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Outgrowing The Childish Name

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A character stops using an immature sounding nickname, or shortened version of their name, as a sign of maturity

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Pichu-kun on Jan 7th 2017 at 4:39:03 PM
Last Edited By:
alnair20aug93 on Apr 12th 2018 at 5:01:27 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/c&h_robert.png

Often, diminutive versions of names are used for children; however, their usage may diminish as the child ages, sometimes at the child's own request. If this occurs to a character in-series, it's usually either a sign of Character Development or the character trying to seem more mature than he really is.

The character's childhood nickname may end up becoming an Embarrassing Nickname as an adult. Compare to Meaningful Rename, which includes cases in which the character's name actually changes when they become an adult.


Examples:

Comic Books

Films — Live Action

  • In the film Under The Same Moon (La misma luna), the protagonist's mother comments that he is growing up so quickly that she will soon have to start calling him "Carlos" instead of "Carlitos". He stays Carlitos for the duration of the movie, though.
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: The Human Torch is known as Johnny Storm for all of the first film. In the second, he has embraced the money that comes with sponsorship, and because "focus groups say Johnny skews young", decides to go by John Storm instead since he doesn't want "hero to children" to outweigh "ladies' man".
  • In Lady Bird, the titular character abandons her self-proclaimed nickname and starts going by her given name, Christine, when she goes to college, a time when she starts to realize the negative effects of her previous stubbornness.

Literature

  • In the To Kill a Mockingbird sequel, Go Set a Watchman (which was actually written first and thus has much Early Installment Weirdness to the point where it's considered an Alternate Universe book), Scout no longer goes by her tomboyish childhood nickname. She goes by "Jean Louise".
  • Subverted with Ravenpaw in Warrior Cats. He fled ThunderClan not soon after becoming an apprentice, when he was still the cat equivalent of a teenager. He never became a warrior and thus never received his 'adult name' (all apprentices are called "[x]paw"). Ravenpaw however continued to use that name even after becoming a loner.
  • Billy the Werewolf is a recurring character in The Dresden Files from the second book onward. He enters the story as a teenager who gains shapeshifting powers with his friends, the Alphas. As time goes on, Billy begins going by "Will", which the Alphas also call him. It's a significant turning point in his and Harry's relationship when Harry finally shifts from "Billy" to "Will" himself.
  • The belief in this is used as a sign of immaturity in Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, where the image-obsessed Sheila hates the fact that her father goes by "Buzz" and tries to convince him to go back to "Bertram", even though even she admits to preferring "Buzz".
  • In the Little Women series of books, nicknames were needed for the twins John Brooke, Jr. and Margaret Brooke (sharing their parents' names requires the nicknames). Eventually Demi (short for Demijohn, he's half a John) and Daisy (a common nickname for Margaret) were chosen to fulfill Theme Twin Naming requirements. Upon reaching adulthood Demi went back to John (his father being dead by this point prevents confusion), but Daisy remains Daisy.
  • In Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars by Greg Cox, Khan Noonien Singh is mainly referred to as "Noon" when he's younger, and working for Gary Seven. After the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, he resigns from working for Gary, telling him, "Stop calling me Noon. That was a child's name. My name is Khan."
  • In his semi-autobiographical book The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson talks about himself and his parents in the third person:
    They named him William, after his father. They would call him Billy until he was old enough to ask them not to.

Live-Action TV

  • Jimmy Olsen in Supergirl is presented several years older than he usually is and is far more mature than most depictions. He goes by "James" instead of "Jimmy".
  • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: In "Super Twins", a wish on a star turns Zack and Cody into superheroes, and Mr. Moseby into a supervillain; at one point, Moseby turns Bob into a suit-wearing adult who prefers to be called Robert.
  • Implied in an episode of Law & Order: SVU, when Stabler asks about his son by a nickname, and his wife tells him that he hasn't been called that for years (making it clear how little time he spends with him).
  • Inverted in Doctor Who. Amy Pond was named Amelia as a child, but grew to dislike it for being sounding too much like it was out of a fairy tale.
  • In the final season of Rizzoli & Isles, Frankie is having something of a crisis of identity. During a heart-to-heart with Korsak, Korsak suggests that maybe he should stop going by Frankie, which is what his family has called him since childhood. By the end of the series, he has started going by Frank.
  • One episode of Girls in Love has Ellie persuade her father to cease calling her "Elly Belly".
  • On Supernatural, Sam objects to being called Sammy, correcting anyone who calls him by that nickname. Eventually, he concedes the nickname to his older brother, but it becomes a Berserk Button for anyone else using it. However, he also dislikes anyone calling him Samuel, the long form of his name.
    Sam: You know, Sammy is a chubby 12-year-old, OK? It's Sam.

