No Infantile Amnesia

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A childhood memory lurking in Spock's brain.

"I remember stuff from when I was an infant, now! I know we got a 'C' in Psychology, but it's not normal to remember stuff vividly from before the age of four, is it?"

Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Characters in fiction have improbable memory spans; specifically, they can recall events that occurred before the age of three with detail, and their "memories" are true, real, and accurate—not just memories of the event as it was told to them later, and not twisted by suggestion. Remembering one's own birth is particularly common.

Can be Truth in Television - certain memories can stay in one's brain.

Examples of No Infantile Amnesia include:

Anime and Manga

  • Dragonball Z: The first Broly movie. The titular villain has a deep, sadistic, personal hatred for Goku, because Goku's crying bothered him when they were newborns. For about one day maximum. Possibly justified in that this is an alien we're talking about, here. The only other time a Saiyan's infant memories are mentioned in the Anime/Manga is when Raditz asks if Goku received any head injuries when he was young. They way he talked, you'd almost expect that a Saiyan can recall their entire lives.
  • Dennou Coil: Yasako and Isako, the main characters, have gaps in their memory from a specific incident when they were around seven years old. There is some implied memory manipulation or repression involved, but the characters generally react as if they're simply remembering something that they had forgotten.
  • 20th Century Boys: Kanna can remember being held as a baby. She had ESP.

Comic Books

  • Blade:
    • Blade remembers his own birth and the subsequent death of his own mother (occurring only shortly afterwards). Whether this is the result of the whole vampire thing is never addressed.
    • Dr. Doom, in a Blade comic, went significantly beyond this, actually remembering what his mother was doing while he was in the womb. (Then again, mother and son are both potent mages, so...)
  • The Silver Age Superman had total recall as one of his many, many super-powers; he remembered Krypton quite well, even though he was about three when he left.
  • The Adventures of Barry Ween plays it straight. The titular boy genius was conscious and self-aware in the womb. He hypothesizes he has at most ten years from his current age (7? 10?) before his hyperintelligence drives him irreparably crazy, so he wants to live life to the fullest now.
  • In Elf Quest, it's probably caused by Our Elves Are Better.
    • Skywise remembers "a sight burned into his infant brain when [he] was just hours old", including his mother's face.
    • After the memories are triggered by a scent, Teir remembers his mother. One of the panels of that short flashback is drawn from the perspective of an infant being breastfed.
  • Captain America (comics): The Cap's enemy the Red Skull once claimed he could remember being in his mother's womb.
  • In Camelot 3000, Morgan le Fay causes Mordred's reincarnation to remember his previous incarnation's having almost been drowned by King Arthur as an infant.



  • Return of the Jedi: Princess Leia remembers her "real mother", giving her a description of "very beautiful, kind, but sad." Padmé fell to Death by Childbirth in Revenge of the Sith, making it this trope retroactively. That, or Leia had a succession of three mothers, including Padme.
  • Briefly mentioned near the beginning of Ladyhawke, where "the Mouse", in an aside, compares his escape from The Alcatraz to leaving his mother's womb--"God, what a memory!"
  • In Star Trek V the Final Frontier, Sybok conjures Spock's most distressing, self-torturing memory, which turns out to be his father dissing him seconds after his own birth.

Sarek: So human.

    • Perhaps it wasn't a literal memory, but more a symbolic manifestation of Spock's Half-Human Hybrid angst.
      • If we take Deleted Scenes as canon, Star Trek disproves this as a real memory. In the scene showing Spock's birth Sarek seems pleased, and since this took place before Nero's attack to the USS Kelvin is safe to assume that it was unaffected by this event
      • Plus the basic logic of, "he got a human woman pregnant, what exactly did he expect to be born?" It is possible the filmmakers intended this trope, though.
  • The main character in Powder has at least one pre-birth memory: how he killed his own mother by summoning a lightning strike on her while still in the womb. To be fair, the character is supposed to be that weird, and the people he tells the story are as freaked by it as because of his ability to remember that.
  • Defied in Donnie Darko, when Donnie says during a class presentation that anyone who claims to remember anything from before the age of three is lying.
  • In Flash Gordon, when Zarkov is reprogrammed by Ming's secret police, they rewind his memories all the way back to his birth, and even to the womb.
  • Disney's Tangled includes a scene in which Rapunzel has an epiphany and remembers being the king's and queen's baby. The flashback is pretty blurry, though. The opening narration implies she was one day old at the time. She had a lot of hair and was very... movey for a day old infant, so it could be the magic of the flower or something.
  • Blade: A flashback shows his dying mother bleeding from the neck reaching out to him after he was born. It moves Blade to help the doctor who is in a similar plight.
  • Averted in Baby Geniuses, where it is revealed that babies before the age of 2 are ridiculously smart (thanks to the experiences of their past life). Around the age of 2, they "cross over" and forget everything that happened before, becoming normal children. The main characters' adopted father actually manages to teach himself to understand infants' "speech".


