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Wistful Amnesia

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"There's not a word yet
For old friends who've just met
Part heaven, part space,
Or have I found my place?"
Gonzo, The Muppet Movie, "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday"

Characters whose memories are wiped of certain events may retain the sense that they've lost something.

If that sounds unfulfilling, no worries. The character will often recall their memories through some token gift or heirloom left behind or recalling some information or skill without knowing how. They will then reunite with their lost comrades.

This is probably the most tolerated version of the Reset Button. The Aesop of this trope is usually that everything and everyone's connected, and even if you can't remember a friend, there will be a part of you that will never be the same without them.

For obvious reasons, this occurs in shows with a mystical or fantasy element, although science fiction shows can do this if they have memory-erasing Phlebotinum available. This can also be a type of deja vu for Alternate Timeline, a character somehow feeling a connection that never happened in their personal history.

This is a subtrope of Amnesia Missed a Spot. Compare Amnesiac Lover, where a present romance is forgotten. If the amnesiac instinctively does things that they're known for doing before losing their memory without knowing why, it's Amnesiac Resonance.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Rukia's existence is wiped this way when she is captured in Bleach — the only people who remember her are her True Companions. It is also implied that Ichigo still vaguely remembers Senna at the end of the first Non-Serial Movie.
  • CLANNAD: Both subverted and played straight in the anime after Fūko disappears.
  • Near the end of Claymore Clarice sacrifices every bit of her power to restore her adoptive daughter Miata's memories of her real mother. This not only kills Clarice, disintegrating her relatively weak body into dust but also erases all memory of her from Miata's mind. When Miata awakens she says she remembers her mother, but breaks down in tears because she still feels Clarice's presence, but can't remember her at all.
  • Code Geass:
    • Lelouch uses his Geass to alter the memories of a classmate who happened to find out his role as the terrorist Zero. Psychological torture at the hands of one of his enemies left them emotionally devastated and very nearly homicidal/suicidal, so he erased all memories of himself from their mind (not just his identity as Zero). Humorously enough, everyone else at school can't seem to understand why Shirley has forgotten him, and Lelouch convinces them that the whole thing is an act the amnesia-ee is putting on because they're angry from an argument with him.
    • In the second season, the classmates all have their memories changed again: nobody remembers Nunnaly, and instead remember Rolo as Lelouch's brother. As an interesting side-effect, Shirley is back to relative normalcy- she forgot Lelouch was Zero and has a crush on him again. Another weird note is that they still remember the other missing cast members, and why they are gone.
  • At the end of Destiny of the Shrine Maiden, Himemiya is apparently erased from existence by the final ritual to seal Orochi and restore the world, but swears that she 'will be reborn'. She's disappeared from everyone's memories, AND from photographs. But when imeko looks at several pages of herself standing alone in various locations, she starts crying without knowing why. She also rejects a Love Confession from Oogami, because she knows that she's waiting for someone else, even though she can't remember who. It doesn't get much more wistful than that.
  • In season two of Granblue Fantasy The Animation, Ferry feels that she forgot something very important to her and compares the feeling to actual pain. When asked what it could be, she guesses (correctly) that it's related to her family.
  • Gunslinger Girl: Claes suffered a traumatic breakdown after the death of her handler, and as it's too difficult to condition the cyborgs onto another handler, the Agency decided to just delete her memory of him. In "A Day in the Life of Claes" she experiences an unaccountable sadness on watching a movie showing a man fishing, which they used to do together.
    Claes: Have you ever been tremendously sad, but the tears won't come out?
    Jean: happens.
    Claes: That's how I feel right now. My heart is overflowing with tears, but they just won't come out of my eyes. At night when I'm asleep, they quietly spill out onto the pillow without my noticing.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, Kaworu is forgotten once the school year ends, and any sign of his existence disappears, but Shinji knows that someone very important was supposed to be in a certain place in a picture. However, he never remembers Kaworu, even in the Distant Finale in which Kaworu meets him one last time (or for the first time, as far as Shinji knows.)
  • In Petite Princess Yucie, Yucie gets struck with this when her friends sacrifice themselves to let her save Arc. She gets better.
  • Similarly, Kei remembers Mizuho in Please Teacher! by her trademark box of pocky.
  • At the end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka Kaname's mother and little brother show signs of this trope. Homura has full-fledged Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory.
    • At the end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion Sayaka displays this trope when she sees Hitomi and Kyosuke in Homura's new world. She tears up and says that seeing them again has made her happy, even though she doesn't understand why. Later, an Amnesiac God Madoka says everything feels familiar when she "transfers" into her old school, but she can't help but think something has changed. She then realizes she's the one who's changed, and nearly regains her memories and powers before Homura stops her.
  • The final minutes of Revolutionary Girl Utena indicate that this effect is overtaking almost the entire student body of Ohtori Academy, leading them to forget Utena ever existed. The positive changes she had on them, on the other hand, didn't seem to fade.
  • The first season of Sailor Moon ends with Usagi's wishing that she and her friends were just normal girls, and having it by the power of the Ginzuishou. This gets subverted soon after, thanks to Luna.
