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Somebody Named Nobody

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A character is given the name "Nobody" (or a tranlsation thereof) to make them seem more stranger and/or mysterious.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
BrokenEye on Oct 26th 2016 at 3:59:49 PM
Last Edited By:
crazysamaritan on Jan 26th 2018 at 10:46:09 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Needs a Better Description, Rolling Updates, Early Development Phase


The Nameless may come from many reasons, always with authorial intent. This trope is only in effect when the nom de guerre of a character reflects their lack of a name. This may or may not be something the character is aware of. The author is trying to make the character more mysterious by hiding parts of the character from the audience, creating the illusion that there is much more about the character that cannot be known. A name is used to grant characters an identity, but their lack of name makes it hard to identify the character.

For similar tropes, please refer to the supertrope; The Nameless. Closely related is Withholding Their Name (when the character refuses to share their name, sometimes offering "Nobody" as an option). Compare My Hero Zero. Not to be confused with No Name Given.


Examples

Anime And Manga

  • A derogatory version is used in DearS. Ren's name, in her own species language, means "nothing".
  • Nadie (Spanish for nobody) from El Cazador de la Bruja
  • Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: Mumei likes her name as it was given to her by her beloved adopted brother. (Ikoma doesn't have the heart to tell her it means "nameless") though by the end of the first season she remembers her original name.

Comic Books

  • Doom Patrol villain Mr. Nobody, an ex-Nazi two-dimensional shadow person thing with the ability to drain people's sanity (but only at the expense of his own sanity) and leader of the Brotherhood of Dada. He later renames himself Mr. Somebody.
  • In Hellblazer, the Beast was a denizen of Eden who refused to be named by Adam. It hated the idea of being defined, and thus limited, by man. As a result, the Beast became a powerful spirit who lacked a body to call its own who is dedicated to wiping out humanity.
  • Little Nemo: Nemo is Latin for "Nobody".
  • Tin's girlfriend in Metal Men wasn't given a proper name, and was often called "Nameless".
  • In the Planet Hulk storyline, one of Hulk's group of True Companions is a Brood queen, who don't have names. Since she (uniquely for her species) lives among non-Brood and even befriends some of them, a "name" of some sort becomes necessary. She becomes known as "No-Name of the Brood."

Fan Fics

  • Pony POV Series:
    • The being most characters know as "Makarov" or the "Shadow of Chernobull" is actually a nameless entity, and uses the names of his assimilated victims. Most characters who learn his true nature then start referring to him as "Nameless".
    • The criminal who murdered Cupid is now known as the Nameless Filly, after Venus asked Pandora to erase her name from existence.

Film

  • In Dead Man, the dying William Blake (no, not that one) is rescued and guided through the wilderness by a Native American man who digs the bullet out of his gut and sees to it that he dies well. The man's name, of course, is Nobody.
    Nobody: My name is Xebece, He Who Talks Loud, Saying Nothing.
    William Blake: 'He Who Talks'... I thought you said your name was Nobody.
    Nobody: ...I prefer to be called Nobody.
  • The titular fish in Finding Nemo, though this seems more likely a nod to the underwater adventures of Captain Nemo (see above) than to the Latin meaning of "Nobody".
  • The head of the agency featured in Furious 7 is known only as Mr. Nobody in the film. note  This only adds to the mystery surrounding him. The follow-up, Fate of the Furious, introduces a new member of the agency he refers to as Mr. Little Nobody. This adds to his mystery, but he doesn't like it. note 
  • The viewpoint character of Hero, played by Jet Li, goes by "Nameless". In this case, it is a sign of humility.
  • Nemo Nobody, titular character of the film Mr. Nobody is a twofer, because Nemo is Latin for "Nobody".
  • The Trope Namer is the 1973 film My Name Is Nobody, an Affectionate Parody of Spaghetti Westerns (particularly the "Man with No Name" Trilogy) focusing on a man whose name is "Nobody".

Literature

  • In And Then There Were None the 10 guests each received letters from a mysterious benefactor named U. N. Owen, or "unknown".
  • In The Avatar Chronicles, one mysterious character - only seen through his game avatars, and known to be somewhere on the isle of exiled criminals - introduces himself as "Anonemuss".
  • The Blacklist: All of the characters have anagrams for names, like "He is the bad guy" and "She is a traitor", but the main character is Ivan G. Nemone, an anagram for No Name Given.
  • In Deverry, Prince Galrion is stripped of his rank, wealth and even his name by his father. His father issues a decree that ever after Galrion is to only be called "Nevyn". That's not a name. It's a word that quite literally means "no-one".
  • In the Earthsea series, the Nameless Ones, formerly the main deities of the Kargad religion, are manifestations of Earth's more malevolent aspects. Some reside in the labyrinths on the island of Atuan.
  • In Farworld, the orphaned and unknown Markus is given the surname "Kanenas" (Greek for "None")
  • In The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, the main character is called "Nobody Owens" for punny reasons. He's also being raised in a graveyard so... Mystery!
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, there are two characters called "The Nameless King". Due to I Know Your True Name magics, this makes things rather confusing when spells meant to address the latter Nameless King accidentally affect the former Nameless King. Neither king was given a name by their mother at birth, so the magics consider any other name to be false.
  • French spy James Nobody from Les Merveilleux Exploits de James Nobody (The Marvelous Exploits of James Nobody).
  • Robert Kraft
    • Mr. Nobody, the eponymous reporter from the German adventure novel Nobody - 30 Jahre im Dienste einer Weltzeitung (Nobody - Thirty Years in the Service of a Newspaper).
    • Detective Nobody, featured in Detektiv Nobody's Erlebnisse und Reiseabenteuer (Detective Nobody's Experiences and Traveling Adventures).
  • The Faceless Men of A Song of Ice and Fire are so called because of their Voluntary Shapeshifting abilities and they gave up their original names when joining. There's no way to identify any of them individually, so the characters have only been identified by ''ad hoc'' titles from Arya's POV.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne, has Captain Nemo (Latin for "Nobody"), the Crazy Awesome charismatic superscientist-slash-submarine captain-slash-anglophobic undersea terrorist with a Mysterious Past.

