When the protagonist of every game in a series is completely customisable or a Featureless Protagonist, this can present a problem in aggregate. They aren't a blank slate (since the player comes up with a personality of their own), but at the same time, they can't have any canonical traits to distinguish them from any other Player Character (especially if the game's part of a series which has a new customisable character every time). Even their name might be up to the player.
The simple solution is to give them a default title (ideally one which fits into a vague backstory, or corresponds to something the player must do early on) which can be used to distinguish them from other customisable player characters in the same series (or, indeed, other series).
This can also apply to a few series which don't have character customisation, but have very similar (or deliberately nondescript) main characters who are still established as separate from one another. It can also be used to specifically mean "the character you chose at the start of the game" in cases of Schrödinger's Player Character. Very rarely, it can also apply to an NPC in the case of Static Role, Exchangeable Character.
Compare Canon Name (where the player can call their character anything, but there is a specific canon name), Prestigious Player Title and Only Known by Their Nickname (which both often overlap when Hello, [Insert Name Here] doesn't extend to voice acting).
- The Links in the various The Legend of Zelda games all have the same Canon Name, but several pick up some sort of title, which makes it easier to specify which game's protagonist you're talking about (e.g. the Hero of Time for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the Hero of Winds for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, etc). In Super Smash Bros. and Hyrule Warriors, the young Hero of Time is simply known as Young Link, while the Super-Deformed Link found in several games is named Toon Link.
- The Fear series gives the protagonist of the first and third games the title of The Point Man (distinguishing him from Becket, the PC of the second game). Of course, this also happens to be his Canon Name.
- Far Cry tends to Zig Zag the trope. The third and fourth games have fairly fleshed out and named protagonists, but:
- The first Far Cry's protagonist is known as "the guy with the shirt" in Enemy Chatter, after his most distinguishing feature; a loud Hawaiian patterned shirt he never removes.
- Far Cry 2 features one of 12 potential player characters collectively called "The Mercenaries" (the rest of which occasionally pop up to offer bonus objectives). Since there's no set canon for which of them the player picks , and therefore kills the rest in a shootout in the finale so they can do something vaguely more heroic than just take the money and run, the PC is typically just called The Mercenary. All part of driving home that the player is just another faceless asshole taking advantage of the war in the country it's set in.
- Far Cry 5 puts the player in the shoes of a lawman who's been sent to arrest the Big Bad. Unlike the previous two entries, they're a blank slate who only ever goes by The Deputy.
- In Far Cry: New Dawn the protagonist is the Captain of Security for Thomas Rush, who leads reconstruction efforts across the country. The Far Cry 5 protagonist now goes by "The Judge" after being completely brainwashed by Joseph Seed.
- Most of the player characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic receive both a title based of the events of their story and a callsign used for the space battles:
- The Jedi Knight is known as the Hero of Tython, with the callsign "Shield".
- The Jedi Consular receives the title Barsen'thor, with the callsign "Guardian".
- The Smuggler becomes known as the Voidhound, with the callsign "Ace".
- The Sith Warrior earns the title of Empire's Wrath, with the callsign "Tempest".
- The Sith Inquisitor is known as "Kallig" from their Sith family bloodline, and receives the Darth title of either "Nox", "Occulus", or "Imperius", depending on actions taken in the story. Either way, their callsign is "Rage".
- The Bounty Hunter becomes identified as the Grand Champion of the Great Hunt, with the callsign "Scree".
- The Agent becomes Cipher Nine, with the callsign "Nightshrike".
- The sole exception is the Republic Trooper, who never quite receives a title other than Havoc Squad Commander, or possibly "Major". Regardless, they do receive the callsign "Meteor".
- From EPISODE 4 onward, many of the characters in Phantasy Star Online 2 who aren't personally acquainted with the player refer to them as "Guardian", the title of their special role in the ARKS hierarchy.
- Destiny: Following the events of Rise Of Iron, the Player Character is referred to as the Young Wolf. You actually gain quite a few nicknames and titles over the course of the series, but Young Wolf is by far the most consistently used.
- In Super Solvers: The PC is, of course, the Super-Solver. Super Seeker, is a spinoff game for younger children which changes the player's title accordingly.
- In the Shin Megami Tensei series:
- The Law-aligned and Chaos-aligned companions can be freely named by the player, but at the end of the game are always referred to as the Law Hero and the Chaos Hero.
- The protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is typically referred to by the title of Demi-fiend.
- The protagonist of the Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha duology can be freely named by the player, but is always referred to by his title of Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th.
- The Persona series gives each player character a Canon Name used in expanded material and adaptations, but also distinguishes them by a title in marketing materials and Previous Player Character Cameos:
- The main character of Persona is identified as "Boy with Earring" when he reappears in Persona 2.
- "The Protagonist" is sometimes used for Persona 3's player character. In later spinoffs such as Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth and Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, SEES is fond of calling the protagonist "Leader". In his DLC challenge battle in Persona 5, he's only identified as "SEES Boy".