Puppet Shows

  • In episode 3453 of Sesame Street, Baby Bear decides to change his name to "Not-a-Baby Bear", because he isn't a baby anymore and doesn't want his friends to get the wrong impression. He soon finds out the disadvantages of changing his name, such as not getting a package of instant porridge from his Grandma, and how different his fairy tale, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", sounds. He soon learns from his friends that your name doesn't always have to mean what you are, and that Papa Bear went through a similar experience in his childhood, as his name was also "Baby Bear" once. These persuade Baby Bear to be proud of his original name.

Video Games

  • In Animal Crossing New Leaf, if you upgrade their shop to T&T Emporium, Timmy and Tommy will start going by their full names (Timothy and Thomas) on the town billboard.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, Welkin dislikes being addressed as "Welkies".
  • Tales of Berseria: The childish character Laphicet, going by "Phi" until that point, requests that the nickname be abandoned because he finds it too childish. (It's difficult to categorize this one because Laphicet is 1) an angel who was incarnated only 3 years ago, and 2) the Replacement Goldfish for the main character's younger brother, and sharing his name. And his resistance to the nickname "Phi".)

Web Comics

  • Kenta from No Need for Bushido at one point gets mocked for having "a baby name" but this turns out to have a tragic origin, since his entire clan was wiped out when he was a child so he was never able to receive a "proper" adult name. It symbolizes how he's never moved on from the tragedy and how it's stunted his emotional maturity.

Web Original

  • In Alice Isn't Dead, the episode "The Factory" has the narrator enter the titular factory and meet a young man named Jackie, except every time she loses sight of him and finds him again he grows several years older, and when she addresses him as "Jackie" after he becomes middle aged, he requests to be called "Jack" instead.

Western Animation

  • In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "The Bride To Beat", Bloo fears that Mac is outgrowing him and decides to act like an adult. This includes changing his name from "Bloo" (short for "Blooregard") to "Bob".
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In an episode where SpongeBob begins wearing longer pants, and thus seems more like a mature adult rather than a Manchild, his sophisticated peers begin referring to him as "SpongeRobert".
    • In another episode, Barnacle Boy does a Face–Heel Turn because Mermaid Man keeps treating him like a kid, despite both of them being elderly, and demands to be known as Barnacle Man.
  • There's a woodchuck character on Animaniacs who wants to be taken seriously as an actor and insists on being called Charleston instead of the Embarrassing Nickname Baynarts.
  • The Flintstones: Whenever Fred tries to act sophisticated, he tends to calls himself and Barney "Frederick" and "Bernard".
  • After starting college in Ben 10: Omniverse, Gwen starts going by "Gwendolyn".
  • Discussed at the end of the Teen Titans episode "The Beast Man". Beast Boy mentions that, after what he experienced in the episode, maybe he should change his superhero name to "Beast Man".
Mickey Mouse (2013): In "The Fancy Gentleman", Mickey is taught to act more refined and starts calling himself and Minnie "Michael" and "Minified" (one of the very few times their full names have been referenced in-series).
  • Enzo Matrix in ReBoot calls himself just Matrix after growing up in the games, as well as becoming cynical and hating the naive child he used to be.

Real Life

  • Real life child stars Billy Mumy, Ricky Nelson, and Ricky Schroder dropped the "y" from their names when they became grown up stars.

Feedback: 52 replies

Jan 7th 2017 at 8:40:26 PM

X Men: In the "Days of Future Past" storyline, the future Kitty Pryde goes by "Kate" and sees the nickname "Kitty" as a relic of her childhood.

Jan 8th 2017 at 5:48:14 AM

  • In another episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants, Barnacle Boy does a Face Heel Turn because Mermaid Man keeps treating him like a kid, despite both of them being elderly, and demands to be known as Barnacle Man.
  • There's a woodchuck character on ''Animaniacs who wants to be taken seriously as an actor and insists on being called Charleston instead of the Embarrasing Nickname Baynarts.

Jan 8th 2017 at 9:25:39 AM

One Redwall book sees an older hare knock a pompous younger officer down a peg or two by remembering and identifying him by his childhood nickname.

Jan 8th 2017 at 11:24:14 AM

  • The belief in this is used as a sign of immaturity in Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, where the image-obsessed Sheila hates the fact that her father goes by "Buzz" and tries to convince him to go back to "Bertram," even though even she admits to preferring "Buzz."

Jan 8th 2017 at 11:44:35 AM

  • Implied in an episode of Law And Order SVU, when Stabler asks about his son by a nickname, and his wife tells him that he hasn't been called that for years (making it clear how little time he spends with him).

Jan 8th 2017 at 1:53:16 PM

Regarding the Foster's example, "Bloo" is short for "Blooregard".