Live-Action Television

  • An episode of CSI had a Serial Killer wearing a latex suit who targeted publicly upstanding people with dark secrets (an adulterous housewife, a Heroism Addict paramedic). He went by the pseudonym Ian Moone, an anagram of "I Am No One".
  • John Doe: The title character of a 2002 FOX series was built entirely around the premise of not having a name/identity.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Odo is a member of a shapeshifter race that sent him out into space at a young age. When he was found near Bajor, he was called an "unknown sample" in Bajoran. The Cardassian overseeing the project renamed it the closest approximation in Cardassian instead; "odo'ital", which translates literally as "nothing".

Music

  • America wrote the song "Horse with No Name" involving a journey through the desert on a horse who has no name, or a horse, without you having a name. Either way, the song is famous for it's juxtaposition of having no identity and being able to maintain your identity with no one around to influence you.
  • The band Ghost has the singer named Papa Emeritus, while the rest of the band wears identical masks and robes on stage and are referred to and credited as "Nameless Ghouls".
  • Used in "Nemo" by Nightwish (Nemo means "Nobody" in Latin):
    This is me for forever/One of the lost ones
    The one without a name/Without an honest heart as compass
    (...)Once and for all and all for once/Nemo my name forevermore
  • The Sylvia song "Nobody" is about a romantic rival who is always referred to by the singer's love interest as "nobody".
Well your nobody called today
She hung up when I asked her name
Well I wonder, does she think she's being clever? (Clever, ohhhh)
You say nobody's after you
The fact is what you say is true
But I can love you like nobody can, even better.

Mythology & Religion

  • Greek hero Odysseus briefly assumes the identity of "Outis" (Greek for "Nobody") as part of a ploy to outsmart the cyclops Polyphemus.

Puppet Shows

Other Media

  • Played with at length by the satirical political campaign "Nobody for President", which can alternately be read as promoting a candidate named "Nobody" or the idea that nobody should be president.
    "Nobody will keep his election promises.
    Nobody will listen to your concerns.
    Nobody will help the poor and unemployed.
    Nobody cares!
    Nobody tells the truth."

Video Games

  • Assassin's Creed: Altair Ibn-La Ahad, the protagonist of the original Assassin's Creed. has a name that translates into, "The Eagle, Son of No One."
  • Blazblue: Mai Natsume in the past fused herself with a grimoire named "No Name". It gives her a power of getting information and perceiving another person's thoughts with her taste, and later, the ability to do wide varieties of magic if certain "magical codes" are "written" into her.
  • In Dark Souls III, one of the hidden bosses is called the Nameless King. It's heavily implied that he is the firstborn son of Gwyn whose identity was stricken from history by Gwyn himself as a punishment for some grave sin.
  • Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten: Judge Nemo, because Nemo is Latin for "Nobody". He refuses to use his birth name because That Man Is Dead.
  • Forgotten Worlds: Both player characters are only known as the "Nameless Ones". This is kept in their cameo appearances, usually going by the moniker of "Unknown Soldier" followed by 1P/2P to identify between them. The Japanese sources have slight variations at times, like "Nameless Super Soldier". The Mega Drive Japanese manual also refers to the 2P soldier as "Mohawk Man".
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star you encounter a bird who calls himself Nemo (Nemo is Latin for "Nobody") and says that he has lost his real name.
  • In Hatred the protagonist says his name is "not important" during his opening monologue - in the credits his voice actor is credited with voicing the character "Not Important" making it his actual name.
  • Kingdom Hearts has the Nobodies. Most of which are Faceless Mooks whose name means they have no heart (in contrast to the Heartless, who are the darkness of the heart with no body). But when a person with a strong heart becomes a Heartless, they may leave behind a strong Nobody as well. These form Organization XIII, and face existential crisis of not knowing if they are a real person or not, because they have no feelings. Their personal names usually involve Xtreme Kool Letterz, but they still identify as Nobodies, and seek Kingdom Hearts to become Real.
  • The King of Fighters has a character literally named Nameless, presumed the last clone made by NESTS, and thus didn't have enough time to develop a legitimate name.
  • La-Mulana: "MU is the name of the nameless one, the one who climbs to the sky." This is a bit of wordplay: the Japanese word for "nameless" is mumei.
  • Ōkami has a minor character who lives next to Hana Valley whose text boxes say "Nameless Man".
  • In An Oriental Alphabet Primer, one of the characters is a monk who goes under the name "Muna", which (as the narration explains) means "no name". He apparently considers it hilarious.
  • In Phantom Dust, if you reject all the name choices you're given at the start of the game you will be called Nanashi (Japanese for "nameless") instead.
  • The Nameless One from Planescape: Torment is an immortal amnesiac, with no knowledge of his past apart from what he can piece together from the clues tattooed on his body and the journals his past selves left behind. He can eventually relearn his name, but the player can't.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon has Type: Null, an Artifical Hybrid Monster that got its "name" when the Pokedex tried and failed to get a read on it.
  • A character named Unknown in Tekken. She's revealed to be a dark incarnation of Jun Kazama, Jin's mother.
  • Under Night In-Birth: In the game itself, Linne's broadsword and dagger are not named, but fans call them Mumei (No Name) and Nanashi (Nameless), respectively.
  • Given its popularity with pieces involving wandering samurai, this trope shows up in Way of the Samurai, where 'Nameless' is the default name given to the player's ronin character. You can always choose to change it, but seeing as how the player is apparently some kind of amnesiac swordsman, it fits.
  • XBlaze: Lost Memories: the character Nobody calls herself that because she has forgotten her name, due to being trapped in a strange dimension called Phantom Field. She explains it to our heroine who similarly loses her memories. Late in the game, Nobody's true identity is revealed: she's Es from the previous game.

