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Alan Smithee

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Hollywood code for "You have been warned. Proceed with caution." (Though kudos to Alan for giving his son a break in his writing career.)note 
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"David Lynch refuses to have his name attached to certain cuts of the film, because many of the final decisions were taken completely out of his hands and he was so thoroughly bummed with how they turned out that he didn't want to be associated with them. Judging by his filmography, if Lynch had gotten his way, Dune would've been utterly indecipherable as opposed to merely confusing."

Alan Smithee (his first name was sometimes also spelled Allen) was one of Hollywood's longest-working and most diverse filmmakers.note  From the start of his career in 1969 to his retirement in 2000, he directed dozens of films in practically every genre you can think of, as well as episodic television and even music videos. Though his work was of highly-variable quality, with some films suffering outright backlash, he continued, undaunted, with a truly-admirable rate of productivity.

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It helps that he didn't actually exist.

See, in the movie industry of the past, if a director's movie became the victim of Executive Meddling and bad acting to the point where they were no longer proud of it, he could request to have his name taken off it, and it would then be credited to "Alan Smithee".

There were, of course, rules about the use of the name - for instance, the studio would have to admit that they had wrested the film from the director's control. Directors using the alias were also required to keep their reason for disavowing the film a secret.

Before 2000, Smithee was the only alias Directors Guild members were permitted to use. This was changed because of the comedy film An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, which revolves around a director who wants his name removed from his film, but is stymied by actually being named Alan Smithee. Bad press surrounding the film combined with director Arthur Hiller wanting his name removed due to studio interference created an odd metatextual tangle where, under DGA rules, An Alan Smithee Film had to be credited to Alan Smithee, causing the name to be retired. Since then, aliases are selected on a case-by-case basis. However, the popularity of the name is such that Smithee's IMDB page has several post-2000 entries (none of which are presumably under DGA jurisdiction).

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Closely related to Uncredited Role.

Coincidentally, "Alan Smithee" is also an anagram of "The Alias Men". Compare this to the use of the name "Nicolas Bourbaki" in mathematics.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • This is a common practice for union voice actors to use a pseudonym when doing non-union voice work, not just dealing with hentai or fanservice series. This is the main reason why Steve Blum used the "David Lucas" pseudonym. Another practice common in video games is not even listing the English dub credits at all.
  • Dan Green is well known for doing voices in children's anime, so whenever he lends his voice talent to a hentai he uses the pseudonym (Tom Wilson). This is standard practice for voice actors when doing NSFW work, made by a writers' union declaration. In this case it's a pseudonym of a pseudonym, as his real name is actually James Snyder.
    • This was inverted in Queen's Blade's English dub: He, Leina, Nanael and Setra's English voice actors are the only ones who uses their real names in that dub, everyone else uses pseudonyms instead.
  • Muppeteer Tyler Bunch uses the pseudonym H.D. Quinn whenever he lends voice talent to an anime dub or cartoon.
  • As explained in this rather comprehensive breakdown of Eiken, its creator Seiji Matsuyama, and Matsuyama's impact on Japanese legislation (yes, really), there are currently (as of 2018) only two recorded instances of the actual Alan Smithee pseudonym being used in the credits of an anime production. The first was the Eiken OVA, where the director of the second episode was credited as "Aransumi" (アランスミ), a diminutive of the pseudonym (アラン・スミシー, Aran Sumishii). The second, which garnered much more attention from online anime and manga communities, was the 2018 Baki the Grappler ONA for Netflix, this time credited to the director of the third episode.
  • Rough Draft Studios uses the name "Orange" when doing work for anime series due to issues with the Korean unit's stock holders.
  • Episode 6 of My Sister, My Writer, a series rife with animation errors, had a credit for Shōjiki Komata; this isn't a real person's name, and it actually translates as either "Honestly, I'm Screwed" or "We're in serious trouble".
  • In Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Ai Hayasaka doesn't want her classmates knowing she's Kaguya's maid, so she uses the pseudonym Haysaca A. Smithee if she has to meet one of them in uniform. It's not quite as dumb as it looks — the Haysaca part looks closer in English than it really is, and why would Japanese schoolkids know about Alan Smithee? — but it's still hard to believe she fools the genius Shirogane this way.
  • Episode 3 of Kanamemo features a Shout-Out to the name when Kana and Mika go subscriber hunting. One of the potential customers they visit has the name "Aran Smythee".

    Audio Plays 
  • Referenced in the Big Finish Doctor Who mini-episode "My Own Private Mozart": the unluckily-immortal Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has lived for so long and become so infamous for uninspired rubbish that modern audiences assume that it can't all have been made by the same person, instead opting to believe that his name is just an alias used by composers who don't want to admit to making something really bad.

