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Don't Call Me "Sir"

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"Don't call me Sir. Call me Rocko."

A character is in a position of high authority or status, and as a part of this, is owed respect and even obeisance from those considered beneath him.

However, this person refuses to take advantage of the situation. He insists that he be addressed by name rather than title, he stops people who try to bow to him, he corrects people who try to avert their eyes. While still being cognizant and proud of his position, he tries to minimize the social distance between himself and members of other classes.

The reasons for this vary considerably and tend to be complex. He may hate to see others degrading themselves before him. He may be from humble origins and uncomfortable with such shows of respect, perhaps because he fears he is being mocked or doubts his own worthiness to receive them. He may be trying to endear himself to the lower classes in a deliberate gambit to seem personable. Or he may simply find it tiresome and impractical and say something to the effect of "Formalities are a waste of time."


If this character is very powerful, such as a king, he will often try to change the behaviours of those around him or abolish denigrating practices. Whether this works generally depends on the kindness of the setting.

This trope also pops up in works that involve the military whenever a non-commissioned officer (usually a Sergeant) is referred to as "sir" as the title is typically reserved for commissioned officers. There are a couple of stock responses from the NCO. One is "Don't call me Sir, I work for a livingnote ." Another is, "Don't call me Sir, my parents were married." Roughly 90% of the time this pops up it's when Drill Sergeant Nasty is introducing the fresh-off-the-street recruits to their basic training.

A common way to play with this trope is to have one character insist on being called by name, but another character, usually a servant or similar role, agrees and continues using the title anyway, in the basic form of: "Don't call me Sir." "Yes, Sir." The two characters may argue about this throughout the story, and the eventual use of the first name by the subordinate character can be used to show the development of their relationship. (The Old Retainer hates it.)


This is a Super-Trope of the second variant of They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!, where a character insists upon First-Name Basis in order to be more jovial.

Compare/contrast Insistent Terminology, Insistent Appellation, First-Name Basis, Last-Name Basis, Friendly Address Privileges, Just the First Citizen. See also Nice to the Waiter and Respected by the Respected. There's also Ma'am Shock, where the "sir" is frowned upon because it reminds of the person's age.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Youko, the main character and eventual queen in The Twelve Kingdoms, can't stand to see her courtiers and peasantry prostrate themselves before her, partly because it offends her sense of equality and because she fears the ministers are scowling while their faces are hidden. At the end of the series, she issues a proclamation that abolishes the custom.
  • In Legend of Galactic Heroes, after Reinhard and Hilde get married, Reinhard tells her she can stop calling him "Kaiser" like everyone else and call him by his first name, with mixed results.
  • In Bakuman。, Mashiro, during his first real conversation with his assistant Takahama, gets him to call him "Mashiro-san" rather than "sensei".
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • A variant happens in StrikerS when Nanoha and Fate meet with Chrono and Carim. Since Carim's a relative stranger, Nanoha and Fate keep things strictly professional with Chrono, addressing one another by rank, until Carim points out that she knows Chrono, and they can act normally during the meeting.
    • The third Megami Sound Stage reveals that Hayate has been trying to get Agito, who recently joined her family, to call her by her first name rather than "Commander/Lieutenant Colonel Yagami". Agito is initially unable to do so, but eventually starts calling her "Meister Hayate."
    • Members of the Saint Church call Vivio "Your Majesty" since she's a clone of the Sankt Kaiser despite her constantly reminding them not to. By the time of ViVid, she's not bothered by it.
    • Nanoha always tells her subordinates/students to simply call by name (or Nanoha-san if they're uncomfortable with being too informal) instead of Captain/Instructor Takamachi. That said, she's fine with Hayate and even Fate using her last name and rank when they're on duty, so as to keep things professional.
  • In a flashback of Bleach, Yoruichi suggests that Soifon call her "Yoruichi-san" rather than "Commander," but Soifon suggests "Yoruichi-sama" instead.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Relena Peacecraft asks Dorothy Catalonia not to call her "Relena-sama", presumably because they're the same age (in fact, Dorothy's a year older). Dorothy keeps calling her that anyway, which seems to be subtly mocking.
  • Yuuri of Kyo Kara Maoh! repeatedly asks characters, especially Conrad, to address him as Yuuri rather than the kingly title of 'Your Majesty'.
  • Princess Princess: Sakamoto Akira is called "Sakamoto-sama" by practically all other students (even his upperclassmen), who also bow to him. He's uncomfortable with this since he believes he only gets that respected for being the previous Sakamoto-sama's younger brother. The only two students he actually had the courage to ask to call him by his name without the sama were two of the school "Princesses", who, in return, (and as a joke) asked him to call them by their names without honorifics as well. Not realizing they were joking, he granted their request.
  • Haruka Nogizaka's Secret: Haruka Nogizaka's fans became upset that she allowed Ayase Yuuto to call her by her given name and without honorifics.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-: Princess Sakura has been trying to talk Syaoran out of calling her "Your Highness" (and using Keigo in general) ever since they were little kids — to no avail.
  • Lieutenant Filicia Heideman of Sound of the Sky runs her small military unit as if it were a family and she were the mother. Addressing each other by ranks isn't necessary.
  • In Girls und Panzer, during the last chapter of Little Army, Miho tells one of the students at her mother's tankery school that she doesn't need to address her formally since the student is older. The student then tells Miho that since Miho is the instructor's daughter, age doesn't matter.
  • Used by Touka in a Saki side chapter, when Hajime, one of her teammates and a maid at her house, refers to her and her cousin Koromo as "Touka-sama and Koromo-sama," Touka reminds her that formal speech is not allowed when her father is not present, prompting Hajime to reply, "I'm sorry, Touka".
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Edward Elric, as a State Alchemist, technically holds the military rank of Major. He doesn't really care for the military though, and sometimes tries to tell soldiers to stop saluting him and addressing him as a superior officer. That said, he is a bit annoyed when Lieutenant Ross and Sergeant Brosch are fairly relieved that they don't have to be so polite to him.
  • Kakashi in Naruto loathes being called 'lord' (or by the -sama suffix) after being made Hokage and frequently asks people not to be so formal.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Konoka repeatedly tries to get Setsuna to call her by her name instead of "Ojou-sama".
    • When it is revealed Asuna is a princess, she insists Setsuna call her by her name.
    • In the epilogue, Negi tells Yue that since she graduated and became a powerful mage in her own right, she doesn't have to call him "Master" anymore.
  • Meijin-san/Mr. Famous in Megaman NT Warrior doesn't like formalities. His Catchphrase is "san wa iranai"note , or in the dub, "Famous. Just Famous."
  • When Brandon first appears on Pokémon: The Series, he demands to not be called "Mister" in Large Ham fashion.
  • In Dragon Ball Super this is implicit with Zen-Oh, the King of All Cosmos and the most powerful being in the Dragon Ball multiverse short of Akira Toriyama himself. Goku ends up befriending him because he's the only person to date who treats Zen-Oh with any modicum of friendliness, rather than the combination of effusive politeness and pants-wetting terror he gets from practically everyone else in the multiverse. In one episode Goku gives him a cute nickname ("Zen-chan"), which delights him; when his handlers get angry over Goku's impertinence, he tells them "Knock it off or I'll destroy you".
  • Sword Art Online:
    • In the Sister's Prayer side story, Yuuki and Ran meet Merida, an older girl who's also using Selene Garden, and respectfully address her as "Merida-san." Merida, however, insists that the "-san" isn't necessary, since she's not much older than the twins are.
    • Likewise, in Mother's Rosary, Yuuki calls Asuna "Asuna-san" in their initial conversation after learning Asuna's name, but after Asuna agrees to the Sleeping Knights' request, she says the "-san" isn't necessary, with Yuuki responding in kind. Shortly afterward, Asuna starts to call Yuuki "Yuuki-san," but stops herself.
    • Also from Mother's Rosary, Asuna tries to get her family's housekeeper to be less formal with her, but to no avail.
    • In Alicization, Alice, an Integrity Knight, says that Ronie and Tiese, Kirito and Eugeo's kohai from the academy, don't need to call her "Lady Knight" ("Kishi-sama"), but can call her by name since she thinks of herself as just another swordsman in the army protecting humanity.
  • Early on in Failed Princesses, Kanade Kurokawa addresses Nanaki Fujishiro as "Fujishiro-san." Fujishiro, who calls Kurokawa by her last name without honorifics, gets sick of the formality and insists that Kurokawa just call her "Fujishiro."
  • In A Room For Two, Seri initially uses "-san" on her roommate Shouko, but in Chapter 27, Shouko insists that Seri use yobisute on her. It takes her most of the chapter to drop the honorific.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • When Lucy calls Erza "Erza-san" on their first job together, Erza tells her that the "-san" isn't necessary, even though they don't actually become friends for a while. Erza otherwise seems to be fine with people calling her "Erza-san," including Bisca, Juvia, and Wendy.
    • In the Fairy Girls spinoff, Wendy asks Sumire, a new recruit to the guild who's actually a traitor not to call her "Wendy-sempai," since the guild doesn't have a Sempai/Kohai system. Wendy is respectful of the older members but doesn't treat them as her sempai.
  • Tiara of Lapis Re:LiGHTs struggles to get her childhood friend and former servant Rosetta to stop referring to her with polite Japanese and the honorific "-sama". In the English translations, she wants her to stop calling her "Lady Tiara".
  • It's "princess" instead of "sir" in Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai, but the trope applies exactly the same otherwise: Princess Leona says this to those she considers equal to her — for instance, she tells Dai this at the end of her introduction arc.

