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I Never Told You My Name

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Woman: I've been waiting for you, Lisa.
Lisa: (gasps) How did you know my name?
Woman: Your nametag.
The Simpsons, "Lisa's Wedding"

Alice has just met a man named Bob, who seems like a perfectly nice person — until he uses her name. Alice realizes this and possibly responds, "I never told you my name."

This trope is used to place suspicion on an otherwise ordinary character or to hint that there is more to the character than meets the eye. The person whose name is used does not necessarily have to notice; it could simply be a hint to the audience to pay more attention to the character who knew it without being told.

It can also be used humorously, generally with subversions, such as Alice asking why Bob knows her name... and Bob revealing that Alice was wearing a nametag the whole time. This is also easily double subverted if the nametag doesn't reveal the full name, although that tends to be in less humorous situations. The use of this trope can also reveal that Alice is more well-known than she thinks, for good or for ill.

A Sub-Trope of Saying Too Much. Compare I Never Said It Was Poison, where a suspect incriminates himself by revealing confidential evidence only the person involved in the crime would know, and Spotting the Thread, where the spy is an impostor imitating someone Alice knows, instead of acting as a new person. The Inverted Trope is You Just Told Me, when responding to her real name is what reveals Alice's true identity.


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     Audio Drama 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who drama Omega, the Doctor is greeted by name by the Jolly Chronolidays tour guide the first time he meets her. Much later, he introduces himself to her, and when she points out she knows who he is, he asks her how, since his name wouldn't have appeared on her manifest. She's working for Omega.

    Comic Books 
  • All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder: Green Lantern is shocked when Batman casually calls him Jordan.
  • Code Name: Gravedigger: In Men of War #19, The Mole in La Résistance tips his hand when he refers to Gravedigger as Captain Hazard when surprised to see him still alive: the Resistance only knew Hazard by his code name.
  • A variation shows up Irredeemable, when the Plutonian refers to the Hornet's wife by name during a flashback. The Hornet had never mentioned her name to him, and realizes that he's spying on his teammates and may not be entirely trustworthy.
  • In an issue of Justice League of America, Plastic Man in disguise was talking with Bruce Wayne and after a while, Bruce said his name. Plastic Man never mentioned his name; he and the group chased him, and "Bruce" was revealed to be a telepathic alien with amnesia.
  • Subverted in the miniseries Oracle: The Cure: Barbara never told Corey her name, but when she pointed this out, he reminded her that he had known her when he was a kid from her librarian days.
  • Fifty percent of The Phantom Stranger's shtick is showing up out of nowhere and helping the protagonist out of a jam. The other half is casually and infuriatingly addressing the protagonist by name, even if they have never before met.
  • Spider-Man:
    • In Sensational Spider-Man vol. 2, Peter has a chat with a stranger who knows his name without being told. Peter isn't that impressed, since this is just post-Civil War and he's revealed his identity to the public. Then he realizes the somewhat more pertinent fact that the guy had walked up to him without triggering his Spider-Sense...
    • In Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man, in the same post-Civil War era, Peter's staying at Flash Thompson's apartment pretending to be "Reilly Ben" when Betty Brant comes by looking for Flash. Peter invites her in, they chat, and Peter calls her "Betty", when she hadn't given her name. Combine that with the trained reporter noticing a family photo of Peter's, and she realizes who she's speaking to.
    • Inverted in Ultimate Spider-Man when Spidey wakes up unmasked and surrounded by the X-Men:
      Spider-Man: I want to put on the mask and keep it on! But every time I turn around, someone somewhere finds out I'm Peter Parker!
      Jean Grey: We... uh... we didn't know your name.
      (Spidey facepalms)
  • In Suicide Squad, Deadshot meets Superman at a villain's office where they banter for a bit. Deadshot asks for an autograph for his daughter which Superman gives. Deadshot then tells the Squad something is wrong as, among other bits, the autograph says "to Zoe" when Deadshot never told Superman his daughter's name.
  • Supreme Power: Nighthawk loves doing this in his mini, just to show people he can and will make good on his threats.
    Nighthawk: If I see you in a place like this again, Bobby, I'll kill you.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, Sasuke does this to Usagi, Jotaro, and probably everyone else he meets. When someone calls him on it, he just dismisses it - "You must have mentioned it earlier." In this particular case, it's because Sasuke is a powerful spellcaster and can read people's minds.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Care Bears Movie, Friend Bear puzzles Jason and Kim on their first meeting by addressing them by name. While Kim mouths off a bit, Jason's immediate reaction is to ask, "How do you know our names?" He never does get a straight answer, either, since all Friend Bear says is that "We know a lot of things about you."
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • In the first movie, Human Applejack delivers the exposition to who Sunset Shimmer is and why Twilight shouldn't mess with her. Twilight thanks Applejack and calls her by name. AJ then realizes she never told Twilight her name. (Twilight already had met the human Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, so she already realized this is the human version of Applejack.)
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: The human-world Twilight Sparkle is quite perplexed that everybody at Canterlot High School know her name and give her a friendly welcome. This is because they are already familiar with Equestria's Twilight Sparkle, whom visited them twice already. Her bafflement increases tenfold when the Humane Six calls her dog, Spike, by name too. By the time Principal Celestia also addresses her by name, she concludes with "This is getting ridiculous!" It isn't until Cinch arrives and apologizes for "her" student's curiosity does Pinkie immediately realize this is not Princess Twilight.
  • In Toy Story 2, when Woody first meets Jessie, Bullseye and Stinky Pete, he asks them how they know his name. They then show him all the merchandise from the old Woody's Roundup television show, of which they were the cast.

