Avoided recycling names for a while, but eventually gave up. There were two characters of different genders who shared the same name: Lynne Kresge in season 2 (Michelle Forbes) and Lynn McGill in season 5 (Sean Astin).
The character of Kate Warner was a major character in season 2. The character of Kate Morgan was a major character in season 9. Interestingly both characters were blonde women who, despite being American, were played by Australian actresses who got second billing after Kiefer Sutherland, over other characters who'd been around longer.
Mainstay judges Jay Manuel and J Alexander avoids this by respectively being referred to as mister and miss before their first names.
Two pair of winners of the show ran through this. Cycle 11 winner Brittany "McKey" Sullivan and Cycle 16 winner Brittani Kline avert this, but Cycle 5 winner Nicole Linkletter and Cycle 13 winner Nicole Fox plays this straight.
Two runner-ups are named Laura. They are Laura Kirkpatrick from Cycle 13 and Laura LaFrate from Cycle 18.
Two Brittany Browns have joined the series. The first in Cycle 4 (and All-Stars), the second in Cycle 19.
The same case happened in Cycle 11 with ShauRon, Brittany and winner McKey. In this case, two girls took nicknames.
Averted, but taken to the extreme in Cycles 18's Ashley, AzMarie, and Kyle, two of whom took on nicknames.
In Cycle 20, Bianca "Kanani" Andaluz and Bianca Alexa avert this, but Chris Hernandez and Chris Schellenger plays this straight.
The Bluth family follows the tradition of wealthy and narcissistic dynastic clans everywhere by having all the male members named after one another, drawing on a confusingly small pool of first names. Specifically, all the men in the family except the third and youngest son, Byron "Buster" Bluth, are either named George, Oscar, or Michael, or some combination thereof: George and Oscar are the twin brothers who founded the family empire; George Sr's sons are named George-Oscarnote Who is invariably called GOB, pronounced like the Biblical Job, to differentiate him from the other two Georges in the family and Michael; and Michael's son is named George-Michael.
Lucille Bluth's best friend/rival was named Lucille Austero, which was treated in-universe as nothing more than the sort of coincidence that frequently happens in real life. However, it did result in problems for Buster, who was the son of one Lucille and briefly dated the other. For example, he once bid on the wrong Lucille at a bachelorette auction, not to mention numerous Freudian Slips when he mistook one for the other in conversation. The narrator handled this by referring to Lucille Austero either by her full name, or as Lucille Two.
Also 'Loose Seal!'
There's also an example in Season 1 that was probably entirely unintentional on the part of the writers, and unlike the other examples doesn't have a role in the plot: George Sr's (and later Tobias's) closest friend in jail is named Little Justice, while at the same time Michael dates a blind woman whose guide dog is named Justice.
Bad Girls: Had two main characters both named Julie, who were best friends and had gone to jail at the same time. Tina O'Kane briefly changed her name to Julie as well, but then later went back to her original name.
Ballykissangel: An unusual example occurs in the BBC series , where a shady politician previously named Sean Dooley returns in the fifth season as Paul Dooley, presumably so the viewers won't confuse him with the then-leading-man Sean Dillon.
Band of Brothers: Justified Trope for being historically accurate, where we the main cast includes two Joes - Liebgott and Toye (there's also Joe Domingus, but he's a tertiary character) - and two Donalds (Malarkey and Hoobler). Additionally, there are several secondary characters named John ("Cowboy" Hall, Father Malone, Janovec and "Peewee" Martin). Since most characters are usually referred to by their last name anyway, this rarely becomes a problem.
Battlestar Galactica (2003): This show gives us Billy Keikeya, Bill Adama (who we learn, conveniently after Billy's death, was also called Billy - but only in his youth, decades before Keikeya's birth), the one episode character William "Willie" King, and of course, Liam Tigh.
The spinoff/prequel Caprica took it further with another William that Bill Adama was named after, his dead half-brother, Willie, who everyone assumed was the future Bill Adama when he was introduced. Ron Moore likes to screw with the audience.
Averted with minor characters in Blackadder which has a number of Bernards, this being Richard Curtis's favourite comedy name: The Black Adder and the Prince of Wales birthday skit both mention Bernard the Bear-Baiter. In Blackadder II, Nursie's real name is Bernard (as is her future incarnation in Blackadder's Christmas Carol). And Blackadder Goes Forth has Brigadier Bernard Proudfoot-Smith and "Some chap [Melchett] bumped into in the mess called Bernard". According to The True History of the Black Adder, Curtis's college girlfriend left him for future MP Bernard Jenkin, leaving him with a strong desire to turn the name Bernard into a joke.
A slightly odd semi-aversion: Spike's original name was William, and Angel's original name was Liam (which is the Irish version of William). Plus, there's Willy, who runs the demon bar, and Willow, who is frequently called Will. The nickname for William, Billy, was used for at least three one-episode characters: Billy Palmer ("Nightmares") and Billy "Ford" Fordham ("Lie to Me") on Buffy, and Billy Blim ("That Vision Thing" and "Billy") on Angel.
Also, Anne is Buffy's middle name which she occasionally goes by, the adopted name of Anne Steele, the name of Spike's mother, and one of Drusilla's sisters.
One episode of Angel had Knox, the vampire who turned Gunn's sister. Knox was also the name of a scientist who worked for Wolfram & Hart in season 5.
Averted - there are three characters named "Nancy" over the course of the series. In season 3, the bizzaro universe of "The Wish" has a White Hat called Nancy who fights vampires alongside Giles, Oz and Larry. Later in the same season, "Earshot" has a highly competitive student named Nancy who dislikes Buffy. In the season 7 episode "Beneath You", Anya grants a wish to another Nancy, turning her ex-boyfriend Ronnie into a giant carnivorous worm. (Ronnie could also be an example, as Faith mentions a pre-Sunnydale ex with this name, but technically it could be the same guy, wildly unlikely though that is)
Burn Notice has broken this rule a few times with Tom Strickler and Tom Card, as well as Tyler Brennen and Tyler Gray. Lampshaded when Michael talks to a "Samantha", Sam Axe assumes that he is talking to him.
Actually had three Billys. The first was a one-episode character in season 1. The second was a character in Phoebe's favourite movie. The third (Billie this time) was a season regular in season 8.
The Halliwell line also has a number of recurring names. Melinda Warren was their ancestor and was what Piper named her daughter in the future. There was also another Prudence in the Halliwell line, whom Prue was evidently named after.
Cheers averted this for a joke in the episode where Sam's Corvette is stolen. After hearing a customer has also had a rare car stolen, Sam decides to form a support group for people who've had rare cars stolen. He gets to know them by what cars they've lost. When he has to address another member of the support group by name, he admits he's not good with names. It turns out the other support group member is also named Sam.
In one episode, there's an Asian girl named Annie Kim who steals Annie's idea for a Model UN. Jeff congratulates Annie on having a "multicultural evil twin".
