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Character Name Limits

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"This is great...and all I've done is enter my name! 'Thrillhouse.'"

"Though the villain shames us, we'll pwn all his dark abettors
Funny how our names all contain less than seven letters"

Many older video games have limits to how many letters can be provided in text entries. This can lead to a character's name being shortened to fit into the allotted space. Sometimes an entirely new name is made for the character, other times letters are dropped from the name to make it fit.

This can be quite prevalent in games translated from Japanese – after all, in the Japanese Writing System, a single kanji or kana character can represent an entire syllable which would need multiple letters in the Latin alphabet.

As computing tech marched on, most newer examples are done intentionally, either for Retraux flavor or for parody's sake.

Compare Serendipity Writes the Plot, for when technical limitations change the creative direction of a work of fiction, and Cap. See also Dub Name Change, as differences between languages may cause this to occur when translations are done.



  • Arcade games usually only allowed players to input three initials, which led to:
    • ACE for players showing off the skills they'd just used.
    • Use of abbreviations for company names, like changing "SNK" to "CAP" in Capcom arcade games.
    • TAS for tool assisted runs on emulators.
    • 'ASS', for the more dirty-minded people. Although this might be banned on many modern cabinetsnote . Other profanities or hate terms (FCK, FUC, SHT, KKK, CUM, etc.) are often banned as well. "AUM" in most Japanese games is banned because of its connection to the subway-gassing cult.
  • In Ryu Jin this led to A Winner Is You: the "s!" in "Congratulations!" couldn't fit on the 14-character wide screen.


  • Most game show ports to microcomputers and early consoles allowed eight characters for a player's name.


