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A Dick in Name

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"'Don't be clever with me, dick.' She wasn't using my name or referring to the fact that I'm a private detective. She was just calling me a dick."
Alastair Robertson, "The Drunk Detective"

Subtrope of Meaningful Name and Punny Name.

So this one's pretty simple:

Q: What's the easiest way of letting the audience know that a character is a real dick?
A: Make it his name.

Doing so is a pretty easy way of sneaking in a joke that will go over parents' heads because a person can simply say, "Thanks, Dick!" and emphasize it in a specific manner that allows the adults in the audience to understand that this character is not addressing the person exclusively by name.

Please note that this trope doesn't apply to ALL characters of note named Richard or Dick. Basic rule of thumb is, if they manage to cram puns on their name into dialogue, the author most likely intended this trope to be used.

As "Dick" as a nickname is less common than it once was, this often overlaps with Outdated Name.



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  • In an M&M's commercial, a plain M&M complains, "'Plain' is the worst name ever!". The man he's talking to replies, "No, that would be Dick."

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City: One of the British villains is named "Clever Dick", he's not actually shown doing anything, but is shown leering nastily.note 
  • In Animal Man Vol. 1 #1, Buddy Baker attempts to rejuvenate his superhero career by appearing on a talk show hosted by one Dick Griffith. However, during his segment, Griffith humiliates him with a string of lewd and otherwise belittling "animal" jokes. The day after it airs, the Bakers' next-door neighbour Tricia says, "Whoever christened that guy knew how he was gonna turn out."
  • There's Richard "Dick" Grayson, aka Nightwing (formerly Robin). Things like this can't be an accident. The character was created in 1940 so it's understandable why he uses this now outdated nickname. They've tried several times over the decades to change his name to some other nickname of Richard but it's never stuck.
    • The irony is that he's actually a thoroughly likeable person, and one of the few heroes who can rival Superman in terms of general trust and respect. Hasn't stopped the jokes, of course.
    • In one issue of Titans, he insists the team can't reveal their secret identities to the newbies, even when they're just hanging out. Arsenal interrupts Tempest when the latter tries to make the obvious joke.
    • And then finally just straight-out said in Batgirl (Rebirth): In a flashback to her early days as Batgirl, Babs is angry with Robin for using the fact he knows her secret identity, but not vice versa, and tells him "You're a dick, you know?" Robin laughingly replies "You have no idea."
    • In Gotham City Garage, Dick tries -and fails- to use Kara Gordon as a bait to escape from a killer robot, which gives us the next exchange:
      Dick: We've got one option— split up!
      Kara: But it''ll keep following one of us!
      Dick: Exactly!
      Kara: What? Come back, you complete and total dick!
      Dick: What can I say, it's in the name!
    • Double-entendres aside, this name is such an important part of who he is that when he was Put on a Bus in 2018 via gunshot-induced brain damage, amnesia, and deciding to rename himself as "Ric" as a symbol that he absolutely refused to be Nightwing ever again, there was absolutely no one who was okay with it (yes, especially the "Ric" thing).
  • The original Nova was named Richard Rider. Despite the very obvious Unfortunate Name, the books almost never went with this. However, one notable exception occurs in New Warriors volume 3 in which "Dick Rider" was used very much for the sake of annoying him.
  • A rarely recurring character in Dilbert is Dick from the internet (he claims everyone knows him).

    Comic Strips 
  • One Garfield strip had Garfield watch a special called "Dick, the Cat Who Didn't Save Christmas."
    TV: Dick, stop clawing the waterbed! Oh no, the presents are all soaked!
    Garfield: All right, Dick! Now go swat the ornaments off the tree!

    Fan Works 
  • In Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, Richard Traitoro Hellsing murders Integra's father and tries to kill Integra as well because he wants the Hellsing Organization for himself. When Integra first meets Alucard, Alucard promptly calls Richard "that dick over there" before helping Integra take revenge on him.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race: Dick Ferguson, the tactless talk show host with a smug attitude, fits this pretty well. His boss tends to put extra emphasis on his name when making it clear that Ferguson's antics have gotten the station in hot water.

