"Malik Blishtar is actually Marik Ishtar?
A character, engaged in "covert ops" of the more comedic kind, is asked for their name. They never prepared one before hand, and don't have time to come up with a Line-of-Sight Name
. Without thinking, they begin to blurt out their real name, only to cover it up with some painful pronunciation twisting and a quick stammer.
Compare Unpronounceable Alias
. For slightly better pseudonyms, try Character Name Alias
, Line-of-Sight Name
, and Sdrawkcab Alias
. See also Louis Cypher
, Hugh Mann
, Steven Ulysses Perhero
and Mr. Smith
Not a type
of Mary Sue
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Anime and Manga
- In Ranma ˝, Ranma (as a girl) is about to introduce himself to his mother for the first time. While saying the first syllable of his name, he sees her grip her sword and changes his name to "Ranko".
- In the Pokémon episode "Showdown in Dark City," Ash Ketchum starts to give his real name as "Ash...Ketchup..." before changing it to "Tom Ato". Following his example, Misty and Brock introduce themselves as "Ann Chovie" and "Caesar Salad", respectively. The reason they had the pseudonyms at all was to avoid being recognized as Pokemon trainers.
- "We're from Cafe Mew Mew in Tokyo — mmph!" "Do you want to give us away?" Needless to say, they keep the name.
- In Detective Conan Conan nearly did this at the very beginning, before he came up with Conan Edogawa, he nearly said "Shinichi." He's lucky that Conan can be rendered in Japanese. Imagine if it was some name with L's everywhere. Not only that, but many times when Conan and Heiji meet up for a case, Heiji (unintentionally or otherwise) slips and calls him "Kudo" in front of the girls, always covering it up with another word that sort of might sound a little bit like it (a homonym.)
- Excel Saga parodies this trope along with everything else in existence - in one episode Excel uses the alias Pseudonym Undercover. On another occasion she actually does use "Sue Donym".
- In Kuragehime, Wholesome Crossdresser Kuranosuke has been hanging out with a group of female otaku, only one of which knows he's a guy. After one of them calls him by the nickname "Meat" once too often, he starts to retort, "I have a name, and it's Kurano-" before realizing he's standing right in front of the sign at their boarding house that states "No boys allowed." He quickly changes his sentence and tells them his name is "Kurako," and is shocked that the others actually bought it.
- Usui in Kaichou wa Maid-sama likes to trick
Those Two Guys Yukimura with a foreign accent and the name "Usui Janai" - literally "Not Usui." It works.
- In Kurohime, after aging into a teenage girl, the main heroine give the name "Himeko" to one of the person that wanted to kill her, but the guy remembered that name was used for Kurohime while been a child. Quickly, the heroine realized her wrong and say that actually her name was "Himeko-jo", with three kanjis. Of course, it didn't work.
- A few of the villains do this in Sailor Moon. Jadeite uses the name "Jay Daito" in more than one episode when he's in disguise. In the sound dramas, Zoisite goes by "Zoi Saito," and Kunzite is "Kunz Aito."
- In One Piece, Luffy uses this for the tournament in Dressrosa. Due to being in disguise then, Luffy was told precisely by Franky to not let his real name be revealed. Unfortunately immediately after being told so, he almost writes his whole name on the registry sheet before being thankfully stopped by Franky. Having already written down the "Lu" part of his name down and rather use a more clever alias, he just finishes off his registry as "Lucy".
- In Nanatsu No Taizai, Ban enters his and Meliodas' names in the Byzel Fight Festival as Baan and Meliodaz respectively. While the aliases didn't really hide who they were, they were enough of a Paper-Thin Disguise to fool one of their dumber opponents, Hauser.
- In Batman, a favorite alias of the Joker is "Joe Kerr". Ingenious! As one might expect, this habit was largely confined to the Silver Age, but it still comes up every once in a while as a Mythology Gag.
- Amusingly, one of the main writers on Batman: The Brave and the Bold is Joseph Kuhr.
- Other examples of alias used by the Joker include; Mr. White and Jack Napier, the latter of which may be his real name if the first Batman movie is to believed.
- And in Jack Kirby's Eternals, the Eternal Ikaris sometimes used "Ike Harris". Neil Gaiman made sure to revive this when he did his run on Eternals.
- In Cable & Deadpool, Steve Rogers, the Star-Spangled Man with the Plan, being the ingenious "Master of Disguise" that he is, infiltrated Cable's island Providence as an immigrant with the name Roger Stevens. Not only that, but his idea of hiding his signature blond hair is to wear a Brooklyn Dogers baseball cap.
