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Line-of-Sight Alias

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Doctor: I'll be keeping my eye on you. What's your name?
Peter Griffin: Uh, m-my name? Uh, uh, uh, uh... [spots pea on plate]... Pea... uh, uh... [sees girl crying]... tear... uh, uh... [sees a griffin fly by]... Griffin. Yeah, yeah, Peter Griffin... ah, crap.
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A character is in disguise, undercover, or otherwise lying their ass off about their identity and must come up with a fake name on the spot. Their eyes bounce around the room, land on one object, then another, then another...

...and by assembling the names of these objects one after the other, they have an instant pseudonym!

Sometimes their eyes will land on writing, which may supply them with a plausible name. However, the trope most often results in ridiculous aliases that somehow still fly. This also applies to details that may embellish a fake story such as accomplices, other Invented Individuals, or locations, as long as the goal is to lie on the spot by line-of-sight naming.

There are two Stock Parodies that contribute to this: works may riff on Jan Brady's fake boyfriend "George Glass" from The Brady Bunch, or a scene involving Keyser Soze from The Usual Suspects.

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Subtrope of Line-of-Sight Name. Other ways to invent a quick alias include Character Name Alias, Sdrawkcab Alias and Sue Donym.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • A series of advertisements for the Vauxhall Astra featured the irascible executive JD (Nigel Hawthorne) and his put-upon subordinate Percy Atkins. In one advertisement, Atkins realised to his horror that the hitchhiking teenagers he'd picked up were JD's children, who'd heard all about Atkins from their father but had never seen him. Since they were behind a lorry of sheep at the time, he quickly gave his name as Ramsbottom.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In one episode of Burst Angel, Jo must give Takane her full name, so after seeing someone eating some rice with curry, she comes up with "Jo Kareraisu" ("Jo Curry Rice"). This may also happen because Jo has Only One Name. (In the English version, Jo says "Jo Mamma".)
  • In one episode of Pokémon, when Ash Ketchum needs a fake name, he sees Pikachu with a bottle of ketchup, and comes up with "Tom Ato". Misty then comes up with "Anne Chovie", and Brock follows on the food theme with "Caesar Salad". Ash was going to say "Ash Ketchup" (maybe), but he gets whacked. In the Japanese version, Ash tried to introduce himself as "Napolitan" (as in "napolitan spaghetti") after seeing a plate of spaghetti on the floor (next to Pikachu), and the Yas recruiter asked if he was from Italy. The Japanese version has the trio use the aliases "Omurice Ketchupurou", "Chicken Rice Sauceko", and "Curry Rice Chutney Zaemon", which are actually just the names of Japanese dishes with the last few letters of some traditional Japanese names added at the end.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, "Audrey Burne" (aka. Princess Mineva Lao Zabi) introduces herself to Banagher while the two of them are walking past a movie theatre with a poster for Roman Holiday out front.
  • In CLANNAD, Tomoya is at first impressed when Fuko quickly comes up with Isogai as a fake last name, until he realizes she got that name from seeing it on the nameplate of the neighbors' house.
  • In one of the Lupin III specials, Travels of Marco Polo, Lupin has to improvise an alias for himself and Jigen. The first thing he sees is a Kentucky Fried Chicken... therefore, he becomes "Detective Colonel" and Jigen is dubbed "Inspector Sanders."

    Comic Books 
  • In Fairest #22, one of Cinderella's mouse footmen sneaks into the ball. When asked his name, his eye falls on a tray being carried by one of the servants and he introduces himself as "Champagne. Marcel Champagne".
  • In All Star Western #34, Jonah Hex needs an alias when signing a hotel register. He sees a sack of George Brand Flour being wheeled past in a wheelbarrow, and signs the book 'George Barrow'.
  • In the Cinema Purgatorio story "Modded", Fringe is asked her name while disguised among enemies. She frantically looks around the bar and comes up with "Lady Glasshat Dildobeast." There really was something that could only be called dildobeast present. In any case, Tommy Zero only gets suspicious when Bloody Susan acts familiar with Fringe but doesn't refer to her by name.
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    Fan Works 
  • All-American Girl: In chapter 18, this is how Twilight Sunburn comes up with the fake name Tender Care, by reading it off a billboard. However, "Tender Care" is a perfectly realistic name for a pony.
  • Invoked in Once More with Feeling. The director of JDA intelligence chooses codenames based on nearby items, in order to make his agents harder to find.
  • The Palaververse: In Wedding March, the changeling Thorax ducks out of the pitched battle he finds himself in by disguising himself as a member of the Royal Guard. When he's confronted by the CMC, Spike and Sailears and asked his name, he panics and names himself after the first thing he sees, thus introducing himself as Sir Wall of the Royal Guard. Given the nature of pony names in canon, this still provides him with a perfectly suitable and unremarkable alias.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "The Other Smurfette", Hogatha as a female Smurf first meets with Clumsy, whom she fell upon in the woods, and Clumsy innocently asks, "I wonder what I should call you. Do you have a name?" And Hogatha replies, "Wonder? Ah, yes, that's what you shall call me. Wonderette Smurfette."

    Film — Animated 
  • The Simpsons Movie: In an attempt to get the dome removed and free Springfield, Homer wears a hotel doorman's outfit and approaches a soldier, claiming to be General Marriott Suites.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In The Usual Suspects, "Verbal's" entire story was created by piecing together random items from the office he was being interrogated in. Even the bottom of his interrogator's coffee mug was used to name the lawyer, Kobayashi. This example is so famous that many others on this page are references to it.
