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A character prefers to go by their middle name rather than their first name.

This is often used as a way of covering up their first name but is also frequently used when multiple characters share a name. Some people (especially men) also share a parent's name so they go by their middle name in order to avoid confusion.

This trope isn't as used as the first or last name basis, maybe because few authors are familiar with it in real life. This also doesn't hold any particular meaning most of the time.

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Characters who go by their middle names will usually get a Given Name Reveal at one point or another.

Compare with First-Name Basis, Last-Name Basis, and Full-Name Basis. Contrast with Embarrassing Middle Name.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Comic Strips 
  • Crabgrass: The character Miles was orginally 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.
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    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In The Eagle Tree, March's full name is Peter March Wong, but he vastly prefers March. His mother still sometimes 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Black Canary in Arrow initially seems to be a case of Adaptation Name Change, however she actually is this. In order to avoid One Steve Limit with her mother, she uses her middle name of "Laurel" instead of her given name, "Dinah", like she does in other media. 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 One Steve Limit.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • In an episode of Arsene Lupin, 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").
  • 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 for her entire time on the show despite Zac and most of his family leaving town a matter of weeks after the birth.
  • 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

    Video Games 
  • 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".
  • 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.
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    Web Comics 
  • 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. Tarvek is the fifth Prince of Sturmhalten named Aaronev Sturmvoraus.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • Achievement Hunter:
    • Ryan'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 Rays Heist every member of AH went by their middle name as code name. So Geoff was Lazer, Gavin was David, Jack was Shannon, and Michael was Vincent. Ryan meanwhile went by his first name, James, and Ray, who doesn't have a middle name, was called "The Artist Formerly Known As Ray", or TAFKAR for short.
  • 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".

    Western Animation 
  • 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 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, it was 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".
  • 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.

