13 Times Movies And TV Shows Totally Cheated By Giving A Character Amnesia

List Rules
Vote up the most eye-rollingly bad amnesia subplots.

Are you, or is someone you know, a side character in a film suffering from a sudden case of the Lazy Amnesia Plot Device? If so, you could be eligible for a movie ticket (with popcorn!) and a sincerely written apology from the writer in question (who promises to spend more time on this apology than they did coming up with said plot device). 

It's a tale as old as time: Boy meets girl, girl perishes under mysterious circumstances, boy discovers girl was actually just lost and suffering from amnesia, boy marries girl. 

A character in a film suffering from amnesia is a tried-and-true plot device - so what's the big deal? If the movie or television show is actually about amnesia, then there isn't a problem. But, in the case of the films and shows on this list, amnesia is used as a cheap trick to resolve plot devices, revive the lifeless, fix plot holes, and shoehorn conflict. The following is a collection of Hollywood's most blatant attempts at cheating its way out of solid storytelling with a good ol' amnesia plot twist.

  • The Fast and Furious franchise is no stranger to retcons - one of the largest of which takes place in the sixth entry to the franchise, Fast & Furious 6

    In the series' fourth outing, Fast & Furious, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), a longtime member of the crew and love interest of de facto leader Dom (Vin Diesel), is believed to have lost her life in a car wreck. But, as the audience finds out two films later, she never passed. Instead, she was found by the bad guys and allowed to join their crew because she had very conveniently lost her memory and forgotten which side she was on. By the time the subsequent seventh installment was over, Letty had miraculously recovered her lost memories.

    Sometimes you decide to eliminate a character a little too fast, and a little too furious, and you have no choice but to open your Hollywood screenwriter's handbook and find a cheap way out. Enter: the amnesia twist.

  • 2
    89 VOTES

    What are Superman's most famous powers? Well, he's super strong, fast, and invulnerable. He has laser vision and frost breath, he can fly, and he can wipe a person's memory with a single kiss.

    You may not remember that last power, and maybe that's because Superman gave you a little smooch. Or, maybe because it was a cheap plot device added to the end of Superman II so the writers could resort back to the status quo and make Lois Lane forget Clark Kent's alter ego.

    There's nothing superhero writers love more than the status quo. Many writers report trouble sleeping unless Peter Parker is a 23-year-old photographer, all of the original costume-wearers are alive and active, and the main roster of the Avengers have all rejoined the team.

    In all fairness, the super kiss did appear once before in the comics - but who cares? Lots of silly stuff happens in the comics.

  • 3
    85 VOTES

    Spider-Man 2 ended with Harry Osborn (James Franco) discovering that his father had been the Green Goblin all along. Spider-Man 3 began with the writers deciding they wanted to focus their screen time on two other villains instead, so they had to create an out for the whole Harry Osborn/Green Goblin thing. 

    Harry goes after Spider-Man at the beginning of the third installment, then gets injured during their fight and develops amnesia - thus removing him from the playing field until the end of the film, when he can be miraculously cured of his amnesia and come to Peter Parker's aid.

  • 4
    38 VOTES
    Miami Vice
    Photo: NBC

    After three seasons of stylishly solving crimes along the beaches of Miami, the writers were apparently looking to spice up this police procedural. Their spice of choice was to give one of the show's leads, Sonny Crockett, amnesia, and then have him return in the fourth season as the main antagonist. We're not doctors, but that doesn't seem to be how amnesia works. 

    While this is certainly outlandish, serialized television would probably be more fun if this exact move had become a trope and more shows had followed down this path. Imagine if Chandler had spent a season of Friends as a nefarious, mustache-twirling kingpin.