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Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames

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...I thought his last name was "America"...

"The Avengers roster bloats even further with Vision, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, who, for some reason, are never called 'Vision', 'Scarlet Witch' or 'Quicksilver'."
Honest Trailers for Avengers: Age of Ultronnote 

Steven Ulysses Perhero finally got a role in the newest blockbuster film! Finally, the mainstream audience can be introduced to the awesomeness that is Grass Man!

...Except no one ever calls him that.

Throughout the movie, he's just "Steven Ulysses". We get all of one scene where he hints at casual drug use in college, saying his roommates used to call him "The Grass Man" with a snicker. Afterwards, they never use that name again, even when he gets the ability to control plants. Heck, even the end credits refer to the character as "Steven". What the heck just happened?

Simple: "Grass Man" is a name that the general audience might have a hard time taking seriously, and the producers knew it. Sure, that's what he's been called for decades in the comics, but there are very poignant reasons why people still have a hard time disassociating comic books with Campiness. Decades ago, "Grass Man" might have been perfectly feasible for a character that can control plants, but nowadays, there's almost no way to use that name around the uninitiated without invoking a snort and a snicker. Hell, even a potentially "cool" name like "The Sabre" or "Dark Wolf" might seem a little too superheroic, especially if you're going to be calling someone by that name the whole movie. And on the villain side, it probably wouldn't make sense for someone to go through a traumatic experience and immediately start calling themselves "Dr. Destructo".

However, because the producers don't want to completely alienate the comic fans which supported the character to begin with, they add a little Shout-Out just to appease them. "Grass Man" was definitely in the movie, even if that wasn't officially his name. They might even call the movie "Grass Man" without ever calling the character that. However, sometimes this trope gets taken even further and the superhero name is never used at all.

In the case of long-running TV adaptations rather than movies, it's not uncommon for the writers to forget that they're using this trope after a while and accidentally use the character's comic book codename once or twice in a non-ironic fashion. Furthermore, it wouldn't make much sense for the hero to refer to himself and be referred to by his real name when around people who don't know his secret identity, so in those cases the code name has to be used.

Related to Movie Superheroes Wear Black, Not Wearing Tights. Superhero Sobriquets, however, may be exempt from this rule, due to the fact that they're used more as a title than a "name". If the character's real name from the comics also sounds too outlandish for general audiences, expect an Adaptation Name Change to something more digestible (e.g., Steven Ulysses Perhero becomes "Steven Peters"). Conversely, Named by the Adaptation can be used to in addition to this trope, particularly if the character had no name other than their code name to begin with. Contrast with Do Not Call Me "Paul", which is when calling a character by their true name is forbidden. And Kayfabe is when it can't even be hinted that a fantasy character has another identity.

Note: Aversions must be notable. If we try to name every superhero film/media that averts this, we'll be reading this all day.


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    (Non-MCU) Spider-Man Films 
  • An entire scene played for laughs in Spider-Man 2 was dedicated to J. Jonah Jameson coming up with a good nickname for Doctor Octopus, only for him to mostly go by his real name or the nickname "Doc Ock" for most of the movie, as well as the real life advertising and merchandising.
  • Venom is known only by his real name, Eddie Brock, throughout all of Spider-Man 3. Similarly, Flint Marko is generally known by his real name for most of the film until a reporter calls him "the Sandman" during the final battle.
    • In the novelization, the name is at least alluded to when Eddie taunts Spider-Man by saying that they are (in reference to himself in the symbiote) his "venom."
    • Averted in the solo Venom reboot. The Venom symbiote is estabilished to have a character of his own, and his connection to Eddie outright leads to the iconic catchphrase, "We. Are. Venom."
  • While Norman Osborn was called "Green Goblin" multiple times in the first movie, when it came time for his son Harry to adopt that persona, the name was never uttered. In fact, promotional material called him New Goblin, a name that was never used in the comics. The closest Harry comes to being known as the Green Goblin is when Peter mockingly calls him "Goblin Jr.". Harry himself strips most of the goblin styling out of the hardware, going for basic armor and a hoverboard in place of the spiky hang-glider (which makes sense, given that those spikes killed his father...).
  • Averted in The Amazing Spider-Man. The mutated Dr. Curt Connors is referred to as "the Lizard" several times. Spider-Man himself, of course, is another clear aversion.
    • Played straight and averted in the sequel though. Spider-Man is called such very frequently. Electro refers to himself as such even when he's just being tortured and continues to when he becomes a proper villain. Harry, however, isn't called the Green Goblin at all. The Rhino gets very little screen time but is only identified by his civilian name (though he calls himself The Rhino). We also have "Felicia" but she doesn't become Black Cat within the film.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Played with. The villains Prowler, Kingpin, Green Goblin, and Doc Ock are usually referred to by codename by themselves or most of the heroes, while Peter Parker himself tends to refer to them by name, such as "Norm" or "Fisk", etc, causing him to feel more casual.

