The unusually common practice in kids' shows of not giving a character's parents actual names even if they're around, instead being addressed as Mom and Dad, or occasionally by their last names. While this is probably to insert the feel of a story being shown by a child's perspective, as children don't usually use their parents' first names, it can make for really odd dialogue when another adult has to talk to them.
Some shows can even make this official. For reasons left fittingly unexplained, a person's grandfather might actually be called Granddad, and anyone asking for him want to talk to Granddad. This can become problematic at times, however, when someone outside of the immediate family who would normally be on a first name basis with the parent is involved.
This is a subtrope of No Name Given. Compare Everyone Calls Him Barkeep.
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Hayate's parents in Hayate the Combat Butler. They call each other "mama" and "papa". His father is given the name 'Shun' by one of his debtors in the manga, but it may be simply a pseudonym he used for that shop.
Lampshaded in Bamboo Blade, where during one of the Super-Deformed next-episode trailers, Tamaki's father points out that he's never been given a name other than "Tamaki's Father" in either the anime or the original manga. He goes on to speculate about whether "Tamaki's Father" is his actual given name because it was predestined that he would be Tamaki's Father before he was born himself.
According to the DVD Commentary on the movie Pokemon 3, everyone in the series had usually just referred to the protagonist's mother as just that, including her former teacher. Since the movie included several dialogue sequences between Mrs. "Ketchum" and Professor Okido/Oak, the name Delia was created, despite the fact that she has a first name in the Japanese version (as revealed below).
Ironically, the original Japanese series has the reverse problem: It's actually more expected to refer to someone by just their surname in Japanese, but contrary to what the "dub"might suggest, neither Satoshi nor his mother Hanako actually have one. Conveniently, anyone referring directly to his mother is on familiar enough terms to do so.
Chi's Sweet Home does this too, with the characters referring to each other as Mom and Dad.
Bulma's mother in Dragon Ball. Most fans refer to her character as "Mrs. Brief" (after her husband, Dr. Brief), but this name is never actually used anytime during the manga or anime and it is never clarified whether Dr. Brief is the character's family name or a given name (the Funimation dub and the live-action film don't count).
Maka's mother in Soul Eater, who refers to her as yet unseen mother as 'Mama'. Her 'Papa' (much as Maka likes to deny it) Spirit doesn't even mention his ex-wife's name whilst talking about her, and nor has anyone else in the woman's few mentions.
Toward the end of the YuYu Hakusho manga, someone who appears to be Yusuke's father appears but is not named.
In Bakuman。, Akito Takagi's parents, who briefly appear in a flashback, are not named, nor are Moritaka Mashiro's mother or grandfather (His father's name is revealed in passing to be Masahiro).
Moritaka's mother's given name is revealed to be Kayoko in the anime.
Miho and her younger sister Mina's mother's name is revealed (Miyuki Haruno/Azuki), but their father's name is not given.
In Naruto, Sasori's parents, who were killed by Kakashi's father Sakumo and later had puppets made in their image, are never named, and Chiyo only refers to his father as her son. The series otherwise averts this, as if the parents appear for any length of time, they're usually named, even if only in a databook.
Strangely, Gaara's father, the Fourth Kazekage, isn't named while his mother, Karura, is, despite him being the living one (at least before he was killed by Orochimaru) and her the dead one.
In Tokyo Mew Mew, Aoyama's parents are not named, and Ichigo receives a call from his mother near the end of the series, addressing the caller as "Aoyama-kun's mother."
In Neko-de Gomen!, we never learn Kuroda (that his family name) or Yayori's father's first name.
Most of the parents in Wandering Son. Though the Nitori siblings dad is revealed to be named "Hiroyuki" and their mom is named "Satomi".
None of the parents in Urusei Yatsura have names. This is the only work of any kind by Rumiko Takahashi where this is the case. In one of the OAVs, Ataru's mom actually kicks it off by saying (presumably with a straight face) "I am Ataru Moroboshi's mother."
In InuYasha, Kagome's mother and grandfather are often referred to as that.
