Lea: Axel? Please. The name's Lea. Got it memorized?
(One minute later.)
Riku: Why are you here, Axel?
Lea: No, I told you my name's— Augh, whatever, Axel, fine.
The thing about operating under an assumed identity is that often, sooner or later, one's real identity is discovered. But sometimes a curious thing happens: Even after everyone and his mother knows the character's True Name, for one reason or another (or even no discernible reason at all) the character will continue to go by their alias.
This might happen because they have been going by their alias for many years and come to regard it as part of their identity. If its use was merely a temporary convenience, on the other hand, this can get into Fridge Logic territory.
In role-playing games that allow you to name your party members, this is often used to prevent an Interface Spoiler. After all, seeing a character you just named Bart introduce himself as Ted, or having both a "Name:" field and "Real Name:" field, would be a bit of a tip-off. In cases like this, entering a character's true name as their alias can result in some nonsensical dialogue. ("Nadia was really Nadia the whole time!")
Compare Code Name, Stage Names, Pen Name, Porn Names, I Have Many Names, and Nom de Guerre, where there is less emphasis on identity concealment (although that can be a secondary reason for adopting an alias). Also compare Becoming the Mask, which is when someone retains character traits from an assumed identity but not necessarily a name, and Artifact Title, which is a similar trope about the titles of works. May overlap with That Man Is Dead and Meaningful Rename. Contrast Identity Concealment Disposal.
Given the nature of the trope, examples below may contain unmarked spoilers.
- Dragon Ball Super: Even after Goku Black is revealed to be an alternate version of Zamasu in Goku's body, the heroes continue to call him Black. Eerily, even Black gets a little of this, seeing as how he simply refers to Future Zamasu as "Zamasu."
- Fairy Tail
- After the reveal that Loke is in fact the Celestial Spirit Leo, everyone still refers to him as Loke, aside from the other Celestial Spirits who knew him before his exile.
- Ubel Blatt
- It's revealed very early that Koinzell is Ascheriit, one of the "Lances of Betrayal" who were killed by the "Seven Heroes" and is seeking revenge on them. Yet everyone who knows that continues to call him Koinzell even when there is no real reason to hide it.
- Peepi may be a variation: Koinzell made up that embarrassing name on the spot to pass as his brother and she is interrupted every time she is about to say her real name. So after a while she just goes with it.
- In Aldnoah.Zero, Princess Asseylum originally introduces herself as Seylum when in disguise. However, even when her true identity has been revealed to him, Inaho persists in using 'Seylum'.
- In Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, Fai continues using this name, even after it it revealed that he is actually Fai's twin brother Yuui.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Mineva Zabi goes by the name of "Audrey Burn" when on Industrial 7. Her real identity is revealed pretty quickly, but Banagher stubbornly keeps calling her "Audrey" throughout the story. This is his way of trying to tell her that he sees her as her own person, not merely as "Heiress of Zeon" like everyone else tends to.
- Char Aznable of Mobile Suit Gundam is really an alias of Casval rem Deikun, but throughout the Universal Century, even long after his real identity is discovered, everyone thinks of him as Char.
- For a minor example in One Piece, Luffy enters a tournament in the Dressrosa arc in disguise, and adopts the nickname "Lucy". Even after his true identity is revealed to the public, the citizens continue referring to him as Lucy out of sheer habit.
- The "Pirate Hunter" epithet Roronoa Zoro acquired is a straight example, since he no longer acquires bounties from wanted pirates (and even that he said was incidental), and became one himself.
- In Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, Kyoji doesn't get his actual name revealed until his boss from before prison comes along and refers to him by the name "Kyoji". Before that, he's dubbed "Yotaro". As explained on the Meaningful Rename page, it's significant, but Yakumo still calls him Yotaro even if he did learn Yotaro's real name from said incident.
- In Assassination Classroom, Kaede says that her fellow students can still call her that after her true identity is revealed, partly because she feels intensely guilty about who she was back then.
