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Trauma-Induced Amnesia

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Nathan: When the Federal government destroyed your home, Nellie took you to live with your Grandma Eva. After the Anschluss, their building was Aryanised, and you all had to cram into here. But you don't remember anything! Kannst du das glauben?
Rosa: Do I believe in suppressed memory? In Austria?

Sometimes, when somebody goes through a severe, emotionally traumatic experience or suffers a physical head injury, their brain removes the memory of that event; this causes Trauma-Induced Amnesia. These memories can be often recovered over time through therapy, magic, or whatever is appropriate in the setting; but sometimes, another traumatic experience will bring them to the surface in Flash Back form. Sometimes depicted as appearing only in Past Experience Nightmares, which often results in Dreaming the Truth. Sometimes, the memories simply come back on their own. Or with The Power of Love.

Related to Heroic BSoD. Subtrope of Laser-Guided Amnesia. Frequently occurs as a result of a Heroic Sacrifice. Can be ended with an Injury Bookend. Also see Repressed Memories.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • One case in the Ace Attorney manga has a variation, in that the person didn't forget the trauma-inducing events, but rather the order they took place in. A young girl named Diana Wheatley was kidnapped as a child by a cruel and crazy woman, then saved two days later by her mother, who sadly died two days after that. It turns out that her "kidnapper" was her abusive stepmother, and her "mother" was The Kindnapper, and her real mother. The mother who died was Diana's stepmother, not her real mother, but Diana was so shaken up by the whole event that her memories were completely altered.
  • Attack on Titan has a variation concerning repressed and altered memories, brought on by severe trauma.
    • Reiner was unable to cope with the trauma and guilt of his actions as The Mole, and suffers dissociative episodes as a result. During these episodes, he forgets his true identity and past, truly believing he's a human soldier. When he's forced to recognize what is happening, he's deeply shaken.
    • Eren himself has a case of this: The gaps in his childhood memories were due to the trauma of him eating his father Grischa in Titan form (which was Grischa's intention), and coming to next to what little was left over.
  • Casca from Berserk suffers this, along with being driven completely mad, after being brutally raped by Femto during the Eclipse.
  • Kai Hiwatari of Bakuten Shoot Beyblade lost his memory after trying to use Black Dranzer, and on his own no less. But he was too young, around 7 or so, to control the bey and beast. The resulting experience caused either emotional trauma or physical trauma and it wasn't until he returned to Borg's abbey at the age of 10 that he got that part of his childhood back.
  • Tamura from Bokura no Hentai blocked out the memories of an older neighborhood boy who sexually abused him as a young child. The memories only resurface after he sees old home videos.
  • Buso Renkin: Tokiko Tsumura has no memories of her life before the age of ten after watching a homunculus eat every single person in her school alive, leaving her the only survivor. She never regains her lost memories but has still dedicated her life to exterminating homunculi as revenge for the event.
  • Happens to Ran Mouri in one of the Case Closed Non serial movies, Captured in her Eyes, after she not only catches a clear view of the murderer but is almost shot to death by him and the other local Action Girl Satou takes FOUR bullets for her. The victim spends a good part of the movie in an Heroic BSoD, barely able to take care of herself and others, and the trope is lampshaded as her doctor says she might be afraid to recover her memories due to the events that made her go amnesiac. She doesn't recover until the Big Bad tries to kill both her and Conan in exactly the same way; she reacts by loudly declaring her martial arts expertise and curbstomping her rival.
    • Also happens to a teenager named Touma Tachihara in the fifteenth movie (Quarter of Silence). He wakes up after an eight-year-long coma, without any memories of the certain incident that caused it in the first place; the key to solving the mystery relies on him getting his memories back. It turns out that Touma witnessed a hit-and-run, was kidnapped by the culprit (a friend of his mom), and while trying to escape he fell off a cliff...
    • And in one of the specials, this happens to Conan Edogawa himself after he hits his head during an outing to a bathhouse. Then he's kidnapped by a bunch of criminals who believe he knows too much...
  • Chainsaw Man: Denji repressed all memory of the moment when he killed his alcoholic father in self-defense, but elements of the trauma still linger in his mind, like his terror at the idea of becoming a murderer. It's implied that he even misremembers other memories related to the moment; a flashback to his first meeting with Pochita has the Yakuza boss saying that Denji's father hung himself, even though when we see the moment of his death, his corpse is lying on the floor, and it was them rather than Denji that made it look like a suicide.
    Makima: Children's brains are really quite incredible. You see, they can hide bad memories behind a door without the child even knowing it. You hid what you did behind a door for survival's sake, right? Because you'd never be able to lead a normal life otherwise.
  • Inverted in Cheerful Amnesia. Arisa's amnesia was from overexcitement after her girlfriend proposed to her.
  • Suzaku Kururugi from Code Geass killed his father in a fit of childish and desperate rage, during a discussion about the fate of their country - Genbu wanted to fight Britannia to death, Suzaku disagreed; the trauma from the realization of what had happened caused him to develop amnesia about it. After C.C. accidentally invades his mind to save Lelouch from him, he gets the memories back and is so shaken that he goes into a Heroic BSoD. And Mao uses this to mind rape him again.
    • In the spinoff game Lost Colors, the Featureless Protagonist inflicted this on himself after his Geass caused the downfall of his country and the death of his family, along with making himself Sealed Good in a Can.
  • Deadman Wonderland: This is what happened to Ganta, where Hagire (as part of his Body Surfing plot) hooked him onto a machine and forced him to witness himself as a child watching his child-hood friend Shiro brutally massacre a room full of science staff when they forced her to use her blood powers on a baby lamb. She lets the lamb live, an obvious Pet the Dog Moment... before her transformation into the monstrous Red Man, who went on a rampage and killed Ganta's school friends years later with him sent to the titular sadistic prison in the first place.
  • Di[e]ce has Naoto, who turns out to have repressed his entire sad backstory. He misremembers/flat-out forgets being shunned by his classmates, abandoned by his father, and abused by his mother. He also forgets that his mother attempted suicide and is comatose in the hospital; rather, he seems to have deluded himself into thinking she's recovering. He's shown talking to her on the phone, but in retrospect, she can't have had much to say.
  • A particularly well-done example appears in Elfen Lied, in which Kohta has Trauma-Induced Amnesia and an Angst Coma about Lucy killing his father and sister in front of his eyes.
  • Fairy Tail: Jellal shows up having lost most of his memories during the Nirvana Arc, though it's unclear if the "trauma" involves his previous Brainwashed and Crazy state during the Tower of Heaven Arc, Natsu punching him through the same-named magical tower, or fusing himself with said magical tower to contain a Fantastic Nuke explosion and shoot it back into the sky, the last of which was believed to have atomized his body given they Never Found the Body at the time, or some combination thereof. Considering it took the Healing Hands Mystical Waif to even heal and wake his recovered body from its comatose state, he was actually pretty lucky. He eventually got them back off-screen during the seven-year Time Skip.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, this is the reason why Al can't remember the Gate of Truth at first. It takes another pretty traumatic event happening to him to jog the memories.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, Tomite's An Ice Person powers were too much for him to control, and the first time they came to the surface he injured several of his clansmates, destroyed his village and accidentally froze his friend Aila. This was so traumatizing for him that he developed this, until Aila's brother Hikitsu used his own Mind Probe skills to make him remember, hoping that he will be able to de-freeze Ail and forgive himself.
  • Kiri from Ga-Rei -Zero- loses her memories and subsequently reverts to the personality of a young child after being nearly killed by Yomi. The final episode does show that she is at least making progress towards recovery.
  • In Godannar, Mira Ackerman committed a Heroic Sacrifice when fighting the Mimetic Beasts in 2042, causing her to be put in a coma as a result. After awakening from her five-year coma, she's unable to remember anything, not even her romance with her partner, Goh Saruwatari. By the end of the first season, her memories are restored.
  • In Haou Airen, Kurumi gets this, after Hakuron shoots Reilan dead despite her pleas. But Reilan was sorta counting on that.
  • Snow girl Yukime from Hell Teacher Nube loses her memories after being tortured to death and then reborn.
  • In the His and Her Circumstances manga, Souichiro Arima has repressed almost all of the memories of his early childhood, where he was abused to horrifying degrees by his Evil Matriarch mother Ryouko. (He does know the basic facts due to his relatives, but he himself cannot remember how it happened.) When these traumatising memories start to return, he's already a high school student... and he pretty much snaps.
  • Happens to Jeudi from Honoo No Alpen Rose, who suffers this after being the Sole Survivor of a plane crash. The main plot of the series is about her and her boyfriend Lundi trying to make her remember who she truly is.
    • It's later subverted in the same series: Mathilda claims that she has this and thus cannot remember any details of her and her "mother" Helene's former life before shit went down the toilet... but in reality Mathilda is a Body Double of Jeudi/Alicia, so she cannot remember a life that she never lived. This bites her in the ass later, when Jeudi turns out to have remembered the Alpen Rose song that was the family trademark and that undoes Mathilda and her father's plans.
