The worst possible moment?
Happy New Year, Brian. Brian:
Happy New Year, Alice
. Rebecca: Alice?
In an emotional moment, a character gets someone's name wrong. Often this reveals that current drama has triggered a memory of a similar situation in the past. If the name isn't familiar, cue a Flash Back
to who they were; if it is, there's probably some backstory between the characters we weren't aware of before.
If the wrong name pops up during sex
(or at the altar
), the speaker may not live much longer
If the speaker is senile, or generally a Cloud Cuckoolander
, it's more likely to be Accidental Misnaming
or Thoroughly Mistaken Identity
, but it may overlap with this. Otherwise the two generally don't overlap, as this is a Freudian Slip
rather than a genuine lapse in memory.
A You Remind Me of X
situation may prompt this.
Only counts if it makes it to a final cut; somebody calling a character by the actor's name in the Blooper Reel
isn't one of these.
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- There was a British car commercial where a man has a nightmare about his car getting wrecked and wakes up shouting the car's name. Of course, since he gave it a feminine name, this causes some misunderstandings with his wife.
- An advertisement for Shenmue started off looking like Ryo narrating his life before saying "But enough about me, let's talk about you, Nozomi..." Dissolve to reveal a couple in the middle of the act; the woman angrily demands to know who Nozomi is and punches the gun in the face.
Anime and Manga
- In Corsair, Canale does this twice (with the people in question in reverse). Amusingly he's more upset about it than either Ayace or Sesaam are.
- In Lupin III: The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure, Inspector Zenigata arrests the Big Bad while shouting out "You're under arrest, Lupin!". Lupin (far away from the man being arrested) points out his mistake. Zenigata sheepishly admits that it's a force of habit.
- One scene in Kodomo no Omocha has Tsuyoshi call the teacher "mom" by accident. Akito says he does this every year.
- In Recorder and Randsell, one of the students does the "call the teacher mom" variation. As Atsushi is Younger Than They Look, his friend shortly afterward calls him "Dad" by accident.
- In one MAD "A Lighter Side Of", a man is apparently cheating on his girlfriend and avoided being found out. He's almost in the clear until he says the wrong girl's name.
- In "That Crazy Guy", Suzi learns that her boyfriend is a Jerk Ass and a womanizer when he calls her "Betty" instead of her name.
- In Akeelah and the Bee, the heroine's teacher calls her "Denise," whom she eventually discovers is his dead daughter.
- Finding Nemo: As they are about to be swallowed by the whale, Marlin shouts at Dory (who claims to speak whale) that "you think you can do these things, but you just can't, Nemo!", doubling up as a Meaningful Echo.
- In the film version of Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, Sirius calls Harry "James" (Harry's father's name) during the final battle. Particularly nasty since those are Sirius' last words before Bellatrix kills him. Although an addition by the director, many fans consider this an inspired one, since it neatly sums up in one word what took many pages to convey in the book.
- In Face/Off, Archer (disguised as Troy) finds out that Adam, the son of Troy's ex-girlfriend, is also Troy's son, and Archer is reminded of his own dead son Michael, and calls Adam "Michael" while hugging him.
- In The Sound of Music, Captain Von Trapp accidentally calls Maria "Captain" when telling her to leave.
- In Hot Tub Time Machine, during Nick's intense pool sex scene he shouts out the name of his wife, Courtney, while the girl insists on being called Tara.
- Passenger 57. The protagonist uses the name of his dead wife when shouting at the stewardess — he doesn't realise this until she points it out later.
- Phil Conners gets away with the bedroom version in Groundhog Day when he calls Nancy "Rita" in the heat of the moment. He sidetracks her by proposing marriage (of course, she won't remember it the next day).
- In Clerks, Dante is explaining to Randal his ex-girlfriend's infidelity, leading to this exchange:
Randal: She cheated on you how many times?
Dante: Eight and a half.
Randal: Eight and a half?
Dante: Party at John Kay's senior year. I get blitzed and pass out in this bedroom. Caitlin comes in and jumps all over me.
Randal: So that's cheating?
Dante: No, in the middle of it she called me Brad.
Randal: She called you Brad?
Dante: Called me Brad.