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Josh Chan is a major character in the series. He also has a close friend nicknamed "White Josh," so named because he looks just like Josh, but white. It's notable (both in and out of universe) that White Josh is referred to as such, rather than as Gay Josh or Josh Chan being referred to as Asian Josh.
Criminal Minds: There is Aaron Hotchner and Erin Strauss, which is only confusing when you say their names out loud. This is lampshaded in the season 8 finale:
The Replicator: Does it ever get confusing, that whole Aaron/Erin thing?
Has two Davids. Assistant coroner David Phillips is sometimes referred to as Super Dave, while the lab tech is only ever called by his surname, Hodges.
Doc Robbins' first name was also 'David' before they changed it to 'Al'. Probably aided by the fact that he is played by Robert "David" Hall, so it kinda goes along with Super Dave Phillips being played by David Berman and Archie Johnson who is played by Archie Kao.
Also CSI:NY's Lindsay Monroe and CSI:Las Vegas' Catherine Willows' daughter, Lindsey.
One episode used the aversion of this trope as an actual clue, when several seemingly-unrelated crimes' victims or suspects happened to have pets named "Gareth". Turned out they all knew the same con artist, who'd named the pets after his brother.
The Daily Show: For several years the cast included a Steve Carell and a Stephen Colbert. They actually had a debate skit called "Even Steph/ven". Now they include many correspondents named "John" - John Hodgman, John Oliver, and of course the host himself, Jon Stewart. There were also Rob Corddry and Rob Riggle.
Dallas: Had three characters named 'John Ross' - the family patriarch, his eldest son and that son's son. In the show only the youngest was ever called 'John Ross', while his father (John Ross II) always went by the name 'JR' and the grandfather (John Ross I) by the name 'Jock'.
Deadliest Catch: Has the brothers Josh and Jake Harris of the Cornelia Marie, as well as another Jake on the Northwestern. Interestingly, both Jakes have similar foofy hair and cocky attitudes, and their captains ponder "switching Jakes" for a season. There's also a cameraman named Jake (or was it Josh?) who almost died of seasickness-induced dehydration while on the Cornelia Marie and is good-naturedly chided by the Harrises when he's forced to use a suppository.
The Deuce: Both of Vincent's bouncers at the Hi-Hat are named Mike, so he decides to nickname one of them "Black Mike" to keep things clear, even though both of them are black.
Dexter: In the fourth season, the title serial killer pretends to be someone named Kyle Butler to insinuate himself into the life of another serial killer, Trinity, as a consequence of which Trinity tracks down and kills a random, innocent Kyle Butler. It's complicated.
So far each of the companions has had a different name, though Vicki / Victoria and Sarah Jane / Sara were pretty close.
The Vicki/Victoria confusion helps bungle a Continuity Nod in "Pyramids of Mars", where the scene was scripted such that Sarah emerges in a dress belonging to Victoria, and for the Doctor to absently call Sarah by that name. Tom Baker fiddled with the line and said 'hello, Vicky' (something Victoria was never called during her tenure in the show). Fans could be forgiven for thinking it's Vicki's dress - it's not really either girl's style, being an Edwardian gown (both girls mostly wore 60s fashion).
Though it was never said on-screen, production materials give Polly's last name as "Wright", the same as Barbara.
Dodo and Ace are both nicknames, but have virtually identical real names; Dorothea and Dorothy respectively, though both are almost always called by their nicknames.
Tarron is the name of an official from the City of Millenius in the First Doctor story "The Keys of Marinus". Taron is the leader of the group of Thals the Third Doctor and Jo meet on the planet Spiridon in "Planet of the Daleks".
All this said, the surnames "Jones" and "Smith" are disproportionately common in the Russell T. Davies era:
Jones: Harriet, Ianto, Martha. Jo Grant can be included since she took her husband Clifford's name on marriage. Also Eugene from the spinoff Torchwood.
In the teleconference scene in "The Stolen Earth", three of the participants are named Jones: Harriet, Ianto, and Martha. And another's Smith (Sarah Jane).
The Adventure Games with the Eleventh Doctor and Amy has a computer quarantining an underwater base called Jones.
Smith: Sarah Jane, Mickey, and the Doctor's traditional alias of John Smith, plus Sarah Jane's familynote son Luke, daughter Sky, and "extraterrestrial supercomputer" Mr Smith and Mickey's parallel-universe counterpart Ricky. Also, Adam Smith in one episode of Torchwood, who also shares his first name with a short-term companion of the Ninth Doctor. Lampshaded in "Journey's End" when Mickey takes down a Dalek that was about to kill Sarah Jane, and quips, "We Smiths have to stick together."
The Second Doctor had a string of comics starring a Cyberman companion called Kroton. He also fought monsters called the Krotons in "The Krotons".
The Fourth Doctor has tussled with two shifty organisations called ThinkTank - the scientific research institution subverted by Winters' Putting on the Reich political party in "Robot", and Skagra's Grand Theft Me research institute in "Shada".
An aversion is lampshaded in "The Face of Evil", in which the Doctor goes out of his way to point out that he's never met anyone called "Leela" before.
A revealing aversion is in "Terror of the Vervoids", which uses the name Hyperion for the ship, the same as the ship from the Pertwee story "The Mutants". This appears trivial — you can't expect creators in 1986 to remember trivial details from 1972 — but makes a lot of sense if you know BNF "continuity advisor" Ian Levine's first ever script tweak was to reject the name Hyperion for the ship in "State of Decay" on the grounds of this trope. Levine had a fight with the producer over the casting of Bonnie Langford as the companion and quit, at exactly the same time "Terror of the Vervoids" was being produced. From this we can surmise that the aversion was intended as a Take That! to Levine. As an extra hint, the ship in "Vervoids" was specifically Hyperion III: in other words, the third Hyperion.
"The Horns of Nimon" features a character named Teka. "Logopolis" introduces Tegan, who becomes one of the Doctor's travelling companions. As an added bonus, both characters were played by actresses named Janet; Teka was played by Janet Ellis (who went on to present Blue Peter a few years later), Tegan by Janet Fielding.
In-universe in "The Parting Of The Ways", Big Brother contestant Lynda self-identifies as Lynda-with-a-Y to distinguish her from fellow contestant Linda-with-an-I.
Also, of the actors who played companions, William Russell (Ian) and Peter Purves (Steven) share their given names with William Hartnell, Peter Davison and Peter Capaldi. In addition, John Levene (Sergeant Benton) and Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) have given names which are similar to the names of the actors who played the Third and Eleventh Doctors, Jon Pertwee and Matt Smith. Of the actresses who've played female companions, Carole Ann Ford (Susan) and Caroline John (Liz) have similar names, as do Jacqueline Hill (Barbara) and Jackie Lane (Dodo).
Downton Abbey: Thomas Branson and Thomas Barrow. Somehow they never manage to be called by the same name, though; throughout the series, they are each variously called by either their first name or their last name only, according to their position in the household at that time, and they were never both called by their first names at the same time. Of course, it also helps that when they do go by their first names, Branson is "Tom" (never "Thomas") and Barrow is "Thomas" (never "Tom").