  • Invoked twice in Malevolent
    • Once during his coma, Arthur realizes that the King in Yellow is trying to gather information from him when he refers to him by name.
    Arthur: Wait, did I… did I tell you my name?
    • Once again in episode 23, and was likely part of the reason Arthur was able to realize that Larson was lying to him.
    Arthur: How did you know my name? I never gave you it, nor anyone in town.

  • Bleak Expectations:
    • A variation gets spoofed: Pip meets Dr. Whackwallop, but fears he might work for Mr. Gently Benevolent, the Big Bad.
      Pip: Whackwallop? Then you are a cousin to the Sternbeaters and Hardthrashers, and a natural ally of Mr. Benevolent!
      Dr. Whackwallop: Gently who?
      Pip: Most reassuring.
    • There's a similar gag the first time he meets one of the Hardthrashers, who addresses Pip by his full name while pretending to be a complete stranger and Most Definitely Not a Villain. It goes straight over his head that time, too.

  • In The Ring of the Nibelung by Richard Wagner, Siegfried is a bit suspicious when scheming Hagen calls him over as he rows past the Gibichungs' castle. Unfortunately not suspicious enough...
    Siegfried: You called me Siegfried. Did you ever see me?
    Hagen: I recognized you only by your strength.

    Visual Novels 
  • When the protagonist of Daughter for Dessert goes to Heidi’s alone, he bumps into Saul, whom he has never met before, and he is shocked to learn that Saul knows who he is.
  • Iris does it to Phoenix in the last case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations. When Iris is confronted about it, five Psyche-Locksnote  appear before her and the issue has to be dropped. It's not revealed completely until the end- When Phoenix was dating Iris's twin sister Dahlia, Iris switched places with her twin, for almost all of the time "Dahlia" was dating him, and the only times Phoenix met the real Dahlia were when she gave him her necklace and when she killed Doug Swallow.note 
  • Happens at the beginning of Virtue's Last Reward when the protagonist Sigma wakes up in an elevator with a mysterious girl named Phi who inexplicably knows his name. When called on this, she claims that she doesn't even know how she knows his name and that it just popped into her head. She's telling the truth; Phi has Psychic Powers that allow her to jump between timelines, and is most likely remembering Sigma's name from a previous attempt to survive the Ambidex Game.

    Web Animation 
  • In Dragon ShortZ (a spinoff of Dragon Ball Z Abridged), it's Played for Laughs when 18 is taken aback when Krillin addresses her by her real name, Lazuli, and asks how he knows that. Krillin realizes he never told her about the time he and Future Trunks went to Dr. Gero's sublab to destroy Present Cell (which is where he found the blueprints that revealed her name). So he begins to tell her that story.
    "...of course that creep had a sublab."
  • TheOdd1sOut says that this trope is why he didn't wear his name tag when he worked at Subway.
  • Happens a couple of times in Red vs. Blue season 17.
    • In "A Stitch in Time", Church inexplicably knows Caboose's name roughly five minutes after his arrival despite him never being formally introduced. He's actually being possessed by The Dragon Genkins, who is trying to create more paradoxes to free Chrovos.
    • In "Self-Fulfilling Odyssey", Carolina is thrown off when she knows that two individuals named Lopez and Tucker are missing from the Blood Gulch crew despite this being long before they formally met. Donut and Washington use this to help her realize she's stuck in a Time Crash.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Good Morning, Tiana

In a deleted scene of "The Princess and the Frog", we learn Tiana is a bit of a sleep-talker.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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Main / INeverToldYouMyName

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