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Chun-Li: My father saved his village at the cost of his own life. You had him shot as you ran away! A hero at a thousand paces.
This trope is what happens when the critical event that started the hero on his journey was an atrocity by the Big Bad that he has long since forgotten (possibly due to it being just one of many) and most likely never given a second thought.
This is often used to show that what the villains and Big Bads do is so routine that it is easy to forget even the most heinous crimes. This causes the audience (and the Hero) to hate him even more and give the Hero further reason to give him a Karmic Death.
This trope goes hand in hand with the Unknown Rival; a villain who doesn't know or care about his heroic rival probably won't care much about what made said person annoyed at him to begin with. This is another example of how A Million Is a Statistic.
Often a villain trope, but sometimes this happens from the other perspective when a minor villain tries to get their revenge against a hero, who spends so much time stopping people like them they left no impression.
Anime and Manga
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 1: Zeppeli notes that while he doesn't know Dio personally, the Stone Mask that gave Dio his vampire powers is responsible for the death of his father. Zeppeli asks Dio how many lives he's sucked away to heal his wounds from his previous fight with Jonathan. Dio coolly asks Zeppeli in return if he remembers every piece of bread he's ever eaten. Cue It's Personal.
- A (sort of) heroic example in Mugen in Samurai Champloo. On at least two occasions, when a psycho is shown harming Mugen's True Companions and pulling a No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me, Mugen responds that he has no idea who that person is, and has no recollection of the nasty thing he did to them. It's possible that Mugen actually does remember and acting this way was strategic, as it works effectively to distract the psychos from their Evil Gloating and upset them enough to make mistakes.
- In Bleach:
- When Ichigo comes face-to-face with the Hollow that killed his mother, Grand Fisher doesn't remember the incident at all until looking into Ichigo's memories.
- Hilarious hero example. Ichigo can't remember a punk he beat up four years ago, who had to move town because his dad got transferred and was looking forward to a rematch.
- Odd example with Kurotsuchi, who shows Ishida a photo of the last Quincy he experimented on, and mentioned how he kept screaming the name of his student or grandson but he can't remember what his name was, since he 'stops remembering once he loses interest'. The student and grandson in question is Ishida, and he reminds Kurotsuchi of his name. Violently.
- Similar to Ichigo, Might Guy of Naruto cannot remember his previous encounters with the highly-memorable Kisame Hoshigaki. Each time Kisame was eager for a rematch and remembered Guy, but all Guy could manage to piece together after ten minutes of battle was "You wield a sword!"
- Even funnier; Kisame is a notorious international criminal and is near or at the top of the most wanted list of several villages, including Konoha. When he is first introduced the other Jounin recongize him on sight, despite never having met him before, due to how notorious he is, an he should have been even more notorious after being identified as a member of the international terrorist group Akatsuki, and as partner of the yet more infamous Uchiha Itachi, whom Gai knows personally. Yet Gai runs into Kisame three times and nearly died the second, and he still doesn't remember him.
- Although after Kisame takes his own life to prevent the heroes from interrogating him, Gai says that he is a true shinobi, and that he will never forget his name.
- This may be simply another example of Gai's Bunny Ears Lawyer personality. The first two times that Gai fought Kisame, Kisame was actually using a special clone, not the his own body. So to Gai, the first two times probably didn't count. On the other hand, Gai may actually be that ditzy - it's hard to tell.
- In One Piece:
- During the war between Whitebeard and the Marines, two of the Newkamas challenge Hawkeye Mihawk, saying that he may have beaten them before, but they were stronger now. Mihawk takes them out effortlessly, telling them as he does so that he doesn't bother to remember every weakling he cuts down.
- In a heroic example, Luffy has this towards some of his weaker early opponents: While he recoginzed Coby during their reunion, he had apparently forgotten who Helmeppo was, when he ran into Buggy again, his reaction (in contrast to Buggy's shocked expression) was merely "Ah, it's just Buggy", and he fails to recall details like Buggy's earlier weapon, the massively explosive Buggy Ball.
- Also, Zoro in movie 2, with Pin Joker.
- In Rosario + Vampire, Ms. Marin's husband was killed by the siren Kanade Kamiya. The confrontation is as follows:
Ms. Marin: It's you, isn't it? You're the one who killed my husband in our inn four years ago.
- In Outlaw Star, Gene immediately recognizes the MacDougall brothers' ship as the one that fired on and killed his father. He confronts Ron MacDougall, who cannot remember the specific job, although he admits it's probable he did it since he's done so many similar jobs.
- In Samurai Deeper Kyo, a minor villain who was disgraced by Kyo during the war had an opportunity for vengeance after years of training for the very moment. Cue crowning moment of awesome when Kyo pretends to remember to get the man's hopes up, only to respond with "I didn't remember who you were, I just realized what a dumbass you are."
- Hunter X Hunter:
- Used in the first OVA...when Kurapika confronts one of the villains, he doesn't remember what he's accused of. You'd think murdering an entire clan in order to steal their eyeballs would stick out in your memory....
- In the manga, he doesn't remember either, until having a difficult time with Kurapika stirs his memory, and he confesses they were skilled and hard to kill.
- In Gun X Sword, Ray confronts the Claw in episode 13 who previously killed his fiancee, Shino. The Claw is an extremely pleasant old man and tells Ray that he has no problem with Ray killing him, but first politely asks him why. Ray tells him of the murder, yet the Claw cannot remember any of it. When Ray summons Volkain (the mech Shino was working on) a few minutes later, the Claw finally remembers what Ray is talking about and basically replies that Ray's grievance/goal is trifling compared to his own, and so Ray will have to wait.
- Detective Conan: When he sees Shinichi Kudo apparently alive when he was presumed dead, Man in Black Vodka asks his partner Gin about it, only to have Gin remark that he doesn't remember the names of everybody he kills.
- Sort of heroic example in Black Lagoon. In the "El Baile de la Muerte" arc, Revy teams up with Shenhua, Sawyer the Cleaner, and Rotton the Wizard, all mercenaries who were previously enemies in the "Greenback Jane" arc, and all of whom Revy had left for dead. While Revy knows the first two, she has no recollection at all of shooting Rotton, a hapless Joke Character, nor does she even know who he is. This greatly amuses Sawyer and Shenhua.
- Another Heroic Comedic Sociopath example: Haruhi Suzumiya is challenged to "a duel" by the Computer Club president in retribution for her cruel Kick the Dog moment against him way back when.....but by this point, Haruhi had honestly forgotten all about that.
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- A heroic example Played for Laughs: the former Corrupt Bureaucrat Yoki lost everything after being defeated by the Elric brothers, but when he encounters them, neither remembers him. There's then a whole Unreliable Voiceover in silent movie style where he complains about his travels, but the Elrics don't pay any attention to him (and neither does anyone else in the room), In this case, the trope is used to compress several episodes worth of Filler into a short scene. Everything Yoki complains about happened in the manga and the first anime, but was cut from Brotherhood to focus more on the main story arc. Barry the Chopper gets the same treatment.
- Inverted by Kimblee, who remembers everyone he's ever killed and treats doing otherwise as unprofessional.
- Heroic example in Shaman King. In his initial appearance Tokagero possesses Ryu and seeks revenge against Amidamaru for killing him. When he reveals himself he's horrified that Amidamaru doesn't remember him on sight, and further that explaining he was the leader of a bandit gang Amidamaru slaughtered just prompt the revelation that Amidamaru slaughtered hundred of bandit gangs and couldn't be bothered to remember them all.
- In Ginga Densetsu Weed, Hiro reminds Kamakiri that he (Kamakiri) killed his father and took out one of his eyes. In response, the Irish Wolfhound retorts that he doesn't remember, thus starting a fight.
- Rolo from Code Geass comments at one point that he can't remember how many people he's killed, comparing it to how most people don't remember how many times they've brushed their teeth.
- In Weiss Kreuz, Aya has devoted his life to bringing down Reiji Takatori, the man who killed his parents and left his sister in a seemingly-irreversible coma. When he finally confronts his nemesis atop a burning skyscraper Takatori has no idea who he is, still less what the people Aya's going on about have to do with him.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann does this in the manga, where Viral brushes away a death threat by Kittan by telling him that his destroyed village was only one of hundreds; understandably throwing Kittan into a bloodthirsty rage.
- Done in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. When Jose tells the heroes that Yliaster has killed people in order to keep history on its course, Sherry asks if this means her parents were among them. Jose replies they can't be expected to remember everyone they kill specifically.
