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Go-to Alias

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Whether it's for serious reasons or a silly scenario, occasionally a character will have to pretend to be someone he isn't. As the story continues (probably as a treat for people who've been watching the show for some time), he'll use a name that has been mentioned in the past. This is the Go-to Alias: a default pretend name on which the character falls back when he's pretending to be someone else.

A variation on this would be the Go-to Identity, when this name carries a history or personality to which the character sticks whenever he uses it. In more dire circumstances, the character will start associating with that identity more than his own. If Played for Laughs, he will be Lost in Character.

If the character uses multiple aliases with a common thread, they're Themed Aliases.

Go-to Aliases:

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    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Alfred Pennyworth often uses his middle names (Thaddeus Crane) as an alias when he goes undercover.
    • Since Batman didn't want Tim Drake revealing his Robin identity even to other heroes, he sometimes told them that his name was "Alvin Draper." Amusingly, his best friend Conner immediately dismissed it, on the grounds that no one with that name would willingly go by it; he'd have introduced himself as "Al" or "Vinnie" instead. On the other hand while he introduced himself as Alvin to his girlfriend Spoiler he didn't even try to claim the id was his real one since they already understood the identity problems of their relationship.
  • In Knights of the Dinner Table, 'Weird' Pete's go-to alias is John Mephisto; the name of an old HackNoia character of his.
  • Daredevil uses "Michael Nelson" (no, not that one; or that one either), a combination of his father's and best friend's names.
  • Nikolai Dante often uses the alias Quentin Durward. Of course, he's never able to maintain the cover for very long.
  • Spider-Man foe Mysterio has used the alias of Ludwig Rinehart three times —once when posing as a psychiatrist to try to drive Spidey insane, again while running a rest-home scam, and a third time when posing as his own psychiatrist, and convincing the actual psychiatrist that he was Mysterio.
  • Superboy (1994): Before he took the secret identity of Conner Kent, Superboy would use the name "Carl Krummet" when undercover (infiltrating Risk's old high school in Teen Titans: Superboy and Risk Double-Shot and Stargirl's school in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.).
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Lt. Lauren Haley pretends to be a National Geographic reporter named Linda while on espionage assignments.
  • In Grandville, LeBrock has several alternate identities, but he seems rather fond of the name "Meles". (Meles is the scientific name for the badger family, and the European badger is meles meles.)

    Comic Strips 
  • Popeye. J. Wellington Wimpy often claims to be "one of the Jones Boys" whenever he's in some hot water for something he did.

  • Men in Black. Kay always claims to be working for "Division Six" of any government agency.
  • Premium Rush. The villain, Robert Monday, always calls himself "Forrest J. Ackerman" whenever he needs access somewhere.
  • At several points in American Animals, Warren uses the alias 'Walter Beckman'.

