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Named Like My Name

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An individual has a perfectly unremarkable name, until someone unrelated, yet happening to share the same name, becomes well known. This can lead to the namesake basking in reflected glory or plunging into Embarrassing Middle Name territory. Naturally averts the One-Steve Limit.

A subtrope of Significant Name Overlap. Doing this deliberately, In-Universe, is Named After Somebody Famous.


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  • A series of ads for ESPN featured the daily life of a man named Michael Jordan. Every time he received a delivery, showed up for a reservation, got called in the doctor's office, there would be a disappointed "Oh" as soon as he identified himself as Michael Jordan.
  • A series of Australian ads centered on the story of Cameron Diaz, an unfortunately named man.
  • A 2014 Taco Bell ad found a bunch of men named Ronald McDonald and got them to talk up their new menu item.
  • Best Buy ran an ad where a customer suggested that Bill Gates should be their spokesman. And so Best Buy got Bill Gates —a rancher from Lufkin, Texas— to plug their stores.

  • A Rowan Atkinson routine for the Queen Mother's 90th birthday Royal Gala had him as an Australian named Alec Guinness who is quite puzzled that he was invited to take part, but doesn't quite twig that the letter was meant for the other Alec Guinness until the end.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Office Space, one of the protagonist's buddies is named... Michael Bolton, complete with Lampshade Hanging. "There was nothing wrong with it... until I was about twelve years old and that no-talent ass-clown started winning Grammys."
    Samir: Why don't you just go by Mike?
    Michael: No way. Why should I change my name? He's the one who sucks.
  • The main character of the French film Camping shares his surname with former president Chirac. When asked why he doesn't change it, he replies "Why should I be the one to change my name?"
  • The plot of Saving Private Ryan revolves around finding Private James Ryan and bringing him home to his mother. Midway through the movie, they find James Ryan... but it turns out he's a different James Ryan.
  • The Big Lebowski: Jeffrey Lebowski, known to everyone as The Dude, is an unemployed stoner who likes White Russians. The plot of the film kicks off when he is mistaken for another man with the same name, the titular Big Lebowski, an insanely rich paraplegic.
  • In High Pressure, the delivery boy who arrives at Gar's corporation is named Augustus Vanderbilt. He's no relation to the Old Money Vanderbilts, but Gar, who is more or less a con artist, puts him on the corporation's board of directors.
  • In Cellular, Jessica Martin asks Ryan to protect her son Ricky.
    Ryan: Ricky Martin? You named your child Ricky Martin?!
    Jessica: It was before the singer
  • The Incredible Jessica James: Boone's ex-wife is named Mandy Moore. He has to clarify that she's not the Mandy Moore, and it's actually a fairly common name.

