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One Steve Limit
This is what happens when you break it.

"His name is Lebowski? That's your name, Dude."
Donny, The Big Lebowski

A pretty rigid rule that no two characters in a work of fiction (novel, movie, play, TV series, comic book, etc.) should share the same first name, or even similar-sounding names. If there's a Laura in the story, there will not be a Lyra; if there's an Ed, there will not be a Ted. (If you wake up one morning and suddenly discover that you don't know any two people with the same first name and that your phone number begins with 555, you can safely assume you've fallen into a work of fiction.)

The rationale behind this is so obvious it almost doesn't need explanation: Both the audience and the writer will get confused by multiple characters with the same name: "Wait, was it good-guy Steve or bad-guy Steve who launched the missile?"

A strong dramatic reason to duplicate names can override the rule, as, for example, in the Jack Nicholson movie The Two Jakes, but it's so rarely done that audiences will pick up on it almost instantly. Unintentional duplication of first or last names also sometimes occurs when characters from previously distinct works of fiction meet one another, or in sprawling, shared-continuity settings like the DC or Marvel Comics "universes."

It's probably more feasible to list the exceptions rather than examples. Usually when there are exceptions, there will be a storyline involving the characters being confused for each other.

One could only wish this were Truth in Television, but as elementary-school teachers know all-too-well, names go through cycles and depending on the era, a single grade 3 class might have five Jasons, Michaels, Elsas or Claras.

In French-speaking countries, name popularity waves are even more dramatic, to the point where you can often guess somebody's age within five to ten years just by their given name, and very popular names have been attributed to as much as one person out of seven or eight at their peak.

This is also a problem in dubbing with "dubbed names". For example, Gomez Addams in Latin America is "Homero", just like Homer the Spider. Or a mobster named Bruno showing up in a Batman (who is known as "Bruno Díaz" instead of "Bruce Wayne") comic.

The rule may be broken for names that are pretty ubiquitous in any era, such as James, John, Mary, and so forth; then, those identical names may be tweaked for each individual. (James, for one, was the single most popular name for boys in 1940s America, with the result that there are literally thousands of 60-something American guys out there who go by "Jim", "Jimmy", "Jay", "Jamie", or the like.) Of course, more or less silly nicknames are also a solution.

Oblique references to real-life well-known people may also be seen as exceptional to this trope.

The antithesis is Planet of Steves, wherein everybody is Steve.

Compare One Mario Limit, where the "Steve" is too famous for anyone else to use a similar name. Contrast Inexplicably Identical Individuals, where there is a whole bunch of interchangeable characters that look the same and may share the same name — or have very similar names. Also contrast Name's the Same, where multiple series share one or more characters with the same name.

See also We Named the Monkey Jack and Dead Guy Junior, for other ways characters can share names.

Example subpages:


Exceptions:

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    Audio Play 
  • Parodied by The Firesign Theatre on their album Boom Dot Bust, which takes place in a town called Billville, where everybody's name is Bill.

    Fairy Tales 
  • The general lack of names in fairy tales makes this problem rare, but when Joseph Jacobs collected "Kate Crackernuts", both of the princesses were named Kate. He changed one to Anne to avoid confusion when he published it.
  • In Grimms' Fairy Tales, Snow White from Snow White (princess pursued by her evil step-mother, helped by seven dwarfs) is not to be confused with Snow White from Snow White and Rose Red (helps a bear who turns out to be a prince, gets into trouble with an evil dwarf). Note that in the original German this problem does not exist as the former ("Sneewittchen") uses a Low German name, while the latter ("Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot") a High German one.
  • In "Marya Morevna", both the title character, Ivan's wife, and one of his sisters are Marya. Then, the wife is always referred to with the patronymic, so there's no danger of confusion.

    Fanfiction 
  • Forward has three different criminal groups using the name "Talon" - two of whom are on the same space station. Apparently none of these criminals are terribly creative.
  • Kyon Big Damn Hero, by including characters from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, ends up with two characters with the given name Keiichi, who are about the same age and have similar occupations. Though Tamaru Keiichi, the canonical Haruhi Suzumiya character, is extremely minor and may not even appear more than once.
  • Discussed in Grace Under Pressure, Courage Under Fire, when Kurt asks Dave why he uses his friend Azimio Adams' first name, but his other friend Anthony Rashad's last name. Dave explains that while there is only one Azimio at school, there are several Anthonys, so calling him Rashad is really just a way to avoid confusion. (Note that Anthony Rashad is the only Anthony mentioned in Canon.)
  • In the Daria series "Falling Into College," Quinn winds up dating a guy also named Quinn, who is called "Q" to avoid confusion.
  • In the Ranma ½ Elsewhere Fic Boy Scouts ½, there are three Matthews, two Bills and a Will, and (while one is a very minor character) two Kennys. (Note that as a Self Insert Fic, most of these Steves take their names from real people.)
  • In The Prayer Warriors, two characters share the same name and are introduced within a short while of each other. William, protagonist of the Attack of the Sphinx story happens to share the same name as Prince William, who appears in The Titans Strike Back as a surviving member of the royal family and a villain; the author even puts a parenthetical note regarding the latter that says "please do not get him confused with William in my other story".
  • The Calvinverse has two characters named Rupert Chill - a human convict and an alien that imitates him. Since Double Trouble revolves around both, alien!Rupert uses a First Name Basis while human!Rupert goes by "Chill".
  • Diaries of a Madman has two Gildas. Nav at point takes to calling them "OG" (Original Gilda), and "PG" (Princess Gilda) to differentiate between them.
  • Lothíriel by JunoMagic is about a woman in Germany, named after the character Lothíriel from The Lord of the Rings. Then the German Lothíriel falls into The Lord of the Rings, but that story already has a Lothíriel. Now it might have two characters named Lothíriel, and they might meet.
  • In the Girls und Panzer and Saki crossover, Necessary To Win, found here, several groups of characters have the same first name, and are set apart by their last initials. For example, Saki's Momoko "Stealth Momo" Touyoko is called "Momo T.", while Girls Und Panzer's Momo Kawashima is called Momo K. to keep them distinct from one another. There are exceptions, though, in cases in which one character with the same name is much more important than the other as Saki's Saki Miyanaga, the deuteragonist of the fic, is simply called "Saki", while various other terms are used to refer to Girls und Panzer's Saki Maruyama.
  • Snic nd the OSrailian resrant has an... interesting case of double subversion by making Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the restaurant, and even Sonic's self-named burger the same, singular entity.
  • Averted in My Little Unicorn, though it's not certain whether this was deliberate. There are two characters named Rani in the series: Khan's wife in the Movie, and Reginald Rolls' wife in My Brave Pony: Star Fleet Magic III.

