. And about the time of that reveal, Sonic's own twin from that same AU switched places with him as well, so the other Freedom Fighters had to deal with "Sonic" acting out of character too.
  • In Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, Captain Marvel spends the ninth issue acting like a jerk to everyone, and also refuses to change back into Billy; when this culminates in him leaving the Arson Fiend in a burning building, Mary forces him to turn back, and Billy immediately reports feeling like he had no control over his body for the last few days. He resolves to not change until they figure out why, but by the next issue, he's starting to act nastier too, and turns into a Blood Knight when fighting the Villain of the Week. It eventually turns out that he's being corrupted from within by Mr. Mind.
  • In The Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Prowl is expecting this trope to tip off the rest of the Autobots that he is being mind-controlled by the Decepticons. He is shocked when they respond that, no, they think he is a callous Jerkass who would be willing to throw a friend's life away for the sake of his plan when he isn't being mind-controlled and therefore hadn't noticed a difference in his behavior.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): To their identical twin sister Serva the switch from being a considering, careful person in private to a sadistic villain after surviving a gunshot to the head is a huge change for Hypnota, and unfortunately one that seems permanent. The public don't notice as Hypnota and Serva have always presented a different persona to the public as a part of maintaining their stage magic act.
  • X-Men: Toward the end of Chris Claremont's first run, normally motherly scientist Moira MacTaggert suddenly becomes much more bad-tempered and vicious, along with discarding her normal wardrobe for hanging around the lab in crop-tops and panties. Her boyfriend Banshee immediately pegs something as being incredibly wrong. She's being controlled by the Shadow King.
  • This is what's going on in the Batman (Chip Zdarsky) run, especially The Gotham War. As established in Batman (Grant Morrison), Batman made a backup personality known as "Zur-En-Arrh" to be used should something attack Batman in a way to disable him. However, the stress of numerous events has caused Bruce's mental bindings on Zur-En-Arrh to come loose and he's gotten his claws on Bruce's brain.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) fanfiction, Alan Jonah and half of his paramilitary slowly begin exhibiting this due to exposure to San's original head's psychic Brown Note. Jonah in particular one day decides to not only perform a violent napalm experiment on San and Vivienne, he goes out of his way to savagely rip Vivienne apart with words, and it doesn't go unnoticed by Vivienne later on that the infamous Eco-Terrorist is behaving quite contrary to his normal, cold-hearted self. Tejada also says Kauffmann used to be "like an open book" but changed after he was affected.
  • All Assorted Animorphs AUs: Inverted in "What if they saved Jake's family?". Tom is upset that his parents don't understand why he's been acting strange since his Yeerk left him; they think Tom's true self is the changeling.
  • BURN THE WITCH: Tikki gets swept up in Witch Hunter's influence, encouraging Marinette to prioritize saving the city over protecting Lila from the mob. This is partly due to her having experience with past witch hunts, and feeling no small amount of satisfaction at the thought of somebody who actually DESERVES to suffer being the target this time, as well as wanting to protect Marinette from being hurt any further by Lila's manipulations.
    • This gets used for a painful little twist of Dramatic Irony when Tikki tries to reassure Marinette that she's not responsible for the harm Lila has caused. Marinette is so used to Tikki constantly encouraging her to be an Ideal Hero that she assumes Tikki would never comfort her in such a fashion.
  • The ponification potion in many Conversion Bureau stories often have this effect. In turning humans into ponies, some personality changes ensue. The deconstructions don't shy away from showing how this can be utterly messed up and frightening.
    • In The Conversion Bureau: Not Alone, one of the main human characters laments how much his friend Eddy changed after taking the potion, going so far as to call Eddy's pony self a "pleasant smiling zombie with wings." The chapter "Aftermath Part 1" reveals why - basically the human convert's original personality is completely erased and overwritten by a new one provided by the potion. However, they still retain their memories, basically fooling them into thinking they're the same person who drank it.
    • The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum takes it further, where the potion completely destroys the victim's original personality, effectively killing them. The chapter "War March and Past Sins" explains how - basically the human convert's soul is shattered to pieces and then "bound in chains" to Queen Celestia and the Bag of Tirek's will. Even worse, according to the Elder Shaman of the Zebras, it is completely impossible to repair those souls with any medicine or magic; only Mercy Killing them will make their souls whole again and set them free. To quote one ex-HLF member:
      Andrew Silas: "We expected them to just be our friends and family with hooves and fur, we expected... I don't know what. The simplest way I can put it is that we expected it to be them. That they'd be something like the people we knew. Henry, though - you've heard this description a million times, but it just wasn't him in there."
  • A Delicate Balance: Pinkie Pie immediately realizes that Twilight has something on her mind when Twilight fails to be an utter perfectionist when decorating cupcakes.
  • In the Bleach fanfic series Heirverse, Aizen usually when Jac is getting to him or more rarely if he's emotional. Gin begins to figure this out after CF.
  • In Intercom, this is how Riley's parents and friends know that something is wrong. It starts with Riley acting quieter than usual, then she begins to get disinterested and detached from the world, and becomes prone to violent outbursts. Meeting your emotions will do that to you.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, everyone notices that Ringo is getting a little strange and obsessed while they're at the Guardians. They assume he's going nuts because he's unable to use his mindsight while he's under the Guardians' city mask. Although this is partially true, John figures out (to his horror) that the psionics among the Guardians have been subtly working on Ringo to ensure that he wants to stay with them. It takes a rather shocking moment for Ringo to snap out of it.