  • Pokémon was full of this, until later games expanded the character limit:
    • Among Pokémon species, we have Feraligatr and Victreebel, as there's a limit of 10 letters for their names. Victreebel is particularly noticeable as its pre-evolution Weepinbell has both L's. The name limit was increased to 12 for Pokémon X and Y, but the abbreviated names remain.
    • In the beta versions of the original games, Gyarados was called "Skulkraken" due to the same problem.
    • Moves were often abbreviated this way thanks to a 12-character limit (for example, ThunderPunch and ExtremeSpeed). X and Y expanded the limit to 16, so many moves abbreviated this way were expanded up to take advantage of this (e.g. Thunder Punch and Extreme Speed).
    • For human characters, the name limit was seven until Pokémon X and Y, where it was increased to eight.
    • In the English version of Pokémon Stadium, Giovanni's name is spelled "Giovani" due to Trainer names being limited to seven characters.
    • This is why the feather items introduced in Pokémon Black and White are called "Wings" in English and Paralyze Heal is called "Parlyz Heal". Both were lengthened in later games.
    • The notorious bootleg Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal is made even more nonsensical by retaining character limits obviously not designed for a Western language.
    • "Pokémon" is sometimes shortened to "Pkmn" within the early games. To drive the point even further home, the P and K were often combined into one special character, while the M and N were combined into another.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy is filled with these, both with enemies (such as PEDE, as opposed to Centipede, or BLUE D for Blue Dragon) and with spells (such as HRM, LIT). These became especially evident in subsequent re-releases of the game, which had less constrictive character limits and changed many names to be more faithful to their full intended names (example: MADPONY became Crazy Horse, and for a boss, KARY was now Marilith).
    • Final Fantasy II changes several characters' names due to space limits. Frionel became Firion, Leonhart became Leon, and Richard Highwind (eventually) became Ricard Highwind.
    • In Final Fantasy IV, the Four Fiends take their names from The Divine Comedy: Scarmiglione, Cagnazzo, Barbariccia and Rubicante; these became "Milon," "Kainazzo," "Valvalis" and "Rubicant" in the original Super NES release and the PlayStation port. In the same releases, the summons Leviathan and Bahamut appear in the menu as Levia and Baham. In addition, due to the six-character limit on party member names, Gilbart was renamed Edward. On the status screen, a ten-character limit caused Kain's class to be changed from "Dragon Knight" to "Dragoon," which has stuck as The Artifact for other spear-using knights in the series.
    • In Final Fantasy VI:
      • Strago drops the "s" from the end of his Japanese name. Cyan is similarly a simplified version of his Japanese name, Cayenne. These names are still kept in the Advance port despite the extended character limit.
      • The boss Poltrgeist omits an "e", and the Ultima Weapon drops the space and is renamed AtmaWeapon. Both are only in the Super NES and PS1 releases; later releases restore Poltrgeist's name to the Japanese name, Demon, and AtmaWeapon reverted to Ultima Weapon. Also of note in this context is the restoration of the Dummied Out boss CzarDragon as Kaiser Dragon.
      • Some enemy names were simply shortened to be a crunched version of the original name. For example, the boss monster Dirt Dragon is spelled Dirt Drgn.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, the name of Guardian Force Quetzalcoatl has to be shortened to "Quezacotl."
  • In Golden Sun, playable characters get this treatment in the English versions of the game because of this trope, leading to name changes from Gerald to Garet, Garcia to Felix, Jasmine to Jenna and Picard to Piers. Character limits are increased in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, with names like Matthew and Tyrell running around.
  • While it is the first time you name your captain in Granblue Fantasy, you can spell their names as however long as you want (due to it being based on your Mobage account username), However, subsequent renames are limited to six characters without the use of a glitch.
  • Chrono Trigger has the protagonist named "Crono" as there's a limit to five letters to character names. Item names are limited to ten letters, e.g. "SilverErng" (Silver Earring), "Lumin Robe" (Luminous Robe).
    • Chrono Cross has a six letter limit instead. A few of the characters had a Dub Name Change for it (Mamacha to Macha, Marcella to Marcy, Lucky Dan to Mojo, Spriggan to Sprigg).
  • In Super Mario RPG, the mini-boss Belome creates clones of party members which are called "X Clone", except for Princess Toadstool (now known as Peach), whose clone is called "Toadstool 2".
  • One of the reasons Trials of Mana for the SNES was never localized was due to the game's technical problems, including a nasty issue with the game's code where increasing the character limit broke the game in several ways, and would've needed too much time to fix on time for an already late entry in the console's lifespan. The Fan Translation worked around this by renaming Charlotte to Carlie and shortening Hawkeye to Hawk.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories for Game Boy Color has an eighteen-character limit for all card names and the rest is cut. So, "Air Marmot of Nefariousness" is written as "Air Marmot of Nefa", and so on. On the deckbuilding screen it's even worse, with a limit of 8 characters, so "The Unhappy Maiden" only appears as "The Unha" for instance.
  • Live A Live is notable (at least in one English translation) in that several player character names exceed the six-character limit. This means that if you erase the names to input something else, you can't put them back in.
  • The Dragon Quest series often had name entries with enough room for the length of an average name, and it would appear that way in dialogue, but it would be truncated to just the first four letters whenever it needed to fit in menu screens.
    • In the first Dragon Quest Monsters game you only had room for four letters, but the main character's default name was Terry. To solve this problem, the name entry screen starts with "Terry" written in a completely different font than the rest of the game, and you can just play through the game with his name spelled like that. But it's not possible to spell "Terry" yourself if you erase it.
  • The mainline Phantasy Star games, just like Final Fantasy above, give you a whopping four letters to work with. Of course, only the second game lets you rename anyone. Likewise, techniques only had five letters available, so you were left with cryptic spell names like Tsu/Githu/Nathu, Shinb, or Vol/Savol.
  • A constant bane in the Breath of Fire series, specially in its early days.
    • Breath of Fire I has to change or truncate most of the main character's names due to a 4-letter limit, such as changing Gilliam into Bo, Builder into Ox or rendering "Zorgon" and "Carla" as "Zog" and "Cerl". Every single item name was also struck with this, often ending up with confusing names ("A.Ptn" for Agility Potion, "Antdt" for Antidote) or heavily compressed ones with two uppercase letters to indicate type (BronzSD=Bronze Sword, SilverDR=Silver Dagger, etc.). Enemy and town names are not exempt, either.
