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Alice has just met a man named Bob, who seems like a perfectly nice person-- until he uses her name. To which Alice realizes and possibly responds, "I never told you my name."
This trope is used to place suspicion on an otherwise ordinary character or to hint that there is more to the character than they seem. The person whose name is used does not necessarily have to notice; it could simply be a hint to the audience to pay more attention to the character who knew it without being told.
It can also be used humorously, generally with subversions, such as Alice asking why Bob knows her name... and Bob revealing that Alice was wearing a nametag the whole time.
Compare I Never Said It Was Poison
, where a suspect incriminates themselves by revealing confidential evidence only the person involved in the crime would know, and Spotting the Thread
, where the spy is an impostor imitating someone Alice knows, instead of acting as a new person.
Anime and Manga
- A variant in Monster: Tenma realizes that a couple of policemen aren't what they seem when they address him as "Dr. Tenma" after he only told them his name and not that he was a doctor.
- In NEEDLESS, Mio sneaks her way in Cruz's team. Though he doesn't find out for sure she's a mole until Mio turns on them, Cruz quickly becomes suspicious of her when she calls him "Cruz" as opposed to "Yamada" (his nickname, which everyone in the team uses instead of his real name).
- In The Truman Show, Truman's attempt to drive out of town with his wife ended when an unknown cop told them the road was closed. However, the cop then addressed Truman by name without ever being told his name or shown any ID. This immediately lets Truman know something is up.
- In the recent Sorcerer's Apprentice movie, Nicolas Cage's character does this to the young Dave. When Dave asks how he knows his name, Cage bursts out, "Because I can read minds!" After a beat, he says normally, "It's on your backpack."
- There's a variation in the mystery novel Say It With Bullets by Richard Powell. The hero is talking to a woman he has just met when she reveals she knows exactly when his birthday is. He is immediately suspicious of her, but it turns out she had met him and had a crush on him when he was 16 and she was 12.
Agent 1: Can you tell us where she [Daisy] is, Mr. Topp?
Brian: How do you know my name?
Agent 2: Where is she, Brian?
- In The World Ends with You, upon meeting Neku, Joshua uses Neku's name twice before actually being told by Neku himself. Used to hint that Joshua is more than he seems, as he later ends up being a very significant character.
- Iris to Phoenix in the last case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. When confronted about it, five psyche-locks appear before her and the issue has to be dropped. It's not revealed completely until the end.
- Occurs in the Simpsons episode "Lisa's Wedding," where she's talking to a fortune teller at a Renaissance Faire:
Woman: I've been waiting for you, Lisa.
* How did you know my name?