  • A couple of examples in the Adrian Mole books:
    • In True Confessions, the student living with Adrian's mother is Martin Muffet; and adds "and spare the jokes about tuffets and spiders, will you?"
    • In Prostate Years, Adrian's consultant is Dr Rubik, who sighs "yes, as in the damn cube".
  • Taken to an art form in Bill Fitzhugh's Pest Control, whose lead is named Bob Dillon, and was born a few years before Robert A. Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan, became famous. It didn't make for a happy childhood. He spends the entire book being confused with Bob Dylan, even by the CIA.
  • Jennifer Lopez in John Dies at the End.
  • Basically the whole point of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, where two teenagers in Chicago who share a name meet and then find their lives start to clash.
  • Óscar de León, the main character in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, has the name of a famous salsa singer. This is, though, never mentioned in the book.
  • John Sandford is fond of this trope. Minor characters named Bill Clinton, James Brown ("Not the James Brown?" "Why yes, I am. This is my disguise: keeps the groupies off."), and Henry Ford (a medical examiner: "doesn't know shit about cars") show up in the Prey and Virgil Flowers books.
  • Another Bill Clinton shows up in Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears. Ironically, he's a Secret Service agent.
  • Black Widowers: The mystery in "Second Best" involves a dying soldier who had the same name as a US President, but died before he could tell the guest what it was. The Widowers attempt to figure out which president from the cryptic clues the soldier dropped. It was Grover Cleveland.
  • Like a Fish Understands a Tree has British teenager Susan Sarandon, who is embarrassed by the coincidence and annoyed that her parents didn't realize they'd named her after a movie star.
  • Terra Ignota: It's mentioned generally that Mycroft (after Mycroft Holmes) used to be one of the more popular names of the time, up until the protagonist Mycroft Canner did something so awful it stained the name forever, which was an inconvenience for all the other Mycrofts in the world. Being the most heinous serial killer in modern history will do that. One of the main characters is technically named Mycroft Guildbreaker, but prefers to go by Martin as a result.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Elaine's boyfriend Joel Rifkin on Seinfeld, whose name she tries to get him to change because it's the same as the serial killer's. Eventually she breaks up with him over it. (In a Hilarious in Hindsight moment, one of the names she suggests, while desperately flipping through Sports Illustrated, is O.J. If you forget that there was a time before O.J. was a suspected murderer, this comes off as an intentional joke, and you wonder why the audience isn't laughing.)
  • NCIS episode "SWAK" has a Dr. Brad Pitt treating Tony for the pneumonic plague.
  • Arrested Development gave us George Michael, whose name is perfectly logical (he's named for his grandfather and his father respectively). Almost looks like it could be an Averted Trope because it's only mentioned once in the whole series ("Are you sure it wasn't the other George Michael? You know; the singer songwriter?") but it's clear that the idea of a nerdy, self-conscious teenage kid who questions almost everything he does and thinks being lumbered with George Michael as a name is an intentional layer. He's also never called simply "George".
  • A sketch on an early episode of All That had people making wishes before taking shots at a basketball hoop, and having them granted if they make the basket. Kenan Thompson then says, "If I make this shot, I'm gonna meet Michael Jordan!" He makes it, and in walks a very white plumber named Michael Jordan.
  • On JAG, Harm persuades a witness to talk by offering to set him up for a date with Jennifer Lopez, not mentioning that he means his dental hygienist.
  • In one episode of The Vicar of Dibley, the vicar gets Alice's cousin Reg Dwight, who she's not seen for years, but thinks became some sort of musician, to open the village fete. He turns out, of course, not to be that Reg Dwight.
  • Cheers: In "Bar Bet" Sam discovers that, while drunk, he had bet a stranger that he could marry Jacqueline Bisset within a year. On learning that the other party plans to hold him to that bet (and has a binding contract), he reads over the terms of the bet and realises that it doesn't specify Jacqueline Bisset the actress. He immediately sets out to find another woman of the same name to marry him.
  • On 30 Rock, Liz's "future husband" Wesley Snipes doesn't like that to be pointed out.
    Wesley Snipes: It's insane that the actor Wesley Snipes has that name. If you saw a picture of him and a picture of me and you were asked who should be named Wesley Snipes, you'd pick the pale Englishman every time. Every time, Liz! Frankly, you should be having this conversation with him!
  • On Sifl And Olly, a caller comes in complaining that people make fun of him because of his name and he's thinking of changing it. It's Abraham Lincoln.
  • Stella: Stella's new neighbour is called Michael Jackson. He will point this out on your first meeting "just to get it out of the way".
  • We finally discover Mac's real name on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia when he's handed a name badge at the gang's high school reunion: It's Ronald McDonald.
  • You, Me And The Apocalypse: one of the characters, a thirtysomething male, is called Ariel. "Like the Little F**king mermaid."
  • Midnight Caller: The father of Devon's child is named Richard Clark. He insists on being called Richard and not Dick.
  • Boardwalk Empire: Late in season 2, Nucky Thompson travels to Ireland to make a deal with the IRA to sell surplus Thompson submachine guns to them in exchange for importing Irish whiskey for him to sell in Atlantic City. After a shooting demonstration, one of the IRA members asks Nucky if he invented the gun, and he answers, "No. It's just a happy coincidence."