  • Yogi from Karneval was the only survivor of a nationwide experiment that resulted in complete annihilation of his country and its citizens. The, by then, 10-year-old prince had to witness the decapitation of his caretakers at the hands of Varuga, was experimented on for an unknown amount of time and once gaining consciousness was strapped to his surgery table and Forced to Watch a video where his little sister was literary torn to shreds, all while pleading for his help. The trauma caused him to not only develop a Split Personality but made him forget that the event ever took place. When found and saved he had murdered all of the scientists and was brought to Circus to once again be experimented on. He still believes his family is alive but was told that he couldn't meet them due to the danger of them being targeted
  • The main character of the manga Kuro, Coco, is said to have fallen victim to this following the deaths of her parents. She lives all alone with only her pet cat, Kuro, and seems to have no inclination to wonder why her parents aren't around. Her tutor, Brenda, also discovers that, while Coco keeps an otherwise immaculate house, her parents' room is so covered with dust it's clear she hasn't been near it in ages.
  • Lucy-May of the Southern Rainbow: Word of God is that this played a role in Lucy-May becoming an amnesiac, not just hitting her head against a carriage.
    "The phenomenon of Lucy losing her memory is not just because she hit her head against a carriage, but because her father sold the sheep that she cherished so much. It didn't happen all of a sudden, it was because she felt a great deal of sadness and disappointment at the loss, and had a desire to forget about it."
    Akira Miyazaki, Nippon Animation Co. LTD, 1982 DVD Minami no Niji no Lucy Vol. 10
  • Lupin III: The Columbus Files: Though it's assumed that Fujiko lost her memories through a concussion caused by the fall, she is often haunted by the image of an ominous-looking hand trying to grab her. At the film's climax, when she finally manages to take Lupin's hand, she breaks through her trauma, causing her to regain her memories.
  • Macross:
    • In Macross Frontier, Ranka fits this trope to a T: she saw her family killed by the Vajra, and she promptly forgot all of her life up to that point. Furthermore, when she next meets the Vajra, she starts to have traumatic Flash Backs to the aforementioned event.
    • Used in Macross Plus, though in this case, the traumatizer has the amnesia, as Guld was shocked by his assault on the woman he loved. He kept enough of the memory to falsely blame Isamu, the friend who actually won her heart, for the event... only to have it all crash back on him when he thought he had succeeded in killing Isamu, realising that Myung and Isamu knew it all along and kept the secret to not hurt the three of them further. Then, Redemption Equals Death is the only way to go.
  • Chapter 10 of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force revealed that Lily's amnesia was due to the trauma of her life as a lab experiment, which caused her memory to deteriorate as she tried to escape her grim reality by retreating into the Happy Place of her mind.
  • Nina Fortner/Anna Liebert has forgotten most of the memories of her Trauma Conga Line childhood when she is introduced in Monster. And when she remembers, the effect is devastating enough to get her almost Driven to Suicide.
  • Naruto:
    • Sasuke Uchiha forgot two things after the massacre of his family. One is that he activated his Sharingan for the first time and chased Itachi. The second is that Itachi was crying before he left Sasuke. He doesn't remember either event until Itachi's death.
    • Same goes for Kakashi Hatake. He didn't know that he unlocked the Mangekyo Sharingan after he killed Rin, thinking that he only unlocked it by training during the mid-series Time Skip. The sheer shock of killing her, along with passing out immediately afterward due to exhaustion, likely caused the amnesia.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji saw his mother Yui die in EVA-01. He might still remember it somewhere deep down, as evidenced by brief flashes of little-Shinji staring through a window at the incomplete Unit 01 (which is off-camera) while trapped inside his Eva after Zeruel. Though the viewpoint might suggest that he may have seen someone else's memories.
  • A good portion of the clients in Nightmare Inspector have been through something traumatic, thus why they're having nightmares in the first place. Unfortunately, few of them actually remember the event until near the end of the chapter.
  • Sabo of One Piece is Luffy's second brother, long presumed dead after offending a member of the World Nobility and getting blasted away as a result. He reappears during the Dressrosa arc, to Luffy's shock, and aids in the battling the conflict there. The reason he never appeared in front of either of his brothers before that point was because the same incident that made everyone think he was dead also caused him to be badly injured and lose his memory. The event that restored Sabo's memory was equally traumatic, as it resulted from learning about Ace's death in the battles at Marineford. Specifically, it was reading about Ace being killed by Admiral Akainu, a.k.a. Sakazuki, because it made him remember exchanging sake cups, or sakazuki, with Ace and Luffy as children; as a result, Sabo had a screaming Heroic BSoD, fell into a brief Angst Coma, and when he woke up he had regained his lost memories... but he felt horrible for not having been with Ace and Luffy when they needed him the most, even when it really wasn't his fault.
  • Many, many characters in PandoraHearts are amnesiac heroes on a Quest for Identity. Unfortunately, they find out that the reason they lost their memories in the first place is because of Trauma-Induced Amnesia as opposed to something else.
  • Penguin Brothers: Hina has no memory of her childhood before first grade because she apparently fell off a tree, causing her to suffer amnesia. Although this is a lie told to her by her uncle/guardian to protect her from the truth: she actually suffered memory loss due to the trauma of witnessing her mother getting run over by a truck.
  • In Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon, there is a gap in Lillie's memory because of an incident that caused her to be afraid to touch Pokémon. The reason why is easily the darkest thing in Sun and Moon at that point. When she was younger, Lillie was attacked by a Nihilego and was saved by Silvally. However, her memories got a bit mixed up in that when she runs across Silvally again as Type: Null, she thought that it was the one that had attacked her (temporarily undoing all the progress she had made until then) until it rescues her similarly in the present day.
  • In the Yellow arc of Pokémon Adventures, Red's Pika suffers this after witnessing his fellow Pokémon getting blasted away and his trainer receiving a direct kick to the stomach from a Hitmonlee. Silver's Sneasel also suffered this right after Silver was kidnapped. Both cases are important because trauma makes it difficult for Yellow and Lance (who both are blessed with special powers) to accurately read their memories.
  • Princess Tutu did this with not one, but two characters—Rue buries her memories of being Princess Kraehe and having the Raven as her father, putting on a charade for years about only being Rue and being nothing more than a normal human girl. Her memories are all dug up by the end of the first season. Fakir takes a little longer to remember his traumatic past: He watched his parents die as they protected him from crows he had summoned using his writing powers.
  • In Private Actress, Shiho actually invokes the trope on Cute and Psycho Satoka, traumatising her so badly in an incident involving fire and the setting of a movie that Satoka mentally reverts to a child-like state, unable to remember any recent events. This is seen as an alternative to killing her, actually: Shiho's last Private Actress "client" had told her to punish Satoka for causing the death of his girlfriend, which he had been trying to do until he was fatally wounded by Satoka herself, and Shiho felt that this was the best course of action against a Serial Killer Enfante Terrible like her, to both punish her without going into outright murder and give her a chance to start from zero.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Usagi does this in the Sailor Stars manga, after Sailor Galaxia kills Mamoru in front of her. She's so traumatised that she blocks the incident out of her mind. Boy, does it hurt when she remembers. (In the anime, she was spared of seeing this since Mamoru got Put on a Bus First, and then Galaxia crashed it; she truly had no idea of what had happened, and only realized it upon seeing Mamoru's Star Seed in Galaxia's possession... right after she had killed the Inner Senshi.)
    • Mamoru himself was left with amnesia after he survived a car accident that killed his parents. His amnesia is portrayed (mostly) accurately in that he spent some time in a coma before finally waking up, and when he did he could barely remember how to speak let alone anything that happened previously. He's also never fully recovered memories of the event or his younger life.
  • Harlequin from The Seven Deadly Sins fell victim for this 700 years prior to the main plot after an old knight ambushed and struck him from behind, while he was checking on the corpses of his fallen comrades. An event which ultimately resulted in the Fairy King's sin through an unconscious 500-year leave from his duties.
  • In the manhwa Totally Captivated, Ewon completely forgets a rather important childhood event because of the beating that immediately preceded it, and the hypothermia that immediately followed it - unfortunately for him, the violent Hair-Trigger Temper mafia boss who this was also an important event for does remember, and gets fairly pissed off that he doesn't. He eventually remembers after a period of Poor Communication Kills which finally leads to him again almost freezing to death.
  • Zombie Land Saga: Played for Laughs. Franchouchou while their makeup is off scare a woman so bad that her memory of the past day disappears. Said woman was the sponsor that Kotaro had been trying to net which means the idol group can't secure any fundings for their shows.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Astro City story "Ellie's Friends", Ellie suffers a Heroic BSoD whenever she tries to recall the events from her college years, due to a traumatic Mind Rape incident.