Also, here's an example I have:

Puppet Shows

  • In episode 3453 of Sesame Street, Baby Bear decides to change his name to "Not-a-Baby Bear", because he isn't a baby anymore and doesn't want his friends to get the wrong impression. He soon finds out the disadvantages of changing his name, such as not getting a package of instant porridge from his Grandma, and how different his fairy tale, "Goldilocks and The Three Bears" sounds. He soon learns from his friends that your name doesn't always have to mean what you are, and that Papa Bear went through a similar experience in his childhood, as his name was also "Baby Bear" once. These convince Baby Bear to be proud of his original name.

Jan 8th 2017 at 5:36:48 PM

  • Teen Titans : When Dick Grayson decided that he had outgrown his role as Batman's sidekick, he changed his costumed identity from Robin to Nightwing.

Jan 8th 2017 at 6:03:06 PM

^^ Forgot to put it when I made the YMMV.

^ Superheroes do that all the time so I'm not sure if it counts.

Mar 21st 2017 at 9:02:29 AM

I thought anime would have a lot of this, especially when talking with Childhood Friends...

Mar 21st 2017 at 4:40:44 PM

  • Billy the Werewolf is a recurring character in The Dresden Files from the second book onward. He enters the story as a teenager who gains shapeshifting powers with his friends, the Alphas. As time goes on, Billy begins going by "Will", which the Alphas also call him. It's a significant turning point in his and Harry's relationship when Harry finally shifts from "Billy" to "Will" himself.

Mar 21st 2017 at 4:58:31 PM

Is the L&O one not an example, then?

Mar 21st 2017 at 6:00:44 PM

  • In Alice Isnt Dead, the episode "The Factory" has the narrator enter the titular factory and meet a young man named Jackie, except every time she loses sight of him and finds him again he grows several years older, and when she addresses him as "Jackie" after he becomes middle aged he requests to be called "Jack" instead.

Mar 21st 2017 at 6:24:38 PM

  • The Suite Life Of Zack And Cody: In "Super Twins", a wish on a star turns Zack and Cody into superheroes, and Mr. Moseby into a supervillain; at one point, Moseby turns Bob into a suit-wearing adult who prefers to be called Robert.
  • The Flintstones: Whenever Fred tries to act sophisticated, he tends to calls himself and Barney "Frederick" and "Bernard".

Apr 21st 2017 at 10:11:51 PM

Legend Of Korra: When Aang (the Avatar) and Toph (chief of police of Republic City) are in their forties, she still calls him Twinkletoes in public, much to his annoyance.

Apr 22nd 2017 at 12:54:40 PM

Not sure how well this fits in, but I recall that the character Kenta from No Need For Bushido at one point gets mocked for having "a baby name" but this turns out to have a tragic origin, since his entire clan was wiped out when he was a child so he was never able to receive a "proper" adult name. It symbolizes how he's never moved on from the tragedy and how it's stunted his emotional maturity.

Apr 22nd 2017 at 1:17:20 PM

In the Little Women series of books nicknames were needed for the twins John Brooke, Jr. and Margaret Brooke (sharing their parent's names requires the nicknames). Eventually Demi (short for Demijohn, he's half a John) and Daisy (a common nickname for Margaret) were chosen to fulfill Theme Twin Naming requirements. Upon reaching adulthood Demi went back to John (his father being dead by this point prevents confusion), but Daisy remains Daisy.

Jun 1st 2017 at 6:06:45 AM

This is a Meaningful Rename, simply with a more specific reason.

Jun 1st 2017 at 11:04:44 AM

  • In the film Under The Same Moon/Sobre La Misma Luna, the protagonist's mother comments that he is growing up so quickly that she will soon have to start calling him "Carlos" instead of "Carlitos". He stays Carlitos for the duration of the movie, though.

Jun 1st 2017 at 2:34:14 PM

^^ Renaming involves changing actual names. This simply plays with nicknames.

Jun 1st 2017 at 6:00:03 PM

The Teen Titans example is frequently subverted by Dick's Titans teammates, who frequently call him things like "Bird Boy", "Boy Wonder", "Short pants" and "Elf boots", referring back to his days as Robin. It's good-natured ribbing amongst friends, though, so Dick tolerates it with good grace, since they don't do it anywhere but in private among themselves.

Jun 2nd 2017 at 3:48:23 AM

In the final season of Rizzoli And Isles, Frankie is having something of a crisis of identity. During a heart-to-heart with Korsak, Korsak suggests that maybe he should stop going by Frankie, which is what his family has called him since childhood. By the end of the series, he has started going by Frank.

Aug 23rd 2017 at 5:00:02 AM

Live Action TV

  • In Doctor Who, Amy Pond was named Amelia as a child, but grew to dislike it for being sounding too much like it was out of a fairy tale.

Aug 23rd 2017 at 8:54:30 AM

I'm a lumper, so I personally see this as covered by Meaningful Rename.