- "Main Character" is used for the hero of Persona 4. In his challenge battle in Persona 5, he's referred to as "Investigation Team Boy".
- "Joker", his Phantom Thief codename, is used for the hero of Persona 5.
- Every protagonist of a Fallout title receives an In-Series Nickname based on their background:
- Fallout's protagonist leaves the comfort of their vault at the behest of the Overseer, becoming known as The Vault Dweller.
- Fallout 2's main character is The Chosen One, the descendent of The Vault Dweller who was sent forth on a quest to save the town which was founded when TVD was exiled at the end of the first game.
- Fallout 3's hero leaves the comfort of Vault 101 in search of their father (and because his leaving prompted the Overseer into trying to kill them), picking up the title of The Lone Wanderer from the resident disc jockey in the course of their quest.
- Fallout: New Vegas opens with the PC getting shot in the head and buried alive by a gangster who wanted a package they were carrying. They become known by the job title that got them into this mess: The Courier. Occasionally referred to as Courier 6 in out-of-game sources.
- Fallout 4 stars a pre-war citizen of the USA who was frozen along with everyone else in their vault before the bombs dropped. They see their spouse shot dead, their infant son kidnapped and everyone in their vault die of induced Cryonics Failure, leading to them being known as The Sole Survivor. This one proved controversial, as it gave the PC a far more specific background than previous titles, which some players found limiting.
- Mass Effect:
- The original trilogy gives the PC the surname Shephard and lets the player choose their own first name. The spinoff Mass Effect: Andromeda gives the player a choice between either half of a BrotherSister Team with the surname Ryder; the one they pick gains the title of Pathfinder (while the one they don't retains their canon name of Scott or Sarah).
- Some non-player characters also get canon identifiers in cases where the player can choose which one of them plays a specific role in their current playthrough/canon. The most prominent of these is the "Virmire Survivor" (at the end of the Virmire mission in the original game, the player must decide who of their two human squadmates, Ashley and Kaidan, is left behind to die holding off Saren's forces, while the other survives).
- In Final Fantasy, the four Featureless Protagonists who make up your party are generally called the Light Warriors. The individual characters are simply known by their class. Dissidia Final Fantasy represents them with a Composite Character known as "Warrior of Light", who can't remember his own name because of the events of the original game.
- Every recruitable character in Citizens of Earth has a customisable name, but they default to an epithet which sums them up (e.g. Conspiracy Guy, Pilot, etc).
- Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne let you choose your character's name, but NPC dialogue tends to refer to them by title, and fans of the series have followed suit to distinguish them between games. For reference:
- Dragon Age:
- The protagonist of Dragon Age: Origins is referred to as the Hero of Ferelden or simply as "the Warden" in later installments. They're also referred to by their race- and origin-specific surnames: Cousland for the Human Noble, Surana for the Elf Mage, Amell for the Human Mage, Brosca for the Dwarf Commoner, etc.
- The protagonist of Dragon Age: Origins Awakening is known as the Warden-Commander of Ferelden, unless it happens to be the same person as in Origins thanks to Old Save Bonus.
- The protagonist of Dragon Age II is known mostly by their surname, Hawke, but is also often referred as the Champion of Kirkwall, or simply "the Champion".
- The protagonist of Dragon Age: Inquisition has many monikers, including the Inquisitor, the Herald of Andraste, and simply the Herald. They are also often referred by their race-specific surnames (Trevelyan for humans, Lavellan for elves, Cadash for dwarves, and Adaar for vashoth / "qunari").
- In The Elder Scrolls, each Player Character (aside from Redguard) is customizeable and has no default name, and has a title distinguishing them from the other player characters in the series:
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena: The Eternal Champion
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall: The Agent
- An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire: The Apprentice
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: The Nerevarine
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Stormhold: The Master Tunnel Rat
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Dawnstar: The Hero of Dawnstar
- The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey: The Soul of Conflict
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: The Champion of Cyrodiil
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: The Dragonborn/The Last Dragonborn
- The Elder Scrolls Online: The Vestige or The Soulless One
- The Elder Scrolls: Legends: The Forgotten Hero
- In Diablo 3, All of the player characters are referred to as "The Nephalem", a title with in-universe connotations of beings with limitless potential, distinguishing them from the protagonists of the first two titles, who are called "heroes".
- The Divinity series, although Divine Divinity has a Canon Name instead.
- Beyond Divinity: The Paladin.
- Divinity 2: Alternates between the Dragon Slayer and the Dragon Knight, depending on who knows what.
- Divinity: Dragon Commander: Dragon Commander, often shortened to Commander. Also referred to as Dragon Knight in a few cases; presumably, Dragon Commander is his title and Dragon Knight is how half-dragons are referred to.
- Divinity: Original Sin: Both players are referred to as Source Hunter.
- Divinity: Original Sin II: Players can control one of six available origin characters with preestablished backgrounds or create a custom avatar. Regardless of choice you take on the role of a Sourcerer , one able to wield magical Source, and eventually Godwoken, a Sourcerer chosen by a god to become the next Divine and the majority of characters refer to the members of your party by one of these titles or your chosen race.
