Created By: EddieValiant,Jr. on July 11, 2011
Troped

Sudden Name Change

A character or concept has one name, then suddenly and for no apparent reason, it's called by another one.

Name Space:
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Trope
As usual, the laconic pretty much covers it... a character or concept changing from one name to another for no explicitly stated reason, and no mention is made of the change within canon in an almost Remember the New Guy-style situation. Some examples...

  • Super Mario Bros. - The squid mook, introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3, was originally called "Bloober". Starting with Paper Mario, that was suddenly changed to "Blooper".
  • Three from Code Lyoko:
    • Due to a translation mix-up, the supercomputer was originally called the "supercalculator" in the English dub. This was later corrected.
    • Kankrelats were called "Roachsters" in the first season. They were latter given their original French name.
    • The fictional band The Subsonics was changed to The Subdigitals when it turned out there was a real band called The Subsonics.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - The character Zarniwoop, introduced in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, returns in Mostly Harmless as Van Harl (he stays Zarniwoop in the radio series). In And Another Thing, he's referred to as "Zarniwoop Van Harl", somewhat correcting the disconnect.

There are bound to be plenty of others!
Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • July 11, 2011
    EmbracingShadows
    Well, in the book there weren't any hints that Van Harl was Zarniwoop. That was an edit in the adaptation, mostly just as an excuse for Zaphod to make a cameo.
  • July 11, 2011
    EddieValiant,Jr.
    Didn't both Ford and Zaphod act as though they knew the guy already?
  • July 11, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In the Psychiatrist Milkman sketch on Monty Pythons Flying Circus Mrs Ratbag's name changes to Mrs Pim with no notice. Which is to say, in the beginning of the sketch she's called Mrs Ratbag and later on she's called Mrs Pim, but it's the same character.
  • July 11, 2011
    Lirodon
    The Price Is Right: A pricing game known as "Now and Then" (where one must guess whether the prices of grocery items are their current price or one from an old supermarket flyer, the titular "now" and "then" prices) had its title changed to "Now or Then", for almost no apparent reason.
  • July 12, 2011
    TheChainMan
    Supertrope of Inconsistent Dub (When it refers to names).
  • July 12, 2011
    LeeM
    • In a Monty Python stage sketch there's a bartender who's called (and answers to) different names by all of his customers.
    • Radio: UK sketch show The Burkiss Way had one sketch where a guy is chewing out an underling, but is frustrated by the fact that the underling keeps changing his name by deed poll every few seconds.
  • July 12, 2011
    Frank75
    Don't you mean Sub Trope?
  • July 12, 2011
    NESBoy
    They were called "Bloopers" long before Paper Mario.
  • July 12, 2011
    NESBoy
    When Stan Lee forgot The Incredible Hulk's alter-ego is named Bruce Banner and started calling him Bob Banner, it led to a retcon where his full name is "Robert Bruce Banner". He also called Peter Parker Peter Palmer, but at least that was forgotten.
  • July 12, 2011
    DaibhidC
    Didn't both Ford and Zaphod act as if they knew the guy already?

    Not in the book, no - Ford identifies him as the guy who's taken over the Guide from its "proper" management (presumably including Zarniwoop) and subsequently as a variant Vogon. And Zaphod just isn't there, his scenes got added for the adaptation.
  • July 12, 2011
    TheChainMan
    @Frank75: No, it's a Supertrope, as this refers to all name changes and Inconsistent Dub only to those made in a foreign dub.
  • July 12, 2011
    thewriter
    does this count?
    • Up until Harry Potter finds out the actual name of the creatures that guard Azkaban, a wizarding prison, everyone refers to them as "The Azkaban Guards." After he experience their happiness-draining power and is told their name, Dementors, in Prisoner Of Azkaban no one refers to them as the Azkaban Guards ever again.
  • July 12, 2011
    EddieValiant,Jr.
    Don't see why that's not an example of this trope. :)