  • Barbara Gordon in A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action Please temporarily becomes a Drill Sergeant Nasty to both Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown due to a number of extenuating circumstances leaving her incredibly stressed out: barely surviving the Imperium Invasion, believing that all her friends are dead during said invasion, deciding to reconnect with Dick only to find Starfire wearing one of his shirts, and Batman unceremoniously dropping Cassandra and Stephanie on her to train. All things combined lead to her running Stephanie through a brutal exercises regimen and screaming at Cassandra for not reading a set of files, not knowing the girl can't read.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, ProtoMan is this post episode 10; the other characters begin to notice midway through episode 11.
  • My Immortal: The only reason Dumbledore swore was because he had a headache, okay? (Of course, he then swears regularly for the remainder of the "text".)
  • In the Star Trek fanfic Retribution, Spock convinces Kirk to forgive himself for his harsh words by forcing him to admit that the Rapid Aging was affecting his mind.
  • In Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything Takada regularly excuses Light's irritabile moods by telling everyone he has a headache.
  • In the Music/Devo web-comic, "Tired O' Tourin'," Mark gets attacked by several stingrays after falling into a river that was infested with them. After that, the venom causes him to act a bit...different. He turns the bus into a low-rider, wears clothes from the Gap, listens to American Top 40, and threatens the rest of the band (one of whom is his brother) with a gun. Luckily, General Boy puts a stop to his behaviour and he is quite horrified with his antics after going back to normal.
  • Discussed and Defied in Tyrantly Ever After; Artina tries reassuring Nemo that he wasn't himself during the worst of his actions, as he was possessed during the final battle. Nemo rejects her, pointing out that he spent literal centuries pursuing his vengeful plans following his Start of Darkness.
    Nemo: "'Myself?' I spent so many centuries like that, who's to say that's not the real me now...?"
  • Zero Context: Taking Out the Trash: When the main protagonists receive unexpected invitations to the wedding of "Circe and Marc Maddhouse", this immediately puts them on high alert: not only was the Circe they knew not involved in any romantic endeavors, let alone with a morally bankrupt sleazeball, she was an admitted lesbian—and thus had absolutely zero romantic interest in men. After the situation was resolved, Circe confirmed that their judgments were spot on: Marc had manipulated her into drinking one of her own love potions, ensuring that she would see him as the perfect spouse for her.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, after he gets bitten by the Wolfman, Theodore became very strong and cool during the day, but also arrogant and aggressive. To point that Eleanor asks if he and Alvin have a "Freaky Friday" Flip.
  • In Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, Batman is fairly happy and works with the police, fitting the 60's TV show that the movie's based on. When he's Brainwashed and Crazy, he pulls off a Stealth Hi/Bye on the commissioner like most other versions of the character, making everyone present realize that something is wrong with him.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, the Canterlot High School students under the Dazzlings' spell become confrontational and ultra-competitive. It's most notable with Flash Sentry, for whom it's completely at odds with his Nice Guy persona from the first movie; he turns against the Rainbooms once they enter the battle of the bands because they're competing against each other now, he even snaps once at Twilight Sparkle, making her cry.
  • In Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, after Luthor, who has been elected President and framed Superman for murder, placed a bounty on Supes' head. The first to come after him and Batman are Mongul and Solomon Grundy. Superman first realizes something is off because Mongul is primarily interested in intergalactic domination, so he would have no real desire for money, also the fact that he never says a word during his fight with Superman when he's typically prone to Evil Gloating. Batman, meanwhile, is facing off with the normally inarticulate Grundy, but this time is "sounding like William F. Buckley." Batman and Superman begin to wonder if maybe they were both being controlled by a telepath. They end up being right. Gorilla Grodd was controlling them.
  • A tearjerking example occurs in Wall E: EVE repairs WALL•E after he's been crushed to death. However, once he's started up again, WALL•E has no memories of EVE, and his personality is gone. He's just another trash-compacting robot. EVE especially notices he's not himself when he regards all the trinkets he's collected over the centuries as just more trash, and is completely indifferent to the cockroach he adopted as a pet. Fortunately, he gets better.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Brain Stealers has Li Yuan-Ming, the son of esteemed scientist Dr. Li, being captured by the main villain, Professor Zero, and subjected to having his mind swapped with Zero's henchman, Peter, who intends to infiltrate the Li's household. But Peter's mannerisms and attitude - that he's a jovial, happy-go-lucky jokester most of the time, but remains quiet throughout - ticks off his family that something is amiss. His flimsy excuse of "I'm jetlagged after flying from Tokyo" fails to convince his sister and the film's heroine Li Chiu-Lan, who later uncovers his true identity.
  • Inverted in Dangerous Liaisons, when the Vicomte Sébastien de Valmont, known to be a ruthless, womanizing manipulator, genuinely falls in love with Madame Marie de Tourvel. He is forced into the situation by Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil, and with tears in his eyes has to push away the woman he loves through cruel manipulation. She is aware that it's odd for the Vicomte to speak thus to her, but is heartbroken nonetheless.
