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Anime and Manga
- In the original Japanese version, of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Katsuya Jounouchi's sister Shizuka does this, taking her mother's maiden name Kawai. Their parents are divorced and Shizuka lives with her mother. The 4Kids dub averts this by having Serenity still use Wheeler.
- Portgas D. Ace of One Piece uses his mother Portgas D. Rouge's name instead of the name of his father Gol D. Roger, feeling he owes her greatly while the fact of who his father is has caused him nothing but grief. This also hides the fact that he and Luffy are neither full-blooded nor even half-siblings; Luffy's grandfather, Garp, and Roger were worthy opponents and Fire-Forged Friends, and Roger asked Garp to take care of Ace before dying.
- Code Geass:
- Kallen goes by her Japanese mom's name, Kozuki, when she's working with the Rebellion rather than her Britannian father's name, Stadfeldt. This serves the dual purpose of disguising her identity and showing that she identifies more with her mom's side of the family, as well as a form of rebellion since being a Britannian carries many more rights than being an "Eleven" or Japanese person.
- In the audio drama Stage 0.916, where Lelouch first meets Rivalz Cardemonde, it is said that Rivalz goes by his mother's maiden name because he does not get along with his father.
- The main character of Oishinbo, Yamaoka Shiro, is the son of famous artist and gourmet Kaibara Yuzan, but took up his mother's surname because of his beef with his father.
- Kurisu Makise from Steins;Gate has a different last name from her father, Dr. Nakabichi because of a falling out they had when she was younger and she disproved one of his theories. Later revealed in the first drama CD to be an aversion, since Dr. Nakabachi is not his real name. It's actually Shouichi Makise. Like many examples on this page this is done to hide their relationship until The Reveal.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion contains an interesting variation in that both father and son go by the mother's surname. Gendo was originally named Rokubungi but changed his name when he married Yui Ikari, and some supplemental materials imply that this is because she was the daughter of a SEELE member and/or Gendo was trying to escape his pastnote . It's also used symbolically to show just how central Yui is to both of their character arcs and the series as a whole.
- Rebuild of Evangelion subverts the trope from the original series in that Gendo was always Ikari, and Yui's original name was Ayanami, but it still counts for this trope in a way since Yui's clone Rei is given the surname Ayanami, and Shinji finding out Yui's original name is part of the overall reveal about Rei.
- Brad and Luke of Green Blood use their mother's surname, Burns, instead of their father's, King. This is due primarily to the fact that Edward King killed their mother, and Brad's goal from the start of the series and later Luke's is to find and kill Edward.
- In Naruto, the titular character has his mother Kushina's maiden name, Uzumaki. Reasoning for this varies among the fandom, but the most commonly accepted theory, which is also the likeliest to be true, is that it was done to protect him. His father was the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, and he had many enemies; that was one of the main reasons why Naruto was never told about his parents.
- Similar to Yu-Gi-Oh example, Takeru Takaishi of Digimon is a child of divorce who bears his mother Natsuko's surname since said divorce.
- Butterflies, Flowers: Choko's family sold their Big Fancy House to pay for their former servants' retirement. Domoto was so disgusted by his parents' refusal to do anything in return after prospering he took his mother's maiden name.
- In Saki, it's revealed in the character profiles that mahjong pro Masae Atago kept her maiden name, which means that her daughters, Hiroe and Kinue Atago, got their names from her.
- In Ai Yori Aoshi, Kaoru Hanabishi retakes his mother's last name, Honjou, as he marries Aoi and they properly start a life together.
- Psycho-Pass: Nobuchika Ginoza's surname actually came from his grandmother who is guardian of Tomomi Masaoka, his father. It was never stated when he changed his surname but it led from his strained relationship of his father who ended up becoming a latent criminal.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Ed and Al have their Mom's surname, Elric, and it's the only one any of their family go by. It turns out that their father Hohenheim doesn't actually have a last name, as he's a Really A Thousand Years Old former slave.
- In Oniisama e..., Mariko Shinobu takes up her mother Hisako's maiden name, Shikiya, after her parents' scandalous divorce.
- Rachel Grey in X-Men, formerly Rachel Summers. (Daughter of an alternate future Jean Grey and Scott Summers, at least by what's in print.) However, this is a recent thing, spurred by her feelings about Cyclops's affair with Emma Frost, as for years, she went by "Summers".