So far, the only named parents in Kotoura-san are Haruka's mother Kumiko, her grandfather Zenzou (who took a parental role), and Yuriko's late mother Chizuru. Other parents are not named, even they may have a speaking role.
Speed Racer's parents are unnamed, but only in the dub (and the English version of the manga). In Mach Go Go Go (the original Japanese version), Gonote What the "G" on his shirt stands for Mifune's parents are named Daisuke and Aya.
Aside from Tohru's and Akito's parents, none of the biological parents are given names in Fruits Basket. Justified with Rin, at least, since her parents only show up in her flashbacks, but it's a bit conspicuous with characters like Yuki's mom and Kyo's dad, who are alive and sometimes get involved with the story.
Mikan's and Yuzuhiko's parents in Atashin'chi
Calvin's parents in Calvin and Hobbes, who called each other "honey" and "dear". One reason its creator gave up on an uncle becoming a recurring character was the problems in talking to someone without using a name.
Word of God has stated that Calvin's mother and father are simply known as that since Calvin, Hobbes, the myriad creatures and environments in Calvin's imagination, and occasionally Susie are the main characters and the strips are focused on them.
British comics have a habit of doing this. For example, the official names of the parents of Dennis the Menace are "Dennis's mum" and "Dennis's dad". They will be referred to and addressed as such by everyone.
A letter to The Beano once asked Dennis what his dad's name really was. Dennis explained that he was christened "Dennis's Dad". One day he met a girl named Dennis's Mum, and knew she was the one for him...
Although they have on occasion been referred to as Mr & Mrs "The Menace" instead, implying that "The Menace" is their surname, or maybe that Menace is their surname and "The" is their middle name...
Also true for most other strips in The Beano however on occassion parents have been given names eg the Beano Book 1957 refers to Roger the Dodger's dad as Bill but that name is never used again and Minnie the Minx's dad has been called two different names on two seperate one off occassions he was named Victor in a 1985 issue and George in the Beano video. The trope was averted in Les Pretend with Les' dad being called Des.
Oor Wullienote that is, "Our William", which has been running in the Sunday Post since 1936, fits this trope exactly. Wullie's parents are known simply as Wullie's Ma and Pa. They don't have a surname either.
The companion strip, The Broonsnote in standard English, The Browns, goes further. Here we have a family of ten: Maw, Paw, Joe, Hen (for Henry), Daphne, Maggie, Horace, The Twins and The Bairn - only five names between them. There's also Gran'paw, though we know that his name begins with a 'J' (thanks to a romantic tree-carving) so there's a school of thought which holds that he and Paw are also called Joe.
Not just the parents, but the majority of the adults in Peanuts - Ms. Othmar being the notable exception - are referred to merely by "sir" or "ma'am." In the animated cartoons, this is carried a step further in that they have muted trombones for voices.
Taken even further in that adults are never even seen in the comic, and appear onscreen in only a handful of the animated specials.
Denise's parents in FoxTrot are unnamed and never shown on panel.
Henry Freeman's mother in Half-Life: Full Life Consequences is only known as "Henry Freeman's Mom,". Her husband, John Freeman refers to her "Wife". Even the Combines call her "Henry Freeman's Mom"
The Never-ending Story: By way of lightning, we no longer hear Bastian name the Child Empress Moon Child. Later on, Bastian says he yelled out the name of his dead mother. And then in the 2nd movie, we find out that his not-so-dead father is named Barney. It's another instance of one named parent and one Unnamed Parent.
A Christmas Story: the names of Ralphie's parents are not revealed. In the narration, he calls his them "mother" and "the Old Man".
Andy's mother in the Toy Story films. Even Woody refers to her as "Mom."
In the Eloise films, Eloise's nanny is called Nanny. By EVERYONE. It's lampshaded in one of them when Nanny's love interest says he'll have to find out her real name because he can't keep calling her Nanny.
Weirdly, this is both played straight and avterted in Help! I'm A Fish. In the credits, Fly and Stella's Mum and Dad are just listed as "The Mother" and "The Father", while in the actual film they're at one point referred to as 'Lisa' and 'Bill'. Averted with Chuck's mother Anna though.
