Many years ago, Alice Troper married Bob Laconic and changed her last name to his. Their daughter Carol, however, opts to take Alice's last name instead of Bob's.
Reasons for Carol Troper's use of her mother's maiden name vary. Maybe she had a huge falling out with her dad, maybe she's challenging traditional gender norms, or maybe she just doesn't like Bob's last name. In-story this can be used to hide the relationship between two characters until it's time for The Reveal
As a general rule of thumb, this trope should apply to children who originally went by their father's last name and made the change later, whether self-motivated or otherwise.
This trope does not apply to illegitimate children who use their mother's name because they can't go by their father's—the use of the mother's name should be a choice, not a necessity.
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's name instead of his father's, 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 not full-blooded or even half-siblings.
- In Code Geass, Lelouch vi Britannia and Nunnally vi Britannia go by their deceased mother's maiden name of Lamperouge to disguise their identities.
- And from the same series, Kallen goes by her Japanese mom's name, Kozuki, when she's working with the Rebellion rather than her Brittanian 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 Brittanian carries many more rights than being an "Eleven" or Japanese person.
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- In Live Free Or Die Hard, John McClane's daughter uses her mother's maiden name Genero to distance herself from her father; a Call Back to the original, where his wife had done the same after she moved to a new job in California (that is, she changed it to Genero, not her mothers 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.
- 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.
- 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?"
- 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 dualogy, 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.
- In Fate/stay night and the prequel series Fate/Zero, Ilyasviel von Einzbern is only ever referred to with her mother'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 Eizbern 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's surname because her father, Kirei Kotomine essentially abandoned her after her mother committed suicide. Like with the above this is used to hide their relationship from the viewer until the appropriate time.
- 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 his wife'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, Lindesfarne takes on her stepmother's surname.
- 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.
- In The Simpsons, when Lisa learns that Homer had been betting against her on crossword competitions, she starts going by Lisa Bouvier.
- 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. Chesh goes so far as to pass her mother's maiden name on to her daughter, along with her husband's name.
- 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.
- Young Pablo Ruiz since ca. 1898 used his mother's family surname Picasso and became famous as Pablo Picasso. (Some have theorized that this may have been because Ruiz is a fairly common name in Spain).
- Somewhat 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.
- 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.