  • Batman: Black and White: The protagonist of "In Dreams" had a traumatic experience at age five that she completely repressed until it started expressing itself in a recurring nightmare of being menaced by Batman. It turns out that she was kidnapped, and Batman rescued her just as the kidnapper was about to kill her.
  • The Incredible Hulk: For years, Bruce Banner thought his last encounter with his dad ended with the man attacking Bruce and running off into the night, to be killed by some random mugger. Actually, Bruce killed Brian but was so horrified he blocked out the memories... until the Hulk has a run-in with a creepy gravedigger (who may or may not be a Devil, but definitely does look like Stan Lee) who shows him the truth.
  • One hypothesis about Wolverine's lost childhood memories was that they were too painful to think about so his healing factor suppressed them.
    • Now his daughter/Opposite-Sex Clone X-23 has gone through the same thing, and doesn't even realize she's a mutant when she first turns up in All-New X-Men. She was last seen being rescued by Wolverine from Murderworld and in her very next appearance is being pursued by Purifiers, but what happened in-between has yet to be revealed.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The Daxamite prisoner Wonder Woman frees and nicknames Julia is near catatonic at first and hardly remembers how to speak after her torture at the hands of the Sangtee Empire. She recovers and adopts Julia as her actual name since she's fleeing her own xenophobic culture.
  • The Dead Man focuses on a man who had been burnt to a crisp and survived. Once healed up sufficiently, he heads out on a Quest for Identity, getting small flashbacks of what happened to him until he reaches a burnt out town and finds a wrecked bike, a ruined gun, and a badge. Upon reading the name on the badge, his memory returns. He's Judge Dredd.

    Fan Works 
  • In Another Brother, Zuko is found on a ship with his throat cut and no memory of anything.
  • In Back to Zero, Jessie suffers from selective amnesia after being forced into an orphanage by her paternal grandmother. She can't remember anything before temporarily staying with Butch's family and only has hazy memories of her mother Miyamoto.
  • In The Bridge (MLP), Monster X's horrifying experiences prevent him from remembering the life he once had with his wife and parents before he was transformed into a Kaiju. The trauma in question being fighting Grand King Ghidorah, seeing his wife die in front of him, transforming into Kaizer Ghidorah, and mass psychic whiplash that split his mind into two personalities, X and Kaizer. The author even referenced this trope by name while describing him.
  • In the Hawaii Five-0 story Bystander that McKenzie, a witness to a horrific shooting, doesn't remember the fifteen minutes of when the crime occurred, which makes the case more difficult as she is the only one who actually saw anything. She spends the rest of the story trying to remember what happened and also has to deal with the PTSD of witnessing the crime.
  • In The Caligula Effect Placebo, Sirius loses almost all of his memories as a result of Nadeshiko abducting him and not letting him leave. All he remembers is that Kiwami-P is someone very important to him.
  • Ryuuko during the events Concerning a Drifter is having a hard time remembering her life before and around the time of her captivity and rapes due to the resulting trauma and mental illness. Said amnesia in this case doesn't just happen with what had happened to her, it also extends to happy memories of before or her name. When she does recall anything, she either doesn't remember it too well or she mostly recalls anything that isn't specific about it. She mostly borders on Repressed Memories.
  • In the Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name fanfiction Dead of Night, it's implied that this trope is the reason the Detective forgot the first thirty or so years of his life. It was confirmed by Vesser that the memory loss wasn't caused by magical blocks, he had been found post-amnesia with a huge gash on his chest stapled shut, and about a year back, the still-alive Hanna had been trying to find him, telling everyone he'd been kidnapped.
  • In Essence, Bulbasaur was born with no memories from inside his egg and no basic instincts. This is due to trauma he received from his parents' murders.
  • After spending eight months in a coma, Chiaki in Extra Life loses her memory of Junko's torture and attempted murder of her. Gradually, the memories start to come back through nightmares, before a near-mugging triggers them to return all at once.
  • In How Could You Forget, Bill Compton's memories are erased instead of Eric Northman's. While Sookie and Jessica are hiding him, he does have some flashes of his old life, such as a nightmare about his late maker Lorena.
  • In How the Light Gets In Laurel comes Back from the Dead with amnesia. Initially she's in a daze, and barely seems to recognize anyone, but seeing her daughter makes her "wake up". However most of her memories are still gone, and slowly get "triggered": seeing a necklace makes her remember Tommy (and his death), kissing Dean makes her remember their wedding, and seeing Sara brings back all her memories all at once giving her a seizure.
  • Lighting Candles: While Tadashi maintains most of his memories even after becoming a spirit (allowing him to stay near Hiro, Cass, and his friends), for most of the fic he can't remember the moments leading up to his death (although he knows, due to where he woke up, that he was burned alive). He strenuously avoids trying to remember, though, as every time he thinks on it his powers flair up.
  • Danny suffers a rather extreme case in the Danny Phantom fanfic Lost, wherein he doesn't only forget the event, he gets full-blown retrograde amnesia as a combo of head trauma, PTSD, and creating black holes in his brain. He is forced to relive the trauma through real-life psychological flashbacks.
  • In the MLPFiM fanfic Mother of Invention, Applejack wakes up on a mysterious island with a head wound and no idea what happened.
  • Naru-Hina Chronicles: A massive bomb detonation leads everyone to believe Naruto is dead. He shows up on Suna's doorstep nine days later with massive holes in his memory - he cannot remember those nine days, plus other little facts like Sai's name or how to get back to Konoha. Some of the details slowly fill in, but a whole and complete picture of what happened in the Nation of Steel raid is yet to be forthcoming.
  • At the beginning of The Sea Shadow, Vivian is found near death with zero memory of who did it to her or anything outside of her name. Bobbery basically namedrops the trope upon discovering her.
  • there is a fire in me has Jet remembering he's a firebender when Katara attempts to heal him from his Dai Li brainwashing. When she increduously asks how it's possible for someone to forget this, he bluntly admits he couldn't bear to remember how his father murdered his mother by burning her alive in front of their seven-year-old son.
  • With Pearl and Ruby Glowing: Daffy has large gaps in his memory due to him blocking out memories of neglect, bullying, and sexual abuse. This is represented in the text with blacked-out text only viewable by highlighting.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Blind Side: Michael has this; Sean mentions halfway through the movie about how "Michael's gift is his ability to forget" his Dark and Troubled Past, and near the end, Michael explains how he would "close his eyes" when bad things happened.
  • The Bourne Series (like the novels) is based around this concept. In the movies Jason Bourne fails to kill his target because there are young children present (and he knows he would have to kill them too). He is then shot and left for dead. He awakens with no memory of who he is or that he is an assassin.
  • In The Dead Center, this is what Dr. Forrester thinks is going on with the often catatonic, amnesiac John Doe in the psych ward. He's right, but the situation is a bit more extreme. Demonic Possession and being brought back from the dead twice is definitely traumatic. Dr. Forrester has to resort to hypnosis and strong medication to get anything out of his patient. John Doe is surprisingly lucid in these moments, but can't explain what's going on well enough. However, he's fully aware that he's losing control of his body as the demon gets stronger, and flat out tells Dr. Forrester to kill him before it's too late.
  • Jeanne, the protagonist of Don't Look Back, is unable to remember anything about her life prior to a traumatic car crash when she was 8 years old.
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight: The main character has no memories prior to waking up, badly injured, on a beach seven years ago. After a car accident, she discovers that she's VERY good with knives, and other pieces of her past begin to come back. She gets all her memories back after she's tortured and almost drowned.
  • In Love Letters, Victoria witnessing the murder of her husband by the hands of her aunt causes her to completely forget her own identity.
  • In The Reveal it turns out to be what the whole plot of The Machinist really was about: Trevor Reznik is psychologically and physically decaying from a past incident which he has mentally suppressed. He accidentally ran over a small boy with his car, but fled the scene to escape the consequences. He has since become an emaciated husk and suffered a psychotic break due to the guilt driving him mad.
  • This is the inciting incident for the domestic drama Regarding Henry, starring Harrison Ford. In it, the title character survives a gunshot wound to the head, only for the resulting pinched artery to affect his memory. Cue the rest of the movie depicting him coming to terms with not remembering anything about his life before the shot.
  • The titular hero of RoboCop (1987), who was brutally murdered by a gang of criminals who finished him off with a single shot to the head. Despite suffering brain damage and being medically dead for a long time, he begins to regain his lost memories over time after being revived as a law-enforcing cyborg. note 
  • In The Search, Karel is a little boy who was a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps. When he is taken in by the United Nations along with other child refugees and placed in a UN camp, he can't remember his name or where he came from.
  • Beckett, in The Skeptic, can't remember how his mother died when he was five, and in fact remembers very little about her. This is because she was horribly abusive and he accidentally killed her by intentionally leaving his toys out at the top of a flight of stairs.