Early Edition, Gary tries to propose a toast to a certain George Muzakis in order to find the guy and save him quickly, and a dozen or so with that name stand up because it's a family reunion.
Subverted on ER, which had two characters named John in its first season—John Carter and John Taglieri—but avoided any confusion by using the nicknames for both men—John Carter was frequently referred to by his last name, while John Taglieri was called "Tag". Later, there were two characters named Abby, but as they appeared at different times (oddly, both were love interests to the aforementioned John Carter), there was no confusion.
The Following has an episode in which one of the killers targets women named Claire Matthews, also the name of the cult leader's ex-wife. It's a subversion of this trope, although no one openly says, "That's odd, I've met several Claires but I'm the only Ryan in the world!"
Foyle's War: Glaringly uses "Hauptmann" as the maiden name of two different German expatriate women married to upper-crust Englishmen. "Greenwood" also shows up as the surname of one character, the alias of another, and the name of a farm.
Frasier: Mildly averted, where Daphne consistently addressed both Niles and Frasier as "Doctor Crane" for many seasons. It usually only caused confusion when the plot required it to.
Friends: After dating Ross, Rachel dates a guy called Russ, also played by David Schwimmer.
Full House: This was an Averted Trope and played around with. Stephanie mentions that she is going to a different school than her friends, all of which were named Jennifer, and were differentiated by last initial. (Jennifer C. went to this school, Jennifer S. went to that school.) Little Michelle, who was so young at this point she was barely able to string a sentence together, turns to Stephanie and says, "Maybe you'll meet a new Jennifer."
Fuller House: Stephanie becomes a disc jockey, calling herself "DJ Tanner." Her older sister is named DJ. Invoked in this exchange:
DJ: You stole my name? Why couldn't you call yourself DJ Stephanie? Stephanie:: Because there's already a DJ Stephanie. DJ: There's already a DJ Tanner!
Producers changed several names when adapting from the books in order to avoid name confusion: Robert Arryn was changed to Robin (a nickname from the books) because his name was the same as Robert Baratheon. Asha Greyjoy was changed to Yara because it was too similar to Osha.
Averted with the White Walkers and their zombie minions, the wights since "white" and "wight" are homophones.
Averted with the Freys. One of the two descendents Lord Walder Frey sends to arrange Edmure and Roslin's marriage is known as Black Walder to differentiate him. It's even worse in the books, where it's stated that there are dozens of Walder Freys in the House, due to the elder Frey's relatives trying to suck up to him.
Lyanna Mormont is a rare aversion for the TV show, which, as mentioned above, otherwise went out of its way to enforce a One Steve Limit onto the source material. The showrunners argued, with some validity, that while the long books could get away with multiple characters with the same first name, it would have been too confusing in the more condensed format of a TV series. Lyanna Mormont was a rare exception, because it's a plot point that she's a Dead Guy Junior, named after Lyanna Stark.
Jon Snow shares his first name with Jon Arryn, Great and Small Jon Umber, and (phonetically, at least) Yohn Royce. His true name, Aegon Targaryen, is shared not only with five historical kings, but also his half-brother. The Targaryens have about ten names that they keep using over and over, and many of those names look/sound alike. This makes it difficult to figure out which Aeron, Aemon, or Aegon is being discussed in a specific moment.
Robb Stark, Robert Baratheon, and Robett Glover all have variations of the same name, despite the diffrent spelling.
Subverted on General Hospital, which had three characters named "Lucas" at one point. However, one was "Luke" Spencer, the other was his son "Lucky", and the third, his nephew, was the only one called Lucas.
It also had three guys from the same family named Michael: Michael "Mike" Corbin, his son Michael "Sonny" Corinthos, and his son, who actually goes by Michael (but would eventually change his last name to Quartermaine).
The Gifted averts the trope big-time: two of its lead characters are named Lorna (Dane) and Lauren. Not an exact match, but it's very rare to see this happen right at the center of a show.
Gilmore Girls: Strictly speaking, there were three Lorelai Gilmores - Lorelai Gilmore the mother, Lorelai "Rory" Gilmore the daughter, and Lorelai "Trix" Gilmore - Rory's great grandmother (and yes, her maiden name was Gilmore too).
There are two Davids, Jerk Jock/Armoured Closet Gay Dave Karofsky and Warbler David. As of mid-season 3, there are now a third David: David Martinez, the night school Spanish teacher.
There are also two Andreas, Andrea Cohen from Vocal Adrenaline and Rod's co-anchor Andrea Carmichael.
The season two episode "Britney/Brittany" gives us Britney Spears and Brittany S. Pierce.
Tina Cohen-Chang shares her last name with both her boyfriend, Mike Chang, and the aforementioned Andrea Cohen.
Also, Kurt and his dad Burt.
And Finn and Quinn, who were a couple in the beginning of season 1 and then again for a while in season 2.
In The Golden Girls, Rose's late husband is named Charlie and their granddaughter Charlotte is nicknamed "Charlotte".
Averted in The Good Wife with the introduction of Carey Zepps, a lawyer working alongside Cary Agos, one of the main characters. Though not spelled the same, their names are pronounced the same.
Goodnight Sweetheart: Played with this a couple of times, as the main theme of the show was that Gary Sparrow tried at all costs to avoid his 1940s mistress, Phoebe, and his 1990s wife, Yvonne, discovering his time-travelling escapades. In one episode, the arrival of "Yvonne" is announced in the 1940s pub of which Phoebe is the landlady, but this turns out to be an aunt of Phoebe's. In another episode, Gary tracks down a 1990s "Phoebe Sparrow", but, as the lady in question is black, she cannot be the girl he fell in love with (and possibly married) in the 1940s.
Gossip Girl: Both Nate's grandfather and Serena's father have the first name William. (It's also the name of Nate's uncle and cousin, although the latter has the decency to go by Tripp. It's one of those families.) Can make reading about the series confusing if you're not paying attention, especially since they also have similar surnames (Vanderbilt and Van Der Woodsen).
The Great British Bake Off: Averted in series 6. One of the competitors is a man named Paul who has white hair and a Van Dyke goatee, remarkably like a certain judge named Paul. Immediately lampshaded by Sue, and led to this Running Gag each episode thereafter:
Cristina: Bailey is a good name. But two Baileys, you don't think it's going to be confusing?
Meredith: No, because if I say "Bailey peed on me," I think it's safe to assume I'm talking about my son.
Cristina: Very good.
Growing Pains: Used this to allow Mike's girlfriend Kate to read a love note his grandfather had written to his grandmother Kate.
Head of the Class: Played with this an Arvin started an ARVIN CLUB, and even met an attractive girl named Inga Arvin.
