Alice and Bob are very much in love. However, due to cruel fate and improbable circumstances, Bob has recently been the victim of some Laser-Guided Amnesia that specifically targeted their shared memories of being a couple. Now Bob is in the difficult position of neither knowing who he is, nor why this crazy person insists they're in love. Alice has her work cut out for her as well. She'll have to help her Amnesiac Lover remember these lost memories (or having to create entirely new ones) in the hope that unlike lightning, love can strike the same place twice.
This is no easy task, especially if Bob suffers a case of total amnesia. While helping Bob recover the lost pieces of his identity, Alice will be further tortured by being both with and without the man she loves. She won't be able to properly express her love without alienating him, and he's not likely to return her affections, in fact his reactions will fall anywhere from indifferent to creeped out to angry at her and his loss of memory.
Bob may not even want to love Alice back (at least at first), which is especially likely if Amnesiac!Bob is developing his personality along different lines from his old self. Complicating matters, he may instead start falling for someone else.
Where this gets interesting is if both Alice and Bob have suffered the effects of amnesia, in which case they'll somehow manage to gravitate back towards each other as if they shared a Reincarnation Romance. The effects are much the same if Time Travel is involved, though at least in these cases Alice may be able to convince Bob they're a couple in the future thanks to knowledge of his personal life. If Bob is dead in the present, expect Alice to be especially melancholy at the situation.
Compare Relationship Reset Button.
Anime & Manga
- In Strawberry Panic, Amane loses her memories of both the Etoile election and her love for Hikari. She gets them back after a while, when hearing Hikari sing.
- Ayashi no Ceres inverts this: Tooya is an amnesiac when he and Aya fall in love to begin with. It's when he gets his memories back that he forgets about her. Then those memories turn out to be fake...
- In Meru Puri, a magic spell on Prince Aram wipes all his memories of his human fiancee, Airi. Subsequent plot involves Aram thinking Airi is a Stalker with a Crush, Airi trying to make Aram remember her, and the people who created the spell trying to stop her.
- Unrequited variation in Code Geass: Shirley is very much in love with oblivious Lelouch, yet some very traumatic events in her life force him to erase all memories of him from her mind. Over the next year, she eventually falls in love with him all over again, and again when she eventually regains her original memories, including that part where she discovered that he was responsible for her father's death.
- Hibiki no Mahou: Master Shirotsuki must sacrifice memories in order to use his magic. Things become tragic when he continually forgets his lover Yui, even though she tries her best to keep reminding him every time it happens. He eventually ends the cycle when he tells her to leave him the next time he forgets.
- In Sailor Moon, Mamoru/Darien becomes one of these in the anime-only Makaiju arc, due to being the last of everyone involved in the previous arc to regain his memories.
- Princess Sakura in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, at least before the Mind Screw plot sets in. She's even seen forgetting all about her past with Syaoran again after she figured out that he must have been important to her before she lost her memory
- Played with in To Heart 2 Takaaki an Iron Claw so severe that he gets amnesia, cue every girl within earshot hearing about it and trying to convince the Lucky Bastard that they were lovers.
- Berserk's Casca has a severe, trauma-induced case of this as a result of the horrible events of the Eclipse which drove her insane and rendered her mute. One can hardly blame Guts for being madder than hell at Griffith for driving her into this state, but leaving her to deal with her trauma alone for two years to pursue vengeance against him did not help matters for her at all.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, Neo Roanoke ends up in this position once he's taken prisoner by the crew of the Archangel, who confirm that he's actually Captain Murrue Ramius's presumed-dead lover Mu La Flaga - at least in body. Amnesiac Dissonance sets in immediately, to the point that when Murrue tries to set him free, he comes back of his own accord to help the Archangel in battle, even though he doesn't recover his memories until the finale.
- In the recent Taskmaster mini, it is revealed that his ability to copy other peoples fighting styles comes at the price of his personal memories. He eventually remembers that he used to be a SHIELD agent and the waitress that has been tagging along with him is really his wife and also a SHIELD agent. Sadly, To save her he copies the fighting style of the guy who's attacking them, thus causing him to forget her again, leaving Mercedes alone once again. She even implies that this isn't the first time she has managed to make him remember her.
- The end of Dark City.
