Real Name as an Alias
A character needs an alias for some reason and technically doesn't lie about what their name is... it might be their real name if they're known by a nickname or vice versa, or their maiden name if they're a married woman, or their middle name being used as their first name, but the point is that the character can argue that it is their real name. Often used by disguised royalty with overly long names, since they can just pick one of their many middle names to be called by.
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Anime and Manga
- In Monster, Nina Fortner uses her previous legal name, Anna Liebert, when giving a police testimony and obtaining marksmanship training.
- FLCL's Haruhara Haruko- her name's revealed by Amarao to be Haruha Raharu.
- During Ranma ½'s Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics competition, female Ranma freely gives her full name, confident that nobody in attendance (which includes classmates from Furinkan High) will make the connection with her male side. She's right, and everyone blows it off as a bizarre coincidence. (Although Hiroshi and Daisuke would constantly pester Ranma about introducing them to "his sister" afterwards.)
- In Death Note, Light Yagami expends a lot of effort trying to learn the real name of "L", the Great Detective who opposes him. It's eventually revealed (although not in the manga or anime) that L is his real first name, although Light still didn't know his last one, so this wouldn't have made a difference.
- A plot point in Baccano! is that immortals cannot use aliases in the presence of each other: they are always forced to reveal their true names. Fermet gets around this rule by using portions of his full name as aliases.
- In Code Geass, the main character and his sister use their real first names and their mother's maiden name for their surname while hidden in Japan.
- A weird version occurs in Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi: the vampire サイトヒメア (Saitohimea) takes on the name 沙糸 ヒメア (Saito Himea, Saito being the surname) when attending school with Taito. Though it's technically less of an alias and more of a necessity to have a Japanese name.
- Batman's butler Alfred Pennyworth has sometimes used his middle names, Thaddeus Crane, as an alias when undertaking some activity he doesn't want linked to Bruce Wayne.
- The Dark Phoenix Saga sees Jean Grey being seduced by a mutant named Jason Wyngarde, an aspiring member of the Hellfire Club. It turns out Wyngarde was one of their older and slightly more obscure enemies, the mutant villain Mastermind, and the X-Men just never found out his real name. Although he was also a Master of Illusion, and thus was able to disguise himself.
- Similarly, Mystique often posed as a secret service agent named Raven Darkholme in her early days. Turns out that's her real name. Amusingly, the Animated Adaptation of Days of Future Past (with some of Bishop's future thrown in) has a woman looking just like the Raven Darkholme identity, whom Mystique copied, tied up, but deliberately left alive to be a witness to "Gambit" assassinating Senator Kelly. Presumably, this came before the revelation that there was no "real" Raven Darkholme.
- Bishop at one point in the early noughties posed as an Australian police officer under the name "Lucas Bishop," commenting offhandedly in his internal monologue "the name is real, the badge is not." This was The Reveal of his name after over a decade, with "Bishop" having generally been assumed to be an alias.
- Spider-Man was cloned, and the clone retained all of Peter's memories, to the point where he originally believed that he was the real one. Eventually the cloned Peter takes the name Ben Reilly, derived from Peter's middle name and his mother's maiden name (which helps facilitate the story that the two are oddly identical cousins).
- A number of fanfic writers have used the name of the actor who plays the character for an alias, crossing this trope with an Actor Allusion.
- Trixie enters the Atlas Strongest Tournament in a disguise and under her last name Lulamoon. Twilight recognizes her at the end of her match anyway.
- In the Discworld fanfic "The Brain Thief", Samuel Ramkin Vimes, Viscount of Oxbury and heir to the Duke of Ankh, introduces himself to a girl he meets as Sam Ramkin, thinking "It wasn't, technically, a lie." The girl, meanwhile, is studying midwifery at the Free Hospital as Meg Garlick, rather than Princess Esmeralda Margaret Note Spelling of Lancre.
- In The Mysterious Case Of Neelixs Lungs, Seska uses her real surname while undercover as a Bajoran for the Obsidian Order. After being outed she says her real given name's Jiana, not Harani.
- When pretending to be a handmaiden in Star Wars, Queen Amidala used her lesser-known non-royal name, Padme Naberrie.
- Done by Obi Wan Kenobi in the original film, using his real last name, and the nickname "Ben".
- John McClane's wife at the beginning of Die Hard uses her maiden name, Gennaro. This provides a minor plot point when Hans Gruber later discovers John's real name, and doesn't realize the connection between John and Holly (for a while, anyway).
- In 1937's Shall We Dance, the two leads, who are both famous under stage names, get married quietly in New Jersey under their real names.
