'The Night Of' The Latest In A Series Of Screen Thrillers Relying On Memory Loss

Riz Ahmed's loss of memory leaves him at the mercy of the New York justice system.

Tonight’s debut of ‘The Night Of’ finds Riz Ahmed on Award-worthy form as a college student, whose memory loss has huge repercussions for him and his family.

In Sky Atlantic’s hotly-anticipated drama, Riz’s character Naz is accused of a crime he himself doesn’t know whether he committed. He is left at the mercy of NYC’s criminal system, with only his lawyer Jack Stone (John Turturro) to shield him, from the complex web of legal manoeuvrings around him.

<strong>Naz knows he met a girl that night... but what happened?</strong>
Naz knows he met a girl that night... but what happened?

‘The Night Of’ is the latest drama in which memory loss is the fulcrum on which the whole narrative depends. Here are some similar types, which we’ve ranked in reverse order of meaningfulness...

Desperate Housewives
That moment when Mike Delfino lost his memory and woke up from an accident not recognising the love of his life Susan? Our hearts were broken week by week as manipulative Katharine dug her heels in further. Luckily, Mike remembered things bit by bit and ultimately found his way back to Susan, cue tissues all round.
Dude Where's My Car
Two dudes partied a little too hard, and when they wake can’t remember a thing, including where they are parked their car. Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Sean William Scott) embark on a journey to retrace their steps and find out what they did last night in hope it will lead them to their car and more general understanding.
Intent on revenge, Emily unfortunately suffered a bout of amnesia untangling all her carefully constructed plans, well, at least for a little while as close friend Nolan successfully banked on their emotional connection being enough to rouse her. Emily was back to her usual self soon enough, only to uncover the horrific truth that her new husband had shot her. All very unfortunate.
There’s nothing more terrifying that waking up tied up, with no memory of how you got there and being told you have to complete some sort of insane task or you die, right? Essentially that’s the theme of all seven 'Saw' films.
The Hangover
Two days before Doug’s (Justin Bartha) big wedding day, he and his three friends (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis) drive to Las Vegas for a wild and memorable stag party. When the three groomsmen wake up the next morning, they can't remember a thing, nor can they find Doug. With no time to spare, the three hazy pals try to re-trace their steps and find Doug so they can get him back to LA in time to walk down the aisle.
The Vow
More heartbreak. Newlyweds Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum) are so in love and happy, until Paige has a tragic accident which leaves her in a coma. When she wakes she doesn’t know who Leo is but instead remembers her ex-fiancé – despite the very difficult circumstances, Leo is determined to rebuild their marriage.
28 Days Later
When London bike courier Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma he finds his city deserted. What he doesn’t know is that during his coma, a group of misguided animal rights activists freed a caged chimp infected with the "Rage" virus, leading it to viciously attack and leave in its wake zombie-like victims. Jim finds other survivors and starts his journey to what he hopes will be safety.
In arguably the best use of memory loss as a plot driver on screen, Leonard (Guy Pearce) is on a mission to track down the man who raped and murdered his wife. However, he's compromised by a rare, untreatable form of memory loss. Although he can recall details of life before his accident, Leonard cannot remember what happened fifteen minutes ago, where he's going, or why…

The complete series of the Sky Atlantic series ‘The Night Of’ will be available exclusively on Sky Box Sets from Thursday 1 September.