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Planet of Steves

Marklar Leader: On the planet Marklar, we call every person, place or thing, "Marklar".
Kyle: Doesn't that get confusing?
Marklar Leader: No, not at all. Hey, Marklar!
One other Marklar: Yes, Marklar?
Marklar Leader: You see?
South Park: "Starvin' Marvin in Space"

Sometimes, you just don't need names. Why bother remembering all those names? Just call everyone the same thing! This rarely seems to cause any confusion, at least for you. Outsiders, not so much.

Sometimes they'll also be Inexplicably Identical Individuals. Not only named the same, but they'll look the same too.

This tends to happen in Science Fiction and Fantasy, not so much in other genres, unless it's Played for Laughs (which many examples below are).

Opposite of the One Steve Limit. See also Pokémon Speak. Compare Race Name Basis when the characters have names, but the race is used anyway. Smurfing may act as a supertrope. Can serve as the logical conclusion of Planet of Hats

Most certainly Truth in Television, as the Real Life section shows.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • A recent ad'rt in the UK for Warburton's bread gave the entire population of Britain the surname Warburton. The commentary on the football match featured in the ad was...special.
  • Hormel's commercial for SPAM luncheon meat shows a classroom where the teacher and all the students are eggs. The teacher is role calling, and you see everyone's name is "egg."
  • A FedEx advertisement involved a delivery boy trying to deliver a package to Mr. Zhang, a factory worker. Turns out everyone in the factory had the surname Zhang. FedEx on the other hand successfully delivers their package to a Mr. Zhang Wei.note 
    Subtitle: China has over 88 million people called Zhang.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Tokyo Mew Mew English dub Macekre, the girls that torment Retasu (er, Bridget) are all named Becky; collectively, the Three Beckys. Note that the girls had No Name Given in the original.
  • A plot point in Rave Master: Haru confuses the first Big Bad, Gale, with his Disappeared Dad, Gale.
  • The Rare Hunters are all named Steve, because Marik's mind-control powers only work on guys named Steve, or people whose middle name is Steve. Or last name, presumably. He admits it's an annoying limitation.
    • It also works on girls named Steve, although those are understandably rare. Téa is one of them since Marik forced her (and Joey) to legally change their names to Steve.
    • Also from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    Spirit of the Millennium Ring: Actually, we're both called Bakura.
    Yami: What? But that's just confusing! Not to mention highly unlikely.
    Spirit: Oh, just wait until Season 5 when there's three of me running around. Even the fans have trouble keeping up with that one!
  • The head writer of Gundam Wing apparently really likes the name Catherine, because in the span of the series and the side-stories he's written, we've been introduced to five of them: Katrina Peacecraft (Relena's mother), Quatrina Winner (Quatre's mother), Catherine Bloom, Kathy Po (Sally's daughter), and Quatrina Winner II (Quatre's younger sister).
  • In Pokémon all nurses are named Nurse Joy, and all police officers are named Officer Jenny.
    • In the Unova region, there's an identical family of Battle Club owners, all named Don George.
  • There is a group of Digimon called Chaosmon. Not all of them look the same, not all have the same abilities and not all of them are even related but they are all called Chaosmon, except for the biggest one, which is called UltimateChaosmon.
    • To some extent, every Digimon has this trope. None of them have names beyond their species name, are widely known to everyone by said species names and treat them as their actual names, and some species names even apply to multiple species/subspecies (see: Greymon, Greymon and Greymon). Furthering this is how there seems to be a tendency for large groups of the same species to live together, such as the Pyocomon village featured in the fourth episode of Digimon Adventure. The exception is the Digimon V-Tamer 01 canon, where the majority of plot-relevant Digimon have their own proper names.
  • In Sgt. Frog, there appears to be an entire species of Snake People all named Viper.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Smurfs, Smurfs who don't have a specific name are named just "Smurf". "I picked Smurf's bottle smurfer/smurf screwer" "Poor Smurf !" "Vote for Smurf"...
  • In The Tick, the Tick befriends a microscopic race of people living on a meteorite who are all named Ricardo. Theie arch-enemies with their evil counterparts, the people of the tiny planet Anne, who are poised to help Canada conquer the Earth.
    • A Borderline Example, an episode of the animated series mentioned a Raygun that would change its target into "A gas-station attendant named Ray". A similar "Tommygun" is also mentioned.
    • The animated series loved this joke — for example the duel between alien races called the Hey!s and the What?s.
  • In The Sandman story "A game of you" Wilkinson reveals his parents had called all their children "Wilkinson."
    • "It was hardest on the girls."
  • An X-Men example; Kitty Pryde's two most notable love interests were Peter Rasputin and Pete Wisdom, resulting in a great deal of Ship-to-Ship Combat among the more fervent fans. Further muddying the issue is the fact that in Ultimate Marvel, she was dating Peter Parker for a time (the Ultimate versions of Rasputin and Wisdom being gay and The Leader, respectively).
  • In Judge Dredd, everyone in Fargoville is named Eustace in honour of the first Chief Judge.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Finding Nemo, Marlin proposes to Coral that instead of naming their children, they should just call half Marlin Jr. and half Coral Jr. They did have hundreds of eggs. How many baby names can one think of?
    Coral:...I like Nemo.
    Marlin: OK, we can have one be Nemo. But I want most to be called Marlin Jr.
  • Igor, in which The Igor is seen as some type of caste, and they are all named Igor.
  • This gag in Hercules, though Pain and Panic are trying to convince Hades that Hercules is a popular name and it's totally not the same one, when it rather obviously is.
    Panic: It's a very popular name.
    Panic: Yeah, remember last year, when every other boy was named Jason? And the girls were all named Brittany?

