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Sense Loss Sadness

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"I feel nothing! Not the wind on my face or the spray of the sea. Or the warmth of a woman's flesh."

This is when a character grieves over having one or more of their senses deadened, sometimes to the point of total insensibility. This can happen because of an accident, damage to an organ/nerve, becoming a cyborg/robot (in which case, expect this to contribute to Cybernetics Eat Your Soul), suffering from And I Must Scream, or becoming one of The Undead.

Just as in real life, the character will feel horrified and distraught over losing such a fundamental (and undervalued in hindsight) faculty. They will probably lament that while they can "feel" something, it doesn't cause pain or pleasure or comfort. Feelings of alienation are sure to follow, and an identity crisis is rarely far behind.

Interestingly, this might be counterbalanced thanks to Disability Superpower granting Super-Senses in another faculty, or even oracular ability a la Blind Seer. However, a non-human or superpowered character who had senses past the standard five and lost one (like Telepathy, X-Ray Vision, or something stranger), the anguish will be no less acute. He, she or it will have to learn to make do with the puny five human senses.

A Sense Freak will likely find this the only form of torture that isn't kinky. A lack of feeling is also a frequent lament of someone suffering from Tragic Intangibility. The Deaf Composer keeps on making music (or other art) despite this loss. See also Sensory Overload and Brought Down to Normal. The opposite is First Time Feeling.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Beastars:
    • One of the villains of is a hybrid of a carnivore and an herbivore who inherited most of the worst instincts of both parents, but inherited neither parent's sense of taste, leaving him unable to enjoy food. He suffers from urges to kill herbivores, which he tries to satisfy by getting involved with various illegal activities, but has no desire to eat themnote , until he meets Haru, and can't even digest meat.
    • After Jack the Labrador joins a special class for the only best students where they are taught things about history regular students aren't allowed to know, he starts suffering from depression as a result of his species' Emotion Suppression making him unable to feel sad about or disgusted by the awful truths he learns in the class that he believes should upset him. He starts cutting onions to make himself cry and it gets bad enough that he tries to commit suicide by swallowing an onion since they are poisonous to canines.
  • Berserk:
    • Guts loses his sense of sight and hearing while attempting to stab the heart of the Sea God. He attempts to have Shierke (who is communicating with him telepathically) direct him to it, but the heart keeps attacking him with pulses of sound. Eventually, his whole body is rendered numb, and without any of his five senses working, Guts isn't sure what he can do.
    • The Berserker Armor is stated to have this effect over long use, dulling sensations such as taste and touch and the perception of color. It is implied that this is what turned the Skull Knight skeletal.
  • Catherine from Black Clover weaponizes this. She uses her Ash Curse Magic to take away enemies' sight, smell, and touch. Yuno circumvents this by sensing her mana and defeats her soon after.
  • Tousen's Bankai from Bleach works this way, stripping the target of all senses (though there is a loophole in that they can feel his sword) and thus making them defenseless. Of course, Kenpachi Zaraki works around this by simply tanking the hits so that he can find Tousen.
    • Interestingly, Tousen is ultimately defeated by First Time Feeling when his eye sight is restored and he becomes over reliant on it, neglecting his hearing and sensing abilities and allowing his vice captain to sneak up behind him and maim him.
  • The third episode of AD Police Files (a prequel to/Spin-Off of Bubblegum Crisis), tells a story of a policeman who had to undergo Emergency Transformation into a cyborg. Turned into a super-cyborg cop, he is actually slowly going insane because of the extreme sensory deprivation, not being helped by the fact he is treated more as a machine than a human being.
  • This is what kicks off the culprit's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the Case Closed movie "The Fourteenth Target". He had lost his sense of smell after being injured in a traffic accident, which was especially devastating given his career as a sommelier — a highly trained wine specialist.
  • In Eureka Seven AO, Ao's Coralian heritage enables him to see trapar particles, allowing him to "see the wind" in the form of greenish dust. Since he's never told that other people can't do this, he's in for quite a shock when he heads into space, where there's no trapar and thus no "wind" to see. To his credit, he adapts quickly once he's told the truth about his gift.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Erza is temporarily robbed of her five senses by Kyôka's enhancement attack, forcing her into a fight without sight, hearing, touch, taste, or smell. This winds up awakening a sixth sense that allows her to win through pure fighting instinct.
    • This is one of the big downsides of overusing Dragon Slayer Magic, as the Super-Senses of dragons originally benefitting the Slayer go out of control along with their permanent biological transformation into a dragon. If they regain a human form via Transformation Magic, it still leaves them unable to properly taste human food and kept awake by agonizing chills and itching sensations. For Irene Belserion, this coupled with the realization she could never truly be human again was the last straw of her Trauma Conga Line that catapulted her over the Despair Event Horizon and made a Face–Heel Turn.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Alphonse Elric can't feel, taste or smell anything anymore after having his soul sealed into a suit of armor. Compared to that, Ed thinks that losing an arm and a leg was a slap on the wrist. Al tries to remain optimistic by keeping a notepad of things he will do when he gets his body back (like trying Winry's pie).
  • Ghost in the Shell: Apparently pretty common among most versions of the franchise — seeing through prosthetic eyes, tasting through a prosthetic tongue, or feeling through prosthetic fingers just isn't quite the same as the same experience through a fully-organic body. As a result, cyborgs, particularly full-body prosthetic cyborgs who no longer have an organic body at all, are prone to a range of psychological issue.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, Saiyu, the "Monkey" of the Zodiacs, has a Nen power that inflicts this on his enemies. He conjures three monkeys whose attacks take away their target's sight, hearing, and speech. Saiyu then whacks them with his staff while they are disoriented.
  • Tohma from Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force experiences during the second time he lost control of his Black Knight Form, blocking both his vision and his ability to hear Lily's telepathy.
  • Akito loses his sense of taste in-between Martian Successor Nadesico and The Movie. Considering he is a professional cook, it is a very hard blow.
  • In One Piece's Dressrosa arc, the formerly-human Living Toy Thunder Soldier can't feel the warmth of other people's bodies and hates every second of it. Not even being able to feel his wife's warmth as she died in his arms, or his daughter's hand as he walked around with her, was a horrible curse to him. Fortunately, he and the other toys were later returned to normal, and when he finally got to feel the warmth of his daughter's hand at the end of the arc, he couldn't help but shed Tears of Joy.
  • The main character of One-Punch Man, Saitama, brings up the fact ever since he became the World's Strongest Man, he has started to lose his emotions.
  • Rebuild World: Being a Cyberpunk setting, this gets explored in depth. There are two types of cyborg; mechanical ones, and ones with nanomachine-filled blood whom this doesn't apply to. Most mechanical cyborgs aren't one by choice, but by Emergency Transformation. Cheaper bodies have this worse than more expensive ones, and equipment is the difference between life and death hunting, so that takes priority. The first thing to be explored is the subject of food, which Akira muses to be a waste watching them eat in a restaurant. Eventually the subject of sex is explored as well, with only the most expensive virtual reality programs or someone with full system access being able to even slightly satisfy them, and Carol being regarded as a Sex God for satisfying a cyborg in bed (the explanation for that being side-effects of her being a Differently Powered Individual).
  • Naofumi of The Rising of the Shield Hero experiences a temporary form of this due to Malty's betrayal and his public defamation, completely losing his sense of taste. When Raphtalia remains by his side after being freed it dulls his Suppressed Rage and he can finally taste food again.
  • Played with in Saint Seiya. During his fateful duel with Virgo Shaka, Phoenix Ikki's five primary senses end up obliterated by the "Treasure of Heavens". This pushes him into a temporary Heroic BSoD, not due to the loss itself, but because he has been rendered unable to protect his brother and comrades against Shaka's unavoidable retaliation. However, he quickly manages to snap out of it when figures out a way to turn his apparent dismay into the power that he needed to defeat Shaka.
  • In Witchblade, the main character loses her sense of taste as her daughter makes what is to be her last meal.

