-> '''Professor Hobbes''': Perhaps you could tell us your name!\\
'''The Doctor''': What does it matter?\\
'''The Hostess''': Then tell us!\\
'''The Doctor''': ... John Smith.\\
''' Professor Hobbes''': Your ''real'' name.
-->-- "Midnight", ''Series/DoctorWho''

The stereotypical anonymous name, usually "John Smith" (or "Jane Smith" for women). Other examples include "John Doe/Jane Roe" (used in legal documents about a person whose name is unknown, or is being concealed, and in American hospitals for unknown dead people) or common names like "Johnson", "Jane" or "Jones". The equivalent in Japanese works is "Tarō Yamada" for men and "Hanako Yamada" for women.

The success of this trope is supposed to work due to just how ''common'' it is. If you take a name like '[[ComicBook/{{X-Men}} Xavier]]', people will recognise you. 'John Smith' is just so average that you're forgettable, and even if they do recall you, it will be near impossible to track down. Subversions can occur with people either recognising that it's ''way'' too common, or a person might try the alias in a time or place where it isn't actually common.

Note: This trope only refers to someone using an obvious pseudonym -- not someone whose name just happens to be Smith, as in the title character of ''MrSmithGoesToWashington''.

TheMenInBlack are likely to do this. See also SmithicalMarriage (when an unmarried couple use the Mr and Mrs Smith alias as a PaperThinDisguise) and TheNameless.

Compare AlanSmithee, NoNameGiven, SueDonym and SpecialPersonNormalName.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Kyon from ''SuzumiyaHaruhi'' used John Smith as an alias. He is a Japanese person in Japan, so it was never intended to be taken seriously. Possibly a reference to ''Series/DoctorWho'', since Kyon was time travelling at the time.
* ''GunslingerGirl''. John Doe or "Joe TheNameless" is an alleged former CIA agent who teaches child assassin Pinocchio.
* "Mr. Smith" is a common fake name in the spy-filled world of ''DarkerThanBlack'', which most people in the business treat as "I wish to remain anonymous". November 11 uses it in the first season, while the second season has a character only known by this title.
* Chaser John Doe, a Badass monster cat dream demon armed with a guillotine from ''DreamEaterMerry''.
* ''MaiHime'' and ''MaiOtome'' have John Smith, who is part of the Searrs Foundation in the former and the head of Schwarz in the latter, although the latter case is a name adopted by whoever is in charge; the one in ''Sifr'' is a different person from the one in the main series, whose younger self appears in ''Sifr''.
** "Yamada" the KnowledgeBroker in both has a similar name to Hanataro of Bleach, below, although Natsuki suspects in ''MaiHime'' that it's not his real name, especially because he doesn't look Japanese.
* In ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', Hanatarō Yamada's name is a combination of Tarō Yamada and Hanako Yamada; the Western equivalent would be something like Jack Smith.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/MrAndMrsSmith'', about a pair of married assassins called John and Jane Smith. Strangely the trope is only {{lampshaded}} once, when Jane asks for a database search on her husband and her assistant points out it's the most common name in the English language.
* ''Breaking the Code'' (1996). MI5 agent John Smith tells Alan Turing he has an awful time with hotel clerks, as they never believe that's actually his real name.
* ''Two Fathers' Justice'' (1985). The mercenary camp the two protagonists join calls all its trainees "Mr Smith" to preserve their anonymity. This comes in handy later on when they have to get past a guard who was also trained at the camp; they pointedly call him Mr Smith and pretend they were sent by his trainer to check security.
* In ''Film/TheMatrix'', the agents are [[TheMenInBlack men in black]] who use generic surnames like Brown or Johnson. Their leader is, of course, Agent Smith.
* ''Film/MenInBlack'' got a lot of mileage out of advertising and promotional materials featuring [[TommyLeeJones Mr. Jones]] and [[WillSmith Mr. Smith]]. Within the film itself they go by the interchangeable names "White" and "Black."
* The protagonist in ''Film/AFistfulOfDollars'' is actually called 'Joe' in the script, but as his name wasn't spoken on screen Creator/ClintEastwood instead became [[TheNameless The Man With No Name]].