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The aliens (Red (evil) and Black (good) Lectroids) in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension all chose the covername 'John'. Yes, even the women.
  • In the Olsen Twins vehicle Our Lips Are Sealed, the school clique that calls themselves "the individualists" is made up entirely of identical girls named Sheila.
    • Partially subverted because one of them is really called Erica.
  • Inside Man had a gang of bank robbers who were all named with variations of "Steve". Of course, they were trying to confuse people.
  • On Blazing Saddles all the people of Rock Ridge appear to have the surname Johnson. Of course, this being some hick western town and, furthermore, this being Mel Brooks, it likely just means that everyone is related.
    • Also, most of the bridge crew aboard Spaceball One are Assholes.
    Dark Helmet: Who made that man a gunner?
    Crewman: I did sir. He's my cousin.
    Dark Helmet: Who is he?
    Colonel Sandurz: He's an Asshole, sir.
    Dark Helmet: I know that. What's his name?
    Colonel Sandurz: That is his name, sir. Asshole, Major Asshole.
    Dark Helmet: And his cousin?
    Colonel Sandurz: He's an Asshole too, sir. Gunner's Mate First Class Philip Asshole.
    Dark Helmet: How many assholes we got on this ship anyhow!?
    Entire Bridge Crew (except for one guy on the left): Yo!
    Dark Helmet: I knew it! I'm surrounded by Assholes! Keep firing, Assholes!
  • Does anybody remember No Soap, Radio? They had a spoof 1950s horror movie called The Day Everyone's Name Became Al, in which the change was caused by aliens attempting to cause chaos on Earth.
  • The Monkeybirds in Mirrormask are all named Bob, except for one, whose name is Malcolm.
  • In Heathers, the three title characters are a clique.
  • The weird and disturbing world that results when John Malkovich goes inside his own head in Being John Malkovich
  • In RR Rrrrr!!! everyone is called Pierre (even the women).
  • The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain is set in a Welsh town where all of the men are named Morgan, Jones, Thomas, Williams, or Davies. This has led to everyone being given nicknames (e.g., Morgan the Goat, Davies the School) to differentiate. Of course, there's also a pair of twins. Their names are "Thomas Twp" and "Thomas Twp Too". No one can tell them apart.
  • Alluded to in Babe — apparently mother sows don't give their children individual names, so the title character is just one of many Babes in his litter.
  • An arguable example happens in Zulu, where the Welsh unit at Roarke's Drift has several men with the same surname, who use parts of their serial numbers to differentiate themselves.
  • In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, every family in the Portucalos clan has three children, always named Anita, Diane and Nick — save for one Nicky.
  • Early on in Bubble Boy, Jimmy hitch-hikes on a bus full of religious cultists whose male members are all named "Todd" and whose female members are all named "Lorraine." They, however, do fall afoul of sometimes not knowing which is being referred to.
  • Finnish cult film Calamari Union has fifteen people named Frank (and one named Pekka, who doesn't fit in) trying to accomplish the same goal - namely, moving from a lower-class neighborhood to an upper-class one in another side of town. They work briefly together, but go in their separate ways very quickly, and they are distinctly different characters.
  • In Casino Royale (1967), Sir James Bond, now heading the secret service, assigns all his agents the name and number of James Bond 007 to confuse the enemy. Previously, when he had resigned, his superiors had assigned his name and number to the 007 we all know for agency morale purposes.
  • In the film, Jersey Shore Shark Attack, the gang found a boat and one of them said that "It's Vinny's Boat!" "Vinny No-Neck?" "No!" And they went through a bunch of Vinnys before picking the right one. Jersey Shore is an Italian Community.