- Used in Vinland Saga where Askeladd claims not to remember the 'blood oath' Thorfinn has sworn against him and whoever this 'Thors' guy he supposedly slew was. It's an Invoked Trope on his part because Thorfinn gets worse at fighting the angrier he is.
- Myria hates the protagonists for something they did to her, but they have no idea what it is. Subverted/parodied in that Myria can't remember what it is until another character taunts her about it.
- Happens again with Team Fallen Angels, though they manage to remember after a few hours. Heck, there's implied to be a lot of guys seeking revenge on the "heroes", none of whom they recognize.
- A non-villainous example in Ninja Scroll. A woman confronts Jubei, who she claims killed her husband. He does eventually remember when she gives him some specific details, but at first he admits he's killed a lot of people, which doesn't make it easy to remember specific ones.
- In the "Mushroom Samba" episode of Cowboy Bebop, a minor one-shot character shows up in town while dragging a coffin behind him. He was planning on taking his revenge on a drug seller named Dominoe because his shrooms killed his brother by making him laugh to death. Dominoe doesn't remember who this guy is because his shrooms had already messed his own head up pretty good.
- Cypha of Huckebein from Magical Records Lyrical Nanoha Force, who had committed genocide enough times that, when Signum questioned her about the massacre of the settlement in Uninhabited World 14 three months ago, she doesn't remember. Cypha does eventually remember once Signum gave more details, though not in a manner that enamoured her to the Belkan Knight.
Cypha: *while smirking* However, rejoice. I remember now. The one who left no adult or children alive on that day at that place was, without a doubt, myself.
- At first Hakkai from Saiyuki doesn't remember Chin Yisou, the last of the thousand youkai he killed and the one who deliberatly kick started his Karmic Transformation This is vaguely understandable as Hakkai was at the time consumed with grief over Kanan's suicide and Yisou returns as a shikigami, if you kill someone you dont normally expect them to come back, at least before hazel; arrives in the story
- In the Mahou Shoujo Isuka OVA, when Isuka confronts the Witch Hunter who raped and killed her sister, he flatly tells her that he doesn't bother to remember all of the Witches he's killed. This turns out to be a lie; he does remember, and said this just to get a rise out of her.
- In Tiger and Bunny, Barnaby Brooks Jr. has spent twenty years trying to track down the man who murdered his parents. When he finally confronts the man responsible, not only does the criminal not remember it, he mocks Barnaby for expecting him to keep track.
- Of course, he cannot remember killing Barnaby's parents, because he was in completely different place that day.
- In Claymore, Clare's one mission in life is to kill Priscilla, who killed her mother-figure Teresea. The moment of her death is seared into Clare's memory and drives her to kill, kill, kill when faced with difficult opponents, especially when she finally faces Priscilla for the first time in many years. However, Priscilla doesn't seem to remember her at all, since she only familiarizes herself with Clare because she smells like Teresea, whom Priscilla is obsessed with. Furthermore, on that fateful day, Priscilla totally ignored Clare because she only killed those who weren't young girls.
- In Pokémon Special, upon first meeting Team Rocket Admin Koga, Misty saw him forcing a Ryhorn into evolution, and she realizes that he was the one responsible for doing a similar experiment on her Gyarados.
Koga: You can't expect us to remember every Pokémon that we experiment on.
- Kyou Kara Ore Wa!! has many examples, as the protagonists have beaten a lot of people, but the most incredible example is the so-called Perizoma Mask: right before the start of the series Mitsuhashi gave him the nickname, made him The Butt Monkey and generally ruined his life (and, in the process, getting the idea of trying and stand out with blond hair and becoming a badass) before moving to Chiba, and when the poor Perizoma Mask finally tracks him down Mitsuhashi can't even remember him.
- A friendlier version occurs in Azumanga Daioh, after Sakaki defeats Kagura at the sports fest. When the new school year comes around, Kagura joins Sakaki's class, eager to continue her one-sided rivalry. However, when she mentions the sports fest, all she gets is a blank stare, as Sakaki doesn't remember her at all.
- High School Debut has a heroic, non-violent example: Haruna used to be on her middle-school softball team, and had a reputation as an unbeatable pitcher. A batter from an opposing team who lost a game to her deliberately seeks her out later for a rematch, and is appalled to learn that, not only does Haruna not remember her, but Haruna doesn't even play softball anymore.
- The heroic example happens in Ranma ½ during Ryoga's introduction, and is Played for Laughs. Ryoga attacks Ranma, who briefly can't remember him. The reason for the feud is then seemingly revealed: Ranma had been cutting in front of Ryoga in the tuckshop line, and had then left an appointed battle with Ryoga when Ryoga was four days late due to his incredible ability to get lost. This turns out to be a partial red herring when Ryoga reveals he had followed Ranma to Jusenkyo seeking revenge, and received a particularly unpleasant curse due to the actions of Ranma and his father, this being his new main grudge against Ranma.
- Flintheart Glomgold has held a grudge against Scrooge McDuck ever since the Humiliation Conga Scrooge put him through in revenge for double-crossing and robbing him in Don Rosa's story The Terror of the Transvaal. Scrooge didn't even bother to learn the guy's name and to this day probably still doesn't know.
- The Joker saw Barbara Gordon (who he shot and paralyzed for life) briefly when she interrogated him and didn't recognize her. He even asked her if he had put her in that wheelchair. Later, he met her AGAIN and didn't recognize her, though he was impressed by her complete lack of fear in facing him. Babs wondered to herself if he's killed so many people it had just blurred together. Hours later, on his car ride back from town, it finally came back to him, and he immediately turned around to torment her further.
"No, I don't keep count. But you do. And I love you for it."
- Actually, that quote is from the Joker's appearance on a Late Night talk show. Specifically in response to the host asking if the Joker knew his kill count, actually told him the count, and asked if he even remembered the victims himself.
- Spider-Man once faced a guy called "The Master of Vengeance" seeking revenge because Spider-Man put him in jail for dealing drugs. Peter, who does that sort of thing all the time, didn't remember him at all.
- A more famous example is Eddie Brock, a.k.a. Venom. Peter knows him all too well now, but when Venom first unmasked, he recognized Brock only as a disgraced reporter whose picture had been in the papers. He'd never met the man and had no idea he blamed Spider-Man for his ruined career.
- After Spidey's unmasking during Marvel's Civil War event, the Chameleon hired a bunch of lesser known members of Spidey's Rogues Gallery and set them on the already beleaguered hero. When Will O'Wisp makes his grand entrance, Spidey pretends like he doesn't recognize the poor guy. Or at least he claims in his thought captions to be pretending. Honest!
- Inverted/subverted by the second X-Factor team; three rather random villains died without X-Factor ever actually encountering them, and were resurrected by Charon as X-Factor's "greatest, and deadliest enemies!". To which X-Factor replied "WHO?!", "Only WE could have a bunch of "greatest enemies" that we never heard of!" and continued with several Genre Savvy quips about them being mistaken for X-Force, or the one team without action figures.
- Judge Dredd has a few:
- Invoked: Dredd is held at gunpoint by a woman whose husband he once arrested, but he tells her that he arrests a lot of people and can't be expected to remember them all. However, it turns out that he does remember, and he was just playing for time.
- This trope was played for real when Whitey, the first perp we get to see Dredd arrest in the comics, escapes from captivity in the 10th Anniversary story with nothing but a grudge against Dredd on his mind. However, Dredd has no recollection of the man at all.
- And in a similar later story, Bert Dubinski, the very first guy Dredd arrested back when he was still in training, is released from prison after thirty-five years and seeks Dredd out, believing he must have some significance to the lawman. He does not respond well to finding out Dredd regards him as just another criminal.
- Used rather darkly in Transmetropolitan when Spider, the Anti-Hero protagonist, is revealed to have left one of his previous assistants before he left the City in a bit of a fix by being grossly negligent or uncaring (or, considering it is Spider, both) -- a seedy bar was using mood alteration devices to create illegal orgies and filmed their customers. Spider went undercover to reveal it, but only cared to protect himself, neither protecting nor warning said assistant. The results went about as well as expected for her and she's carried a grudge ever since. Spider doesn't recall her name when prompted about the event and doesn't seem to care.
- Mister Rictus has hints of this in Wanted. At one point his Mooks murder a boy's parents in front of him, and he orders them to leave the boy alive; his explicit hope is that the boy will swear himself to vengeance, and "give me someone interesting to fight in my old age." It's implied he does this sort of thing a lot.
