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No Need for Names
"What's your name,' Coraline asked the cat. 'Look, I'm Coraline. Okay?'
Cats don't have names,' it said.
No?' said Coraline.
No,' said the cat. 'Now you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names."

This is when a character or group of characters have no names, and don't see the point in having them. This is not merely when their name is never revealed, but when they actually have never been referred to by a name or assigned a name. Such characters are prone to having a Fan Nickname assigned to them, since it's kind of hard to discuss characters without a way to refer to them. If the characters in the show feel compelled to call them something, you may run into Only Known by Their Nickname, Everyone Calls Him Barkeep, or he might even be referred to by others only by the name of his nation, tribe, or species. But the character himself will not adopt this as a name.

Compare Nameless Narrative. No Name Given, Only Known by Their Nickname and Everyone Calls Him Barkeep are subtropes. Contrast with Planet of Steves, where all the characters have the same exact names.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comicbooks 
  • In Green Lantern, the Indigo Tribe members do not usually have names, though most take on names to interact with others more easily.

    Film 

    Literature 

  • Discworld
    • In Interesting Times, Victor is on the beach talking to the animals that have been given sentience and language by Holy Wood. They don't have have names, and Victor inadvertently insults them when he says the mouse should be named Squeakers and the bunny, Thumper.
    • In Men at Arms, Angua is very explicit about the fact that wolves (unlike either dogs or werewolves) don't have names. Gaspode has trouble wrapping his mind around the concept.
    • The Fifth Elephant: Gaspode explains the same thing to Carrot when they "interrogate" a wolf for information on Angua's wereabouts. The book also features a wolf with a name, Gavin, who is an old friend of Angua. It's not so much his name as the name of somebody he ate, but it will do for human interactions.
    • The Auditors of Reality do not have names, because that suggests individuality, which is lethal to them.
  • The cat in Coraline does not have a name, as cats don't use or need them.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold, a female slave is assigned to Hugh Farnham, and she doesn't have a name. He ends up calling her 'kitten' after the cute way she curled up in bed when she was tired.
  • In the Star Trek novel, The Three Minute Universe, the allegedly Always Chaotic Evil "Sackers" have no names. When a human calls them a name, they consider it a compliment and use it as a name, and Hilarity Ensues.

     Live Action TV  

  • In The Prisoner, everyone is referred to by numbers rather than by a name. Be seeing you.
  • LOST: The Smoke Monster has never been named on the show. This has led to more than one scene where characters who were not in the main cast from the start wonder what exactly is meant by "the monster," or otherwise are forced to go out of their way to explain.
  • In Red Dwarf, the Cat is just called "The Cat", because Cats don't use names. They tell each other apart by their individual scent.
    • According to the novel, the Cat is also so self-absorbed that the idea someone doesn't know who he is is incomprehensible.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the only Changelings who have names are the 100 who were sent out to live among the other races of the universe; the rest reside in the Great Link where their bodies and minds become one.
    Odo: You haven't told me your name.
    Female Changeling: What use would I have for a name?
    Odo: To differentiate yourself from the others.
    Female Changeling: I don't.

    Toys 

  • In BIONICLE, most Warrior-class Skrall are nameless, and are only allowed to have names if they are awarded one by their leader.

     Video Games  

  • Mass Effect 2: Legion (to Shepard's frustration) didn't have a name until EDI gave it one on the Normandy. Even so, it never refers to itself as Legion, and only adopted the name to help organic creatures identify with it.
    • Similarly, Sovereign seems to have no need for names in Mass Effect 1 (it never states that it is a name, and the word is also a title appropriate to its nature), and dismisses being referred to as "Reaper". Mass Effect 2 reveals that Sovereign did have a name (Nazara), but apparently it didn't feel any need to reveal it to organics. The only other Reaper individually referred to is Harbinger, and that is also pretty clearly just a title, not its real name.
      Sovereign: In the end, what they chose to call us is irrelevant. We simply are.

    Webcomics 

  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, according to Word of God, the Suicide Fairies from Gillitie Wood have no names prior to becoming human.
    • As shown later, getting names is a quite big deal to them, and seems to imply full adaptation into human society (apart from accidental namings, that is). Normally they refer to each other by insults.

     Western Animation  

  • In Gargoyles, the gargoyles traditionally use no names among themselves; Goliath is only called this by the humans. When they arrive in New York the others finally decide to adopt names based on local landmarks and start using them amongst themselves. Most other clans in the world seem to pick up this habit over time as well, presumably because of close contact with humans. (And convenience, according to Word of God.)
  • In the Lyle the Kindly Viking Episode of VeggieTales, a scallion passes by during the Silly Songs segment. Larry asks his name, and he replies "I don't have a name. I've been around since Show One and they still haven't given me a name."

Nom de MomNaming ConventionsEveryone Calls Him Barkeep

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