Ah, the rat! So it has a name! ... It HAD a name. Leonardo: YOU LIE!! Shredder:
) Do I?
Someone important to one of the heroes has died. Sometimes, the dead person has been killed because they're too close to the hero (or perhaps due to a Heroic Sacrifice
that benefits the hero in some way). Other times, the dead character was following the hero's orders. And maybe it was just their time.
Whatever the situation, someone else
, typically the villain, dismisses the dead person, as if their death was just another Red Shirt death that carried little meaning
It is at this point that the hero invokes this Stock Phrase
: "He had a name!" This shows that the dead character wasn't just a faceless casualty of the story, but was actually important. They mattered. See Nominal Importance
, which is very closely related to this trope. See also The Dead Have Names
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime & Manga
- In Cosmic Odyssey, a DC Comics Crisis Crossover, the day is saved by Forager, one of the people known as "bugs" from the planet New Genesis who made a Heroic Sacrifice. Orion, one of The New Gods of New Genesis, barely acknowledges this fact, causing Batman to hit him and shout "His name was Forager!!"
- In the graphic novel: Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place, after a soldier lost a comrade in battle, he is upset when Sgt. Rock gives everyone nicknames. He invokes this trope to call in Rock’s apparent callousness. (He had a name, and worked in a Steel Mill). Rock defies it explaining that they are at war, and that war needs them to be other men that they were:
- The trope name was quoted verbatim in Fight Club by the Narrator after the death of his friend Robert Paulson, when one of the members of Project Mayhem suggests disposing of "the body" by burying it in the garden. The Narrator's speech accidentally finishes turning Project Mayhem into a Martyrdom Culture: they reconcile it with Tyler's demand that the "Space Monkeys" go without names by concluding that Robert earned his name in death.
- The exchange in The Lost World: Jurassic Park:
Tembo: The Rex just fed, so he won't be hunting for a while.
Ian Malcolm: Just fed? I assume you're talking about Eddie? You know, you might show a little more respect! The man saved our lives by giving his!
- Subverted in The Shawshank Redemption, when the prisoners find out that "Fat Ass" died during the night after being beaten to a bloody pulp by Captain Hadley.
Andy Dufresne: What was his name?
Andy Dufresne: I was just wondering if anybody knew his name.
Heywood: Fuck do you care, new fish? Doesn't fuckin' matter what his name was. He's dead.
- In their first movie, the Shredder, the Turtles' enemy, uses this trope to imply that their master is dead. Fortunately for our heroes, he's wrong.
Raphael: Where's Splinter?
Shredder: ...Ah, the rat! So it has a name...it had a name.
Shredder: (slowly smiles sadistically behind his mask) Do I?
- In Electric Dreams, the computer pulls an I Had A Name variant by identifying himself in his "dying" speech as Edgar.
- In The Avengers, Iron Man tells Loki about one other person he pissed off, on top of the other Avengers he's managed to anger.
And there's one other person you pissed off. His name was Phil
. (Iron Man zaps Loki with a repulsor blast.)
- Variation in U.S. Marshals: As Noah lies mortally wounded in an ambulance, and the Emts work on him desperately, they say encouraging things like, "Stay with us, Buddy/Pardner/Pal." Gerard, sitting in the ambulance in the midst of a Heroic BSOD, says very quietly, "His name is Noah." The Emts immediately switch to using his real name. Unfortunately, it doesn't help.
- In The Dark Knight, Joker invokes this on purpose, pretending Rachel's name slipped his mind, to further push Harvey Dent/Two-face's insanity.
- There's a sort of inversion in Reservoir Dogs in which Mr. White breaks the no names rule, telling a dying Mr. Orange his name without realising he's an undercover cop.
- Early in Face/Off there's a variation in which the names of several dead people are not forgotten, but rather omitted. After capturing Castor Troy, Sean Archer angrily reacts to a bottle of champagne with a note reading "just for you" by listing the names of all of the agents who were shot dead by Castor and Pollux during the shootout at the airport.
- Subverted in Phone Booth when Stu tells the sniper that nobody will remember his name (and won't learn from his mistake) if he kills him, challenging him to name a single victim of a serial killer.
- Played with for Hypocritical Humor in The Breakfast Club, in a rare non-fatal version:
: Yeah, well he's got a name <Beat
> What's your name?