* Mr Smith, the protagonist of ''Film/ShootEmUp''. The fact that his name is an obvious pseudonym highlights the fact that he's like the ManWithNoName from TheWestern. Subverted in that it may also be a MeaningfulName -- it's suggested that he's a former gunsmith.
* The serial killer in ''Film/{{Se7en}}'' uses the alias John Doe, as it's his "message" that's supposed to become famous, not himself.
* ''ButchCassidyAndTheSundanceKid''. When Butch and Sundance decide to give up crime, they tell their employer that their names are Smith and Jones.
* ''Film/MeetJohnDoe''
* Also played with in ''An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn'' where the director wants to take his name off the film but can't, because his name really is AlanSmithee.
* In ''City Heat'' (starring Burt Reynolds and Creator/ClintEastwood) two elderly gentlemen arrive at a brothel. One is greeted by the madam as "Mr Smith", and he introduces his companion who's also called Smith.
-->'''Madam:''' "Come in Mr Smith; we have many of your relatives here today!"
* ''Film/TheATeam'': There is a running gag in the movie that whenever Agent Lynch introduces himself to someone (usually someone rather GenreSavvy), they make a point of asking him if he's related to some ''other'' Agent Lynch that they knew in a previous operation. Eventually, another {{CIA}} agent appears near the end of the film and introduces himself as [[BrickJoke Agent Lynch]].
* Parodied in ''TheLastRemakeOfBeauGeste'', where every single recruit of the French Foreign Legion introduces himself as "Smith" (including the two brothers). The only exception is a blind man who calls himself "Jones" because Smith was his real name.
* In the first ''PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' movie, Jack Sparrow gives the harbor master a few shillings so he doesn't have to tell his name. The harbor master thinks about this for a beat, then welcomes "Mr. Smith" to Port Royal.
* ''Film/DieHard'' mocks this by having two Agent Johnsons show up ("No relation."). One's white, the other black. Amusingly, at one point when one of the agents is making a call to have the power to Nakatomi Plaza cut, he identifies himself as "Agent Johnson. No, the other one."
* In ''TheReplacementKillers'', Chow Yun-Fat's character gives his name as "John Lee," which Mira Sorvino notes is obviously a generic alias.
* During ''{{Houseguest}}'', the loansharks after our hero Sinbad try to follow him into the exclusive golf course he's playing at. When asked at the front desk what name their reservation is under, one blurts out "Smith" at the same time the other does "Miller." Luckily for them, a family named the Miller-Smiths happen to have a reservation and so they are admitted without further delay.
* The BigBad in ''Film/{{Skyfall}}'' is named "Silva", the most common surname in the Portuguese speaking world. As soon as he is first called that, he immediately demands to be called by his ''real'' name.
* ''Film/TheEvilThatMenDo''. Creator/CharlesBronson plays a hitman who introduces himself to a target as "Bart Smith", a tourist from Nebraska.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Subverted in ''The Contortionist's Handbook'' by Craig Clevenger. The main character lives his life in one false identity generated after another. When he meets a woman and starts teaching her the tricks of the trade, he tells her that she needs to have a fake name. She suggests "Smith?" which he rules out as too obvious. It has to be something that you immediately forget, like Carpenter or [=McIntyre=].
* In one of the ''Literature/{{Deathlands}}'' novels, Ryan Cawdor secretly returns to the barony from which he was outlawed. One of his companions suggest he use the alias "John Doe", and Ryan is [[TemptingFate less than amused]] to be told it's a pre-Apocalypse term for "corpses that have no name".
* In one spy novel (I think it was ''Jack Lane's Browning'' by David Gethin) a secret agent gripes about trying to track down someone using the name John Smith, and asks why people can't have distinctive ''Film/JamesBond'' names like Moneypenny or Gotobed.
* This was the original intention behind the name ''Literature/JamesBond'', but the character became so iconic that the name now immediately makes you think of him.
* DorothyLSayers planned out a series of stories (of which only one, "The Leopard Lady," was ultimately published) in which an organization called "Smith & Smith Removals" (featuring Mr. Smith, Mr. Smythe, Mr. Schmidt, and so on) contracts to [[MurderInc murder for profit]].
