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Quite simply-- When a character's life seems to 'jump'. They are at work and then suddenly they are at home, with no memories of what happened in between. Sometimes the memories will come back in the form of flashbacks.

This can happen for many reasons-- memory damage, aliens, trauma, possession, or multiple personalities, just to name a few.

What Did I Do Last Night? is the lighter and/or more comedic version of this trope, usually related to drinking too much (see also Binge Montage).

Differs from other amnesia tropes in that only a few minutes or hours goes missing.

Examples of Missing Time include:


Anime & Manga

  • Lupin III suffers from this in Sweet Lost Night (Maho no Lamp wa Akumu no Yokan).
  • It's implied that this happens to Bakura in Yu-Gi-Oh! whenever he gets possessed by his dark side. It's very obvious that this is the case when Yami Bakura suddenly relinquishes control during his duel with Yugi in the second season. Poor Bakura is completely bewildered, having suddenly woken up on top of a blimp with a bleeding arm, with apparently no idea how he got there and why. Also, this happened to Yugi during the early volumes of the manga whenever he got possessed by the puzzle.
  • In Trigun, Vash the Stampede has a bit of a problem with this whenever his more high-level powers get unlocked, until he learns to do it on purpose. Since both this incidents involve psychic powers being used to make him blow up a city with his right arm, which transforms into a BFG for the purpose, it's unclear whether the cause of these gaps is the psychic trauma, the emotional trauma, or the physiological trauma. Or the combination.


Comics

  • In Animal Man #19, the title character, as he gradually approaches Medium Awareness, wonders why his life seems so episodic and fragmentary:

 What if we're just characters and not people? [...] A few months ago, or maybe it was a year or more, my wife was attacked and almost raped in the woods. There were four guys. What happened to them? [...] Why was there no trial? [...] Why is my life so...so disconnected? One minute I'm at home, the next I'm in the Faroe Islands or in Paris and I think I remember how I got there but I don't really know.


Film

  • Evan in The Butterfly Effect loses time when he uses Mental Time Travel to go back to events in his childhood.
  • Mentioned in the beginning of Fight Club (Both book and movie). This is later explained in The Reveal.
  • Adam Sandler's Click had this happen when the main character used his magic remote to "fast forward" himself past things he didn't like. He got put on autopilot while he did so.
  • In Like Flint. While playing golf with the U.S. President, Z.O.W.I.E. chief Lloyd Cramden uses his stopwatch to time the President's golf swing. When he checks the watch, he finds that the swing took 3 minutes. His investigation of the missing 3 minutes leads to the discovery of a plan to take control of the minds of women all over the world and put a nuclear sword of Damocles in orbit around the Earth.
  • Aaron Stampler in Primal Fear mentions that he "loses" time over his childhood. This is explained as his alter-ego taking over during times of stress.
  • This is something that the title character must deal with in the domestic drama Regarding Henry, starring Harrison Ford. When Henry survives a gunshot wound to the head, the resulting pinched artery affects his memory. Cue the rest of the movie depicting him coming to terms with not remembering anything about his life before the shot.
  • This happens to Eddie in Limitless when he starts taking too much NZT.


Literature

  • Robert Heinlein's novella "The Unpleasant Profession Of Jonathan Hoag"
  • In Lois Duncan's Down a Dark Hall, the girls in the school are possessed by ghosts randomly, and they have don't remember anything that happens while possessed.
  • This is apparently what Ginny's possession in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets looked like from her end, based on her account from three books later: "When he did it to me, I couldn't remember what I'd been doing for hours at a time. I'd find myself somewhere and not know how I got there."
  • Short story "Sign Among The Stars". Mike and Molly Carson are at a military Research Base when Battle Stations is sounded and "Emergency Plan X" is activated. They're told to go home and they start to do so, but then lose control of their minds. They wake up the next morning having no memory of what happened. They're told that Emergency Plan X involves broadcasting a hypnoray to all children in the area that mesmerises them and makes them go home as quickly as possible.
  • In the Star Trek: Millennium trilogy, it's revealed that neither Odo, Quark nor Garak can recall what happened the night of the Cardassian withdrawal from Terok Nor. It's a classic case of missing time. Quark is the only one who will admit it, though. His attempt to find answers irritates Odo and Garak, who refuse to discuss or acknowledge that they're in the same situation.
  • One of the first things that clues the protagonists of False Memory off that something's wrong is small episodes of missing time. Eventually, they figure out that time was used by their psychiatrist to brainwash them, implanting phobias and using them as toys and tools.
  • Bone Dance starts the plot with its protagonist, Sparrow, coming up from the latest of several inexplicable episodes of missing time. It eventually develops that one of a group of legendary Body Snatchers known as the Horsemen has been taking Sparrow's body for a ride.
  • William Prior of The Regeneration Trilogy spends part of the second volume suffering from PTSD-induced memory loss that's developing into borderline Dissociative Identity Disorder. One of the few fictional works to address the fact just how absolutely terrifying this must be from the sufferer's perspective.

Live Action TV

  • In Medium Alison is possessed by a ghost which causes her to not have any memories while the ghost is in control.
  • Eli Stone gets this in the first season finale, which is how he realizes he's in a coma-induced hallucination.
  • Happens to Donna in an episode of Doctor Who where she's stuck in a virtual reality. Though in her case, time really DOES jump, and people just tell her that it's her memory.
  • House:
    • Happens to one of the vict--- patients of the week.
    • Happens in the Season 2 finale when House himself, while walking down a stairs, realizes he can't remember what happened between being in his office and walking down the stairs. Some have interpreted this as House gaining temporary Medium Awareness, as the show cuts directly from the office to the stairs; the interim is not depicted.
  • Sometimes happens in association with UFOs and other phenomena in The X-Files. In the first episode, Mulder is ecstatic when he and Scully lose nine minutes while investigating alien abductions.
  • Happens to Sharon Valerii onboard the Battlestar Galactica Reimagined, when her Cylon programming kicks in, leading to her sabotage the ship's water tanks without realising it.
  • Happens to Dr.Brennan on Bones, after she gets attacked by a criminal of the week and framed for murder. She believes it's some sort of mental effect naturally, while Booth thinks it's voodoo at work.
  • Happens to Fred Ade-Williams in Season 4 of Tinsel.


Tabletop RPG

  • Classic Traveller Adventure 4 Leviathan. While on a data sweep in the Outrim Void, a member of the Scouts found himself on his ship heading at full jump toward his home base with no memory of how he got there and burned out flight recorders. He was the victim of psionic humans who really like their privacy.


Video Games

  • In Fate Stay Night, Heaven's Feel route, Shirou starts suffering this after unsealing Archer's arm.


Webcomics


Web Original

  • A very common symptom of Bad Things Happening in The Slender Man Mythos. One of the more extreme was in Marble Hornets, where Jay tackled Slendy and wiped out the last seven months of his life in the process.


Others

  • This is a common trait of UFO accounts.
  • Missing Time can result from much consumption of alcohol, use of drugs, or being under general anaesthesia during surgery.
  • This can also be an effect of hypnotism or other altered mental states.
  • Trauma to the brain can induce amnesia in retrograde (the inability to remember some events prior to the blow) or anterograde (the inability to form new memories) form. Both are forms of time elapsing without people having any memory of it. Severe anterograde amnesia can result in Missing Time from the time of the event until whenever now is.
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