- In Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Rand has memorized a list of every woman he has ever killed or caused to die, and once LT shows up he starts adding names from him too.
- A somewhat watered down version in the Farsala Trilogy. Kavi wasn't killed, but he's been captured, and the odds of him being executed are about 50/50. Jiaan, who has referred to Kavi exclusively as 'the peddler' for the whole three books due to dislike that grew into murderous hate, tries to brush off a plea to rescue him, and gets chewed out for not even calling him by his name while doing so.
- One of the defictionalized Castle books has the heroes be reminded that a victim had a name. The cops find a John Doe corpse that had been gnawed on by a coyote, and even after they determine his identity, they continue to call him "Coyote Man." They claim that this kind of Black Comedy is necessary in order for cops to cope with the number of dead people they have to think about all day, but after one cop interviews the dead man's nephew, he stops calling the man "Coyote Man" and snaps at anyone else who tries.
- A Song of Ice and Fire. King Stannis is contemplating the Human Sacrifice of Edric Storm, bastard offspring of his philandering brother. In an effort to avert this Davos Seaworth keeps mentioning Edric by name every chance he gets.
Live Action TV
- This happened on LOST.
Sawyer: So... old Steve drew the short straw.
Hurley: Dude! His name was Scott!
- Played for Laughs in an episode of How I Met Your Mother, where the "dead guy" is an Xbox.
- Gets much naughtier when you realize that Ted was offering Barney his Xbox, not knowing that Barney was also chasing after his EX-GIRLFRIEND. One wonders what Barney *thought* he heard Ted saying...
- Subverted in the episode "Monday Night Football." A worker in the bar dies and Wendy the Waitress says he really liked the gang, who can't remember whom she is talking about. Later, at the wake, when they see the body, all five recognize the man's face (in a comical "Oooooh!" moment) which they try to pass off to Wendy and Carl the bartender as sorrow. Future Ted still doesn't remember if the man's name was "Matt," "Mike," or "Mark."
- In Just Shoot Me!, Elliot accidentally breaks one of Dennis' porcelain cats and offers to replace it.
"It? It had a name! Oh, Skittles!"
- In Doctor Who, the Tenth Doctor had a clearly-labeled Berserk Button for people who made this mistake:
- In "The Poison Sky", the UNIT commander who refused to order a retreat keeps trying to raise the last man on his radio even though he's clearly been shot dead, and the Doctor tells him off:
"Greyhound Forty, come in! Greyhound Forty!"
- In the next episode a character is dismissed as "collateral damage". To which Donna replies,
"Her name's Martha! And she's not collateral damage for anyone"
- A variation at the end of "The Satan Pit." Humans of the future have enslaved an alien race known as The Ood, which were treated like robots or cattle. When the humans evacuate the station, all the Ood are left to die, which clearly distresses The Doctor. When the surviving captain makes his report, he lists the deceased Ood individually. (By designation number.)
- The Ood who dies at the beginning of "Planet of the Ood" gave his designation number when they asked for a name, and Donna used it comfortingly. It is unclear whether psychic natural Ood traffic much in names, but whenever the Doctor visits the Oodsphere afterward it seems Ood Sigma is there to meet him.
- There's a variation in the episode "Midnight". After the stewardess sacrifices herself to kill the monster, the other passengers are ashamed to realize that none of them... not even the Doctor... knew her name.
- The Eleventh Doctor appears to have retained it. In "The Vampires of Venice":
- Slightly subverted in "World War III": When a minor character dies and Harriet Jones admits that she doesn't know his name, even though she had a number of conversations with him throughout the day, the Ninth Doctor doesn't shame her for it (he just briefly apologises to the corpse and tries to arrange it in a more dignified position). Nothing more is made of it in that episode, it's just one of life's little injustices. However, later on, in "The Christmas Invasion", now-Primeminister Harriet Jones is shown making a point of asking even minor flunkies she talks to for their names. It's not explained why she does it, but it was probably meant as a Continuity Nod to show that, even without the Doctor getting all self-righteous about it, she learned her lesson.
- Inverted in the Series Six opener when a Silent kills a woman in front of Amy for no clear reason other than her seeing it. Amy says that it didn't have to kill her, since she couldn't even remember it (which is the Silent's power; you forget them as soon as you look away), to which it simply responds that the woman's name was Joy.