    DC Extended Universe 
  • In Man of Steel, Clark/Kal-El is never directly called Superman. At one point, Lois almost says it before being cut off, and a soldier refers to him by the nickname to the confusion of his commanding officer. Presumably the soldiers got it from Lois.
  • On the other hand, the film also features Anatoli Knyazev, who's never called KGBeast. Justified, as the KGB has been disbanded a long time ago.
  • When Diana suits up in the finale to battle Doomsday alongside Bruce and Clark, she's never given a codename and is only referred to as Wonder Woman in the credits. This at least is justified in that the other two know nothing about her, and aren't going to stop and ask in the middle of a battle.
    Superman: Is she with you?
    Batman: I thought she was with you.
  • Likewise, Bruce is only actually called "Batman" once, when Perry says that nobody would be interested in Clark Kent fighting the Batman. The other times it's some variation of "the Bat" to refer to him. It also appears written once in the Batcave. What is heavily implied to be Jason Todd's body armor can be seen, with the armor having been painted with the message "Looks like the joke's on you Batman".
  • The creature is never called "Doomsday," though Lex Luthor uses the term when describing its role.
  • Wonder Woman never has the title character referred to as anything other than Diana.
  • Justice League:
    • Averted with Aquaman and Batman. Wonder Woman also calls Victor "a Cyborg", though it's unknown if he will adopt it as an official codename in future movies.
    • Played straight with The Flash and Wonder Woman, who are only called Barry and Diana, respectively. Ezra Miller has attempted to justify this by saying it makes sense that Barry doesn't have an official codename yet, since he's still a young man who has only just recently started his crime-fighting career. His first exposure to the name comes in Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019), when a run-in with another Barry Allen literally gives himself the idea of his iconic code name.
    • Unlike the Avengers in their movies, the name "Justice League" is never actually used in the film, though Lex Luthor mentions that they are forming a "league".
    • In the case of Diana, this is averted in Zack Snyder's Justice League, where Barry does call her "Wonder Woman" in one scene. Also, the name "Justice League" is seen on the ruined Hall of Justice in the Knightmare future. And Calvin Swanwick introduces himself to Bruce as the Martian Manhunter in the final scene.
  • Averted in Aquaman: The codenames are there, but given new spins.
    • Black Manta took his name from his grandfather, who was a Navy diver in World War II and nicknamed "Manta" for his skill at moving silently underwater, and the black armor-cum-diving suit he wears.
    • "Ocean Master" is, in the DCEU, not a villain name, but an ancient Atlantean title somewhere between "High King" and "Supreme Commander". The usage has fallen into disuse after Atlantis sank, but the title and power can still be claimed by any Atlantean who can convince the rulers of four of the seven kingdoms of Atlantis to back their claim.
  • Aquaman is referred to by that name, though it is never used in any official capacity and is more of a Folk Hero name than anything else.
  • Played with in SHAZAM! (2019), as the title character is never directly referred to as such (nor his original codename Captain Marvel, since that's held by Carol Danvers in her competing film). However, he is referred to by several other tentative codenames as a Running Gag throughout the film, and when he gives his family superpowers, he tells them to say his name to activate them, implying he considers "Shazam" as his superhero name. The same goes for Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr
  • In Birds of Prey (2020), Roman Sionis is only referred to as Black Mask once, by Harley in her voice-over narration, and given how kooky she is some fans think it's just her personal nickname for him. He doesn't actually don his mask until the climax.
  • The Suicide Squad zig-zags this.
    • Most of the Team A members, including Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Blackguard, Javelin, T.D.K. and Weasel only ever get called by their codenames, with their civilian names either going unmentioned or appearing as Freeze Frame Bonuses when their files are briefly shown onscreen. Savant's real name, Brian Durlin, gets mentioned once by Rick Flag, and even then it's only his surname.
    • On Team B, Robert DuBois and Christopher Smith are introduced by their real names while in prison, but are respectively referred to as Bloodsport and Peacemaker for most of the movie. Cleo Cazo gets called Ratcatcher 2 a few times, but her teammates mainly call her Cleo, while Abner Krill mostly gets called by his first name, with Polka-Dot Man usually being said in a derisive manner by those who don't take his powers seriously. Likewise, King Shark mostly goes by his real name, Nanaue, after his introduction.
    • Characters go back and forth between referring to Gaius Grieves as the Thinker and just calling him Grieves. Starro is mostly called that, but its full comic title of "Starro the Conqueror" is used only sparingly, with Grieves claiming that he came up with the name as a form of mockery.
    • The original Ratcatcher is only referred to by that name. His real name from the comics, Otis Flannegan, never comes up, and may not apply in this continuity since his nationality was changed from American to Portuguese.
  • In The Flash (2023), Kara is called Supergirl exactly once by Alternate Barry, and this is treated as a zany suggestion that does not stick. On the other hand the other heroes are called by their codenames throughout the movie.

    Other Films 
  • In Casshern, the titular hero only refers to himself as "Casshern" once, and it isn't even near the climax of the movie.
  • Hulk hardly uses the term "hulk", the characters preferring to call him Bruce Banner, or "Angry Man". His father was never a supervillain, so he never had a codename to begin with.
    • His father was kind of a Composite Character, with powers similar to the Absorbing Man's. He even turns briefly into an electrical humanoid like old Hulk's foe Zzzax. Think about which of those names would have been less Camp...
    • In the DVD commentary, Ang Lee notes that he didn't want to call him "Absorbing Man" and briefly calls him "Partaking Man", coming from David Banner's line: "I can partake in the essences of all things." But this name is never used in the film itself either.