    Comic Books 
  • The incredibly '90s X-Men one-shot Team X 2000 gave a writer credit to "A Smithee". Which is understandable, under the circumstances.
  • Referenced in the Batman miniseries Harley and Ivy; when Harley hijacks the film being made about the pair, the director's name is listed as Alice Smithee.
  • Karl Bollers, a former writer for Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), would sometimes write under the name "Benny Lee", usually with stories that were lighter in tone that his usual fare. Two stories were also credited to an artist (or artists) known only as "Many Hands"; these stories are usually considered to have the worst art in the series, with the first having four pages of complete darkness except for Sonic's eyes and Sonic's six-page fight with Naugus being completely covered by snow.
  • Executive Meddling led Steve Englehart to insist on being credited by the pseudonym "John Harkness" in protest on several comic books, most notably for the seven final issues of his run on Fantastic Four.
  • The final issue of the Threeboot Legion of Super-Heroes, which rapidly tied up all the plot threads before Final Crisis gave us the original Legion again, was apparently written by "Justin Thyme". Mr Thyme has also been an artist for Marvel (penciller on the Excalibur Weird War III graphic novel and colorist on Black Panther Vol 3 #44) and done some work for CrossGen.
  • The writer of the short-lived X-Men spin-off The Brotherhood was listed as "Writer X". Most fans believe the writer was either Howard Mackie or Devin Grayson. 17 years later, Mackie confirmed in an interview that he was Writer X.
  • The final run of Strontium Dog Spin-Off Strontium Dogs was credited to an "Alan Smithee" after writer Peter Hogan was fired.
  • 21st-century reissues of Alan Moore's work on Miracleman credit him as "The Original Writer" because he asked for his name to be removed. Not because he no longer likes the work, but because he now believes that original Marvelman writer Mick Anglo was cheated out of his rights.
  • The "Vid Kid" strip in the British comic Buster was credited to "Sue Denim". Initially, this was because the artist, Jack Edward Oliver, drew it very hurriedly in between working on his other Buster strips and disliked the simplistic art style that resulted, but he kept with it out of habit even after he was able to improve the artwork in the following years.
  • Mark Waid asked for his name to be removed from an issue of Captain America saying that after the editors had finished with it, it was no longer the comic he had written. His name was not replaced with a fictional writer credit, and they didn't even bother taking it off the cover.
  • D. G. Chichester still had five issues left in his Daredevil contract when he found out he was going to be fired. He wrote those issues, #338-342, under the byline Alan Smithee in protest. (A few years later, he returned under his own name to write #380, the last issue before the Marvel Knights relaunch.)
  • In the '90s version of DC Comics' Who's Who, Elasti-Girl's entry has Alan Smithee credited as one of the artists (probably the inker).
  • J. Michael Straczynski really didn’t want to put his name on One More Day knowing how reviled it would be. He was inevitably more or less forced to by Marvel under threat of legal action.
  • Letterer Bill Spicer had his name replaced on the credits of Scooby-Doo #9 (Marvel run) with Mordecai Richler, mainly because he was a fan of his books.

    Fan Works 
  • Archive of Our Own has an orphaning system for authors who wish to no longer associate themselves with works they wrote but don't want to delete them. Authors will lose control over a work once they orphan them and all orphaned works are moved to an orphan_account.

    Film — The Trope Namer 
  • Smithee "debuted" with the 1969 film Death of a Gunfighter. After a year of work and arguing — and about 25 days of shooting — star Richard Widmark arranged to have director Robert Totten replaced by Don Siegel. Siegel shot the final two weeks or so, but because he didn't shoot half the movie (and didn't personally like what had been shot), he didn't want his name used as director of the movie. Totten, not happy with how things went, also refused to take credit. And the DGA agreed that the film didn't really represent either director's vision.
    The first suggestion for the name of the fictitious director was Al Smith, but since the DGA already had a director with that name, Allen Smithee was suggested instead.
    Unlike most "Smithee" films, while the production of Death of a Gunfighter was troubled, the finished on-screen work was actually reasonably good. When it was released, The New York Times and Roger Ebert both praised Smithee's directorial work, though Ebert forthrightly admitted that Allen Smithee was "a name I'm not familiar with". Eventually, "Alan" replaced "Allen" as the standard form of Smithee's name.
  • As noted in the trope description, the Alan Smithee name was officially retired after 1998's An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn. The movie itself was a parody of "Alan Smithee" as a pseudonym, where the titular movie director who wants his name out of the fictional movie Trio actually is named Alan Smithee. Veteran director Arthur Hiller (of Love Story and more) was unhappy with the film's script and asked to have his name taken off the credits — and sure enough, he got credited as Alan Smithee, which caused the Directors' Guild to discontinue the practice.
    Hiller spent over a decade without directing anything due to the movie's awful critical reception and box office gross. It was also strike three for screenwriter Joe Eszterhas after Showgirls and Jade in 1995, and was one of many busts that convinced The Walt Disney Company to shut down the Hollywood Pictures label (which released Burn Hollywood Burn). Its greatest legacy is as part of Roger Ebert's Most Hated film list and the winner of five Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture of 1998.
  • While Burn Hollywood Burn discontinued the use of the name, the real last director to use it was Kiefer Sutherland, for 1999's Woman Wanted.


  • Alan Moore hates all movie adaptations of his work, and has requested to be called "Alan Smithee" for anything based on his work — except for Zack Snyder's Watchmen, where Moore was simply uncredited.
    • MAD lampshaded this in its Watchmen parody, by having a caricature of Moore introduce himself in the opening splash as Alan "Smithee" Moore.
  • Rick Rosenthal didn't want his name on The Birds II: Land's End, which made Alan Smithee the only director with the guts to try to fill the shoes of Alfred Hitchcock.
  • David Lynch took his name off the extended cut of Dune (1984), which was not only directed by Alan Smithee but also written by Judas Booth.
  • The 1989 sci-fi film Gunhed, directed by Masato Harada, was instead credited to Alan Smithee for its English dub.
  • Hellraiser: Bloodline was disowned by director Kevin Yagher after Executive Meddling cut chunks from the film.
  • Leap!: Rise of the Beast was co-produced by Alan Smithee over eleven years after his retirement.
  • Student Bodies director Mickey Rose kept his name on the credits, but the movie was produced by Alan Smithee ("replacing" Michael Ritchie.)
  • The 1986 action movie Let's Get Harry was credited to Smithee after director Stuart Rosenberg protested the studio's post-production decision to build up the role played by Mark Harmon, then at the height of his sex symbol phase, from a Hostage MacGuffin who only briefly appeared to one of the main supporting characters, shooting a bunch of extra scenes with Harmon.

