open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: In the English dub of the KC Grand Prix arc, Yugi's grandpa disguises himself as a duelist named Apnarg Otum to enter a tournament. (The original version averts this - his alias there is "Mask the Rock".)
- This is what clues Goku in to Uub being the reincarnation of the evil Buu in the final episodes of Dragon Ball Z. Considering Uub had no idea he was Buu's reincarnation, this makes it an awfully convenient name.
- In Princess Nine, Nene disguises Kanako by reversing the syllables in her name — Konaka Tami.
- Sailor Moon
- It was from the first Sera Myu summer special. The young man known as Saito Kun reveals himself to actually be Kunzite.
- In the manga short story Ami-chan's First Love (and in the anime special based on it) Ami's mysterious rival known as "Mercurius" turns out to be a local geek named Kurume Suuri, and he even explains how he came up with this pseudonym.note
- The Grand Finale of the original Lupin III manga series featured the Musical Assassin Ataginez. Of course, it's Inspector Zenigata in disguise.
- 8th Man's secret identity is named Tobor.
- In Naruto Obito disguises himself as "Tobi", which is just his name with the Kanji reversed.
- In the Fleetway Sonic the Comic continuity, Dr. Robotnik used to be a friend of Sonic's, a kindly scientist called Dr. Ovi Kintobor. In one of the novels, Sonic goes back in time before the transformation occurs, nearly blurting out Robotnik's name at one point before realising that, while Kintobor is a little ditzy at times, he's not stupid.
- He was also called Kintobor in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. Julian Kintobor, at that. "Julian Kintobor of the House of Ivo", fully. (In SatAM, he was called "Julian", but no last name was given.) However, it gets confusing considering that there are separate Kintobor and Robotnik families! The Official Encyclopedia clears the matter: When Julian came to power, he took his father's name (Ivo) and mother's surname (Robotnik).
- One story of the Turma da Mônica (Monica's Gang) comics had Monica, Cebolinha/Jimmy Five and Cascão/Smudge meeting a knight named Rengaw (actually an RPG-obsessed man living in his very own fantasy world) and getting captured by a dragon. At one point, Cebolinha lampshades this by saying that Rengaw's name is just "Wagner" backwards, implying that this might be Rengaw's real name.
- An early Batman comic had a criminal masquerading as record shop owner "Old man Rekoj". He has also gone by Dr. J. Reko, DDS.
- It once took the Justice Society of America an issue to realise that evil Professor Elba and kindly Professor Able were one and the same. Not exactly their finest moment.
- A Carl Barks story featured female creatures called "larkies". When disguised as males, they called themselves "eikrals". Each larkie's eikral counterpart has a name that's the larkie's name spelled backwards. For example, the larkie named Agnes became an eikral named Senga.
- In one Disney Comics Mickey Mouse story, Mickey and Goofy must find a hillbilly nicknamed "Turkey Neck". In their search, they find a "Ken Yekrut". Mickey sees through the deception immediately but pretends to be fooled so he can get more information.
- In Urbanus, the character Ed Luived is actually Satan in disguise. ("De Duivel" is Dutch for "The Devil".)
- Chester Gould made this a constant for Dick Tracy. The first was when Pat Patton brought a clue in a kidnapping and had to spell it out.
- Patton: Gee whiz, don't you see? The name Yobgib spelled backward is BIG BOY!
- Afterward, the backwards name was used, usually for crooks like Yenom, Rennis and more.
- In Terry and the Pirates, the Dragon Lady sometimes used the alias Miss Nogard.
- In FoxTrot, Eileen uses the on-line handle 'Sgt. Neelie'.
Films — Live-Action
- Young Sherlock Holmes. Villain Eh Tar uses the alias of Professor Rathe for his cover job at Brompton Academy. Watson even spells this out towards the end of the film as a "very important clue."
- In Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman's character, Michael Dorsey, uses the name "Dorothy Michaels" when he becomes an actress.
- In S1m0ne, Viktor checks Simone into the hotel under the psuedonym "Ms Enomis".