  • The Scottish folk song "Leezie Lindsay" is about a peasant girl who is courted by, and marries, a chieftain. In at least one version, his name is Ronald MacDonald. Though the song probably predates the fast food chain by centuries, it's funny to hear the line "For she's to wed Ronald MacDonald."

  • Behind the Bastards is hosted by Robert Evans, namesake of a famous Hollywood producer. Before the death of the producer Evans, the podcaster Evans had "the other Rober Evans" in his twitter bio, and "the only Robert Evans" after.
  • Cult Podcast is co-hosted by Armando Torres, who shares the name with the player character from Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony
  • You're Wrong About is hosted by Sarah Marshall, who goes on twitter by the handle @Remember_Sarah

  • In-Universe version with Subjects 5 and 6 in Ruby Quest, who are both named Tom. #5 is a normal patient, and #6 is well known as being highly dangerous and violent. Their names cause them to get mixed up by the players, who assumed that the Tom who'd been Ruby's companion since near the beginning was Subject #5 and the raccoon they met later was Subject #6. It's really the other way around.

    Video Games 
  • This can happen in Pharaoh: At high popularity levels, one of the ratings is "Mothers name their children after you." At low levels, "Mothers use your name to frighten their children". And it's much easier to lose popularity than regain it...

    Web Comics 
  • A variation in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: In the half-issue that started the comic, the titular doctor gets furious at McDonald's after they release "the McNinja Burger". His lawyer tells him that this isn't an unusual case, bringing up a huge protest made up of hundreds of people with the last name McDonald claiming their name was stolen (as well "one Robert Pizzahut").
  • Another variation in Concerned, a comic set in and around the events of Half-Life 2, starring Gordon Frohman. Conversely, when Freeman actually does show up late in the comic, the first reaction to him shown in-comic includes someone mistaking him for Frohman. Other strips also have a man mistaking Frohman for the Sausage King of Chicago and Frohman recounting the death of his World War II veteran grandfather, Morgan Frohman.
  • A comic of Bob the Angry Flower has Bob warning Osama bin Laden that he's been placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. The punchline is that he then exclaims "But I am not that Osama bin Laden!" (Note this was written in 1998.)
  • In Consolers, Tiger Telematics (who usually just goes by Tiger) gets mistaken for Tiger Electronics, another "Tiger" company who's more well-known. He's not happy about this.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • A One-Shot Character in Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a monster living in the Aqua Teens' attic named Willie Nelson, who has to repeatedly clarify he has no relation to the musician.
  • One episode of Arthur involved a European pop band being promoted across Elwood City named "Binky". Naturally, Binky Barnes gets accused of spreading graffiti until the situation is eventually cleared up.
  • In Green Lantern: The Animated Series, when Hal Jordan hears about Guy Gardner's replacement on Earth, John Stewart, Hal's first reaction is "The fake news guy?" (This was spoken, so he couldn't tell that they were spelled differently).
  • The Simpsons is the Trope Namer. In "Homer To The Max", Homer initially elated to discover that an over-the-top action hero in Police Cops is "named like my name", and then driven to change his name when "Homer Simpson, Police Cop" is retooled as bumbling comic relief.

