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Many years ago, Alice married Bob and changed her last name to his. Their daughter Carol, however, opts to take Alice's last name instead of Bob's.

Reasons for Carol's use of her mother's maiden name vary. Maybe she had a huge falling out with her dad. Maybe she's challenging traditional gender norms. Maybe she doesn't want the burden of fame or infamy of her father's last name. Maybe there's another Carol whom she doesn't want to be confused with. Or maybe she just doesn't like Bob's last name. In-story this can be used to hide the relationship between two characters until it's time for The Reveal, as a subtrope of Real Name as an Alias.

As a general rule of thumb, this trope should apply to children who originally went by their father's last name and made the change later, whether self-motivated or otherwise.

This trope does not apply to illegitimate children who use their mother's name because they can't go by their father's — the use of the mother's name should be a choice, not a necessity. Not to be confused with Unnamed Parent, where someone is treated as if her name is "Mom" because the story never gives any other name by which to call her.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Ai Yori Aoshi, Kaoru Hanabishi retakes his mother's last name, Honjou, as he marries Aoi and they properly start a life together.
  • Ao Haru Ride: Kou changed his surname from Tanaka to Mabuchi because he grew up with his mother after his parents' divorce. His brother, Yoichi, was raised by their father, so he goes by Yoichi Tanaka. It's also noted that Kou is still grieving over his mother's death and not on good terms with Yoichi. Futaba's obsession over this is a minor plot point since Kou going by a different surname signals how he is a different person from the one she knew during childhood. Near the end of the series, after Kou moves on from his mother's death and starts dating Futaba, he reverts his surname back to Tanaka.
  • In Black Clover, Finral became the Black Sheep of the noble Vaude family due to being less gifted than his younger half-brother, Langris. When his father and Wicked Stepmother finally disowned him to make Langris the heir, Finral took his dead mother's surname, Roulacase.
  • Butterflies, Flowers: Choko's family sold their Big Fancy House to pay for their former servants' retirement. Domoto was so disgusted by his parents' refusal to do anything in return after prospering he took his mother's maiden name.
  • Masumi Sera from Case Closed uses her mother's surname, Sera, instead of using her father's, Akai. This is likely to hide the fact that she is Shuichi Akai's younger sister.
  • Code Geass:
    • Kallen goes by her Japanese mom's name, Kozuki, when she's working with the Rebellion rather than her Britannian father's name, Stadfeldt. This serves the dual purpose of disguising her identity and showing that she identifies more with her mom's side of the family, as well as a form of rebellion since being a Britannian carries many more rights than being an "Eleven" or Japanese person.
      • Considering Kallen spent most of her life in her mother's care and her brother's name is also Kozuki, it could be that Kozuki is in fact her birth name, and Stadtfeld was the name she took later to become her father's heir.
    • In the audio drama Stage 0.916, where Lelouch first meets Rivalz Cardemonde, it is said that Rivalz goes by his mother's maiden name because he does not get along with his father.
    • A careful eye makes it clear this is common for the Britannia Royal family; despite the Emperor being of the zi Britannia family, all of his many, many children use the "whatever" Britannia name that their mothers have; such as vi Britannia, la Britannia, li Britannia, and more. Why this is so is never explained but since it's never remarked upon it most certainly is considered "normal".
      • A possible explanation is that the nobility articles are to identify which prince or princess belongs to which empress consort; since the emperor can have multiple wives, it would be confusing for the average person to keep the imperial genealogy straight, so by each empress and her children using the same particle, it cuts down on the confusion.
  • In Dear Brother, Mariko Shinobu takes up her mother's maiden name, Shikiya, after her parents' scandalous divorce.
  • In Detective Conan Film 06: The Phantom of Baker Street, Hiroki Sawada's father's surname is known to be Kashimura. The internal justification is his mother has custody of him after his parents' divorce, so he took his mother's surname.
  • Similar to Yu-Gi-Oh example, Takeru Takaishi of Digimon Adventure bears his mother Natsuko's surname since his parents divorced, while his older brother Yamato retained their father's surname Ishida.
