[[quoteright:258:[[VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/whoareyou_2409.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:258:[[TheUnpronounceable Just how are you supposed to pronounce that?]][[note]]He told you his real name, and you get to [[HelloInsertNameHere "report" it to the Police Officer.]][[/note]]]]
When the name of something -- be it a character, object, location, or menu item -- is unknown in a video game, it will often be represented by a string of question marks.

One of the simplest and most prevalent video game interface tropes.

The reasons for this vary (see below), and the result can range from confusion to an InterfaceSpoiler. See also NoNameGiven.

ConfusedQuestionMark is for a different meaning of the symbol. Can be related to MyNameIsInigoMontoya.
!!Video Game Examples:
* Three characters in ''[[Videogame/HarmoKnight HarmoKnight]]'' get their names put as "???". Two birds, one [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses princess]].
** The princess one is more ironic. Her name is blurted out, but it will ''still'' read "???" until mentioned again.
* ''VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver'': Your rival gives his own name as "???". You [[HelloInsertNameHere enter]] his name later.
** This caused many a small child to permanently name him ??? when asked, thinking it was a kind of trivia where there's a right answer you need to enter to continue. Kind of embarrassing when the older fans told you you had done it wrong, but HilariousInHindsight.
** Averted in the remakes, which instead call him Passerby Boy in the battle dialogue. Similarly, he no longer tells you his name in dialogue; he instead drops his Trainer ID and the main character (but not the player) reads it, getting his name from there.
*** Hasn't stopped people who played the original games from calling him "???" solely because of nostalgia. Though for any who want to enter it correctly, his real name is popularly said to be Silver.
** ''VideoGame/PokemonRubyAndSapphire'' and ''VideoGame/PokemonDiamondAndPearl'' also use question marks to represent non-seen Pokemon in the Pokedex. Similarly, their equivalent/version of [[TheMissingno Missingno.]] is shown as the same icon, or for another kind, two white question marks.
** ''VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeonGatesToInfinity'' uses this when characters first appear. Later on, [[spoiler: after Kyurem almost kills the player,]] this is also used for no given reason when the player awakens.
* ''The Codex of Alchemical Engineering'' gives approximately 13 question marks for the mysterious Level 15 compound.
* As yet unavailable games on the ''VideoGame/{{WarioWare}}'' grid are represented by question marks.
* As yet unavailable minigames in ''VideoGame/MarioParty'' are represented by "?????????????????".
* In ''VideoGame/SuperMarioRPG'', the character Geno is labeled "???" at first. His actual name isn't much better: it's ♥♪!? in other languages and a set of unique hieroglyphs in Japan.
* In ''MarioAndLuigiSuperstarSaga'', the shark fin enemy in Gwarhar Lagoon is identified as "????". This is because there are actually two of them that look the same until they attack. One of them has the official name Sharkbone, while the other is a variant of Cheep Cheep.
* In ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'', this is the name given in the tattle log for [[spoiler:Doopliss]] before you find out his name.
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', if something has a significantly higher level than you (more than 10 levels), the level is displayed as "??" in its tooltip (in the level indicator in its portrait, however, the "level" will be a skull). This is also true for things that are coded to be "X levels higher than you", i.e., "boss"-rank creatures.
* In the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' games, a new character's dialogue will be labelled as spoken by "???" until you learn the person's name. This is also occasionally the case for previously-appearing characters who speak from off-screen and then appear. Similarly, any person you talk to gets recorded in your files for later viewing, but their name, age (and depending on the situation, their gender), will all be displayed as "???" until you learn who the person is in greater detail. In ''Dual Destinies'', [[spoiler:this ''becomes'' the phantom's name after you've determined that he is ''not'' Detective Bobby Fulbright.]]
** Aversion in the series: one of the witnesses in chapter 2 of ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonVsPhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' is labelled as "Some Guy" until we find out his name.
* This is initially Terra's "name" in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI''.
** The temporary ghost party members you can get on the phantom train have the same "name".
** The xylophone-heavy song that plays when first you meet Gau is called "??".
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIVTheAfterYears'' does this straight, and has a variation. When a character talks from offscreen, their name is given as "???". When someone is in disguise (like in [[GratuitousNinja Edge's Tale]]), the name is given with a question mark at the end, like "Trainee?".
** Happens twice in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX''. First, when Rikku joins you mid-battle early on. Then later, for an Aeon in a battle before you get to choose its name.
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyV'', there's a [[PowerCopying Blue Magic]] spell called "???". The reason for this seems to be the fact that it has no [[CallingYourAttacks call box]] whatsoever. (If you care to know, it [[DesperationAttack deals damage equal to the difference between your max and current HP]].)
