[[quoteright:266:[[Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Nominal_Importance.gif]]]]
[[caption-width-right:266:Okay, Hobgoblin Mom Appearing in This One Panel.]]

->'''Jason:''' You're not gonna die on the planet, Guy.\\
'''Guy:''' I'm not? Then what's my last name? ...Nobody knows! Do you know why? Because my character isn't important enough for a last name! Because I'm gonna die five minutes in!
-->-- ''Film/GalaxyQuest''

''Only people that are relevant to the plot or a {{sidequest}} will be blessed with names. Everyone else will be [[NamelessNarrative nameless]] or be referred to with [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep generic or descriptive titles]].''

For example, if the town guard is named Samuel Winthrop, you should probably make a mental note of him, as he'll very likely wind up being essential to your progress. If his name is Town Guard, however, you can safely ignore him, as he is superfluous and has no bearing on anything. At most, he'll provide some useful [[MrExposition exposition]], but it's guaranteed that he'll never need to be sought out again.

From a gameplay standpoint, [[AcceptableBreaksFromReality this makes perfect sense]] and may even be a JustifiedTrope. By only giving important people names, you can reasonably narrow down the people you need to talk to, which curtails much of the tedium of having to TalkToEveryone.

Corollaries include:

* Only relevant characters will have voice-overs.
* If the game gives characters a CharacterPortrait in their dialogue box (as ''VideoGame/BatenKaitos'' or ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'' do), then only important characters will have unique portraits (or even portraits at all).
** Conversely, if the character in question does have a name but is still rather unimportant, the portrait will most likely be missing instead.

A common exception that proves the desirability of the rule is when early non-important NPC's have names and faces, but the writers start running out of time or patience and just put in generic people later.

This is the naming equivalent of YouALLLookFamiliar, and it is caused by TheLawOfConservationOfDetail. Contrast with TheDeadHaveNames (where characters are named posthumously to memorialize them) and HeHadAName (where a dead character's name is invoked specifically to send the message that the deceased ''wasn't'' just a bit of meaningless backdrop).

!!Video game examples:


[[folder: Action Adventure]]
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'':
** Played straight in many Zelda games, where the people with unique names and character designs usually have a good chance of being one of the sages you need to rescue/assist later in the story. It's most noticeable in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkBetweenWorlds'', where literally every uniquely named/designed character you meet in your travels turns out to be a sage in the second half of the game.
** Notably inverted in ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild Breath of the Wild]]'', where most [=NPCs=], even trivial ones, have actual names. The ones that ''do'' have generic names like "Traveler" are the ones you need to look out for, because they're Yiga clan members in disguise.
* ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'' gives names to most of the characters, as well as a small introduction sequence and their name on a briefly appearing scroll. Each of these names is accompanied by a title, which starts to get silly with minor characters, where the title simply describes what they are no matter how obvious it is or whether you've already been told that. Even some of the monsters have personal names and titles, and there's also "Newly Dubbed: Sleepy", a bear who is, you guessed it, sleepy.
* Thoroughly averted in ''VideoGame/TheGodfather''. Everyone has a name, which you can see by targeting them, so you won't be figuring out importance by name here.
* ''Franchise/SpyroTheDragon'' series: Every NPC and collectable has a name but the enemies, at least usually, don't seem to. Justifiable in at least the first game, as they were actually made out of gems.
* Kind of done in both the 2D and 3D ''SuperMarioBros'' series platform games. You know whether a character will be important or a boss if their name is in the level/mission title. No guesses who the boss is in Bowser's, Roy's or [other boss name]'s Castle or Fortress. Similarly, it's fairly obvious a mission title like 'Big Bob-omb on the Summit', 'Gooper Blooper Breaks Out', or 'Kingfin's Fearsome Waters' will have you battle a character with said name and you'll at least get a star/shine sprite for doing so.
* ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersia2008''. There are barely any characters shown to begin with -- a grand total of eight -- and of those, only two have names: [[{{Sidekick}} Elika]] and [[BigBad Ahriman]].

* Even in the character-based ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series, there are some characters who do have sprites, but no known names, most obviously the Judge. Of course, any character with a sprite will end up being relevant to a case eventually - even the unnamed Bellboy in the series' second case. There are also characters who are rarely referred to by their names, but have them nonetheless (such as Penny Nichols from the first game's third case), but even they tend to have a piece of information you'll need to know.
* ''HypeTheTimeQuest'' averts this by going out of its way to name almost all the {{NPC}}s, down to Maliq, a one-off thug who attacks you. Though there is the exception of a few guards and an executioner.
* When talking to one of the characters in the flash game ''Nicholas' Weird Adventure 2'', his character portrait doesn't show a picture; he just gets text from the author claiming the character is not important enough to take the time to make a portrait of him. As the discussion goes on, the author changes his mind and adds one.
* ''VideoGame/YumeNikki'': Aside from the Effects and Madotsuki herself, absolutely nothing is named. Despite this, {{Fan Nickname}}s have been created for just about everything, and are almost universally accepted as their true names, such as "Uboa" for a particularly memorable JumpScare character.

* In ''[[VideoGame/SoulSeries Soul Calibur 3]]'''s "Chronicles of the Sword" mode, a lot of EliteMooks on the field are named, but all that comes of the names is a strength boost. Regular soldiers just go by the name of their banner.

[[folder: First Person Shooter]]
* In the expansion to ''[[VideoGame/StarTrekEliteForce Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force]]'' the player expands his/her arsenal with a tricorder, which can, among other things, be used to scan various {{NPC}}s. In keeping with the series' RedShirt tradition, important [=NPCs=] appear with their name intact, while others are simply called "crewman" by the device.
* Every single friendly soldier in the ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'' series has a name. Characters [[RedshirtArmy not important to the plot]] have randomly generated names, but they're names nonetheless.
* Regular enemies in the ''VideoGame/AceCombat'' series are identified on the HUD simply with their aircraft model names. However, the rare ace pilots additionally have their callsigns appended to the plane model, marking them as priority targets, since they are usually much more dangerous than regular {{mook}}s. ''[[VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar The Belkan War]]'', which shifts the gameplay focus from blasting through nameless hordes to more personal one-on-one dogfights, takes this trope to the extreme, with [[http://acecombat.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_aces_in_Ace_Combat_Zero 169 named enemy aces]] (more than the rest of the series combined), ''each'' of whom has a unique short biography unlocked after shooting him/her down.
* Played straight in the first ''VideoGame/TimeSplitters'' game, where only the player characters and a few of the joke characters get names, but averted in ''VideoGame/TimeSplitters2'' and ''[[VideoGame/TimeSplittersFuturePerfect Future Perfect]]'', where almost every random human {{Mook}} you fight in the story missions is given a name, and a few of them even get backstories and established personalities (although they can only be seen after unlocking them as playable characters). ''Future Perfect'' [[{{UpToEleven}} even gave the zombies names]].

* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' manages to avert this trope with most {{NPC}}s (except town guards), but there is no risk that you might mistake a NPC as more important: Those that have a quest for you have a golden "!" floating above them, and [=NPCs=] with important services have a subtitle such as <Flightmaster> or <Innkeeper>. Some minor [=NPCs=] don't even have any dialogue. Of course, most [[{{Mooks}} trash mobs]] still don't have names for practical reasons.
* Averted in the Hobopolis clan dungeon in ''VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing'' - all hobos have [[ProceduralGeneration randomly generated names]], and as most of them have one or more nicknames in addition to a first and last name, there are millions of possible combinations. This does result in occasionally fighting [[Music/TheBeatles John Lennon]].
* Played straight in ''VideoGame/RuneScape''. If you see a named NPC, then, even if they aren't plot important, they'll have some humorous interactions available or something. Unlike say, "Ardougne Guard" which you can attack, pickpocket or examine and that's it.
* ''VideoGame/StarWarsGalaxies'' initially averted this trope, in a sense, by having every single NPC in the game given a randomly generated name, for example, names would be like "Luke Skywalker (a farmboy)". However, not long after release, this feature was disabled as it made server start up after maintenance take too long.

[[folder: Real Time Strategy]]
* ''VideoGame/DungeonKeeper'' gives each creature an unique random name.
* ''Myth: The Fallen Lords'' and its sequels likewise avert this to give every living creature (i.e. excluding the undead and such who you wouldn't expect to have names at all) a unique name, and even allows you to rename the units under your command yourself; e.g. that warrior Malory with the 300 kills may just deserve to be called Malory the Great, a title he will carry down the levels for as long as he lives.

* In ''[[VideoGame/AncientDomainsOfMystery ADOM]]'', if you meet an otherwise normal monster or {{NPC}} with a name,they're either important to your quest, or a stronger-than-normal artifact guardian. Have fun figuring out which is which.
* ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress'': All the dwarves have names, as do any visiting humans and elves. But for the monsters to have names they have to slaughter enough dwarves to become important. As creatures which start out with names (dwarves, goblins, humans, etc.) rack up kills, they eventually gain an extension of their original name. Because of this, one can often tell who the local badasses are by looking at who has the longest name(s).
* Something similar happens in ''VideoGame/{{Elona}}'': any NPC related to a quest which is identical across all games will have the exact same name in all games. Shopkeepers, NPC adventures and townsfolk will have randomly selected names which vary from game to game.
* In ''VideoGame/DungeonCrawlStoneSoup'', all the enemies with names are unique and generally much more dangerous than anything you can encounter in the level you're on. Fighting them one-on-one (or running away) is recommended. The exception is Pandemonium lords: four are regular uniques, but since Pandemonium is infinite the game will generate lords with random names and stats as well. Killing uniques is one way to get points in tournaments.

