Scallion #1: They've never given me a name. I've been around since show one and I still don't have a name!
A major character is never referred to by their actual or full name, instead being addressed by a title, nickname, Only One Name or none at all. Reasons for this vary, but it often serves the function of making a character seem more mysterious or eccentric.
In older (pre-1900 in North America; pre-1970 in the UK) fiction, a narrator may refer to a character (especially an older or more socially prominent character) by his or her surname. This is because at that time first names were much less commonly used socially than they are now; a young character may not even know the first name of an older character he or she is not related to. It was also common in that time to blank out the names of real people to avoid lawsuits and the like. This is often true in Japanese media set in the modern day as well, as first names are seen as being incredibly personal and sometimes not even used by close friends who still opt to use the surname. Interestingly, the reverse is true if the work is set in some periods of Japanese history where the size of many of the clans that dominated society meant that it was hard to figure out whom one talking about if one just used the surname, so given names were used more instead. In other Asian media, however, one will often hear people referred to by their first names, but almost never by their last names - partly because of the low diversity of surnames in many Asian languages.
A common joke is to do The Un-Reveal on the full name.
This trope can be somewhat justified, however, due to Nominal Importance: it's difficult enough for the writers to come up with good names for the main protagonists; it would be incredibly painstaking to come up with equally good names for a cast of characters who exist solely as part of the setting and serve no further purpose to the narrative.
Another common variation is for a series where a child is the main character to have parents only referred to as Mom and Dad.
Sometimes, a main protagonist will have no name to add to their mystique. Or, it may be because they can't be named.
When this trope is applied to work titles, not just character names, it's No Title.
Compare The Trope Without a Title, You Know the One, and I Know Your True Name (which may be a reason for this). Contrast Only One Name, Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep", and I Am Not Shazam. Compare and contrast The Scottish Trope, for where characters know a name, but actively avoid saying it. See also Nameless Narrative and The All-Concealing "I". When a character genuinely has no name whatsoever (as opposed to it not being given in the work), then they are The Nameless. If the character's parents never named them, then they were Never Given a Name. When a character is literally given the name "Nobody", then they are Somebody Named "Nobody".
- Anime & Manga
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- Live-Action TV
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- Western Animation
- Real Life
- In Claude the Cat, the only named character is Claude. Even his owner's name is unknown.
- Adventures in a Pocket Universe series from BBV Productions: One of the two main characters is never named. The other main character, her robot sidekick, addresses her as "Mistress".
- The protagonists of Yandere no Onna no Ko are never named. They may share the same surnames as some of their relatives (Nagisa, Yumemi, Alice and Elise), but that would the closest things you would have to a surname. One character calls him "Elison", but that's because she's delusional and is convinced that they were lovers in another life.
- The protagonists of Yandere Heaven don't have a first or a last name. The Yandere brothers tend to provide sibling terms in place of a name.
- None of the all-animal cast in The Goat Musician have names.
- The bratty boy who eventually learns to do things for himself in The Key has no given name, in contrast to the boy's parents, his grandfather, the scientist, and even a little Robot Girl, whom all have names.
- Me Cvimad Moval: Averted with the snowman, who initially introduces himself at the beginning of the short as Guda Guda. The girl he makes friends with, on the other hand, plays the trope straight.
- In Son of the White Horse, only the main character Fanyűvő and his brothers Kőmorzsoló and Vasgyúró get names. Everyone else just has to make do with nouns.
- In "Morozko", the characters are known as the old woman, her husband, her stepdaughter and her daughter. The titular Father Frost is the only character who is given a name.
- In An American Tail, Fievel's parents are only ever referred to as "Mama" and "Papa" Mousekewitz.
- In Fievel's American Tails, Papa's name is revealed to be Bernard, but Mama's is still not given. (Hopefully it's not Bianca.)
- In Beauty and the Beast, it's never revealed what the Beast's name is. The fandom went and named him Adam anyway, which Dan Stevens (who portrayed the Beast in the 2017 remake) and Paige O'Hara (Belle's voice actress) have also accepted. Contrary to popular beliefs, that name is not from the film's creators, but rather from a trivia video game. Most Disney products keep him nameless, though a small number have used the fans' name.
- The BIONICLE Direct-To-DVD movies left a handful of characters unnamed, but these were revealed via credits, bonus features and the toy names. The third movie, however, decided to give an unnamed character a name: the high-ranking Keelerak spider that runs errands for Sidorak and Roodaka was suddenly called Kollorak. The name appears nowhere else in canon and probably wasn't even given a legal check, which is the standard with the official Bionicle names. But Word of God claims it's canon.
- In The Book of Life, none of the Detention Kids are given names except Sasha, but in the supplementary material everyone but "Goth-kid" is given a name.
