They say that one is the loneliest number.
Zero is even lonelier.
In real life, zero is a pretty undesirable number (unless you have zero bad things, which is good).
- If you have zero money on you, you can't buy anything.
- If you multiply by zero, you get nothing.
- If your friends call you a zero, your friends are jerks.
However...if a character in a story is named "Zero", or has "zero" as part of their name, then that character has at least one unique attribute that makes him/her/it significantly stand out from everyone else. Usually, they're some form of Badass
Often, 'Zero' may simply be used for its convenient Xtreme Kool Letterz
. However, there is sometimes justification
in that the "zero" model of something may be the prototype — thus, if The Ace
is number one, the Phlebotinum Rebel
is number zero. Or "zero" might be the Super Prototype
, Flawed Prototype
...or Psycho Prototype
. The "zeroth" example of something thus makes a nice candidate for a Sixth Ranger
. It may follow the format of a "top ten list," where number one is the best...therefore Zero must be even better. This may also be used in a Tarot Motifs
As a side note, the name "Cypher" or "Cipher" has the meaning "zero", but is rarely a good or lucky name, for various reasons
(for the French-language version, see Le Chiffre
). As well, "Rei" means "zero" in Japanese, and (spelled a different way) is also a common name there; thus, it is sometimes used in this sense.
Zero may be one of those Names to Run Away From Really Fast
Only tangentially related to The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples
. May be good at using the Zeroth Law Rebellion
. See also You Are Number Six
. Not to be confused with Zorro
, despite the spelling (and many other) similarities.
The name comes from a segment about the number zero
in Schoolhouse Rock
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- Very common on ads for diet foods. "Zero" is also seen as better than "diet" for getting the male demographic.
Anime and Manga
- The Batman villain Mr. Freeze was introduced in 1959 as Mr. Zero.
- Stryfe, Cable's evil clone had a teleporting robot named Zero.
- Secret Agent Zero is the name of the Danger Girl's only male Badass.
- The Daredevil villainess Typhoid Mary also goes by Mutant Zero when on the job with the Shadow Initiative. The Constrictor doesn't understand the necessity of the rest of the team not knowing Mutant Zero's identity, but the point is that she kicks it hardcore.
- The main character of the short-lived Ghost Rider 2099 was a hacker named Kenshiro "Zero" Cochrane.
- 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.
- Evangelion 303: Rei pilots Unit 00, a super-advanced war plane.
- Okay, Cure Cipher in Puzzle Hunt Precure is themed after the code type of cipher — but the pun is still there, seeing as how her civilian name is Rei, which also means zero.
- There are agents in the James Bond books and films 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. Inverted with the villain of '"Casino Royale'', Le Chiffre.
- Zéro from Crime Spree, a french badass.
- The Grand Budapest Hotel: Zero Moustafa, the last owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel, who started his life as a humble lobby boy with "zero" experience.
- 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!"
- Zero from Holes. Also in the novel of the same name.
- Since Cipher counts, there's the traitorous Cypher (AKA Mr. Reagan) from The Matrix, who wanted to return to zero by reinserting himself in the program.
- Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends: "ZERO! Ultraman Zero! Son of Seven!"
- Sub-Zero from The Running Man is a murderous hockey player.
Now, PLAIN ZERO!
- In Wild America, the protagonist is nicknamed Zero by his older brothers.
- Subverted in X-Men Origins: Wolverine with Agent Zero, a rather two-dimensional throwaway villain. (He dies painfully.) To be fair, he's actually pretty dangerous - if you don't have a skeleton made of adamantium and the original Healing Factor.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack Skellington's heroic ghost dog is named Zero. His glowing nose assist the protagonists many times.
- In 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.
- 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.
- Zachary "Zee" Miller of the 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- In the original Star Wars Expanded Universe, the phrase "Base Delta Zero" was the Imperial command code to commence an Orbital Bombardment that would wipe out all life on a planet and effectively render it uninhabitable. Famously, it was also the only Imperial command code that never changed, so as to prevent any chance of confusion or misinterpretation over what was being ordered.
Live Action TV
- Captain Z-Ro, an early (1951-56) Sci-Fi children's show with a time travel theme.
- Deadliest Warrior: Zero Kazama:
"I can do the same thing without a weapon. This? This is just to distract you while I break you with my foot!"
- 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. Rei lampshades the Bilingual Bonus in his first appearance.
Rei: I am Rei Suzumura. Also known as ZERO.
Rei: You don't get the joke, do you?
- 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.
- Subverted with Captain Zero in Last of the Summer Wine, the supposedly heroic human cannonball who turns out to be disappointingly prosaic.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ultraman Zero. Easily one of the most powerful of all the Ultra warriors.
- Zero, a powerful minion in the miniseries Tin Man.
- 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.
- Warhammer40000 features Cypher, an enigmatic member of the Fallen (Dark Angels Space Marines who turned to Chaos during the Horus Heresy) whose motives and ultimate allegiance is unclear. Though he ostensibly works for Chaos, including the closest thing the series has to a Big Bad in Abaddon the Despoiler, his actions often result in the Imperium growing in strength, suggesting that he may not be quite what he appears.
