David Lynch refuses to have his name attached to certain cuts of the film, because many of the final decisions were taken completely out of his hands and he was so thoroughly bummed with how they turned out that he didn't want to be associated with them. Judging by his filmography, if Lynch had gotten his way, Dune would've been utterly indecipherable as opposed to merely confusing.Alan Smithee was one of Hollywood's longest-working and most diverse directors note from the start of his career in 1969 to his retirement in 2000, undaunted by the highly-variable quality of his work or the backlash some of his films suffered. It also helped that he didn't actually exist. See, in the movie industry of the past, if a director's movie became the victim of Executive Meddling and bad acting to the point where they were no longer proud of it, he could request to have his name taken off it, and it would then be credited to "Alan Smithee". There were, of course, rules about the use of the name - for instance, the studio would have to admit that they'd wrested the film from the director's control. Directors using the alias were also required to keep their reason for disavowing the film a secret. Before 2000, Smithee was the only alias Directors Guild members were permitted to use. This was changed because of the parody An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, which revolves around a director who wants his name removed from his film, but is stymied by actually being named Alan Smithee. A combination of confusion from bad press surrounding the film and the film's director Arthur Hiller wanting his name removed (which meant an odd metatextual tangle where, under DGA rules, An Alan Smithee Movie had to be credited to Alan Smithee) caused the name to be retired. Since then, aliases are selected on a case-by-case basis. The popularity of the name is such that Smithee's IMDB page has several post-2000 entries (none of which are presumably under DGA jurisdiction). Coincidentally, is an anagram of "The Alias Men". Compare this to the use of the name "Nicolas Bourbaki" in mathematics.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Episode 3 of Kanamemo features a Shout-Out to the name when Kana and Mika go subscriber hunting. One of the potential customers they visit has the name "Aran Smythee".
- Dan Green is well known for doing voices in children's anime, so whenever he lends his voice talent to a hentai he uses the pseudonym (Tom Wilson). This is standard practice for voice actors when doing NSFW work, made by a writers' union declaration. In this case it's a pseudonym of a pseudonym, as his real name is actually James Snyder.
- This was inverted in Queen's Blade's English dub: He, Leina, Nanael and Setra's English voice actors are the only ones who uses their real names in that dub, everyone else uses pseudonyms instead.
- This is a common practice for union voice actors to use a pseudonym when doing non-union voice work, not just dealing with hentai or fanservice series. This is the main reason why Steve Blum used the "David Lucas" pseudonym. Another practice common in video games is not even listing the English dub credits at all.
- The incredibly '90s X-Men one-shot Team X 2000 gave a writer credit to "A Smithee". Which is understandable, under the circumstances.
- Referenced in the Batman miniseries Harley and Ivy; when Harley hijacks the film being made about the pair, the director's name is listed as Alice Smithee.
- Karl Bollers, a former writer for Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, would sometimes write under the name "Benny Lee". Some stories also had an artist (or artists) go under the name "Many Hands".
- Executive Meddling led Steve Englehart to insist on being credited by the pseudonym "John Harkness" in protest on several comic books, most notably for the seven final issues of his run on Fantastic Four.
- The final issue of the Threeboot Legion of Super-Heroes, which rapidly tied up all the plot threads before Final Crisis gave us the original Legion again, was apparently written by "Justin Thyme".
- The writer of the short-lived X-Men spin-off The Brotherhood was listed as "Writer X". Most fans believe the writer was either Howard Mackie or Devin Grayson, but no one seems to know for sure.
- The final run of Strontium Dog Spin-Off Strontium Dogs was credited to an "Alan Smithee" after writer Peter Hogan was fired.
- 21st-century reissues of Alan Moore's work on Miracleman credit him as "The Original Writer" because he asked for his name to be removed. Not because he no longer likes the work, but because he now believes that original Marvelman writer Mick Anglo was cheated out of his rights.