Randal: Eh, that's not cheating. People say crazy shit during sex. One time I called this girl "mom."
- Bull Durham has Annie call out Crash's name when she's having sex with Nuke. When Nuke objects, she first tries to laugh it off by telling him he shouldn't listen to what a woman says in the throes of passion, then switches to:
"Honey, would you rather I were making love to him using your name, or making love to you using his?"
- Spaceballs has Lone Starr saying
- In The Culture novel Excession, one character is The Casanova who has a persistent problem with remembering the names of his conquests during sex. At the end of the novel, he becomes a Ladykiller in Love, and ironically, his new partner (who he sees as the love of his life) botches his name.
- In Peacebreakers, Kiera's boyfriend Kenneth Mortimer violently breaks up with her after she calls him Evan (and later Danny) during foreplay.
- Robert Baratheon from A Song of Ice and Fire referred to his new wife Cersei as "Lyanna" (his deceased fiancee and Lost Lenore) on their wedding night. This had continent wide consequences.
- In The Son of Neptune, Nico is determined to keep his recently-discovered half-sister Hazel safe, since his sister Bianca died in the original series. During a conversation, he begins to call her "Bianca", but corrects himself.
- Sweet Valley High. While on a date with a girl who happens to be a dead ringer for his dead girlfriend Tricia, Steven repeatedly slips up and calls her "Tricia". When she presses him about this, he tells her the whole story. Despite the revelation that she's clearly nothing more than a Replacement Goldfish, she continues to date him. (And to think she didn't even know that in addition to this to this, he was cheating on his girlfriend Cara with her).
- Mountain Man Dance Moves:The McSweeney's Book of Lists includes a list of names that you could believably pass off as generic cries of passion if you got into this sort of situation during sex. Examples include "Moe", "Osgood" and "Deepak".
- At the end of Anne McCaffrey and S.M. Stirling's The City Who Fought, Chaundra calls her boyfriend Amos "Simeon", the name of her shellperson partner. Amos, who has always been jealous of her relationship with Simeon, storms out. Simeon promptly calls him on it, pointing out among other things that Amos took Simeon's name to deceive invaders on the station, and it's not surprising Chaundra slipped when she's been calling him that for several weeks.
- In Bad Monkeys, Jane seduces a young missionary who was preaching on the street corner. When they are having sex, he calls her "sister". She immediately freaks out.
- In Starter For 10, just when he seems to have finally sorted out his Betty and Veronica situation, Brian drunkenly calls Rebecca "Alice" at midnight on New Year's Eve.
- In Newsflesh, after metaphorically sleeping with Becks, Shaun calls her George and literally sleeps, inadvertently revealing to her and later the team that he and George had been sleeping together. This is met with varying reactions because of the Brother-Sister Incest, though some remembered that Shaun and George were Not Blood Siblings.
Live Action TV
- Ross' "I take thee, Rachel" during his wedding to Emily.
- Rachel Green, trying in vain to teach Joey to sail, eventually snaps "Greens don't quit!" When he points out he's not a Green, she realizes she's channeling her father.
- Alias had such a moment, when Spy Daddy started losing his mind and Sidney had to pretend to be Spy Mommy.
- In the LOST episode "Walkabout", after Locke, Kate, and Michael are attacked by a boar, Locke accidentally (and conspicuously) calls Kate "Helen." Later in the episode in a flashback, we discover Helen is the phone therapist he's in love with. Although he might have been thinking of his ex-girlfriend of the same name.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Spock's Brain," Kirk and his landing party are trying to rescue Spock. Kirk says, "Tricorder readings, Mr. Spock. ...Mr. Scott."
- When they believe Data is dead in the episode The Most Toys of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Worf is assigned to his usual station and Picard accidentally calls him "Data" while issuing orders.
- And when Picard does some Mental Time Travel in All Good Things, he asks Worf to do a task that's actually Tasha Yar's job (Worf having taken over the role of Security Officer after Tasha's death).
- Battlestar Galactica: When Starbuck sleeps with Gaius Baltar, she calls him Lee...
- Variation from the Dollhouse episode "Vows": Echo gets her own name wrong. She's talking down her "husband" after he hits her, but the blow to the head causes her imprint to glitch, and she uses the name of her imprint in the pilot.