    Comic Books 
  • The Scarecrow from Batman has been written to have this dilemma recently. He is distraught that he can no longer feel fear (in spite of that being what he wanted) and needs Batman in order to feel afraid. This proved helpful during the events of Blackest Night, as the Black Lanterns would only register those that felt some kind of emotion, and so couldn't detect him even when he was right in front of them. He was then given a taste of power and the ability to feel fear again for a while as a deputy of the Sinestro Corps, to which he took with gusto.
  • The titular character in Concrete had an interesting combination of this and Super-Senses. Concrete is a man whose brain, for reasons unknown, was transplanted by aliens into an eight-foot tall, sexless body made out of a substance similar to, well, concrete. Because of this, he has no sense of taste or smell at all, and his sense of touch is extremely limited. (He can feel being shot by an AK-47, but that's about it.) His hearing seems to be unchanged. His one consolation: his eyesight is far better than any human being. He can read newsprint from fifty feet away, or count the feathers of an eagle flying overhead. This one super-sense doesn't make up for the loss or near-loss of three others (or the loss of his genitals), but it's something.
  • Early in his career, Deadman succumbs to despair and loneliness after going months without being able to eat good food, drink something cold, or even hug someone he loves. He gets so sad that he possesses a young man he sees on a date with a beautiful woman, just so he could feel what a normal life is like just for a little bit.
  • In the Hellraiser comics, Pinhead wishes to become human again because all Cenobites experience Sense Loss Sadness when they are transformed, and he is sick of it. But to do that, he needs to find a suitable replacement...
  • Max Damage from Incorruptible goes through this every time he wakes up. He only gets about an hour of normal senses before his invulnerability robs him of his senses of smell, touch and taste.
  • In Next Men, Bethany gradually becomes more withdrawn from the team, and from humanity as a whole as she loses the ability to feel physical sensation.
  • The Silver Surfer is sometimes portrayed as suffering this, as his powers effectively make him Nigh-Invulnerable in every way. Ruins shows a version of him that went totally insane from this and eventually tore his own chest open in a desperate attempt to experience the sensation of breathing again.
  • In Sojourn, Mordath was imbued with the Sigil's power after he had already been dead for centuries, so he returns as a powerful undead being. Being one of The Undead, most of his senses are gone. He explains to his lieutenants that this is why he is so focused on conquest. He can no longer savor the scent of a flower, the taste of an apple, or the feel of a woman. The satisfaction of conquering and ruling everything is the only pleasure left to him.

