A character prefers to go by their middle name rather than their first name.
The reasons for this can vary. Maybe they want to hide their identity and use their Real Name as an Alias, have an Embarrassing First Name that they'd much rather not go by, or they just want a Meaningful Rename but is much easier to legally go by your middle name than fully changing it to a new one. Or maybe they want to differentiate themselves from a person sharing their name, which is especially common among children named after their parents (especially the father), who may go on this name basis because they don't like being called "Junior".
Speaking of this, middle names in many countries are used as patronyms (or matronyms) and serve a purpose more akin to a surname than a first name, this tradition somehow translates in Western countries as giving a middle name in tribute to an ancestor, if not the direct parents. Sometimes, a child may be given their mother's maiden name as a middle one, or Named After Somebody Famous (such as a president) and have said somebody's surname as their middle name. This tradition of giving more unusual names as the middle ones can be a reason for a character to go on a Middle Name Basis as they find the name much cooler than their first one.
Otherwise the middle name acts exactly like a first one, making this trope somewhat meaningless in the grand schemes of things. A fictional character going by their middle names may usually be done for the sake of realism; as said above, it's often simpler in Real Life to go by your middle name rather than fully change it.
Characters who go by their middle names will usually get a Given Name Reveal at one point or another.
No Real Life Examples, Please!: It's way more common in Real Life than shown in fiction for reasons mentioned above. But there are so many examples that it would be impractical to list them all. For reference, Woodrow Wilson, Orson Welles and Brad Pitt all go by their middle namenote and let's end the list here.
- In My-Otome, Juliet Nao Zhang is most commonly referred to by her middle name, Nao.
- The Incredible Hulk: The Secret Identity of the Hulk is Robert Bruce Banner, known exclusively to everyone who knows him as "Bruce" (unless he goes by an alias to hide). This is a result of Serendipity Writes the Plot, as Stan Lee often used to forget the character's name and alternated between calling him "Bruce Banner" and "Bob Banner". After realizing the mistake, the name we know as was established as his real full name.
- Bucky Barnes is a variation - his full given name is James Buchanan Barnes.
- Wonder Woman (1987): When not going by a super"hero" name Thomas Asquith Randolph goes by Asquith, and his friends and acquaintances never call him by Thomas.
- Runaways: Chase Stein's first name is Victor, like his father.
- The Beano: In December 2021, Spotty from the Bash Street Kids was renamed Scotty - after new classmate Mandi found out his real name was James Scott Cameron.
- Spider-Man: J. Jonah Jameson, the Daily Bugle publisher. In this case, it's made obvious from the start as he include his first name initial whenever he credits himself. His first name is John.
- Crabgrass: The character Miles was originally called by his middle name, Curtis, before switching to use his first name instead. When asked by Kevin why he used his middle name, he claimed it seemed like a good idea due to recently moving to a new town note
- While J. Wellington Wimpy from Popeye is on a Last-Name Basis with most people who know him, a few people will call him Wellington, usually women he's romantically involved with. It's never revealed what the "J" stands for.
- In the Zelda II: The Adventure of Link oneshot Pyrophobic, in order to get around the name overlap, the mother of the Zelda from The Legend of Zelda, who is also named "Zelda", goes by her middle name (Heather).
- In Divorced, Zelda's deceased daughter Zelda Marie is referred to using both her first and middle name to help distinguish her from her mother.
- In the Turning Red fanfic The Panda Chronicles, Aaron T's mother calls Aaron Z by his middle name, Kuo.
- The Big Lebowski: It's revealed during Donny's funeral that Donny's full name is Theodore Donald Karabotsos.
- Used in The Dark Knight Rises for a climactic reveal at the end. It turns out that "John" is actually Detective John Blake's middle name; his legal first name is "Robin", hinting at his role as Batman's sidekick and successor, and the Dark Knight universe's equivalent of Robin.
- Gone with the Wind: As with the original novel, Scarlett O'Hara's full name is Katie Scarlett O'Hara.
- The Incredible Shrinking Man: The titular characters full name is Robert Scott Carey, but he goes by Scott.
- Killer Diller (2004) has Jules Vernon Jackson, who goes by Vernon.
