Very common on ads for diet foods. "Zero" is also seen as better than "diet" for getting the male demographic.
Anime and Manga
The Anti-Villain Protagonist Lelouch of Code Geass uses the alias Zero while working to obliterate the Britannian empire and build a new world in its place. It makes sense once you learn that Britannia names conquered areas and people with numbers (Ex: Area 11 and Elevens), so Zero signifies both his rebellion and his secret oppressed royal lineage. And the obvious symbolism of someone fighting for the Japanese and using the alias Zero (hint: remember the planes at Pearl Harbor?)
If one notices, on top of Lelouch's alter-ego naming, anything that associates with him on some personal level in the rebellions will have "Zero" in the title. The Order of Black Knights has the Unit Zero, Zero's Personal Guard (of sorts) that is composed of Kallen as its leader among other pilots, and, there's the Type 0/0A Shinkiro, Zero's personal KMF, with its Structural Phase Transition Cannon...Er, "Zero Beam". However, The Type 0/0A Shinkiro was made AFTER the Type 02 Guren. And the Type 03, 04, and 05. And made using the prototype Druid System computer in the Gawain. So it's not even remotely a prototype.
In R2 episode 21, Lelouch becomes emperor of Britannia, and awards his best friend Suzaku the custom rank "Knight of Zero" as part of an inside joke for the people who know his dual identities. He creates this title as the highest knightly position, whereas the previously highest was the Knight of One.
As well, her alter-ego/contractor is called "Nemo", which means no one, fitting with her brother's theme.
Awfully subverted in one of the Mazinger Zspin-offs. Mazinger Zero is what Mazinger-Z may potentially become: an Eldritch Abomination. It happened in the spin-off, after Kouji crossed the Despair Event Horizon. He got in Mazinger-Z and fought like a relentless, raging The Berserker, fueling Mazinger's consciousness with a stream of negative emotions -rage, grief, despair, bitterness, pain-, until Mazinger-Z awoke, turned into a demon. The results were...not pretty.
Zeromaru, the Veedramon from Digimon V-Tamer 01. "Maru" can mean "zero"; thus the two zeroes in his name, combined with the "ichi" (meaning "one") in his partner Taichi's name, lead to their Catch Phrase "Our combination is 100 percent!"
Furthermore, after first explaining this Catch Phrase, Lord HolyAngemon notes that zero and one are the basis for binary code and, thus, the Digital World.
Also appears in SD Gundam Force as Zero the Winged Knight of Lacroa.
The Wing Gundam Zero's designation is XXX000G-00W0.
The first Gundam to appear in Gundam 00 is the 0 Gundam. The second season brings us the 00 Gundam itself, possessing the 0 Gundam's GN Drive. The titular Gundam also have a catalyst unit, the 0-Raiser. If the 00 Gundam and 0-Raiser combine, they'll form the 00 Raiser, a mecha whose abilities are never seen before with any of the Gundams that appeared before it.
A example from a villain; in Bleach, Yammy reveals that the ranks of the espada go from 0 to 9, not 1 to 10 as previously thought, when he proceeds to grow in immense strength and size as he loses the 1 from his 10 tattoo. (This won't help him, of course, as he is pitted against Kuchiki Byakuya and Zaraki Kenpachi, two of the most Bad Ass shinigami.)
Bleach also offers us the nihilistic villain Ulqiorra Cifer, who actually seems to work most closely with Yammy.
There's also the Cero, a powerful class of energy blast. All the characters who can use itnote (basically all the Menos, Arrancar, and Visored we've met) have some connection to Hollows, so the name is fitting.
Another example from the Turn Back The Pendulum Arc: According to Kyoraku, aside from Gotei 13, there is Squad Zero, charged with protecting the Royal Family. This squad is special as its members are retired captains.
Louise, the titular Zero from Zero No Tsukaima is a Double Subversion. Her nickname comes from her apparently non-existent magical prowess, and nothing about her implies any level of Bad Ass... until it turns out that her inability to cast any normal spell properly comes from her alignment with the forgotten branch of "void magic" — which, needless to say, includes some insanely powerful combat spells.