    Fan Works 
  • Aeon Natum Engel and its rewrite Aeon Entelechy Evangelion both elevate Misato from mere Cordon Bleugh Chef to borderline Lethal Chef due to her spicing her food to levels that would test a champion hot food eater. This is because, although the reasons differ between the two fics, she's almost completely lost her senses of smell and taste and needs that level of spice to enjoy her food.
  • A downplayed example in Bruce Has a Problem. Bane and Skip Tracer chat while dining, and the conversation turns to their similar tastes in extremely spicy food. The latter comments that their physical augmentations, both derived from the Iron Munro treatment, have the downside of deadening taste and smell.
  • A common occurrence for ponies that install cybernetic augmentations in Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons. It often leads to severe psychological damage, with the Starter Villain becoming a Serial Rapist partially because of this.
  • In I Never Really Knew, after she and Satsuki gets the eye doctor's verdict about her eyesight (rather, failing eyesight), Ryuuko cries and cries even harder at the idea that her vision may be gone permanently. After her tumor is removed and she adjusts, she overcomes this.
  • In Left Beyond, the metabolic extension controller is used to keep people's souls out of Hell by forcing their bodies and brain to continue operating past their Divinely ordained expiration date — however, in order to prevent them from experiencing the burns they would feel if they were in Hell, their proprioception has to be damaged. This results in depression, obsession, drug use, and other issues.
  • Aizawa from My Hero Academia goes through this in Every Step of the Way after he’s blinded by a villain. Fortunately Hizashi is there to offer support.
  • This is the point of the Hell of Silence in Yu-Gi-Oh: The Shaman Tournament. The trainee is placed in a dark, completely sound-dampened room, which is lined with cloth enchanted so that it has no feeling and blocks all smells. There's a water supply, but it's filtered to remove any tastes. The trainee spends a week in here, alone with their Guardian Spirit. Making it worse? After the week is up, the trainee's next stop is the Hell of Noise.

    Film — Animated 
  • In All-Star Superman, for a few brief moments, Lex Luthor is able to see and understand everything, the very nature of the universe... and then it all goes away. This, more than anything else, leads to the only Heel Realization that he has had in any incarnation.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Darkman: After the accident he suffered, which left him severely burned, the title character was subjected to an experimental medical procedure that severed the nerve endings close to his skin; as a result, he's no longer able to feel pain... or any physical sensation at all. He's not happy about it, and in the third film, when Bridget Thorne claims she can repair his nervous system and allow him to feel again, he jumps at the chance.
  • The movie Perfect Sense is all about a potentially apocalyptic disease that slowly robs people of their senses, one by one. Oddly, the angst also comes before the loss, as attacks are preceded by severe emotional outbursts.
  • The crew of the Black Pearl in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is cursed with living undeath, which makes them completely immortal and nearly unstoppable. This would be a pirate's dream, except they can feel nothing but hunger and pain. Naturally, they gripe about it quite a bit and seek to undo the curse.
  • In Walk Hard, Dewey Cox psychosomatically loses his sense of smell due to emotional trauma after accidentally causing the death of his brother. He regains it decades later after coming to terms with his inner demons and reconciling with his beloved wife and many, many children.
  • Part of Renard the Anarchist for being, well, an anarchist in The World Is Not Enough is that there is a bullet in his head that removes his ability to feel pain. While it does mean he can push his body further than a normal human, it also means he can't enjoy getting intimate with his love, the Stockholm Syndrome-afflicted heiress Electra King.