- In Spider-Man, Peter's clone (who has all the same memories) takes the name "Ben Reilly," the surname coming from Peter's adoptive mother, Aunt May (née Reilly). In this case it's just a convenient way to hold onto his identity while trying to forge an independent one. (It also helps in the story that he and Peter are just uncannily identical cousins.)
- Similarly, Peter's Ultimate Marvel successor, Miles Morales and his father, Jefferson like the aforementioned Shinji and Gendo Iraki, go by Rio's last name, rather than Jefferson's original last name, "Davis". Part of this is Jefferson trying to get away from his past as a thug.
- Recently, Peter's friend Harry Osborn legally changed his name to Harry Lyman, after his mother's maiden name. Given that his father Norman Osborn is an absolute sociopath who tried to have Harry killed to further his own agenda, Harry's desire to distance himself from the Osborn legacy is understandable.
- Syrin (Theresa Cassidy) went by her mother's surname when she was younger. The extent this went to varies depending on the era and the writer, with even what exactly her mother's last name was being rather fluid. (It was either Rourke or O'Rourke.) Thus Syrin's sometimes referred to as Theresa Maeve Rourke-Cassidy, Theresa Rourke-Cassidy, Theresa O'Rourke, Theresa Maeve Cassidy, etc. Matters aren't likely helped in that she's used her mother's name as a pseudonym.
- In Les Maîtres de l'Orge, the American journalist Jay Simpson actually goes by his middle name and his mother's surname. It wouldn't have been so easy for him to approach Julienne if he had gone by his actual name, Christopher J. Texel.
- In the Hotel Transylvania fic How to Zing, when Martha first meets Dracula she gives her mother's maiden name, Laubode. She does this because she's Human, and doesn't want Dracula to track her down. As anyone who's seen the film will know, she will later take this name permanently.
- In the Naruto story Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox, just like in the canon series, Naruto takes his surname from Kushina, although the reason for it in this continuity hasn't been revealed yet, especially since it's been confirmed that Minato is alive and works for the military.
- In Final Fantasy VII fic The Fifth Act, Cloud's surname turns out be his mother's surname, since she never got married. This becomes important when the time-traveling Cloud poses as his younger self's paternal uncle, his surname goes unnoticed until Genesis pulls the thread and realizes that Cloud has the wrong surname for a supposed uncle.
- The Reveal at the end of Down Periscope is that Brad Stepenak is actually Admiral Winslow's son. He uses his mother's maiden name to avoid patronage and to rebel against his father.
- John Connor in The Terminator, his father's surname being Reese.
- In Live Free or Die Hard, John McClane's daughter uses her mother's maiden name Gennero to distance herself from her father; a Call-Back to the first film, where John's wife had done the same after she moved to a new job in California (that is, she changed it to Gennero, not her mother's maiden name).
- In Prometheus, it's implied that a falling out with her father, Peter Weyland made Meredith Vickers not use his name.
- Star Trek Into Darkness features Doctor Carol Wallace, a last-minute assignment to the Enterprise. Spock learns that her real name is in fact Doctor Carol Marcus, having signed onto the mission under a false name to avoid drawing her father's attention.
- Spectre: Franz Oberhauser resented his father for showing kindness to Bond when he was young, so he took his mother's maiden name, and lived under the pseudonym of Ernest Blofeld. The reveal is foreshadowed a few scenes prior, where he gives Bond a variation of the "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die," line, and the appearance of his white fluffy cat.
- Ant-Man sees Hank and Janet Pym's daughter, Hope, go by her mother's maiden name, "Van Dyne", due to her having a strained relationship with Hank.
- In the Vorkosigan Saga, Miles Vorkosigan uses his mother's maiden name in his secret identity as Admiral Miles Naismith. Per Naismith's cover story he is a clone of M. Vorkosigan, hence of the same genetic offspring and hence legally entitled to the name. Additionally, even in his non-cover identity Miles Vorkosigan's middle name is Naismith, as a substitute since his paternal grandfather forbade that he should be named after him.
- In the Cal Leandros books, brothers Cal and Niko keep their mother's name, not because they got along with her, but because Cal's father is a nameless monster and Niko didn't meet his until he was an adult.
- In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the Metis narrator is named Chief Bromden. He inherited "Chief" from his Indian dad, Chief Tee Ah Millatoona, but "Bromden" from his white mom.