- The Disney Channel movie Motocrossed involved a girl posing as her brother to enter a motocross race, after he breaks his leg. The siblings have the same name (Andy, short for both Andrea and Andrew), allowing her a legal loophole: since she signed up as "Andy," instead of Andrew or Andrea, she could hold on to her win after she was outed.
- Vicki Lester and Norman Maine in A Star Is Born get married under their real names by a town clerk who has no idea who they are.
- James Bond does this quite often, though there are several occasions he uses proper aliases too. Somewhat justified in that officially he is a globetrotting employee for something called Universal Exports, which is actually a cover for MI6. In Tomorrow Never Dies he poses as a banker named James Bond and actually has a fake employment record, but is given away as a spy because it is too perfect to be true, and because he was asking too many questions, not because of his name.
- Of course, making a number of blatant references about the Big Bad's actions to his face didn't help his case...
- A very important plot point in Definitely, Maybe. The Hero's daughter insists that he tells the story about how he met her mother whom he is now divorced. While doing so, The Hero calls his exes by alternate names to conceal their identity from his daughter who knows her mother's real name. The daughter then realizes that her dad is still in love with April, one of his exes, because he didn't gave her a Code Name.
- Played with by way of a Casting Gag in To The Limit. Secret agent "Collette Dubois" (Anna Nicole Smith) explains at the very end of the film that she's been using a codename the whole time, and that her real name is "Vickie Lynn" - Smith's first and middle names in Real Life. In other words, Smith used (two-thirds of) her real name as a fictional alias.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When she runs away to LA, Buffy Summers calls herself "Anne," which is actually her middle name.
- In an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Garak tells Bashir a series of contradictory stories about a person named Elim, supposedly a high-ranking Cardassian official who either betrayed or was betrayed by Garak. Bashir later finds out that Elim is just Garak's first name, and when he confronts Garak and demands the truth, Garak says that everything he said was true. Especially the lies...
- Christopher Perry Halliwell from Charmed called himself "Chris Perry" when he first introduced himself. Since he's from the future and hadn't been born yet, this didn't really raise any eyebrows.
- In The Cosby Show, lawyer Clair once introduced herself by her maiden name in order to speak on son Theo's behalf when he got ripped off by a T-shirt company.
- In Leverage, Sophie Devereaux once had to conjuer an alias from nowhere or risk losing the mark, so she introduces herself as the Duchess of Hanover. She assures the rest of the team that "this identity is very well backed up" but the mark isn't convinced. He arranges to introduce her to someone who's known the real Duchess since childhood. While the rest of the team are convinced that Sophie's cover is blown, the Duchess's aunt takes one look at Sophie and says.... "Why Charlotte, it's so good to see you."
- In Breaking The Code, the spook from "Security" is John Smith. He can never get anyone to believe that, yes, it IS his real name.
- In Sleepy Hollow, a captured Hessian claims he knows everything about Abbie Mills, including her real name, Grace Abigail Mills.
- In Katharine Kerr's Deverry novels, the character Nevyn (meaning "no one", and hence often taken to be a joke) uses his long-abandoned original name (Galrion) when he needs to be taken seriously by some nobles. Everyone who knows him assumes he just made it up.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's Friday, the title character runs out of fake passports and falls back on the real one to pull a switcheroo with one of the fake IDs.
- Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey uses the name Death Bredon in the Dorothy L. Sayers novel Murder Must Advertise.
- In the novel The School Story, Zoe pretends to be a literary agent and uses her nickname "Zee Zee" together with a misspelling of her last name.
- In Belgarath the Sorcerer, the eponymous character once used his old name Garath when working undercover. It lasted until he had to use magic to fend off an attack. As well, his daughter Polgara sometimes goes as the Dutchess of Erat, a title she technically owns although the duchy itself has been gone for thousands of years.
- In The Truth-Teller's Tale, members of the royal family have secret names that no one outside the family knows. A prince in disguise uses his as an alias. The narrator is a Truth-Teller, who can detect when someone is lying, but since it's technically the prince's real name, she doesn't register that as a lie.
- The L. M. Montgomery short story "The Pot and the Kettle" combines a double use of this with a Two-Person Love Triangle.
- In The Ordinary Princess, Princess Amethyst works as a kitchen maid under her nickname, Amy. The king of the kingdom she's working in does the same thing—she knows the king's name is Algernon, but he uses one of his many middle names.
