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Lazy Alias

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Cody Martin: I'm Wing Lee. Who are you?
Zack Martin: Cody Martin.
Cody Martin: ... I hate you.

Bob wants to get involved in something that he has never done before, but he doesn't want anybody to know it is him. His name is easy to recognize, so he signs up under a different name. The name he uses? Fakename McPicklemeister.

There are many ways for an alias to fall under this trope. It could just be the character's real name spelled differently or backwards. It could just be the name of somebody they know. Or, if the character is really lazy, their alias could just be their real name. Sometimes, the name gives away the nature of the subterfuge, making the pseudonym pointless. The name could also be just too silly or unusual to be a real name. No matter how lazy and/or obvious the name is to the audience, their fake name still manages to fool the most of the other characters in-universe. Maybe it works because they don't actually make a physical appearance, or maybe their alias includes a disguise to conceal who they are.

These aliases are often used in Prank Calls. Typically the recipient of the call figures out the name is fake, but can't trace it to a person due to only hearing them.

It also likely works because they presenting themselves to people who don't know them personally. If such is the case, expect the whole thing to fall apart when somebody who does know them and hears the alias shows up and reveals who they really are, either because their alias sounds like only something they would come up with or they saw them stand up when the alias was called.

Not the same as Paper-Thin Disguise, though the two can occur at the same time. Compare and contrast Atrocious Alias, when a character chooses an embarrassing name for their secret identity. The character who chooses such a name may be a Giver of Lame Names.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler's anime adaptation Nagi's former butler Himegami shows up wearing a mask and claims his name is "Princess God" - which is just a literal translation of "Himegami".
  • In chapter 57 of Moriarty the Patriot, Louis James Moriarty signs into a reception as "Lucas J. Morgans" as if absolutely no one at all could piece those names together.
    • In one of the novel stories, William uses the name "Willy" to hide his identity while running a scam with Moran, a choice which is simply too embarrassing to comment on.
  • In The Eminence in Shadow, one member of the Seven Shadows, Epsilon, uses "Silon" as a civilian name which is only the two first letters removed from her actual name while two other members, Delta and Zeta, add a letter to the end of theirs to make "Deltan" and "Zetan".
  • Maria no Danzai: Despite cutting off all ties with her old life when she was a happy housewife and mother, Maria decides to use her maiden name while carrying out her revenge. A common surname, but her old surname just the same.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City, Samaritan uses the alias Asa Martin in order to maintain a cover identity. Granted, he only bothers with the civilian identity because he needs regular access to an Internet connection in order to run the alien computer that keeps him up-to-date with the world's crises.
  • The Incredible Hulk (1962): While disguising himself as a perfectly normal archaeologist, the long-lived supervillain Tyrannus goes under the name... "Mr. Tyrannus".
  • The Killer: The Killer complains about this when his employers give him a passport with the name "Labataille" for a particular job. They thought they were being cute, but he points out that it's too obvious, although he still manages to slip through customs.
  • Captain America: Once in the late 60s of his comic Captain America decided to head to college to get a job there as an Athletics Instructor. He, a brilliant man, veteran of countless battles and idol to millions Steve Rogers decides to go by the alias... Roger Stevens. Really. It probably helps that he had convinced people at the time that Steve Rogers was a false identity.
    • Making it even funnier is that Steve once became the artist for the In-Universe Captain America comic, in which, Depending on the Writer, the character's real name IS Roger Stevens. Steve must be lazy.
    • His youthful ward Bucky Barnes himself used the alias "Bucky" throughout World War II, though this has been retconned away since due to being too silly.
  • The Twelve: Captain Wonder's sidekick Tim kept superheroing when Captain Wonder went missing under the name Captain Tim. He went back to civilian life after his superpowers faded away.
  • X-Men: During his time at the Black Womb project, Mr. Sinister disguised himself as "Nathan Milbury". In a flashback in Immortal X-Men, Destiny (who is also there) laments how lacking in subtlety this is, even for a man who willingly calls himself "Mr. Sinister".