    • Sora Takenouchi also goes by her mother's surname for a different reason — Toshiko Takenouchi is the Grand Master of a prestigious school of Japanese flower arrangement (ikebana), and Sora's father Haruhiko took her surname when they married.
    • Koichi Kimura of Digimon Frontier was raised by his divorcee mother, and thus has her surname. His identical twin brother, Koji, was raised by their father and goes by their original surname, Minamoto.
  • In Fresh Pretty Cure!, Miki/Cure Berry's parents are divorced, so she goes by her mother's surname Aono, while her brother Kazuki goes by their father's last name, Ichijou. This helps with their ongoing tendency to pretend they're lovers rather than siblings in order to ward off any unwanted suitors for Miki.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the Elric brothers are registered under the name of their mother, Trisha Elric, rather than their father, Van Hohenheim. This is partially because Hohenheim doesn't have an actual surname, as Homunculus (AKA Father) named him when he was previously only named Slave Number 23.
  • In Great Pretender, Makoto uses his mother's family name, Edamura, instead of his father's, Ozaki. While his reasoning is never explained in-series, his father is a notorious child trafficker whose infamous crimes completely tainted Makoto's chance at a normal life, since no one would hire him due to his relation to a horrible criminal. He likely wanted to distance himself from his father's crimes.
  • Brad and Luke of Green Blood use their mother's surname, Burns, instead of their father's, King. This is due primarily to the fact that Edward King killed their mother, and Brad's goal from the start of the series and later Luke's is to find and kill Edward.
  • In Naruto, the titular character has his mother Kushina's maiden name, Uzumaki. Reasoning for this varies among the fandom, but the most commonly accepted theory, which is also the likeliest to be true, is that it was done to protect him. His father was the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, and he had many enemies; that was one of the main reasons why Naruto was never told about his parents.
    • Interestingly, Uzumaki turns out to be a more important name in the history of shinobi than Namikaze, as it is not only also the surname of Nagato, but also one of the four major clans descended from Princess Kaguya, others being Senju, Uchiha, and Hyuuga. However, by the present day very few of the Uzumaki clan have survived and their historical importance has been forgotten by most of the world.
    • Kiba and Hana Inuzuka got their surname and abilities from their mother. Kiba mentions at one point that his father walked out on the family because he was scared of Tsume. It's not an entirely unjustified reason.
    • Hagoromo Otsutsuki, the Sage of Six Paths, and his brother, Hamura, inherited their surname from their mother, Kaguya. Considering Kaguya was basically a Physical God while their father was a surnameless Muggle (at least in the anime), this is justified.
  • Portgas D. Ace of One Piece uses his mother Portgas D. Rouge's name instead of the name of his father Gol D. Roger, feeling he owes her greatly while the fact of who his father is has caused him nothing but grief. This also hides the fact that he and Luffy are neither full-blooded nor even half-siblings; Luffy's grandfather, Garp, and Roger were worthy opponents and Fire-Forged Friends, and Roger asked Garp to take care of Ace before dying.
  • The main character of Oishinbo, Yamaoka Shiro, is the son of famous artist and gourmet Kaibara Yuzan but took up his mother's surname because of his beef with his father.
  • Ouran High School Host Club: The Hitachiin twins inherited their surname from their mother, Yuzuha Hitachiin. Not because they are estranged from their father (on the contrary, he is a very kind man), but because the Hitachiin name carries more prestige.
  • Psycho-Pass: Nobuchika Ginoza's surname actually came from his grandmother who is guardian of Tomomi Masaoka, his father. It was never stated when he changed his surname but it stemmed from his strained relationship with his father who ended up becoming a latent criminal.
  • In Saki, it's revealed in the character profiles that mahjong pro Masae Atago kept her maiden name, which means that her daughters, Hiroe and Kinue Atago, got their names from her.