  • The Fantastic Four Duology rarely mention the codenames of the heroes and never refer to Victor Von Doom as Doctor Doom (this is actually in keeping with the nature of the original series, since none of the characters had a Secret Identity). Resident clown Johnny makes up the codenames on the spot when being interviewed, thus explaining the apparent cruelty of Ben being named "The Thing".
    • Oddly, "Doctor Doom" would seem to be a perfectly sensible thing to call a person with a doctor's degree whose last name is "Doom". In some of the dubs (the Brazilian one, for example), his line "Call me Doom" is changed to "Call me Doctor Doom".
    • In the 2015 reboot, Sue jokingly calls Doom "Doctor Doom". It also avoids any kind of codenames for the heroes until the very end, when Reed starts brainstorming names for the team and Johnny jokingly suggests "The Human Torch and the Torchettes" and "Two Guys, a Girl, and The Thing Nobody Wanted". Reed eventually gets an idea when he hears the word "fantastic", but then the movie cuts to the end credits before he actually says it.
    • This is true to the comics as they rarely use the code names with each other, since they are public figures. Reed, especially, is better known for his scientific accomplishments. Ben and Johnny are more likely to use them in public since they are more outgoing and are more likely to cater to "fans". Ben will call himself "The Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing", but other heroes rarely do.
  • Kamen Rider: The First and The Next, Darker and Edgier modernized retellings of the original series and V3, never use the name "Kamen Rider"; Takeshi Hongo and Hayato Ichimonji are called Hopper 1 and 2 respectively, while Shiro Kazami is simply called V3 (which, in the movie's universe, stands for Version 3). This is in line with the majority of modern Kamen Rider TV shows; see below.
  • Ghost in the Shell (2017) has an odd inversion with its take on Hideo Kuze; he was only known as "Hideo" as a child and "Kuze" is a codename he uses as a cyborg.
  • Ghost Rider Duology:
    • Johnny himself only ever refers to his firey-headed alter-ego as the Rider.
    • In Ghost Rider (2007), Ghost Rider is mentioned quite a bit. When Sam Elliot's character is revealed as the original Spirit of Vengeance, the name Phantom Rider is not mentioned. This is likely due to the comic character being obscure, the reveal happens not long before the character leaves the film, and the characters have little in common.
    • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance never refers to Carrigan's character as Blackout, which was his name in the comics.
  • While not a traditional superhero, Tarzan is a pulp hero who was an inspiration for the superhero genre and shares many elements. That said, in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, he never goes by his more famous moniker but instead is called John or Lord Graystoke. Tarzan is never mentioned except for the title.
  • In RoboCop (2014), after his conversion into a cyborg, Alex Murphy is only called "RoboCop" twice: Once by Pat Novak as a propaganda catchphrase, then later by his partner Lewis as a joke ("Good Cop, RoboCop"). Otherwise, he's mostly referred to by his real name, as unlike in the original trilogy, the fact that he's Alex Murphy is a matter of public record.
  • A non-superhero, non-comic book example, the Impossible Missions Force is generally referred to as the IMF throughout the majority of the Mission: Impossible Film Series. In Mission: Impossible III, when Ethan reveals to Julia that he is a spy that works for the IMF, she asks him what it stands for and laughs at the full form, before he confirms that he is not kidding.
  • In The Punisher (2004) The Punisher spends most of the movie being called his first or last name, as it is an origin story. There are only two references to his code name. The first is before the final battle, when he says what he's doing isn't vengeance but punishment. The second is the last line of the movie, where he says "Frank Castle is dead. Call me... The Punisher."
  • In Thor: Tales of Asgard, Valkyrie is simply called Brunhilde, though her group of female warriors are collectively known as the Valkyries.
  • Big Hero 6:
    • Big Hero 6 inverts it—we never learn the real names of Honey Lemon, Wasabi, and Gogo Tomago. Then again, we never learned in the comics if "Wasabi No Ginger" was an alias or not, and even ignoring his Race Lift, "Wasabi" is stated to be a nickname. Likewise, given their Race Lifts (they go from Japanese to Latina and Korean-American), it's equally unlikely that Honey and Gogo's real names are respectively "Aiko Miyazaki" and "Leiko Tanaka"; in fact, regarding the latter, according to Gogo's voice actress, Jamie Chung, Gogo's first name is "something plain like Ethel."
      • Additionally, these aren't their superhero names — these are their nicknames. The show even expands on this, where it's made clear that their identities are not public, resulting in a fangirl coming up with unofficial superhero names for them for her fanfiction — Captain Cutie, Speed Queen, Flamejumper, Tall Girl, Chop-Chop, and Red Panda.
    • The team is never called "Big Hero 6" in the movie. However, during the closing credits, a news website headline reads "Big Hero 6 Saves Orphanage". The show reveals that Fred came up with the name in the pilot episode, which is an interquel that takes place during the ending after Hiro starts attending SFIT and before Hiro rebuilds Baymax.
  • Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher never sees Elihas Starr called "Egghead".
  • In Batman & Robin never sees Jason Woodrue called "the Floronic Man". Though, we never see him go "Floronic" in the first place.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Reflection and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Detonation, the Gears, Materials, and U-D are only ever referred to by name. Due to all of their backstories being changed, none of those titles would be accurate anyway.
  • Inverted in Mortal Kombat (2021). Reptile is Only Known by Their Nickname in the games, but here, he's only called Syzoth, his real name. Presumably because calling him "Reptile" would make him come across as less scary than he actually is.
  • Inverted with the Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) and its sequel, who is only referred to as the Shredder. His real name, Oroku Saki, is only used in the first film as The Reveal that the Shredder has been Oroku Saki all along.