    • Breath of Fire II is even worse, as it not only suffers the exact same problem as the first, the Translation Trainwreck turned up heavily compressed and at times almost incomprehensible names. Some beauties include "Bleu/Deis's Room=BlueRm", "Circlet"="SokletAR", "Undead Thief" = "Sheef", "Dark Crusader=D.Crsdr", "Mind Blast"="Mindstr" and "Multi-Attack"="Eggbetr".
    • Breath of Fire III increased the character limit for everything (probably due to being the first one on a 32-bit console), but it still couldn't save two of its main characters, as "Garland" and "Pecoros" got truncated into "Garr" and "Peco". A few enemies were also affected, such as the ZombieDr (Zombie Doctor) and Berserkr (Berserker), too.
  • In Terranigma, an eight-character limit resulted in such obviously mangled place names as "Evegreen," "Sanctuar" and "Grecliff" (which was originally Great Cliff). Crystalholm was truncated to "Crysta," obscuring its connection with the only other town whose name ends in -holm (or -olm, since it loses the H for the same reason). The names of weapons, armors, rings and pins (but not other items) also are limited to eight characters, many of them being CamelCased and/or abbreviated (e.g. RocSpear, BrnzPike).
  • In the Lufia series, "Selene" was shortened to "Selan" and "Heidecker" became "Dekar". Lufia: The Legend Returns averted this by allowing other party members' names to be longer than five characters (The Hero is limited to five, but his canon name merely went from "Wein" to "Wain").
  • In Robopon Sun Version for the Game Boy, the player's name was limited to four characters. The character length in the sequel for the Game Boy Advance was an improvement—five characters.
  • In Secret of the Stars, item names are limited to eight characters.
  • The Mega Man Battle Network games follow this trope for the names of NetNavis, which might be an intentional throwback to the older games that had less memorynote . This leads to Navis named FlamMan (FlameMan), the American football-themed FootMan/GridMan and JapanMan (originally YamatoMan.)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess allowed the player to name Link's horse, whose default name was Epona. Of course, the amount of characters that could be used was limited. It turned out that the Wii version of the game had a flaw that allowed a hacked save file to use a name longer than the allowed name length. This led to the infamous "Twilight Hack", which used a hacked save file where the namespace for Epona was instead filled with a program that was loaded and executed when the game loaded the save file, allowing the installation of unauthorized software. This led to a revolution in the Wii homebrew scene.
  • Undertale CamelCases item names in encounter screens and scrunches them down to eight or nine letters, for no apparent reason other than Retraux flavor. For example, butterscotch pie becomes the less appetizing ButtsPie. When you use a SpidrDont (Spider Donut) in battle, it says, "Don't worry, the spider didn't." Certain boss fights remove jokes in the abbreviations; for instance, SpidrDont becomes SpdrDonut. The name you input at the beginning of the game is also limited to six letters, which is why Papyrus allows you to name your character after him, unlike the other major characters.
  • The English version of EarthBound Beginnings often removes letters and spaces in enemy, object and PSI names because of this, which is why we get things like "SuprHealing" instead of "Super Healing," "Def.Down" instead of "Defense Down," and "G.G.F's Diary" instead of "Great-Grandfather's Diary."
  • Parodied in Cthulhu Saves the World's bonus campaign Cthulhu's Angels when Elonalina tries to join October on a quest but can't because her name wouldn't fit in a status box, so she shortens it to "Elona" and joins without trouble.
  • Most games in The Elder Scrolls series have 15 character limits for names. The Elder Scrolls Online ups it to 25.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, there's an eight-character limit for naming characters. Since Chiaki's original surname was Tachibana she had to receive a small Dub Name Change to Hayasaka, which was reverted for the HD remaster. In addition, many choices for the localization of demon race names can be attributed to a seven-character limit for them (though some get around them by using lowercase Ls, which take up less space).
  • Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth and its sequel Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth only have room for six characters, which is tiny for a 3DS game. This means that Yu Narukami and Ren Amamiya can't be given their canon surnames.
  • Likewise, Story of Seasons also has six characters per name, at least in the 3DS games. This is far less understandable, given that you'll end up naming a number of farm animals and will likely want to give them less restrictive names.
  • Crystal Story II: The Hello, [Insert Name Here] feature applies to all main party members in the second game, but names are limited to 8 characters in length.
  • Cute Knight series: Multiple:
    • For both games, Cute Knight and Cute Knight Kingdom, the protagonist's name is limited to being 8 characters long.
    • Cute Knight Kingdom: The save names are limited to being 15 characters long, although, if the names are altered outside of the game, they will still display, but just not properly.
  • Card City Nights 2: The protagonist's name is limited to 14 characters.
  • Artifact Adventure: Party members have a 5-character name limit.
  • Chinese Parents: There's a 7 character limit for its save file names.
  • Little King Story: The protagonist's name is limited to 7 characters.
  • Fate/Grand Order: You message under your name has a limit of 29 characters. This is Played for Laughs in the 2016 (or 2018) English version of the Nerofest, because Ozymandias' title is "There is no limit to the pha-".
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon World: Name input for the Player Character and his Digimon only accepts up to 6 characters.
    • Digimon World 2: 5-character limit for the Player Character and 6 for his Digi-Beetle. Digimon name can accept far longer characters (13), though some are still forced to be shortened in the English version, leading to names like P-Sukamon (PlatinumSukamon), N-Drimogemon (NiseDrimogemon), D-Tyrannomon (DarkTyrannomon), etc. This also results in MasterTyrannomon and MetalTyrannomon sharing the same name of "M-Tyrannomon" (both also belong to the same evolutionary level, albeit with different attributes).
    • Digimon World DS and Digimon World Dawn/Dusk also suffer from this in the English version as the character limit is not increased from the original Japanese, causing the player's Digimon to be stuck at 8 characters (nicknames are mandatory, hence this). However, a Digimon's species name is rendered properly without this much restriction, which makes the player's Digimon look jarring against foe Digimon on the turn queue.
    • For whatever reason, the English version of Digimon Survive abbreviates certain terms under the assumption of this trope despite there being free space available (like Free Bat. for Free Battle).