  • Kurisu Makise from Steins;Gate has a different last name from her father, Dr. Nakabichi because of a falling out they had when she was younger and she disproved one of his theories. Later revealed in the first drama CD to be an aversion, since Dr. Nakabachi is not his real name. It's actually Shouichi Makise. Like many examples on this page, this is done to hide their relationship until The Reveal.
  • In the original Japanese version, of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Katsuya Jounouchi's sister Shizuka does this, taking her mother's maiden name Kawai. Their parents are divorced and Shizuka lives with her mother. The 4Kids dub averts this by having Serenity still use Wheeler.

    Comic Books 
  • In Les Maîtres de l'Orge, the American journalist Jay Simpson actually goes by his middle name and his mother's surname. It wouldn't have been so easy for him to approach Julienne if he had gone by his actual name, Christopher J. Texel.
  • In Spider-Man, Peter's clone (who has all the same memories) takes the name "Ben Reilly," the surname coming from Peter's adoptive mother, Aunt May (née Reilly). In this case, it's just a convenient way to hold onto his identity while trying to forge an independent one. (It also helps support the story that he and Peter are just uncannily identical cousins.)
    • Similarly, Peter's Ultimate Marvel successor, Miles Morales and his father, Jefferson like the aforementioned Shinji and Gendo Ikari, go by Rio's last name, rather than Jefferson's original last name, "Davis". Part of this is Jefferson trying to get away from his past as a thug. After crossing over to the 616-verse, Jefferson legally changes his last name to Morales to move past his "baggage" as a SHIELD agent as well as embarrassment over being a black man named "Jefferson Davis".
    • Recently, Peter's friend Harry Osborn legally changed his name to Harry Lyman, after his mother's maiden name. Given that his father Norman Osborn is an absolute sociopath who tried to have Harry killed to further his own agenda, Harry's desire to distance himself from the Osborn legacy is understandable.
  • Syrin (Theresa Cassidy) went by her mother's surname when she was younger. The extent this went to varies depending on the era and the writer, with even what exactly her mother's last name was being rather fluid. (It was either Rourke or O'Rourke.) Thus Syrin's sometimes referred to as Theresa Maeve Rourke-Cassidy, Theresa Rourke-Cassidy, Theresa O'Rourke, Theresa Maeve Cassidy, etc. Matters aren't likely helped in that she's used her mother's name as a pseudonym.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Barbara Ann Minerva's father's name was Cavendish. Her mother's name was Minerva. Given his jackassery towards her, it's little surprise she took her mother's name.
  • Rachel Grey in X-Men, formerly Rachel Summers. (Daughter of an alternate future Jean Grey and Scott Summers, at least by what's in print.) However, this is a recent thing, spurred by her feelings about Cyclops's affair with Emma Frost, as for years, she went by "Summers". She's now mostly back to Summers, though she seems to consider the two fairly interchangeable (the Heroic Age summary of the X-Men lampshaded this).
    • Her brother (of a sort) from the Age of Apocalypse, Nate Grey a.k.a. X-Man also uses his mother's surname. While this isn't really to do with his father - he had no idea who his parents were, only using it because it was the surname he was given by his creator, Sinister (and it helped distinguish him from Cable, who usually went by Nathan Summers), it is worth noting that he's always been much closer to Jean.
    • Likewise, Rachel's was partly a case of Deceased Parents Are the Best. While she has a fairly strong relationship with Jean, she was historically much closer to Scott. This is because of Jean's tendency to be dead and hers to be temporally displaced, initial rejection by Jean (she was the first of the temporally/dimensionally displaced Grey-Summers brood, and barely a decade younger than her mother, so she was understandably the biggest shock), and a discomforting feeling of being in her mother's shadow as a result of their shared power-set, Uncanny Family Resemblance, and connection to the Phoenix.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Bridge, the transformed Godzilla III a.k.a Junior is put in a situation where he has to provide a surname. However, he understandably doesn't have one and was adopted. Both because of his adoration of her and his adoptive father not having one, he opts to go by his adoptive mother's Azusa surname, Gojo. It becomes his official surname in Equestrian documents.