    Literature 
  • In The Bald Soprano, Mr. Smith brings up an old family friend, Bobby Watson, who died some years ago and left behind his children Bobby Watson and Bobby Watson, and his widow, Bobby Watson. Mrs. Bobby Watson has recently decided to remarry one of Bobby Watson's relatives, Bobby Watson. Or so we sort of maybe think.
  • Partial example in Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater. A race of giant intelligent lizards greets some visitors to their island by sending a welcome party consisting of twelve lizards, all named Reynold. When this is remarked upon, the head Reynold answers that there are also lizards named Raymond and Helena.
  • Discworld has a clan of Igors. They're not all named Igor — the women are named Igorina or Igora. There's also an Igor who isn't an Igor at all. But he doesn't count.
    • Lampshaded with Vimes' comment: "Igor and Igor say hi, Igor."
    • And they can tell when you're talking about the wrong Igor. "Not Igor, thur, I'm Igor."
    • Another Discworld example is a short incidental regarding a Klatchian ruler who (rather dyslexically) wished that everything he touched would turn to Glod. He very quickly found out what happens when a dwarf of indeterminate temper is suddenly dragged away from his home and replicated repeatedly (viz. he becomes a very grumpy dwarf). To this day people living in that city are short of stature and temper.
      • He was actually cursed by a God for his greed, and it appears he was to be given the Midas curse. Unfortunately, Discworld Gods are not all that bright...
    • The Last Hero has the last two Stupid Lizard Men. They're both called Slime, because Stupid Lizard Men aren't able to remember any other name.
    • Another Discworld sort-of example would be the Nac Mac Feegle from The Wee Free Men and sequels— they aren't exactly all named the same thing, but there seems to be a shortage of names such that one character goes by "No'-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock."
      "Well, Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock, I can—"
      "That's No'-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock, mistress," said Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock. "Ye were one Jock short," he added helpfully.
    • In The World of Poo, Geoffrey visits the Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons, where both the female caretakers he meets are named Emma. Bit of a Brick Joke, as Vimes referred to the Sanctuary's staff as "Interchangeable Emmas" in previous novels.
    • Ankh-Morpork's underworld is so extensive that getting a unique nickname can be tough. There's already a Big Dave, Fat Dave, Mad Dave, Wee Davey, and Lanky Dai, which is why Hogfather features a criminal who goes by "Medium Dave".
  • The Sqornshellous Zetan mattresses in Life, the Universe and Everything, who were all named Zem. This appeared to be because that, since they were rounded up a lot to be killed and dried, no one would miss anyone because they wouldn't know who was missing.
  • Dr. Seuss's story "Too Many Daves", from The Sneetches and Other Stories, was about Mrs. McCave, "who had 23 sons, and she named them all Dave."
  • In Chuck Palahniuk's Survivor, all first born males in the Creedish cult/faith are named "Adam." All subsequent males are named "Tender," and every female, including firstborn, are named "Biddy."
  • In One Hundred Years of Solitude the 17 sons (by 17 different women) of Colonel Aureliano Buendía are all named Aureliano as well.
    • Not to mention, in every generation of the family, all boys are named either Aureliano or Jose Arcadio. There's one Jose Aureliano, too, just to mix it up on you.
    • For added fun the story isn't chronological so you can't keep in mind who's who based on age either. Yes it is deliberately confusing, why do you ask?
  • In Jack L. Chalker's Quintara Marathon series, there is an entire alien race named Durquist. Not only is the race referred to as Durquist, but each individual's name is Durquist as well. When one of the main characters asks their Durquist friend how the race can tell each other apart (they all look the same, too) the Durquist responds to the effect of "we just can."
  • In The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman, the third book of Louis de Berničres' Latin American trilogy, Dionysius ends up with a very dedicated fan club, and names the resulting children either Dionysius or Anica (for boys and girls) though at least they get a number. When his mother visited and saw a tiny newborn baby and found that he was about to be named Dionysius the 19th she was not amused. Readers of the first book should not get too attached to Anica.
  • In Montmorency, all the servants at Bargles are called Sam.
  • In Pierre Burton's children's book, The Secret World of Og, not only are all of the Ogs named 'Og', their language is made up entirely of the word 'og'.
  • In Anne Of Avonlea, Miss Lavender has a servant girl called Charlotta the Fourth. This is because her three older sisters had all worked for Miss Lavender before her; the oldest was named Charlotta, and Miss Lavender got in the habit of calling them all by that name.
    • Truth in Television: in Victorian England, for example, many households reused the same name for a succession of servants in the same position because they didn't want to bother remembering their real names. This was apparently also done in some parts of the United States, since Lizzie Borden and her sister tended to call family maid Bridget Sullivan "Maggie" (her predecessor's name).
  • In Charles Stross's Saturn's Children, the main character is 'instantiated' from a line of robots, whom all have the same body and wake up believing they are the original bot, Rhea. They avert this by taking individual names. However, she then encounters The Jeeves Corporation, run by a line whom all refer to themselves as Jeeves. Later on, a specific Jeeves is referred to as "Reginald"; fans of Wodehouse won't find this helps the confusion much.
  • In The Areas of My Expertise, Arizona has a tradition of appointing a ringtail cat to a public office. By an odd coincidence, all the ringtails are named John McCain. When the real John McCain refused to be photographed eating a traditional bowl of chili with the ringtail McCain, he was described as having "a bad, anti-ringtail attitude".
  • The Gone-Away World has a circus troupe who are mostly all named K. They "use one signifier to encourage random reassessment of the nature of our relationships."
  • In Tad Williams' Otherland one simulation is a skewed version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, where all women are called "Emily" and the men "Henry". They have numbers to differentiate them.
  • In the Oz book The Emerald City of Oz, Billina tells Dorothy that she names all her female descendants Dorothy and her male descendants Daniel.
    • In the Kingdom of Oogaboo (an obscure corner of Oz), every adult man has the same first name, Jo.
  • Umberto Eco's novel Baudolino features a community of female, satyr-like creatures, who consider themselves the followers of Hypatia of Alexandria and are all named Hypatia in her honor.
  • Romance novelist Victoria Alexander is married to a man named Charles. So whenever there's a widow in any of her books, what does she name their late husband? Charles.
  • There's the planet of Dawn Grays in "Dawn Gray's Pyjamas in Space". Not that many people know about it. Is there even a wikipedia page for it? Is there even a page for it's author?
  • The Marra of The Madness Season are all known by others as simply "Marra".
    • Sometimes with a suffix attached, if the embodied want to distinguish between them. The Marra always know.
  • In David Gerrold and Larry Niven's novel The Flying Sorcerers, the native women originally did not have names. When the wizard Purple started giving them names, this raised a furor among the men, but the women did not want to go back to being nameless. The solution was to give all the women the same name: Missus.
    • Actually, they all get the name Missa.
  • History and genealogy on the planet Barrayar is extra-exciting because in the ruling Vor class, the traditional name for the eldest son is the first name of his paternal grandfather, followed by the first name of his maternal grandfather. The second son gets the middle names of both grandfathers. This is not universal, particularly given that a living grandfather can revoke the patronymic as a form of disowning, and a bad grandfather can be skipped over.