  • In the James Bond novels by James Gardner, Bond often uses the alias of 'James Boldman'.
  • The Saint: Simon Templar liked to use the alias "Sebastian Tombs". Deconstructed after a while, when someone points out that he's used it so often that people just treat it as synonymous with him and it's not actually much use for hiding his identity now.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey generally uses his two middle names (Death Bredon) as a Nom de Guerre. If he needs to explain this coincidence, he'll claim that he's a distant cousin of the Wimseys.
  • In the Company Z novels by J.T. Edson, Alvin Fog uses 'Rapido Clint' as his alias whenever he poses as a criminal. His partner Mark Scrapton would use 'Commanche Blood'. These two verge of being full-blown 'go-to identities'.
    • In the Floating Outfit novels, Alvin's grandfather Dusty Fog often used his middle names 'Edward Marsden' as his go-to alias.
  • Gentleman Bastard: Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen have had a lot of aliases in their time... but when pressed for an identity on short notice, they can always fall back on Tavrin Callas. This is sort of a prank on their part; the first time Jean used that name, he was infiltrating the cult of the death goddess and faked his own suicide. They figure if anyone traces the name far enough back, the followers of the death goddess can declare it a miracle.
  • Isaac Asimov's The Complete Adventures of Lucky Starr: Lucky usually tells people his name is "William Williams", unless there's a reason why he has to use his identity as a member of the Council of Science.
  • Author Gordon Korman used "G. Gavin Gunhold" as a running alias across multiple books. Gavin takes on a life of his own more than usual in ''The Wizzle War'' (as the world's most perfect, absentee student) and A Semester In The Life Of A Garbage Bag (an obscure Canadian poet) in particular.
  • Donald E. Westlake's John Dortmunder character from the Dortmunder is a career criminal. He has occasionally used the alias "John Diddums" (he claims to anyone who asks that it's Welsh), a name he dislikes but uses involuntarily in circumstances that preclude using his real name.
  • Vanyel from The Last Herald-Mage has a minstrel named Valdir as go-to undercover identity.
  • John Clark's go-to alias when operating in Russia or pretending to be Russian is Ivan Sergeyevich Klerk, which patryomnic aside, is basically his name.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A.N.T. Farm: Dorian Banister for main character Chyna. Or when she's pretending to be a foreigner, Dorianna Banistera.
  • Even Stevens: Twitty uses Lars Honeytoast when buying shoes from a shady salesman. He uses it again in The Movie.
  • Friends:
    • Phoebe is practically guaranteed to use the name "Regina Phalange" whenever pretending to be someone else. In "The One Where Joey Speaks French", she gives her alias as a French woman as 'Régine Phalange'.
    • Joey apparently uses "Ken Adams" from time to time, but we only see it in action in one episode.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • Andy Dwyer used Bert Macklin, FBI agent, in a few scenarios. However, he eventually dies and is replaced by his brother, Kip Hackman. Or so the President's enemies think.
    • In the same vein, April Ludgate likes being Janet Snakehole. Originally just the daughter of the owner of the Snakehole Lounge (so she could score free drinks), the next time we see her she's a fabulously wealthy widow with a Mysterious Past.
  • Chuck:
    • It's implied in "Chuck Versus the Break-Up" that Sarah and Bryce are habitually "Mr. and Mrs. Anderson" when going Undercover as Lovers.
    • The eponymous Chuck Bartowski introduced the idea of Charles Carmichael (the successful version of himself) in the third episode, "Chuck vs. the Tango". Over the course of season two, it becomes so associated with him that it ends up as one of his operating aliases. In one episode people are congratulating him as both "Bartowski" and "Carmichael" as he walks through a crowd.
    • Further down the line, even Morgan gets into the act, establishing Michael Carmichael as his go-to alias.
  • On The Office (US), Michael Scott has Agent Michael Scarn. Originally his go-to improv character, eventually the main character of a script he writes and, over the course of several years, films.
  • On Doctor Who, the Doctor often goes by the generic "John Smith" when forced to give up a name or being "under cover". In one case he even used the German variation, "Johann Schmidt".
  • On Better Call Saul, it's revealed that "Saul Goodman" was Jimmy's fallback alias, before he adopted it full-time as his professional name.
  • On Will & Grace, Karen's alias was "Anastasia Beaverhausen".
    "Anastasia, like Russian Royalty, and Beaverhausen, like... where the beaver live".
  • Burn Notice's Sam Axe always, always uses the name "Chuck Finley" when he needs an alias for the Job of the Week.
    • After the season 4 in-series proclamation that "Chuck Finley is forever", there is official merchandise for Sam's go-to alias. Mr. Finley is on the way to becoming a Memetic Badass, a la Wang Fire of Avatar fame.
  • Seinfeld: Each of the male characters has one. In the Puerto Rican day episode, they all end up in the same apartment using their aliases.
    • George Costanza has Art Vandelay, who is an architect, a marine biologist, or an importer/exporter, dating back as early as the second episode. He'll also use the name Vandelay when coming up with other lies, such as claiming he was employed by Vandelay Industries. In the series finale, the judge the four are sentenced under is actually named Art Vandelay. George interprets this as a good sign. It isn't.
    • Cosmo Kramer would often pretend to be wealthy businessman H.E. Pennypacker or various people with the last name "van Nostrand".
    • Jerry himself occasionally went by Kel Varnsen.
  • In Plain Sight gives us Mary Sheppard and Marshall Miller.
  • On Modern Family, Phil uses Clive Bixby, designer of high-end electro-acoustic transducers, when roleplaying with Claire, who uses the name Juliana for the same.
  • Winston from New Girl uses "Theodore K. Mullins", Nick/Schmidt's lover on the down low.
  • When he has to go undercover as a criminal, Nash Bridges tends to use the pseudonym Teddy Malone.
  • Reese from Person of Interest uses "Det. Stills" and "John Rooney, Assets". Even John Reese is implied to be a fake name.
  • On Pushing Daisies, Chuck consistently goes by Kitty Pyms, covering up the fact that she's actually dead.
  • On Bones. Booth and Brennan sometimes go undercover. They actually have two sets of aliases, Tony and Roxy or Buck and Wanda Moosejaw.
  • Zane on Eureka periodically goes by I. P. Freely, when he's not using the names of WarGames characters.
  • Castle has given Alexis some extra undercover work recently, for which she tends to use the name "Clara Stryker," after one of her father's characters.
  • Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files typically used the name James Taggart when pretending to be a wealthy businessman.
  • On The Good Place Eleanor's old stand-by was "Diana Tremaine". She later learns that her mother has started a new life under that name.
  • Sharpe: When Sharpe needs to travel incognito, he often uses the alias Dick Vaughan. Richard "Dick" Vaughan is the South Essex's supply officer which means that Sharpe can use his actual regiment and real first name and still have his cover pass cursory inspection.
  • Resurrection: Ertuğrul: Used by several characters throughout the show, such as:
    • Petruchio and Titus, who go undercover in the city of Aleppo as Tatos Harput and Ebu Hisham, respectively.
    • Noyan uses this in a couple of season 2 episodes, as well as a different one in season 4, where he momentarily dons the moniker of “The Traveler”.
    • A protagonist example happens in season 3. A man who drops by the Kayi-Cavdar grounds claiming to be a traveling merchant is later revealed to be Sultan Alaeddin Kayqubad.