[[folder:Role-Playing Game]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', Yang is married. In early versions of the game, his wife's name was apparently "Yang's wife". Naturally, she is wholly unimportant to the plot. (''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIVTheAfterYears'' gives her a proper name, Sheila, which makes it into the PSP version of ''Final Fantasy IV'' itself as well. She's still not particularly significant to the plot, though.)
* ''Final Fantasy IV: The After Years'' zigzags this a bit. On the one hand, you get PlayerMooks named "White Mage", "Black Mage", "Monk A/B/C", and "Guard A/B/C", who are about as significant as you'd expect. On the other, Ceodore spends all of his chapter and most of Kain's fighting alongside the Hooded Man ([[spoiler:Kain's light side]]), and Rydia, Edge, and Luca wind up tagging along with the Man in Black ([[spoiler:Golbez]]).
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' was especially bad, as the naming screen for every character you eventually got was distinct, meaning there were a couple characters you encountered early on, but didn't use till a while later, [[InterfaceSpoiler that you nonetheless knew would eventually be team members]].
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' totally averts this. With the exception of some random thieves and brigands, ''everyone'' with a speaking part in the many cutscenes gets not only a name, individual character portrait and sprite, but also a ''several-page-long biography'' detailing their lives and connections to the plot. Not only you never get to actually meet the grand majority of these people, most of them are thoroughly unimportant, die in their introductory scene or just plain don't ever show up at all and are just referred to.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'', Played straight and almost {{Deconstructed}} with the Black Mages, who are all named numbers, being mass produced. Even after they gain sentience, they still refer to each other as #86 or #147. Even the leader is #288. Only Vivi has an actual name, and learning about the Black Mages, goes through an existential crisis as he wonders if he too has a number.
* Early on in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'', you ''know'' that Hope's mother isn't gonna make it out of the prologue when her introductory subtitle says only, "Mother." However, we later learn her name was Nora.
* ''VideoGame/FableII'' and ''VideoGame/FableIII'' do this with every random villager you meet. Every non or semi important/useful villager is given at least a first name and a title depicting either their job(shop owners) or their role, housewife, villager etc.
* Mostly played straight in ''VideoGame/GoldenSunDarkDawn'', where pretty much everyone who has a character portrait will have a prominent role in the lore at the very least. Averted with one member of the Belinsk band, Vande, who gets a portrait despite being no more important than the rest of the musicians story-wise.
* ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'', for example, only people that are important have names displayed in their dialogue boxes.
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in ''VideoGame/DragonQuestMonsters: Joker'', where someone in the main town claims he is your rival, but then muses that you probably think of him as "some random blue-haired NPC."
* ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire''. The Old Man might be an exception, though, since he's a quest giver with the name of "Old Man".
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', several mercenaries on side-missions have names and faces, [[EliteMooks usually the tougher ones]]. In the ''Arrival'' DownloadableContent, this is played with by having EnemyChatter about how you're massacring their friends.
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'' goes the opposite direction -- nearly ''all'' humanoid {{NPC}}s have unique names, even bandits who attack you on sight. There are still numerous "Town Guards", though, and although the [=NPCs=] have a ''staggering'' amount of dialog large enough to feel diverse, [[WelcomeToCorneria their spoken lines are far more limited]].
* ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' partially avert this - most [=NPCs=] have unique names. There's still a lot of generic "Fire Mage"s & "Bandit Hedge Wizard"s.
* ''[[VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork Mega Man Battle Network]]'': If you encounter a character with a unique sprite and name, and their name isn't Mayl, Yai, or Yuichiro; than there is a 95% chance you will have to fight their Net Navi at some point. Later Subverted with Mayl, who's Net Navi: Roll, finally becomes a boss in 4, but played straight with her Gutsman, and Glyde starting from 4 onward.
* ''VideoGame/ShadowHearts'' ''everyone'' has a name which is also a capsule description of them. Not an actual name from the game, but an example of what this means would be "Nervous Man Monterey".
* ''VideoGame/LostOdyssey'' and ''VideoGame/EnchantedArms'' use a capsule description as well. Scarily enough, Enchanted Arms uses this in a school that SCREAMS 'main setting of the game'... it's blown up before the prologue.
* All three ''VideoGame/StarOcean'' games do something similar; while some [=NPCs=] will have names, some will have just a title, while others will have both a title and a name.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'', some characters, - a fair share of the possible party members and the heads of most towns - have full voice acting and a 3-D pre-rendered face with close-up animation. The game's manual warns not to assume someone is important just because they have a face, or that someone isn't because they don't. That is mostly good advice, as the characters most likely to get a face are just the ones with the distinctive looks. In addition, it's often possible to determine which [=NPCs=] have some level of importance, either for a quest or simply the ability to converse with the player, by seeing if their description is different from most other [=NPCs=].
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' has, since ''[[VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver Gold & Silver]]'', assigned names to each trainer you meet and gives you a cell phone so you can call them for repeat battles. No word yet why they call ''you'' every five hours to tell you about their adorable Metapod or a Vulpix that got away. Random Grunts for the local villainous team are typically left unnamed however, with the exception of Cipher Peons in ''VideoGame/PokemonColosseum'' and ''VideoGame/PokemonXDGaleOfDarkness''. The ''Manga/PokemonDiamondAndPearlAdventure'' manga makes fun of this by having a recurring mook refer to himself solely by his assigned number: "K-2". (K-2 is pronounced similarly to "''ketsu''", or "''butt''". You can guess what his major identifying feature is...)
* As in most [=RPGs=], ''VideoGame/BaldursGateII'' has lots of unimportant characters without names, but provides something of a LampshadeHanging when the following dialogue option pops up: "You are just a nameless observer. Of what use can you be to me?"
* As mentioned above, ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'' character portraits: with a note to the strange case of the Element shop owner in Termina who has a portrait and name but no real significance. In addition, Leena's portraited brother Una isn't important to the plot. On the flip side, [[GoldfishPoopGang Solt and Peppor]], who ''are'' reasonably significant (certainly more so than Lisa or Una), inexplicably lack portraits.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/LastScenario'' -- every single NPC has a name (characters of any importance have portraits, though).
* ''[[Franchise/ShinMegamiTenseiPersona Persona]]'':
** ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'':
*** It's easy to figure out that Ms. Toriumi, your homeroom teacher is actually [[spoiler:Maya, the Hermit Social Link]], by virtue of the fact that she's the only teacher apart from Mr. Edogawa with a character portrait. This is remedied in ''Persona 3 [[UpdatedRerelease Portable]]'', when most significant [=NPCs=] (including the other teachers) got character portraits as well.
*** On your first day at school, you can talk to several students as you make your way to the teacher's office, some who have portraits and some who don't. Guess which ones end up being Social Links (though none of them are actually named until you start said Social Links).
*** In ''Persona 3 [[UpdatedRerelease Portable]]'' you can have a strange conversation with a man who, while lacking a name (he's called "Man Drinking Alone", has his own CharacterPortrait. It was immediately assumed this man was an EarlyBirdCameo for an upcoming Creator/{{Atlus}} title. Cue cries of IKnewIt when the game ''VideoGame/{{Catherine}}'' was revealed, starring the aforementioned man (whose real name is Vincent).
** In ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'', a rather strange looking kid hits on Yukiko rather early in the game, and judging from his character portrait, you get the distinct impression that he becomes important later (and he does; he's a [[spoiler:minor villain by the name of Mitsuo Kubo]]). The same could be said for Taro Nametame, who is introduced early on and, aside from having an affair with one of the victims, has nothing to do with the story until you find out [[spoiler: he's the one who's been throwing people into the Midnight Channel]]. On the other hand, [[spoiler: the Moel gas station attendant]] lacks both a name and character portrait until ''after'' the big reveal that [[spoiler:she's the GreaterScopeVillain]] in the [[spoiler: true]] ending.
** Interestingly, despite having a character portrait, Mr. Edogawa was never important to either the plot or social link system in ''Persona 3''. In ''Persona 4'', however, he [[spoiler: gives exposition on the legend of Izanagi and Izanami, helping set up one of the sparse hints as to who's ''really'' pulling the strings]].
* ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' partially averts this at early stages of the game, as several [=NPCs=] in the Hive with generic descriptive names have nongeneric dialogue. For example, one gives you a ring she promised you for killing her husband, while another gives you a minor quest. However, they still have no bearing on the plot, for understandable reasons. There are also a few named ones that still don't do anything - no quests, no information, can't get anything from them. And, of course, the most important character, i.e. the protagonist, does not have a name [[spoiler:at least, until the very end.]]
* All the ''VideoGame/WildArms'' games give names to every single NPC; some even let you change their names!
* Played with in ''VideoGame/{{Wild ARMs 5}}''. Many of the NPC's give fetch quests. ''All'' of these NPC's are {{Shout Out}}s to the heroes of the first four ''VideoGame/WildArms'' games, and all of them are identified with e.g. "Serious-Looking Drifter" rather than their actual names.
* Averted to some extent in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'': The best example is with temporary party members - many people you can get in your party only for about ten minutes in one of the {{backstory}}/tutorial quests have tons of unique dialogue, their own battlecries/snarky lines they say when killing things, and in some cases well-developed backstories and personalities, making it impossible for you to tell who is in line for a PlotlineDeath. Of particular note are the other trainee Grey Wardens - there really is nothing that will give away the fact that Daveth and Ser Jory are [[spoiler:{{sacrificial lamb}}s]] while Alistair can be around for the entire rest of the game. Also Jowan, who you can very briefly have in your party, comes with not only his own battlecry, but several, many of which are funny. He's also one of the most three-dimensional characters in the game. You can have him in your party for ten minutes, tops. There was an AbortedArc in which he could join you, so that's probably why.
** However, ''Franchise/DragonAge'' still has generic [=NPCs=] - 'Bandit', 'King's Guard', etc. Notably, the two unnamed [=NPCs=] who can help you reach the top of the Tower of Ishal are forgotten about the moment the PC is overwhelmed by darkspawn.
* This makes collecting the [[OneHundredAndEight 108 Stars]] in the ''VideoGame/{{Suikoden}}'' series a bit easier: Does the character have a portrait and a name? Congratulations, you've probably either met one of the villains or a star (or [[DefeatMeansFriendship both]]). For the rare non-villainous characters who ''aren't'' stars Stars of Destiny? Don't worry, the game will generally clarify things pretty soon by [[PlotlineDeath killing them]].
* ''Videogame/{{Okage}}'':
** Played with where the citizens have amusing titles in the text boxes in place of names, such as "Man with A Frowning Face" or "Young Man Who Believes in Justice". This may also be used until you find out the person's name, such as with [[ParasolofPain Rosalyn]], who was listed as something along the lines of "Hero with A Parasol".
** [[spoiler: Down right {{Deconstructed}} during the final act. The BigBad reveals that this world is a world where everything ''everything'' is governed by classification, especially people so that his daughter can live a life exactly the way she wants: full of adventure. The titles are the actual basis and programming for the character, with everyone just going along with what they are expected to do. This includes your team, from "Hero" Rosalyn who valiantly opposes everything bad and injustice, to "Eccentric Scientist" Kisling, who researches ghosts and collects toe nail clippings. Everyone except Ari, who lacks a title and is such a [[HopeBringer deviant]], someone who can force everyone out of their programming. And indeed, once we find this out, the team begins to break free of their descriptions. You can actually see the {{Foreshadowing}}, because the game has a weird obsession with classifications.]]
* Played straight in ''Videogame/{{Summoner}}'' but averted in ''Videogame/{{Summoner 2}}'', in which everyone you spoke to had a name - except in the Realm of Twilight, in which everyone you can speak to has a title. This is because they actually don't have names, not just because you don't know or care about them. It's worth noting that there are far more [=NPCs=] in the first game than the second.
* Averted for the residents of Tazmily in ''VideoGame/{{Mother 3}}'', who each gets his or her own name despite many of them being completely unimportant. [=NPCs=] from other places, most notably [[spoiler: New Pork City]], are never named, but later on, [[spoiler:you find out there's actually a rather good reason for it.]]
* Completely averted in ''VideoGame/{{Lisa}}'', in which every single enemy, no matter how unimportant, gets a name. It makes it much more difficult to tell who's a recruitable party member as well, since every single character has a unique design. This really drills in the fact that the goons you're fighting are genuine people and are dead and gone once you beat them. In addition, practically every Joy Mutant has a name as well.
** Played straight with a few examples such as "Man Laying On Grass".
* Averted for the most part in ''VideoGame/{{Anachronox}}''. While guys like guards or monks usually have generic names, most [=NPCs=] you encounter in the game have specific names (or failing that, some sort of unique descriptive title).
* Many of the ''VideoGame/{{Ys}}'' games, ''Ark of Napishtim'', ''Origin'', and most remakes in particular, avert this. Every character gets their own name regardless of their importance to the story. In some games, every character gets a portrait as well.
* The ''Franchise/KisekiSeries'' by the same developer does everything it can to avert this. While not all of the over 300 or so NPC characters in the Sky trilogy alone have portraits, the vast majority have names, backstories, and relationships to other characters. Played straight however, with voiced characters. You can tell for example that Josette is more than just a one-off antagonist as she has battle cries, something her brothers notably lack. In their case, they show up later as well, but Josette can be recruited into your party. Or that this Kloe character isn't just a support NPC, she has casting animations and lines, the most spoken lines out of any character, as it so happens.
* Averted by ''VideoGame/DragonsDogma''; every NPC in the CastOfSnowflakes has a unique name, even if they only get to spout the usual "Woe is me, the dragon shall eat us all!" random lines. They also have unique faces and can be romanced, though of course they don't have subplot sidequests like the "main" characters and their gift preferences are determined by where they live rather than being unique to them (travelers prefer stamina potions, Casardis men like steak, Gran Soren men like fish, and women prefer different types of flowers). The random bandits who attack you play this one straight, though, mostly because you can't talk to them and you only see someone's name when having a polite conversation.
* ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'':
** Between all the non-plot important [=NPCs=], there's a rather huge group of them that are named. They compensate their lack of plot importance by forming part of the global affinity chart and tending to play important roles in sidequests and [[SidequestSidestory sidequest arcs]].
** When a {{Mook}} has a non-generic name accompanied by a fancy name tag, they're a unique monster (usually fought as a sidequest miniboss), and that means they're going to give you [[BossInMookClothing one hell of a fight]]. Battles against these kinds of enemies have their own theme, fittingly titled "You Will Know Our Names."
* Mostly averted in ''VideoGame/{{Drakensang}}'', where the only ones without a name are usually either mooks or citizens who have nothing to tell you anyway. An example is found in the Moorbridge Swamp: all the members of the militia patrolling the village are named, even when [[spoiler: They attack you led by their crazy officer later.]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}'', removing the [[PowerLimiter Limiter]] of a character who has a name and portrait unlocks their ability to use top-tier attacks. But when the Limiters get removed on all of humanity...it turns out that nameless, no-portrait [=NPCs=] have an alarming tendency to transform into hideously mutated beasts. [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Good job, Heroes]].
* In ''Videogame/MagicalStarsign'' all the [=NPCs=] get their own names and portraits. The game uses a liberal amount of ThemeNaming to great effect; for example the spiny moles from Erd are named after [[EdibleThemeNaming brands of cheeses]], the otters from Cassia are named after musicians (mostly rockstars), the inhabitants from Bena Rikishi in Puffon are named after metals and so on.
* In ''VideoGame/TheAllianceAlive'', be sure to remember if a NPC has a name tag on their dialog boxes. It means that you'll be able to recruit them into your guild later. Also be sure to be nice to them if possible, or you might [[PermanentlyMissableContent permanently lose the ability to recruit them]] (until NewGamePlus, at least).