    Film — Other Examples 

Individual creators

  • David Anspaugh apparently doesn't like his films to be edited for TV. The TV version of Rudy is credited to Smithee, while "Jack Nemo" gets the director credit for the edited version of Hoosiers.
  • Inverted by Takeshi Kimura of Destroy All Monsters fame: after a Creator Breakdown, Kimura wrote all his scripts (Godzilla or otherwise) under his real name Kaoru Mabuchi. They were noticeably less-well-written than his pre-Mabuchi screenplays.

Specific movies

  • Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies, in addition to spending some time on The Shelf of Movie Languishment, was reedited by 20th Century Fox before finally being released in 1973 (and bombing) - director John Erman, screenwriter Claudia Salter and producers Robert Fryer and James Cresson all took their names off it. The director became Bill Sampson, the writer became Chips Rosen, and the producers became Boris Wilson, which led to a reviewer sarcastically cracking that the person credited with the story kept his real name on it. Said story provider, Steven Spielberg, pretty much disowned the thing.
  • Averted by David Fincher on Alien³. He was brought in late on an already Troubled Production, faced Executive Meddling from the start, and wound up seeing the film edited without his participation, but, since it was his first film, he informally disowned it instead.
  • Attempted by Tony Kaye for American History X, which was allegedly re-edited by Edward Norton so he had more screen time. Kaye, outraged, wanted to be credited as "Humpty Dumpty" instead of "Alan Smithee", which was flatly rejected. This lead to a war of words culminating in a $200-million-plus lawsuit between Kaye and New Line, and probably costing Edward Norton an Oscar.
  • Soviet example: Among Grey Stones was recut by Soviet censors so hard that outraged director Kira Muratova demanded to remove her name from the credits. The film instead credits "Ivan Sidorov" as the director.
  • One of Peppy's film posters in The Artist gives a director's credit to Alan Smithee.
  • Brenda Starr was partially rewritten by Delia Ephron, who chose to be credited as Jenny Wolkind. Tellingly, it's not mentioned on her website.
  • Ti West, who went on to create a number of Cult Classic modern horror films like The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, wrote and directed Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. He was so ashamed of the final result, particularly the amount of reshoots and editing done by the producers, that he requested to use the name, but since he was not a member of the Directors Guild of America, his request was denied. To this day, West still treats it as an Old Shame, viewing it more as a product of Lionsgate and the producers than himself.
  • City Heat was originally going to be directed by Blake Edwards, who wrote the original script—but he was fired (Richard Benjamin took over) and the script rewritten by Joseph C. Stinson; Edwards still has story and co-screenplay credit under the pseudonym "Sam O. Brown" (think about the initials).
  • Epic Movie has an interesting variant with an entire film distributor. Although the film was released by 20th Century Fox, neither their name or logo appears on the marketing (aside from a very early poster) or even the movie itself, giving sole credit to producer Regency Enterprises. Some have speculated this may have been because of the film's incredibly toxic reception from critics, although (as is typical with Seltzer and Friedberg's movies) it made a lot of money. This wasn't done with their other films released by Fox.
  • John Alan Schwartz used two pseudonyms for his work on the Faces of Death series, crediting himself as "Conan le Cilaire" for his directing work, and "Alan Black" for his writing credits. This was in partly due to him working as a network television writer at the same time, but also to avoid being targeted by Moral Guardians.
  • An interesting case with Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. As the WGA was currently on strike, a scab writer was brought in after original writer Daryl Haney got the boot. Credited as Manuel Fidello to avoid getting a swift expulsion from the Guild. Their actual identity remains a mystery to this day.
  • Spoofed in The First Nudie Musical, where the Film Within a Film is directed by an incompetent nitwit named John Smithee.
  • The "Z.X. Jones" credited with the script for the Raquel Welch Western Hannie Caulder covers the film's director Burt Kennedy and David Haft.
  • 1987's The Hidden was written by Jim Kouf (Stakeout, Grimm) under the name of Bob Hunt.
  • Russell Mulcahy was threatened with a lawsuit if he attempted to petition the DGA to remove his credit from the Highlander II: The Quickening.
  • During production of Jetsons: The Movie , Janet Waldo's dialogue for Judy Jetson was dubbed over by pop star Tiffany due to executive meddling so as to attract more people. Andrea Romano, one of the voice directors, was so against the decision that she asked to have her name removed from the end credits. note  (Waldo understandably wasn't too happy about it either, claiming that Tiffany sang through her nose.)
  • The Bette Midler vehicle Jinxed! was a Troubled Production, with, among other problems, Midler and co-star Ken Wahl hating each other's guts and intense mutual hatred between The Divine Miss M and director Don Siegel (who, as mentioned earlier, was one of the creators of Allen/Alan Smithee on Death of a Gunfighter). Siegel suffered a heart attack during production and Sam Peckinpah, not the first name that comes to mind when thinking of comedy directors—then again, neither is Siegel—finished the film uncredited. Siegel recovered but this was his final film credit. All of this led to primary screenwriter Frank Gilroy billing himself as "Bert Blessing".
  • Fred Olen Ray used his real name for Invisible Mom 2 but was credited as Peter Stewart when directing Mom's Outta Sight.
  • David O. Russell used the name "Stephen Greene" for his failed film, Nailed, which was kept on ice for eight years (in an incomplete state!) before a 2015 release under a new title, Accidental Love.
  • 2022's The Catherine Tate Show spin-off The Nan Movie carries no director's credit whatsoever, only being billed as "A Catherine Tate film" at the start of the credits. It's believed, though unconfirmed, that Josie Rourke directed the lion's share of the film, but left the production when filming was halted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, and that Tate took over directing duties herself afterwards.
  • The 2011 comedy/horror film Orcs! has a directing credit for "James McPherson". That was really a pseudonym used by actual director Andrew Black due to being unhappy with the final results.
  • The Steven Seagal action movie The Patriot has its script credited to "M. Sussman" and "John Kingswell", neither of whom has any other screen credits. The former is most likely frequent Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise writer Mike Sussman, and the latter, based on early publicity material, is likely none other than David Ayer.
  • Sidney Lumet used the pseudonym for the TV edit of the 1990 film Q & A.
  • Alec Baldwin used the name Harry Kirkpatrick when a recut version of his only directorial effort, a remake of The Devil and Daniel Webster, was distributed under the name Shortcut to Happiness in 2007 (six years after the film was made, due to legal issues over the production).
  • Paul Verhoeven used the pseudonym Jan Jansen (apparently a Dutch version of "Alan Smithee"; literally "John Johnson") for the TV edit of his 1995 bomb Showgirls.
  • The 2001 French dub credits of Disney's Snow White provide a variation of this trope, where the adaptor's and lyricist's names are listed as an "all rights reserved" notice.
  • Richard C. Sarafian used the pseudonym for his 1990 sci-fi flop Solar Crisis due to how ashamed he was of the final product of the film.
  • Walter Hill used the name "Thomas Lee" on the 2000 flop Supernova after MGM constantly interfered with the production and editing process (even bringing in Francis Ford Coppola to reshoot some scenes).
  • Leigh Chapman took her name off the Blaxploitation film Truck Turner - when her original script was rewritten as something far what she'd intended. She would have received "story by" credit - she chose to be billed as Jerry Wilkes... which was her ex-husband's name.
  • As a result of the infamous and tragic Hellish Copter incident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie, second assistant director Andy House had his name removed from the credits and replaced with the pseudonym Alan Smithee.
  • Wonder Park has an interesting variation. Originally, former Pixar animator Dylan Brown was set to direct the movie, but he was booted off the project in 2018 due to sexual allegations, and he was replaced by David Feiss. Since Paramount didn't want to credit someone with a sketchy background, nor did they want someone credited for only doing a a small portion, it's one of the rare films out there to have no credited director, period.