  • Richard Thornburg of the Die Hard film franchise, the news reporter who spends the entire first movie trying to get a scoop and endangering the hero and his estranged wife in the process (not to mention doing so by threatening their children's nanny with deportation in order to get a televised interview with them). In the second film Holly even makes a point of calling him "Dick" to his face.
    • The equally annoying FBI agents are a Stealth Pun variant, as their names are Johnson.
  • A variant, also played by William Atherton: Walter Peck from Ghostbusters (1984), the Obstructive Bureaucrat who eventually shuts down the ghost containment chamber, setting all the ghosts that were captured free to rampage throughout New York City. You might even say Peck is something of an inversion, thanks to Venkman's legendary burn:
    Stantz: "Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by Dickless here!"
    Peck: They caused an explosion!
    The Mayor: "Is this true?"
    Venkman: "Yes, it's true... This man has no dick."
  • Richard "Dick the Ripper" Ripley, from Out of Sight. On the national level, he defrauded innocent people to the tune of multi-millions. On a personal level, he seemed to promise Jack Foley a white-collar job with upward mobility, when in reality it turns out he'd be a low-level, low-paid security guard.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive Dick Jones from RoboCop (1987) gets an underling killed by accident in his opening scene and dismisses it as a "temporary setback," not to mention has people killed as he amasses more power and attempts to take over the company he works for. Clarence Boddicker puts special emphasis on his name when addressing him ("Look what he did to my face, Dick.") until Jones cuts him a very sweet deal for taking out RoboCop, at which point Boddicker is suddenly fine with just calling him "Richard".
  • Agent Dick Gordon from Sneakers, one of Those Two Guys who pressgang the protagonist into stealing the MacGuffin of the movie.
    Gordon: We try to break the other fella's codes. We're the good guys, Marty.
    Martin: I can't tell you what a relief that is, Dick.
  • Early on in xXx, Xander Cage steals the car of a senator named Dick Hotchkiss. He goes on to explain to a video camera (and the audience) that Hotchkiss is an anti-free speech activist similar to Jack Thompson. He's been targeting rap music and video games. Cage ends the escape by driving the senator's car off a bridge and base jumping from it on the way down.
    Xander: And the moral of the story is "Don't be a dick, Dick!"
  • Dick, of course, has Richard "Dick" Nixon. His private tapes, which Betsy and Arlene, and eventually the public, get to listen to, prove he's not really a nice guy at all.
  • In Batman & Robin, Bruce Wayne has a tendency to emphasize Dick Grayson's first name when he starts acting really rebellious toward his mentor.
  • In Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Ron meets one Mr. Banger at a party and is told that his first name is Richard. To which he promptly blurts out, "So your name is Dick Banger?" Poor guy...
  • Dickory from Trolls: World Tour is antagonistic by circumstance, and pushy and smug about it.

  • Yellow Dick, a man-at-arms of House Bolton in A Song of Ice and Fire is both a dick in the metaphorical sense (he willingly serves a noble house infamous for cruelty) and is associated with his genitals in-universe by other characters. Including his killer, who shoved his (presumably yellow) dick in his mouth after killing him. The same series also has minor characters named Nimble Dick Crabb and Dickon Manwoody. The sexual innuendo in their names couldn't be accidental.
  • Richard Cleaver in the Diogenes Club stories, known as "Clever Dick" when he was an unlikeable Child Prodigy Kid Detective in "Clubland Heroes"; in The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School, another child prodigy tells him outright, "You're not Clever, you're only a Dick." As a teenager, he ends up with the nickname "Spotted Dick" (for obvious reasons) and grows up to be an even more unlikeable Mad Scientist in "Cold Snap".
  • The Temps story "Pitbull Brittan" features a Smug Super named Richard Brittan; he's known to his friends as "Pitbull", but pretty much everyone else agrees he's a Dick.
  • A Running Gag in the Galaxy Game series by Phil Janes is people calling the main character "Dick", him correcting them that it's Richard, and them thinking "He looks like a Dick to me."
  • In The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, participants in Audience Participation Richard III refer to the title role as "Dick the Shit".
  • Five-year-old Callaghan from There's More Than One Way Home doesn't understand this trope, or why it applies to her mother's last boyfriend.
    Callaghan: His name was Dick and she kept saying it was the perfect name for him. What did she mean? I asked Magdalena if it meant something in Spanish but she said no. Does it mean something in French?