- In Tamora Pierce's The Immortals series, Daine starts the story not knowing who her father is, thus leaving her with no choice but to go by the name Sarrasri, or "Sarra's daughter", which marks her as a bastard child. In the fourth book she finds out her father is Weiryn, God of the Hunt and briefly considers changing her name to Weirynsra before deciding that she'd been through so much with her mother's name and that she should keep it.
- Arn: The Knight Templar: Bengt Elinsson uses a matronymic instead of a patronymic because he wants to distance himself as much as possible from his violent, abusive and alcoholic father.
- In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel The Wheel of Ice, Josie Laws MacRae, whose mother's maiden name was Josephine Laws, drops the MacRae at some point prior to the birth of her daughter, Joss Laws, due to her pride in the Laws family history. Joss and her daughter Jo seem to keep the Laws name when they get married.
Live Action TV
- In the pilot episode of That Girl Anne Marie considers using her mother's maiden name as her last name because - per her agent - everyone thinks "Marie" is her middle name. "Anne Marie what?"
- On Doctor Who, River Song's birth name, Melody Pond, is from her mother's maiden name.
- Referenced in My Family when Susan says she'd like to be Susan Ryman. "Harper is my husband's name, Riggs was my father's name, but Ryman was my grandmother's name. She chose it herself, no men involved."
- Maury: Maury Povich (IIRC) once interviewed a woman who's ex-husband killed their daughters; he spared the boys so that they could carry on his name. As you can imagine, Mom decided to put this trope into effect after Dad was taken to prison.
Mythology And Religion
- In Final Fantasy VIII, Rinoa Heartilly goes by her mother Julia's maiden name to disassociate herself from her father, Fury Caraway, who is a general in the military of the same nation she's a member of La Résistance against.
- Widespread Final Fantasy VIII Fanon also holds that Squall Leonhart's surname comes from his mother Raine, since his father's surname turns out to be something different, but Raine's maiden name is never given so there's no way to confirm the theory. Quite possibly Edea made up the surnames for all the orphans under her care.
- A variation in Tales of the Abyss where Guy Cecil uses a slightly different version of his mother's maiden name as a cover for his true heritage.
- In Alpha Protocol, Madison Saint James uses her mother's maiden name after having a falling out with her father, Alan Parker.
- Happens in the first game of the Persona 2 duology, Innocent Sin. After his father's death, both Jun and his mother Junko changed their surname from Kashihara to Kurosu (Junko's maiden name). In Eternal Punishment, however, Akinari is alive, and the entire family has the surname "Kashihara".
- Roll Casket from Mega Man Legends goes by her mother's surname. Precisely why is never explained, but similar to the Evangelion example above it may be because her maternal grandfather Barrel Casket was the head of a small but respected treasure hunting firm and her father was adopted into the family business.
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has Jennifer Scott, Edward Kenway's daughter with his first wife Caroline, decide to keep using her mother's surname even after she reconnects with her father and begins to live with him, since she was solely raised by her mother and never even met her father until after her mother had already died.
- In Fate/stay night and the prequel series Fate/Zero, Ilyasviel von Einzbern is only ever referred to with her mother Irisviel's family name, which helps hide the fact that she's Kiritsugu Emiya's biological daughter and therefore Shiro's stepsister. It's implied to be part this trope since she believes that her father abandoned her (in reality he tried to get back to her before he died but was prevented by Ilya's grandfather, who hated Kiritsugu for his actions at the end of the Holy Grail War) and because the von Einzbern family is a very powerful and ancient magus family compared to Kiritsugu's.
- Her alternate self in Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA keeps the trope for some reason, despite being a normal girl whose parents (who are still alive) had broken ties with the main von Einzbern family. Doubly confusing with the fact that Shirou took on Kiritsugu's surname upon adoption.
- Caren Ortensia in Fate/hollow ataraxia also uses her mother Claudia's surname because her father, Kirei Kotomine essentially abandoned her after Claudia died via commiting suicide. Like with the above this is used to hide their relationship from the viewer until the appropriate time.
- In Kara no Shoujo, one of the missing girls that the main character is investigating, Nishizono Yui, took her mother's last name after her parents' divorce. Discovering her true surname, Kusaka, is what clues Reiji in solving the first dismemberment case.
- Ruby Rose from RWBY goes by her late mother's last name, but she is on good terms with her father. That, and the fact that her half-sister Yang uses their father's last name is most likely because while Ruby's mother, Summer Rose, was a caring woman who lovingly raised both girls even though one of them wasn't even her biological daughter, Yang's mother Raven Branwen is implied to have walked out on Taiyang not long after giving birth.