    Live Action TV 
  • The writers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer seem to love the name William and all its derivatives. Here’s a list of all the William variants used on the show: William the Bloody (Spike’s human name and original title), Liam (Angel’s human name), Billy Fordham ("Lie to Me"), Billy Palmer ("Nightmares"), Billy Crandal ("I Only Have Eyes For You"), Billy Blim (the eponymous Angel episode), Willy the Snitch, and Willow's name being shortened to Wil (yeah, this one is a bit of a stretch).
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has the Q, who are all named Q. The first Q we met had an affair with Q, and they had a child, Q. This makes for some confusing family trees, as well as a hole in the popular Fanon theory that Trelane, the Squire of Gothos from the original series, is a Q.
    • Justified as the Q are omniscient, so they know who they are talking about.
    • One of the books, features Q, his wife Q, and their son Q. Although to avoid this trope the author referred to Q's wife as "Lady Q," and their son as "q."
    • Q's kid Q at least gets a nickname in the TV show - Qball.
    • Onscreen, Captain Janeway just said Ms. Q when distinction was required.
    • And then the Q who wanted to die was named Quinn when he was granted mortality.
    • It appears that canonically there have only been two actual births of Q: Amanda Rogers (who they no longer speak about) and q.
    • The Star Trek novel Q-Squared explicitly stated that Trelane (and his "mother" and "father" who appeared at the end of the episode) were members of the Q Continuum, so it isn't just Fanon. In the novel, Q implied that Trelane was Q's son, the result of an affair with Trelane's "mother". Then again, the novels aren't canonical.
      • It's implied that "Q" is an alias. Originally, there were supposed to be several different beings assuming an identical appearance and calling themselves by the same name popping in from time to time.
  • Babylon 5:
    • There were multiple beings, all appearing alike, that go by the name of "Zathras", but each one is pronounced slightly differently. However, the differences aren't noticeable by the human ear, leading to much confusion for Commander Ivanova.
    • The Vorlon who replaced Kosh claimed that "we are all Kosh", but his name was actually Ulkesh. This may be because the Vorlons break off pieces off themselves and share them with other Vorlons, so that part of Kosh always remains with them. Kosh did the same thing with Sheridan. At one point a character says something like: "every Vorlon carries a little piece of every other Vorlon," which sort of justifies "We are all Kosh."
    • The CCG managed to swerve around this by spelling the names of all Zathras cards with apostrophes in different places (Z'athras, Za'thras, etc.), except for two (Zathras and Zathras Who Was).
  • Several Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches.
    • Apparently all Australians are named Bruce. When a Brit arrives:
    Bruce 1: "Michael Baldwin, this is Bruce, Michael Baldwin, this is Bruce, Michael Baldwin, this is Bruce."
    Bruce 2: "Is your name not Bruce, then?"
    Michael: "No, it's Michael."
    Bruce 3: "That's going to cause a little confusion."
    Bruce 4: "What if we call you Bruce, just to keep it clear?"
    • There's also Whicker Island, where everyone was Alan Whicker, except (maybe) for Father Pierre.
    • John Cleese's character in the Fish Licence sketch owns numerous pets called Eric, and claimed that he was emulating Kemal Ataturk who owned an entire menagerie called Abdul. (The other character in the sketch — the license bureau guy — is also an Eric.)
      • Cleese's character was also called Eric.
      • Eric Praline.
    • In the Batsmen of the Kalaharis sketch, the titular cricket team faces an Englsh team made up of B. Pratt, Z. Pratt, M.J.K. Pratt, V.E. Pratt, C.U. Pratt, P.B.T.R. Pratt, B.B.C.T.V. Pratt, P.D.A. Pratt, O. Pratt, W.G. Pratt, and Y.E.T.A.N.O.T.H.E.R. Pratt.
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood featured Planet Purple, a planet where everything was purple, including the people, who were named Paul if they were male and Pauline if they were female. (To make things even duller, everyone spoke in the same monotone voice.)
  • During the Black Adder episode Head, the royal jailer is "Ploppy, son of Ploppy" and last meal cook is "Mrs. Ploppy"; Blackadder assumes they're related, but they say it's pure coincidence. Then he discovers that the executioner is his manservant Baldrick, who offers to change his name to Ploppy "if it'll make things easier". Blackadder declines, but for the rest of the episodes the Ploppy the Jailer refers to him as "Young Ploppy".
  • Used as a running gag in Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Night of the Blood Beast". In the movie, the characters say the name "Steve" a disproportionate number of times, so Mike and the Bots assume that everyone in the film is named Steve. An example of their riffing:
    Servo: And the Steves are there!
    Crow: Steve One, you go that way! Steve Two, come with me!
    • MST3K's later seasons introduced the questionably omniscient, questionably bodiless Observers; each one is Observer. When Servo is invited to join them because he performed well on a standardized test, he has trouble getting used to the naming convention.
    • Another example from MST3K occurs during the viewing of Fugitive Alien, with the name Ken. Within the film, there are genuinely two characters named Ken, and this is lampshaded ("...a young boy, whose name was also Ken.") Joel and the 'bots just decide to pretend that everyone is named Ken.
      • Over the course of the Gamera series, Joel and the 'bots quickly notice that every young boy is named Kenny, but all are implicitly different characters.
  • Nebulous features an Alternate Universe where everything is spelt different. Literally - every word is spelt "D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T". One of the characters laments that dictionaries are "worse than useless" in this world.
