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He Had a Name

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Raphael: Where's Splinter?
Shredder: Ah, the rat! So it has a name! ...It had a name.
Leonardo: YOU LIE!
Shredder: [smiling evilly] Do I?

Someone important to one of the heroes has died. Sometimes, the dead person has been killed because they're too close to the hero (or perhaps due to a Heroic Sacrifice that benefits the hero in some way). Other times, the dead character was following the hero's orders. And maybe it was just their time.

Whatever the situation, someone else, typically the villain, dismisses the dead person, as if their death was just that of another Red Shirt who carried little meaning.

It is at this point that the hero invokes this Stock Phrase: "He had a name!" This shows that the dead character wasn't just a faceless casualty of the story, but was actually important. They mattered.

See Nominal Importance, which is very closely related to this trope. See also The Dead Have Names. For the inversion, see Forgotten Fallen Friend.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Baccano!: "His name was Tony!"
  • Dragon Ball - Frieza killing Krillin is what pushes Goku into going Super Saiyan, and casually referring to him as "that Earthling" just pisses him off that much more.
    "That little bald guy was my best friend. His NAME WAS KRILLIN!!"
    • Depending on the dub, Krillin could also be referred to as 'the short, bald one" or equally offensive and callous things.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Disappeared Dad Hohenheim has apparently spent a few hundred years obsessing over this. All his half of the souls of Xerxes that his 'eldest son' stole and split between them he has gotten to know by name and forged an alliance with, and on at least one occasion before he does some major alchemy he does a mantra of them before saying, "I'm going to have to use you." This attitude is what means he's still human, despite his catch phrase.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Invoked during the final battle. Chang Wufei asks Treize Khushrenada how many countless soldiers he'll sacrifice. Treize responds he has counted, and makes it a point to catalog and remember the name of every soldier he loses in the campaign so that their sacrifices won't be forgotten or in vain.
  • Yuji says this to Shana about Yukari Hirai in Shakugan no Shana.
    • Yuji also makes a point that he has a name and isn't just an inconsequential, forgettable Torch, and even names Shana just to establish the importance of identity.

    Comic Books 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Avengers, Iron Man tells Loki about one other person he pissed off, on top of the other Avengers he's managed to anger. He's referring to Phil Coulson, killed by Loki earlier in the movie.
    Iron Man: And there's one other person you pissed off. His name was Phil. [zaps Loki with a repulsor blast]
    • This is an ironic contrast to a scene earlier in the movie, where he flippantly said that Coulson's first name was "Agent".
  • Played with for Hypocritical Humor in The Breakfast Club, in a rare non-fatal version:
    Andrew: Yeah, well he's got a name. [Beat] What's your name?
  • In The Dark Knight, Joker invokes this on purpose, pretending Rachel's name slipped his mind, to further push Harvey Dent/Two-face's insanity.
  • In Electric Dreams, the computer pulls an I Had A Name variant by identifying himself in his "dying" speech as Edgar.
  • Early in Face/Off there's a variation in which the names of several dead people are not forgotten, but rather omitted. After capturing Castor Troy, Sean Archer angrily reacts to a bottle of champagne with a note reading "just for you" by listing the names of all of the agents who were shot dead by Castor and Pollux during the shootout at the airport.
  • The trope name was quoted verbatim in Fight Club by the Narrator after the death of his friend Robert Paulson, when one of the members of Project Mayhem suggests disposing of "the body" by burying it in the garden. The Narrator's speech accidentally finishes turning Project Mayhem into a Martyrdom Culture: they reconcile it with Tyler's demand that the "Space Monkeys" go without names by concluding that Robert earned his name in death.
  • In The Hunger Games, Clove is about to kill Katniss and takes a minute to gloat about the death of Rue (whom Katniss had a close friendship with)...unfortunately for Clove, she made the mistake of doing this within earshot of Scary Black Man Thresh, who is from the same district as Rue and was also extremely close friends with her. In the brutal asskicking that ensues, Thresh forces Clove to say Rue's name before killing her.
  • The exchange in The Lost World: Jurassic Park:
    Tembo: The Rex just fed, so he won't be hunting for a while.
    Ian Malcolm: Just fed? I assume you're talking about Eddie? You know, you might show a little more respect! The man saved our lives by giving his!
  • Subverted in Phone Booth when Stu tells the sniper that nobody will remember his name (and won't learn from his mistake) if he kills him, challenging him to name a single victim of a serial killer.
  • There's a sort of inversion in Reservoir Dogs in which Mr. White breaks the no names rule, telling a dying Mr. Orange his name without realising he's an undercover cop.
  • Subverted in The Shawshank Redemption, when the prisoners find out that "Fat Ass" died during the night after being beaten to a bloody pulp by Captain Hadley.
    Andy Dufresne: What was his name?
    Heywood: What?
    Andy Dufresne: I was just wondering if anybody knew his name.
    Heywood: Fuck do you care, new fish? Doesn't fuckin' matter what his name was. He's dead.
  • In Skyfall, the villain Silva demands that M say his real name, wanting proof that he was more than just some random agent sent out to do her bidding. She refuses and promptly seals her fate.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990): The Shredder, the Turtles' enemy, uses this trope to imply that their master is dead, providing the page quote. Fortunately for our heroes, he's wrong, although he had been under the assumption that Splinter had been killed by his followers already.
    Raphael: Where's Splinter?
    Shredder: ...Ah, the rat! So it has a name... it had a name.
    Leonardo: YOU LIE!!
    Shredder: [slowly smiles sadistically behind his mask] Do I?
  • Variation in U.S. Marshals: As Noah lies mortally wounded in an ambulance, and the Emts work on him desperately, they say encouraging things like, "Stay with us, Buddy/Pardner/Pal." Gerard, sitting in the ambulance in the midst of a Heroic BSoD, says very quietly, "His name is Noah." The Emts immediately switch to using his real name. Unfortunately, it doesn't help.
  • In the final fight between Barney and Vilain in The Expendables 2, Vilain taunts Barney that he'll die like Billy. He asks Barney what his name was. Upon fatally stabbing Vilain, Barney replies, "His name was Billy."