- In Piers Anthony's Being a Green Mother, the heroine Orb shares a romantic attachment with a man named Natasha, whose true identity is revealed when he proposes marriage to her: "Ah, Satan".
- The syllabic version of this trope is Older Than Print: Tristram disguises himself as "Tramtris" in the Arthurian legends.
- The Arthurian legend's use of a backwards name is Lampshaded in Gerald Morris' novel The Ballad of Sir Dinadan: "Tramtris. That was the best he could come up with. Didn't you realize it was Tristram?" Spoofed further when Dinadan talks to a holy hermit who wants to write an allegorical adventure story, the villain of which is "Stultus," being Latin for fool. Then the two dismiss that as too obvious and call him "Sutluts" instead. So much better. When "Tramtris" comes in and begs Dinadan not to reveal his name, Dinadan says "Don't worry. If anyone asks, I'll say you're Sir Sutluts."
- In Deryni Checkmate, Duke Alaric Morgan's bard Gwydion ap Plenneth informs him about public opinion in his ducal capital Coroth, including popular songs against Morgan. One of these is about an evil oppressor and entitled "The Ballad of Duke Cirala". In his report, Gwydion lampshades the trope: "...I might also mention that the name Cirala is quite familiar if one only spells it backward: C-I-R-A-L-A-A-L-A-R-I-C."
It's a sad and terrible thing that high-born folk really have thought that the servants would be totally fooled if spirits were put into decanters that were cunningly labelled backwards. And also throughout history the more politically conscious butler has taken it on trust, and with rather more justification, that his employers will not notice if the yksihw is topped up with eniru.
- Early in Thief of Time, a very punctual milkman by the name of Ronnie Soak is introduced as a minor character. However, once the plot truly gets underway, his true nature is revealed: he is Kaos, the fifth Horseman of the Apocralypse (not a typo), who left before the other four became famous. Pratchett himself had not planned it that way, at least consciously. The story goes he'd planned for him to be the fifth horseman, but hadn't figured out what he would be, until he looked at the name in the mirror.
- Carpe Jugulum: The narration describes vampires' apparent inability to compensate for their well-known weaknesses, and at one point says "Do they really think spelling their name backwards is going to fool anyone?"
- In Thud!, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch's new vampire recruit Salacia sends a "clacks" (a sort of clock-punk version of a telegram) using the alias "Aicalas". The normally practical and intelligent vampire Salacia von Humpeding suffers from the curse of her kind : the deep and abiding conviction that no one will recognise your name if you spell it backwards. Of course, Vimes instantly sees through that, mentionning it as one of the vampires' lesser-known failings.
- The Silmarillion: Beren and Finrod Felagund, while masquerading as Orcs in some of the earliest versions of Tolkien's "The Lay of Leithian." Felagund gives his own name as Dungalef and Beren's as Nereb when they're captured by Sauron. That seems to work, but they still get found out. It's hard to understand why somebody over 1000 years old would come up with such transparent pseudonyms, let alone why somebody older than the universe would fall for it.
- In Racso and the Rats of NIMH, a sequel of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Jane Leslie Conly, Racso admits to Timothy Frisby at one stage in the book that his real name is "Oscar", but he much prefers the Sdrawkcab nom de plume he came up with.
- In Sabriel, it's mentioned that the Big Bad Kerrigor was born Prince Rogirek, generally known as Rogir. Kerrigor was the nickname Touchstone gave him.
- X-Wing Series
- Child actor-turned-pilot Garik "Face" Loran, left on their stolen ship while infiltrating the bad guys, is forced to come up with a disguise and a name to keep a planetary governor from getting suspicious. He comes up with Lieutenant Narol. In later instances of the same basic mission he uses a better disguise with the same name, and we never see him called on it. This might have something to do with the fact that in the Galaxy Far Far Away, Narol is a perfectly normal-seeming name. It also helps that he had previously faked his death.
- In Brian Jacques' less well-known work, Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, the two main characters get called Denmark and Nebuchadnezzar. This in turn gets shortened to Den and Neb. These then get reversed upon the two's escape to Ben and Ned, the crafty little devils.