  • Played for a laugh in an episode of Mash when Hawkeye, as the camp's Officer of the Day, finds himself up to his neck in locals by the name of Kim Luk: This must be our Kim Luk-y day.
    • Justified in that what was happening was that 4077th (apparently because of regulations or standing orders) required the local population to present an ID to get medical care. The result was that everybody who wanted treatment was showing up with the same ID card that was being passed around, made out to "Kim Luk".
    • Also in M* A* S* H, nurses were frequently named Nurse Able or Nurse Baker — regardless of who was playing them. Literally Nurse A or Nurse B in the military code alphabet in use during the Korean War.
    • Even the terrain was subject to this, with the most common location for casualties to be coming from being "Hill 403" (when the location was actually specified). Somewhat justified, given the relatively static front in the later stages of the war.
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete features the main character, Pete, and his younger brother, Pete. Their mom wanted the names to rhyme. (Fans usually refer to them as "big Pete" and "little Pete".)
  • In an episode of 3rd Rock From The Sun, Harry ended up in the circus as "Hargo the Alien". In his act, he explains that "Hargo" is his full name because the beings of his world have Only One Name and then adds that this is unfortunate because Hargo is such a common name on his planet.
    • In another episode, the replacement Commander of the mission, fed up with trying to remember names, exclaims "ENOUGH! From now on, you'll all be known as Tommy." It didn't really take though.
  • Newhart: "Hi, I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl" repeated as a Catch Phrase every time they appeared. A later episode revealed that one had his named changed to Darryl to avoid confusion. He used to be named Larry.
    • Another episode featured one Darryl being upset with the others, and refusing to join them. Larry's introduction then became, "I'm Larry, and this is my other brother Darryl."
  • Dr. Kelso from Scrubs, instead of bothering to learn the hospital's new intern's names, dubbed all the men "Daves" and all the girls "Debbies"- except for one of them who actually was named Debbie, whom Kelso renamed Slagathor out of fairness to the others.
  • The name "Jones" is particularly common in Wales. This was spoofed in a Hale And Pace sketch where two Welsh miners named Jones are on their way to work, and greets everyone they meet with a "Good Morning, Jones the [insert character trait or status here]". When they get there, Jones the Boss tells them that there's been an accident, but that everyone has been accounted for except Jones the Not Accounted For. Jones the Miner and Jones the Miner tells Jones The Boss that they saw him alive just now, and Jones the Boss is relieved because he "had given him up for Jones the Dead."
  • On an episode of The West Wing, the entire speechwriting staff quits in protest of Will's hiring and instant promotion to Deputy. He thus has to rewrite an entire day's worth of speeches for, apparently, everyone in the federal government. His only help: four interns, three of whom are named Lauren.
  • 30 Helens from 'Kids in the Hall''. They all agree. (Or they all agree to disagree.)
    • Also there was a sketch where Bruce sang about all of the different people named Dave who he knew.
  • Nearing the fourth season finale, Angel featured a hell dimension of spider-like demons in which no one has a name (though the important people can be named according to their professional titles, such as "High Priest" or "Name Keeper"). In fact, one of them actively mocks humans' weakness of everyone having names.
    • It wasn't that the spider-demons didn't have names, but it was that giving away their names as freely as humans weakened them. And weakened Jasmine, the season's big bad. Angel's trip to the dimension was to retrieve Jasmine's true name so she might be brought down to their level.
  • For the 2010 April Fool's Day episode of The Price Is Right, every audience member was named Pat.
  • Taken literally on the TV version of Weird Science. One set of recurring characters is a race of porcine aliens all named Steve who try to convince Lisa to be their new queen.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), there are seven humanoid Cylon models that are known for most of the series. Each of them is known mainly by a model number and nothing else (Six, the Eights, etc). Even when they start to use the names the humans call them, it's still one name per model (the Simons, the Dorals, etc). Two aversions to this are Caprica-Six and Boomer, who are given special names by the other Cylons. Six in general is a partial aversion, as several different copies of her show up with unique names over the course of the show.
    • Fandom is fond of asking the question of whether the Earth the survivors settle on will be known as "the planet of the Eights".
  • The show Kids in the Hall had a sketch where a man sang a song about how many people he knew who answered to David or Dave entitled "These Are The Daves I Know".
  • CSI NY Season 5 Episode 8, "My Name Is Mac Taylor", features twenty-one people with names of variations on "Mac Taylor", as someone who shares the name of the detective is being targeted by a killer.
  • Pawn Stars is a show starring three guys named Richard Harrison, although they go by Old Man/Pops, Rick, and Corey, from oldest to youngest.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, we have Marvin Eriksen (Marshall's father), Marvin Eriksen Jr. (Marshall's brother) and Marvin Wait-For-It Eriksen (Marshall's son).
  • In Ever Decreasing Circles, Paul Ryman's hair salon employees are all named Debbie.
  • In The Tudors there are a lot of Thomases: Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Wyatt, Thomas Seymour, Thomas Boleyn, Thomas Tallis, Thomas Howard, Thomas Darcy, Thomas Culpeper, Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Wriothsley...This is somewhat lessened by most of these men being referred to by surname, or by their titles. As a counterpoint, The Tudors has a One Charles Limit with Charles Brandon.