  • In the 1989 Watchmen script by Sam Hamm, all the superheroes in the Cold Opening are referred to with codenames except Adrian Veidt. In the main action, when Nite Owl and the Silk Spectre come back into superhero action, they are still respectively named Dreiberg and Laurie in descriptive actions and dialogue headers. The name Ozymandias goes unused, but it's justified - Hamm's version of Veidt was never a superhero himself. His only involvement in the pre-Keene Act days was as a financier/quartermaster to the team.
  • Hideo Kojima originally planned to drop the Solid Snake and Otacon nicknames in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and have the two characters address each other by their real names (Dave and Hal), but this idea was rejected once he realized that Solid Snake became too much of an iconic character.

Non-film examples

    Anime & Manga 
  • Inverted in One-Punch Man. When Genos meets Metal Knight for the first time he keeps calling him by his name, Bofoi. Eventually, Metal Knight asks him to not call him that, because it's a common sense to call heroes by hero names, not real names. Scientist still calls the cyborg Genos, but it's justified since he's a newcomer and his hero name wasn't chosen by then yet.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Ultimate X-Men: When introduced, Emma Frost did not use the "White Queen" cognomen, as she (at first at least) had no connection to the Hellfire Cub.
    • Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra: Matt works as a vigilante, but never uses the name "Daredevil". Elektra is not a codename, it's her actual name, so it doesn't count.
    • Ultimate Vision: George Tarleton is never called "Modok" or "Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing".
  • In Nextwave, none of the members use their code names except for The Captain, and that's only because nobody knows his real name. Machine Man actively mocks Monica's attempts to use them stating that Tabby's (Boom-Boom) sounds stupid, hers (Photon) sounds non-threatening, and his own (as well as his real name which is just a model code) doesn't give him much of an identity.
  • The Runaways started off with some code names, but dropped them almost immediately, except for one who insisted on being called "Princess Powerful" (note that she's a 12 year old girl...). Just as well, their code names sucked. The dinosaur still kept the name Old Lace to go with Gert's soon abandoned "Arsenic" codename, but since she's a dinosaur, she does not have a "normal" name.
  • One of the reasons that Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is considered a notable move towards "Grim and Gritty" storytelling in comics is that it manages to go the entire story without referring to any of the superheroes (other than Batman) by their code names, thus making it easier to put the story in a real world context.
  • The Killing Joke never has Batman or The Joker referred to by their codenames; they are always referred to by some other descriptor, such as "bat-themed vigilante", and the closest to their actual names is when "Joker" appears partially obscured on the Batcomputer.
  • In another Joker-related graphic novel, Joker, Oswald Cobblepot is never addressed by his real name or his criminal identity, The Penguin. Joker only ever refers to him as "Abner" as a sign of disrespect.
  • Secret Six: Catman simply goes by his civilian identity of Thomas Blake.
  • Very briefly during the Knightfall saga of 1993-1994, there is a storyline in which, shortly after the defeat of Bane, one of Gotham City's mobsters enlists the services of "Mekros" to take down Batman. Nobody ever learns Mekros's real name (the mob boss even refers to him as "Codename: Mekros", which is also the title of the story) or even sees his face, because he is a masked, cybernetic, brainwashed assassin who is a product of the CIA's legendary "MK-Ultra" project from the Cold War (which gets a Continuity Nod a couple of years later when Batman faces off against a woman who is the product of that same program, although Mekros is never named again). However, Mekros himself never uses the name Mekros, for the only reason he ever speaks at all is because he's been programmed by mind-bending drugs to endlessly recite passages from Machiavelli's The Prince, the most prominent of which is "Only the Phoenix survives chaos." Thus, more naive readers could have been forgiven for assuming his codename was "The Phoenix."
  • A one-off Superman villain in the early 2000s eschewed giving himself an alias, instead using his given name, "Gabriel Van Daniken." He even mocks the practice of villains giving themselves code names:
    "You think just because I put on this battlesuit, and threaten to poison the water supply, I have to give myself a ridiculous-sounding alias? Get a grip, Superman. I'm thirty-five years old!"
  • Done via retcon for Hal Jordan's nemesis, Sinestro. "Sinestro" was originally just his supervillain title (an obvious play on "sinister"), but as he was fleshed out as a fallen Green Lantern who went rogue, it was decided that "Thaal Sinestro" was actually his real name. Calling him "Sinestro" is the equivalent of calling Lex Luthor "Luthor".
  • He barely counts as a superhero, but Marvel's World War I Ace Pilot character the Phantom Eagle got this in his Marvel MAX miniseries. His codename is only alluded to twice: Once when he is asked what he calls his plane (and is interrupted mid-sentence) and then in the last issue when Booker asks him how he was going to get around his german name. He explains he was going to call himself the Phantom Eagle if anyone from the papers asked. They have a hearty laugh over that.
  • Green Arrow: During the 80s run by Mike Grell when he lived in Seattle, Ollie abandoned most of the "superhero" trappings of his life, including the name "Green Arrow". In the entire 80-issue run, he's never referred to by that name. People usually call him Ollie or "That Robin Hood lookin' dude."
  • Played with by X-23: She wasn't even given a real name until she was thirteen years old, when her dying mother, Dr. Sarah Kinney, named her Laura. Until that point, she was either referred to by her Facility code name, X-23 (derived as her being Sarah's 23rd attempt to create a female clone), or various insults (particularly as being an animal) to dehumanize her. Her official codename with the X-Men, Talon, is almost never used or referenced. Most of her friends, loved ones and teammates just call her Laura, and occasionally they'll use "X" as a sort of nickname. X-23 is used much less frequently within the books, though is how she's typically marketed.

