Created By: ThreeferFAQMinorityChick on June 25, 2012 Last Edited By: ThreeferFAQMinorityChick on June 30, 2012
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Shed the Family Name

Someone decides to drop his or her surname specifically because of issues with their family

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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.
--Juliet Capulet to Romeo Montague, Romeo and Juliet

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 McCool Name. 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

Examples:

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

Comics
  • 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).

Literature

Live Action TV
  • 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.

Webcomics
  • Something*Positive's Jason takes Audrey's name when they get married because he hates his father.

Western Animation
  • Lisa takes her mothers maiden name in The Simpsons after Homer bets against her in a crossword puzzle competition.

Real Life
  • 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.
Community Feedback Replies: 28
  • June 25, 2012
    Bisected8
    • 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).
  • June 25, 2012
    SKJAM
    • 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.
  • June 25, 2012
    theweirdKiddokun
    • Tegami Bachi: Largo takes his mother maiden name of Lloyd after leaving Kagerou
  • June 25, 2012
    Duncan
    Real life: Feminist artist Judy Chicago changed her name after the death of her father and her first husband, choosing to disconnect from the idea of male dominated naming conventions.
  • June 25, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Lisa does this in the simpsons after he bets against her in a crossword puzzle competition.
  • June 25, 2012
    Waterlily
    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.
  • Unless Judy Chicago changed her name specifically because of problems with her father as a person, I don't think she counts. If it's only motivated by a rejection of patriarchal naming conventions, that's more along the lines of a Meaningful Rename.
  • June 25, 2012
    theweirdKiddokun
    The Tegami Bachi example should be remove from comic book example.
  • June 25, 2012
    surgoshan
    Webcomic
    • Something Positive's Jason takes Audrey's name when they get married because he hates his father.
  • June 25, 2012
    reub2000
    • Jon Stewart stop using his last name because to distance himself from his father.
  • June 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    This is sometime done in Real Life to avoid the stigma of a parent's notoriety. The offspring of Lee Harvey Oswald, and the Rosenbergs, changed their names.
  • June 26, 2012
    arromdee
    I believe Rachel Summers in the X-Men (currently Rachel Grey) did this but I don't know the details.
  • June 26, 2012
    robinjohnson
    A Real Life example (does this count?):
    • Oscar Wilde's wife changed their children's surname after his conviction for homosexuality.
  • June 26, 2012
    Polarbear2217
    Variation in Young Frankenstein, where he changes the pronunciation of "Frankenstein"
  • The one with the Rosenbergs' sons doesn't count; their surnames were changed when they were adopted by Abel Meeropool. In fact, the two brothers actually spent years trying to prove their birth parents' innocence and couldn't be said to be trying to disassociate themselves from the Rosenbergs at all.
  • June 26, 2012
    reub2000
    Well there are plenty of people who are family members of infamous people changing their last name. Not really an example because I think in most cases it's nothing personal against their father. Eg, William Patrick Stuart-Houston was born William Patrick Hitler, the son Alois Hitler Jr, and a nephew of Adolf Hitler.
  • ^ Well, that's why I put it in that we would potentially need a better name. Anyone got any ideas that aren't wordy?
  • June 27, 2012
    TrustBen
    In Anno Dracula, the undead Edgar Allan Poe dubs himself simply "Edgar Poe", because the middle name is tied to his hated stepfather.
  • June 27, 2012
    Nithael
    Literature:
    • 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.
  • June 27, 2012
    randomsurfer
    True, the Meeropool/Rosenbergs went on to become adults trying to prove their parents' innocence. However, when they were first adopted/changed names the reasoning behind it was to protect them.
  • June 27, 2012
    LittleLizard
    For a trope name: I am NOT a <insert iconic family here> (Rockefeller, Kennedy, Stark).

    Example: Averted in Mass Effect with Ashley Williams. Her family name is tainted as she is the grand-daughter of the only human ever to surrender to an alien species. Because of that, she fights for the honor of her family and to clean the Williams name.

    Also, in A Song Of Ice And Fire, does Jon Snow case count? And Daenarys Targaryen Stormborn?? And Theon Grayjoy in book three i think?
  • ^ In Mass Effect, is it ever made clear that Ashley Williams is expected to change her name? If so, I think I could list the aversion there. As for A Song Of Ice And Fire, I've never read the series, but could you explain those characters' stories? Because this specifically has to do with family issues, no example can be Zero Content anyway.
  • June 28, 2012
    LittleLizard
    ^ Jon Snow is the bastard son of Lord Stark. Because of that, he can not bear the name Stark, instead using a generic family name. Here it's Snow due to them being from the North. Then Daenarys Targaryen (which is the only one im completely sure is this trope). She is descendant from the last king who was killed during a coup. However, due to insanely long circumstances and situations, she basically ends up as the queen of a group of barbarians and decides to call herself Daenarys Stormborn. And for Grayjoy, im not sure (i read it here, not read the third book yet) that after doing some quite inmoral actions, he ends up as a man without honor nor he can bear his name anymore and starts being called Theon something though im not entirely sure. In short: Snow probably, Daenarys for sure, Theon no idea.
  • June 29, 2012
    Kelnius
    This is Just Meaningful Rename I don't see how this differs to an extent to give it a page of it's own. This is Not A Trope.
  • June 30, 2012
    reub2000
    No, this is a distinct trope.
  • June 30, 2012
    LittleLizard
    More likely this would be a sub-trope of Meaningful Rename where family circumstances come into play. And given that there are a decent bunch of examples there, it shoulde a subtrope worthy of it's own page.
  • June 30, 2012
    Descartes
    In Romeo & Juliet
    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.

    Maybe "No longer be a Capulet" as new name?
  • We seldom name tropes after works anymore. I think "Shed the Family Name" fits very well if no one else has any better ideas that are less wordy. However, I think that would be a good candidate for a page quote. In fact, anything from that scene of Romeo and Juliet would suit that purpose, in my opinion. What do you guys think?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=h9ti7s284m0274pl4uwu0h68