- At the end of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel and Clementine get a second chance at romance. (Both-have-amnesia variant.) Word of God indicates the sequence during the closing credits is meant to indicate they go through this over and over afterwards
- The film 50 First Dates was all about this. Due to a brain injury, the female protagonist can't form new long-term memories, and when she falls asleep, forgets everything since her car accident. The male protagonist is a Casanova who enjoys "meeting" her and winning her love every day.
- The Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel movie Overboard has this trope invoked. Kurt Russel's character takes advantage of Goldie's amnesia to fool her into believing she's his wife as revenge for stiffing him on a closet he built for her. Of course, they actually do fall in love.
- Done very well in the Harrison Ford movie Regarding Henry. A shooting victim in a store robbery, the main character loses his memory and, in essence, becomes someone his wife has to fall in love with all over again (but a much nicer person than he was).
- In Time Cop, Van Damme's character is in this situation regarding his wife who is dead in the present.
- In A Very Long Engagement, Mathilde eventually learns that Manech is alive, but entirely lost his memory and has been given a new identity. The film ends with their "introduction."
- Arashi no Yoru ni: Near the end of the movie, Gabu gets caught in an avalanche and forgets who he is and his relationship with Mei. It is one of the few times in the movie when Mei really loses his cool, and he damn well does. Made even worse by the fact that Gabu is not just apathetic to Mei - he actually wants to eat him. He gets better, thankfully.
- The Muppets Take Manhattan: This happens to Kermit after he is hit by a car. When he Miss Piggy tries to convince him that they are in love, he makes a series of pig jokes which result in Piggy punching him across the room. This, of course, results in his memory returning completely.
- The Vow: A couple on their way to being Happily Married get into a car accident and suddenly she doesn't remember who she is or who her husband is. Probably Based on a True Story where the poor husband's first conversation after a series of strokes was "It's me, I'm your wife!" "What's a 'wife'?".
- In "Random Harvest", based on a novel by James Hilton, a shell-shocked amnesiac veteran wanders away from a hospital and meets a music hall performer. They make a life together until he is hit by a car and gets up off the ground with his old memories back, and no memory of being with the other woman. He returns to his old life and we are surprised to find that a few years later his secretary is his wife, who tracked down her missing husband and got the job to be near the man she loves hoping that his memory will return. It does. Check out the Carol Burnett version "Rancid Harvest"
- In The Dresden Files, Lea temporarily takes away Susan's memories of her relationship with Harry. Which wouldn't be as bad if it didn't happen in the middle of a vampire ball, just as Harry needed her to trust him and just run for her life.
- Averted with Jason and Piper in The Heroes of Olympus. Turns out they were never dating in the first place.
- But it seems that both Jason/Reyna and Percy/Annabeth are playing the trope straight.
- There's also Clarisse and Chris in the original series.
- One of the Amelia Peabody books features Amelia's husband Emerson losing his memories of meeting, falling in love with, and marrying her.
- The trilogy that makes up the final Sword of Truth books features a spell that destroys everyone's memory of Richard's wife Kahlan, including Kahlan's memories of her own life and her marriage to Richard. Richard is immune to the spell and needs to find a way to help Kahlan and reverse the spell without revealing their relationship to her for fear that knowledge of their love would interfere with the counterspell. She does find out, but because she had already fallen in love with Richard again, it didn't matter.
- In L. M. Montgomery's A Tangled Web, a World War I veteran has grown somewhat fond of his wife over the years as she nursed his injuries, but he doesn't remember their falling in love and marrying. Until his head gets whacked at the end.
- Louise Cooper's Aisling inverts this trope: a Dogged Nice Guy lies to the heroine after she loses her memory due to head injury, claiming that she's engaged to marry him. They'd known each other, but she was uninterested and engaged to someone else anyway. He's treated surprisingly sympathetically for someone who takes advantage of her in that way.
- In The Innkeeper's Song, Lukassa can't remember anything of her life or her lover Tikat, because of her recent death and subsequent revival.
- In Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom novel Magic to the Bone, having caused Victory-Guided Amnesia in herself, Allie learns at the end that she had fallen in love in the course of the novel. She and the man meet again, tenatively, at the end.