  • In Serial Experiments Lain Lain deliberately deletes everybody's memories of herself, and rewrites the world into a more mundane, less dangerous place — saving the lives and sanity of many secondary characters in the process. A few people almost recognize or remember her, but decide not to worry about it. As Lain's Muggle Best Friend Arisu puts it, "If you don't remember something, it never happened. If you aren't remembered, you never existed."
    Reika: Who are you talking about?
    Arisu: (faintly smiling) Like I said. Nobody. C'mon, we'd better hit the books.
  • In the first season finale of Sgt. Frog, Fuyuki remembers Keroro after finding and building a Gundam model he left in the basement.
  • Tenchi Muyo!:
    • This happens in Tenchi In Tokyo: at one point, all of Tenchi's classmates forget Sakuya ever existed, and her name is erased from the school catalog.
    • One short arc in The All-New Tenchi Muyo has Washu's Evil Twin force Washu to make the rest of the cast forget about her. Ryoko's clone, Minaho, was unaffected (due to the fact she was off-planet) and is able to get everyone to realize something's wrong. Washu restores Tenchi, Ryoko, Ayeka, and Mihoshi's memories (though, Tenchi's very displeased she removed them in the first place), but Sasami remembers on her own.
  • Sakura from Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- contracts amnesia in the first episode, putting the whole series in motion. Although she gradually regains her memories over time, the one memory she can never recover is that of her childhood sweetheart, Syaoran. Nevertheless, she still finds herself drawn to him, and the Time-Space Witch observes that "even if the mind forgets, the body still remembers."
  • At the end of the Venus Versus Virus anime, everyone but Lucia and a few others begins to forget Sumire ever existed, even her family. It's unknown what happens after the end, though it's implied Sumire goes back to normal and everyone probably began recalling her existence. Averted in the manga though.
  • Although it's (probably) not intentionally induced, Yoji's amnesia at the end of Weiß Kreuz Gluhen functions in precisely this way, removing him completely from the underworld that Kritiker and Weiss occupy and allowing him to start a normal life in which he doesn't have to be an assassin. Sequel manga Weiss Side B makes the "wistful" part a little more overt with a flashback appearance: Ken visits Yoji before leaving Japan and finds that the only thing he remembers is his promise to return Aya's katana to him.
  • The World God Only Knows revolves around the protagonist, Keima, driving evil spirits out of their hiding places within girls' hearts by making the girls fall in love with him. In order to maintain the Masquerade, the Underworld removes everyone else's memories of the seduction. The targeted girls retain the Character Development gained through their experiences, however, and tend to blush around Keima without knowing why.
    • Subverted in that not all of the girls have fond feelings for Keima — one thinks he ran away, while another is creeped out by this weirdo who acts like they've met before.
    • Another girl eventually gets over the amnesia and then thinks that Keima doesn't remember.
  • Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches justifies it by explaining that erasing memories isn't the same as erasing feelings. The characters have different ways of reacting: Noa feels that there is a "big, black hole" in her heart, Yamazaki feels a pain in his chest whenever he tries to think about his reason for becoming president, and Shiraishi finds herself crying at random times, most notably when she catches Yamada kissing Odagiri. It also leads to some Fridge Brilliance: In most of Shiraishi's memories, Yamada has been replaced by Miyamura and Tsubaki, but none of them have replaced him as the one Shiraishi is in love with. Why? Because falling in love isn't a concrete memory, but a gradually occurring emotion. She knows she is in love with someone, but not who it is.
  • Your Name:
    • The Darkest Hour of the film, when Mitsuha struggles to save Itomori's residents from the comet impact, is only stopped when she spots the words "I love you" written on her palm. She can no longer remember the name of the person who wrote them, but she does remember that he is someone who loves her enough to travel an entire country to find her, and she will not miss up the only chance he gave her to save herself.
    • Similarly, in the Alternate Timeline set five years into the future, Taki has forgotten everything about Itomori and Mitsuha, but still feels as if he has been missing someone very important to him. The fact that the same happens to Mitsuha — now alive and well — eventually leads to their belated reunion.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City has a short story, "The Nearness of You", in which it's gradually revealed that a woman was Ret Goned out of existence during a Crisis Crossover which happened almost entirely "offscreen". Her husband still vaguely remembers her existence. This is all explained by a spirit who offers to completely wipe any trace of the memory, which he declines because as painful as it was, it's all that he has left of her. Before the spirit leaves, he asks it what others chose:
    For a moment, he thinks he sees the twitch of a smile under that burlap hood —
    The Hanged Man: No one forgets. No one. Good night, Michael Teniceck. Sleep well.
  • In House of M, characters who used to be heroes are now mundane and struggle with a sense of loss. Doctor Strange, now a psychologist, spends time counseling Robert Reynolds, aka The Sentry, who doesn't know what he's lost but he's certain he used to be more...
  • Spider-Man: Brand New Day: This is why Mephisto agrees to swap Aunt May's life for Peter and MJ's marriage. His payment is the mourning of the small part of their souls that remember what was.
    • Fallout from this comes up again years later in Nick Spencer's run, where it's revealed that part of the reason why Black Cat has been more antagonistic in recent years: she's aware of the hole in her memory where Spidey's identity and a large chunk of her experiences with him used to be, but not aware of exactly what she's missing, which is distressing for her. Peter remedies this and repairs their friendship by re-revealing his secret identity to her.