  • General Aladeen in The Dictator is incapable of coming up with aliases without using this method. Aside from "Allison Burgers", he tries to pass himself off as "Ladis Washruum", "Employce Muswashans", and "Emer Gencyexitonly".
  • In Supergirl, the titular character's secret identity, Linda Lee, comes from a glance at a picture on the wall of Robert E. Lee.
  • In Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin Williams' character glances at a newspaper headline ("Police Doubt Fire Was Accidental") to come up with the titular name.
  • Robin Williams gets another one in August Rush when he comes up with the titular protagonist's stage, taking a fragment from the slogan on the side of a frozen foods truck.
  • The Wrong Guy: Nelson Hibbert wakes up in a hospital; believing he's a wanted man, he needs a fake name. So he tries "Enemabag Jones". When the doctor isn't convinced he tries again, reading his fake name off her nametag.
  • Occurs in The Princess Diaries when the Queen invents the "Genovian Order of the Rose", after spotting a sign for Rose Street, to get Mia out of a spot of trouble with a police officer.
  • The mermaid from Splash takes the human name Madison after a street sign on Madison Avenue.
  • In The Muppets Take Manhattan, Kermit the Frog, suffering from amnesia, wanders into an ad agency and when he is asked his name by some frogs who work there, he sees an ad on the wall that says "Fill'er up" and says his name is Phillip — Phil. By an odd coincidence, the names of the other frogs are Gill, Jill and Bill.
  • City of Angels's protagonist, Seth, tries this on his love interest and is immediately shot down when he claims to be called "Seth Plate".
  • In The Associate, Whoopi Goldberg's character needs a name for her mysterious friend and her eyes falls on a bottle of alcohol at the bar: Robert S. Cutty.
  • In Down with Love (largely a Homage to Lover Come Back), Catcher Block, in urgent need of a pseudonym for himself that Barbara Novak won't recognize, takes a look at the dry cleaners' signs saying "Zippers Repaired" and "MARTINIZING Specialists" and comes up with the name of "Zip Martin."
  • Linda Fiorentino's character in The Last Seduction makes up an alias while looking, into a mirror, at a poster for the city of New York, and comes up with "Wen Kroy", with "Wen" later elaborated into "Wendy". And unusually, the man she was running from actually manages to reconstruct her thought process, and finds her under her new name.
  • Die Hard
    • A version appears in the first film when Hans Gruber tries to pass himself off as an innocent employee. John McClane surreptitiously checks the building directory while asking Hans' name, but Hans had apparently already seen it and gives the name "Bill Clay", which John spots in the directory.
    • Live Free or Die Hard would revisit this, as Justin Long's character impersonates the real owner of the car McClane is trying to jack.
      Matt Farrell: My name... [rummages through glove compartment] is... [finds something] Frank... and my dad's name is... Dvorak... Tsajinsky...
  • Pineapple Express:
    Dale: Go to the Days Inn downtown. Use a fake name. [looks around garage] "Garagely"!
  • The Hottie & the Nottie features Paris and Nate at a picnic. He stammers over coming up with a name for a fictitious guy for her roommate. He comes up with "Cole Slawsen". Yeah.
  • Yojimbo:
    • The ronin gives his name as "Kuwabatake Sanjuro", meaning "Mulberry Field thirty-ish". Guess what he's looking at (and how old he is) when he was asked. He adds that he's "closer to forty."
    • In the sequel Sanjuro, the ronin gives his family name as Tsubaki (camellia) after the nearest plant life.
  • A bizarre instance of this can be seen in the made-for-TV movie The Pooch and the Pauper when a con artist who specializes in inventing fraudulent dog breeds is asked the name of one of his "exotic" breeds and his eyes fall on an assortment of teas before he responds that the dog is called a Darjeeling Orange Pekoe.
  • In Dr. Jekyll & Ms. Hyde, Hyde's descendant picks the first name Helen for his alter-ego after seeing the headline "Scientists Believe Mt. St-Helens May Blow Again".
  • A Very Brady Sequel parodies a corresponding scene from the TV series by having Jan spot a carton of fruit juice and thereby inventing "George Tropicana."
  • In Dark Shadows, Maggie Evans is training herself for her governess job interview in the train that drives her to Collinsport. She thinks her real name will not impress the Collins so she looks for another name, sees an advertisement for the "Winter Olympics" (in Victoria) and renames herself "Victoria Winters".
  • In the Jim Carrey version of Fun with Dick and Jane, while on the phone in an office:
    Dick: Yes, this is Officer...[sees multicolored paper] Red Green of the... [reads off a computer monitor] MVPDL.
  • In a film version of "Puss in Boots" starring William Shatner, Puss (Shatner) comes up with an alias for his master, the "Marquis of Carabas", after seeing a cart loaded with casks of "Carabas Wine" in the marketplace.
  • In Heathers, when a radio host asks Heather McNamara for her name, she struggles to give one. First she gives the name "Madonna" after the full size poster of Madonna on her wall. Then she spots her canary and comes up with "Tweetie".
  • Laura Harring's amnesiac character in Mulholland Dr., when asked what her names was, picks the name "Rita" after seeing a Rita Hayworth poster on the wall across the room.
