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Adoptive Name Change

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Sometimes, a character gets their name changed to something else after being adopted. When the birth surname is changed to that of their adoptive family's, it can be a sign that they're a part of said family. When the given name is changed to something else, it could be because the initial name was an Embarrassing First Name or otherwise inappropriate; perhaps the new guardian simply didn't like the original name, or never even knew the original name of the mysterious Doorstop Baby.

Often Truth in Television. Can be a Meaningful Rename. Not to be confused with Adaptation Name Change, which is where a character's name is changed when being adapted into a new medium. Compare Significant Name Shift.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball, the Saiyan Kakarot is renamed as Son Goku upon being found by the elderly Son Gohan after the former crashed on Earth.
  • Dino, The Hero of Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai, was given the name "Dai" by his adoptive grandfather, Brass, after spotting him washed ashore while Dai himself was still an infant.
  • When Pegitan is mistakenly taken by a young girl in episode 25 of Healin' Good♡Pretty Cure, he gets renamed Josephine.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has Fate Testarossa-Harlaown (born Fate Testarossa), who took on a compound name out of respect for her biological mother. Their are multiple other adopted characters in the series, but all of them either keep their birth last name (like Erio and Caro), never have it given (like Rinne), or didn't have one to begin with (like the Nakajima sisters). It's possible that Miyuki Takamachi's birth name is Mikami like in Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever, but the series has always been rather ambiguous about whether Misato is still her mother or is just her aunt.
  • Major: Protagonist Goro zigzags this during the first two seasons. After his father Shigeharu dies, he's legally adopted by his fiancée Momoko, but continues to use his birth surname Honda. However, after Momoko marries Hideki Shigeno (who was Shigeharu's best friend and former teammate), Goro takes his surname, and remains going by it for the remainder of the series.
  • After his mistress abandoned him, Wolfgang of Secret of Cerulean Sand is adopted by Jane Buxton and then renamed to Womet, as she doesn't remember his former name and can't pronounce it.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has the brothers Seto and Mokuba gaining the surname "Kaiba" after being adopted by billionaire weapons mogul Gozaburo Kaiba. Their original surname is never revealed.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: While the first of Bruce's adoptive kids keep their surnames unchanged, after Tim Drake accepts Bruce's offer in Robin (1993) he adds Wayne to the end of his surname.
  • In Estranged, the changeling Edmund only learns at the end of the story that his fairy parents did give him a birth name, Cinder. Meanwhile, the "real" Edmund grew up in the fairy kingdom known only as "the Childe."
  • Superman
    • Kal-El, from the planet Krypton, was renamed as Clark Kent by his adoptive parents from Kansas.
    • Kara Zor-El was renamed as Linda Lee Danvers when she was adopted by Fred and Edna in The Unknown Supergirl. In other continuities like Supergirl (Rebirth) and Supergirl: Being Super, she is christened Kara Danvers by her adoptive parents.
    • Dick Wilson, an orphan kid who Kara used to date back in the Silver Age, changed his surname from Wilson to Malverne after being adopted.
    • In Superman: True Brit, baby Kal-El's rocket lands in England. His parents learn his birth name early on, but decide to give him the more appropriately British name "Colin Clark", because they don't want the neighbors to think they've adopted a foreigner.
  • A subversion occurred in the Pre-Crisis Donna Troy backstory. After Wonder Woman rescued an infant with no documentation from a fire and took her home where she was adopted as Wondy's sister, who would go on to become the first Wonder Girl, the Amazonian royal family thought they were renaming her by christening her Donna. The Teen Titans story Who Is Donna Troy? revealed that by some chance or by Diana's innate connection to the truth Donna was her birth name after all.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic 893, Harry is adopted by a yakuza leader and asks for a new Japanese name. He's renamed Yusuke.
  • After Penny went into hiding with Pietro in BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant, she changed her name to the nickname Pietro gave her and adopted the Polendina last name, no longer going by her Murakumo designation, Kappa-10.
  • In Harry Tano, four-year-old Harry is rescued from the Dursley house by Ahsoka Tano. She realizes shortly after meeting him that he's strong with the Force, and decides to both become his mother and take him in as her Padawan. As the title implies, Harry takes her last name, and for the rest of the fic goes by Harry Potter-Tano. A running gag in the fic is Harry correcting others when they don't include Ahsoka's name.
  • In If Wishes Were Ponies, Harry Potter (after ending up in Equestria when he was nine) was taken in by Twilight Sparkle, who the Princesses deemed his legal guardian. Halfway through the fic, she decides to legally (in Equestria and England) adopt him, making his full name either Prince Harry James Potter-Sparkle or Prince Harry James Sparkle-Potter (depending on which side of the portal he's on). He insists on simply calling himself Harry Sparkle (like Twilight, he tends to avoid using his royal title).
  • Le Commencement du Diable Blanc: Jean-Luc LeBeau decides to rename his new son Remy after rescuing him from his abusive Muggle Foster Parents. Harry happily goes along as he doesn't want to retain ties to his sordid past.
  • In legolas by laura, Legolas finds a baby in the woods and announces that the baby's name is going to be Laura, before bringing it back to the castle of "Milkwood". Possibly justified since Legolas didn't know what the baby's name was (or if it even had a name).
  • In New Stars, the clone CT-5599, or Maxx, ends up in a different universe and is taken in by the crew of the Orville. He's encouraged to take a last name, and eventually chooses one to reflect his new life. By the end of the story, he's Ensign Maxx Newman.
  • Inverted in Persona 5 Adult Confidant AU, where Futaba changes her family name from Isshiki to Sakura to match Sojiro's name after adopting him.
  • Property Of: Because they're taken in as pets by Cybertronians, all four of the human characters get renamed by their Autobot caretakers: Sam is "Signal", Mikaela is "Complement", Miles is "Quirk", and Annabelle is "Softspark".
  • Ranma ― fanfictions that use Ukyo's oath to take the Saotome name literally sometimes have her adopted into Ranma's family as a workaround and a way to trim her off from the Love Dodecahedron.
  • Spider-Ninja: After being adopted by Splinter and living with him and the Turtles for several years, Petra Parker begins introducing herself as Petra Parker-Hamato.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh Resurrection: After being adopted by Khonsu, Yugi gains the name "Ihmes" (a diminutive of Ihamesu, Egyptian for "Born of the Moon").