- In How Not to Spend Your Senior Year, when Jo and her father fake their deaths and go into witness protection, she uses her middle name and her mother's maiden name to enroll at another school. When the federal marshals who put them in witness protection want her to use a completely fake name, Jo tells them about an incident when she and a friend switched names as a prank on a substitute teacher and couldn't pull it off because they weren't used to responding to someone else's name.
- In The Goose Girl, the princess' full name is Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee. When she goes into hiding, she calls herself Isi.
- The prince in Sherwood Smith's A Posse of Princesses.
- Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Naismith Vorkosigan spent ten years running top secret operations under the cover identity of Admiral Miles Naismith. Once, on the point of being found out, he covered by pretending that "Admiral Naismith" was his clone, who used his Betan mother's maiden name because Betan law grants clones the legal status of family members.
- In Spindle's End, when Katriona and Aunt take in the little princess, they take the last of her many names, Briar-Rose, and decide to call her Rosie.
- In 1632, King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden decides to send cavalry to help out his time-displaced American allies, and despite the misgivings of his prime minister puts the 'notably headstrong and reckless' Captain Gars in command. It's only after Gars helps save the Americans from an attack that it's explained to them that his name is an acronym for Gustavus Adolphus Rex Sueciae - 'Gustav Adolf the King of the Swedes' in Latin.
- Monstrous Regiment:
- A regiment composed of women dressed up as men dress up as washerwomen to get themselves into a fort, and use their real names as their aliases.
- Prince Heinrich of Zlobenia claims to be Captain Hortenz when captured. It's been speculated by fans that he has a lot of middle names, and is pulling the same trick as King Gustav, above.
- In The Birthday Ball, Princess Patricia Priscilla dresses as a peasant and goes to the village school. When the schoolmaster asks for her name, she calls herself Pat. ("Quite a short name because I'm merely a humble peasant.")
- In The Count of Monte Cristo, the aristocrat-born radical Nortier de Vilefort just goes by the name Nortier. In contrast, his conservative son calls himself de Vilefort. This is plot important, as the direct reason Dantes ended up wrongfully imprisoned, is because he unknowingly told de Vilefort about a letter that incriminated Nortier for treason.
- In Andre Norton's A Prince Commands, Michael uses this while passing himself off as the American friend of the prince.
- In the sequels to Ender’s Game, Ender simply goes by his given name of Andrew Wiggin. He is secretive about the fact that he's the same Andrew Wiggin who killed off the Bugger race thousands of years ago, but everyone thinks of that boy as "Ender," and the name "Andrew Wiggin" doesn't ring a bell for them. The few who do recognize the name assume his parents chose poorly when naming him.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden goes undercover as Harry the technical assistant. It still fools Lara Raith until he gets into a fight with Thomas. Harry, being Harry, points out it really wasn't that hard to see through.
"You're Harry Dresden."
"Don't feel bad," I said, "I cleverly disguised myself as Harry the Production Assistant."
- The trope gets a sort-of inversion in the same book. One of the characters tries to frame Harry, but she's so vapid and shallow that she can't remember his name, telling the cops that his name was Larry. Or Barry.
- Codex Alera, by the same author, has Gaius Octavian. And you thought the name was out of place amongst the Awesome McCoolname crowd.
- In the western novels of J.T. Edson, Dusty Fog frequently uses his middle names Edward Marsden as an alias; to the point that they become his Go-to Alias.
- In Unnatural Issue, Lord Peter Almsley temporarily takes on the post of gamekeeper at the estate of his friends, with his valet Garrick as his scholar half-brother, in order to befriend Susanne (working as a dairy maid) and find out more about her. While in disguise, the two go by Peter Devlin (Devlin being Peter's middle name) and Clive Garrick (Clive being Garrick's).
- In For The Emperor, Inquisitor Amberley Vail goes undercover as an entertainer named Amberley Vail. She also uses her real last name for two different undercover identities in Duty Calls — the Lady haut Vail near the beginning of the novel, and Corporal Vail near the end. Possibly justified, in that anyone who can legally look at a roster of active Inquisitors already knows where she is and what she's doing, and she can kill anyone else who might blab.
- A classic Forgotten Realms character was Elminster's scribe (and butler, and apprentice) Lhaeo who was a great artist at building Jerkass Façade for Old Mage. "Coincidentally", this work left him both ready for anything and acquainted with half or so of the most powerful people on the continent. There also was a missing prince of Tethyr, one Haedrak Errilam Alemander Olosar Lhorik... later also known as King Haedrak III. If his compatriots knew where he is before it was time to pull Rightful King Returns, he would get about as much attention from assassins as Elminster from mad wizards.