Live Action TV
- Back in the olden days (like the '70s) on As the World Turns, heroine Kim lost her memory, including those of her love Dan. Scheming Susan worked this to advantage, even going as far as to attempt erasure of Kim's answering machine message proclaiming that she did indeed remember Dan and their love. Susan failed and Kim and Dan were reunited.
- The plot of an episode of Doc, made more complicated by the fact that the fiancée did remember him, just as her boss, not her lover.
- Happens towards the end of Dollhouse to Paul specifically. Victor and Sierra, being Dolls, have their memories wiped constantly and yet still gravitate towards each other regardless of imprint.
- Occurs in an episode of Castle. The man suffering from the amnesia never really gets his memories back, but since he can't remember why he and his wife divorced, they are able to get back together.
- In an episode of Medium, Ariel flashes forwards to being married with a child and not remembering anything beyond high school. This is what it looks like to her husband. Then she flashes forwards again and he tells her that she never recovered her memories the last time. Yikes.
- An episode of House featured a patient who turned up in the ER with no memory of who she was. The team pieces enough together to figure out who she is and upon showing up at her home to do their usual search (with the patient in-tow IIRC), they find out she is married. Her husband spends the rest of the episode trying to help her remember their life together, only alienating her in the process (she also had forgotten the traumatic death of her brother which catalyzed her to make many changes in her life years earlier, and she is shocked to learn many details of her life contradict her naturally reckless attitude). At the end of the episode she still lacks her memories, but the husband shows up with flowers and simply begins courting her again (per House's off-screen suggestion) and she seems very receptive.
- Darkly darkly subverted in a One Life to Live storyline. Todd rescues an amnesiac Marty from a car wreck and nurses her back to health. He convinces her that they were friends in college and that he was secretly in love with her from afar. She falls in love with him based on this "friendship" and seduces him while in his care. It's only afterwards she learns that not only did he neglect to tell her that she had a son who was convinced she was dead, but that when they were in college together, he was the ringleader of her gang rape.
- Used in Chinese Paladin 3 between Changqing and Zixuan, due to two previously failed Reincarnation Romances. In this case, it's the "I don't know why this person is bugging me (but I kind of like it)" version. Changqing eventually regains his memories, but doesn't stay with her. Initially.
- Occurred in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch that parodied daytime soaps. Sabrina's beau Harvey was knocked out and lost his memory. Libby tried to pretend she and Harvey were in a relationship, but eventually Sabrina got through to him.
- In the episode "Adam" of Torchwood, the titular Adam is actually a memory altering alien which infiltrates the facility. While inserting memories of himself into Gwen, he accidentally erases those of her fiancee Rhys. When she gets home, not only does she not remember who is he, but thinks he's some psychopathic stalker who wants to rape her. However, once she gets over the initial shock (and her friends try to jog her memory), she is perfectly willing to let Rhys remind her of their relationship.
- Interesting example in Doctor Who. When Rory not only dies, but is erased from existence, Amy forgets everything about him. Eventually he manages to remind her (he comes back as a Roman- don't ask).
- A season later, they both manage to forget who each other are. All Amy knows is that she's in love with a man named Rory; she just doesn't know what he looks like. What a shame that Officer Pond never asked what Captain Williams' first name was. They still sort it out anyway.
- Virtually the entire cast of Once Upon a Time. The very premise of the show is that all the characters have been ripped apart from the people they love, and their memories have been erased. The separated lovers still find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other, but they don't know why, which is especially troublesome when many of them have already married other people since the amnesia set in.
- In "Yoiyami No Uta" from Sound Horizon's Märchen album, the amnesiac Märchen gets the feeling that he had once been in love, only for the seven dead princesses (except for one: the very girl he loved) to assure him that it's only his imagination.
- Sly Cooper plays with this trope by faking the amnesia and then starting a Relationship Upgrade with Inspector Fox
- Rachel is this to Locke in Final Fantasy VI. While exploring a cave, she falls and loses her memory after some nasty head trauma. Her family basically forces Locke to leave and say that him being around and trying to get her remember him just causes her more pain. He becomes a Failure Knight after he later learns that Rachel was killed when The Empire invaded the village she lived in, and she remembered him right before she died. The whole flashback where this is revealed in the World of Ruin is just a massive Tear Jerker.
- Again with Sir Fratley, amnesiac lover of Freya in Final Fantasy IX. A particularly bittersweet example in that the game shows this to still be the case in the epilog. However, he is beginning to return Freya's affections and she plans on trying to start over anew anyway.