  • Trap For Cinderella: Micky lost her memory due to being injured in a fire she survived.

  • In Alias Grace, the title character faints frequently from shock, terror, and despair, and goes extremely deeply unconscious for long periods of time whenever she does so, often accompanied by some amnesia upon waking. In some instances, she even fails to retain any memory of things she does during hours-long periods of time after she has come out of her faints, and has to be filled in later by others who were around her at the time. A possible interpretation is that she is possessed by the soul of her deceased friend Mary during those times, but this is eventually only left ambiguous.
  • In Animorphs, Rachel loses her memory after being mobbed in bald eagle morph by a group of rowdy crows and slamming into a tree.
  • In Alan Garner's Boneland it is hinted that this is a possible reason for Colin's inability to recall anything that happened to him before his thirteenth birthday. His medical records reveal that he was struck by a freak lightning bolt on top of Stormy Point.note  He is also note  given a hospital MRI-scan where inexplicable brain damage is discovered.
  • In A Brother's Price, Ren forgot for some years what, exactly, happened before the explosion that killed most of her family. Then she has a nightmare, which she can remember afterwards, and realizes that this was what happened - her sister said something like "I wished he was dead" about their abusive husband, who was inside the building, too. This serves to explain why Halley, who ran away to find the culprits for the death of their family, is so obsessed about it; she needs to get rid of her feelings of guilt about those words.
  • Induced deliberately in Caliban. Kresh figures out who attacked Doctor Leving when he realized that it wasn't a failed murder attempt that resulted in her being unable to remember much about the evening in which it happened, but a calculated assault to make her forget what she had been doing at the time of the attack.
  • In the Cal Leandros series, Cal was kidnapped by the Auphe when he was fourteen and dragged through a portal to their home world/dimension/whatever. When he escaped, he had no memory of what went on during those two years. Darkling mentioned that it involved torture and learning how to open portals in preparation for the Auphes' plan to destroy humanity.
  • While we've never seen the cause, the Duck Man from Discworld may suffer from this. His occasional vague musings about life before he became a beggar suggest that something quite nasty happened in his past.
  • In the web-novel Domina, this is apparently what happens to the changelings. They are kidnapped by the fey, horrifically tortured and experimented on, to the point that by the time they escape they have absolutely no memories of their lives before the fey. Later chapters reveal that the changelings are actually homunculi, Artificial Humans built from the ground up. The fey give them some basic skills like language, but can't implant any real memories. It's not explained why the fey do this, but it's implied that they knew they needed people to oppose them and keep them in check.
  • In Eden Green, though the alien needle symbiote can rebuild the brain from scratch after total destruction, the host awakens in a temporary animal state and suffers long-term amnesia.
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: Dying was pretty traumatic, and as a result, Sid lost all his memories of being Allen Reece, though he remembers what it's like to be human.
  • Harrow the Ninth: Over the course of the novel, it becomes apparent that Harrow deliberately altered her memories of the previous book. "Flashbacks" reveal that Gideon Nav died early while Ortus Nigenad went on to become her cavalier, when in fact, the opposite was true. Harrow did this to get over the trauma of Gideon's death, as well as to stop herself from fully absorbing Gideon's soul and becoming a Lyctor.
  • In Heart of Steel, Mad Scientist Alistair Mechanus can't remember who he was past ten years ago, aside from vague flashbacks to a previous life. Eventually it is revealed that he suffered a psychotic break after the death of his college girlfriend, whom he'd hoped to revive from her coma.
  • The novel Kat Got Your Tongue revolves around this; protagonist Kat(hy) wakes up with amnesia after being hit by a car. However, as the story progresses and she learns more about her previous life, her therapist speculates that the emotional strain of her rocky relationship with her mother, lingering hurt over the death of her abusive father, and her friendships falling apart due to conflict with a new girl at school is the real cause and her mind just used the physical trauma of the accident as an excuse to wipe it all away and start over.
  • In The Machineries of Empire, Jedao has only snippets and flashes of memories from the Hellspin Massacre as a result of what he did there.
  • One story in The Mysterious Mr. Quin has two sisters and their lady-in-waiting go on a cruise, with one of the sisters drowning when the ship sinks. In fact it was the lady-in-waiting who drowned, one sister lost her memory, and the other sister took advantage of the amnesia to convince her she was the lady-in-waiting so as to inherit the family fortune. The sister starts getting flashes of her memory back, and ends up killing her sister before dying of a heart attack.
  • Played With in The Outsiders: The main plot kicks off when the protagonist, Ponyboy, is being drowned by a Soc, forcing his friend Johnny to jump in and kill the guy. After Johnny dies, Ponyboy begins to insist that said spoilered thing did not happen and also switches to claiming that he was the one who killed the Soc instead of Johnny. He eventually snaps out of it, and admits to the reader that he always remembered the truth on some level; he just hoped that he could dull the pain by pretending that things were different.
  • In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the protagonist doesn't remember being raped by his aunt and wishing she was dead the night of her death by a car accident until the end of the book.
  • Qualia the Purple presents an uncommon variant where said amnesia doesn't happen right after the fact but several years later. To get over her childhood trauma caused by Yukari's Magical Eyes, at least in one of the parallel worlds, Tenjou, sometime in between the last year of middle-school and age 25, chose to re-observe her past and completely forget about those troublesome and traumatic events.
  • Aside from the intense brainwashing her family puts her through, this is likely the other reason that My Sweet Audrina doesn't know that it's SHE who was gang-raped instead of some non-existent older sister.
  • If ever a character had an ironclad excuse for traumatic amnesia it's Sara, heroine of Restoree, who is kidnapped by hideous, cannibalistic aliens and literally skinned alive along with the other captives. By the time she comes out of her fugue state she's been given a new skin, a new nose, and some other "work" and is on an entirely different planet.
  • In See Jane Run, a psychological thriller by Joy Fielding, the very first thing we read is how main heroine Jane Whittaker forgets who she is on her way shopping. And what the hell are those bloodstains on her clothes and this large sum of money in her pocket?!
  • Gakusha from The Tailor of Enbizaka woke up one day covered with severe burns, and no memory of what had happened, his previous life, or even his own name.
  • A Thousand Acres: Rose is surprised to learn that Ginny has no recollection of being sexually abused by their father like she herself was. Ginny's memory comes back when she is packing belongings for him and overwhelms her.
  • The Tommy and Tuppence novel The Secret Adversary has Janet Vandemeyer, the niece of one member of a group of conspirators who lost her memory after being caught in the sinking of the Lusitania. All professional treatment had proven fruitless before she was pulled out of a nursing home for unknown reasons. She's actually Jane Finn, kidnapping victim and the only person alive who knows the location of secret documents that could bring about the downfall of Great Britain. The whole thing is subverted, though, because she'd been bluffing the entire time.
  • Theo from An Unkindness of Ghosts can't remember most of his childhood, which Aster thinks is because of his father's abuse.
  • Also serving as Repressed Memories, this happens in the poem What Became Unearthed, where the subject recollects a traumatic childhood memory, however, it's noted that, being so young, the memory is hazy but she does recall what said memory entailed and how she was too young to cope.
  • Wise Child: This is implied to be one reason (along with possibly her young age) why Wise Child initially has little memory of her mother, Maeve, and only remembers having been afraid of her. After she meets her again, her cousin Colman warns her not to live with Maeve because his mother Morag told him that Maeve had been a cruel parent. This comes up near the end, after Maeve is driven off when she arrives to take Wise Child back with her, when Wise Child has a resurfacing memory of Maeve scarring her hand with a fire poker and breaks down because of the trauma associated with it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The first season of 24 had this happen to Teri as blatantly obvious padding. After escaping the terrorists who held them hostage, Teri tells Kim to stay in the car while she figures out where they are. Car goes over the side of the embankment and explodes, Teri collapses and wakes up with no memory of who she is.
  • In the NBC series Awake (2012), Detective Britten cannot remember what happened before the car accident that killed either his wife or son, depending on which reality he's in.
  • Babylon 5: Late in season 4, Sheridan is set up for capture by Michael Garibaldi, his former security chief. When he comes leading a party to extract Sheridan, who's been subjected to a long "processing" routine designed to break his spirit, the captain looks at him and says "I was going to kick your butt for something, but I don't remember what."
  • Big Sky: Legarski loses his memory of the recent events due to being shot in the head.
  • Castle;
    • The season 2 episode "The Fifth Bullet" features Jeremy Prestwick, who sustained total amnesia after he was caught in the middle of a murder at an art gallery; he was shot in the chest and sustained a bump on the head when he fell back, and while he survived because the bullet hit the copy of War and Peace in his inner jacket pocket, the trauma of being shot in such a manner caused his mind to "kill" itself.
    • In the season 4 premiere, after being shot Beckett tells Castle that she does not remember anything about the shooting. She remembers everything but does not want to deal with his Love Confession.