Web Comic

  • In Earthsong, the leader of Haven's Guard is unique for remembering her entire past except for her name. She goes by Nanashi, which is Japanese for "no name."
  • Follower: Geedy, in the beginning is only known as Subject 23-3, and even then only to the scientists who he doesn't understand. He is later given a name by Dia.
  • In Harkovast, the Nameless are an army of warriors who lack not just names but also cannot speak and always have their faces covered by helmets. They are so anonymous that they are the only creatures in Harkovast who cannot be identified with a real world animal.
  • xkcd gives us Gnome Ann, as in "Time and tide wait for Gnome Ann". (Homonym for "No Man".)

Web Original

  • One of the beings featured in Bogleech's Nightmare Beings posts is identified only as *TV Static Noise*. Within the narrative of the nightmare from which it originated, it believes that if it is given a name, it can escape into the waking world, and attempts without success to coerce the dreamer into naming it. Upon hearing the story, Bog immediately names it Dorothy.
  • Finding Hope is a Spaghetti Western tribute, so one of the characters goes by "Nobody" as a Shout-Out to several films which use No Name Given for the protagonist.

Western Animation

  • The antagonists of Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys are known as the " ".
  • In The Smurfs, there's a Smurf character named "Nobody" who got his name from his low self-esteem and has a whole episode dedicated to him (aptly named "Nobody Smurf"). This trait, however, proves crucial in defeating the episode's villain (because he's literally named "Nobody", said villain is unable to curse him based on his name as he did with the other Smurfs), at which point he ends up being renamed to "Somebody Smurf" after defeating the villain and gaining confidence in himself.
  • In Spider-Man (1967), Spidey had an invisible adversary named "Dr. Noah Boddy"

Real Life

  • When K2, the second highest mountain on earth, was first surveyed, the mapping team learned that it had never been given a local name due to its remoteness. Therefore the label applied to the peak on the survey sketch, K2, became the one most commonly associated with it. Many climbers feel that the mountain is so harsh and challenging that it defies any attempt at being humanized with a proper name.
    Italian climber Fosco Maraini: It is just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man — or of the cindered planet after the last.
  • The 13th Century Hungarian chronicler who wrote the book Gesta Hungarorum is only known as Anonymus (Nameless) or as Master P.
  • The author of the oldest Polish chronicle, Gesta principum Polonorum, is known only as Gallus Anonymus. It's unknown whether "Gallus" is a proper name or a reference to the author's nationality.

Feedback: 115 replies

Oct 26th 2016 at 10:02:36 PM

There was once an obscure Sesame Street character named Nobody, but I don't know if he was ever called that on the show.

Oct 26th 2016 at 10:05:04 PM

I think there was a Mr. Men character called nobody as well.

Oct 26th 2016 at 10:39:38 PM

  • Assassins Creed
    • Altair Ibn-La Ahad, the protagonist of the original Assassin's Creed. has a name that translates into, "The Eagle, Son of No One."
    • Nergui, a Mongolian Assassin, has a name that means "no name" in Mongolian, which historically was meant to dissuade evil spirits.

Oct 27th 2016 at 1:11:27 AM

I'm starting to question whether names meaning "no name" count. Doesn't mean quite the same thing as "nobody".

Oct 27th 2016 at 1:44:52 AM

The title My Name Is Nobody violates the No New Stock Phrases "sounds like someone talking" rule.

Oct 27th 2016 at 1:40:47 AM

  • Capitalized the title.
  • Added punctuation (periods at the ends of sentences).
  • Examples section

Several OP examples are Zero Context Examples and have been marked as such (ZCE). They need more information to show how they fit the trope, such as how they are strange or mysterious.

Oct 27th 2016 at 3:04:55 AM

Actually, there is no such thing as a ZCE here. This is a trope about the name. Saying that a work has a character named "Nobody" is itself enough to demonstrate that this trope is in play. A little context to explain why the character has that name may be useful, but I'm not sure that's needed.

Oct 27th 2016 at 3:09:32 AM

You could mine existing "missing name" tropes for examples.

Oct 27th 2016 at 3:28:31 AM

It isn't a stock phrase. It's taken from the title of a movie. Tropes get their titles from movies all the time. Also, despite Rob Mandeville's statement being absolutely correct, I actually did provide contet for most of the examples you marked as ZCE

In other words, Arivine, Read It Again.