The Big Bad of the final season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX uses a deck of darkness. His two key cards are "Zero" and "Infinity". A more generic example of the trope is that any high level monster with zero Attack Points will undoubtedly be far more destructive than the powerhouse monsters Yubel.
In Loveless, a series chock full of meaningful pair names, there are two teams called Zero — one whose members are both boys, and one who are both girls. They are called the Zero series because they are Artificial Humans who cannot feel pain, and, in theory, are undefeatable - but the creation process denies them the individuality of a unique name, and everyone so altered will always be named Zero.
Sifr Fran from Mai-Otome 0~S.ifr~OVA, has the double whammy of a meaningful name and prequel name. (Note that the first trailers had the title rendered as "Mai-Otome Sifl" before they got around to fixing it. "Sifr" means "zero" in Arabic, and is the origin of words for "cipher" and "digit" in some languages.)
Who actually is the heroic Zero just mentioned. I'll take Mind Screw for 900, please.
Change 123. Motoko, the main character, while normally a rather shy girl, has three distinct personalities, whose names start with 1, 2 and 3 (Hi Fu Mi) and are able to use first class fighting skills. And then there is the (hopefully) last personality, who calls herself zero, who has the abilities of the HiFuMis, thus the most likely strongest fighter in the whole world, and the urge to kill everyone she sees.
Variation: (Genesic) GaoGaiGar is the God of Destruction that "bring hope of a new start from zero."
Future GPX Cyber Formula has the Zero Realm, a type of Super Mode in which is a representation of having their limits surpassed by reading other drivers' thoughts, seeing a bit of the future and predicting other drivers' movements. Hayato, Shinjyo and Kaga have all entered the Zero Realm.
Hayato also drives the v-Asurada AKF-0 in SAGA and SIN and in the PS1 game, Seiichirou Shiba drives a variant of Asurada called AKF-0/1B Nemesis.
The elder brother of the protagonist of Psychic Academy is a legendary aura user known as Zerodyme.
Subverted in Death Note. There is a minor character named Raye Penber, who almost discovers that Light is Kira. Then Light manipulates him into killing himself and all the other American agents in Japan.
Rurouni Kenshin: Saitou's "Gatotsu Zero" attack. His normal Gatotsu attack required momentum (from running, jumping, etc.) to give it power. The "Zero" form was done from a standing position, giving the enemy no time to react, but because Saitou was such a great swordsman he did not sacrifice any power that way.
Rei Kiriyama from Sangatsu No Lion uses the kanji for zero and nothingness. This case is subverted in the sense that this hasn't been played for the Rule Of Cool. The story has yet to tell his parents' reasons for giving him the name. In fact, it just gives Kyoko more fuel to taunt him with.
Kyoko: "You're name is Rei? What a weird name! But it suits you...'No home. No relatives. No school. No friends."'
Parodied in the anime adaptation of Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai - every member of the club is member number zero, because other numbers aren't as cool.
Waaay back when Jack Kirby was drawing the 2001: A Space Odyssey tie-in comic book, he introduced one character who was participating in a superhero LARP as White Zero. The very disappointing ending to the game convinces the character to go into space, where he encounters the Monolith and fulfills his true special destiny.
Black Zero is an alternate, evil version of Superboy who kicked his super ass all around the court when they met. (Do not confuse Superboy with Superboy-Prime.)
And who took his codename from the Kryptonian suicidal cult/terrorist group who started a chain reaction in Krypton's core that, a few thousand years later, would make it blow up.
The main character of the short-lived Ghost Rider 2099 was a hacker named Kenshiro "Zero" Cochrane.
Stryfe, Cable's evil clone had a teleporting robot named Zero.
The Daredevil villainess Typhoid Mary also goes by Mutant Zero when on the job with the Shadow Initiative. The Constrictor doesn't understand the neccessity of the rest of the team not knowing Mutant Zero's identity, but the point is that she kicks it hardcore.