- During The Silver Age of Comic Books, the Martian Manhunter's secret identity was John Jones. This was to hide his true Martian name of J'onn J'onzz.
- This is how Booster Gold became famous. After saving the President's life, he is asked what his superhero name is by reporters. Instead of using Gold Star like he planned, he started to introduce himself as "Booster" Carter, his nickname from his football days. He tried to correct himself midsentence and that gave the reporters his identity as Booster Gold.
- In the Death Note AU My Stupid Reality when on the run from L many of Light's aliases are variations on his own name. Amusingly when he has to quickly think up a new one he comes up with... "Kira Asahi."
- Shirou goes under the assumed name Shane Rowe in the Fate/Stay Night fanfic Nails. In fact when Rin mispronounces his alias with her Japanese accent he panics and assumes that she knows who he is.
- In Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, when he goes to a suspect's dinner party, he starts to give his real name (not out of desperation but more ignorance). His date stops him and gives the name "Tom Ace".
- A variation occurs in the The Nutty Professor (both the 1963 and 1996 versions), wherein another character refers to the titular character as "buddy" while he is under the influence of his transformation drug, prompting him to adopt "Buddy Love" as the name of his alternate personality.
- In Batman: The Movie, Batman calls up the US Navy to find out how the Penguin acquired a submarine. Turns out he just bought it, after giving his name as P.N. Guinn, and only leaving a PO Box number by way of a forwarding address. It was admittedly an obsolete and rather clapped-out boat left over from the war, but even the writers of that incarnation of Batman couldn't let this go without some Lampshade Hanging.
- In A View to a Kill, James Bond at one point poses as a Financial Times reporter named "James Stock."
- In Leap Year, when Anna and Declan have to pretend to be married and are asked about their surname, they both blurt out their own surnames (Brady and O'Callaghan, respectively), before finally settling on O'Bradycallaghan.
- While posing as a substitute teacher, Drillbit Taylor quickly introduces himself as Dr. Illbit.
- The movie Harry and the Hendersons (also titled Bigfoot And The Hendersons internationally), is about Bigfoot moving in with a suburban family named Henderson. When a news reporter attempts to track down Bigfoot, calling it a vicious creature, the father of the family defends it, claiming that it's a gentle giant. When the reporter asks his name, he gets as far as "Hen" before realizing that would be a bad idea. The reporter refers to him as "The mysterious Mr. Hen" through the rest of the movie.
- In the movie of My Favorite Martian, "he's Martian" evolves into "he's my Uncle Martin".
- In Tootsie, Michael Dorsey's female alter ego goes by Dorothy Michaels.
- In The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow, the eponymous Johnny Hollow provides a Spooky Photograph to an Occult Detective investigating a Mystery Cult. Careful examination of the investigator's other documents reveals that "Hollow" is a Pen Name adopted by Johnathon H. Ollow, a writer for the in-universe newspaper, The Greater Toronto Gazette.
- In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins introduces himself to the trolls as "a bur- a hobbit." ("Bur" = "burglar", the profession designated to him by Gandalf.) To them, he's a "burrahobbit."
- In one of Donald Westlake's stories about John Dortmunder, John stammers out "John D— Diddums." From then on, despite realizing that it doesn't sound like a real name ("It's Welsh," he'll frequently explain), whenever he needs an alias on short notice he panics and can't think of anything but "John Diddums."
- Partially a Line-of-Sight Name, but in the Warlock of Gramarye book A Wizard in Absentia, a very hung over Magnus tries to come up with a pseudonym. He starts out with "Mmma", but quickly realizes it and turns it into a groan. Before he subconsciously sees the E.D.G.A.R. patch on the guard's arm, and gives his name as Ed Gar.
- In Sharyn McCrumb's books Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool, the main character is an engineering professor, James Owen Mega, who writes science fiction under the name Jay Omega... and is shocked when one of his students sees through the pseudonym.
- In Maximum Ride, when Fang is taken to the hospital Max begins to say his name but quickly ends with "Nick". Iggy later calls Fang "Fnick".
- In American Gods: Low-Key Lyesmith = Loki Lie-Smith. Which only works if you pronounce it in the English way, and not the Norse/Icelandic way. Since it's revealed that the American analogues have little connection to the originals, the only proper way to pronounce it is in American English.
- In one story by Marion Zimmer Bradley, girl Romilly ran away from home. When asked for her name then, she starts "Rom-", coughs, thinks for a moment about using her brother's name, then answers "Rumal".