- X-Men. The original five X-Men take their code names in order to protect their identities and keep their powers secret. All but Jean Grey hang on to them even after their identities became public knowledge. The tradition of mutants taking up names to reflect their mutations continued as well, with most mutants choosing mutant names purely to acknowledge one's identity as a mutant.
- A particularly notable comic book example is Mon-El of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Mon-El's superhero identity is the Kryptonian name Superboy gave him when he was suffering from amnesia. His actual name, as he recalled later, is Lar Gand, but he continues to be known as Mon-El.
- During the events of Civil War and shortly following it, Spider-Man reveals his secret identity in a press conference. Then everybody (heroes, villains, government, regular people, J. J. Jameson, etc.) knew that he is Peter Parker. Still, he kept using the mask and the name "Spider-Man." He even wondered in one moment if there was a point for that anymore. However, this was undone during "One More Day", where his secret identity was restored.
- Watchmen. Rorschach continues to use the alias even after being exposed; none of the other masked heroes do that. This is a textbook case of Becoming the Mask.
- Fanfiction of Tangled often features Rapunzel calling Flynn by his assumed name as opposed to his real one, (Eugene), even though canonically, his confiding his real name results in her never calling him Flynn again.
- A The Irregular at Magic High School fic zigzags the trope: its Main Characters are referred to by the narration as Yotsuba (their original surnames) during their more ruthless actions and Shiba (their civilian aliases) when they feel human.
- Throughout the original Star Wars trilogy but especially in the first film, even after Luke learns that the hermit "Old Ben Kenobi" is really the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke continues to call him Ben (it isn't until Luke himself becomes a Jedi in Return of the Jedi that he calls him Obi-Wan). An odd example as it's unclear where the name "Ben" comes from; it's certainly not likely to fool any Imperials who come knocking.
- In The Phantom Menace, the Naboo Queen uses Queen Amidala in her public persona, but goes by her birth name of Padmé when disguised as a handmaiden. In the sequels, she remains Padmé Amidala, despite having left office and her full birth name being Padme Naberrie. It's unclear whether this is standard practice for ex-queens of Naboo.
- While recruiting George Stone for The Untouchables, Malone becomes suspicious of his accent and soon learns Stone was born Giuseppe Petri, later changing his name to disguise his Italian heritage. However, the character continues to go by Stone for the rest of the film, and is referred to as Giuseppe on only one other occasion.
- Tribesmen of Gor: Tarl's best friend of the book is an outlaw named Hassan, who is also semi-secretly Haroun, the High Pasha (leader) of the powerful Kavar desert tribe. The following dialogue is The Reveal that the two are the same person:
[I asked Haroun,] "By what name should I address you?"
"By the name, by which you know me best," he said.
"Excellent," said I, "Hassan."
- The Main Characters of Harry Potter learn fairly early on that Big Bad Voldemort's birth name is Tom Riddle; Voldy considers it an unwelcome reminder of his half-Muggle heritage and would prefer that his history before being known as Lord Voldemort be forgotten along with the name. They largely continue to call him Voldemort anyway, considering it a sign of defiance since many are too afraid of him to do even that much, calling him "He Who Must Not Be Named" or "You-Know-Who" instead. Becomes a bit of an Idiot Ball in the final book where the name "Voldemort", but not "Tom Riddle", invokes The Scottish Trope. Only Dumbledore occasionally calls him "Tom", usually when addressing him directly, as a way of reminding him that Dumbledore remembers when he was just an orphaned schoolboy.
- In The Roman Mysteries, Nubia is a former slave whose real name is Shepenwepet. She is renamed Nubia as that is the name given to all female Nubian slaves. Even after being freed, she continues to go by Nubia, saying "Nubia can be my new name for my new life".
