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Photographic Memory

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"Photographic is a misnomer. I have an eidetic memory, as I've told you many times. Most recently last year during lunch on the afternoon of May seventh. You had turkey and complained it was dry."
Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory

Photographic Memory, technically called eidetic memory, is the ability to recall images, sounds or objects in memory with near perfect accuracy and in abundant volume.

True eidetic memory is not simply "exceptional memory for details", but involves memory which actually works in a way vastly different from normal memory, specifically, the ability to "capture" an image after a short exposure, such that the eideticer has the subjective experience of actually still seeing it even after it has been removed. Someone with a good memory can notice details about something they see, and then recall those details months later. Someone with an eidetic memory can look at something, remember it later, and, when remembering it, notice details they completely missed the first time.

While many people can claim to possess an extraordinary memory, most researchers believe that it is unlikely that true eidetic memory exists in adults, and most cases of "real life" photographic memories are either the result of intense training and devotion, such as among composers, or abnormalities of the brain. Solomon Shereshevsky and Kim Peek, the inspiration for Rain Man are some of the closest real life examples of this ability. A more contemporary example is Jill Price who has almost perfect recall of events that have happened during her life.

On TV, every third character has a photographic memory, which here means only that they recall everything they see. In this sense, their memory is closer to hyperthymesia than eidetic memory.

Sometimes paired with Laser-Guided Amnesia for ironic effect. If the narrator has this, he is an Infallible Narrator. Occasionally this is a setup for a gag where they've grossly overestimated what they do remember about an event. Supetrope to Elephants Never Forget. One inversion is Repeated Rehearsal Failure, where even despite an effort to remember something and rehearsing or repeating it someone still forgets.

Contrast Remembered Too Late.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ichikawa from Akagi has trained himself to this as regards to Mahjong, and is able to recall perfectly every single draw and play done during any particular round. It allows him to play the game while blind.
  • Armitage's daughter Yoko from Armitage III.
  • Astra Lost in Space: Aries has clear photographic memory, able to recall whatever she's seen. Kanata realizes she has the clue that would reveal the traitor in the group.
  • The main character Ryouta from Brynhildr in the Darkness can remember anything he has seen and makes him very observant, which has helped many times. It even appears to be the reason he was not affected by a Laser-Guided Amnesia attack.
  • Cahe Detective Club: Emina can do this along with sharp senses. At busy times in the cafe she can accurately take orders from a dozen people speaking at the same time. And she always gets perfect scores on exams from memorizing entire textbooks and she also reads fast. As demonstration of her ability, she can keep track of a deck of cards getting cut and all the underwear Nana was wearing since they started the club.
  • Aoi, the oldest of the Sakurada siblings in Castle Town Dandelion, has this as her Royalty Superpower. Except not really. Her actual power is a Compelling Voice, but seeing as she's such a humble Nice Girl, she absolutely refuses to use it, and keeps it a secret from almost everyone because she's scared of what they might think.
  • Tokura Misaki from Cardfight!! Vanguard. It's not a pretty situation for her because it comes packaged with PTSD from witnessing her parents' car crash. The memory does prove useful in cardfights, where it helps her memorize and predict the content of her opponent's deck.
  • Case Closed:
    • According to the eighth movie, not only does Conan remember everything in crystal detail, but he can even rewind the last twenty-or-so minutes of film to let his eidetic memory take over in order to solve the murder.
    • Heiji has shown himself to have an eidetic memory, capable of remembering complex letter and number sequences at only a glance, such as when he was able to solve a code in his head during the "Heiji and Kazuha in Grave Danger" arc, and even reproduce another message using the same code to text to Conan.
    • Shuikichi Haneda is extremely skillful at memorizing, as shown when he managed to remember the code written on Sakurako's paper despite having only seen it for a very short amount of time. He also claims to be the best in this field.
  • The titular Index from A Certain Magical Index has photographic memory. It was used to remember a library worth of magic books. The side effect was the danger of Index's brain overflowing from too much memories, mandating wiping her memories every year. Said danger was in fact a lie to prevent her from rebelling — someone with a library worth of magic books is extremely dangerous.
    • Accelerator also has this, but only for what he sees. He memorizes a massive page of computer code by looking at it once, destroys it, and comments it was easy. He has forgotten his real name from not using it for a really long time, and he needed help to remember the lyrics for Index's song.
    • According to Aureolus Izzard, vampires all have photographic memory.
  • In Creo the Crimson Crises, we have Creo who aces a physics quiz by flipping through the physics textbook and memorizing it a few minutes before the quiz.
  • Lavi from D.Gray-Man, as expected from a future Bookman, has a photographic memory. He's able to find one particular key amongst thousands of its illusions, because 'The scratches, the dirt, all the patterns of the plating of the real key were recorded in his head ever since he first saw it.'
  • Minami Megumi aka Megu from Detective School Q uses her photographic memory to aid her in solving mysteries.
    • Also, one of the victims of the day was a famous artist who had a similar ability. He also was Shino Katagiri's Unlucky Childhood Friend, and as he lay dying he left some clues about the identity of his killer. Megu is the one who puts two and two together and, with Kyu's help, solves the case.
    • Cerberus, a high-ranking member of Pluto, claims to one of prisoner guards keep watching on his cell he can re-read books without the book itself (he was blindfolded during this scene and he recites a quote from "Count of Monte Cristo" perfectly word by word) like a library, suggesting this ability. While said exchange and him reciting the quote is actually a preparation for his prison break, the fact that he used to be in National Talent Development Research Institute, a fact revealed much later, still supports this trope as Megu was also a student there too.
    • Asaba Fuko, Megu's best friend during her days in National Talent Development Research Institute, claims she can remember any complicated musical scores in one read. No further elaboration is made but it's likely this talent is limited only to music.
  • In Dr. STONE, being an expert genius, Senku has this trait. When he's told to answer the measurements of a famous singer, he quickly recalls details of a photograph and was able to quickly deduce the numbers from the position where the picture was taken.
  • Eyeshield 21:
    • It's implied that Hiruma has this kind of memory. It's particularly noticeable when he's playing Black Jack in a casino and memorized every single card that was taken from the deck and winning that way, or when Mamori creates review sheets for hand signals. Before she gives it out to the team, Hiruma snatches it away, flips through it, and then burns it. When Mamori says that Hiruma didn't even read it, Hiruma demonstrates that he did memorize it by sending her a message that "the team manager secretly ate all the cream puffs."
    • Heinrich Shultz of the German National Team is outright stated to have this, and he uses it to predict an opponent's moves with absurd accuracy just by remembering their previous games (his 4.2 second 40 yard dash certainly helps).
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Sheska. When the library containing Dr. Marcoh's notes burns down, Sheska, a former employee, manages to write them all down from memory, and is subsequently hired to rewrite possibly the entire library- this being the main branch and containing legal documents as well. In her case, her perfect recall seems to be limited to only what she has read, stemming from her obsession with books and reading.
    • Kimblee also has a photographic memory, unfortunately. He uses this to torture a man by reciting every murder that he committed in a previous bloody war and when he instantly recalls Scar's face from a group of Ishvalans (several of them Scar's family) that he killed.
    • Vato Falman is able to recall every detail and information in any location without leaving physical evidence which is why Roy Mustang picked him as one of his subordinates.
  • Naoki Irie from Itazura Na Kiss. He doesn't study because he remembers everything he sees. He comes across the love letter Kotoko wrote to him (that he had refused reading initially) while she is asleep and then later proceeds to recite it verbatim in front of their families to tease her earning him a well deserved slap.
  • Kagerou Project: Shintaro Kisaragi's eye-power is "Retaining-eyes", which basically means that they remember every single thing they've ever seen and experienced - even across the multiple timelines and adaptations of the series thus far. Even when it lies dormant, he uses it subconsciously, hence his Teen Genius status. In at least one route, seeing all of the gruesome ends met by his friends and little sister drives him to suicide.
  • Yasuri Nanami from Katanagatari uses a Photographic Memory to learn Kyoto Ryu, as well as to copy the moves of the Maniwa Insect Squad who attack her.
  • Magilumiere Co. Ltd.: Main character Kana Sakuragi has an amazing level of recall, demonstrated at the start of the series by repeating the last 3 orders she heard while waiting in line at the coffee shop after the shop's computers went down. When Kana joins Magilumiere Co. Ltd. and becomes a Magical Girl, the inventor who makes her and her partner's brooms creates one with a vast number of features and gives her an enormous manual to read explaining them. Kana does, and almost immediately makes effective use of some of them on her next mission.
  • The titular Neuro and Interpol agent Andrew Sixson from Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro have eiditic memories. The villain Sicks managed to copy Andrew's photographic memory amongst other things.
  • Mekaku City Actors: Shintaro's eye power, "Recording Eyes", lets him remember everything he's ever seen, including previous continuities of the Kagerou Project franchise.
  • Deconstructed in Monster, where Lunge keeps all of his information and any new knowledge he comes across in an imaginary computer. It turns out that his memory has the same pitfall as any other; bias. This is why he keeps chasing Tenma in the face of evidence that he just doesn't fit the profile of the Big Bad. In a discussion he has with Dr. Gillen, the latter points out that his tape recorder has the advantage of not being clouded by human emotion.
  • Naruto:
    • All of the Uchiha have this ability, thanks to the Sharingan. Allows them to learn any technique (that does not involve genetic inheritance, and that the user can physically perform) without fail, and even to forge handwriting.
    • Shikamaru is implied to have this as well, considering he memorized Tayuya's finger patterns when she uses her flute for her jutsus.
  • Odd Taxi: Odokawa has a form of eidetic memory, after seeing a person's face once, he never forgets them and can recognize their appearance even in a mask, from behind, or in a large crowd. It's later explained that it's because the World of Funny Animals is only in his head. To everyone else, everybody just looks like normal people, but Odokawa's particular synesthesia makes him see everyone as different animals.
  • Mashiro in The Pet Girl of Sakurasou has a photographic memory that is closer to textbook definitions.
  • This is Mako's special ability in Saki. She lived in a Mahjong parlor ever since she was little and can perfectly remember the many, many games she had seen. By remembering the Mahjong games that fit the one she's currently in, she can figure out what her opponents are planning and play accordingly.
  • 7 Seeds:
    • Sakuya from Team Autumn is capable of retaining a lot of information easily simply by looking at or reading through something. It's well known in his team, to the point that Ran and Akio know they don't have to write any information down that might come in helpful, since they know Sakuya will remember it.
    • Shigeru gets easily flustered and doesn't have a whole lot of self-confidence, but when he remains calm, he is shown to have a really good memory, like remembering where Ango put scissors that he last used a week ago. Shigeru was also once so slow in finding words he couldn't remember in the dictionary, he simply learned every word in the dictionary by heart.
  • Special A: Top ranked in the scohol, Kei Takashima states in episode 1 that he only needs to see something once to remember it.
  • Summer Time Rendering:
    • Almost literally in the case of the shadows. After scanning a human with a flash of light that sounds like a camera going off, the shadow will gain a perfect working memory of every single detail of that person's life.
    • Though shadows no longer exist in the new timeline, the now teenage reborn Haine has an eidetic memory. She demonstrates this ability in the sequel by memorizing a screen full of numbers that flash across a TV for only a few seconds.
  • Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki. In 'Washu' Volume 3 of the True Tenchi Muyo novels, Mihoshi goes in to Washu's lab to cal her to lunch and a weather control device malfunctions causing a very localized blizzard soon after. Washu asks Mihoshi to tell her what happened while she was looking. Two hours latter the detail Washu needs to solve the problem surfaces.
  • Asagi from Thou Shalt Not Die as super memory which is a power that allow him to remember everything he learned and saw and can foresee outcomes based on all the information he gathered even those he subconsciously gathered. In a twisted joke, the power aged his brain and he suffers from dementia so while he remembers everything he'll just blank out mid conversation forgetting what he was talking about.
  • Nico Vorgeil of Undead Unluck has the Negator power of Unforgettable, meaning nothing he has seen since he acquired the power ever leaves his mind. Unfortunately the power kicked in right as he was watching his wife die, and so he's constantly remembering that in completely perfect detail.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: Breo. It helps him greatly, because he uses a Deck Destruction deck, and it is very important for him to keep track of the cards in his opponent's deck, hand, field, and graveyard.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: An arc in Season 5 is about Big M. going back in time and bringing the Supermen to his side, inverting their personalities. The normal Careless S. is a Forgetful Jones, so his contrast here has a pinpoint-accurate memory that can remember details of events and the exact text on signs perfectly.