  • In Everyone Says I Love You, one of the characters becomes a Republican to the great surprise (and dismay) of his family. It turns out it was because of some sort of brain problem.
  • Definitely seen a lot in Face/Off, when plastic surgery for an undercover operation results in Sean Archer (John Travolta) getting the face of Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), and subsequently, Castor retaliates upon finding out his face has been stolen by stealing Archer's face for himself. By having Cage and Travolta swap roles, one sees how the two characters react differently when in the company of the other's inner circle. One contrast is how they take victory celebrations: when Archer gets his for putting Castor into a coma, he looks depressed and turns down a bottle of champagne, then decides to remind them of the agents killed by Castor in the shootout. When Castor is being congratulated for "locating" and disarming his own bomb, he wears his sunglasses and seems unusually chipper. Elsewhere, when Castor gets his first glimpse of Archer's daughter Jamie, he inadvertently calls her "Janie", and also lights up a cigarette, two things the real Archer would never do, but which are glossed over.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Tom Riddle, through his diary, possesses Ginny Weasley to commit atrocities for him. It's stated several times that not only could she not fight him, she wasn't even aware of what he was doing while in control of her body and was unable to recall those events even after the fact. It wasn't until she realized her memory gaps coincided with the attacks that she started to put it together, but by then it was too late.
    • This is also implied to be what happens to people placed under the Imperius Curse. Unfortunately, as fake Moody explains in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, there's no way to tell after the fact whether someone had actually been a victim of the curse, making it quite difficult for the Ministry to tell the difference between those who had been truly Imperiused and those who were falsely claiming it as a defense.

  • In Animorphs, the fact that Earth is being invaded by Puppeteer Parasites means that this trope is kind of inevitable. Most Yeerks, having access to their hosts' memories, can pass very well, but Tom's first Yeerk, Temrash, was an especially Bad Liar. He quit the basketball team, which was Tom's biggest passion, and generally started acting very out of character. Upon discovering that Yeerks existed, Marco only needed one conversation with "Tom" to realize that he was infested. That same Yeerk later got put in Jake, but his contempt for Andalites was so apparent that one glance at Ax made the latter suspect him.
  • In the V. C. Andrews novel April Shadows, April's father starts to act like a jerkass to his family for seemingly no reason. The reason turns out to be that he found out he had terminal cancer and he didn't want his family to feel sad for him when he died. So, he decides to make them hate him. Once his wife and daughters find out, though, they feel sorry for him anyway.
  • Ditzy but loyal Betsy the Vampire Queen becomes a real bitch after reading too many pages of the Book of the Dead in a row in Undead and Unappreciated.
  • In the Erebus Sequence, Dino notes that both Anea and Russo are acting strangely harsh and distant. It turns out that they're both using a tinctura which, presumably without their knowledge, strips away people's empathy and sentiment.
  • In The Heroes of Olympus, Leo suddenly starts firing the Argo II's weapons at Camp Jupiter, forcing the ship to leave and increasing tensions between the demigods. Afterwards he admits that while he can remember doing it, he can't explain why and felt a cold sensation while it happened. (Prior to this, he had also flashed an evil smile that Annabeth noticed but wrote off as her imagination.) Later Percy and Jason also start trying to kill each other. They all turn out to be possessed by spirits called eidolons, which can influence people without their being aware of it.
  • Hurog: In Dragon Bones:
    • One of Ward's allies tries to stab him. They later find out that the man was magically controlled by the real traitor. He gets to apologize and be forgiven before he dies.
    • There's also the creepy moment when the Cute Mute girl suddenly speaks — with a male voice, no less. It turns out she's possessed by a god, who is not actually evil, but Good Is Not Nice and he's rather impolite.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero in Hell, Miranda admits that she had not noticed that Mab had been replaced with a shapeshifter, just that he was acting oddly.
  • Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. After she is jilted by her first love, she falls into a despair and eventually, after months of barely eating or sleeping, she stays out for hours in a rainstorm while insufficiently wrapped up. She nearly dies of fever or has a bad flu, but when she recovers she has suddenly gained about five years' worth of emotional maturity, and not long afterward marries someone much older than herself. Marianne is passionate and talented and struggles to conform to what her society expects of a young unmarried woman. It feels as though Austen is building up to tragically killing her off... but at the last minute she backs off, and Marianne is suddenly able to deal with the pressures of hiding her feelings in the public space.
  • Star Wars Legends: After Tash is injected with The Virus in Galaxy of Fear: The Planet Plague, she develops a rash, then a growing bump, and acts increasingly more irritable and angry than is usual for her. She was showing some signs before the injection, but they got worse after it. Turns out that anger makes the disease progress more quickly and speeding her transformation into a Blob Monster - when she made herself calm down and embrace more positive emotions, it helped.
  • In the young adult novel Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan, protagonist Laurie discovers that she was adopted as an infant and has an identical Separated at Birth twin, Lia. Lia has mastered astral projection and uses it to form a bond with Laurie. She teaches Laurie to do likewise, but it's a ruse to trick Laurie out of her body so Lia can possess it. Laurie is left in a ghostlike state, watching her body operate under her twin's power. The only people who notice that anything's amiss are her adoptive little sister, who spots that Laurie is acting out of character, and Laurie's boyfriend, who knows the whole story and suspects that Lia might have done exactly what she did.