- In Shakespeare's Henry V, King Henry goes undercover as a common soldier to learn the views and morale of his troops more closely. He gives his name to the soldier Pistol as "Harry Leroy" (Harry being a common nickname for Henry, and le Roi being French for "the King"). He says he's a Welshman—he was born in Wales.
- Frank, the first NPC you meet in zOMG!, is actually Labtech 123; no official statement has been made, but the general assumption is that "Frank" is in fact his real name.
- Pretty much confirmed by one of the H2k10 NPCs, who has mentioned him by name.
- In Tales of Xillia 2, Gaius goes by "Erston" while traveling Elympios incognito. This is actually his birth name, while "Gaius" is an alias he assumed to protect his family from his enemies.
- Played directly in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: near the end of the game, it's mentioned that Clover's real name is... Clover.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In the episode "Imposter's Home for Um... Make 'Em Up Pals" this happens with two characters: Goofball John McGee and John Larry McGee, Goofball's owner.
- Goofball is introduced by his first name. When Frankie overhears a group of kids calling him "John," she believes she has more proof he is not an imaginary friend. Goofball explains that it is his middle name and that he is named after his owner, Larry. He then tacks on another explanation that "Larry" is his owner's middle name.
- In Teen Titans, Cyborg infiltrates the HIVE by donning a hologram to make him look human until he "powers up" into a rocklike form. He calls himself "Stone." His real name is "Vic Stone" in the comics.
- There's also Slade, whose real name is Slade Wilson. In the original comic his alias was Deathstroke the Terminator.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Man Who Killed Batman", Harley Quinn masquerades as the lawyer of the episode's titular character, using the name Harleen Quinzel. Later, the episode "Mad Love" would confirm this as her actual name.
- On Family Guy, Peter Griffin once tried to pull of a Line-of-Sight Name. The first three things he saw were a pea, a person crying one tear, and a griffin that flew in through the window.
- In Young Justice, Artemis' real name is... Artemis Crock.
- Giovanni Zatara fights crime as the superhero... Zatara. Even his daughter, Zatanna, calls him that when she's referring to him specifically as a hero. When she takes up heroing permanently, she goes by her given name.
- The Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Cinemaniacs!" has SuperBabs from the segment of the same name.
Hamton: I wonder who SuperBabs really is.Plucky: Well, let's see... Who do we know called Super?
- The titular character of Danny Phantom whose real name is Danny Fenton. This is lampshaded in "The Ultimate Enemy".
Dark Danny: Hello? "Danny Fenton"? "Danny Phantom"? Ever noticed the similarities?
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Karai cozies up to April using the fake name Harmony, a translation of her birth name, Miwa. Played with, in that Karai didn't know that Miwa was her real name.
- Sonic Sat AM: When Sally travels back in time and meets her past self, she introduces herself as "Alicia". Past Sally comments that's her middle name.
- British DJ Kenny Everett (real name Maurice Cole) once did a promo which ended with the words "...or my name isn't Maurice Cole!" The joke being that most of the listeners wouldn't have known his real name at the time.
- Many famous women continue to use their maiden name after marrying, since they're already well-known and changing names might confuse fans. For example, J. K. Rowling continued to use her maiden name after becoming Jo Murray.
- Julie Andrews uses her maiden name for her film work and her married name (Julie Edwards) for some of her novels.
- It's quite common to use one's first and middle name as a Stage Name. One prominent example would be Tim Allen (born Timothy Allen Dick).
- Another would be Angelina Jolie (Voight).
- Ray Charles (Robinson)note
- Stan Lee was worried that making a name for himself in comics would hurt his chances of becoming a serious writer, so he split his first name in two; his real name is Stanley Lieber.
- Lewis Carroll is a special case - the name is actually Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's real first and middle names translated into Latin, and then back again into English.
- Willem-Alexander, then Prince of Orange and now King of The Netherlands, ran in the New York Marathon under the name "W.A. van Buren." "Van Buren" is a lesser known title of the Dutch royal family.
- Likewise, Czar Peter the Great of Russia used the name "Pyotr Mikhailov" (Peter Michaelson) as an alias abroad. He was grandson of Czar Michael I Romanov.
- WWII Ace Pilot Major Heinrich Prinz von und zu Sayn-Wittgenstein used just his rank and surname "Wittgenstein" in everyday communication.
- A joke about pop singer Jack Jones went: "Did you know that Jack Jones is his real name?" "Jack Jones is WHOSE real name?"
- Law enforcement personnel going undercover often use their real first names so they won't seem suspiciously slow in responding.