    Comic Books 
  • Atomic Robo: The titular character lacks this ability. It seems his memory works like an ordinary human's, not like a computer's. He can forget things, has to study for college exams, doesn't automatically learn foreign languages (e.g., he's never bothered to learn Japanese), etc.
  • The deaf heroine Echo, an Avenger and former lover of Daredevil, has this ability. Whether it's a mutant power or natural aptitude is never clearly defined.
  • Batman:
    • Batman has eidetic memory. This helps immensely with his detective work but it's also one of the reasons he has never moved on from his parents' murder. Unlike Barbara's, Bruce Wayne's photographic memory is an artificial one that uses the Memory Palace technique (though he prefers to visualize his memories as a deck of cards rather than as any place) taught to him by Ra's al Ghul, who also uses it. He's also taught this technique to some allies, including Nightwing.
    • Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl. This notably backfired for her, as she remembers every detail of her getting shot and paralyzed by the Joker.
    • A minor called Savant, who is mostly associated with the Bat-family, likewise has photographic memory, and experiences problems coming with it: because his memories do not become vaguer with time, he has to rely on contextual information to sort out whether something he remembers happened last week or a year ago. Worse, when he experiences something traumatic, his memory of it is always as vivid as if it happened yesterday.
  • Captain America: The Red Skull recalls verbatim conversations that he had decades earlier. His character is roughly based on Adolf Hitler, who seems to have had something like this in real life.
  • The Flash: Bart Allen (a.k.a. Impulse, a.k.a. Kid Flash, a.k.a. the Flash), superspeed-read the entire San Francisco Public Library. This makes him an exception to most speedsters, who are able to learn something at an accelerated speed (Wally once learned how to, and then did, construct a fully functioning steel bridge in a matter of minutes) but not capable of retaining those memories. Bart's ability may be limited to perfectly recalling what he reads.
  • Invincible: The blue bug Thraxan people (and by extension Oliver Grayson and Grand Regent Thragg's offspring) have eidetic memory as a racial trait, due to the fact that they have a life span of less than a year and need to learn everything quickly.
  • Marvel Universe: Villain Taskmaster has "photographic reflexes" — if he sees something done, even on TV, he can easily replicate it regardless of complexity. He can pass as a master chef, use any fighting style, and even catch a bullet. The 2010 Taskmaster miniseries reveals that this comes at a cost. Copying so many moves has made him forget a lot of other memories — including those about his personal life, like the fact that he used to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, the true origin of his photographic ability and that he has a hot Spicy Latina as a wife.
  • Superman:
    • Pre-Crisis Superman and Supergirl had perfect memory. They called it "Total Recall".
    • The Life Story of Superman: Subverted. Some kids ask Superman if he can tell them about Krypton using his total recall, but Superman explains that, even though he has an eidetic memory, repeated exposure to Kryptonite over the years has caused gaps in his memory.
    • In The Jungle Line it is told that Superman's memory is "vast enough to have every conceivable shape of snowflake precisely filed."
    • Post-Crisis Superman had no eidetic memory until Infinite Crisis, when he loses his powers. In Superman: Up, Up and Away!, one year later, he regains them and picks up a couple of new ones, including true photographic memory and super-fast calculative processes (which he immediately uses in battle). When the photographic memory first hits him, he can suddenly retroactively recall his entire life this way.
    • Final Crisis: Superman's able to construct a replica of the fantastically complex Miracle Machine after only glimpsing it (using X-Ray Vision and such to see its insides, of course) for a second.
  • X-Men:
    • Sage's mutant ability is a photographic memory.
    • X-Men founder and former headmaster Professor X has one as well, but an extremely weird one. He can transfer parts of his short-term memory to his long-term memory, getting a similar effect. At times, it's indicated that telepaths have perfect memories because they can read their own minds.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge:
    • Godzilla Junior remembers everyone he's ever seen, and can recognize individual humans in a crowd years after he's met them.
    • Xenilla mentions he only needs to look over a page once to memorize it.
  • In the Gunslinger Girl fanfic "Hunters in the Dolomites", Triela has perfect recall of any information she needs to know (like maps of the surrounding terrain shown during the Mission Briefing) but not (thanks to the encroaching memory loss of the conditioning) things she wants to remember.
  • Sunset Shimmer admits to having this in the Quiververse, which she treats as a mixed blessing.
  • In The Shadow Wars, this is a standard Alicorn ability.
  • Seers in Warriors Redux need photographic memories (or near photographic memories) in order to recall all the details they do.
  • Zim the Warlord: Irken Reversion: During a fight with the other Reverted Irkens, Zim reveals that he retains every detail, no matter how small, he ever observed of his fellow Elites and Invaders back during their training days, as accurately as if he just learned them today.
  • Kitsune: From "Chapter 9":
    [Tome] read voraciously and had a near perfect photographic memory for written words and events.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marty Feldman's character in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother has phonographic memory: he can exactly repeat anything he has ever heard.
  • The Bourne Series:
    • In The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne glances at a map before wildly taking off through the streets, seemingly knowledgeable of exactly where he's going. Later, in a restaurant, he discusses his instant awareness of all the license plate numbers on cars parked outside (among several other things) — along with how his brain is able to parse the information he automatically retains into usefulness. He mentions that it's really weird that he can compute all those things in an instant, given that he does not even know his real name.
    • The Bourne Legacy explains that this is due to a drug that all Treadstone agents are subjected to.
  • Parodied in Carry On Spying. Agent Honeybutt has eyelids that actually make a shutter-click sound as she "photographs" things she sees.
  • Christie seems to have this in DOA: Dead or Alive. She manages to draw Helena's tattoo (the key to a vault) from memory having glimpsed it for less than a second, while in full motion, during a fight.
  • The titular character from Doctor Strange (2016) offhandedly claims to have photographic memory, which is what allows him to learn magic so fast. It also allows him to achieve multiple degrees at once.
  • The Edge: Charles has perfect recall of everything he's ever read. Fortunately for him and the men who are stranded in the tundra with him, he has read a lot of books about the outdoors.
  • Good Will Hunting's main character has a seemingly infallible memory. This doesn't give him skills, though he also has an impressive (if underutilized) intelligence and an even greater gift for mathematics, but it's useful.
    Skyler: So what are you saying? You play the piano?
    Will: No, not a lick. I mean, I look at a piano, I see a bunch of keys, three pedals, and a box of wood. But Beethoven, Mozart, they saw it, they could just play. I couldn't paint you a picture, I probably can't hit the ball out of Fenway, and I can't play the piano.
    Skyler: But you can do my organic chem paper in under an hour.
  • "Lord Nikon" from the movie Hackers, appropriately enough. He first shows it off by rattling off the names and phone numbers of every girl at a party, but later exploits it by posing as a florist's delivery man while going into Ellingson's offices, and watching as people type their passwords. However, Nikon later admits that he's not sure how much of what he got is useful. As he put it (albeit jokingly) earlier in the movie, "I got a photographic memory. It's a curse."
  • The drug from Limitless grants this retroactivley — you can recall details from long before you took the drug. It does wear off, though.
  • In Moscow — Cassiopeia, the government is selecting exceptional teenagers for an interstellar mission on a slower-than-light ship to the a star in the Cassiopeia constellation. One of the teens is a smug kid who was chosen for his eidetic memory. He claims to be able to perfectly recall ten pages of fine print after reading them once, a Chekhov's Skill that pops up a few times when it is needed.
  • RoboCop has a hard drive in his head. As Dick Jones remarks to Boddicker in RoboCop (1987), "his memory is admissible as evidence!"
  • Gillian Taylor from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home claims to have photographic memory and is able to remember a conversation that she overheard between Kirk and Spock which made her question what they were really up to.
  • Telefon: Grigori Bortsov has this ability, which comes in handy for memorizing a top-secret list (only two copies exist) of Manchurian Agents. Unfortunately, this makes Borstov a third copy, and so his superiors give orders that he should be killed as soon as his mission is over.
  • Temple Grandin is a real-life account of the life of Temple Grandin, quoted above. As she has said, her mind works like Google Images, and they have a scene in the film that shows just how that works. One of Temple's teachers remarks after Temple's favorite horse has died that we shouldn't remember him this way, but Temple proceeds to name off every single horse that looked like hers she has ever seen. Surprised, he asks her if she can bring everything she sees into her mind, even if it's something simple like a shoe (and not specific like horses that looked like hers) and she does the same thing again.
  • Thoughtcrimes: Brendan has true eidetic memory. At on point, Freya asks him to visualize a scene so that she can look through it to search for clues.
  • Molly from Molly (1999) perfectly remembers everything that she reads. Before, she didn't understand most of it, but after recieving her brain implant, it all makes sense to her.