Zero from Holes. Also in the novel of the same name.
In the film Zero Effect, the title character Darryl Zero is possibly the world's most skilled detective, to the detriment of his personal hygiene and social skills.
Let's not forget the agents in the James Bond films and books whose numbers start with "00" — indicating their "license to kill". In Casino Royale, it's revealed that to become a Double-0, you need two kills on your record; it's possible the "00" is meant to represent those kills.
His comic version, on the other hand, can absorb kinetic energy so impacts can't hurt him, can't be tracked via smell, has a Healing Factor of his own, and a "Anti-healing factor" which can turn other people to mush..
The assembled Hackers from Hackers have a group moment of awe when they find out that their friend Wade had once been the badass uber-hacker called Zero Cool.
Lord Nikon: "Zero Cool? Crashed fifteen hundred and seven computers in one day? Biggest crash in history, front page New York Times August 10th, 1988. I thought you was black, man." (beat) "YO! THIS IS ZERO COOL!"
In Isaac Asimov's Robot stories, the "Zeroth Law" is the one that supersedes and overrides all the other Laws of Robotics and more or less gives the robots free will. Only robots that are Sufficiently Advanced consider it to be a real law, as it was deduced from philosophy rather than encoded into their original programming.
Count Zero is the (nickname of the) hero of the William Gibson novel of the same name.
It's short for "Count Zero Interrupt", a computer term in the novels universe.
Actually a quite old computer term that has long ago lost its relevance but at the time of the novel's making was very new and sci-fi.
Zero from Holes. Though it's a derogatory nickname on the part of everybody else in the camp, it's later discovered that he's Hector Zeroni, the descendant of the old woman who put a curse on the great-great-grandfather of Stanley Yelnats IV who helps him undo the Murphy's Curse placed upon the Yelnats family. Sploosh!
Zachary "Zee" Miller of Cronus Chronicles is referred to as Zero by Philonecron for being the 'starter', of sorts - his blood is used to animate the shadows that make up the villain's army.
Live Action TV
Captain Z-Ro, an early (1951-56) Sci-Fi children's show with a time travel theme.
Zero, a powerful minion in the miniseries Tin Man.
Mr. Zero, the mysterious employer of Spenser, Tracy, and Kong: The Ghost Busters (Not the famous ones).
In Heroes, when Sylar was being studied by Chandra Suresh, he was referred to as "Patient Zero." This comes from medical research, where the focus patient of an investigation is referred to as the index case, or the patient zero. Nevertheless, it signified the Bad Ass portion of this trope as well.
In Kamen Rider Den-O, The Lancer Rider is called Zeronos, his time-travelling train is the ZeroLiner, his motorbike is the ZeroHorn, his weapon is the ZeroGasher and his Deadly Upgrade is called Zero Form.
The tokusatsu series GARO ("Fanged Wolf"), has the title character's rival go by the name "ZERO" (officially spelled with the characters for "Cutting Wolf"). And his civilian name is, of course, Rei.
Ultraman Zero. Easily one of the most powerful of all the Ultra warriors.
Japanese-American prison chaplain Ray Mukada from Oz, one of the closest things to a hero you're likely to find there. The fact that Rei is a possible reading of both the kanji for spirit & zero was probably not lost on the creators, as he often struggles with the possibility that his spiritual guidance amounts to nothing in an awful place like Oz.
Subverted with Captain Zero in Last of the Summer Wine, the supposedly heroic human cannonball who turns out to be disappointingly prosaic.
"I can do the same thing without a weapon. This? This is just to distract you while I break you with my foot!"
An episode of Stargate SG-1 involved reprogramming a mine that was protected by a combination lock. The counting system the builders of the mine used was based on an old Earth counting system that didn't include zero. However, the mine builders had modified the counting system to include zero, because as Sam points out, you need zero to be mathematically advanced enough to be able to build something as sophisticated as the mine in the first place. The fact that Daniel Jackson didn't realise this caused their attempt to input the combination to fail and nearly detonate the mine because they were off by one when inputting the combination.