[[folder:Shoot 'Em Up]]
* The first six ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' games never bothered to name or give the midbosses profiles. Later {{universe compendium}}s continue to act as though they don't exist. Which became somewhat frustrating when one of them ''recurred''... into the only game that didn't include boss names or profiles.
** The Stage 1 boss of ''Lotus Land Story'' is only known by the tag used for her in the coding, "orange". She technically does not have a name of her own, though she does have portraits.

[[folder:Simulation Game]]
* ''VideoGame/HometownStory'' gives names to all villagers in the ledger recording the town population, but only the ones that you need to befriend to progress in the game will actually display theirs when you speak to them, along with a CharacterPortrait.

[[folder:Stealth-Based Game]]
* Played with in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidTheTwinSnakes'' and ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'' with the [[FacelessMooks mask-wearing]] Genome Army and the Gurlokovich Mercenaries. Every single one of them carries a dog tag that reveals their name and can be obtained by holding them up at gunpoint, but the names are never mentioned in-game and have no actual impact on the plot or gameplay outside of being [[OneHundredPercentCompletion something to collect for completion]]. The one straight example is Johnny Sasaki, the ComicRelief ButtMonkey guard who is featured in the first two games, has a relative in the third, and plays a major role and gets the girl in the fourth.
* Played with in ''VideoGame/YandereSimulator''. Everyone you meet in school, even if they're a filler NPC, has a name (usually a [[PunnyName punny]] one) and a unique face (... well, [[OnlySixFaces unique hairstyle]]). However, 'Only important characters get voiceover' does apply- most students just have generic non-voiced subtitles, but Yandere-chan, Senpai, Info-chan, the Rivals, and the Club Leaders all get voiced dialogue. Students will also be voiced when giving you their Friendship Task or when calling you out after having witnessed you murder someone, both of which have serious gameplay consequences.
** And then that got turned on its head when Sota Yuki and Haruto Yuto (unimportant characters) were given voiced lines as part of a series of background conversations about ''[[ShowWithinAShow Magical Girl Pretty Miyuki]]''.