Grendel's mother from Beowulf, despite the character being just as important as Grendel.
This trope is all over the place in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, particularly in regards to mothers. To name a few unnamed mothers: Richard's mother, Kahlan's mother, Zedd's mother, Darken Rahl's mother, Rachel's mother, Drefan's mother, Oba Rahl's mother, Jennsen's mother, Shota's mother, Chad Rencliff's mother, Prince Fyren's mother, and Six's mother. There is even a point in Phantom where TG goes out of his way to avoid naming a single person's mother; Richard is told his mother's name, and we aren't; we only get something like "Richard heard his mother's name."
Initially, all the parents from Animorphs are like this. As the series goes on, we gradually learn their names, and thanks to the Broken Masquerade in the last ten books, we ultimately end up learning the names of most of them. The notable exception is Sixth Ranger (later Sixth Ranger Traitor) David, whose parents are never named in his trilogy and never appear again after it.
In Warrior Cats, Leafstar's mother. This is notable because the characters who give a leader their nine lives have impacted the new leader's life in some significant way, and since the leader is almost always a main character, the cats who give them their nine lives are pretty important characters too.
We only learn the name of Jerin's father - or which of his mothers gave birth to him - in A Brother's Price because Jerin takes the time to look at his birth certificate. We learn neither about Princess Ren.
Same with Peeta and Madge's parents. The only named parent in the trilogy is Gale's mom, Hazelle.
The Berenstain Bears takes this trope farther than usual, since even the kids are named Brother and Sister Bear. In the very first book The Big Honey Hunt (which didn't feature Sister), Brother is called Small Bear. This lasted until The New Baby, in which Sister was born.
Papa's parents are only referred to as Grizzly Gramps and Gran, though The Berenstain Bear Scouts Save That Backscratcher reveals Gramps's real name as Ernest.
Papa and Mama Bear, meanwhile, fit the trope to a T. Apparently, their names really are Papa and Mama (moreover, Papa's "full" name is later revealed to be "Papa Q. Bear"), which suggests that they must have both had very strange childhoods.
Live Action TV
The Adventures of Pete & Pete did this in the opening, although likewise every other character is only addressed by first name. It was especially annoying when Pete's grandfather visits and, after being somewhat of a pest, agrees to not use a nickname for Pete's father — instead using dad. However, both parents were eventually given names — Joyce and Don.
Grandmama eventually received a name, but only after the continuities placed her as Morticia's mother instead of Gomez's like in the original TV series. In the movies and afterwards, her name is established as "Esmerelda Frump", but it's rare to hear anyone address her as such.
In The New Addams Family TV series from the 90s, her name was Eudora Addams and she was Gomez' mother once again.
Likewise, Grandpa Munster was actually Count Dracula but only a few jokes revealed this and no one in the show regularly called him that. The first series gave his full name as "Sam Dracula", while the 80s series (The Munsters Today) called him "Vladimir Dracula."
In Black Books, when Bernard Black had to fill in his mother's name on a form, he honestly didn't know, claiming he just called her, 'Ma'. And that was what he put down. Followed by, 'possibly deceased'.
iCarly: The name of Spencer and Carly's mother is never revealed.
In the opera Hänsel und Gretel, the title characters' parents are named "Peter" and "Gertrud" in the Dramatis Personae only; in the libretto, they are always just "Vater" and "Mutter", which they even call each other by.
In Tales of Symphonia, if the player has not done the side quest involving Genis and Raine's mother before going to Derris-Kharlan, the vision of Genis and Raine's mother is referred to as "Mother" instead of "Virginia".
In Final Fantasy IV, Edge's parents are referred to as the King of Eblan and Queen of Eblan, including in the boss battle against them.
Ness' parents in EarthBound are unnamed, as are those of Paula and Jeff, even though Jeff's father plays a significant role in their adventure; Ness's father is even represented by a phone in the cast lineup. The same goes for everyone's parents in MOTHER, but averted neatly by MOTHER 3.
Everyone's parents in Katawa Shoujo except for Jigoro Hakamichi (Shizune's father) and Meiko Ibarazaki (Emi's mother).