  • In Avengers: Endgame, when Tony Stark travels back in time to 1970 (it's a very long story), he meets his father's past self, a young Howard Stark. When Howard asks him his name, a stunned Tony blurts out "Howard", which clearly does not bother Howard Stark, who simply says the name will be easy to remember.
  • In Shanghai Knights, Roy needs a British name to infiltrate the villain's fancy-dress party. Mangling "sure" and "clock" together, he ends up with "Sherlock" for a first name; he then notices the manufacturer's nameplate on the Grandfather Clock, "Holmes." He's put on the guest list as "Sherlock Holmes." A certain Arthur Conan Doyle was also in attendance, and asks Roy if he can use that name once things clear up.
  • In the 1987 film Hiding Out, Andrew Morenski (Jon Cryer) is hiding from hitmen as a high school student. When pressed for a name in the registration office, he quickly scans the room and spots a coffee can, giving the name, "Maxwell Houser".

    Literature 
  • Discworld: During his brief layoff in Reaper Man, the Death of Discworld goes through a couple of these before settling on "Bill Door". Discussed with his first choice of surname. "Bill... Sky." "Sky? Nobody's named Sky." By this point the person he's talking to is humouring him and is certain he's a smuggler hiding out from the law trying to come up with an alias.
  • Subverted in Utopia. An assassin is sent to kill a man called Warne, but due to a pass card mix-up, he closes in on the wrong man. The victim protests that his name is "Pepper, Norman Pepper", and the assassin is almost ready to realize his mistake. However he then notices the soft drinks can that Norman was drinking from, and with a smile steps forward saying the words "Of course you are...".
  • In Good Omens, the creatively challenged witch-hunter names his imaginary co-workers (invented in order to increase the stipend his threadbare organization receives) after his office furniture.
  • In Manning Cole's A Toast to Tomorrow one of ex-secret agent Tommy Hambledon's subordinates in the Berlin police force brings in a fellow ex-agent on suspicion of having started the Reichstag fire. The other man gives his name as "Johann Schaffer." Once they're alone Hambledon comments on it.
    Tommy: Next time you are asked for your name, think up a nice one, don't just read one off an advertisement calendar on the wall. It arouses suspicion in the most credulous breast.
  • In the last book of The Tomorrow Series, The Other Side of Dawn, Ellie Linton calls herself "Amber Spaulding" after being captured, taking the name from things she sees around her in the hospital she is being treated in.
  • Joe Pickett: In Cold Wind, a woman needs a spur-of-the-moment alias. Hearing Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight" come on the jukebox, she introduces herself as Patsy.
  • Hawksmaid: When Matty is choosing an alias to go undercover in Nottingham Castle as a servant, she sees the green leaf tucked into the brim of Robin's cap, and christens herself Marian Greenleaf.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Boy Meets World: At one point Eric makes up a fake fraternity so that he can have a fraternity party. When the Dean asks him the name, he sees a kid in a Magnum, P.I. shirt, and thus replies "Magnum Pi".
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor first acquired their occasional alias of "Doctor John Smith" in "The Wheel In Space", when, prompted for the name of the unconscious Second Doctor, his companion Jamie reads the name from the maker's mark on a piece of hospital equipment.
    • The Doctor's granddaughter, Susan, adopted the false surname "Foreman" after seeing it written on the gates of a junk yard.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • When Vala finds herself in a police station after suffering Laser-Guided Amnesia: asked for her last name, she gives "Valerie ToDad", after a drawing on the officer's bulletin board. It doesn't work.
    • Lieutenant Tyler, an alien impersonating an SGC member, took his name off a label on the team's gear of Tyler, Texas. Fortunately, he managed to work out that Texas was a location; and was able to avoid having to think of a first name.
  • On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt:
    • Titus is being grilled by Ronan Farrow about sexual harassment allegations, so he claims to be getting another call from somebody. Based on the things he sees on the walls (an oar, a VHS copy of Sister Act, a picture of a judge, the oar again) he claims the call is from "row-nun-fair-row. Ronan Farrow." Ronan Farrow makes a confused face.
    • Kimmy comes up with "Kaiser Soze" as a pseudonym for her Amazingly Embarrassing Stepfather, after seeing a bag of Kaiser rolls, a sewing machine, and a copy of "Say Say Say".
  • Seen at least five times on Monk:
    • "Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month": Randy claims he has a girlfriend named Crystal, and Sharona, seeing a nearby box, asks, "What's her last name? Glassware?" But it's subverted when she turns out to be real, even though no one actually believes it.
    • "Mr. Monk and the Big Reward": Monk figures out that a woman who has been coming into the police station is connected to the crime when he remembers seeing her name on a plaque and realizes that it's an alias.
    • "Mr. Monk is At Your Service": Monk is in a suspect's house, having been mistaken for the applicant being hired as new butler. Rather than raise suspicion, Monk goes along with it and gives the name "Adrian Melville" after spotting a copy of Moby-Dick on the table.
    • "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall": Harold asks for the name of Monk's new therapist. They're next to the elevators, so Monk makes up the name Dr. Door. Harold calls him out on it, asking that if they were next to the alarm, would Monk have said "Dr. Bell"? This prompts a beautiful Spit Take from Natalie, because Harold might not be aware at this point that he did correctly guess the name.