- Abstract Gender: A couple of years after Ryan was born, his father left... but before going, legally changed his son's last name to his mother's maiden name.
- Something*Positive has a variant: when Jason marries, he takes Aubrey's name as a sign of his disdain for his dad.
- In Kevin & Kell, the FAQ reveals that Kell persuaded Rudy to take on her surname, Dewclaw, after the death of his father, Randy Foxglove. After Kevin marries Kell he and his daughter Lindesfarne take on Kell's name because his family disowned him.
- Kimiko Ross of Dresden Codak was originally Kimiko Kusanagi, but changed her name after she was estranged from her father and her mother died suddenly. In the timeline of the story she sees her father again briefly (and flips him off from her hospital bed), but some time after this he dies and she continues going by her mother's surname, even when it would probably help her career to use her father's name because of the renown associated with him in the city of Nephilopolis, which he actually founded. Ironically it's eventually revealed Kusanagi isn't his real name either, he was born Kim Young-Soo and isn't even Japanese, but Korean. So Kim has been using his name for herself without realizing it.
- In The Simpsons, when Lisa learns that Homer had been betting against her on crossword competitions, she starts going by Lisa Bouvier. Marge discourages this, both because she wants them to make up and because she didn't really like that name anyway. (Kids used to call her Marge Boobier.)
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Since Princess Star's father married into the royal family from a warrior clan, both he and his daughter use the Queen's family name "Butterfly". In fact, the whole royal family seems to follow a maternal line of descent.
- In Young Justice, Word of God says that Cheshire/Jade Nguyen uses her mother's maiden name because of her issues with her father, Sportsmaster/Lawrence Crock. Averted by her sister, Artemis, despite having similar issues with him.
- Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels takes her last name from her mother, as does her brother and father. Mandalorian culture is less concerned about gender and more about rank, and since her mother outranked her father, she was the one whose name was passed on. There's also minor character Mart Mattin who takes his name from his mother, although the reasoning is never mentioned.
- Given in Spanish and Portuguese tradition (plus the countries those two colonized) children have the surnames of both parents, quite a few people use the mother's family name. For instance, Pablo Ruiz & Picasso begun with the former surname, then since ca. 1898 used his mother's and became famous as Pablo Picasso. And similarly, former Prime Minister of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, usually went by his mother's name "Zapatero" rather than his father's name Rodríguez, but because of issues he and his mother had with his father.
- French actress Catherine Dorleac changed her last name to Deneuve (her mother's maiden name), to avoid being publicly associated with her (at that time) much more famous sister Françoise Dorleac.
- Rosemarie Magdalena Albach was the daughter of the Austrian actor Wolf Albach-Retty (scion of two famous acting families) and the German actress Magda Schneider. When she began her own acting career, at first under the tutelage of her mother, she called herself Romy Schneider.
- Ryan Joseph Wilson changed to his mother's surname when his parents divorced. You know him today as Ryan Giggs, Manchester United association football player.
- The great-great grandfather of Oliver Cromwell was Richard Williams, son of Katherine Cromwell and Morgan Williams. Katherine was sister to the famous minister Thomas Cromwell. Richard Williams went by Richard Cromwell, after his mother and uncle.
- Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam is a rare male example. The man he thought was his father was actually his stepfather and his biological father had already died. So, he decided to change his name to his mother's maiden name.
- A few common or semi-common English surnames, particularly from The West Country and the areas around Wales, are originally matronymics. The most common is Madison (meaning "Maud's son"); another reasonably common one is "Izzard"/"Izard" (son of Isabel/Elizabeth.
- Before taking on the Elvis moniker, the young musician born Declan McManus was already using his mother's maiden name of "Costello" as a stage name.
- Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr, Marshal of the First French Empire and great military reformer of Louis XVIII's reign, is often referred to as just "Saint-Cyr", which is actually a name he chose after his mother; he's also commonly called Gouvion Saint-Cyr, but never just Gouvion.
- Burt Ward, who played Robin in Batman, was born Bert Gervis. He took on his mother's maiden name and changed the spelling of his first name when he began his acting career because he believed it would be easier to say and remember.
- Chilean stand-up comedian Alejandro González Legrand is known by the audience as Coco Legrand, using his mother's surname as a part of his stage name.