Which is the top and which is the bottom? You'll never know!
"Particle Man, Particle Man
Doin' the things a particle can
What's he like? It's not important
A quick-n-dirty way to make a superhero/supervillain name: call them "(Something)man". Alternatively, "(Something) Man" or "(Something)-Man". "Woman" or "girl" (or, very occasionally, "lass") can be substituted for "man", especially where a Distaff Counterpart
of the "man" is needed; "boy", "lad" or "kid" can also replace "man". For variety, there are also a large number of "Captain (Something)"s, though those names are often sarcastic
Common themes include using animals, weapons, items or elements. Expect a lot of Theme Naming
if the heroes are in a team.
The Legion of Super-Heroes
even justified this trope
by noting how difficult it can be to give everyone in its ranks a unique codename. Summed it neatly as "Adjective-Gender"
In contrast is the Dark Age
practice of giving heroes and villains gritty one-word names.
Compare Captain Superhero
(perhaps the second most common superhero naming trope), Luke Nounverber
(this trope's counterpart in Speculative Fiction
), The Adjectival Superhero
, Species Surname
, TV Tropes Superhero Team
(a Just for Fun
page imagining any trope with a "something person" form was a superhero). Often, an Animal-Themed Superbeing
might use this sort of naming scheme.
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- Elongated Man, although lacking a Secret Identity, he was often just called Ralph.
- Who was created as a copyright workaround for the hero DC really wanted to use, Plastic Man. Interestingly, DC had recently acquired Plastic Man, but Elongated Man's creator didn't know it.
- Invisible Woman (formerly Invisible Girl), of the Fantastic Four.
- Also Invisible Boy, of the Mystery Men
- Mega Man
- normalman, the only person on the planet Levram without superpowers (due to not actually being a native).
- Superman, the original.
- A "Superwoman" occasionally shows up, mostly so Time Warner can secure the trademark.
- Superbaby. Seriously.
- While not people, The Super-person pattern continued beyond the human race into The Legion of Super-pets:
- Krypto the Superdog
- Streaky the Supercat
- Beppo the Supermonkey
- Comet the Superhorse (Who, unlike the others, was not a Kryptonian animal brought to Earth but a centuar magically transformed into a horse with super powers.)
- And finally, Super Turtle, who was not technically a member of the Legion of Super-pets but was a one-page backup feature in a number of comics and is part of the Superman Family.
- Strong Badman of Homestar Runner originated when someone asked why Strong Bad didn't have a name like this.
- Lampshaded by Strong Guy, from Marvel Comics. "Every team needs a strong guy!"
- Giant Man (Hank Pym; see below for more of his names)
- Radioactive Man, a nuclear-powered Chinese physicist.
- Expendable Lad
- And from the same show, the Huntsman.
- Wild Child
- Phantom Lady
- The Tall Man
- Parodied in The Specials with Minute (pronounced my-noot) man, whose name is often understandably mispronounced by people.
College girl: Hey, are you Minuteman? Can we have your autograph?
Minute Man: My-noot Man! Do I look like a soldier from the Revolutionary War? I don't think so! Am I wearing a three-cornered hat? No! I turn small. Think!
College girl: That costume makes you look gay.
- And his ripoff from the mainland, Inframan.
- Ultraman is also a villainous version of Superman from either Earth-3 or the Anti-matter Universe.
- Stupendous Man from Calvin and Hobbes
S for Stupendous!
T for Tiger, ferocity of!
U for Underwear, red!
P for Power, incredible!
E for Excellent physique!
N for ...um... something ...hmm, well I'll come back to that...
D for Determination!
U for ...for... wait, how do you spell this? Is it I?
- Elasti-Girl and Negative Man of the Doom Patrol. Subverted in that they HATED the "freak names" given to them, mostly it seems by the media.
- Metro Man.
- Blankman of the Gadgeteer Genius variety, named so because he couldn't say a word (i.e. was blank) when asked for his name.
- Formerly known as The Ultimatum, the title character of the political satire The Adventures of Unemployed Man ended up with a new name after he lost his job and mansion in the Crash of 2008.
- Bravoman. His name is also read as "Beraboh Man"; "beraboh" is Japanese for "ridiculous."
- The Impossible Man of (mostly) Fantastic Four fame.
- Alligator Man, Calvin's nickname for Killer Croc in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series.
- Animal Man.
- Ant-Man (Hank Pym again)
- Ant Woman, an ally of The Easy Breather.
- Catman, an early Batman villain.
- Bat-mite (arguably not a person, as he's a 5th-dimensional imp who's also Batman's biggest fan)
- There was also a Bat-hound (Definitely not a person, but part of the family)
- Beast Boy of the Teen Titans.
- Bee Man from Dr. McNinja
- Squirrel Girl, who as you can probably guess is not intended to be entirely serious.
- The Astounding Wolf Man
- Gorilla Man
- Not to be confused with the possibly-real alien Mothman.
- Snake Man, Toad Man, Centaur Man, Tengu Man, Hornet Man and Sheep Man.
- Along with every other animal or "actiony" word you could possible think of, plus man. Seriously.