    Literature 
  • In the Discworld novel Maskerade, the Opera House has a similar custom surrounding "Walter Plinge" (the real Walter is the janitor). "Walter Plinge" is in fact another common pseudonym in London theaters, used interchangeably with "George Spelvin" (see below). The gag is that the Discworld theater has an actual Walter Plinge on staff.
  • Robert A. Heinlein was prolific enough selling short stories in his early career that he had several psudeonyms, in addition to publishing material under his own name. If he sold two stories to a magazine that were to be published in the same issue, the second story would be credited to "Anson Macdonald". He also used "Simon York", "Caleb Saunders" and "John Riverside" on one-shot sales. But for stories Heinlein felt were really subpar? The total dogs that Heinlein didn't want to acknowledge were sent out as by "Lyle Monroe". (Heinlein always felt the Monroe material was bottom-of-the-barrel, and refused to have three of Monroe's seven published stores reprinted in ANY form during his lifetime.)
  • In the Stephen King novel The Regulators, the script excerpt from the fictious cartoon MotoKops 2200 is credited to Alan Smithee.
  • Harlan Ellison uses the alias "Cordwainer Bird" under the same sorts of circumstances when a film director might use "Alan Smithee", and has also loaned the name out to writer acquaintances who need an alias for various reasons. A "cordwainer" is an old term for a cobbler, so the pseudonym is that of someone who makes shoes for birds; in other words, he's useless. Ellison would employ it as a relatively subtle editorial comment, such as when TV executives watered down his ambitious early 1970s series, The Starlost. It's also a reference to the classic sci-fi author Paul Linebarger, who wrote as Cordwainer Smith.
  • Discussed by Art Spiegelman in the foreword to the book commemorating The Garbage Pail Kids. He was working for Topps making them and "Wacky Packages" at the same time that Maus was being published and released. The publishers for the latter were concerned that Spiegelman would be credited by name for the former, driving away potential customers who wouldn't want to read a comic about the Holocaust done by a gross-out artist. Topps didn't credit Spiegelman and the latter kept his involvement quiet until the foreword to said commemorative book.
  • When Isaac Asimov was commissioned to write the "Lucky Starr" series of juvenile novels, he took the precaution of using the pseudonym "Paul French" in case he needed to disown them. Fortunately, this proved not to be necessary.
    • Asimov also wrote The Sensuous Dirty Old Man, a parody of The Sensuous Woman, under the name "Dr. A". However, in this case it was not to conceal his participation (which was exposed fairly quickly) so much as it was part of the parody; The Sensuous Woman was "written" by "J" (later revealed to be Terry Garrity).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Roy Huggins used several pseudonyms when providing storylines and scripts for the shows he worked on in the '60s and '70s (and even on Hunter in the 1980s). "John Francis O'Mara" and "Thomas Fitzroy" were used in the mid-60s; by about 1968, and for the rest of his career, "John Thomas James" was his invariable pen-name. (JTJ even had has own parking space on the studio lot!) In general, Huggins produced material using his own name, but wrote it using a pseudonym — it was said Huggins disliked seeing his own name continually flashing on screen during the credits.
  • Doctor Who has had a few examples over the years:
    • "The Dominators" was credited to "Norman Ashby", due to writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln falling out with the production office after script editor Derrick Sherwin heavily rewrote their storyline and reduced it from six episodes to five.
    • "The Dæmons" gave the writer's credit to "Guy Leopold", as writers Robert Sloman and Barry Letts were unable to take credit for contractual reasons; Sloman was working for another TV company, while BBC regulations forbade Letts from being credited with any role in addition to his producer's credit.
    • Terrance Dicks, unhappy with Robert Holmes' rewrites of "The Brain of Morbius", asked for it to go out under "some bland pseudonym". So Holmes credited the story to Robin Bland (which Dicks thought was hilarious, and resulted in the two men making up).
    • A special feature on the DVD for the story "The Invasion of Time" was a documentary about the story's writer. The Elusive David Agnew was credited as being directed by Alan Smithee, but the documentary itself was a mockumentary, since David Agnew was also a pseudonym used by the BBC; "Agnew" is the credited writer of "The Invasion of Time", as another story had been discarded at the last minute and the script editor and producer had to write it themselves. Since giving screen credits to BBC production staff required a long and arduously bureaucratic approval process, the pseudonym was used as a quick workaround.
    • Agnew was also credited as writing "City of Death", not because it was a bad episode (it's actually considered to be one of the best serials in the show's history), but because it was hastily rewritten from scratch by the script editor and producer after the original writer, David Fisher, was unable to perform the extensive rewrites required. Once again, the staff didn't have time to go through the lengthy appeals process and used the Agnew pseudonym to get everything over with.
    • "Attack of the Cybermen" was credited to "Paula Moore", which disguises an extremely complicated and disputed story as to who wrote it. Although the specifics have never been nailed down, the most commonly accepted version of events is that it was largely written by script editor Eric Saward, based on a story outline by continuity advisor Ian Levine. "Moore" (an ex-girlfriend of Saward's, whose real name was actually Paula Woolsey) just agreed to act as the story's author (and allowed the usage of some elements from an unrelated outline she'd previously submitted) so as to get around BBC regulations preventing Saward from being credited as script editor on his own work.
  • There are 54 episodes of EastEnders where the credited writer is the fictitious Julia Honour. The name is used whenever a script from an outside writer is deemed to be totally unusable and has to be rewritten from scratch by a member of the show's editorial team. The name is taken from series co-creator Julia Smith, the idea being that they were protecting "Julia's honour" by rewriting the unsalvageable script.
  • The Season 4 episode of La Femme Nikita "Catch a Falling Star" was directed by Alan Smithee, known to his parents in this case as Joseph L. Scanlan.
  • MacGyver (1985):
    • The pilot was directed by Alan Smithee (alias Jerrold Freedman in this case).
    • As was the episode "The Heist". It was freaking hilarious.