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  • In Black Legion, sense freak Telemachon is Mind Raped by Villain Protagonist Khayon so that he can't feel anything — neither sensations nor emotions — unless he's near him and allows it. It causes Telemachon to become (begrudgingly) loyal and dependent on his captor, and when Khayon's not around, he just stands in one place and stares at the wall.
  • The children's book Follow My Leader deals very realistically with a boy who has to learn to readjust to life after losing his vision. Fortunately, he has the help of a guide dog.
  • In Heart of Steel, Cyborg Alistair Mechanus loses mental access to the network of his island lair when Arthur is taken out. As a result, he also loses the island-wide omniscience that came with it, and as a result is badly disoriented and feels half-blind.
  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream: One of the reasons why AM is so consumed with constant anguish and hatred for humanity is because he was created with, as he says in the radio drama adaptation, "No body, no senses, no feelings." In the video game adaptation, he describes himself as being trapped in "an eternal straightjacket of substrata rock". The knowledge of all the wonderful things humans can do and experience with their bodies and the fact that he can partake in none of it, let alone understand what any of it actually feels like, is an unending source of pain and rage.
  • Johannes Cabal: Horst deeply misses being able to eat and drink since becoming a vampire. When a magical Pocket Dimension in The Fall of the House of Cabal temporarily turns him human again, he immediately raids the buffet, then spends the rest of his time there with food in hand.
  • The psychic bond is severed in Last Sacrifice. Rose feels strange with being unable to sense Lissa any more. It means losing an extra sense that she's had for years.
  • In Rosaleen among the Artists, the artist Lawrence Iverson learns that he is going blind. He thinks that blindness is the most horrible thing that could happen to an artist like him, and watching his sight slowly fade is even worse for him than losing it all at once.
  • Schussler the Cyborg, in Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future, is a human brain installed within a hyper-advanced starship by an alien race after a shipwreck. This has cut him off from touch, smell and taste, meaning that while he gladly flies people around, he tends to badger them to describe in detail the taste of whatever food they're eating or the scent of a perfume. He also desperately wants to die, but cannot self-terminate. Close to the end, Cain gives him what he wants and orders him to fly into the nearest star.
  • "Scanners Live in Vain" features humans whose sensory nerves have been cut to allow them to deal with an unbearable pain that is a side effect of space travel. The story explores how they deal with it, and how the loss makes most of them, well, a little crazy.
  • "The Secret Sense": Garth predicts that having a sense only briefly would be a terrible torture and compares it to someone going blind. When Lincoln finally stops sensing the portwem (a Martian concert/video created from sensing the shifting amplitude and intensity of magnetic fields), his bewilderment gives way to crippling depression.
    The Earthman raised his head and grinned, but it was no more than a horrible baring of the teeth. It took every ounce of will-power he possessed to maintain an air of composure.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • When Leia's children are abducted in The Crystal Star, an alien caretaker is hit with the equivalent of a high-power flashbang. She is seen later, standing alone with an apathetic expression. It is explained that though she seems unhurt, her hearing has been damaged — it is now about human level — which for her is devastating, since her species uses subtler inaudible-to-humans sounds to express emotion.
    • The Star Wars EU also has ysalamiri, creatures that "push back" the Force. People next to one can't feel the Force. In The Thrawn Trilogy, when they're introduced, this is uncomfortable and limiting but Force-Sensitives grit their teeth and get on with it. Authors who want those same characters taken down a peg bring out the ysalamiri and invoke this trope, as in The New Rebellion. Interestingly, in I, Jedi, Corran Horn likens being around ysalamiri to becoming colorblind, but also notes that Luke, whose Force-Sensitivity has been active for so much longer and who must feel its repression more keenly, is more optimistic and upbeat. Being cut off from the greater galaxy means he's not as aware of his overwhelming responsibilities as the only active Jedi Master.
    • Here's how the "pushing back" is introduced. Luke wakes up imprisoned and somehow can't sense the woman talking to him. She mocks him, welcoming him back to the world of mere mortals.
      —and with a surge of adrenaline, Luke realized that the strange mental veiling wasn't limited to just her. He couldn't sense anything. Not people, not droids, not even the forest beyond his window.
      It was like going blind.
    • Dengar has a version of this detailed in Tales of the Bounty Hunters. After he took massive brain damage, the Empire rebuilt him with enhanced senses and a chemically induced Photographic Memory... but they also cut away his ability to feel all emotions except for anger, hope, and — accidentally — loneliness. The idea was to make him into a dedicated bounty hunter, who could use anger while on the hunt, who would feel no moral compunctions and whose hope that the Empire would do as promised and fix his mind if he served well enough would make him serve. Without compassion or sorrow, he wouldn't have that pesky morality in the way. Ironically, he still refused to kill a group of religious children that rebuffed the Empire's demands — he knew it was wrong from an objective standpoint — and left their service, and eventually had most of his emotions restored by a technoempath woman he ended up marrying. (Boba Fett was the best man.)