- The "Vid Kid" strip in the British comic Buster was credited to "Sue Denim". Initially, this was because the artist, Jack Edward Oliver, drew it very hurriedly in between working on his other Buster strips and disliked the simplistic art style that resulted, but he kept with it out of habit even after he was able to improve the artwork in the following years.
- Mark Waid asked for his name to be removed from an issue of Captain America saying that after the editors had finished with it, it was no longer the comic he'd written. His name was not replaced with a fictional writer credit, and they didn't even bother taking it off the cover.
- D. G. Chichester still had five issues left in his Daredevil contract when he found out he was going to be fired. He wrote those issues, #338-342, under the byline Alan Smithee in protest. (A few years later, he returned under his own name to write #380, the last issue before the Marvel Knights relaunch.)
- As noted in the trope description above, the practice of using "Alan Smithee" ended with An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn. The film itself was a Lampshade Hanging on the very concept of using "Alan Smithee" as a pseudonym: the titular in-movie director who wants his name out of the film really is named Alan Smithee. Veteran director Arthur Hiller (of Love Story and many, many other films) was unhappy with the film's script and end result, and requested that his name be removed from the final product (and, sure enough, he got credited as Alan Smithee. No, really). This is what led to the Director's Guild discontinuing the practice. Hiller, on the other hand, wouldn't direct another project for more than a decade due to Burn Hollywood Burn's universal savaging and extremely low box office gross. It was also Strike Number Three for writer Joe Eszterhas after Showgirls and Jade in 1995; this film sent him from being the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood to the C-list of writers. Finally, it was one of several busts that convinced The Walt Disney Company, who released this through their Hollywood Pictures label, to shut that brand down for a while. As far as legacy goes, this is one of the films on Roger Ebert's most hated film list, getting a zero star rating from him, and has six Golden Raspberry Awards, one of which is for Worst Picture of 1998.
- One of Peppy's film posters in The Artist gives a director's credit to Alan Smithee.
- Kevin Yagher, the director of Hellraiser: Bloodline wasn't happy how the studio cut chunks from the film and chose to be credited as Alan Smithee.
- Attempted by Tony Kaye for American History X, which was allegedly re-edited by Edward Norton so he had more screen time. Kaye, outraged, wanted to be credited as "Humpty Dumpty" instead of "Alan Smithee", which was flatly rejected. This lead to a war of words culminating in a $200-million-plus lawsuit between Kaye and New Line, and probably costing Edward Norton an Oscar.
- Smithee's directorial debut (as it were) was the 1969 film Death Of A Gunfighter, when actor Richard Widmark decided he was unhappy with director Robert Totten and arranged to have him replaced by Don Siegel. Sadly, when the film was completed, neither Totten nor Siegel wanted to have it attributed to his name. The first suggestion for the name of the fictitious director was Al Smith, but the DGA said that there was already a director going by that name, and suggested Alan Smithee instead.
- When it was released, The New York Times and Roger Ebert actually praised Smithee's directorial work, though Ebert admitted that Alan Smithee was "a name I'm not familiar with". The version of the review on his website features a footnote noting the inaugural use of the Smithee name.
- David Lynch took his name off the extended cut of Dune, which was not only directed by Alan Smithee but written by Judas Booth. Of course that surname has a history with Lynch.
- Ti West, who went on to create a number of Cult Classic modern horror films like The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, wrote and directed Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. He was so ashamed of the final result, particularly the amount of reshoots and editing done by the producers, that he requested to use the name, but since he was not a member of the Directors Guild of America, his request was denied. To this day, West still treats it as an Old Shame, viewing it more as a product of Lionsgate and the producers than himself.
- Walter Hill used the name "Thomas Lee" on the 2000 flop Supernova after MGM constantly interfered with the production and editing process (even bringing in Francis Ford Coppola to reshoot some scenes).
- After Takeshi Kimura fell into depression, he wrote all his subsequent screenplays, Godzilla or otherwise, under the gender-neutral pen name Kaoru Mabuchi. They were noticeably less-well-written than his pre-Mabuchi screenplays.
- As a result of the infamous and tragic Hellish Copter incident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie, one second assistant director had his name removed from the credits and replaced with the pseudonym Alan Smithee.