- On Saved by the Bell, an increasingly distant and distracted Kelly calls her boyfriend Zack "Jeff," the name of her hot college co-worker. Understandably, the relationship does not last much longer.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Sabrina accidentally calls her boyfriend "Harvey".
- Doctor Who:
- In "Pyramids of Mars", the Fourth Doctor accidentally calls Sarah "Vicky" when she comes in wearing a dress similar to one worn by Second Doctor companion Victoria. Whoops.
- A sad example occurs when the 11th Doctor accidentally calls Vincent van Gogh "Rory", and Amy goes "Who?". A few episodes prior, Rory was erased from existence and remembered only by the Doctor.
- Played with on an episode of Scrubs J.D. is sleeping with his girlfriend Danni when she shouts out her own name during climax. J.D. is disconcerted, but doesn't suspect infidelity. He should have, as it turns out, as she was in fact also sleeping with a man who shared her name.
- In Primeval, Nick frequently refers to Jenny as Claudia (the two look alike, but Claudia stopped existing shortly before Jenny showed up). She doesn't like this at all.
- In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Locum", Olivia discovers that the parents of an adopted girl, Mackenzie, have been changing her appearance to look like that of their biological daughter, Ella, who went missing ten years before. When Olivia confronts them, the mother bursts out with, "I love Ella!"
Mackenzie: No, she meant Ella.
- In Neighbours, Stuart arranges with Max to have his wife committed in hopes that Max can take control of her medical decisions (she was delaying cancer treatments because of possible risk to her pregnancy). When arguing with Karl about it later, Stuart accidentally refers to Steph as Sindi, making it obvious that he's acting on his own feelings about his wife's committal the previous year.
- The Professionals. Bodie does this deliberately to cause problems between Doyle and his Girl of the Week.
Bodie: You must be Rachel. He's told me all about you.
Doyle: (later in the car) Her name was Claire!
- Late in the seventh season of 24, as Jack is suffering from the debilitating effects of a biological agent, while discussing a system the President (Allison Taylor) put in place, he, in a fit of anger, accidentally refers to David Palmer (presidential candidate in Day 1, and president in Days 2 and 3).
- On Boy Meets World, Cory discusses this with Angela when he suspects that Shawn and Topanga might have feelings for each other:
Cory: Let me ask you this: In all the time that you were with Shawn, did he ever call out the name "Topanga"?
Cory: (flattered) In what context?
- Frasier, giving his brother Niles a long-overdue rant on how he needs to stand up to his wife, ends up referring to her by his own ex-wife's name. While someone else might try to argue that it was a slip of the tongue, Frasier happens to be a Freudian psychologist: "Well, that's destroyed any credibility I might have had - Dad, do you want to have a go?"
- Frasier's first hint that his cousin is in love with another woman than the one he's due to marry is when he refers to her as Crystal (his fiancée's name is Marianne).
- When Roger Sterling has a heart attack during Season 2 of Mad Men, nearly going Out with a Bang, he yells out the name of the one-night stands he's with (one of the Doublemint Twins, if memory serves). Don Draper finds him, and (after calling the ambulance) starts to slap Roger in the face, yelling "Your wife's name is Mona!"
- On Perfect Strangers, Balki is dating a woman who is a dead ringer for ex-girlfriend Mary Ann. When Larry and Jennifer try to talk to him about this, he denies it—until he slips up and calls the woman Mary Ann.
- A very sad example on Family Ties. After a friend of hers commits suicide, Mallory begins spending time with the friend's mother, hoping to ease their mutual grief. Unfortunately, after a minor disagreement, the woman begins screaming at her, calling her by her daughter's name, deeply upsetting and frightening Mallory and revealing that she's been subconsciously (or deliberately) trying to replace her daughter with Mallory, both in trying to make up for not being there for her and lashing out in anger at her for killing herself. This is actually foreshadowed earlier in the episode when she absently says "Rosalie and Nick seem very happy together", in front of Elyse and Steven, who don't have the heart to correct her.