    • New Jedi Order: The Yuuzhan Vong are an entire race that went through this at once in their backstory when their warmongering destroyed their sentient homeworld. The death of the Vong's homeworld severed their connection to the Force and caused them terrible agony. Their cultural obsession with pain is their means of coping with their lost symbiosis and Force connection.
    • Revenge of the Sith reveals that Darth Vader was hit especially hard by this following his Emergency Transformation into a cyborg. His eyes are so damaged that he can only see through lenses, his hearing so ruined that even with cybernetics everything sounds like it's underwater, and his ability to use the Force has been severely reduced (one popular description is that as Anakin Skywalker, he could've been twice as powerful as Palpatine; after his transformation, he's barely about 80% as powerful).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel, after her depowerment, Illyria mourns her new inability to hear "the song of the green", i.e., plants.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), Cavil is furious over never having had machine senses/sensors and being "trapped" as an Artificial Human. That machine/man had serious issues.
  • In Charmed (1998), an empath gives up his power to stop a demon and becomes so depressed by the loss that he ends up in a psychiatric hospital. He gets over it eventually, when he realizes he can still help people even without his powers.
  • Cliff Steele/Robotman in Doom Patrol (2019) gets into an accident at the beginning where only his brain survived thus forcing him to live out his days in a robotic body. He completely loses the ability to feel due to this and constantly laments over his lack of sensations. It's pointed out that his loss of sensation was not because he was turned into a robot but because the man who did it to him, Niles Caulder, was simply an incompetent engineer who used extremely primitive tech to build Cliff's body whereas the much-more-modern Cyborg/Vic Stone enjoys full tactile sensation thanks to having more advanced cybernetics. Unfortunately for Cliff, his body's technology is so outdated that trying to hook up the feedback systems that give Vic a sense of touch "would be like trying to hook up an iPod to a telegraph machine".
  • Game of Thrones has Theon castrated by Ramsay. For someone like Theon, for whom having sex with women was one of the few joys in his life, this is far by the worst thing that could happen to him.
  • Haven's Nathan Wuornos, who can't feel due to a supernatural curse, has mostly gotten used to his condition, but sometimes his stoic facade cracks and his desperation to feel something comes to the surface. Disturbingly, but in keeping with his free-floating martyr complex, he usually tries for pain. In season one's "Harmony," he's hit with a Trouble that causes a lack of inhibitions, and Audrey walks in on him trying to set his arm on fire, distraught he can see the damage but not feel the pain.
  • The Invisible Man: Augustin Gaither became Thomas Walker this way. After losing all his senses except touch, he built a "sensor array" that was wired directly into his brain, granting him a very limited form of sight and hearing and translating speech to braille for him.
    • Darien also finds other subjects of the same experiment. These "insensates" have gone mad and spend their time scratching themselves and walking into walls, anything to feel something.
  • In Kamen Rider OOO, an overwhelming hunger for sensation combined with dulled senses is revealed to be part of the reason the Greeed became evil. When Ankh gets a human body he becomes a minor Sense Freak who eats enormous amounts of ice lollipops.
    • Conversely, when Eiji and Dr Maki begin transforming into Greeed, they slowly lose their senses.
  • In Little House on the Prairie, this trope provides the series' ultimate Tear Jerker when the moment the Ingalls were dreading happens and Mary's declining eyesight goes completely.
  • One episode of Scrubs has JD screw up medications and cause a patient to lose his sense of smell. The guy is understandably distraught and angry over this. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that it was just the progression of his condition and not JD's fault at all, but JD allows him to continue thinking that it was because it helps the patient cope with the loss to have someone to blame.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the episode "The Loss", Counselor Troi loses her telepathic/empathic abilities due to contact with alien life forms. She has difficulty functioning as Ship's Counselor after this due to her dependence on the abilities. Fortunately, Riker and Guinan give her each a firm Quit Your Whining speech with Riker calling her out on how smug she was with her powers and Guinan announcing that she was going to take over as Ship's Counselor since Troi, who is formally trained in the position on top of her powers, is doing nothing useful. These two kicks in the pants spur Troi into doing her job, and she finds that her skills are adequate on their own to save the day just before she gets her powers back.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) features this in the episode "Escape Clause". The hypochondriac Walter Bedecker makes a Deal with the Devil for immortality with a bit of eternal youth thrown in. At first, things are great. He exploits companies for large monetary settlements and throws himself in harm's way, delighting in the fact that it has no effect. A short time later, he declares he's been cheated and that there's no thrill anymore. Even after drinking enough poison to kill several people, he describes the taste as weak lemonade. It's this that causes him to confess to the murder of his wife (who had in reality fallen to her death by accident) in order to give the electric chair a whirl — a plan that would've worked perfectly if his lawyer hadn't gotten him life imprisonment instead, causing the judge to explicitly say he must remain in prison for the rest of his natural life. Slight problem there...