    Fan Works 

  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • In Avengers: Endgame, when Tony travels back in time to retrieve the Space Stone, he is suddenly encountered by a past version of his future father Howard Stark, and when the latter asks his name, Tony hesitates to come up with a fake name before introducing himself as "Howard Potts", using his father's given name and the surname of his wife, Pepper. Howard is surprisingly accepting of the name as it just makes it easier for him to remember.
    • In Eternals, the names Phastos uses for himself and the other Eternals in front of his family are similar to their real names. He's "Phil", Sersi is "Sylvia", and Ikaris is "Isaac".
    • In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, when the title character reveals his name to Katy, who knows him as Shaun, she calls out how he was very low-effort in hiding his name ("It's like a woman saying 'My name is not Geena, I'm now Gina!").
  • In Superbad, Fogell gets a fake ID with the obviously fake name "McLOVIN", no last name. He proceeds to get caught by the cops, who pretend to believe his alias and refer to him as "McLOVIN". In fact, they see right through his lie but pretend to go along with it because they want him to think they're cool.

  • Carmilla: The vampire Carmilla seems fond of using rather transparent anagrams as aliases: her real name is Mircalla, and she also uses the name Millarca in the story.
  • Dortmunder: In an early short story, Dortmunder is forced to make up an alias under pressure and the best he can come up with is the very silly-sounding "John Diddums". He eventually comes to like the alias and continues to use it as his go-to alias in subsequent stories.
  • Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime: In "I Killed Santa Claus," William "Buck" Thomerson's police record shows that three of his aliases, Thomas Williams, William Williamson, and William Thompson, don't deviate far from his real given and/or surname, although his fourth alias, Vincente Benito de la Rosa III, stands out from this pattern.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant: Whenever Skulduggery has to interact with mortals as part of an investigation, he just calls himself Me (such as Chief Inspector Me or Captain Me). When the name is inevitably questioned, he explains that he comes from a very narcissistic family.
  • In Rule 34, the killer is issued fake documents to the name of John Christie. No one bats an eye at this, save for the man himself, who suspects it was specifically chosen because it's the name of a serial killer and it's this trope via his suppliers getting cute. He's not amused, and requests a change of documents. When the new set drops, and he sees the new name is that of another serial killer, he realizes someone is trying to get him caught by making him stand out more.
  • In Donald Westlake's God Save the Mark Fred Fitch believes that his late uncle's doctor might refuse to talk to him if he gives his real name, so he uses the name "Fred Nedick" when he calls to make an appointment.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: Main character Oliver Horn lives under an assumed identity, consisting of his real given name and a made-up surname. It's really only his precise parentage that he's trying to conceal: he doesn't even bother to hide that he's the cousin of Gwyn and Shannon Sherwood.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Drake & Josh: In "Steered Straight", when Drake makes fake-IDs for himself and Josh, he chooses the names "Jefferson Steelflexnote " for himself and "Alvin Yakitorinote " for Josh. Later on in the episode, they end up stuck with a criminal, who also thinks they're criminals. When he asks who they are, they use the fake names again. Miraculously, the criminal buys it.
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: In one episode, Zack and Cody cut school and go to the mall where they enter a contest. Cody doesn't want to use their real names though so they come up with aliases. Cody enters under the alias "Wing Lee". What alias does Zack enter under? "Cody Martin". The alias works until their mom finds out.
  • In Doctor Who, the Master has the terrible habit of choosing names that either have "Master" in them or refer to concepts like domination and ruling in a variety of languages. Examples include "Colonel Masters", "Victor Magister", "Inspector LeMaitre", "Duke Dominus", and "Inspector Effendi". In a particularly chuuni example of this trope, he once indulged on it to the point of calling himself "Harcourt De'ath".

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner
    • In the Strong Bad Email "Secret Identity", Strong Bad discusses various aliases he goes under starting with Tip Tappers. An Easter Egg reveals some of the other cast to also have some lazy aliases that the audience is easily able to look at and figure out who is who.
    • Strong Bad chooses some pretty outlandish names for his personas when prank-calling Marizpan, such as Professor Tor Coolguy, Constable Anybody, and Dean Prankcaller. They're usually thematically linked to the nature of the prank.
    • When Strong Bad gives Homestar a lesson in prank-calling, he fails even in the minimal alias requirements needed to prank-call someone. In his first attempt, he gives his own name, then he uses Strong Bad's name for the second attempt, and the name he finally settles on, "Sugarface", is even less realistic than the ones Strong Bad usually chooses.

  • In The Order of the Stick's "Uncivil Servant," Belkar goes by "Ali S. Fakenamington."
  • In Val and Isaac, Doris is accused of this, being a DOR15 (Detective Or Retail, Mark 15) robot who goes by Doris, by her overly paranoid boss.
  • Spoofed in Brawl in the Family: meet Kingsonnn Dededoo (totally not King Dedede). He is here to clean Kirby's clock. Literally. Turns out that despite all evidence to the contrary, he is not actually Dedede.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, when Bob became a superhero for about half a day, he tried to stop a bank robbery. The robber asked his name and, suddenly realizing he hadn't thought of one, he blurts out, "I'm Bob-Man!" He immediately smacks his own face in disgust... but the name works, and the robber in question doesn't figure out it was him until much much later.