    Fan Works 
  • We have this and Remembered Too Late occur in Apartment Gensokyo (or Gensokyo 20XXV) with Renko, due to illness-induced brain damage (the which resulted in memory loss and a degree of blindness), and she had lost so many of her memories but what really sealed it is that she was remembering someone to whom she called "Puppy", becoming very upset when she couldn't recall who that was and neither did she remember Ren's death, initially believing him to be alive when she does finally remember him, Reimu has to sit her down and explain.
  • Justified in As the Wind Blows with Shiro, as he is elderly and is likely suffering from dementia or a form of memory loss, however, while he can't remember that Satsuki's long passed away, he does state that he misses her. When he does manage to remember her and the fact that she's died, it is shortly before he passes away.
  • While a few characters in Despair's Last Resort feel like they've forgotten something, Shizuka is the best example of this trope. She begins feeling like there's someone she's forgotten around Chapter 2, and it's made clear in Chapter 3 that they all agreed to have their memories erased. She manages to remember that person, but only after she's murdered Naomi and Shigeru and has accepted her death.
  • Keep On Running has Jamie experience it in Chapter 3 (set after his canonical mind-wipe by the Time Lords in The War Games): he wanders the moor, cries at night, and generally appears to be missing something.
  • From Kill la Kill AU, we have this to a degree with a then-eight-year-old Ryuuko before seeing her mother again. She never did remember what happened to Ragyou that lead to her absence six years prior, when the former was two, however, she did feel her absence, describing it as "the warmth that had been gone from her life for some time".
  • In Mega Man Reawakened, Robert remembers some details of his life as a human, but they don't really start to return until he runs into Tron Bonne.
  • Pray for Us, Icarus: Crowley's human reincarnations are still subconsciously drawn to Aziraphale, the angel he's fallen in love with multiple times, and his wistful feelings for him become further amplified with every human life he meets him in despite having no conscious memories of them.
    He could recognize it now, the way that every lifetime had added weight to the next, the way that every time he'd seen Aziraphale, it had cast echoes forward. How he'd felt that faint stirring in Sicily, a deeper recognition in Copenhagen, outright longing in Vienna. How when Aziraphale had come to him this time, in London, his whole world had tilted and changed its axis, taking Aziraphale as its new north without a second's hesitation.
  • Played With in Sleeper: Reaper doesn't remember his relationship with his former protégé and ex-lover Jesse McCree, but develops a twisted obsession with murdering him, doing so several times. Reaper can't remember McCree but subconsciously remembers their bond and turbulent feelings for him due to their sour parting.
  • As part of their deaging in 'Til You Feel It All Around You, Zoro, Usopp, and Robin don't remember anything past their current physical age. Despite not recognizing Luffy and the others, however, they feel safe around them for reasons they can't quite name. In addition, Usopp's tall tales all reference adventures they actually had together.
  • Truth & Journalism: Like all victims of akumatization, Xavier Ramier doesn't have any concrete memories of any of the time he spent as Mr. Pidgeon. However, he does recall a distinct feeling of freedom that accompanied his transformations, and he finds himself wishing that Hawkmoth hadn't been arrested after his defeat.
  • Weight Off Your Shoulder: After renouncing her Guardianship and sacrificing all of her memories related to being both Ladybug and the Guardian, Marinette is surprised to learn she still recalls her brief stint as Multimouse. She also privately notes that while she doesn't recall working with Chat Noir, she can still estimate just how frustrating dealing with his unwanted advances and refusal to take akuma fights seriously would have been.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel has his memories of his former girlfriend Clementine erased but manages to still subconsciously remember his mental memory of her telling him, "Meet me in Montauk..." It's implied that the same thing happened to Clementine when she had her memories of Joel erased, as she's also in Montauk when he arrives there and it's shown that she sensed something wasn't right when Patrick tried to woo her by repeating Joel's lines to her.
  • At the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, team Muggle Jacob Kowalski has to be obliviated as per laws to uphold The Masquerade, despite being rather chill with all the magical phenomenon he was witness to over the previous few days. He still has a notion that he forgot something after the oblivation takes effect, and fragments semi-consciously are recalled as evident in his new and wildly successful bakery selling pastry sculptures of all of Newt's beasts. And then Queenie pays him a visit and the supposedly obliviated memories start coming back even stronger.
  • Agents who retire in the Men in Black series have their own memories erased via the same memory-wiping technology they use to keep normal folks from learning that aliens exist. We find out, though, that even mindwiped, Agent K made a mess of his life because he couldn't put aside the changes his MIB lifestyle had left in him.
  • RoboCop still retains some memories of his past life as Alex Murphy even though his memory was supposed to have been blanked when he was rebuilt. Images of his family only appear to him in flashbacks.
    I can feel them ... but I can't remember them.