  • In The Wheel of Time, magic-users can be forcibly turned to serve the Dark One if they're captured and put through a specific ritual. Afterwards, they will mostly behave the same, other than subtly pursuing the Shadow's interests, but those who know them well can recognize small changes in their mannerisms, and will recognize something wrong about their eyes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun had an episode where orders come through that Dick is to be replaced as mission commander. After the replacement shows up (looking exactly like Dick, and imprisons Dick instead of sending him home) an emergency message comes through that the previous orders were faked and the 'replacement' is actually a renegade who wants to conquer Earth. Unfortunately, the only people around when the warning comes through are New Dick and Harry (who channels the messages and thus can't actually hear them). Much hilarity ensues until the problem is corrected.
  • Amazing Stories (2020): In "Signs Of Life" Alia and the audience quickly learn Sara is definitely different from the woman she'd once been, not even remembering that Alia's her daughter. She's now involved with a strange man named Wayne who is up to mysterious business, and has peculiar abilities. It turns out she's not actually Sara, but an alien inhabiting her body.
  • Angel:
  • In Babylon 5, Michael Garibaldi spends most of season 4 acting strange and distancing himself from the rest of the crew. It turns out his mind had been programmed to act this way by telepath Bester, who used him to infiltrate an anti-telepath conspiracy. Betraying Babylon 5 and Sheridan was an unexpected bonus. Interestingly, it's revealed that his personality wasn't actually altered. Instead, the darker aspects of his personality were intensified, making him even more paranoid and suspicious of authority than normal.
  • Being Human: When Mitchell is undergoing some Sanity Slippage at the end of season two, he starts hitting on Annie and makes her incredibly uncomfortable. Annie runs into the other room and tells George "There's someone in there." George is initially confused as to why she didn't just say "Mitchell" but it becomes clear quite quickly that Mitchell is, in fact, very much Not Himself.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy. She does this even more than Angel. Whether it be a spell going wrong and making her fall in love with Spike or the way she cracks under the pressure makes the fans crack at her attitude whether or not the Slayer is herself is, quite literally, largely dependent on how her hair is that week.
    • Tara suddenly acting violently homophobic towards her girlfriend, coupled with Buffy and Riley disregarding everyone and everything around them to engage in Coitus Uninterruptus, clue the Scoobies in as to the nature of what they are dealing with in "Where The Wild Things Are".
  • Basically any Charmed episode that focused on possession or the sisters being corrupted somehow; it's happened to each sister at least once (and to all three at once in at least one episode), let alone their love interests and the supporting cast.
  • Chuck:
    • Chuck realizes something is deeply wrong with Morgan after he gets the Intersect when his best friend and lifelong geek has absolutely no interest in a Die Hard marathon and barely knows anything about Star Wars.
    • The penultimate episode sees Chuck realizing that something is deeply wrong when a Sarah gets snappish over a massage and then turns away from him in bed at night. He convinces himself that it's just the result of her traumatic escape from Quinn, but he can't explain what she's doing with the Intersect glasses in her bag. Turns out Sarah has been mind-wiped.
  • Community - on Abed's birthday, Jeff meets him at a fancy restaurant, meaning to divert him to a Pulp Fiction themed party his friends have arranged, but finds him acting oddly sociable and claiming to be over pop culture. It turns out he's just 'doing' another movie scenario, My Dinner with Andre.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Invasion of Time": The Doctor is initiated as Lord President of Gallifrey and begins acting very cold and megalomaniacal, contrary to his usual jolly and playful personality.
    • "New Earth": Lady Cassandra possesses Rose, and then attempts to act like her to fool the Doctor. He can tell something's not right because Rose would care about the clones that are being experimented on for cures, and Cassandra doesn't.
    • "The Poison Sky": Similarly to the Cassandra-and-Rose example, it's a no-brainer for the Doctor that he's talking to a ruthless, evil copy, and not the real, caring Martha, he just pretends not to know because it suits his own purposes. Somehow she never notices the disgusted faces he makes.
  • Farscape:
    • On one occasion it becomes clear that it's not really Aeryn when she doesn't know she's pregnant, once when she suggests abandoning their friends, and once when she's suspiciously happy: "Aeryn smiling for no reason. That ought to have been our first clue."
    • Another one occurs when Harvey takes over Crichton at the end of Season 2 and forces John to kill Aeryn.
  • Get Smart: Maxwell Smart is attempting to infiltrate a KAOS group, and as such needs to dramatically burn all his bridges with CONTROL. Of course, this being Get Smart, it doesn't work quite as planned.
  • Duncan under the Dark Quickening in Highlander: The Series.
  • House: At the end of one episode that deals with a sociopathic patient, the patient tells her husband (who had only just found out about her sociopathy) that she never loved him and never wants to see him again. This leads House to realize he was correct in believing that the symptoms for which she was hospitalized were caused by an underlying condition that also caused her sociopathy. He calls her out on the fact that she had nothing to gain by leaving her husband, as she had only married him for his money in the first place. She had actually said what she said because her newly discovered conscience wouldn't allow her to keep using him, whereas if the treatment had not cured her of her sociopathy, she would have pretended otherwise in order to keep him around.
