[[quoteright:266:[[Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Nominal_Importance.gif]]]]
[[caption-width-right:266:[-Okay, Hobgoblin Mom Appearing in This One Panel.-] ]]

->'''Jason:''' You're not gonna die on the planet, Guy.\\
'''[[PluckyComicRelief Guy:]]''' I'm not? [[SayMyName Then what's my last name?]] ... Nobody knows! [[GenreSavvy Do you know why?]] [[WrongGenreSavvy Because my character isn't important enough for a last name!]] [[RedShirt Because I'm gonna die five minutes in!]]
-->-- ''Film/GalaxyQuest''

''Only people that are relevant to the plot or a {{sidequest}} will be blessed with names. Everyone else will be [[NamelessNarrative nameless]] or be referred to with [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep generic or descriptive titles]].''

For example, if the town guard is named Samuel Winthrop, you should probably make a mental note of him, as he'll very likely wind up being essential to your progress. If his name is Town Guard, however, you can safely ignore him, as he is superfluous and has no bearing on anything. At most, he'll provide some useful [[MrExposition exposition]], but it's guaranteed that he'll never need to be sought out again.

From a gameplay standpoint, [[AcceptableBreaksFromReality this makes perfect sense]] and may even be a JustifiedTrope. By only giving important people names, you can reasonably narrow down the people you need to talk to, which curtails much of the tedium of having to TalkToEveryone.

Corollaries include:

* Only relevant characters will have voice-overs.
* If the game gives characters a CharacterPortrait in their dialogue box (as ''BatenKaitos'' or ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'' do), then only important characters will have unique portraits (or even portraits at all).

A common exception that proves the desirability of the rule is when early non-important NPC's have names and faces, but the writers start running out of time or patience and just put in generic people later.

This is the naming equivalent of YouALLLookFamiliar, and it is caused by TheLawOfConservationOfDetail. Contrast with TheDeadHaveNames (where characters are named poshumously to memorialize them) and HeHadAName (where a dead character's name is invoked specifically to send the message that the deceased ''wasn't'' just a bit of meaningless backdrop).

----

!! Video game examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Action Adventure]]
* Played straight in many ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' games, where the people with unique names and character designs usually have a good chance of being one of the sages you need to rescue/assist later in the story. It's most noticeable in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkBetweenWorlds'', where literally every uniquely named/designed character you meet in your travels turns out to be a sage in the second half of the game.
* ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'' gives names to most of the characters, as well as a small introduction sequence and their name on a briefly appearing scroll. Even some of the monsters have personal names and titles, and there's also "Newly Dubbed: Sleepy", a bear who is, you guessed it, sleepy.
* Thoroughly averted in ''VideoGame/TheGodfather''. Everyone has a name, which you can see by targeting them, so you won't be figuring out importance by name here.
* ''SpyroTheDragon'' series: Every NPC and collectable has a name but the enemies, at least usually, don't seem to. Justifiable in at least the first game, as they were actually made out of gems.
* Kind of done in both the 2D and 3D ''SuperMarioBros'' series platform games. You know whether a character will be important or a boss if their name is in the level/mission title. No guesses who the boss is in Bowser's, Roy's or [other boss name]'s Castle or Fortress. Similarly, it's fairly obvious a mission title like 'Big Bob-omb on the Summit', 'Gooper Blooper Breaks Out', or 'Kingfin's Fearsome Waters' will have you battle a character with said name and you'll at least get a star/shine sprite for doing so.
* ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersia2008''. There are barely any characters shown to begin with -- a grand total of eight -- and of those, only two have names: [[{{Sidekick}} Elika]] and [[BigBad Ahriman]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Adventure]]
* Even in the character-based ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series, there are some characters who do have sprites, but no known names, most obviously the Judge. Of course, any character with a sprite will end up being relevant to a case eventually - even the unnamed Bellboy in the series' second case. There are also characters who are rarely referred to by their names, but have them nonetheless (such as Penny Nichols from the first game's third case), but even they tend to have a piece of information you'll need to know.
* ''HypeTheTimeQuest'' averts this by going out of its way to name almost all the {{NPC}}s, down to Maliq, a one-off thug who attacks you. Though there is the exception of a few guards and an executioner.
* When talking to one of the characters in the flash game ''Nicholas' Weird Adventure 2'', his character portrait doesn't show a picture; he just gets text from the author claiming the character is not important enough to take the time to make a portrait of him. As the discussion goes on, the author changes his mind and adds one.
* YumeNikki: Aside from the Effects and Madotsuki herself, absolutely nothing is named. Despite this, {{Fan Nickname}}s have been created for just about everything, and are almost universally accepted as their true names, such as "Uboa" for a particularly memorable JumpScare character.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fighting]]
* In ''[[SoulSeries Soul Calibur 3]]'''s "Chronicles of the Sword" mode, a lot of EliteMooks on the field are named, but all that comes of the names is a strength boost. Regular soldiers just go by the name of their banner.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: First Person Shooter]]
* In the expansion to ''[[VideoGame/StarTrekEliteForce Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force]]'' the player expands his/her arsenal with a tricorder, which can, among other things, be used to scan various {{NPC}}s. In keeping with the series' RedShirt tradition, important [=NPCs=] appear with their name intact, while others are simply called "crewman" by the device.
* Every single friendly soldier in the ''CallOfDuty'' series has a name. Characters [[RedshirtArmy not important to the plot]] have randomly generated names, but they're names nonetheless.