[[folder: Turn-Based Strategy]]
* In the ''Videogame/FireEmblem'' series, any named character appearing on the battle field is either an ally, a boss, recruitable, or vital to the plot in some other way. Everyone else is generic. However, '''all''' bosses have portraits and names, some can be recruited, most can't. Also, some characters have appeared with portraits despite being un-recruitable (to more or less screw with the player) such as Khosen the manekete and Heimler, both from [=FE1=] and [=FE11=].
* Parodied in ''VideoGame/DisgaeaHourOfDarkness'' with a Sassy Demon named The Dark Adonis Vyers, er... Mid-Boss, dubbed such by Laharl because he deems him unimportant. His name even shows up as that on his text boxes. [[spoiler: He's still important to the plot in the long run.]]
* Averted ''and'' parodied in ''VideoGame/Disgaea2CursedMemories.'' Adell's mother is only referred to as "Mom", but is given full body-art and voiceovers like the rest of the main cast. She is also the one responsible for summoning the Overlord so that Adell can kick his ass. As it turns out, she ''does'' have a name: [[HisNameReallyIsBarkeep Mom]].
* Averted in ''Videogame/TacticsOgre'', as all characters are named. While generic troops receive a random name from a pool, even one-off bosses have quite detailed entries in the [[MonsterCOmpendium Warren Report]].
* Averted in ''Videogame/BattleForWesnoth'', in which any newly-recruited intelligent living unit will have a random name appropriate to its type assigned to it. (Undead and animals remain nameless by default, though Liches will retain the name they had as living wizards.)
* Most enemies in the single-player campaign of ''VideoGame/TelepathTactics'' just have titles like "Bloodbeard's bandit". If they have an actual name, they're either recruitable or a boss enemy.
* ''VideoGame/ShiningForce'' has the recurring traveler Boken, who is both named and has unique overworld sprites. He is entirely superfluous to the plot. In a straight example, ''VideoGame/ShiningForceII'' has a battle versus some Pegasus Knights, one of whom is named Jaro and likewise has unique sprites. He defects to the Shining Force midway into the encounter.

[[folder:Wide-Open Sandbox]]
* ''Videogame/{{STALKER}}'' averts this as well, thanks to the fact that just about everyone in the game- friend or foe, and even dead bodies you come across that were planted specifically by the developers, rather than being killed by rival factions or hostile mutants- have first and last names. Most of these names in the U.S. version at least follow a strange convention, however- while the first name is usually something common to the region, such as Sergei or Vasilya, the last names are usually straight from the dictionary. Which is why it's always hilarious to see a guy named [[AwesomeMcCoolname Max Dinosaur]]. It is because stalkers are given the first name and a nickname, not the last name. This is most likely a reference to the custom of organized criminals in Russia. On the other hand, soldiers in the Zone are referred to by their rank and last name.
* The names of planets in ''VideoGame/{{Elite}}'' avert this because they're [[ProceduralGeneration procedurally generated]].
* Averted in ''VideoGame/SurvivalCrisisZ'' where every NPC is randomly generated, but all building owners have names, and your party members also get a randomly generated {{backstory}} (consisting of a name, job and hometown) that they will talk about if they survive long enough.

[[folder:Miscellaneous Games]]
* In the PC game ''VideoGame/{{Pathologic}}'', all of the main characters and important side characters are given names, while minor characters are named [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep by their description]]. In addition, when you talk to any of the characters, an icon with a black-and-white photo appears in the corner of the screen. With storyline characters, it's a person resembling the model. With random people, [[LampshadeHanging it's a creepy ragdoll]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'': Even though it's easy to miss her name, as the PlayerCharacter Chell survives (and beats) [=GLaDOS=] twice, has several depictions of her appearance and has the {{canon}} character traits of being [[{{Determinator}} insanely tenacious]] and a HeroicMime by choice.
** ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'': At the end of the co-operative campaign, Atlas and P-Body discover [[spoiler: a vault containing ten thousand more human subjects in suspended animation]]. But in the "Peer Review" DLC [[spoiler: [=GLaDOS=] says she killed them all trying to make them as indestructible as Chell. Clearly, they weren't important to the plot.]]
* An odd variation appears in ''Enemy 585'' (by {{Creator/Nitrome}}). The only "named" character is Enemy 585, who was just another {{mook}} in a platformer than finished before the real game started (which was to rescue Enemy 585 after he was trapped in the boss' castle after the "game").
* As demonstrated in LetsPlay/{{Slowbeef}}'s LetsPlay, ''Amazon: Guardians of Eden'' consistently inverts this trope in a very odd manner: with the exception of secondary protagonist Maya, ''every'' important, speaking character introduced after the third chapter will go unnamed, but non-speaking and unimportant background characters will be given both full names ''and'' strangely elaborate backstories that the player character really has no way of knowing in the first place. This comes to a head with the shopkeeper Arturo Ascension in chapter six, who sells you items you need to finish the game - since they gave him a name, they go out of their way to ThirdPersonPerson all of his interactions with you in an incredibly awkward fashion, rather than just letting him talk to you.

!!Non-video game examples

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'', if anyone has a name, s/he will get involved in a plot in someway or another. If anyone has a full name, watch that character, because without exception, they will have a supernatural power. Notably, we never learn the narrator's name--"Kyon" is [[OnlyKnownByTheirNickname just a nickname that everyone uses]].
** Averted with the computer club president who is important enough to have one episode that features him as the main antagonist and one which focuses on his disappearance.
* ''Anime/{{Simoun}}'' averts the voiceover corollary in its first episode, which is narrated by a nameless RedShirt pilot who dies (playing the main trope straight) in the episode's climax.
* ''Anime/ProjectAKo'' parodies this by naming the three main characters like extras (at least, if you ignore their surnames).
* One of the things that made ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'' really stand out is that they played with this trope a lot, to often heartbreaking effect. Many enemy pilots got names and a bit of characterization, despite the fact they usually just ended up getting wasted by the Gundam in the end, anyway.
* In ''Anime/MartianSuccessorNadesico'', Akito gets replaced by an unnamed female pilot about halfway into the series. No prizes for guessing what happens to her in her first fight.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' features a power in its later chapters referred to as Conqueror's Haki, said to be usable by only one person in a million (although we've met nine of them so far, [[Main/OddlyCommonRarity but that's a trope for a different time]]). It supposedly knocks out all people in the vicinity of the user, with only those of abnormally strong will being able to resist it; in practice, it only seems to affect anyone whose name the audience doesn't know.
* Defied in ''LightNovel/MaoyuuMaouYuusha'', where ''none'' of the characters, not even the protagonists, are referred to by anything other than their position and/or occupation.
* An odd variation in the official English translation of the ''Manga/DetectiveConan''/''[[MarketBasedTitle Case Closed]]'' manga, where if a character has a DubNameChange, then you can expect them to be important.
* Any monster with a given name or special title in ''Manga/CMonDigimon'' and ''Manga/DigimonVTamer01'' is almost guaranteed to be plot relevant. These were the first two works in the Digimon franchise(the first work ever and the first adaptation after the release of the virtual pet, respectively) and nothing released since them has really followed this trope, preferring to call [[PlanetOfSteves almost all monsters]] by their [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep species name]], for whatever reason.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Comicbook/BraveChefBrianna'': Out of Brianna's several brothers, Hans is the only one who has meaningful interations with her and the only one whose name is known to the readers.
* ''ComicBook/TheUnbelievableGwenpool'': In issue #9, the eponymous [[MediumAwareness medium aware]] protagonist demands the previously-unnamed Officer Gray to tell her her name to promote her from being an extra, additionally claiming that "by the laws of the narrative that drives our existence in this fictional world... we will meet again." They eventually do.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11886910/1/Gankona-Unnachgiebig-Unità Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità]]'', [[spoiler:the rude chef, the homophobe, and the bully were never actually given names. Not that Germany and Japan would have cared to learn them.]]
* In ''FanFic/NotAsPlanned'', the only characters with names are canon characters from ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', such as Elrond. The girl who is the main character has no name in the story. She meets no named characters, except Elrond. This shows that the girl and her associates are not important persons.
* Averted in ''FanFic/WhatLiesBeyondTheWalls''. Dozens of characters have first and/or last names, and many members of the Long Patrol even have their rank stated. But many named characters serve as nothing more than being [[MauveShirt Mauve Shirts]], some of whom [[ForgottenFallenFriend are never mentioned again]].
* Averted in ''FanFic/TiberiumWars''. Many characters have their full name and rank stated, and some even have a decent chunk of a chapter focus on them. And several of them are casually killed off without impacting the plot or any of the central cast.
* In ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' fic ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12321109/16/Gap-Year-Adventures Gap Year Adventures,]]'' six-year-old Bekki Smith-Rhodes acquires two kittens of a ''unique'' pedigree. Her mother is not greatly happy with the new pets. But Bekki is shrewd enough to realise that giving her cats names ''very quickly'', and getting her mother to accept the names, is a good insurance policy to ensure parental acceptance of the new status quo. Named animals, she reasons, will be harder to dispose of.
* ''FanFic/GFSerendipity'':
** Stan's assistant only appeared in Page 01 but [=Orangephoenix6=] gave him a name[[note]]Harvard "Harv" Oakland[[/note]] out of hope the character will be used later in the story.
** The only canon characters to be referenced by their names are Stan, Ford, Fiddleford, Tate and Bill.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNimh'':
** Jenner's henchman [[spoiler: who has a HeelFaceTurn at the last minute]] is named Sullivan, although it's only visible in the credits. This was the name of director Creator/DonBluth's business partner when making the film.
** Brutus, however, doesn't actually serve much plot purpose, and fades into obscurity almost immediately after being given a name, save for a single shout-out towards the end that you will barely notice due to it being a muffled background noise.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Averted in ''Film/ThatThingYouDo'': the bass player in the Wonders is a plot-important character who remained unnamed through the movie, eventually listed in the WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue as [[MeaningfulName "T. B. Player"]].
* Played for laughs in ''Film/AustinPowersInGoldmember'':
--> '''Nigel Powers''': ''Have you any idea how many anonymous henchmen I've killed over the years? And look at you, you haven't even got a name tag! You've got no chance. Why don't you just fall down?''\\
(The henchman falls down.)
* In ''Film/TheGamersDorknessRising'', the gaming group meets Random Peasant Here to Advance the Plot. When [[TheRoleplayer Daphne]] asks him his name, it's revealed that the GM hadn't bothered to give him one. He has to quickly do so.[[note]]It's Willam.[[/note]]