  • In Isaac Asimov's short story "Lest We Remember", a man gains perfect memory through an experiment. He proceeds to blackmail people at work with the little details from the past that add up to new revelations about cheating spouses, stealing from accounts, etc. He becomes insufferable toward his girlfriend. The boss figures out what is going on and gives him an injection to neutralize the experiment. Luckily, it doesn't take, but it makes him humble again, and with his girlfriend's help he will proceed more cautiously in the future.
  • Artemis Fowl is able to recall anything in his surroundings and immediately selects whatever he needs in a situation for a quick plan.
  • Fahrenheit 451 ends with the main character joining a society where everyone is able to memorize an entire book. They have to destroy the books after memorizing them to destroy all evidence. However, it's stated to be a technique that they promise to teach Guy, which implies that it's actually "total recall", since he only skimmed the book they need to him to remember.
  • FBI investigator Will Graham, hero of Red Dragon and the man who first captured Hannibal Lecter, is explicitly identified as having eidetic memory. Lecter also exhibits such abilities.
  • David Becker of Brown's Digital Fortress, on the other hand, explicitly does have eidetic memory.
  • Brian Caswell:
    • Lesley and Gordon in A Cage Of Butterflies both possess photographic memories that allow them to play chess without a chessboard. This may be the only nonviolent, memory-based, chess-related case of badassery.
    • Deucalion also featured several main characters with the ability to recall every memory they ever had.
  • Christopher Boone, the 15-year-old hero of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, possesses eidetic memory. However, this is somewhat justified by his autism spectrum disorder; autism is associated with slightly higher rates of savant syndrome.
  • In The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School and The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School, "Know-It-All" Knowles can retain any information in full detail after reading it once, though it fades away after about a month. It actually goes beyond just memory; she understands everything she memorises, even if it's a subject she has no grounding in, and if it's something like a training manual for a skill, she acquires the skill without any need to practice it.
  • In the Discworld novel Small Gods, the main character Brutha's photographic memory is eventually used to smuggle a large portion of the scrolls of an entire library inside his head. Because he's illiterate, he can't understand what they say, he just knows what the pages look like. It's implied that this is actually a case of a neurological disorder, justifying it somewhat.
    Bishop: What's the first thing you remember?
    Brutha: There was a bright light and someone hit me.
    • He begins to understand eventually, although he only gets snippets of random information, like remembering that "squids have an internal cartilaginous structure" and that boats are "buoyed upwards by a force equal to the weight of the displaced fluid", without actually knowing what "cartilaginous" or "buoyed" means.
  • Girl detective Cam Jansen solves every case this way. Her real name is Jennifer; Cam is short for "The Camera". When taking a mental snapshot, she blinks like a shutter, and says, "Click."
  • In Piers Anthony's science fiction novel Ghost 1986, the captain of a spaceship has this ability. To the level that, in a demonstration for an admiral, he is able to answer the question, "What is the third word of the second sentence in the first paragraph of Volume 128a of the Space Regulatory Code?" Mentally, he opens the book, flips the pages, reads the word, and replies, "Celestial."
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, security operative (and eventually Chief of Imperial Security) Simon Illyan has an artificial eidetic memory, due to a computer chip implanted in his brain. It should be noted that everyone else given such chips was eventually driven mad by the disconnect between their natural and artificial memories.
  • Gene Wolfe:
    • Severian, the protagonist of Book of the New Sun. The narrative comprises Severian's journal, but although he claims to remember everything flawlessly, a careful examination of the text reveals that he does not always record those recollections consistently, suggesting that he either does have flaws in his memory or is lying. Pratchett's Brutha above may be a Shout-Out, as a minor character in Small Gods is named Severian and both have a Crystal Dragon Jesus version of the Catholic Church. A precise invokation of the trope, as described in the introduction above, occurs in this passage:
      I thought of the herd driven through Saltus and counted them from memory: one hundred and thirty-seven. Then there were the soldiers who had come singing up from Gyoll. The innkeeper had asked me how many there were and I had guessed at a figure, but I had never counted them until now. He might, or might not, have been a spy.
    • Soldier of the Mist has an inversion. The narrator, Latro, can only remember events up to one day in the past (a Real Life medical condition), and his journal (which again comprises the narrative) is a flawed substitute for his long-term memory.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • This is one of the Fallen's many helpful abilities.
    • This is also how the Sight and soulgazing work for most wizards, allowing them to perfectly remember when they saw things as they really are. As Harry points out, in his line of work, that means he's got some really bad memories that will never grow dull with time. At one point, he sees the true form of the skinwalker, and has to spend hours wrestling with the memory so that he isn't perpetually getting Mind Raped by what he saw.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The characters Winter Celchu and Kirtan Loor both have an ability that approaches this, if not meeting it. This being Star Wars, though, it is referred to as "holographic" memory, which depending on the quality of the hologram is probably more accurate. Coincidentally (or not), both became Intelligence officers, though on different sides of the war. Winter can remember conversations verbatim, and she famously has the drawback of being unable to forget things she's seen at all, so if she witnessed a tragedy, she'd remember it as clearly twenty years later as she had the day after. (Winter being an Alderaanian offworld at the time of Episode IV, it gives her a certain melancholy.) She's also known to memorize the layout of Imperial facilities down to the millimeter, allowing her to provide ridiculously detailed maps for Rebel commandos who would later carry out a raid. Loor, meanwhile, could rattle off so many facts in succession that he would scare suspects into confessing (as they would assume that someone so knowledgeable must already have proof of their guilt anyway), but grew to rely overmuch on his memory, letting knowledge doing the work of actual intelligence and making assumptions. (He tried to overcome it when confronted with this flaw, but never quite managed it.)
    • All of the Null-ARCs in the Clone Wars-era books have holographic memory. The writer makes it clear that all of them are unpredictable and more than a little psychotic.
    • Ben Skywalker (son of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade) also has a holographic memory; this is first mentioned and utilized in Sacrifice, and again in Abyss, but it's easily missed, since most writers tend to gloss over it or not mention it at all.
    • The Camaasi species have a more limited version: their memory of any event of great emotional significance will be perfect in every detail. This is a factor in the pacifist nature of the average Camaasi: killing another sentient being would be of great emotional impact to most people, and not something they would want to remember in such detail.
  • The title character in the story Funes The Memorious by Jorge Luis Borges. This character's more-than-photographic memory(it captures not only images, but sounds, words, smells, temperature sensations, and everything else he experiences) is accompanied by heightened senses, which make it difficult for him to sleep or communicate normally(since he can remember everything precisely as it was, he hardly needs language to make generalizations). It's ambiguous whether he's Blessed with Suck or better off than the rest of us. Although Funes often brags about his ability and thinks that everyone else lives in a shadowy Platonic Cave dream-world, he also compares his memory to a garbage heap.
  • Danny Saunders in The Chosen seems to have one, to demonstrate, he asks narrator Reuven which portion of Talmud he is studying and proceeds to recite it word for word. Then he says he can do the same thing with Ivanhoe.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien wrote in his background materials for Middle-Earth that all elves have this kind of memory.
    • In The Hobbit, Bilbo steals a single gold cup from Smaug's Dragon Hoard. When Smaug wakes up and inspects his treasure, he instantly realizes the cup is missing. For the record, Smaug's pile of treasure is HUGE.
  • Ender's Shadow: Bean has the real deal. It's explicitly stated that Bean can watch an entire video, and rewatch it in his mind to learn new details. He's the result of his Mad Scientist uncle's crazy genetic experiments, gifting Bean with a raw intelligence that surpasses even Ender. Bean even learns passwords by rewatching the blurred fingertips of the typist over and over again. And to be fair, at no point is this ever just waved off. Everyone aware of Bean's capabilities recognizes that Bean is far, far beyond them. And this takes place in a school designed to churn out Tyke Bombs for command positions.
    • This ends up being the plot point in Ender's Shadow. Bean picks a random book to pretend to read while he does something else. When confronted about his choice of the book, he recalls it in his mind using this method (having glanced at it) and somehow uses that to figure out the whole IF plan. To clarify, the book he chose was completely random.
  • In Twilight, the vampires are able to remember everything from the time of their becoming a vampire on.
  • The Executioner: Vigilante Man Mack Bolan has an eidetic memory, which proves useful when he's infiltrating a mob family — he can relate a minor detail about someone's life to convince them they've met before (as the more elite mob killers use plastic surgery it doesn't seem strange that Bolan's face is unfamiliar).
  • Harry Potter:
    • Ollivander, the Diagon Alley wand-maker, can remember the details of every wand he has ever made and who bought it.
    • Dumbledore's Pensieve allows anyone using it to experience perfect recall. Although memories can be deliberately tampered with, in general they are preserved perfectly in the Pensieve, in virtual reality, including not only details the memory donor would have missed but also ones they could not possibly have seen in the first place. And when a memory is tampered with, it tends to be obvious that something isn't right about it. Since it's magic, it's probably justified.
    • Memories retrieved through Legilimency act as the above Pensieve is described.
  • Robert A. Heinlein:
    • The titular character of "Starman Jones" has this. No one told him not to, so he read his uncle's astrogation books, from which he learned the calculus. He also happened to memorize every logarithm table and every table converting numbers into binary. Another character marvels at not being able to forget anything. "I've been able to forget a lot of things, thank Heaven." This skill becomes a plot point when the spaceship gets lost and their records are destroyed, so he has to retrace their route from memory.
    • A number of Heinlein's characters have amazing recall: in Stranger in a Strange Land, they even make a profession out of it (people with the ability are licensed as "Fair Witnesses", and anything they are willing to say that they had heard or seen is assumed to be the truth). Lazarus Long also claims to have memorized the logarithm tables and says that he can learn a new language in one week, although his memory does degrade over time, especially since he's lived many centuries and keeps filling his head with new things.
  • From M. A. Foster's The Book of the Ler, all of the ler (a forced evolution of humans) have this type of memory. They can also 'auto-forget', delete some or all of their memories.
  • Safehold:
    • Justified with Merlin, as he presumably has a hard drive in his head, being a Ridiculously Human Robot. At one point, on being shown a journal he'd like to read but doesn't have time to, he glances at each individual page explicitly so that he can recall the saved image and read that later.
    • Aivah Pahrsahn also has eidetic memory due to a legacy of genetic engineering. Genetically engineering eidetic memory into children was a fad during the 21st century, and while it became less popular, the genes remained in the population and eidetic memory is more common on Safehold than in reality.
  • Brandon Sanderson:
    • The Stormlight Archive: Shallan has a version of this. She needs to concentrate on something in order to take it as a Memory (she uses the capital M to distinguish it from ordinary remembering), but once she does, it's there permanently and in perfect detail (though she can choose to forget it if she no longer needs it — usually after making a drawing of the Memory, since she's a sketch artist). Notably, when she takes a Memory and then draws a picture of it, the picture will show the normally invisible Cryptics. Words of Radiance implies that most, if not all, Lightweavers posses these abilities.
    • Mistborn: Feruchemists use their magical powers to achieve something very like this; they can temorarily give up personal qualities (strength, speed, or most relevantly, memories) in order to store them in pieces of metal, and drew them out later. A feruchemist can effectively store any amount of information perfectly and indefinitely, provided they have enough metal to store it in. Sazed, the main feruchemist character, is a scholar who has information on virtually every religion in history. There are a few catches, though. Only the person who stores the information can access it, and they immediately forget the memory upon storing it, meaning they have to intentionally pull it back out in order to recall it. Doing so also degrades the memory, meaning that looking at the information too often will eventually result in losing it. Also, keeping track of where information is stored can be tricky, and Sazed mentions having a specific metalmind that is basically an Index for all his other info. At the end of the trilogy Sazed has the opportunity to take up the powers of two gods and dump all the knowledge from his metalminds into his head right as he's taking up the power, giving him godlike knowledge to go with his godlike power, whereas everyone who had the power previously had just messed things up with their mere mortal knowledge.
      • Kwaan, a Feruchemist who lived centuries before the novels take place, possessed the more traditional version of this in addition to the ability to use metalminds. His ability to perfectly remember information meant he was able to spot discrepancies between his memory and the contents of his metalminds which is how he's able to work out that the information within the metalminds can be altered by Ruin.
  • Zahir Benumar/Zayn Hassan of Snare is a Recaller, a person genetically engineered to have absolute perfect recall of anything that he sees or hears. Unfortunately, he inherited this gift from a long-dead ancestor, and the culture that he was raised in sees people with talents derived from genetic engineering as demonspawn.
  • Every Mentat in Dune possesses this skill. The Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers, on the other hand, have the memories of all their female ancestors going back to prehistory. In the prequel novels, it's even mentioned that the Reverend Mother designated with overseeing their breeding program doesn't keep any written or electronic records, instead keeping all the information in her Other Memory.
  • Time Scout's Brian Henrickson remembers everything he's ever read. He's the Time Terminal's librarian.
  • The Chee from Animorphs are a race of androids with perfect memory. They are also ridiculously strong, essentially immortal, and programmed to be completely nonviolent. In their first appearance, one of the Chee reprograms himself so that he can help the main characters in their fight against alien invaders, and immediately re-installs the prohibition against violence after his first battle, because he'll have to live with the memories of what he did, picture-perfect, forever.
  • The main character in The Owling has an eidetic memory, being able to instantaneously recall anything that she's ever seen, heard, or experienced in her lifetime at will. She loses this ability later in the series' second book, which sucks for the plot but might be a relief to the character.
  • Professor Mmaa's Lecture: The termites' "associative substance" (their brain equivalent) gives them a near-perfect memory.
  • Neda Pathkendle in The Chathrand Voyages has this; she originally only had a very good normal memory, but her witch mother cast a spell on her when she was a teenager to enhance her strongest natural aptitude, granting her this instead — with the caveat that there are times that she's basically sucked into her own memory and can't stop her mind from replaying past events, no matter how painful (her younger brother Pazel was affected by the spell too, in a different way — having always been good with languages, he became an Omniglot, with the caveat that every so often he'll have a "mind fit" that renders him incapable of using or understanding language at all for several hours).
  • In The Powder Mage Trilogy, Inspector Adamat has an eidetic memory. In this case, it is an explicitly magical ability, called a Knack in universe, that allows him to recall anything he's ever seen, done or heard. It (unsurprisingly) makes him an extremely effective inspector and detective, as he is able to glance at things quickly and examine them in perfect detail later, as well as perfectly recall everyone he meets and exactly what they say.
  • In Elizabeth Vaughan's Chronicles Of The Warlands series, everyone native to The Plains has this. These people have no need for written language, since they can perfectly recall oral lessons as long as they pay attention. In Destiny's Star, the character Bethral reveals that she has this too because her mother was from The Plains. The elderly character Wild Winds discovers he's losing his perfect memory, possibly indicating he's developing Alzheimer's. The people of The Plains often poke fun at other people for having "poor memories", like when they discover the city-dweller Ezren can't play chess in his head like they can.
  • Both Sasha and Chichi in Akata Witch have this, which is why neither of them goes to school.
  • In The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, the eponymous Rachel Griffin's perfect recall allows her to cancel out illusions by thinking back over what she has seen, as while her eyes may be decieved, her memory will not be. This turns out to be very helpful against villains who can make themselves invisible.
  • Ronnie Cleveland in Flight to the Lonesome Place has a problem when people think he understands more than he knows due to his memory that they used once before.
  • In the Nero Wolfe mystery series, Archie often describes Saul Panzer as having perfect recall of people's faces. One look at someone, and Saul will remember their face until the day he dies. Under Wolfe's training, Archie has developed the ability to recall and report extended conversations word-for-word.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society, both George "Sticky" Washington and the titular Nicholas Benedict have this. Rhonda Kazembie, one of Benedict's assistants, likely has it as well. Also, although it is never directly stated, the Big Bad of the series, Ledroptha Curtain, may have it as well, as he is also a genius who just so happens to be Benedict's long lost identical twin.
  • Brewster claims an eidetic memory in Bruiser, but also states that it's largely confined to what he's read. He just has a very good memory everywhere else.
  • David Baldacci's Amos Decker, from Memory Man and The Last Mile, has uncontrollable eidetic memory as the result of a head injury on the football field. This is helpful for him in his line of work as a detective, but also means that he's never been able to forget every detail of the murder of his wife and child.
  • Peter Clines's The Fold features Mike Erikson who has powers of total recall and analysis due to the "ants" in his head. Mike is short for his childhood nickname of Mycroft. He's sent to audit the Albuquerque Door: a DARPA research project in teleportation, because the people involved in the project refuse to share information, so Mike is a Hidden in Plain Sight method of smuggling the information out.
  • Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall is a somewhat more realistic case. Cromwell picked up a "system" as a young soldier in Italy wherein one can remember things with precision by associating them with specific sensory experiences, and this plays out in how Cromwell's memories of past events are tied to specific objects and experiences (i.e., a type of fabric). Cromwell has also memorized several texts, including the Bible in Latin and in one scene, inquires about resuming a chess game started several years previously, offering to place the pieces precisely where play left off.note  Maybe that's why he never forgets any insult, ever.
  • In Uhura's Song, the Sivaoans have this kind of memory. It does turn out to have some shortcomings, one of which is a major plot point.
  • In Renegades, the prodigy Librarian can perfectly memorize everything he reads.
  • Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not: Dr. Amelia Van Helsing possesses this quality in "The Locked Cell Murder". Holmes comments on how useful it is in their of work, and has her memorize the guards' files and recite the facts back to him as he needs them.
  • In "Cold Snap", Susan has "eidetic memory... like photographic memory, but for sounds and the spoken word". She can remember a long and detailed set of instructions word-for-word after hearing it once.
  • Daylen in Shadow of the Conqueror figures out that this is one of the secondary applications of Lifebinding, as he can enhance his memory enough to remember anything in his entire life, and even replay the memory in slow-motion to notice things he missed.
  • March from The Eagle Tree has one, although it mostly only works around trees. He perfectly remembers the pictures and captions in a book he read about birds last year, and he can navigate the forest with his eyes closed as long as it's an area he's already visited.
  • In the Millennium Series, this is one of the unique traits of Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo.
  • Kiara from Rogue has no memory for faces, but she has a photographic memory for things she reads.
  • Alsion, the main character of Differently Morphous, has an eidetic memory so perfect that it was confused for a magical talent.