- Puma Man (he flies like a moron!)
- One Piece has Panda-man
- Dragon Kid from Tiger & Bunny.
- Cat-Dude from the Morrowind walkthrough at IT-HE Software.
- DC covered all the bases (twice):
- Element Lad of the Legion of Super-Heroes
- Metamorpho ("the Element Man"), a silver age hero... sort of. Rex Mason really didn't want to be a superhero at all, he just wanted to return to normal. And his boss was a low-rent Luthor wannabe named Simon Stagg, who often blackmailed or otherwise coerced Rex into doing some pretty shady stuff.
- Iron Man
- ...and his foes Titanium Man (2 incarnations) and Cobalt Man.
- And Iron Lad of the Young Avengers
- Also Iron Woman, an alternate reality version of the character.
- DC went to Latin(ish) and called their version Ferro Lad, though his power was that he could turn himself into iron.
- The Metal Men, with individual elements as members; Gold, Iron, Tin, Lead, Mercury, and token female Platinum (although these days, she's joined by Copper).
- The Breeders—sounds like a superhero team, but...as for what their power oughta be...let's not go there—began as a one-off including members of The Pixies, though finally way outlasting their progenitors. Debut CD Pod closes with "Metal Man", the lyrics an odd hybrid of Super Hero Origin and Alien Abduction. Unusually subdued for the Deal sisters, though before it's over they shoehorn an Epic Riff in the mélange. Only a bit of singing; most words are spoken by Josephine Wiggs, the band's "Coastal cutthroat" bassist (for details on said epithet, ask Kim what the song "Hag" means). Wiggs' deadpan Brit mumble adds an air of mystery to a track already notable for its opacity.
Over my head the hot wire was sparking
I got something down on my chest
And it began to bubble
- The Tin Man from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz kinda sorta qualifies, maybe. Except he's not a superhero. (Except in that one scene in the book where he single-handedly decapitates an entire onrushing pack of wolves.)
- There was also Element Girl, an obscure DC hero who later turned up, suicidally depressed, in The Sandman.
Minerals and Compounds
- Aquaman and his side-kick Aqualad
- Aquaman's wife Mera goes by Aquawoman in the New 52.
- Asbestos Woman, a Golden Age Marvel villain.
- Hydro-Man, a Spider-Man foe.
- Iceman of the X-Men
- Sandman, another Spider-Man foe.
- DC Comics' Golden Age and Silver Age Sandmen. (The title character of The Sandman is a) not a superhero and b) not called Sandman.)
- Molecule Man, an unambitious average joe who could rend the universe asunder with a thought.
- Plastic Man
- Steeljack's codename can be somewhat confusing, considering his given name is Carl. When you know that it's short for "The Steel-jacketed Man!" it makes a lot more sense.]
- Lactose Man from Good Eats, who mostly exists for giving people who consume dairy products a punch in the gut.
- Gatchaman, with gatcha being the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound of metal striking.
- Some Digimon names, like Garurumon, with garuru being a Japanese onomatopoeia for "growling".
- Robot Man, AKA Cliff Steel of the Doom Patrol. Subverted in that he hated the name.
- Rockman, the original name of Mega Man. (As in Rock music.) Other characters (many of whose names were changed) went along with the Theme Naming to music.
- Marvel Girl of the X-Men.
- And Marvel Boy of the New Warriors.
- And a string of Captain Marvels, and Ms. Marvel.
- This is particularly hilarious, as Captain Marvel was the name of one of DC Comics's flagship heroes long before Marvel made it big. Marvel managed to secure the rights to the name and the DC comic is now sold under the name "Shazam"...but the character is still called Captain Marvel. (Whereas in Marvel's universe there are about four Captain Marvels.)
- The original Captain Marvel was a Fawcett character. Most people have never heard of Fawcett, because DC sued them into oblivion and ended up with the rights to the character, supposedly because the Big Red Cheese was too similar to Superman.
- One of the Marvel universe Captain Marvels stars in "Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E." along with a "hero" named The Captain, who is implied to be every fourth-string hero named "Captain Something" in Marvel's history. Apparently, being from Brooklyn, he originally used the name "Captain ***", until he introduced himself to Captain America and wound up stuffed into a dumpster with a bar of soap in his mouth.
- There is a Power Girl in DC and a Power Man (although he usually just goes by Luke Cage) in Marvel. There was even a What The...!? one-panel gag about "What if Wonder Man was a woman and Power Man was a girl...?"
- DC's Amazon princess, Wonder Woman, and Marvel's completely unrelated character, Wonder Man.
- DFE's Super 6 had three: Elevator Man, Granite Man and Magneto Man.
- All of the members of Terrytoons' The Mighty Heroes: Strong Man, Cuckoo Man, Diaper Man, Rope Man and Tornado Man.
- Particle Man, Triangle Man, Universe Man and Person Man from the song "Particle Man" by They Might Be Giants.
- British comics and cartoon character Bananaman. (And his Evil Counterpart Appleman.)