    Fan Works 
  • In Sonic the Comic – Online!, Shortfuse tries to dub Sonic's new form "Hyper Sonic" but Amy cuts him off by saying it's "just Sonic".
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe/The Hunger Games crossover fic A Man Like No Other, following the MCU convention, the Avengers are rarely called by their comic book names, with the Hulk as the only exception simply to distinguish him from Bruce Banner. The few times Steve Rogers is called Captain America—most notably, during a confrontation with President Coin— is largely to emphasize his Memetic Badass reputation.
    • Inverted in Katniss’ case, as her title as “Mockingjay” is elevated to a codename, and the Avengers call her this as much as they call her Katniss. When the Victors form the New Avengers, Finnick adopts the codename “The Mariner,” Johanna becomes “Bloodaxe,” and Peeta becomes the new Iron Man.
  • In Finmonster's Danny Phantom/ParaNorman crossover fic Harbinger, Danny never goes by his "Danny Phantom" codename, unlike in the show. Instead, the public simply names him "The Phantom".
  • In the There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton series, the Fantastic Four are never called that or by their comic hero names, though Iron Man does offhandedly call Johnny "human torch". It's justified by the fact that they start as criminals on a leash and none of them are heroes yet.
  • Despite being called Platinum the Trinity in the Author's Notes of BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant, they're otherwise never referred to by that within the story itself and only go by whoever's in control at the time.

  • The Animorphs were rarely referred to as that within the books, except by Marco (who coined the name); this was partially because most of their enemies thought them to be Andalites, not humans (hence referring to them as "Andalite bandits"). They did start using it more frequently towards the end, though (and it was also used quite a bit in the TV series, too).
  • Avengers of the Moon, by Allen Steele, is an Origin Story homage novel of Pulp Magazine sci-fi hero Captain Future. In-Universe Curt Newton hates the name, which he came up with while he was a child playing at being a superhero, and when it's adopted to protect his Secret Identity everyone regards it with derision, except Ul Quorn (known as the 'Magician of Mars') who sees it as a sign they aren't so different.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Smallville:
    • Clark Kent is never referred to as Superman, though the word is mentioned multiple times in reference to Friedrich Nietzsche. The traditional "Superman Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster" message appears in the intro.
    • Because of its Prequel state, most characters aren't referred to by codenames, as the incidents that led to them adopting these names haven't happened yet. Green Arrow is the first to do so, and we'd known him for more than a full season when he started using it.
    • It takes a weird turn when Clark finally becomes a full time but covert crime fighter and is dubbed with the comparatively unimpressive name "The Blur", which is used frequently even by him.
    • Clark finally starts using the Superman persona in the Grand Finale, and by the epilogue seven years later his alter ego is known to the world by that name, but "Superman" is used to refer to him only exactly once by Chloe.
    • Slade Wilson gets a Marvel movie-style codename treatment: as a General Ripper and not a supervillain, "Deathstroke the Terminator" is never uttered. However, after coming back from a should-have-been-fatal injury with no harm beyond now having his Eyepatch of Power, he said that "the reaper can swing his sickle at me, but I'm beyond death's stroke now." Also, because the Teen Titans cartoon version is so well-known, way more people are on a First-Name Basis with him than you'd expect with a general. He is pretty much just called Slade.
    • Brainiac is short for "Brain Interactive Construct" and he's usually described as that when not being called by the name of his assumed human identity. We don't hear the name "Brainiac" for several seasons after his introduction.
    • Bizarro does it the same way Slade would go on to: When a Phantom Zone criminal absorbs Clark's DNA to create a body that's an exact copy of his, powers and all, he answers Clark's What the Hell Are You? moment with "I'm you, only a little more bizarre."
  • In The Incredible Hulk (1977) TV series, reporter Jack McGee and his readers often use the name "the Hulk," but most characters (including the Hulk's alter-ego David Banner) just say "the creature."
  • Gotham:
    • The series plays with this: Bruce Wayne is still a kid and not a superhero yet, so he's not called Batman. Selina Kyle is already a thief, but instead of Catwoman, she's just called Cat, a nod to the fact that Catwoman was originally just called "The Cat." Oswald Cobblepot is nicknamed "The Penguin", but he really doesn't appreciate being called that and most people just call him "Cobblepot." Similarly, Edward Nygma's villainous side calls himself "Riddler" to distinguish that side of him from his nerdish alter-ego "Ed", but he's usually "Ed" or "Nygma" to others.
    • As Cobblepot's star rises within the Gotham mob, he grows more fond of his nickname, even insisting on "The Penguin" when a henchman drops the article. Conversely, Oswald actually makes a point of not calling Edward Nygma "Riddler" as a way of mocking Nygma's evil alter-ego.
    • This is likewise played with, with more minor or new villains, some are called by their codename more than their real one. The Balloon man, The Electrocutioner, The Ogre, and notably the Dollmaker (whose real name is only mentioned once by himself). Others don't have a code name, and some are only known by their codename (such as Copperhead). A few use code names because these names and personas were imposed upon them by Hugo Strange's mental tampering, suppressing their original identities.
    • The Valeska brothers pose an interesting case. Each is clearly based on the Joker, but on different versions of the character as he's been depicted in various eras and media. Moreover, the producers are allegedly unable to call either Valeska "the Joker", due to Warner Brothers' desire to use Joker exclusively in their feature-length movies. Outside the show on social media the cast and crew normally referred to Jerome as "Mr. J" in order to get round this problem, and to conceal the fact that his twin Jeremiah would be succeeding Jerome in the role of Gotham's Joker.
    • Averted with Ra's al Ghul and the Court of Owls, as both have been around so long that their titles would have been taken perfectly seriously in their eras of origin.
  • Usually averted in the 1966-1968 Batman (1966) TV series, but on occasion the more serious villains would have their true names mentioned, such as Batman referring to Mr. Freeze as "Dr. Shivel" in Freeze's very first episode (the "Victor Fries" name did not yet exist). There were also a few more ordinary villains who went by their birth names, or at least by names that sounded like they could be real, such as "Nora Clavicle", a crooked female politician. And there were more subtle examples: Commissioner Gordon was never once called "James" or "Jim"; of course, considering what a stuffed shirt this incarnation was compared to other portrayals, he probably wouldn't have appreciated anything other than "Commissioner."
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon plays with it. In contrast to the anime where the girls made a point of addressing each other by codenames when transformed, they're more likely to call each other by their real names. They're only ever called 'Sailor X' when they themselves are delivering their In the Name of the Moon speech, when someone is talking about them or from people who don't know their civilian names. And often they'll drop the 'Sailor' part and refer to the respective girl by her planet's name instead.
  • A non-superhero version: nobody on Scream: The TV Series uses the term "Ghostface" to describe the killer, instead calling them "the Lakewood Slasher" if they're not just defaulting to "the killer".
  • Swamp Thing (2019):
    • The title character is not called Swamp Thing, and is mostly still known as Alec Holland. The closest we get is when the creature is called a thing a few times.
    • The Phantom Stranger is not called by that name, though the moniker is alluded to when he's first asked who he is:
    "Just a passing stranger, or maybe a phantom from a dream."
    • Blue Devil is only the name of an in-universe superhero movie Daniel Cassidy starred in. Even when he transforms into his demonic form, nobody calls him that.
    • Jason Woodrue is exclusively known by that name rather than the Floronic Man, though this is justified by him being a civilian scientist rather than a supervillain. He finally mutates into his iconic comic book form during the final scene of the series, so it's possible the name "Floronic Man" would've been used in Season 2 had the show not been Cut Short.
    • Averted with Madame Xanadu, who, being an eccentric fortune teller, is addressed by that name.
  • Zig-zagged in Doom Patrol (2019):
    • Larry Trainor and Rita Farr were initially only addressed as Negative Man and Elasti-Woman in advertising and wouldn't use the codenames in the actual series until the fourth season.
    • Crazy Jane is called that on multiple occasions, but her friends mostly call her Jane. Her Split Personalities retain their names from the comics, even the outlandish ones like Hammerhead, the Hangman's Daughter, Babydoll, the Scarlet Harlot and Silver Tongue.
    • Cyborg is mostly called Victor or Vic by his teammates, but is still well known as Cyborg by the public. Whenever he's addressed by a civilian or a villain, it's usually as Cyborg.
    • Niles Caulder is called the Chief often enough that the rest of the Doom Patrol pretty much use "Niles" and "Chief" interchangeably.
    • All of the original members of the Doom Patrol (Mento, Celsius and Lodestone) have their codenames said onscreen except Tempest, who is simply known as Joshua Clay.
    • Averted by the Beard Hunter, who is primarily known by that name. Pretty much the only one who uses his real name, Ernest, is his mom.
    • Flex Mentallo is fond of introducing himself as "The Man of Muscle Mystery," and Rita recalls that he was referred to as "The Hero of the Beach" in old advertisements.
    • Averted with Mr. Nobody, who is mostly called that. His real name, Eric Morden, rarely comes up.
    • Valentina Vostok appears in the second season, but in spite of being bonded to a negative spirit like Larry Trainor, is never called Negative Woman.
    • Madame Rouge and the Fog of the Sisterhood of Dada (this continuity's take on the Brotherhood of Dada) are the only members of the group to be addressed by their codenames from the comic.
  • Mostly averted by The Boys (2019), where while the "Supes" get street names, the only one who gets called by hers as much as her codename is Annie\Starlight. Though played straight regarding the title group's The Female, given she's Named by the Adaptation and thus people have a reason to call her Kimiko instead.
  • Whilst Jupiter's Legacy normally does a good job at averting this, making sure a character's normal and superhero/villain identities get namedropped at least once, however Barnabus Wolfe, who both here and in the comics mostly goes by his civilian name, doesn't have his former alias of The Molecule Master mentioned even once.
  • Legion:
    • David Haller is referred to as Legion on several occasions, but most of the time, everyone calls him David.
    • Professor X is never addressed by his codename or even his surname Xavier; it's always Charles.
  • In The Umbrella Academy (2019), the Umbrellas are never referred to their codenames from the comics, which makes sense considering that they no longer do hero work. Instead, they are referred to by their name or number, though they're numbers are predominantly used by their father. Also, some of their codenames no longer work in the new context.