- In Breaking Bad, Walt calls his son "Jesse", the name of the junkie ex-student who he's secretly been cooking meth with, in a moment of drunken and emotional bonding. Luckily, nothing ever comes of it — Walter Jr. doesn't know who Jesse is and sees no significance in the slip.
- In Dexter, Arthur often calls his daughter Rebecca "Vera" after the name of his deceased sister, but the family seems to have come to see it as a nickname for her... until the son finally calls him out on it.
- One famous episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? had Drew Carey asking the audience for an example of "something you wished you didn't do" as a subject for an Irish Drinking Song. An audience member promptly suggested "called out the wrong name in bed" and they used it. The song itself, however, went (hilariously) Off the Rails before they could go into it.
- In a jealousy-themed episode of Mad About You, protagonist Paul gets into trouble for shouting out his own name during sex.
- A variation on Gilmore Girls when Emily tells her granddaughter "just wait till your father comes home", referring to Rory's grandfather. The line goes unnoticed by either Gilmore lady, but it drives home how Rory has slipped into the role her grandparents wanted for her mother (and started to find it just as stifling).
- While Tony and Deborah are having sex in Men Behaving Badly, Tony mistakes an innocent moan for "Jim" and calls her out on it. He's satisfied with her explanation that she really just said "mmmm", but then when they get back to it she cries out "JIM! JIM! OH JIM!" just to annoy him.
- On ER, Doug calls his random one-night stand by the wrong name. In a nice subversion, she isn't the least bit upset at this, revealing that she's forgotten his name as well.
- Chico And The Man: Ed (the Man) accidentally calls Raul "Chico" at the end of Raul's first episode. When called out on it Ed covers by saying that "you're [Mexicans] all Chicos to me." A couple of seasons later Ed finally deals with Chico's death.
- In the The Big Bang Theory episode "The Classified Materials Turbulence", Stuart and Penny's date goes downhill after she calls him by her ex-boyfriend Leonard's name in the heat of the moment.
- Supernatural. Sam does this with his Girl of the Week in "Lazurus Rising" while ushering her out of the No Tell Motel after Dean comes back from the dead. Subverted when it's revealed he fluffed her name because he's trying to hide from Dean that this is Ruby, a demon-possessed human he's been working alongside for the past few months.
- QI had this once when Sue Perkins was on the show. Stephen Fry refers to her as "Mel" at one point, the name of her comedy partner. After being corrected by Alan, he Face Palms as the audience and panelists roar with laughter.
- Rick Springfield's song "They Call Me Bruce" is a tongue-in-cheek rant about how people keep confusing him with Bruce Springsteen.
- Mentioned in the Aerosmith song "Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees)": "I was believer when you told me that you loved me/ And then you called me someone else's name."
- "She's Got Issues" by The Offspring give us this gem:
Now, she talks about her ex non-stop, but I don't mind.
But when she calls out his name in bed, that's where I draw the line.
- "My Name Is Not Susan" by Whitney Houston explores this trope.
- There is a dancehall song called "Wrong Name (Who the Hell Is Kim?)", which is about a man who calls the singer "Kim", and other names, during pillow talk. She breaks up with him and kicks him out.
Just when I thought, soon, you'd ask the question,
You calling me Kim, Sharon and Susan
- In a song by Brazilian comedy group Mamonas Assassinas about a cuckold, he mentions that "My name is Dejair, easy to confound with Truck John".
- In "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Confession Part III"
I'm so sorry, Debbie! *gasp* I mean Bridgett!
- At the end of the "Now/Later/Soon" trio in A Little Night Music, the still-drowsy Fredrik longingly invokes Desiree's name where earlier he had used his wife's name (Anne).
- In The Odd Couple, when Oscar wishes Felix good night, Felix answers him, "Good night, Frances." Felix doesn't realize what he's said, but Oscar does and is unnerved.
- Played for Drama in The Walking Dead. At dinner, Kenny asks Clementine to pass a can of food, but calls her Duck, making it very clear that despite surface appearances, he (understandably) still hasn't got over the death of his son.