  • One of the defictionalized Castle books has the heroes be reminded that a victim had a name. The cops find a John Doe corpse that had been gnawed on by a coyote, and even after they determine his identity, they continue to call him "Coyote Man". They claim that this kind of Black Comedy is necessary in order for cops to cope with the number of dead people they have to think about all day, but after one cop interviews the dead man's nephew, he stops calling the man "Coyote Man" and snaps at anyone else who tries.
  • The third and final Dogs of the Drowned City book has Snoop the greyhound being run over by a car, to the shock of almost everyone. When he's carried off by the humans who ran him over, Zeus remarks "The dog should've gotten out of the way", making Shep snarl "His name was SNOOP!"
  • A somewhat watered down version in the Farsala Trilogy. Kavi wasn't killed, but he's been captured, and the odds of him being executed are about 50/50. Jiaan, who has referred to Kavi exclusively as "the peddler" for the whole three books due to dislike that grew into murderous hate, tries to brush off a plea to rescue him, and gets chewed out for not even calling him by his name while doing so.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire. King Stannis is contemplating the Human Sacrifice of Edric Storm, bastard offspring of his philandering brother. In an effort to avert this Davos Seaworth keeps mentioning Edric by name every chance he gets.
  • Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time: Rand memorizes a list of every woman he has ever killed or caused to die; when the spirit of his previous Reincarnation starts communicating with him, he starts adding names to the list from his life as well.
  • Redwall book The Pearls of Lutra: Martin II shouts the name of Holt Lutra over the dying Big Bad, who had killed the entire family for a single trivial piece of treasure.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): When Saul Tigh and Caprica Six attempt to have a baby, they name him "Liam", after Admiral William Adama. When he dies in utero, Tigh tells the Admiral the baby's name.
  • Occasionally in Bones, Booth implores Brennan to use the victim's name instead of "the victim" when talking to the bereaved family.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Slightly subverted in "World War Three": When a minor character dies and Harriet Jones admits that she doesn't know his name, even though she had a number of conversations with him throughout the day, the Ninth Doctor doesn't shame her for it (he just briefly apologises to the corpse and tries to arrange it in a more dignified position). Nothing more is made of it in that episode, it's just one of life's little injustices. However, later on, in "The Christmas Invasion", now-Prime Minister Harriet Jones is shown making a point of asking even minor flunkies she talks to for their names. It's not explained why she does it, but it was probably meant as a Continuity Nod to show that, even without the Doctor getting all self-righteous about it, she learned her lesson.
    • In "The Doctor Dances", the Doctor points out that the nanogene victims are waiting for their commander.
      Jack: The child!?
      Nancy: Jamie.
      Jack: What?
      Nancy: Not "the child", Jamie!
    • The Tenth Doctor had a clearly-labelled Berserk Button for people who made this mistake:
      • A variation at the end of "The Satan Pit". Humans of the future have enslaved an alien race known as the Ood, which were treated like robots or cattle. When the humans evacuate the station, all the Ood are left to die, which clearly distresses the Doctor. When the surviving captain makes his report, he lists the deceased Ood individually (by designation number).
      • The Ood who dies at the beginning of "Planet of the Ood" gave his designation number when they asked for a name, and Donna used it comfortingly. It is unclear whether psychic-natural Ood traffic much in names, but whenever the Doctor visits the Oodsphere afterward it seems Ood Sigma is there to meet him.
      • In "The Poison Sky", the UNIT commander who refused to order a retreat keeps trying to raise the last man on his radio even though he's clearly been shot dead, and the Doctor tells him off:
        Colonel Mace: Greyhound Forty, come in! Greyhound Forty!
        The Doctor: He wasn't Greyhound Forty. His name was Ross. Now listen to me, and GET THEM OUT OF THERE!
      • In the next episode, a character is dismissed as "collateral damage". To which Donna replies:
        Donna: Her name's Martha! And she's not collateral damage for anyone!
      • There's a variation in "Midnight". After the hostess sacrifices herself to kill the monster, the other passengers are ashamed to realize that none of them... not even the Doctor... knew her name.
    • The Eleventh Doctor appears to have retained it. In "The Vampires of Venice":
      The Doctor: This ends today. I will tear down the house of Calvierri stone by stone. And you know why? You didn't know Isabella's name. You didn't know Isabella's name.
    • Inverted in "The Impossible Astronaut", when a Silent kills a woman in front of Amy for no clear reason other than her seeing it. Amy says that it didn't have to kill her, since she couldn't even remember it (which is the Silent's power; you forget them as soon as you look away), to which it simply responds that the woman's name was Joy.
  • A variation on ER, when Doug brings one of his random one-night stands into the hospital, dying of a drug overdose. Everyone's disgust at his behavior is only heightened by the fact that he doesn't even know the woman's name. When he tries to seek sympathy from ex-girlfriend Carol, claiming, "I didn't know she was sick", she coldly tells him, "You didn't know her at all".