  • Robert Silverberg's "The Man Who Never Forgot" follows the life of a man who cannot forget anything, and has perfect recall of those memories. It's more or less about his journey from realizing what a great gift it is, to realizing how little use he gets from it, to seeing it as a curse and considering ending his life, to finding out his grandfather had the same gift and deciding that he needs to be sure he passes this on to his own descendants because others will be able to use it better.
  • The Aeslin mice in InCryptid have this as their species hat. They also have an Animal Religion based around worshipping the human Price family (the main characters). Since they never forget anything (often making up new rituals and holy days to commemorate mundane events), they're very useful as a living history of the family, and a single mouse is sent with Antimony when she goes undercover, to serve as a black box and tell the family what happened if she doesn't make it back.
  • The elephants from The White Bone perfectly remember everything they've ever experienced until they start to go senile.
  • Emmet from The Roosevelt compares his brain to a camera. He remembers almost everything he sees, especially numbers. He can memorize fifty lines of code in one read-through, and he's always helping his mom find things because he can remember where she set them down last.
  • Nathaniel from Mindblind remembers everything that's ever happened to him since he was one. He often gets caught up in a memory and spaces out, which causes some people to think he's having a seizure.
  • Eddie from The Society of Sylphs has memorized all his books and can commit any image he sees to memory with a brief effort.
  • Sam from Counting to D is borderline illiterate due to dyslexia, but she has an audiographic memory, allowing her to memorize her textbooks by listening to the audiobooks.
  • Hover Car Racer: The Bug, Jason's autistic little brother and navigator, has a photographic memory, allowing him to remember the way through a complicated shortcut maze.
  • In The Syrena Legacy, the Syrena all have photographic memories. When Galen enrolls in a human high school, he aces all his classes even though he's ignorant of many things that humans would consider common knowledge.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kat from Alphas. This is when it comes to muscle memory; her actual memory resets every month, but she still retains her muscle memory.
  • Subverted in Angel when Angel is asked if he remembers the code for a door, and replies "Hello? Photographic memory." He then gets the code wrong on the first try. He does demonstrate photographic recall on another occasion. He also says that he doesn't have it all the time, only when he actively tries.
  • Olive in A.N.T. Farm has a perfect memory as her talent.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Commander Susan Ivanova claimed to have eidetic memory. She recalled a once-heard Minbari phrase perfectly, despite not speaking the language at the time she heard it. In another episode, she memorizes the long list of all EarthForce personnel perished in a battle in order to make sure they were burying people and not statistics.
    • In "Deathwalker", Ambassador Kosh hires Abbut, a cyber-organic living recorder, to record thoughts and images from the mind of Talia Winters.
  • Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory has an eidetic memory, and is able to recall the precise date and time of any event in his life and win complex card games through memorization, which he points out takes away all the challenge, and consequently the fun. It's occasionally a plot point, such as when he is able to tell the gang what happened to their Bitcoin account several years earlier.
    • He exhibits this in Young Sheldon, where he is able to remember an event that happened on Valentines Day when he was a month shy of two years old.
    • On another occasion in Young Sheldon, Sheldon demonstrates that his eidetic memory functions without conscious attention. His math teacher catches him daydreaming in class and asks him to repeat what she'd just said. He does so perfectly, despite not having paid a lick of attention to the lecture.
  • Gibson Kafka, a bartender in Birds of Prey (2002), has eidetic memory as his metahuman ability.
  • In The Bletchley Circle, Lucy is a page-at-a-glance reader capable of memorizing an entire book of facts and figures in a single sitting.
  • Bron|Broen: Henrik appears to have this; in one episode, he scans a crime scene, and, when questioned, says he is making a mental map. He can spontaneously recall details from files he has read, from crime scenes, and license plates he has seen briefly. He is visibly frustrated when a colleague cannot instantly recall a license plate number like he can.
  • Kiera Cameron in Continuum has a CMR computer chip embedded in her brain that, when linked to the cameras in her eyes, is able to record everything that she sees, hears, and smells. She can later go back and review the recorded information as if she was actually experiencing it again. She can look at the images again using different wavelength filters to get new information (such as when she saw a man walking across a parking garage pulling a large trunk, she was able to go back and review it in infrared and determine that a person was tied up inside the trunk).
  • Spencer Reid, from Criminal Minds.
    • Notable in that it applies to anything he has read... A large part of the second season premiere is him trying to remember something he has heard.
    • He also displays the ability to see new things in his memories, mentioned in the main article; in one season one episode, in order to solve a case (long story) he pulls up a word search puzzle in his mind and finds new words in it.
    • Also not limited to visuals. He is shown in 100 repeating a recently heard conversation word-for-word, on fast forward — in which it sounds less as though he has deliberately memorized the conversation, and more as though he is listening to it over again and repeating the words as he hears them.
  • Max Guevara from Dark Angel is able to translate the dial tone on speed dial into numbers.
  • Glenn Garth Gregory, played by Laurence Luckinbill in The Delphi Bureau, could remember everything he'd ever seen.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Eleventh Doctor has a photographic memory which he uses to find Prisoner Zero in his first episode and stop River from killing him in "Let's Kill Hitler". It is worth noting that the Doctor is in fact an alien, and that his race is perhaps the most technologically advanced in the entire universe. The contents of his mind are more than a human brain can handle.
    • Among the Doctor's companions, this was a frequently displayed ability of the Second Doctor's companion Zoe (who was trained to do it), and an Informed Ability of the Sixth and Seventh Doctor's companion Mel.
  • Farscape
    • Scorpius possesses a phenomenal memory, capable of recalling wormhole equations that he saw for less than a second.
    • "The Ugly Truth" has the protagonists being captured and questioned by the Plokavians. As this trait is their Hat, they assume the vast deviations in their "Rashomon"-Style recollection of events is deliberate falsehood.
  • An episode of Flashpoint revolves around a man with this ability, but who considers it Cursed with Awesome. Not only does it get him coerced by the villains of the piece into memorizing secret documents for them, but the sheer volume of memories that he's accumulated have become so overwhelming that he's retreated into total seclusion to avoid building more of them.
  • Olivia Dunham from Fringe, specifically an ability to recall numbers. Olivia's counterpart from the Alternate Universe does not have this talent and has to put in serious effort to fake it while undercover as the main Olivia.
  • Future Cop: Haven is programmed to have one. In the pilot, he watches every Superbowl at high speed so he can better make small talk with his fellow officers, and remembers every detail perfectly afterwards.
  • Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls, in ridiculous extents according to one account she gives Logan.
  • Lexie Grey from Grey's Anatomy, who has diagnosed at least two patients' incredibly obscure diseases based off reading old and obscure medical journals, and she aced her residency exam. She picks up the well-earned nickname of "Lexipedia".
  • Rico from Hannah Montana has a photographic memory, which explains why he skipped several grades.
  • Charlie Andrew has this as her superpower in Heroes. Since Sylar kills her to steal this power, it can be assumed he develops this as well... at least until Hiro changes the past to prevent her murder.
  • Most Immortals in Highlander are shown as possessing total recall. Methos is the exception, because of My Skull Runneth Over due to his being 5000 years old, and is apparently unable to clearly remember anything before then.
  • Holmes & Yoyo: Police robot Yoyo does not only have literally photographic memory, he can even make prints of it. Push his nose and a polaroid pops out of his breast pocket. Strangely enough he does not seem able to access an image in memory, he has to print it out and look at it with his eyes even if it's just to verify that he's seen something.
  • Played with in an episode of House. The patient has eidetic memory, being able to recall every single memory of hers in perfect detail, right down to a customer she only saw once months ago with another man, crying over something or keeping a terribly strained relationship with her sister, because she remembers all the mistakes or fights they had growing up. As it turns out, her great memory is not simply a great memory, but it's a mixture of a disease and OCD and the treatment will likely result in her memory becoming as hazy as most people's.
  • Hideyuki Kagawa/Alternative Zero in Kamen Rider Ryuki had a photographic memory, which he could use to memorize (and therefore counter) attack patterns in rival Riders. However, he sees it as something of an annoyance: after catching an accidental glimpse of Shiro Kanzaki's plans, he is unable to forget about them, which, as he sees Kanzaki's plans as flawed and unethical, practically forces him to do something about it.
  • Kyle from Kyle XY combines this with his ability to draw photo-realistic pictures from said memories. Kyle has holographic memory meaning he can go back and see events as they happened in three dimensional space. This means that he can remember stuff he didn't actually see because it happened either behind his back or in a blind spot. Yes, this is as ridiculous as it sounds.
  • In London's Burning, one firefighter is nicknamed "Recall" due to having a photographic memory, which he demonstrates by memorizing an entire page of a book in one reading and then reciting it.
  • Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle recalls every item stolen from a home robbery after inadvertently abetting the thief... much to the chagrin of the victims, who were counterfeiters.
    • In a different episode, he looks at two credit cards for a few seconds, remembers the numbers perfectly, and then performs math using the numbers on them.
    • His intelligence is actually discovered this way: he reels off everything that's wrong with a doctored psychotherapy image after taking only a momentary glance at it before knocking it aside (he's supposed to look at it for 60 seconds), because he was irritated and in a hurry, indicating a combination of eidetic memory, Sherlock Scan-like attention to detail, and super-fast reasoning abilities.
  • Mission: Impossible:
    • An early episode revolves around a "guest spy" with eidetic memory, which he demonstrates by flipping through a phone book, then reciting a random page. Subsequent episodes reveal that Rollin and especially Cinnamon are able to memorize scads of information in a short span of time, but it's not implied that they have eidetic memory.
    • "The Mind of Stefan Miklos" features a KGB operative with an eidetic memory, sent to the U.S. to contact a defecting CIA agent and verify the accuracy of the information he's selling. Phelps and his team have to pull off a ridiculously complex series of con games in order to trick the guy.
  • Adrian Monk, from Monk. Monk's memory ever extends to his back. In a flashback, he reveals that he remembered Trudy's phone number after she wrote it down on a paper propped against his back for a Jerk Jock. In the same episode, he uses the same skill to recall another number.
  • Nikita: According to Amanda, Percy has eidetic memory.
  • Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell from Prison Break claims to have photographic memory. Charles "Haywire" Patoshik does, in fact, possess eidetic memory.
  • Shawn Spencer from Psych has a true photographic memory, being able to recall old memories and see new details in them. He also has an uncanny ability to remember several long serial numbers after nothing but a glance. This is coupled together with Hyper-Awareness to make him able to notice and remember pretty much everything.
  • The early 2000s show Push Nevada has the protagonist playing chess without a board against two convicts.
  • Quantum Leap: Sam has an eidetic memory, which may derive from his Doc Savage-inspired character; this was stated in the episode "Catch A Falling Star". In the episode "Trilogy Part 3", season 5 episode 10, he also says, "I have a photographic memory", approximately two-thirds through the episode.
    • Unfortunately his memories are jumbled by the time jumps, so you can never be sure in any given episode how much of his memory he can access.
  • Luke Smith from The Sarah Jane Adventures displays the ability to remember incredibly long number sequences — in "Mona Lisa's Revenge", he is explicitly stated to have an eidetic memory. Justified due to the fact that he was engineered by the Bane to have Super Intelligence.
  • Sylvester from Scorpion. In one episode, the team is shown playing a game called "Move Sylvester's Stuff", in which they slightly change things on his desk while he's blindfolded, and he has to determine what's been changed.
  • Sherlock:
    • Sherlock is revealed to be able to remember anything, provided that he can find it in his Memory Palace.
    • Charles Augustus Magnussen, the villain of "His Last Vow", might just have Sherlock beat. He's a professional blackmailer who can recall the "pressure point" of anyone important in a few seconds. Rather than using hard copies, he simply has all of his leverage memorized and tucked away in his own mind palace.
  • This trick is used by Patrick Jane in The Mentalist; it is explicitly the result of considerable training and practice, not an innate ability.
  • Shoestring: Eddie claims in "The Partnership" that he has one, and that he never needs to take pictures.
  • Ichabod of Sleepy Hollow specifically claims to have "eidetic memory" — Abby says he has "photographic memory", but he obviously wouldn't refer to it that way since he's from a pre-photography era. (Too bad that "eidetic" wasn't used in this sense until well into the 20th century...)
  • Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager. She is, however, a Cyborg. The Doctor also suspects that Kes has an eidetic memory as well when she remembers details about her medical studies easily (justified in that hers is a very short-lived species, and they have to learn quickly).
  • Mike Ross of Suits remembers every word of every book he's ever read and every fact he's ever come across. Before he got into the fake lawyering gig he used to memorize tests and sell the answers. It's what got him kicked out of school. A few times, we're shown him recalling (in black-and-white, for some reason) a scene in order to quickly notice an obscure detail he missed, such as the picture of Louis's nephew that just happened to be hanging in the Harvard admissions office when Mike came in to ask about a tour.
  • The Terminators in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, notably Cameron, who can even go so far as to re-enact a person's tone of voice and body language.
    Cameron: You saw it, right? You saw it? It's so freaking big and all out there!
  • Unforgettable is all about a detective who has a photographic memory. Her ability to keep replaying and reexamining a memory for previously unnoticed details is key in solving the murder in the pilot episode.
    • A key element of the show is that even with her amazing memory she is not immune from Trauma-Induced Amnesia as she cannot remember the day when her sister was murdered and she found the body.
    • In an amusing bit of stunt casting, Carrie's aunt, who was worried she was developing Alzheimer's, was played by Marilu Henner who is one of the rare people with the ability in real life.
  • Unnatural History: Maggie has good recall of whatever information the trio needs investigating a case.
  • White Collar:
    • Mozzie. He calls it "perfect recall".
    • Neal has shown signs of having this, as well, but to a lesser extent. At the very least, he seems to have the ability to remember every move of every chess game he's ever played or witnessed.
    • He's also able to remember that the fractal images he had seen eight years earlier were similar to one that Mozzie had recently decoded, but none of them were exact.
  • Alfred in X Company has a photographic memory due to his synesthesia.
  • The X-Files: Fox Mulder claims to have an eidetic memory. It's first mentioned in "Fire" when he talks with his ex-girlfriend from Oxford.
    Phoebe Green: Unless I'm mistaken, ten years seems like sufficient time to have forgiven, if not forgotten, a few youthful indiscretions.
    Mulder: I'm cursed with a photographic memory.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most role-playing games will have a way for a character to have a perfect memory. Benefits might include anything from being able to remember tiny details of a previous encounter or scene without a roll to being able to ask the DM for information he had given to the character but that you forgot to write down.
  • Blackjack: One way you can supposedly win at blackjack if you don't know how to count cards but do have eidetic memory: take a mental "snapshot" of the cards when the dealer spreads them out face up on the table before putting them in the shoe.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The game's 5th Edition has the "Keen Mind" feat, which, in addition to allowing characters total recall of anything they've seen or heard in the last month, also grants them a perfect sense of direction (by always knowing true North), and what time it is (by how many hours until the next sunrise or sunset).
    • Aboleths are aquatic Eldritch Abominations that inherit perfect Genetic Memory from their Truly Single Parent, which means two aboleths can work out how closely they're related based on how far back their memories diverge. They're also The Ageless, and can pass the centuries by exploring the depthless pool of their racial memory, searching for choice pieces of knowledge or reliving the life of a particular ancestor. What freaks out other races is that the aboleths have memories that predate not only the advent of other species, but the gods themselves.
  • Eclipse Phase has eidetic memory and mnemonic augmentation available as bioware and cyberware, respectively. There is also an eidetic memory trait that can be part of the character's ego and thus transferable to new morphs. While hyperthymesia, like several other savant traits, is a Psi-Chi sleight.
  • GURPS: Photographic Memory is flawless and effortless while Eidetic Memory requires an IQ roll (hard thinking) to work properly. At least in some editions (e.g. 3rd) it can also verge on being a bit of a Game-Breaker because it cuts the cost of "regular" (non-magic or -psi) mental skills simply in half or even down to one-quarter normal. This can be balanced to some extent by starting point totals (Eidetic Memory itself isn't cheap) and by how much emphasis the campaign puts on using physical skills like just about all combat ones as well.
  • Hc Svnt Dracones has two "once-per-session" science-based Focus abilities that work like this. "Read a Book!" allows a character to recall reading or hearing about some relevant bit of information, while Eidetic Memory acts like photographic reflexes.
  • Mutants & Masterminds: The Eidetic Memory feat allows one to, in addition to having perfect recall, resist mind-wiping attempts more easily.
  • New World of Darkness:
    • Eidetic Memory (of the remember anything you've ever bothered to variety) is a two-Dot merit. For reference a starting PC gets a free 7 dots of merits, making this an extremely useful merit that is picked up by nearly EVERY non-physical character, and several physical. Along with this is Encyclopedic Knowledge, where a character is entitled to a roll to know anything through random happenstance. As this is a 4-Dot merit, it's quite common for a person to pick up both of these at character creation to have a character who remembers everything that has happened to him and some things that didn't.
    • Mage: The Awakening: One of the abilities available to advanced members of the Mysterium (collectors of magical lore) is the ability to have an Eidetic Memory for any facts related to the Mysterium (which depending on ST interpretation, can be a fairly broad definition).
  • Nobilis: The Aspect score governs memory (as well as general physical and mental ability). At Aspect 2, characters can remember everything they've ever seen or heard, although weaker characters can easily gain this advantage temporarily if necessary. At Aspect 6, characters are capable of memorizing everything ever written.
  • In Nomine: Koriel, the Angel of Equal Justice and Heaven's main Crusading Lawyer, can flawlessly recall any detail of any case that she has ever defended.
  • Scion: Photographic Memory is an Epic Intelligence Knack. The "look at something once and remember it forever" version of this is justified in that, well, the person with the trait is either a god-in-training or some other variety of supernatural being. This gets downright vicious when combined with Scire (the Atlantean Purview) or other "learn something and then forget it" powers — normally you forget what you learn from these powers when they wear off, but the book specifically states you don't if you have Photographic Memory.
  • Unknown Armies: The sourcebook distinguishes between "photographic memory" and "eidetic memory", defining them for the purposes of the game as (respectively) the ability to consciously look at a scene for a moment and recall everything about it, and the ability to recall the gist of anything they have ever read.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Lukas Bastonne, a famed Sergeant of the Cadian Shock Troops, has eidetic memory that allows him to recall all of his combat experiences with clarity and keep a clear image of ever-shifting battlefields, making him an excellent tactician. It also causes him to vividly remember every single soldier who has ever died under his command.
    • Spin-off RPGs like Black Crusade have things like the Total Recall talent that allows this. Depending on the game, it may be available only some player classes, such as tech-priests who are implied get it through implants.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The "Spellbook Libraries" are full of the knowledge of Light and Darkness respectively, using magical energy itself as a medium to record information. As the manager of both these "Spellbook Libraries", "Spellbook Magician of Prophecy" has stored all of their knowledge within his own brain. Because of this, he is able to manifest "Spellbook" data into physical form by himself.