  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, with certain preparations you can defeat a legendary thief KazaaakplethKilik and get him to join your crew as... Kazaaak. A crewmate's name can be longer than that, but the limit is still not enough for the thief's full name.
  • Plague Inc.: The plague's name is limited to 20 characters.


  • In Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D, your custom characters can have a 9-letter name; but pre-created teams have names longer than that, like Rivertorrent (12 letters).



  • Forums, online games, and practically anything else requiring a name on the Internet usually have a character limit. Most are long enough for most names to fit, but others may have shorter character limits. This is why many people may see user names with two words that are spelled out as one word.
  • A real life example: Canadian producer deadmau5 came up with his name when he opened up his computer tower and found an actual dead mouse inside. He wanted to use "dead mouse" as his screen name on a forum, but the Web site had a limit of eight characters for screen names, forcing him to shorten it to "deadmau5".
  • TV Tropes itself has a 64 characters limit for page names, not including spaces or punctuation that would be included in custom titles. This is due to the underlying software being limited in this way. Any attempt to create a page with a name longer than that will just fail outright.



  • Conversed when Games magazine once ran a contest for modern versions of Mother Goose. One of the runners-up ran as follows:
    John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
    Exceeded the data field
    When he does get junk mail
    It now says without fail
    It says "John Jacob Jingleheim", that's it.
  • In an Archie Comics strip, Archie once asked Jughead to buy him a Vanity License Plate that read SUPERDUDE. It turned out that only the first eight letters would fit on the plate.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the card name Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar was so long that it would not fit unless the designers removed the mana symbols which would go next to the name.


  • The Amazing Digital Circus: In the in-universe game the players live in, Caine can give a new player a randomized name based on a five-character slot machine if the player doesn't name themselves. This is parodied when Pomni's name nearly becomes "XDDCC".


  • Obliquely touched on in MS Paint Masterpieces. The author renamed one of the Robot Masters from Elec Man to Electric Man—because he reasoned/assumed that the character would have been named Electric Man originally if Mega Man hadn't had an eight-character name limit.
  • Homestuck:
    • While not commented upon in-universe, humans and Trolls essential to Sburb/SGRUB have names that fit within certain character limits. Humans have four-character given names and six to seven-character surnames, while Trolls have six-character names for both. Important adult Trolls such as the Ancestors have eight-character names or titles, although some have both. Non-essential people don't have to adhere to the limit (e.g. Colonel Sassacre, Troll Will Smith). This is also true of the 2 Cherubs encountered, both of whom have eight-character given names, but gain names that don't follow that rule when they fill another role (like Caliborn becoming Lord English).
    • Parodied with the names of "kind abstracta" (weapon proficiencies) which are limited to 8 characters + "kind", leading to "fncysntakind" if you wield a fancy Santa as a bludgeon.
  • In El Goonish Shive, when Grace is playing Chrono Trigger, she tries to find a way of naming Robo "Toaster" within the five-character limit (rejecting "Toast" because "he's not bread!"). After rejecting all options because they look more like "Taster" or "Tester", she names him "Bread".



  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "To Bowl or Not to Bowl", Daffy is typing in nicknames for his bowling team: The Porkinator, The Peteinator, and The Marvinator. However, due to the scoreboard's character limits, everyone's name shows up as "THE". When he names himself (the fourth player) "Poobah the Grand", the name comes up as "POO". Daffy then decides Porky will be player four instead of him.
  • On The Simpsons, Milhouse tries to enter "Thrillhouse" as his name when playing a video game, but it ends up as "THRILLHO" instead. It gets funnier when the viewer realizes that "Milhouse" would have fit the character limit.
  • In the episode "The Name" from The Amazing World of Gumball when Gumball beats a game of beating a monster in a arcade machine, he is prompted to write his three character limit name which it can be either "GUM" or "BAL". The Gumball's name resulted to be changed to "ZAC" from Zach. Near in the end of the episode, he expands the three character limit in the arcade game in order to change to his original name.