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Unsullied, elite slave soldiers, are randomly assigned a new, generally degrading name every day, to remind them that they are nothing individually. After being freed, they are allowed to revert to their birth names or choose new names if they no longer remember them, but not all do so. Their leader, Grey Worm, says that his birth name is unlucky because it is the one he had on the day he was enslaved, whereas "Grey Worm" is a lucky name because it is the one he had on the day he was freed.
- Ford Prefect of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is so named due to a research error in which he thought the name would be inconspicuous on Earth. (Ford mistook cars for the dominant life form on Earth, so named himself after a make of car.) According to Word of God, Ford actually had his name changed retroactively, but the footnote that would have explained this was cut for being boring. This explains why characters like Zaphod know to call Ford by his new name.
- The 1817 Thomas Moore poem "Lalla Rookh" tells the story of a princess betrothed to a newly ascended foreign king whom she's never met. A caravan takes her and some others to the king's country, Bucharia, and one of her fellow travelers is a poet named Feramorz who recites poetic tales. Lalla Rookh falls tragically in love with the poet, even though she knows she has no escape from her commitment to marry the king. When they arrive at their destination and the king comes out to meet her — surprise, it is Feramorz, who had traveled with the caravan under that alias to win her love before she knew who he was. The last line of the story goes:
Of the happiness of the King and Queen of Bucharia, after such a beginning, there can be but little doubt; and among the lesser symptoms it is recorded of LALLA ROOKH that to the day of her death in memory of their delightful journey she never called the King by any other name than FERAMORZ.
- In The Belgariad, we first meet a certain Drasnian as "Silk", and he's called Silk for ten novels even though we've learned long ago that his birth name is Kheldar.
- Garion spend quite a time thinking of Belgarath and Polgara as "Mister Wolf" and "Aunt Pol" even after The Reveal of their true nature. Him starting to think of them as Belgarath and Polgara is seen as a sign of him properly accepting the Reality of the Prophecy and his place in it.
- In The Elenium, the Styric foundling Flute is known by the end of the second novel to be the Child-Goddess Aphrael, but she's still commonly called Flute.
- Tzigone, one of the main characters of Counselors and Kings, suffers from Laser-Guided Amnesia and doesn't remember her real name. Near the end of the last book, she finally learns from her mother that it's Ria. She still thinks of herself as "Tzigone", and in the epilogue, that's what her friend Matteo still calls her. In fact, the name "Ria" is only spoken once.
- In The Death Gate Cycle, the Sartan people always have two names - a "mundane" public name and a true magical name that can be used to control them and is thus only revealed to close friends and family. The main Sartan character is even more reluctant than most to reveal his true name, going by the human name "Alfred". He eventually reveals that his true name is "Coren", which means "Chosen", and he doesn't use it because he thinks he'll never be worthy of it. He eventually comes to terms with the name, but still uses "Alfred" for ordinary conversation.
- In Mairelon the Magician, Kim learns that Mairelon's real name is Richard Merill about a third of the way through the first book, but continues to think of him by his stage name for the remainder of the series.
- The villain of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Devil's Due" is a Con Woman posing as Ardra, the devil figure from Ventaxian mythology (and who Riker says has "23 aliases in this sector alone"). Since the episode never gives her real name, when the Star Trek Expanded Universe refers to her, she's still called Ardra. Which makes sense when the Enterprise crew use it, since that's how they knew her, but gets egregious in the Star Trek Novelverse trilogy Star Trek: Prey, where another member of a loose coalition of confidence tricksters only thinks of her by that name.
- Game of Thrones: Grey Worm remains Grey Worm even when allowed to choose his own name. His reasoning behind this is that he sees his birth name as cursed because thats what he was called when he was Made a Slave, but Grey Worm is the name he had when Daenerys Targaryen freed him.
- The characters of Once Upon a Time are classic fairy tale characters (Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rumplestiltskin, etc.) who are the victim of a curse that causes them to live in our world under different names (for the above: Mary Margaret Blanchard, Ruby Lucas, Ashley Boyd, Mr. Gold) with no memory of their fairy tale lives. The curse is broken toward the end of the first season but many characters have since continued to go by their aliases even now that there is no reason to do so. (Although, these have been the same names they've been using for decades, so...)