Oct 27th 2016 at 5:10:41 AM

It might not be a stock phrase, but the site's administrators decided in their... wisdom... that no new tropes should have titles that sound like a line of dialogue.

Try A Character Named Nobody instead. Alternatively His Name Really Is Nobody, if snowclones aren't an issue.

...Actually, isn't that trope just His Name Really Is Barkeep?

Oct 27th 2016 at 12:11:08 PM

No, I don't think it is. There's not even a particularly strong overlap, even though you'd kinda expect there to be.

Oct 27th 2016 at 12:24:32 PM

I don't think work-named tropes are encouraged.

Oct 27th 2016 at 12:25:34 PM

I've fixed a minor typo, changing "nightmare-educing" to "nightmare-inducing".

Oct 27th 2016 at 1:53:51 PM

In the Deverry Chronicles, Nevyn's name means "no-one"; he took it when leaving his clan, in a Meaningful Rename.

Oct 27th 2016 at 2:39:24 PM

In Neil Gaiman's book the Graveyard Boy the main character is called "Nobody Owens" for punny reasons. He's also being raised in a graveyard so... Mystery!

Oct 27th 2016 at 5:40:50 PM

Literature:

  • In The Avatar Chronicles, one mysterious character - only seen through his game avatars, and known to be somewhere on the isle of exiled criminals - introduces himself as "Anonemuss".

Oct 28th 2016 at 4:46:27 AM

^ x 8: Broken Eye: Please read No New Stock Phrases again. The current name My Name Is Nobody is illegal because, as No New Stock Phrases says, when a trope's title "...uses a personal pronoun like "I", "me", "we", "us", "my", or "our" as if someone were referring to themselves." it makes it sound like a line of dialog (i.e. someone speaking).

The Description says that "This is when a character is given the name "Nobody" (or a tranlsation thereof) to make them seem stranger and/or more mysterious."

People Sit On Chairs says that tropes must convey some information to the audience. The only reason that this is a trope is because it's giving a character a name to tell the audience that they're strange and/or more mysterious. If that's the case then the example must say how they're stranger and/or more mysterious.

In other words, simply giving a character the name "Nobody" is not a trope (and not this trope, as written). All examples must explain how they're an example. If one doesn't it's a Zero Context Example.

If this proposal doesn't require that the character be (or is meant to be) strange and/or mysterious, it's People Sit On Chairs.

Oct 28th 2016 at 3:13:36 AM

A dude mentions some thing: No One.

Oct 28th 2016 at 8:51:15 AM

TV

  • An episode of CSI had a Serial Killer wearing a latex suit who targeted publicly upstanding people with dark secrets (an adulterous housewife, a Heroism Addict paramedic). He went by the pseudonym Ian Moone, an anagram of "I Am No One".

Oct 28th 2016 at 3:14:06 PM

In Hatoful Boyfriend :Holiday Star you encounter a bird who calls himself Nemo and says that he has lost his real name. Also corrected the spelling of 'translation'.

Oct 31st 2016 at 1:10:04 AM

Jesus, Arivine, are you thick or something? What part of the Needs A Better Description and Early Development Phase tags do you not get? I'm working on a better description. The laconic version is just a placeholder for now.

So again Read It Again

Oct 31st 2016 at 1:11:27 AM

Not sure if Ian Moone technically counts, but I'll include it for now

Oct 31st 2016 at 8:53:39 AM

^I didn't explain it well, but the whole point of the character was that he was a complete enigma, essentially a masked vigilante with a BDSM motif who popped up for one episode, attacked three people with a razor and killed two, then vanished completely without anyone in the crime lab learning anything of his identity other than that pseudonym. It's an archetypical example, it just doesn't use Exact Words.

Nov 6th 2016 at 1:56:33 PM

Film - Live Action:

  • In Dead Man, the dying William Blake (no, not that one) is rescued and guided through the wilderness by a Native American man who digs the bullet out of his gut and sees to it that he dies well. The man's name, of course, is Nobody.
Nobody: My name is Xebece, He Who Talks Loud, Saying Nothing.
William Blake: 'He Who Talks'... I thought you said your name was Nobody.
Nobody: ...I prefer to be called Nobody.

Video Games:

  • The Nameless One from Planescape Torment is an immortal amnesiac, with no knowledge of his past apart from what he can piece together from the clues tattooed on his body and the journals his past selves left behind.

Nov 6th 2016 at 1:38:43 AM

There's a story I heard when I was a Brownie. No idea where it would go though.

'This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.'

Nov 6th 2016 at 5:01:32 AM

Does the whole "King of Nowhere" sequence from Order Of The Stick count as this trope?

Nov 6th 2016 at 11:08:36 AM

^^^Does the Film example even say what it's from?

Nov 6th 2016 at 1:57:40 PM

^It did, but then I switched the sentence around and forgot to paste the movie back in again. Fixed now.

Nov 6th 2016 at 6:08:12 PM

  • A derogatory version is used in Dear S. Ren's name, in her own species language, means "nothing".

Nov 7th 2016 at 3:11:15 AM

Many of the examples are still Zero Context Examples.

This proposal should not have any hats. Hats are only supposed to be given when a proposal is ready to launch, and this one isn't.

Nov 7th 2016 at 7:38:54 AM

Dec 5th 2016 at 9:30:14 PM

Does the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto III count as one?

Dec 10th 2016 at 12:19:27 AM

^ and ^^: Please explain why you think they would count.