- Alan Moore is completely disgusted by all the movie adaptations of his work, and has requested that he simply be referred to as "Alan Smithee" for anything based on his work.
- Averted by David Fincher on Alien³. He was brought in late on an already Troubled Production, faced Executive Meddling from the start, and wound up seeing the film edited without his participation, but, since it was his first film, he informally disowned it instead.
- Student Bodies saw Alan Smithee become a producer (in this case "replacing" Michael Ritchie)—although director Mickey Rose kept his own name on the credits.
- Russell Mulcahy was threatened with a lawsuit if he attempted to petition the DGA to remove his credit from the Highlander II: The Quickening.
- City Heat was originally going to be directed by Blake Edwards, who wrote the original script—but he was fired (Richard Benjamin took over) and the script rewritten by Joseph C. Stinson; Edwards still has story and co-screenplay credit under the pseudonym "Sam O. Brown" (think about the initials).
- The Bette Midler vehicle Jinxed! was a Troubled Production, with, among other problems, Midler and co-star Ken Wahl hating each other's guts and the Divine Miss M also intensely disliking director Don Siegel and vice versa (Siegel suffered a heart attack during production and Sam Peckinpah, not the first name that comes to mind when thinking of comedy directors (then again, neither is Siegel), finished the film uncredited; although he recovered, this would be his last film)—all of which led to primary screenwriter Frank Gilroy billing himself as "Bert Blessing".
- Alec Baldwin used the name Harry Kirkpatrick when a recut version of his only directorial effort, a remake of The Devil and Daniel Webster, was distributed under the name Shortcut to Happiness in 2007 (six years after the film was made, due to legal issues over the production).
- Masato Harada took his name off the English dub of Gunhed; his credit was replaced with Alan Smithee.
- One of the producers of Leap: Rise Of The Beast is credited with this due to not wanting his name used.
- John Alan Schwartz used two pseudonyms for his work on the Faces of Death series, crediting himself as "Conan le Cilaire" for his directing work, and "Alan Black" for his writing credits. This was in partly due to him working as a network television writer at the same time, but also to avoid being targeted by Moral Guardians.
- 1987's The Hidden was written by Jim Kouf (Stakeout, Grimm) under the name of Bob Hunt.
- The "Z.X. Jones" credited with the script for the Raquel Welch Western Hannie Caulder covers the film's director Burt Kennedy and David Haft.
- Kiefer Sutherland has the "honour" of being the last person to officially use Alan Smithee before the name was retired, with 1999's Without Warning (which he also starred in).
- Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies, in addition to spending some time on The Shelf of Movie Languishment, was reedited by 20th Century Fox before finally being released in 1973 (and bombing) - director John Erman, screenwriter Claudia Salter and producers Robert Fryer and James Cresson all took their names off it. The director became Bill Sampson, the writer became Chips Rosen, and the producers became Boris Wilson, which led to a reviewer sarcastically cracking that the person credited with the story kept his real name on it. Said story provider, Steven Spielberg, pretty much disowned the thing.
- David O. Russell used the name "Stephen Greene" for his failed film, Nailed, which was kept on ice for 8 years (in an incomplete state!) before a 2015 release under a new title, Accidental Love. Anyone who had seen this movie understood why he disowned it since it's really a messed-up film that should have stayed dead.
- Fred Olen Ray used his real name for "Invisible Mom 2" but was credited as Peter Stewart when directing "Mom's Outta Sight". Hilariously, at time of writing, both movies were scored 4.1/10 on IMDB.
- Paul Verhoeven used the pseudonym Jan Jensen (apparently a Dutch version of "Alan Smithee") for the TV edit of his 1995 bomb Showgirls.
- Richard C. Sarafian used the pseudonym for his 1990 sci-fi flop Solar Crisis due to how ashamed he was of the final product of the film.
- David Anspaugh apparently doesn't like his films to be edited for TV. The TV version of Rudy is credited to Smithee, while "Jack Nemo" gets the director credit for the edited version of Hoosiers.