  • Done twice in an episode of The Flash (2014). Energy-vampire Farooq goes after Dr. Harrison Wells for revenge. He was made the way he was when Wells' particle accelerator malfunctioned and exploded, and when his friends tried to resuscitate them, they were electrocuted. After stealing the Flash's powers and essentially making him useless, Farooq corners Wells, blaming him for the deaths of his friends. Wells not only agrees, he goes on to list their names, and the names of every other person who was killed due to his experimenting. Flash gets his powers back, and when Farooq tries to take absorb his energy, it becomes too much and kills him. When Cisco tries to give him his supervillain name "Blackout", Wells invokes the trope verbatim.
  • Forever: Detective Hanson dismisses the victim in "The Pugilist Break" as "ADJ" (Another Dead Junkie), but Henry insists that the man had a name, that he mattered to someone. When they learn the man's name, Henry lampshades it.
  • In one episode of Hardcastle and McCormick, Hardcastle has to deal with a police captain who, twenty years ago, shot an unarmed teenager and then covered it up; when the case came before Hardcastle's court, the man was ruled innocent for lack of evidence. Twenty years later, Hardcastle hasn't forgotten:
    Filapiano: Nobody even remembers that dumb kid's name.
    Hardcastle: Johnson. His name was Cyler Johnson.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Played for Laughs in one episode, where the "dead guy" is an Xbox. Gets much naughtier when you realize that Ted was offering Barney his Xbox, not knowing that Barney was also chasing after his ex-girlfriend. One wonders what Barney thought he heard Ted saying...
    • Subverted in the episode "Monday Night Football". A worker in the bar dies and Wendy the Waitress says he really liked the gang, who can't remember whom she is talking about. Later, at the wake, when they see the body, all five recognize the man's face (in a comical "Oooooh!" moment) which they try to pass off to Wendy and Carl the bartender as sorrow. Future Ted still doesn't remember if the man's name was "Matt", "Mike", or "Mark".
  • In Just Shoot Me!, Elliot accidentally breaks one of Dennis' porcelain cats and offers to replace it.
    Dennis: It? It had a name! Oh, Skittles!
  • This happened on Lost.
    Sawyer: So... old Steve drew the short straw.
    Hurley: Dude! His name was Scott!
  • Happened once in Monk: in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door", the Guinness Museum's curator approaches Stottlemeyer and asks him if it is absolutely necessary to remove the body of a security guard who fell over a railing during a fight with an intruder (who stole an egg-eating robot) and got skewered on a swordfish display. Stottlemeyer replies, "Sir, um, that's a human being. He had a name. He had a family."
  • NCIS
    • In a first-season episode, Gibbs does this to the murderer of a fellow agent, just before pulling the trigger.
      Gibbs: His name was Special Agent Chris Pacci. And he was a friend.
    • And then again in "Once A Hero", when the head of a human trafficking ring dismisses the Marine he killed as just someone trying to be a hero.
      Gibbs: His name was Brian Wright. Sergeant Brian Wright, United States Marine Corps. Bronze Star, Purple Heart. He was a hero.
    • And after Eli David is assassinated and Jackie Vance is killed in the crossfire:
      Kasmi: Vance's woman is dead as well?
      Gibbs: Her name was Jackie! She was a mother of two!
  • An episode of NUMB3RS had a rare example of the perpetrator remembering the names of all his victims, who died as the result of a virus he unleashed with the endgame of trying to save many more lives. He was on his way to light candles for them in a church when he was caught.
  • The Pretender episode "Back from the Dead Again", Jarod is a Med professor beginning a class with a speech about his one big rule.
    Jarod: I want each of you to understand that there is only one unforgivable sin in my class. I will not, under any circumstance, tolerate any disrespect for these cadavers. Underneath each of these plastic sheets lies a human being. Many of these bodies, they come to us unknown and unclaimed which means that they died alone and afraid with no friends, no home. Forgotten by their families and thrown away by society. Therefore, they will not be disrespected in this classroom.
  • The Professionals has a variation: In "Killer with a Long Arm", a forensics lackey dismisses a murder victim as "nobody", meaning that he was unconnected to their main case (he was shot just to test a sniper rifle). Doyle immediately snaps, "Nobody's nobody," haranguing him about the fact that the victim had a wife and children. Of course, since Doyle was the one who asked who the dead man was, we never do learn his name.
  • In the pilot of Stitchers, Kirsten points this out regarding her deceased Parental Substitute after one of her new co-workers carelessly refers to him as "the sample":
    Kirsten: The sample has a name: Ed Clark.
  • Supernatural:
    • A unique variation occurs in Season 3 after the Big Bad of the first two seasons, the yellow-eyed demon, is finally killed in Season 2 yet we still don't know his name. A demon later reveals his name to be Azazel in Season 3, saying "You think his brothers just called him Yellow-Eyes? He had a name."
    • In "The Prisoner", one of the members of the Styne family mocks Dean over how he killed Charlie by pretending to forget her name. Dean calmly tells him "Her name was Charlie", then turns the tables on the killer by explaining how he slaughtered the rest of the Stynes before putting a bullet in his head.