The character Zero from Beetle Bailey averts the trope. He's nothing more or less than The Ditz, and it seems likely that the reason for his name is that "zero" is his IQ.
He's also from near the very beginning of the comic's run, when Beetle was a college student (before he enlisted). "Zero" was an...endearing term older students had for the freshmen who they forced to do demeaning and degrading tasks to earn the approval of their betters. And now you know...the true story.
Also, the protagonist itself in Brazil, where he's known as "Recruta Zero" (Recruit zero; Zero is known there as Dentinho, "little tooth").
Also averted in the comic strip "Little Annie Rooney" (a "Little Orphan Annie" imitator) where the title character travelled with her dog, Zero.
God, if you are Sufi, Muslim, or Baha'i. The Ninety Nine or Hundred Names of God always begin with Al-Ilah, contracted as Allah as name number zero; if it wasn't counted that way there would be one too many names.
In Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero, Zero is a nigh-unstoppable, lightsaber-wielding, badassMaverick-turned-Maverick-Hunter-turned-freedom-fighter fighting for humanity and fellow Reploids alike, disregarding the fact that he was created by Dr. Wily, Big Bad of the original Mega Man series. The name is appropriate for a host of reasons: he knows nothing about his past, his best friend is X (making the classic "X and O"), and his ultimate role in the first game is a kamikaze attack (see Real Life for why that's significant). It's also a good name for a character who dies every other game.
Keiji Inafune, father of the franchise, wanted Zero to be the main character. Capcom only made him change his mind, though he knew before even talking to them that just bringing Zero up as the new Mega Man and flying in the face of the blue bomber tradition would fail, so he let a co-worker design the expy to be the main guy while pitching Zero as secondary but all along intending to make him the Ensemble Dark Horse and future main guy. It worked.
Major Zero from the Metal Gear Solid games — he's your commander in the third game, and was the original leader of the Patriots, making him the closest thing the series has to an overall Big Bad. He also uses the alias Cipher when he recruits Zadornov and Paz to spy on Big Boss, who by this time had left the Patriots, in Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker.
Antagonistic video game example: In some of the Kirby games, the pink hero faces Dark Matter, whose core is called 0.
And then Dark Nebula in Squeak Squad, who was called Dark Zero in Japan.
The newest Castlevania storyline seems to have renamed Sypha into Cipher. On the plus side, her name now matches the depth of her storyline.
She goes back into Sypha in Judgment, though.
Princess Rei in Saga Frontier is the only character capable of using Mirage magic, as well as being Orlouge's first mistress, and the only one ever to escape him. Also, ZEKE's Japanese name includes "Reishiki", or "Type-Zero", to denote its badassity. (Bahamut Zero was also known as Bahamut Reishiki in Japan. Japanese love Reishiki.)
Actually, the Zero in 2000 was ultimately killed by Whip (getting blasted with his own satellite by Kula didn't help him much, though). Kula did, however, succeed in destroying the Zero Cannon before it could be used to cause any additional damage.
Zero in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an irritating Hollywood Nerd who gives you some of the worst Scrappy Levels of the game. One gets the impression he is thinking of the "special and badass" sense of the name, while everyone else is thinking "loser". He does make weaponised RC planes though...
In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the characters are all kidnapped by someone who calls himself Zero, to participate in the Nonary Game. The nine players are numbered one through nine, while Zero is the mastermind behind it all. With the release of the sequel, Virtues Last Reward, the series has been renamed Zero Escape; the second game removes most of the numerical motif but keeps the mastermind's name Zero.
In Rumble Roses, the Japanese main character (there are two, but this one is..."mainer") is named Reiko and has the nickname "Zero Fighter" as a pun on her name. Somewhat averted in that she's not stronger than the others, though she is pretty easy to use.