Dec 10th 2016 at 10:55:59 AM

I never played Hatred, but I guess if the character is credited as Not Important. Though if no one in-game calls him that (other than himself in that opening quote, "My name is not important..."), that should be explained in the description. It does look like the fans who troped the page call him that, at the very least, but that's corner-case.

Your player character in GTA 3 is a case of No Name Given in GTA 3, but his name is actually Claude, as confirmed in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. Either way, not quite an example of this.

Dec 10th 2016 at 12:48:05 PM

I don't think they count. They'd fit better under No Name Given, unless the former is actually credited like that.

Dec 10th 2016 at 1:15:40 PM

The protagonist of The LEGO Movie is a variation, right?

Dec 10th 2016 at 2:33:40 PM

No, his name is Emmet Brickowski. This trope is already getting misuse and it's not even out of TLP. "My Name is Nobody" was probably a better name, apart from being shared with a work.

Dec 10th 2016 at 3:29:50 PM

Relevant TRS thread

This would fall under what that TRS thread determined to be "A character uses a title that reflects their (lack of a) name."

Dec 10th 2016 at 6:09:56 PM

There you go, then. No Need For Names, right? Might need to edit that description and rework some of these examples before adding them.

Dec 10th 2016 at 7:17:28 PM

No; this draft is not an example of No Need For Names.

Dec 10th 2016 at 7:23:04 PM

Maybe expand to include names associated with nothing or obscurity (ie Shadow, Ghost, Whisper, etc)?

Dec 10th 2016 at 8:29:57 PM

^^ Maybe you're right. Maybe being this specific while still gathering this many examples is enough for a subtrope page, at least.

Dec 10th 2016 at 9:01:19 PM

^^That can probably be a separate supertrope. I guess Emmett would be an example of that trope, because it means "Ant".

Dec 11th 2016 at 6:43:21 AM

In Hatred the protagonist says his name is "not important" during his opening monologue - in the credits his voice actor is credited with voicing the character "Not Important" making it his actual name.

Dec 11th 2016 at 9:57:44 AM

Proposed definition for the draft, based on The Nameless TRS thread;

The Nameless may come from many reasons, always with authorial intent. This trope is only in effect when the non de guerre of a character reflects their lack of a name. This may or may not be something the character is aware of. The author is trying to make the character more mysterious by hiding parts of the character from the audience, creating the illusion that there is much more about the character that cannot be known.

For similar tropes, please refer to the supertrope; The Nameless. Closely related is Refusal Of Names (when the character refuses to share their name, sometimes offering "Nobody" as an option).

Dec 11th 2016 at 10:37:39 AM

Works for me, except Refusal of Names doesn't appear to link to anything at the moment.

Dec 11th 2016 at 2:21:18 PM

Odysseus once called himself Noman Attol (which sounds like no man at all)

Dec 11th 2016 at 6:20:39 PM

^That's a translation gag. It's usually translated as "Nobody", but it definitely fits either way. As in:

  • In The Odyssey, Odysseus gives this as his name to the cyclops Polyphemus, as part of long-term gambit. When Odysseus blinds the giant with a wooden spear, when Polyphemus cries out for help, when asked who has blinded him, he can only answer "Nobody!"note 

Dec 12th 2016 at 8:21:27 AM

     Anime and Manga  
  • In Sword Of The Stranger, the closest thing the ronin gives for a name is "Nameless Red Devil." Kotaro even starts calling him Nanashi, which translates directly to "Nameless".
  • Dragon Ball: After Piccolo and Kami fuse because they used to be the same character, they realize that they can no longer remember their old name, so they call themselves "the Namek who has long since forgotten his name". This doesn't last long, as he soon just goes by Piccolo for the sake of convenience.
  • In Yu Gi Oh, the Spirit of the Millennium Puzzle has Identity Amnesia. While his friends just call him "The Other Yugi" or "Dark Yugi" ("Yami" in the English dub), others call him "Spirit of the Nameless Pharaoh". In the final arc, his friends finally learn his name, and have to tell him what it is.

Dec 12th 2016 at 11:53:05 AM

^^What did you mean, then? A New trope?

Dec 12th 2016 at 4:43:07 PM

     Comic Books 
  • In the Planet Hulk storyline, one of Hulk's group of True Companions is a Brood queen, who don't have names. Since she (uniquely for her species) lives among non-Brood and even befriends some of them, a "name" of some sort becomes necessary. She becomes known as "No-Name of the Brood."
  • Tin's girlfriend in Metal Men wasn't given a proper name, and was often called "Nameless".
  • In Hellblazer, the Beast was a denizen of Eden who refused to be named by Adam. It hated the idea of being defined, and thus limited, by man. As a result, the Beast became a powerful spirit who lacked a body to call its own who is dedicated to wiping out humanity.

     Fan Fiction 
  • Pony POV Series:
    • The being most characters know as "Makarov" or the "Shadow of Chernobull" is actually a nameless entity, and uses the names of his assimilated victims. Most characters who learn his true nature then start referring to him as "Nameless".
    • The criminal who murdered Cupid is now known as the Nameless Filly, after Venus asked Pandora to erase her name from existence.

     Film 
  • In Hancock, the titular character was in an accident, causing him to lose his memory and name. When trying to leave the hospital, the nurse asked him for his "John Hancock", and he assumed it was his name.
  • The viewpoint character of Hero, played by Jet Li, goes by "Nameless". In this case, it is a sign of humility.

