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Mr. Pink: Why do I have to be Mr. Pink? That's sounds a bit too much like Mr. Pussy, can't I just be something like Mr. Purple?
Joe: Mr. Purple is at another job, just be glad you didn't get Mr. Yellow.
A character uses a series of aliases to avoid detection. However, when the heroes put the aliases together, one them notices something odd about the list. These are not a random set of names, but rather a group of names that have something in common. Usually this makes easier to track down the target, as they now know the next alias will fit the pattern.
It is not absolutely necessary for the pattern to be picked, but it is usually pointed out for the benefit of viewers who might otherwise miss it.
Can overlap with This Is My Name on Foreign
if the character makes a habit of using foreign language versions of the same name. Or Significant Anagram
is they use different anagrams of their actual name. Or Character Name Alias
if they use the names of real or fictional characters that fit a theme. At its simplest, it might just be always using the same initials.
Anime and Manga
- In the Uncle Scrooge story "The Money Champ" by Carl Barks, Flintheart Glomgold stages a series of acts of sabotage against Scrooge, damaging his oil wells, gold mines and diamond mines and reducing their value right at the point Scrooge needs to sell them. Flintheart uses a series of aliases that are just rearrangements of the components of his name (Goldflint Heartglom, Flintgold Glomheart and Heartflint Goldglom). Not terribly subtle, but he was deliberately taunting Scrooge.
- The Punisher often uses aliases that are linked to Castle, his real last name: Charles Fort, McRook, Frank Rook, Francis Stronghold, Johnny Tower, Frankie Villa, etc.
- The Joker generally uses either re-arrangements of his name, such as Rekoj, J. Reko, Joe Kerr, or famous clowns like Bozo, Krusty or Pagliacci.
- In the 1997 film version of The Saint, all of Simon Templar's aliases are the names of Catholic saints.
- In Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio's character uses the names of comic book characters as aliases. Something of a deconstruction since it gives the FBI agent following him something to go on.
- In The Cable Guy, Jim Carrey uses the names of television characters.
- In Copycat, Peter Foley uses the names of serial killers as his aliases.
- In the 87th Precinct novels, the Deaf Man always uses aliases that are some sort of play on words on 'deaf' in a variety of languages.
- "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" is a science fiction short story by Samuel R. Delany. The protagonist was an orphan, saddled with the name Harold Clancy Everet. Turning to a life of crime, he never used that name again. His aliases, however all have the initials HCE. Indeed, he is identified by that to the reader, i.e. we are introduced to each alias and know it is him by those initials. All the aliases used by the narrator have the initials H.C.E., a reference to Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce.
- In the Dragonback books, Jack Morgan always uses aliases beginning with the letter M, such as Jack Montana, to make it easier to remember.
- In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf and his henchman often use aliases that are anagrams of Count Olaf, such as Al Funcoot or O. Lucafont. The Baudelaires finally pick up on this in the eighth book.
- The Destroyer always uses his real first name "Remo" as part of his aliases.
- The Saint in the original stories often used his own initials; "Sebastian Toombs" was a frequent alias (at least two science fiction writers have included a Shout-Out to this particular name).
- In the Wild Cards novel Fort Freak, Corrupt Cop Lu Long's aliases all include his real name "Long" and imply that he is the proud owner of a Gag Penis. It's relatively simple for the protagonists to connect him to the fictional Peter Long who accepted the payment for a murder for hire.
- In Animorphs our heroes are caught sneaking around a government base, taken inside and asked their names. Marco and Rachel claim to be Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Cassie doesn't watch that show and winds up claiming her name is Cindy Crawford.
- In The Westing Game, the big reveal surrounds someone's aliases selected by this trope: the eponymous Mr. Westing was one of four aliases all with names containing a cardinal direction.
- In the CSI episode "Living Legend", the killer uses aliases that the names of movie serial killers: Michael Myers, Pamela Voorhess and F. Krueger.
- Supernatural: Sam & Dean tend to use Rock Star aliases when going undercover, like Catholic priests Father Simmons and Father Frehley. Sometimes they use other famous-names-with-connections-to-each-other aliases as well, like Agents Ford & Hamill from the US Forestry Service. They've only been called on this once or twice.
- Doctor Who: The Master tends to use aliases which are anagrams of "master" or mean master in another language. From Nu Who, Mister Saxon is an anagram of "Master No. Six" (this being the sixth incarnation of the Master that we've seen). Word Of God is that it was a coincidence.
- The Leverage team tends to use Doctor Who-themed aliases (probably because they're all arranged by Hardison the uber-geek).
Hardison: What IDs have you got on you?
Nate: Let's see... we've got Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy, and I have a Tom Baker.
Sophie: Yeah, I have a Baker. Sarah Jane.
- The Lone Gunmen sometimes antagonist/sometimes ally Yves Adele Harlow's assumed name is an anagram of Lee Harvey Oswald, as are most of her one time only aliases.
- The Incredible Hulk TV show had him always using a last name that started with a 'B': David Banner to David Bradley, etc. The only time he didn't use that was when he ran in to his Identical Stranger, a mobster named Mike Cassidy, and he tried to use that to get out of a scrape. Banner uses the Mike Cassidy alias when he comes face-to-face with his personal Inspector Javert, Jack McGee, who up until the moment he sees him thinks Banner is dead. Banner uses one of his usual aliases when running into the mobsters looking for Cassidy, but they don't believe him.
- Remington Steele was caught doing this by Laura in the pilot. All of his passports had the names of Humphrey Bogart characters.
- When Shawn from Psych needs an alias for himself and Gus, he will often use some variant of White and Black with their last names (i.e. Shawn White and Gus Black or Shawn Black and Gus White).
- Fringe: Though Peter hasn't used many aliases during the run of the show, he still knows enough to lampshade this trope.
Peter: The best lie, the one that's easiest to remember with consistency, is the one that's based on the truth. Whenever I would do this, I would base it on my own last name. Bishop. So Peter King. Peter Knight.
- "Harold Finch", of Person of Interest, also known as Harold Crane, Mr. Partridge, Harold Wren and Harold Crow.
- In LOST, when Kate is on the run, all of the names she uses are saints' names.
- Elementary: In "Dead Man's Switch", Stuart Bloom uses a series of aliases when pursuing his nuisance law suits. The first one is Abraham Zelner. Holmes realises that there is a pattern in the initials of the aliases: A.Z., B.Y., C.X., etc. When he discovers the one name that does not fit that pattern, he deduces it must be Bloom's real name.