Justified in nearly all cases; The only other parent Hisao interacts with besides his own (who he is likely to refer to as 'mum' and 'dad' anyway) and those listed above (who are named) is Lilly's mother, with whom he shares two lines of dialogue over the phone before she hands over to Lilly, and even then one of those comes off garbled because Hisao's English isn't stellar. All other parents are dead or absent.
In My Frogger: Toy Trials Kyle's friend Lucy referred to his mother as "Kyle's mom."
Every Pokémon game, with three exceptions: In Hoenn the player's father is named Norman, who is also a Gym Leader. In Sinnoh the player's mother is named Johanna, and like Norman she has a more active lifestyle than unnamed parents, participating in Pokemon Contests. Finally, in Orre, the player's mother is named Lily. Other than in these three games the player's mother is simply referred to as Mom, and their father doesn't even show up.
The mother of one of the characters in Namir Deiter has always been competing with her sister in every way they could come up with. After winning in the "have children first" category, she had her name officially changed to "Momma" just to throw it into her sister's face. She is also expected tho change it to "Grandma" should an opportunity arise.
This trope is both averted and played straight in Misfile. Ash's mother and father have names and actual lives, but Em's mom is just Em's mom or Ms. McArthur.
Ozy and Millie ran with this up until the final story arc for Millie's mother. (It's Mililani Minerva Mudd, if you were wondering.) Ozy's father has Only One Name.
No-one's parents/legal guardians in Homestuck have known names; they're all simply called Dad, Nanna, Mom, Bro and Grandpa. More often than not, they're not even distinguished by surname, since only one father, grandmother, mother, brother and grandfather ever shows up in-comic.
As of Act 6, Nanna, Grandpa, Mom, and Bro's names have been revealed to be Jane, Jake, Roxy, and Dirk, respectively. Dad still goes nameless. However, these names are only used to refer to their teenage post-scratch selves. The original guardian figures are still referred to as such, and the pre-scratch kids serve as adult guardians in the post-scratch universe, referred to as Poppop, Grandma, Mom, and Bro for John, Jade, Rose, and Dave respectively.
In Kevin & Kell, the main couple's parents went unnamed for the early strip, typically only receiving names when they started getting development. Kevin's dad remained this way the longest, being called either "Kevin's Dad" or "Mr. Kindle" until his name was revealed to be Bentley. Similarly, Fiona's parents were not referred to by name until after their marriage ended.
In El Goonish Shive, of all the main eight characters only Tedd's parent's first names are known and even those names were a long time coming with his father (Edward Verres) and mother (Noriko Verres) being named over 7 years and over 10 years into the comic's history respectively.
Elan's mother in The Order of the Stick. To the point where the priest at her own wedding, albeit a dream one refers to her as "Elan's mother". (Durkon's mother is called only "Mama" and "Sarge" in her first appearance, but it's not to that extent.)
Ditto for the parents in Cow and Chicken. In one episode it's hinted that their real names actually may be "Mum" and "Dad".
They actually take it several steps farther, as they lack torsos. While generally only the legs are on-screen, one episode panned up to reveal that there was nothing on top of the legs.
In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Billy's parents originally follow this trope (often addresses as "Billy's Mom/Dad") until they were given the names Harold and Gladys and referred as so regularly for the rest of the series.
Kim Possible's parents were simply "Mrs. Dr. Possible" and "Mr. Dr. Possible" for a long time, but they each got a one-line reveal in one of the two Grand Finales. They turn out to share names with their kids; the father is James Timothy, like Kim's twin younger brothers, and Kim's mom is Anne, which is Kim's middle name. Sometime in the fourth season, Ron's mother was referred to as "Dawn," while Ron's father remains completely unnamed (though signs point to it being "Jon" or "John"). Drakken's mother is still nameless, however.
This was lampshaded in one episode, where Mr. Dr. Possible complains about the difficulty of the questions on his tax forms, starting with his first name.
Oddly, Wade's father, who never appears on-screen or has any lines, is given the name Lontaine, but his mother (who mentions the name and is heard several times) never gets one.