    NES Boy, when did the name change actually take place, then? I remember "Bloober" as late as Mario Party 3...
  • July 12, 2011
    sgamer82
    • In Rave Master a case of Inconsistent Dub occurs in the manga translation. In the first volume or so, Haru's sword is referred to by its Japanese name, the Ten Commandments. Every volume after instead calls it the Ten Powers.
  • July 12, 2011
    jbrecken
    The Greatest American Hero's secret identity was initially "Ralph Hinkley," but then after a guy named Hinkley tried to shoot the president in real life, he was referred to as either "Ralph" or "Mr. H" and the nameplate on his office was shown as "Ralph Hanley."
  • July 12, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Countless tropes on This Very Wiki...

    j/k
  • July 15, 2011
    Unknown Troper
    Are we ready to launch, or not quite yet?
  • July 16, 2011
    NeuroGlide
    Example: Marvel Comics character The Trappster was known as Paste Pot Pete in his first appearance.

    Although he had a good reason :).
  • July 17, 2011
    EddieValiant,Jr.
    Speaking of Marvel, how about Bruce Banner magically becoming David Banner in the TV series? Behind the scenes, the name change actually happened because one of the producers thought the name Bruce was "too gay"...
  • July 17, 2011
    foxley
    Also in the Marvel Universe, Dr Druid (who predates the Fantastic Four) was originally called Dr Droom. When he was reintroduced, his name was changed to avoid confusion with Doctor Doom but no 'in-universe' reason is given for the change.
  • July 17, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^^Technically, the David replaced Robert from "Robert Bruce Banner." His full name was David Bruce, and went by David (as opposed to Robert Bruce going by Bruce in the comics).
  • July 19, 2011
    EddieValiantJr
    New example (western animation): The hunter character from the Looney Tunes, now famously called Elmer Fudd, was once known as Egghead and had a radically different design. Then, one of the shorts changed his name from Egghead to Elmer for no reason at all, his design gradually changed, and the rest is history.
  • July 21, 2011
    EddieValiant,Jr.
    Wasn't Alecto Carrow called by a different name earlier in the Harry Potter series?
  • July 21, 2011
    Jimjoe
    Example: Warcraft III introduced Furion Stormrage to lore. The expansion pack arrives a year later and his given name is expanded to Malfurion with no explanation.
  • July 21, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    wouldn't this be covered by retcon?
  • July 22, 2011
    EddieValiant,Jr.
    It's not quite the same thing.
  • July 25, 2011
    BishyT
    Would the Final Fantasy/Kingdom Hearts series be covered by this, particularly the change from Aeris to Aerith?
  • July 25, 2011
    OmegaKross
    In Rebuild Of Evangelion, Asuka's surname changes from 'Sohryu' to 'Shikinami', for no reason other than it goes better with Rei Ayanami and Maki Makinami.
  • July 25, 2011
    dangerwaffle
    English Final Fantasy materials were inconsistent about Aeris/Aerith long before Kingdom Hearts. It's not a change in that case, they just finally settled on one.
  • July 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In The Incredible Hulk #294 Banner is up against a Corrupt Corporate Executive named Max Stryker. Then Hulk is conscripted into the Secret Wars; when he comes back in issue #295 Stryker is now called Max Hammer.
  • July 27, 2011
    BraveHoratio
    Elwe Singollo in The Silmarillion. He's referred to as Elwe in his early chapters, then disappears for a couple thousand years, and then is called Thingol. Because characters in the Silmarillion weren't already hard enough to keep track of. A similar thing happens with Melkor/Morgoth, but there, at least, there's a farily obvious renaming instance.

    A fairly mild example from Doctor Who: while the word TARDIS does appear in the first episode, it is universally called "The Ship" for most of the First Doctor era.
  • July 28, 2011
    benjamminsam
    Wouldn't Princess Toadstool / Peach count here? She was always Peach in Japan, but she'd always been Toadstool in the States (and elsewhere?) until she signed her letter "Princess Toadstool, Peach" at the start of Super Mario 64. Since then, she's never been referred to as Toadstool again, and no canonical reason was given for the change.
  • July 29, 2011
    EddieValiantJr
    Perfect example!