* According to ''Literature/DaveBarrySleptHere'', the leader of the Jamestown colony was "'John Smith' (not his real name)." [[DontExplainTheJoke The joke is]] that it ''was'' his real name.
* The Australian picture book ''Puzzle Worlds'' features numerous examples - Mr. Smith, Mr. Schmitt, Mr. Smythe, Mr. Smithers...
* Subverted in Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/TheDeadZone''. A man buys a rifle in a store under the name "John Smith". The clerk thinks "If I never saw me an alias before in my life, there's one there." However, the man (the protagonist) is actually named John Smith.
** In the TV series, Johnny Smith has constant problems of this nature.
* "Jones" is the last name selected for the title character (a creche-raised clone) of ''Literature/{{Friday}}'' by Creator/RobertAHeinlein, from a list of standard creche names.
* ''A Piece of Resistance'', a novel by Clive Egleton set in a [[AlternateHistory Soviet-occupied Britain]]. The protagonist takes the cover name of "David Daniel" and his girlfriend comments sardonically that at least it's more original than Smith.
* The AmeliaPeabody series has, as a recurring character, a British spymaster who often goes by "Smith," partly because spies use pseudonyms and partly because it's so much easier than coping with his real name of "the Honorable Algernon Bracegirdle-Boisdragon."
* In ''{{Foundation}}'', a man, for the sake of conspiracy, introduces himself as Jan Smite.
* In ''ASongOfIceAndFire'':
** When Jaime suspiciously asks one of the Kingsguard [[SelfProclaimedKnight who gave him his knighthood]], he says, "Ser Robert... Stone," which is an obviously generic name in Westeros. Robert is the name of the previous king, making it especially common, and "Stone" is a generic surname for bastards in the Crownlands.
** Qyburn calls his Frankenstein's monster of a knight "Ser Robert Strong." Robert, again, for the previous king, and Strong because he's, well, strong. There's also a House Strong [[ConvenientlyUnverifiableCoverStory which was effectively destroyed many years before]].
* John Smith is the pseudonym Literature/DaddyLongLegs instructs Judy to use. She dislikes it because it is so bland and calls him "Daddy-Long-Legs" instead. His real name is eventually revealed to be [[spoiler:Jervis Pendleton]].
* The Creator/AgathaChristie novel ''The Secret Adversary'' has the mastermind behind a DirtyCommunist plot be known only to outsiders and even his own minions as Mr. Brown. It works so well that [[TommyAndTuppence Tuppence]] realizes she actually saw a clerk named Mr. Brown at one point, but doesn't remember a thing about him because he had such an ordinary name.
** When they take their first case as Blunt's Brilliant Detectives in ''Partners in Crime'', Tommy deeply impresses his first client (who admittedly, is [[UpperClassTwit a bit of an idiot]]) by deducing that "Er ... Smith" isn't his real name. Tommy, in SherlockHolmes mode, goes on to expound that he doesn't know anyone called Smith, and is thinking of writing a monograph on the subject. He's a bit taken aback when a real Smith appears by the end of the case.
* Creator/PGWodehouse had a character named Rupert Smith, who was so dissatisfied with the commonness of his surname that he changed it to Literature/{{Psmith}}. ([[PsmithPsyndrome The "P" is silent, as in psychology]]. [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} And pshrimp]].)
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''HighwayToHeaven'': Michael Landon plays a "probationary" angel named Jonathan Smith, the main protagonist. (Contrast that with Victor French's role as Mark Gordon.)
* ''Mr & Mrs Smith'', a 1996 series about two UndercoverAsLovers spies. Not related to the above film starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (a pilot for a TV adaptation was made, but was unsuccessful).
* One episode of ''{{Sliders}}'' had our heroes recognize a spy who used this name. However, he had picked because in that world, it's apparently the name of a Greek god.
* Spoofed in ''TheCommish''. The coroner slides open a fridge labelled "John Doe" and is outraged to discover an illegally-shot doe the police commissioner is holding for evidence.