    Video Games 
  • Another Code: Ashley Mizuki Robbins has a ridiculously good memory, able to recall from before the age of three, albeit with some form of trigger. A good portion of the plot is helping her remember those events, as they have relevance to what's happening in the present.
  • Baroque: The Bagged One desperately wished to forget a tragedy in her past, but could not because of her Photographic Memory. Thus, her Baroque twisted her so that she has no memories of her own; only the memories of other people.
  • BlazBlue's Observers have, as a part of their assigned roles, the ability to quantum-observe reality and events as well as the inability to forget anything they've Observed, to the extent that they have Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory. For example, the most prominent Observer in the franchise, Rachel Alucard, remembers the entire "Groundhog Day" Loop scenario of the first game. That is, for the record, 72,500 years of looped time, spread out over the course of 100 years looped 725 times, with only very slight, minor differences each and every loop. No wonder she seems both bored and frustrated by the lack of progress.
    • The main character, Ragna the Bloodedge, despite not being an Observer, also has something like this going on. Specifically, he can remember something Rachel once told him during a rare moment of her opening up to him during the closing moments of a doomed loop: "Listen to me. Never admit defeat. Endure whatever pain you may face, and fight until your last breath as a human being."
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • This is said to be a racial trait of the Sload, a race of "slugmen" native to the archipelago of Thras to the southwest of Tamriel. It is said they have perfect recall of everything they see or hear.
    • During the Mage's Guild questline in The Elder Scrolls Online, Shalidor is revealed to have this through use of a spell, though it is limited to written texts. At the end of the questline he grants this ability to the player, expanding their Lore Library.
  • Fate/Grand Order
    • David Bluebook possesses one, to the point the reason he has some idea of what's going on during the Lostbelt struggle is that the starry skies over the Lostbelts are different from what he remembers them being. He also mentions that it's the big reason he chose to move to the countryside, as the stimuli from the big city was too overwhelming for him to handle.
    • The Crypter Daybit Sem Void has this, claiming the best memory out of the team and has the names and faces of everyone he's ever met memorized perfectly. This goes to the point he has a cosmic insight to nearly anything and can commit anything to memory perfectly. However, as part of the Power at a Price deal that gave him this memory, he can only retain five minutes worth of memory per day, so he has to always consider what and when he can make the most of this ability.
  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes: Monica's special talent is her impressive memory. In the lead-up to the war against the Church of Seiros, she can perfectly recall the layout of Garreg Mach Monastery to aid the Imperial army in its assault despite being away from the Officers Academy for almost three years. She also applies her memory to more mundane pursuits, such as how often she and Edelgard have had tea together.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Drell and salarians both have this ability: salarians remember every piece of information they've ever read or heard, but drells can't fully control their ability, having spontaneous flashbacks if their nerves get enough stimulation for it. Needless to say, the memories they see aren't necessarily the good ones... or they can be very pleasant, and it becomes more than useful during lonely nights. On the other hand, even with the lonely nights entertainment, it's noted that some drell can end up so wrapped up in those good memories that they stop interacting with the external world.
    • Kasumi's mission shows that humans can obtain this ability through technology, namely a neural implant called a "greybox" that stores neural memory like a flash drive. Kasumi has one, as did her late partner, Keiji, and recovering Keiji's greybox is the goal of Kasumi's loyalty mission.
  • Bladewolf from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, unusually for a robot, averts this. His neural network was designed to work like an organic human brain and thus has the same limitations. Bladewolf admits that he's actually worse at remembering faces than the average human.
  • Mœbius: Protagonist Malachi Rector has this trait, which apparently proves quite useful in evaluating antiques.
  • The Pokémon Alakazam (and presumably its pre-evolutions) possesses a photographic memory, apparently because its system can replace lost neurons and have them undergo mitosis (the brain cells of your typical eumetazoan note  cannot do either).
  • The Touhou series has Hieda no Akyu, who reincarnates with the perfect memory of her former reincarnation and, over her life, has photographic memory; she is the ninth reincarnation of the Child of Miare, tracing back 1200 years. She wrote, compiled, and edited the character compendiums Perfect Memento in Strict Sense and Symposium of Post-mysticism, which are portions of an unreleased larger volume of in-series work called the Gensokyo Chronicles.