Heartbeat: When this show added PC Steve Crane to the regular cast, they apparently forgot that an earlier episode had established supporting character Jenny Latimer as having a brother called Steve. Steve Latimer ended up coming back for Jenny's wedding while Steve Crane was on the show. It's not all that noticeable until the closing sequence when they start appearing in the same scenes.
Hell's Kitchen: Season 8 had Lewis and Louis (pronounced "Louie"). Lewis subverted this trope by going by his last name, Curtis. Didn't matter much, as both were eliminated very early.
Mined this for a gag, when the Show Within a Show had three generations of Al Unsers as guests, in addition to Tim's assistant Al Borland. Things got confusing real quick when Tim tried to interview Al. (Which one? Exactly.) At the end of the episode, the three Al Unsers were back wearing T-shirts labeled "Big Al", "Little Al", and "Norm-Al"; and Tim pulled out an "Abnorm-Al" shirt for Borland - but Al (B.) opened his flannel shirt to reveal that he already had a "Speci-Al" T-shirt.
We also find out that Al had a brother named Cal, which is probably meant to poke at this trope.
Then we learn their mother's name...Alma.
Homicide: Life on the Street: Had two Mikes: Kellerman, and Gee's FBI agent son. The latter was introduced after the former had been written off, but they met in a two-part arc and the reunion movie.
Hot Potato: The Bee Keepers team consisted of Tim 1, Tim 2 and Glen.
House: Averted, where we have two secondary characters named Rachel: Taub's wife and Cuddy's baby daughter.
House of Cards (US) has two characters with the first name "Tom": Tom Yates, the close ally of the Underwoods, and Tom Hammerschmidt, Zoe Barnes's former boss at the Washington Herald. In season 4, both begin to appear together in the same episodes.
Two characters named Tasha have appeared on the show. The first in the season 1 episode iNevel, and a recurring love interest for Gibby in Season 3, in the episode iSpeed Date. Two Chuck's have appeared, with one being a delivery man and the other an evil little boy. Two Brads have appeared on the show. One was a big-shot producer of TVS (iCarly Saves TV), and the other brought the fudge (iHire an Idiot, iOMG).
Then in iParty WithVictorious, they break the Trope Name, by having Carly's boyfriend named Steven, just like Carly's father.
iZombie has an episode where the victim shared a name with another person at the same college. This was - of course - an important plot point by the end.
In the 1996 Tournament of Champions, Michael Dupee and Michael Daunt were two of the finalists. Dupee went by "Mike" to differentiate himself.
Similarly, the 2008 Teen Tournament somehow ended up with two Rachels in the finals. One of them decided to go by "Steve".
The 1995 Tournament of Champions had finalists David Siegel and Isaac Segal, both last names pronounced the same way. Interestingly, David Siegel was Isaac's immediate predecessor as champion, as Alex Trebek lampshaded in his second game.
Joan of Arcadia: Rather oddly averted, where we get the next best thing to The Other Darrin with the Deadpan Snarker bookstore owner Sammy. In season two we get a different actor with the same name, job, and personality, yet he's established as a different person who took over the position from the first Sammy. Joan even notes how coincidental it is.
Justified: While the names of main characters, like Boyd and Raylan haven't been used more than once, several minor character names have been recycled. The most prominent has to be Nicholas and its variants. We've had asshole police officer Nick Moony, paranoid conspiracy theorist and former pimp Nicky Kush, and Detroit mob bagman Nicky Augustine. Kush and Augustine even briefly meet face to face when Augustine accompanies Boyd to interrogate Kush.
Kamen Rider Den-O: This show, which uses Time Travel as a central conceit, ran headlong into this with its first movie, where the 10-year-old version of Ryotaro joins up with the group. To avoid confusion, the group refers to the younger as Kotaro (as in, "Little Ryotaro").
Things got even more confusing with the third movie, which introduced Ryotaro's Grandkid from the Future, who was actually named Kotaro. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but Ryotaro's original actor Takeru Satoh left the franchise after this movie and was replaced by the child actor who played Young Ryotaro, with the Hand Wave that he got de-aged.
Kenan & Kel: Natural born Kenan involves the duo heading to the records department for Kenan's birth records, to prove whether or not he's adopted. However, he gets the wrong record by mistake - he gets the birth record of Kevin Rockmore, who was born to parents George and Margaret Rockmore in the same hospital and on the same day as Kenan, who was born to parents Roger and Sheryl Rockmore. They then think that Kenan had been switched at birth. In the end, Kevin and his parents are revealed to be Asian and of no relation to the African-American Kenan.
Had a song/sketch titled "These Are the Daves I Know" in which the singer names a dozen or so people in his life who answer to David or Dave.
The "Thirty Helens Agree" sketches, featuring 30 Helens standing in a field.
Cathy and Kathie, the secretaries.
The two Geralds, rival businessmen.
The King of Queens: In the episode "Better Camera", Arthur shows guest star Lou Ferrigno a screenplay he wrote. Lou is confused by the fact that several characters are named Mike. Arthur explains it by asking if Lou has ever met someone else named Lou and then claims his screenplay is "true to life".
Lady Dynamite: Maria Bamford's agent, realtor, and life coach are all named Karen Grisham.
The Last Kingdom: There are four Uhtreds, two Ragnars, and two Oddas, all fathers and sons. When necessary, they are distinguished as "the Elder" and "the Younger". In Uhtred's family the eldest son and heir is always called Uhtred, so the protagonist was originally called Osbert but is renamed when his brother dies.
Law & Order and its various spinoffs: There have been a number of characters, both major and minor, named Serena and Alexandra.
Lead Balloon: In one episode, self-centred misanthrope Rick Spleen gets a part as Eddie in a series called "All About Eddie"; one of his friends asks if he's sure that he is the Eddie the series is all about.
Rick: No. That'd— why would there be two people called Eddie? That'd be stupid.
Rick:(on phone to director) So yeah, are there two people called Eddie, or...?
In addition to Steve who survived the crash, there was another Steve on board who was killed. The show reuses names frequently: there have been several Brians, Toms, Anns, Richards, Adams, and other common names, which makes the already Epileptic Tree theories worse (see below):
Not to mention the constant, in-universe confusion between two characters named Scott and Steve. When one died, it actually increased the confusion, as the deceased had to be identified by name. It's made even worse by the actor playing Steve playing Scott's body, and the actor playing Scott continuing to appear on the show afterward as a nameless extra. Or maybe I switched those.
'David' also crops up frequently, being the first name of Libby's deceased husband, Charlotte's father, Jack's son (in the flash-sideways) and is particularly meaningful to Hurley, as his father and imaginary friend share the name. Oh, and it's also Desmond's middle name. Showrunner Damon Lindelof has mentioned that it's probably a subconscious Freudian issue of his, as his own father is named David.
Then we have Charlie Pace, Charlie Hume (Desmond and Penny's son), Charles Widmore, and Charlotte Lewis
It is likely that Jack was actually born Jonathan Shephard meaning that he and John Locke have the same name. I always assumed that it was done on purpose to further their dichotomy. It was, however, never mentioned on the show, so its canonicity is questionable at best.