  • Although the Guillermo del Toro Hellboy films avert this trope, the toyline for the second movie does not. The first movie's toys, sold only in specialty shops, were sold under the "Hellboy" title, and featured the character's name on the packaging; the second movie's toys, sold in Toys R Us, were apparently from the movie "HBII," and the main character was "Red."
  • The movie toys for Kick-Ass go out of their way to avoid putting the word "ass" anywhere on the packaging. The toys for the second movie went so far as to have "uncensored" package variants sold as an exclusive.
  • Likewise, Hasbro's Marvel Legends Thunderbolts box set had to refer to Satana (the literal daughter of the devil) by her civilian name of "Judith Chambers" to avoid controversy.

    Video Games 
  • None of the characters in the Batman: Arkham Series refer to the series's version of Hush by that name, instead calling him by his real name (Tommy Elliot) or as "the Identity Thief". His bios in Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham Knight and his character showcase in the latter two, all use the name, however, and he's called "Hush" in the subtitles as well.
    • Ditto Professor Pyg.
    • While in the first game, Edward Nygma is the only one to call himself The Riddler, possibly highlighting his Small Name, Big Ego tendencies, in the second Batman drops that name a lot, particularly when interrogating his informants.
    • Man-Bat is called either "the creature" or "Langstrom" by Batman and Alfred. The closest we get is after he's arrested, and the evidence locker of him has Aaron Cash wondering what to call him. He notes that Batman is taken, and Langstrom is more of a Man-Bat anyway.
    • By contrast, the titular Arkham Knight is initially only called that, as no one knows his real name. Once his identity Jason Todd is revealed, they call him that instead. After Jason's Heel–Face Turn, he apparently takes the name Redhood, but that's only in bios. No one calls him it in the game itself.
  • In Batman: The Telltale Series, Joker is never referred to by that name and is instead known as John Doe. C-Lister villain Blockbuster is also only known as Roland. Subverted with the other characters, who are referred to by their code names at some point or another. John does eventually become the Joker by the end of Season 2, though depending on your decisions he'll either be a vigilante or a villain.
  • Mortal Kombat 11 sees Noob Saibot referred to almost exclusively by his mortal name of Bi-Han. The original name "Noob Saibot" started as a joke (being reversals of "Boon" and "Tobias", the last names of the franchise's creators), and it would seem the writers decided calling him "Noob" in a game meant to be more serious than the series norm would be too silly.