  • On House of Anubis, when Fabian and Alfie become sinners, everyone is scared because they are acting like total jerks, when in reality they are two of the nicest people in the house.
  • On an episode of Kojak, Lt. Kojak appears to go corrupt, but of course in the end it's all a big undercover operation.
  • Lost:
    • In season 5, after returning to the Island Locke is not himself, acting more determined and secretive than ever and knowing things he can't possibly know. Because he's still dead and The Man in Black is in his place.
    • In season 6, Sayid and Claire have been infected with The Sickness, and are now evil recruits of The Man in Black.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Abigail and Raelle start up a violent argument that leads to a physical fight (Scylla gets involved as well) in "Delusional", which quickly indicates the effect of another spell, as it's completely against their usual dynamic.
  • NewsRadio:
    • Matthew punched out Bill after one of Bill's pranks went too far. Somehow, the two switch personalities - Bill becomes submissive, while Matthew starts acting like the office alpha male. An accidental slap from Bill reverses the effect, and the two return to normal.
    • In a later episode, Matthew suffers a mid-life crisis after turning 30 and starts acting like a '70s-era British punk.
  • The Office (US): assistant manager (or assistant to the manager) Dwight Schrute, a pompous, anti-social jerk, inexplicably starts acting nice to everyone. Later it is discovered to be the effect of a concussion Dwight suffered as a result of a car crash earlier in the episode.
  • The Outpost:
    • After being conditioned through drugs, psychological manipulation and trickery Garret is a completely different man-fanatically loyal to the Prime Order, hateful of Gwynn and expressing violent bigotry toward Blackbloods (the opposite from his previous attitudes).
    • Gwen acting much more upbeat and friendly than usual tips off Talon that something is amiss (not that she isn't affectionate, but in a more reserved way). Wren also realizes this about her mother Yavalla, who hugs her (this is something normally she never does).
  • Resident Alien: Isabelle, Harry's wife, is very aware that her husband's acting really strangely. Naturally though she doesn't realize this is because he's dead, and "Harry" is an alien imposter.
  • Smallville has its fair share of Not Himself episodes, thanks to Red Kryptonite and the truly absurd number of villains who have possession abilities.
  • Stargate:
    • Happens a lot in Stargate SG-1. Between the Goa'uld, mind control, robots, clones, and other random behavior changes, the characters get a pretty good taste of this.
      • One example stands out because it required no Phlebotinum. Jack starts acting even more anti-authoritarian than normal, to the point of actual insubordination. He even steals alien technology he was told he couldn't have, nearly sparking a war with one of Earth's allies. It turns out it was all an act. He was pretending to be dissatisfied with the SGC's methods so that he would get recruited by a shadow organization that had been stealing alien artifacts. The aliens Jack stole from were the ones who alerted the SGC and were in on the plan, neatly avoiding the whole Interstellar Incident thing.
    • Stargate Atlantis:
      • The audience gradually realizes that Sheppard is Not Himself after being fed on by a Wraith/human hybrid when he A) beats Ronon in a race, B) beats Teyla in a fight, C) asks Teyla to call him "John", and D) kisses Teyla. He realizes something is up himself after the last one.
      • The characters get pretty good at spotting it too; in fact, standard SG training involves numerous scenarios that involve teammates possibly being compromised by a Goa'uld.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Data, relatively often, usually when he's possessed by one thing or another, or something's going weird in his programming.
    • Geordi LaForge gets one of these in the episode "The Mind's Eye". The most disturbing thing about it being that aside from his being brainwashed and attempting to murder someone in full view, he behaves entirely and utterly like himself.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: In the episode "Amok Time", Spock's uncharacteristic emotional outbursts are the first clue that something is seriously wrong with him.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In "Dramatis Personae", a disagreement between Sisko and Kira rapidly turns into a multi-faction cold war running across the station. It turns out that telepathic artifacts from a dead world are causing the regular characters to recreate the power struggle that destroyed that civilization.
    • In "Tribunal", Chief O'Brien is put on trial by the Cardassians for aiding the Maquis. O'Brien had been set up by Boone, a former crewmate of his. Investigating further, Sisko and Bashir note how Boone went from a model Starfleet officer to a malcontent kicked out for bad behavior and cutting off all contact with his family. His ex-wife wrote it up to him affected by being held prisoner by the Cardassians. But Bashir does a medical scan that shows "Boone" is actually a disguised Cardassian who took the place of the real Boone, who died in captivity.
  • Supernatural:
    • Sam throughout season 4 when he was a demon-blood junkie and in the first half of season 6 because he came back as The Soulless causing him to show classic sociopathic behavior as a result.
    • Dean in the back half of season 9 and most of season 10 due to the effects of the Mark of Cain.
    • Castiel, four times: at the end of season 4 where he was brainwashed, before Dean snaps him out of it. Then at the start of season 7, when the souls and leviathans that he's absorbed in the season 6 finale start to mess with his mind. Then in season 8 when he is taken out of Purgatory and brainwashed by Naomi to serve as a Manchurian Agent without him realizing it and again in season 11, this time because he is possessed by Lucifer who is impersonating Cas when around the Winchester brothers.