    Video Games 
  • The Suikoden series has the recurring alias of Schtoltheim Reinbach III/IV. Made much funnier when Suikoden IV actually features the real Schtoltheim Reinbach III.
  • In Planescape: Torment, The Nameless One has the option of using the moniker Adahn when talking to people. And thanks to the nature of the Planes, if you convince enough people that there's a guy named Adahn wandering around out there, you can meet him in a bar.
  • Dallas from PAYDAY 2 uses the alias "Nathan Steele" in several of the game's trailers.
  • In the Hitman series, 47 will typically use the name "Tobias Rieper" as his main alias whenever he needs to give out a name. Hitman 3 reveals that he has a social media account under the name where he posts many photos of popular tourist locations around the world... and he doesn't appear to be in any of them (suggesting that it's just a dummy account loaded with stock photos).
  • In Red Dead Redemption II, Arthur will typically give the name "Tacitus Kilgore" as the name to send letters to.

    Web Video 
  • In Critical Role, Jester's go-to fake name is "Ms. Fiona Fancypants", and she even holds on to the "Fancypants" surname sometimes with other first names. "Nancy Fancypants" is perhaps not the most convincing name for someone impersonating a drow.

    Western Animation 
  • On King of the Hill, Dale likes to go by Rusty Shackleford, generally whenever he's doing something sneaky, although he also refuses to sign his real name to any document, being a comical Right-Wing Militia Fanatic. At one point in the series, the actual Rusty Shackleford shows up—Dale knew him as a kid and had thought Rusty had died—it turns out that Rusty had just moved away and wasn't happy being connected with Dale's various acts of stupidity.
  • Daria has "Esmerelda". It only makes one appearance in the series proper when she first meets Casanova Wannabe Upchuck, but she uses it more frequently in subsequent tie-in media.
  • Sterling Archer frequently employs the first name "Randy" whenever he's on assignment (the last name varies more frequently). Cyril Figgis has had "Chet" as a cover name more than once.
  • In Men in Black, the MIB's cover story was always "Division 6" of whatever government agency would be relevant to the situation. United Nations Security Division 6, Health Inspectors Division 6, and so on.

Go-to Identities:

    Comic Books 
  • Batman has his Matches Malone identity that he uses to get information about the criminal underworld. Unusually, Matches was a real person; a gangster who Batman thought could have had the potential to go straight, if he hadn't been killed. In one storyline it turned out the real Matches was still alive, but on his return to Gotham was immediately killed by Scarface because of Batman!Matches' actions. Bruce blamed himself and started Becoming the Mask.
    • Robin (Tim Drake)'s Alvin Draper alias (mentioned above) became more of an identity when he used it to go undercover in Gotham's teen gangs.
  • Wolverine uses the identity of "Patch" (wearing an eyepatch), a mercenary, when he acts undercover in the Far East. Depending on the Writer, most of Patch's regular contacts, especially in Madripoor, know perfectly well who he is, because he looks like Wolverine wearing an eyepatch, but go along with it anyway.
  • In the Amalgam Universe, Dark Claw, the Batman/Wolverine amalgam, has, inevitably, the identity of Patch Malone.

  • Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan spends a lot of time under the alias Admiral Miles Naismith. Part of the series delves into him Becoming the Mask.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat, in his criminal days, had a constructed identity complete with false fingerprints, pads that changed the shape of his face, and so on, which he would adopt before beginning any con (and keep up underneath any other alias required for the con), so that the police would spend their time looking for that person instead of the real him.
  • The Belgariad: Silk has two primary cover identities in place; the down-on-his-luck spice merchant Ambar of Kotu, and the reasonably successful wholesaler Radek of Boktor. He has others too, but Radek and Ambar see the most play because he likes the characters. Technically, "Silk" is a deep-cover fake identity as well, since having his real identity as Kheldar, Prince and Heir Apparent to the throne of Drasnia, be public knowledge would be Very Bad.
  • Moist von Lipwig in Going Postal is similarly described as having two or three favourite identities. Making Money shows the flaw in this approach for a conman; the fact "Albert Spangler" has a history makes it more likely that this history will come back to haunt him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Leverage: Sophie Devereaux is the alias by which we know Gina Bellman's con artist.
    • Not that the rest of the gang doesn't have standard cover identities. John Rogers says it's to decrease the number of names they have to run by their legal team to keep them from slandering someone. A small selection:
      • Nate uses Jimmy Papadokalis every time he's playing a lawyer; he's used Tom Baker and Bob Gibson multiple times as well.
      • Eliot has used the name Wes Abernathy at least twice.
      • Parker has used Alice White at least twice.
      • Hardison has gone by Johnathon Steed at least twice
  • On White Collar, Neal Caffrey uses Nick Halden as a regular alias when playing cons. Probably because he knows the FBI already knows about that identity; he's had others, but he'd prefer not to give up all his secrets.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Classic Traveller, The Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society #16. Jon "Fast Johnny" McRae is a highly skilled and daring interstellar con artist. One of his favorite aliases is Commodore Laruskaa Korkoran of the Imperial Navy. He has gone to great effort to make it a solid identity that can't be easily exposed.

    Western Animation