- Epic has Finn, the Leafman with the orange beard. His name is only in the closing credits.
- An Extremely Goofy Movie has "Beret Girl". One of the few original characters in the movie who appear at the dancing scene in the credits and the girlfriend of one of the main characters, the movie proves extremely shy about telling us what her name is. Even the credits list her as "Beret Girl".
- How to Catch a Cold: The only characters with names are Common Sense and, in the live-action version, Goofy and Jeff. Everyone else is unnamed.
- In Mulan, Mulan's horse is never named until near the end of the movie. However, during gameplay of Disney Infinity, Mulan's horse (on one of the power discs) is named Kahn.
- The Mayor from The Nightmare Before Christmas (though some of the merch calls him Hizzonor). Most of the citizens also seem to not have names (The Clown With The-Tear-Away-Face, The Wolf Man, etc.).
- No one is named in The Old Lady and the Pigeons save a few of the American tourists.
- Classified from Penguins of Madagascar. He tells Skipper that his real name is classified, but Skipper takes it literally and calls him Classified for the rest of the film.
- In The Polar Express, the main character goes on the train and makes friends with three other kids; of the group, only one is named, and even then only at a plot-crucial moment more than halfway through the movie. (It's the lonely boy, Billy.) The credits refer to the others as Hero Boy, Hero Girl and Know-It-All Kid. Meanwhile Hero Boy's little sister, Sarah, gets a name despite only appearing in two scenes at the beginning and end. Hero Boy, Hero Girl, and Know-it-All Kid do actually have canon names in supplementary material (Chris, Holly, and Lenny respectively), but you wouldn't know it from just watching the film.
- In Rio 2, the leader of the loggers razing the Amazon is only ever referred to as "Mr. Big".
- Jack Frost's sister in Rise of the Guardians is never named. This led to a lot of confusion within the fandom, because her actress also voiced another character named Pippa, who isn't named on-screen, so some viewers accidentally assigned the name to the wrong character.
- In Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora's father is named King Stefan, but her mother is never called anything but "the Queen". Some children's books published about the movie give her the name "Leah", which many fans have adopted. Weirdly, she doesn't even get listed in the credits of the film at all. In fact, for a while there was absolutely no record of the name of the actress who provided her voice, making her a really nameless entity! It was eventually found out that Flora's voice actress for the film voiced Leah as well.
- In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Huntsman, the Queen, and the Prince do not have names. However, old press material lists the Queen's name as Queen Grimhilde and merchandise released over seventy years later finally gives the Prince's name as Florian.
- In the original story (the one Disney used to create his story), there were 100 dwarves, and none of them were given a name.
- The doll of Snow White's prince that can be bought at the Disney store is labeled "the Prince," Cinderella's is labeled "Prince Charming," and Belle's is labeled "Beast."
- The Bog King from Strange Magic never has his name revealed. Presumably he's not actually named Bog King.
- All the Arc Dragons in Ciel The Last Autumn Story are referred to by names given to them by humans. Except the misanthropic Earth Dragon, who has such a name, but only tells his name to people he kills.
- The recurring bandit also goes without a name, though in his case it's just that it never comes up.
- The main character of The Black Parade is never named in the album itself, and elsewhere is known only as "the Patient".
- Very few of the characters in the Ayreon albums have names; most go by descriptions like "Best Friend" or "the Knight."
- The members of Xera are only known by their first names.
- An animal variant is "A Horse With No Name" by the band America.
- The members of TISM performed in balaclavas and went by pseudonyms such as Ron Hitler-Barassi. Most of their real names are still unknown.
- The mayor, the sailor man, and the narrator in The Silent City. Justified in the narrator's case since no one officially addresses her. Taken to absurd levels with the mayor due to an exchange where he could reasonably expected to give his name and doesn't:
Stan: And who are you?The Mayor: I'm the mayor!
- Sally Shapiro's real name is so far a mystery, due to her being a Reclusive Artist.
- GaMetal's creator has the stagename Jonny Atma, but his real last name is unknown. He described it in an interview as 'Long, German, and very unsexy', though.
- Abraham's Daughter in Arcade Fire's "Abraham's Daughter".
"Then the angel asked her what her name wasShe said, I have noneThen he asked, how can this beMy father never gave me one"
- The narrator in Danzig's "Thirteen"
"I was born in the soul of miseryAnd I never had me a nameThey just give me a number when I was young"
- The Beatles "Nowhere Man"
"He's a real Nowhere Man.""Sitting in his Nowhere Land.""Making all his Nowhere Plans, for nobody."
- On Taylor Swift's album folklore, there are three songs from each person in a Love Triangle's perspective. Betty and James are named but the girl James had a fling with isn't.