    Film — Animated 
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame is called Quasimodo by Judge Frollo, as he became a ward of the state when his mother was slain. Clopin claims the name means "half-formed," but a closer translation of the Latin would be "humanoid." Surely, his Romani mother would not have christened him that.
  • In Meet the Robinsons, Lewis gets his name changed to Cornelius after being adopted, his new dad saying he looks more like a Cornelius.
  • In Sleeping Beauty, the title character's name was originally Aurora, but when the fairies adopt her, they rename her Briar Rose. Of course, this is part of the effort to hide her from Maleficent. When she's returned to her parents, she is once again addressed by her birth name Aurora.
  • In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, wild-born lion cub Alakay was renamed Alex by the Central Park zookeepers.
  • Kung Fu Panda 3 reveals Po’s birth name was Lotus.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In Shoplifters, the family change 4-year-old Yuri's name to Rin after she's lived with them for a bit, symbolizing that she's now part of the family. It turns out that they also gave Shota his name when they took them in, naming him after Osamu's real first name to symbolize that he is Osamu's son by choice if not by birth.

  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: This is zig-zagged with Rozemyne, the protagonist's noble identity. She officially has both a biological father and an adoptive father within the nobility, and as far as anyone who doesn't know her origins as a commoner is concerned, she kept the same name during that adoption. However, from the perspective of what really happened, "Rozemyne" is a legal replacement of her commoner name that occurred when her custody shifted from ther real biological commoner family to her official biological noble father, in a effort to fake her commoner identity's death. She was also recently, legally if discreetly, adopted by her noble adoptive father at the time that shift occurred, the official story being set up to cover the whole situation up.
  • Exaggerated in Cat Walk: The cat first gets named Tootsy-Wootsy by a little girl; then he runs away and gets adopted by a mechanic who renames him Snowshoes; then he gets put up for adoption and renamed Maximus (or Max for short); then he gets given to the adoption centre owner's daughter and her family and renamed Mistletoes; and finally he runs back to the shelter and gets renamed back to Maximus.
  • Beware of Chicken: Tigu isn't legally adopted, but after she transforms from a cat into a teenage girl, Jin and Meiling essentially treat her as a daughter. She's overwhelmed with emotion when he lets her take on his surname. Ri Zu, despite being a rat, is similarly given Meiling's surname.
    "Yes, Rou Tigu?" I asked. She swallowed thickly, and scampered from her seat, settling down beside us. There was a dampness to her eyes, as she embraced us both. It had obviously meant a lot to her.
  • In the Daddy-Long-Legs sequel Dear Enemy, Sallie mentions a boy called Isador Gutschneider, who is eventually adopted by a Swedish woman and renamed Oscar Carlson.
  • Titular character of Friday is posthumously adopted by her employer and consequently went from Friday Jones to Marjorie Friday Baldwin.
  • GONE The Brattle-Chance's all had their names changed when they were adopted. Sanjit (name legally changed to Wisdom) is the only one who has a problem with it.
  • In Henry Huggins, Henry's dog Ribsy was initially named Dizzy but Henry mistook him for a stray and named him Ribsy. The dog's original owner tries to get him back, but by then, Ribsy has bonded with Henry.
  • In Kashtanka by Anton Chekhov, the dog Kashtanka is lost in the streets and eventually adopted by a circus animal trainer who renames her Tyotka. Justified, since he believes her to be a stray and has no way of knowing her previous name.
  • In Lady Odd Thought by Andrey Kuternitsky, the main character, a green cat, is first adopted by a boy who calls him Funtik (= Paper Cone), then by a sailor who calls him Brace, and finally by a poet who calls him Apollo (claiming that one needs a poetic name to live in a poet's house). When the cat begins living on his own, he calls himself Apollo de Brace.