    Comic Books 
  • Cyclops of the X-Men just can't call Professor Xavier anything other than his title and surname, even when the Professor asks him to call him "Charles".
  • Originating from the first television show, this trope is a standard of Silver Age Superman comics, with Jimmy Olsen calling Perry White "Chief," prompting Perry to say, "Don't call me 'Chief!'"
    • And in a few versions, Clark has asked Jimmy not to call him "Mr. Kent".
    • In Superman Smashes the Klan, the tradition is continued with Jimmy calling Perry "Chief" while rushing off to a story.
  • In the lead-up promotional comic for the Engineer Update in Team Fortress 2, the BLU Engineer's real name is revealed in such a conversation.
    BLU Engineer: Mr. Conagher is my father. Call me Dell.
  • In Fables during The Good Prince arc, Flycatcher goes on a quest to save the lost souls in the Witching Well and bring them together in a kingdom in the homelands. Flycatcher is now a King and many refer to him as King Ambrose which he doesn't much like, but understands that it's something he's going to have to deal with now. However, when his close friends from before he was king address him formally, he gets upset and says that for them, he'll always just be Flycatcher.
  • Bart Allen, AKA Impulse, has this problem with his speed clones. Whenever they start taking orders from him, they refer to him as "boss", something he detests. A Running Gag in his comic is the fact that he constantly reminds them not to but they do so anyways.
  • Wonder Woman: Roberta "Bobby" Strong of the Golden Age Holliday Girls does not at all like to be called a "lady", but rather than just asking people not to call her such she'll argue that she is not one especially since men like to try to use it as an excuse to exclude and constrain her.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Trope Namer comes from Peanuts. Peppermint Patty hates it when Marcie calls her "Sir". Of course, that's probably due more to the "gender confusion" angle than the "unwanted deference" one. And since Marcie has Opaque Nerd Glasses as she's otherwise pretty much blind, it's understandable for her to be confused by the Tomboy Patty. At least, for a while. Later Marcie's pretty certain what gender Patty is; she just keeps doing it, likely from a combo of deference, habit, and orneriness.
  • Garfield has a cross between this trope and Do Not Call Me "Paul". Jon Arbuckle's brother does not like to be called "Doc Boy".

    Fan Works 
  • In Jonathan Joestar, The First Jojo, Jonathan dislikes being referred to as "Mr. Joestar", and would rather have people refer to him by his first name or his nickname.
  • In the My-HiME fanfic Windows of the Soul, Natsuki tries to get Hideko, one of Shizuru's maids, to call her by her first name instead of "Kuga-sama," but Hideko refuses, calling her "Kuga-san" as a compromise.
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Dumbledore tells Harry that Headmaster is too formal; he can call him "Heh" for short. He is both surprised and pleased when Harry does.
  • In Lilly Epilogue Family Matters, Mr. Satou insists on not being called "sir," but as his actions indicate, this is clearly not out of a desire to be friendly.
  • In the Naruto fanfic White Rain, Rock Lee insists that everyone in the village, including Naruto's former teammates and his pals in the Rookie Nine, refer to Naruto exclusively as "Hokage" or "Lord Hokage" to the extent that he lectures Tenten on addressing him by name. Naruto doesn't really care either way.
  • Incarnation of Legends:
    • Kojiro continually calls Bell "young master" despite Bell's pleas that he just call him by his name.
    • Similarly, Ryoma asks Bell to just call him by his name rather than by any title like "mister" or "sir".
  • In Diaries of a Madman, Navarone hates titles and constantly has to ask others not to call him sir, or by any of the other titles he's obtained. This is probably one of the reasons why Celestia awards him a particularly prestigious title (along with a really gaudy suit of armour) as a punishment.
  • Practically a Running Gag in Bait and Switch and related fics. Captain Kanril Eleya prefers "ma'am", despite Starfleet protocol being "sir". She'll also answer to "Captain" or First-Name Basis (though only a couple of her command staff members are willing to do the last one, and her first officer only when not speaking as first officer). Doesn't hurt that she started off as a Bajoran Militia NCO.
    Eleya: I’m not a ‘sir’, Phohl. I’m a former NCO, I work for a living. ‘Captain’ is fine, ‘ma’am’ if you want to be formal, Hell, call me by my first name, even.
    Eleya: Oh, and by the way, don’t call me "sir". I work for a living. Or I used to, at least.
    • When she takes a new command in the interquel "Shakedown Shenanigans", she does it three times onscreen and alludes to having done it "umpteen" times offscreen.
  • In the omake for the Saki doujin, Neutral Position (Doujin is not safe for work, although the omake is), Mairu Shirouzu tries to get her best friend Himeko Tsuruta (who calls her by her position as Club President) to call her something less formal. Himeko tries "Shirouzu-senpai", which Mairu says is "too stiff," and then "Mairu-san", prompting Mairu to say "don't use -san". Himeko then blushes and stammers before saying Mairu's first name without honorifics, which Mairu finds cute.
  • In A Twist in Destiny Harry is forced to receive tutoring from a surprisingly jovial Barty Crouch Jr.
    Crouch: Mr. Crouch was my father, and I didn't much like my father. So just call me Barty, ok?
  • The Bridge:
    • When Destroyah is turned into a pony, she resembles an alicorn, which are royalty in Equestria. As a result, several characters call her a princess. This pisses her off as she sees princesses as weak and delicate.
    • Although Godzilla Junior is known as the King of the Monsters and leads his faction, he doesn't seriously consider himself a king and finds it slightly annoying that the ponies call him King Godzilla or Your Majesty.
  • In the Discworld fics of A.A. Pessimal, Rimwards Howondalandian Assassin Johanna Smith-Rhodes becomes more uneasy about being called baas-lady by Black Howondalandian servants trained to subservience. The same applies to Ghatian people who call her mem-saab. This leads to a Shout-Out involving herself and a Howondalandian maid wished on her by her apartheid-believing aunt.
    (Johanna) don't call me Baas-lady. "Madam" will suffice.
    Yes, Madam. (said Eve).
    • It gets worse for her when the Patrician affably points out she has been living in Ankh-Morpork for two decades, is married to a local man, and is therefore a naturalised citizen who can be socially elevated. Just to make sure, Vetinari bestows two Damehoodsnote  and a Ladyship note  on her. Johanna is therefore elevated to "My Lady" in the eyes of her butler. Who ensures the maids address her correctly.
  • In The Difference One Man Can Make, Harry feels quite uncomfortable with titles and firmly corrects his Southron guests when they try to call him "my lord".
  • Fates Collide:
    • Francis Drake tells her students they can call her "Drake" instead of "Professor".
    • Scathach tells people to call her by her name instead of "Professor" because she retired and is not a professor anymore.
In Black Wings, Black Sails, when Hammond innocently calls Laurence a pirate king to his face, he's rather offended and very sternly states that his men did not leave their actual kings behind just to go under the thrall of a false king.
  • Where Talent Goes on Vacation:
    • Himeno Himemiya, a wealthy girl and the Ultimate Archer, tries to get her Childhood Friend and her maid Kanae Tsukimura, the Ultimate Handmaiden, to call her "Himeno," rather than "Himeno-sama," eventually succeeding.
    • Sayuri Sasaki, the Ultimate Manga Artist, generally dislikes being addressed as anything more formal than "Sasaki-san," even if she doesn't complain too much.
  • Fate/Harem Antics: Taiga's grandfather tells Shirou to just call him "Raiga" when Shirou calls him "Mr. Fujimura".
  • In Safe Anchorage Asha Greyjoy is relatively casual about her nobility, and tells Jeyne Poole (who is effectively her ward), not to call her "my lady". Jeyne says it feels wrong.
  • Fate DxD AU: After Ritsuka Fujimaru rescues Asia Argento, she calls him "Ritsuka-sama" no matter how many times he tells her to drop the honorifics and just call him "Ritsuka".
  • The Young Six: After Sandbar's father welcomes Ocellus to his home, she replies with "Thank you, Sir." prompting the stallion to reply with "Please don't call me Sir. I feel old enough as it is."