** Also appears in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' with the "Enemy Skill" materia.
* In ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'', the era/location of your final battles with Lavos is simply "???" as is the overworld of the Middle Ages and the Future before you find out what year it is.
* Spiruna's assistant, Hella, in ''VideoGame/MapleStory'' is shown as "????" in NPC form.
* Kuroko's name card in the non-continue game credits for ''VideoGame/SamuraiShodown 2'' is obscured and "????" is read below, regardless if you fought him or not. Supposedly what's obscured is his real name (Kuroko is an alias).
* The flashy guy/Gigolo/[[spoiler:Loki]] from ''VideoGame/DevilSurvivor'' has his name displayed as "???" on the area menu.
* ''VideoGame/{{BlazBlue}}'s'' credits list "??????" as the voice actors for Hakumen and V-13 to hide [[spoiler:the fact that they are alternate versions of Jin and Noel and therefore have the same voice actors.]]
* ''VideoGame/Persona4Arena'' gives this name to some opponents fought in Story Mode. [[spoiler:Specifically, the "Shadows" of the main cast and the {{Big Bad}}s, otherwise known only as "Eerie Voice" and "Malevolent Entity".]]
* In homage to all of the previously mentioned {{JRPG}}s, ''VideoGame/BarkleyShutUpAndJamGaiden'' uses ???? for people who are talking but haven't yet been identified.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' does this with Kratos, when he first joins the party. Yeah, he was a bit of a lone wolf.
** Along with every boss, mini-boss or BigBad who doesn't introduce themselves off the bat. Rodyle spends half the game with his name as "???" even ''after you hear his name.'' Perhaps justified in that the party was not in the scene at the time, but still.
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfPhantasia'''s DistantPrologue, the heroes and the BigBad have their names replaced with "????".
* The unidentified items in ''VideoGame/StarOcean'' games.
* The GBA ''Franchise/FireEmblem'' games have "??" as the HP total for their final bosses at the beginning of the battles, because given that the normal {{cap}} is 60, HP displays are only two digits, and the final boss of each game has 120 HP. Once they're knocked down to 99 HP, they'll show their HP total as usual (even though the in-battle HP bars only show 80 HP.)
* In the NES game ''Magician'', if you try and craft a spell which doesn't exist, the runes full up with question marks and the spell name is listed as "UNKNOWN..."
* The DS game ''VideoGame/GloryOfHeracles'' uses this for the main character at the start. Early in the game, he is told he is the great hero Heracles. After ''another'' Heracles joins the group, Leucos asks him to come up with a name for himself to differentiate the two... at which point the player is finally allowed to input a name.
* In ''VideoGame/RuneFactory3'', before you learn someone's name or if you hear someone talking in the distance but cannot see him, his name is listed as "???".
* The final boss of ''VideoGame/ManaKhemiaAlchemistsOfAlRevis''. [[spoiler:It's Vayne's LiteralGenie SplitPersonality, which obviously doesn't have a name of its own.]]
* ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' labels unidentified units (ones that haven't fought one of your units yet) with question marks and their status screens are also question marks. In addition, bosses with very high HP (over 100,000 in ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration'') have a ???????? HP count.
** This trope is combined with shadowed portraits (or a generic outline) to conceal the identities of characters in certain dialogue scenes (usually villains plotting). The effect is occasionally spoiled by someone's distinctive hairstyle.
* ''VideoGame/ZoneOfTheEnders: The Fist of Mars'' does this with any character you currently do not know who is. Using the same number of ?'s as letters in their name, as well as silhouetting their image. However, a keen eye may reveal a couple of identities before the game does.
* In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'', [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext the hand in the Stock Pot Inn's toilet]] is entered in Link's Bomber Notebook as "???". In a MythologyGag, the same character appears in the past in ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOracleGames Oracle of Ages]]'' and in ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword Skyward Sword]]''.
** Also in ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' we have, in ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Ocarina of Time]]'' the connected places of [[spoiler:Dampé's grave]] and the windmill, both identified as "?" despite the locations of both entrances being obvious.
** Furthermore, in ''[[UpdatedRerelease Majora's Mask 3D]]'' the [[spoiler:inside of the Moon]] is labeled as "???" if you save, quit, and look at the save file to load it.
* Played with in ''VideoGame/TheBindingOfIsaac'', where a unlockable character [[spoiler: and final boss of ''Wrath of the Lamb'']] is called ??? (alternatively referred to as Blue Baby.) Unidentified pill types are also labelled as ??? before they're used.
* ''VideoGame/KickMaster'': "You have found the ?? magic. This magic will ??" [[spoiler:It allows you to see hidden items.]]