  • Harry Potter: In the first book, Harry vaguely remembers a blinding flash of green light. He later finds out that the light was the Avada Kedavra curse which killed his parents when he was one year old. After Hagrid tells him this, he suddenly remembers it with an Evil Laugh accompanying the light.
    • The light part may be justifiable by the fact that more traumatic memories are easier to recall even if you were young at the time. Suddenly remembering Voldemort's accompanying Evil Laugh, on the other hand, definitely falls into this trope.
  • Dune: Alia mentions being able to remember when she was in the womb. Justified in that Jessica OD'd on spice while pregnant.
    • All of the Dune novels toy with this trope. In the sequels more characters are introduced who, like Alia, are infants but already have adult-level intelligence and memories from past lives.
  • In Ender's Shadow, we learn that Bean is able to remember a fair amount of his own infancy, and was lucid enough to hide just before the "clean room" where he has been cared for is raided. This is justified by his eidetic memory. And his genetically-enhanced, ultra-powerful intellect; he was not just remembering it, he was fully conscious, although almost totally non-socialised.
  • Small Gods: Brutha, the hero, has an eidetic memory. He reports that his first memory was a bright light, and then someone slapped him.
  • In The Belgariad's 'autobiography' of Polgara, she starts the story off describing her time in the womb. Her earliest memory is apparently when she and her twin sister split from one embryo to two. Needless to say, she also recalls her babyhood. Polgara is weird: the daughter of an immortal sorceror and his shapeshifting wife.
  • Justified in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel EarthWorld. A device is used to read Fitz's mind, causing him to remember his entire life in reverse:

"Aaaaargh!" Fitz yelled... "I was being born! Oh my god, I was being born!"

    • This is apparently not entirely normal, but as he's a sort of Artificial Human and was created as a copy fairly recently, his old memories are closer to the surface than they should be.
  • Oskar Matzerath, the protagonist of The Tin Drum, remembers being a fetus.
  • Alias from the Forgotten Realms novel Azure Bonds has vivid memories of the day she was born. Except the memories are fake, she's a construct created just a few days before the novel began.
    • So this means that her creator succumbed to an in-character use of this trope, when he gave her those memories.
  • Conan the Barbarian: In Robert E. Howard's story "A Witch Shall Be Born", the witch remembers being exposed.

But the life in me was stronger than the life in common folk, for it partakes of the essence of the forces that seethe in the black gulfs beyond mortal ken. The hours passed, and the sun slashed down like the molten flames of hell, but I did not die—aye, something of that torment I remember, faintly and far away, as one remembers a dim, formless dream.

  • Ray Bradbury's "The Small Assassin". Like Barry Ween, he remembers being in the womb. And he's not to happy to have been expelled from it...
  • In The Demonata, Bec is stated to have a memory so uncannily accurate, she not only remembers being born, but being in the womb itself.
  • It was clearly hyberpole but, according to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there are chemical interrogation techniques so effective that the test subject will remember things that his/her mother forgot while the subject was in utero.
  • Although Sir Apropos of Nothing relays the story of his mother's conception of him via rape and his birth, he very explicitly states that the stories were told to him by his mother and the owner of the inn where he worked.
  • In Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams, protagonist Codi has a recurring nightmare of a "shattering pop" and a blinding flash. Turns out that it's from the flashbulb on her father's camera when he took a picture of her as a newborn.

Live-Action TV

  • A kid in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle recalled being born. Despite Malcolm's insistence that such a thing was impossible and that no one could remember their own birth, the episode played it up as truth, IIRC.
  • Monk: In "Mr. Monk and the Naked Man" Monk remembers being born. Then again, this is played as just another way in which Monk's mind doesn't work like everyone else's.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • Harry Kim claims to remember being in the womb. However, this is never confirmed to be a true memory and Paris thinks it's absurd.
    • In the episode "Q2", Q's son voices how annoyed he was when Janeway cooed over him as a baby. She's surprised he can remember that, but of course, the Q are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
  • On Lost, Ben and Locke both have flashback episodes that include their own births. ("The Man Behind the Curtain" and "Cabin Fever", respectively.)
    • Doesn't quite count, as flashbacks on Lost are not generated by characters reminiscing on past events but by plot itself.
  • Lampshaded and justified in the live-action Birds of Prey; the character who says he remembers something from the age of 2 has superpowered memory.
  • Played straight and averted in Titus; Dave once got so high, he remembered being born.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon Cooper insists he hasn't forgotten one thing since his mother stopped breastfeeding him.