* In a Russian pulp-fiction novel, the villain holds the hero at a blank point. He's not a cold blooded killer though and even confesses how relieved he is to know almost nothing about his victim, as killing someone you know even slightly is so much harder. The hero hastens to provide his comprehensive credentials, much to the villain's chagrin from such selfish indiscretion.
* Count Olaf's henchmen in ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'' are usually referred to with descriptive terms like "the white-faced women" and "the bald man"(they sometimes use pseudonyms derived from [[SignificantAnagram anagrams of "Count Olaf"]], though). However, at the time the hook-handed man gets some CharacterDevelopment and a backstory in Book the Eleventh, we learn that his name is Fernald.
* Inverted in ''Discworld/SmallGods''. At one point, a nameless RedShirt is killed off, only for his name to be immediately revealed. He's still unimportant to the story though.
* Creator/DavidDrake likes to avert this and made extensive use of {{Tuckerization}} in one of his ''Literature/{{RCN}}'' books for this purpose (as well as to salute his friends). He explained this in the acknowledgments to the book and noted he was using the ''names'' but not the ''personalities'' and this was, in many cases, "a Good Thing" -- because [[DontExplainTheJoke (he didn't spell this part out)]] some of the people he named after his friends were total wastes of skin.
* {{Averted|Trope}} in ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime''. LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters, a large chunk are not important to the plot at all, others are relevant only to their connections to a more plot-important character, and everyone else is a ChekhovsGunman waiting to fire.
* Very averted in the ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' series. Weber has been known to introduce a character, [[MauveShirt give them a name and cursory]] {{backstory}}, then kill them off at the end of the chapter, if not the end of the page. This is done mostly (but not only) to make the war feel real; Honor and other major characters can only be so many places at once (and are not likely to be on the losing sides of absolute massacres off in the boonies, but then again...), so giving a name to, say, the LAC pilot who will be killed shortly helps to make the reader realize the human implications.
* This is invoked in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', as it runs on the TheoryOfNarrativeCausality. In ''Discworld/InterestingTimes'', Ponder Stibbons notices that the magical supercomputer Hex is starting to think for itself, and reflects "We should never have named you. A thing with a name is a bit more than a thing".
* Invoked literally in ''Literature/{{Play to Live}}'', the randomly generated "soft" AI never respawn unless a "hard" AI or humnan names them and/or gets to know their quirks.
* Played with in the ''Literature/CiaphasCain'' (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) novels, which usually take care to name every member of every RedshirtArmy Cain brings with him in the climax. Their survival rate appears to be somewhere in the lower thirties overall. Most people who die during the battle sequences do so unnamed, however, to say nothing of the {{mooks}} Cain, Jurgen and said RedshirtArmy mow down by the dozens each book compared to the longer-lived named villains.
* In ''Literature/{{Redshirts}}'', Hester points out that he has neither an interesting background nor do his friends even bother to find out his first name, and is therefore just there to be a placeholder character.
* The ''Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse'' has an in-universe case with the Gand species, whose beliefs hold that you have to ''earn'' a name by accomplishing something that ''proves'' your importance.
* Somewhat averted in ''Literature/TheMillenniumTrilogy''. Many of the minor characters have names and descriptions, and even some background. At one point in the third book, Larsson devotes two pages to profiling a hospital orderly whose only role in the plot is that Blomkvist bribes him to smuggle in a cellphone for Salander.
* Invoked in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. While arguing whether or not to sacrifice [[spoiler: Edric Storm]] the pro-sacrifice side refers to him as "the boy" or "the bastard." Davos, who opposes the idea, resolves to use his name as frequently as possible.
* Subverted in Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/TheLangoliers'', where in the first chapter, protagonist Brian Engle meets a stewardess who introduces herserf as Melanie Trevor. At this point, a reader starts to see foreshadowing for a RomanceArc, but after just a couple of lines, the book explicitly states that Engle never saw Melanie Trevor again.
* ''LARP: The Battle for Verona'' gives absolutely ''every'' character a name and short backstory, even if their only relevance is to say a single, unimportant line. It gets very distracting very quickly, as the few times the characters come up again, they get referred to once again by name, making the reader pause and try and remember who they are.
* Averted in ''Literature/HarryPotter'', where the majority of the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters have names, whether they turn out to be important or not. In the first book, there are names mentioned in the Sorting ceremony that don't really do anything until later books, like Blaise Zabini. Even the Riddle estate's caretaker who gets killed by Voldemort in the first chapter of the fourth book, and an Arab wizard who smuggles magic carpets and never shows up again in the story after the conversation about him, have names.
* Zigzagged in ''Literature/VampireAcademy'', in most of the series several extras receive names. In Strigoi of 'Blood Promise'', those not named tend to play no importance in the overall plot. Those few that receive names are all involved with Dimitri's new existence as a Strigoi.
* ''Literature/JourneyToChaos'': Averted on two occasions:
** Kasile posts two guards outside her castle to prevent Eric from entering at night. Neither one is named and yet they do their job with minimal effort.
** Two of Nunnal's labratory assistants are named and yet they have as much importance as the ones who remain unnamed.
** A group of adventures contain Grendel when he goes on a rampage but the author never names them. [[MediumAwareness The adventurers pick up on this and it's why they refuse to identify themselves.]]
* Jack Sprat lampshades this in [[Literature/NurseryCrime The Fourth Bear]], when he yells at a woman who is clearly there to be an ObstructiveBureaucrat with no backstory. The woman is horrified, and Jack makes one up for her.