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Master and Commander, Captain Aubrey wants to pose his warship as an unarmed whaler, and tells his lieutenants that there is to be no more 'Sirs' or saluting. Their response? "Aye Sir."
    Pullings: Yes, I think we're all finding that quite difficult.
  • Subverted in Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, Union colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain gets sick and tired of his little brother/military subordinate Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel) Thomas Chamberlain calling him "Lawrence" instead of sir.
    Joshua Chamberlain: Don't call me Lawrence.
    Thomas Chamberlain: Damn it, Lawrence, I'm your brother.
    Joshua: Just be careful about the name business in front of the men. Because we're brothers, it looks like favoritism.
    Thomas: God Almighty. General Meade got his own son as his aide-de-camp.
    Joshua: That's different. Generals can do anything.
  • God himself does this in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, telling Arthur and his knights to quit groveling and averting their eyes from him. Apparently he finds the behavior annoying. He still appears to expect deference — when Arthur responds to The Quest with "Good idea, O Lord!" God angrily snaps, "'Course it's a good idea!" — just not formalities. Or depressing psalms.
  • In A New Hope, after Luke Skywalker meets his family's new droids.
    C-3P0: I see, Sir.
    Luke: You can call me Luke.
    C-3P0: I see, Sir Luke.
    Luke: *chuckling* Nah, just Luke.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Kirk asks Spock to call him "Jim". His particular reason is that he and Spock are Heterosexual Life-Partners.
  • In Stripes, Sergeant Hulka uses the "Don't call me sir, I work for a living!" line on a new-recruit.
  • In Forrest Gump, Forrest's platoon leader in Vietnam immediately forbids him to salute him or show any form of respect in the field because the enemy snipers would specifically target the commanding officers. Truth in Television: a salute on the battlefield is called a "Sniper Check" in military jargon. This is now official policy for deployed U.S. military forces in some areas.
  • Saving Private Ryan also mentions the "sniper check" — Upham is told that he draws fire every time he salutes Captain Miller. Oddly enough he does nothing to cover the giant rank insignia on his helmet.
  • The "I work for a living" part is also in Good Morning, Vietnam, followed by a line meant to set up another one-liner from Robin Williams.
  • In The American President, President Andrew Shepherd tells his Chief of Staff, A.J., that he can call him by his first name when they're alone together. A.J. replies, "Whatever you say, Mister President."
  • The US Intelligence representative from Transformers: Dark of the Moon is obsessive about not being called "ma'am".
  • In the 1986 movie Saving Grace 1986 the new Pope Leo XIV wants his closest aides to please call him something other than 'Your Holiness' all the time. Though he does say 'Your Not-So-Muchness' is "Too long."
  • In one of the Porky's movies, Coach Brackett asks the other characters to quit calling him "Coach" and address him as Roy. "I'm only twenty-three, for Christ's sake."
  • Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now.
    Kilgore: You can cut out the "sir" crap, Lance. I'm Bill Kilgore, I'm a goofy foot.
  • The 1991 film adaptation of Oscar: Sylvester Stallone's character Angelo 'Snaps' Provolone, honoring his father's wish to turn from a life of being a prohibition gangster, is flanked all day by his men who constantly call him 'boss' to his growing annoyance.
  • G.I. Jane has one of the trainers during the Training from Hell yell this (along with "I work for a living!") to the prospective Navy Seals.
  • Out Cold has John Majors (played by Lee Majors, who insists that Rick not call him Mr. Majors.
    John Majors: I'm not Mr. Majors — my daddy was Mr. Majors! Actually, his last name was Mankowitz, but that's beside the point.
  • In the American version of Scent of a Woman, Frank Slade hates to be called Sir. Charlie, being the polite naive guy that he is, calls him Sir out of reflex. The answer: Just call me Frank. Call me Mister Slade. Call me... Colonel, if you want; just don't call me Sir
  • Towards the beginning of Men in Black, as Agent Kay takes charge over a border check, INS agent Janus tries to take control again, but Kay bluntly tells him "Don't 'Sir' me, young man. You have no idea who you are dealing with.", also serving as an Establishing Character Moment.
  • The Cabin in the Woods. Hadley and Sitterson are checked into the Facility by a security officer who's just been posted there.
    Hadley: What's your name?
    Truman: Daniel Truman, sir.
    Hadley: This isn't the military, Truman — you can drop the "sir". But Sitterson does like to be called "ma'am".
    Sitterson: Or "Honey Toes".
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Past Charles insists that Logan not address him by his professor title.
  • Dialog in The Searchers:
    Martin: Something mighty fishy about this trail, Uncle Ethan.
    Ethan: Don't call me "uncle". I ain't your uncle.
    Martin: Yes, sir.
    Ethan: No need to call me "sir" either. Nor "grandpa", nor "Methuselah".
    Martin: What do you want me to call you?
    Ethan: Name's Ethan.
  • The Assignment (1997). The protagonist is a US Navy officer who's recruited for an intelligence assignment. At the start of his spy training The Handler says to stop calling him 'sir' as it gives away the fact that he's military.
  • The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie gives us this exchange.
    Elizabeth: Will, how many times must I ask you to call me Elizabeth?
    Will Turner: At least once more, Miss Swann, as always.
  • In If, the timid boy Jute mistakenly addresses the prefect Rowntree as "sir". However, because of the Absurdly Powerful Student Council, Rowntree is extremely powerful.
  • Emmett in Road House has a colorful take on this:
    "Calling me sir is like putting an elevator in an outhouse. It don't belong. I'm Emmett."
  • The Big Lebowski: The Dude's given name is Jeffrey Lebowski, but he only insists on being referred to as "the Dude". When he later meets the local millionaire businessman also named Jeffrey Lebowski, he gets irritated by the other Lebowski addressing him as "Mr. Lebowski".
    The Dude: I am not Mr. Lebowski, you're Mr. Lebowski, I'm the Dude, so that's what you call me, you know? That or "his Dudeness", or, uh, "Duder", or "El Duderino" if you're not into the whole brevity thing...