- In the Discworld novel Maskerade, the Opera House has a similar custom surrounding "Walter Plinge" (the real Walter is the janitor).
- "Walter Plinge" is in fact another common pseudonym in London theaters, used interchangeably with "George Spelvin" (see below). The gag is that the Discworld theater has an actual Walter Plinge on staff.
- In the Stephen King novel Desperation, the script excerpt from the cartoon MotoKops 2200 is credited to Alan Smithee.
- Harlan Ellison uses the alias "Cordwainer Bird" under the same sorts of circumstances when a film director might use "Alan Smithee", and has also loaned the name out to writer acquaintances who need an alias for various reasons.
- A "cordwainer" is an old term for a cobbler, so the pseudonym is that of someone who makes shoes for birds; in other words, he's useless. Ellison would employ it as a relatively subtle editorial comment, such as when TV executives watered down his ambitious program "The Starlost." It's also a reference to the classic sci-fi author Paul Linebarger, who wrote as Cordwainer Smith.
- Discussed by Art Spiegelman in the foreword to the book commemorating The Garbage Pail Kids. He was working for Topps making them and "Wacky Packages" at the same time that Maus was being published and released. The publishers for the latter were concerned that Spiegelman would be credited by name for the former, driving away potential customers who wouldn't want to read a comic about the Holocaust done by a gross-out artist. Topps didn't credit Spiegelman and the latter kept his involvement quiet until the foreword to said commemorative book.
- When Isaac Asimov was commissioned to write the "Lucky Starr" series of juvenile novels, he took the precaution of using the pseudonym "Paul French" in case he needed to disown them. Fortunately, this proved not to be necessary.
- A special feature on the DVD for the Doctor Who story "The Invasion of Time" was a documentary about the story's writer. The Elusive David Agnew was credited as being directed by Alan Smithee, but the documentary itself was a mockumentary, since David Agnew was also a pseudonym used by the BBC. Agnew was also credited as writing "City of Death", not because it was a bad episode (it's actually considered to be one of the best serials in the show's history), but because it would have looked inappropriate for the script editor and producer to be credited as writers.
- The pilot for MacGyver was directed by Alan Smithee (alias Jerrold Freedman in this case).
- As was the episode "The Heist". It was freaking hilarious.
- Sonya Roberts's script "Joy Ride" for The Outer Limits (1963) became "Second Chance" in the finished product, which gives her story and (with Lou Morheim) teleplay credit under the name "Lin Dane". Take off the capital letters and you'll guess her reaction to the rewrites (which may have been mandated by Executive Meddling).
- The Mission: Impossible episode "Live Bait" credits Michael Adams with the story and (with James D. Buchanan and Ronald Austin) teleplay; this was a pen-name for Meyer Dolinsky (who, like Miss Roberts, also suffered from meddling on The Outer Limits with "ZZZZZ", although he kept his name on the episode). "Michael Adams" also has writing credits on series like Dr. Kildare, Daktari and Hawaii Five-O (where he had several credits under his own name—but not "Flash of Color, Flash of Death", which was the last episode he did for the show).
- Roy Huggins used several pseudonyms when providing storylines and scripts for the shows he worked on in the '60s and '70s (and even on Hunter in the 1980s), with "John Thomas James" the most frequent.
- The pilot for Walker, Texas Ranger and the episode "Storm Warning" were written and co-written respectively by Leigh Chapman under the name "Louise McCarn."
- The Season 4 episode of La Femme Nikita "Catch a Falling Star" was directed by Alan Smithee, known to his parents in this case as Joseph L. Scanlan.
- Star Trek: The Original Series:
- Gene L. Coon was credited as Lee Cronin on the third season episodes he wrote, as he was a staff writer on It Takes A Thief by that point, and didn't want to give away the fact that he was still moonlighting on TOS.
- D.C. Fontana used the pseudonym Michael Richards on all her third season episodes (except for "The Enterprise Incident"), as a protest against producer Fred Freiberger and script editor Arthur Singer's handling of the show.