  • One of the most complicated (and saddest) episodes of Cold Case had a woman emerge from a two-year coma suffering from this in regards to her lost memories of her daughter's unsolved murder. Through a series of flashbacks and other evidence, it was eventually pieced together that she had killed her daughter in a failed attempt at a double suicide. To wit, she was physically and sexually abused by her father as a child, the corrupt social worker who fudged the records about the "bad" parents so he could sexually abuse the clients' little girls and use his clout not only to get away with the abuse but to make the mothers look crazy/unfit to care for the children and lose the children permanently to the system. He had even declared her unfit and said that he would be knocking on her door and coming to take her away at any moment. Horrified of this happening, she thought a pizza delivery boy who was a friend of hers knocking on the door to give her pizza was the social worker and she ended up jumping out of the window with her daughter in her arms.
  • CSI: NY: Mac's speech aphasia in season 9 after having been shot In the Back and flatlining during surgery in the season 8 finale.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation season 9 episode "Jane Says". Jane Vaughn hates her Disappeared Dad coming back into her life, but doesn't know why she begins having flashbacks and depressive episodes until an argument with her brother Lucas gradually brings pieces of her memory to surface, eventually remembering that he had molested her as a child.
  • The eponymous character of Dexter blocked out the memory of witnessing his mother's gruesome murder as a very young child, which was apparently so traumatic that it still turned him into a serial killer even though he didn't remember it until towards the end of season one of the series.
  • Played for comedy in Dinosaurs: Earl and Fran suffered so much from their experiences with their two oldest kids while they are two, that they had blocked out the entire year.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Eighth Doctor suffered from this in the TV movie, and spends a good fourth of the movie recovering from it slowly. Of course, returning from the dead several hours after one has died apparently does that to you, even if it's not unusual for the Doctor.
      • And he does it again in the spinoff novels after he destroys Gallifrey (the first time, not the time that the Ninth Doctor spends his tenure angsting about). Oddly, he never really gets his memory back.
        It finally gets revealed that it's not trauma-induced at all; as he points out, he didn't get it when he was destroying entire universes. In fact, he suffers amnesia because he's storing the entire Matrix in his mind, ready to recreate Gallifrey, but the novels end without him explicitly doing that even if he is shown making plans.
    • "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" has a unique example: namely, a computer is suffering from it. 100 years before the events of the story, the Library became infested by Vashta Nerada, so everyone on-planet attempted to teleport away. However, there was nowhere the sentient central computer could send them, so she was forced to seal off the planet and save them all to her hard drive. However, this took up so much of her memory that she didn't have enough free for her to remember that she even was a computer, being a little girl uploaded due to having a terminal disease.
    • "The Next Doctor": The guy who thinks he's the Doctor isn't actually a future regeneration: Applied Phlebotinum gave him some of the Doctor's memories, while personal tragedy made him forget his own. The Doctor refers to it as a fugue state.
    • "The Time of the Doctor": The Eleventh Doctor promises Clara he won't forget a single moment of his run. Then he regenerates into the Twelfth... who promptly forgets how to fly the TARDIS.
  • Firefly's River Tam is implied to suffer a strong case of this from her time at the Academy.
  • Forever Knight "Night In Question" has Nick losing his memory after a shot to the head. It also makes him forget he's a vampire for a while.
  • A favorite Soap Opera trope. The most famous example being with General Hospital's Jason Quartermaine. Unlike nearly all other examples of this trope, he never regained the memories of his old life before the car accident that caused his head injury. It's also been paired with Rape as Backstory as an explanation for why a heroine didn't mention this beforehand.
  • The Framing Device of The Head is the investigation team coaxing what happened to cause the winter team of an Antarctica base to kill each other from the Sole Survivor, who's suffering amnesia thanks to Polar T3 Syndrome.
  • Highlander: The Series episode "Through A Glass Darkly": An Immortal has a kind of mental meltdown in which he takes his student's head and the trauma triggers amnesia and a fugue state.
    • "Patient Number 7": An Immortal woke up in a mental hospital with no memory of who or what she is, or why the police and armed thugs are chasing her. Her trauma was when the thugs murdered her husband right in front of her.
  • Kamen Rider Build: Sento Kiryu was experimented on by Faust's scientists and lost all earlier memories as a result. Quest for Identity is his motivation for Build's first part. His memory was actually deliberately erased so he could be manipulated into villainous plans.
  • Claire on Lost lost her memory of her kidnapping by Ethan and the Others, requiring hypnosis to recall some details.
  • This happens at least twice in M*A*S*H with Hawkeye. In one episode, he incorrectly remembers a friend of his pulling him out of a lake to save him from drowning. Hawkeye had suppressed the memory that his friend had actually pushed him in before he saved him. In the final episode, Hawkeye had another problem with recalling his memories when Hawkeye remembers that he had inadvertently contributed to the death of a baby on a bus in enemy territory.
    • There were others. In one, Sidney is brought in after a soldier comes in with no memory of who he was. After hypnotizing him and recreating the battle he was in with help from Hawkeye and BJ, we discover the soldier's younger brother was killed in the battle.
    • Another dealt with a soldier who claimed to be Jesus Christ. Sidney AND Col. Flagg are brought in to find out who he was.
  • Masters of Science Fiction: The main plot of "A Clean Escape", which revolves around a psychiatrist treating a patient with a severe case of retroactive amnesia, he can't seem to form new memories beyond leaving his house and being sent to her office, which occurred 24 years prior. The "office" is inside a government bunker, and the patient is the former president of the United States. Having ordered a nuclear strike, the Kill Sat that was used had a much stronger effect than intended and ended up causing a nuclear holocaust that wiped out humanity. Faced with this and his family's death in the retaliatory strike on Washington, the President's mind cracked and sealed away all memories of him ever having been President, with his last memory being of him still being a government weapons contractor.
  • A second season episode of The Mentalist involves the murder of a convicted serial child molester (recently released from prison) whom Lisbon put away years ago. When a fingerprint links her to the crime scene, she's asked where she was the night of the murder, only to find to her consternation that she can't remember that night at all. Eventually she asks her psychologist if it's possible that she committed the crime and then blanked it out — the psychologist agrees that it is possible, though he doesn't seem completely sold on the idea. Turns out the psychologist is the murderer himself and drugged Lisbon's coffee that night when she came to see him, ensuring that she wouldn't remember her evening and add credence to the possibility of her guilt.
    • In Season 4, Jane nearly drowns and awakens from the experience having completely forgotten his late wife and daughter. When he shows no signs of recovering his memories, Lisbon ends up having to take him back to his old house (where said wife and daughter were murdered) to trigger his memories to resurface.
  • In the season 9 premiere of NCIS Tony is shot and cannot remember what happened. A psychologist talks him through the preceding events until he can remember who shot him.
  • In a season 4 episode of Without a Trace, an aspiring stage actress rehearses for a role who loses her brother, which constantly reminds her of her own experience of witnessing her younger brother die gruesomely from anaphylactic shock years ago, causing her to quickly fall into depression. One day, as she and her director have a discussion in the theatre's back alleyway about whether or not she can still be considered suited for the play, a mugger suddenly appears and stabs the director in the chest. The actress manages to keep it together until paramedics come take the director to the hospital, but as soon as she was left alone again, the new trauma of witnessing the stabbing finally pushes her over the edge, and she lies undiscovered in the alleyway in a dead faint throughout the entire afternoon and evening, only regaining consciousness much later that night and then being found by policemen while aimlessly wandering in the city in blood-stained clothes. She has lost all memory of who she is, and cannot recall any part of her life prior to waking up on the street, only retaining some random trivia about insects that she does not even remember having learnt from her entomologist father. Unfortunately, even after the detectives piece together her life and recount it to her, the Repressed Memories still do not come back, and she feels as if she is hearing someone else's story.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Glyphic", the six-year-old Cassie Boussard came into contact with an alien probe that protected her and her elder brother Louis from the brain cancer outbreak that later killed all of the other children of her hometown of Tolemy. However, Louis entering a coma and the death of every other child in town caused Cassie to block out her memories of the alien probe until Tom Young hypnotized her and brought them to the surface.
  • In Sharpe's Peril, Henry Simmerson loses his memory after being strung up naked in the Indian sun. It actually makes him a nicer person, compared to the arrogant bastard he was before, to the point he's even seen playing pat-a-cake with a young Indian girl.
  • Sherlock episode "The Hounds of Baskerville" has Henry Knight claiming he watched his father being savaged by a hound when he was a young boy. It turns out that he actually watched his father being murdered by a scientist while under the effects of a hallucinogenic chemical; the 'hound' was something his mind created to cope with the trauma.