Mad Men: Aversion in season 5: protagonist Don Draper hires a black receptionist named Dawn. Roger Sterling calls her "darkest before the Don."
Major Crimes: Captain Raydor discovers a little too late that she has the same first name as Rusty's mother. When she tells him that he can call her Sharon instead of Captain Raydor, he at first thinks it's some sort of cruel joke, and then gets mad because if she didn't even know that she had the same name as his mother, then she's obviously not looking for her like she promised him she was.
Mash: Had John McIntyre, known as Trapper John, and John Black, known as Ugly John. Also, in the book, the movie, and the beginning of the series, Father Mulcahy's first name is John, although later in the series it was established as Francis. (M*A*S*H had a few problems remembering its characters' names over its 11-year run. Col. Blake's wife, Lorraine, was on multiple occasions called "Mildred", which probably influenced the decision to make that Col. Potter's wife's name.)
Both Trapper and Frank Burns had wives named Louise.
Then there's the plethora of background nurses given the same generic surnames like "Able" and "Baker".
Played with in the episode where Hawkeye is mistakenly getting mail belonging to a different Capt. Benjamin Pierce.
Men Behaving Badly: In one episode, Gary, Tony, Dorothy and Debs stay on a campsite and meet someone else called Tony. They refer to him as "Tony Too".
There have been two Tristans, the first a Monster of the Week and the second one half of the famous Tristan and Isolde pairing. Since the characters appeared four seasons apart, there's virtually no chance of getting them muddled up.
Morgana's mother was named Vivian. In Season 2, a Lady Vivian turns up as a one-episode character.
Modern Family has two secondary characters named Pam, which becomes more confusing since they're both primarily connected to Cameron's story-lines and are deliberately named to echo him: one Pam is his sister, the other is the lesbian mom to a boy at Lily's school who is basically Cam's Distaff Counterpart.
Although apparently "Pam" stands for different things in both cases. When Cam calls his sister by her full first name (seemingly in all seriousness), it's Pameron. Mitchell is the only one who seems to think it's weird.
Monk had an episode where two women with the name Julie Teeger were murdered. (It turns out not to be a coincidence.) Given that Natalie Teeger's daughter is also named Julie, this case is especially troubling for her. Fittingly, the episode is titled "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies".
The Monkees: Ran into this when they had the cast use their real names on the show and two of them, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith, had variations of the same first name. Ironically, neither actually has the first name Michael. Their real names are George Michael Dolenz and Robert Michael Nesmith.
Inverted Trope in the Bruces sketch. The faculty of the Philosophy Department of the University of Woolamaloo are all named Bruce, and when a new instructor named Michael joins, they call him Bruce to avoid confusion.
It's also important to note they had two guys named Terry.
Several of the sketches in the series had characters named Arthur.
Not only did Erics feature in many sketches, but the Fish License sketch featured Eric Praline talking to Eric the Postal Clerk about a license for his pet halibut, Eric, in addition to the license he has for his cat, Eric, his dog, Eric, and his fruit-bat, Eric. When Eric refuses to give Eric a license for Eric, Eric asks for a license for Eric the half a bee, whom Eric asks Eric the orchestra leader to sing about.
Moving Wallpaper: Accidentally averted in this show about TV writers. In the first series the writing staff included an assistant named Kelly, who Carl, one of the writers, was in love with. In the second series the star actress of the show they're working on is Kelly Brook. This even confused some TV reviewers, with one summarizing an episode as "Carl pines for Kelly Brook".
Gibbs at first makes this an Invoked Trope in "Jurisdiction" by refusing to call visiting CGIS agent Abigail Borin 'Abby', out of respect for Abby Sciuto. However, in a later episode, "Ships in the Night", he congratulates a joint effort by the pair by saying "Abbs-es - that is good work."
One episode averts this trope for comic effect, with a DEA drug dog called Tony, leaving the DEA agent waiting for Tony to finish going over the boat so that Tony can go over the boat.
Also averted with Tony and his dad, who both have the first name Anthony.
Tony again: in one episode, Anthony was the name of the victim's husband.
Tony: Married her high school sweetheart, Anthony. Nice name.
One episode had two Leroy Jethros in it, as Gibbs was named after a childhood friend of his father.
NCIS: New Orleans averted this in a one-off gag in S2E4, with Pride telling LaSalle that their latest lead is a pair of 19-year-old college dropouts named Steve Wilensky and Steve Dunn. Near the end of the scene, one of the agents addresses "Steve" and they reply in unison.
The New Adventures of Old Christine: The premise is an aversion of this trope. In addition to Old Christine and New Christine, there's also Richard and his son, Ritchie. In the pilot, Ritchie is also referred to as Little Richard and Richard Jr. to distinguish between himself and his father, and New Christine offers to let Old Christine call her Christine 2 or Chrissy so there would be less confusion. Old Christine's maiden and married surnames sound very similar, which is pointed out in the episode when she decides to change her surname to the hyphenated hybrid "Kimball-Campbell." And there is an episode when she tries to get back together with an ex-boyfriend Burton only to discover he has a new girlfriend, Christine, who Old Christine dubs "Pretty Christine."
As it turns out New Girl has this with two of it's main characters. Winston Bishop and Winston Schmidt which is why Last-Name Basis is used for the later.
Newhart: "I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl."
The New Statesman: One episode features a crony of Alan's named Piers, the same as his regular-cast sidekick/flunky. "Ah. It appears we have two Piers."
NTSF:SD:SUV::: Features a computer technician named Sam and a robot named S.A.M. as regular characters, although the robot is always referred to as "Ess Ay Em." One of the roboticists who created S.A.M. is Aaron Samson, who also insists on being called "Sam", and shares a scene with Sam and S.A.M. in one episode.
NYC 22: Aversion used for a throwaway gag in the pilot. Rookie officer Tonya Sanchez has trouble finding her locker because there are at least two other Officer Sanchezes in her precinct. Played straight among the main cast, however.
Erin's first name is actually Kelly, the same as Kelly Kapoor, who initially attempts to use it to her advantage in flirting with Charles Miner. Erin quickly volunteers to go by her middle name and the matter is never brought up again.
We also have Robert California, the company's new CEO, and Robert Lipton, Angela's senator husband.
The British show had characters named Dawn and Donna.
Once Upon a Time has Ruby's boyfriend Peter and Peter Pan although we later learn the latter's true name is Malcolm. The second one is always called Pan anyway.
Averted on One Life to Live, which had two characters named "Margaret" at the same time. Any confusion was avoided by having each character use a different derivative—one was called "Maggie", another "Marty" (though her lover preferred to use her full name when addressing her).
Orphan Black has protagonist Sarah Manning. Her clone Alison has another casual acquaintance named Sarah, and uses the coincidence of names to smoke out the conspiracy that's monitoring them.