- Attempted, but failed by Harlan Ellison for "The City on the Edge of Forever," as he wanted to be credited under his pseudonym Cordwainer Bird in order to protest the heavy rewrites, especially Gene Roddenberry's deletion of a drug-dealing character and the Karmic Death that he eventually got. However, it was well known that he used that pseudonym to flag up works that he felt were sub-par, and Roddenberry, afraid that people would otherwise go in expecting the episode to suck, was able to tie things up in legal matters until the episode had already aired, by which point it didn't matter.note
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- D.C. Fontana didn't fare much better on TNG than she did in the last season of TOS; she was credited as J. Michael Bingham on "The Naked Now" after Roddenberry rewrote her original, darker and more character-focused draft into a more comedic episode that focused heavily on his Creator's Pet, Wesley Crusher. She would have done the same for "Too Short a Season," which similarly got rewritten beyond recognition by Roddenberry, if not for the fact that she had left the show and simply didn't want to deal with Roddenberry's lawyer.
- Another former TOS writer, John D.F. Black went under the credit of Ralph Willis for "Justice" for much the same reason as Fontana; his darker and grittier story ended up being rewritten into one with a hamfisted message about how All Crimes Are Equal is inherently injust, with ludicrous levels of fanservice thrown in seemingly for the heck of it.
- Tracy Torme used the pseudonym Keith Mills for the episode "The Royale," after showrunner Maurice Hurley rewrote his original, more satirical plot in to a straightforward gangster pastiche. Later in that season, Torme, wrote another episode, "Manhunt"... which once again got butchered by Hurley in rewrites, resulting in Torme putting another pseudonym (Terry Deveraux) on the episode and storming off the series for good.
- Rod Serling scripted the pilot for The New People (a shortlived 1969 series that was a precursor to Lost and Flight 29 Down), but after it was cut down to fit a 45-minute network TV slot (an experiment on the part of ABC) he chose to be credited as "John Phillips," although he retained "developed for television by" credit under his own name - the series was created by Aaron Spelling and Larry Gordon (Serling described it as "somewhere between Gilligan's Island and San Francisco State. It may work. But not with me").
- Over the years, MAD has used several pseudonymous bylines for varying reasons. Both "J. Prete" and "Josh Gordon" are recurring pseudonyms for other writers, while parody writer Arnie Kogen has confirmed that "Debbee Ovitz" is a pseudonym of his. Ever since he became art director in the late 90s, Sam Viviano largely credited any of his illustrations to "Jack Syracuse". On individual cases, writer Dick DeBartolo credited himself as "Dick Bic" on a parody of Family Feud, as he worked for Mark Goodson productions at the time. Mort Drucker also signed his illustrations for a 24 parody as "Bob Julian".
- After the ZX Spectrum magazine Crash ended, it was discovered that the letters-page editor "Lloyd Mangram" never existed. The actual editor was sometimes Barnaby Page, but not always.
- Alan also "does" music videos. Among his credits are "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, "Lose My Breath" by Destiny's Child, "Hunting for Witches" by Bloc Party, "Juicebox" by The Strokes, and "Building a Mystery" by Sarah MacLachlan.
- On the soundtrack album for 2002's Trapped, the conductor of John Ottman's score is called "L. Ton Jon" (a pseudonym for Damon Intrabartolo).
- Austrian film composer Thomas Wanker (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) changed his professional billing on American and British productions to Thomas Wander, for what should be obvious reasons.
- The last track on Randy Newman's score album for Maverick is a song called "Tartine De Merde" sung by a fellow called "S. Bush." Anyone who gets the reference can probably guess who Mr. Bush is. But if you can't, it's Randy Newman.