    Live-Action TV 
  • Are You Being Served?: In one episode we learn that Mr. Lucas's first name is Dick, which everyone else finds hilarious. However, in other episodes his first name is James.
  • Bottom, never the most subtle of shows, has the bartender aptly named Dick Head.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Mayor Richard Wilkins is the Season 3 villain. In the finale, Buffy gets him to chase her into the school library, which is filled with explosives with this line.
    Buffy: Hey! [holds up Faith's knife] You remember this? I took it from Faith. Stuck it in her gut. Just slid in her like she was butter. You wanna get it back from me... Dick?
  • Castle:
    • In the episode "Sucker Punch" the team investigates the death of an Irish mobster, whose brother Richard Coonan, a Smug Snake, turns out to be a major heroin importer amongst other significant crimes. His connection in the shipping industry, Johnny Vong, refers to him as Dick Coonan, and Castle pointedly uses the nickname as an insult at one point.
    • Oddly enough, the title character is also named Richard, and he borders on being The Gadfly to Detective Kate Beckett and other officers in the precinct, but is never referred to as "Dick." Though in combination with his last name and said quickly, his name certainly can sound like 'Rick Asshole'.
  • Cybill has Mary-Anne's ex-husband Richard Thorpe, more commonly known as Doctor Dick (emphasis in original) who has cheated on both his wives, among other things.
  • Father Dick Byrne from Father Ted exists to screw with Ted Sitcom Arch-Nemesis-style, like goading him into giving up smoking for Lent by pretending to have done the same. Ted is far from perfect himself and actually cheats more often when their rivalry flares up, but personality-wise, Father Dick still makes him look downright nice.
  • Richard Woolsey from the Stargate-verse starts out as a classic Obstructive Bureaucrat Jerkass, and although he does mellow over the course of the series, he is still quite the jerk.
  • Supernatural has its Season 7 Arc Villain using the name and body of Dick Roman. The season has been referred to as one long dick joke for this very reason.
  • Veronica Mars has Richard "Dick" Casablancas and his father Richard "Big Dick" Casablancas, Sr. The former is a lush, misogynistic surfer dude who has spiked drinks and vandalized lower-class territories for fun, while the latter is the head of a massive pyramid scheme also designed to steal from the poor and give to himself.
  • Dick Solomon from 3rd Rock from the Sun. Episode titles lampoon it mercilessly.
  • An episode of Corner Gas revealed that Hank's real first name is Richard. He started going by his middle name, Henry (which "Hank" is short for), as a kid when the other kids made fun of his first name. Lacey assumes they called him "Dick", but this was apparently not the case as Hank is completely unaware that "Dick" is short for "Richard" and is confused why they would call him that.
  • Midsomer Murders had a Casanova character named Roger, with Jones calling him "Roger by name and Roger by nature", 'roger' being British slang for screwing.


    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Invoked by Andy Dick when he was in high school running for student council president against a sports hero: "Don't vote for a jock, vote for A. Dick."
  • Lampshaded by Eddie Brill, when talking about some of the odd nicknames we've come up with (e.g. "Bob" for Robert, "Bill" for William), noting there are several fine nicknames for people named "Richard" that don't also work so effectively as Stealth Insults:
    "Why would you do that to yourself? Your name's not Dickard!"
  • George Carlin discussed how people live differently from their name, feeling sorry for guys who were named Dick and Peter.
    (mimicking a young girl) "Mom, I brought Dick and Peter home!" (mimicking mom) "What?! What?!"

    Video Games 
  • Xenoblade Chronicles has a character named Dickson instead of the more common spelling of "Dixon", who is indeed a gruff, war-hardened jerk. However, it’s subverted in that he is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who really cares about Shulk and the people of Bionis, until it’s Double Subverted as he really is an evil bastard who lives to up to his name- if anything, calling him a dick is an understatement.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. The case with Dick Gumshoe is this, only here it emphasises exclusively the fact he is a detective since both his first and last names are slang for "detective". And that he actually is a nice guy, only pretends to act like a dick sometimes. Still leads to quite a clumsy introduction:
    Gumshoe: [To Phoenix] Anyway, get the name right. And don't go calling me "Dick"...
    Police: Hey, Dick! Get over here!
    Gumshoe: Y-yes, sir!
    • The English dub of the anime has a lot of fun with Maggey Byrde (who blames Gumshoe for her facing trial for murder) saying his name very pointedly.
    • Justice for All has a straighter example with Richard Wellington, a pretentious know-it-all who regards himself as superior to everyone else despite being a self-proclaimed drifter. He's never actually called "Dick", possibly due to the One Steve Limit, but everything else about his personality combined with the series' penchant for Punny Names means this was probably the desired effect.
  • It Lives Beneath introduces Richard Sutcliffe as an unpleasant man who harasses Danni. The protagonist can respond with "You're so right, Dick" to subtly insult Richard and humor Danni. If the protagonist survives in the finale, they get the option to tell him "Surprise, Dick" shortly before he dies.
    Protagonist: Wow... You're so right, Dick.
    Richard: Well, I'm glad you agree. But, uh, it's Richard, actually.
    Protagonist: Huh. Really? Have you considered going by Dick? Because you really seem like a Dick to me.
  • Shadow Warrior (2013): Lo Wang, while the protagonist, is a proud jackass who often makes dick jokes. He's especially fond of telling people that his fighting style is the "Path of Wang," which is "long, hard, and powerful." In Shadow Warrior 2, he starts to tell this joke to Smith. Except halfway through, he realizes that he's telling a dick joke to a nice old man who has been nothing but helpful, and awkwardly peters out.