    • "Mr. Monk Gets Drunk": Monk meets a stranger calling himself Larry Zwibell at an inn who disappears the next day. No-one else seems to remember Zwibell ever being there, and then Monk discovers a painting in the inn signed by a Larry Zwibell, further enforcing the possibility that he just imagined the guy because he'd had too much to drink. However, Monk correctly deduces that the guy was real and used that name because he'd seen it on the painting, not because Monk had seen it. His real name was "Ben Gruber".
  • Happens a few times on Hannah Montana:
    • Oliver needs an excuse for why he can't go on a date and he says he's going to do roadie work for a band called "Restroom's This Way", after seeing it on a sign. Lilly calls him out on it.
      Lilly: "The Restroom's This Way"? Who's their opening act? The "Place Trays Here"?
    • Oliver also gets the name for his alter ego "Mike Stanley III" this way, after seeing a microphone stand backstage at a Hannah concert.
    • Miley is doing a radio interview from her kitchen while eating spaghetti and claims to be speaking from a cafe in Italy. When she is asked where she is, her father passes her the pasta box. She reads the first words she sees and claims to be in the small village of "Sodium Free". She immediately amends this to "Sodium Freme" (said in an Italian accent).
  • Young Indiana Jones: When older Young Indy joins the Belgian Army during World War I, acting on advice never to join the military under his own name because they can't prosecute a nonexistent assumed name for desertion if he later left, joins as Henri Defense (Defense de Fumer = No Smoking). Lampshaded by an officer:
    Recruiting Officer: Your name is Henri ... [looks pointedly at no-smoking sign] ... Defense?
  • In the Wings episode "Lynch Party," Helen recalls her (failed) attempt to break off her engagement with Davis Lynch so that she could marry Joe: not wanting to tell him the truth, she claimed that she had a disease, which she named "Faulkner's Syndrome" after spotting a Faulkner novel on Davis' table. The trope is compounded when Davis offers to find her a doctor, and she claims to have already seen the "top Faulkner man," named "Dr. Dickens."
  • Laura Holt combined a Remington typewriter and the Pittsburgh Steelers to name her "fictitious" boss Remington Steele.
  • According to the Burn Notice prequel movie Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe, Sam originally chose his Go-to Alias "Chuck Finley" on the fly after scanning the room and seeing a sports magazine featuring the famous Angels pitcher of the same name on the cover.
  • In an episode of The Pretender, Jarod is pretending to be a bounty hunter. When he meets a rival, she asks him what his name is. He gets his alias, Jarod Green, from reading a Greenpeace flyer in the background. The rival then says her name is Peace.
  • In an episode of Green Acres, a runaway kid ends up in the Douglas' farm. One of the several false names he makes up for himself is "Paul Frankcan": which he got from looking at a can of "Paul's Canned Franks" on the Douglas' cupboard.
  • In an episode of Taxi, cab driver Elaine Nardo encounters one of her old high school friends as a fare, and impulsively tells her about her boyfriend, who she names "Bill Board" while passing a billboard. She convinces Alex Reiger to pretend to be Bill at a dinner party (during which he reinforces the charade by joking "Yeah, my name really is Bill Board... you should meet my brothers, Clip and Switch...")
  • An episode of That's So Raven has Eddie needing to come up with a name for Raven's latest disguise. He chooses Liz Anya (after seeing a plate of lasagna). Raven's not too pleased, but Eddie points out she could have easily been called "Pork Choppa" instead. Gets a Call-Back in Raven's Home, where the person "Liz Anya" actually exists.
  • In the French-Canadian Soap Opera parody Le Cœur a ses Raisons, Brett has to imagine a name for a non-existant colleague in his bedroom to hide the identity of a person who just called him. The result? Dr Bedside-Lamp. And his fiancee keeps asking questions about him. So in the end, Dr. Bedside-Lamp studied at the Texas Bedside-Lamp University and is married to Mrs Bedside-Lamp Bedside-Lamp. He gets away with it.
  • Classic British sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin has Reggie trying to choose a new name after running away from the rat race.
    Reggie: Okay, "Sid" and then the first thing I see when I look over this fence... "Sid Cowpat"... hmmm.
  • In an episode of The Office (US) when Michael Scott is having trouble getting to talk to boss David Wallace over the phone. Dwight decides to take the phone in his place and tries to give a pseudonym. He uses Michael's real first name and then the last name of the first thing he sees- a roll of scotch tape. Thus, Michael Scotch. Later averted when Micheal winds up being redirected to Charles Miner, the very person he had wanted to complain to David about; when Charles asks who is calling, Michael simply replies "I was never given a name" and hangs up on him.
  • In an episode of How to Be Indie, Marlon has to come with the name of the president for a made-up country (It Makes Sense in Context). He eyes fall on the sugar cellar on the table he declares the president is 'Gary Sugarthing'.
  • Power Rangers Wild Force had an example. Cole met a young boy running from some builders in the street. Asked his name, the boy looked around before answering "Kite." His counterpart in Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger is Futaro, who took his name from "fuusen", the Japanese word for balloon, after seeing one.
  • Buddy Overstreet in the old The Fugitive parody Run Buddy Run did this a lot, for instance he once called himself "Barry Straw" after passing a strawberry farm.
  • How I Met Your Mother
    • In one episode, Robin looks at the bill and the pepper shaker on the restaurant table and claims that the man she slept with was called "Bill Pepper." Lily, not fooled, inquires if Bill knows "Fork Napkin."