  • In Bubble World, Freesia suffers from this once she spends more time in the real world and her memories return in pieces.
  • At the conclusion of The Dark is Rising series, in Silver on the Tree, this form of amnesia is inflicted upon the Drew children and Bran Davies, as their destiny is to live in the mortal world and leave memories of the (now concluded) conflict between the Light and the Dark behind. However, Merriman tells them that they may still remember the supernatural world in dreams, and they will always carry with them a sense of the wonder that is now past.
  • This happens in Dokkoida?! after the hero's memories of the series' events are erased.
  • The Exorcist book and film have one of the most beautiful examples of this. Chris tells Father Dyer that Regan remembers nothing of her hellish ordeal. But when she meets Dyer a few minutes later: She was frowning at him, as at a sudden remembrance of forgotten concern. Impulsively, she reached up her arms to him. He leaned over and she kissed him. Then she stood for a moment, still staring at him oddly. No, not at him: at his round Roman collar.
  • Legend Series: In the epilogue of Champion, Day loses his memories of the past few months, including all with June in them. June takes a decision to never meet Day again, thinking it is best for them to remain separate. But when they accidentally reunite ten years later, Day stops June and tells her that she seems familiar. It's unclear if his memories are coming back to him, but regardless, Day takes this as a sign of good luck and decides to (re)befriend her, as Daniel Wing this time.
  • In the 56th Madgie, what did you do? story, Doki has a rather depressing case of this, as, when she has a brief memory flash, she recalls the tea was a favorite of a loved one, said loved one being a passed on Toki, which only makes her more upset. Earlier, when she sees Bunny, she says that she looks familiar but doesn't recall who she is, let alone when she saw her last.
    Doki: "Some memories I just can't reclaim, if only I could."
  • The Mennyms books by Sylvia Waugh are about a family of life-size rag dolls attempting to live like normal humans without being found out. In the second book, the ghost of the woman who made them drafts in her nephew, an ordinary man, to help the Mennyms when their house is threatened with demolition. He falls in love with Pilbeam Mennym but is given amnesia at the end of the book, the stated reason being that their relationship could never work since Pilbeam will never get any older. The family certainly could have used his help in the next three books. When he returns later in the series he is married to a woman who subconsciously reminds him of Pilbeam, but even though he sees the Mennyms again he never finds out that he knew them before or that they are alive.
  • The first Tennis Shoe Adventure book begins like this, then has Jim, the main character/narrator find an old story he wrote, which gives an explanation(in story) that if he ever told, he'd forget. the next book has him remember the story.
  • In Those That Wake, Laura has this in the sequel. It's averted elsewhere in the series, where no one can remember anything about the forgotten characters.
  • In The Wind in the Willows, two of the main characters are seeking a lost child, and find him in the safekeeping of the god Pan, whose presence reduces them to stunned amazement and reverence. They lose all memory of seeing him when they discover the child, but as they leave the forest they hear an echo of Pan's flutes and realize that there is something they cannot remember. As the song itself seems to say to them:
    Lest the awe should dwell — And turn your frolic to fret — You shall look on my power at the helping hour — But then you shall forget!
  • In the Young Wizards books, it's said that this is what happens to wizards who give up being wizards.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who and the Whoniverse:
    • In "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood", the Doctor's personality and memories have been wiped, replaced with that of average school teacher John Smith. Despite being decidedly average, Smith displays the occasional feats of bravery and has strange dreams of "the Doctor" and a blue box, which he writes stories about. His love interest Joan Redfern speculates that this is the man he wants to be. Subverted, however, in that when he realizes the truth, he's absolutely terrified by it and wants to remain himself.
    • Professor Yana in "Utopia", a man who is one of the most brilliant scientists ever, but stuck at the literal end of time, unable to truly realize his greatness. He's actually the Master, and regaining his memory also makes him regain his evil personality.
    • "Turn Left": An alternate timeline is created where Donna never met the Doctor, resulting in bad things happening. However, the night of this timeline's Racnoss attack, when the Webstar appears above London, she ends up running toward the action, instead of fleeing with her friends, to their confusion, which leads to her seeing the Doctor's body being loaded into an ambulance and encountering the universe-hopping Rose. Later, Donna is visibly crying when she denies knowing anything about the Doctor, which Rose explains as confirmation that she subconsciously remembers how things really went and has been Dreaming the Truth.
    • In "The End of Time", it's revealed that Donna Noble has this, after having her memories of the Doctor and their adventures wiped for her own protection after she got a large chunk of his knowledge copied into her head. As her grandfather Wilf puts it, sometimes she's "so sad, but can't remember why".
    • Amy's storyline for the last few episodes of her first season involved this. Even after her fiancé is wiped from existence, and she retains no memory of him, she still finds herself crying, unable to understand why. Before she brings the Doctor back into existence, she has a similar moment with him.
    • Gwen in the Torchwood episode "Everything Changes". She manages to piece together her memories though.
  • In the last scene of Kamen Rider Ryuki's Reset Button finale, Shinji and Ren accidentally bump into each other outside of Atori. They squabble a little and presumably leave with bad impressions of one another, but before going their separate ways, take a short moment to glance towards the other's way.
  • Lost's season 6 flashes show the characters having forgotten one another after death. Triggers restore everyone's memory, and they reunite.
  • In Once Upon a Time, all the fairytale characters lose their memories and get sent to the real world, and several of them experience this.