* ''Series/DoctorWho''. When the Doctor joins UNIT as their scientific advisor, TheBrigadier asks for his name for their files. He is unimpressed when the Doctor comes up with "John Smith". The Doctor still continues to use that alias when required.
** The Doctor first used that alias a little earlier, when Jamie [[LineOfSightName saw the manufacturer's name on a piece of medical equipment.]] The new series has {{Retcon}}ned the First Doctor as using it as well (on his library card).
** On the whole, it works fairly well as an alias. However, it backfires on him in 'Midnight' as the page quote shows. The people, already suspicious, immediately see it for a {{Blatant Lie|s}}. "No-one's called John Smith!"
* Played for laughs when Martha goes undercover in ''Series/{{Torchwood}}''. Ianto gives her the name "Samantha" as part of her cover, followed by, "I thought the 'Jones' would be safe" ([[DontExplainTheJoke Ianto's last name is also "Jones".]])
* Averted in ''Series/TheSarahJaneAdventures''. Sarah Jane never has to use an alias because her last name actually ''is'' Smith.
** A planned Series 5 episode that went unfinished due to Creator/ElisabethSladen's death would have seen the Smiths' "space computer" (who is actually named Mr Smith) become human. Since the episode was never finished, we never learned whether Mr Smith would have taken the first name John in tribute to the Doctor.
* The episode "General Hospital" of ''BlackadderGoesForth'' featured a man with an amazing german accent in a wartime hospital introducing himself as "Meeester.....Smeeth". Subverted in that he's a british spy, named Brigadier Humphrey Smith, who picked up the accent while undercover in Germany.
* In the TV series ''Series/JohnDoe'', the title character takes the name because he doesn't remember his own.
* When taking part in ''Techno Games'' the [[Series/RobotWars Plunderbird]] team referred to themselves as the Smith brothers.
* Not a pseudonym, but a similar phenomenon: in season 2 of ''Series/{{Lost}}'', Libby died before we could find out her last name. Fans clamored for years for more of Libby's story, including her last name, despite having been told by WordOfGod that none was forthcoming. Finally, at ComicCon between seasons 5 and 6, a montage of deceased characters finally gave her the name... Smith. It was as if the writers said, "You need her name? OK, it's Smith."
* On ''TheVampireDiaries'', Elijah takes on "Smith" as his last name. Needless to say, it doesn't go unnoticed.
* In ''Series/ThePrisoner'', Number 6 at one point reveals his name as "Peter Smith" - almost certainly a lie.
* The US law enforcement use of "John Doe" for an unknown victim crops up a lot in the ''Series/{{CSI}}'' universe, unsurprisingly given the number of unidentified bodies they get to deal with in those series.
* ''PersonOfInterest''. A woman who works as a professional fixer is amused and naturally skeptical when John Reese introduces himself as 'John'. Of course John Reese is simply the name he prefers to use anyway, rather than his real name (Though all evidence suggests that his first name really is John - the rest of his real name is unknown apart from his middle initial being H).
* The 1970s Western ''Series/AliasSmithAndJones''. The show (and its name) were inspired by the ''Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid'' example.
* In an episode of ''{{Bergerac}}'', Bergerac finds a man has checked into a hotel using the name 'James Smythe', which Begerac remarks is nothing more than an upper-class version of 'John Smith'.
* A season 1 episode of StarTrekTheNextGeneration focused around a severely injured Alien with amnesia being cared for on the Enterprise. With no name for him, Doctor Crusher dubs him John Doe.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* WithinTemptation have a song named "Jane Doe".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video & Tabletop Games]]
* One of the characters you meet in ''VideoGame/AnotherCode R'' calls himself this while he's performing an investigation of Lake Juliet. His real name is eventually found out.
* Played for laughs in ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' supplementary material: the BLU Soldier's alias (as revealed in the Soldier/Demoman double update teaser comic) is ''Jane'' Doe.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'', the men who give assignments to Shadowrunners are always referred to as "Mr. Johnson", for reasons of deniability ("No, we didn't send people to blow up the manufacturing plants of a rival MegaCorp! They were hired independently by a Mr. Johnson!").