    Music 
  • The Arrogant Worms have described Northern Ontario as "eighty billion kilometres long. There are thirteen people who live there. All of whom are named Frank. Even the girl." This is not Truth in Television, obviously, but some people would tell you it's exaggeration rather than an outright lie.
  • "I'm Henry/Henry the Eighth, I Am", best known from the Herman's Hermits version. The singer marries a widow whose seven previous husbands all share his name. "She wouldn't have a Willie or a Sam."
  • While not as impressive as the other examples, Devo's got two guitar-players named Bob, each of whom is the brother of a founding member. They go by Bob 1 and Bob 2.
  • In the Philadelphia Chickens album by Sandra Boynton, the song "Fifteen Animals" is narrated by a young boy who owns said fifteen animals and is "giving each one a special name"—Bob. And then at the end, we meet the fifteenth animal, his turtle Simon James Alexander Ragsdale III.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One Dilbert strip had the Pointy-Haired boss announcing that their company would put everybody in a wide salary band and eliminate job position names. When Dilbert asks what job title they'll use, the boss responds, "You'll all be named Beverly."
  • An old New Yorker cartoon showed a class photo of a bunch of smiling kindergartners with a completely frazzled and exhausted teacher in the middle. The caption reads: "Right to left: Jennifer, Jennifer, Jason, Jennifer, Jason, Jennifer, Jennifer, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jennifer, Miss Alice Nelson, Jennifer, Jason...."