- In the Iron Man storyline Armor Wars II, we see a revenge-driven genius named DeWitt mastermind Tony's near-destruction. We had never seen the guy before, but the big surprise was that Tony hadn't either—when the dust cleared and he finally got to see his dead enemy's face, he didn't recognize it. Over the next few issues, Tony was actually quite shaken over this. He'd never wanted to be an industrial shark, crushing opponents without even knowing it. (This was the whole point as far as writer John Byrne was concerned, but fans must have complained, because DeWitt was gratuitously brought back later for just long enough to explain why he hated Tony.)
- Another heroic example happens in the Nikolai Dante story "The Memoirs of Nikolai Dante". After Nikolai finishes telling Odessa his life story, a guy with a gun bursts in, ranting about how Nikolai ruined his life. Nikolai is at first nonplussed, and when the guy explains that Nikolai killed his comrades and ran off with his girlfriend, Nikolai responds that that sounds like the sort of thing he would do, but the guy would need to be more specific.
- Anti-Heroic example: In the penultimate issue of Garth Ennis' Punisher Max "Widowmaker" arc, Castle is rescued by a woman who explains that she did it because Castle killed her brutal mobster husband who beat and raped her and let his friends beat and rape her... Let's just say that she was really grateful for that slaughter in the first issue, as she knew for a fact she didn't have a chance in hell of pulling it off herself.
- And in the final issue of Ennis' run, Castle is outmaneuvered and captured by a Special Forces unit. Turns out that its commander, Colonel Howe, owes Frank his life - he rescued a teenage Howe from a Viet Cong camp during the war. To Castle, it was just another of his countless deniable operations. To Howe, it was the most important moment in his life - the reason he joined Special Forces in the first place. This is why he volunteered to take Castle alive, and upon discovering that the generals who ordered him captured were Complete Monsters, he freed Castle and let him kill them all.
- A classic and iconic Punisher example: Though he had good reason to know him later on and perhaps recall his origin, the first time Frank encounters Jigsaw (in the company of Spidey and Nightcrawler), Jigsaw describes his reasons and origins, and Frank, at that time a lot more social towards other justice-types, says to the others its a pity he doesn't remember this guy at all.
- In North Wind, Loki ends up delivering one of these. Given that Thor had just accused the God of Mischief of lying, he kind of walked into it.
Thor: [accusatorily] You are a vile liar!
- In the Pony POV Series, Discord reacts this way to recounting his multiple counts of genocide.
- Referenced in the fanfic Naruto: Consequences once Naruto and Hinata find out that Konoha has been destroyed and that the Fire Damiyo committed suicide.
Naruto: For Fire Country, the destruction of the Leaf and the suicide of their leader will probably be the most important day of their lives.
Film -- Live-Action
- The Trope Namer is the Street Fighter movie, where Chun-Li tells M. Bison about how he killed her father. The immortal reply is also the page quote.
- In the Conan the Barbarian movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, when Conan tells Thulsa Doom about how he slaughtered Conan's village and had him sold into slavery, Thulsa Doom does not remember at all.
Conan: You killed my mother, you killed my father, you killed my people! You TOOK MY FATHER'S SWORD!!
- The Princess Bride: When the title character accuses the Dread Pirate Roberts of killing her love, Westley, he replies "It's possible. I kill a lot of people." He actually knows who she's talking about because he is Westley.
- And similarly, when Inigo finally confronts the six-fingered man he's been hunting his whole life:
"You must be that little Spanish brat I taught a lesson to all those years ago. You've been chasing me your whole life only to fail now? I think that's about the worst thing I've ever heard. ... How marvelous."
- At least he does remember the incident, if vaguely — though that's probably just because of the beautiful sword. A sword he'd remember.
- Pirates of the Caribbean has a comedic example, with various women slapping Jack across the cheek, to which he blithely replies either "...I'm not sure I deserved that" or "...I probably deserved that one."
- The one time he actually remembers why a woman slapped him was because he "borrowed" her ship. He remembers ships but not women.
- By the climax of RoboCop 3, McDaggett has clearly forgotten all about killing Officer Anne Lewis. When Robocop tells him he's under arrest, he nonchalantly asks "What's the charge?" Indeed, what he's currently doing isn't illegal, because he has the authority to do it. Then the hero tells him it's for murder, the event he, having a computer for a brain, is incapable of forgetting.
- Once Upon a Time in the West: Ruthless killer Frank is being pursued by a mysterious drifter known only as "Harmonica," but Frank has no idea why, nor can he remember who Harmonica is. Harmonica never reveals his own name; whenever asked, he instead gives names of some of the many people Frank has killed over the years.
Frank: What do you want? Who are you?
- That said, when Harmonica finally guns Frank down, he sticks his title harmonica into Frank's mouth as his way of telling Frank just who he is before he dies: when Harmonica was just a little boy, Frank had set his older brother up to die in probably the most sadistic way possible -- he set things up so that little Harmonica was supporting the weight of his older brother, and if Harmonica's strength gave out, the brother would die by hanging. Frank had stuck a harmonica into the kid's mouth before telling him to "keep your lovin' brother happy."
- Hudson Hawk: "We blow up space shuttles for breakfast! You and your friend Tommy would be nothing more than a mid-afternoon Triscuit."
- Oldboy. Oh Dae-su has long forgotten that he witnessed Woo-jin's incestuous relationship with his sister. Unusually, Woo-jin has no illusions about the scale of the incident from Dae-Su's point of view, and doesn't actually expect him to remember it.
- Freeway Killer begins with William Bonin talking with the mother of one of his victims. When the mother shows him a picture of her son, Bonin nonchalantly says "So many faces, they all just get so...mixed up".
- In The Dark Knight Saga, Harvey Dent is infuriated that The Joker can't even remember Rachel's name, although there's a strong probability that the Joker was just doing it to provoke him. He also may not have actually known Rachel's name.
- Doubtful. The name tag he gave to the fake guard read "Rachel Dawes."
- A line from the Riff Trax of Iron Man, when Tony Stark comes to after the tank asplodes:
Mike Nelson: Waking up in a dingy, unfamiliar place on a filthy mattress with his nose burning, Robert Downey must be thinking, "Hey, it's Tuesday!"
- Similarly, from Mystery Science Theater 3000's take on The Brain That Wouldn't Die, about a scene where a woman is lying on an operating table:
Crow: Just another Tuesday for Cher.
- Just after Billy the Kid escapes from jail in Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid, a group of men come into town looking for him. At first it's thought that the strangers might be looking to join up with Billy's gang, but that goes out the window almost immediately and there's a Mexican Standoff between the two groups while Billy and the leader of the strangers chat, with the leader hinting that he knows who Billy is and that he has a grudge of some kind against Billy. The strangers try to catch Billy's gang by surprise, but are cut to pieces instead and all of them die. Afterward Billy ponders that "It's too soon for bounty hunters to be coming after me. I guess it really must have been something personal." He then shrugs and puts it out of his mind, because he still can't remember who the guy that was talking to him was, or why he'd want to kill Billy.
- The titular hero of Forrest Gump doesn't seem to notice when people laugh and refuse to believe the events of his life because he never recognized how epic and momentous many of them were. This guy inspired Elvis, saw his college get desegregated at gunpoint, was a Vietnam War hero and peace activist (albeit accidentally), tipped people off about Watergate, was an exercise guru and provided seed money for Apple computers...after all that, creating the smiley face really was just a regular day for him.
- In The Quick and the Dead, Ellen's entire motivation in entering the Quick Draw competition is to kill Herod, but Herod has no idea who she is despite her obvious discomfort and later, loathing. His telling response to one of her barbs: "Do you have some particular problem with me?"
- Her backstory and motivation have more than a little in common with Once Upon a Time in the West, above.
- Both parodied and subverted in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist when Betty initially doesn't recognize the Chosen One, but does upon seeing his baby booties.
"Sorry. I didn't recognize you without crap in your pants."
- The Damned United: Revie is honestly taken aback that Clough has been harboring such a grudge for so long, over an incident he himself didn't even notice. The real-life facts are more ambiguous, but the film adaptation plays the trope straight.
- The Big Bad in The Losers doesn't remember setting up the titular team at the beginning of the movie when reminded of it later, as he does this a lot.
- Double-subverted in Last Action Hero: the Trapped in TV Land protagonist warns Cowboy Cop Jack Slater (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) not to trust his Big Bad Friend John Practice (played by F. Murray Abraham) because "he killed Mozart," a reference to Abraham's role in Amadeus. When Practice does eventually betray Slater, Slater repeats the accusation to him, mangling it as "you killed Moe Zart." Practice's response? "Hey, I kill a lot of people. I can't remember half of them."