  • When Castiel of Supernatural reappears on the show partway through season seven, he has no memory of his life before the last few months and doesn't even know he's an angel. This is likely due to the trauma of his previous exit, in which he's possessed by Leviathan, the strain of which essentially starts to melt his vessel. He ends up stumbling into a reservoir and vanishing beneath the water — whereupon the Leviathan are promptly released in what looks like an explosion.
  • Cole has this in the last episode of Tracker. An imbalance in his life force containment device was triggered by having captured only one of a set of alien twins, and Cole was basically given a nasty electric shock that wiped out his memory.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "Nightmare as a Child", Helen Foley has repressed memories of, as a child, being burned and witnessing a criminal killing her mother - When she gains her memories back, she realizes that her male visitor Peter Selden is the criminal and that he is trying to kill her.
    • In "The Arrival", Grant Sheckly was so traumatized by his failure to solve the mystery of Flight 107's disappearance that he repressed his memory of it. It eventually returned in the form of an illusion.
  • A key part of the crime drama Unforgettable. The female lead has absolute perfect memory, but there's one day she cannot remember: the day her sister was murdered. She's convinced that if she can recover her memories of finding Rachel's body, she'll discover a clue as to who killed her.
  • Similar to the above NCIS example, in the mid-season finale of the second season of White Collar, Mozzie is shot and later cannot remember anything about the shooting.
    • It's worse for him because he has perfect recall, so not being able to remember something would be pretty jarring.
  • In the Korean Series Winter Sonata, Kang Joon Sang gets hit by a bus at age 18 and loses his memory, only to have it return 10 years later when he gets hit by a bus a second time.

  • Riders Radio Theater's "Phantom of the Valley" arc involves Ranger Doug losing his memory and believing himself to be a Zorro Expy after awakening in said Expy's lair.

  • Leopoldstadt: In 1955, Nathan reunites with his cousin Leo in their ancestral home in Vienna after 17 years. The last time they saw each other was in the very same apartment on Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass where a Nazi soldier methodically and mercilessly terrorized their entire family. Nathan, being 14 at the time, remembers his childhood and family in Vienna before almost all but him were killed in the concentration camps - but Leo, who fled to England with his mother and English stepfather, does not remember his childhood before fleeing at all.
    Nathan: No one is born eight years old. Leonard Chamberlain’s life is Leo Rosenbaum’s life continued. His family is your family. But you live as if without history, as if you throw no shadow behind you.

    Video Games 
  • In the Dating Sim Always Remember Me, a car accident involving a drunk driver is the Relationship Reset Button that comes between the Official Couple. This jump-starts the plot, driving the protagonist to either nurse her Amnesiac Lover back to health, or to pursue other eligible bachelors.
  • Used by the player character Daniel in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, hence the name. He writes a note to himself prior to taking a drug which causes him to lose his memory, and as you play the game you begin to learn why he did it He opened up a Sealed Evil in a Can and then in an attempt to remove the curse placed on him, he ended up helping a guy kill those whom he thought were criminals and murderers. Except it turns out to be innocent people he may have been slaughtering.
  • Some of the events of Assassin's Creed II have been suppressed in Ezio's memories, and only become available to Desmond in Brotherhood when he has achieved a greater level of sync. These memories include giving a Viking Funeral to his father and brothers after their execution, finding out his girlfriend Christina has left him for another man and delivering an If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her... speech to her new fiancé, getting snubbed after trying to reignite his love for Christina during the Venezia carnival, and Christina dying in his arms after being attacked during the bonfire of the vanities.
  • In the Borderlands 3 DLC, Love, Guns, and Tentacles, a private investigator named Burton Briggs is investigating the disappearance of a child. The problem is, he has a hard time remembering why he’s investigating her disappearance and believes that it may be his curse, like how everyone else in Cursehaven is cursed. It's revealed that his amnesia is not because of the curse, it’s because the missing child was his daughter, Iris, and she was used as a host for Vincent. When he shot Vincent, he accidentally killed Iris, which caused him to forget the whole ordeal.
  • In Bravely Default this appears to be the cause of Ringabel's amnesia. As Alternis Dim in the world before the one the game starts in, he witnessed Airy kill Edea and lost his memory as a result. The amnesia is so absolute he initially has no idea of who he really is, and his personality as Ringabel is a stark contrast to that of the young man who wrote D's Journal. Even regaining his memories does not cause his personality to revert back to his 'original' one.
  • This is implied to be why the Herald of Andraste can't remember what happened to them at the start of Dragon Age: Inquisition. They remember just a few tiny details, but nothing that gives any kind of an explanation for why the peace conference they were attending exploded and left them as the only survivor. Subverted in that they eventually discover it wasn't trauma-induced amnesia at all - their memories were literally stolen by a malevolent spirit called the Nightmare.
  • The Elder Scrolls: In Skyrim, a priestess from a cult of cannibals claims that the Dovahkiin lost a sibling when they were a child, and took a bite out of the corpse out of curiosity, making the two of them similar. If the Dovahkiin denies any knowledge of this event, she claims that most people block out the memories of their first incident of cannibalism out of revulsion. Whether or not she's telling the truth is left up to the player to decide.
  • This is what happens to the player character of the PC mystery game Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek. She knows she's in her current location in search of the answers to a case, and she finds her own notes and realizes she was approaching a breakthrough, but she doesn't know what happened next. Her wrecked car is the only clue she has as to why she can't remember anything. The player must help her reclaim her memories, solve the murder mystery, and get the hell out of Dodge before someone kills her too.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud Strife suffers a perfectly understandable case of Trauma-Induced Amnesia, considering the incredible Trauma Conga Line he suffers before the game even starts.
    • As a kid, he'd hoped to join the SOLDIERs but didn't end up strong enough. So he joined the regular military, befriending SOLDIERs Zack and Sephiroth. The three of them are sent to check up on something in Cloud's hometown... when Sephiroth finally figures out why he and his friends are so different from everyone else, and why he had to help kill them. Sephiroth handles it well. Cloud and Zack manage to defeat Sephiroth, but only after all but one villager is butchered, the village is set on fire, and Cloud and Zack themselves are mortally wounded.
    • As their reward, the two of them get nabbed up by the military's local Mad Scientist and experimented on. Zack doesn't break through the sedatives for years, and after he breaks both of them out, Cloud is horribly poisoned by the experimentation and comatose. Zack spends days if not weeks or months carrying Cloud around, telling him about himself, his past, and his goals, trying to get his companion and best friend to revive. When the two of them are finally cornered by the army, who have been told that they're dangerous, Zack walks away after hiding Cloud, so as to confront the military head-on, alone. Not that he had any other choice. Cloud's first movement on his own is weakly reaching one hand for Zack, unseen, as Zack walks away. By nightfall, Cloud's managed to get to his feet... and finds Zack where he was left alone to bleed to death, in time for Zack to give him his sword.
    • Between the trauma, the experimentation, the coma, the talk during a vulnerable and suggestible state, and now more trauma... by the time Cloud reaches the nearest city, he still remembers his childhood, but thinks Zack's adulthood and career was his own, can't remember half of what happened for the massacre at home (and thinks he was Zack for the other half), and isn't even quite sure why he's at this city again.
      • He was injected with a large amount of Jenova cells during the experiments. Jenova, being The Virus, tends to have nasty effects on a person's body and mind. The only plus side to all this was that the experiments weren't all that different from the process used to create a SOLDIER, meaning Cloud now does have the skills and abilities of a SOLDIER 1st Class that he claims to be...
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem has Frey suffering this after he offers himself as a decoy to lure the invading Gra/Grust army away from Marth, and being beaten within an inch of his life as a result. When he recovers in both body and mind, he rejoins the group.
    • In Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, while Camus did survive his battle against Marth's forces, he lost his memories on top of being grievously wounded. He's taken in by Emperor Rudolf of Rigel and kinda rebuilds his life there as Rudolf's lieutenant Ezekiel/Zeke, and even falls for his nurse Tatiana, but doesn't remember his past until pretty much the end of the game. Then he takes off to Archanea under a Paper-Thin Disguise to tie up any loose ends there...
    • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, Ninian briefly suffers from amnesia after she and her little brother Nils escape from the Black Fang with the help of Eliwood's father Elbert, but during their escape, Nils falls into the sea and goes missing. The already emotionally unstable Ninian gets hit with this and becomes The Ophelia when she believes her brother is dead, and doesn't recover until Nils returns and snaps her out of a Brainwashed and Crazy state.
    • Spotpass optional character Queen Emmeryn from Fire Emblem: Awakening As their chapter reveals, following her Heroic Suicide, she was left with this, remembering nothing about herself or anyone around her.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, it's strongly implied that due to the Trauma Conga Line of being kidnapped and experimented on and watching all of her siblings die, Edelgard has lost nearly all of her memories of her childhood friendship with Dimitri and only vaguely remembers knowing a Kingdom boy during her time in Fhirdiad.