- Goblins: When Big-Ears is upset by Thaco's suggestion that they abandon Fumbles:
Well I'm not abandoning my friend! I am not letting One Eye
die! [astonished looks] Big-Ears:
I mean... [buries his face in his hands]
You know what I mean.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, when Antimony falls off a bridge, Mr. Eglamore shouts the name of her mother, Surma (whom he loved). Reynardine, who also had loved her mother, also initially calls her by her mother's name, as does Coyote, but that was before being formerly introduced (Annie is Surma's spitting image).
- Ménage à 3:
- DiDi, who has trouble keeping track of her countless boyfriends, is prone to calling them by the wrong name at any time, including moments of passion. They generally forgive her, because she's DiDi, but it's rough on them. See, for example, strip #462 (June 08, 2011; NSFW).
- In addition, Matt is peculiarly prone to having his sexual partners call out Gary's name, somewhat to his cost in mental stability:
- First, DiDi does this, traumatizing him so badly that he requires professional treatment. (Strip #590, April 19, 2012; NSFW.)
- Then later, Peggy does the same, due to a genuine if weird case of comedy Mistaken Identity. This time, he decides it's an auditory hallucination, until they discover the mistake. (Strip #898, June 12, 2014; NSFW.)
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal managed to subvert this. And play with it.
- Something Positive:
- Fred, who is developing Alzheimer's, once confused Pee Jee for Faye, his dead wife. Made worse by the fact he goes on to make romantic advances towards her.
- The first hint that Davan and Eva's relationship isn't going to work out is Eva calling out her abusive ex-boyfriend Marcus' name when Davan pleasures her orally.
- In Todd Allison & the Petunia Violet, Todd Allison calls Petunia "Jacqueline" while drunk and half-asleep. Petunia speculates that it might be his dead wife's name and gets into a panic the next day when he asks her if he did or said anything weird the previous night.
- The Simpsons:
- Family Guy:
- Lois blurts out "George!" (as in Clooney) during sex with Peter. He is understandably offended.
- Later in the same episode, she blurts out "Mel!" (They were in Mel Gibson's hotel room). She finally calls out the right name in end of the episode after they get the spark back in their marriage.
- An earlier episode has Peter reference the opposite, where, during sex, he calls Lois Frank.
- In The Spectacular Spider Man, Peter has just left his girlfriend Liz Allan, and thinks to himself, "Wow, Gwen is so cool. I mean Liz!" Gwen is his best friend/obvious real Love Interest.
- An episode of Recess had Spinelli call Mrs. Grotke "Mama" while trying to keep her from slipping on a piece of junk in the parking lot. Naturally she is teased mercilessly for this.
- Moral Orel: Florence, an overweight woman, is infatuated with Reverend Putty, while he's interested in her svelte, attractive roommate Dottie. When Florence gets him to have sex with her, guess whose name he yells out?
- In the American Dad! episode "Surro-Gate", Stan kidnaps Terry and Greg's adopted daughter to take her to Arizona, and when Francine tries to introduce him to a lesbian couple's kids, the plan backfires when he takes them as well.. When Stan hears them fighting in the back seat, he calls them Steve and Hayley, making him realize that those kids are no different from his own an stops the car just inches from the border.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "SpongeBob, You're Fired!", SpongeBob tries out new jobs after getting fired from the Krusty Krab, but he gets fired every time. When that happens, he impulsively shouts "But I've given you the best years of my life, Mr. Krabs!".
- Also in "Welcome to the Chum Bucket" when Mr. Krabs loses SpongeBob in a bet to Plankton, the latter tries making SpongeBob more comfortable at his job (to make him work for him), SpongeBob also gets more chipper . . . until he starts bawling again after accidentally calling Plankton "Mr. Krabs."
Truth in Television
- Any parent with at least two kids is guaranteed to mix up their kids' names.
- A spouse/parent who mixes up the names of his/her spouse and child (usually of the same gender).
- A grandparent could easily mix up their grandchildren's names resulting in one of them being called by their cousin's name. Or even call their grandchildren by their parents' name.
- Anyone who happens to be hanging out with two or more people with different names might confuse them.
- Pets' names can quite easily be mixed up.
- Anyone who ever accidentally called a teacher 'mom'.
- A widow or widower calling their new spouse by the name of their deceased spouse.
- Or a divorcee calling their new spouse by their ex's name. Oops!