  • The Mission: Impossible episode "Live Bait" credits Michael Adams with the story and (with James D. Buchanan and Ronald Austin) teleplay; this was a pen-name for Meyer Dolinsky (who, like Sonya Roberts below, also suffered from meddling on The Outer Limits (1963) with "ZZZZZ", although he kept his name on the episode). "Michael Adams" also has writing credits on series like Dr. Kildare, Daktari and Hawaii Five-O (where he had several credits under his own name—but not "Flash of Color, Flash of Death", which was the last episode he did for the show).
  • Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • During the opening credits for Morozko, Mike quips that the names they're seeing are all Russian for "Alan Smithee".
    • Carnival Magic: Upon seeing that Al Adamson was the film's director, one of the riffers quips, "Al Adamson is the name Alan Smithee uses when he doesn't want his name on a film."
  • Rod Serling scripted the pilot for The New People (a short-lived 1969 series that was a precursor to Lost and Flight 29 Down), but after it was cut down to fit a 45-minute network TV slot (an experiment on the part of ABC) he chose to be credited as "John Phillips", although he retained "developed for television by" credit under his own name - the series was created by Aaron Spelling and Larry Gordon (Serling described it as "somewhere between Gilligan's Island and San Francisco State. It may work. But not with me").
  • Sonya Roberts's script "Joy Ride" for The Outer Limits (1963) became "Second Chance" in the finished product, which gives her story and (with Lou Morheim) teleplay credit under the name "Lin Dane". Take off the capital letters and you'll guess her reaction to the rewrites (which may have been mandated by Executive Meddling).
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • Gene L. Coon was credited as Lee Cronin on the third season episodes he wrote, as he was a staff writer on It Takes a Thief (1968) by that point, and didn't want to give away the fact that he was still moonlighting on TOS.
    • D. C. Fontana used the pseudonym Michael Richards on all her third season episodes (except for "The Enterprise Incident"), as a protest against producer Fred Freiberger and script editor Arthur Singer's handling of the show.
    • Attempted, but failed by Harlan Ellison for "The City on the Edge of Forever", as he wanted to be credited under his pseudonym Cordwainer Bird in order to protest the heavy rewrites, especially Gene Roddenberry's deletion of a drug-dealing character and the Karmic Death that he eventually got. However, it was well known that he used that pseudonym to flag up works that he felt were sub-par, and Roddenberry, afraid that people would otherwise go in expecting the episode to suck, was able to tie things up in legal matters until the episode had already aired, by which point it didn't matter. (Though this had the unfortunate side-effect of also preventing D.C. Fontana — who had mostly written the final script — getting a co-writer credit).
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • D.C. Fontana didn't fare much better on TNG than she did in the last season of TOS; she was credited as J. Michael Bingham on "The Naked Now" after Roddenberry rewrote her original, darker and more character-focused draft into a more comedic episode that focused heavily on his Creator's Pet, Wesley Crusher. She would have done the same for "Too Short a Season", which similarly got rewritten beyond recognition by Roddenberry, if not for the fact that she had left the show and simply didn't want to deal with Roddenberry's lawyer.
    • Another former TOS writer, John D.F. Black went under the credit of Ralph Willis for "Justice" for much the same reason as Fontana; his darker and grittier story ended up being rewritten into one with a hamfisted message about how All Crimes Are Equal is inherently injust, with ludicrous levels of fanservice thrown in seemingly for the heck of it.
    • Tracy Torme used the pseudonym Keith Mills for "The Royale", after showrunner Maurice Hurley rewrote his original, more satirical plot in to a straightforward gangster pastiche. Later in that season, Torme, wrote another episode, "Manhunt"... which once again got butchered by Hurley in rewrites, resulting in Torme putting another pseudonym (Terry Deveraux) on the episode and storming off the series for good.
    • Hurley himself had previously gone under the pseudonym C.J. Holland for "Hide and Q", after it was heavily rewritten by Roddenberry. In this case however, Hurley later admitted that he had been too hasty, and that Roddenberry's rewrite had actually improved the episode.
    • In an odd variation, this trope applies to the shooting script of "The Ensigns of Command", but not the aired episode. Writer Melinda Snodgrass wrote the story as depicting Data having to learn that sometimes he would need to resolve a situation through force rather than logic, only for new showrunner Michael Wagner to change the story so that Data is instead prevented from using the forceful solution by Techno Babble radiation. Snodgrass felt that Wagner's rewrite completely destroyed the point of her story and demanded to be credited under the name H.B. Savage, but later relented and allowed her real name to be used after viewing the finished episode, and feeling that her original intent still came through in Brent Spiner's performance (it also helped that Wagner had quit by this point).
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • Alan Brennert thought that his script "Healer" was so badly acted and directed that he took his name off of the episode. It is credited to Michael Bryant.
    • "Paladin of the Lost Hour", which was directed by Gilbert Cates, is credited to Alan Smithee as Cates disliked the manner in which it was edited.
    • Richard Matheson had his name taken off of "Button, Button" as he was displeased with the changed ending of his short story made at the insistence of CBS executives. It is credited to Logan Swanson.
  • The pilot for Walker, Texas Ranger and the episode "Storm Warning" were written and co-written respectively by Leigh Chapman under the name "Louise McCarn".
  • The theme song composer for several TV series produced by Ziv in the 1950s was, according to BMI's publishing records (he was never credited on-screen), one "Ray Llewellyn". This was actually a pseudonym shared by several composers who worked for hire at Ziv under a buyout contract (Ziv would buy the rights for the compositions and keep the royalties). The actual composers possibly included David Rose (for Highway Patrol and Sea Patrol), Ray Bloch (for Science Fiction Theater), Dominic Frontiere, Victor Young, Warren Barker and others; some later worked for Ziv under their real names.
  • Double Dare (1986): Dana Calderwood, who was the original director from 1986-1988, directed the Double Dare 2000 revial under the pseudonym "Hal Leigh". He based the name on his daughter Hallie.