    Can we get some hats up in here? :P
  • July 30, 2011
    Chabal2
    • Warcraft: In addition to the Furion / Malfurion example, Owlbears are renamed Wildkin, while Ballistae and Catapults become Glaive Throwers and Demolishers respectively, with completely new models and attacks. Why exactly is never mentioned.
    • Sailor Moon Abridged has fun with the Silver Imperial Moon crystal, which is never called the same way twice, even by the people looking for it.

  • July 30, 2011
    djbj
    On Boy Meets World, Topanga states that her mother's name is Chloe in season one but in a later season her mother's name is Rhiannon.
  • July 30, 2011
    Grain
    In the anime Revolutionary Girl Utena, the main character's last name was incorrectly pronounced "Tenjuu" in the first few episodes, and later corrected to "Tenjou."
  • July 31, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Are You Being Served: in one episode it's revealed that Mr. Lucas' first name is Dick. In other episodes where it comes up, it's James.
  • July 31, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • In Dragonflight, the leader of the "old-timers" is T'ton, and Weyrewoman Kylora is Pridith's rider. In subsequent books, the names are T'ron, Kylara and Prideth.
    • Towards the end of the "Wyrmberg" segment of The Colour Of Magic Liessa suddenly becomes Lianna. Given the Pernese influence of the Wyrmberg, it was suggested that this might be an intentional parody of the above, but Terry Pratchett says no, it's a mistake at the printers.
  • July 31, 2011
    Angewomon
    In Avatar The Last Airbender, Flying Bison are later referred to as Sky Bison. It could be possible that both terms are correct, though, since many animals have multiple common names.
  • August 2, 2011
    Fanra
    Real Life: A great many streets and highways will change their name as you drive down them for no apparent reason. This can be very confusing and cause you to get lost. The reason tends to be things like it used to be two streets that were combined or you crossed a state or county line.
  • August 2, 2011
    NateTheGreat
    Okay, is this "any character name change" or "Real Life factors forced the creators to change the name of a character, and we are supposed to believe that the character always went by the new name?"
  • August 3, 2011
    Arivne
    Western Animation
    • The New Adventures Of Superman. In several early episodes (e.g. "The Deadly Dish") Lex Luthor's henchman was named Blinky. Starting with the episode "Luthor's Lethal Laser" the henchman's name was changed to Kinky, with no explanation.
  • August 3, 2011
    quedonX
    ^^ From the description and most of the examples, it sounds like any name change that is either not explained or only explained after the fact (and then only outside of canon), the actual reason for the change being seemingly irrelevant.
  • August 3, 2011
    spideydude
    Although name changes in Pro Wrestling occur often due to gimmick changes, sometimes names are changed for no apparent reason. Case in point, John Hennigan officially debuted on WWE Raw as Johnny Blaze, but was changed to Johnny Spade the very next week with no gimmick change. It would become Johnny Nitro just a few weeks later, but this name would eventually get a change in gimmick.
  • August 3, 2011
    LancelotG
    • In Swallows And Amazons, the little sister of the Walkers is known as "Vicky" the entire first book. The sequels promptly change her name to "Bridget". The explanation given in-story is that baby Bridget looked like "Queen Victoria in old age" and was jokingly nicknamed "Vicky", but the resemblance and the nickname ceased when she grew older. (In real life, author Arthur Ransome was basing several of the characters on real children, and Bridget was the name of their younger sister--when she got old enough to comment on the first book, she disliked the fact that her name had been changed, and Ransome fixed things up for her.)
  • August 3, 2011
    CastingCrowns
    I'm not sure the Elmer Fudd thing counts as this. Egghead was a separate character, with different character traits, a different design, and a different voice. Egghead made several appearances on his own before he was labelled as "Elmer Fudd" in "A Feud There Was". This was also the first time Arthur Q. Bryan provided the voice, which did NOT resemble his later Fudd voice in any way. In 1940, Elmer Fudd made his first proper appearance, voice and everything, in "Elmer's Candid Camera". Elmer was a very gradual evolution from Egghead, not a sudden name change.
  • August 3, 2011
    EddieValiantJr
    The name change from Egghead to Elmer happened while the character still had the "Egghead" design, though. I'll make sure to note that in the actual page.
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