    Multiple Media 
    • The comics begin with the lines "I have slept for so long. My dreams have been dark ones." as the six Toa Mata heroes wash ashore on an unknown island, only recalling nightmarish scraps of their mission. Their travel pods removed memories that might have been counterproductive to the fulfillment of their goal (like that they'd have to give up their personal freedom in the end), but due to a malfunction they forgot nearly everything apart from combat training. Some of them see visions about their purpose but only their leader Tahu regains all his memories in one of the final novels as the team returns to their original training ground.
    • The people of the Underwater City Mahri Nui lost their memories when their land originally sank into the sea and the water's Mutagenic Goo mutated their bodies, but occasionally they'd see flashes of their former lives. For this reason, they built a chamber where every stray memory is recorded so that the community could try to piece together their own past.

  • Next to Normal: After receiving electro-shock therapy as a last resort treatment for her bipolar disorder and depression, Diana loses all of her memories dating all the way back until her college years when she first met her husband Dan. Much of the second act is about Diana trying to remember everything about her past, with Dan and their daughter Natalie trying to help her along. However, this trope comes into play because Dan is deliberately leaving out a very important but traumatic memory out of all their photo books and recollections of the past. Namely, that Diana and Dan had a son who died when he was only 18 months old. His death triggered immense depression in Diana, which combined with her bipolar disorder made her almost completely unable to function. Dan was hoping that by acting as though their son never existed, Diana might finally be able to move on from her depression and live a better life. However, their son's metaphorical ghost is constantly at the back of her mind, making her feel like she is missing something. When it all finally comes back to her, the story ends somewhat tragically.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Dreaming:
    • This is the result of a changeling succumbing to Banality or having their fae mien destroyed in a way that doesn't harm their mortal seeming; with their ties to the Dreaming severed, they have — at best — hazy memories of playing "make-believe" as children and generally don't remember anything at all. They often have a feeling that "something's missing," though, and are more prone to depression than one might expect. Those who are still part of the Dreaming remember them clearly.
    • This also applies to Bedlam, too, but only to in the first stage, where the afflicted will often self-treat by leaving the fae world temporarily, and taking up a very Banal existence; this is the only one that works in the typical Reset Button way, in that the character will remember and return to their friends after a while - being overcome by Banality generally requires large infusions of glamour to fix - if there's enough left to fix - and having their fae mien destroyed almost always leaves the character beyond recovery.
  • The Soulless in GURPS Fantasy II, immortal and suffering rather badly from The Fog of Ages, have a word for it: "pytrakzhyjzh", defined as the shivery feeling of a deep shared bond with another, with no way of knowing whether the other is their parent, son, sibling or one-time lover or blood enemy.