    Magazines 
  • Over the years, MAD has used several pseudonymous bylines for varying reasons. One of the most common is "J. Prete", actually ex-editor John Ficarra. Also, Sam Viviano began crediting his own artwork to "Jack Syracuse" after he took over as art director in the early noughties.
  • After the ZX Spectrum magazine Crash ended, it was discovered that the letters-page editor "Lloyd Mangram" never existed. The actual editor was sometimes Barnaby Page, but not always.

    Music 
  • Alan also "does" music videos. Among his credits are "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, "Lose My Breath" by Destiny's Child, "Hunting for Witches" by Bloc Party, "Juicebox" by The Strokes, and "Building a Mystery" by Sarah MacLachlan.
    • Samuel Bayer directed "Ridiculous Thoughts" by The Cranberries but the band recut it against his wishes after being displeased with his cut, so the video ended up being credited to someone named "Freckles Flynn".
    • The music video for "Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit" by Gina G was directed by someone named "Fruit Salad" (probably Kevin Godley due to Medialab, a company he directed several music videos for, having produced the video).
  • On the soundtrack album for 2002's Trapped, the conductor of John Ottman's score is called "L. Ton Jon" (a pseudonym for Damon Intrabartolo).
  • Austrian film composer Thomas Wanker (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) changed his professional billing on American and British productions to Thomas Wander, for what should be obvious reasons.
  • The last track on Randy Newman's score album for Maverick is a song called "Tartine De Merde" sung by a fellow called "S. Bush." Anyone who gets the reference can probably guess who Mr. Bush is. But if you can't, it's Randy Newman.
  • The single "I'm The Urban Spaceman" by The Bonzo Dog Band credits its producer as one Apollo C. Vermouth - a pseudonym for the one and only Paul McCartney. The band later paid tribute to him with the song "Mr. Apollo."
  • Manager of The Clash Bernie Rhodes produced their infamous final album Cut the Crap, being credited under the name "Jose Unidos", which many people mistakenly thought was actually frontman Joe Strummer.
  • The 1951 hit "My Heart Cries for You" was written by Carl Sigman and Percy Faith. The first issued recordings of this song gave the credit to Sigman and "Peter Mars", as Faith had written the lyric to Sigman's melody as a joke (he was dared to compose a "commercial song") and was appalled to see it recorded as a serious song so he refused to have his name attached to it. Later recordings credit Faith under his real name.
  • Several albums by They Might Be Giants, including Apollo 18 and the B-side compilation Miscellaneous T, have their artwork credited to a German artist named "Rolf Conant"—in reality, a pseudonym for (American) frontman John Flansburgh, whose middle name is Conant.
    • Flansburgh also used this pseudonym for various side projects in the 90's—Rolf Conant is credited with "fake drums" on the debut EP of the band Spondee (led by his wife Robin Goldwasser) and as the co-founder of the short lived Hello The Band with frequent TMBG collaborator Joshua Fried
  • Within Punk music, the name "Dale Nixon" is occasionally used as a psuedonym. Originally used by Greg Ginn of Black Flag to hide that he had performed the bass parts on the band's second album himself, the name has also been used by musicians such as Dave Grohl and Brian Baker of Minor Threat.
  • Eric Clapton's 2016 album I Still Do features a credit to one "Angelo Mysterioso" on the song "I Will Be There". Since the name bears a similarity to "L'Angelo Misterioso", a pseudonym used by George Harrison, the media began to speculate that "Angelo Mysterioso" was George's son, Dhani Harrison. While Clapton's spokesman refused to reveal Mysterioso's identity, Clapton would perform the song with Ed Sheeran at a show in 2016, and after a guitar solo on Sheeran's ÷ was credited to "Angelo Mysterioso", Sheeran confirmed that he and Clapton had decided to collaborate, appearing on each other's albums.