    Visual Novels 
  • One of the characters in the Murder Mystery Visual Novel Jisei can perfectly recite the prices of cafe menu items, since he remembers everything he sees, smells, or hears in a location. His eidetic memory helps fool the main character into believing that he is a regular at the cafe when it is actually his first time there.
  • The Fruit of Grisaia: Both Makina and Kazuki is capable of this, when they see something, they store a perfect copy of it in their brain and can recall it from memory at any time, though their memory can get a little scrambled with time or on the details of ordering. They also skip recording things in color.
  • Princess Evangile has Tamie Nogi, Vincennes' resident School Newspaper News Hound. While not emphasized in most of the routes, in her own route, this proves important for her when she gets amnesia late in the first chapter. Thanks to this trope, she's able to recover within a matter of weeks.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Velvet's Semblance, Photographic Memory, allows her to perfectly recall and mimic someone else's fighting style. She combines this with her weapon Anesidora, which is a camera that can project Hard Light copies of weapons she has taken pictures of, in order to act as a Ditto Fighter by copying her allies. Each picture only lasts a limited time. Unfortunately, this makes her a bit Too Awesome to Use for her team, as if they're not careful she'll run out of pictures in the middle of a fight. At the Battle of Beacon, she uses all her pictures at once.

  • People of the Mute tribe in Gifts of Wandering Ice have photograpic memories. They also draw very well and reproduce images of ancient objects and places in perfect detail which therefore do not fade in their collective memory over generations.
  • Artie from Narbonic is said to have an eidetic memory, but although this is the subject of a few jokes it's never a plot point. Possibly justified by Artie being a product of genetic engineering.
  • Misho from Keychain of Creation has the variant that pairs it with amnesia; justified in that he's essentially a demigod and his memory runs on magic. His perfect memory extends into his previous life. In fact, his memory is a curse; to learn magic, he sacrificed his Ignorance. The amnesia part comes in with the fact that despite remembering all of his time as an Exalted, he can't remember anything about his second "life" from the time before his Exalt mantle returned.
  • The eponymous heroine of Mindmistress has complete recall of all of her memories. Unfortunately, that includes every childhood nightmare, which makes her vulnerable to certain psychic attacks.
  • The Order of the Stick: The gods all have perfect memory. Thor says he remembers everyone who has ever worshiped him, and the billions of worlds consumed by the Snarl.
    Thor: Moments like this, I'm a little jealous of your mortal limitations.
  • In Outsider, the Loroi's Listel caste is dedicated to data acquisition and analysis, and eidtic memory is a common trait among them. Beryl, the one Loroi from this caste introduced so far in the story, tells Alex that she can recall every word he's said in her presence since being rescued by the Loroi.