  • Ciem Webcomic Series:
    • Candi has to actually tell the reporter that "Ciem" sounds like a good abbreviation for "ciempies." But other than instances where there is no choice but to call her by that name, most characters take pains in the books to avoid ever using the word "Ciem" at all.
    • Likewise, Jeral Cormier is only routinely referred to as "Botan the Plant-Man" by the media. Those who know him will almost never use the name; calling him Jeral all the time. Some strangers know him as "Derrick of the Dandelions," and prefer that over calling him Botan.
    • After learning about the AI backvisor that was controlling Jeraime, Candi always insists on distinguishing between Jeraime and "Musaran" with the latter referring to the AI.
    • Jack has the codename of "Jackrabbit" because of his jumping ability, but has no real way to conceal his identity. So the nickname proves to be useless and everyone calls him Jack anyway.
    • Inverted with the Chinese spies, whose real names were not revealed until they were published to the wiki in 2011. Black Rat, Tin Dragon, Teal Hog, and Stung Hornet are known almost exclusively by their codenames, even to each other. Possibly justified in that they're spies.
  • Grrl Power: Played with. Even though no one has secret identities, everyone has their own superhero codename, with the exception of a few of the new recruits who haven't decided yet. How often these codenames get used varies; Sydney is called "Halo" and "Sydney" pretty interchangeably, Daphne is almost exclusively referred to as "Harem," and Maximillia is generally just called "Max," which is short for both her real name and her codename "Maxima."

    Web Video 
  • Kane Pixels' The Backrooms zig-zags this: out-of-universe, the titular Backrooms are referred to as such in the series' title, whilst in-universe, the ASYNC Foundation refers to them as "A-Space", with "the Back-Rooms" being mentioned as a nickname used by employees.

    Western Animation 
  • Not a comic-book based property, but in Ben 10, the titular character is never actually called "Ben 10". His Future Badass self is called "Ben 10,000" though. It is not until the sequel series that he is called "Ben 10" by someone.
  • Dr. Reginald Bushroot from Darkwing Duck never actually has a codename and is only called by his last name, which sounds like a code name.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Clock King", the villain never identifies himself as the Clock King, nor in his next season episode, "Time Out of Joint" The only one who calls him that is Commissioner Gordon because this Mythology Gag earlier:
      Batman: I'm here to clean your clock, Fugate.
      Fugate: Don't count on it, Batman. When it comes to clocks, I am king. En garde!
    • However, Robin calls him "Clock King" in "Time Out of Joint", and in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Task Force X", Colonel Flagg presents him as "Temple Fugate, a.k.a. The Clock King" to the rest of the Task Force.
    • In Batman: The Animated Series, Count Vertigo is known simply as "Vertigo", which is his Code Name in the Society of Shadows.
      • In The New Batman Adventures, Catman just goes by Thomas Blake. He also wears a black outfit rather than his colorful comic book costume.
    • The Martian Manhunter is only called by that name once in all five seasons of Justice League, only being referred to as J'onn or "the Martian." Then again, this may simply be keeping up with the comics, where the rest of the League has used his name almost solely for some time. Similarly, Wonder Woman is usually just "Diana" to the others, both in the comics and DC Animated Universe.
    • In Part 1 of the "The Once and Future Thing," Ohiyesa Smith is known only by that name. His comic book moniker of "Pow Wow" is only uttered once, and by a villain who is using it mockingly to boot (Ohiyesa makes it clear he finds the nickname racist). The villain in question, Tobias Manning, is himself an example of this as his comics codename, Terra-Man, isn't used either.
    • Aquaman's brother Prince Orm never adopted his moniker of Ocean Master. In fact, Bruce Timm flat out said he considered Ocean Master to be too silly a name to take seriously.
    • The giant robot that the League faces in the first episode of Unlimited is supposed to be Brimstone from Legends, but that name is never used.
    • The Legion of Doom assembled in season 3 is never actually called such. The writers were fine with the them, but DC executives forbade them from using the name. Thus it's a nameless expanded successor to the previous Secret Society of Super-Villains. (The episode where the "Legion" first appears is even titled "I Am Legion".) However, WB apparently overruled DC by the time the series DVD was published, considering the packaging calls it the Legion of Doom front and center in the back's description (the crew also continued to use the name behind the scenes).
    • Amazo's first few appearances saw his only referred to as "the android", "Professor Ivo's android", or anything else in a similar vein, with the only thing to actually call him "Amazo" being his blueprints. Later on, though, he's indeed called "Amazo".
  • X-Men: The Animated Series:
    • Jean Grey is never called Marvel Girl. But it had been a long time since the comic book version had used a codename anyway.
    • Zebediah Killgrave also never uses the name Purple Man. It helps that Killgrave is a pretty badass last name in its own right.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Due to Never Say "Die", DC villain Deathstroke went by his civilian name "Slade" throughout the animated Teen Titans series. (It probably helps that "Slade" sounds like a codename without the "Wilson".)
    • Especially if you don't know they're saying his name (Slade), and instead think they're saying the past-tense of "slay" (Slayed.)In which case, you're wrong in 2 ways 
    • In fact, the popularity of the Teen Titans cartoon and its version of him means that in any DC series he's required to show up, he'll be called Deathstroke once or twice to get it out of the way and he'll be Slade from then on. In Young Justice: Invasion, he was referred to as Deathstroke at first but mostly conversed with the one member of the Legion of Doom who knew him well enough to call him Slade. He was the Big Bad of the final arc of Beware the Batman, in which there's a battle with the mysterious Deathstroke before anyone knows what he's all about, but when it's time for him to take center stage as the new main threat, Batman and Alfred learn that Deathstroke and another of his aliases are both Slade Wilson, and from then on he's Slade no matter what he's wearing. In Arrow, we know him pre-villainy, then find out about the assassin Deathstroke, and like Beware the Batman, when we learn that Slade and Deathstroke are one and the same, he's called Slade from then on. In Smallville, he's a general, not a supervillain, so it's no surprise he never uses a codename.
      • Part of this is due his using the Heel–Face Revolving Door. He was pretty much a good guy and ally once his original Titans storyline ended and he'd always been a little picky about his mercenary work even before that.
      • In Teen Titans Go!, he's still Slade, and when he actually has a big role in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, there is a slight allusion to his comics codename as his belt buckle is a "D".
    • Inverted with the Teen Titans themselves. In the comics they refer to each other by name when they're being civilians or aren't in public but the cartoon never has them refer to each other by names. It's implied that they don't even know each others names; the gang are shocked when they learn Beast Boy's name is "Garfield", when they always call him "Gar" in the comics. Cyborg is never called "Victor", although his last name, Stone, is used as an alias in one episode as a Mythology Gag. On the other hand, Raven is her actual name, and Starfire is less a pseudonym and more a direct translation. Though she is referred to as Koriand'r once in a line of Tamaranean dialogue, she's just Starfire to her teammates. Robin's the big one: his name was never said, and there are a lot of Robins out there! In the early days, "Who is Robin?" was considered a Riddle for the Ages. Word of God says that he is meant to represent the concept of Robin rather than any one incarnation. In personality, he's closer to an amalgamation of Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, with the odd bit of Jason's attitude. However, there are plenty of references in the show that make it clear who he must be (His alternate self is named Kcid Nosyarg, his future self is Nightwing, it's the 80s team lineup, and Starfire was primarily Dick's Love Interest). The tie-in comics finally went ahead and established him as Dick Grayson.
    • And it doesn't just go for the main Titans. Every hero and villain we meet already has a codename and is already active by the time we meet them. When the Titans go recruiting, the teen heroes they're scouting are never at school or at home; we find Argent mending a dam, Herald chilling in the other dimension the things he teleports travel through, etc. We never catch anyone on the day of their Freak Lab Accident. It gets to the point where the Doom Patrol (Beast Boy included) stick out for being on a First-Name Basis with each other.
  • Usually averted in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but Crossfire only gets addressed as "Cross" or "William." Publicity materials refer to him by his codename. Outside of his imagining device, he's not wearing his costume, either.
  • Young Justice (2010):
    • Professor Desmond is never actually called "Blockbuster". Instead, Blockbuster is the name of the serum he developed to give him his superhuman strength in the first place.
    • Black Beetle is simply referred to as "the Partner" in his first few appearances, including the credits. "Black Beetle" is just a nickname Wonder Girl comes up with because his armor looks like a black version of Blue Beetle's suit.
  • In G.I. Joe: Renegades, General Hawk is only referred to by his real name, Clayton Abernathy. Likewise, a flashback to Duke's past has Tripwire merely referred to by his real name, Tormod Skoog. Similarly, Dr. Archibald Monev doesn't use the codename Doctor Venom.
  • Avengers Assemble:
    • The Space Phantoms don't refer to themselves as such. Instead, it's just an offhanded name Captain America gives them since he has no idea what they're actually called. Hawkeye even stops to point out how incredibly ridiculous "Space Phantoms" actually sounds.
    • Likewise Whitney Frost never gets called Madame Masque in her first appearance.
  • In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Superman is never referred to as such. He's called "Clark" throughout the entire story, even while in costume.
  • Similar to the examples of Crossfire and Union Jack, Miles Warren in both Spider-Man: The Animated Series and The Spectacular Spider-Man never went by the codename "Jackal" or wore his costume—but given the latter ended prematurely, it's entirely possible that he would've at some point had Spectacular continued.
  • Daedalus Boch is never referred to as "Doodlebug" in Beware the Batman.
  • Partway through the pilot of Big Hero 6: The Series, Fred says that their team name should be "Big Hero 6". The others hate the idea.
  • In Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the titular team is never called the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Instead, their official team name is the "Mad Dogs". Until the movie, which serves as the Grand Finale, where the turtles finally embrace the name of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • Even though The Powerpuff Girls didn't originate from a comic book, they are still superheroes with a codename for their group. While the name is used liberally in the show, it's used only once at the end of the show's movie adaptation, where the Lemony Narrator comes up with it on the spot during his first So Once Again, the Day Is Saved speech.
  • Superfriends:
    • Gentleman Ghost appeared as a villain in the All-New Super Friends Hour segment "The Ghost", but was only referred to as "Gentleman Jim Craddock".
    • The "three phantoms" Felix Faust summons in the Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians episode "The Case of the Stolen Powers" are clearly intended to be the Demons Three, but aren't named as such to avoid complaints from parental groups who would take issue with demons appearing in a children's cartoon.
    • Similarly, Darkseid's parademons were renamed to "para-drones", though the alternate name reflects their status as mindless footsoldiers without free will.
  • In a non-comic book example, the Scooby-Doo spinoff Velma has Norville "Shaggy" Rogers go by his real name.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) introduces a new character named Hun, who eventually mutates into a Slash-like character in Turtles Forever but is never called Slash. Tokka and Rahzar also make an appearance in the same movie, but they have no lines and are never referred to by their names either.