    Puppet Shows 
  • While {{Terrahawks is ill-thought-of enough that many wouldn't blame the crew for playing this trope straight here, this time it was done stylistically; while all but four of the series' 39 episodes were written or co-written by Gerry Anderson regular Tony Barwick, the scripts were usually credited to a variety of pseudonyms ending with "-stein", often feline-connected, due to a major character being called Dr. Tiger Ninestein (example: "The Ugliest Monster Of All" was written by P.U. Mastein). The show lampshaded this on several occasions, most blatantly with "Child's Play" being credited to Sue Donymstein. Only three episodes eschewed fake names — "The Midas Touch", by Trevor Lansdowne and Barwick (credited as Barwick for once) and the two-part opener "Expect The Unexpected" by Anderson himself; the only other non-Barwick episodes in the series are "From Here to Infinity" and "The Sporilla", written by Katz Stein and Leo Pardstein respectively (both pseudonyms for Donald James).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica: Alan Smithee is credited as the co-author of the fourth edition Mythic Seas supplement, though the reason why has never been made public. The fan consensus does seem to be that it’s not one of the better books for that edition, though it’s not all that terrible.

    Theatre 
  • Alan Smithee has a theatrical counterpart. His name is George Spelvin. George Spelvin (or, for females, Georgina or Georgette Spelvin) is also used when the same actor is playing two roles but that fact should not be made obvious to the audience beforehand by the cast list.
    • He first appeared in the 1906 stage version of Brewster's Millions.
    • The (probably hallucinating) main character of the play "The Actor's Nightmare" is referred to as George Spelvin.