Sheldon: It was a drizzly Tuesday...

Note that it doesn't say how old he was.
  • Family Matters: Played for laughs when Steve Urkel is hypnotized in order to access a semi-repressed memory of overhearing Carl insulting him. When the hypnotist asks him to "go back" and state what he remembers. He goes too far and answers with:

"I'm being born. There's my dad. Oooooh, I'm being pushed back in!"

  • Sister, Sister implies that Tia and Tamera actually remember being in the womb, as when Tamara tries to beg Tia to do something with her, she says "Remember the womb?", with Tia going "Oh no... not the womb." before consenting to Tamera's request.
  • House: Dr. House has a rather interesting variation in one episode of Season 3. Although the patient, a child, doesn't actually remember anything in the womb, he does think he was kidnapped by Aliens. Eventually, House deduces (by mockingly trying to talk to Cuddy's stomach as if she were pregnant) that the patient's Kidnapped by Aliens beliefs were actually the byproduct of portions of his twin being absorbed into his brain during fetal development.
  • In Doctor Who, River Song remembers the Doctor's cot, despite only having been in it for a few moments as a baby. (Then again, the fact that she's part Time Lord could explain her having such an excellent memory).
  • Played for Laughs in a throwaway comment on Boy Meets World: Eric's one memory of his birth was "that cute nurse who slapped me on the tushie."

Newspaper Comics

  • In a Dilbert comic, Dilbert gave his life story, starting with "so there I am in my mom's fallopian tube."
  • Averted in Calvin and Hobbes. Six-year old Calvin gives up writing his autobiography because he can't remember the whole first half of his life.
    • In a later comic where Calvin struggles to remember his past, even wondering if someone had erased to keep secrets hidden, Hobbes comments that he remembers Calvin spending a lot of time burping up. If you take the view that Hobbes is a creation of Calvin's mind, then it's possible that Calvin still has his earliest memories but can't consciously access them. If you consider Hobbes a separate entity, however, it's a subtle retcon of how the two met as it implies he was always around from the start of Calvin's life in one way or another.

Video Games

  • In Final Fantasy VI, it's kind of difficult to figure out just whose memory it is when we see Maduin and Madonna/Madeline's flashback. The only character around who should be able to remember is Maduin... who's technically dead. But the scene in question seems to imply that it's Terra's flashback. Which includes her parents meeting. Before she was even conceived. What?!
    • Though technically dead, as magicite the esper that formed it is not completely 'gone', as shown from numerous instances where the only form you speak with is after it's turned into magicite. Also, the flashback is entirely from Maduin's point of view. It is likely that Maduin is showing his memory using the power he has as magicite—and that his purpose in showing the memory is to cause Terra to remember her origin. However anything Terra remembers of this event that she states afterwards is an example of this trope.
  • In Psychonauts, Sasha's first memory vault sequence takes place when he was a baby.
    • This may tie into the fan theory that psychics mentally mature faster than normal humans.
  • Averted in Mass Effect 2, the Drell have eidetic memory but they don't perfectly remember their very early childhood. Thane Krios speculates that if they remembered the birthing trauma, they would never recover from it.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Shin Budokai, when Broly and Frieza encounter each other before fighting each other, it is implied that Broly also remembers when Planet Vegeta was destroyed and how he barely escaped with his father before they were killed by the explosion, in addition to Goku crying next to him. The same scene also implies that this incident in his life also contributed to his Ax Crazy nature.
  • In the Assassin's Creed games, genetic memory is apparently detailed enough that one can relive the birth of an ancestor through the Animus.
  • Notably averted in the second Jak and Daxter game, when Samos comments at the end that "It's funny, the boy won't remember any of this." To which older Jak replies that he does remember the light.
  • Dragon Quest V starts with the main character dreaming about his own birth.
  • It is implied in the original Japanese script and the script for the remake of Metal Gear Solid, as well as stated in the Director's Commentary for the same game, that Psycho Mantis subconsciously remembers his own mother giving up her own life to give birth to him.
    • Similarly, its implied that Raiden has some memories of his birth in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, as he mentions that he was "born on a rainy day." As his parents were murdered by Solidus while he was still very young, its unlikely that they would have told him.