Notable Aversions:

  • Played with in the Hellboy films. His real demonic name is not known to him until towards the end of the first movie. He grew up with the name Hellboy and since his other name is tied with the destruction of all mankind and wasn't known until he was about 70, he kept it.
    • While on cases, the BPRD paranormal agents usually use names such as "Sparky" (Elizabeth Sherman and her powers) and "Blue" (Abe Sapien and his blue skin). His is "Red".
    • It should also be noted that in Hellboy, demons have the whole "bound/released by their names" deal going on; going around calling himself Anung Un-Rama would be the equivalent of legally changing your name to your social security number.
    • His name is mentioned at the end of the second film by Princess Nuala, when her twin brother Nuada questions Hellboy's right to challenge him. Since Hellboy is really demonic royalty, he does have the right to challenge Nuada.
    • Throughout Injustice 2, the only character in any match intro to call Hellboy "Anung Un-Rama" is Enchantress - and her doing it shocks the crap out of him.
  • In the original Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman films, The Joker, Catwoman, The Riddler, Bane, and Poison Ivy give themselves their names, while the Penguin, Two-Face and Mr. Freeze have had their names given to them sometime before the films begin.
    • The Joker names himself as soon as he reveals himself to his first victim - whom he promptly kills. Interestingly, the first time he makes his name known to the public, he uses "Joker" as the name of the brand of (poisoned) beauty products he's advertising on television, never explicitly stating that that's his name as well (at least not until late in the movie, when he hijacks another TV broadcast and announces "Joker here", ironically while disguised by flesh-colored makeup). Nevertheless, that is just what he is soon being called by the media and by all the other characters.
    • The name "Catwoman" spreads quickly in Batman Returns, even though Selina Kyle tells only one person that that's her new codename. However, most of the other characters do not call her that, usually only making smart remarks about how she looks like a cat ("Just the pussy I've been looking for!" or offering her "a very big ball of string"). The only exceptions are tabloid newspaper coverage ("I read that Catwoman is supposed to weigh 140 pounds") and one of the Penguin's speeches:
      Penguin: I may have saved the Mayor's baby, but I refuse to save a Mayor...who stood by, helpless as a baby, while Gotham was a disease that turned Eagle Scouts into crazed clowns, and happy homemakers into catwomen."
    • With The Riddler, there's a scene dedicated to him thinking up a code name for himself. Other names he considered are "The Puzzler" (name of an actual villain from DC Comics), "The Gamester", and "Captain Kill".
    • The Penguin in Batman Returns goes by both his real name and codename quite frequently. The prominent use of his real name is justified as part of his original plot to murder all of Gotham's first born children; when he reveals himself to the public, he puts on a big show for the media of him "discovering" his real name to be Oswald Cobblepot in order to gain private access to Gotham's public records. This likewise apparently plays into his new Villain with Good Publicity ploy to become mayor. When Batman eventually foils his scheme and he suffers his Villainous Breakdown, he's apparently revealed to care nothing for his real name when, in response to a henchman calling him Oswald, he angrily snaps that his name is Penguin.
  • Although not based on any specific comic book or manga, Pacific Rim is still based on manga/anime properties and notably averts this trope. Directed by Guillermo del Toro (of Hellboy fame, also on this list of aversions), the movie unabashedly embraces the tropes of manga and anime, including giving each and every one of the Kaiju and Jaegers a Code Name.
  • The Ultimate X-Men comic goes to some trouble to justify why these kids should have codenames, beyond "because it's a basic trope of the genre". Apparently, these are their "mutant names", as distinct from the "homo sapiens names" their parents gave them. This carries over into the films, even if Wolverine (who is called Logan more than Wolverine, the codename being something from (what he remembers of) his Weapon X days that he's not fond of) isn't impressed by it.
    • This is also touched on during the Grant Morrison run on New X-Men as part of their efforts to give mutants a sub-culture.
  • Averted in the Blade Trilogy. The audience learns that Blade's real name is Eric, but it is rarely mentioned. Ditto for the TV series. The only mentions are the flashback episodes to his childhood and when he meets his father, who will not call his only son "Blade".
  • Averted with Rorshach in Watchmen since no one knows his real identity until the mid-way point. Even then, he prefers the name Rorshach. Other characters oblige since they never knew him by the name Walter Kovacs anyway. Also, Edward Blake is interchangeably called by his real name and his codename, The Comedian, partly because no one outside the government knew he was The Comedian until after he died. The other Minutemen are called by their codenames alone, with only Hollis Mason (Nite Owl I) and Sally Jupiter (Silk Spectre I) being given real names in the film. Nite Owl II and Ozymandias are called mostly by their real names, except in a couple of instances.
  • Averted in GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The Joes and Cobras are referred to exclusively by their codenames.
  • Averted in Godzilla (2014). Despite rumors that Godzilla would not be referred to as such in this film, Dr. Serizawa introduces him during the briefing as "Gojira" and the military uses the name Godzilla as a code name for the beast. News broadcasts even dub him "King of the Monsters." In the sequel, Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah are all referred to by name several times. A notable twist with King Ghidorah: his true name unknown for the first half of the film, he is merely adressed as "Monster Zero" (an actual alias of Ghidorah in the Showa films), before being referred to as "Ghidorah", and only once in the film is he called "King Ghidorah", after he defeats Godzilla and takes command of the rest of the Titans. Similarly, in Godzilla vs. Kong, Mechagodzilla is primarily referred to as the Mecha by Apex, but Team Godzilla explicitly calls him Mechagodzilla. Kong, meanwhile, is referred to with the King in his name until he arrives in Hollow Earth, where he finally claims his own kingdom.
  • Stargirl (2020): As the show is set in a Adventure-Friendly World completely filled with superheroes, it's strongly averted. Courtney goes by Stargirl, the man she believes was her father is Starman, his sidekick/her stepdad was Stripesy and now goes by S.T.R.I.P.E., all of the Justice Society of America are referred to by their codenames and so are their legacies, and the Injustice Society are as well. This is fairly justified not just in the fact it's repeatedly stated there are many other heroes out there, but also because the show is focused on Legacy Character heroes, so they need to use the names to establish what it is they're following on fromnote . Meanwhile, most of the Injustice Society's real names are unknown to the heroes, so they only have their codenames to go one.
  • Ironically, averted in Real Life.
    • Decades ago, in order to make news more memorable, rather than use real names, news networks often used nicknames and codenames. Even in more modern eras, this is used when the real name of an individual is unknown or deliberately withheld. For example, "The Unabomber" is a better-known name than "Ted Kaczynski" and "Girl X" is better known than "Shatoya Currie". However, when the real name is known, the news tends to use it, if only to be respectful.
    • Also averted in sports, with some noteworthy players having nicknames more famous than their real names. Examples include "Orenthal James ("OJ" or "The Juice") Simpson, Earvin ("Magic") Johnson, or Edward ("Fireball") Roberts.
    • If a writer, musician, artist, etc. achieves fame while using a pseudonym, chances are they'll be far better remembered by that than by their birth name. While sometimes these pseudonyms are outlandish enough to indicate otherwise, there are times when the pseudonym can seem less outlandish than the person's actual name. Case in point: how many people would guess that Anne Rice's given name is Howard Allen O'Brien? Or that Mark Twain wasn't actually named Mark Twain (but Samuel Langhorne Clemens).
  • While played straight with the G.I. Joe: Renegades versions of Dr. Venom, General Hawk, and Tripwire, the rest of the character is Renegades generally averted it in three ways.
    • The first being many characters including Duke, Flint, Lady Jaye, Heavy Duty, Snake Eyes, Stalker (shown in the same flashback as Tripwire, though modified to Stalker One), Shipwreck, Snow Job, Frost Bite, Wild Bill, Lift-Ticket, Red Star, Steeler, Jinx, and most of Cobra's other agents already had theirs before the series.
    • The second is many other characters including Scarlett, Roadblock, Tunnel Rat, Ripcord, Destro, Breaker, Airtight, and Barbecue gain theirs over the course of the series.
    • Thirdly, a few characters who don't outside of Tripwire and General Hawk aren't in the military: While this wouldn't affect Carl Greer as "Doc" is commonly used as a short version of "doctor", anyway, it does mean Courtney Kreiger, Christopher Lavigne, and Vince Hauser aren't respectively called "Cover Girl", "Law", and "Lt. Falcon" (though Lavigne calls his dog "Order").
    • Cobra Commander is a unique case, in that we don't know his actual name (if he even has one); the public knows him as "Adam DeCobray", which in truth a holographic disguise he uses, while most of Cobra's higher-ups only address him as "Commander". The full title of "Cobra Commander" isn't used until he confronts Duke beneath his mansion in the Grand Finale, ordering Duke to call him that before he goes on the offense against the Joes in a Mini-Mecha.
  • Deadpool and Deadpool 2 use codenames more than the characters' real names. Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a relatively minor X-Men character, got promoted to one of Deadpool's partners simply because the writers really liked her codename and wanted to defy this trope as much as possible. The one exception is Ajax, whom Deadpool insists on calling by his real name of Francis just to annoy him.
  • This is played with in the 2012 adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Mikey being the one who gives the codenames.
    • Played with by Rocksteady who always prefers his code name but the Shredder always calls him by his real name.
    • Bebop prefers to use his real name and hates being called Bebop.
    • Rahzar always gets called by his real name by most of the Foot Clan.
  • Deadshot from Suicide Squad has been referred to as such in all of his live-action adaptations, including Suicide Squad (2016). This is probably because it sounds cool, and calling him Floyd just wouldn't cut it.
  • Power Rangers (2017) has everyone using names and terminology (Zordon, Alpha 5, Rita Repulsa, the Megazord) from the original series, despite some of the characters (including the Rangers themselves) pointing out how silly the names are.
  • Joker (2019) has the titular villain name himself Joker late in the movie as an Appropriated Appellation after a talk-show host called him a "joker" when mocking his botched stand-up comedy routine. Otherwise, the entire film plays this trope completely straight
  • An inversion comes from Jellystone!, where Quick Draw McGraw only goes by his hero identity of El Kabong, even during his day job as a schoolteacher; it's not even clear if his normal identity even exists here.
  • Mostly averted with Peacemaker (2022). The titular character's real name of Christopher Smith gets used as well, but it's a plot point in the early episodes that his teammates mostly just use his codename because they hate him. Vigilante also has his codename used quite a bit, as none of the other characters know his real name ("Adrian Chase") until about halfway into the season. Judomaster, meanwhile, is only called that, as his civilian name has yet to come up.