  • George Frederic Handel's oratorio Samson features the aria "Total Eclipse," in which the protagonist laments that he is no longer able to tell the difference between night and day after being blinded by the Philistines. As the composer himself had lost his sight, the Reality Subtext was known to bring audiences to tears.


    Radio Drama 
  • In the arc in the Eighth Doctor Big Finish Doctor Who stories taking place in a dimension where time does not exist, the Doctor becomes depressed, grouchy, and morbid when he effectively loses his time-related senses because of the aforementioned absence of time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Full Conversion 'Borgs in Rifts lose about 70-80% of their sense of touch when they transfer into their mechanical bodies. Because they're given massive amounts of psychological screening before they undergo the surgery, most still consider it a decent trade-off for the sheer power, but they still feel down about it from time to time. Apparently, though, you eventually completely forget you don't have human eyes or ears.
  • Warhammer 40,000 gives us the worshipers of Slaanesh, who revel in any form of sensation, from the ecstatically pleasurable to the excruciatingly painful. Occasionally, the Inquisition feels the need to torture them. To do it, they stick them in a sensory deprivation tank and wait for them to crack. It doesn't take long.
    • Since Chaos has a sick sense of humor, most Slaanesh worshipers eventually experience Sense Loss Sadness anyway. They need to seek out more and more intense stimuli to feel anything as their senses become deadened. The lucky ones die before their senses do. Yes, the drug addict subtext is very blatant.
    • One recent interpretation of the Necrons (from author Nate Crowley's writing) is that the entire Necrontyr species suffers from this. Transferring yourself into an undying metal body means losing your heartbeat, your ability to breathe or move your facial muscles, etcetera, with the end result being that the subconscious part of your formerly-organic mind that previously managed such things is now absolutely convinced it's trapped in a dead body and constantly screaming in terror. The obsessions various Necrons have picked up, from Trazyn's collections to Obyron's Undying Loyalty, are in part coping mechanisms to distract themselves from the 24/7 horror of being a Necron.

    Video Games 
  • In Baldur's Gate III, companion/Player Character Karlach underwent Unwilling Roboticisation in the form of a magitek heart implant that superheated her entire body, leaving her unable to touch anyone or anything without igniting it. She remains optimistic about her situation, but makes it clear that going a decade without any sort of human contact has been thoroughly unpleasant.
  • Played for Laughs in Fallout: New Vegas with Brain in a Jar Dr. Dala. Unlike the other Think Tanks (save Mobius) she vaguely remembers what it was like to be human, and resolved her feelings of longing by becoming a Lovable Sex Maniac that fetishizes biological functions.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Dimitri was psychologically scarred by the death of his family in the Tragedy of Duscur. Ever since, he had lost his sense of taste. This is revealed in his A support with Flayn, which also explains why he is able to stomach her cooking.
  • God of War (PS4): The Stranger constantly gripes about being unable to feel anything. As it turns out, he's really Baldur, and his mother Freya placed a curse on him that made him immortal and Nigh-Invulnerable, but also robbed him of his senses, turning him into a crazed Sense Freak. When Kratos breaks the curse on Baldur, he's overjoyed to be able to feel again, even as Kratos is beating him into the ground.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Due to the mask preventing her from eating food, Ejaeli at one point, even laments that she forgot how her favorite food tastes like... only to realize afterwards that she even forgot what her favorite food was.
  • Grandia II: Aside from Gadan, everyone in the village of Liligue has lost their ability to taste anything, with the residents lamenting their inability to enjoy food anymore.
  • Fossil Maiden from Hellsinker suffered from this before meeting with Saraga-maru.
  • Completely inverted by Sandro in the Heroes of Might and Magic series. In The Shadow of Death, we see his gradual transformation into a lich. In one mission, he is shown musing on how much better life is without flesh. No more itchiness, hygiene concerns, or foul odors to worry about anymore. He's also happy to be rid of his lust, seeing that as a distraction.
  • The Jedi Exile in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords has an option of saying "Imagine all your senses dead. At once" when Atton asks her about how it feels like to be cut away from the Force.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Naked Snake loses the use of one eye during a torture sequence. Later, when he's recuperating, there's a sad moment where he fails to grab a butterfly because he lost his depth perception. He later forms some C3 into a butterfly, tosses it in the air, smoothly catches it, and slams it into place to blow the target sky high.
  • Played for Laughs in Portal 2's Perpetual Testing Initiative, when an Alternate Universe Cave Johnson uploads his mind into a supercomputer:
    Cave Johnson: You know what I'd really like to do? Scratch my nose.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, Jedi Knight companion Lord Scourge describes this as part of the price for his immortality — he can no longer taste or smell and is color blind, has only rudimentary senses of sight and touch, and is generally disconnected from the feeling of "living". He suggests that the Emperor, having done it longer, probably has it worse.
  • Super Robot Wars Z has the source of the sense loss deliberately invoking the sadness: on Setsuko's route, her Sphere is powered by her own feelings of despair and sorrow, so it chips away at her senses to strip her of the things that would make her happy. Most of the other Spheres are similarly Blessed with Suck in ways that will force their bearers to provide the Sphere's driving emotions whether they like it or not. In the final game of the series, the protagonists discover that sufficiently mastering the Sphere lets them break the curse on themselves and apply it to their enemies instead.
  • Tales Series:
    • Collette's angel transformation in Tales of Symphonia. She starts by losing her taste, then the ability to sleep, then pain, then her voice, then finally loses her soul, through her heart and memory. It turns out that this was actually planned as part of gaining her angel powers. Cruxis's goal was to make her into a puppet, and therefore wanted to get rid of the personal senses that made her human.
    • Velvet from Tales of Berseria finds she can no longer appreciate the taste of food when she eats an apple early on in the game.
  • In the Heart of Stone DLC of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Olgeird Von Everec gained the titular "Heart of Stone" after a Deal with the Devil, gaining riches and immortality but losing his ability to feel strong emotions. This meant that he could no longer appreciate the things he did before, including being unable to feel love for his wife (for whom he originally made the deal in order to marry her).