  • Each of the three main male characters in The Wheel of Time, being from a small village, are immensely weirded out when fate hands them a set of nice clothes and suddenly everyone is bowing and saying "my lord." They handle it quite differently: Perrin struggles with the ethics of lordhood whilst tentatively allowing the practice to continue; Rand gets an inflated head and decides it's all his due (not helped by everyone proclaiming him The Chosen One of every prophecy out there it seems); and Mat continues to struggle in vain to make it stop.
  • Mercedes Lackey:
    • In Sanctuary (book three of the Dragon Jousters series), Kaleth has to scold the Tian priests at least twice for prostrating themselves to him. Not that you can really blame them, as each time Kaleth had been possessed by one of the Altan/Tian pantheon to pass messages on...
    • In Owlsight, the powerful mage Firesong asks his new protégé Darian to please never call him "sir." Not "Master," either, just Firesong. Once, he might have insisted on the honorific, but having his face covered in burn scars while preventing The End of the World as We Know It proved to be a very humbling experience.
      Firesong: Being called "sir" makes me feel so old!
  • Discworld:
    • Played with (like everything else), with King Verence II and Queen Magrat. Verence had been a member of the Guild of Fools and Joculators, which is firmly established as the bottom of the social ladder, and Magrat is simply "a bit wet", and most of the country (which is tiny) has known her all her life. They both hate being referred to this way, Magrat because she feels like marrying someone she loves should have nothing to do with how people she's known forever treat her, and Verence because he feels it's inexpedient and has even gone so far as to set up a parliament. The people they rule, however, are a bit old-fashioned, and don't hold with Verence's style of ruling, since what is the point if they have to rule themselves (some suspect this is Verence trying to get them to do his job for him)? After all, it's "got to be done proper."
    • In Pyramids, the modern-educated protagonist, after being made the Pharaoh, tries to be the kind of affable modern ruler who shakes people by the hand and shows an interest in their work, instead of the kind who always looks down at the tops of grovelling heads. It doesn't really work out, because he's pushing against the weight of centuries-long tradition (and parts of it are actively pushing back).
    • Sam Vimes acts like a variant of this trope after being knighted — he hates being treated like a nobleman in any way, since he is disgusted by the usual behavior of Ankh-Morpork's nobles, and he also still completely feels like a "normal" citizen. Eventually he becomes comfortable enough with it that most people who don't know him call him Sir Samuel. Admittedly, he's a Duke by this point, and he objects to "your Grace". His Watch rank is another matter; he accepts that the rest of the Watch call him "sir" (especially now that it's big enough most of them don't know him personally) and would rather be addressed as Commander Vimes. Being a Watchman is real. He does permit a select few to call him "Mr. Vimes", as he believes they respect him for things that actually deserve respect, not his rank.
    • Corporal Strappi has the "I'm not a sir, I'm a bloody corporal!" version in Monstrous Regiment. In his case it's because he'll take any excuse to bully the recruits. (On the other hand, Private Maladict radiates aristocracy to such an extent that when he signs up, Sergeant Jackrum has to stop himself calling him "sir".)
    • In Interesting Times one of the first edicts Cohen the Barbarian makes when he becomes Emperor is to stop people Kowtowing and giving long-winded, overly flattering titles as he thinks it is a disgrace that ordinary people are compelled to do that (he does also say if they want to show respect they can give him money, though).
  • Jake from Animorphs. Ax is always calling him Prince (a rank, rather than royal title). Leading to:
    Ax: ... Prince Jake.
    Jake: Don't call me Prince.
    Ax: Yes, Prince Jake.
Almost Once per Episode.
  • Amusingly enough, when Ax first is getting used to living with the rest of the crew, he does this because military command and structure is drilled into the entirety of Andalite society, but as time progresses, it's hinted that he keeps doing it because he knows it annoys Jake and finds it funny.
  • In one mission, Jake and Ax find themselves alone, and Jake tells Ax he may call him "the Jake formerly known as Prince". When they get back to the others, Ax obliges, to Marco's horror. Jake has to explain that it was his joke.
  • Ax even does so among Andalites, to the Andalites' shock (Jake is an alien, after all). In one case, after explaining the mission to the Animorphs and Jake showing himself perfectly fine with heading into probable death in the name of hurting the Yeerk invasion, the Andalite in charge admits to Ax that there have been worse princes among Andalites.
  • Sandor Clegane of A Song of Ice and Fire doesn't technically have the rank anyway, but he functions as a knight in everything but name, and as such, other knights and courtiers often address him as "ser". He hates it. Direct use of the trope name occurs when Sansa makes this mistake and he snaps, "Don't call me ser."
    • To be specific, he thinks knightly pretensions are hypocrisy, as a knight is just a thug with a sword, horse, and armour. This has a lot to do with his brother, Ser Gregor Clegane, The Dreaded Psycho for Hire for Lord Tywin Lannister, being given the title.
    • Davos Seaworth, a lowborn smuggler who was knighted for smuggling food to a castle under siege, is told off for doing this by his sons, who are well aware that the other knights look down on their House. "If you don't remember it, Father, why should they?"
  • In his autobiography About Face, David Hackworth mentions how he reluctantly accepted a Field Promotion up to officer rank during the Korean War. He gets into a truck and is addressed as "sir" by the driver.
    Hackworth: Don't call me sir. I was a sergeant until a few minutes ago.
    Driver: Yes sir.
  • The Belgariad: Belgarion, having been raised as a farmboy, is naturally unnerved when he is unexpectedly named as the Rivan King and suddenly everyone is bowing to him. He gets used to it after a while.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Percy can tell Blackjack not to call him boss, and get the response of "Sure, Boss, whatever you say, Boss" — cheerfully, not ironically. In fact, this is basically his relationship with all equines and aquatic animals due to being the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea and all that live in it, as well as horses. When it isn't "boss", it's usually the even more embarrassing "My Lord".
  • Honor Harrington:
    • From Crown of Slaves, Berry Zilwicki, upon becoming queen of Torch finds the formalities associated with monarchy to be tremendously awkward, and comments that she foresees establishing the most informal monarchy in history. She prefers to be on a first-name basis with people, which is convenient given that many of her future subjects are from the Audubon Ballroom, and thus have no last names.
    • Being quite small, she suggests "Your Mousety" as an honorific.
    • Jeremy also winces a bit at being addressed as "Mister X."
    • The title heroine of the series has enough titles to stock a bookstore (seriously, see 'em here), but she doggedly tries to get her Grayson armsmen to call her "Honor." It rarely happens.
    • Calling superior officers "Sir" is also taboo in the navy of the People's Republic of Haven, particularly soon after the initial coup and purge, though for more sinister reasons. The use of such titles is considered unacceptably elitist, and the use of the kludgy "Citizen [Rank]" is prescribed instead, under threat of severe punishment. Many Havenite crews ignore this requirement, depending on the attitudes of their Citizen Commissioners: for example, the borderline-autistic Shannon Foraker completely ignores it, with her CO convincing the commissioner to let it slide on account of Foraker being too good an ECM tech to lose.
    • Though Michelle Henke fully expects to be addressed as "ma'am" by her subordinates — justifiably so, as she's a flag officer in the Royal Manticoran Navy — she has no interest in being called 'milady', despite being a countess in her own right and a member of the royal family (she's the Queen of Manticore's first cousin). Hence, this dialogue:
      Henke: Rule Number One. Unless we're trying to impress some foreign potentate or convince some newsy we're really earning our lordly salaries, we all have better things to do than spend our time bowing and scraping before my towering presence.
      Cynthia Lecter: Yes, Milady.
      Henke: Rule Number Two. It's 'Ma'am,' not 'Milady,' unless the aforementioned foreign potentate or newsy is present.
    • Lieutenant Abigale Hearns likewise expects her subordinates to address her as "ma'am," but works to break her Grayson subordinates from calling her "my lady." This is partly because she doesn't care for the baggage that comes with being "Miss Owens" (daughter of Steadholder Owens) and partly to avoid divisiveness between her Grayson and Manticorian subordinates.
  • Kurtz in Stephen King's Dreamcatcher very much dislikes the word "sir." He's ruthless and rather scary (unusual for this trope) and characters avoid the word "sir" out of fear of his reaction, although because they're obviously not comfortable around him "sir"s will often slip out. "Boss" is much more effective and doesn't put you on the lunatic's bad side. Kurtz eschews the use of the word "sir" — as well as the use of ranks, rank insignia, rates, et cetera — because the nature of the operation he's commanding requires that he and his subordinates do so. If the military personnel involved in the "cleanup" were to be identified as such, they would be in direct violation of federal law — specifically, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (18 U.S.C. §1385), which forbids the United States military from carrying out operations against civilians within the United States. It's more exploiting a legal loophole than a personal preference.