  • The PC of Geneforge 5 has this, from what information the player is able to gather. Many significant NPCs throughout the series claim to vaguely recognize you, and new characters describe your past behavior from senseless rage to Super-Power Meltdown. Though speculation is rampant, the true identity is only answered by the Shrug of God. Maybe it's just a device to justify re-explaining everything previous players should know, but new players wouldn't, and explain why the PC wouldn't have any defined relationship to previously famous NPCs.
  • In Goddess of Victory: NIKKE, Dorothy, who is undergoing Sanity Slippage, represses the memory of shooting and killing her best friend Pinne after the latter is corrupted by an enemy Rapture. She soon begins to hallucinate Pinne's presence as a coping mechanism, unaware that Pinne is dead and neither she nor her teammates can physically interact with "Pinne".
  • Happens in Golden Sun. When young Isaac and Garet witness Saturos and Menardi fleeing the scene after triggering a trap in Sol Sanctum that drops a boulder on Vale, the latter two beat the living daylights out of the former two to keep them quiet. While both boys survive, neither can recall the confrontation three years later.
  • In Harvest Moon One World, Laura was devastated when her father died suddenly and fainted at his funeral. Ever since, she's incapable of forming new memories and has to be reminded of things that have happened by her brother Tristan every day. She does her best to retain a smile on her face.
  • In Heavenly Sword, Kai is repressing the memory of her mother's murder at the hands of Flying Fox, until she is forced to remember. To elaborate, being forced to remember in this case consists of Flying Fox actually putting Kai's mother's emaciated corpse on display, knowing that Kai will discover it.
  • Inazuma Eleven: In the video game, Fuyuka's amnesia of her early childhood was caused by the shock of seeing her parents die in a road accident. This is changed in the anime, where her memories were purposefully erased through hypnotherapy because the traumatic memories had a serious impact on her. She slowly gets her memories back after spending more time with her childhood friend Endou, and although the remembrance of witnessing her parents die give her a temporary comatose state, she decides to move on and keep all her memories because she doesn't want to forget her new friends in Inazuma Japan.
  • Ventus of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. You'd forget stuff too if someone you thought you could trust caused you to get beaten into unconsciousness, then quite literally cut your heart in half.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, Joshua seems to be suffering from this, though nobody can figure out why. It's due to the fact that he doesn't want to remember that he, himself is the one who brutally murdered his own family, though not entirely of his own will.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the protagonist Raiden only finds out near the end of the game that he's a former child soldier, which he has repressed his memories of.
  • Persona:
    • Played realistically in Persona 4, where the kidnapping victims you rescue from the TV world typically have hazy memories of the ordeal, mostly due to stress and exhaustionnote . In Golden the good ending reveals that Nanako (the protagonist's younger cousin/surrogate little sister) remembers almost nothing from either her kidnapping or her time in the TV world, only that Big Bro and his friends had saved her from something. Naoto voices the opinion that this is probably for the best.
    • Also played realistically in Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, Hikari does not remember why she was so depressed, why she was trapped in the theater, why she liked movies or even the purpose of the mapping notebook you use and the invitation letter she held. It turns out that a disturbingly realistic Trauma Conga Line in her childhood took a toll on her sanity and plunged her right into depression hell, so once she thought that even her father hated her she simply put away all of those traumatic and joyful memories and her soul escaped reality in the theater.
  • One of Popoi's trivia bits in Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary states that the shock of becoming a ghost caused Rei to forget something important. Popoi also speculates that this may be the reason why Rei is so quiet.
  • Quantum Conundrum has this with Professor Quadwrangle. Thankfully, the only thing he forgot is what went wrong during his experiment and how he got stranded in a pocket dimension. Unfortunately, he gets his memories back just after he gets you to reproduce the circumstances that caused the accident in the first place.
  • Happens to Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 6 where his entire squad was killed in a horrific bioterrorist attack by "Ada Wong"/Carla Radames and he couldn't do anything but watch them get wrapped up in a flesh-like cocoon before one of them hatches and becomes a horrific monster. Chris then spends the next several months drinking to forget what happened and it isn't until Piers forces Chris to remember what went down months ago while the two of them engage in a mission similar to the one that traumatized him that Chris painfully remembers what happened and vows to get revenge on Ada's clone.
  • Oichi from Sengoku Basara. It's revealed that after her husband Nagamasa was murdered before her eyes by her brother, she went crazy and was enslaved by her dark powers, which made her forget it all. By the third game, she's basically a blank slate.
  • In Sierra Ops, Freija Tal lost her memories in the same incident that nearly killed protagonist Junius Fahrenheit six years before the start of the game.
  • Silent Hill:
    • In Silent Hill 2, James Sunderland has this caused by his guilt over killing his wife, Mary, even though it was a Mercy Killing.
    • In Silent Hill: Homecoming, Alex Shepherd went insane after accidentally killing his brother, Josh, causing his parents to send him to an asylum. When he was released years later, he forgot all memories in the interim, and came to believe that Josh is still alive.
  • This happened to Shadow the Hedgehog in the Sonic the Hedgehog series following his apparent death in Sonic Adventure 2, when he fell after teleporting Space Colony A.R.K. back into a stable orbit. Understandable, as there was presumably head trauma involved. Apparently, the robot Eggman used to stop Shadow's fall was a bit clumsy. His quest in the next two games was to regain his lost memories. Poor Shadow, since he had only overridden the fake memory intended to make him destroy the world a few minutes prior to his apparent death.
  • Siegfried from the Soul Series is travelling the world looking for his father's killer, but doesn't know who the killer actually is. The killer is himself ; he accidentally murdered his own father in a bandit raid, and when he realised what he had done ran into the forest, went mad and convinced himself that someone else had done his dad in.
  • Star Wars Legends: May be a factor in why the Player Characters of Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel aren't going to say anything about their pasts. Malak's attack left Revan very close to death, and the Exile's been through so much War Is Hell that the only way to stay halfway sane would be to spend the last decade working on forgetting.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Luke has this from a kidnapping seven years ago which wiped out all of his memories of the event — as well as all memories of events prior to the kidnapping — while Guy has amnesia about the death of his family. In Luke's case it's subverted once it turns out that the Luke that got kidnapped wasn't the one his family got back — and the recovered one didn't exist prior to the kidnapping. In short, Luke can't remember a past that he never had.
  • Theia - The Crimson Eclipse: Rudra is one of the survivors of the Marut Clan, whose memories of the massacre are inaccurate due to the trauma of the event. He believes the Rakshasas Clan use the Orihalcon to drive many Maruts into a frenzy. In reality, Rudra was the only one driven insane by the Orihalcon, causing him to slaughter both the Maruts and Rakshasas. The guilt causes him to misremember the events, but he regains his memories in the second half of the game.
  • Poor Kuya from Utawarerumono finally ended up with this after all the crap she went through and practically reverted back to infancy, not even remembering how to speak and only remembering Hakuro's name. Arguably it was the best that could have happened to her.
  • Ashley Riot, protagonist of Vagrant Story, begins the game believing that he once had a wife and son who were murdered by thugs at a family picnic, but Manipulative Bastard Sydney proposes an alternate theory: Ashley murdered an innocent woman and her child during the course of his duties as a soldier, and through a combination of this trope and military brainwashing, convinced himself they were his family to help himself cope with the grief. The game's writers deliberately left it vague as to which version of his backstory is correct.
  • Xenosaga: Shion saw both her parents being killed in front of her eyes, and then she resonated with the Zohar, calling the Gnosis and basically destroyed an entire planet... so she blocked all the memory from her childhood and that event.
  • Yakuza; near the end of the game, it's revealed that Yumi suffered from amnesia after the trauma of nearly getting raped and seeing her childhood friend Nishiki kill a man in front of her. Kazama was content to leave her like this in the hope she'd build a new life free of the yakuza, but a failed assassination from her ex-lover led her to regain her memory, or better or worse.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • This was the given reason why Ema's and Edgeworth's respective memories of SL-9 and DL-6 were incredibly foggy and incomplete. Of, course, in Edgeworth's case, it turns out that the only thing he really forgot was throwing a gun. He was unconscious for all of the remaining time.
    • This trope returns in Dual Destinies, this time affecting Athena Cykes. Like in the above examples with Ema and Edgeworth, this amnesia allows her to be accused of committing the crime she has blocked out from her memory — in this case, the murder of Athena's mother Metis. It's really not helped by the circumstances in which Metis's corpse was found note  and the implication that Metis might have used Athena as a guinea pig in her experiments and thus "gave" her a reason to snap at her note .
    • And again in Spirit of Justice, this time tragically inverted. Sorin Sprocket was in a car accident that killed his sister and gave him anterograde amnesia. Whenever he goes to sleep, he loses all new memories made that day. Instead of blocking out the traumatic event in his life, he's forced to have it be the freshest thing in his mind every single time he wakes up.