* Regular enemies in the ''AceCombat'' series are identified on the HUD simply with their aircraft model names. However, the rare ace pilots additionally have their callsigns appended to the plane model, marking them as priority targets, since they are usually much more dangerous than regular {{mook}}s. ''The Belkan War'', which shifts the gameplay focus from blasting through nameless hordes to more personal one-on-one dogfights, takes this trope to the extreme, with [[http://acecombat.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_aces_in_Ace_Combat_Zero 169 named enemy aces]] (more than the rest of the series combined), ''each'' of whom has a unique short biography unlocked after shooting him/her down.
* ''TimeSplitters'': Played straight in the first game, where only the player characters and a few of the joke characters get names, but averted in ''2'' and ''Future Perfect'', where almost every random human {{Mook}} you fight in the story missions is given a name, and a few of them even get backstories and established personalities (although they can only be seen after unlocking them as playable characters). ''Future Perfect'' [[{{UpToEleven}} even gave the zombies names]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:MMORPG]]
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' manages to avert this trope with most {{NPC}}s (except town guards), but there is no risk that you might mistake a NPC as more important: Those that have a quest for you have a golden "!" floating above them, and [=NPCs=] with important services have a subtitle such as or . Some minor [=NPCs=] don't even have any dialogue. Of course, most [[{{Mooks}} trash mobs]] still don't have names for practical reasons.
* Averted in the Hobopolis clan dungeon in ''KingdomOfLoathing'' - all hobos have [[ProceduralContent randomly generated names]], and as most of them have one or more nicknames in addition to a first and last name, there are millions of possible combinations. This does result in occasionally fighting [[Music/TheBeatles John Lennon]].
* Played straight in ''RuneScape''. If you see a named NPC, then, even if they aren't plot important, they'll have some humorous interactions available or something. Unlike say, "Ardougne Guard" which you can attack, pickpocket or examine and that's it.
* ''VideoGame/StarWarsGalaxies'' initially averted this trope, in a sense, by having every single NPC in the game given a randomly generated name, for example, names would be like "Luke Skywalker (a farmboy)". However, not long after release, this feature was disabled as it made server start up after maintenance take too long.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Time Strategy]]
* ''VideoGame/DungeonKeeper'' gives each creature an unique random name.
* ''Myth: The Fallen Lords'' and its sequels likewise avert this to give every living creature (i.e. excluding the undead and such who you wouldn't expect to have names at all) a unique name, and even allows you to rename the units under your command yourself; e.g. that warrior Malory with the 300 kills may just deserve to be called Malory the Great, a title he will carry down the levels for as long as he lives.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Roguelike]]
* In ''[[VideoGame/AncientDomainsOfMystery ADOM]]'', if you meet an otherwise normal monster or {{NPC}} with a name,they're either important to your quest, or a stronger-than-normal artifact guardian. Have fun figuring out which is which.
* ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress'': All the dwarves have names, as do any visiting humans and elves. But for the monsters to have names they have to slaughter enough dwarves to become important. As creatures which start out with names (dwarves, goblins, humans, etc.) rack up kills, they eventually gain an extension of their original name. Because of this, one can often tell who the local {{badass}}es are by looking at who has the longest name(s).
* Something similar happens in ''{{Elona}}'': any NPC related to a quest which is identical across all games will have the exact same name in all games. Shopkeepers, NPC adventures and townsfolk will have randomly selected names which vary from game to game.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Role Playing Game]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', Yang is married. In early versions of the game, his wife's name was apparently "Yang's wife". Naturally, she is wholly unimportant to the plot. (''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIVTheAfterYears'' gives her a proper name, Sheila, which makes it into the PSP version of ''Final Fantasy IV'' itself as well. She's still not particularly significant to the plot, though.)
* ''Final Fantasy IV: The After Years'' zigzags this a bit. On the one hand, you get PlayerMooks named "White Mage", "Black Mage", "Monk A/B/C", and "Guard A/B/C", who are about as significant as you'd expect. On the other, Ceodore spends all of his chapter and most of Kain's fighting alongside the Hooded Man ([[spoiler:Kain's light side]]), and Rydia, Edge, and Luca wind up tagging along with the Man in Black ([[spoiler:Golbez]]).
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' was especially bad, as the naming screen for every character you eventually got was distinct, meaning there were a couple characters you encountered early on, but didn't use till a while later, [[InterfaceSpoiler that you nonetheless knew would eventually be team members]].
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' totally averts this. With the exception of some random thieves and brigands, ''everyone'' with a speaking part in the many cutscenes gets not only a name, individual character portrait and sprite, but also a ''several-page-long biography'' detailing their lives and connections to the plot. Not only you never get to actually meet the grand majority of these people, most of them are thoroughly unimportant, die in their introductory scene or just plain don't ever show up at all and are just referred to.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'', Played straight and almost {{Deconstructed}} with the Black Mages, who are all named numbers, being mass produced. Even after they gain sentience, they still refer to each other as #86 or #147. Even the leader is #288. Only Vivi has an actual name, and learning about the Black Mages, goes through an existential crisis as he wonders if he too has a number.
* Early on in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'', you ''know'' that Hope's mother isn't gonna make it out of the prologue when her introductory subtitle says only, "Mother." However, we later learn her name was Nora.
* ''VideoGame/FableII'' and ''VideoGame/FableIII'' do this with every random villager you meet. Every non or semi important/useful villager is given atleast a first name and a title depicting either their job(shop owners) or their role, housewife, villager etc.
* ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'', for example, only people that are important have names displayed in their dialogue boxes.
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in ''VideoGame/DragonQuestMonsters: Joker'', where someone in the main town claims he is your rival, but then muses that you probably think of him as "some random blue-haired NPC."
* ''JadeEmpire''. The Old Man might be an exception, though, since he's a quest giver with the name of "Old Man".