- Hanna-Barbera had Birdman and the Galaxy Trio:
- Vapor Man
- Meteor Man
- Gravity Girl
- ...and the Impossibles
- ... and the Super-Globetrotters
- Multi-Man (again)
- Liquid Man
- Sphere Man
- Spaghetti Man
- Gizmo Man
- ...and the prehistoric Side Kick:
- The Starman dynasty, which also includes Starboy of the Lo SH, Stargirl (formerly the Star-Spangled Kid) and at least two future Starwomen. How they're related to a star's properties varies. Most of the current Starmen and Stargirl wield "cosmic energy", while Starboy can alter gravity.
- Real Life: Tank Man.
- Maid-Man from Empowered
- Dead Girl
- Multiple Man (Madrox)
- Thor Girl
- Ringo Kid (no relation to any Beatles)
- Outlaw Kid
- Two Gun Kid
- Shiver Man
- Machine Teen
- Ghost Girl
- Demolition Man
- Dinobot counts, right? Shapeshifting alien robots are people too!
- Thunder Girl
- Spider-Plant Man (A parody of Spider-Man by Rowan Atkinson)
- Liberty Lad from Freedom Force
- Man-Bot, also from Freedom Force
- Might Guy from Naruto. Of course, "Guy" is part of his name, so this probably doesn't count.
- Deadpool once had a short lived sidekick. His name? You guessed it: Pool-Boy.
- Marvel villain Purple Man.
- Combustion Man
- Blood Boy
- Pizza Girl
- Mermaidman and Barnacle-Boy
- Konami Man and Konami Girl from Wai Wai World.
- The generic character's name in Temple Run is "Guy Dangerous".
- Plant Lady, Corncob Man, and Question Mark Man/Puzzlement Dude, Calvin's nicknames for Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, and The Riddler in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series.
- The Middleman
- Matter-Eater Lad.
- Calendar Man from Batman.
- Crazy quilt Man from Batman.
- Negative Man from Western Animation/ Teen Titans.
- Crazy Box-Head Man from Chowder.
- Dad Man from a number of shows actually.
- Video Game/Dark Cloud has enemies named "Bombman" "Tuesday" "Friday" "Monday" and so forth. A lot of them aren't so unbearably dull but still.
- Lever Man from Good Eats, who tended to arrive whenever someone mentioned needing "leverage". Notably, he has pretty much the same costume as Lactose Man above (complete with the letter L), the one difference being that he never wears boxing gloves.
- He-Man. Probably the most unimaginative name ever.
- He-Mom, the no-nonsense mom of the superhero team The Ripping Friends. And yes, it is worse than it sounds.
- And another parody from the same show, Man Man and his sidekick Boy Boy showed up for one episode.
- Powdered Toast Man, a parody courtesy of the creators of Ren and Stimpy.
- Male Man from the webcomic I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space.
- Ro-Man from the So Bad, It's Good movie Robot Monster. As ridiculous as the name.
- The above-mentioned Person Man.
- Strong Sad's fictional superhero persona: Twelve-Times-A-Day Man!
- Man-Man, though he did get his "powers" from the bite of a radioactive man.
- There was also a Man-Man (pronounced Mon-Mon) in Normalman. With the power of Ganja Breath.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000, in a sketch where Joel and the Bots were making up their own superhero names, also used Man-Man, describing him as "the man with the proportionate strength of...a man!"
- Old Man-Man from Dresden Codak.
- Machine-Man, best known now from his time with Nextwave.
- U-Go Girl (No, really)
- Fan Boy (Again, really)
- Rocket Man, maybe?
- Melt Man, with the power to... melt!
- Not to be confused with Coupling's Melty Man
- In a backwards example, Marvel's Man-Thing (which is a big humanoid plant).
- It doesn't help that the full title of his comic, due to its page count, was Giant-Size Man-Thing.
- 'Splosion Man
- Superhero League of Hoboken features on its roster, among other heroes, Tropical Oil Man and Treader Man. The latter of which has the superpower to be really good at treading water. (The power of Heart is starting to look good now...)
- The Civic-Minded Five on The Tick included The Carpeted Man. Don't let him rub up against you, or you'll get a nasty static-electric shock!
- Also Four-Legged Man in the TV series, Oddman in the Comic Book, and Feral Boy in both.
- Dole Man, the banana company's Japanese mascot. He can shoot bananas.
- Pepsi Man, the soft drink's Japanese mascot. There was also an earlier Pepsi Man who was played by Paul Rodriguez in Spanish-language American commercials.
- Bat-Bat from Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures.
- Cat Cat from DC Nation's Farm League.
- Great Saiyaman has arrived!
- Perhaps the most famous of them all, predating Superman by more than half a century: Joseph Merrick, "The Elephant Man"
- Also, Grady Stiles, aka "Lobster Boy". Suffering from ectrodactyly, he was born with his fingers (save for the thumb) fused together, causing his hands to look like the claws of a lobster.
- This was also passed on to his son, much to the joy of Stiles and his wife, since that meant the boy's financial future was secured for life.
- Contortionists are sometimes referred to as "snake men/women".
- British "real-life superhero" Angle-Grinder Man, who used the tool of his title to remove wheel clamps from cars.