- May or may not have been used in Inglourious Basterds. Shoshanna recognizes the man who killed her family, but he doesn't seem to recognize her.
- Highly unlikely; if he remembered, he'd recall a young girl running for her life away from him. Even he even saw her face at all, it would have been only for a second, and he never gives any indication that he knows who she is.
- Absolutely false. Colonel Landa demonstrates he knows exactly who Shoshanna is by forcibly ordering milk for her, tasting it, and commenting that it is nowhere near as good as the delicious fresh milk he drank at the dairy farm she was hiding at, where he killed her family. (Why he didn't have her hunted in the woods then, or have her seized by Gestapo when he meets her in the restaurant, is another question entirely.)
- Maybe because he wasn't ordered to. He claims he doesn't really hate Jews. He is a detective whose job just happens to be hunting them.
- While Khan Noonien Singh remained The Dreaded to the crew of the USS Enterprise, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan makes clear that they considered the whole thing over and done with. As a result, they never bothered to check in on Ceti Alpha V, never learning of the environmental disaster that befell the once lush planet and are shocked that Khan is out for revenge.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Why does the Big Bad of Iron Man 3 hate Tony? Because thirteen years ago, a heavily drunk Tony pulled a tasteless joke on him. Tony is horrified to see what became of Killian due to something he can't even remember.
- Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy has no memory of killing Drax the Destroyer's family.
- Captain America: Civil War:
- Zemo believes that the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron were this for the Avengers, noting that they simply left Sokovia once Novi Grad was destroyed rather than help clean up the rubble that killed Zemo's family. At the very least, it wasn't the case for Tony Stark who overflows with guilt at his role in Ultron's creation.
- When it's revealed that Bucky Barnes, as the Winter Soldier, killed Howard and Maria Stark, Tony asks if he even remembers them. Though Bucky claims to, Sebastian Stan (the actor who plays him) is of the opinion that Bucky did not in fact remember them but as a Death Seeker, he said what he thought would make Tony grant him the quickest death.
- Why Past!Thanos doesn't blink at the Avengers' army in Avengers: Endgame. He's killed so many worlds across the galaxy that so many people rallying against him is just something he rolls with.
- The Dune Encyclopedia names House Washington (AKA the US) as the first user of atomics in a "provincial war."
- In Interesting Times, near the end of the book, Twoflower is quite aware that Lord Hong has no idea he was the cause of his wife's death, but he insists on fighting him anyway. Twoflower says that the fact that Hong didn't know makes it worse.
- Redwall's Lord Brocktree: Bucko Bigbones confronts Karangool, the fox who killed his family and left him for dead, and Karangool has no idea who he is. Bucko corners him and explains before taking his revenge. And then he does remember.
"Well, let me tell ye a story, aboot a puir young hare who was left fer dead by a wicked ole fox who beat 'im wi' a swordblade..."
- In the second book of The Baroque Cycle, Jack Shaftoe confronts the man who sold Eliza into slavery before killing him, tells him that he is taking revenge for a woman who he enslaved. Since the guy has done this countless times and is Affably Evil despite being a Complete Monster, he is genuinely puzzled for the last few seconds of his life.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Agrajag is convinced that Arthur Dent has this attitude towards him, since Arthur is always the one who kills him in his various reincarnations; he even has a citadel dedicated to his hatred for Arthur, centered on a statue depicting him as a multi-limbed ogre killing innocent creatures (all former lives of Agrajag) carelessly. For his part, Arthur just thinks the universe is playing silly buggers with them. Which it probably is.
- Used in James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Faith & Fire.
Vaun: Tell me what I have done to earn such enmity.
- He does remember eventually, after some jogging of his memory.
Verity: My sister, Lethe Catena [...] You ended her like some common animal!
- Older Than Radio: In the short story The Procurator of Judea by Anatole France, a retired Pilate doesn't remember Jesus.
- Inverted (somewhat) in Soon I Will Be Invincible in which the Hero Antagonist doesn't remember the Villain Protagonist or his reasons for seeking vengeance.
- And then Zig Zagged when it turns out that in the villain's obsession with the hero he himself has completely forgotten about Lily AKA Erica
- In the Stephen King short story "Dolan's Cadillac", the wife of the protagonist/narrator (Robinson) is killed by a crime lord she was going to testify against (Dolan). For a few years or so, Robinson follows Dolan to learn his habits and routine, all while plotting his revenge. During one harrowing incident, however, Dolan's car breaks down on the road, and Robinson is forced to pass him. He's angered when Dolan doesn't even recognize the man who's wife he had ordered blown to smithereens in her car. This is then subverted when, after Robinson says the first few words of his Best Served Cold speech, Dolan immediately identifies him.
- The original title of All Quiet on the Western Front is "Im Westen nichts Neues" ("Nothing New in the West"). It ends with the last surviving character getting shot by an unseen sniper followed by a Title Drop. For him it was the day he was killed, regarding the war, it was just an ordinary day with nothing to report.
- In Iain M Banks' novel Inversions, the Lady Perrund becomes courtesan to the King after a rival warlord's soldiers killed her family and raped her. It is only at the end of the book after she has murdered the King that we discover it was actually him and his men that committed the atrocity. The King had never recognised her and had most likely forgotten the incident, allowing her to get her revenge.
- Non-villainous example in Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small Quartet. Kel has a fear of heights due to her brother dangling her over the edge of a tall tower when they were kids. When speaking about it, she says that the worst part was when she spoke to him about it: he didn't remember.
- The protagonist of Howl's Moving Castle assumes this trope will apply to the witch who cursed her, and therefore that she'll be able to pretend she has no connection to the witch. Unfortunately, she underestimated how much the witch hated her.
- Star Wars Shadows of the Empire Prince Xizor is attacked by a young man named Hoff, who yells "You Killed My Father" to him, to which Xizor replies, "I'm sorry. Have we met?". It's averted, however, since Xizor remembers the father once Hoff tells him the father's name.
- Another Star Wars example, this one with the perspective flipped, occurs in "Payback", a story from the Tales of the Bounty Hunters anthology. The bounty hunter Dengar hates Han Solo with a passion because one of the few incidents his traumatically injured brain remembers was when Han cheated to defeat him in a swoop (basically the Star Wars equivalent of a lowrider motorcycle) race, in the process causing Dengar's bike to veer off course and forcing him to crash into a crystalline swamp, impaling him on several shards of crystal and directly causing aforementioned injuries, which in turn necessitated life-saving surgery on Dengar during which unethical Imperial doctors used the opportunity to burn away parts of Dengar's brain - leaving him incapable of all but a few human emotions - and fit him with implants that turned him into a cyborg assassin-for-hire. Now, whenever Dengar is contracted to kill someone, he motivates himself by picturing his target as Han Solo, and in his mind he sees Han callously smirking and declaring: "Hey, it was a fair race. And the better man won - me!" This causes Dengar to gesture at himself and scream: "You call this fair?!" - leaving Dengar's terrified victim-of-the-moment with no clue what he is raving about.
- In The Kite Runner, Assef, the main antagonist, recounts the abuse he took at the hands of the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan. Later, he encounters the Soviet officer who beat him in prison and kills him. The officer does not remember Assef, but Assef informs him that "I do not forget a face." Something of a borderline example in that the war pretty much fell into Black and Gray Morality by that point (in Assef's case, somewhere beyond black).
- In Stormbreaker, the death of Alex's uncle and last living relative sets in motion the events that lead MI6 to recruit him as a secret agent. When Alex meets Yassen Gregorovich, the assassin who carried out the murder, Gregorovich merely shrugs and says 'I kill a lot of people.' However, he probably wasn't denying it so much as invoking A Million Is a Statistic, and knew exactly who Alex was talking about, both because it happened fairly recently and because in later books, its established he knew Alex's father personally and considered him a friend, and recognized Alex on sight. It's unlikely he didn't know who Alex's uncle was.
- From Left Behind's Desecration, the exchange with Carpathia and Fortunato.
Fortunato: (re: Hattie's death) Holiness, I called down fire on your enemy just yesterday.
- Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Played with rather oddly in the book Sweet Revenge. Reporter Ted Robinson, who is not quite a hero at that point, asks Rosemary Hershey a question about two people. Rosemary says in a genuinely puzzled tone "Who?" Her soon-to-be ex-husband, Bobby Harcourt, pokes his head into the room and states that those are the two people she killed, along with their young daughter. She killed three people and she is the only one who apparently did not even bother to remember them. However, she ends up remembering the name of the young daughter - Diana. She actually blocked that out and presumably other details of her killing them. Once she remembers, however, she is unable to stop thinking about it!
- Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix: Harry momentarily forgets that several books ago, Ginny was possessed by Lord Voldemort for an entire year. For Harry, this was just one bit of yet another adventure. For Ginny, it may well be the most significant event of her entire life. He says he forgot about it, and her reply is a cool "lucky you". Harry feels sincerely sorry and apologizes, a rare break from the Emo Teen persona he has for most of Phoenix.
- There's an odd non-villainous version in The Thurb Revolution, second of Alexei Panshin's Anthony Villiers series. Retired dancer Caspar Smetana believes Villiers might have an old grudge against him, due to an embarrassing Noodle Incident. Tony at first doesn't recognize Smetana at all, and when he does, he still has no idea why the older man thinks he'd hold a grudge; his memories of watching "Pickles" Smetana do the clog step are entirely pleasant.
- Charmed has an episode where Heel Face Revolving Door Belthazar is being hunted by a good witch because he killed her husband. Because he is currently face, he is helping her hunt down the demon he thinks is responsible. After the accusation, he doesn't even know for sure if she is right or not.
- Sawyer from Lost finally encounters the man that ruined his life by driving his father to kill Sawyer's mother, and then kill himself (through a routine con), only for the man to say that he ran that con dozens of times and that it was Sawyer's father who took it badly. His callous indifference gets him killed by Sawyer. Not that it would or should appease Sawyer, but he no doubt knew most people subjected to that con do not react such -- after all, he ran it himself on many occasions worthy of a What the Hell, Hero? moment, only stopping when he came face to face with a child of the conned couple, when logic dictates he must have known about him beforehand and or run the con on parents before.
- Sylar's father in Heroes. When Sylar says that his father killed his mother, Samson barely remembers.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- During Anya and Xander's wedding, a demon shows up disguised as Xander from the future to destroy everything, most horribly making it seem like Xander doesn't love Anya. It turns out this demon was actually once an adulterous human whom Anya punished back in her days as a vengeance demon. Anya, who had probably done horrible things to thousands of them (or more) in her life time, has no memory of this. This is an unusual case, since Anya comes out as sympathetic rather than the demon.
- A subversion occurs in the episode "Lies My Parents Told Me", where the murdered family member actually isn't just another victim.
Robin Wood: Oh, I know more about you than you think, Spike. See, I've been searching for you for a very, very long time. Ever since you killed my mother.
- Buffy herself is a heroic example of that trope: Riley is praised for single-handedly catching 17 creatures.
Buffy: Wow. I mean, that's... seventeen.
- And later:
Riley: Buffy. When I saw you stop the world from, you know, ending, I just assumed that was a big week for you. Turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of "apocalypse."
- When Andrew first appears on the show, he says that the Scoobies stopped him from using flying monkeys to attack a school play. The Scoobies have no memory of this and, in fact, it did not appear on screen.
- An odd Angel example: the demon Sahjahn spends a good chunk of the third season working against Angel, but when the two finally meet Angel has no idea why Sahjahn hates him, driving the latter to disappear in fury. Of course, Angel was a bit justified in this: Sahjahn's beef was a future event that Sahjahn knew about from a prophecy. A prophecy that he had even rewritten himself centuries before, so that it was basically impossible for Angel to know about it. Granted, existing outside of time might mess with his perceptions a bit, but really Sahjahn's expectations just seem a little high.
- The beginning of the Stargate SG-1 episode "Cor-Ai" goes like this. A man tries to put Teal'c (the recently reformed Dragon of Apophis) on trial for killing his father. It takes Teal'c a while to even remember visiting the planet. In this case, though, both are portrayed sympathetically, and Teal'c is remorseful even when he doesn't recall what exactly he did.
- It turns out that Teal'c killed the man's father so that Apophis wouldn't wipe out the entire tribe. Teal'c apparently did that kind of thing quite often in a mostly unsuccessful attempt to moderate his master's evil, before being convinced that an open rebellion against the Goa'uld could succeed. Hence his inability to remember this specific instance.
- While Teal'c claims he killed the crippled man to allow the rest of the tribe to run away quicker the next time the Goa'uld come, Apophis thought Teal'c did it For the Evulz and was very pleased.
- More of a Real Life example, in the "Rematch on the Grill" episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Bobby was having an epic three-course cook-off with three competitors that he had beaten in the past. Near the end, Tobin Ellis, a bartender who Flay had defeated in Las Vegas who had come to Florida to redeem himself, stepped out of the crowd and started talking to the chefs the way Bobby does when he challenges someone. Bobby thought he was just some audience member asking for food until someone explained who he was.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- In "Something Blue", Ted is talking about the night that he stole the blue French horn for Robin, prompting Barney's revelation, "Oh right, that was you." When a shocked Ted asked how he could forget as it was a big iconic moment in all of their lives, Barney shrugs and replies, "For you maybe, I got a lot of stuff going on."
- Another example of Barney is the episode, "The Bracket", where the group tries to figure out which of Barney's jilted lovers is trying to get revenge on him. When they finally track her down, she isn't even on their newly created Bracket list of his top jilted lovers. Barney is horrified that he doesn't remember a woman he slept with and goes up to her and apologizes both for not remembering her and for whatever he did to her (he once sold a woman; he's done some pretty horrible things). Averted in that they had never slept together and the girl had no idea who Barney was either.
- A comedic example occurs, in "The Goat", when Marshall sees a contract that Barney's company has with Portugal that if they, "are not executed precisely, we will be at war with Portugal." To which Barney responds, "Please, that's a Tuesday for me." He then grabs the contracts and shreds them.
- In "Last Forever, Part One", Ted remembers how he and Barney licked the Liberty Bell in "Sweet Taste of Liberty." Unable to remember that, Barney's response is as follows: "Uh, I've done a lot of cool stuff, Ted".
- This Trope is mentioned by name in the DVD commentary for Merlin episode 2x11. Alvarr's confrontation with Uther before he is imprisoned is, for him, the culmination of years of fighting against his regime, but to Uther he is just another sorcerer to be executed.
- An episode of Criminal Minds had Hotch and Reid interviewing a serial killer on death row. When Reid asks the inmate why he killed a woman named Sheila O'Neil, the killer nonchalantly mentions that Reid's going to have to be a lot more specific with details regarding the victims, as he can barely remember them.
Chester Hardwick: Truth is, they meant nothing to me. They were toys, a diversion, and from the moment I decided to kill them, they were dead. They begged, they cried, they bargained, and it didn't matter, because they didn't matter.
- In Doctor Who, this mentality really gets under the Doctor's skin. In "The Vampires of Venice", he promises to take apart Rosanna's empire piece by piece, not just because she killed one of the Doctor's friends, but because she hadn't even bothered to learn her name. Though throughout much of the Steven Moffat era, the Doctor himself fell victim to it, to the point that the showrunner once voiced the opinion that stepping back into the TARDIS at the adventure's end was when the Doctor forgot everything about what he'd just done.
- The Doctor's reaction to Lorna Bucket was either this or Have We Met Yet? The show never reveals which.
- "The Snowmen" reveals that the Doctor treats his encounters with the Great Intelligence as this. Their clashes may have instilled great hatred in the Intelligence, but it was just another baddie for the Doctor.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode The Brain That Wouldn't Die, the film opens in an operating room, prompting Mike to snark: "Just a normal Tuesday for Cher".
- Commonly inverted in The Bill, such as a man who was adamant that Dave Quinnan had changed his life. Quinnan had to ask someone to check the archives because he didn't remember him. Turns out that he was once arrested for disorderly behaviour, processed and released. Being on the receiving end was what inspired the man to get on with his life, but to Dave it was a normal Tuesday.
- In the Scrubs season 8 episode "My Finale", Doctor Cox uses this to express his contempt for JD. JD is leaving Sacred Heart hospital for another job, and wants to get a heartfelt goodbye from his mentor. Instead he is met with this - "Newbie, I know that you want this to be a special day for the both of us [...] I'm real sorry there, Newbie, but this is not a 'special' day for me, it's just...a day." That said, when JD gets a resident to bad mouth him to Cox later, Cox shows his true feeling about the matter.