  • Played With in Child of the Storm when Hermione discovers her biological parents are Wanda Maximoff and John Constantine. She (angrily and scathingly) and everyone else tend to refer to her as potentially being a Maximoff rather than a Constantine. Given that John didn't actually know about her (for some very good reasons), and as time goes by she takes very strongly after Wanda, to the point of being described as 'Wanda in miniature' with the only real differences being the eyes and something about the jaw, this isn't entirely surprising — and it's a plot point, because a lot of people start figuring it out. Of course, it's made a little more complicated that even before she knew of the connection, she subconsciously used her chaos magic to shrink her teeth and model herself on Wanda, who she at that point only knew as a legendary witch, her best friend's godmother, and latterly, her chaos magic tutor.
  • In the Naruto fic Days at the Namikaze-Uzumaki Household, it's normally traditional for children to inherit the clan of their father. But because Kushina is one of the few remaining Uzumakis, a prestigious clan, Naruto inherited her clan as the eldest son. Meanwhile, his younger sister Miruku takes her father Minato's last name Namikaze.
  • In the Discworld as perceived by A.A. Pessimal, the canonical In-Universe truth is that a Witch takes her mother's name. Always. Thus the magically-inclined oldest daughter of Wizard Ponder Stibbons drops his name and becomes Rebecka Smith-Rhodes. There are inversions: Sam Vimes wonders why his Witch Policewoman Olga Romanoff retains the family name of her father's side. His butler Willikins explains daughters of the nobility cannot drop their family title just like that, even when they are Witches. There are practical considerations too:
    I understand Captain Romanoff's mother was originally called Ekaterina Alexeyevnya-Petrovnichniya-Volovovnya of Novo Chechovinitnia, prior to her marriage to Grand Duke Nicholas Romanoff.
  • Fate/Sunny Order: While Shirou kept his last name, his children Ritsuka and Kana took their mother's name "Tohsaka" as it had more prestige and clout than "Emiya".
  • In Final Fantasy VII fic The Fifth Act, Cloud's surname turns out to be his mother's surname since she never got married. This becomes important when the time-traveling Cloud poses as his younger self's paternal uncle, his surname goes unnoticed until Genesis pulls the thread and realizes that Cloud has the wrong surname for a supposed uncle.
  • There are a number of Fullmetal Alchemist fanfics in which Riza Hawkeye uses her mother's maiden name, Grumman, as an alias for various lengths of time and assorted purposes.
  • In the Hotel Transylvania fic How to Zing, when Martha first meets Dracula she gives her mother's maiden name, Laubode. She does this because she's Human, and doesn't want Dracula to track her down. As anyone who's seen the film will know, she will later take this name permanently.
  • In the Naruto story Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox, just like in the canon series, Naruto takes his surname from Kushina, although the reason for it in this continuity hasn't been revealed yet, especially since it's been confirmed that Minato is alive and works for the military.
  • Maris Stella: After his father cheats on his mom and they both get a divorce, Owen asks to have his last name legally changed to his mother's maiden name.
  • Ash Ketchum in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has his mother's surname, given that he was conceived in a one-night stand and never met his father. Given the current revelations about the man, it's more than likely that he's far from the only example.
  • In The Secret, Emma eventually changes her surname from Caldwell to her mother's maiden name of Stanton, largely to dissociate herself with her father after his abysmal treatment of her, and especially because he murdered her mother.
  • Inverted in the Miraculous Ladybug fic Stone Streak. Juleka Couffaine and her brother Luka grew up with their mother Anarka's last name given she was their only guardian for much of their lives. Though after getting close to her father Jagged Stone, she and her wife Marinette take his last name when they got married prior to the start of the story.
  • In the Zootopia fanfic Take a Stand Nick resents his father, Robin (The Hood) Loxley, for faking his death and fleeing the country when he was only twelve. As such Nick uses his mother's maiden name, though she kept her married name.