    Western Animation 
  • BoJack Horseman: Suave adult businessman Vincent Adultman is actually a kid named Kevin in a Totem Pole Trench. The name Adultman underlines the obviousness of the impersonation, but nobody notices that Vincent is three kids in a trench coat except for Bojack, who everyone ignores.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the episode "Friendship University", Rarity comes up with some Paper Thin Disguises for her and Twilight to investigate Flim and Flam's academy and includes nicknames for them. Rarity ends up being known as Plainity, and Twilight's alias is Eyepatch since she has an eyepatch.
  • Ninjago: Dragons Rising: When the main characters try to infiltrate the Imperium, Lloyd hastily comes up with the name Dyoll Donmagar, while Arin claims he's "Dr. Lampshade Floortile". Amazingly, this isn't what gets them busted; they weren't keeping up with the dress code.
  • In The Owl House episode "Elsewhere and Elsewhen", Luz uses the name of her Self-Insert Luzura (which is just a portmanteau of her name and the name of the heroine in her favorite book) during her trip to the Deadwardian Era. Justified, since no one she would encounter would ever meet her again. Or so she thinks, as a combination of this, and Paper-Thin Disguise result in Philip Wittebane (who is actually the past version of the modern day Emperor Belos) remembering her and arranging matters to ensure that she maintains the Stable Time Loop that allowed him to rise to power as Belos and enact his plan for the Day of Unity. In "Hollow Mind", Philip makes sure to rub this in her face after he reveals his identity to her specifically to break her.
  • Rick and Morty had a vampire who was sucking blood from victims at Morty and Summer's school and went by the name "Coach Feratu" (real name Balik Alistaine) until he was killed by Tiny Rick, Morty, and Summer. When the vampire leader learns his code name, this exchange happens, which leads to the leader asking if this order makes him a buzzkill or not before sinking his teeth into a woman's neck, deciding it does not:
    Vampire Leader: (angrily) Why the fuck would he name himself after a famous vampire movie?! Was he doing a bit?!
    Assistant: I do not know, your unholiness.
    Vampire Leader: Jesus fucking Christ. from now on, no more of this clever name bullshit! When a vampire's trying to be human, they can just call themselves "Allen Jefferson", or something like that.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Fear of Flying", Homer is kicked out of Moe's tavern. His efforts to find a new bar to hang out at end in vain. We then cut to what appears to be Homer in disguise trying to get back into Moe's, with the name of "Guy Incognito". Subverted when it is revealed that Guy is not actually Homer when the real Homer steps in and notices Guy having been thrown out.
    • The Running Gag that despite Bart's local infamy as a troublemaker, no one's figured out that he's notorious local graffiti artist "El Barto." One episode sees Principal Skinner describing Bart as his school's second most wanted criminal after El Barto.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In one episode, Spongebob is attempting to get into Pearl's girls-only slumber party. What appears to obviously be SpongeBob dressed as a girl tries to get into the party using the name "Girly Teengirl". Subverted as it is not really him.
  • In the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "1-900-BEAVIS", the pair call a phone sex hotline. Beavis tells Butt-Head not to use their real names.
    Butt-Head: Uhh...I'm Beavis. And he's Butt-Head.

    Real Life 
  • Disgraced Boy Band Svengali/blimp entrepreneur Lou Pearlman (of Backstreet Boys fame) went on the lam fleeing fraud charges shortly before he was captured. The name he used? A. Incognito Johnson. This clearly didn't help much, as he was captured shortly thereafter and sentenced to 25 years.
  • Interestingly, it can actually be good spycraft to pick names close to your real one, or to go with alternate nicknames - Maggie instead of Marge, for example. It is easier to remember and lets you respond more naturally.


Video Example(s):


Coach Feratu

Rick and Morty had a vampire who was sucking blood from victims at Morty and Summer's school and went by the name "Coach Feratu" (real name Balik Alistaine) until he was killed by Tiny Rick, Morty, and Summer. When the vampire leader learns his code name, this exchange happens, which leads to the leader asking if this order makes him a buzzkill or not before sinking his teeth into a woman's neck, deciding it does not.

How well does it match the trope?

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