- Gradually subverted in The Good Place. Early on, "Jianyu" reveals to Eleanor that he is not a silent Buddhist monk from Taiwan, but rather a drug-dealing failed DJ from Florida named Jason Mendoza, who like Eleanor, does not actually belong in the Good Place (he is also Filipino, not Taiwanese). Even after this, everyone continues to refer to him as Jianyu, even those who know his true identity, with the exception of his "wife", Janet. However, by the end of the first season, he is mostly being called by his real name, and throughout seasons two and three, he is referred to exclusively as Jason.
- In Smallville, Oliver Queen continues using his Green Arrow alias and costume, right down to the voice-changer that gives him a Badass Baritone, even after revealing his identity on national TV at the end of the "Supergirl" episode.
- Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager was born as Annika Hansen. Her de-assimilation from the Borg Collective happens in her debut (double-)episode, and even though she starts to accept her fate of being an individual again as time goes by, she almost always gets called by her old Borg designation for the rest of the series. This is actually addressed by Janeway, who asks if Seven would like to be called Annika, only for Seven to point out that this isn't who she is anymore.
- The name of Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood is an alias that he took from a deceased American volunteer pilot to mix in with WW2 era London. He still goes by that title for most of his appearances, well after it serves any purpose.
- Mad Men. Betty Francis, Bert Cooper, Pete Campbell, Megan Draper know that Don Draper's real name is Dick Whitman, yet they all call him Don.
- Supernatural has the demon who impersonated her human host Meg Masters in season 1. Even after she posesses another human vessel she is still called "Meg" by Sam and Dean in later seasons. However at one point she herself uses again the alias Meg Masters when working as a nurse which makes no sense. Later another demon calls her this in a private conversation leaving fans to wonder if the writters forgot that Meg isn't her true name or if Meg really happens to be her true name as well.
- Everyone in The Flash (2014) continues to refer to Eobard Thawne as Harrison Wells, even after the reveal. It's forgivable in that they knew him by that name for years, but it annoys Earth-2 Wells to no end as he has much more claim to the name.
- Supergirl (2015): After Hank Henshaw is revealed to be the Martian Manhunter using shapeshifting to pull a Dead Person Impersonation of the real Henshaw, more and more people begin calling him by his real name, J'onn J'onzz—but he still spends nearly all of his time using Henshaw's likeness. He claims that wearing a human face puts other humans at ease, but the only reason to keep using this particular face (especially after the real Henshaw turns out to be a Not Quite Dead terrorist) is because that's what people are used to seeing. The Doylist reason is, of course, so David Harewood can continue playing the character without heavy makeup and visual effects in most scenes.
- In Chuck, we never learn Sarah's true last name. She's called Sarah Walker for most of the show (later changed to Sarah Bartowski after she marries Chuck). She does whisper her middle name once (Lisa) and reveals her real first name to Shaw (Sam). Her father is introduced as Jack Burton, but it's stated to be an alias (he's a con man). Even when Sarah meets an old friend (also an agent), the first thing they do is exchange their current aliases, which they continue to use.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel was born Liam, but changed his name to "Angelus" when he became a vampire, presumably as a sort of That Man Is Dead thing. After being (forcibly) turned good again, he goes by "Angel" instead of returning to his birth name. (So basically, his "evil" name but no longer in Latin.)
- Anya, too. Initially she was introduced as a demon named Anyanka, with "Anya" apparently just being a human disguise. Over the course of the show, however, it's established that she was born human and was originally named Aud.
- Final Fantasy
- In Final Fantasy VII, Red XIII joins you under his specimen code name from the Shinra research facility where you find him, and party members and the interface continue to use it even after his true name (Nanaki) is revealed.
- Another Final Fantasy VII example: Cait Sith continues to be called such by both the characters and the interface long after he is revealed to be remotely controlled by Reeve, a Shinra employee.