  • Teen Wolf:
    • Jackson becoming creepily pleasant, albeit increasingly unstable. Allison takes notice.
    • A full moon seems to make Scott meaner.
  • Twin Peaks ended with a Not Himself, presumably to have been the plot of the cancelled third season. "How's Annie? How's Annie? How's Annie?!"
  • The X-Files:
    • In "Small Potatoes", which involves a Shapeshifting Seducer, and in "Dreamland", in which Mulder switches bodies with an Area 51 worker, both Non-Mulders try their hand at seducing Scully.
    • In "Ice", parasitic organisms cause hosts to act aggressively. "We are not who we are."
    • Some crazy planetary and geological vortex in "Syzygy" makes everyone behave weirdly and out of character. Even Mulder and Scully.
    • In "Fight Club", Mulder and Scully beat each other very nastily because they encounter two doppelgängerish half-sisters in whose presence everybody gets extremely violent.

  • The Brandi Carlisle song "That Wasn't Me" is about how addiction can change how a person acts and cause them to hurt the ones they love and do things they're shamed of. Word of God says the song was inspired by a friend's battle with addiction.
    "Whatever you've seen/That wasn't me".

  • Dr. Lancaster from Find Us Alive is ordinarily upbeat, supportive, and selfless, befitting of his position as Head Psychiatrist. However, after a Dash Two bites him during the Night Game, he becomes increasingly paranoid, neurotic, obsessive, and secretive. Whatever he's working on in his office, he does not want to tell anyone about it, and uncharacteristically snaps harshly at anyone who asks. In Episode 26, where he spends the majority of the episode sweating profusely, spacing out while scribbling on paper, repeatedly excusing himself, and maybe-accidentally stabbing Agent Love with a pencil. Raddagher is the only one who notices that something is severely wrong until Episode 27, where it's revealed that he's been making an anamorphic Dash One in his office, and he tries to carve a rift into Harley's arm.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, mind-altering enchantments leave subtle hints in the victim's behaviour that can be detected with the Sense Motive skill, even if the victim isn't aware of them. Very subtle, since an average person has only a 30% chance of noticing that someone's been Dominated into being a People Puppet, and other enchantments are even easier to miss.


    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy IV, it is said at the beginning of the game that the King's behavior changed. Of course...
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud Strife's character journey is all about this. Due to the combination of his low self-esteem, traumatic experiences, being in coma, being experimented on, having his mind literally shattered, and the influence of Jenova cells injected in his body, he spent a good amount in this game behaving like his best friend Zack, presenting himself as a SOLDIER which in reality he failed to enter, unlike Zack, and acting as a cold-hearted mercenary. This ends after a Journey To The Center Of A Mind to put his mind back together.
    • Final Fantasy IX:
      • Zidane displays this for a short while near the end of the game. Given his normally cheerful personality, this moment is notable as it hints at what he was really capable of if he had been acting towards his intended purpose — i.e., an angel of death and destroyer of worlds.
      • A good chunk of the game's first half is driven by Princess Garnet wanting to find out why her mother was not acting like herself. Turns out she was being influenced by Kuja.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics: in an early mission, you find a man being menaced by bad guys. You have a choice to either prioritize beating up the bad guys, or saving their victim. Choosing the former prompts the main character's best friend to ask if he's flipped his lid.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: HK-47 can have a Not Himself moment in the second game if the player installs a Pacifist Package into him. Needless to say, this genuinely scares the hell out of him.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, one of the sidequests you need to complete for 100% Completion is helping a little girl, Romani, with defending the ranch's cows from aliens on the night of the first day. If you fail, the aliens abduct the cows and Romani, since she was also in the barn. They bring her back on the third day—but she can't think straight, doesn't recognize Link, and shakes her head, trying to remember or forget things. It's assumed by the whole fandom that she was lobotomized.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, one quest involves a fight against Yunobo. His Boss Subtitles actually say "Clearly not himself".
  • Minecraft: Story Mode: Lukas is uncharacteristically vitriolic during the first half of The Last Place You Look because he knows that Jesse is withholding information from the rest of the group.
    Jesse: What's up with Lukas?
    Axel: Well, as a long time observer of human behaviour—
    Oliva: We have no idea.
  • In Super Paper Mario, there's a funny mini-game where you play as Peach trapped in a dating sim and can choose her reactions to the other character's fumbling attempts to court her. You can of course choose to have her react favorably... It's an interesting case in that doing this repeatedly will cause the princess to call herself on her bizarre behavior.
  • In episode 5 of Sam & Max: Freelance Police's first season, you find yourself in a virtual world where four computers are in charge, each one controlling a certain setting (pop-ups, height control, gravity and three-dimensional view). In order to progress you need to place a bug on each one of them at one point or another, with the side effect of completely reversing their personalities. An old Atari console who communicates through beeping and booping begins playing a melody, a smarmy, conversational telephone's voice gets hacky and hoarse, an aggressive arcade machine starts belting out showtunes and an outdated Osborne 1 starts spouting youth slang.
  • In Faria, a gardener in Teodoor says, "The princess hasn't been eating any of her favorite apples. I wonder if she is sick?" The reason why, of course, is that she's been replaced by the Big Bad in disguise.