* In the arcade version of ''VideoGame/ArtOfFighting'', Mr. Karate had no name. Instead, there was only a "?" beneath his character portrait. "Mr. Karate" was actually a FanNickname, which Creator/{{SNK}} [[AscendedFanon eventually adopted into canon.]]
* In ''VideoGame/AnimalCrossing: New Leaf'', your secretary Isabelle's name is written as "???" until she introduces herself following your inauguration.
* In ''VideoGame/ProjectXZone'', all characters whose names have not yet been said are identified as "???" even though [[StreetFighter for]] [[VideoGame/MegaManX some]], it should be painfully obvious who they are. This also creates a bit of InterfaceSpoiler in the cutscene that introduces [[VideoGame/GodsEaterBurst Soma, Alisa]] and [[VideoGame/ResonanceOfFate Vashyron.]] When Soma asks for Alisa and Lindow to tell him what the hell's going on, "Lindow" speaks up but the name on his text box still reads "???", hinting that he's not actually Lindow.
* The [[{{Playstation2}} PS2]] [[FightingGame fighter]] ''[[Manga/SaintSeiya Saint Seiya: The Sanctuary]]'' has "Gemini ???" as a character. In the series the game is based on, his name is revealed to be [[spoiler:Gemini Kanon]].
* The secret planet in ''VideoGame/KirbySuperStar'''s "Milky Way Wishes" is named "?". Its name was changed in ''[[UpdatedRerelease Kirby Super Star Ultra]]''...to "???".
* In ''Beyblade Evolution,'' when fighting Kyoya for the first time, he refuses to introduce himself to the player until the player battles him, so, for the entire fight, Kyoya is known as "???" until the battle is won.
* Sarn Kamina in the opening of ''VideoGame/TelepathTactics''. [[BigBad Tarion]] is also referred to as "???" until Emma calls him by name in the final arc, even though it's pretty obvious who he is since his name is mentioned prior to that.

!!Non-Video Game Examples:
* The title of one episode of ''Series/{{Lost}}'' is, you guessed it, "'''?'''" (pronounced "question mark").
* One time in ''Series/DoctorWho'', when the Seventh Doctor had to sign a guestbook, he wrote a really big question mark.
* The lead singer of [[Music/QuestionMarkAndTheMysterians ? and the Mysterians]], a band most famous for their hit "96 Tears".
* In ''VideoGame/TheSpecialists'', one character actually goes by Question Mark, or Mark.
* It's not uncommon in a live-action role playing game to see a character whose nametag reads only "???". It just means that not everyone present recognizes that person, and players who know them will have "??? is Bob" or somesuch on their character sheet.
* ''The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel)'' by Ellen Raskin says at the beginning of the book that Leon Carillon "changed his name to ?". What the "?" ''really'' stands for is part of the solution of the mystery.
* In ''WebVideo/DemoReel'', the five main characters who make movies are [[SmallNameBigEgo Donnie DuPre]], [[TheDitz Rebecca Stoné]], [[ButtMonkey Tacoma Narrows]], [[MysteriousPast Carl Copenhagen]], and [[OnlyOneName Quinn]]. Because the last of these only has one name, the credits list his name as "Quinn ???????".
* In ''WebAnimation/TurnaboutStorm'', Ditzy Doo/Derpy Hooves/Bright Eyes/[[MemeticBystander the gray pegasus with the bubble Cutie Mark]] keeps insisting that her name is different from whatever Twilight Sparkle is calling her, [[IHaveManyNames changing it every time]]. The [[PaintingTheMedium text boxes change correspondingly]]... until [[EvenTheSubtitlerIsStumped they apparently give up]] and just start calling her a string of question marks.
* The German New Wave group/performer Nena (of "99 Luftballons" fame) has a song titled "?".
* ''Roleplay/DestroyTheGodmodder'': Used for whenever an entity's alignment or anything else about them has not yet been revealed. Be it their hit points, their power, and sometimes even what they do.
** Also invoked by players who will use question marks when they don't want others to know what it is that they're summoning.
* ''Series/BurnNotice'' manages to combine this with FunWithSubtitles, while simultaneously PlayedForDrama. When Michael confronts [[TerroristWithoutACause Simon]], the subtitles list him as a Simon; but instead of a description all there is a "?", showing how little is known about him.
* In ''Film/FromRussiaWithLove'', Blofled is listed in the credits as played by "?"
* In the ''{{Discworld}}'', the technophobic Sam Vimes, when dealing with the local analogue of a smart phone. becomes ''Insert Name Here'' to the demon driving the machine. Sam is too busy/unwilling to read a manual that is five or six times the size of the actual device (never a good sign) and the demon's programming is too inflexible for it to bypass the rote method from the mnual. So Vimes remains ''Insert Name Here''.