Not a parent, but "Uncle" from Jackie Chan Adventures is a similar example. He's Jackie's uncle, but everyone calls him "Uncle" (except sometimes when Tohru addressing him by the title "shifu"), which can be a bit confusing with Jade since she also calls Jackie "Uncle Jackie" (even though he's actually a first cousin to one of her parents, and thus her cousin once removed) since it's common in Chinese culture to refer to close acquaintances as such even if they are not actually related to you.
"No wonder I got confused, too many uncles."
One episode lampshaded that Jackie and Jade's parents have no idea how Uncle is related to them at all.
Codename: Kids Next Door subverts the trope. To the Kids Next Door, adults are the enemy, and so they don't really care what the adults are named beyond 'Mom' or 'Dad.' All adults are either "Mr. ______" or some variation on the gimmick they use to fight the KND. The biggest villain for the majority of the series is the demonic figure known only as "Father". The one who eventually tops him is the Draculaesque "Grandfather". Three guesses as to the nature of their relationship.
In Peppa Pig, all the relatives are like this. So everyone calls Peppa's father "Daddy Pig", even his workmates and his own father.
In the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Adventures in Squirrelsitting", the mother of the two squirrel girls Tammy and Bink does appear, she also has dialog, but she does not have a name at all, no first name, no family name. She is usually referred to as Mrs. Squirrel. And this is only the most famous example from the show.
Hey Arnold!: Unusually, Gerald's dad has a name (Martin), but not his mom.
Arnold's grandmother's real name (Gerty/Gertrude) was only mentioned two times, once a single episode during a bit of Blink and You'll Miss it sequence and then when Phil's sister shows up and the one that reveals that growing up, Phil had a relationship with a girl that was almost identical to Arnold's relationship with Helga. Guess who.
In Danny Phantom, neither Sam, Tucker, or Valerie's parents' names were ever stated in the show except maybe twice during the series' span. Interestingly, the majority of their names are listed in the credits.
On their initial appearances in the Tracey Ullman Show, Homer and Marge of The Simpsons did not have names, and were credited as "Mr. Simpson" and "Mrs. Simpson". It wasn't until the 30-minute show that they officially received those names, although "Homer" was used in a few shorts.
Grandpa Simpson is still usually referred to as Grandpa. Characters outside the family tend to refer to him as simply "Grandpa Simpson" rather than his given name of Abraham. Apparently Matt Groening never named the characters and other writers decided on the name, which by coincidence happened to be the name of Matt Groening's grandfather.
The parents on Dexter's Laboratory to a ridiculous degree. In the last few seasons Dad was even referred to directly as "Mr. Dexter's Dad."
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), the name of Casey's mother is never mentioned, despite a couple appearances by the character. Casey's late father, whose only appearance is on a brief flashback, is known to be "Arnold Casey Jones, Sr.".
Caillou's parents are never given names in the U.S. version they are only referred to as "Mommy" and "Daddy", in one episode one of the dad's friends says "Is that you Daddy?, I haven't seen you in years!", the French version however gives them the names Boris and Doris.
In Dragon Tales, the parents of the human characters are never shown nor named, though their voices are occasionally heard. The dragon parents are shown only from the about the stomach down are never named. In one episode a dragon parent was about to have her name revealed. "Hi, Mrs." but it was interrupted by the sound of Ord's parents approaching.
Mama and Papa Mousekewitz in the An American Tail series. This is made more odd by the fact that they constantly refer to each other by those names. The Animated Series eventually gave Papa the name "Bernard" (despite this not being a Russian or Hebrew namenote On the other hand, he may have have adopted the name when they first came to America) when his sister came to visit to avoid the confusion of having his own sister call him Papa, but Mama was never named.
Not quite a parent, but the Muppet Babies call their nanny as "Nanny"; justified since because they are babies, that's the only name they would know her as at first. Also, we always see her only from the knees down.
In Little Bear the parents and grandparents are just known as Mother Bear and so on; to the extent that Grandpa Bear's stage name back in the circus was 'The Great Grandini'...long before Little Bear was even born.