  • Maya undergoes this in a flashback-themed dungeon in Persona 2: Innocent Sin, acting as a complete opposite of herself, refusing to participate in team conversations with demons, having a much more sinister portrait in fusion spells, and having yellow eyes. While the party notices she's acting rude, they never notice that she's clearly not the same person and wants them dead until the real Maya shows up.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the third case of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, characters are infected with "Despair Disease", a strange illness that causes a person to gain strange personality traits. As a result, Ibuki becomes polite and agreeable, Nagito becomes a Compulsive Liar and Akane becomes Prone to Tears. Mikan, the chapter's murderer, also turns out to be infected at the end, as well as something of an Inversion; while she is acting out of character, the Despair Disease actually just removed her Laser-Guided Amnesia and awakened her original Brainwashed and Crazy Yandere personality. This explains some of her unusual behaviour from the chapter, such as repeatedly climbing into the protanonist's bed.
  • Several examples in Daughter for Dessert:
    • Amanda doesn’t show up for work and doesn’t call out. At another time, she insists that she’s studying with “friends” that the protagonist has never heard of. She also says once that she had a job interview with a company with an obviously fake name. And through all this, she sleeps in her own room rather than the protagonist's. That leads the protagonist to believe that something’s wrong, and sure enough, Cecilia has been feeding her information about Lainie, manipulated in a way to make him look like a bad guy.
    • Kathy stops coming to work when the protagonist and Amanda are in Whiskeyville. Heidi chalks it up to Kathy’s temperamental mindset, but the protagonist is convinced that there’s something else behind it. He visits Kathy at her apartment, and he discovers a big secret that she and Amanda have been keeping from him.
    • Mortelli is away from the diner for long periods of time following Cecilia’s threat, and when he does show up, he acts weird, even for him. He’s also been listening to Cecilia, and secretly investigating the protagonist.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!: This applies to just about everyone at some point, for dark and spoilery reasons.
    • Your cheerful Childhood Friend Sayori is being remarkably un-cheerful and refusing to talk to even you about it. She's always been depressed, she's just not managing to hide it any more.
    • Yuri starts getting overexcited and obsessed over you, to the point that Natsuki talks to you about how she needs help and has never been like that before. She's being Mind Raped to drive you away from her.
    • Natsuki doesn't change as radically, but she has moments when she comes across as even more aggressive than usually or even just sounds downright brainwashed. Somebody is crudely taking control of her actions at those moments.
    • Monika, who was always observant and cared about the happiness of all the Literature Club members, is acting oblivious and callous about what's happening to the others. She's Gone Mad from the Revelation and turned sociopathic, and she's the one tormenting the others in an effort to find a way to ease her own pain.
    • Once the weirdness has really got going, sometimes when someone says something that shoudn't be in character for them, it's displayed in a different font as if their normal behaviour is being overwritten somehow.
  • In Fate/hollow ataraxia, the fact that many of the characters are nothing like they were in Fate/stay night is actually an early clue that something's wrong with this reality besides the whole "Groundhog Day" Loop thing.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: While Ozpin gives his induction speech to Beacon Academy's new students, Ruby and Yang quickly note how troubled he seems, instead of his usual lively self. Ruby even comments that it's as if he's not even present. This is played for mystery, as the girls have no answers to why he's behaving so oddly and the next time he appears he's his normal self again.

  • In Casey and Andy, Satan places Andy by the Soul-Keeper, an ancient and complicated machine. She was able to tell later he'd been replaced by Azrael because he hadn't started taking it apart to see how it worked.
  • In Dead of Summer, Panther falls under this. At first he seems normal (and awesome), though breaking a bad guy's finger may raise some eyebrows. But later on, he tears out Dr. Light's eyes, kills him, and proceeds to reveal that he's in league with the Big Bad. Turns out he's literally not himself; the Panther we'd been following was the Evil Twin. The real one sets things right.
  • In Fans!, when Alisin's incurable and deadly blood disease starts to kick in, she sets out to pull an April Shadows in order to leave her loving boyfriend less sad when she goes. Despite (or perhaps because of) the best efforts of the Big Bad and the traitor, he not only figures it out but time travels to a period when the disease has been cured thanks to the FIB's efforts to save her, lets a teammate trick the Big Bad into contracting the disease, and thus distracts her long enough to get some of the cure for Alisin. Everything works out- well, sort of.
  • Girl Genius: When Agatha is being cruelly flirtatious Tarvek notes that she's acting very strange about a half second before realizing that, "You're acting--gah! You're acting like Lucrezia!"
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • In Chapter 18, Robot S13 — previously the comically Pollyanna Chew Toy — abruptly begins acting deadly serious and proves to be a dashing swords-bot after being transferred to a much older body, much to the surprise of Annie and Kat. He returns to normal after his body is changed once again.
    • After a trip in Zimmy's twisted mind, Jack began becoming more and more unstable. He gets better after Zimmy kills the spider that had him possessed. This is an interesting case, however, since the audience only really has a chance to get to know Jack's real personality after he's cured.