    • Ted tries to recall the names of his past dates from photographs by associating them with either the occasion ("Bertha" for a girl he met at a birthday party), or something in the picture. He gets them all wrong.
  • In the Victorious episode "Beck's Big Break", Tori is sneaking onto a movie set and gets stopped by a security guard, who asks her name. She tells him it's "Crystal Waters" after seeing it on a water cooler.
  • Full House
    • In one episode DJ says her name is "Janet Abdul" after seeing posters of Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul. Then Stephanie says "And I'm Barbie Dollenbear" after seeing a Barbie doll and Mr. Bear.
    • In another episode, Jesse and Becky decide to make lists of all the people they dated before they got married, and Becky eventually just starts making up names such as "Larry Couchman" (she was sitting on the couch.)
  • On Young Dracula, when Robin pretending to be a vampire and being questioned by the Westenras, he is asked the name of his parents. Glancing around, his eye falls upon a certain kitchen implement and he says his father is "Count Spatula".
  • Subverted on Still Standing: Brian asks his father for condoms for his friend Dorian. Bill thinks he's lying and the condoms are for Brian because he looked right at the door before naming his friend. It turns out that there is actually a real Dorian, but Bill was right, Brian wanted the condoms for himself.
  • The X-Files
    • In the episode "Unusual Suspects", Suzanne Modeski, being on the run and desperate for information regarding the frame-job her former bosses put on her, spun a Wounded Gazelle Gambit to get Byers involved. He asked her for a name, and she called herself "Holly," after the packet of sugar on the table. Word of God said Byers later paid tribute to that by creating a new identity for her as "Holly Fitzgerald," a combination of the sugar name and his middle name.
    • In the episode "John Doe", John Doggett finds himself in Mexico with no memory of who he is or how he got there; while chasing a potential lead on his own identity, he makes a call on a public phone in which he identifies himself as "Detective Ladatel" after seeing a sign on the wall note 
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures, "The Curse of Clyde Langer": Clyde is under a curse that makes people hate him when they see his name or hear it spoken. When he ends up sleeping on the street and is found by a homeless girl, he sees a box from Enrico's Pizza and tells her his name is "Enrico Box". She knows he's lying, but doesn't press him for a real name. Later, when trying to find her again, he sees her name on a poster and realizes that she was also using a Line Of Sight Name.
  • In the Unforgettable episode "Lost Things", a suspect trying to throw the detectives off invents a story about the victim using a dating service. He gets the idea of a dating service from the screen of a nearby computer, the names of guys she met through it from wanted posters, and the name of the service from a different poster.
  • One Foot in the Grave: Victor hastily says that his address is "Dunn Hill", taken from a discarded Dunhill cigarette packet on the table.
  • In Spellbinder, when Ashka is in our universe, she uses the alias "Mrs. Harley" after the Harley-Davidson motorcycle she stole. Later she changes it to "Anna Harley", after meeting a woman named Anna and realizing that in this universe people have "two names".
  • On an episode of 30 Rock Liz's pseudonym while talking to Kenneth in a men's bathroom was Kenneth....Toilethole.
  • Spaced: at a housewarming party, Daisy claims that the title of her new screenplay is Guacamole... Window.
  • Nathan Barley: Dan tells Nathan his accidental hairstyle (cut short on one side and matted with paint on the other) is "Geek Pie" by reading random words off posters on the street
  • On an episode of Pobol y Cwm, Mark calls in to the radio station and disguises his voice in order to vote for something he himself proposed. He's standing in the street, so when he's asked his name, he looks around at the signs and makes one up (Elis Maenan) from the names of local businesses. He then gets asked where he's from, and his eye falls on the sign of the fish (pysgod) and chip shop. So he says he's from a town called Dinbych y Pysgoda, which, being in southwest Wales, doesn't match his (fake) North Walian accent.
  • This is the core of a Key & Peele sketch in which a potentially-pardoned prisoner answers all the detective's questions based on what's in the room. Badly. "His name was Baldy Tallman Coffee Coup!" At the end, it turns out that many of the detective's responses, like "I'm getting too old for this," were actually on the posters behind the convict's side of the room.
  • In Boston Common, Cookie De Daren, head of the drama department, is expected to have chosen a play for the revamped college theater.
    Cookie: A play? Of course I've chosen a play! I'm the head of the drama department after all! The play. [picks up an apple] The play is the thing. And the play I've chosen is... [spots Cross' Japanese tea set] The Tea Ceremony.
    Harrison: That's an inspired choice. What other plays were you thinking of? Death of a Stapler, perhaps, or My Fair Paperclip?!
  • This occurs in two scenes in the Friday Night Dinner episode "The Fox":
    • The first is lampshaded:
      Jackie: Have you been lending Jim money?
      Martin: A bit...
      Jackie: What? What for?
      Martin: [looks at the object on the wall next to him] Er... mirrors.
      Jackie: OK, did you say the first thing that you could see?
      Martin: ... possibly.
    • Then later in the episode:
      Martin: We're picking up something special for Jackie, a surprise.
      Val: [...] What is the surprise?
      Martin: It's, er... um... [spots a cyclist] a bicycle.
      Val: A bicycle? [...] Where you getting it from at this time of night?
      Martin: Um... [points at a nearby building] that house there.
  • New Tricks: In "The Rock Part 1", Gerry arrives at a casino and finds Brian undertaking some unauthorised undercover work. Brian introduces Gerry as his business partner "Vince... Table". This provokes an incredulous "Your name's Vince Table?" from the suspect.