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', several mercenaries on side-missions have names and faces, [[EliteMooks usually the tougher ones]]. In the ''Arrival'' DownloadableContent, this is played with by having EnemyChatter about how you're massacring their friends.
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'' goes the opposite direction -- nearly ''all'' humanoid {{NPC}}s have unique names, even bandits who attack you on sight. There are still numerous "Town Guards", though, and although the [=NPCs=] have a ''staggering'' amount of dialog large enough to feel diverse, [[WelcomeToCorneria their spoken lines are far more limited]].
* ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' partially avert this - most [=NPCs=] have unique names. There's still a lot of generic "Fire Mage"s & "Bandit Hedge Wizard"s.
* ''VideoGame/ShadowHearts'' ''everyone'' has a name which is also a capsule description of them. Not an actual name from the game, but an example of what this means would be "Nervous Man Monterey".
* ''VideoGame/LostOdyssey'' and ''VideoGame/EnchantedArms'' use a capsule description as well. Scarily enough, Enchanted Arms uses this in a school that SCREAMS 'main setting of the game'... it's blown up before the prologue.
* All three ''StarOcean'' games do something similar; while some [=NPCs=] will have names, some will have just a title, while others will have both a title and a name.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'', some characters, - a fair share of the possible party members and the heads of most towns - have full voice acting and a 3-D pre-rendered face with close-up animation. The game's manual warns not to assume someone is important just because they have a face, or that someone isn't because they don't. That is mostly good advice, as the characters most likely to get a face are just the ones with the distinctive looks. In addition, it's often possible to determine which [=NPCs=] have some level of importance, either for a quest or simply the ability to converse with the player, by seeing if their description is different from most other [=NPCs=].
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' has, since ''[[VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver Gold & Silver]]'', assigned names to each trainer you meet and gives you a cell phone so you can call them for repeat battles. No word yet why they call ''you'' every five hours to tell you about their adorable Metapod or a Vulpix that got away. Random Grunts for the local villainous team are typically left unnamed however. (With the exception of the Gamecube Games). The ''Diamond and Pearl Adventures'' Manga makes fun of this by having a recurring mook refer to himself solely by his assigned number: "K-2". (K-2 is pronounced similarly to "''ketsu''", or "''butt''". You can guess what his major identifying feature is...)
* As in most [=RPGs=], ''BaldursGate II'' has lots of unimportant characters without names, but provides something of a LampshadeHanging when the following dialogue option pops up: "You are just a nameless observer. Of what use can you be to me?"
* As mentioned above, ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'' character portraits: with a note to the strange case of the Element shop owner in Termina who has a portrait and name but no real significance. In addition, Leena's portraited brother Una isn't important to the plot. On the flip side, [[GoldfishPoopGang Solt and Peppor]], who ''are'' reasonably significant (certainly moreso than Lisa or Una), inexplicably lack portraits.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/LastScenario'' -- every single NPC has a name (characters of any importance have portraits, though).
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'':
** It's easy to figure out that Ms. Toriumi, your homeroom teacher in [[spoiler:is actually Maya, the Hermit Social Link]] by virtue of the fact that she's the only female teacher with a character portrait.
** On your first day at school, you can talk to several students as you make your way to the teachers office, some who have portraits and some who don't. Guess which ones end up being Social Links. (Though none of them are actually named until you start said Social Links)
* In ''Persona 3 Portable'' you can have a strange conversation with a man who, while lacking a name (he's called "Man Drinking Alone", has his own CharacterPortrait. It was immediately assumed this man was an EarlyBirdCameo for an upcoming Atlus title. Cue cries of IKnewIt when the game ''VideoGame/{{Catherine}}'' was revealed, starring the aforementioned man (whose real name is Vincent).
* In ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'', a rather strange looking kid hits on Yukiko rather early in the game, and judging from his character portrait, you get the distinct impression that he becomes important later (and he does; he's a [[spoiler:minor villain by the name of Mitsuo Kubo]]). The same could be said for Taro Nametame, who is introduced early on and, aside from having an affair with one of the victims, has nothing to do with the story until you find out [[spoiler: he's the one who's been throwing people into the Midnight Channel]]. On the other hand, [[spoiler: the gas station attendant]] lacks both a name and character portrait until after the big reveal in the [[spoiler: true]] ending.
* ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' partially averts this at early stages of the game, as several [=NPCs=] in the Hive with generic descriptive names have nongeneric dialogue. For example, one gives you a ring she promised you for killing her husband, while another gives you a minor quest. However, they still have no bearing on the plot, for understandable reasons. There are also a few named ones that still don't do anything - no quests, no information, can't get anything from them. And, of course, the most important character, i.e. the protagonist, does not have a name [[spoiler:at least, until the very end.]]
* All the ''WildARMs'' games give names to every single NPC; some even let you change their names!
* Played with in ''VideoGame/{{Wild ARMs 5}}''. Many of the NPC's give fetch quests. ''All'' of these NPC's are {{Shout Out}}s to the heroes of the first four ''{{Wild ARMs}}'' games, and all of them are identified with e.g. "Serious-Looking Drifter" rather than their actual names.
* Averted to some extent in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'': The best example is with temporary party members - many people you can get in your party only for about ten minutes in one of the {{backstory}}/tutorial quests have tons of unique dialogue, their own battlecries/snarky lines they say when killing things, and in some cases well-developed backstories and personalities, making it impossible for you to tell who is in line for a PlotlineDeath. Of particular note are the other trainee Grey Wardens - there really is nothing that will give away the fact that Daveth and Ser Jory are [[spoiler:{{sacrificial lamb}}s]] while Alistair can be around for the entire rest of the game. Also Jowan, who you can very briefly have in your party, comes with not only his own battlecry, but several, many of which are funny. He's also one of the most three dimensional characters in the game. You can have him in your party for ten minutes, tops. There was an AbortedArc in which he could join you, so that's probably why.