    Film 
  • The Saw movies contain a couple of examples: In the first film, Dr. Gordon's wife's name is Alison, which is also Detective Kerry's forename. In the second, a main character is Daniel Matthews, which is also Detective Rigg's forename. However, we don't learn Rigg's or Kerry's first name until the fifth movie, so it's a subversion. Other examples include Mark, a victim in the first film, and later an antagonist from the third movie onward (Hoffman), and the surname "Young", shared by recurring character Amanda and one-off character Timothy.
  • Averted in Boys which featured an inordinate number of characters (male lead included) called John.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Zigzagged. It features a seven man elite Army squad that included three-and-a-half characters named James. The half is a guy called Jacques, which is the French form of James. However, only one is ever referred to as James, and he usually goes by his nickname anyway. The others don't ever have their names mentioned, except in the credits. Played straight in that there is only one Steve, however.
    • Averted a couple more times in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole (unsurprisingly, since there are dozens of characters across various films, TV shows, and tie-in literature). The most notable case is that Tony Stark's mother and Nick Fury's right-hand woman are both named Maria.
    • The second most notable? Both Iron Man's and Cap's best friends are named James— James "Rhodey" Rhodes and James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's classic Shadow of a Doubt stars Joseph Cotten as an Affably Evil Serial Killer named Charlie, and Teresa Wright as his adoring niece, also named Charlie.
  • In Heathers, three of the lead cast are called Heather. As the name implies.
  • Die Hard has a duo of FBI Agent Johnsons. No relation. One even answers a phone, "This is Agent Johnson. No, the other one." Die Hard 4.0 has a callback with another Agent Johnson, and McClane reacts with alarm at the name.
  • In The Science of Sleep there is Stéphane and Stéphanie.
  • The Big Lebowski: the basis of the entire plot is that a slacker named Jeffrey Lebowski is mistaken for a millionaire of the same name. Nicknamed "The Dude" and "The Big Lebowski" respectively, to avoid confusion.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean had William Turner (Bootstrap Bill) and his son William Turner (Will). (And HIS son, William Turner the 3rd) Justified since it a common real life naming convention for fathers and sons. It's also used for a throwaway joke.
  • The sequel to Chinatown, The Two Jakes, says right in the title that there are two primary characters named Jake.
  • Office Space has 'the Bobs'. And the Lumburghs.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade features a father and son pair of Dr. Henry Joneses, which is highlighted when a character greets, "Doctor Jones" and both reply. The younger Jones, however, prefers going by "Indiana" rather than his first name or "Junior." In the fourth film, there's a third Henry Jones.
  • Night of the Blood Beast may or may not have featured a team of scientists named "Steve", perhaps foreshadowing the IRL Project Steve.
  • The main character of Groundhog Day is named Phil and of course there's the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. Phil, with the typical Bill Murray Type Casting, loathes the rodent even more because of this fact.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding has a funny scene in which the father introduces the extended family. Just about everyone's name is a variation of Anita or Nick.
    Gus: Welcome to my home. Over here is my brother, Ted, and his wife, Melissa, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. Over here, my brother Tommy, his wife Anzie, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. And here, my brother George, his wife Freda, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. Taki, Sophie, Kari, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, uh, Nikki, and I am Gus.
  • In Horton Hears a Who!, Morton mentions that Vlad is after Horton. Horton inquires as to whether he means Vlad the Vulture, or Vlad the bunny who gives out cookies.
  • In Goodfellas, Karen's narration at her wedding reception mentions the abundance of Peters, Pauls and Maries among the guests.
  • The movie Pirates Of Silicon Valley, about the early days of Microsoft and Apple, had three characters who were really named Steve - Jobs, Wozniak, and Ballmer. Risk of confusion was removed by using Ballmer's last name and Wozniak's nickname of 'Woz'.
  • The animated Ralph Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings felt that the names Sauron and Saruman were too similar, and so Saruman was renamed to "Aruman". Although they still called him Saruman half the time.
  • Played with in the baseball movie Major League: Back to the Minors. Finding that he has two Juan's on his team, the manager denotes them Juan1 and Juan2. A pitcher with a psychology degree comments about it possibly giving them issues. The manager asks if he'd like to be Juan3.
  • Black Doug and White Doug in The Hangover.
  • The Rocky series has two "Duke"s: a good Duke who was Apollo Creed's trainer until Apollo died and then became Rocky's trainer, and an evil Duke who is Tommy Gunn's manager and just wants to make money out of him. Both Dukes are black.
    • Also, Rocky's son is Rocky Jr.
  • The police station in Hot Fuzz has two Andys working there.
    • Whose last names are Wainwright and Cartwright respectively. Both names have the same origin: they both mean "wagon maker"
  • In The Terminator, the Terminator kills two other women named Sarah Connor before targeting the future mother of John Connor.
    • Justified, as the titular robot has no idea what Sarah Connor looks like or exactly which one he's after, but does know what town Sarah will be living in, so he just goes through the phonebook and ices each one on the list.
    • Also in The Terminator, it's easy to miss but the police detectives with the surnames Traxler and Vukovich have the same first name: Ed.
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, the producers purposefully changed the name of the historical Raymond of Tripolis to Tiberias because they were afraid the audience would mistake him for Reynald de Chatillon.
  • In Blazing Saddles, the entire town of Rock Ridge is named "Johnson". Best not to dwell on it...
  • xXx has "The Ivans."
  • The Infernal Affairs trilogy has two women called Mary both of whom are successive love objects for Ming.
  • The Ju On franchise has two characters called Kyoko. The first one, who has psychic powers and thus can sense that something is very, very wrong with the house, appears in the first two movies, and the second one is (arguably) the protagonist of the fourth movie.
  • Casino Royale (1967) has Sir James Bond pulled out of retirement, his name and number already given to the one we all know - spearheading a campaign against SMERSH, he gives all his agents (men and women alike) the name James Bond, to keep the enemy confused.
  • Averted in The Golden Compass where Word of God changed Iofur's (pronounced like Yo-Fur) name to the much more evil sounding Ragnar because it sounded too close to Iorek (said as Yor-ek).
  • Averted subtly in Unforgiven where the protagonist is called William and the antagonist is called Bill (which is, of course, the short form of William).
  • Subverted in Letters to Juliet when two Patricias get confused as she thinks there is only one.
    • To clarify the above point, Sophie gets mistaken when Charlie introduces her to Patricia, recognizing the name of his ex-girlfriend. It turns out that this Patricia at the wedding was his cousin.
    • Also averted with Lorenzo Bartolini, as there were dozens of men with that name.
  • The Hammer Horror films suffer from having a lot of characters share names. The Frankenstein movies have a seemingly endless line of guys named Hans, while the Dracula movies seem to have an infestation of Pauls.
  • Out On A Limb, starring Matthew Broderick, has a pair of brothers both named Jim. "We were named after different people though. I'm named after our Dad, and he was named after our Grandpa."
  • Played VERY straight in the 2006 film Inside Man starring Denzel Washington and Clive Owen. The main plot of the movie involves a bank heist, led by Owen's character. To confuse the police, victims and any potential witnesses, the members of the heist crew call each other differing variants of "Steve": Stevie, Steve-Oh, etc. The rather amazing thing is how smoothly they work despite this.
  • American Beauty:
    Lester: That's our neighbour, Jim, and his partner... Jim.
  • Sister Bridget cruelly enforces this in The Magdalene Sisters. When Rose introduces herself she says they already have a Rose and has everyone call her by her middle name Patricia. Crispina's real name is Harriett so we could assume there was another Harriett in the laundry as well.
  • Averted in Slumdog Millionaire where Jamal searches the name Latika in the phone listings and gets over 3000 results. Even when he searches Salim K Malik he gets six results.
  • Averted in Black Swan. The director's name is Thomas. One minor character - one of Lily's friends at the nightclub - is named Tom.
  • Averted in, of all things, Plan 9 from Outer Space. Jeff's co-pilot is named Danny, and Tor Johnson's character is Inspector Daniel Clay. This is probably just another case of Ed Wood's general problems with internal continuity.
  • Averted in Gerry with the characters Gerry and Gerry. One of the few examples where this doesn't get confusing because they're the only two characters.
  • Averted in Mystery Men, with the leaders of the Disco Boys being Tony P and Tony C.
  • Averted in The Public Enemy. There are two guys named Patrick, but most of the time they're called Paddy Ryan and Pat Burke, so there's no reason to get confused.
  • The film Big Business stars Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin as two mixed-sets of twins. The two characters played by Tomlin are both called Rose, those played by Midler Sadie.
  • In Smiley Face, the protagonist's roommate is named Steve, as is her pot dealer. They are referred to as "Steve the roommate" and "Steve the dealer" respectively in the credits.
  • Totally shattered in the Finnish 1985 movie Calamari Union, which - depending on the source - features between 14 and 16 characters named Frank.
  • Subverted in the "Star Wars" movies, which feature the pilot Wedge Antilles, Captain Antilles of the Tantive IV, Bail Antilles (senator from Alderaan), Bail Organa (senator from Alderaan), Mace Windu (Jedi), and Mace (shipwreck survivor on Endor).
    • However, confusion over the Maces is unlikely, since Endor-Mace wasn't in the feature films, but a TV movie.
  • Viva Maria!'s main characters are both named Maria.
  • Considering its size, the Friday the 13th franchise has done a remarkably good job of playing this trope straight over the years. There is actually only one instance of two characters sharing the same name in the same movie (victims "Jim" and "Jim Carlson" both appear in Part VIII), but considering that the franchise spans 12 movies with well over a hundred named victims, it's pretty much inevitable that a few names would be recycled across installments. The most commonly used root name to date has been "Rob", which has been given to five different characters (Rob in The Final Chapter, Robin in Part V, a different Robin in Part VII, Admiral Robertson in Part VIII, and Robert Campbell in Jason Goes to Hell). And yes, all five of them die.
  • Averted and a major plot point in Jennifer 8 in which a cop called John is investigating several murders of blind women; when a fellow detective who's carrying a wire confronts the killer, he shouts "Not you, John! Not you!" before getting iced. The murderer is a cop called John, but the hero's John Berlin, while the killer is John Taylor.
  • Disregarded out of necessity in the Icelandic film Útlaginn, which is based on Gísla saga Súrssonar. A common complaint among foreign viewers is that the characters more or less look alike and bear similar names. "Just when you've distinguished one character from another, he gets killed."
  • The Distinguished Gentleman: The protagonist swindles his way into Congress by invoking this trope, capitalizing on the fact that his name is very similar to a recently deceased Congressman. Nobody realizes that "Jeff Johnson" isn't the politician they are accustomed to until he shows up to give his acceptance speech. He decides to do it again at the end of the movie by running for President - his full name is Thomas Jefferson Johnson!
  • X-Men: Secretary Trask from X-Men: The Last Stand with Bolivar Trask from X-Men: Days of Future Past, thanks to a bit of retconing.