  • In the Angel episode "The Ring", Cordelia and Wesley briefly pretend to be cops. Cordelia blanks on a name to call Wesley, then glances at his yellow suit and introduces him as "Detective Yelsue."
  • So Awkward: In "Everybody Loves Clementine", Lily creates a fictional student to avoid getting in trouble with the Scary Librarian. After blurting out the name Clementine, she needs a surname. Looking at the female librarian's upper lip, she goes with 'Clementine Mustache'.
  • Happens in Friends when Chandler wants to help Joey with his rent money and needs to make up a game that Joey will believe is real to 'gamble' over. The first thing he sees upon being asked by what the new game is called is a beer cup, hence "Cups."
  • The Night Of: Subverted when a witness claims that the name of his companion on the night of the murder is "Duane Reade." Stone spots a Duane Reade pharmacy across the street and accuses the witness of lying, but it turns out to be the truth.
  • Two examples from the 2015 version of The Odd Couple:
    • In "The Audit Couple", Felix lets it slip to an IRS agent that Oscar is behind on his taxes and tries to cover his tracks by saying that he moved and became a transsexual by the name of Rhonda... Rhonda Pencilcup.
    • In "The Blind Leading the Blind Date", Felix asks Oscar if he knows his date's last name. When Oscar responds with Kellogg, Felix says "I don't even have to turn around to know there's a cereal box behind me."
  • The Thundermans: In "Exit Stage Theft," Billy tells Nora he is going to his friend's house after she and Chloe forgot about him during their hide and seek game. Nora doesn't believe him and asks which friend. Billy sees a jar of Luigi's pasta sauce and announces "Luigi. Luigi Marinara."
  • Happens in the "Quadfather" episode of ''Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn'. Josie is trying to come up with band name and Ricky and Dicky offer suggestions of "Dirty Sponge" and "Empty Cup". Josie calls them out on this trope.
  • Subverted on Modern Family. Alex is infuriated that her parents think her boyfriend is imaginary, and describes him in detail, while they silently notice suspicious objects around the room: starting with the teddy bear ("His name is Teddy"), and ending with the Martin Luther King Jr. poster ("He works at some mattress place...Mattress King".). But then Teddy shows up at the door, as everything Alex had said was true.
  • In The Goldbergs episode "Adam Spielberg", seeing an amateur recreation of Raiders of the Lost Ark inspires Adam to make his own homemade Indiana Jones tribute movie. When his mother asks the title of the script, he quickly looks around his room for inspiration and, after glimpsing a Lion-O toy, his Nintendo Power Glove, his Optimus Prime toy, and some Ninja Turtles action figures, he decides on the name Indiana Jones and the Thunder Glove of the Prime Mutant.
  • In the Saved by the Bell: The New Class episode "Maria's Movie Star", Maria encounters an actor at the mall, who is attending a movie session and requests her to keep his identity a secret. When the other students meet them and ask who he is, Maria looks around and notices a promotional sign with "tempura" written on it, and so she introduces him as "Tim Pura".
  • Crash Landing on You has South Korean protagonist Yoon Se-ri, whose parachute crash-landing into North Korea starts off the whole plot, renaming herself Choe Sam-suk, after the name of a singer she spots on a record album cover. The North Korean village wives she tells this to constantly refer to her as Sam-suk afterwards.
  • In the Series/Bunkd episode "Yes, Lies, and Tower Escape", Gwen accidentally breaks a window. Destiny blames the accident on a girl with blue hair (blue chair) and green glasses (green grass). Lou actually turns around to check Destiny's line of sight, lampshading the fact she knows exactly what is happening.

    Video Games 
  • In Bedtime Story a father telling his son the story in question can't think of a name for the villain's boss, so he looks around the room for a bit and comes up with the "Great Wizard Kur-Tayn".

    Webcomics 
  • Accursed Dragon has a variant: Coven anagrams the names of the towns he's in for his aliases. Some of these names include "Nigel" (which he used in the town of Elgin) and "Marvy" (which he used in Vamyr).
  • Parodied in this comic by Rob Gilliam, where an alien walking down the street is accosted by an FBI agent demanding his name. The alien looks at a sign for "Peter St." and an ad for "Johnson Cola"... and laments "I can't read."
  • Happens in I'm the Grim Reaper, where the protagonist is asked for her name by another character, Jordan. After mumbling through several names, she sees a red X on Jordan's chest, and blurts out, "Uh . . . Scarlet!" He takes it at face value.
  • Mysterious Monocle Man subverts this in The Free Willies when he's asked his name, looks at three items, and then responds with a name completely unrelated to the three items.

    Web Original 
  • On The Most Popular Girls in School, Deandra does this when she runs into the Atchison High cheer squad at the Oak Park mall.
    Deandra: I'm... Cinnabon. Juliet Cinnabon.
  • In The Last Podcast on the Left series on Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of the murder of her three year-old daughter, Marcus reveals a little reported fact of the case is that the name of the babysitter Casey provided, Zenaida Gonzalez, or "Zanny the Nanny", was one of these, taken from the names of two of the Anthony family's neighbors. One with the first name of Zenaida, another with the last name of Gonzalez. Henry Zebrowski specifically references The Usual Suspects by stating she Keyser Soze'd the name.