- The Professionals has a variation: In "Killer with a Long Arm," a forensics lackey dismisses a murder victim as "nobody," meaning that he was unconnected to their main case. Doyle immediately snaps, "Nobody's nobody," haranguing him about the fact that the victim had a wife and children. Of course, since Doyle was the one who asked who the dead man was, we never do learn his name.
- Unique variation in Supernatural. The Big Bad of the first two seasons, the yellow-eyed demon, is finally killed in Season 2 yet we still don't know his name. A demon later reveals his name to be Azazel in Season 3, saying "You think his brothers just called him Yellow-Eyes? He had a name."
- In one episode of Hardcastle and McCormick, Hardcastle has to deal with a police captain who, twenty years ago, shot an unarmed teenager and then covered it up; when the case came before Hardcastle's court, the man was ruled innocent for lack of evidence. Twenty years later, Hardcastle hasn't forgotten:
Filapiano: Nobody even remembers that dumb kid's name.
Hardcastle: Johnson. His name was Cyler Johnson.
- Happened once in Monk: in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door," the Guinness Museum's curator approaches Stottlemeyer and asks him if it is absolutely necessary to remove the body of a security guard who fell over a railing during a fight with an intruder (who stole an egg-eating robot) and got skewered on a swordfish display. Stottlemeyer replies, "Sir, um, that's a human being. He had a name. He had a family."
- In a first-season episode, Gibbs does this to the murderer of a fellow agent, just before pulling the trigger.
Gibbs: His name was Special Agent Chris Pacci. And he was a friend.
- And then again in "Once A Hero", when the head of a human trafficking ring dismisses the Marine he killed as just someone trying to be a hero.
Gibbs: His name was Brian Wright. Sergeant Brian Wright, United States Marine Corps. Bronze Star, Purple Heart. He was a hero.
- Battlestar Galactica Reimagined: When Saul Tigh and Caprica Six attempt to have a baby, they name him "Liam," after Admiral William Adama. When he dies en utero, Tigh tells the Admiral the baby's name.
- Occasionally in Bones, Booth implores Brennan to use the victim's name instead of "the victim" when talking to the bereaved family.
- An episode of NUMB3RS had a rare example of the perpetrator remembering the names of all his victims, who died as the result of a virus he unleashed with the endgame of trying to save many more lives. He was on his way to light candles for them in a church when he was caught.
- The Pretender episode "Back from the Dead Again", Jarod is a Med professor beginning a class with a speech about his one big rule.
Jarod: I want each of you to understand that there is only one unforgivable sin in my class. I will not, under any circumstance, tolerate any disrespect for these cadavers. Underneath each of these plastic sheets lies a human being. Many of these bodies, they come to us unknown and unclaimed which means that they died alone and afraid with no friends, no home. Forgotten by their families and thrown away by society. Therefore, they will not be disrespected in this classroom.
- Andrej Bukas (Андрей Букас) does this in Seryoga(Серёга). And it is heartbreaking.
- Said by Dr. Wily in The Protomen.
Reporters: What was her name?
Wily: Doesn't matter. Now listen!
- This refrain from Stockholm Syndrome by Muse:
And she had a name. Yes she haaad a naaaame.
- In Persona 3 FTW, the Hello, Insert Name Here trope is played with in this fashion when the team meets The Shadow Protagonist
Junpei: "Is... Is that... HIM!?"
Aigis: "HEY! Show some respect! He had a name!"
Junpei: "...What was it?"
Aigis: "Hell, I don't remember..."
- In the penultimate episode of Exo Squad, Nara Burns delivers the Bond One-Liner, "This was for my brother. His name was James!" right after she kills Phaeton. While Phaeton didn't directly kill James, he did start the war in which James died, and did not care at all about the people who died in it.
- Family Guy: Stewie and Brian are stranded in the desert, night's approaching, and the only shelter option is their camel, cut open Star Wars-style. Poor Stewie had already named him and given him a back-story.
- Lampshaded in American Dad! during "Roy Rogers McFreeley", after a character dies (of natural causes) and another character is threatened:
Stan: We've already lost Old Guy, we're not going to lose Speakerphone!
Hayley: Dad, they had names -
Stan: There's no time for names! (to his daughter) Jugs! (to his son) Nerd! (to Greg and Terry) Gays! Let's go!