  • People with vanity plates often run into this.
  • In the old days of MS-DOS, file names were limited to eight characters, plus a three-character extension. Like many other aspects of MS-DOS, these limits were inherited directly from CP/M. (CP/M was actually more generous in this regard than TOPS-10, a mainframe operating system that influenced it, which limited file names to only six characters, resulting in its FORTRAN compiler being named FORTRA. Relics of this can be seen in the proliferation of documentation files named README, as well as the name of the LISP dialect Scheme, which might have been "Schemer" instead if not for the convenient six-letterism.) Today there's still limits on file names and how long the file path can be, but it's impractical to run into these.
  • In the early days of programming, variable and function names had to be limited to a small number of letters to keep symbol tables small and easy to manage. Many compilers would allow longer names to be written but simply ignore all characters past the limit. For a long time, the most widely recognized limit was six letters, since several popular mainframe computer architectures of the 1950s and 1960s used 36-bit words and 6-bit characters. Extremely early versions of UNIX had a five-letter limit because they used 7-bit ASCII characters; "creat" seems to be a legacy of this. (The official explanation is that Ken Thompson simply disliked typing extra letters, which did also have obvious drawbacks on the 110 baud connections common at the time. By the time UNIX first started to become popular, the limit had been increased to seven or eight letters, depending on which language you were using, but command names were limited to six letters for some reason.) Also, some languages limited each statement or command to a single line and lines were limited to 80 characters or shorter. This required people to come up with creative, short names for their variables, subroutines, etc. One major exception was COBOL, whose grammar was designed from the start to resemble natural English as much as possible and allowed identifiers of more than 20 characters even in very early versions, though many programmers abhorred its verbosity and Obstructive Bureaucrat-like source formatting requirements. While line limits are a thing of the past and modern programming language standards require compilers to accept and distinguish names containing a substantial number of letters, it's preferable to keep names as short as possible because a really long name can be annoying to read and cumbersome to type.
    • Neal Stephenson writes in "In The Beginning Was The Command Line", about the shortened directory names inherent to UNIX:
    "Note the obsessive use of abbreviations and avoidance of capital letters; this is a system invented by people to whom repetitive stress disorder is what black lung is to miners. Long names get worn down to three-letter nubbins, like stones smoothed by a river."
  • When computers started getting used for school records in The '80s, there were limits of ten characters for first names. One problem: one of the most common American boys' names of The '70s, Christopher, had 11 letters, so teachers often had several CHRISTOPHEs in their class rolls.
  • This trope is enforced in horse racing. Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds (the latter used in harness racing) can have no more than 18 characters in their registered names, at least in English-speaking countries. This count includes spaces and punctuation. The US has long allowed apostrophes in names; the UK and Ireland have fairly recently allowed this as well. American Quarter Horses can have 20 characters, again including spaces, but punctuation marks are not allowed. For example, the 2021 European Horse of the Year (Thoroughbred) is "St Mark's Basilica", who was foaled in France and trained in Ireland. The name is exactly at the character limit for a Thoroughbred in the Anglosphere, but would not be allowed for a quarter horse because of the apostrophe. There are other restrictions that we won't go into here.
    • Japan has similar restrictions, requiring that Thoroughbreds have no fewer than 2 or more than 9 Japanese syllabic characters in their registered names.
  • The American Kennel Club has multiple restrictions on what the registered dog's name can be due to the way their archaic system for storing dog names works. They charge additional fees for dog names exceeding 36 characters (includes spaces and non-alphabet characters), and have a hard limit of 50. Also related, they can only register up to 37 dogs with the same name, which is likely due to the fact the Roman numeral for 38 (XXXVIII) is the lowest number that breaks the 6-character limit for Roman numerals. They also don't allow you to register dog names with a Roman numeral at the end, likely for similar reasons.
  • Assembly languages have a tendency to rely on three-letter mnemonics for many if not all instructions. They need to abbreviate most instruction names in any case, and the need for abbreviation was especially strong on historic systems which required source code to occupy fixed-width fields on coding forms designed for keypunching. The three-character limit dates back to assemblers written for some early IBM computers (and virtual machines running on the same), in which three 6-bit characters made up exactly one half of a 36-bit machine word. Many later assembly languages never strictly adhered to this limit, but retained obvious three-letter abbreviations such as MOV (move) and NOP (no-op) due to the force of tradition.