** However, ''Franchise/DragonAge'' still has generic [=NPCs=] - 'Bandit', 'King's Guard', etc. Notably, the two unnamed [=NPCs=] who can help you reach the top of the Tower of Ishal are forgotten about the moment the PC is overwhelmed by darkspawn.
* This makes collecting the [[OneHundredAndEight 108 Stars]] in the {{Suikoden}} series a bit easier: Does the character have a portrait and a name? Congratulations, you've probably either met one of the villains or a star (or [[DefeatMeansFriendship both]]). For the rare non-villainous characters who ''aren't'' stars Stars of Destiny? Don't worry, the game will generally clarify things pretty soon by [[PlotlineDeath killing them]].
* ''Videogame/{{Okage}}'':
** Played with where the citizens have amusing titles in the text boxes in place of names, such as "Man with A Frowning Face" or "Young Man Who Believes in Justice". This may also be used until you find out the person's name, such as with [[ParasolofPain Rosalyn]], who was listed as something along the lines of "Hero with A Parasol".
** [[spoiler: Down right {{Deconstructed}} during the final act. The BigBad reveals that this world is a world where everything ''everything'' is governed by classification, esspecially people so that his daughter can live a life exactly the way she wants: full of adventure. The titles are the actual basis and programming for the character, with everyone just going along with what they are expected to do. This includes your team, from "Hero" Rosalyn who valiantly opposes everything bad and injustice, to "Eccentric Scientist" Kisling, who reserches ghosts and collects toe nail clippings. Everyone except Ari, who lacks a title and is such a [[HopeBringer deviant]], someone who can force everyone out of their programming. And indeed, once we find this out, the team begins to break free of their descriptions. You can actually see the {{Foreshadowing}}, because the game has a wierd obsession with classifications.]]
* Played straight in ''Videogame/{{Summoner}}'' but averted in ''Videogame/{{Summoner 2}}'', in which everyone you spoke to had a name - except in the Realm of Twilight, in which everyone you can speak to has a title. This is because they actually don't have names, not just because you don't know or care about them. It's worth noting that there are far more [=NPCs=] in the first game than the second.
* Averted for the residents of Tazmily in ''VideoGame/{{Mother 3}}'', who each gets his or her own name despite many of them being completely unimportant. [=NPCs=] from other places, most notably [[spoiler: New Pork City]], are never named, but later on, [[spoiler:you find out there's actually a rather good reason for it.]]
* Averted for the most part in ''VideoGame/{{Anachronox}}''. While guys like guards or monks usually have generic names, most [=NPCs=] you encounter in the game have specific names (or failing that, some sort of unique descriptive title).
* Many of the ''VideoGame/{{Ys}}'' games, particularly, ''Ark of Naptishtim'', ''Origin'', and most remakes, avert this. Every character gets their own name regardless of their importance to the story. In some games, every character gets a character portrait as well.
* Averted by ''VideoGame/DragonsDogma''; every NPC in the CastOfSnowflakes has a unique name, even if they only get to spout the usual "Woe is me, the dragon shall eat us all!" random lines. They also have unique faces and can be romanced, though of course they don't have subplot sidequests like the "main" characters and their gift preferences are determined by where they live rather than being unique to them (travelers prefer stamina potions, Casardis men like steak, Gran Soren men like fish, and women prefer different types of flowers). The random bandits who attack you play this one straight, though, mostly because you can't talk to them and you only see someone's name when having a polite conversation.
* ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'':
** Between all the non-plot important [=NPCs=], there's a rather huge group of them that are named. They compensate their lack of plot importance by forming part of the global affinity chart and tending to play important roles in sidequests and [[SidequestSidestory sidequest arcs]].
** When a {{Mook}} has a non-generic name accompained by a fancy name tag, they're an unique monster, and that means they're going to give you [[BossInMookClothing one hell of a fight]]. Battles against these kinds of enemies have their own theme, fittingly titled [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4vCEHpv6Hg "Those Who Bear Their Name"/"You Will Know Our Names"]].
* Mostly averted in ''VideoGame/{{Drakensang}}'', where the only ones without a name are usually either mooks or citizens who have nothing to tell you anyway. An example is found in the Moorbridge Swamp: all the members of the militia patrolling the village are named, even when [[spoiler: They attack you led by their crazy officer later.]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}'', removing the [[PowerLimiter Limiter]] of a character who has a name and portrait unlocks their ability to use top-tier attacks. But when the Limiters get removed on all of humanity...it turns out that nameless, no-portrait [=NPCs=] have an alarming tendency to transform into hideously mutated beasts. [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Good job, Heroes]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Shoot Em Up]]
* The first six ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' games never bothered to name or give the midbosses profiles. Later {{universe compendium}}s continue to act as though they don't exist. Which became somewhat frustrating when one of them ''recurred''... into the only game that didn't include boss names or profiles.
** The Stage 1 boss of ''Lotus Land Story'' is only known by the tag used for her in the coding, "orange". She technically does not have a name of her own, though she does have portraits.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Turn Based Strategy]]
* In the ''Videogame/FireEmblem'' series, any named character appearing on the battle field is either an ally, a boss, recruitable, or vital to the plot in some other way. Everyone else is generic. However, '''all''' bosses have portraits and names, some can be recruited, most can't. Also, some characters have appeared with portraits despite being un-recruitable (to more or less screw with the player) such as Khosen the manekete and Heimler, both from [=FE1=] and [=FE11=].
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/DisgaeaHourOfDarkness'' with a Sassy Demon named The Dark Adonis Vyers, er... Mid-Boss, dubbed such by Laharl because he deems him unimportant. His name even shows up as that on his text boxes. [[spoiler: He's still important to the plot in the long run.]]