    Video Games 
  • Using nicknames or pseudonyms in credits, such as "Ten Ten", "Mammy Preco", or "Yuukichan's Papa" was common in the video game industry (especially in Japanese games, like Capcom's arcades whose credits roll are usually about 90% pseudonyms) up through the beginning of the fourth generation, although the practice itself remained until at least 2005. In this case, the reason for not putting their real names on the product was not out of dissatisfaction with their work, but to prevent rival companies from hiring away their talent.
  • Referenced in the "CHAIR RACE" teaser trailer for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots—when we see the back of the Director's chair, Alan Smithee's name is written on it, which eventually drops off to reveal the name "Shuyo Murata". This references how Hideo Kojima originally planned to work only as a producer for MGS4 (as he planned on leaving the series after Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) and hand it over to his junior team, with Shuyo Murata as the appointed director. This didn't last long, as the rest of the trailer shows.
  • Referenced in Wild ARMs 3, though in a totally different context. Alan Smithy is a legendary Drifter who leaves signposts with advice all over the landscape.
  • In Street Fighter X Tekken, Rolento's voice actor is credited as Alan Smithee. It's actually Dameon Clarke.
    • Clarke is no stranger to this, having reprised his voice of Dragon Ball Z villain Cell in the Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi series of games under the pseudonym "Dartanian Nickelback".
  • Referenced in The Wonderful 101, with one of the supporting characters being a kid by the name of Luka Alan Smithee.
  • Dragalia Lost's English voice credits is subverted, while there are some characters that are credited under actual voice actors/actresses (Vincent Tong, Tabitha St. Germain, Kazumi Evans, Sabrina Pitre, Lizzie Freeman, and Samuel Vincent), the majority of the characters credited are credited with pseudonymous names.
  • In 2000, Acclaim briefly brought back its long-retired LJN label for the Sega Dreamcast port of Spirit of Speed 1937, likely in anticipation of the game's terrible critical reception.
  • In Fire Emblem Heroes, the artist for the Mythic Hero Elimine is anonymous, credited as "Alan Smithee" in English, with the same name transliterated into kanji in Japanese.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In-Universe: in "D'oh-in in the Wind", Mr. Burns' recruitment film for the power plant, which had script problems from Day One (i.e., nobody read the script), and which ends with Mr. Burns physically accosting Homer for getting his lines wrong, is credited to Alan Smithee.
    • Jon Vitti and David Silverman used the pseudonyms "Penny Wise" and "Pound Foolish" for writing and directing the second and third clip episodes.
    • Two guest stars appeared under pseudonyms in early episodes: Dustin Hoffman as Sam Etic in "Lisa's Substitute" and Michael Jackson as John Jay Smith in "Stark Raving Dad".
    • Albert Brooks is credited as "A. Brooks" when he voices a character on the show.
  • One episode of Tiny Toon Adventures had a couple of cartoons with inferior animation directed by "Allen Smithee." The episode's Credits Gag was: "Number of Retakes: Don't Ask."
  • The late Mary Kay Bergman was often credited as "Shannen Cassidy" (derived from SHANNEN Doherty and Ryan CASSIDY) for voicing many of the female characters of South Park. This was very likely due to it being a non-union production, and her simultaneously working for Disney (most notably as the voice of Snow White and Jessie's yodelling in Toy Story 2).
    • South Park also uses this for a gag at the end of "Trapped in the Closet". After Scientologists threaten to sue Stan for denouncing their religion, Stan yells that he's not afraid of getting sued. Cue a credits sequence where everybody's name is replaced with "John Smith" or "Jane Smith," referencing Scientology's tendency to file lawsuits against their critics.
    • The voice actress for Nichole Daniels, the token black girl at South Park Elementary, is credited to the alias "Laylo Incognegro." The real identity of her voice actress is currently unconfirmed.
    • The original pilot The Spirit of Christmas was credited to "Robert T. Pooner" instead of Parker and Stone's real names. After the short went viral, many other animators claimed ownership of the pilot to get jobs before Parker and Stone went public. This name also appeared in the credits of the episodes "Chickenlover" and "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics."
  • For unknown reasons in Sanjay and Craig, Chris D'Elia was credited as "Remington Tufflips As Himself".
  • John Kricfalusi was so embarrassed about having directed "Robin Hoek / Nurse Stimpy" of The Ren & Stimpy Show (all he could see when he watched the final product were drawing mistakes and timing errors), he credited himself as "Raymond Spum" on the title card.
  • Touchstone Pictures was temporarily revived specifically so that Disney could use it to disown Strange Magic (which they acquired with Lucasfilm). Touchstone was previously used in this manner for Gnomeo and Juliet, which stayed with Disney after Miramax was sold off.
  • Filmation founder and head Lou Scheimer voiced Orko and King Randor on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) (and other characters on his shows) under the name Eric Gunden; Erika Lane, who shares music credit on the show, is also Scheimer (taken from his children's names). Similarly, the Yvette Blais who has music credit on numerous Filmation series is actually Ray Ellis (who often used that pseudonym - she was his wife).
  • Anatole had its first episode "Anatole's Parisian Adventure" credited as having been written by Alan Smithee.
  • A VHS compilation movie based off Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series is credited to Alan Smithee.
  • A rare quintuple-whammy: Joey D'Auria, Cheryl Chase, Rebecca Forstadt, Paul Greenberg and Rick Zieff had voice acting roles in The Mr. Men Show under the respective credits of "Joseph J. Terry", "Sophia Roberts", "Reba West", "Aaron Albertus" and "Danny Katiana".note 
  • Phil LaMarr Darrin'd Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks for much of Season 1 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars under the pseudonym of "BJ Hughes", a fact that went unrevealed for over a decade. Unlike other examples of this trope, it should be noted that this is the only role of his on the show in which LaMarr was credited by a pseudonym, whereas he is credited by his real name for all his other roles, making this a case of choosing not to be associated with a specific role rather than an entire work. Given that Best was going through a Creator Breakdown at the time due to harassment he received from being associated with Jar Jar, LaMarr likely went by the pseudonym to avoid going through the same ordeal.
  • Looney Tunes: Friz Freleng has two notable instances which invert this:
    • He declined a screen credit for 1949's "Dough For the Dodo" as it was a remake of Bob Clampett's original version "Porky in Wackyland" (1938) and Friz felt he'd be stealing Clampett's ideas.
    • In 1946 Friz was suspended for a month for refusing to direct "Hollywood Daffy," feeling it was too much like Avery for his style. Hawley Pratt (a layout artist in the Freleng unit) directed it uncredited.
      • Of other films, 1942's "Crazy Cruise" was started by Avery and finished by Clampett after Avery quit (following the "Heckling Hare" confrontation). It went uncredited.


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