    Real Life 
  • Would 44th U.S. President Barack Obama be on the Embarrassing Middle Name page if a man named Hussein and a man named Osama hadn't been enemies of the United States and "Hussein" wasn't rare to the point of One-Mario Limit in America?
    • Made even worse after he picked Joe Biden as his running mate, causing people to joke that the Obama/Biden ticket was trying to sound as much like "Osama bin Laden" as possible.
  • Brig. Gen. Sir Michael Jackson, and the various other people sharing Michael Jackson's name.
  • Nancy Cartwright, author of How the Laws of Physics Lie, and Nancy Cartwright, best known as the voice of Bart Simpson.
  • Really, though, how many people have been embarrassed or received 15 minutes of fame because they were named Harry Potter, Homer Simpson or Jennifer Lopez? Especially true of Spanish names, as there are 10 extremely common surnames and a lot of chances for redundancy. Several stories involved Jennifer Lopezes having to prove they weren't identity thieves.
    • There is a newscaster in the Dallas area named Jennifer Lopez, and the network even ran advertisements talking about how they had their "own star" in her.
    • The Weather Channel also had a reporter named Jennifer Lopez.
    • There is an Australian news reporter named Harry Potter. You can almost feel his "What did I do to deserve this?" when he signs off with "Harry Potter, 10 News."
  • There is a mythology/religion author named Michael Jordan.
    • Also, British auto racer Mike Jordan.
    • And, of course, actor Michael B. Jordan, who uses his middle initial to avoid confusion (and because the Michael Jordan made a foray into acting before his career began and therefore most likely got the initial-free SAG card).
    • Former Marist point guard and Los Angeles Clippers draft pick Jared Jordan's father also shares a name with His Airness. Like all of the above mentioned Michael Jordans except the actor, they're white.
  • The name "Harry Palmer" is not all that rare, even with the presence of a certain actor named Michael Caine.
  • In France, there are a lot of people named François Pignon who do not like film director Francis Veber.
  • How many Jareds are there on these boards? Now, how many have them have been associated with Subway restaurants, diamonds, and illiterate 19-year-olds?
  • And let's not forget the other apostle Jude. Getting anyone to pray to him was seen as a lost cause — so the Roman Catholic Church made him the patron saint of lost causes.
    • Even the Gospel of John has to refer to him as "Judas (not Iscariot)" at one point.
  • There are probably lots of real people named Michael Scott. God help any of them who are office managers.
  • French car manufacturer Renault is being threatened with a lawsuit over the proposed name of its new model, the Zoe. Apparently the real Zoe Renault is not amused.
    • British rugby player Austin Healey already has this problem, although the Austin Healey car was named first and is no longer made.
    • "Chevrolet" is a French surname, and "Ferrari" is pretty much the Italian equivalent of "Smith", so there are lots of Ferraris in Italy.
    • "Honda" is a Japanese surname, though very few Westerners actually pronounce it as the surname is meant to be pronounced.
  • There's a guy in Britain named Slobodan Milosevic.
  • Anyone with the same name as a hurricane. Actually, this only applies to one name, as there has never been a hurricane half as famous as Katrina.
    • Hurricane Mitch in 1998 killed ten times as many people as Katrina did, but they mostly weren't Americans, so who cares? In fairness, "Mitch" is a much more common name than "Katrina" ("Catherine" and its other variants are common, but "Katrina" specifically isn't so much), which tends to defuse the impact. Andrew, the hurricane holding the record for most property damage prior to Katrina, is also common enough as a name that it doesn't stand out.
    • Brings a whole new meaning to Katrina & The Waves...
  • The Levi Strauss jean company. With everybody saying when they meet you, "Like the jeans?"
  • Brad Pitt was a guest on a Nickelodeon bump. No, not the Brad Pitt, just a guy who happened to be named Brad Pitt. He showed his driver's license to prove it. No, he had not changed his name.
  • It's pretty tough to have two such "not unusual" names as "Thomas" and "Jones".
  • Tom Kruse, inventor of the Hoveround.
  • In 2010, an Indo-American lawyer named Kamala Harris was elected Attorney General of California. This may have caused some confusion/amusement to Professional Wrestling fans, as 400-pound wrestler James Harris is best known for having used the gimmick of a "Ugandan Headhunter" named Kamala.
