|Trope · Genre|
|Related:||Disability Fic, Mental Disorders in Fanworks|
|See Also:||Hurt Comfort|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
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The amnesia is usually a plot device, and often the real pain and fear a memory loss can cause is glossed over and the point of the trope is creating angst, h/c, or having the character reevaluate their life by giving them an outsider POV. In pairing-centric fanfic, amnesia is also most frequently used to enable or to create conflict in a relationship.
Sometimes the character forgets the anxieties and objections they had to starting a relationship. This is a popular device in slash fic where a character might have a canon history of homophobic behavior or discomfort around gay people. This is also a very popular device in incest fic as a way to get a more unlikely couple together.
The amnesia can also be used to make a character forget their existing relationship and be open to a new partner. This is an easy way to generate angst especially if the two have nothing in common at first glance but had grown closer over the course of a series through shared experiences as is often the case in buddy shows with unlikely partners. This is also a handy way to get around canon relationships.
Many fandoms provide instances of amnesia in canon which can may make it easier for fans to use the trope in episode tag fic or to use canon mechanisms that produced the amnesia that wouldn't work in real life (such as magic, mindwiping technology or other handy sci-fi devices). However, additional instances of amnesia may stretch suspension of disbelief, unless the protagonists are exceptionally unlucky and prone to have run ins with the same clichés over and over again. Sources which over-use this trope are often criticized by their fans; for example, in Lois & Clark an amnesia story arc which persisted for several episodes was used simply to delay the wedding of the main characters until they were married in the comics, and is probably the most hated part of the show's run.
Fandoms with canon amnesia include Buffy, Dark is Rising, Gundam Wing, Harry Potter, MacGyver, Miami Vice, Mirage of Blaze, Smallville, Stargate Atlantis, SG-1, Once Upon A Time, and nearly all superhero comics.
Many video games use amnesia as a plot device to allow the hero (or sometimes the heroine) to discover superhuman powers at a crucial point in the plot. Often, the rediscovered powers are accompanied by recovering memories of causing or participating in destructive acts, so there's potential for angst or h/c in the aftermath.
Examples in Fanworks
- Jeeves & Wooster/Lord Peter Wimsey Series - Green Ice by Adina. A rather sad and atypical use of amnesia.
- One Direction/Radio 1 RPF - memories like fingerprints are slowly raising by Estrella. Harry forgets that he and Nick broke up.
- Love: The Package Deal by jjtaylor. Gerard has an allergic reaction and forgets everything that happened after he got sober. Ends with Gerard/Lindsey/Frank/Jamia.
- I Wish I Could Remember You by sunsetmog. Spencer has amnesia and assumes he must be dating Brendon because they live together.
- Recovering memories from canonical amnesia is a very common trope in this fandom; e.g. Only Revolutions by Cherry Ice.
- Chicago's Most Wanted (link) by Speranza. When Fraser gets amnesia while undercover as a criminal, he assumes he truly is a criminal and so goes on a very successful crime spree.
- Full Circle by Nike Femme. Ed returns with amnesia after four years missing.
- Black Cat Missing by Arwensong. Noir has disappeared while on a mission and Solomon Sugar's been hired by Florian and Laila to find him. But which Noir has the detective found and who else is looking?
- Some Enchanted Evening by Randi DuMois: A missing scene for an episode where Iolaus loses most of his memory; Hercules spends an evening trying to convince him they really are friends. Hot sex is involved.
- All Stirred Up by Meredith Knight, one of many stories that focus on Clark Kent's canonical amnesia after hitting the Nightfall asteroid.
- The things you never want to lose by megyal, a KakaIru Fest entry in which Kakashi loses his memory and makes assumptions about his relationship with Iruka.
- Morning Shows The Day (or, Iruka and Kakashi's Excellent Adventure) by Avocado Love, a KakaIru fic in which there is both amnesia and de-aging.
- Thunder Gold by scyllablue. Hunter/Dustin. The Wind Ninjas were not the only dojo with three morphers, but there's only one yellow Ranger to go around.
- Genma's Daughter by ClassicalGal. Ranma meets his mother for the first time, he learns the shocking truth about his family. Also a kind of genderswap (more than Ranma 1/2 is usually, that is).
- Not Exactly Funny by Helen in which Jim and Blair both get amnesia and somehow decide they are a couple and start having really hot sex.
- Give Me the Quiet Things by lady_t_220: "The story is absolutely stunning. John awakens with amnesia from a coma after having been beaten during a case. His frustration and anger as he heals and tries to piece his life back together is palpable and gripping and grows more powerful upon re-reading. Lady_t_220 employs John's perspective beautifully. Sherlock's role in the story and the friendship between John and Sherlock is complex and nuanced and heartbreaking." 
- Unidentified by the_drifter, an Earth AU in which Rodney loses his memories: "Fourteen years, eight months, and seven days after John and Rodney meet, the clock starts all over again."
- Forget Me Not (link) by maisierita. Despite being memory-wiped while imprisoned on an alien planet, John and Rodney are very much themselves.
- Rewind, Reboot, Restore (link) by Rheanna. Rodney forgets the last seven years of his life, including his team, friendships, and other important things.
- broaden into boundless day by thingswithwings: After Rodney has an accident, Sheppard tells him about the relationship they shared.
- Where are You, David Starsky by Tooki: "She saw the man staggering along the roadside, at first she though that he was drunk but as she got closer she could see the blood running down his face and a rip in his shirt. Tessa Anderson debated if she should pull over and see if the man needed help, he looked harmless enough but these days you never knew."
- "Beyond Any Choice" by Crystal Ann Taylor in Cheap Thrills #1: marooned on a Vulcanoid planet with an amnesiac Spock, Kirk becomes Spock's pleasure slave when he is mistaken as his property by the natives.
- "Mind's Heart" by Jean Gabriel in First Time #29: Kirk's partial amnesia after hitting his head turns out to be hiding a night together with Spock to which he had reacted with guilt and shame.
- Shine Like the Sun (link) by kyliselle: An accident leaves Spock with amnesia. His last memory is bringing a cadet up on charges for cheating on the Kobayashi Maru - a cadet who, to his disgust, is now his bondmate.
Thematic Lists for amnesia fic
- multifandom: multifandom amnesia list by Sensine (Geocities, now offline)
- due South: master list of slash amnesia fic by viciouscats
- Harry Potter: list of amnesia fic by painless-j
- Starsky & Hutch: list of amnesia fic
- Supernatural: list of Sam/Dean fics (and a few Sam'n'Dean gen ones) at sd_recs
- Supernatural RPF: list of J2 amnesia fics at j2_recs
- The Sentinel: list of gen amnesia fic at the Cascade Library