  • Monster of the Year: It's noted early on that when Elsa Adams got remarried to Jeff McGraw, he legally adopted her son Michael, who had his last name changed to match his stepfather's because Jeff meant more to him than his birth father (who'd abandoned the family when Michael was six months old).
  • Defied in Olga Da Polga: When Olga is adopted, her owners consider renaming her to Greta or Gerda, but she dislikes those names, thinking they sound boring, so she writes her name on the floor of her cage.
  • In The Orphan Train Adventures book "Circle of Love", Claudine Hunter from the Children's Aid Society explains the difficulties in keeping track of the kids who were placed via the Orphan Train. One of the reasons that some times it's difficult to keep track of the children is because "a child's name will be changed".
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sandor Clegane's horse Stranger is adopted by the brothers of the Quiet Isle and renamed Driftwood. Since one of the gods in the Faith of the Seven is called Stranger, the Elder Brother views it as a blasphemous name for a horse.
  • In the Wayfairer series, the Grum are a species with several sets of vocal chords, meaning that it's impossible for any other species to speak their language, let alone say their names. So, when the Grum cook and doctor of the Wayfairer first took his job, he started going by the nickname of Dr. Chef.
  • When Marnie Was There has little girl Marianna being adopted around age five. Her adoptive parents don't exactly change her name, but shorten it to Anna, to the point that Anna doesn't even remember she had a longer name.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Carnivāle: When Father Norman Balthus finds and adopts two lost Russian orphans, he names them Justin and Iris Crowe. They are actually Alexi and Irina Belyakov, the presumed dead children of Lucius Belyakov, AKA Management.
  • Criminal Minds: The episode "I Love You, Tommy Brown" centers around a woman murdering her way through the foster families that have cared for her biological son after she lost custody due to having conceived him via the statutory rape of his teenage father. When she finally tracks the baby down, she learns his adoptive mother has named him Ben, whereas his original name had been Johnny.
  • Game of Thrones: It's revealed that Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and his birth name was Aegon Targaryen. Lyanna's brother Ned, knowing King Robert Baratheon would have Rhaegar's son killed, changed his name and passed him off as his bastard son (the surnames of noble bastards in the Seven Kingdoms are based on which kingdom they were raised in; "Snow" for the North).
  • General Hospital: Michael Corinthos (III) is biologically the son of Carly Spencer and A.J. Quartermaine, but was Happily Adopted by mob boss "Sonny" Corinthos (Michael Corinthos Jr.) after Sonny married Carly.
  • Jejak Suara Adzan: When Dimas asks Ririn whether his long-lost brother Mahardika has more names, Ririn tells Dimas to just look for Mahardika since Dika's adoptive parents might have given him more names. In the penultimate episode, Zahra points out that Dika's name might be not even Mahardika anymore. As it turns out, Dika's full name is now Putra Ramadhan. His parents changed it not long after the adoption because Dika was often sick, as practiced by some Indonesian culture.
  • Law & Order: SVU: In "Stolen" Capt. Cragen reopened one of Max Greevy's old cases, the murder of Jennifer Talmadge and the kidnapping of her infant son, Steven. It was discovered that Steven was adopted by a family that had no idea he was kidnapped, and his name was changed to Tyler Blake.

  • Zigzagged in Listen Out Loud, which is a podcast based on The Loud House: there is a dog named Rocket and Mayor Davis adopts him and considers renaming him Chaz, Gilbert, or Tubby Chubby Wubby Nubby. It's unknown whether she actually ended up renaming him.

  • In Simon Boccanegra, when Maria Boccanegra is adopted by the Grimaldis, she is renamed Amelia Grimaldi after their daughter who died as a child.