    Web Original 
  • Danganronpa: Despair Time: Min likes reading various textbooks and committing the content of each book to memory. Rose claims to have this which she uses to analyze how much time has passed.
  • In the Whateley Universe, Carmilla (Sara Waite) has eidetic memory. This is because she's not human: she's mostly demon, and her cellular structure is closer to a living cancer than anything else modern medicine knows about. She knows how many grains of salt were spilled on the table that morning, etc.
    • Some other students at the Superhero School Whateley Academy have photographic memories: it's a common ability of high-level Exemplars.
  • Strong Bad of Homestar Runner admits of having an unphotographic memory in the Strong Bad Email "highschool", and that his is more "like a doodle memory.
  • In Lovelace ˝, whatever granted Andi her Super Intelligence also made her remember everything she ever observed — even a television show her au pair was watching when she was five-and-a-half.
    Five years, seven months, eight days she didn't say, though it was on the tip of her tongue.
  • Jeanette of Funny Business not only can recall everything she's ever experienced, she has to, since her world was created by her thoughts.
  • Jamie, from Twig, has a perfect memory as a result of extensive modifications made to his brain shortly after birth, allowing him to rapidly piece together disparate details and facts. However, his ability to apply this information is hampered by being relatively slow to react to present events and his status as the Non-Action Guy, meaning he mostly functions as Mr. Exposition for his team, though there are exceptions, such as when he identifies the family names of every member of a crowd of people in order to inform them, individually, that their family members have been killed to provoke them to riot.
  • Quest Den: After Chi from Shards meditates to unlock this power, she can open a book, flip and observe each page for but an instant, close the book and then read it from memory over the following months.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben Tennyson of the Ben 10 franchise has photographic memory as he was able to remember the runes on the Door to Anywhere after seeing them just once. He does not apply his photographic memory to schoolwork though.
  • Lex Luthor on Justice League Unlimited, as revealed in the episode "Panic in the Sky".
    Batman: When you and The Atom worked together to stop the first AMAZO, he showed you the blueprints... and I suspect you have a photographic memory.
  • Ingrid Third in Fillmore!, who is taken by a genius because of that.
  • Sonia from Sonic Underground claimed to have photographic memory.
  • Brother Blood from Teen Titans (2003), implied to be a side-effect of his Psychic Powers. After looking at Cyborg's blueprints, he was able to, months later, not only copy the technology, but adapt it to various weapons (BFGs, robot armies, himself).
  • An old Russian cartoon involves a man visited at night by an alien, who grants him certain abilities, including telepathy, eidetic memory, X-ray vision, the ability to read a closed book in a second, and mad math skills. One interesting scene involves him walking by a book seller, who is advertising a brand-new novel. He glances at it and says he has read better. When the people complain that he couldn't possibly have read the book, he has them pick a page at random and have him recall it from memory. He recites the words verbatim, including a a line-wrapped word from the previous page. He ends up losing these powers by accident at the end when he tells a couple of thieves "Game over", which is actually the code phrase implanted by the alien in case the man doesn't like his gift.
  • In one Rocky and Bullwinkle arc, Bullwinkle demonstrated the ability to remember everything he ever ate during his lifetime. When he ate a banana on which Boris Badenov had written a secret formula he had stolen, Bullwinkle was able to recite the formula by memory (although he didn't have any idea what it was).
  • Pinkie Pie of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a truly phenomenal memory for details, ranging from the precise date of everypony in town's birthday, exact time and location for every single party she throws, literary content down to the page number from a book she barely glanced, to being able to literally recognise a duplicate of an image she saw for less than a second. (It doesn't mean she can perfectly recall everything she remembers; in "Party of One" she was so wrapped up planning an "after-birthday" party for her pet alligator she totally forgot her own birthday.)
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Felicia Hardy's father was a notorious cat burglar with a photographic memory. As a youth he was duped by the Red Skull into spying on the Super Soldier project that created Captain America and he memorized the Super Serum formula. When he was later tried for his crimes, Nick Fury took him into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody to keep the secret safe. Even decades later he remembers the formula perfectly.
  • Aquamarine from Steven Universe claims to have one (which is backed up by the fact that she remembered the six varieties of humans she was tasked with bringing back), but only brings it up to ask a rhetorical question.
  • Mysto from Mixels has a literal one. He's able to create an aura sphere and flip through memories of his past like a slide show.
  • In the animated Mister T series, there are occasional references to Kim having one.
  • Prince Callum of The Dragon Prince has a perfect visual memory. Not only does this serve him well as an artist — he's able to accurately sketch a view of a room he hasn't seen in months — it also comes in handy in his endeavors as a self-taught mage, letting him perfectly recreate magic runes after only seeing them once.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of TaleSpin during a Kangaroo Court.
    Col. Ivanod Spigot: Where were you at 10:00 AM on May 21st... 8 years ago?
    Wildcat: I was at the bowling alley with Kirby and Dutch. Kirby bowled a 300, I got nothing but gutter balls and Dutch drank a chocolate shake.
    Col. Ivanod Spigot: Hmmm... and where were you this morning?
    Wildcat: I don't remember.
  • Carl from Arthur has Asperger's Syndrome, so he's able to remember the precise times when events happened, as well as entire television specials (including the specific commercials that air alongside them), with impressive accuracy.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man (2012): Taskmaster boasts that he can easily navigate a dark room with his Photographic Memory, only to find that Spider-Man and White Tiger moved everything in the room after turning off the lights.