    Music 
  • When Kevin James LaBrie joined Dream Theater, he dropped his first name and adopted James as his stage name, to avoid having two Kevins in the band (along with Kevin Moore). The band still had two Johns, however.
    • And Mike Mangini has replaced Mike Portnoy as the drummer.
  • Deep Purple has had multiple singers, but the best known is Ian Gillan. The drummer is Ian Paice.
  • And Our Lady Peace frontman Michael Maida became Raine Maida to avoid confusion with guitarist Mike Turner (and possibly just to be more memorable.)
  • Progressive metal band Symphony X has three Michaels: Michael Romeo on guitars, Michael Pinnella on keyboards and Michael Lepond on bass guitar.
  • Extreme metal band Dimmu Borgir once had three Stians: Stian Thoresen (vocals, better known as Shagrath), Stian Arnesen (bass, better known as Nagash) and Stian Aarstad (keyboards, no stage name).
  • The Mike Doughty song "27 Jennifers" plays with this trope:
    I went to school with twenty-seven Jennifers
    Sixteen Jenns, ten Jennies and then there was her.
  • The core members of They Might Be Giants are John Flansburgh and John Linnell. They are often referred to by fans as "the Johns." For almost five years, their touring band of Dan Miller, Dan Hickey, and Danny Weinkauf was often called "the band of Dans." In 2004, Dan Hickey was replaced by Marty Beller, introducing a third name to the group.
  • Australian Pink Floyd introduce themselves on stage as six Bruces, four Sheilas, and Rolf.
  • When Long Island band Taking Back Sunday replaced their lead guitarist and back-up vocalist for the second time, they ended up with two Matts, Matt Rubano on bass and now Matt Fazzi on guitar. They differentiate by last name.
  • The Rodney Carrington song "Fred's Riding Fred" parodies this, as the narrator is drunk and can't remember the names of anyone in the story, so he names them all Fred. This includes the protagonist, the horse and the protagonist's girlfriend.
  • Helloween has Michael Weikath and had Michael Kiske. Weikath is frequently referred to as "Weiki" and Kiske is occasionally "Michi" (though "Michi" seems to be more a fangirl thing).
  • Partial example/subversion with Alice in Chains. The band had two bassists named Mike, but not at the same time.
  • Relient K has Matthew, John, Matthew, Jon, and Matthew Dave Ethan.
  • The Academy Is... has Mike Carden (rhythm guitar) and Michael Guy Chislett (lead guitar). Before Chislett joined the band, the very first lineup included Mike Carden and Mike DelPrincipe (drums).
  • The Cab has Alex De Leon, Alex Marshal, and former member Alex Johnson.
  • Lacuna Coil has two Marcos, two Cristianos and a Cristina... and Andrea.
  • Placebo are a bit confusing with this, in that they replaced a drummer named Steve (Hewitt) with a drummer named Steve (Forrest). Also, the bassist's name is Stefan.
  • Led Zeppelin had a John (Bonham) and a John Paul (Jones). They did not have a John Paul George Ringo, however.
  • The Tea Party had two Jeffs (Martin and Burrows).
  • The Beatles had lead guitarist George Harrison and producer George Martin, which can lead to all sorts of confusion when you're reading about the production of certain albums.
  • Bruce McCullough from The Kids in the Hall had a song called "Daves I Know", each verse being about a different Dave (or David) from his life.
  • Marillion has two members actually named Steve: lead singer Steve Hogarth and lead guitarist Steve Rothery. They are often referred to as "h" and "Rothers" respectively to avoid confusion.
  • Def Leppard have two "Rick"'s, Rick Allen, the drummer, and Rick Savage, the bassist. Rick Savage is differentiated by the nickname "Sav". (Interestingly enough, they also had a "Steve", rhythm guitarist Steve Clark, who died in 1991.)
  • Australian band Powderfinger includes two Johns. One goes by JC, which doesn't really help since the other's surname also begins with C.
  • Averted by the short-lived supergroup GTR, featuring progressive guitar heroes Steve Howe and Steve Hackett.
  • Also, in the band Toto, guitarist Steve Lukather and keyboardist Steve Porcaro.
  • When he formed Dexys Midnight Runners, Kevin Rowland insisted that Kevin Archer (the group's first guitarist) start going by his nickname "Al" Archer. Apparently, he even said, "There's only room for one Kevin in this band."
  • The Brechtian cabaret band The Tiger Lillies consists of Martin the Monster Clown lead singer, and two guys called Adrian.
  • From about 1995 to 2008 Nocturnal Rites had both Nils Norberg and Nils Eriksson in their line up. Norberg used to sign his autograph as "Nils2".
  • Danish pop band Alphabeat has six members: Anders, Stine, Anders, Rasmus, Anders, and Troels.
  • During their peak, Duran Duran had three members all with the last name Taylor. Not one of them was in any way related to either of the other two.
  • Devo has both Robert Mothersbaugh and Robert Casale. They are generally referred to as Bob1 and Bob2.
  • Jon Anderson left Yes in the late 70s and Trevor Horn took his spot for the album Drama before the band went on hiatus. When they reformed for 90125, Anderson returned as vocalist, but Trevor Rabin became their new guitar player, and Horn produced the album.
  • Kevin Crompton (Cevin Key), Kevin Ogilvie (Nivek Ogre), and Dave "Rave" Ogilvie of Skinny Puppy.
  • Journey has/had three Steves: Steve Perry (lead singer), Steve "Smitty" Smith (drummer) and Steve Augeri (lead singer following Perry's departure from the band.
  • The original lineup of Pink Floyd technically had two Rogers, but it wasn't much of an issue because Roger Barrett was already going by Syd before the band started.
  • US thrash metal band Whiplash is an odd example as one of their Rock Trio lineups had two Anthonys and one Tony, but they all performed as Tonys.
  • The Spice Girls had two Melanies. Melanie B (Scary Spice) and Melanie C (Sporty Spice). The initials remained in their stage name as they started solo careers, although Scary was simply known as Mel B.
  • Vocaloid has both a Miku and a Miki.
  • The Eagles have Don Henley and Don Felder.
  • REM has both Michael Stipe and Mike Mills.
  • Funeral for a Friend has the lead singer Matt Davies and former bassist Gareth Davies. For the band's first three albums, they used these names and were constantly asked if they were brothers. They got tired of this, so for their fourth album Memory And Humanity, Matt changed his surname to Davies-Kreye and Gareth changed his to Ellis-Davies. Gareth ultimately left before the album was released, so not many people actually referred to him by that name anyway. Matt has kept his. Since the start of the band, Kris Roberts had already been going by Coombs-Roberts, so the double barreled thing was actually a trend in the band.
  • Sound Horizon's Roman takes the aversion to the logical extreme, where just about every male character is named Laurant.
  • Paul and Storm have some songs supposedly by a barbershop quartet entirely made up of guys named "Barry". The fake band is called "The BarryTones".
  • Insomnium's original lineup consisted of Niilo Sevänen (vocals and bass), Markus Hirvonen (drums), and two guys named Ville on guitar. After Ville Vänni left the band, leaving Ville Friman as the only "Ville" in the band, his replacement was...another Markus.
  • Canadian band Martha and the Muffins (of Echo Beach fame) was named for singer Martha Johnson, but they also had keyboard player Martha Ladly during their successful period in 1979/80.
  • An early line-up of Whitesnake featured drummer Dave Dowle, known as 'Duck' to distinguish him from David Coverdale; he was soon ousted in favour of Coverdale's old Deep Purple mate Ian Paice.
    • The most recent line-up includes two Brians: drummer Brian Tichy and keyboard player Brian Ruedy.
  • KISS guitarist Ace Frehley's real first name is Paul; he used his nickname of 'Ace' to distinguish himself from Paul Stanley (who, ironically, is not a Paul at all. His real name is Stanley Eisen.) For similar reasons, Paul Caravello changed his name to Eric Carr upon joining the band as drummer.
  • Lampshaded by The Donnas who went by the names of Donna A, Donna R, Donna F and Donna C until reverting to their own names by their fourth album.
  • For a short time in 2010 Evanescence featured two members called Will Hunt, both drummers. Vocalist Amy Lee dubbed the 'new' one Will 'Science' Hunt during his time with the group.
  • Finnish power metallers Stratovarius (known for their tendency to be a Revolving Door Band) featured guitarist Timo Tolkki and vocalist Timo Kotipelto for several years until the former quit the band.
  • The Faces featured bass player Ronnie Lane and guitarist Ronnie Wood, the latter now better known as a Rolling Stone.
  • Two out of the three Beastie Boys are named Adam. They're usually referred to by their full names or stage names anyway - Adam Yauch is MCA while Adam Horovitz is Ad Rock.
    • The remainder of the group consisted of Mike D and DJ Mixmaster Mike.
  • David Bowie's real name is David Jones, but assumed the surname of Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees.
  • Sheena Easton's song "9 to 5" was renamed "Morning Train (9 to 5)" to avoid confusion with Dolly Parton's song "9 to 5."
  • Peter Gabriel has had 4 self-titled albums released, which were nicknamed after what was shown on the cover (Such as Car, and Scratch) Although in the United States, it was made so that the 4th was titled Security.
  • Super Group Fight or Flight was essentially started by Dan Donegan from Disturbed and Dan Chandler from Evans Blue.
  • The Yacht Rock Revue has 3 Marks in it. Mark Bencuya is typically addressed by his last name, Mark Dannells is nicknamed "Monkey Boy", and Mark Cobb writes his name with a ? in front ("Question Mark", get it?)
  • Foster The People has two Marks, singer Mark Foster and drummer Mark Pontius, out of three total members.
  • Neuraxis once had two Oliviers in the band (Pinard and Beaudoin); amusingly enough, Despised Icon (started by former drummer Alexandre Erian) also had two Alexandres in the band (Erian and Pelletier).
  • Spawn Of Possession once had THREE Jonases in the band (Karlsson, Bryssling, and Renvaktar).