  • El Goonish Shive: Lampshaded when the implanting of the memories of an alternate-universe self gives Ellen near perfect recall of infancy. Ellen and Elliot discuss the fact that No Infantile Amnesia is not normal.
    • It's also not mentioned whether or not those particular memories began to fade when she gained new implanted memories, farther along her alternate-self's life.
      • However, Ellen did mention remembering the memories from the alternate-self more than that of Elliot's. However, this may simply be because she experienced them the night before, rather than eleven years ago.
  • In Dragon Tails, Goldy's oldest memories are from within his own egg! Bluey's comments suggest he remembers that event, too.

Western Animation

  • In an episode of Rugrats, the babies discussed their earliest memories. Tommy's was being born. Of course, Tommy is only a year old and the entire point of the show is babies with more cognitive skills than probable.
    • In another episode, Chuckie describes a recurring nightmare which the viewer will realize is his birth.
  • Stewie from Family Guy also remembers being a homunculus within a sperm cell, as does his half-brother, Bertram. Then again, they're mutant supergeniuses. Or something.
    • Stewie is an odd case, since he not only remembers being born; he is depicted as having been fully functioning and able to speak, write, and draw a map of Europe prior to his birth. (In one rather disgusting off-hand comment, he tells Brian that he carved "Brooks was here" in the wall of the birth canal.)
  • The same thing happens to Beavis in Beavis and Butthead Do America. However, it was most likely a hallucination brought on by dehydration.
  • Megamind can remember the last thing his parents said to him before he was sent away as an infant. Granted, he's a supergenius alien and seemed to find living with his parents at eight days old to be 'embarassing', so his mind probably works differently.
    • Fridge Brilliance: Megamind had a very unconventional upbringing; for all he knew, getting 'kicked out' at the late age of 8 days probably was embarrassing. Oh god, now I've made myself sad.
  • An odd case from Futurama. Amy expresses surprise that Bender remembers his own birth. Bender replies, "Sure, it was only four years ago."
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Groundkeeper Willie recalls how his father never said anything kind to him and just chewed him out. Cue the Flash Back to Willie's father doing just this. The camera zooms back, and it is revealed that this happened just moments after Willie's birth. Back in the present, Willie claims that these were the last words his father ever said to him.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Invoked with Dr. Doofenschmirtz, who claims that his parents somehow missed witnessing his birth date, even though logically his mom should've been present.
  • Played for Laughs in Super Secret Secret Squirrel when Morocco Mole asks his Evil Twin Scirocco why he hates him so much. This segues into flashbacks within flashbacks, from when they were children, when they were infants, when they were embryos...Secret stops this lunacy before Embryo!Scirroco can explain how the circumstances of their parents meeting led to his hatred of Morocco.

Real Life

  • This trope is quite far from Truth in Television: not only do people not really remember their infancy, most people don't remember their childhood as well as they think they do and can be easily tricked into remembering things that never happened (as demonstrated by, among others, Elizabeth Loftus).
  • Dawn Prince-Hughes Ph. D's biography "Songs of the Gorilla Nation" describes a memory of her own birth, recalling a nurse with horn-rimmed glasses.
  • Ray Bradbury claimed he can remember being born.
  • In Finding Ben by Barbara LaSalle, she states that her high-functioning autistic son Benjamin Levinson remembers the color of the walls of his first bedroom, which he moved out of at 11 months of age.
  • The dubious practice of "rebirthing" as a pseudoscientific therapy for attachment disorder is rooted in this trope.
  • Different cultures tend to remember earlier or later memories. This has something to do with how important recollection is to that culture. And children of age 3 can have clear memories from when they are one year old. While common, infantile amnesia does not seem to be a universal phenomenon with a predictable trigger.
  • One theory accounting for the images associated with alleged Alien Abduction experiences is that they're actually a foggy memory of the abductee's own birth, with "Grey aliens" being masked, white-coated doctors as perceived through a newborn's as-yet-unfamiliar vision. Fully justified, since newborns have an eyesight of about 20/400, according to The Other Wiki.
  • Leo Tolstoi wrote about this trope (rarely happening in Real Life): "It's just a step from a five-year-old child to me, but there's a deep chasm between being five years old and birth." (Paraphrased)