  • Arises between Bunter and Lord Peter Wimsey in Jill Paton Walsh's The Attenbury Emeralds. After Lord Peter's elder brother the Duke of Denver dies without surviving issue, Bunter uses Wimsey's newly-inherited form of address, and Wimsey tries to get him to use his first name, at least in connection with their investigation work. Bunter settles for returning to "My Lord"/"Your Lordship", which he'd been using for years. Despite Wimsey's and Harriet's efforts to the contrary, Bunter generally tries to resist the more egalitarian spirit of post-WWII Britain, even discouraging his son Peter Bunter ("PB") from seeing himself the equal of his schoolmate Bredon Wimsey.
  • Inverted in A Series of Unfortunate Events, in the miserable mill. The boss insists that everyone call him Sir, to the point where neither we nor the protagonists know his name. Played for Laughs in book the thirteenth. The leader of the island, Ishmael, asks everyone to "call me Ish."
    Ishmael's Diary: P.S. Why won't anyone call me Ish?
  • Michael from the Knight and Rogue Series insists Fisk just call him by his name, while Fisk only refers to him as Sir or Noble Sir (though he does use Sir Michael in monologue). Michael admits to the audience that he'd be willing, at least for a while, to just settle for Sir, since Fisk means Noble Sir as an insult. Of course, when Fisk starts calling Michael "Mike" on occasion that isn't appreciated either.
  • Harry Potter:
    • An inversion occurs during Harry's Occlumency lessons in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Snape insists on being called "Sir" or "Professor" at all times.
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Snape again insists on being called "sir" and he chastises Harry for not doing so. This leads to Harry's famous riposte:
      Snape: Do you remember me telling you that we are practising non-verbal spells, Potter?
      Harry: Yes.
      Snape: Yes sir.
      Harry: There's no need to call me sir, Professor.
  • In Native Son, Bigger is so used to saying "yessuh" and "yessum" to white people that he finds it hard to break after Jan objects to it.
  • In Searching for Dragons, Mendabar's Establishing Character Moment is him arguing with his aide, Willin, to stop referring to him by various "stuffy" titles (among other things). Willin, who feels that the king ought to adhere more with traditions, firmly refuses.
  • The Drill Sergeant Nasty version occurs in M.Y.T.H. Inc. In Action. You will address Sgt Smiley as "Sergeant", he is NOT an OFFICER!
    Smiley: It didn't take a grant from the crown to make me a gentleman, I was BORN one!
  • In The Once and Future King, once everyone's accepted that young Wart has pulled the sword from the stone, he's horrified that his foster-father is kneeling before him and calling him "Sir".
  • Inverted, with prejudice, in Lucian Truscott's novel Dress Gray, after West Point cadet Ry Slaight figures out that the commandant of cadets has been railroading him to cover up a murder.
    He would call Hedges "General" from now on, a subtle gesture, but one to which a man like Hedges would be attuned. It meant he'd never again hear the word "Sir" from Slaight's lips.
  • In Noob and its Spin-Off Neogicia, Keynn Lucans, the leader of the Empire does not like being called "Emperor". The former work has him reminding a trusted subordinate of his named Saly of the fact, while the latter shows a younger Saly discovering this upon meeting him for the first time.
  • Journey to Chaos: Princess (and later, Queen), Kasile is a restricted case. She doesn't like it when her confidant uses titles (Eric usually does it to tease her) and is trying really hard to get her boyfriend to stop it. By the time of Mana Mutation Menace, she's convinced him to drop from "Your Majesty" to "Lady Kasile".
  • In the novella A Taste of Honey, Perfecta asks Aqib to not think of the Ashëans as gods, but rather as either plain Ashëans or 'children of the Tower Ashê', as they are not gods, but only their descendants.
  • From Star Wars Legends:
    • Han Solo was like this. He'd get addressed as General Solo thanks to his rank in the rebellion, but he didn't like it. He always thought it was too stuffy and high and mighty and preferred to just be called Captain like he always had been before.
    • Played with in Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader when an Imperial commander mistakenly addresses Vader as "Admiral Vader" instead of "Lord Vader". Fortunately for him, Vader chooses to let it slide as he has other things to deal with, but he is silently gratified when everyone addresses him as "Lord Vader" at the end.
    • From the same novel, there's the relationship between Jedi Knight Roan Shryne and Padawan Olee Starstone. After Starstone's master is killed, she starts following Shryne and calling him "Master". Shryne tells her to knock it off, partly because he doesn't want anyone twigging on to the fact that they're Jedi (what with Order 66 going on) and partly because he hasn't gotten over losing two Padawans in the Clone Wars. She still makes it clear that she's calling him "Master".
  • Several senior enlisted men from various countries are recruited into Wolf Squadron to deal with the Zombie Apocalypse in John Ringo's Black Tide Rising. They suffer severe culture shock at the (mostly untrained and severely un-military) people they are now serving with. The recruits have more familiarity with video games than they do with actual military custom and terminology, and openly ask why the Chief Petty Officers are not called "sir", since in the video game Halo the Master Chief is always called "sir". When the Chief angrily asks if this looks like a video game, one of the recruits replies "Well, now that you mention it..." :^)
  • By the epilogue of I'm In Love With the Villainess, protagonist Rei and love interest Claire are married, and have adopted two children. Rei still addresses her as "Claire-sama", much to Claire's frustration and their kids' confusion.
  • Fate/Requiem: Longinus was a Parental Substitute for Erice Utsumi and taught her how to fight. In the present, he tells her to just call him by his name when she tries to use honorifics.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Adventures of Superman, Perry White hates it when Jimmy Olsen calls him "Chief", but he can't get him to remember.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Leonard visibly cringes when Sheldon's assistant calls him "Doctor Hofstadter" and tells her to use his given name instead since "Doctor Hofstadter" is his father, mother, sister, and even...the cat!
  • In one episode of British sitcom Blackadder, the titular servant and the Prince Regent switch clothes to impersonate each other. Explaining the game, Blackadder instructs the somewhat simple-minded Prince that he must refer to him as "your highness". The Prince, of course, precedes to refer to him only as "your highness your highness" for the remainder of the charade.
    Blackadder: You must of course refer to me only as "your highness", your highness.
    George: Certainly understandable, your highness your highness.
    Blackadder: No.. not "your highness your highness"... just "your highness", your highness.
    George: That's what I said! "Your highness your highness", your highness your highness...
  • Blake's 7. In "Weapon", a Beta-grade technician who's fled the Federation with a female Labour-grade gets annoyed when she calls him "sir" — he's set her free plus he's always hated having to do that to his superiors. This doesn't stop him from bullying her whenever she shows her independence, however.
  • Inverted by new captain Victoria "Iron" Gates on Castle. She insists on being called "sir" over "Ma'am".
  • On CSI: NY, Danny uses this to play a joke on his (unknown to them at the time of course) future wife in her first episode. On Lindsay's first day on the job, Danny tells her Mac likes to be called "Sir." She proceeds to do so a few times in one conversation, and then Mac tells her NOT to call him "Sir." Averted later in the series with Adam, who calls Mac "Sir" frequently. Mac never says a word.
  • At the beginning of Designated Survivor newly-minted FLOTUS Alex Kirkman tries to get Seth to call her by her first name; but he politely declines, pointing out that she is now the First Lady of the United States and that such familiarity is simply unacceptable.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor. It's usually a sign of great distress when he doesn't mind people calling him "Sir." The Tenth Doctor also dislikes being saluted. The only reason he lets the UNIT commander of the episode do it is that they seem to get a buzz out of it.
    • Rose tries to convince the members of UNIT to stop saluting her during "Turn Left".
  • Kevin Smith served as a guest judge during a Season 3 episode of Face/Off. After promising contestant Jason was eliminated, Smith offered to hire him on the spot; Jason replied, "Thank you, Mr. Smith" which Smith responded, "Mr. Smith's my father. Call me Kevin."
  • In the episode of the Australian children's series, The Ferals, Man's Best Friend, to trick a health inspector who is secretly a burgular who acts as a health inspector during the day, Derryn pretends to be Joe's pet dog, under the condition Derryn doesn't call him "Master".
    Joe: Don't call me 'Master'!
  • Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond. Being Mildly Military at best, Ian Fleming tells the young officer assigned to him in France not to salute him or call him "Sir." It takes a few reminders to get it right. Then Fleming gets into Admiral Darlan's headquarters using a Rolls Royce they've acquired, pretending to be on a mission from Winston Churchill. As the young officer opens the car door for him, Fleming whispers testily, "Salute me, you idiot!" as they're supposed to be an official delegation.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Sandor Clegane doesn't like being called "Ser." Unlike many examples, it's actually correct, as he is not a knight (though many assume he is, what with being the personal bodyguard of the Crown Prince). Beyond that, Sandor doesn't think much of knights — after all, his brother is one.
      • This variant also comes up a few times with Ned Stark's retinue in the first season. Although they're the equivalent they aren't actually knights (knighthood is part of the Faith of the Seven which never caught on in the North) and they hold "official" knights in barely-concealed disdain.
    • Brienne doesn't like being reminded she's a highborn lady by being called "Lady" Brienne. She claims, "Brienne is enough," and even prefers to bow rather than curtsy. This causes some confusion to her squire, as he can't call her Ser either, as she's not a man yet wears a knight's armor.
    • Arya doesn't like being called "milady" due to her discomfort with being a Proper Lady and even shoves Gendry to the ground when he teases her about it. Though as she's disguised as a boy at the time, there's a practical reason as well.
  • JAG:
    • In the 1st season episode ("Sightings") a former enlisted service member takes offense being called sir by Harm.
    • Another example is in "Dog Rober: Part 1" when Harm goes to Admiral Boone’s place to inform him that the SecNav wants to have him as his troubleshooter.
      Boone: Don't sir me. I'm retired.
  • King Arthur in Kaamelott, Livre V: "Don't call me sire." He is no longer the king of Britain, after all. Of course, being Surrounded by Idiots, they keep forgetting.
  • In The Knowledge, the examiner of the legendarily difficult exam on the geography on London which taxi drivers must pass says "if any of you wishes to call me 'sir', I shall try not to be offended"; and they do call him sir. Legend has it that candidates must still do this in reality.
  • In The Last Kingdom, set during Anglo-Saxon England, Uhtred has little patience for his wife calling him "my lord" (as was customary at the time). When she refuses to (or simply can't) shake the habit, he gets visibly angry with her.
  • Lois & Clark:
    • In "The Phoenix", Lex Luthor told Nigel not to call him "Sir" anymore since he no longer had a façade to keep.
    • Also, when Superman reclaimed his birthright as "Lord Kal-El" and became the ruler of New Krypton to prevent Lord Nor from ruling it and using its power to take over and enslave the human race, there was a scene where several Kryptonians were bowing to him and he told them it would no longer be needed.
  • M*A*S*H: In an early episode, a soldier stops to salute Hawkeye, who replies, "You'd better be prepared to explain that!"
  • NCIS:
    • Gibbs (a former Marine Gunnery Sergeant) insists upon being called "Boss" instead. Abby, being Abby, played with it. She is the only person in the entire show who can get away with this kind of thing and not get Gibbs slapped for it.
      Abby: Thank you, sir!
      Gibbs: Don't call me sir.
      Abby: Thank you, ma'am! *walks away*
      * amused reaction from Gibbs*
    • And if you call Ziva "ma'am"... whoops.
  • The Palace is all about a fictional British royal family, and the main characters are all comfortable being called by their titles. However, this trope is briefly Played for Drama in the first episode, shortly after King James's sudden death. His eldest son, Richard, enters a room where his immediate family is gathered, and his mother and sisters begin to curtsy and greet him with "Your Majesty". The new king immediately stops them, disturbed.
  • In Prime Suspect, DCI Jane Tennison, despite needing to remind people of her rank as the first woman to run a Metropolitan Police murder investigation, does not like being called "Ma'am". "I'm not the bloody queen".
  • Star Trek:
    • Captain Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager mentions in a conversation early in the pilot episode "Caretaker" that standard Starfleet protocol is to call superior officers "sir" regardless of gender, but she herself prefers "Captain". "Ma'am" will do in a crunch (and Paris does so throughout the series in crunch time). (Starting with Star Trek: The Next Generation, Starfleet officers of superior rank are addressed as "sir" regardless of their gender. Presumably the idea is that the patriarchal meaning of the word had changed over the centuries to become gender-neutral, although male characters will occasionally "sir" female characters who are being especially authoritative with just enough extra inflection to indicate that the gender-specific overtones are not quite dead.)
      • Of course, when it came her turn to play with Q, she had to invoke A Rare Sentence:
        Janeway: Please don't call me "madam Captain".
    • Next Gen also used the "I work(ed) for a living" variation when someone "sirs" Worf's adoptive father, a retired Starfleet CPO.
    • Inverted by Troi: she is promoted to the rank of Commander while Data is off-ship, and when Data returns, she jokes that he has to call her "Sir" now.
    • Chief O'Brien on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is like this as well; in fact, in one episode, a dying ensign notes that his situation has to be getting worse because O'Brien didn't correct him about calling him "sir". That said, O'Brien is a senior NCO rather than an officer, so this is actually an incorrect form of address and possibly even against regulations. Which means that following the strict chain of command, Nog, who is a cadet with a battlefield promotion to Ensign, outranks him... technically. (It would be a very brave and very foolish newly-minted ensign who started giving orders to a veteran Chief Petty Officer.) He follows the standard tradition of using ranks as titles though, and he's laid back enough about it to claim that he did so so he wouldn't have to wear fancy uniforms and go to boring meetings.
      O'Brien: You know, I just realized, when he gets back from the academy, I'm going to have to call him "sir".
    • It's also played with in the episode "The Storyteller," when Julian Bashir tells Miles not only to not call him sir but to call him Julian. Miles has been in Starfleet too long to be impressed by this, and he looks a bit smug when Julian mutters that the formal address will do fine at the end of the episode. They end up transitioning naturally to First-Name Basis when they become friends a few seasons later.
    • In "Playing God", Trill initiate-for-joining Arjin addresses Jadzia Dax as "Ma'am", which Jadzia promptly rejects, insisting that Arjin call her by her first name.
    • "In the Hands of the Prophets" has Commander Sisko use a variation when Vedek Winn first addresses him as "Emissary":
      Sisko: I wish you wouldn't call me that. I'm "Commander Sisko", or "Benjamin", if you'd like.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation finale episode "All Good Things", Geordi addresses the (now retired) Picard as "Captain" and asks if he would prefer "Ambassador" or perhaps "Mr. Picard". Picard replies that he now prefers just "Jean-Luc". Geordi decides that he couldn't get used to that, and he and Data quickly default back to "Captain". (A later scene shows that whatever his current position, Picard is clearly still inclined to respond to "Captain Picard"... even when it's not meant for him.)
  • In John Cleese's "The Strange Case of the End of Civilization As We Know It", the President, a Gerald Ford expy, keeps demanding that his CIA aides "Don't call me Sir, call me Mr. President", with the usual "Mr. President Sir" gags. A cut scene takes this Up to Eleven, where the NEXT president is told "Your predecessor also said to call him Mr.President, sir." "Mr. President, MR. PRESIDENT!" "Yes, Mr. President Mr. President." And so on, and on.
  • Played a bit for laughs in The West Wing with Donna Moss and incoming First Lady Helen Santos.
    Helen: Did you just "ma'am" me???
    Donna: I seem to have, yes.
    Helen: (cheerfully) Yeah, don't do that again.
    • Josh had to repeatedly tell Charlie not to call him "sir", as only the President is addressed that way in the White House, while everyone else is "Hey, when am I gonna get that thing I asked for". He also had to remind him not to call the President's youngest daughter "Madam".
  • In the first episode of Yes, Minister, Hacker asks Sir Humphrey and Bernard to address him as Jim. Humphrey and Bernard refuse to address him as anything other than Minister.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible: When Saul was chosen to be king, nobody could find him. He was eventually found in the coatroom, being one of the Bible's many examples of extremely humble people. Though he did a Face–Heel Turn once David came on the scene.
    • Also, God himself. While he doesn't outright tell people not to use the respectful titles (and Christians will still use them), God also encourages his people to speak to him in a shockingly informal way in the New Testament. There are several passages that speak about calling him "Abba", which is usually translated "Father" but is more literally "Daddy". This is also the reason that old-fashioned prayers and hymns address God as "thou" - contrary to popular belief, "thou" was the informal alternative to "you", equivalent to French tu or German du. The writers were following the Biblical ideas about how we should address God. This doesn't apply so much in the Old Testament, where there's still a divide of Holy Is Not Safe between God and his people, and using that level of familiarity with him would be inappropriate.