In the Fallout New Vegas DLC Old World Blues, one of the Mad Scientists you meet is Dr. 0, who is mistakenly called Dr. O by his compatriots. You can help him settle this by telling him to use a slashed zero. With the Math Wrath perk, you can also convince him that zero is an awesome number due to it's ability to reduce anything it multiplies by into zero, which leads him to declare himself "Destroyer of Math".
Unity: A subtle bit of Programmer Humor; when a new consciousness takes over all the systems in the starship, it assigns numbers to each system in the order it was taken over. The origin, naturally, was thus numbered "zero."
The title comes from the Schoolhouse Rock song, "My Hero Zero", in which the literal number zero is a hero.
The song mostly concerns itself with 0's use as a placeholder in large numbers ("Place three zeros after any number, and you've multiplied that number by one thousand"), rather than with the mathematical concept of zero as the additive identity and the multiplicative...uh...zero-izer.
There once was a show called Zeroman. It's about a senior citizen who lives with his mother, and happens to be a mail carrier. He finds an alien super suit, and becomes a super hero...so I guess you could say he fights crime. It's a comedy.
In The Venture Brothers, a character named "Zero" arises, who serves not only as the Big Bad of the episode, but he turns out to be Scott Hall / Number 1, a henchman from a previous episode. Thus, while he may not be a hero, he survives not only being a henchman in a superhero/villain world, whose death is portented and lampshaded, but FIGHTING BROCK SAMPSON, which counts as a superpower in its own right.
A Phineas And Ferb episode featured a British secret agent known as Double-0 Zero. Doofenshmirtz even asked if it shouldn't be Triple-0. It earned a Getting Crap Past the Radar moment by having Doof stating Perry is "P" and the agent was "OOO" and that made...The agent interrupted Doof to explain it wasn't the letter "O" but three zeroes. Doof then stated he'd say "OOOP" and that somebody became nervous.
In Fireball XL 5, an early Gerry Anderson puppet show, Steve Zodiac's boss was Commander Zero. (They also had a Lieutenant Ninety so presumably they were going for the number theme...)
The Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics, the thermodynamic equivalent of the transitive property in mathematics, is so named because, having named the first, second and third laws, scientists realized that it was important to state a very simple and obvious law which underwrote the others.
Arguable Real Life example: The Mitsubishi A6M Zero (or Type 0 Carrier Fighter). While its name derives from the perfectly mundane fact that it was originally produced in 1940 (or 2600 by the Imperial Japanese calendar), its name carries a historical feeling of menace in Allied nations due to its being Japan's primary naval fighter in World War II. In particular, it was the standard plane for kamikaze missions.
However, by co-incidence (presumably), the name is especially appropriate as the Zero was lightly built compared to other aircraft designed for the same role, which was both its great strength and great weakness. The Zero could only take a small amount of punishment before it was in trouble, but its high maneuverability meant Allied gunners and pilots often had problems getting and keeping the plane in their gunsights in the first place.
Zero Mostel may not have been a hero, but he was a good enough actor that he deserves mention here.
His testimony before Congress and his defense of his fellow blacklisted actors should make him one.
In computer science, the first position in arrays/strings/other list-type data structures in most languages has the index of zero, not one. There is a practical reason for this, however. It has its origins in assembly language and other early languages like C, which let (or pretty much forced) the programmer to work directly with the numeric addresses of information in memory. When working with a large chunk of data at once, what you actually have is an address of the first tiny bit of that data structure. From there, you get the rest of it by adding a number called an "index" to the base address — Base + Index = Address. Naturally, the first element of the structure logically goes right where the structure starts, which is another way to say it should be at the base address exactly — Base + 0.
It may also do with the fact that in electronics, the ground state is a valid value. Ground state has a value of 0.
Similar to the computer science example, outside of the United States, Japan, Russia (primarily in Latin America and Europe), the floor one most commonly enters a building on (the one at "ground-level") is not referred to as the "first floor." Instead, the floor above this floor is called the "first floor", and the numbering scheme continues from there. Many languages in these regions call the "ground-level" floor roughly the lingustic equivalent of the "zeroth floor," even if the floor isn't literally called that. Given that the numbering schemes for floors in buildings can often be quite inconsistent and ad hoc, this is definitely a much weaker example than the comp. sci. one above, but it does follow the same logic of starting counting at zero as opposed to one.