- Knives Out: Harlan Thrombey's grandson by his daughter Linda is named Hugh Ransom Drysdale. Everyone calls him "Ransom", but he forces Harlan's employees to refer to him by his first name. This becomes a plot point, as Fran's dying words expose him as her killer when Blanc and Marta realize that she was saying "Hugh did this" rather than "you did this."
Lt. Elliott: Hugh Drysdale?
Ransom: "Ransom". Call me Ransom. Only the help calls me "Hugh".
- My Cousin Vinny: Vinny's fiancée Lisa. Her full name is revealed to be Mona Lisa Vito when she's called to be a Surprise Witness in court.
- Gone with the Wind: Scarlett O'Hara was born Katie Scarlett O'Hara, but exclusively goes by the name "Scarlett", to the degree that pop culture only remembers her as Scarlett. Ashley Wilkes' full name is "George Ashley Wilkes". For that matter, Scarlett's sisters go by names that are portmanteau of their given names: Suellen = Susan Elinor and Carreen = Caroline Irene.
- In the Sienkiewicz Trilogy, no one, not even his sister, ever calls Jerzy Michał Wołodyjowski "Jerzy". He prefers to go by his middle name not because the first is embarrassing (it's not - both these names are associated with knighthood and pretty popular), but because he thinks the other patron is way cooler: Jerzy (Saint George) just defeated one dragon, while Michał (Saint Michael) leads the entire heavenly cavalry.
- The protagonist of Push, Clareece "Precious" Jones, goes by her middle name. It serves as something ironic since her abusive mother calls her it more than the other characters, despite hating her daughter.
- A case of Woolseyism in the French translation of Harry Potter: Voldemort's name comes from the anagram "I am Voldemort" of his real name "Tom Marvolo Riddle". To translate this, he was given the French name "Tom Elvis Jedusor". Since Voldemort's middle name comes from his grandfather Marvolo Gaunt, the French translation changed his name to "Elvis Marvolo Gaunt" but he apparently went by his middle name, as a way to defy a necessary Dub Name Change.
- In the Honor Harrington series, Gloria Michelle Samantha Evelyn Henke goes by "Mike" or "Michelle" among her friends. It's one of the perks of having an Overly Long Name.
- Honor's father, Karl Alfred Harrington, always goes by his middle name.
- In The Eagle Tree, March's full name is Peter March Wong, but he vastly prefers March. His mother and Pastor Ilsa still sometime calls him Peter, to his annoyance.
- American Girl character Nanea Mitchell's full name is Alice Nanea Mitchell, but she goes by her middle name Nanea; the use of a Western first name was due to a law passed in 1860 by Kamehameha IV decreeing that Hawaiian royal subjects were to take their father's given name as a surname, and adopt a Christian (i.e. English) first name.
- The Ballad of Black Tom has Charles Thomas Tester, who's never called anything other than Tommy or Black Tom.
- In I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, Provat Pecora Ariés' preferred way to be addressed by humans is by her middle name Pecora. This crosses into Real Name as an Alias territory at times, as she also uses that name when incognito.
- Chocoholic Mysteries: As revealed in Bridal Bash, Lee was born Susanna Lee McKinney. It's not said why she prefers her middle name over her first though.
- The Tuning Station:
- A member of Ted's atheist group goes by her middle name, Delilah, because it symbolizes a beautiful woman bringing down powerful men.
- Ted's middle name is Christian, which is why his Alternate Universe self, who is devoutly religious, agrees to go by Chris.
- In Twelve Days, Nicki's full name is Eva Nicole Dorsey.
- In The Twilight Saga, Alice Cullen's birth name was Mary Alice Brandon.
- Shatter the Sky: Sev goes by this, rather than his first name Vesper. It comes from his middle name we find out, Severin. He used it while a fugitive to escape detection.
- In Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel, the title character's full name is revealed to be Mark Evan Hansen.
- Black Canary in Arrow initially seems to be a case of Adaptation Name Change, however she actually is this. This may have been in order to avoid overlap with her mother, she uses her middle name of "Laurel" instead of her given name, "Dinah", like she does in other media; but her mother hardly ever actually appeared, so that didn't really apply. When her doppelganger from Earth-2 arrives to replace her deceased Earth-1 counterpart, she is called Laurel by everyone, even though it's indicated from time to time that she actually goes by Dinah in Earth-2. Then again, by the time she allies herself with Team Arrow, there is another Dinah in the team (Dinah Drake), so it's yet another case of avoiding overlap.