- In Rowan Hood, Rosemary, while disguised as a boy, is asked for her name and unthinkingly responds with her nickname, Ro. She quickly adds that it's short for Rowan.
- X-Wing Series: Face is disguised as an enemy bridge crewman and speaking to a planetary official, when he turns to address his squadmate Jesmin, who happens to be the niece of the famous Admiral Ackbar. So he starts off with "Ensign Ack-", coughs, and finishes it as "Ackran".
- In the James Bond short story "For Your Eyes Only", Bond meets up with a Canadian contact to obtain information for an off-the-books mission. When Bond introduces himself as 'Mr. James', his contact eyes him suspiciously and then says that James can call him 'Colonel Johns'.
- In Chronicles of Chaos, the bouncer in "Mr. Valentine's" club gives his name as "Terro—uh, Terrance Miles."
- In Drowned Wednesday, Arthur is asked his name by Captain Catapillow upon boarding the Moth, and only gets out the first syllable before realising his mistake. Everyone calls him Arth until they find out his real identity from Dr. Scamandros later on.
- Dav Pilkey's books The Dumb Bunnies were authored under the name "Sue Denim". He got a little annoyed when not many saw through the disguise and Sue Denim started getting more fan mail than him.
- In the Doctor Who novel Managra, there's an aristocratic, arrogant, and conceited swashbuckling hero, Miles Dashwood, who goes by the alias Miles Dashing of Dashwood. (Not improvised on the spur of the moment, so he doesn't have that excuse.)
Live Action TV
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Buffy is investigating her mother's new boyfriend, one of his co-workers ask who she is. She says "Bu...Linda. Belinda."
- Doctor Who: The Doctor's pseudonym "John Smith" is a Line-of-Sight Name, but that he's Doctor John Smith fits the trope. Also, the Master's various "disguised" names, which are almost always anagrams, synonyms or translations of the name Master. In the new series, Mister Saxon was even an (unintended) anagram of Master No. Six - which (depending on whether you count The Other Darrins separately) he was.
- After Monica of Friends finds her credit card stolen, she meets the culprit, but not wanting to give her name away, calls herself "Monana". Apparently it's Dutch.
- Kenan & Kel has this.
- Not out of pretending not to be himself, but simply by being star struck when he meets the president Kenan gets the name "Kiki". Kel is also starstruck but ends up with the name Sharona because he stammers "M, m, my... Sharona".
- Another more straight example is when they enter a TV show to win a house and when a woman ask their names:
Kenan: I'm Kenan Rock...ers..tain..ber...nerson.
Woman: Mr. and Mrs. Rockerstainbernerson...
- On Top Gear, the presenters are pretending to be 17-year-olds to get insurance quotes. James May gives his real name before quickly correcting himself and using "Adam Smith" instead. Yes, that Adam Smith.
- In an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Aunts Hilda and Zelda are aged down to teenagers and Sabrina introduces them as her cousins, Hillary and... Zellery. "Your parents were hippies".
- In 3rd Rock From The Sun, when Dick pretends to be a woman, he quickly invents the name "Dicky-Jo".
- In the Spanish and Argentinian soap opera Lalola, Lalo picks a new name this way after he's been turned into a woman.
Lalo: Lalo!... Lalo... La-lo-la. Lola! Lola Padilla.
- Drake & Josh: Drake realises his new girlfriend is the daughter of one of his teachers and quickly says that her name is "E...Liza Jum...Jumbal..aya. Liza Jumbalya!"
- Several episodes of Scrubs have the Janitor pretending to be a doctor. Every time he dons the name "Dr. Ján Ĩtor." This is but one of almost countless Crowning Moments Of Awesome Neil Flynn dished out over the series long run. And there's also J.D.'s totally bitchin' screenplay idea about a Dr. Acula.
- In an episode of Home Improvement, Tim wants to impress Bob Villa, who is guest starring on Tool Time to answer viewer questions. Tim tells Jill to call and ask a difficult question for him to answer, and when he answers the phone, her response is "Hello! This is Jill...een. Uh, uh, Jilleen!"
- Monty Python's Flying Circus provides us with Mr. Hilter, standing for Parliament in a by-election on the National Bocialist ticket in Minehead.
- Dramatic example: David Banner always used his first name and a last name that started with "B". If the name was common enough (David Brown, for example) he would use it multiple times.
- On The X-Files, Mulder wasn't under any pressure but still didn't bother to come up with a good pseudonym.