    Real Life 
  • Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), also known as hyperthymesia, is the talent to recall extremely specific personal (i.e. autobiographical) data. This does not extend outside of the self - so for instance, they may remember what they wore on a specific day of the week, but they wouldn't remember what was going on in the news that day unless it impacted them personally in some way. However, people who exhibit this trait also appear to exhibit symptoms of hoarding and OCD-like symptoms, and it is suggested that the actual cause for their extremely good personal recall (and their inability to recall other facts about those dates) is related - because they constantly reinforce their memories, via diary entries and keeping objects and obsession with dates, they reinforce these memories.
  • Young children have very strong, short-term recall; chimpanzees may as well. It is not known why humans lose this ability, but it may be because as they develop speech and other things, they need to use their brain for things other than memorizing the world around them; it is possible that some humans with extremely good short-term recall may have never lost this ability, or have regained it via practice.
  • Stephen Wiltshire is an autistic man who can take a helicopter ride over a city and draw very detailed pictures of what he saw, producing panoramas in the days after his flights. They are not "perfect", but are quite accurate, often down to the number of windows and columns visible on various buildings.
  • As previously noted, actress Marilu Henner of Taxi fame possesses some form of this. Coincidentally, her late co-star Andy Kaufman was also blessed with a phenomenal memory, being able to perform his role without rehearsal.
  • A man in Russia was born with this. While initially this helped him become a scholar, it also eventually drove him mad because he remembered every last horrible thing ever done to him, culminating in his suicide at age 30.
  • Bill Clinton has been noted for his extraordinary memory, such as being able to perfectly recall phone numbers decades after he last called them. This came in especially handy during teleprompter mishaps during his presidency, as he was able to recite large sections from memory, rather than ad-lib, while the correct text was being uploaded.
  • Chimpanzees are shown to have a way better short-term memory than humans. It's been theorized that our common ancestors also had this ability but humans lost it because the development of language took up that space in our brains.
  • Rebecca Sharrock, a woman from New Jersey, can remember things from when she was a week old, because of the aforementioned condition, HSAM.
  • While not near to the extreme level of eidetic memory (for the vast majority), during learning to draw, artists gradually acquire a better, more accurate and detailed memory of what objects look like when compared to non-artists, which makes replicating them (and repositioning them, drawing them in perspective, etc.) easier.
  • It was rumored that Sei Shonagon had this since she wrote down to the slightest detail about events that happened years ago.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Eidetic Memory, Perfect Memory


Remembering what you ate

Tomoyuki Takatsuki gets to Bistro Pas Mal to eat his last meal before he starts having to look for another job. Tomoyuki's ability to recall what he ate in the restaurant was so good that Chef Shinobu Mifune took an interest in him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / PhotographicMemory

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