- Done in Bally's Playboy pinball, which identified its Playmates simply as "Miss ________" ("Miss January", "Miss September", etc.). Also done in Stern Pinball's Playboy, which shows photos of Real Life Playmates, but only identifies them as "Miss January," etc.note
- In America's Most Haunted, none of the ghost hunters are given any names in-game.
- Ultimately subverted in Strange Science; the Mad Scientst antagonist is never named directly, but a small nametag on his lab coat identifies him as "Dr. E. Shock".
- Lights... Camera... Action!, a Pinball game themed around filming an action movie, the name of the film and the names of the stars are never given. The film's main characters are also never properly named, and are only identified by their playing card-based nicknames.
- A woman in episode four of Mystery Show is referred to only by the alias "Margaret," presumably to protect her identity.
- In episode three, Starlee finds a blog called Sated Epicure and refers to the blogger only as "Sated."
- Mark Soloff's character in Unwell Podcast, the Old Man with the monster-dogs, is left unnamed until the season 2 finale, often credited simply with garbled radio noises.
- Ford Prefect is a name picked by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy researcher due to a misunderstanding about Earth. In the books it's revealed he never learnt to pronounce his own name (his father was the Last of His Kind following the Collapsing Hrung Disaster of Betelgeuse VII and named his son in the now extinct Praxibetel dialect), and the kids at school called him Ix (meaning "Boy who is unable to explain what a Hrung is, or why it should choose to collapse on Betelgeuse VII").
- The misunderstanding was explained more fully in the movie by showing Ford walking out into the middle of a street and attempting to greet a car, thinking it was the dominant species on Earth. This was a joke that some fans understood without needing the explanation, as Ford Prefects are a kind of car sold in the U.K., Australia, Argentina and Canada. American fans tended not to get the joke, since Ford Prefects were never sold in the U.S.
- Another character attempts to use this trope. When Arthur asks his name, he says "My name is not important." After some cajoling, he gives Arthur his name.
Arthur: Slartibartfast?Slartibartfast: I told you it wasn't important.
- Journey into Space:
- In the original series, the frequently heard Control operator's name is never stated.
- In The Red Planet, the dingo hunter and the flying doctor are not named.
- On The Vinyl Cafe, Stuart McLean went out of his way to not give Dave and Morley's family a last name, hilariously twisting himself out of situations where it would be expected for the last name to come up, to his audience's delight.
- BIONICLE's Big Bad was known as "the Makuta" for most of the line's run, which the fans originally thought was his actual name, until it was revealed to be the name of his species. Eight years into the story, the writer named him Teridax, which caused such a massive uproar from the fans that he has since refused to give out the name of the other big villain, the Shadowed One. The members of the latter's organization, the Dark Hunters are also mostly known by code names, since LEGO couldn't afford to clear the rights for so many unique names. In fact, there are many toyless characters who have no name for the same reason. One of the few nameless toys is the Rahkshi of heat vision from the brand's last setline.
- The six Protectors from BIONICLE (2015) weren't named until the first book's author suggested to LEGO that maybe they should be. The 2015 villains were also only given descriptive or generic designations, with only Kulta the Skull Grinder getting a personal name in a magazine description.
- From the Ace Attorney series, Calisto Yew. Her real name is never given, the only thing we know about it for certain is that it absolutely is not Calisto Yew. Or Shih-na.
- He's been around for 6 games and counting, and no-one knows his honor's name. Or his brother's, who is also a judge. Or his Khura'inese counterpart's own. Judges in general in this series and the spinoffs (other than Justine Courtney) never seem to get given names ever.
- There's a hypochondriac who likes to impersonate doctors. He's gone by Dr. Hotti and Dr. Hickfield, but we don't know his real name.
- One character is even "The Bellhop Who Swore The Affidavit".
- Gumshoe's boss (the guy who invented the Blue Badger) is only ever referred to as Chief.
- In Investigations 2, the real name of President Huang's body double is never revealed, even after he turns out to be one of the key characters in the overarching plot.
- Despite being the Big Bad of Dual Destinies, we never know the name of the Phantom. Then again, this isn't unexplained, because he comments that he lost and forgot his identity long ago, and now only lives by the personality of whomever he impersonates.
- The heroine from Amnesia: Memories has no name given, as it's up to the player. She doesn't even have an official name, with even the homepage simply listing her as 'heroine'. The anime expanded her amnesia to include having forgotten her own name.
- In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the Ultimate Imposter only lives through stealing other peoples' identities, as the imposter has none of their own.
- Danganronpa Another Episode Ultra Despair Girls plays with this in regards to Nagito Komaeda. In-game, he's never ever referred to by name, only ever being called "Servant" both in-universe and by the game UI and profiles. But anyone who's played Danganronpa 2 (the previous game) will know perfectly well who he is.