* Subverted in ''Videogame/Disgaea2''. Adell's mother is only referred to as "Mom", but is given full body-art and voiceovers like the rest of the main cast. She is also the one responsible for summoning the Overlord so that Adell can kick his ass.
* Averted in ''Videogame/TacticsOgre'', as all characters are named. While generic troops receive a random name from a pool, even one-off bosses have quite detailed entries in the [[MonsterCOmpendium Warren Report]].
* Averted in ''Videogame/BattleForWesnoth'', in which any newly-recruited intelligent living unit will have a random name appropriate to its type assigned to it. (Undead and animals remain nameless by default, though Liches will retain the name they had as living wizards.)
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Wide Open Sandbox]]
* ''Videogame/{{STALKER}}'' averts this as well, thanks to the fact that just about everyone in the game- friend or foe, and even dead bodies you come across that were planted specifically by the developers, rather than being killed by rival factions or hostile mutants- have first and last names. Most of these names in the U.S. version at least follow a strange convention, however- while the first name is usually something common to the region, such as Sergei or Vasilya, the last names are usually straight from the dictionary. Which is why it's always hilarious to see a guy named [[AwesomeMcCoolname Max Dinosaur]]. It is because stalkers are given the first name and a nickname, not the last name. This is most likely a reference to the custom of organized criminals in Russia. On the other hand, soldiers in the Zone are referred to by their rank and last name.
* The names of planets in ''VideoGame/{{Elite}}'' avert this because they're [[ProceduralGeneration procedurally generated]].
* Averted in ''VideoGame/SurvivalCrisisZ'' where every NPC is randomly generated, but all building owners have names, and your party members also get a randomly generated {{backstory}} (consisting of a name, job and hometown) that they will talk about if they survive long enough.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Miscellaneous Games]]
* In the PC game ''{{Pathologic}}'', all of the main characters and important side characters are given names, while minor characters are named [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep by their description]]. In addition, when you talk to any of the characters, an icon with a black-and-white photo appears in the corner of the screen. With storyline characters, it's a person resembling the model. With random people, [[LampshadeHanging it's a creepy ragdoll]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'': Even though it's easy to miss her name, as the PlayerCharacter Chell survives (and beats) [=GLaDOS=] twice, has several depictions of her appearance and has the {{canon}} character traits of being [[{{Determinator}} insanely tenacious]] and a HeroicMime by choice.
** ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'': At the end of the co-operative campaign, Atlas and P-Body discover [[spoiler: a vault containing ten thousand more human subjects in suspended animation]]. But in the "Peer Review" DLC [[spoiler: GLaDOS says she killed them all trying to make them as indestructible as Chell. Clearly, they weren't important to the plot.]]
* An odd variation appears in ''Enemy 585'' (by {{Nitrome}}). The only "named" character is Enemy 585, who was just another {{mook}} in a platformer than finished before the real game started (which was to rescue Enemy 585 after he was trapped in the boss' castle after the "game").
* As demonstrated in LetsPlay/{{Slowbeef}}'s LetsPlay, ''Amazon: Guardians of Eden'' consistently inverts this trope in a very odd manner: after the third chapter or so, it is almost guaranteed that important, speaking characters will go unnamed, but non-speaking and unimportant background characters will be given names ''and'' strangely elaborate backstories that the player character really has no way of knowing in the first place. This comes to a head with the shopkeeper that sells you items you need to finish the game - since they gave him a name, they go out of their way to ThirdPersonPerson all of his interactions with you rather than letting him just talk to you.
[[/folder]]

!!Non-video game examples

[[folder:Anime]]
* In ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'', if anyone has a name, s/he will get involved in a plot in someway or another. If anyone has full name, watch that character, because without exception, they will have a supernatural power. Of note is that we never learn the narrator's name--"Kyon" is [[OnlyKnownByTheirNickname just a nickname that everyone uses]].
* ''{{Simoun}}'' averts the voiceover corollary in its first episode, which is narrated by a nameless RedShirt pilot who dies (playing the main trope straight) in the episode's climax.
* ''ProjectAKo'' parodies this by naming the three main characters like extras (at least, if you ignore their surnames).
* One of the things that made ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'' really stand out is that they played with this trope a lot, to often heartbreaking effect. Many enemy pilots got names and a bit of characterization, despite the fact they usually just ended up getting wasted by the Gundam in the end, anyway.
* In ''Anime/MartianSuccessorNadesico'', Akito gets replaced by an unnamed female pilot about halfway into the series. No prizes for guessing what happens to her in her first fight.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' features a power in its later chapters referred to as Conqueror's Haki, said to be usable by only one person in a million (although we've met nine of them so far, [[Main/OddlyCommonRarity but that's a trope for a different time]]). It supposedly knocks out all people in the vicinity of the user, with only those of abnormally strong will being able to resist it; in practice, it only seems to affect anyone whose name the audience doesn't know.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* In ''FanFic/NotAsPlanned'', the only characters with names are canon characters from ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', such as Elrond. The girl who is the main character has no name in the story. She meets no named characters, except Elrond. This shows that the girl and her associates are not important persons.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* In ''TheSecretOfNIMH'', Jenner's henchman [[spoiler: who has a HeelFaceTurn at the last minute]] is named Sullivan, although it's only visible in the credits. This is the name of director Creator/DonBluth's business partner in making the film.
** Brutus, however, doesn't actually serve much plot purpose, and fades into obscurity almost immediately after being given a name, save for a single shout-out towards the end that you will barely notice due to it being a muffled background noise.