    • In another Kamala Harris example, Marvel Comics introduced a new version of Ms. Marvel in 2013, a Pakistani-American girl named Kamala Khan. At that time Harris was Attorney General of California but the names caught attention when Harris became the nominee for Vice President in 2020. Although it’s a coincidence and the names come from two different languages. According to Khan’s creator, G. Willow Wilson, she created the name as a feminization of “Kamal” (meaning “perfection” in Arabic) since it’s not actually a girl’s name. It’s pronounced “Camel-a”. Harris’s maternal family is from south India and it means “lotus” in Sanskrit. Her name is also pronounced “Comma-la”.
  • There have been news anchormen called James Brown. They're white, and not very funky.
  • Richard Tracy would have been fine, if he hadn't gone into police work, eventually working his way up to Detective.
  • On Facebook, there can only be one user named Mark Zuckerberg, who founded the site. One lawyer got banned from Facebook because he was apparently trying to impersonate the founder.
    • There's a man in Florida named Justin Bieber. No, not the Justin Bieber, just some guy who happens to have the same name. He actually had his Facebook account shut down on accusations of being an impostor. To say nothing of the fangirls. (He even appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman to read a list, "Top 10 Reasons It's Great to Be Named Justin Bieber".)
    • Much like that, there's a British office worker who shares a name with Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. She got kicked off Facebook, too.
    • There's a Michigan college student named Ashley Tisdale who had two accounts shut down for "impersonating a celebrity."
  • One of the producers on The Price Is Right is Adam Sandler. No, not that Adam Sandler, though it's hilarious considering his onscreen brawl with Bob Barker in Happy Gilmore.
  • There's a nurse in Northampton, England, named Yassar Arafat. He spells his first name with an a, but still.
  • Jonathan L. Woodward, co-author of GURPS Banestorm, shares his name with Jonathan M. Woodward, frequent guest star in Joss Whedon projects.
  • There is an economics professor named Steven Landsburg. Not the exact same name as Steve Landesberg, but they could easily get confused, especially in conversation.
  • An early editor of Dragon Magazine once ran a fan's letter in the April issue's editor's column, which praised his work in the James Bond films. He didn't have the heart to tell the fan that he wasn't that Roger Moore.
  • A Los Angeles resident named Adam Levine just happened to have his number listed in the phone book, which was no problem until Maroon 5, fronted by another Adam Levine and also hailing from Los Angeles, became popular. For a while, he was retaliating by posting mp3s of some of the more embarrassingly fangirl-ish voicemail he'd been getting; now that the calls have died down and he's made his point, the messages have been taken offline and the site is no longer updated.
  • Sir Peter Parker, former head of British Rail.
  • Gerhard Schröder is a very common combination of names in Germany. It includes at least three politicians of note in the Federal Republic, including its third foreign minister (a Christian Democrat) and its sixth chancellor (a Social Democrat).
  • The creator of the cochlear implant was Dr. House, though his first name was William, not Gregory. He also performed ear surgery on astronaut Alan Shepard which allowed him to fly again and command Apollo 14. Google shows there are a few other doctors named House out there as well.
  • If you run into a YouTube video with a title promising Simon Cowell's struggle with a wild animal, it's probably the first Simon Cowell, the one who runs a wildlife aid station in Surrey.
  • Try living in the United States with the name Joaquin and not having the actor come up once a month.
  • The name "Ralph Macchio" is shared by the lead actor from The Karate Kid and a long-time editor at Marvel Comics.
  • Speaking of Marvel, Shadowcat was named "Kitty Pryde" after a real life person who, underestimating the popularity the character would have, authorized it. To avoid being compared to the character, she officially changed her name to "K.P."
  • When phonebooks still existed, there was a guy named "George Jetson" in the British Columbia Lower Mainland White Pages.
