Created By: KrisMahai on September 8, 2010 Last Edited By: KrisMahai on September 8, 2010
Troped

I Never Told You My Name

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LAUNCHING IN LESS THAN 48 HOURS.

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.

Examples:

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).

Film
  • 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."

Literature
  • 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.

Live-Action TV
Agent 1: Can you tell us where she [Daisy] is, Mr. Topp?
Brian: How do you know my name?
Brian: ...Alright.
Agent 2: Where is she, Brian?

Video Games
  • 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.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • 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.
Lisa: *gasp* How did you know my name?
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • August 20, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    Agent 1: Can you tell us where she [Daisy] is, Mr. Topp?
    Brian: How do you know my name?
    Brian: ...Alright.
    Agent 2: Where is she, Brian?
  • August 20, 2010
    PkMARIO
    Iris to Phoenix in the last case of Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney. When asked how she knew the name 5 psychelocks appear before her and the issue has to be dropped. It's not totally revealed until the end.
  • August 20, 2010
    StandingSpace
  • August 20, 2010
    KrisMahai
    @StandingSpace: I Never Said It Was Poison is already mentioned in the description, but thank you anyway.
  • August 20, 2010
    JoeG
    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.
  • August 20, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    In The Truman Show, Truman's attempt to drive out of town with his wife came to an end when an unknown cop told them the road was closed, the cop addressed Truman by name without ever being told his name or shown any ID. This immediately lets Truman know something is up.
  • August 20, 2010
    alfredo094
    Duke to Yuri in Tales Of Vesperia (IIRC).
  • August 20, 2010
    billybobfred
    I swear we have this one. Let me see if I can find it.

    edit: Nope, we don't, it was mentioned in our own evil overlord vows, but we don't actually have this as a trope.
  • August 20, 2010
    KrisMahai
    Can you check on that? I'm not familiar with the Tales series and I don't want to add an example if it ends up not being correct.

    @billybobfred: That'd be helpful. I searched for it, but the closest thing I could find was I Never Said It Was Poison. I might have missed something, though.

    Edit: Ah, really? Thank you for checking!
  • August 21, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    I think it would better to compare with Bluff The Impostor rather than Spot The Thread.
  • August 21, 2010
    KrisMahai
    @Sean Murray I: I looked at the trope, but I don't really think so. Bluff The Impostor refers to the person suspecting their "friend" is an impostor and purposely trying trip them up. Spotting The Thread is when the impostor makes a mistake that alerts the other person to the fact that this is not who they thought he/she was and should be wary around them, similar to this trope.
  • August 21, 2010
    the grene kni3t
    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.
  • August 21, 2010
    Alkthash
    So we should mention that this is a subtrope of Spotting The Thread then.
  • August 23, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Appears in in Questionable Content.
  • August 26, 2010
    TooBah
    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."
  • August 26, 2010
    jakelikescheddar
    QC strip found here if needed.
  • August 26, 2010
    randomsurfer
    From 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.
    Lisa: gasp How did you know my name?
    Woman: Your nametag.
  • August 29, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    Inverted in American Psycho. Patrick asks his secretary Jean to dinner at Dorsia, the trendiest restaurant in Manhattan. But, of course, it's just a reason to get her to come to his apartment so he could attempt to murder her and an actual dinner reservation doesn't matter. When Patrick calls up to make a reservation, the matre d' informs him that they're totally booked, to which Patrick happily responds, "Two at nine? Great," before hanging up. Jean, suspicious by this, points out that Patrick didn't give the restaurant his name on the phone.
  • August 29, 2010
    OrangeKyle91
    Played straight in Firefly. Yo Saf Bridge: You're a damn liar, Malcolm Reynolds! Monty: I ain't never got to tellin' you his name yet... I know this example is currently in I Never Said It Was Poison, but I think it fits better here.
  • September 6, 2010
    RangerSix
    Not sure if this counts, but . . .

    In the Doctor Who comic The Time Machination, H. G. Wells introduces the Doctor to a friend of his - a physicist named John Smith. While talking to Wells and Smith, the Doctor mentions that he's being sought by a group known as "the Institute" (the institute in question being the Torchwood Institute).

    Later on in the comic, Smith pilfers a calibrator from amongst the tools the Doctor's using to fix his supposedly-damaged TARDIS and uses it to attract the attention of the Torchwood agents who are searching for the Doctor.

    His mistake? While running away from the agents, Smith yells a warning:

    Smith: DOCTOR! They're coming! They must have picked up your chronal whatevers!
    The Doctor: Who's coming?
    Smith: The Torchwood Institute!
  • September 7, 2010
    Flioro
    Can't believe this isn't a trope yet. I say go for it.
  • September 7, 2010
    whitetigah
    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).
  • September 8, 2010
    Arivne
    Webcomics
  • September 8, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Variant in BSG where he Doctor on Caprica refers to Kara Thrace as her callsign "Starbuck."
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