  • Nebula: A major plot point throughout the comic is the steadily increasing sense (both in- and out-of-universe) that Sun is really, really not himself; apart from burning much hotter and seeming to have physically grown, he'd become far more antisocial and short-tempered than the Reasonable Authority Figure he was before. At one point Mars even says "I can't tell if he's angry or in pain or... both. But it's getting worse." Going by what Sun told Mercury right before it all started, it indeed is both.
  • In Newshounds, Rochelle being afraid of danger instead of craving it was the first sign of her pregnancy.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: When Ben has to be in three different places at once, he becomes Echo Echo and then reverts back into 3 of his human forms, one arrogant, one "sensitive," and one immature. At first everyone rolls with it, until they find out what's really going on, to which they promptly chew him out for it, leaving for one of the few Downer Endings in the series.
  • In The Crumpets episode "The Terrible Teens", Pa, who is a peaceful dad, tries to replace a lightbulb and gets electrocuted. When he wakes up, he acts like an aggressive teenage greaser and would dress like one. With his wife and Granny out of the house, the kids have trouble with the nuicance. When Pa kisses Ms. McBrisk, she starts acting like a hippie. Electrocution also reverts them back, but the episode doesn't end without pretty much the rest of the Crumpets left altered.
  • Danny Phantom:
    • Briefly in the episode "The Ultimate Enemy" where Danny's evil self, Dark Danny, goes to the past (present time) and disguises himself as his old fourteen-year-old self. His friends wonder what's up with him when he starts speaking rather eloquently, but being a smart bastard, Dark Danny quickly fixes this and their suspects drop.
      "Who's up for... what did we used to do together? 'Playing video games and raging against the machine?'" "We're in!"
    • Danny also holds the dubious honor of at one point doing this twice at the same time. An accident splits his personality into the overly dramatic, comic style Hero Danny, and the laid back, mundane (and I quote) 'Fun Danny'. Confusion (and hilarity) briefly ensues.
  • In Milo Murphy's Law, one sign that Milo has been replaced by an android is that the impostor impulsively calls people "loser" and overall has a more biting, snarky attitude. He was apparently programmed with an actual "sass" level which was raised too high.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Return of Harmony", Twilight is shocked when she sees her friends not acting like their usual selves (Applejack lying, Pinkie Pie constantly grumpy, and so forth) when meeting up with them in Discord's maze, but cannot decipher why and concludes the maze got to them and left them bitter. Little does she know, it's actually through Discord's corruption to stop them from finding the Elements.
    • In "A Canterlot Wedding", Twilight's brother Shining Armor is engaged to her old foalsitter Princess Cadance, which excites her as she's gaining a sister-in-law. When she encounters Cadance in Canterlot however, she's suspicious when she doesn't recognize her Secret Handshake, makes constant demands, and casts a dark spell on Shining, and deduces she's evil. As it turns out, "Cadance" is actually the Changeling Queen Chrysalis, who disguised herself to feed on Shining's love, and imprisoned the real Cadance beneath Canterlot.
    • In "To Where and Back Again", Starlight and Trixie return from a failed mission to find that the Mane 6 and Spike don't remember their names, make excuses to not talk to them, and are generally meaner than they remember. It turns out that all of them were kidnapped and replaced with Changeling imposters.
    • In the infamous "The Mean 6", the mane characters, barring Spike, go on a camping retreat in the Everfree Forest to take some time off from the School of Friendship; when the gang gets separated, they encounter what they believe are their friends somehow acting rude and jerky out of nowhere (Rarity hoarding, Twilight being impatient, Pinkie being bored, etc.); they don't know these aren't really their friends, but Evil Doppelgänger lookalikes created by Queen Chrysalis. This causes the ponies to hate each other for the episode.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated:
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars shows this is the case with the clones after Order 66 is activated. Throughout the series, each of them are established as being unique individuals with wildly varying personality and bonds with different Jedi, but after the order is given, they're reduced to mindless, identical, and hateful jackboots loyal only to the Empire. It's even discussed by Tup and Fives when a malfunction causes Tup's biochip to kick in early during a battle.
    Fives: Come on, this is a textbook battle! We've been through this a million times in training.
    Tup: Yeah, I know, I-I just... don't feel like... myself.
  • Winx Club: Stella was acting very rude and antagonistic to the Winx after her first date. It turned out she was being impersonated by Darcy. 4Kids turned Stella being a bit bitchy with her roomies a few episodes later from being part of her character to being the result of a spell.

    Real Life 
  • On the other end of the brain damage spectrum, it's possible to damage the part of your mind responsible for recognizing people. Not that you'd forget who they were, mind you. You'd know who your mother is, exactly what she looks like, but your mind just won't recognize the person who acts like and looks like your mother as actually being your mother. People with this type of brain damage believe that everyone they know has been replaced with an imposter. All of a sudden, everyone else in the world is Not Themself.
  • Since most severe mental illnesses don't manifest until adolescence at the earliest, it's not uncommon for patients to seem Not Themselves compared to who they were before the onset of the disorder.
  • The U.S. first learned about the Soviet plan to put nuclear missiles in Cuba when their spy planes captured a bunch of new soccer fields being built, since the most popular sport in Cuba is baseball, applying this trope to an entire country.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Not Herself


Discorded Mane Six

Twilight is shocked when she sees her friends acting the opposite of what Elements they represent, but cannot find out why.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / NotHimself

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