    Mythology and Religion 
  • A very old exception is the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde contains two characters named Isolde, both of whom pursue a romance with Tristan. The two are typically referred to as "Isolde of Ireland" and "Isolde of Brittany" to minimize confusion.
  • Arthurian Legend on the whole is bad about this. There were at least four Elaines, three of which were associated with Lancelot: Elaine of Benoic (his mother), Elaine of Astolat (the Lady of Shalott), and Elain of Carbonek (the mother of Galahad). The last was one of Arthur's interchangeable third half-sisters, and to make matters more confusing, T.H. White combined Astolat and Carbenok in The Once and Future King. Yet another Elaine was Percival's mother-in-law. There were also three Guineveres, two of which were half-sisters/twins known as the "True Guinevere" and the "False Guinevere." The True Guinevere was Arthur's wife, although the false one switched places with her on at least one occasion. Partly this is because the French re-tellings adapted the original Old Welsh names of the sisters Gwenhwyfar and Gwenhwyfach in such a manner that they became identical, although given that these names mean "Gwenhwy the Greater" and "Gwenhwy the Lesser", respectively, it's not really much better.
  • The Bible
    • Jesus' twelve apostles included two Jameses, two Simons and (according to some gospels at least) two Judases. Furthermore Jesus' own brothers included another James, Simon and Judas. Oh, and then there's John the Baptist, John the Apostle, John the Evangelist (who may or may not be the apostle) and John from the Book of Revelation who may the apostle, the evangelist, or a different John altogether. People would try to avoid praying to the loyal Judas for fear that it would be answered by the more famous one, so he only got the prayers of the truly desperate, who had tried beseeching everyone else. St Jude thus became the Patron Saint of Lost Causes.
    • There are an astounding numbers of Marys that appear in the New Testament. The Virgin Mary, obviously, but then there's Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany (who may or may not be the same person—Catholics believe they are, Eastern Orthodox don't), and a few others. "Mary" comes from the Greek rendering of "Miriam", the name of Moses's sister, which has always been a popular Jewish name.
    • Jesus/Joshua/Yeshua was just about the most popular boy's name in New Testament times given the political climate, which is why Jesus was often referred to with the qualifier "of Nazareth"; according to some people, Barabbas (the guy who was released in Jesus' place) was also named Jesus.
    • There are two Noahs in the Old Testament, one of whom was a woman. That's because the one who built the ark is properly called "Noach". The Hebrew pronunciation of the two names is quite different.
    • There are two Michaiahs too, again a man and woman.
    • Or Elijah and his disciple, and also prophet, Elisha.
    • A more direct example would be Jeroboam and Jeroboam II, two unrelated kings of Israel.
    • Manasseh: son of Joseph the patriarch, or initially-wicked king who repented?
    • Rahab, the woman from Jericho who repented or the sea monster that got put down?
    • There are two men named Lazarus in the New Testament, but one of them is fictional (a character made up by Jesus for a parable).
  • In Greek Mythology, Ajax the Great (Ajax son of Telamon) and Ajax the Lesser (Ajax of Locris) were both Greek warlords in the Trojan War, and figure in The Iliad.
  • Averted with Robin Hood. We have both Little John and Prince John, and Will Stuteley and Will Scarlet.
  • One Russian fairy tale centered around two identical brothers who were both named Ivan. Also, nearly every male protagonist in Russian fairy tales is an Ivan.
    • There are also some versions of a fairy tale involving Ivan Tsarevich (son of the Tsar), Ivan the Maid's Son and Ivan Bykovich (the Cow's Son). They fight three dragons, all called Chudo-Yudo.
  • In Norse Mythology, we have the more famous Loki son of Laufey, a giant who lives with the gods in Asgård, and the less famous giant Utgarda-Loki, who lives in the castle of Utgard in Jotunheim. There's also Logi, when he is separate from Loki Laufeyson (the word (and sometimes name) Logi isn't actually related to the name Loki — it means something like 'destroying fire' — but sounds close enough that even the Norse seems to have gotten them mixed up at times).

    Professional Wrestling 

    Radio 
  • Parodied in the BBC comedy Deep Trouble, which in its second series had an Alison and an Alice. But since the show is set on a submarine, everyone is usually referred to by rank and surname anyway (and Alice Barry in fact insists on being called Barry).
  • BBC comedy The Burkiss Way once featured a group of servants who were all called Rose, male and female alike, since they could only afford one name between them.
  • Truth in Television, or rather Truth In Radio for that matter. 96 Trent FM (now known as Trent FM) had Matt Wilkinson presenting afternoons and Matt Wilkins appearing at various times of the day. Hilarity Ensues. Confusion reigns. So Matt Wilkins became Matt Marsden, on Trent FM at least. Now he's at Key 103 under his original name.
  • The Archers: Edward "Eddie" Grundy, and his second son, Edward "Ed" Grundy.
  • Round the Horne had Kenneth Horne and Kenneth Williams.
  • Old Harry's Game had a demon called Gary in series 1, and a dimwitted teenager called Gary in the first episode of series 6.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Often averted in Warhammer 40,000. Because the epic, millennia-spanning scale of the lore, this is sometimes because characters appearing later in the timeline are named in honor of earlier ones, such as the famous Commissar Sebastian Yarrick, whose parents named him after legendary crusader and church reformer Sebastian Thor, though there are also a few who are contemporaries in the very same story, such as Big Bad Horus Lupercal and his idealistic subordinate "Little" Horus Aximand in the Horus Heresy prequel novels.

    Theater 
  • In William Shakespeare's plays:
    • Similar to the bible example above is The Comedy of Errors, which involves two sets of identically named identical twins separated at birth and maintaining the same bourgeois/servant relationship. Hilarity Ensues.
    • As You Like It, for no particular reason (i.e. makes no particular mention of it in the story, unlike Comedy of Errors), has two characters named Oliver (Orlando's eldest brother and the country priest) and two characters named Jaques (Orlando's middle brother and the melancholy wit in Duke Senior's retinue).
    • The history plays have a lot of duplicate names, because real history is like that. Shakespeare did try to reduce their number, though; for example, Lord Richard Grey and Sir Richard Ratcliffe — both characters in Richard III — are referred to by their last names only.
      • Lampshaded in Richard III where Queen Margaret starts riffing on the remarkable bodycount of the past few plays in Act IV, Scene iv: "I had an Edward, till a Richard kill'd him; I had a Henry, till a Richard kill'd him: Thou hadst an Edward, till a Richard kill'd him; Thou hadst a Richard, till a Richard kill'd him..." and it goes on from there. There's a special kind of pride that comes from hearing that scene and actually knowing who all the Henries, Richards, and Edwards were.
      • Henry IV Part 1 is basically about a war between King Henry and Prince Henry versus Henry Percy and his son Henry Percy. They get the last name / title / nickname treatment in the script, though.
    • And in The Taming of the Shrew we have Gremio and Grumio. Good luck remembering which is which.
    • A Midsummer Night's Dream gives us Puck, known by the euphemism "Robin Goodfellow", but in addition to him, we have Robin Starveling, the tailor.
    • Julius Caesar had both Cinna the conspirator and Cinna the poet. Unfortunately for Cinna the poet.
      • As well as five Marks: Antony, Lepidus, Cicero, Brutus, and Corvinus.
  • In the Stage Version of Bugsy Malone Joe is a recurring name.
  • RENT has two (minor) Steves: one of them is a member of the Life Support group (so we know that he is named after a friend of Larson's who died of AIDS), and the other is one of the (unseen) people Joanne is talking to on the phone in We're Okay. It's also not entirely impossible that these are the same person, but it's not relevant or interesting or significant in any way if they are.
  • Notably averted in 1776, in which the two main characters are both named John (Adams and Dickinson). In point of fact, there are no less than four Johns in the show (Adams (MA), Dickinson (PA), Hancock (MA), and Witherspoon (CT)). There's also the Georges (Reed (DE) and Washington (VA)) and Thomases (Jefferson (VA) and McKean (DE)). However, since they usually address each other as "Mr. Lastname," it doesn't really matter.
  • Similarly, The Crucible is based on historical fact and so features a number of characters with the same name—in this case, also John: Proctor, Hale, and Hathorne. However, like in 1776, this never becomes an issue because most of the men are referred to by surname. The only man referred to as John is Proctor. Also in the play are Thomas Danforth and Thomas Putnam.
    • However, in real life there were two Ann Putnams, a mother and daughter, the younger of which was the leader of the 'afflicted girls'. Ann Putnam the elder is in the play, but her daughter is only mentioned, and when she is she is called Ruth Putnam.
  • The Amish in Plain and Fancy have four Jacob Yoders and two Abner Zooks. Fortunately, only one Jacob Yoder appears in the show, though Fat Jacob Yoder and Hairy Jacob Yoder are mentioned.
  • Completely averted in Yeast Nation, in which every character is named Jan. Every single one. (Of course, it's written by the same guys what did Urinetown, so...)
  • The play Society Shell features four upper class women all named Mary. They are mostly on a full name basis amongst themselves.