  • Parodied in this CollegeHumor video, when Katie, trying to come up with a sketch, desperately looks around the room and says it's about... a woman... named... Amir Raphael Wallstripes Turkey Helmet Couch Floor Table Tube Hair Sweater Blanket Guitar Wood Chair Cushion Dragon Map Beard Pen Astronaur Spill Garbage Can Used Kleenex Laptop. And her last name is Lamp Trophy Boardgame Globe Books Door Gnome Ceiling Phone Frame Poster Dumbass Plant Notebook Lights Pillow. And then it turns out that not only was this something Katie had already come up with, she'd already told Sam about it and he liked it.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Spike TV adult cartoon Stripperella, the main character used this to come up with aliases. One memorable example was in the episode "Everyone loves Pushy"; she ordered a purse and identified herself by the last name of "Lampchairwalnerstein" after glancing at a lamp, chair, her apartment wall, and an obscured Frankenstein poster respectively.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Parodied in a Halloween episode, when a witch gave the name of her boyfriend as "George Cauldron" after doing this. Bart and Lisa both laugh at that... and then, at the end of the segment, George shows up at the door.note 
    • When writing a fake love letter to Miss Krabappel while in detention, Bart sees a picture of US president Woodrow Wilson hanging on the wall and signs the letter "Woodrow", then attaches to the letter a photo of hockey star Gordie Howe.
    • In "Homer to the Max", after Homer is embarrassed at a bumbling TV character sharing his name, he changes it to the decidedly more respectable "Max Power". When complimented on his new name, he replies "Thanks, I got it off a hair dryer."
    • Though not a personal name, Homer, at Moe's Tavern, calls in absent to work because he's observing the "Festival of (sees "Maximum Occupancy" sign behind the counter)...Maximum Occupancy."
    • At one point, Bart pretends his turtle is lost to sneak inside a woman's house. When she asks him what the turtle's name is, he says "Apron Boobs-face" and later gives his own name as "Shoes Butt-back."
    • In "Little Big Girl", when Lisa has to do an essay about her heritage for a class project, she decides to write about Native Americans and chooses a made-up tribe calling it "Hitachi" after her microwave.
    • When Bart is trying to come up with a comic book character. He sees a bat hanging in the window and exclaims "Batman!" before he realizes that it's taken. He looks around a little more and sees a Green Lantern, but realizes it's taken too. He eventually comes up with the character of Angry Dad after watching Homer's buffoonish antics through the window.
    • In one episode, Bart applies for a credit card under the false name "Santa's Little Helper" (the family dog). He has horrible handwriting, though, and the card comes back issued to Santos L. Halper.
    • Parodied again in the episode "Rome-old and Juli-eh". Bart finds out that companies can get free cardboard boxes, so he orders a delivery of them, pretending to be a company. When the delivery man asks for the name of his company, he looks around and sees Santa's Little Helper rummaging in a waste bin with "GENERAL INDUSTRIES" stamped on the bottom. Bart gives the name of his company as... Dog Incorporated.
  • Family Guy: In one episode, Peter Griffin needs to provide a fake name, and sees a pea, a tear, and a griffin—and gives the name "Peter Griffin" as his alias. It takes him about three seconds to realize that was a bad idea.
  • Spoofed in the T.U.F.F. Puppy episode "The Wrong Stuff" where Dudley and Keswick try to hide their identities from Kitty while spying on her.
    Kitty: Dudley, is that you?
    Dudley: No, my name is Bob. Bob, uh... Men's Room.
    • Later...
      Kitty: You're still spying on me, Dudley?
      Dudley: I'm not spying, and my name is Bob. Bob... Don't Feed The Squirrels.
      Kitty: Is that Keswick in there?
      Keswick: No, my name is Bob. Bob... Stay Off The Grass.
      Dudley: Real smooth, Keswick. Now she's onto us.
  • Parodied in The Emperor's New School, where Kuzco claims his best friend's name is "Brad Bowllama"... and Malina immediately calls his bluff. (It could have been worse. He considered "Bananastaircasehat".)
  • Used in an episode of Rugrats. In order to con Didi into buying her two toys instead of just one, Angelica claims to have a sister. Seeing a boy playing with a ball across the store, she names her invented sibling "Ballina."
  • Parodied in Johnny Bravo, when Johnny disguises himself as a woman to hide from a murderous mobster. When he's at a hotel and asked for his name he replies "Mitch", then looks around and spots a sign, adding "Mitch Checkouttimeisattwo", and explaining it's a Polish name.
  • Teacher's Pet: Spot comes up with his alias (Scott Leadready II) by first blurting out his real name (the teacher mistakes it as "Scott" instead of "Spot"), and then reading the teacher's pencil (A "Leadready No. 2" pencil).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • When the Flying Dutchman comes for Mr. Krabs' soul in the hospital, Mr. Krabs insists that he is "Harold Flower", after the flower on the end table. In the German dub he calls himself Benjamin Bluemchen ("Little Flower") which is another character by the same voice actor. He even changes his voice appropriately.
    • In the episode "Chum Fricassee", Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob disguise themselves to get into the Chum Bucket. When Karen asks for their names, Mr. Krabs is about to say his real name until he sees a wrapper on the floor and introduces himself as "Sir Krumbled O'Wrapper".