- In an episode of Arsène Lupin (1971), the titular Gentleman Thief disguises himself as a Spanish crook with a lot of middle names. As he explains to a gangster, how close a friend is determines by which name they're to call him; after the gangster saves him from a poisoned wine bottle, he tells him to "call me Gomez" (i.e "you're promoted").
- Corner Gas has Richard Henry Yarbo, who goes by Hank
- Rodney McKay in Stargate Atlantis uses his middle name in place of his real first name, Meredith (which, believe it or not, used to be more commonly a boy's name than a girl's).
- Glee: Quinn goes by this name, or nicknames spawned from it (Q, Quinnie, etc.), but we learn in late season 2 that her full name is Lucy Quinn Fabray. She's been using her middle name since freshman year because in middle school she was bullied for being chubby and called "Lucy Caboosey", and she wanted to forget about that and reinvent herself.
- The Last Man on Earth: Protagonist Phil Miller meets another man named Phil Miller, who is far more competent than him. When the others want to differentiate between the two, they decide to use middle names. Phil #1's is the rather embarrassing Tandy, and so he gets called Tandy from then on, even after Phil #2 dies.
- Barely anyone from Smart Guy calls Tasha Yvette Henderson by her first name, it's Yvette all the way.
- In The Office (US), Erin's full name is Kelly Erin Hannon. She goes by her middle name because everyone calls her that anyway, and there already was a Kelly (Kapoor) in the office when she was hired.
- In Angel, Doyle's ex-wife calls him "Francis" when she first enters the scene. While it looks like a Given Name Reveal, he immediately follows that by revealing that "Francis" is not his first name by revealing his full name: Allen Francis Doyle.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy temporarily went by her middle name "Anne" while living in Los Angeles after season 2.
- In the Community episode "Contemporary American Poultry", Pierce throws out a member of his new entourage because of his name: he wanted someone named Travis, and Abed found him one... but then Pierce learned that, despite the guy in question going by "Travis", that actually was his middle name.
- In 2 Broke Girls, Oleg is revealed to go by his middle name due to his first name "Vanko" being shared by BOTH of his brothers.
- Neighbours had Shannon Louise Carpenter, to distinguish her from Shannon Zachary Willis, born on the same day and living in the same street. Strangely, the show stuck with calling her Louise (or the nickname Lolly) for her entire time on the show despite Zac and most of his family leaving town a matter of weeks after the birth.
- Smallville: Henry James Olsen is normally addressed as the diminutive form of his middle name "Jimmy". Which serves in making him a Red Herring; once he kicks the bucket, it turns out that his younger brother is the one that will become Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen.
- A variation in Star Trek: The Original Series with Kirk's brother George Samuel Kirk; Kirk calls him Sam, as does his wife, but it's suggested that he only uses this name with a few people (in fact, the original episode where this is revealed indicates that Kirk is the only one who calls him Sam, but a later episode has his wife using it as well, so that's clearly not quite true).
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Second Chances", Commander William Riker discovers that a transporter accident from an away mission 8 years earlier created a duplicate of himself. The other Riker decides to go by their middle name, Thomas, to distinguish himself. (Incidentally, this is the episode that revealed what Riker's middle initial "T" stood for.)
- Absolutely Fabulous had Patsy Stone being born with an unusually long name: Eurydice Colette Clytemnestra Dido Bathsheba Rabelais Patricia Cocteau Stone
- The quads' mother in Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn goes by her middle name Anne as she doesn't like her first name Chantal.
- Chapa's actual name is Lula Elena Chapa de Silva.
- NCIS: Although most people calls the team leader Leroy Jethro Gibbs by by his last name, his old friend Donald "Ducky" Mallard adresses him as "Jethro".
- Many wrestlers use their own middle names as their given Stage Name. Examples include:
- Michael Shawn Hickenbottom as Shawn Michaels
- Daniel Christopher Covell as Christopher Daniels
- Robert Booker Tio Huffman as Booker T
- Before Paul Levesque became Hunter Hearst Helmsley in WWF, he was Jean-Paul Levesque in WCW.