    Toys 
  • Noticably averted in BIONICLE where most of the names are made up words. Several locations are named after legendary beings, examples being Mata Nui, Artakha, and Karzahni, the latter having a sentient plant named after him.
    • Also, some of the names sound similar: Krekka, Krahka, Krika, Krakua; Onewa, Onua
  • Transformers falls into this sometimes. In the live-action films, a character named "Brawl" is erroneously referred to as "Devastator". This is fine and dandy, but he is called "Brawl" in his toys and licensed media. Then, Revenge of the Fallen introduces the Constructicons, a bunch of Transformers that combine to create a colossal Decepticon... by the name of "Devastator". In Transformers Cybertron, one of the Mini-Cons is named Thunderblast, which just so happens to be the name of a Decepticon in the same series. In addition, several characters tend to have similar-sounding names, i.e. Soundwave and Shockwave, Optimus Prime and Optimus Primal, Ravage and Rampage, etc.
    • In the scope of the entire franchise, some names get used a lot. Aside from the typical Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream and Bumblebee in pretty much every line-up, there was a point in the mid-2000s when around five toys were named "Prowl", and they represented anywhere between two to four different characters.
  • My Little Pony suffered from this during the middle of its G1 run. There were two "Twilight"s, two "Sniffles", two "Snookums", three "Sea Breeze"s, and many ponies with the name "Cuddle"s. The G3 line reused many names from G1 and the G2 line reused certain names too. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic took a few characters in the toy lines and reused their names, though changing the designs for several.

    Visual Novels 
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has Jirou Tomitake and Daiki Tomita — both of whom are almost always addressed or referred to by their surnames. Incidentally, they both happen to look similar, though Tomita is just a minor character. Plus, Tomitake's name is implied to be an alias, anyway.
  • Averted in Umineko no Naku Koro ni, where the Ushiromiya family's human butler Genji's family name ("Ronoue") is pronounced almost exactly the same as the name of Beatrice's demon butler ("Ronove"). This is implied to be because Ronove is one of Yasu's many Imaginary Friends, and he/she based Ronove off of Genji. To further reinforce this, a flashback in the EP8 manga reveals that young Genji looked very much like Ronove.
  • SHUFFLE has two Rins: the male lead and one of the love interests (in her case it's short for Nerine). Sometimes you can tell which character is being addressed by the honorifics used. For instance, when Sia uses the affectionate term "Rin-chan", she means Nerine; she likes Rin but doesn't know him as well, so he's usually "Rin-kun" unless she's being very serious.
  • An important plot point in Tsukihime. The main character and the Big Bad are both called Tohno Shiki. The main character is adopted, in fact, it seems the main reason he was adopted was because the head of the family thought that it was amusing that he had the same name as his son.
    • The two names are spelled differently in kanji though, so after The Reveal there's no confusion whatsoever to the readers. It had previously been assumed that he just wrote his name in katakana as kid out of laziness. English fans of the series write out SHIKI in all caps to differentiate.
    • Then there is Tohno Shiki's alter ego Nanaya Shiki.
    • Interestingly, the author also used this exact name confusion thing in Kara no Kyoukai. It's even the same name: Shiki. Again, they're spelled differently in kanji and in fact both of them are different from both of the spellings in Tsukihime. Furthermore, this Shiki has three personalities.
    • So all in all, there are six different characters that bear the name Shiki in the Nasuverse.
  • The first case of Ace Attorney - Justice for All has two witnesses; Dick Gumshoe and Richard Wellington. Though the name similarity isn't pointed out at all, since their names were completely different in the original Japanese version. Similarly, the series also features Larry Butz and Lawrence Curls, though they don't even appear in the same game. The English version of Ace Attorney Investigations plays this trope straight and dodges it, changing the character Zinc White's name, probably to avoid any connection to Redd White from the first game. One case has two characters named Manny Coachen and Manfred von Karma, although the latter's a character from an earlier game.
  • Dangan Ronpa averts this, since Celestia Ludenberg's real name is Taeko Yasuhiro, and there's another character named Yasuhiro Hagakure. This provides a big clue towards figuring out who the murderer is in Chapter 3.

    Web Comics 
  • This XKCD has an Alt Text which jokes that, when so many hurricanes form in one season that all 21 pre-set names, all letters of the Greek alphabet, every single other word in the Oxford English Dictionary and all NUMBERS have been exhausted, the exasperated meteorological community will collectively throw their hands in the air and name every single hurricane as "Hurricane Steve". Your forecast for this evening: Steve.
  • Played with in Girl Genius. The one pair of characters that have the same name turn out to be the same person.
    • The same comic's Aaronev Wilhelm Sturmvoraus Fürst von Sturmhalten, Transylvanian-German aristocrat, and Sanaa Wilhelm, Transylvanian-German convict, provide an excellent example of WHY this trope exists. Some fans insist they are related, despite the fact that in 19th-century Central Europe, Wilhelm isn't just a common name, it's the common name. (It's ultimately revealed that not only is Sanaa not related to Aaronev, "Wilhelm" isn't even her real surname.)
  • Alice has main characters named "Joan" and "Joanne".
  • The Wotch has Samantha Wolf and Samantha Smith, Allison Taverner and Allison Wise, and Miranda West and Sarah West (not related).
  • Tailsteak's apparently currently defunct Band is composed of Paul Henderson, Brian Smith the willowy übergeek, Brian Smith the hulking drummer, and Tyler, the alien/demon/squid. Neither Smith ever reveals his middle name or answers to a nickname, having sworn a "blood oath" to that effect.
  • In The Order of the Stick, when Roy announces that he's here to get revenge for the murder of his father's master, Fyron, the villain asks him to be more specific, since he's killed five people named Fyron in that town alone.
    • Certain "nameless" titles can also have this problem, as Nale learned while looking for a new wizard:
    Warthog: I think you'll really like this next one. We call him...The One Who Must Not Be Named.
    Nale: Another one? Good gods, man, that's eleven so far who Must Not Be Named. Not To mention the four Who Must Not Be Looked At, the two Who Must Not Be Spoken To, and the one Who Must Not Be Toilet-Trained!
  • Narbonic features a secret society of people called Dave and a woman with the same name as her mother because she's a clone.
  • Troop 37 has two spoiled cheerleaders named Melissa with nickname Missy.
  • Arthur, King of Time and Space uses a variant spelling for Iseulte of Ireland to distinguish her from Isolde of Brittany. It keeps all the Elaines, though, and the "false Guenevere" in the fairy tale arc (in the contemporary arc she's called Fascha, and is Guenevere's full sister).
  • Parodied in a Ctrl+Alt+Del strip.
  • El Goonish Shive parodies this here.
    • Also, Imortals pick their names when they are reborn, and it's usually mythology based. Apparently, the hissy fits when two Zeuses meet is histerical.
    • At one point, Susan complains that "Tom is a jackass". Tom - but not the one Susan meant - takes offense momentarily. A Running Gag in The Rants is that this Tom, who has thus far not appeared outside of one panel, is in fact a shining paragon of goodness, unlike the Tom Susan was actually complaining about.
  • Kevin Pease's Absurd Notions, during its college run, reversed this for a joke. (The archive commentary notes that the real joke is the ubiquity of the name "Jennifer" in the early seventies. Later on in the strip two Jen Greens appear, but they quickly get the initialism nicknames Jyg and Jag.)
  • Mountain Time is rife with people (and monsters) named Paul. There's even a Paula or two.
  • Melonpool's cast is the comedic version of this trope. First you have Ralph (evil genius) and Ralphie (Ralph's good clone). And then you have Sam (the talking dog), and Sammy (the giant talking hamster). Sammy's very far from intelligent, though, and just picked the first name he liked.
  • Lampshaded in Questionable Content: When we are introduced to Marigold, she mentions the name "Angus". When recurring character Angus later shows up, Dora says "I thought she mentioned your name!". Granted, there aren't a lot of people named "Angus", but still...
  • Parodied in Ansem Retort. When the main cast (with Riku) went into hiding, there was a supporting fill in cast, with Rikku. Darth Maul just referred to her as "girl Rikku".
  • The Problem Sleuth story of MS Paint Adventures had a ball with this; by the end there were at least 6 variations of Pickle Inspector, numerous Ace Dicks, and a few Problem Sleuths, and multiple timelines for all of them. This resulted in an occasional page dedicated to explaining who was doing what. Justified in that they were all variants of the original characters.
    • Homestuck subverts this in a similar way. Objectively, no characters share a name, despite the long list of them. (It helps that the two main sets of characters are separated by culture and species, allowing a lot of Aerith and Bob.) However, many characters interact with their own future or past personas.
    • Plus, presumably all game concept characters, such as Jack Noir, Cetus, and PM carry over into each session of Sburb. While ostensibly being the same person and sharing a basic personality, the variations of each character sometimes are quite different, only sharing the initials of their title. Spades Slick, for example, while still ruthless, is much less bloodthirsty than the Sovereign Slayer.
      • Played straight later with the post-Scratch Guardians presumably having the same names as the pre-Scratch Kids, and Rose and Dave's iterations have the same "titles" as their guardians in the Beta Session, meaning there are 2 Mom Lalondes and 2 Bro Striders. Also, a third set of Dersite Agents was introduced, which means there are three separate characters running around, all named Jack Noir.
      • Of course, accounting for the Jack Noir that killed Calliope, there are actually four.
    • Both the Aimless Renegade and Dirk Strider's Auto Responder are referred to as "AR" until the latter renames itself Lil Hal.
  • In Fans!!' second year, one of the new members was named Tim, but there was already a Tim on the major cast. (The strip where the new Tim introduced himself had the page title "God Made Two of 'Em".) Characters and readers alike generally called the new one "Tim the Fanboy". Eventually, two developments reduced the ambiguity: Tim adopted a new name (as part of his Face-Heel Turn), and we found out his unabbreviated name was Timin, whereas the other Tim is presumably a Timothy.
  • While Everyday Heroes does, in fact, have only one Steve, it had at one point two Janes (who were members of the villainous team "The Jane Gang").
    • Also, the neighborhood moms are named Jane, Joan, June, Jenny, Ginny, and so on ...
  • In Li'l Mell (featuring the young version of Mell Kelly from Narbonic), there are two girls named Taylor (one blonde caucasian, one dark-haired Asian), and their male counterparts named Tyler.
  • Coga Suro has, in fact, precisely one Steve; the main character.
  • Subverted in Spinnerette, where the main character learns that the name Spinnerette is already a name used by a spider-themed (Specifically, Drow-themed) villainess. The character is later referred to as Evil Spinnerette by everyone else.
  • Lampshaded (and subverted!) in this Multiplex strip.
  • In Wright as Rayne, the last name of Dorothy, the girl Alex Rayne winds up in the body of, is Wright, which is also the last name of one of Power's mooks. Word of God has it the two aren't related in any way.
  • Parodied in this Treading Ground strip where a manager refers to two employees as Nate and Black Nate, even though their names are Nate and Jimi.
  • In Charby the Vampirate, one of the Rose Sisters (who initially only appeared in one strip but later returned) is named Rosemary, and one of Zerlocke's sisters (introduced much later, but a much more important character) is also named Rosemary. When the Rose Sister found out there was someone else named Rosemary, her response was "Whaat? There can be only one! Destroy her!" (She was talked out of it).
  • Averted in Elf Blood where one of the lead characters, Mara, shares her name with (and indeed was probably named after) the Elves' Mother Goddess.
  • In The Dreamer, there are two characters named Benjamin - Benjamin Cato and Benjamin Tallmadge. Cato lives in the 21st century, while Tallmadge lives in the 18th century.
  • Subverted in The Word Weary with Sam and Sam 2.
  • Averted, probably accidentally, by Ménage à 3 and its spin-off Sandra on the Rocks, which feature a Sandra, a Sonya, and a Senna. (And a Suzi, but everyone calls her "Zii".) The occasional confusion resulting on discussion boards may be as good a demonstration as any of why the rule is a good idea. For bonus points, some posters seem to insist on referring to Sonya as "Sonja".
  • Tails Of Lanschilandia gives us Lanschi and King Lanschi, who are not the same person and presumably not related. There's also Lanschi's brother Panschi.