- In Final Fantasy IX, Princess Garnet adopts the nickname "Dagger" in order to avoid drawing unwanted attention, since she was fleeing from her country and her mother the queen wanted her in order to extract her Eidolons. However, after her mother died and she became queen herself (and thus was no longer on the run), everybody else kept referring to her as "Dagger" even if there was no longer needed to keep a low profile.
- Chrono Trigger
- Played very straight with Marle, aka Princess Nadia. The name Marle is a pseudonym apparently invented on the spot as part of her Princess Incognito get-up and quickly discovered as such, yet she answers to it as if it were her given name for, as far as the player can tell, the rest of her life. In the Japanese version, this is more justified: her real name is actually her Hello, [Insert Name Here] name with "-dia" appended to the end, meaning by default it would be something like "Marledia", for which "Marle" would be a perfectly natural nickname, and alters itself should the player change it.
- Likewise played straight by Frog. Even after proudly stating, "Mine name is Glenn!" he goes right back to answering to Frog (or whatever else the player has named him).
- Optional party member Magus is always referred to by that name until you unlock him as a party member, at which point everyone in every time period will start referring to him by whatever name you choose, including if you enter his previous alias (which is the default option) or his true name, Janus.
- In the original BioShock, Atlas, the character who's been guiding you through most of the game, is still referred to by his alias in the subtitles even after he reveals himself to be the supposedly dead Frank Fontaine.
- Garfield Thelonius Remmington III in Arcanum is a human who, by some freak accident of birth, was born resembling an orc. He found that the only way he could make money in the game's prejudice-filled society was by adopting the name "Gar, World's Smartest Orc" and performing as a freak-show attraction, hiding his family name and severing all ties with them so they would not need to bear the shame of association with him. Even though tricking him into revealing his true name and securing his freedom from his employer are both necessary steps to recruiting him as a follower, your character continues to refer to him as "Gar" for the rest of the game.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition. Warden Blackwall is actually Thom Rainier, an Orlesian army Captain who ordered his men to commit an atrocity and not a Grey Warden at all. The real Blackwall died shortly after recruiting Rainier, giving his life to defend the man. Rainier, a fugitive, grew a beard and assumed the Warden's identity. After all this comes to light, the game interface and characters continue to refer to him as Blackwall. When asked about it, Rainier decides to keep the Blackwall name as a sort of title, dedicating himself to the heroic ideal Grey Wardens represent. By the time the epilogue DLC comes along, both Thom and the UI itself are finally comfortable referring to the character by his true name.
- In Super Mario Sunshine, Bowser Jr. initially disguises himself as a double of Mario (Shadow Mario). But even after his true identity is discovered, Bowser Jr. still often shows up as Shadow Mario. In most cases this is justified by Bowser Jr. wanting to continue ruining Mario's reputation, but Shadow Mario continues to appear in the cutscenes in which he steals Mario's FLUDD, where only Mario is there to see him.
- In Kingdom Hearts, all members of Organization XIII take a new name when they join. Axel spends all of Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II making sure people know his name is Axel ("Got it memorized?"). As of Dream Drop Distance, he turns back into a person and goes by his previous name "Lea". Except everyone else continues to call him Axel, to his increasing frustration. The Running Gag climaxes during the final battle where he starts to correct someone before deciding then wasn't the best time. In Kingdom Hearts III, he tells Kairi to just call him "Axel" from now on, because she reminds him of Xion and doesn't bother correcting anyone anymore, though those who knew him as Lea (Such as Ven and Isa) still call him such. Information given in game and in related promotional media treat the names as interchangeable, sometimes using Lea, sometimes using Axel, and sometimes calling him both at once.
- In Radiant Historia, even after Stocke learns that he is actually Prince Ernst of Granorg, he still goes by the name he believed he had.