[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho''
** The FridgeBrilliance section has a reference to the episode "Midnight" -- where a monster controls people by forcibly repeating their dialogue and mentally turning them against one another. Nobody ''believes'' the Doctor when he tells them his usually fake name "John Smith". In the end the person who actually beats the villain of the week is the Hostess of the trip -- and the cast realize, in the aftermath, that they never ''knew'' her name.
** ''Series/DoctorWho'' writer and ''Series/{{Being Human|UK}}'' creator Toby Whitehouse has said in a ''Magazine/DoctorWhoMagazine'' interview that he always gives the {{Red Shirt}}s and minor characters names, simply because it looks better on the actors' [=CVs=].
** There are a handful of ''Doctor Who'' characters who actually have names but they're never mentioned in the story itself for various reasons (short screen time, situation means it never comes up, etc.). They're named in the credits though.
* ''Series/BurnNotice'' abuses this like crazy, though not the way you'd think. Most anyone with a line is given a name of some sort, generally because they're relevant to the plot of the episode. However, the show will occasionally bring back old characters as main characters.
* Inverted in ''Series/VeronicaMars'' in which almost all major and minor characters have first and last names that may be known by greater fans of the show. However, given that the large arcs of the show tended to included a large number of characters, this may not be surprising.
* Played around with in ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003''. Lots of one-shot characters without much importance have names, but (more importantly) several characters--most notably Diana Seelix--were promoted from near-extras to significant recurring characters simply because someone on the cast (usually Aaron Douglas) gave them names and the writers decided to ThrowItIn.
* Played around with in ''Franchise/StarTrek''. Many unimportant characters, even the RedShirts, are given names, while sometimes the MonsterOfTheWeek will kill unnamed ensigns and lieutenants throughout the ship or on the planet. Although, even when red shirts were given names, they were rarely given both first and last names.
* In ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', Transporter Chief O'Brien O'Brien didn't even have a name or a job title the first season. He occasionally had a few lines of dialogue in the show's first three seasons, but was not a pivotal character in his own right. Early in Season 4 he is given a first name, Miles. Shortly after that he's given a {{Backstory}}, a wife (Keiko), some serious character development, and then is made a major character in ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine''.
* Played with in ''Series/{{House}}'' with "Thirteen", number 13 out of however many potential people were in the pool to take over the assistant jobs with house, and who continues to be called "Thirteen" for the entire run of the series except in very rare circumstances. Her real name is Remy Hadley. The first time she's actually addressed by her name (Cuddy calls her "Dr. Hadley"), everyone just looks around in confusion.
* The Creator/AnimalPlanet series ''Series/TooCute'' follows various litters of kittens and puppies through the early stages of their lives. In the larger litters, only a couple are actually named and focused upon; the others' names simply aren't mentioned.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'''s classic episode "Once More, With Feeling" never names the VillainOfTheWeek. The credits show that his name is Sweet.
* The aptly named [[{{Mooks}} Nanashi Renju]] from ''Series/SamuraiSentaiShinkenger''. Their title literally means "nameless grunts"!

* The standard way to name works of ClassicalMusic was to use some or all of the following: type of composition, order of composition, key, and in modern times, one or more catalog designations (e.g. "Fugue in G minor, K.30, L.499"). The fact that many of the most popular pieces from this time have some sort of additional title to be called by (e.g. ''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_fugue Cat Fugue]]'') is likely due to this trope.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/FengShui'', this is an explicit game mechanic -- important characters have names, while others are labeled {{mooks}} and use different combat rules to enforce their scrub status.
* In the RPG of ''TabletopGame/TheDresdenFiles'',
** The section on creating NPC's references this, sparking a margin discussion between Dresden and Billy. Dresden comments that the random people do, in fact, have a name, to which Billy asks why Harry never writes them down in his case files. Dresden answers that he usually doesn't have time to ask, on account of many of them trying to kill him at the time.
** In fact, the literal ''game term'' for minor non-player characters of not much importance is "nameless [=NPCs=]", thus hanging a nice lampshade on the trope. ("Supporting" and "main" [=NPCs=], the other two big categories, get comparatively more comprehensive writeups and explicitly better {{plot armor}}.)

* This is a common trope for theatre in general, where typically a character is only named if they're important to the plot, or if their name is spoken at some point.
* This is averted in ''Theatre/{{Urinetown}}'' the musical, where every single member character has a name, even though only 10 of the names are actually spoken (the rest are [[AllThereInTheManual only written in the program]]).
* Classically averted in the opera ''Theatre/{{Tosca}}'' with the executioner Roberti. Not only is Roberti a very minor character (he appears in only two scenes), he doesn't sing, not even in chorus.
* Largely averted in the Creator/GilbertAndSullivan operas, in which every character gets a name (even some extremely minor ones, e.g. Fleta and Salata)--except for "First Yeoman", "Second Yeoman", "First Citizen", and "Second Citizen" in ''Theatre/TheYeomenOfTheGuard''. Also, the chorus never get names, because they have no solo work (though some directors change that).

* ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}''.
** In-universe, only the Elite- and Leader-Class Skrall are allowed to have names, whereas the Warrior class Skrall are nameless.
** A real-world example: if a character gets named, it ''has'' to be an important player, considering clearing names through legal is a pretttty pricey deal. Which means every name that makes it through the process has to be put to good use.
** Once the character has been used in the story, however, they may [[BackForTheDead show up only to get killed for dramatic effect]]. An example of this is [[spoiler:Botar, who first teleported in to arrest someone who had done FaceHeelTurn in the past. He later showed up for the same person's HeelFaceTurn in order to teleport a MacGuffin, but after that event Botar was only mentioned in passing as [[DroppedABridgeOnHim having been killed]] by one of the villains]]. Seeing as the series has been canceled as a toyline, and judging by the number of previously important characters that have died unceremoniously, fans began wondering what would happen to their beloved main characters once the list of new names ran out...