Buldings in downtown Milwaukee typically have "basement", "ground floor", and "first floor". One side of the building will typically have an entrance on the "ground floor", the other side will have an entrance on the "first floor". This has to do with changes in elevation between streets.
Also common in Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities built on steep hills, with the designation of the lowest entrance floor varying between "first floor", "ground floor" and "lobby", with no attempt at consistency. Since entrances can be seperated by as many as three floors, depending on how steep that particular part of town is, the designated "first floor" will often be physical third floor (not including parking or basement floors). Entrance floors below the designated "first" will occasionally be referred to as "lobby" and "lower lobby".
In motorsports, or at least in F1, a driver would have the number zero because the reigning champion retired, hence no number 'one'. The last time this happened was in 1994, when Alain Prost, the 1993 champion, retired, leaving Damon Hill with the number zero.
While playing for Aberdeen FC Hicham Zerouali had '0' as his shirt number. At least until the SPL outlawed it.
Many baseball and basketball players whose name starts with O (such as Rey Ordonez, Al Oliver, and Orlando Woolridge) choose the number zero as a play off their name. However, it can also be used by other players (Gilbert Arenas, Robert Parrish who used '00') who just want a number that stands out.
The invention of mathematical zero is considered to be a major milestone in the development of maths and science, as there are several types of calculation that simply aren't possible without a concept of zero. Roman numerals, for example, have no way to represent 0 (and they make calculation inconvenient for this reason, among many others).
On the Roulette Wheel, zero is definitely hero for casinos. It is the presense of zero that tilts the probability of winning in favour of the House. 00 even more so; the payouts don't change whether the wheel has 0 or both 0 and 00. The odds? Hoo boy.
We can be a little more specific than that: the payoff on a single number is 36 for 1 (your original chip, plus 35 more like it), but completely fair odds would be 37:1 on a single zero wheel and 38:1 on a double zero wheel. This carries over to the red/black payoff, which pays even money but doesn't pay either bet if a 0 or 00 comes up. It may not sound like much, but the net result is that most bets on a double-zero roulette table have an expected payoff of just under ninety-five cents on a dollar (making it one of the most profitable games for the house, and the "first five" bet is even worse).
Toei Animation's adaptation of Yu Gi Oh is often referred to as Season 0 in America. The name comes from a common misconception that the anime is actually the first season of the Duel Monsters anime that 4kids refused to dub.
Several of the Star Wars comic series have zero-based numbering.
Comic books numbered "zero" are very common. It's a very old idea, dating back to the days of underground comics, and probably reached its pinnacle in Zero Hour, where every comic book from DC at the time got an issue #0. Marvel eventually outdid them by having every comic in their lineup have a #-1 (that's negative one) issue.
There's a soldier named Zero in the Beetle Bailey comics. In Brazil, he was renamed as "Dentinho" ("Little Tooth") probably because of his buck teeth and the name "Zero" was given to Bailey.
The Chaotic fan-series Of Men and Mugic starts all the first chapters of each book with "Chapter Zero" instead of "Chapter One". The author of this fan-fiction seems to have only done this with this story, as his other fan-fictions begin with the normal "Chapter One".
In Magic: The Gathering, many of the game breakers from the base set (dual lands, moxes, Black Lotus) cost zero mana. For that matter, cards that have an alternate cost (in effect costing zero mana) are generally game breakers, as is Lotus Petal, a toned down version of Black Lotus. Affinity decks relied on artifact lands (zero cost) and cards which got cheaper as you played more artifacts (sometimes down to zero). The latest of these zero mana cards are Mox Opal (a legendary mox which gives you a mana of any color, if you have two other artifacts in play) and Memnite (a free 1/1), which also combine well.