    Web Original 
  • Homestar Runner does this in action film spoof Dangeresque 1: Dangeresque Too? The hard-boiled detective Dangeresque (played by Strong Bad) is assigned a partner also named Dangeresque (played by Homestar); the latter is usually called "Dangeresque Too".
    • There's also Science Fiction Greg and D&D Greg from the Teen Girl Squad 'toons. The TGS spin-off "4 Gregs" introduced Open Source Greg, Japanese Culture Greg, and minor character Regular Greg.
  • Subverted in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, where Marik's Millennium Rod can only control people whose names are, of course, Steve. Given that Marik controls a bunch of one-shot characters with it, the series ends up with a lot of Steves.
    • It is revealed that only one of their names has to be Steve; "Steve" Arcana, Steve Jobs, and Keith Steve Howard (Bandit Keith) are all under his control at some point. Later, he mind controls Joey and Téa by tricking them into legally changing their names to Steve.
    • At a convention, LK explained the background of the entire gag, mentioning that in his version, "Steve" has pretty much become another word for "henchman".
  • Survival of the Fittest has had duplicates of several (first) names, including that of the winner of version 1. The nature of the RP, of course, renders this trope essentially unenforceable.
  • Ruby Quest has two characters named Tom. The players more or less ignored the fairly obvious hints for this, resulting in quite a shock for many when it was finally revealed.
  • v3 of Open Blue featured a Colonel Jackson and a Sergeant Jackson. One commanded a brigade of troops from the five major countries of The Federation, and the other commanded a The Squad of Praetorian Guard from a single country. The two were as familially related as their job descriptions are similar.
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, a surprisingly large number of characters were named either "James" or "Anne" in their secret identities. The setting also contained no less than three Defenders, two Brawlers, two characters called The Magician, two Speed Demons, and at least three Crusaders.
  • In the MSF High Forum, there have been reuses of Echo, Mira, and even Jessica. Also invoked, when an NPC changed her name to Echoe, or a variation thereof, to fix things. As this is a forum, similar-sounding but differently spelled names are okay.
  • One of the scenes in the Animutation "Irrational Exuberance" riffs on this, saying "There can be only one" Dave Thomas and then using "Worthington's Law: more money = better than)" to eliminate the less successful of the two.
  • Behind The Veil has some of the more common names repeated, but the one that takes the cake is the tale of the two Jons: Both are Bone Gnawers, Theurges, at the same sept.
  • Since the Whateley Universe has such a massive number of named characters, it's not surprising that there are lots of names occurring more than once. Like Elaine: Elaine Nalley and Elaine Fleischer are both gorgeous mutants with The Most Common Superpower, and they're both inventors. When they both went on Phase's birthday trip to Boston, Elaine Nalley went by 'Doc' to avoid confusion among the other guests. On the other hand, the school does enforce rules about distinct codenames for everyone.
  • The Angry Joe Show features several appearances by one of Angry Joe's friends, also named Joe. To distinguish between the two, he's often referred to as "Other Joe."
  • Red vs. Blue has two Franks (Franklin Delano Donut and Frank Du Fresne), but like the rest of the cast, both are always referred to by their nicknames Donut and Doc respectively. There's also three Leonard Churches (Doctor Leonard Church, Alpha, and Epsilon) and three Allisons (the original, the original Agent Texas, and the Epsilon-created Agent Texas). None of the three Allisons co-existed (and the original is barely even referenced), and the Churches are generally called "the Director"/"Director Church"/"Doctor Church", Church/Alpha, and Church/Epsilon. Still, it gets confusing when it comes to fan theories. "And then Church did this." "Wait, do you mean Alpha-Church or Epsilon-Church?"
  • Ultra Fast Pony has a main character named Twilight, and an occasionally recurring character named Blue Twilight. The names highlight the fact that these are foils for each other. (UFP is an abridged series, and in the original, unabridged canon, Blue Twilight was named Trixie.) A later episode introduces Yellow Twilight—she's the Author Avatar of an Ascended Fangirl who wrote herself into the series as Blue Twilight's twin sister.
  • Tales From My D&D Campaign has the adventuring party recruit Daggerface, a dwarf driven insane by torture. They are very confused when they later learn they are being pursued by a bounty hunter named... Daggerface. The hunter turns out to be a warforged (magicpunk robot) whose face is literally a sextet of protruding blades.
  • Given the size of the Yogscast, it was probably inevitable that there would turn out to be a few aversions. Given their aliases, it's normally not too much of a problem.
    • There are two individuals named Sam. The first is Strippin, the second is Sam Gibbs, one of the audio engineers.
    • With the addition of Hat Films to the group, there are now three people called Alex. The first is Parv (also from Area 11), the second is Alsmiffy and the third is one of the editors. The group's addition also means that there are two people called Chris- both Trott and Sips.
    • The most extreme example would be with the name Tom. No less than four people in the group have it as their first name- Sparkles*, Tom Perkins (aka IBringTheFunk), Tom Bates and Angor. To make matters worse, Sparkles* and Angor have almost identical names, with only a missing "e" to differentiate.
  • Averted and lanpshaded on Extra Credits, with the three Dans. There's Dan Floyd, the narrator, Other Dan, who helps with editing and behind the scenes work, and Dan #3, the new artist. Confusion starts almost immediately.
  • Averted in brewstew, where the narrator describes two Zacharys and two Davids that he knows. There's Zachary, the kid everyone hates because he's a snitch, has ADHD, and won't stop TALKING ABOUT MONSTER TRUCKS! And then there's Zachary, the kid across the narrator's street who is not quite like everyone else because he likes Beetleborgs rather than Power Rangers. The first Zachary has glasses while the other does not. Then, there's David, Tyler's best friend during cub scouts, who got last place in the Pinewood Derby and got sold off into child slavery in Nigeria. And then there's his cousin, David, who created the "Shitmas Tree".