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Lampshaded in ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'', where two grunts laugh about it, but are careful to give their names.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'':
** LampshadeHanging in [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0472.html this,]] where the GenreSavvy Elan explains that not having a name means you're just a RedShirt whose sole purpose is to say "[[YouShallNotPass I'll hold them off]]!" and then get killed. As if to demonstrate, two {{red shirt}}s manage to survive a battle by revealing that they ''do'' have names, with one surviving a severe injury by revealing his first name, and stating that he is saving his last name just in case he gets injured again. [[spoiler: This particular ChekhovsGun is later subverted. He attempts to {{invoke|dTrope}} NominalImportance by shouting his last name, but only gets to "Daigo Da-" before being hit in the face with a door.]]
** Invoked in [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0539.html this]] episode, where [[HeroicComedicSociopath Belkar]] kills a random gnome for no particular reason (other than that he could). When his companions are horrified by this, he says the gnome was unimportant and "probably didn't even have a name"...even though the gnome had told the group his name 7 panels earlier.
** Parodied by Belkar in the first arc when he did it to the [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0021.html Chimera]] as it was cursing the Order. Haley even complained about Belkar killing it mid-speech, pointing out that since it had a name it was probably meant to be a recurring adversary.
** Played with several times in the prequel ''Start of Darkness'': when Ekdysdioksosiirwo, Viridian Lord of-- is killed ''because'' he gives his name (it's too long!), and the two main characters survive by giving shorter aliases, and when the named characters [[spoiler: Aliyara, Ridiziak and Eriaxnikol, Right-eye's wife and sons]] are killed, and their unnamed [[spoiler: daughter/sister]] survives. Also? The three main characters are called Right-Eye, Redcloak and Xykon. None of those are their real names.
** Lampshaded (by Elan, naturally) [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0784.html in this strip.]] "Hooray! The people whose names I know are saved!"
** The page image is taken from [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0703.html this strip,]] in which Hobgoblin Cleric #2 complains about Jirix being made Prime Minister of Gobbotopia. He could have got the job if his mother had given him a name less generic than 'Hobgoblin Cleric #2'.
** Also lampshaded in [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots1111.html this strip]], where the vampire [[spoiler:Durkon]] refers to one of his undead underlings as "the other one". She naturally takes umbrage to it:
-->'''Vampire:''' Hey, I have a name, you know.\\
'''[[spoiler:Durkon:]]''' Do you though? ''Do you?''\\
'''Vampire:''' ''(looking forlorn)'' ...No.
* Used during the "That Which Redeems" arc from ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance''. Of the hundreds of DemonicInvaders, about a dozen are given names. Of these, only [[spoiler:Bubbamonicus and Mospinispinosp]] are killed. Demons without names are torn apart like wet tissue paper.
* Averted in ''Webcomic/RPGWorld''. Galgarion fires one of his random guards, Evil Soldier #347, and he becomes a regular character set out to get revenge. His name remains Evil Soldier #347 throughout the entire comic.
* ''[[http://www.shapequest.net Shape Quest]]'' did this when [[http://www.shapequest.net/?id=98 Theo discovered]], to his horror, that Lance meet some new characters who actually had names.
* ''Webcomic/DanAndMabsFurryAdventures'': "Don't you get it? I'm a nameless henchman! It means that once I say three lines, I'll be killed off!"
* ''Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids'' does this with Anakin, the GM clearly not having named this minor NPC. This is an inversion since Anakin will become the central character as time goes on.
* Lampshaded in [[http://bobadventures.comicgenesis.com/d/20121009.html this]] ''[[Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob Inexplicable Adventures Of Bob]]'' strip, where Bob comes to the urgent rescue of two very minor characters who "barely have names."
* Lampshaded in ''Webcomic/FourCutHero''. The narration box for the panel introducing a particularly [[KickTheDog dog-kicking]] demon general who is blatantly about to be killed by a hero reads "Since he's going to die soon, he has no name". The general, [[NoFourthWall side-eying the text box]], reacts with a "What?"

[[folder:Web Original]]
* To date, the only person in ''Literature/AshAndCinders'' to survive an encounter has been Gabrien's wife and the Forest Queen. And they at least had some sort of title.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'':
** Inverted with the Monarch's henchmen. #21 and #24 are recurring characters, while the two henchmen who receive names, Speedy and Scott Hall (Henchman #1), are killed in their first episode.
** Played straighter later on, when we ''do'' eventually learn that 21's name is Gary. [[spoiler: And 24 dies without us ever learning his]]
** #21 and #24 even lampshade the fact that the series does not ascribe to this trope:
-->'''Henchman 24:''' Hey, here; what's your name?\\
'''Henchman 1:''' Henchman number 1.\\
'''Henchman 24:''' See, you are nameless.\\
'''Henchman 1:''' I'm Scott Hall, my name is Scott Hall. Okay?\\
'''Henchman 24:''' No, won't help.\\
'''Henchman 21:''' Yeah, now it's just pathos. So you're dying in my lap and I'm all "Scott! Scott don't you quit on us! Don't you dare!!"\\
'''Henchman 24:''' You just made your inevitable death ''more pathetic.''
** Ironically, it's revealed that [[spoiler: Scott Hall ''did'' survive his Brock Samson beating, while 24, who mocked Scott's "inevitable" death, dies in the season 3 finale.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/FriskyDingo'' the Xtacles were all FacelessMooks that always wore their helmets, although a couple were named. In the first episode the SpinOff ''{{Xtacles}}'' a bunch of said soldiers take off their helmets and are given independent names. [[spoiler: It's then downplayed when a bunch of them die anyway]].
* ''WesternAnimaton/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'' had an interesting variant, where the creators decided that any character important enough to be named was important enough to be taken from some previous version of ''SpiderMan'' canon. That being said, the number of named characters was [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters probably more than strictly necessary]] (though at least some would have probably been important if the show hadn't been LeftHanging).
* The original ScoobyDoo series was famous for this to the point that the real person behind the MonsterOfTheWeek could easily be identified through the ''Scooby-Doo Rule:'' The first new character of the week to be introduced by full name was the guy in the rubber suit at the end. Later series are aware of this and try to muddle the rule's usefulness either by introducing too many characters at once to be able to pinpoint one in particular or by going [[Literature/MurderOnTheOrientExpress Agatha Christie]] on the viewer and having ''everyone'' be in on the plot.
* The Scallions from various episodes of ''WesternAnimation/VeggieTales'' lack names, other than their collective title of, well, "the Scallions". {{Lampshaded|Trope}} in one of the Silly Songs with Larry:
-->'''Larry''': ''[Singing to the tune of "Funiculì, Funiculà"] ♪ Oh golly... ♫ [normal voice]'' Um... what's your name?
-->'''Scallion''': They've never given me a name. ''[starts walking off screen]'' I've been around since ''show one'', and I '''still''' don't ''have a name''!
--> ''[{{Beat}}, as the music starts up again]''
-->'''Larry''': ''♪ Now what d'ya think o' that? ♫''
* The Google Play store descriptions of ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog'' episodes only ever refer to Eustace as "the Farmer".
* Somewhat inverted in ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated,'' where Starscream's clones are only ever called "Starscream clones". They're important characters, and they have names in the expanded universe, but it's cheaper to pay someone to voice "Starscream, Starscream clone, and Starscream clone" than it is to pay them to voice "Starscream, Ramjet, and Sunstorm".