- Taken to extremes and lampshaded in Young Wizards, where a dog turns out to be a god.
- One Dutch children's book titled Lyc-Drop features a character called Seuz. He turns out to be the Greek deity Zeus.
- There is a famous Sociology/Anthropology study of the "Nacirema" which is meant as a caution of treating other cultures as savage.
- The Culture: In Consider Phlebas, Bora Horza Gobuchul at one point identifies himself as Orab.
- The Hydrogen Sonata: Same universe, different alias: note Neressi/Isseren. Cue collective lampshading sigh when it's found out.
- In Dead Beat, a novel of The Dresden Files, Harry gives himself a minor self-deprecation for not figuring out that Sheila (shee-la) was Lasciel (la-sheel).
- In Talbot Mundy's Jimgrim, Femme Fatale secret agent "Princess Baltis" signs into a hotel as "Ranee Sitlab". Somewhat justified in that she wasn't actually trying to avoid notice.
- Patricia A. McKillip:
- Robert A. Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky includes a warning to the main character's class to watch out for stobor, the most dangerous creature they willl encounter on their field exam. The students don't realize that "stobor" is "robots" spelled backwards; Stobor are humans; their competing classmates.
- This is how Wizards dealing with the Darke hide themselves in Septimus Heap: By spelling their name backwards. Played With in Septimus's case, as he takes only the last letters S-u-m on Marcellus Pye's advice.
- In the Redwall book Martin the Warrior, Ballaw the hare uses the alias "Tibbar" ("Rabbit" backward) when speaking to the corsairs.
- A person of interest in one Hardy Boys case went by the name Zemog. The Hardys spent most of the book trying to track him with little success before realizing that it was Gomez backwards, and they found the guy under that name.
- A variant in Holes: Stanley Yelnats (who has an actual Sdrawkcab Name himself) is sent to a juvenile detention camp where everyone uses a nickname. He assumes the lead boy, X-Ray, was named because of his glasses; it turns out it's actually his real name, Rex, in Pig Latin.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, a lot of evidence points to Alleras, a novice at the Citadel, being Sarella Sand in disguise as a man.
- An episode of Scrubs had the Janitor use the name "Rotinaj".
J.D.: Rotinaj is just "Janitor" spelled backwards, Rotinaj.
Janitor: (to Indian doctor) Mornin', Dr. Rotinaj.
Doctor: Good morning, Mr. cleanup man!
- The "H. Maddas" files in Arrested Development turn out to be this (and a Chekhov's Gun).
- In Dark Oracle, Cally's pet frog, Nemo, turns out to be the Season 1 Big Bad, Omen. Justified in that he was named by someone else, as a joke (Nemo translated to "nothing").
- When a character named Nilrem appeared in Brazilian show "Caça Talentos", the fairies were worried because that name was Merlin spelled backwards.
- A variation on CSI: NY: Stella's psycho ex-boyfriend named a sculpture he made for her the Aresanob, which was her last name, Bonasera, spelled backward. He then uploaded a sex tape to Aresanob.com shortly after.
- On an episode of Law & Order: SVU, bodies of murder victims are being dumped on Det. Olivia Benson's doorstep. Further investigation leads to a phony company called "Aivilo". Only when they look through a frosted glass door at the company name do they realize it's backwards for Olivia and that it's personal.
- In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), the Winchester home in the Wishverse has the number 1841 beside the door. This is reversed from the house number 1481 seen in "Home" (S01, Ep09), indicating something is amiss.
- In the Danish Julekalender Jesus og Josefine the villain introduces himself as Natas at one point.
- Dream Theater's first album featured a song called The Ytse Jam, which was their original band name, Majesty, spelled backwards.
- The Ukrainian singer Ani Lorak. Her real first name is Karolina.
- N.W.A.'s Niggaz4Life was written mirrored on the album, and sometimes referred to as Efil4zaggin. This is more due to censorship though.
- The Red Hot Chili Peppers' song titled "Emit Remmus" has a stealth Title Drop in chorus: "London in the summertime".