    Video Games 
  • Trucy Wright from the Ace Attorney franchise was born Trucy Enigmar.
  • Faris Scherwiz from Final Fantasy V was originally known as Sarisa Scherwil Tycoon (Lenna's long lost elder sister) before she was lost at sea and adopted by pirates.
  • Inazuma Eleven:
    • Kidou Yuuto and Otonashi Haruna are siblings who lost their parents at a young age. They were adopted by different families and changed their surnames accordingly. Their birth surname is never revealed.
    • Ono Fuyuka had her surname changed to Kudou after being adopted by Kudou Michiya (although she was made to believe he was her real father the whole time).
    • Kiyama Tatsuya keeps his surname, but his first name is changed to Hiroto after being adopted by Kira Seijirou due to his similarities with the latter's deceased son.
  • The titular character of the Professor Layton franchise's birth name was Theodore Bronev. When he was adopted he was given his brother's first name and his adoptive parents' surname.
  • Persona 5: Futaba Sakura, presumably born Futaba Isshiki, took on her adoptive father's name after he adopted her.
  • Monark: Shinya Yuda was adopted by Sora and Yugo Jingu, and had his name changed to match. However, at school he still goes by "Yuda" instead of "Jingu" because he feels he doesn't yet live up to that name.

  • Lampshaded in Homestuck, where in a conversation about Jane renaming Mr. Bear, Dirk remarks "When pets change owners they get new names."
  • Grape Jelly Sandwich in Housepets! was named Princess Periwinkle at the animal shelter. Earl Sandwich renamed her in keeping with the same gag that had him name his dog Peanut Butter.
  • Lindesfarne in Kevin & Kell took her adoptive father's name Kindle. When he married Kell, he (and therefore she) took Kell's last name, Dewclaw.
  • Unsounded: Maha and her sister Rila were adopted by the royal Sonorie family after their parents died. When the Queen took interest in them as potential heirs their names were changed to Maharaishala and Rilursa as tradition holds that royals and especially queens have to have a name longer than four letters.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: The transition from Powder to being called Jinx is tied to her adoption by Silco who encourages the name change to distance herself from her past self.
  • Downplayed for Binky's sister from Arthur: She keeps her first name Mei Lin, but her surname, which was previously unknown, gets changed to Barnes.
  • Gosalyn's surname is changed from Waddlemeyer to Mallard after her adoption by Darkwing Duck.
  • Word of God says that Lena from DuckTales (2017) changed her last name from De Spell to Sabrewing after her adoption, though neither name is ever used in the show proper and she's just treated as if she has Only One Name.
  • In the Pilot Movie of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends (House of Bloo's), a girl wants to adopt Bloo and name him Tiffany (since she believes Bloo is a girl).
  • Futurama: Before being adopted, Nibbler's original name was so long that most humans would die of old age before finishing it.
  • In Martha Speaks, the eponymous dog and her siblings were originally named by their mother as One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, and Eight. Kazuo, the owner of the dog pound, renamed them Skipper, Cam, Martha, Caruso, Felix, Star, Mack, and Sarge respectively and that's the names they have now.
  • Though technically he was adopted much earlier, in season two of The Owl House King officially takes on Eda's surname, Clawthorne, to signify that he's truly a member of her family.
  • In Puppy in My Pocket: Adventures in Pocketville, after Oristolfo gets in Kate's possession, he allows her to find another name for him. She renames him Magic, which the dog likes.
  • Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town: Before being adopted by the Kringle elves, Kris Kringle's birth name was simply "Claus". He goes back to using his birth name after being made an outlaw.

    Real Life 
  • The Roman Emperor Nero's original name was Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. When he was adopted by his stepfather, the emperor Claudius (Tiberius Claudius Drusus Germanicus), he took the name Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus Domitianus, from where his commonly used nickname comes. When he ascended to the emperorship, he also took the names Caesar and Augustus.
  • This was normal in Roman society, and not just among Emperors, although they are the best-known cases. Roman custom provided that an adopted son took his adoptive father's names, with the addition of his former family name in the genitive. Perhaps the most famous of all is Gaius Octavius, who was adopted by his great-uncle Gaius Julius Caesar Dictator and thereby became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, later awarded the cognomen by which he is best known, Augustus. In fact, the very reason that "Caesar" ultimately became a title is due to most Emperors being or claiming to have been adopted by their predecessors,note  a chain of (theoretically) adopted members of the Julii Caesares running back to Augustus.
  • US President Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.; his parents separated days after his birth, allegedly due to his father threatening the baby, his mother, and the nursemaid with a knife. His mother remarried a man named Gerald Rudolff Ford, and little Leslie was rechristened Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr.
    • Likewise, Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III, but his father died before he was born and his mother married a man named Roger Clinton Sr. when he (Bill) was young, and he started using his stepfather's name, legally changing his own name to "Clinton" when he was 15.


Video Example(s):


King Clawthorne

King announces that he's taking on the Clawthorne name, to honor the witch who raised him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / AdoptiveNameChange

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