* Subverted in ''ThatThingYouDo'': the bass player in the Wonders is a plot-important character who remained unnamed through the movie, eventually listed in the WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue as [[MeaningfulName "T. B. Player"]].
* Played for laughs in ''AustinPowers in Goldmember'':
--> '''Nigel Powers''': ''Have you any idea how many anonymous henchmen I've killed? Look at you! You don't even have a name tag! You've got no chance. Why don't you just fall down?''\\
(The henchman falls down.)
* In ''[[TheGamers The Gamers: Dorkness Rising]]'', the gaming group meets Random Peasant Here to Advance the Plot. When [[TheRoleplayer Daphne]] asks him his name, it's revealed that the GM hadn't bothered to give him one. He has to quickly do so.[[note]]It's Willam.[[/note]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In a Russian pulp-fiction novel, the villain holds the hero at a blank point. He's not a cold blooded killer though and even confesses how relieved he is to know almost nothing about his victim, as killing someone you know even slightly is so much harder. The hero hastens to provide his comprehensive credentials, much to the villain's chagrin from such selfish indiscretion.
* Count Olaf's henchmen in ''ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'' are usually referred to with descriptive terms like "the white-faced women" and "the bald man"(they sometimes use pseudonyms derived from [[SignificantAnagram anagrams of "Count Olaf"]], though). However, at the time the hook-handed man gets some CharacterDevelopment and a backstory in Book the Eleventh, we learn that his name is Fernald.
* Inverted in ''Discworld/SmallGods''. At one point, a nameless RedShirt is killed off, only for his name to be immediately revealed. He's still unimportant to the story though.
* DavidDrake likes to subvert this and made extensive use of {{Tuckerization}} in one of his Literature/{{RCN}} books for this purpose (as well as to salute his friends). He explained this in the acknowledgments to the book and noted he was using the ''names'' but not the ''personalities'' and this was, in many cases, "a Good Thing" -- because [[DontExplainTheJoke (he didn't spell this part out)]] some of the people he named after his friends were total wastes of skin.
* {{Averted|Trope}} in Literature/TheWheelOfTime. LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters, a large chunk are not important to the plot at all, others are relevant only to their connections to a more plot-important character, and everyone else is a ChekhovsGunman waiting to fire.
* Very averted in the ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' series. Weber has been known to introduce a character, [[MauveShirt give them a name and cursory]] {{backstory}}, then kill them off at the end of the chapter, if not the end of the page. This is done mostly (but not only) to make the war feel real; Honor and other major characters can only be so many places at once (and are not likely to be on the losing sides of absolute massacres off in the boonies, but then again...), so giving a name to, say, the LAC pilot who will be killed shortly helps to make the reader realize the human implications.
* This is invoked in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', as it runs on the TheoryOfNarrativeCausality. In ''Discworld/InterestingTimes'', Ponder Stibbons notices that the magical supercomputer Hex is starting to think for itself, and reflects "We should never have named you. A thing with a name is a bit more than a thing".
* Played with in the ''Literature/CiaphasCain'' (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) novels, which usually take care to name every member of every RedshirtArmy Cain brings with him in the climax. Their survival rate appears to be somewhere in the lower thirties overall. Most people who die during the battle sequences do so unnamed, however, to say nothing of the {{mooks}} Cain, Jurgen and said RedshirtArmy mow down by the dozens each book compared to the longer-lived named villains.
* In ''Literature/{{Redshirts}}'', Hester points out that he has neither an interesting background nor do his friends even bother to find out his first name, and is therefore just there to be a placeholder character.
* The ''StarWarsExpandedUniverse'' has an in-universe case with the Gand species, whose beliefs hold that you have to ''earn'' a name by accomplishing something that ''proves'' your importance.
* Somewhat averted in the ''Literature/MilleniumTrilogy''. Many of the minor characters have names and descriptions, and even some background. At one point in the third book, Larsson devotes two pages to profiling a hospital orderly whose only role in the plot is that Blomkvist bribes him to smuggle in a cellphone for Salander.
* Invoked in ASongOfIceAndFire. While arguing whether or not to sacrifice [[spoiler: Edric Storm]] the pro-sacrifice side refers to him as "the boy" or "the bastard." Davos, who opposes the idea, resolves to use his name as frequently as possible.
* Subverted in StephenKing's ''Literature/TheLangoliers'', where in the first chapter, protagonist Brian Engle meets a stewardess who introduces herserf as Melanie Trevor. At this point, a GenreSavvy reader starts foreshadowing a RomanceArc, but after just a couple of lines, the book explicitly states that Engle never saw Melanie Trevor again.
* ''LARP: The Battle for Verona'' gives absolutely ''every'' character a name and short backstory, even if their only relevance is to say a single, unimportant line. It gets very distracting very quickly, as the few times the characters come up again, they get referred to once again by name, making the reader pause and try and remember who they are.
* Averted in HarryPotter, where the majority of the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters have names, whether they turn out to be important or not. In the first book, there are names mentioned in the Sorting ceremony that don't really do anything until later books, like Blaise Zabini. Even the Riddle estate's caretaker who gets killed by Voldemort in the first chapter of the fourth book, and an Arab wizard who smuggles magic carpets and never shows up again in the story after the conversation about him, have names.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* The FridgeBrilliance section has a reference to the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode "Midnight" -- where a monster controls people by forcibly repeating their dialogue and mentally turning them against one another. Nobody ''believes'' the Doctor when he tells them his usually fake name "John Smith". In the end the person who actually beats the villain of the week is the Hostess of the trip - and the cast realise, in the aftermath, that they never ''knew'' her name.