Scrupulously observed in Our Miss Brooks. We have the main characters Constance (Connie) Brooks, Phillip Boynton, Harriet Conklin, Osgood Conklin, Margaret Davis, and Walter Denton. Recurring characters include Mr. Stone, Angela Devon, Daisy Enright, Fabian (Stretch) Snodgrass and Winston (Bones) Snodgrass. The last T.V. season featured recurring characters Oliver Munsey Wynonna Nestor, Ruth Nestor, Benny Romero and Gene Talbot. Notice not one name is ever repeated.
Ron has ex-wives called Tammy One and Tammy Two, and his mother's named is Tamara (Tammy for short).
In the seventh season premiere, it's revealed that Jim O'Heir's character now carries the name Terry. (He was originally known as Jerry and later Larry. His real name is Gary.) This was because the department he went to work for already had someone named Larry and his request to go by his real name was dismissed.
Person of Interest: Subverted. Two main characters have a name that can be shortened to 'Sam.' Though, to be fair, Samantha Groves is generally referred to by her hacker alias (Root), while Sameen is generally referred to by her surname (Shaw).
Popular: Two characters had the name Mike: One had it as his real name, while preferring to use his nickname "Sugar Daddy", while the other had it as his nickname, with his real name Michael.
Played with, courtesy writer Amit Bhaumik. His plan for the unadapted Tokumei Sentai Go Busters, Power Rangers Cyber Corps, would have made the two Venjixes (Vengi?) one and the same, the RPM iteration having arrived in that parallel world via dimension hopping through the Morphing Grid.
Austin St. John who plays Jason Lee Scott was born Jason Geiger.
In Power Rangers Megaforce, Yellow and Pink are called Gia and Emma respectively. The previous season had Yellow and Pink being called Emily and Mia repectively. So not only did they have similar names, they also swapped their colours. 6 episodes in and some fans are still confusing them.
Primeval: Has two Toms. One is a main character who is blond, stocky and in the SAS; the other is one of Those Two Guys ginger, lanky, and a geeky conspiracy theory nut. They both die in the first series.
Raising Dad: Acknowledged this in an episode once as Sarah had an Evan, Erin and Aaron at the house for dinner and Emily stammered on the names a couple of times.
Aversion: an uncommonly large number of guest characters have the first name Frank. There's Frank Hollister (the captain of Red Dwarf), Frank Todhunter (the second officer), Frank Rimmer (Rimmer's older brother), Rimmer's uncle Frank (mentioned only), Frank Saunders (in the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Saunders was the hologram before McIntyre's death), the guy called Frank who found baby Lister under the Aigburth Arms pool table, and in one episode Kryten mentions that he named the washing machine Frank because "he works better with an identity".
"Lemons" does this as well. Turns out there were a lot of people named Jesus in AD 23, and the one the Dwarfers assist is just an ordinary guy.
Remember WENN: In-universe example: Betty has to give feedback to a writer who has named both the hero and villain of her script "John." This is especially confusing because it's on radio.
Revolution: Averted Trope. There's Jacob the bounty hunter ("Chained Heat") and Jacob Renn the Monroe militia guy. There's Joseph Deckert the Monroe militia captain ("Ghosts") and Joseph Wheatley the Monroe militia mole ("Kashmir"). There's Pete Bowers the Monroe militia major ("The Love Boat") and Peter the young man ("The Children's Crusade"). There's Richard Lucas the Georgian Navy officer and Richards the Monroe militia private ("No Quarter"). There's Rose the housekeeper of the Nevilles and Fabers ("Ties That Bind"), and Rose/Rosie the rebel ("The Song Remains the Same"). There's Steve the insurance adjuster boss ("Soul Train") and Steve the bounty hunter ("Home"). There's Trevor the rapist outlaw ("Pilot") and Trevor the rebel ("No Quarter"). There's Beth Robinson-Bromley a name in a file and Beth the wife of Jane Warren ("The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia"). There's John Sanborn the scientist ("Clue") and John Faber the Monroe militia colonel. There's Amy Tipton a name in a file and Amy Wilkes the Plains Nation girl ("The Longest Day"). There's George the rebel and George Maya a name in a file. There's Doug Meerdinx and Doug Sloan who are both names in a file. There's Billy Frank a name in a file and Billy Underwood the bully. There's Sean the Pittman's friend ("Sex and Drugs"), Sean Bozeman a name in a file, and Sean Miller the newspaper producer. There's David Kipling the former Monroe militia major ("Nobody's Fault But Mine"), David Moxness a name in a file, and David Stockton a name in a file.
Jane's father and brother are both named Frank, though her brother goes by Frankie.
Also, when Jane's other brother, Tommy, has a baby, they name him Tommy Junior (T.J. for short).
Rome: The creators of this TV series did their best to neaten up everyone's names (since Real LifeAncient Rome averted this trope horribly), but they were still left with siblings Octavian and Octavia, and Vorenus's two daughters Vorena and Vorena.
Roseanne: An early episode revealed that DJ's real name was "David Jacob." Later, a completely different David eventually joined the show (and eventually became DJ's brother-in-law, no less).
Sanctuary: This Canadian sci-fi show likes to re-use names. There are two Edwards; two families with the similar last name Meyers and Myers; Joe and Josephine, who are both HAPs; another Joe, Joseph and Josie; a Lilian and a Lillian. Even the names of two of the main characters, Helen and Henry, are oddly alike.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Has both John Connor, humanity's future savior, and John Henry, a rudimentary AI controlling a Terminator endoskeleton. However, John Henry is always referred to by his full name, limiting any possible confusion.
One episode has a character called Murray. To prove a point he yells out his name and a crowd of old men poke their heads out the door.
J.D.'s brother is named Dan, and one of J.D.'s exes is named Danni, who dated another guy named Danny at one point. This confused J.D. when he thought Danni was calling out her own name in bed.
One of JD's interns in nicknamed Cabbage (his real name is Jason Cabbagio) and another has Cabbage as his last name. The real Cabbage is nicknamed Wolfman to avoid confusion and because he looks like a werewolf.
JD and Dr. Cox both have girlfriends named Julie, though not at the same time.
Seinfeld: Jerry attempts to find a conversation starter for when he meets Jerry Lewis. George says he doesn't need a conversation starter because they have the same name. He claims to have used having the same name to start a conversation with George Peppard. note Never mind that George Peppard had been dead for years by this episode.