    Films — Animation 
  • Ratatouille: Alfredo Linguini inherited his mother's surname, as his father is absent from his life. He is actually Auguste Gusteau's illegitimate son.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Just like in the comics, Miles Morales has his mother's surname rather than his father's. Taken even further in the sequel as by that time Miles' father Jefferson now goes by "Jefferson Morales" rather than "Jefferson Davis", again like in the comics.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ant-Man sees Hank and Janet Pym's daughter Hope go by her mother's maiden name "Van Dyne" due to her having a strained relationship with Hank.
  • Avengers: Endgame: Variant: When Hawkeye and Black Widow meet the Guardian of the Soul Stone, he greets them as "Natasha, Daughter of Ivan, and Clint, Son of Edith". This is not commented upon.note 
  • Creed: Adonis initially refuses to use his father's surname and goes by his birth mother's surname Johnson. When his rival's agent insists he use the Creed name to promote their fight, he's dismayed and reluctant to agree to it. He eventually learns to accept both names and in the final fight wears a pair of shorts that have both "Creed" and "Johnson" embroidered on them, a gift from his adoptive mother who also happens to be Apollo's widow.
  • The Reveal at the end of Down Periscope is that Brad Stepenak is actually Admiral Winslow's son. He uses his mother's maiden name to avoid patronage and to rebel against his father.
  • In Live Free or Die Hard, John McClane's daughter uses her mother's maiden name Gennero to distance herself from her father; it's a Call-Back to the first film, where John's wife had also reverted to Gennero after she moved to a new job in California.
  • Nothing in Common: David Basner, an ad exec meets, and becomes attracted to, Cheryl Ann Wayne, who works for Andrew Woolridge, an airline mogul whom David is trying to recruit as a client. After the three have a meeting, David and Cheryl go to bed together, after which Cheryl reveals Wooldridge is her father. David has an Oh, Crap! moment because he thinks she's married, but Cheryl explains she used her mother's maiden name when she went into business because she didn't want people to think she only got where she was in business because of her father.
  • In the 1998 version of The Parent Trap, Annie James and Hallie Parker are identical twins. They have different last names because when their parents divorced, they each got custody of one twin, and Elizabeth James chose to give Annie, whom she raised, her maiden name rather than the name of her ex-husband.
  • In Prometheus, it's implied that a falling out with her father, Peter Weyland made Meredith Vickers not use his name.
  • Spectre: Franz Oberhauser resented his father for showing kindness to Bond when he was young, so he took his mother's maiden name, and lived under the pseudonym of Ernest Blofeld. The reveal is foreshadowed a few scenes prior, where he gives Bond a variation of the "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die," line, and the appearance of his white fluffy cat.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness features Doctor Carol Wallace, a last-minute assignment to the Enterprise. Spock learns that her real name is in fact Doctor Carol Marcus, having signed onto the mission under a false name to avoid drawing her father's attention.

  • In The 39 Clues book series, Amy and Dan carry their mother's maiden name (Cahill) instead of their father's (Trent). It is eventually revealed that they are part of the Madrigal branch of the Cahill family, who do this as a nod to ancestor Madeline Cahill's devotion to her own mother.
  • Arn: The Knight Templar: Bengt Elinsson uses a matronymic instead of a patronymic because he wants to distance himself as much as possible from his violent, abusive, and alcoholic father. There is a ceremony involved, where he drops his cloak in his father's clan colours, into his dead father's blood, and is wrapped in his mother's colours by her clansmen.
  • In BattleTech Expanded Universe, children born to a royal/noble/prominent mother and a common father will often take their mother's name or hyphenate their name to include both parents. The latter is also done if both parents are high-ranking or prominent people (e.g. Conner Rhys-Monoroe, the Steiner-Davion children). However, there are variants:
    • Harrison Davison declined to use the hyphenated Sandoval-Davion, instead simply taking his mother Yvonne's name, despite the fact the Sandovals are also a high-ranking noble family. This was supposedly because he didn't want the head of the House Sandoval, Duke Corwin, reading too much into it.
