Oh, I am no longer Gil, now I am Gill! Ron: ...What's the difference? Gill:
I added an "L". You know, as in gill
, as in, these things that grew when I mutated?!
So, Alice and Bob
are having a discussion about what Bob's new name will be, since he's grown tired of it. He contemplates for a long time, then eventually figures out the perfect name that'd suit him perfectly.
Bob renames himself Robert.
Naturally, Alice is confused by this. The new name is nearly identical to his old name. Nonetheless, he sticks to his "new" name, despite it barely being different at all.
This trope is often times Played for Laughs
. Where there would originally be a Meaningful Rename
, the character's new name is basically what they always had before. Usually, there is a reaction from others as to the pointlessness of the new name.
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- Three different Robins have gone by the name Red Robin.
- Pre Crisis Superboy renamed himself Superman while he was in college as shown in the miniseres Superman: The Secret Years.
- When Henry Pym stopped becoming small and started becoming large, he changed his name from Ant-Man to Giant-Man.
- In the backstory of King Kong 1976 Dawn changed her name to Dwan so it'd be more memorable.
- In the film In The Bleak Midwinter (U.S. title A Winter's Tale), people think that Fadge's name is somewhat odd; eventually she changes it to Fah.
- In the Bloody Jack books Jackie ends up working as spy undercover in a ballet in France (Long Story) and picks out a new name so the French don't figure out the legendary lady pirate Jackie Faber is within their boarders. She decides to go with Jacqueline...her fellow dancers quickly shorten it to Jackie.
- Lampshaded in the first The Stainless Steel Rat book, when the protagonist manages to find Angelina:
"The man you wanted to see, Engela." So she was still an angel, though under a different name. That was a bad habit she should watch, only I wasn't going to tell her. A lot of people have been caught by taking an alias too similar to their old one.note
- In Men at Arms, Cheery Littlebottom changes the spelling of her name to "Cheri" after defying dwarf tradition to "come out" as a female. Angua suggests she could pronounce it "Sherie" as well.
- A play on this can be found in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, when Fiddler renames himself Strings to go incognito in House of Chains. It does not sound the same, but the meaning remains, essentially, and nobody who's ever even heard of Fiddler is fooled.
Live Action TV
- In one episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Tom Servo changes his last name to Serveaux. It's pronounced exactly the same, but Tom thinks he can tell when people aren't pronouncing it right.
- In one episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, Adolf Hitler is hiding out in Minehead as Adolph Hilter. His cronies Von Ribbentrop and Heinrich Himmler are similarly renamed Ron Vibbentrop and Heinrich Bimmler.
Myth and Legend
- There's an old Russian urban legend about a merchant woman named Semizhopova (lit. of Seven Arses). She wrote a petition to Catherine the Great to allow her to change her name. The empress answered: "Five is enough" and changed the merchant's name to Pyatizhopova (of five arses). In other versions of the legend the trolling monarch is Nicholas I or Nicholas II.
- The Bible:
- Abram (Hebrew, exalted father) is renamed Abraham (Hebrew, father of many nations) by God.
- Post-conversion Saul renames himself Paul, which is just the Latin version of the Hebrew name.
- In The Importance of Being Earnest Jack, an adopted man, refers to himself as Ernest when in town. His love interest feels she can only marry a man named Ernest and can only marry a man with a strong family social standing (which being adopted, Jack does not). After some misunderstandings and Hilarity Ensues, Jack's birth certificate surfaces at the plays's end he was named Ernest all along.
- In Wicked, Galinda changes her name to Glinda.
- The Matoran Universe in BIONICLE does this for its You Mean Xmas equivalent, Naming Day. In addition to the day off and exchanging gifts, certain Matoran would have the spelling of their name slightly altered as a way to thank them for their good deeds. Jala became Jaller note , Huki became Hewkii, and Maku became Macku. Takua, who didn't get this honor, renamed his Ussal Crab Puku into Pewku. The meta reason for such a thing being a big honor is due to LEGO coming under fire for the names of certain BIONICLE characters being taken wholesale from Oceanic languages.
- Thanatos, in the game Kid Icarus: Uprising, use to be called Tanatos, until he added an "h" to his name. This doubles as a throwback to the original Kid Icarus, where the character, due to a translation error, actually was called Tanatos.
"Actually, I go by "Thanatos", now. The extra "h" is for HAMAZING!
- Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII changed her name to her current one after she lost her parents so that she can be strong. Later her birth name was revealed, Eclair, French for...well, lightning. Only in the Japanese version, in the English version her real name was changed to Claire.
- Any time you can name a character in a Video Game, there is a chance for this to happen. For instance, in Chrono Trigger, there is a character originally named R-66Y before joining your team. After he joins, you can name him whatever you want, and it'll be treated as his new name... including the name R-66Y.
- In any Pokémon game, if you ask the Name Rater to rename one of your Mons, but give him the same name it already had, he'll lampshade it, declaring that the new name may look the same as the old one, but it's still vastly superior.
- In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, every character, besides the main character, takes on a numerical code name to hide their true identity. It later turns out that the character Clover actually used their real name as their code name, since it fit with the numerical system.
- In The Website Is Down #4: "Sales Demolition", Web Dude/Derrick is assigned to update the corporate username of employee Nancy Johnson, who got married and is now named Nancy Johnson-Johnson. All this entails (at least until Derrick gets distracted and screws up) is changing the entry "NancyJ" to "NancyJj".
- In the Mega Man (Classic) Flash animation "Mega Man's Revenge 2", Bass had changed his name to Ass. Yeah, yeah, we know...
- In The Simpsons, one episode deals with Homer J. Simpson trying to learn what the "J" in his name stands for. He eventually learns that it stands for, of all things, Jay.
- In Kim Possible, the minor villain Gil remaned himself Gill after becoming a mutant fish person.
- In an episode of Family Guy, Peter Griffin has to give an alias, so he makes up a Line-of-Sight Name. Owing to a bizarre and improbable selection of objects within his line of sight (a pea, a tear, and a griffon), his alias winds up being "Peter Griffin".
- When General Mills revived Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy in the 2013 Halloween season, Fruit Brute is renamed Frute Brute, possibly because it can't legally be called "Fruit" any more due to changing USDA truth in labelling standards, hence Frute. Even the retro edition sold exclusively at Target carries the new name.
- C.J. Cherry sounded like a name for a trashy romance writer, so the science fiction authoress styled herself C.J. Cherrryh.
- In Real Life, when a cover story is necessary, spies and the like provide a cover story that is similar to their own life to avoid unnecessary slip-ups and cover blowing. When this includes an alias, they usually pick one that sounds similar to their own, so Tom Robinson may go undercover as Tim Robertson, for example. It makes acclimating to the cover story and name as easy as possible.
- For a specific example, Adolf Eichmann took the alias "Otto Eckmann" when he went underground.
- Marrying someone who had your same last name could lead to this.