  • When Jane becomes angry, and threatens to run away to spite her friends in Jane and the Dragon, she claims that she has been recruited by one King Barrowclaw. Naturally, she was inspired when, under pressure to give the supposed king's name, she looked around and spotted first a wheelbarrow, and then Dragon's foot.
  • The Tick: Parodied in an episode in which the Tick suddenly needs to make up an assumed name when checking into a hotel. In desperation, he picks "Nick Soapdish" as his alias when he sees a soap dish.
    Hotel clerk: Are you sure that's your real name? It sounds more... made up.
  • On Stōked, Reef was dressed as a girl and got asked to enter a female surf contest. When asked for his name, he looked at the sand he was standing on and came up with "Sandy... Beaches".
  • The Amazing World of Gumball.
    • Parodied in "The Dress" when Gumball is forced to wear a dress to school and tries to convince his classmates that he's a new girl in class. When he tries to come up with a name, the first thing he sees is someone chewing gum, and a ball, takes it back then picks some other random things he sees. So he tells them he's Gumballoopseggwobbleunderpants. When asked where he's from, he says Europe. When pressed for specifics, he's forced to come up with a Line-of-Sight Place. He sees a gum truck and a bald head (making Gumbald), takes it back again, then adds some other stuff to end up saying he's from Gumbaldnowigbattle-axeninja.
    • In "The Remote", Nicole asks Anais to tell her what brand their TV remote was, but it turned out Anais told her the name of a garage door opener which she saw an ad for. This was part of the episode ending's homage to The Usual Suspect.
  • American Dad!:
    • In one episode, Roger tries to come up with an excuse for Bullock and attempts to do this.
      Roger: Mug... spoon... stir... counter... glass... George Glass! That was the name of Jan Brady's fake boyfriend!
    • At one point Roger and Steve are playing detective when Roger calls Steve's character "Squirt Cinnabon Wheels". When Steve asks where the name came from, Roger said he "Keyser Soze'd" his name, followed by cut across the room to a bottle Squirt soda and a Cinnabon box.
  • Subverted in the Duckman episode "Joking the Chicken". Duckman has to think of a fake name and tries this, but he's too Genre Blind to spot several perfect fake names (Hanes, Smith, Miller) and instead calls himself Duckman N. Disguise. He then chastises Cornfed's fake name, Pat Corcoran.
  • Cherry Jam does this in her debut episode of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures when she meets Strawberry for the first time. Since she was invited by Strawberry's friends as a surprise, she introduces herself as Buttercup, after spying some nearby flowers.
  • After feeling left behind when his friends started dating, Oscar from Fish Hooks invents a girlfriend. When asked about her name he looks to a door, then the floor and names her Doris Floris Gorgeous.
  • In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Date", when Lord Hater becomes angry enough to blow up a planet after being stood up on a dinner date, Sylvia must act as a substitute date to calm his temper. She passes herself off as a woman named "Linguini von Breadstick", based on foods the waiters just happen to be bringing by.
  • In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Holio", Lilo is telling Mertle and her friends a story about a monster that eats people (and birthday cakes) in an effort to scare them after Mertle didn't invite Lilo to her birthday party. When Lilo gets to the name, she spies a gecko clinging to the post of the hula halau, which then licks its eye, giving her the name "Geckoliki".
  • Spoofed, along with most other things, in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!. Fred has just announced that the group is a band in order to solve a mystery and help save a theater. When asked for a name, he looks to the street sign and sees that they're on Maroon & 5th. He dismisses that and then sees Tim Beedles Cafe. Then an "Elect Roland Stone" billboard. Finally he settles on his van and declares that they're "The Mystery Machine."
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "Fetch", Star tries to find the owner of a strange dog that won't let go of her wand. A crazy old lady named Lydia claims to be the dog's owner and, after seeing a bee fly past a road sign for "Willow St.", claims that the dog's name is "Willoughby".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Gauntlet of Fire", Spike covers for Princess Ember, who's trying to enter the Gauntlet of Fire incognito, by making up the name "Sandy Rockbeach", based on the rocky shore they're standing on.
    • In "The Times They Are a Changeling", Spike harbors a defector changeling named Thorax while the Crystal Empire is looking for him. When confronted, Spike gives Thorax, using the guise of a random crystal pony, the identity of his new friend by the name of... Crystal Hoof. Everyone buys it. So much so that, when Thorax's identity is revealed, everyone believes that the changeling disguised himself as Crystal Hoof and a search for the missing, fictional pony is called.
  • In the Bojack Horseman episode "Yes And", Diane is on the phone with her husband Mr. Peanutbutter. The latter thinking the former is in a war-torn Ruritania like country aiding wounded civilians but was actually staying at BoJack's house. While in the kitchen she pretends to be a child refugee and when Mr. Peanutbutter asks for a name, Diane glances at several kitchen appliances with exotic names and decides on the name "Coffee Maker" and immediately regrets it. The ditzy Mr. Peanutbutter falls for it anyway and assumes it's a foreign name pronounced "Koffi Makur".
  • In the Dr. Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop episode "Grime Doesn't Pay", a criminal named Fingers Malone is mistakenly phoned by Dr. Zitbag when he tries to hire a cleaning service to clean his castle in time for a visit from the Exorsisters. Fingers Malone gets the idea to impersonate a cleaning lady and steal from Zitbag. When Zitbag asks which cleaning lady will be sent, Fingers Malone looks at the ground and answers "Mrs. Turfhead" before removing a piece of the turf to wear on his head as a disguise.

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