Dec 13th 2016 at 1:49:09 AM

Does the Nobodies of Kingdom Hearts count?

Does this, too?

  • X Blaze Lost Memories: the character Nobody calls herself that because she has forgotten her name, due to being trapped in a strange dimension called Phantom Field. She explains it to our heroine who similarly loses her memories. Late in the game, Nobody's true identity is revealed: she's Es from the previous game.

Dec 13th 2016 at 3:17:22 AM

Kabaneri Of The Iron Fortress: Mumei likes her name as it was given to her by her beloved adopted brother. (Ikoma doesn't have the heart to tell her it means "nameless") though by the end of the first season she remembers her original name.

Dec 13th 2016 at 5:27:48 AM

^^ Kingdom Hearts is not a straight example, since their name doesn't mean "not a person", it means "not a body". But then there's the Organization XIII, who are an example. X Blaze is an example of this and Lost Their Name (in draft form).

  • Kingdom Hearts has the Nobodies. Most of which are Faceless Mooks whose name means they have no heart (in contrast to the Heartless, who are the darkness of the heart with no body). But when a person with a strong heart becomes a Heartless, they may leave behind a strong Nobody as well. These form Organization XIII, and face existential crisis of not knowing if they are a real person or not, because they have no feelings. Their personal names usually involve Xtreme Kool Letterz, but they still identify as Nobodies, and seek Kingdom Hearts to become Real.

Dec 13th 2016 at 1:42:52 PM

I don't know if this counts

  • Under Night In Birth: Linne's weapons are named like this - her broadsword Mumei (No Name) and her dagger Nanashi (Nameless). They're names used only out of universe (to refer to the weapons) as, in the verse of the game, those weapons really have no names to refer to.

Dec 13th 2016 at 2:13:27 PM

^ Was that supposed to be the Video Game? You forgot the namespace and work name emphasis.

Dec 13th 2016 at 3:09:11 PM

     Literature 
  • In the Earthsea series, the Nameless Ones, formerly the main deities of the Kargad religion, are manifestations of Earth's more malevolent aspects. Some reside in the labyrinths on the island of Atuan.
  • In Deverry, Prince Galrion is stripped of his rank, wealth and even his name by his father. His father issues a decree that ever after Galrion is to only be called "Nevyn". That's not a name. It's a word that quite literally means "no-one".
  • The Faceless Men of A Song Of Ice And Fire are so called because of their Voluntary Shapeshifting abilities and they gave up their original names when joining. There's no way to identify any of them individually, so the characters have only been identified by ''ad hoc'' titles from Arya's POV.
  • In Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell, there are two characters called "The Nameless King". Due to I Know Your True Name magics, this makes things rather confusing when spells meant to address the latter Nameless King accidentally affect the former Nameless King. Neither king was given a name by their mother at birth, so the magics consider any other name to be a "slave name".

     Live-Action Television 
  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Odo is a member of a shapeshifter race that sent him out into space at a young age. When he was found near Bajor, he was called an "unknown sample" in Bajoran. The Cardassian overseeing the project renamed it the closest approximation in Cardassian instead; "odo'ital", which translates literally as "nothing".

     Music 
  • The song "Horse with No Name" by America involves a journey through the desert on a horse who has no name, or a horse, without you having a name. Either way, the song is famous for it's juxtaposition of having no identity and being able to maintain your identity with no one around to influence you.
  • The band Ghost has the singer named Papa Emeritus, while the rest of the band wears identical masks and robes on stage and are referred to and credited as "Nameless Ghouls".

     Video Games  
  • Given its popularity with pieces involving wandering samurai, this trope shows up in Way Of The Samurai, where 'Nameless' is the default name given to the player's ronin character. You can always choose to change it, but seeing as how the player is apparently some kind of amnesiac swordsman, it fits.
  • The King Of Fighters has a character literally named Nameless, presumed the last clone made by NESTS, and thus didn't have enough time to develop a legitimate name.
  • The Nameless One from Planescape Torment. He actually had a name, but due to his amnesia, he can't remember what it is. He can eventually relearn his name, but the player can't.
  • In Phantom Dust, if you reject all the name choices you're given at the start of the game you will be called Nanashi (Japanese for "nameless") instead.
  • Forgotten Worlds: Both player characters are only known as the "Nameless Ones". This is kept in their cameo appearances, usually going by the moniker of "Unknown Soldier" followed by 1P/2P to identify between them. The Japanese sources have slight variations at times, like "Nameless Super Soldier". The Mega Drive Japanese manual also refers to the 2P soldier as "Mohawk Man".
  • Okami has a minor character who lives next to Hana Valley whose text boxes say "Nameless Man".
  • La Mulana: "MU is the name of the nameless one, the one who climbs to the sky." This is a bit of wordplay: the Japanese word for "nameless" is mumei.
  • In Dark Souls III, one of the hidden bosses is called the Nameless King. It's heavily implied that he is the firstborn son of Gwyn whose identity was stricken from history by Gwyn himself as a punishment for some grave sin.

     Webcomics  
  • In Earthsong, the leader of Haven's Guard is unique for remembering her entire past except for her name. She goes by Nanashi, which is Japanese for "no name."
  • In Harkovast, the Nameless are obviously an example of this trope, being an army of warriors who lack not just names but also cannot speak and always have their faces covered by helmets. They are so anonymous that they are the only creatures in Harkovast who cannot be identified with a real world animal.
  • Follower: Geedy, in the beginning is only known as Subject 23-3, and even then only to the scientists who he doesn’t understand. He is later given a name by Dia.