    Video Games 
  • Absented Age: Squarebound: Tarte notes that Karen used to be more talkative and passionate about music before becoming a pseudo-ghost. Karen spends much of the game second-guessing if she's the same person compared to her pre-amnesia state and if she truly has a good reason to want to reclaim her memories. This makes it difficult for Karen to use the church's necromancy technique to materialize herself, since she doesn't fully comprehend what her original self was like, at least until she remembers when she and her friends successfully pulled off a practice performance in the Sado Band clubroom.
  • In Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker gives this to Daichi and Io, if the player opts to follow the Triangulum Arc's route where the protagonist decides to become the world's Administrator and removes the memories of him from his friends. Daichi has a moment of leaving high school with Io and feels like he forgot something important.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy: The Warrior of Light has an odd case of this trope. Heroes and villains summoned to the war between Cosmos and Chaos start off with no memories of their homes, but gradually recover them as they fight... for the most part. A late-game conversation in 012 has the Warrior confess that he has not been recalling memories in the same way as the others, yet knows that he is forgetting something - describing it as "like writing carefully erased". Turns out, this isn't a matter of him remembering his life before the war because he didn't have a life before the war; the Warrior of Light is an original habitant of the world where the war is taking place, created in the same manner as the manikins. The writing carefully erased is his memory of the past cycles of war, of which anyone who had gotten their ass kicked in a given cycle has their memory of it and the cycles preceding wiped.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • At the start of Kingdom Hearts II, Kairi still has a very vague recollection of Sora during the prologue, even though she isn't supposed to remember him yet due to Naminé's memory tampering.
    • Sora doesn't retain any of the memories of his Nobody, Roxas, yet he feels like he has met Hayner, Pence, and Olette before when he wakes up. He even cries when he leaves Twilight Town at the beginning of the game, even though he has no idea why. This bit gets played up again in Dream Drop Distance, where he has a tearful reaction when confronted by Xion's illusion in Dream Drop Distance. This is more amazing than the situation with the above three because Roxas is also supposed to not know who Xion is. In III, despite having the least memory of her, Sora is the one who recognizes her first, enabling the others to remember her.
    • Xemnas is supposedly unable to remember anything from before 10 years ago, yet a cutscene added in the Final Mix version shows him talking to Aqua's discarded Keyblade and armor as if he remembers his time as Terra/Master Xehanort. Later games reveal that it's actually a subversion - he regained Xehanort's memories before he was divided into Heartless and Nobody, and his conversation with Aqua's armor is his 'zen' while he tries to use Terra's connection to Aqua and ask about where Ventus is hidden.
    • Axel and Roxas both experience this after their friend Xion is retconned out of existence in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. Roxas doesn't quite forget her until his personality gets rewritten prior to Kingdom Hearts II, and Lea (Axel's Somebody) is shown to recognize Kairi as Xion's likeness in Kingdom Hearts III, but neither fully remembers her until she is remade and revealed in III.
    • In general, the main theme of the series is that while the conscious memories of your friends can be wiped out, your heart will still subconsciously remember them. The only time this trope is completely averted is when Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Jiminy get their old memories restored by Naminé at the end of Chain of Memories. Despite their best wishes, the four really do forget all of their memories in Castle Oblivion, including those of Naminé, Axel, Larxene, Vexen, Marluxia, and the Riku Replica.
  • In one ending of Ib, Garry feels a strange sense of sadness when he looks at the red rose sculpture in the gallery...because Ib had a red rose.