  • Amnesia: Later shows in Ukyo's After Story, that the heroine ended up repressing the memories of what occurred on August 25th from the previous game. Ukyo tries to keep her from worrying about it since such knowledge would include his split personality and its attempt in killing her. He does eventually explain what happened.
  • Shirou of Fate/stay night has no memory of his life before the Fuyuki City fire. His first memory is of his adoptive father Kiritsugu pulling him out of the flames. This is explicitly a result of extreme trauma; most of his personal issues are about getting over the trauma, and as the story goes on, he remembers more of the event.
    • However, the Heaven's Feel route has a case that's ambiguous as to whether it's mental trauma, or just physical: after having Archer's arm grafted onto his body, Shirou starts having a physical and mental breakdown as a result of his powers. When he kills a Brainwashed and Crazy Saber, he immediately forgets everything about her; it's not clear if it was due to the trauma of the incident, just his brain finally giving in to his breakdown, or maybe even a mix of both.
  • Yuuichi from Kanon forgot nearly everything about the town where Nayuki lived in because he witnessed, and believes he's responsible for, Ayu falling off a tree and her resulting coma. This drives the plot, by the way.
  • Komari from Little Busters! went through this after her brother died due to him convincing her that it was all a dream. As a result, she repressed the memories of him, though they still affect her dreams. The memories can be triggered into returning when she sees blood or death, but this causes her to Heroic BSoD all over again and then, after a day or two, attempt to recover by pretending someone else is her brother and repressing everything all over again. In the end, Riki is able to break the cycle, forcing Komari to accept the reality of his death and allowing her to grieve over it naturally.
  • The player character of Queen at Arms suffers from this, after the traumatic attack on her homeland's castle when she was orphaned as a child. What she can't remember is that she's the princess, and she witnessed the murders of her parents.
  • In Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow, one of the Player Character's prospect boyfriends has this. It's Eduard who lost all of his memories of being a Tyke Bomb for an assassin group when they turned on him and almost killed him.
  • It turns out that Umineko: When They Cry's entire plot revolves around this trope since the entire series is essentially Battler remembering his past through testimonies and theories in the future.

  • This may be the case with Charles and Delia in Cobweb and Stripes. It's not actually stated why they have no memory of the backstory of the comic, but given the nightmarish events they survived, it could very well be this.
  • Mituna Captor from Homestuck lost his mind, as a result of an implied Heroic Sacrifice. Ironically, he can't remember what the event was due to the event.
  • In Joe vs. Elan School, Joe notices in an aside that there are some things from his time at the titular Boarding School of Horrors he simply cannot remember consciously. Sometimes, purely by chance, a trigger, like a sound or smell, can bring some fragment of them back, and they are usually quite horrible. Some so horrible, that he says up front that he refuses to depict them in the comic.
    Joe: [narrating] My mind has very literally blacked-out large pieces and entire chapters of my Elan life; shoved them into some pit where I can longer address them like normal memories.
  • #Killstagram: In the second season, Sarang is thrust into a Deadly Game and wonders why she's there. As she pieces together the clues and the fact that all the participants are/were violent, she remembers that she killed her own daughter in a fit of rage.
  • Amity of Miamaska suffers from this after hitting her head on the ground from a fall.
  • Partially trauma-induced and partially because she was just too young, Fiona from YU+ME: dream initially does not remember how or why her mother died.

    Web Original 
  • On the Dream SMP, Ghostbur (the spectral form of Wilbur) has dissociative amnesia (selective memory loss) — he only recalls positive memories of his life, and only forms new memories when he's happy. It's heavily implied that this memory loss is likely not (entirely) caused by him being a ghost, but more due to the trauma he'd endured as "Alivebur", which his brain responded to by blocking out negative or traumatic memories.
  • Post-comeback, there's been a few references to The Nostalgia Critic forgetting about the events of his anniversary movies.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for laughs with the eponymous Archer in the episode "Fugue and Riffs". The trauma: Mallory got married.
  • Duke of G.I. Joe suffer a traumatic experience when he was captured by Kobra and was turned into a slave. After escaping and being rescued, Duke couldn't remember anything that happen during his time as a prisoner, except that he met someone that helped him escape. However, Duke recovered those memories thanks to the Doc.
  • Helga Pataki of Hey Arnold! suffers from this in the episode "Beaned" when she's struck by a baseball hit by old 'Dangerous Lumber' himself, Arnold. After waking up fully recovered the next morning, Helga continues faking her amnesia to guilt-trip Arnold into taking care of her but begins to feel sorry for forcing him to pay attention to her. She fakes another head injury which 'cures' her amnesia and uses her usual crabby bluster to try and put some distance between them, but is pleasantly surprised that he still wants to make sure she's okay.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer is hypnotized into thinking he is 12 years old again, which triggers a memory of finding a dead body in the old swimming hole.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television, at least as far as physical trauma (especially to the head) is concerned. Global amnesia is a very real phenomenon that affects people who have been in car accidents and similar traumatic incidents. On the end of emotional or psychological trauma, there is vigorous debate to what extent it occurs, but dissociative disorders - particularly dissociative amnesia - are what this trope is based on.
    • It falls under a category called 'Motivated Forgetting'. It is divided into two categories - repression and suppression. Repression is the Sigmund Freud style "it's too hurtful to remember so your subconscious buries it" stuff, and suppression is when you actively try to forget something. Repression has a little bit of evidence in that child abuse victims often can not recall the abuse later in life. Suppression can also occur to a certain degree, wherein people who concentrate on forgetting something are less likely to be able to recall it at a later time when asked to do so.
    • It may not really count as forgetting, but shocking events which take a very short time to happen sometimes simply don't register in the brain in the first place; this can happen to road accident victims or similar. A head injury that results in immediate unconsciousness is virtually never recalled afterwards, because the same trauma that forces the brain to interrupt consciousness also interrupts the process of memory storage.
    • Dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue disordernote , and dissociative identity disorder note  are the most extreme cases. Of course debate rages on as to how many true or planted examples there have been, but theoretically, the brain is malleable enough when young so that if you experience emotional trauma as a very small child, your mind can protect itself by "pushing away" the memories, believing it didn't happen or it happened to someone else. But even if you don't remember it, it's still there. The brain can protect itself from immediate damage by blocking out the harmful memories themselves, but the trauma will always find some other way to manifest itself until it's dealt with.
      • All disassociative disorders are associated with periods of blurry, "distant"note , or missing memory and/or uncharacteristic behavior and are generally assumed to be caused by some kind of trauma or series of trauma. Some disassocative episodes are severe enough to basixally cause a clean version of What Did I Do Last Night? should said episode cause gaps in memory and last a night or longer.
  • When he was a boy, Stephen King saw a friend hit by a train; he claims to have no memory of the incident.
  • The sources that tend to assert that emotionally and psychologically traumatic events can't be forgotten (Ever) tend to be technically correct, in the adrenaline and heightened stimulus response in the hippocampus and parahippocampus of the brain tend to embed traumatic events more strongly in an individual's memory. However, that said, this trope does occur regularly and this is why: although the event itself cannot be forgotten, the mind will deliberately sublimate and repress the traumatic memory in order to try to retain a degree of emotional and mental stability in the case where an event would be traumatic enough to instigate a dissociative fugue. Many victims of violence, particularly sexual violence as children, will not remember the events until either a trigger brings back the suppressed memory or the memory suppression eventually resolves itself as the mind starts to deal with and handle the trauma (usually when the individual is an adult and emotionally stable enough to deal with it) - the memory often starting to re-appear through dreams or nightmares. Usually in these cases, there will be a generalised dissociative state immediately following the traumatic event, and some changes in behaviour or personality may be noticed over the short term.
    • One question that is asked of people being assessed for PTSD is whether or not they're unable to remember a significant part of a traumatic event. For those who are, they'll be able to remember a great deal of what traumatized them in horrifying detail with the exception of a portion of what happened to them.
  • Holocaust Survivor Zoltan Zinn Collis, who was saved from Bergin Belsen concentration camp at the age of five, claims to remember atrocities, but to have no memory of his own emotional response to them at the time. This is known as dissociation and is quite common among those who have lived through a trauma.
  • Between the physical and psychological trauma, the Central Park Jogger, Tricia Meili, has no memory of the night she was attacked beyond leaving her apartment to go for her nightly run.
  • Likewise 13-year-old Alicia Kozakiewicz was left with significant gaps in her memory after her traumatic ordeal, and is unable to recall most of her life leading up to her abduction by her facebook stalker.
  • If you have an older biological sibling, you may owe your very existence to this. Childbirth is extremely traumatic, both physically and mentally. Many mothers do come away from it forgetting some of the more traumatic parts of it, ready to have more children.


Video Example(s):


Ken Ichijouji

Traumatized by what he did as the Digimon Emperor and the pain of losing his brother when he was little, Ken is unable to comprehend who he is or who his family are.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / TraumaInducedAmnesia

Media sources: