Good Names Bad Names
Good guys have familiar names, villains have names no reader could have.


(permanent link) added: 2012-01-07 14:34:25 sponsor: CactusWren edited by: Ckuckoo (last reply: 2012-01-20 20:37:24)

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In fiction, while good characters have reassuringly ordinary or familiar names, like "Jenny Jones" or "John David", bad characters tend to have improbable, disturbing, bizarre, and/or and intimidatingly sophisticated names such as "Warwick Grope", or "Cruella de Ville". This trope is particularly notable in juvenile fiction.

(Saving this trope from oblivion, since original poster seems to have forgotten it.)

Examples:

  • Probably the most famous example would be that wizard kid whose main foils are called Draco Malfoy, Severus Snape, and of course, Voldemort.
  • In the Nancy Drew novels, Nancy goes up against such mean characters as Tom Tozzle, Tom Stripe, Mr. Warte, Alonzo Rugby, Red Buzby, Rudy Raspin, and Bushy Trott.
  • Obadiah Slope is a slimy antagonist from the Barchester Series by Anthony Trollope. He romantically pursues one of the protagonists, Eleanor Bold.
  • Midsomer Murders has normal British names, then one episode has a particularly vulgar Asshole Victim named Jezebel.
  • All of the characters in Twelfth Night have unthreatening names except for ... Malvolio.
  • In The Girl From Tomorrow, the heroes Kelly and Alana are up against the ruthless Silverthorn.
  • In Oliver Twist, Oliver's biggest threat is Fagin.
  • In Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore, Robin Oakapple inherits a baronetcy whose family curse requires him to commit evil deeds. He reluctantly assumes the office as "Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd." His equally reluctant manservant Adam Goodheart changes his name to "Gideon Crawle" to fit in better.

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