Max Fenig: ...I read your article in OMNI about the Gulf Breeze sightings.
Mulder: I published that under a pseudonym.
Max Fenig: M.F. Luder. I know. M.F. Luder's an anagram for F. Mulder. You really didn't think that would fool us, did you?
Mulder: I didn't think anybody was paying attention.
Max Fenig: Somebody's always paying attention, Mr Mulder.
- The Pretender always had Jarod doing one of two things when developing an identity for his "pretend" - either he would use the name of a famous person from the same field (Jarod Earp, U.S. Marshal, Jarod Patton, U.S. Army) or occasionally use a name with a more subtle connection (such as Jarod Marley during Christmas time)
- Family Matters had an example when for some reason Urkel and his buddies had to infiltrate a convent while dressed as women. Pressed for a name, Urkel blurts out "Steee—-fanie." Not Stephanie, Steefanie. He claims it's Lithuanian.
- Sophia does this once on ''The Golden Girls". "Sophia Pe...Hawkins. Sophia Pe-Hawkins."
- In the Alias episode "Solo", Rachel is sent undercover as a prostitute. After being told to channel the slut of her high school (Mandy), she accidentally introduces herself as "Ra-Mandy." To the mark, her name is Ramandy.
- In Abie's Irish Rose, when Abie's father asks about Rose Mary's family name, she blurts out "Murphy," but Abie quickly interrupts and changes it to "Murpheski."
- Used in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series when Marik Ishtar is trying to avoid suspicion:
Joey: You seem like a swell dude. What's your name, pal?
Marik: [thinking] Crap in a bucket! I didn't plan for this! Think of a fake name, think of a fake name! [Speaking] Um, my name is uh, um, Mmmmmmmmalik.
Joey: Malik, huh? That sounds kinda like Marik, the guy we're trying to defeat in this season.
Marik: Yeah, I get that a lot.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Abridgerty lampshades Snake's near-mistake in Metal Gear Solid 2 with him deciding on the inconspicuous cover Sudonimm McPhayckneighm (Pseodonym McFakename for those who don't get it)
- In ''Homestar Runner, Coach Z believes himself to be superhero Damp Towel Man, and his mild-mannered alter ego Dan Towelman.
Strong Sad: Coach Z, you have a real sucky imagination.
Coach Z: That I do, my boy. That I do.
- In Futurama, when Leela subscribes for the army, she is pushed for a name. Quickly she replies "Lee... la... man. La... man. Lemon! Lee Lemon!".
- In Kim Possible, Martin Smarty asks Shego her name while hitting on her. She tells him "Whoa, back off!" and goes along with his misunderstanding that her name is "Ms. Whoabackoff".
- In the first broadcast episode of The Simpsons, "Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire", Homer, working as a Mall Santa, almost gives himself away when his son is the next kid in line: "What's your name, Bart...ner? Partner?
- In "Fear of Flying", he gives his name as Guy Incognito to enter Moe's in disguise. Subverted in that it turns out it wasn't Homer after all.
- Given his lack of intelligence, this happens to Homer a fair bit. In another Season 1 episode, after a babysitting service refuses Marge's business, Homer tries calling them immediately afterwards and avoids being rebuffed when he claims his name isn't Simpson but "Homer...Samson". Later episodes take it to the extreme with him flat out giving his real name and in one instance desperately trying to come up with a fake name to give Mr Burns, ultimately answering with...Mr Burns, possibly throwing in a dash of Line-of-Sight Name.
- One Les Luthiers routine has the composer Johann Sebastian Mastropiero composing under the name Johann Severo Mastropiano, to save his family the shame of people knowing they raised a musician.
- The main male cast of Tales of Symphonia do this in the drama CD Maid in Altamira, where they dressed up as maids in a Maid Cafe. Lloyd becomes Lloydie, Zelos Zelda, Genis Ginny, Regal Regala, and Kratos Kratty. Of course, the names don't keep them from running off the customers.
- When Adolf Eichmann was in an Allied POW camp, the Allies didn't know who he was. So he called himself Otto Eckmann, knowing that if someone who recognized him said his name out loud, the Americans running the POW camp wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
- There was a Soviet espionage ring in Switzerland, called The Red Orchestra, that spied on the Nazis during WWII. One of them was a Hungarian named Alexander Rado, whose codename was Dora.
- After WWII, Josef Mengele ("The Angel of Death") went into hiding in South America, but when officials were closing in on his location, he secured a fake passport and escaped to Paraguay. The named he used for the passport? "José Mengele."