- Cave Story: The protagonist and Curly Brace (if you hold to the interpretation that they are a Battle Couple). In the aftermath of the Core fight, Curly sustains damage and can't remember you at all the next time you meet. You have to backtrack to nearly the beginning of the game to find an item that restores her memory. When she does get her memory back, she realizes that all your in-game interactions with her were amnesiac romance--you had been partners ten years ago, and then both she and you sustained amnesia prior to the start of the game.
- Subverted in Tales of the Abyss. Natalia and Luke are arranged to be married and have a Childhood Marriage Promise. But later, Luke loses ALL his memories, and seven years later Natalia still can't make him fall in love with her. Then it turns out that Luke DOESN'T have amnesia, he's a clone of the real Luke and took his place, the real one having adopted another identity but having his memories intact. Needless to say, Natalia stops bothering the clone.
- In Planescape: Torment, Deionarra has this problem: She loves The Nameless One, but the incarnation she fell in love with is long since gone and subsequent ones do not know who she is. Her love is so strong that it binds her to the world even after death. It takes on a decisively tragic bent when you learn that the incarnation she fell in love with never loved her in the first place, but purposefully deceived and used her so she would stay bound to the planes and keep on serving his designs even after death. The Nameless One has the option to reciprocate her feelings at the end of the game (or at least claim that you do out of kindness) to grant her peace.
- A non-romantic instance in The World Ends With You. Rhyme has suffered Laser-Guided Amnesia, and fails to remember that her partner Beat is her older brother. However, Rhyme is such a pure, happy little girl that she still remembers what a good person her older brother was, and talks about him and his good deeds endlessly to Beat. However, Most of that was either lies told by Beat for Rhyme's benefit, or instances from several years ago, back before he grew away from her and began to hate her just as much as the rest of his family.
- Wait, what? Beat died trying to save her, how did he hate her? Not to mention that apparently her memories of him were his most important thing, since they were taken as his entry fee.
- Becoming an Eternal in Eien no Aselia causes everyone to forget that person ever existed. Only similar people will remember the way things were before. Which means that if it happens to you, your lover isn't going to remember. Except while they don't remember, their emotions will still be there. They'll just be very confused.
- Rule of Rose makes an extremely unconventional twist of this trope. It turns out that Jennifer swore everlasting true love with Wendy when they were children, but Wendy went Yandere when Jennifer got a puppy on the side, eventually leading to the deaths of everybody in the orphanage except Jennifer who lost her memory from the trauma, and the game is set in her muddled memories trying to reclaim what she lost, even though both subjects of her love are long since dead.
- In the Dating Sim Always Remember Me, Amy's boyfriend Aaron loses his memory of the past few years (including their relationship). She goes through a lot of stress and a couple of emotional breakdowns while trying to help him regain his memories. That is, if you choose to stay with Aaron instead of pursuing other eligible bachelors in town.
- In Frozen Essence, the protagonist Mina suffers from Trauma-Induced Amnesia after she's freed from her Crystal Prison and hence has no memory or clue that the Oracle who rescued her and the mysterious voice that occasionally comforts or helps her is actually Zareh, her childhood friend who's in love with her and has worked hard for a long time to be able to help her. Zareh chooses not to tell Mina about this in most story paths because he believes that she'd be happier not remembering anything about her past and/or being with someone else, but his own story path has Mina regain her memories and choose to either accept or reject him.
- In Vinci and Arty, a knock to the head makes Vinci forget everything that has happened since he moved from Greece to the United States, like learning the English language or being in love with Arty. What makes it worse for Arty is that pre-immigration Vinci was apparently kinda homophobic.
- The trope is the main focus on the The Simpsons episode, "Regarding Margie", in which Marge got amnesia from bumping her head on a stool.
- Kim Possible suffers Phlebotinum-induced amnesia in the fourth season episode "Clean Slate". She soon remembers that Ron is her best friend, but finds it laughably unlikely that they were dating.
- Inverted in Toy Story 3, both Evil Buzz and Spanish Buzz are still in love with Jessie. However, because there has not been any Relationship Upgrade, to Jessie this isn't the loss of a boyfriend, but of just a close and reliable friend.