- While Terrahawks is ill-thought-of enough that many wouldn't blame the crew for playing this trope straight here, this time it was done stylistically; while all but four of the series' 39 episodes were written or co-written by Gerry Anderson regular Tony Barwick, the scripts were usually credited to a variety of pseudonyms ending with "-stein", often feline-connected, due to a major character being called Dr. Tiger Ninestein (example: "The Ugliest Monster Of All" was written by P.U. Mastein). The show lampshaded this on several occasions, most blatantly with "Child's Play" being credited to Sue Donymstein. Only three episodes eschewed fake names—"The Midas Touch", by Trevor Lansdowne and Barwick (credited as Barwick for once) and the two-part opener "Expect The Unexpected" by Anderson himself; the only other non-Barwick episodes in the series are "From Here to Infinity" and "The Sporilla", written by Katz Stein and Leo Pardstein respectively (both pseudonyms for Donald James).
- Alan Smithee has a theatrical counterpart. His name is George Spelvin. George Spelvin (or, for females, Georgina or Georgette Spelvin) is also used when the same actor is playing two roles but that fact should not be made obvious to the audience beforehand by the cast list. He first appeared in the 1906 stage version of Brewster's Millions.
- The (probably hallucinating) main character of the play "The Actor's Nightmare" is referred to as George Spelvin.
- Using nicknames or pseudonyms in credits, such as "Ten Ten", "Mammy Preco", or "Yuukichan's Papa" was common in the video game industry (especially in Japanese games, like Capcom's arcades whose credits roll are usually about 90% pseudonyms) up through the beginning of the fourth generation, although the practice itself remained until at least 2005. In this case, the reason for not putting their real names on the product was not out of dissatisfaction with their work, but to prevent rival companies from hiring away their talent.
- Referenced in the "CHAIR RACE" teaser trailer for Metal Gear Solid 4—when we see the back of the Director's chair, Alan Smithee's name is written on it, which eventually drops off to reveal the name "Shuyo Murata". This references how Hideo Kojima originally planned to work only as a producer for MGS4 (as he planned on leaving the series after Metal Gear Solid 3) and hand it over to his junior team, with Shuyo Murata as the appointed director. This didn't last long, as the rest of the trailer shows.
- Referenced in Wild ARMs 3, though in a totally different context. Alan Smithy is a legendary Drifter who leaves signposts with advice all over the landscape.
- In Street Fighter X Tekken, Rolento's voice actor is credited as Alan Smithee. It's actually Dameon Clarke.
- Referenced in The Wonderful 101, with one of the supporting characters being a kid by the name of Luka Alan Smithee.
- The Simpsons: Mr. Burns' recruitment film for the power plant, which had script problems from Day One (i.e., nobody read the script), and which ends with Mr. Burns physically accosting Homer for getting his lines wrong, is credited to Alan Smithee.
- Jon Vitti and David Silverman used the pseudonyms "Penny Wise" and "Pound Foolish" for writing and directing the second and third clip episodes. In addition, Matt Groening had his name removed from the episode "A Star Is Burns" due to viewing the episode as a half-hour commercial for The Critic, leading to a well-publicized spat with producer James L. Brooks (who had fought to bring The Critic to Fox).
- One episode of Tiny Toon Adventures had a couple of cartoons with inferior animation directed by "Allen Smithee." The episode's Credits Gag was: "Number of Retakes: Don't Ask."
- The Pebble and the Penguin was the one movie that Don Bluth didn't take credit for.
- John Kricfalusi was so embarrassed about having directed the episode "Nurse Stimpy" of The Ren & Stimpy Show (all he could see when he watched the final product were drawing mistakes and timing errors), he credited himself as "Raymond Spum" on the title card.
- Touchstone Pictures was temporarily revived specifically so that Disney could use it to disown Strange Magic (which they acquired with Lucasfilm). Touchstone was previously used in this manner for Gnomeo and Juliet, which stayed with Disney after Miramax was sold off.
- Filmation overlord Lou Scheimer voiced Orko and King Randor on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) (and other characters on his shows) under the name Eric Gunden; Erika Lane, who shares music credit on the show, is also Scheimer (taken from his children's names). Similarly, the Yvette Blais who has music credit on numerous Filmation series is actually Ray Ellis (who often used that pseudonym - she was his wife).