  • A prank call from frequent Bob and Tom guest Joel Lindley has him insist that he be called "El Conquistador"...which proved to be the problem for the gentleman on the other end of the line, who kept calling him "sir".

    Stand-up Comedy 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Played with in the Role Aides game supplement Dragons, which features a character class of dragon-mounted warriors. Among humans of the Dragonlands, they're to be addressed as "Dragonlord" and treated with extreme deference. In front of actual dragons, who are really the ones in charge, they can only be called "Riders", never "Dragonlords", and it's the dragons who must be accorded every respect.

  • At the end of The King and I, when the king's son ascends the throne, the very first thing he does is start telling people to stand up, look him in the eye, and only show respect by bowing, not by prostrating on the floor.

    Video Games 
  • Robo in Chrono Trigger initially refers to Marle and Lucca by honorific, presumably because he's programmed to do so, then reverts to First-Name Basis at their insistence.
  • Jedi Academy: Kyle Katarn insists that both Jaden and Rosh call him Kyle instead of Master, as he says that titles "make my skin crawl." Rosh tries to adapt to this and starts acting so relaxed he's soon found literally leaning on Kyle, which he doesn't appreciate either. There's just no pleasing some people. Whereas Jaden seems to have trouble calling him just Kyle right until the end of the game, which is supposed to take place over several years (however long it takes to go from being an Initiate to a Jedi Knight). By the Fate of the Jedi books taking place decades later, Kyle actually insists on being called "Master Katarn". This may be related to the fact that he's on the Jedi Council...
  • This conversation from Ratchet & Clank (2002):
    Clank: Please, return your appendages to the steering mechanism, sir.
    Ratchet: Oh, sorry. By the way, you can stop calling me 'sir'. The name's Ratchet.
    Clank: Pleased to make your acquaintance, sir.
  • A more casual example, but in Bioshock Infinite, while Elizabeth and Booker are beginning to get to know each other, she calls him "Mr. Dewitt" at first, but he plainly asks her to call him Booker instead. This happens again nearly verbatim in the DLC Burial at Sea, but this time Elizabeth says that she'd rather stick to "Mr. Dewitt,'' hinting at the fact that she knows that the Booker she's talking to isn't actually Booker, but a version of Comstock who had his memory wiped to forget that he accidentally killed a baby Elizabeth and had the Luteces take him to Rapture to start over under a new identity that even he didn't know wasn't real.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Kal'Reegar calls Tali (who, being in charge of the research project on Haestrom, is considered his superior) "ma'am". When she tells him to call her by her name, he replies, "I'll work on that, ma'am."
    • Shepard can choose to encourage this kind of mentality among the crew of the Normandy.
    • If you didn't make one jealous of the other, when Tali and Ash see each other again before the mission on the dreadnought in the first game, Tali calls Ashley by her rank and last name, like she did in the first game, but at Ashley's suggestion (potentially by pointing out that Tali is now an Admiral), prompting them to switch to First-Name Basis.
  • Big Boss gains his title at the end of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. However, due to how he gained it, he refuses to let anyone else refer to him as such until the end of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, six years later. He's not even comfortable with it then. It's only at the end of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a full decade after Snake Eater, that he truly embraces the title. And then comes Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, where, after losing everything to Cipher and XOF, he casts the name off again in favor of Punished Snake.
  • In Call of Duty 3, Dixon insists on the squad not calling him Sergeant after he's promoted to the rank.
  • Early on in King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!, Cedric addresses King Graham as "your majesty." Graham tells him to drop the "your majesty" part, as it is much too formal.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic dislikes being referred to formally or being given titles. Examples include insisting that Shahra call him by his name instead of "Master", stopping the Knights of the Round Table bowing to him once it is revealed that he is the genuine King Arthur and stopping people such as Cream and Elise calling him Mr.
    • Also, Blaze the Cat dislikes being called Highness. She tolerates "Princess Blaze".
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty Sergeant Dornan in Fallout 2 explodes when the Chosen One addresses him as "sir."
    Sergeant Dornan: I AM NOT A SIR! I work for a living, you moron!
  • In the Warcraft universe, Tyrande to Shandris around the time she becomes High Priestess.
    Shandris: I'll follow you for the rest of my life, my lady!
    Tyrande: Don't call me that, I'm still Tyrande.
    Shandris: Yes, my lady.
  • Used in the opening of Battlefield: Bad Company:
    Sgt. Redford: And do you wanna cut out that "Sir, yes sir" crap? I'm a sergeant, not the goddamned President!
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Zevran may once refer to Loghain by title, prompting him to point out that since joining the Gray Wardens, he relinquished his old titles, and should not be addressed any differently than the others.
  • Archmage Savos Aren in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
    Archmage: We haven't been formally introduced, have we?
    Dragonborn: No, sir.
    Archmage: "Sir?" How quaint.
  • In Final Fantasy V, Galuf is a king, but he has amnesia when he meets most of the rest of the game's party and it isn't until much later in the game that they all find out he's a king. Once he officially reassumes his position, Bartz says they'll have to call him "King," but he says that he doesn't like titles, so they should just call him Galuf. He also extends this to fellow king Xezat, who along with him was one of the Warriors of Dawn.
  • Vayne in Final Fantasy XII prefers to be addressed simply as "Vayne" rather than "Lord Consul" or "Your Highness." He justifies this by explaining that though he is the son of the emperor, he is not royalty, as leaders in his country are elected democratically. Furthermore, he insists on being treated as just another citizen of Rabanastre, rather than the newly appointed leader that he is.
    • Similarly, his brother Larsa, though young, is nevertheless of noble blood and is properly addressed is Lord, but amongst the party, he just goes by Larsa.
  • In Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, the main character is Princess Merurulince, but she normally just goes by "Meruru" and doesn't want anyone to bow to her or speak to her formally or anything like that. In her own words, she's never been much of a princess.
  • Team Fortress 2: The supplementary comic "Loose Canon" shows that the Engineer prefers to be called "Dell" rather than "Mr. Conagher", as befitting his characterization as a soft-spoken, friendly sort of fellow (compared to his teammates, that is; the very same comic also shows that the Engineer isn't an Extreme Doormat, since he also threatens to break the geriatric Blutarch in half if he doesn't "take your goddamn hands off me").
  • Dead or Alive: Dimensions features one such moment between Ayane and her mother, Ayame, in which the latter manages to call the former back from the Despair Event Horizon:
    Ayane: "My Lady..."
    Ayame: "Please, you don't have to call me that. I am your mother."
  • In Phantasmagoria, when Adrienne calls Malcom "sir", he tells her he doesn't like being called that, because it makes him feel old (he's over a hundred), and asks to be called by his name.
  • In Little War Game you the player might start saying this since everything with a human voice calls you 'sir' for most orders you give them. This ordinarily wouldn't be a concern, but the game is a Real-Time Strategy game and as such, you'll be hearing their voices over.. and over.. and over..
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, one of the four main protagonists, crown prince Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd of the Kingdom of Faerghus, prefers being informal with both commoners and nobility he outranks. In two of his support conversations, he asks his highly loyal retainer and close friend Dedue and common Officers Academy student Ashe to address him by his first name rather than as 'Highness.' Both are uncomfortable with the arrangement and refuse on grounds of respect for the prince.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, Sakura, the youngest princess of Hoshido, encourages her Childhood Friend and retainer Hana to not address her as "Lady Sakura" when they're alone.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, Lyndis's friends, including Florina, typically call her "Lyn," but Florina, as a retainer for Lyndis' house, starts calling her "Lady Lyndis" after Lyn's story ends. Their supports involve Lyn convincing Florina not to treat her like a "noble stranger."
    Lyndis: What does rank and birth have to do with anything? I'm still myself, and you're still you! Please, talk to me normally, like you always used to.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Inverted in the Yellow trailer, where a condescending bad guy asks Yang if she's got a name. She says that she has plenty, but he can call her "Sir".
    • General James Ironwood plays it straight by telling Professor Ozpin to drop the formalities when they're talking. They're old friends, after all.