  • Subverted by Niko in One Shot, who finds the vague familiarity they have with the player in subsequent sessions merely serves to freak them out more than anything else. What's more, while they can't remember being on their previous journeys, they still feel how long they've been away from home, making them feel extremely homesick without understanding why.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 2: When Maya is introduced, every party member except for Yukino, who was from the first game and has a different backstory, cries. Later, it's revealed the four of them were all close friends, which led to an incident so traumatic they all decided to repress their memories.
    • Eternal Punishment in a nutshell. This time the whole city suffers of this.
  • The entire main cast of Persona 3 (barring Aigis, who is a robot and can't be magically mind-wiped) lose all their Dark Hour-related memories in both endings — which include basically most events of the game, including lots of Character Development, the true nature of the deaths of several significant ones and the cast's memories of each other as True Companions. In the 'good' ending, it even extends to the entirety of the Earth's population to erase the rather overt appearance of Nyx, but the main characters recover their memories on graduation day... Just in time to find out that the Player Character has died from over-exertion from the fight with Nyx. In the bad ending... They don't. And at that point it wouldn't matter to them even if they did.
  • Partway through Suikoden Tierkreis, the entire Magedom of Janam gets retroactively erased from history so that only the Starbearers remember it. Talking to NPCs after it happens reveals that a lot of them are now very lost because the things they'd been doing no longer make any sense. The worst is probably the guy in Salsabil Harbor who was in town because of work and wanted to pick up a souvenir for his wife; talk to him afterward and he'll happily announce that he finally found it. He says he wanted it in case he ever meets someone really special to him. Then he wonders why he's crying.
  • This is how most characters in Undertale experience Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory when you SAVE Scum. Unlike most examples of the trope, they never get their full memory back. Minor NPCs and Sans, for some reason, though he's so Crazy-Prepared that you might not realize it seem to lack even this much recollection, and Flowey, Chara, and the six human SOULs go one further and remember everything.
  • At the end of Chapter 10 in Vindictus, a few extra missions reveal that while no one has any direct memory of Tieve or Keaghan anymore (along with most of the second half of the season 1 storyline), remnants of their existence (such as Brynn's photo of Tieve or an old friendship ring) stir up emotions in the Colhen NPCs.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Blades are returned to their core crystals when their current Driver dies, and lose all memories of their previous life once a new Driver resonates with them. This fact is a source of concern for many Blades, and they're generally interested in learning as much as they can about what they and their previous Driver(s) were like in their previous instances where possible. Brighid, in particular, makes efforts to keep a diary chronicling her past lives that get passed to her every time she is reborn. She does note, however, that she's in a unique position to do this, given that her core crystal gets passed down through the Ardanian Imperial bloodline; other Blades are likely to lose any such records they may have kept while they're stuck as core crystals before resonating with their new Driver.

    Visual Novels 
  • The bad ending for attempting to access the Unlimited Blade Works route too early in Fate/stay night is like this, with Rin forcibly erasing all of Shirou's memories that magic exists and breaking his contract with Saber. The ending features Shirou going about his daily life as usual but with the occasional feeling that there should be more people living with him; the only person close to him that knows the truth gently convinces him that he's just imagining things in order to protect him.
    • Happens somewhat often in Tsukihime as well. Kagetsu Tohya is based on it.
  • Several examples in Princess Waltz. But the biggest is when Riko, Chris and Liliana all magically disappear from the class and are essentially forgotten. Nodoka stresses a little bit about this as she can't remember them, but knows the class is smaller than it should be and has a small remembrance of the people who are gone. Two are competing Princesses who were defeated. Chris really ought to be Princess of Soldia but is instead the Prince. Kinda. The true end is the same, only Arata is gone as well, but people remember him and Nodoka seems to remember Riko, at least. She ends up sneaking into Eldhiland after that.