Parodied in an episode of Drawn Together. The gang is helping Xandir prepare to tell his parents he is gay by doing a roleplaying exercise. Xandir's dad is referred to with the name Stan, but they never come up with a proper name for Xandir's mom, always referring to her in dialogue as "Xandir's mom", even when addressing her directly.
Mostly averted in Phineas and Ferb, in which the adult characters have first and last names; but alluded to in the episode "Undercover Carl". Carl goes undercover as a neighborhood kid, and when Major Monogram arrives posing as his father, all five children present greet him in unison with "Hi, Carl's dad!"
Lampshaded in Clone High when Toots refers to the woman he's dating as "Cleo's drunk ass foster mom" and then can't remember the name of the woman's daughter.
With the exception of Toots, who shows up quite a bit, the foster parents show up so rarely and briefly that it's excusable for them to go unnamed.
Scooby-Doo spinoffs featuring Scooby's parents always have the various characters (not just Scooby) call them Mommy and Daddy Doo (or variants such as "Mumsy and Dada"), which is apparently their real names.
One episode ("Wedding Bell Boos") oddly has Scrappy refer to Mommy and Daddy Doo as "Uncle Scooby's parents," not as his grandparents.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: A few of the main characters' parents have appeared once each, but none have been given namesnote aside from a Blind Bag toy resembling Twilight Sparkle's mom being called "Twilight Velvet". Also, it turns out Granny Smith was named such long before she was a grandmother, in keeping with her family's apple-themed names.
The iOS/Android game based on the show features Rarity's father as a character and he is given the name "Magnum", his name has never been mentioned in the show though so it is unclear whether or not the in-game name is canon.
Some of the names suggest we should take it with a grain of salt (For example, the filly fan-named Dinky is called "Fire Chief" in the game based on the hat she wore once on what amounts to pony Halloween. She's got nothing to do with firefighting (it's a dangerous job for an elementary schooler, after all.)
Elsewhere in the franchise, as much as we'd liketo forget they exist, there's the G3 "Newborn Cuties," which are primarily known for the webisodes that were pretty far from cute. The "newborn" versions of the main cast had moms who were not named at all; even in the toy line they were basically treated as accessories (hey, somepony has to be pushing the little hoof-pushed stroller thingy) and not given any names. They mostly look like older versions of the kids, a reversal of the G1 "Baby [insert adult pony's name here]" ponies. The exception to that rule is the mom pony that came with the baby versions of Cheerilee and Scootaloo, who were sisters: you get a fusion of the two that winds up looking a great deal like Twilight Sparkle (a year or two before FIM came out.)
Hanna-Barbera has Augie Doggie and his father, Doggie Daddy, which is apparently the latter's real name. In Yogi's First Christmas, Huckleberry Hound addresses him as "Daddy" in one scene.
In Recess, only the names of Spinelli's parents have been revealed (Bob and Flo). The rest of the gang's parents remain unnamed.
In many families, people refer to other family members relative to the kids. So a father might refer to his mother as "grandma" and his wife as "mom". This is most common when actually talking to the kids in question, of course.
Some school teachers call the parents 'mum' and 'dad', as well.
This trope is taken to its extreme in Nigeria, as it's common by everyone in almost every situation to refer to a parent by their most popular child, e.g Tom's Mummy (or Tom's Mom, or Mama-Tom) said this. Normally the most popular child is the eldest, but sometimes it could be the youngest, or an unusual child(smartest, mental diffuclties, behavioural problems) in the bunch.
Eddie Izzard has a joke about this: "when you were a child, did you ever hear your grandma call your grandad 'grandad' and think, 'he's your grandad too? Does that makeyou my sister? ...What kind of crazy family is this?' "
Some parents even refer to themselves as their parental title instead of using "I".
And some songs reflect this:
Hush little baby, don't say a word / Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird...
This is often done when a child is very young and just learning language, because the same person being "Mommy", "I", "Me", and "Elly" is quite confusing.
It is a part of almost everyone's personal Coming of Age Story when you learn your parent actually has a name.
Very common in the Arabic world, where a father often takes the personal name of his firstborn son as a surname (so Omar, father of Jalil, would be Omar abu Jalil) and a mother takes the name of her firstborn daughter.