     Web Original 
  • One of the beings featured in Bogleech's Nightmare Beings posts is identified only as *TV Static Noise*. Within the narrative of the nightmare from which it originated, it believes that if it is given a name, it can escape into the waking world, and attempts without success to coerce the dreamer into naming it. Upon hearing the story, Bog immediately names it Dorothy.

     Western Animation 

     Real Life  
  • When K2, the second highest mountain on earth, was first surveyed, the mapping team learned that it had never been given a local name due to its remoteness. Therefore the label applied to the peak on the survey sketch, K2, became the one most commonly associated with it. Many climbers feel that the mountain is so harsh and challenging that it defies any attempt at being humanized with a proper name.
    Italian climber Fosco Maraini: It is just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man – or of the cindered planet after the last.

Dec 14th 2016 at 4:24:55 AM

[up][up] Yeah, video games.

Jan 5th 2017 at 12:25:06 PM

[up][up] Then we can format it like so:

Jan 5th 2017 at 1:52:03 PM

Guy's, I really think I need help with this description

Jan 5th 2017 at 2:24:50 PM

Proposed definition for the draft, based on The Nameless TRS thread;

The Nameless may come from many reasons, always with authorial intent. This trope is only in effect when the non de guerre of a character reflects their lack of a name. This may or may not be something the character is aware of. The author is trying to make the character more mysterious by hiding parts of the character from the audience, creating the illusion that there is much more about the character that cannot be known.

For similar tropes, please refer to the supertrope; The Nameless. Closely related is Refusal Of Names (when the character refuses to share their name, sometimes offering "Nobody" as an option).

Jan 5th 2017 at 3:33:17 PM

That could work, at least as a starting place. Thanks.

Jan 18th 2017 at 11:31:20 AM

Found a great one:

  • The Blacklist: All of the characters have anagrams for names, like "He is the bad guy" and "She is a traitor", but the main character is Ivan G. Nemone, anagram for No Name Given.

Jan 18th 2017 at 1:39:48 PM

Another example from Earthsea: the Master Namer goes by the name "Kurremkarmeruk", which is further described as "a name that meant nothing in any tongue".

Jan 18th 2017 at 2:43:02 PM

  • The protagonist of A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez is precisely that; a witch who, because she was born undead, was never given a name.

Jan 19th 2017 at 10:39:58 AM

Compare My Name Is Question Marks.

@ Under Night In-Birth example: It's not the fans who nicknamed the weapons, but the in-game characters (the weapon forger and Linne herself). It's more like, Linne didn't have the time to give them "proper" names.

Another example (I'm not sure)

  • A character named Unknown in Tekken. She's revealed to be a dark incarnation of Jun Kazama, Jin's mother.
  • Blazblue: Mai Natsume in the past fused herself with a grimoire named "No Name". It gives her a power of getting information and perceiving another person's thoughts with her taste, and later, the ability to do wide varieties of magic if certain "magical codes" are "written" into her.

Jan 19th 2017 at 12:03:31 PM

Those two are definitively good examples. You're making the Under Night In-Birth example less clear. I'd categorize My Name Is Question Marks as a subtrope to this.

Jan 19th 2017 at 3:28:48 PM

Corrected "non de guerre" to "nom de guerre."

Also, if the name "Nobody" has to be chosen (a la the definition of nom de guerre), how can these characters not be aware of the fact that "nobody" is not their real names?

This part of the description also needs help, I think: "the illusion that there is much more about the character that cannot be known."

I think it just needs to be more upfront, because as it is, it sounds as though the audience typically never learns more about the character ("the illusion that there is more about the character" (to learn)) but that the audience does learn something eventually ("more about the character that cannot be known").

  • My suggestion: "The author is trying to make the character more mysterious by hiding aspects of the character from the audience. This implies that there is much more about the character to know, even if the audience doesn't learn anything more about the character."

Jan 20th 2017 at 4:00:50 PM

I guess I should rewrite it

  • Under Night In Birth: Linne's weapons are named like this - her broadsword Mumei (No Name) and her dagger Nanashi (Nameless). They're named like that because the weapon's forger and Linne herself didn't give it time to give them proper names.

Jan 20th 2017 at 7:35:25 PM

  • Fate Stay Night: The spirit summoned as Archer either cannot remember his real name without prodding, or no longer feels any attachment to it. While he is normally addressed simply as "Archer" within the story itself, in Alternate Universe spinoffs with multiple Archers he tends to go by "Mumei" (No Name).

Jan 20th 2017 at 8:39:56 PM

[up][up] The phrase "like this" tends to be natter/Word Cruft. Who uses those names?

Jan 21st 2017 at 4:54:11 AM

[up] the weapon's forger and Linne herself

Jan 21st 2017 at 9:01:28 AM

  • Under Night In Birth: Linne calls her broadsword and dagger Mumei (No Name) and Nanashi (Nameless), respectively. They're not considered "proper" names, but are consistently referred to as such.

Jan 21st 2017 at 10:46:13 AM

Real Life:

  • The 13th Century Hungarian chronicler who wrote the book Gesta Hungarorum is only known as Anonymus (Nameless) or as Master P.

Feb 27th 2017 at 6:42:15 PM

This seems to have plenty of examples. If we could get a better example, it's probably ready to launch, yeah?