- Inverted in the Hungarian animated movie Captain of the Forest. Zero is the name of the epynomous captain's nemesis, a Gentleman Thief, Evil Genius, and Master of Disguise, who crosses the Moral Event Horizon several times, and also proves to be a Dirty Coward when the odds don't favor him.
- Numbuh 0 in Codename: Kids Next Door.
- Duck Dodgers followed Popeye's example (sort of) and became Xero (still pronounced as "Zero")
- 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...)
- 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.
- Played for laughs in a Popeye episode. Popeye parodies the masked hero Zorro, but instead calls himself Zero and draws the number instead of the letter Z with his sword (thus the Mark of Zero). Also done as a subversion in a Rocky and Bullwinkle story arc, about a masked antagonist who calls himself Zero and defaces all the buildings in a sleepy town with zeroes.
- The boss of The Robonic Stooges is 0-0-0.
- 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.
- Agent Triple-Zero, AKA Secret Squirrel.
- The U.S. Acres segment of Garfield and Friends featured Orson's Bond-like alter ego Double-0 Orson.
- In The Venture Bros., 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.
- More of an Anti-Hero - in Wacky Races Dick Dastardly drives a car with the number Double Zero.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 as well as the best carrier fighter in the world at the time. Its maneuverability was the stuff of legend and getting into a low-speed dogfight with a zero was a death sentence to any early-war allied pilot. Even late in the war, with vastly superior allied aircraft and tactics, a zero with a skilled pilot was a fearsome opponent. It didn't help that many were relegated to kamikaze missions due to a lack of skilled pilots, adding a horrifying new level of dread at the end of the war.
- 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 separated 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".
- It's not uncommon for college dorms that add a room near room 1 to number the new room 0 (and 00 if two rooms are added).
- In Formula One, pre-2014, 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.
- From 2014 onwards, drivers are assigned permanent numbers from 2-99. Hence, Damon Hill will be the last driver 0, unless a rule change occurs.
- Other motorsports examples of the number zero:
- NASCAR allows for the assignment of both #0 and #00.
- An example of the former would be Gene Haas' original entry into the Sprint Cup Series in 2003, which carried the #0 due to sponsor NetZero, an internet service provider. Unfortunately, driver Jack Sprague, a three time Truck Series champion, proved so ill-suited for the Cup cars that he was fired after a half-season, and Haas CNC in general struggled mightily for a long time. When NetZero left the team (and NASCAR) after 2005, they switched to #66 in tribute to new sponsor Best Buy. When Tony Stewart bought into the team in 2009, this team became the #39 for Ryan Newman, and as of 2014 carries the #4, with Kevin Harvick behind the wheel.
- The #00 was used by Buckshot Jones in the late 90's and early 2000's, as a play on his nickname. He eventually left it with Michael Waltrip Racing, the last team he drove for in the Cup Series, who themselves continued to use it to only minor success (a pair of wins with David Reutimann) until 2011. Since 2012, this car has borne the number 55, and as of 2014 is driven by Brian Vickers.
- In the United Sports Car Championship, the #0 is used by the Deltawing team, and they also stick out from the pack due to the particularly unique design of their car - the front wheelbase is significantly narrower than the rear base, and by extension the wheelbases on the other Prototype class cars. They also field the only female driver in the 2014 USCC field, Katherine Legge. Sadly, much like the NASCAR examples, the Deltawing is usually slower than other prototypes, and often drops out with mechanical issues.
- While playing for Aberdeen FC Hicham Zerouali had '0' as his shirt number. At least until the Scottish Premier League outlawed it.
- Former Oakland Raiders center Jim Otto wore 00 as a pun on his name ("aught-o").
- During his pre-season stint with the Detroit Lions, writer George Plimpton wore number 0. His experiences with the team are chronicled in the book Paper Lion, and was made into a movie starring Alan Alda as Plimpton.
- 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).
Thematic use of zero numbering:
Anime and Manga
- 2007-9's entry in the Gundam franchise is Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
- 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.
- Future GPX Cyber Formula ZERO is the third entry and the second OVA in the series.
- 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".
- Ring 0 Birthday
- Cube Zero.
- In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, all of the "eight evil exes" are visually associated with their number in the list. Scott himself is associated with the number zero. For example, at one point he wears a sports jersey with "0" on it, and Coke Zero is his beverage of choice.
- 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.
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has its infamous "Zero becomes one, one becomes 100" navelgaze during the ending by Big Boss when he euthanizes Major Zero.
- The Japanese tend to do this in titles of prequels, especially for video games: Ace Combat Zero, Street Fighter Zero, Resident Evil 0. (Metroid: Zero Mission however is not a prequel but a remake of the first game.)
- Similarly, the Silent Hill prequel was called Silent Hill Zero in Japan, and Silent Hill: 0rigins (with a zero instead of an O) elsewhere in the world.
- Interestingly, the player character of Ace Combat Zero has the codename Cipher, but rather than being bad luck, he actually managed to avert several apocalypses.
- Well, he was bad luck for everyone he met, friend and foe.
- Zork Zero, though not of Japanese origin, follows this convention.
- When the ROM image of the complete-but-unreleased English translation to MOTHER was leaked, it was dubbed EarthBound Zero◊, to avoid confusion with the sequel.