- Before jobbing it out as Zack Ryder, Matthew Brett Cardona wrestled as Brett Majors.
- José Alberto Rodríguez Chucuan as Alberto Del Rio and Alberto el Patrón.
- Manuel Alfonso Andrade Oropeza as Andrade "Cien" Almas, just plain Andrade, and Andrade El Ídolo.
- Special Agent Francis York Morgan of Deadly Premonition. Just call him "York". That's what everyone calls him. He's actually the Imaginary Friend of one Francis Zach Morgan, who is usually referred to as "Zach". Their father Brian Xander Morgan also went primarily by Xander.
- Princess Rosa Cosette d'Elise of Erusea in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is referred to in her dialogue subtitle as just "Cosette," and this is how characters talking directly to her call her. Not once is her first or last name used on its own.
- Fate/Grand Order: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is generally referred to by his middle name, including himself.
- Alm from Fire Emblem Gaiden has his full name eventually revealed as Albein Alm Rudolf II. Granted him being the son of Rudolph was deliberately hidden from him and everyone else since his birth but even in a flashback his father calls him "Alm".
- C. Auguste Dupin, in the Dark Tales series, is usually called Dupin. Some of the characters in the games are close friends of his, however, and these will sometimes address him as "Auguste" instead. At no time do we ever find out what his real first name even is.
- In El Goonish Shive Susan uses her middle name as she considers "Tiffany Pompoms" to sound like a "stereotypical cheerleader."
- Questionable Content: Raven's first name is Blodwyn, which she hates, so she goes by her middle name.
- Faustus C. Horselady from He Is a Good Boy simply goes by "Crange".note
Alt Text: 'horselady' is on a need-to-know basis within the halls of the wristchapel
- In Girl Genius, Tarvek answers to his middle name because he shares his first name, Aaronev, with his father - and even more people, as he's the seventh Prince of Sturmhalten named Aaronev Sturmvoraus. His father likewise goes by his middle name of Wilhelm.
- Venus Envy: Zoe is transgender and her birth name is "Alex". Upon changing her name, she changed her middle name to "Alexis". Her parents still sometimes call her by her old name, but it's passed off as this.
- Achievement Hunter:
- Former member Ryan Haywood's first name is James, with Ryan being his middle name. He said that his parents called him Ryan all the time, so he kept using it out of convenience.
- During "Ray's Heist" every member of AH went by their middle name as their codename. So Geoff Ramsey was Lazer, Gavin Free was David, Jack Pattillo was Shannon, and Michael Jones was Vincent. Ryan Haywood meanwhile went by his first name, James, and Ray Narvaez Jr., who doesn't have a middle name, was called "The Artist Formerly Known As Ray," or TAFKAR for short.
- Looming Gaia: Jeimos is nonbinary and goes by their gender-neutral middle name instead of their gendered legal first name.
- Throughout Pokémon World Tour: United, Rose is the only member of the Jenny family whose name doesn't start with the letter A or have an A-sound. The end of act one reveals that this is because "Rose" is actually her middle name. Her actual first name is "Alouette".
- Nicole of The Amazing World of Gumball was revealed in "The Parents" to actually be going by her middle name. Unbeknownst even to her husband and children, her first name is actually Doctor.
- In a case of Adaptation Name Change, the first season of Iron Man: The Animated Series renamed Howard Stark "Walter". Season 2, retconned his going by "Walter" to be a case of this and that his first name is indeed "Howard". In a case of Ret-Canon, the 2011 S.H.I.E.L.D. series revealed Howard's full name is "Howard Anthony Walter Stark".
- The Simpsons:
- When people refer to Charles Montgomery Burns casually, they use "Monty", a diminutive of his middle. Even more formal announcements will often call him "C. Montgomery Burns" or just "Montgomery Burns". Originally, "Montgomery" was his first name, but "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" change it to fit the Citizen Kane parody and the writers don't always remember this.
- Fat Tony's full name is Marion Anthony D'Amico.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: To Mayor Nettles and his mom, Sheriff Bronson Stone goes by Bronson. His first name is Sheriff. Apparently, his mom was planning ahead.