    Western Animation 
  • Recess has a Girl Posse of non-identical looking, but identical in personality, rich fourth grade snobs named Ashley, who identify each other by name and last initial. One of the six protagonists is always called by her last name, Spinelli, because her first name is Ashley, and she is as different from the Ashleys as could possibly be.
    • Later episodes reveal the Ashleys all have sisters named Britney in kindergarten and brothers in third grade named Tyler.
    • One episode had Spinelli meet a group of girls who were all named Megan, a deliberate parallel to the Ashleys.
  • Justice League features John Stewart, the Green Lantern, and J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter. The Flash sometimes refers to them as "The Two Johns." In addition, Closed Captioning for the episodes will sometimes get the names mixed up. Even so, "J'onn" is usually pronounced more like the French "Jean" while Stewart is often referred to as "Lantern" or "G.L.", to mitigate this.
    • Red Tornado is also John Smith. (Though he rarely goes by this name even off duty.)
    • A minor example, from the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Once and Future Thing" part I:
    Lash: Friends called me Bat, Bat-Lash.
    John Stewart: I am John. This is my friend Diana and, er—
    Batman (grimly): Bruce.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy, after a fashion. Edd is usually addressed as "Double-D". The other kids generally call all of them "the Eds".
  • The Oblongs has the Debbies.
  • The Tick had an episode called "The Tick Versus The Tick", in which The Tick had to fight a guy named Barry, who also used "The Tick" as his superhero name and wasn't keen on sharing.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine/The Railway Series:
    • The Railway Series had a bus named Bertie, and a Small Railway engine named Bert.
    • The TV series had a bus named Bertie, a diesel named Bert, and a Narrow Gauge engine named Bertrum.
    • It also featured tank engines named Bill (introduced in Season 2) and Billy (Season 11).
    • Perhaps the most obvious example of all, Diesel in Duck and the Diesel Engine and Diesel in Stepney the Bluebell Engine.
    • Then we also have Henry, Henrietta, and Hank (which is a pet form of the name Henry). 'Arry could also fit here, as Harry can derive from Henry and Harold (the latter of which is also the name of the helicopter).
  • The 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon has two characters whose names can confuse the viewers due to their similarities. There's April's boss named Burne (confused as Verne) and her rival named Vernon.
  • Kim Possible had a student named Ron Reager at the high school. His initial appearance was just for a joke on his sharing a name with Ron Stoppable, but he actually made two more appearances in the Post Script Season!
    • Invoked in another episode, when Dr. Drakken is flabbergasted to learn that the upstart teenager who's always foiling his plans is the daughter of his old college roommate, whose mockery drove him to the evil side of mad science. He tries to claim that he never put it together before because Possible is a very common name, then wanders off to find a phone book when everyone points out that it's really not. The phone book does not help him.
  • The Simpsons has the Ancient Mystic Society of No-Homers; which means only one Homer can join. Unfortunately for Homer Simpson, it's already admitted a Homer Glumplich.
    • The Simpsons is particularly aversive of this trope: Homer and Ned's mothers are both named Mona, Chief Wiggum and Marge's father are both named Clancy, Prof. Frink and the camp accessory salesman from "Homer's Phobia" are both named John, notwithstanding the incredibly similar Carl (of Lenny and Carl) with Karl (Homer's one time secretary); the very closely related Eddie, Edna, and Ned (with the latter two eventually getting married; or Lou (a cop), Louie (a Mafia member), Lewis (a Living Prop), and Luann (Milhouse's mother). Plus rhyming names such as Rod, Todd, and Maude (all in one family); Sherri and Terri (Theme Twin Naming) or Moe and Joe (Mayor Quimby). Milhouse shared the same name as some random Shelbyville kid ("I thought I was the only one"). And that's not even mentioning Martin Prince or Waylon Smithers, who were named after their fathers (or the prominent first-season character Marvin Monroe, not to be confused with Martin). One particularly elusive one is the presence of two Charleses, one being the minor, bespectacled plant worker "Charlie" and the other being "C. Montgomery Burns" (though the latter almost always goes by "Monty" instead). There's also a gag about two people having the unlikely name of Bort. Of course, this is probably just a side-effect of Loads and Loads of Characters.
      • Chief Wiggum and Ralph Wiggum weren't related by design; they randomly wound up with the same last name, and later, having put two and two together, made them father and son.
    • An accidental reference to this trope appeared in the episode when they go to New York. Homer contacts the traffic authority over the phone and receives a pre-recorded message, with the specific details added in, in a man's voice. The message states that he "will be met by Officer Steve" "Grabowski"— that is, Steve is part of the pre-recorded message, implying that all of the officers are named Steve.
    • Another aversion: In "Waverly Hills 9-0-2-1-D'oh," there are three girls at Waverly Hills Elementary named Caitlin (with a "C"), Katelyn (with a "K"), and Kate Lynn (two words)
    • Yet another aversion: There are two Larrys: the bald guy that isn't Homer who can usually be seen at Moe's, and Mr. Burns's illegitimate son from "Burns, Baby Burns".
  • Sealab 2021 had Debbie and "Black Debbie," who in her first appearance protested her nickname and pointed out the other wasn't called "White Debbie." Some fans call Debbie "White Debbie" for this reason.
    Quinn: How would you like it if people called you "White Stormy"?
    Stormy: [confused] You mean, there's a Black Stormy?
    Quinn: [looooong pause] No.
  • Similarly, Code Monkeys has Black Steve, who was probably called that to differentiate himself from Gameavision's original owner Steve Wozniak, but he continues to be called that even after Wozniak sells the company to Mr. Larrity in the first episode.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • The very first episode, "On Leather Wings", had both Detective Harvey Bullock and District Attorney Harvey Dent (before the latter's Face-Heel Turn). The latter even addressed the former by name (which sounded a little strange). The former also had a Big Brother Instinct toward the latter in the episode "Pretty Poison", when he threateningly interrogated an entire restaurant staff after the latter was almost fatally poisoned there.
    • "I Am The Night" had, in addition to Commissioner James Gordon, a gangster nicknamed "Jazzman" whose real first name was "Jimmy." Amusingly, the latter attempted to kill the former.
  • Batman Beyond has two characters named "Ace": The DCAU's version of Ace the Bat-Hound, and the "Ace" member of the Royal Flush Gang (a mute android in Beyond). The two rarely get confused.
    • There were also two characters named "Howard". One was a geeky classmate of Terry's, the other was one-time villain Bullwhip.
    • As is revealed in Justice League Unlimited, Batman was probably the closest thing to a friend the Ace of the first Royal Flush Gang had. She was an underaged girl with massive Blessed with Suck Reality Warper powers that died of a Power Incontinence-induced aneurism, and Batman stayed with her until she died so she wouldn't have to die alone or hurt anyone else. The dog was presumably named after her.
  • Trumpton Hugh! Pugh! Barney McGrew!...
  • Winx Club: Pepe, Icy's duck, followed the Trix to Light Haven/Light Rock at the end of season one and hasn't been seen since. The creators must have forgotten about him since in season four, Musa's pet bear was named Pepe.
  • Phineas and Ferb plays this for laughs in the episode "The Lizard Whisperer", where the boys are looking for a giant chameleon named Steve. They find other Steves and even arrive at a Steve Convention. Note the creators are on record as TVTropes readers.
    • There are two girls named Wendy. The first Wendy is the girl Candace competed with in the science fair episode (though her name was never spoken onscreen), and the second Wendy is the girl Baljeet kissed in the Christmas Special. Perhaps for distinguishing reasons, the latter Wendy has the surname Stinglehopper.
    • At several points in the series, Candace mentions wanting to name her future son Xavier, while in "It's About Time!," the tour guide mentions that the time machine was invented by an Xavier Onassis. Of course, this shouldn't be much of an issue, since one's already dead and another isn't even born...until the time-traveling episode "Quantum Boogaloo," where the plot required both to appear. Perhaps to get around this, Onassis shows up without his name ever being mentioned.
    • On a semi-related note, the show introduced Phineas and Ferb's Aunt Tiana around the same time Disney was hyping a different Tiana. Co-creator Dan Povenmire noted the similarity but said it was just a coincidence, as he named the show's Tiana after one of his sisters (the other being the namesake of Linda).
    • For some meta fun, Fanon had declared Baljeet's last name to be Patel, but that's actually the name of his childhood friend Mishti. (His actual last name temporarily was Raj, but was later changed to Tjinder.) Also, the character Isabella shares her name with two of the show's voice actresses, and was named after Dan Povenmire's oldest daughter to boot.
    • In "Backyard Hodge Podge", Internet sensation Parry Gripp appears as himself, leading to some confusion whenever someone obligatorily says, "Hey, where's Perry?"
  • Obsessive Invader Zim fans will note that the show has a Vortian Lard Nar leading the Resisty and an Irken Lardnar as an Invader. A very minor example, however, since both names are only used in scripts and writers' notes.
  • Enforced on Jimmy Two-Shoes. After The Rodeo Clowns steal one of his shoes, Jimmy notes that without it, he's Jimmy One-Shoe. At that point, a monster dressed exactly like him with only one leg hops by, muttering "And that name is already taken."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants and Squidward once encountered a band of Vikings all named Olaf, except for their leader (Gordan), curiously enough.
    • There's also Sheldon the squid (an actual anthropomorphic squid) and Sheldon J. Plankton. And there's Dennis the bespectacled fish and Dennis the sunglassed bounty hunter.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • "Lee:"
      • Captain Li of the Fire Nation Army.
      • A young boy named "Lei" who Zuko bonds with in his Day in the Limelight.
      • Ty Lee.