  • Andrej Bukas (Андрей Букас) does this in Seryoga (Серёга). And it is heartbreaking.
  • Said by Dr. Wily in The Protomen.
    Reporters: What was her name?
    Wily: Doesn't matter. Now listen!
  • This refrain from "Stockholm Syndrome" by Muse:
    And she had a name. Yes she haaad a naaaame.

    Video Games 


    Web Original 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Nappa, being a Psychopathic Manchild / Cloudcuckoolander in this universe, believes Chiaotzu to be a Pokemon. After Chiaotzu's unsuccessful self-destruct, Nappa calling him "that Pokemon" again pushes Tien over the edge.
    "You stupid...ugly...son of a bitch. His name... was CHIAOTZU!"
    • In the Epilogue, there's a scene that comes close to this.
    Cyborg 17: Any chance I could talk you out of this?
    Future Trunks: What was my Master's name?
    Cyborg 17: Huh?
    Future Trunks: The man who taught me. The man whose arm you took. The man you killed. What was his name?
    Cyborg 17: Goooo... ku Junior...?
    Future Trunks: Wrong answer!
  • The Mercury Men: Before killing the sniper that killed Glenn, Yaeger tells him, "His name was Patrick Glenn. Apologize when you see him."

    Western Animation 
  • Lampshaded in American Dad! during "Roy Rogers McFreeley", after a character dies (of natural causes) and another character is threatened:
    Stan: We've already lost Old Guy, we're not going to lose Speakerphone!
    Hayley: Dad, they had names -
    Stan: There's no time for names! [To his daughter] Jugs! [To his son] Nerd! [To Greg and Terry] Gays! Let's go!
  • In the penultimate episode of Exo Squad, Nara Burns delivers the Bond One-Liner, "This was for my brother. His name was James!" right after she kills Phaeton. While Phaeton didn't directly kill James, he did start the war in which James died, and did not care at all about the people who died in it.
  • Family Guy: Stewie and Brian are stranded in the desert, night's approaching, and the only shelter option is their camel, cut open Star Wars-style. Poor Stewie had already named him and given him a back-story.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Lethal Trackdown", clone trooper Commander Ponds, when asked to identify himself by a bounty hunter who's about to murder him, responds with his identification number. Watching the recording of the event, Anakin Skywalker is quick to remind everyone of the dead man's name.
  • Steven Universe: In "Dewey Wins", Sadie is outraged that Mayor Dewey only knows Lars Barriga, her co-worker at the Big Donut and best friend who is stranded in space after being abducted in the season 4 finale, as "Donut Boy".

    Real Life 

Waldorf: How could that villain off that character like that?! He Had A Name!
Statler: What was it?
Waldorf: I was saying he had a name, not that I knew what it was!
Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!