Skins: Averted in several instances. In addition to Jim Stonem (Tony and Effy's father),the second generation had both James Cook and James Fitch, twins Katie and Emily's younger brother. Of course, one of the writers is Jamie Brittain, although there is no obvious Author Avatar. Also, in the first series, Cassie's fellow patient at the therapeutic treatment centre ("Water Bottle Girl") is sometimes credited as Katie. The sixth series had two Al's-Alo and Alex (they're even referred to as Al 1 and Al 2 occasionally in Skins Lock-in). Alex shares his name with a hanger-on "conceptual artist" who appears in Cook's series 4 episode. The show has featured Franky's two dads, Geoff and Jeff. There have been Elizabeth Jenkins (Sid's mum), Pandora's Aunt Elizabeth, and Elizabeth "Effy" Stonem. "Beth", the Manic Pixie Dream Girl in Tony's series 2 episode may be another if she is an actual person, although many fans see her as Tony's subconscious manifestation of Effy. All the men in Sid's extended family, with the exception of Sid and his father, Mark, have names which are variations of "Alexander". She may be a Shelley, but one of the chav girls who beat Sid up in his series 1 episode is called "Shell", as is Michelle. Thomas Tomoni shares a name with the tutor Tom. Averted by Skins: Fire, where a different character named Freddie goes by without comment.
Soap: The final season featured the revolutionary El Puerco, whose group of guerrilla fighters is almost completely wiped out, leaving only Juan, Juan, and Juan. After the requisite name confusion jokes, they started to become known as Juan One, Juan Two, and Juan Three, though this was hardly necessary as Juan Two and Juan Three disappeared without an explanation shortly afterwards.
Sometimes there's a good (familiar) reason two characters would share a first name (like being cousins who were both named after the same older relative, or something like that). Often they would have nicknames, though there were two characters with the nickname "Pussy" (I think one was never actually seen though, or only in the first season or something, before he got whacked, but it's been a while). However, sharing first names and using odd nicknames, when it comes to The Mafia, is definitely Truth in Television.
One was 'Big Pussy', the other was 'Little Pussy'.
This was lampshaded in the first episode, when there was a discussion about killing "Little Pussy" and somebody thought they were talking about "Big Pussy".
Well at the very least there was Anthony (Tony) and Anthony Junior (AJ), not to mention Jackie Aprile and Jackie Jr.
Mobsters love this convention. Within the same show we also have Bobby Junior, Vito Junior, Carmine Junior, Patrick Parisi Junior, 'Little Ricky' Aprile, and, of course, Corrado Soprano Junior. Paulie's protege "Little Paulie" also deserves mention.
Not to forget Tony Soprano and Tony Blundetto, with one episode even being called 'The Two Tonys'.
So You Think You Can Dance Australia: Semi-aversion in the current series, which has, in the top twenty competitors, Jess, Jessie, and Jessica.
Stargate SG-1: Had the nametags of many random extras reading "Davis". Major Davis was a recurring character who worked for the government, but the Engaging Chevrons guy had his nametag say Davis for ages before his name was revealed as Walter Harriman. Confusing.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Played with this in "Peak Performance". Though not an actual name, Picard always called his first officer "Number One". This lead to an amusing moment when he gave a command while Riker was temporarily commanding his own ship and Data was Picard's first officer but both were in earshot and both responded simultaneously.
The trope is inverted, where there was a prominent, long-time recurring character named Bobby Singer. In the episode "The French Mistake" the main characters are catapulted in an alternative version of reality where they need to pretend to be the actors (Jared & Jensen) who are playing them (the characters Sam & Dean). Upon discovering the fictionalized (and actual) TV show Supernatural is produced by Robert Singer:note Though in Real Life, Bobby got his name without Singer's knowledge.
Sam: So the character in the show, Bobby Singer...
There are also at least two people named Jimmy, Anna (and one Annie), and Mary. There is also an angel named Samandriel, which is close to Sam (who is named after his grandfather,Samuel).
Rachel is both Sam's prom date and the name of an angel.
Amelia is both Sam's love interest in season 8 and also Jimmy Novak's wife and Claire's mother. This isn't too confusing since they're relevant in completely different parts of the story, though.
Although they appeared far enough apart as to not be confusing, Sam and Dean have worked with two different female secondary characters named Charlie.
Survivor: note Excludes cases where there was no potential for name confusion, so cases like John Cody and John Broward "Brad" Culpepper in Survivor: Blood vs. Water are ignored.
Survivor: Africa had two Kims.
Survivor: Marquesas had a Rob and a Robert. The former went by "Boston Rob" and the latter was referred to as "The General".
Survivor: Pearl Islands had two Ryans, who went by "Ryno" and "Skinny Ryan".
Survivor: All-Stars had two Robs and two Jennas. The Rob from Marquesas once again went by "Boston Rob", and the Rob from The Amazon went by "Rob C.", "Cesternino", or his full name. One of the Jennas left early enough that it never became an issue for them.
Survivor: Vanuatu had two Johns, one of which went by "JP".
Survivor: Micronesia had a Jon and a Jonathan, though Jon went by the nickname "Jonny Fairplay".
Survivor: Samoa had two Russells, Russell Hantz and Russell Swan. Hantz lasted longer in the game and was known as "Evil Russell" by the fanbase because of his puppet-master style of play. Ater Swan was evacuated from the game, fewer people bothered to make the distinction between them. The finale made it even less of an issue; there was so much talk about how Hantz ended up losing that whenever someone said the name "Russell" it was generally assumed they were talking about Hantz.
Survivor: Nicaragua had two Kellys, one of which was nicknamed "Purple Kelly" by the cast. It also had two Jimmys; one was sometimes called "J.T.", and the other, NFL coach Jimmy Johnson, was called "Coach". Interestingly, the Jimmys' nicknames also result in a One Steve Limit with two prior seasons, as Survivor: Tocantins also had a pair of castaways nicknamed Coach and J.T., and those two returned for Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, the season immediately preceding Nicaragua.
Survivor: Blood vs. Water had two Lauras. For the first time, two castaways with the same name received votes at the same Tribal Council; everyone wrote down "Laura B." or "Laura M." to avoid ambiguity.
Survivor: San Juan del Sur had a John and a Jon. To add to the confusion, this was a pairs season, and both played with their girlfriends whose first name also started with a J (Julie for the former, Jaclyn for the latter).
So far, the show's pool of winners had two Natalies, Samoa winner Natalie White and San Juan Del Sur winner Natalie Anderson.
Host Jeff Probst himself has dealt with this three times (so far) with contestants Jeff Varner (Australia), Jeff Wilson (Palau) and Jeff Kent (Philippines).
This Is Wonderland: Has two unrelated characters with the last name "Davis". Anthony is a successful and handsome defense attorney. Rosemary is a hideous and monumentally stupid crackhead.
Time Slip: In order to preserve the surprise, and also maintain the One Steve Limit, Liz's counterpart in the various potential 1990 time zones has changed her name to Beth. Simon is less lucky, and is known in the future as 2975.
Total Divas plays with this - as Eva Marie is the only cast member to go by her stage name rather than real name on-screen. This is because her real name is Natalie, and there is another cast member called Natalya Neidhart, who is always nicknamed Nattie. There are three Johns in the cast - but one is a Jonathan and the other two have different spellings to help differentiate them (John Cena and Jon Fatu respectively). Averted with the name Josie, which is the name of Brie's pet dog and Eva Marie's mother.
Touching Evil: In the original UK version, the main character's name is David Creegan, and the first episode of the second series features a character named David Laney. In the US remake, Laney's first name was changed to Stephen.