    Radio 

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • The Mr. Saturns of EarthBound. They're all named Mr. Saturn, unsurprisingly, except for one named Dr. Saturn who works at the hospital in Saturn Valley.
  • In Popful Mail for the Sega CD, one of the reptillian Gaw creatures explains that Gaw have no personal names. True to Working Designs' style, he follows it up by saying "It's hell when you're being paged..."
  • RuneScape has a town named Pollnivneach, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Middle East. Every person in town is named "Ali", including a woman (She insists it's short for "Alice") and an "Ali Cat".
  • The Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking Spiders that appear in the Exile/Avernum series (and in Nethergate too, probably) are all named Spider. Exile 3/Avernum 3 makes a "riddle" from this—a guard spider won't let you see the chief spider unless you know him already, in which case you should know his name. Of course, you have a pretty good idea already, and whether you were using Exile 3's type-the-keyword-in interface or Avernum 3's fixed dialogue options you could immediately guess correctly.
    • Averted by the Friendly, Happy Roaches in Exile 3/Avernum 3, though, as they have more descriptive names like Filth Spreader.
  • Vault 108 from Fallout 3 is infested with clones of some guy named Gary. Well, that might be his name, but it's all any of the clones can say. The original is presumably dead, and could presumably say things other than his name. Presumably.
    • In the add-on pack Operation Anchorage you find Gary 18 in the outcasts base.
    • Hahaha, GAA-RY!!
  • The Osmos of the Osmoian System are all named some variation on "Osmo". Captain Osmo, Cosmic Osmo, Seńor Osmollo, Princess Osmorella, Professor Elvis Osmostein...
  • Mass Effect's geth, as demonstrated by Legion when you meet it, who wants Shepard to call it geth, as "We are all geth." It's actually something of a Mind Hive running more than a thousand geth programs, and adopts the name "Legion" at EDI's suggestion.
  • In The Conduit and its sequel, there's nothing to prevent multiple online users from having the same screen name. Seeing as the default name is "Mr. Ford" and many players are too busy shooting things to think up a unique name, you'll end up not knowing exactly who gunned you down half the time. Interestingly, "Sr. Ford" is a slight variation that pops up extremely often.
  • For some time after the post-release 1.3 update came out, Minecraft suffered from a problem where skins would break, causing everyone to look like Steve(the base player skin), causing this trope to be in effect for a while.
  • Broadly, any game that allows the player to rename large portions of the cast has the potential to be this.
  • In The Bard's tale, you are sent to find a man named Bodb. After speaking to a couple Bodbs, one tells you you need Magic Bodb. Magic Bodb says you need the other Magic Bodb, as he only does party tricks and you want the one with real spells.

    Web Original 
  • The Weebl & Bob flash vid "Dan" features an alien race that uses the name "Dan De Zille" (the name of their ruler) for everything on their planet. Like many Planet of Steves examples, they don't find this at all confusing.
  • In Ultra Fast Pony, all three of the Diamond Dogs are named David Bowie.
  • In Welcome to Night Vale all of the angels are named Erika. No, not Erica- Erika. With a 'K'.

    Webcomics 
  • The word "Cirbozoid" in Starslip Crisis. Just... see it for yourselves.
  • Roughly two-thirds of all incidental characters in Mountain Time are named Paul.
  • Every year, Dave Davenport of Narbonic attends a meeting of the Dave Conspiracy. All the attendees wear name tags saying "Hello My Name Is Dave."
    • To explain a bit further, each and every one really is named Dave, and if a Dave should ever be expelled from the Conspiracy, he will lose the right — and the ability — to be called Dave. Instead those around him will subconsciously begin addressing him as "David". So not only is everyone at the meeting named Dave, everyone named Dave is at the meeting.
  • Oddly enough, All Over The House also contains a 'Dave' reference, in The Army of Daves (recruiting now!); which Emily thinks is fictional.
  • Gav is a major demographic in Schlock Mercenary ever since he cloned himself several hundred million times just before the original got killed.
  • The Order of the Stick plays this as a throwaway gag in #777, also managing to riff on I Am Spartacus at the same time. As in, all the anonymous gladiators in the arena are named Spartacus, and they all know which one is being addressed during role call.
  • The ``Entire language consists of a single word`` version in Blade of Toshubi
  • In Melonpool, it appears every Zinoboppian, from the planet Zinobop, is surnamed Zinobop. And the process of creating a new Planet Zinobop is Zinoforming.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court all laser cows are named Elsie according to The Rant. note 

    Western Animation 
  • The former trope title comes from the South Park episode "Starvin' Marvin in Space", which introduced the Marklar. All named Marklar, and they replaced all nouns with Marklar.
    Stan: Wait, wait. I think I can explain this whole thing. Marklar, these Marklars want to change your Marklar. They don't want this Marklar or any of his Marklars to live here because it's bad for their Marklar. They use Marklar to try and force Marklars to believe their Marklar. If you let them stay here, they will build Marklars and Marklars. They will take all of your Marklars and replace them with Marklars. These Marklars have no good Marklars to live on Marklars so they must come here to Marklar. Please, let these Marklars stay where they can grow and prosper without any Marklars, Marklars or Marklars.
    Marklar: Your Marklar are wise, young Marklar.
    • In the episode "Cartman Joins NAMBLA" it is shown that whenever Kenny dies his parents have another child that they also call Kenny, and who ages in record time to match the previous Kenny's age. Later, in "Coon vs Coon & Friends" it is shown that each of these children are the reincarnation of the same Kenny's soul due to his parents once attending meetings of the Cult of Cthulhu.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Piandao, suggesting a name for a disguise: "Try Lee; there a million Lee's."
    • And in Ba Sing Se, all the tour guides are named Joo Dee. This is only one of their many creepy aspects.
  • Historically, the titular race in Gargoyles all look different from each other and cite this as a reason for not needing particular names. Most either gained them as epithets or terms of affection from humans.
    • "What do you call each other?" "Friend."
  • On the cartoon Recess, all the popular girls were named Ashley. This was the focus of an episode in which it was revealed that tough girl Spinelli's first name was Ashley, and she was forcibly inducted into their clique. The rest of the kids all change their names to Ashley too so they can join the clique.
    • And in a later episode, Spinelli is forced to take ballet lessons and meets a quartet of snooty ballerinas named Megan.
    • Each of the Ashleys also has a younger brother named Tyler, who form a similar clique.
      • One episode showed the Ashleys' mums together exactly the same way too which implies they all have the same name too.
      • And an episode with a Chain of Deals involved getting Ashley A's diary back from her kindergarden-age sister Brittany. When Spinelli says "Which one of you is Brittany?", of course, a group of toddlers resembling all the Ashleys step forward, and she has to specify "Um ... Brittany A?"
  • In King of the Hill Luanne once unwittingly joined an all-woman cult masquerading as a sorority where all the members were named Jane.
  • The Debbies from the short-lived Oblongs.
  • A U.S. Acres short from Garfield and Friends shows Orson the pig traveling to a planet of aliens who are all named Fred Bob.
  • The Backyardigans had a space episode, "Mission to Mars", with a song and dance routine explaining how "Boinga" could mean a thousand things in Mars. Similar thing with "Ugh" in "Cave Party", but in "Caveman's Best Friend" it didn't even got a song since it was downgraded to, according to that episode, what cave people shout when they're really happy.
  • In an episode of Phineas and Ferb, An older Candace travels back in time to bust her brothers and succeeds. When she travels back (forward again), she finds herself in a Bad Future where everyone is named Joe. This is because Dr. Doofenshmirtz, now the Evil Overlord of the world, doesn't want to bother to remember anyone's name.
    • A later episode shows that Ferb's cousins are named Beckham, Beckham, Pelé, Beckham, Pelé and Eliza (whose middle name is Beckham).
  • In the Family Guy episode "Road to Germany", half of the Jewish in the 1939 Warsaw synagogue are named Mort Goldman when Brian and Stewie are looking for him.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, there is a tribe living inside Sector V's sofa whose names are all Dave.
  • Chowder has the Arborians, and gets quite a few overly long gags out of it.
    "This is my wife Arbora, my son Arbor Jr., my brother Arbor, his wife Arbora…"
  • In the Futurama episode "Fry Am The Egg Man," there's a planet where all the inhabitants are named Angus.
  • In an episode of Sabrina: The Animated Series one of Sabrina's spells backfires and she arrives home to find that the town has been renamed "Sabrinaville" and everyone in the town is called Sabrina - even the boys.
  • One of the Robbie the Reindeer specials featured a band of midget Vikings, all named Magnus.
  • According to the Adventure Time episode "Princess Monster Wife", the Ice King has named all his penguin minions Gunter, or something that sounds like it.
  • In the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, all the alien brain creatures are named Kraang.
  • In the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Dear Vikings", all of the vikings are named Olaf except for their leader, Gorton.
  • In the animated version of The Tick, one of the villains, The Terror, invents a Ray Gun. "One blast could turn half a town into a guy named Ray." Then he came up with the Tommy Gun....