** ''Series/DoctorWho'' writer and ''Series/BeingHuman'' creator Toby Whitehouse has said in a ''Magazine/DoctorWhoMagazine'' interview that he always gives the {{Red Shirt}}s and minor characters names, simply because it looks better on the actors' [=CVs=].
** There're a handful of Doctor Who characters who actually have names but they're never mentioned in the story itself for various reasons (short screen time, situation means it never comes up, etc.). They're named in the credits though.
* ''BurnNotice'' abuses this like crazy, though not the way you'd think. Most anyone with a line is given a name of some sort, generally because they're relevant to the plot of the episode. However, the show will occasionally bring back old characters as main characters.
* Somewhat subverted in ''VeronicaMars'' in which almost all major and minor characters have first and last names that may be known by greater fans of the show. However, given that the large arcs of the show tended to included a large number of characters, this may not be surprising.
* Played around with in the new ''{{Series/Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}''. Lots of one-shot characters without much importance have names, but (more importantly) several characters--most notably Diana Seelix--were promoted from near-extras to significant recurring characters simply because someone on the cast (usually Aaron Douglas) gave them names and the writers decided to ThrowItIn.
* Played around with in ''Franchise/StarTrek''. Many unimportant characters, even the RedShirts, are given names, while sometimes the MonsterOfTheWeek will kill unnamed ensigns and lieutenants throughout the ship or on the planet. Although, even when red shirts were given names, they were rarely given both first and last names.
* In ''StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', Transporter Chief O'Brien O'Brien didn't even have a name or a job title the first season. He occasionally had a few lines of dialogue in the show's first three seasons, but was not a pivotal character in his own right. Early in Season 4 he is given a first name, Miles. Shortly after that he's given a {{Backstory}}, a wife (Keiko), some serious character development, and then is made a major character in ''StarTrekDeepSpaceNine''.
* Played with in ''Series/{{House}}'' with "Thirteen", number 13 out of however many potential people were in the pool to take over the assistant jobs with house, and who continues to be called "Thirteen" for the entire run of the series except in very rare circumstances. Her real name is Remy Hadley. The first time she's actually addressed by her name (Cuddy calls her "Dr. Hadley"), everyone just looks around in confusion.
* The ''AnimalPlanet'' series ''Series/TooCute'' follows various litters of kittens and puppies through the early stages of their lives. In the larger litters, only a couple are actually named and focused upon; the others' names simply aren't mentioned.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'''s classic episode "Once More, With Feeling" never names the VillainOfTheWeek. The credits show that his name is Sweet.
* The aptly named [[{{Mooks}} Nanashi Renju]] from ''Series/SamuraiSentaiShinkenger''. Their title literally means "nameless grunts"!
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/FengShui'', this is an explicit game mechanic -- important characters have names, while others are labeled {{mooks}} and use different combat rules to enforce their scrub status.
* In the RPG of ''TabletopGame/TheDresdenFiles'',
** The section on creating NPC's references this, sparking a margin discussion between Dresden and Billy. Dresden comments that the random people do, in fact, have a name, to which Billy asks why Harry never writes them down in his case files. Dresden answers that he usually doesn't have time to ask, on account of many of them trying to kill him at the time.
** In fact, the literal ''game term'' for minor non-player characters of not much importance is "nameless [=NPCs=]", thus hanging a nice lampshade on the trope. ("Supporting" and "main" [=NPCs=], the other two big categories, get comparatively more comprehensive writeups and explicitly better {{plot armor}}.)
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* This is a common trope for theatre in general, where typically a character is only named if they're important to the plot, or if their name is spoken at some point.
* This is averted in ''{{Urinetown}}'' the musical, where every single member character has a name, even though only 10 of the names are actually spoken (the rest are [[AllThereInTheManual only written in the program]]).
* Classically averted in the opera ''{{Tosca}}'' with the executioner Roberti. Not only is Roberti a very minor character (he appears in only two scenes), he doesn't sing, not even in chorus.
* Largely averted in the Creator/GilbertAndSullivan operas, in which every character gets a name (even some extremely minor ones, e.g. Fleta and Salata)--except for "First Yeoman", "Second Yeoman", "First Citizen", and "Second Citizen" in ''Theatre/TheYeomenOfTheGuard''. Also, the chorus never get names, because they have no solo work (though some directors change that).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Toys]]
* ''{{Bionicle}}''.
** In-universe, only the Elite- and Leader-Class Skrall are allowed to have names, whereas the Warrior class Skrall are nameless.
** A real-world example: if a character gets named, it ''has'' to be an important player, considering clearing names through legal is a pretttty pricey deal. Which means every name that makes it through the process has to be put to good use.
** Once the character has been used in the story, however, they may [[BackForTheDead show up only to get killed for dramatic effect]]. An example of this is [[spoiler:Botar, who first teleported in to arrest someone who had done FaceHeelTurn in the past. He later showed up for the same person's HeelFaceTurn in order to teleport a MacGuffin, but after that event Botar was only mentioned in passing as [[DroppedABridgeOnHim having been killed]] by one of the villains]]. Seeing as the series has been canceled as a toyline, and judging by the number of previously important characters that have died unceremoniously, fans began wondering what would happen to their beloved main characters once the list of new names ran out...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Lampshaded in ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'', where two grunts laugh about it, but are careful to give their names.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'':
** LampshadeHanging in [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0472.html this]], where the GenreSavvy Elan explains that not having a name means you're just a RedShirt whose sole purpose is to say "[[YouShallNotPass I'll hold them off]]!" and then get killed. As if to demonstrate, two {{red shirt}}s manage to survive a battle by revealing that they ''do'' have names, with one surviving a near-fatal injury by revealing his first name, and stating that he is saving his last name just in case he gets injured again. [[spoiler: This particular ChekhovsGun is later subverted. He attempts to {{invoke|dTrope}} NominalImportance by shouting his last name, but only gets to "Daigo Da-" before being hit in the face with a door.]]