- In The League of Gentlemen, Papa Lazarou has a book entitled The Book of Wives that catalogues every woman he's ever snatched so he can keep track of them all. He consults it to find out who Brian's wife was: she was Geoff's.
Do you know, I can't even remember if she's alive or dead!
- In Blade: The Series, Marcus Van Sciver has spent decades plotting revenge against the pureblood Damek, who brutally murdered his wife in front of him and then had Van Sciver sent to a bunch of feral vampires, who ended up turning him. Eventually, Marcus confronts Damek and starts a fight. Right before Van Sciver kills him, Damek laughs and tells him that he can't even remember Marcus's wife or him. Justified in that he is centuries old and, presumably, has been killing people all this time.
- In the 1990 The Flash series pilot, Barry Allen's brother is ambushed and killed by the guy he put in prison years before. After becoming the titular superhero, Barry confronts the killer and tells him why he's chasing him. The killer asks for clarification as he kills "a lot of brothers".
- Played for laughs in the final episode of the second series of Blackadder, which includes a rare example of the Big Bad being on the recieving end of this trope. Prince Ludwig seems surprised that Blackadder, Melchett and Queenie do not remember him, and then proceeds to remind them of a time each of them had met him - examples which vary from obscure to downright ridiculous(/depraved. Looking at you, Melchett).
- In a season six episode of Degrassi, Alex joins the lacrosse team and is promptly cold-shouldered by one of the other players for what Alex assumes is no reason. Turns out that years earlier, Alex tripped her and broke her leg and nearly blinded her with a laser pointer.
- Do you know what they call a show-girl fucking a penguin in Las Vegas? Tuesday.
- What does London Tipton of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody call a cruise around the Mediterranean?
- The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Duet" has Kira confronting the Cardassian war criminal Gul Darhe'el about his brutal actions during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. At one point, Darhe'el simply says "What you call genocide, I call a day's work.". Though it turns out he's actually Darhe'el's assistant, since the real Darhe'el died years earlier, and is posing as him in an attempt to make Cardassia own up to their brutality.
- In an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Marie relates to Debra the origin of the big wooden fork and spoon that had been background props hanging on the kitchen wall for the entire series: they were a wedding present that both she and Frank hated, and which each felt the other should be responsible for returning. The argument grew into their first big fight as husband and wife, and culminated in Frank spitefully nailing the spoon to the wall, and Marie retaliating with the fork. Since then, Marie says, every time she enters the kitchen she sees the fork and spoon and remembers that horrible fight. At the end of the episode, inspired by her own advice to Debra, she pronounces to Frank that she is "[rising] above 45 years of pettiness!" and taking the fork and spoon down... only to discover that they've been up there so long they've left their silhouettes on the wallpaper. She angrily puts them back up and storms out. For his part, Frank stares at the utensils for a moment, then wonders, "When did we get those?"
- In another episode, Raymond and family are attending the wedding of a girl Raymond knew in college. It turns out that Raymond went on a date with her once, and at the end of the night he didn't walk her to her front door, as he was more concerned about keeping an eye on his father's car. Raymond still feels incredibly bad about this, even though everyone else thinks he is just being neurotic. Finally, Raymond gathers his courage and apologises to the girl. Sure enough, she doesn't remember the incident at all.
- This trope frames the Southland episode "Wednesday", in which the narrator announces at the beginning: "Cops wake up every morning different from the rest of us. Our worst nightmare is just their Wednesday."
- The Studio C sketch "Evil Memory Lapse".
- It's suggested in Victorious that Tori Vega treats her "Take That!" Kiss with Beck in the pilot as this. Jade; Beck's boyfriend who began hating on Tori for no good reason before the kiss, treats it as a free pass to hate Tori; and many in the show, including Beck, viewed it as proof that Beck and Tori had feelings for each other, but it took very little time for Tori to banish any memory of it to the back of her mind.
- "Shia LeBeouf" (by Rob Cantor) has the lyrics:
Legendary fight with Shia LaBeouf
Religion and Mythology
- This is a theory behind why secular historians did not mention the Bethlehem Massacre—Herod the Great was such a monster that to record every massacre or other act of murder on his part would have required several scrolls.
- Cyrano De Bergerac: Cyrano plays it chillingly fair at Act II Scene IV when he is writing a love letter to Roxane while the poets talk about his battle of one men against one hundred at the Porte de Nesle:
First poet: We were stayed by the mob; they are crowded all round the Porte de Nesle!...
- Schmucks: Lenny Bruce eventually figures out that he slept with waitress Mary Lenahan and assumes she's been cold-shouldering him for that reason. Turns out that she was a prostitute and didn't even remember the incident.
- In the online comic released for the Australian Christmas 2011 update of Team Fortress 2, Scout pretty directly tells this to a newspaper reporter, who asks him how it feels to be a hero. "If I'm honest? Feels like a Saturday."
- In Boktai DS / Lunar Knights, Lucian goes into a rant on how he's been looking forward to taking Dumas out for killing his beloved Ellen. Dumas' response? "Remember? Tell me, boy...do you recall the name of every cow, chicken and pig you've ever eaten?" Lucian was much less than amused, even though Dumas, as a vampire, did what felt natural.
- Jin Kisaragi pulls this on Bang Shishigami in BlazBlue.
- A heroic subversion occurs in Baldurs Gate II when Jaheria is confronted by a former slaver who was exposed and imprisoned as a result of her actions. He gets more and more angry when she seems not to remember who he was, but it's actually just an act on her part as she wanted everybody around him to hear his "confession".
- Wild ARMs 5. When Greg finally confronts Kartikeya about the murder of his wife and child, Kartikeya has to be reminded which of his victims Greg is talking about.
- Mass Effect 2:
- A hero example with Shepard. In Mass Effect 1, you have the option of letting a criminal named Fist live. If you do, you will find him at the Afterlife Club in Mass Effect 2. He isn't very happy to see you, and one of the responses you can choose is "Whoever you are, you stopped being relevant about 5 minutes after I apparently told you to run." (You can also go the other direction entirely, and tell him you`ll follow him across the galaxy to make sure he stays on the straight-and-narrow, if you have to.)
- Played with in the world background. When turian ships fired on human ships to stop them from opening a mass relay and subsequently occupied the world the exploration force had come from, humans called it the First Contact War, their first encounter with any alien species and proving the power of the Alliance Navy. For the turians, it's the Relay 314 Incident. Played with, in that the turians unofficially and grudgingly admit that the fight over the planet was the first real military opposition they'd faced in over a thousand years.
- It should be noted that the only reason the War/Incident didn't escalate was because the Council stepped in before the turians mobilized the entirety of their military (i.e. the largest military force in the galaxy). Considering that nearly every turian is in some way tied to the military (military service is compulsory for everyone, not that any turian tries to avoid it), humanity would've been in very big trouble.
- Towards the end of Knights of the Old Republic, a Dark Jedi, Darth Bandon, is sent to assassinate the Player Character. One of your dialogue options upon meeting Bandon is to recognize him as one of the Dark Jedi who attacked the Endar Spire at the beginning of the game and tell him that "You killed Trask!" and that you will avenge his death. Bandon, naturally, has no idea which of the many red shirts he slaughtered was called 'Trask', and even worse, most players on their first playthrough have probably long forgotten about Trask, too.
- In the Scenario Campaign of Tekken 6, if Kazuya Mishima confronts Leo, she will tell him that he killed her mother. Kazuya's response was more like, "I've done that oh-so-many times, I've forgotten which one is your mother."
- Final Fantasy VII. When Cloud first encounters Sephiroth again on the cargo ship departing from Junon, he reminds him about having burned down his hometown. Sephiroth's response is a confused "Who are you?" A slight subversion is that according to creation materials like the Reunion Files confirm Sephiroth never got over Cloud killing him years earlier and wants to Mind Rape him in revenge, so claiming to not know who he is was a part of that.
- In Final Fantasy XII, Evil Twin Gabranth impersonated his brother Basch while murdering the king. He also happened to kill Vaan's brother Reks during the incident. Two years later, when Gabranth confronts the party, everyone is outraged to see the king's murderer while Vaan calls Gabranth out on killing Reks. Gabranth doesn't even appear to hear him.
- Omega Red's ending in Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter: he's killed Ryu offscreen, and Ken is kneeling next to his corpse and asks Omega Red "How many lives have you ended?". His reply is "Do you count the number of breaths you've taken?"
- Tallis and Aggressive!Hawke's exchange from the Dragon Age II DLC Mark of the Assassin:
Hawke: For a slaughtering ground, it's actually rather pretty.
