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Specialperson Normal Name
In real life, most people have very common and completely ordinary names. But not so in fiction. If a character is to have any relevance to the plot, he has to have a name that sounds either cool and tough, or ominous and evil. But sometimes they don't. Everyone else does, but not these characters. Their names are just so ordinary and common that it really sticks out.
This trope is the middle ground between Awesome McCoolname
and Unfortunate Names
. Compare with Aerith and Bob
, when characters with completely made up names appear side by side with others that have completely mundane names. Might overlap with Mr. Smith
. See also Fluffy the Terrible
, Tom The Dark Lord
, Sesquipedalian Smith
, Some Call Me Tim
, and Odd Name Out
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Anime and Manga
- In Elfen Lied, the massive, floating head, Body Horror oracle that is kept in the pool under the research facility is just called "Anna." Helps that she was born as a mostly normal girl.
- The Big Bad undead evil sorceress in Record of Lodoss War is just named "Karla", being about the only character in the entire world with an actual real world name.
- The high priestess of the temple in Rune Soldier is named Jenny. Just "Chief Priestess Jenny".
- Martian Successor Nadesico starts with a pilot named Jiro Yamada, the Japanese equivalent of John Smith. He's so upset his name isn't awesome he insists everyone call him Gai Daigoji.
- The Big O: "My name...is Roger Smith."
- One Piece: Whitebeard's relatively normal name is Edward Newgate.
- Claymore: Most of the Claymores have quite plain names by occidental standards; examples include Clare, Teresa, Priscilla, and Helen.
- X-Men gives us Jean Grey. She's had a number of names over the years (Such as Marvel Girl and Phoenix), but nothing ever really stuck. Across various media and incarnations, Jean is just... Jean. Lampshaded in one issue:
Cyclops: "Everyone, Jean and I have an announcement to make..."
Jubilee (off-panel): "Don't tell me, she finally got herself a real code-name?"
Jean: (Rolling her eyes) "Nothing quite THAT exciting, I'm afraid!" (For the record, they were getting engaged)
- We also got Jubilee sarcastically referring to Jean as "Miss 'I'm too sexy for a codename, too sexy for a codename.'" Another time, in an X-Men: Evolution-based comic, Nightcrawler asked why Rogue was just Rogue, in superhero and in civilian life. Cyclops said "The same reason Jean's just Jean." When Nightcrawler asks about that, they're interrupted before any answer can be given.
- All this becomes slightly hypocritical when you consider that Jubilee's "codename" is actually just her childhood nickname. But then, when your parents named you "Jubilation", what can you do?
- A Norse god-powered alien cyborg named "Beta Ray" Bill. Just Bill, for short.
- For a group that calls itself the Legion of Monsters and is made up of a variety of fearsome, sometimes supernatural beings, you'd definitely expect some exotic names. There are — some. Most others? Michael, Jack, Ted, Johnny, Frank, Elsa and "Manny".
- Tim the Enchanter in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- Kill Bill: The assassin codenamed Snake Charmer, a graduate student of the world's greatest swordsmith and kung fu master... is the title character, Bill.
- The Matrix: All the Agents have generic names, such as Smith, Brown and Jones.
- Inverted in Down Periscope. The name of the electrician is Nitro, but he's working on a nickname: Mike.
- Played with in the poster◊ for Men In Black (as the characters go by One Letter Name, but the actors have Plain Surnames).
- Mr. and Mrs. Smith: John and Jane Smith are highly-skilled assassins.
- In The Cabin In The Woods there is evidently some sort of evil, never-seen thing buried deep in the facility but named... Kevin.
- In Fright Night, the next door, neighbour, complete monster vampire goes by the name of... Jerry.
- Done with an entire planet in Titan AE. The name of the new planet, future home to the remnants of humanity? Bob.
- In The Man from Earth, John Oldman claims that, for most of his 14,000 year life, his name has generally been some variation of "John".
Live Action Television
- Clark Kent in Smallville. Sure, his birth name was Kal-El but it's very rare for anyone to call him that, and they never call him Superman until the very last episode. Dude can bench press a glacier. His name is totally ordinary.
- The all-knowing prophet "Chuck".
- Followed by the prophet "Kevin."
- Somewhat justified in Farscape since aliens are expected to have stranger names than humans. Still, The Powers That Be were presumably invoking this trope when they decided to name the main character "John".
- Bob, the demon from Twin Peaks.
- The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries: Sookie starts giggling when her vampire love interest introduces himself as Bill.
- The Ender sequels feature a one-of-a-kind life form, an artificial intelligence with a soul. The ansible network and all computers linked to it function as her nervous system. She thinks at thousands of times the rate of human thought. The name she gave herself: Jane.
- James Bond: Ian Fleming choose the name of his hero because it sounded so unexciting, although since then he's given the name an allure of its own.
- Anne of Green Gables: Anne Shirley constantly laments having such a plain name. She wishes to be called "Cordelia", which she believes sound much more interesting. Though, if she must be called Anne, she's sure to remind you that it's spelled with an E, because without it, it looks even more plain and dreadful.
- Harry Potter. In fact, Harry is one of the very few characters in his series to have a completely ordinary name. (Most of the characters with normal first names have weird last names.)
- The Nightside's own John Taylor. In-universe, he's made it into a Name to Run Away From Really Fast.
- In A Tale Of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones, the legendary founder of Time City is named John Smith. Residents usually use the Latin translation in order to make it sound more impressive. The man himself claims that people ought to be impressed by his name anyway due to the etymology.
- Subverted in The Curse Of Monkey Island. Guybrush asks one pirate his name, to which he is told "Bill". When Guybrush comments that this doesn't sound very piratey, Bill interjects with, "Cutthroat Bill".
- Ed the Undying an ancient mummy in Kingdom of Loathing. Lampshaded in the encounter: "Ed? Not Ed-Ra, or Ed-hotep, or something?"
- In The Lord of the Rings Online you frequently run into a strange old lady called Sara Oakheart, wo seems to know more than she is letting on. It's the perfect disguise, as her real name is Amarthiel, the Daughter of Doom, one of Saurons chief generals and a two thousand year old undead spirit, who had been spying on you the whole time.
- While Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid certainly has a cool-sounding code name; his real name is just "David".
- Big Boss/Naked Snake's and Ocelot's real names, revealed during Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, are also rather plain: John and Adam — or rather, Ocelot's real name is "Adamska", a Hollywood-Russian form of "Adam" (it makes certain sense, since Ocelot is Russian-born and the game is essentially a Cold War spy film parody that takes everything it does seriously). In fact, Ocelot asks Naked Snake what his name is and then gives his own; when the latter answers simply, "John," Ocelot replies, "Plain name, but I won't forget it."
- Metal Gear Rising Revengeance: Raiden's archenemy is a Brazilian cyborg swordsmaster named... Samuel Rodrigues. Although his codename Jetstream is somewhat funky, Samuel Rodrigues is a commonplace name in Brazil, especially the surname.
- Pokemon Ruby And Sapphire gives us Maxie and Archie, the Magma and Aqua leaders. Unlike most characters, they have no theme nor pun to their names and seem to have been chosen because they start with the same letters as their teams and Japanese names, and sound a little bit alike.
- Inverted in Thief with Viktoria, who has a suprisingly fancy and aristocratic name for a wood nymph.
- Messiah's protagonist is an angel named Bob.
- The immortal "Jerry" from El Goonish Shive. He even lampshades this while simultaneously poking fun at his peers who chose more pretentious names.
- Biff in Absurd Notions names every one of his roleplaying characters "Biff".
- Looking for Group: The sinister undead warlock... Richard.