    Real Life 
  • "Muhammad" (and its variants Mohamed, Mohammad, etc.) has been cited by some research to be the most common first name in the world. In parts of the Muslim world, it goes beyond common to outright saturated, with up to nine out of ten men having it as part of their names. Men who are first-named "Muhammad" are expected to automatically be referred by their middle names, keeping it as a sort of a flipped middle name. Even in private, their families and friends also call them the same way, unlike in the western world, where first names are used in private no matter how common they are. And no wonder; it's not uncommon for a family to have all of their men have "Muhammad" as their first names.
  • Basketball star Stephen Curry goes by his middle name instead of "Wardell" — perhaps to differentiate himself from his father, former basketball player Dell Curry.
  • There's Christopher Ashton Kutcher.
  • Also Edward Montgomery Clift. Yes, that was his actual name.
  • Actress Alison Schermerhorn got tired of having to repeatedly tell people how her last name was pronounced, so she dropped it and used her middle name in its place. That's why she's professionally known as Alison Brie.
  • George Orson Welles. Even he didn't know his first name was "George" until he was in elementary school.
  • There are people who are named after their parents who will go by their middle names to prevent confusion or because they don't like being called Junior.
  • You might be surprised to know that Reese Witherspoon's actual full name is Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon. She was also married to Matthew Ryan Phillippe.
  • The Fanning Sisters basically go by their middle names:
    • Dakota Fanning's first name is actually Hannah. This full name was actually a result of her parents battling on which name they should call her. Her mother wanted to name her Hannah, while her father wanted to name her Dakota.
    • Following in her sister's footsteps, Mary Fanning actually chose to go by her middle name Elle.
  • Celine Buckens' actual first two names are Amelie Margaret.
  • Examples from The British Royal Family throughout history:
    • Queen Victoria's first name was actually Alexandrina, which she disliked. Likewise, her husband Prince Albert was born Francis Albert August Charles Emanuel.
    • Their son Edward VII was given the name Albert Edward, but chose to use this trope for his regnal name because he did not want to potentially sully his father's name.
    • Queen Victoria's grandson (and Edward VII's nephew) Wilhelm II apparently continued this tradition, as his full name was Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert.
    • Edward VII's grandson, Edward VIII, was familially known as "David", which was the last of his middle names. His full name was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David.
    • Edward VIII's brother, Prince Albert, went the opposite direction, as he decided to reign as George VI (as his full name was Albert Frederick Arthur George).
    • The first name of Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, is actually Rachel.
  • Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. used his middle name, though not his last name, in his professional life. You likely know him as John Denver.
  • One of the young actors in the Degrassi franchise was credited under his real first and last names of Aubrey Graham. However, he decided to use just his middle name in what proved an even more successful music career as Drake.
  • Hayley Orrantia's first name is actually Sarah.
  • As a singer, Jenny Amanda Katrina Jenssen chose to drop the first and third names.
  • Maria Ashley Eckstein is her real name. Nowadays, she just goes by Ashley.
  • Five Iron Frenzy's lead singer is Michael Reese Roper, but he's always credited just as Reese Roper. He even lampshades it in the song "All the Hype": "My name is Reese, don't call me Mike!"
  • Paul McCartney of The Beatles is actually (Sir) James Paul McCartney.
  • The full name of the Monkee who often wore a stocking cap is Robert Michael Nesmith.
  • R.E.M. frontman John Stipe instead goes by his middle name, Michael.
  • Rihanna goes by her middle name, rather than Robyn.
  • The father-and-son pair of Hank Williams Jr. and Hank Williams III both have "Hank" as their legal middle names; they're respectively Randall Hank and Shelton Hank Williams. By contrast, Hank Jr.'s father, the original Hank, was born Hiram Williams.
  • John Ronald Reuel Tolkien went by "Ronald" and reportedly disliked the name "John".
  • Douglas Lawrence Ososki's most commonly used stage name is Mr. Lawrence.
  • NASCAR:
    • Denny Hamlin's actual first name is James.
    • Dale Earnhardt's full name was Ralph Dale Earnhardt. He went by 'Dale' to distinguish himself from his father Ralph. The same goes for Dale's second son Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • The ring name of pro wrestling legend Shawn Michaels is based on his real name of Michael Shawn Hickenbottom.
  • Another pro wrestling example: Robert Booker Tio Huffman became Booker T.
  • Several MLB examples:
    • William Roger Clemens
    • William Lance Berkman
    • Edward Charles "Chuck" Knoblauch
  • Like many Catholic families, Saints Louis and Zelie Martin of Lisieux, France gave all of their nine children either Marie or Joseph for a first name. Of the five who survived childhood, only one was known as Marie. Sisters Pauline, Leonie, Celine, and Therese were addressed by their middle names.
  • V. C. Andrews' real full name was Cleo Virginia Andrews, but went by her middle name in her personal life. Her publishing name also would have been Virginia Andrews, but was changed to the familiar 'V.C.' by her publishers right before the release of Flowers in the Attic.
  • Kevin Jonas from The Jonas Brothers. His first name is Paul.
  • Camila Cabello's full name is Karla Camila Cabello Estrabao.
  • Trent Reznor's first name is Michael; as he and his father share the same first name, Reznor was called by his middle name to differentiate the two.
  • Actress Danielle Riley Keough also goes by her middle name.
  • William Bradley Pitt is a variant since he's professionally known as Brad Pitt.
  • Before Pitt, there was Jesse Donald Knotts, professionally Don Knotts.
  • Grant Gustin's first name is Thomas.
  • Actor John William Ferrell professionally goes by Will Ferrell.
  • Sir Thomas Sean Connery.
  • The white supremacist pundit Stephen Donald Black is better known as Don Black.
  • The realist German writer Theodore Storm goes by his middle name instead of Hans.
  • The director Ernst Ingmar Bergman.
  • American politics apparently loves this trope:
    • Have you ever heard of Presidents Stephen Cleveland, Thomas Wilson, or John Coolidge? No, then you might recognize them better by their respective middle names Grover, Woodrow, and Calvin.
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt's wife Eleanor was born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.
    • Willard Mitt Romney. He goes by his middle name simply because he likes it.
    • (John) Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House.
  • Canadian politics has former prime minister Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, usually known as Pierre Trudeau.
  • Former French Prime Minister Léon Blum's first name was André.
  • Although called "Al" by his family, British Prime Minister Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson chose to be known as "Boris" when he was much younger because it was more memorable, especially during the Cold War.
  • Doctor Who actor Thomas Arthur Darvill.
  • Walter Bruce Willis.
  • Dr. Seuss' pen name came from his full name being Theodore Seuss Geisel.
  • Nicole Evangeline Lilly.
  • Clyde Jackson Browne.
  • Thandie Newton's full name is Melanie Thandiwe Newton.
  • Julius Robert Oppenheimer.
  • Detroit Lions quarterback John Matthew Stafford goes by his middle name.
  • Jude Law's full name is David Jude Heyworth Law. In fact, his use of this trope had accidentally got him assigned to a girl's dormitory while at the National Youth Musical Theatre.
  • The YouTube celebrity Onision was born Gregory James Daniel, and went by Gregory for a long period until changing his name to James Jackson.
  • Political cartoonist Ted Rall's first name is actually Frederick. Ted is his middle name.
  • Richard Shannon Hoon. Again, Richard was his father.
  • James Travis Tritt.
  • Wilhelm Richard Wagner.
  • Lisa Olivia Munn.
  • Joseph Rudyard Kipling.
  • Sylvester Stallone was born Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone.
  • Played with by Thomas Jacob Black, better known as Jack.
  • Katherine Matilda "Tilda" Swinton.
  • Eldred Gregory Peck.
  • Charles Robert Redford, Jr.
  • Henry Warren Beatty. (His original family name was Beaty, with one "t".)
  • Karen Lucille "Lucy" Hale.
  • Paul Benjamin "Ben" Mendelsohn.
  • Roberta Joan "Joni" Mitchell.
  • Former Austro-Hungarian Crown Prince Otto von Habsburg's full name was Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius von Habsburg.
  • Prince Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel of Denmark played this entirely straight by being known as "Carl"... until 1905, after which he was King Haakon VII of Norway.
  • Two Nazi examples: (Paul) Joseph Goebbels and (Otto) Adolf Eichmann.
  • Thomas Mark Harmon.
  • Wrestler Christian's full name is William Jason Reso. Unscripted interviews show him being addressed as Jay by his peers. Even in his acting gigs, he is credited either as Jason Reso or Jay Reso.
  • Caleb Casey McGuire Affleck, better known as Casey Affleck.
  • Vera Mindy Chokalingam, better known by her screen name Mindy Kaling.
  • Matthew Ryan Phillippe.
  • Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa, better known as Jason Momoa.
  • Elizabeth Téa Pantaleoni, better known by her screen name Téa Leoni.
  • Lauren Keyana Palmer, better known as Keke Palmer.
  • Elizabeth Stamatina Fey, better known as Tina Fey.
  • Samuel Timothy McGraw, better known as Tim McGraw.
  • Patricia Rooney Mara.
  • Edward Thomas Hardy, better known as Tom Hardy.
  • John Rodney Mullen, better known as Rodney Mullen.
  • Halston, American fashion designer most prominent in the 60s and 70s, was born Roy Halston Frowick.
  • George Roger Waters.

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