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, which raises some Fridge Logic issues...)
- Of course, Light never hears his last name, so he would have had to spend that effort anyway if he wanted to use the Death Note.
- 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.
- 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.
- When pretending to be a handmaiden in Star Wars, Queen Amidala used her lesser-known non-royal name, Padme Nabierre.
- 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 WWE, Shawn Michaels' mid-2009 absence was explained by him taking the job of a
cook chef at an office complex under the last name of Hickenbottom - that being Michaels' real-life last name.
- 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.
- 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
- 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?"