** Considering how often Johnsons turn on the runners they're hiring (or intended to all along), there's [[DoubleEntendre a good reason for that particular name.]]
* In ''VideoGame/MonkeyIsland2LeChucksRevenge'' Guybrush tries to trick a guard who is on the lookout for him thus:
-->'''Guybrush''': Who, me? My name is Smith!\\
'''Guard''': Smith, eh? That's an unusual name.
* ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'' has a bunch of TheMenInBlack showing up in sidequests. Unlike the P-series from the original game, these are human G-men types using this trope as aliases: at one point, one of them slips up and nearly says his employer's name before switching back to "Mr. Grey".
* Used loosely in ''Phoenix Wright VisualNovel/AceAttorney: Justice For All''. The classy assassin Shelly [=DeKiller=] imitates a butler and uses the name John Doe. No one is GenreSavvy enough to think this guy might be a little suspicious.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* On ''HeyArnold'', one of the residents at the boarding house is a reclusive man named "John Smith". One episode has Arnold visiting the place where Mr. Smith works in an effort to deliver a package, only to find that ''nearly everyone'' who works there is apparently named some variation of "John Smith".
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', Zuko goes by the name of Lee in his incognito persona. And Sokka's Master tells him to use this name because "There are a thousand Lee".
* A CreditsGag for the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode [[ChurchOfHappyology "Trapped in the Closet"]] had everybody's name as "John Smith" or "Jane Smith." It's mainly to poke fun at a specific religion's reputation for lawsuits against anyone who [[ShapedLikeItself pokes fun at them.]] [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial It is by no means a measure to protect the people who worked on the episode from having disproportionate retribution leveled on them by a sociopathic cult.]] That would be silly.
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/InchHighPrivateEye'' featured a casino hidden in a hotel. To gain access, the clients had to tell the clerk they're looking for "Mr. Smith". Its downfall started when the Pinkertons had a lawyer named Smith.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other]]
* In the bizarre side one skit from the album ''How Can You Be in Two Places at Once, When You're Not Anywhere at All'' by Creator/TheFiresignTheatre, the central character finds himself in the lobby of a motel. The desk clerk gives him a card to fill out, but it's already been written in. He chuckles "Well, I couldn't get you to believe my name is 'Mr. and Mrs. John Smith', could I?" The clerk cheerily replies "Of course you could - nice to have you with us, Mr. and Mrs. Smith!" He goes by 'Mr. and Mrs. John Smith' for the rest of the album.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* In the traditional common law of England, and still today in the various legal systems that are derived from it, there is a standard set of fake names for people involved in a legal case whose real identities are unknown or being kept secret: John/Jane Doe, Richard Roe, Joe Bloggs, etc.
** The oldest of these, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Doe John Doe]], was originally a name for a ''fictitious'' plaintiff in a lawsuit -- there was no such person, but everyone involved pretended he existed, in order to avoid certain inconvenient features of the law of the time, such as TrialByCombat.
* RobinHood was apparently a generic name used by criminals in medieval times, making it difficult for modern day historians to trace the origins of the legend.
* Hong Kil Dong is the name of a famous thief in a classic Korean novel, but is commonly used nowadays as a filler name in South Korea, presumably because no real person is likely to be so named.
* Some of the advertising for ''Men in Black'' lampshaded the fact that its two stars really were named Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones, in keeping with the anonymous theme of the Film/MenInBlack.
* People who actually have the surname "Smith" are often subject to additional security scrutiny due to the TruthInTelevision usage of the name for aliases.
* According to [[http://www.slate.com/articles/life/slate_labs/2013/11/john_smith_why_don_t_more_americans_have_this_most_common_name.html this article]], there are 7,000 fewer people named John Smith in the United States than would be statistically expected, and it's mostly due to this trope.
* Haile Selassie I, Emperor of UsefulNotes/{{Ethiopia}}, used the "Mr Smith" alias when traveling incognito to Khartoum in WorldWarII, in preparation for the British move to throw the Italians out of his country. Given that this is a man who was literally worshiped as a god by the Rastafari movement, it's probably the most inappropriate alias imaginable.
[[/folder]]

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