  • But I'm a Cat Person's Bianca doesn't like to think of her ownership of Patrick as anything but a technicality. He insists on calling her "Master" anyway.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Roy says this to Vaarsuvius at least once.
  • In Sabrina Online, Zig Zag insists that ALL of her employees call her by name, not "Ma'am" or "Miss".
  • In Dragon Sanctuary, Merno would rather people address him by his Slayer rank (Lieutenant) than any reference to being a Lord or Duke, namely because after he renounced his lands and titles he isn't one anymore. Dean picks up on it as well after he learns of his family, preferring people just call him by name.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP 662, a bell that summons a butler named Mr. Deeds. Mr. Deeds calls everyone sir, often leading to this trope. Unlike most examples, however, he promptly ceases this when asked politely.
  • In Lovelace ½, Mr. Stone, Andi's mentor, has apparently told her this repeatedly.

    Western Animation 
  • Sgt. Torres delivers "I work for a living" line in Exo Squad, when an group of exoscouts she just rescued tries to address her with "Ma'am".
  • Ratchet in Transformers Animated:
    Ratchet: What's your name, soldier?
    Arcee: Ar... Arcee, sir.
    Ratchet: Don't call me sir. I work for a living.
  • In Beast Wars, Megatron, the Big Bad, is constantly referred to by Inferno, a soldier with a worker ant beast mode, as "The Queen". Megatron is suitably angry with this term and attempts to force Inferno to stop using it. Eventually Inferno settles on "The Royalty".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Both princesses Luna and Mi Amore Cadenza ask not to be referred to by title, with the latter preferring the more condensed "Cadence".
    • This also occurs in "Princess Twilight Sparkle" where Twilight reveals that while she can understand other ponies of Equestria calling her "Princess Twilight", she prefers her friends not to.
  • In the Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines episode "Operation: Anvil", Dastardly orders Zilly to not call him "D.D." as he had in the episode.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Princess Sally prefers not to be addressed by her full title, as she sees it as "meaningless" while her kingdom is under Robotnik's control.
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Go", which details how the Teen Titans met, Beast Boy had just left the more formal Doom Patrol. He repeatedly annoys his new leader Robin by calling him "Sir".
  • TUGS: Ten Cents tells this to Sunshine in the first episode, and that the only "Sir" is their boss, Captain Star.
  • A Running Gag in Bob Morane: Bob often asks his friend Bill to stop calling him "commander" but Bill keeps doing it anyway.
  • Hank Scorpio on The Simpsons does not want Homer to call him "boss". Hank notes he may come later in the day, get paid a lot more, and take longer vacations, but he doesn't like phrases that elevate him over other people.
  • Lionel from Budgie the Little Helicopter hates being called "Captain", which Chuck habitually calls him. Budgie even called Lionel this on one occasion.
    Lionel: It is not "Captain"!

    Real Life 
  • At first the President of the United States was addressed as "Excellency", with the full style being "His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of Their Liberties". George Washington had this changed, at the insistence of James Madison, to the simple "Mr. President". This custom has persisted to the present day, whereas in a few other countries presidents are addressed as "Excellency" but the U.S. President is just "Mr. President". In diplomatic events outside of the United States, "His/Her Excellency" is the correct style for an elected leader. The formal style of the President of the United States in domestic events is "The Honorable," with "Mr. President" being the style used for direct address.
  • Irish musician Tommy Makem used to reply "my father's not here" whenever anyone called him "Mr. Makem" instead of "Tommy".
  • Walt Disney hated being called "Mr. Disney". Occasionally when he was referred to as such, he'd say something along the lines of "Please, call me Walt. The only Mr. at the Disney Studios is our lawyer, Mr. Lessing."
  • Laurence Olivier was both knighted and made a life Peer (as Baron Olivier of Brighton, Sussex), which along with his other many and varied honors entitled him to a long list of honorifics. In spite of this, he insisted on being called "Larry". Alec Guinness was also like this, at one point lightly scolding Mark Hamill for calling him "sir".
  • Anthony Hopkins often insists on being called "Tony" during interviews, stating that "Sir Anthony Hopkins" feels "stiff and unnatural".
  • After becoming Prime Minister of the UK following a landslide election victory in 1997, Tony Blair memorably opened his first Cabinet meeting with the words "Just call me Tony", doing away with centuries of tradition that Cabinet members - including the Prime Minister - should always be addressed by their job titles and never their names. His successor Gordon Brown continued this policy, but under David Cameron, use of traditional titles has returned.
  • John Gagliardi, the winningest coach in Collegiate American Football history, insisted his players call him John instead of Coach.
  • Similarly to John Gagliardi, current England national football team manager Gareth Southgate insists on players calling him "Gareth" rather than "Coach". This began when he was England's U21 manager so that the team and training environment would be more relaxed. He's continued this as the senior team's manager in large part because many of the players he managed at U21 level are now senior team players and he values continuity.
  • Legend has it that a certain young member of the British royal family who had just been commissioned as an officer of the Royal Navy cheerfully advised a senior officer that, "you can call me Andy". The officer replied, with some annoyance, "And you can call me "sir"!"
  • American business culture, being more informal than other places, embodies this, with employees addressing people other than their bosses by their first names.
  • People from other parts of the U.S. get discombobulated in the American South, where people are drilled to use the terms "sir" and "ma'am" from childhood as a sign of respect.
  • Speakers of languages with a T-V distinction - that is, those using both informal (German "du", French "tu", Italian "tu", Spanish "tú", Russian "tyi" and Bulgarian "ti", and Early Modern English "thou"note ) and formal ("Sie", "vous", "lei", "usted", "vyi", "vie", and "you")note  second-person pronouns - can choose to shorten the distance with their conversational partner (for example when they're giving or getting an interview) with something along the lines of "let's switch to <informal pronoun>". Indeed, the French phrase "tutoyez moi!" (literally "[you can] use tu with me!") is often translated as "no need to be so formal" or something similar.

Alternative Title(s): Do Not Call Me Sir


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