- Towards the end of Custom Robo Arena, Eddy confronts Dr. Mars/Scythe in a You Killed My Father moment. Scythe doesn't remember, saying he can't possibly remember all of Greybaum's operations.
- Heroic example in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Ghi Yelghi has idolized Frimelda as a Worthy Opponent ever since she saved his town from destruction. For her, that was just one more adventuring exploit.
- Metal Gear:
- A probable meta-example in the Metal Gear series: In the eyes of the players, the best and most defining moments for Solid Snake are the events of the Metal Gear Solid, the Shadow Moses incident, and all of the consequences of it. In-universe, while very important and gained quite a bit of fame thanks to Nastasha, Shadow Moses incident is treated as a massive Unwitting Pawn stepping stone for every Chessmaster's and Magnificent Bastard's checklist, a mere component to the greater plan. For Solid Snake, Outer Heaven is the most defining moment of his life.
- A straighter example: For the Philosophers, the death of The Boss is just a necessary sacrifice that can be replaced with Gene. For Naked Snake, this is a moment, and the truth behind it, that changed everything.
- In Sakura Taisen V, when Gemini finally catches the villain that killed her mentor and demands her revenge, said villain says "You'll have to forgive me. I've killed far too many to keep count."
- In Crash Twinsanity, when confronted by Aku Aku and Uka Uka about why the Evil Twins are destroying the island and seem to have a personal vendetta against him, Cortex replies "I've ruined the lives of so many, I can't be expected to remember them all."
- Towards the beginning of Arc the Lad, the title character has the following exchange with the villain:
Arc: You're the one that killed my father!
- Sengoku Basara: In the third game's backstory, Date Masamune lost his entire army, almost lost Kojuuro and barely escaped from an encounter with Ishida Mitsunari. Masamune proceeds to go absolutely batshit insane in order to chase him down, and when he does, he starts on a massive rant about how he's going to destroy Mitsunari. Then, Mitsunari turns around and asks: "Who are you?" Masamune's reaction is priceless. Masamune then goes on to remind Mitsunari about Odawara, in which case Mitsunari starts reminiscing about the battle, only to say that he defeated someone there, but they weren't worth remembering. Masamune loses it and attacks him.
- Bringing Mitsunari to any of Masamune's stages in Free Battle results in Masamune gloating about how he's finally got Mitsunari right where he wants him, while Mitsunari, bewildered, asks Yoshitsugu who the heck this person is.
Mitsunari: You...Hate me? Who are you, exactly?
- Similarly, Masamune making a scathing comment about Toyotomi Hideyoshi is enough to make Mitsunari drop everything and focus on killing him horribly.
- If you let Jill attack Ashnard in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, she'll ask him something about her father. Despite the fact that her father seemed to be reasonably high-up in the Daein military, Ashnard has no idea who he was.
- Implied to be the case with Maxi's vendetta against Astaroth in Soul Calibur. Maxi has confronted Astaroth multiple times on the massacre of his crew, but...
Maxi: Remember me, you freak?!
- Parodied in Touhou game The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, where a confrontation with an ancient vampire, and one of ZUN's many JoJo's Bizarre Adventure references, is rather spoiled by Marisa being Marisa.
Marisa: Whoa, so, do you really drink it? You know, that.
- Used against the protaganist in Red Dead Redemption. When John Marston, a former bandit, meets a mysterious stranger and asks if they know each other, the stranger claims John has forgotten more important men than him. John disagrees saying that he is good at remembering faces. In response he then asks John if he knows the name Heidi McCort; turns out one of John's bandit friends shot her while they were pulling a robbery together. When John can't recall the incident the stranger plainly states: "Then why would you remember me?"
- Actually the truth is much weirder, the mysterious stranger has been implied to be a supernatural being of some sort ranging from God, Satan, Death or even Marston's own conscience, given the ridiculous number of biblical references they shoehorned into three appearances, also, there was the whole "you shot him and he didn't die" thing.
- Manfred von Karma of Ace Attorney fame apparently has so little regard for his opponents that he doesn't even recognize Phoenix when he sees him outside of court.
von Karma: I beg your pardon, you see, I rarely remember defense attorneys. They are like bugs to me. Needless things, to be crushed.
- Mazoga the Orc in Oblivion swore to become a knight and do heroic deeds after seeing her friend Ra'Vindra murdered by Mogens Wind-Shifter. When you help her track down Mogens and take revenge for her friend, he doesn't have a clue who she is.
- Forms part of the motivation for the antagonist in the Fallout: New Vegas DLC, Lonesome Road. For the courier, it was an ordinary package like any they'd normally deliver. For Ulysses, it was the package that detonated the nukes stored beneath the Divide, destroying the place he saw as his home, teaching him the power of a single person to reshape the world and sparking off a dangerous obsession.
- And if you want the dialog options allow you to play out this trope entirely when speaking with Ulysses.
- If you take the job to guard the Silver Rush, one of the potential customers turn out to be a suicide bomber who turns hostile if you don't let him in. Judging from the note you find on his remains, the Van Graffs did something truly terrible against his family, although it doesn't say what. Your fellow guard however will just say "Wonder what that was about?" with no interest at all.
- A funny, heroic example is used in Sonic Generations. When Tails points out what sort of trouble they're in, Sonic brushes it off, asking if it's any different than saving aliens in intergalactic amusement parks and rescuing genies in magic books.
- An anti-heroic example from No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: the first boss, Skelter Helter, is attempting to take revenge on Travis for killing his brother at the start of the first game. Travis, however, doesn't remember who he is (and the player likely won't either, considering said brother only actually appeared in the game for about two seconds). Also pulled off on the player, as the Big Bad's motivation is also trying to avenge relatives killed by Travis - the nameless, generic Pizza Butt executives Travis killed to make money for the ranked fights in the first game were his father and brothers.
- Perhaps unintentionally, Assassin's Creed implies that this is Altair's attitude toward killing Templars. The synch bar increases as Desmond grows closer to Altair by doing things that Altair remembers doing. However, it does not increase if he kills a Templar, nor even if he kills all sixty of them. In other words, Altair may have killed every single Templar in the Holy Land, and he doesn't even remember it. Just another day at the office.
- In Super Mario Bros Z, Mario stomped Captain Basilisx's best friend into a lava pit, but Mario doesn't remember it. Although Fridge Brilliance sets in when you realize that there are no lava pits in the room that Basilisx mentions. Mario may not remember it because it may have never happened in the first place.
- In RPG World Reka keeps fretting over the time when Galgarion killed her father, however when she finally confronts Galgarion over the matter, he has no idea what she's talking about.
- In The Order of the Stick:
- Xykon needs more detail to be able to figure out which old guy he killed in cold blood was Eugene Greenhilt's mentor:
Monster in the Darkness: You killed more than one guy named Fyron in Cliffport?
- And once Roy has narrowed it down to the exact date:
Xykon: Oh, right! Now I remember. Because it was Laundry Night, and I had trouble getting the blood out of my robes.
- And another Order of the Stick example:
- 8-Bit Theater:
Black Mage: Oh, we've ruined millions of lives. They're just being babies about it.
- Black Mage (and the entire group) get another example when Sarda claims to be Onion Kid, whose life Black Mage had ruined numerous times.
Sarda: But I started out as this young man!
- This was not so much to to do with it being a regular occurrence(well, at least this specific circumstances) so much as the Light Warriors just being THAT inept, stupid and apathetic.
- Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: in this strip.
Prince Glitterbranch: This is about revenge
- Bun-Bun in Sluggy Freelance has killed a lot of people, so this trope was bound to show up eventually. In one of the Halloween arcs, the spirit of Christmas Elf Mr. Squeaky-Bobo comes back from the Dimension of Pain and upon encountering his murderer, angrily tells him he is next on the list. Bun-Bun not only doesn't remember him, he mistakes him for a Neebler Elf instead.
- Van Von Hunter: Vengeance Joe is an odd case of this. For the day they met was, to Van Von Hunter, just another Tuesday...But for Vengeance Joe, that was the day that Van Von Hunter neglected to introduce himself (and probably an otherwise reasonably nice Tuesday)! And so Vengeance Joe swore eternal vengeance.
- Girl Genius:
- Klaus Wulfenbach has damaged so many lives that when he is unconscious in a hospital, Gil has to defend him against dozens of assassin attempts, the first of which sets a precedent for the unimportance of motive (as seen in this elegant and finely-crafted link).
- A particular favorite from the endless stream, below:
Insect Clank: DEATH TO THE DESPOILER OF EAST KRUMINNEY!!