- Stevie Wonder released an instrumental album credited to Eivets Rednow.
- For contractual reasons, the Melvins album Prick was credited to Snivlem - like the NWA example, the band name appeared in mirrored writing on the cover.
- After vocalist Lynn Strait's death, Snot eventually reformed as Tons.
- The Bloodhound Gang's One Fierce Beer Coaster ends with a short sketch consisting of someone doing a Homer Simpson impression and explaining the joke of the album title - to avoid potential copyright issues, it was titled "Reflections Of Remoh".
- After The Gits' vocalist Mia Zapata's murder, Joan Jett joined the remaining members of the band for a benefit concert and an album under the name Evil Stig. Evil Stig is of course "Gits Live" backwards.
- Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun wrote several songs credited to A. Nugetre.
- British Punk Rock group The Boys also released material under the name The Yobs, mainly Christmas novelties. "Yob" is a British term for a hooligan, and its etymology is in fact "boy" spelled backwards.
- Discworld Role-Playing Game: As noted above, it's an established joke in the Discworld novels that this is a common foible among Discworld vampires (a joke about the Alucard trope), but the licensed game formalizes the idea in the form of the quirk-level "Delusion (Spelling My Name Backwards Disguises It Perfectly)".
- Sarevok/Koveras in Baldur's Gate. The part of the trope description where one would expect him to be more imaginative is lampshaded when one of his underlings mistakenly thinks that you're working for him too and tells you all the details of the Evil Plan. Regarding the pseudonym, he says something like "Not very original, I'll admit, but then it's not like any of us are gonna be stupid enough to tell him that!"
- The in-game explanation is that, as a warrior-type, Sarevok is highly intelligent but basically straightforward at heart. He's perfectly capable of behind-the-scenes manipulation but prefers to hack his problems to pieces, so when he has to be sneaky, he uses shortcuts like this one.
- During Jaheira's personal quest in the second game, a guy named Terminsel shows up to give her a magical item. Jaheira comments that he must be fond of anagrams. note
- Fire Emblem Tellius: Radiant Dawn features Danved as a playable character, who has a striking resemblance to Devdan in Path of Radiance. Instead of a full reversal, they swapped the syllables and reversed one of them. Furthermore, in the Japanese release, Danved was known as Nadved — a full reversal. Said Japanese name was also used in Path of Radiance's Danved/Largo supports.
- Colonel Redips/Spider, the Big Bad, in Mega Man X: Command Mission. The instruction booklet of the game intentionally misspells the former name (Rideps) so that keen players wouldn't see the connection, at first.
- In Tales of Vesperia the character Yeager maintains the double identity of Regeay. The "two" characters are near total opposites in personality and demeanor.
- The final boss in the NES version of Double Dragon III is an evil sorceress named Queen Noiram, who is revealed to be Marion (whose name is usually spelled "Marian" in other games) possessed by an evil spirit. In the original arcade and Famicom versions, she was actually Cleopatra.
- Kingdom Hearts: Organization XIII operate under names that are Significant Anagrams with a letter X added in. In Axel's case it turned out to be a reversal of his original name (Lea) with an X added.
- Rastan Saga II was released outside Japan under the Market Based Titles Nastar and Nastar Warrior ("st" is a diagraph).
- Though Starcraft II has only just begun its "trilogy", Wild Mass Guessing has already pegged a certain Professor Narud as being an important character from the previous game who was conspicuously absent in this one. Word of God has since confirmed this.
- One puzzle in King's Quest I: Quest For The Crown, Rumpelstiltskin gives you a riddle on how his name is spelled. The clue received is to think backwards. You think it's spelled "Nikstlitselpmur", but you have to reverse the alphabet (A becomes Z and so on) which spells the quite unpronounceable "Ifnkovhgroghprm". This was resolved in the remake by making both solutions acceptable.
- Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden has a plot arc centered around Yelmirb, who is actually Wilford Brimley, who can cure diabetes by absorbing it into himself.