    Visual Novels 
  • While both Shizune's (a deaf-from-birth girl) and Lilly's (a blind-from-birth girl) routes of Katawa Shoujo touch upon this trope, it's mostly the latter one that dedicates whole dialogues (and two of the game's most memorable scenes, by most accounts) to deconstructing, discussing, and reconstructing it. Having never experienced the sensation of sight in her life, Lilly obviously doesn't feel as if she's "lost" anything, especially given the fact that her other senses are sharper to compensate (when the protagonist asks her if she's not sad about not being able to see, she jokingly asks him if he's sad about not being able to hear what people in the next room are saying). While occasionally frustrated with not being able to see (especially when something completely out of the ordinary happens, leaving her frozen and feeling powerless as for how to respond), her attitude towards her missing sense most often seems to be one of intrigue: she is fascinated with the concept of color in an almost spiritual fashion (which is fitting, since she's no more capable of imagining color than a regular person would be of imagining divinity), and wonders about how other people dream (amusingly asking the protagonist "Do you see in your dreams?", a question whose opposite is stereotypically directed at the blind). Sight and sensation-play even feature heavily into her romantic scenes.

  • Black Mage of 8-Bit Theater first noticed he was no longer king of Hell when he lost his eight new senses.
  • Played with (inverted?) in Homestuck. Terezi Pyrope is blind, but her lusus taught her to taste and smell colors, so the fact that her eyes don't work doesn't really inconvenience or bother her at all (she can even read by licking her computer screen). However, during the three-year Time Skip, she broke down and asked Aranea to heal her eyes. Having her sight back wound up making her even more miserable than she was at the time. When she started to break out of her slump, the first sign was when she alchemized herself a blindfold so she could focus on taste and smell again.
    • Latula, her ancestor who instead lost her smell, isn't in focus enough for this to be entirely clear but seems to play it straight and pretend that she's fine with it while actually clearly disliking that she lost it. This is at least partially because Troll society believes that any disability, no matter how minor, is cause for culling — but for Beforan Trolls, this means keeping them at home and coddling them so that they don't feel bad about themselves.
  • Xykon of The Order of the Stick was evil pretty much from the start, as seen in "Start of Darkness", but he snapped and became even worse when he realized that his transformation into a lich robbed him of his sense of taste, meaning that he can no longer enjoy his beloved coffee and that acts of evil are the only thing that he can derive joy from.
    Xykon: I didn't taste... anything.
    Waitress: Is everything OK? I can get you another—
    Xykon: Shut up. (bisects her)
  • Undead Friend: When Orrick reverses, he can't feel anything, including heat, cold, pain, or texture. He really hates it and avoids reversing when he can. The opposite basically happens for Mahalah.
  • In Unsounded, becoming The Undead has left Duane with no senses but his hearing, sight (and that only through magical prostheses), and Horror Hunger for flesh. While he's generally a Stoic Woobie about it, the loss does wear on him, and when Lady Ilganyag causes him to relive a memory of making love to his wife, he's completely overwhelmed by the intensity.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: As Fern comes to term with the fact he's a copy of Finn rather than being Finn, despite possessing all of his memories, Jake tries to cheer him up by having him do all the things Finn likes to do, but it only makes Fern feel worse because his plant physiology doesn't allow it. He can't eat food because he has no digestive tract and he can't play the flute because he doesn't have lungs to blow air. On top of that, he has violent tendencies due to being partly born from an evil curse.
  • The Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice" uses this as part of Mr. Freeze's updated motivations in wanting to take revenge on Ferris Boyle.
    Mr. Freeze: Think of it, Batman. To never again walk upon a summer's day with a hot wind in your face, and a warm hand to hold. Oh, yes. I'd kill for that.
  • Futurama:
    • In "Spanish Fry", Fry's "human horn" (i.e., nose) is harvested by aliens to be sold as a black market aphrodisiac for aliens. Futurama being Futurama, this causes him to lose his entire sense of smell until his nose is reattached.
    • In another episode, Bender is upset because, as a robot, he has no sense of taste. At one point, he says that he'd give up his other eight senses, even "smision",note  to be able to taste things.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: As shown in "Sounds of Silence", the Kirin transform into Nirik, creatures made of fire, whenever they are angry, and after an incident where they transformed and accidentally destroyed their village in a huge argument, they went through the "Stream of Silence" to remove their emotions and ability to talk in order to avoid it from happening again. One Kirin though, Autumn Blaze, hated her "silent prison" and being unable to voice her thoughts for years, to the point that as soon as she discovers a cure for the stream, she takes it and talks up a storm to the rest of the village. It is eventually shown that the other Kirin don't like their silent existence either and miss the fun they had being able to feel and speak, and only continued for so long because they thought it was keeping them safe. When they learn how to properly control their anger to stop from causing destruction again, they eagerly ask for the cure too.
  • Inverted in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "No Nose Knows" when Patrick gains a sense of smell — and immediately hates being surrounded by foul odors. As he puts it, no one told him about bad smells.
  • Metallo goes through this in Superman: The Animated Series in "The Way of All Flesh" before he turns on Luthor. He is a mercenary diagnosed with a fatal disease. Lex Luthor offers a way to save his life — to transfer his thoughts and brain patterns into a Killer Robot, powered by Kryptonite. Naturally, Metallo is sent to kill Superman to repay Lex, but Metallo soon realizes he cannot smell, taste or feel anything. Superman eventually defeats him by pointing out Luthor infected him in the first place to try out the experiment, and he turns against Luthor.