  • Mom, I'm Sorry: As Henry nears the end of his lifespan, he tells his lifespan dealer to erase his mother's memories of him so she won't feel sad. Olivia knows that something is off after hearing Henry's name enough times and demands to know who Henry is. An hour before Henry's death, all of Olivia's memories come back, something that the lifespan dealer didn't tell Henry.
  • In The Wotch, a teacher is turned into a teenage girl by one of the many Annes running around, and when s/he runs after her (and into a different Anne who doesn't know what happened) and says s/he can't live as a man with the body of a teenage girl, this other Anne fixes it... by giving him/her the mind of a teenage girl. The "new student" joins the cast, never suspecting she used to be a different person with a different life, but joins the club that's researching the strange happenings around town because she wants "to remember." The other characters figure it's her shaky English and she meant "learn," especially when she realizes she doesn't know what she meant.note 
    • In an unusual subversion, when she finally DOES remember her previous life, she decides that she doesn't actually want it back. The teacher was unmarried, had no close friends or family, and was generally disliked by the student body. In his/her new life, she has lots of friends and gets to start life over from the teenage years - albeit, as the memories of the teacher puts it, with a COUPLE of specific memories from the former life. Like his bank-account password.

    Web Videos 
  • In the fifth video of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, Duck Guy and Yellow Guy have somehow been made to forget about Red Guy, but still sense that something is missing.
  • Logan in Logan's Day lost almost his entire identity thanks to being shot in the head by Benny, and is frequently bothered by it, half-recalling vague, jumbled memories in his dreams.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, The Ice King is under the effect of an Artifact of Doom, giving him superpowers but robbing him of all sanity and memory. While he doesn't even remember that he's lost anything, he still knows at some very deep level that he misses his beloved fiancé, Betty, and the identity/existence of his adopted daughter. Unfortunately, without the memory, he reacts to the forgotten longing by kidnapping any girl that subconsciously reminds him of his fiancé and bugging (and trying to romance) his adopted daughter whenever he can on the basis that he's always romancing girls and he knows she's important somehow.
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long, the original series finale, the episode called "Homecoming", remade the timeline so Jake's love interest/villain's sidekick Rose never joined the Huntsclan, and thus had no memory of him. When the series was extended by an extra 13 episodes, the plan was to have Rose be in school without knowing Jake or anything about the magical world and to have Jake try to woo her again from scratch. Disney execs vetoed that as too confusing and too arc-based for reruns, and thus Rose's family packed off to Hong Kong immediately after she meets Jake for the "first" time. Jake wishes her the best and gets on with his life.
    • She finally remembers him in the 'new' finale, "The Hong Kong Longs", thanks to a photo Jake accidentally left behind at her apartment as he was being escorted away by the cops.
  • One episode of Darkwing Duck involves alien invaders whose princess needs help overthrowing the Evil Chancellor. Afterwards, Darkwing and Gosalyn have their memories wiped. What about Launchpad? He and the princess are friends from way back, so they don't wipe him.
    • Earlier in the episode the aliens only take Launchpad and wipe Darkwing and Gosalyn's memories so they go on their vacation without him (they don't forget all about Launchpad, just that he was supposed to be on the trip with them) but figure out something is wrong when their room was booked for three people and they notice they still have Launchpad's luggage with them.
  • Futurama: Leela has her memories of Fry erased at a brain salon after Fry is (not) killed in a meat-grinding accident. She spends most of the episode wondering why hot dogs and the color red make her 'wistful and sad', which causes the rest of the crew to quickly jettison themselves out of the airlock.

    Real Life 
  • This is central to the concept of Sehnsucht, which describes a sort of bittersweet longing for something one can no longer identify or describe.
  • This is often the case of good dreams. You wake up and remember you dreamed something wonderful, but you can't recall quite what or who it was about. Or, if you recall it upon awaking, you may lose the pieces as you get up and go about your morning routine, such that by the time you get a chance to talk to a friend at lunch, you can't remember anything other than the fact that you had an awesome dream that morning.
  • People suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia, or any form of memory loss have this and it can be rather heartbreaking, especially for the loved ones.