  • Don Arden, who was the manager of ELO and Black Sabbath and the father of Sharon Osborne, can easily be confused with Donn Arden, a stage producer known for creating the modern Vegas "showgirl" show.
  • Robert Altman is a filmmaker and a photographer, but they are not the same person.
  • Take two of the most common names in English: "John" and "Williams". Put them together, and it's only natural that you'd share the name with a multitude of celebrities from musicians to athletes.
  • John Roberts in 2005. One anchored the CBS evening news on the weekends, the other was sworn in as the Chief Justice in the U.S. Supreme Court. Not to mention that "John" and "Roberts" are an ordinary first name and surname, respectively, in the English-speaking world. You'll find a handful of them.
  • If you work in a profession where you have a lot of contact with the general public, you will run across ordinary people with the same names as celebrities. For example, just in Ontario, there is a furnace technician named Jim Steinman; a farm fuel delivery driver named Jerry Lewis who got a call from a farmer named Dean Martin; and a vet customer named Marilyn Monroe (she spelled it "Munro").
  • The commanding officer of the first next generation US destroyer is named James Kirk (A. instead of T., though).
  • The wrestling booking simulator Total Extreme Wrestling has a fictional wrestler named Jack Bruce who works a rock star gimmick and shares a name with the late Cream bassist.
  • Philippine Wrestling Revolution wrestler John Sebastian. You know, like the guy who sang for the Lovin' Spoonful and did the theme to Welcome Back, Kotter and the Care Bears cartoon.
  • In the early 1950s, two women named Patty Maloney were living in the Orlando area. The other one wrote for the Orlando Evening Star, but they're not known to have met each other.
  • Spare a thought for Ancient Roman poet Helvius Cinna, who was killed by the angry mob at Julius Caesar's funeral because he was mistaken for Cornelius Cinna, a politician linked with the assassination plot.
    • Invoked by Caesar himself, after a fashion. Embarking on an anti-reactionary campaign in Africa province (site of Rome's once-great enemy, Carthage), Caesar countered naysayers who proclaimed that the place had never been conquered by someone not named Scipio by ostentatiously bringing along with him a useless nonentity member the Scipio clan to "lead" the charge.
  • When Los Angeles resident Alex Baptiste started getting tagged in tweets about a Bolton Wanderers defender of the same name, he took it in such good stride that he ended up becoming a Bolton supporter.
  • Tom Brady had over a decade working on TV, including gigs in The Simpsons and The Critic, before, as he said on an interview, "I heard about this young back-up guy at Michigan and I thought, 'Oh, no one will ever hear of this guy.' Now, I [seem] to be the other Tom Brady."
  • Everyone with the last name "Stark" risks getting a chuckle from those who are comic-book fans or fantasy fans.
  • In the Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry episode "The Puzzle of the Pyramids", Dr Adam Rutherford, geneticist, describes learning that there was another Dr Adam Rutherford who was a pyramidologist ... from someone who genuinely believed that Rutherford (born 1975) wrote The Great Pyramid (published 1945).
  • When Skinless announced that they had added a guitarist named Dave Matthews to their line-up shortly after re-forming in 2013, it caused more than a few jokes from people who wanted to have a laugh at the new guy sharing a name with the namesake of Dave Matthews Band. Too bad for them that this Dave quickly stopped being amused by the joking comparisons to the leader of a jam band, and that his long ties to the upstate New York Death Metal community, and Skinless specifically,note  caused the other members to side with him. This led to a bit of Trolling Creator by the group until most of the fanbase got the message and laid off the jokes.
  • Musician Gordon "Sting" Sumner asked to meet professional wrestler Steve "Sting" Borden in the early '90s. Sumner told Borden the reason why at the meeting: He'd discovered his young son had a poster of the wrestler Sting on his wall, and he wondered who this other Sting was and wanted to meet him. There's a long-running rumor in the wrestling world that Sting the wrestler owns the trademark on the name Sting, and Sting the musician has to pay him to use it - albeit only a token fee of just $1 a year, since the situation is an unintended side-effect of the trademark.