Aug 25th 2017 at 7:35:56 AM

In The Eugenics Wars by Greg Cox, Khan is mainly referred to as "Noon" when he's younger, and working for Gary Seven. After the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, he resigns from working for Gary, telling him "Stop calling me Noon. That was a child's name. My name is Khan." (NOTE: I haven't read the books in a few years, so I may be a bit unclear on the actual quote).

Aug 27th 2017 at 9:16:06 AM

^^ It seems worthy of being split though.

Aug 27th 2017 at 3:57:53 PM

Aug 27th 2017 at 4:33:07 PM

^^ Yes, that's it. Meaningful rename leans towards characters who actively change their name. These characters names never changed. They just abandoned nicknames.

Sep 17th 2017 at 1:57:34 AM

TV: one episode of Girls in Love has Ellie persuade her father to cease calling her "Elly Belly".

Oct 13th 2017 at 11:05:26 PM

  • ''Fantastic Four Rise Of The Silver Surfer' ': The Human Torch is known as Johnny Storm for all of the first film. In the second, he has embraced the money that comes with sponsorship, and because "focus groups say Johnny skews young", decides to go by John Storm instead since he doesn't want "hero to children" to outweigh "ladies' man"

Oct 20th 2017 at 1:34:00 PM

This draft was mislaunched. So I unlaunched it. Bump.

Oct 20th 2017 at 4:46:45 PM

Just spitballing if there is a difference between this and Meaningful Rename. If my name has always been Robert, but my family called me Bobby, is it a meaningful rename if I go by Robert as an adult? Robert is not a rename. It's the original name. The meaningful rename was Bobby, a sign of affection. And going by it can be as simple as that's the name on all of Robert's legal documentation. Say Robert now goes by his official, legal name and only allows his immediate family to call him Bobby. Everyone he's met since graduated high school knows him as Robert. Did he meaningfully rename himself in his refusal to introduce himself as Bobby?

Oct 24th 2017 at 8:48:38 PM

^ His name is legally and technically "Robert", so it's not rename. He simply allows his close friends to call him by a diminutive form.

Dec 20th 2017 at 9:27:38 PM

Real life child stars Billy Mumy, Ricky Nelson, and Ricky Schroder dropped the y from their names when they became grown up stars.

Dec 23rd 2017 at 12:50:15 PM

Literature

Feb 15th 2018 at 10:53:47 AM

  • Fantastic Four: It was a big deal in-story and metawise when married Sue Storm-Richards changed her hero moniker from the Invisible Girl to Invisible Woman. It was alluded to in The Film Of The Book when Johnny decided to take it on himself to name his teammates. Johnny called her the Invisible Girl on live television, to which an indignant Sue repeated "... girl?"

Mar 11th 2018 at 11:15:47 AM

  • Is there an inverted version of this where a character's name gets shortened as a sign of maturity?

  • Possible page image? [1]
From Cyanide And Happiness

Mar 11th 2018 at 2:14:43 PM

Film

  • In Lady Bird, the titular character abandons her self-proclaimed nickname and starts going by her given name, Christine, when she goes to college, a time when she starts to realize the negative effects of her previous stubbornness.

Mar 17th 2018 at 8:59:10 AM

Launching soo, but on the name....

A. "Outgrowing Their Childish Name" or B. "Outgrowing The Childish Name". "Outgrowing A Childish Name"?

Mar 17th 2018 at 9:45:47 AM

Mickey Mouse 2013: In "The Fancy Gentleman", Mickey is taught to act more refined and starts calling himself and Minnie "Michel" and "Minified".

Mar 17th 2018 at 12:15:35 PM

^^ Outgrowing The Childish Name sounds better in my opinion. Also, is the C&H image a good page image?

Mar 18th 2018 at 9:39:41 PM

  • Tales Of Berseria: the childish character Laphicet, going by "Phi" until that point, requests that the nickname be abandoned because he finds it too childish. (It's difficult to categorize this one because Laphicet is 1) an angel who was incarnated only 3 years ago, and 2) the Replacement Goldfish for the main character's younger brother, and sharing his name. And his resistance to the nickname "Phi".)

Apr 8th 2018 at 2:58:58 PM

Enzo Matrix in ReBoot calls himself just Matrix after growing up in the games, as well as becoming cynical and hating the naive child he used to be.

Apr 10th 2018 at 6:53:05 PM

^ Sure, but I can't add it myself.

Apr 10th 2018 at 8:12:39 PM

This YKTTW has been around for over a year and has plenty of hats. I think it's ready for launch.

Apr 10th 2018 at 10:19:49 PM

Not without a page image. And I think the OP has to launch this due to being rogue launched last time.

Apr 12th 2018 at 10:06:20 AM

^ So, can someone add the image?

Apr 12th 2018 at 5:01:27 PM

That image is brilliant

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