- Season 2 of Rose Guns Days introduces an amnesiac young girl to whom Rose gives the name "Rapunzel" because of her long hair. Soon, everyone starts to call her by the diminutive "Zel". She eventually remembers her real identity (Saijou Hotaru, a girl forced to work as a spy and assassin under the codename "Hotarubi") but continues to go by her new name despite that. And in a way, every Japanese character counts, as they call each other by their made-up English names even when they are between Japanese people.
- Umineko: When They Cry. Shannon and Kanon's names are revealed to be Sayo and Yoshiya respectively, but the cast continues to refer to them by their '-on' names.
- In the "The Principal and the Pauper" episode of The Simpsons, it's revealed that the man known as Seymour Skinner is actually a former juvenile delinquent named Armin Tamzarian, who assumed the real Seymour Skinner's identity when he seemingly died in Vietnam; the truth is revealed when he turns out to be alive. This lasts about half an episode before real Skinner proves to be more overbearing than Armin. Real Skinner is exiled from Springfield, Armin's name is legally changed to Seymour Skinner, the name "Armin Tamzarian" is declared unutterable under penalty of torture, and the series continues like nothing happened.
- After a few episodes of Voltron: Legendary Defender, it's revealed that Pidge Gunderson is actually a Sweet Polly Oliver named Katie Holt, but her friends still call her "Pidge." A flashback shows this was an existing nickname her brother used. Presently, she never bothers correcting anyone who calls her by either name.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In the first season finale, it's revealed that Karai is actually Miwa, the daughter of Hamato Yoshi/Splinter, whom Shredder kidnapped as a baby and raised as his own. Even after this becomes known to the Turtles and Karai herself, they continue to address her as Karai, with only Splinter calling her by her birth name.
- Sometimes established authors will adopt a Pen Name when they want to try their hand at a different genre from the one for which they've become known. Often they'll continue using that name, sometimes even inventing an elaborate backstory for their new identity, long after book covers have taken to blaring "STEPHEN KING WRITING AS" in giant letters above the smaller pseudonym.
- Likewise, many creators of new media that fall into a legal gray area (such as Abridged Series) will initially keep their real names a secret to prevent reprisals from copyright holders (or just to protect their privacy). Even after making their real names public, many will continue to answer to their Internet handles.
- For a very brief time during the "BikerTaker" era, The Undertaker was called by his real name in backstage segments but still referred to as "The Undertaker" when he was performing in-ring.
- Patty Duke was born Anna Marie Duke, but her name was changed (against her will) by her managers, who abused and exploited her. She later wrote a tell-all book, Call Me Anna, trying to reclaim the Anna portion of her life. One time when she was promoting it on a daytime talk show, one of the audience members, while asking a question, also asked whether she [the audience member] could call her [Duke] Anna. Duke replied, "I would love that." During the last years of her life, she'd personally be addressed as her married name Anna Pearce. Still a straight example because, let's face it, how many people know that?
- Michael J. Fox added the imaginary middle initial J because there was already a Michael Fox in the union. (His real middle name is Andrew.) When Michael Fox died, SAG offered Michael J. the opportunity to change his professional name back to his real name, but by then he and the public were used to it.
- People are often called a (usually affectionate) nickname, and they become so well known by that nickname that most of their acquaintances don't even know their real name. In a few cases, some people even later change their name to the nickname. As an example, Sissy Spacek was born Mary Elizabeth Spacek, and "Sissy" was an affectionate nickname since childhood.
- Ringo Starr (real name Richard Starkey) originally adopted his stage name, evoking The Wild West, when he was with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, as the band decided to do a bit of Wild West-inspired Theme Naming for all its members, and Ringo's stuck even after he became a Beatle.
- P!nk (real name Alecia Leigh Moore) is an interesting case. She has said that she got her stage name from Mr. Pink of Reservoir Dogs, but she did have pink hair at the start of her career, possibly to explain where the name "Pink" came from. However, right after her first album, she starting going more toward blond with pink highlights, and is now fully blond, and has probably left a few newer fans wondering where the hell the name Pink came from.