- System Shock lets you name your Player Character however you like, but outside of a few emails without voice acting, most characters simply call you "the hacker" since you're running around the station infiltrating its cyberspace and hacking its security. The sequel doesn't even bother with a customisable name, having characters call you "the soldier".
- Deus Ex begins with you giving your character a "real name", but for the sake of voice acting, characters call you by your alias "JC Denton". The sequel puts the player in control of another agent who can be male or female, but is given the gender-neutral name Alex D. The prequel games, Human Revolution and Mankind Divided abandon this in favour of giving the Player Character a fixed name, appearance, and background.
- God Eater: In cutscenes, the customizable protagonists are typically called by their current position (ex. Captain), but the radio operators during the missions refer to them with title Alpha, specifically Alpha One and Blood Alpha for the units they belong to. Emails addressed to the protagonist do however use the name you've given them.
- Pillars of Eternity calls the PC The Watcher, based on their power to read the souls of other people.
- In Tyranny, the player character is known as the Fatebinder, which is an in-universe title for Evil Overlord Kyros' personal representatives.
- Dragon Quest:
- The party of Dragon Quest II are generally known by their titles: the Prince of Laurasia (or the Prince of Midenhall in the US), the Prince of Cannock, and the Princess of Moonbrooke.
- The hero of Dragon Quest III is referred to by the title or Meaningful Rename they receive at the end of the game: Loto (Erdrick in most but not all English versions). Yes, the same legendary ancestor to the heroes of the first two games.
- The hero of Dragon Quest VIII is usually known as "Guv", after Yangus' nickname for him (short for "guv'nor").
- In Dragon Quest XI, the hero carries the title of the Luminary.
- The protagonist of the Ultima series is known as the Stranger from Ultima I to Ultima III and the Avatar from Ultima IV onwards.
- In South Park: The Stick of Truth, the protagonist is officially known as the New Kid but is typically referred to as "Douchebag" by the other kids. In the sequel, they're also given the nickname of "Buttlord".
- The protagonist of Torment: Tides of Numenera is called the Last Castoff, as they're the most recent abandoned avatar of an ancient, body-hopping wizard known as the Changing God. Also because they're literally the last one that will ever be made, since the Changing God is Dead All Along.
- The Outer Worlds: Out-of-universe, the PC is mostly referred to as the Unplanned Variable, a succinct description of their their role in the story. In-universe, they've got multiple potential titles; most refer to them as merely Stranger, party members and other allies call them Captain, and you can optionally take on the identity of Alex Hawthorne (the deceased adventurer who's ship you commandeer at the start of the game), in which case some characters will refer to you by that name.
- Jade Empire: All of the selectable protagonists have canonical names, but whichever you choose is identified in dialogue as simply the Spirit Monk, given they're the only one left.
- In the Neverwinter Nights series, the Player Character varies between modules:
- The hero of Neverwinter Nights 2 racks up a number of identifiers as the story goes on — first the Harborman because you're from West Harbor, Kalach-Cha because of the crystal shard embedded in your chest (literally Shard-Bearer in Gith, though you don't find that out for some time), the Knight-Captain for the rank you take when Crossroads Keep comes under your command, and the Spirit-Eater in Mask of the Betrayer, for the ancient Spirit-Eater curse which you inherit at the beginning of the expansion.
- In Path of Exile, most NPCs refer to the player character as "Exile". Certain characters give them other monikers as well, such as "Survivor" and "Godslayer".
- The protagonist of Disco Elysium has an interesting variation in that, although he has a Canon Name and cannot be renamed by the player, his name is a spoiler, and he has multiple names that he can adopt over the course of the game. In trailers and on this wiki, he's referred to as "the Detective". The game's companion character, Kim, calls you by your job title, such as "lieutenant", "officer", etc. (In Kim's personal notes, he calls you "the 41st", but the scene where you get to witness this is too rare for it to have stuck.) In the game's internal files, he's referred to as "Tequila", based on a scene where his true name is determined to be Tequila Sunset - fans sometimes refer to him as Detective Raphaël Ambrosius Costeau, based on the name he can give himself via a failed Conceptualisation check at the beginning of the game.
- In Overlord you play as, appropriately enough, the Overlord. The final boss of the game is also the Overlord (the real Overlord, who wiped the PC's memory so he'd reconquer the land for him) and the protagonist of the second game is a new Overlord who is given a variety of titles, starting from "Witch-Boy" to "Demon Lord of Nordberg".
- The protagonist of Fire Emblem: Three Houses is canonically named Byleth - but, because the game is fully voiced and the player can choose a different name, everybody just refers to them as Professor.
- In the single-player campaign of Splatoon, your character is christened Agent 3 of the New Squidbeak Splatoon, Agents 1 and 2 being Callie and Marie. In Splatoon 2, the new player character is likewise referred to as Agent 4. The Octoling protagonist of the Octo Expansion is designated Applicant No. 10,008 by Kamabo Co., which Cap'n Cuttlefish decides to shorten to Agent 8.