    Web Original 
  • Arin and Danny of Game Grumps discuss this trope during their Super Mario Sunshine series while talking about the real-life incident where Andy Dick got beaten up by Jon Lovitz due to the former mocking the tragic death of Phil Hartman. They mention how they find it funny that a man named Dick "was being a dick."
  • Lampshaded in a short story in Modern Drunkard, "The Drunk Detective". See the page quote.
  • Pointed out by the Nostalgia Critic in his review of Batman & Robin.
    Batman: She wants to kill you, Dick!
    Nostalgia Critic: You watch your language!
  • Amazingly averted by Red vs. Blue, where Dick Simmons still retains a Last-Name Basis no matter how much he annoys and argues with the others. At most, there are moments in some of the PS As ("We are not Simmons. We are The Unidentified. We are hacktivists fighting for a better world and there are lots of us." "Oh yeah? I only see one of you. Dick.")

    Western Animation 
  • The Nutshack gives us Tito Dick as a downplayed example. He cares for his nephews Phil and Jack, but approaches to act like a jerk towards the former whenever he finds a way.
  • The Awesomes: Whiskey Dick is named that because his first name is Richard, his power is to make people drunk, and he's a Jerkass.
  • Wacky Races: Dick Dastardly, one of the codifiers for Dastardly Whiplash. If his first name didn't tip you off, his last name should. As befitting of the trope for which he is named, he frequently stops to cheat in the various races, even though he doesn't have to. To further the point, his middle name was revealed as Milhous.
  • In the The Powerpuff Girls episode ''Knock it Off'', The Professor is shown to have an old acquaintance named Dick Hardly, who comes to visit and manipulates the girls into giving him the formula that created them to mass-produce more girls, supposedly to help people but actually for profit. When they finally confront him about lying to them, Bubbles in particular emphasises his first name.
  • The other CIA agents in American Dad! are constantly picking on Butt-Monkey Dick. When he asks why, Bullock says "I don't know, Dick. Perhaps because your name is Dick?"
  • A good deal of the Dilbert episode "The Holiday" has Dilbert dealing with an obnoxious co-worker named Dick from Procurement.
  • Downplayed in Young Justice. Batman prefers for his proteges to keep their identities secret even from fellow superheroes. When Gar learns them, his comment—"Your name is Tim? And yours is...Dick?"—can probably be taken as a nod to this trope.
    • Wally, who knows the first Robin's name is Dick from day one because they're best friends, also manages to infuse a certain level of annoyance into the nickname "Rob" when Robin does something, well, dickish. It's not hard to imagine he's referring more to his civilian nickname there...
    • Season three, which is premiering on the DC Universe streaming service and therefore isn't subject to Cartoon Network standards and practices, no longer downplays it. When Dick accidentally calls a friend of his by the wrong name because he isn't used to it yet, his friend responds in kind, "Well, Richard... I mean, Dick."
  • Used subtly in The LEGO Batman Movie, of all things: when Dick Grayson first introduces himself to Bruce Wayne, he says that his name is Richard, but most of the kids at the orphanage call him Dick. Bruce's response is that children can sometimes be cruel.
  • Used even more subtly in an episode of Beavis And Butthead. Butt-Head claims to have a cousin named Richard Head.
  • In the Central Park episode "A Fish Called Snakehead", Bitsy hires a big-game fish hunter named Dick Flake. There's a few jokes about his name, such as him being a "dick" with perfect aim and a news subtitle calling him a "master baiter".
    Birdie: Do I like saying Dick Flake? Dick Flake I do.


Video Example(s):


A Dick With Perfect Aim

Bitsy hires a big-game fish hunter named Dick Flake. There's a few jokes about his name, such as him being a Dick with perfect aim and the news subtitle calls him a "master baiter".

How well does it match the trope?

4.18 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ADickInName

Media sources:

Main / ADickInName