Feb 28th 2017 at 7:11:14 AM

^ You mean a better description?

Feb 28th 2017 at 3:40:01 PM

I thought specific names weren't tropeworthy.

Mar 1st 2017 at 4:30:44 AM

^ "Nobody" is an unusual name.

Mar 1st 2017 at 9:22:54 AM

A name grants a person an identity, and "nobody" is a lack of identity. The dissonance between these two concepts is what's being troped in this draft.

Mar 9th 2017 at 9:56:49 AM

Broken Eye is still around; can this draft get some edits?

Mar 10th 2017 at 9:28:12 AM

Video games:

In An Oriental Alphabet Primer (a game created with the Unlimited Adventures editor) one of the characters is a monk who goes under the name "Muna", which (as the narration explains) means "no name". He apparently considers it hilarious.

Real life:

The author of the oldest Polish chronicle, Gesta principum Polonorum, is known only as Gallus Anonymus. It's unknown whether "Gallus" is a proper name or a reference to the author's nationality.

Mar 26th 2017 at 11:54:17 AM

Is it just me, or are a couple of the examples being plagued by a long string of foreign characters? They seem to have replaced apostrophes, and I'm not sure if this is just a display issue on my end or something.
Anyhow, onto my own contribution:
Western Animation

  • In The Smurfs, there's a Smurf character named "Nobody" who got his name from his low self-esteem and has a whole episode dedicated to him (aptly named "Nobody Smurf"). This trait, however, proves crucial in defeating the episode's villain (because he's literally named "Nobody", said villain is unable to curse him based on his name as he did with the other Smurfs), at which point he ends up being renamed to "Somebody Smurf" after defeating the villain and gaining confidence in himself.

Mar 26th 2017 at 1:19:52 PM

^ No, it's not just you. I've noticed the foreign characters too and it's really bizarre.

Mar 28th 2017 at 7:15:12 PM

^^ It's a known issue with the forum software. It doesn't handle special punctuation (long dashes, curly quotation marks) or accented characters well.

It can be a pain with accented characters, but with punctuation it can be easily fixed by switching in less fancy punctuation marks.

[does so]

Mar 28th 2017 at 8:05:23 PM

Western Animation: In the 1967 Spiderman cartoon, Spidey had an invisible adversary named "Dr. Noah Boddy"

And in Newspaper Comics, ISTR that at some point in the 1970s, Encyclopedia Brown had a dog named Nameless. There might have been a reader contest to assign him a name, though.

Mar 29th 2017 at 7:37:02 AM

Live Action TV

  • John Doe: The title character of a 2002 FOX series was built entirely around this premise.

Mar 29th 2017 at 7:38:04 PM

I'm still here. What sorts of edits do you have in mind?

Mar 30th 2017 at 9:03:27 AM

You've done them. :)

EDIT: found a new example

Apr 1st 2017 at 1:47:57 AM

Do we think the description is ready, or does it still need some work before launch?

Jun 5th 2017 at 8:54:41 AM

  • Referenced in "Nemo" by Nightwish:
    This is me for forever/One of the lost ones
    The one without a name/Without an honest heart as compass
    (...)Once and for all and all for once/Nemo my name forevermore

Jun 5th 2017 at 9:39:58 AM

Considering that Nemo is an often used name for this, maybe the trope title A Nobody Named Nemo

  • Captain Nemo was an intential gag on Verne's part. His intents to become his own nation made it a nation ruled by no man and much of his character was about getting revenge for being so unnoticed by society, that he would have been unknown. It was also implied that Nemo was not his given name.

Jun 5th 2017 at 11:54:42 AM

The Sylvia song "Nobody" is about a romantic rival who is always referred to by the singer's love interest as "nobody".

Well your nobody called today
She hung up when I asked her name
Well I wonder, does she think she's being clever? (Clever, ohhhh)
You say nobody's after you
The fact is what you say is true
But I can love you like nobody can, even better.

Jun 5th 2017 at 1:40:33 PM

^^ It's not always "nemo" tho

Jun 5th 2017 at 1:40:33 PM

^^ It's not always "nemo" tho

Jun 21st 2017 at 3:00:46 PM

Jokes

  • "Nobody is perfect!" Signed: Nobody

Aug 21st 2017 at 10:29:41 AM

Does He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named from Harry Potter count? His real name is known but it is supposedly cursed.

Aug 21st 2017 at 11:42:10 AM

Voldemort doesn't count under the current description as "This trope is only in effect when the non de guerre of a character reflects their lack of a name. This may or may not be something the character is aware of. " also "A name grants a person an identity, and "nobody" is a lack of identity. The dissonance between these two concepts is what's being troped in this draft." while for Mr. Riddle He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is just another sign of the fear other characters have of him, at least until the final book when he puts a trace on "Voldemort".

Aug 21st 2017 at 1:39:19 PM

"He who must not be named" is an example of The Scottish Trope.

Aug 21st 2017 at 7:18:33 PM

Film - Live Action

  • The head of the agency featured in Furious 7 is known only as Mr. Nobody in the film. note  This only adds to the mystery surrounding him. The follow-up, Fate of the Furious, introduces a new member of the agency he refers to as Mr. Little Nobody. This adds to his mystery, but he doesn't like it. note 

Aug 30th 2017 at 9:11:17 AM

Jan 25th 2018 at 1:39:09 PM

Added a couple new examples and created abc order for most of the mediums.

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