** Subverted in [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0539.html this]] episode, where [[HeroicComedicSociopath Belkar]] kills a random gnome for no particular reason (other than that he could). When his companions are horrified by this, he says the gnome was unimportant and "probably didn't even have a name"...even though the gnome had told the group his name 7 panels earlier.
** He did it even earlier to the [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0021.html Chimera]] as it was cursing the Order. Haley even complained about Belkar killing it mid-speech, pointing out that since it had a name it was probably meant to be a recurring adversary.
** Subverted several times in the prequel ''Start of Darkness'': when Ekdysdioksosiirwo, Viridian Lord of-- is killed ''because'' he gives his name, and the two main characters survive by giving shorter aliases, and when the named characters [[spoiler: Aliyara, Ridiziak and Eriaxnikol, Right-eye's wife and sons]] are killed, and their unnamed [[spoiler: daughter/sister]] survives. Also? The three main characters are called Right-Eye, Redcloak and Xykon. None of those are their real names.
** Lampshaded (by Elan, naturally) [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0784.html in this strip.]] "Hooray! The people whose names I know are saved!"
** The page image is taken from [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0703.html this strip]], in which Hobgoblin Cleric #2 complains about Jirix being made Prime Minister of Gobbotopia. He could have got the job if his mother had given him a name less generic than 'Hobgoblin Cleric #2'.
* Used during the "That Which Redeems" arc from ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance''. Of the hundreds of DemonicInvaders, about a dozen are given names. Of these, only [[spoiler:Bubbamonicus and Mospinispinosp]] are killed. Demons without names are torn apart like wet tissue paper.
* Averted in ''RPGWorld''. Galgarion fires one of his random guards, Evil Soldier #347, and he becomes a regular character set out to get revenge. His name remains Evil Soldier #347 throughout the entire comic.
* ''[[http://www.shapequest.net Shape Quest]]'' did this when [[http://www.shapequest.net/?id=98 Theo discovered]], to his horror, that Lance meet some new characters who actually had names.
* ''Webcomic/DanAndMabsFurryAdventures'': "Don't you get it? I'm a nameless henchman! [[GenreSavvy It means that once I say three lines, I'll be killed off!"]]
* ''Webcomic/DarthsandDroids'' does this with Anakin, the GM clearly not having named this minor NPC. This is an inversion since Anakin will become the central character as time goes on.
* Lampshaded in [[http://bobadventures.comicgenesis.com/d/20121009.html this]] ''[[TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob Inexplicable Adventures Of Bob]]'' strip, where Bob comes to the urgent rescue of two very minor characters who "barely have names."
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'':
** Inverted with the Monarch's henchmen. #21 and #24 are recurring characters, while the two henchmen who receive names, Speedy and Scott Hall (Henchman #1), are killed in their first episode.
** Played straighter later on, when we ''do'' eventually learn that 21's name is Gary. [[spoiler: And 24 dies without us ever learning his]]
** #21 and #24 even lampshade the fact that the series does not ascribe to this trope:
-->'''Henchman 24:''' Hey, here; what's your name?\\
'''Henchman 1:''' Henchman number 1.\\
'''Henchman 24:''' See, you are nameless.\\
'''Henchman 1:''' I'm Scott Hall, my name is Scott Hall. Okay?\\
'''Henchman 24:''' No, won't help.\\
'''Henchman 21:''' Yeah, now it's just pathos. So you're dying in my lap and I'm all "Scott! Scott don't you quit on us! Don't you dare!!"\\
'''Henchman 24:''' You just made your inevitable death ''more pathetic.''
** Ironically, it's revealed that [[spoiler: Scott Hall ''did'' survive his Brock Samson beating, while 24, who mocked Scott's "inevitable" death, dies in the season 3 finale.]]
* In ''FriskyDingo'' the Xtacles were all FacelessMooks that always wore their helmets, although a couple were named. In the first episode the SpinOff ''{{Xtacles}}'' a bunch of said soldiers take off their helmets and are given independent names. [[spoiler: It's then partially subverted when a bunch of them die anyway]].
* ''WesternAnimaton/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'' had an interesting variant, where the creators decided that any character important enough to be named was important enough to be taken from some previous version of ''SpiderMan'' canon. That being said, the number of named characters was [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters probably more than strictly necessary]] (though at least some would have probably been important if the show hadn't been LeftHanging).
* The original ScoobyDoo series was famous for this to the point that the real person behind the MonsterOfTheWeek could easily be identified through the ''Scooby-Doo Rule:'' The first new character of the week to be introduced by full name was the guy in the rubber suit at the end. Later series are aware of this and try to muddle the rule's usefulness either by introducing too many characters at once to be able to pinpoint one in particular or by going [[MurderOnTheOrientExpress Agatha Christie]] on the viewer and having ''everyone'' be in on the plot.
* The Scallions from various episodes of ''WesternAnimation/VeggieTales'' lack names, other than their collective title of, well, "the Scallions". {{Lampshaded|Trope}} in one of the Silly Songs with Larry:
-->'''Larry''': ''[Singing to the tune of "Funiculý, FuniculÓ"] ♪ Oh golly... ♫ [normal voice]'' Um... what's your name?
-->'''Scallion''': They've never given me a name. ''[starts walking off screen]'' I've been around since ''show one'', and I '''still''' don't ''have a name''!
--> ''[{{Beat}}, as the music starts up again]''
-->'''Larry''': ''♪ Now what d'ya think o' that? ♫''
* The Google Play store descriptions of ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog'' episodes only ever refer to Eustace as "the Farmer".
[[/folder]]
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