A Touch of Frost: In addition to regular character Detective Sergeant George Toolan, the episode "True Confessions" features a solicitor also named George. In the episode "Not With Kindness", a suspect called George Compton appears.
The Tudors: As historical fiction about real family, they're stuck with some repeated names; for example, Henry VII's six wives had three names between them, and an amazing number of important men are named Thomas. To obey the One Steve Limit, the show tends to use nicknames for the women (the various Catherines are "Catherine", "Kitty", and "Kate") and surnames or titles for the Thomases (Wolsey, More, Cromwell, Cranmer, etc.).
Laura Palmer's boyfriend Bobby and his best friend Mike share names with the show's Big Bad BOB and his one-armed accomplice, MIKE. When Cooper first hears of the latter in a dream, he has to clarify the difference. There's also Sheriff Harry Truman and Harold Smith, as well as Andrew Packard and Officer Andy Brennan.
The Return features Dougie Jones who shares a name with the (now long dead) mayor of Twin Peaks Dougie Milford.
A peculiar example in a Two and a Half Men episode. Charlie is telling his psychiatrist, Dr. Freeman, about his new girlfriend Linda. Linda's name is emphasized—Charlie calling it beautiful and Dr. Freeman snarkily agreeing with him—but the fact that Dr. Freeman's name is also Linda is completely passed over.
Shortly after Bob Stookey's death, Rick's group encounters a minor villain who shares his first name.
In the comics, one of the Saviors is named Tara. Her TV counterpart was renamedArat to avoid confusion with Canon Foreigner Tara Chambler.
The War at Home: On the first day of the school year, Larry decides to reinvent himself to become more popular, and so starts going by the name of Gideon. At the end of the episode he goes back to being Larry, because it turns out there's an Israeli transfer student named Gideon. The real Gideon apparently thought Larry was mocking him, and kicked his ass for it.
Both Josh's therapist and the psychologist they send him from ATVA are called Stanley.
Additionally, the speechwriting interns assigned to Will Bailey are named Lauren, Lauren, Lauren, and Cassie. He eventually gives them Washington Redskins jerseys just so he can get them straight.
C.J.'s press room seems to be full of people named Chris, at least one of whom is a woman. Also, in "Debate Camp" during the flashback to when she's new on the job and is memorizing who sits where, the list includes "... Julie, Julie, Julia..."
Aaron Sorkin likes to reuse names, which can result in jarring examples of this; for example, there's a season two episode with a character named "Bruno" and a character named "Gianelli"— Bruno Gianelli is the campaign manager in season 3. And how many people do you know with the last name "Tascano"? Charlie knows at least two.
A senator named Stackhouse is mentioned in a season-one episode in a list of names of politicians who are liable to accuse the White House of being soft on drugs even though they themselves have used their influence to smooth over drug arrests for family members. In the fourth season, we're introduced to Stackhouse as an idealistic and conscientious statesman who would never do a thing like that (and whose pet project is needle exchange programs to protect heroin addicts from AIDS, not something a politician is likely to support if he cherishes a reputation for being hard on drugs). Presumably Sorkin had forgotten Stackhouse was no longer a blank slate.
Stackhouse also appears in the 2nd season episode "The Stackhouse Filibuster," as a Senator with an autistic grandson who filibusters an important piece of legislation re: children's health in order to secure funding for autism research.
Santos' assistant Ronna is first named in an amusing scene lampshading the similarity with Donna's name, and the confusion that can result from One Steve Limit violations when you introduce yourself with just "hi, Ronna". Of course, Donna had been on the show since the beginning, so no viewers were confused.
of course that did not stop it from confusing the two characters when they first met and continuously assumed that when one said their name they were attempting to correct the former in their own name.
Early on in the series, Kathryn Joosten was asked what her character's first name should be ( as she was always on a Last-Name Basis with the cast); she settled on Margaret. This was vetoed, as there already was a fairly significant character named Margaret (Leo's secretary), so she was given the name Dolores.
Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Usually (unintentionally) played straight...but averted by the fact that there are four Steves. (In order: Stephen Fry, Steve Steen, Steve Frost, and Stephen Colbert.) Also, there have been three Kathys, although none have appeared at the same time.
Simultaneously included no less than five recurring characters named Michael/Mike, who had no direct connection to one another and never met: Michael Lee the teenager, Mike Fletcher the Baltimore Sun reporter, Michael Santangelo the Western District cop, Michael Steintorf the mayor's chief of staff, and Jimmy McNulty's son Michael. If you want to count very minor characters, there was also a drug dealer named "White Mike" who showed up briefly in season 2, and Omar calls out to a "Mike" in season one when he's dealing drugs off his own corner.
"The Greek's" was the name of a restaurant/game arcade in season one, and "The Greek" was the Big Bad of seasons two and five. As far as we know, there is no connection between the two at all.
Averted with regularity on this show. Dennis "Cutty" Wise and Dennis Mello; Roland "Wee-Bey" Brice and Roland Pryzbylewski; William "Bunk" Moreland and William Rawls; Tommy Carcetti, Thomas "Herc" Hauk and Thomas "Horseface" Pakusa; Johnny Weeks and Johnny "Fifty" Spamanto; Ray Cole and Raymond Foerster.
The X Factor: Series 7 had Louis Walsh, judge in every series so far, and Louis Tomlinson, member of Boy BandOne Direction. Both names are pronounced the same way (lew-y), so it can get confusing for new fans of the band following their worldwide breakthrough who are unfamiliar with the show and watch their X Factor performances for the first time on YouTube when the boy band member Louis starts talking about how the judge Louis would dance like a grand-dad and then starts demonstrating. The fact that every X-Factor fan calls both Louis's by their first name just makes it worse.
The X-Files seems to avert this trope a couple of times:
There were two brothers in The X-Files with the same name, though not in the same episode.
Mulder's father was called 'Bill', as is Scully's older brother. Later Scully and Mulder's child is named William, after Mulder's father.
Even more extreme than that - Scully's brother Bill is named after their father: both of the main characters' fathers are named William. Thus bringing the grand total of Williams in the series just in Mulder and Scully's immediate families to four.
It should also be noted that Agent Diana Fowley has an unusually similar first name to Dana Scully, in TV terms.
Exploited in one episode ("F. Emasculata"). A pharmaceuticals company sends a contagion to a prisoner to study the effects of the contagion on a small group of people. It turns out they chose him because he had the exact same name as the explorer who discovered the contagion. If the scandal came up, they could just claim it was the fault of the post office.
Yo soy Betty, la fea: In this Colombian soap that spawned Ugly Betty, the heroine Beatriz (called "Betty" by her family) discovers early on that the relative who owns the company she now works at is named "María Beatriz". The latter wonders how they'll be able to tell each other apart, despite her being a fashion-conscious plastic surgery addict, and Betty being a woman with poor fashion sense who's convinced she's ugly.