- Hector from Castlevania: Curse of Darkness is aided by a priest by the name of Zead. It was easier to tell in the original Japanese, but his name is a phonetic reversal of Death.
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga used this trope to hide the word "fatso".
Skeleton: Old Bloat is even more of an "ostaf" than before!... Whuzzat? You dunno what an "ostaf" is??? Seesh! It's simple! Try spellin' it backwards!
- Tantris of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland does this half-heartedly to hide the fact that he's the son of the game's main antagonist, Meredith Alcock. His real name is Tristan, and his alias only swaps the syllables of his name.
- In World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, you first meet the arakkoa Iskar in Talador where he's disguised as a draenei woman named Raksi.
- Umineko: When They Cry: The sixth arc provides Kanon's real name, Yoshiya. This is, in fact, a modified Japanese reversal of Shannon's real name, Sayo. Shi and ya need to be slurred together into one sound, as the Japanese kana does to write the letter "Sha," and you wind up with "Shayo," which is only slightly different from "Sayo." This was one of the many big hints given in that arc that Shannon and Kanon are alter egos of Sayo Yasuda.
- Stupid Mario Brothers: Merlin initially calls himself "Nilrem" for his first few episodes.
- In The Emperor's New School, Yzma's alias while masquerading as the principal of Kuzco U. is Amzy. Of course, no-one falls for her Paper-Thin Disguise except for Kronk, the only one who's supposed to know. Though this is subverted in the finale when Kronk admits he figured out "about three episodes back" and proceeds to point out everything that made it obvious while admitting he'd been pretending to remain ignorant since the realization.
- During his initial appearance in Totally Spies!, Tim Scam masquerades as Mac Smit. Alex figures it out when she sees his name tag in the mirror, although the letters are not mirror-image reversed.
- In the "Marge vs. the Monorail" episode of The Simpsons, Mr. Burns attempts to get his money back by disguising himself with a fake mustache at the town meeting and calling himself "Mr. Snrub" (accompanied by an undisguised Smithers, by the way). Surprisingly, it fails instantly. Remember, this is Springfield we are talking about.
- Greek god Ares goes by the alias "Mr. Sera" in Justice League Unlimited "Hawk and Dove".
- Similarly, the Almighty Janitor Mr. Suez in Class of the Titans is the god Zeus.
- In Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, the Big Bad's Mad Scientist assistant, Dr. Trebla, turns out to be Shaggy's missing Uncle Albert in disguise.
- In the Kim Possible episode "A Sitch in Time", Shego uses the pseudonym "Mrs. Ogehs" in her scheme to break up Team Possible.
- In an episode of the Super Friends, Superman deduces that a man is a robot in disguise by noticing that his name is "Tobor." He could have just used his X-ray vision, but where's the fun in that?
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: In "The Secret of the Ghost Rig", Rung Ladderton uses the alias 'G. Nur Notreddal' to hide some of the purchases he made to create his identity as the Ghost Trucker.
- The New Adventures of Superman: In "Luthor Strikes Again", Luthor sets up his base in the Rohtul Paint factory. Probably justified as this is part of deliberate trap for Superman.
- The transport company "Elddis" is a reverse of its original name, "Siddle".
- Oprah's production company is called Harpo, Inc.
- Fun fact: In The Color Purple, Oprah Winfrey played Sofia, whose husband was named Harpo.
- People do fall for this in real life. Walt Disney bought up land in Florida with a dummy company called Retlaw Enterprises. "Retlaw" = "Walter".
- Magician P. T. Selbit was actually named P. T. Tibbles.
- The classic book on card manipulation The Expert at the Card Table was written by an unknown person under the pseudonym "S. W. Erdnase". One of the suspected authors was a con artist named "E. S. Andrews". Several other possible authors have that same surname.
- Theodor Geisel, best known as Dr. Seuss, also wrote under the name "Theo LeSieg".
- One of the major franchises in Michigan for fast-food chain Arby's is called Sybra, Inc.
- The company created in order to oversee the licencing of Beatles merchandise in the USA was called Seltaeb.