- Once in Scary Go Round, two gentlemen were talking. One asks the other if he has any (illegitimate) children; the other responds to the effect that a bear may not know how many insects he tramples as he treads through the forest, he knows only that there were many. Creepy.
- A Softer World
- Arthur and Sedrick from Wiglaf and Mordred have no memory of Gawain at all—despite having run into him on at least eight occasions—all of which resulted in him being shot in the head. So in other words, Sedrick has killed enough people that he hasn't' noticed he's "killed" the same person "eight" times.
- Heroic inversion in Sam and Fuzzy when Gertrude starts blabbing off the laundry list of all the wrongs Sam has inadvertently inflicted upon her. Sam doesn't remember (or is plain unaware of) any of it nor who she is for that matter. It's then subverted when she finishes off with "gave me exceptionally poor taxi service", which Sam leads to conclude is "probably true".
- Invoked in Goblins when Thaco finally gets his revenge on the Goblin Slayer, informing him that he'll consider this battle a "random encounter" and that there will be no stories or legends told about it. This infuriates the villain, who considered himself a legendary enemy of goblins, greatly.
- In Muertitos here: "Which Ursula Cowznofski whose life I ruined? 'Cause there's, like, four."
- The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, "Monster MASHUP":
Wonderella: Who the Christ are you?
- Leo Modesto's Nuzlocke challenge of Touhoumon has this with Babs and the rival's Patchouli, who was responsible for killing Bab's partner and best friend. Given the nature of Nuzlocke challenges, it doesn't end well.
- Inverted with Dubious Company's Sal. She is kidnapped so often that she treats them like filling out tedious paperwork and interrupts the kidnappers with small talk or criticism, much to their annoyance or disappointment. Heck, Izor's sacrificial lamb gambit and some guy that had a crush on her cousin are the only kidnappings she remembers.
Izor: But...but I had a speech and everything.
- The main cast of Exterminatus Now discovered in their facility a lot of armed intruders unavailable for questioning due to various horrible accidents involving local pets and appliances.
Rogue: So we pissed somebody off and they want to kill us? Wow, that narrows it down.
Vexxarr: Everybody on the ship. Time to leave.
Steve: Cthulhu...? Cthulhu who?
- Played for laughs in The Cosmic Adventures of Doctor Fabulous. Zorg claims that he's battled Doctor Fabulous over the fate of the universe a dozen times. The Doctor retorts that he fights a thousand scumbags like Zorg every week.
- In Batman Beyond:
- When Blight/Derek Powers asks Batman/Terry McGinnis who he really is, he replies with "You Killed My Father."
Blight: (irritated) Do you have the slighest idea how little that narrows it down?
- Later, in the episode "Speak No Evil", a newly-sentient, speech-capable gorilla named Fingers tracks down the poacher, Van Dyle, who captured him and his mother when he was a baby. Given that Van Dyle is cowering and all but begging for his life (and wouldn't you be?) it's considerably less badass.
Fingers: Where is my mother?!
- The first Hunter was just some farm kid when Demona casually mangled his face. He made a mask to highlight the scars and began hunting her relentlessly. Several decades later, she finally overpowered him and unmasked him before giving the finishing blow. He stared at her and asked if she now understood why he hunted her for so long. Demona flatly replied, "No." This made him angry, of course. The man's allies began a thousand year blood hunt for her, and she still doesn't know why (not that she would care anyway). In a deleted scene from "Hunter's Moon: Part Two", the leader of the latest generation of Hunters confesseses to Elisa that no one in his family remembers how or why the hunt began, either.
- This was echoed later on with Malcolm Canmore, son of Duncan. Macbeth killed Duncan in battle and banished Canmore to England. Later, Canmore becomes the new Hunter and invades Scotland, eventually unmasking dramatically in front of Macbeth.
Macbeth: Should I have recognized you, sirrah?
- Of course, he does remember Canmore, he just doesn't recognize him. It's been, what, twenty years?
- On the heroes' side, they had a repeated negative effect on the life of a man named Vinny until he becomes a comic relief villain, and the only person to ever carry out revenge against Goliath to his satisfaction.
- In Superman: The Animated Series, Superman finally ends up fighting Darkseid and gives him an And This Is For punch for Dan Turpin, the man he killed during the Apokolips invasion. Darkseid has no idea who he is talking about and merely exclaims "Had I known one human's death would pain you so, I would have killed more."
- Possible example in the 1990s X-Men series before Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch find out the real truth:
Scarlet Witch: We're here to get revenge for one who has fallen in your path.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
Zuko: Why'd you do it?!
- A more humorous version of this happens when Sokka and Zuko travel to the Boiling Rock and run into Suki:
Sokka: Oh, good. You guys have met.
- Played nearly straight when Katara finally tracks down the man who murdered her mother when she was a child. At first, he has no idea what she's talking about.
- The Simpsons:
- One episode has Homer meeting universal Butt Monkey Frank Grimes and driving him to suicide. In a later episode, Frank Grimes Jr. shows up to get revenge and Homer can just barely recall the incident, ending cheerily with "How is old Grimey?" Needless to say, Grimey Jr. is quite upset.
- Exaggerated between Homer and Mr. Burns. No matter how many messed up, idiotic, and catastrophic things Homer does...Mr Burns still can't remember the name of that buffoon from Sector 7G.
Smithers: That's Homer Simpson, sir. All of the recent events in your life have revolved around him in some way.
- The "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" two-parter took this to extremes, with Homer breaking into Mr. Burns' office, spray-painting I AM HOMER SIMPSON along his walls in huge neon green letters, and Mr. Burns' response is, "Who the devil are you?" This pushes Homer's Berserk Button.
Homer: (strangling Mr. Burns) HOMER SIMPSON! HOMER SIMPSON! MY NAME IS HOMER SIMPSON!
- This actually bite Homer in the butt, when Mr. Burns' first words after being shot were "HOMER SIMPSON! HOMER SIMPSON!"
- In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Mysterio is disappointed that Spider-man doesn't remember him.
Mysterio: Don't pretend you've forgotten. I was the Chameleon's right-hand man!
- Speaking of whom: The version of Quentin Beck from Spider-Man: The Animated Series became Mysterio to get revenge on Spidey for exposing an unethical stunt he pulled while shooting a movie. He doesn't mention it at first, but when he does Spidey has no idea what he's talking about until Lieutenant Terri Lee looks it up.
Flashback!Beck: They'll arrest me for this, and it's all your fault! I will get you, I swear!
- Ben 10: Ultimate Alien provides a heroic example. In Ben 10, Zombozo was a Nightmare Fueled Emotion Eater whom Ben was absolutely terrified of. When the Monster Clown reappears 6 years later as the leader of a Villain Team-Up, Ben claims he doesn't even remember him ("We've fought him before?"). Dwayne McDuffie has stated that Ben does remember but doesn't want to admit he used to be scared of clowns.
- In Justice League Unlimited, Deadman, possessing Wonder Woman, beats the crap out of Devil Ray, telling him that he killed his mentor and friend.
Devil Ray: You'll have to be more specific, lady. I've killed a lotta people.
- Although Devil Ray is kind of justified in being confused, since he didn't kill Wonder Woman's mentor.
- The Secret Saturdays, Argost when confronted by Drew and Doyle when they discover he was the Yeti that attacked their camp in the Himalayas and murdered their parents. His response?
Argost: *smirks* Did I? Oh, there were so many in those days. One can hardly remember each individual scream.
- A heroic example occurs in the Codename: Kids Next Door episode Operation: BULLIES (a parody of Jurassic Park), where Numbuh Four does not remember giving Jerry Rassic the wedgie that destroyed his life back in first grade. Too bad Jerry now has a Wedgiesaurus Rex ...
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy finds out that Mr. Ten had been cursed by Heloise, he goes and confronts her about this. Being Heloise, she needs more information, showing Jimmy a long list of people she's cursed.
- Peridot's Heel Face Turn in Steven Universe was punctuated by her calling Yellow Diamond a "CLOD!" When she confronts Yellow, her former Diamond has no idea who this random Peridot is or what she's talking about.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes gives us a rare heroic example:
Chemistro: How can you not know who I am!? You punched me in the face!
- Played for Drama in the Family Guy episode "And I'm Joyce Kinney." The main antagonist wants revenge on Lois for a cruel prank that Lois pulled on her that Lois had no memory of. In fairness to Lois, it had been twenty years ago and the victim had changed her name and lost a lot of weight.