- In Dies Irae, one of the two Big Bad's have no proper name as it has long since been lost to history due to him being so inconceivably ancient that even he himself no longer remembers it. Instead he is only ever referred to by one of his many, many aliases, most commonly either Karl Erst Krafft, Alessandro Cagliostro or his perhaps oldest known one, Mercurius.
- In Heart of the Woods, none of the fairies have names, since they believe names are "for humans." Madison assigns three fairies the names Hae, Anan, and Frio. The fairies repeatedly mention one of their kind known as "the moonsick one," who's better known by the name Evelyn Fischer.
- In the Murder Mystery Jisei, the protagonist's name is never mentioned, even though you are able to see his face and body. He is also the only character in the game who is not voiced.
- In Juniper's Knot both characters stay unnamed through the story. The concept of names doesn't even come up.
- In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors you learn the true identities of the other participants of the Nonary Game... except for Seven, who is an amnesiac and doesn't remember his own name for most of the game.
- But even then, only Ace, Santa, June, and the 9th Man get their full names revealed. Lotus only receives a last name and the others have only first names. One of these eventually gets a canon full name as of the sequel (WARNING: Spoiler is for both games): Junpei Tenmyouji. The rest have full names given to them by the creator, but which he considers to be more of a "possibility" than true canon.
- The main characters in SC2VN use their online aliases instead.
- At one point in Kagetsu Tohya Kohaku shows up for the school festival and doesn't really know what to put for her surname, so she just writes Tohno. She, and Hisui by extension, don't actually have last names. Or at least, they don't remember their families or childhood. Ciel's last name is also never given and Ciel also happens to be a pseudonym. Her real first name is Elesia, something mentioned only in passing. It's something a bit more important in her case, marking her as someone who doesn't entirely belong.
- In An Adventure Of Sheep And Chicken a hiker, the main antagonist, is never given a name because the two protagonists never ask him for it.
- Subverted with Sheep and Chicken, the heroes. Sheep and Chicken, respectively, are their actual names.
- None of the protagonists in Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story have names.
- Dreamscape: Eleenin's fairy trio are just called 'fairies' without any distinction between the three.
- None of the cast of Every Faggot Ever have names.
- Fallout Lore: The Storyteller: The Storyteller does have a name, but we never hear it since whoever says it is either interrupted or drowned out by something.
- The only characters whose full names have been mentioned in Feng Ling Yu Xiu are Bai Yuxiu, Chen Feiyan, who has yet to make an onscreen appearance, and some members of a performing troupe who serve as minor antagonists.
- Kouka And Bibi has an interesting variation on this trope: while we know what names the titular characters could technically have, whether each character is named Bibi or Kouka is anybody's guess even the creator's.
- Parodied in the case of Rookie from Combat Devolved. He tries to tell the others his name, but no-one cares and resorts to calling him Rookie.
- Sarge in Red vs. Blue is only ever called... Sarge. We have no idea what his actual name may be. In Episode 17 of Revelation, it's revealed that his name is actually Sarge.
- Discussed Trope: Untold years ago, two gods lived on Remnant, whose actions in their lifetime affected humanity for centuries to come. Despite his importance to the show's plot, the male's name has been lost to history. Jinn reveals that Ozma's first reincarnation triggered a mistake that led to the secret Forever War being fought between him and Salem, which included the pair faking gods to try and unite humanity. Ozma's current host, Oscar, is horrified to realise that Ozma never learned the name of his first host. Jinn confirms that it took Ozma a long time to learn how to live in harmony with his hosts, leaving the heroes assuming the worst about Oscar's eventual fate.
- In the fairy tale The Warrior in the Woods, the hero of the story tries to learn the name of the titular warrior, but she refuses to tell him. Although they interact with each other for years, she never does tell him her name. The fairy tale is implied to be a true story acting as a hidden warning that Silver-Eyed Warriors have been hunted to near-extinction by a mysterious enemy. Maria was successfully targeted even though she'd been forewarned and hidden her identity for years; Ruby only learns about the danger after it's too late to hide her existence from the Big Bad.
- Played for Laughs in Senpai Club with a characters name who is pronounced unintelligibly and the subtitles refer to as "(???)".
- Voodont: There are four characters that physically appear in this story. Out of all of them, Ellie's friend is the only one with no known name. The doll is also not given a name and is simply referred to as Doll by Sam, but that's likely because she had just been made to resemble and torture Ellie.
- The two leading pigs from The Oats Series are never named despite being the main characters. They simply refer to each other as "brother" although they can be identified by their American (Older Pig) and British (Younger Pig) accents.