      • Harrison's son, Caleb Hasek-Sandoval-Davion, took his father, mother and paternal grandfather's surnames to empathize that he was a descendant of the three most powerful families in the Federated Suns.
      • Interestingly enough, both Harrison and Caleb declined to take the Steiner name, perhaps to distance themselves from their Lyran heritage or possibly the legacy of either Victor or Katherine.
    • The children of Captain-General Jessica Marik took only the Marik name, despite their father, Philip Hughes, being from a noble family. This is because House Marik are the traditional rulers of the Free Worlds League and its successor states.
  • In the Cal Leandros books, brothers Cal and Niko keep their mother's name, not because they got along with her, but because Cal's father is a nameless monster and Niko didn't meet his until he was an adult.
  • Done by rule amongst the Renunciates of Darkover. In their misogynistic society, they're an organization of women who have managed to obtain most of the legal rights of men, but to do so each woman must foreswear any traditional feminine prerogatives, such as those given by marriage or wealthy/noble birth. This includes being known by a father's or spouse's name. Renunciates are known as "name, daughter of (in local language, this is n'ha) mother's name." Jaelle n'ha Melora and Margali n'ha Ysabet are point-of-view characters in several novels.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel The Wheel of Ice, Josie Laws MacRae, whose mother's maiden name was Josephine Laws, drops the MacRae at some point prior to the birth of her daughter, Joss Laws, due to her pride in the Laws family history. Joss and her daughter Jo seem to keep the Laws name when they get married.
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: Nelson Paul Mannix is revealed in book 3 to go by his mother's surname after a falling-out with his father.
  • Played With in The House of Night: Upon learning that she can change her name in the House of Night, Zoey uses her mom's maiden name, Redbird, because her grandmother is the only family member that she likes.note  Prior to this, she had her Disappeared Dad's surname, while her mom and siblings all took her stepfather's.
  • In Tamora Pierce's The Immortals series, Daine starts the story not knowing who her father is, thus leaving her with no choice but to go by the name Sarrasri, or "Sarra's daughter", which marks her as a bastard child. In the fourth book she finds out her father is Weiryn, God of the Hunt and briefly considers changing her name to Weirynsra before deciding that she'd been through so much with her mother's name and that she should keep it.
  • In The Mortal Instruments: When Clary was born, her mother had just escaped from a war in which she was on the morally questionable side and a husband who murdered her parents. Up until she moved to New York, Jocelyn still went by "Jocelyn Morgenstern", but then made the conscious decision to change Morgenstern to Fray, a portmanteau of her maiden name, Fairchild, and Tessa Gray's surname, since the latter helped her start a new life. Clary decides to go by Fairchild instead of Fray upon learning her heritage but is still occasionally referred to as "Clarissa Morgenstern", despite her dislike of the name due to her vendetta against Valentine.
  • In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the Metis narrator is named Chief Bromden. He inherited "Chief" from his Indian dad, Chief Tee Ah Millatoona, but "Bromden" from his white mom.
  • The Shadowhunter Chronicles:
    • Jocelyn changed her surname from Morgenstern, her husband's surname, to Fray after she escaped the failed Uprising that claimed the lives of her parents. Fray isn't actually her maiden name (which is Fairchild), but a made-up portmanteau of Fairchild and "Gray", Tessa's surname. Since Shadowhunter society is rather patriarchal, her daughter, Clary, is still legally known as "Clarissa Morgenstern", even though she prefers to be called Fairchild.