    Real Life 
  • People who lose a sense later in life will often fall into a deep depression because of it. This is true of any sense, including less-valued ones like the sense of smell. One of the more tragic cases of Anosmia (loss of sense of smell) is the late lead singer of INXS, Michael Hutchence, who's suicide was at least partially the result of despair over the loss.
  • One of the most common (and, for many, unfortunate) side effects of antidepressants is loss of sexual sensitivity. Some people can be physically aroused but are incapable of orgasm; others are totally numb. This trope is the reason that so many people quit taking them.
  • A strange but terrible inversion. Sense Loss Sadness is awful, so Sense Gain Awesomeness is the best thing ever, right? Not so fast; after the procedure to restore eyesight was developed many people who had the operation took their own lives. It is believed that they had subconsciously built the change up as a turning point for all of their problems and were crushed to realize that this was not so.
    • To a lesser degree, a lot of people who've been blind all their lives until a treatment for whatever made them blind became available found that because their brains hadn't developed the ability to process visual input, and because they'd learned how to get along without sight, found that it just wasn't all it was cracked up to be. At the very least, you're starting from scratch when it comes to learning how to understand and do anything with the that weird funky color-y thing that now just sorta happens when you look at stuff. Apparently, depth perception is especially tough to get the hang of.
    • In one instance, this was inverted with the first person to get fitted for cochlear implant (which was shown in a National Geographic documentary), she cried tears of joy at hearing the sound of her own voice.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven, the archetypal Deaf Composer, lost his hearing toward the middle of his life. His Heiligenstadt Testament describes his experience in Tear Jerker detail.
  • Francisco de Goya went almost completely deaf as a result of a severe, unidentified illness when he was 46. He grew afraid of losing his sanity as well and suffered a prolonged Creator Breakdown as a result, with his work growing progressively Darker and Edgier. This would culminate in the Black Paintings, a series of bleak, oppressive works painted on the walls of Goya's manor.
  • One of the symptoms of a cold and/or flu is the loss of smell and taste. While the illness doesn't last too long, it can feel quite unbearable at times since lacking the sense of smell and taste means eating and drinking isn't enjoyable and people would have to force themselves to eat and drink so they don't starve. For some, not being able to enjoy the smell of good food or eating it can be worse than the sickness itself. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people who suffered from long COVID had an altered sense of smell and taste lasted for months or even beyond that. Many people have suffered weight loss since everything to them smelled and tasted too weird and couldn't eat because of it.


Video Example(s):


Dog-Turd Dipped in Cool Ranch

After having already eaten an S-Class Ragou Rabbit that was prepared by a Maxed Out Cook; nothing will taste good ever again.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / SenseLossSadness

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