      • Li, one of the old ladies who act as adviser for Azula.
      • Quon Lee, imperial guard from finale who had a talk with an engineer in airship.
      • Halfway through season 2, Zuko took on the name "Lee" while incognito, and stopped using the alias once the "Dai Li" (That's pronounced "Die Lee") showed up.
      • And Dai Li is just a different transliteration of the exact same Chinese characters for Ty Lee's name!
      • The whole thing is lampshaded in "Sokka's Master":
      "You're gonna need a better Fire Nation cover name. Try Lee. There's a million Lees."
    • On a semi-related note, The Dai Li's Government Conspiracy was upheld by placing several women who called themselves "Joo Dee" to watch over suspicious citizens. Justified in this case because they were all brainwashed into the identity anyway.
  • There are two "Estellas" in Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures: Estella Scheele, a one-off antagonist seen in "In the Realm of the Condor," and Estella Velasquez, Jessie's mother. And they're both redheads, too.
  • Kyle in South Park's cousin Kyle, although it seems that instance only exists for the joke that Sheila considers her own son to be "Kyle 2." Other aversions exist through extremely minor characters, such as a second Terrance (who only most prominently appeared in the episode right before Terrance and Phillip were introduced, and was later pushed to the background) and three recurring Living Props named Kevin, and various stock names used for random characters. note 
    • There are actually three Scotts: Scott Tenorman, Cartman's enemy and half-brother, Scott Malkinson, an unpopular classmate of the boys, and Scott "the Dick", a Canadian seen in "Not Without My Anus," "Christmas in Canada", and "Royal Pudding."
    • "Stephen" has been used for the fathers of Butters, Token, and Jimmy. Originally, their respective names were "Chris", "Bob", and "Ryan".
    • Two of the kids (Timmy and Tweek) have dads named Richard, with a third Richard serving as the school's shop teacher.
    • The Brown noise episode featured Kenny G who has a disturbing role in the episode. None of the boys mention that he has the same name as Kenny.
    • The names of "Rebecca" and "Kelly" have been used as stock names for various female characters, although the original two were one-shot love interests of Kyle and Kenny.
    • Sharon Marsh and Sheila Broflovski were both originally named Carol, as was Linda Stotch. Due to it being a placeholder name for the moms, some fans have taken to referring to Kenny's unnamed mother by it as well.
    • After several years, the male Goth Kids are finally named. The tallest one is named Michael, in an episode that also reprises the Vampire Kids and their leader, Mike.
  • Though he's never seen, another Tino is mentioned in The Weekenders when the main character, Tino Tonitini, fails to get his name in the yearbook for "Best Tino". Also averting the "similar names" aspect is minor character Tony Tortallero, who even looks and sounds a lot like Tino.
  • On Hey Arnold!, the title character has a Country Cousin named Arnie who's basically a boring, creepy Bizarro Universe version of him. Obviously the name is part of the joke.
    • One episode has Arnold going through the streets shouting for his lost pig, Abner. A man sticks his head out a window and continually calls "What?!" before giving up and going inside.
    • Related: there's a minor recurring character named Lorenzo and a fictional, plot-significant country called San Lorenzo.
    • In one episode Arnold has a Precocious Crush on his substitute teacher, and is shocked when he overhears her talking about getting a romantic evening alone with "Arnold." Turns out her fiancé happens to have the same name.
  • Unintentionally done in the Arthur episode "Buster's Back", which includes the titular character and musician Arthur Garfunkel (though in this case, his name is never mentioned).
  • Daria has three Toms: Tom Sloane, who dated Jane and later Daria, as well as Tom Griffin (Sandi's father) and Tommy Sherman (the dead Jerk Jock).
    • There's also two Brians: Brian Taylor, Brittany's little brother, and Brian Danielson, the guy who married Daria's cousin Erin.
    • Invoked in the second episode: Jane tries to get into a party and tells the security guard her name is "Tiffany," figuring that there would be at least one. (Because apparently "Jane" isn't a common enough name?) It turns out there were three, one of whom winds up becoming an important character.
    • If you pay attention to Mr. O'Neill's seating chart in "Café Disaffecto,'' you'll notice that Quinn's class includes not only all three Tiffanies, but three Marks as well. Daria's class has three Jennifers, and two boys named Rob and Bob. (In other episodes, there's also a recurring character named Robert.)
  • In The Fairly Oddparents episode "Genie Meanie Minie Mo," Timmy's wish for Trixie Tang to fall in love with him backfires when she ends up giving kisses to everyone in the country whose name is Timmy Turner, with him the very last one on the list.
    • In the storybook "Too Many Turners", Timmy wishes that he had lots of brother and sisters, but after he sees how much trouble all those siblings are, he calls out for Cosmo and Wanda to get rid of them, resulting in this scene:
      "Cosmo! Wanda!" Timmy called, pushing through a crowd of siblings.
      "What?" asked a boy named Cosmo.
      "Yes? asked a girl named Wanda.
      "Never mind," Timmy said, sighing.
    • Also, Elmer, Timmy's friend with the boil, shares his name with an elf featured in A Fairly Odd Christmas.
  • One episode of Mighty Max has the protagonist, Max(well), compete with another Max(imilian) who might actually be The Chosen One. (Aside from the name, they were born within five minutes of each other.)
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
    Frylock: Where is Carl's brain?
    Carl Brain: I am Carl Brain.
    Frylock: No, our friend Carl.
    Carl Brain: I am Carl Brain.
    Frylock: No, different Carl!
    Carl Brain: (beat) I am Carl Brain.
  • Danny Phantom plays with this a bit with Danny's "Dani-with-an-I" Opposite-Sex Clone, Danielle. So, for at least two episodes we had both Daniel "Danny" Phantom and Danielle "Dani" Phantom.
  • Futurama: "Clarification: the Philip J. Fry from planet Earth or the Philip J. Fry from Hovering Squid World 97?"
    • In "The Luck of the Fryrish" we find out that the first person on Mars was also named Philip J. Fry, and happened to look exactly like Fry's brother Yancy. "Oh, so your brother was that Philip J. Fry?" (Justified by the revelation that Yancy named his son after his long-disappeared brother.)
  • As Told by Ginger has Macie's parents both named Bobby and Bobbie Lightfoot. Hoodsey's first name is Robert as well.
  • Darkwing Duck has a rather bizarre example with two supervillains both named Negaduck: one the evil half of Darkwing himself the other an Evil Twin from a Mirror Universe.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius has Jimmy and one of his clones gone rogue, Evil Jimmy.
  • Time Warp Trio had main character Joe and his Uncle Joe, whom gave him the time traveling book the series revolved around. The titular trio (Joe, Sam, and Fred) would also go on to meet their great granddaughters from 2105, whom were named Jodie, Freddi, and Samantha. And that's not getting into the historical figures they'd meet, whom being real life people, also shared a first name with another historical person they met while time traveling or a member of the cast.
  • On Young Justice, Martian Manhunter suggested that Superboy choose the surname "Kent" for his Secret Identity. However, since nobody on the Team knew Superman's real name yet, they assumed it was supposed to be the recently deceased Kent Nelson.
    • Martian Manhunter himself is named J'onn J'onzz, aka "John Jones," on a team that includes a John Stewart. And then, on J'onn's suggestion, Red Tornado takes the name John Smith. (For added fun, there's also Zatara, whose first name, Giovanni, is the Italian form of John.)
    • In season one we have the villain Hugo Strange, while season two gives us the hero Adam Strange.
    • Aqualad's friend back home is named Garth, while Beast Boy's real name is Garfield "Gar" Logan. And for a meta coincidence, his voice actor is named Logan Grove.
  • On Adventure Time, there's Billy, the legendary hero, and Billy, the buzzard.
    • There's also Simon the ladybug and Simon Petrikov, the Ice King.
  • Rated "A" for Awesome has Single-Minded Twins the Trishas. Made even weirder by the fact that they appear to be sisters.
  • Averted in the sequel to Pocahontas: after her romance with John Smith, Pocahontas begins a new relationship with John Rolfe. Justified since he is the guy she married in Real Life (while her romance with John Smith is probably just a legend.)
  • Goof Troop:
    • Two of the main characters are named Peter, one named after the other. The show generally gets around this by calling the younger one "PJ" but the difference in sound between "Pete" (the elder's preferred nickname) and "Peej" (an oft-spoken diminutive of the younger's initials) is so subtle that sometimes it's possible to hear one as the other. The two are as different as night and day.
    • There are also at various points in the series several characters named Bob: Bob Sparrowhawk (Peg's uncle), Bobby Zimmeruski (Max and PJ's friend in the movies), and just Bob (a friend/acquaintance of Max in one episode). The Bobs never interact.
  • Averted in the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "So You Skink You Can Dance." All the male dancers of the Shake-A-Leg show are named Igor.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Man a.k.a. Peter Parker and The Trapster a.k.a. Paste-Pot Pete or Peter Petruski. They got around it by never having The Trapster called by any of his other names.
  • Garfield and Friends featured a guest appearance by Jon's cousin Marian, who was marrying a man whose surname was "John". Garfield then became very confused when he overheard Marian (whom he had never met before) saying that, within a week, she'd be "Marian John," which he mishears as "I'll be marrying John."
  • The Legend of Korra has a mobster named "Two-Toed Ping". He actually has twelve toes, but there was already a mobster that was called "Twelve-Toed Ping" on the south side.
  • Regular Show has two Thomases, one is a billy goat park intern and the other is the over 300 year-old infant son of Death. It gets lampshaded when Mordecai asks Rigby to babysit Death's Thomas:
    Mordecai: Dude, I need you to do me a huge favor and babysit Thomas tonight.
    Rigby: Isn't he, like, in college?
    Mordecai: Not that Thomas, Death's Thomas.

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alternative title(s): Breaking The One Steve Limit; Breaking The Steve Limit
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