    Real Life 
  • In China, the most common last name is Wang, followed by Li, and then Zhang. That's 270 million people in China alone with one of the above, or about 1 person in 5.
  • George Foreman and his five sons are named George: George Jr., George III, George IV, George V, and George VI. He even has a daughter named Georgetta. (He has four other daughters)
    • King of the Hill took a jab at this on the episode guest-starring George Foreman, where he mentions that George was the only name he could think of for his sons due to too many blows to the head.
    • The real reason is that George Foreman never knew his father, and wanted to be damned sure his children knew where they came from.
  • When we say John Sidney McCain, are we talking about Admiral John Sidney McCain, Sr, World War II veteran and US Naval Academy graduate, his son Admiral John Sidney McCain, Jr, also a World War II and Vietnam War veteran and US Naval Academy graduate, his son John Sidney McCain III, the former Republican Presidential candidate (and US Naval Academy graduate), or his son, John Sidney McCain IV, US Naval Academy graduate?
  • When future Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren met future Sex Pistols Johnny Rotten and John Simon Ritchie (better known as Sid Vicious), who hung out with a gang of other kids named Johnny, he assumed that they had adopted the names as a gesture of solidarity, in much same way in A Clockwork Orange-like gesture. Actually, they really all did have the same name.
  • Luther Blisset is a legendary example from ol' Europa...
  • More Truth in Television: All baptized male Sikhs are supposed to take the surname "Singh" (lion), and all females "Kaur" (princess). This started out as a way of concealing their caste of origin when Sikhism took a stand against the caste system. Nowadays, due to the confusion of having hundreds of Singhs in the phone book, most Sikhs officially go by an additional surname.
  • Similarly, at one point it became fashionable for black rights activists to assume the surname "X" in place of the "slave name" given to their ancestors by white slaveowners, the most famous being Malcolm X.
  • Prog Rock group Dream Theater would have been a Five-Man Band containing two Johns (Myung and Petrucci) and two Kevins (Moore and Labrie) but the singer chose to use his middle name of James instead.
  • Michael Jackson's children are named Prince Michael Jackson, Paris Michael Jackson, and Prince 'Blanket' Michael Jackson II.
  • There's a story that a London club in the 19th century called all their waiters Charlie, so that people wouldn't get distracted from the food trying to remember their names.
  • Similarly, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was common for the (mostly black) sleeping car porters on American trains to be called "George", regardless of their actual name, in honor of George Pullman, whose company had manufactured most of said cars. This eventually led to the formation of an organization called the Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping Car Porters "George," which at its height counted King George V of the UK as a member.
  • Hawaiian Pidgin, Hawaii's English-based Creole, uses the word/phrase "Da Kine" as a sort of universal placeholder. It can take the role of any noun, verb, adverb, or adjective, and its meaning usually (but not always) derived from context or body language. Because no other English dialects contain words that function this way (though the above-mentioned "smurf" comes close), outsiders often struggle with this, and locals have been known to use it to deliberately confuse and frustrate non-native speakers.
    • It's not unheard of for "da kine" to be used several times in the same sentence, each instance having a different meaning from the others. "I went to da kine with da kine fo' get some da kine, but da line stay so long he got all da kine and we left." (In context, it was "I went to Foodland with Marc to get some ice cream, but the line was so long he got frustrated and we left")
    • Scots uses two words with a similar meaning, Hingway and Hingin - Hingway being any noun, proper noun, or verb, and Hingin being any present participle or adjective. (Translation: Hingway and Hingin are Thing-wee and Thing-ing respectively.)
    • Similarly, in Guyanese creole English, many things are referred to as "ting" (thing), and people may give directions saying "turn suh" (turn so). Usually hand gestures tell what it is they are talking about.
    • In Tagalog, the words "kuwan" and "ano" serve a similar purpose, both being roughly equivalent to "that thing"/"the whatchamacallit" when used for that purpose.
    • The universal placeholder word in Hungarian is "izé" (thing, stuff etc.) it also exists in adjective "izés", verb "izél" and who knows what else forms, common part of the local Buffy Speak.
  • In the 2009 Formula One Grand Prix, the Red Bull drivers are Sebastian, Sebastian, Sebastian and Mark.
  • The Jim Smith Society.
  • A group of bandits called the Five Joaquins, who were famous in the 19th century for their Robin Hood act in California, were known as such because, well, they were five dudes named Joaquin. One of them, Joaquin Murrieta, you may have heard of: he was the inspiration behind the story of Zorro.
  • More than 1000 Steves with Ph.Ds support the Theory of Evolution.
  • They Might Be Giants are John and John, and their backup band is (or at least was) The Band of Dans. Four of them.
    • During the filming of the TMBG documentary Gigantic, it was only 3 Dans, leading to this exchange:
    John Linnell: A full house. But we still can't beat a four of a kind.
    John Flansbergh: The Ramones!
  • Powderfinger had John Collins on bass and Jon Coghill on drums, but within the band, and within the fanbase, they were nicknamed JC and Cogsy, respectively.
  • An interesting variant on the trope occured in Denmark: the regal names of every Danish King from 1513 to 1972 alternated between Christian and Frederick (Frederik in Danish). The only reason why there isn't a Christian XI on the throne today is because Denmark is currently ruled by a Queen: Margrethe II, i.e. Margaret.
    • However, the Queen's son? Crown Prince Frederi(c)k. And Prince Frederick's son? Prince Christian.
  • Koreans only have a small handful of last names, a majority of them being Kim or Lee.
    • The most common one is simply "Y", commonly transliterated as Yee/Yi/Lee/etc.
    • There are many surnames but the top 5 make up 45%. There are many surnames, but in western countries there are more because of racial and cultural mixing and also because of language rules. There are 250 surnames, which could be considered a lot.
  • Similarly, nearly half of all Vietnamese people have the surname Nguyễn.
  • Averted by the Kingdom of the Franks: the people living there weren't all named Frank.
    • Bad jokes aside, nineteen Kings of France were named Louis, and this doesn't count other variations of the name, such as the original Frankish version: Chlodowig (Clovis, the first King of the Franks).
  • The Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt was not very imaginative in coming up with king names, all 14 (or 15, depending on which historian you ask) of its kings being named Ptolemy.
    • And most of its queens were named Cleopatra. The famous one is Cleopatra VII.
  • Out of the 265 popes of the Roman Catholic Church, there have been twelve that have taken the name Pius, thirteen each named Leo or Innocent, fourteen Clements, fifteen Benedicts ("what about Benedict XVI?" you may ask. The reason is that Benedict X is now considered an anti-pope), sixteen named Gregory, and twenty-one named John (the last being John XXIII- it's complicated). The earliest popes used their given names; by the Middle Ages, it had become customary to choose a regnal name, which often was picked to honor a predecessor.
  • It's impossible to tell what pets are really thinking ... but if we could, it's likely that an awful lot of cats would identify themselves as "Kitty", dogs as "Here Boy", etc.
  • Greece, being a majorly Christian country, has a notion of naming people after religious figures and it is statistically impossible to live in Greece without knowing a single Maria variation or a Nicholas variation. This makes Name Days extra fun. There is also a tradition of parents naming their eldest child after their parents so cousins will often have the same names which makes Name Days even more fun.
  • The six rulers of the Roman Empire from the Julio-Claudian dynasty:
    • Gaius Julius Caesar (Commonly known as "Julius Caesar")
    • Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (usually known to literature as Caesar Augustus or spoken as "Augustus Caesar" in modern usage)
    • Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus ("Tiberius Caesar")
    • Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Calligula, without the Caesar)
    • Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Claudius Caesar)
    • Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus ("Nero", again without the Caesar")
    • In the Roman aristocracy, people didn't really have names as understood today, but instead used a record of their family tree, consisting of their clan, their family, and in many cases the names of branches and sub-branches within the family, sometimes with the addition of a number to keep siblings appart. Men did have a personal name as well, of which there were about twelve from which a father could chose for his sons. During the imperial era, the high society of Rome was actually a planet of Agrippa, Lucius, Gaius, Marcus, Tiberius, and Titus. Titles were also often adopted as official names. For example, "Augustus" was a title that could be translated as "the Illustrious One" or, more simply, "venerable". Soon after, it became customary for all Roman Emperors to adopt Caesar and Augustus to their name. Names were also dropped as readily as they were adopted: by the end of his life, Augustus had only kept Caesar from his original name (Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus). At the end of his life, he was officially Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus.
  • In coastal fishing villages, especailly in northeast Scotland, where often there were very few last names, the name of a boat would be used to distinguish them. Example: The town of Cullen in NE Scotland has a few major surnames, Gardiner, West, Mair and Wood. So, John Wood, captain of the Ocean Crest, would be distinguished from the others by being known as "Johnny Widd the Ocean Crest (Johnny Wood of the Ocean Crest.)" Similarly, an Alec Gardiner owning the boat "Rosenburg" would be "Alec the Rosenburg."
  • The aristocratic German Reuss family, hereditary rulers of the small state of the same name, have called all their male members "Heinrich" since at least 1200. They use a system of numbers to tell each other apart.
  • Everyone's named Glenn in Gothenburg. Not really, but it is a common first name on the west coast of Sweden, and even more common in Gothenburg. In the early 80's the soccer team IFK Göteborg had four players named Glennnote , since then it have been a common (often Self Deprecating) joke. For example, a 6 feet long nile crocodile that was found in a green house in Oxie(Malmö) was later moved to Gothenburg and named Old Glenn.
  • Medieval English royals were usually named Edward, Richard, Henry, or sometimes (but almost never for heirs apparent) John. This makes for confusing reading. The adoption of Roman numeral identifiers is a direct consequence of this tendency. At one point during the 1300s, there were five consecutive generations of heirs named Edward (I, II, III, III's son Edward of Woodstock, and grandson Edward of Angouleme). The House of Lancaster featured three monarchs all named Henry, and the three surviving York brothers all had sons named Edward (V, of Warwick, and of Middleham), alive at the same time. Fate seems to have had a hand in this; England very nearly had a King Alphonso, at one point.

    Other 

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