Deny thy father, and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.
As names are for people in real life, they are an integral part of the identities of fictional characters. They will usually be made up of at least a given name and a last name linking them to one part of their family. Therefore, you can count on any person who wants to disassociate themself from any family member sharing it by doffing the name that links them. In most cases, this family member is the father, due to long-standing traditions involving the woman's adoption of her husband's surname and the bestowal of the father's surname to all of his children. Unlike your standard Meaningful Rename
, which is usually part of the story's narrative and its significance derived from the meaning of the new name, this practice is marked by what is renounced: the part of the name linking the person to his or her despised family member.
This can be done in a variety of forms. In cases where this issue comes up in The Maiden Name Debate
, a much bigger deal will be made over a man deciding to change his name as part of the marriage than it would if a woman were to do the same due to the fact that a woman is usually expected to change her name in any case. And speaking of maiden names, a common practice among characters who do this is to take their mother's maiden name (or other equivalent) after renouncing the surname they got from their father. Others still will take an entirely different name or give themselves an Awesome McCoolname
. In rare cases, the person renaming themselves will decide to go around with Only One Name
Subtrope of Meaningful Rename
Indices: Naming Conventions
, Parental Issues
Anime & Manga
- Oi Shinbo: The male lead holds his Insufferable Genius father responsible for the death of his mother, so uses her family name instead of his father's.
- Tegami Bachi: Largo takes his mother maiden name of Lloyd after leaving Kagerou
- In Y: The Last Man, Dr. Mann took her name from Mann's Chinese Theatre to spite her father (to be fair he was a jerk and accidentally caused the gendercide in the process of sabotaging her work).
Live Action TV
- The Count of Monte Cristo: Villefort, a Royalist, changed his name to disassociate himself from his Bonapartist father, Noirtier.
- Jenna, one of the protagonists of When Dad Killed Mom, asks Karen at the end if she can be Melissa Pierce specifically because she doesn't want her dead half-sister's given name or her dad's surname.
- Throughout the Harry Potter series, Lord Voldemort, né Tom Marvolo Riddle, repeatedly disparages the given and last names that he got from his filthy Mudblood father. People calling him by his first and last names is a major Berserk Button for him, unsurprisingly.
- In Anno Dracula, the undead Edgar Allan Poe dubs himself simply "Edgar Poe", because the middle name is tied to his hated foster father.
- Jon Cade, the protagonist from the series The Man of Jerusalem changed his surname to Shannow to distance himself from his brother Daniel Cade, a notorious criminal.
- Paul Stenbeck from As the World Turns changed his last name to Ryan (his Mom's maiden name) to distance himself from his villianous father James.
- Something Positive's Jason takes Audrey's name when they get married because he hates his father.
- Lisa takes her mothers maiden name in The Simpsons after Homer bets against her in a crossword puzzle competition.
- Bobbi Kristina Brown announced her intention to change her name to Kristina Houston specifically to distance herself from her father, Bobby Brown.
- Truth in Television for many victims of Abusive Parents.
- Jon Stewart has cited, along with an emcee's mispronunciation of his original surname, "some leftover resentment at [his] family" for his changing his surname from Leibowitz to Stewart. Indeed, Jon Stewart and his father are estranged from each other to this day.
- After Oscar Wilde was convicted for "gross indecency", his wife did this on their sons' behalf. She not only changed her and her sons' surname to Holland, a name from her own heritage, to disassociate them from Wilde, but she and her family did everything possible to ensure that Wilde never saw his sons again, even after he got out of prison.
- William Patrick Stuart-Houston was born William Patrick Hitler. He was the son of Alois Hitler, Jr. and a nephew of Adolf Hitler himself. Yeah, you can guess why he changed his name.