    • After she becomes Consul, Charlotte reverts back to her maiden name, Fairchild, with both of her children inheriting it instead of their father's, Branwell. This is important, because Charlotte is ancestor to Jocelyn and Clary; had she kept her married name, Clary could have easily been Clary Branwell.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Queen Cersei keeps her maiden name Lannister despite marrying King Robert Baratheon, and gives her children a double-barreled last name of "Baratheon and Lannister." Westeros tradition established by the Targaryens prevents the consort of the King (or any Targaryen prince, for that matter) from taking his name, in part because the Targaryens were very weird about blood purity and didn't want "outsiders" being brought into the Targaryen line. For every other position, such as Lord of one of the Seven Kingdoms, the wife takes her husband's name. Exceptions are made for women who either hold or are the heir to a title. In that case, both husband and wife keep their names and their children take their mother's name to ensure its continuation. If both spouses are heirs or title-holders, they split the inheritance between their children, where the heir to the man's title keeps their father's name, and the heir to the woman's title takes their mother's name. Even those who inherit a different family's title through a female ancestor are expected to take that family's name for themselves. For instance, the current heir to the Vale, Harrold Hardying, is the grandson of the sister of Jon Arryn, and he is expected to change his name to Harrold Arryn when he inherits.
  • Trigger Warning: Jake changes his last name (Gardner) to his mother's maiden name (Rivers) because he is ashamed of his father's cocaine addiction and career failures.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, Miles Vorkosigan uses his mother's maiden name in his secret identity as Admiral Miles Naismith. Per Naismith's cover story he is a clone of M. Vorkosigan, hence of the same genetic offspring and hence legally entitled to the name. Additionally, even in his non-cover identity Miles Vorkosigan's middle name is Naismith, as a substitute since his paternal grandfather forbade that he should be named after him.
  • While My Pretty One Sleeps: After being released from prison, Nicky Sepetti learns that his son changed his surname from Sepetti to his mother's maiden name of Damiano, in order to distance himself from his father, a convicted criminal who is notorious for allegedly ordering the murder of a police commissioner's wife. Nicky feels pretty hurt about this, but understands his son's actions.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow:
    • Oliver Queen's children, William Clayton and Mia Smoak, both took their mothers' last names; in William's case, they weren't married; in Mia's case, she didn't want to be associated with their vigilante father. Both of them eventually avert this in some way: William changes his last name to Harris for anonymity, matching neither parent, and Mia retroactively goes by Oliver's last name after his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, which caused Oliver to be recognized as a hero. William is also back to Clayton in that timeline.
    • Felicity Smoak was born and raised as "Felicity Kuttler", her father's last name. She used to be close with her father, a hacker who is even more talented than she is and inspired her to learn more about the profession, but he abandoned the family when she was seven. In reality, he was forced to leave because his wife thought he was a bad influence on their daughter. While Felicity eventually reconciles with him, she continues to go by Smoak.
  • In Charmed (1998), the Halliwell women seem to have kept their name for several generations and passed it onto their children. When Leo seems mildly bummed that his and Piper's child wouldn't have his surname, Wyatt, Piper decides to name him Wyatt Halliwell.
  • Criminal Minds: Temporary BAU Analyst Ashley Seaver uses her mother's maiden name because her original last name belongs to her serial killer father. Since she assumes the team already knows, it's probably due to her rejecting him, rather than an attempt to hide their relationship.
  • On Doctor Who, River Song's birth name Melody Pond is from her mother's maiden name. Amy named her that way because "Melody Williams is a geography teacher. Melody Pond is a superhero." Her father is often called Rory Pond by the Doctor, anyway, even though he didn't take his wife's name officially.
  • The Flash: Barry learns from his father, Henry, that "Garrick" is the maiden name of Henry's mother. It seems weird that the Flash from Earth-2 also has that name. As it turns out, "Jay Garrick from Earth-2" is an impostor, while the real Jay Garrick is from Earth-3 and looks exactly like Henry Allen, implying that he's a version of Henry who took his mother's surname rather than his father's.
  • Implied early on in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air where Will's mother and aunts call themselves the Smith sisters, so Will seemingly got his mother's surname due to his father walking out. When Will's father finally appears in a ln episode, he's referred to as a Smith so Will's parents must have shared a surname already.
  • On Gilmore Girls, Gilmore is Lorelai's maiden name and the one she gives to Rory. The reason given for this was Lorelai naming Rory after herself while high on painkillers and thinking it was a Double Standard that men can do that with sons, but it's uncommon for mothers to do that with daughters ("Rory" being short for "Lorelai"). Although this is seen now as Early-Installment Weirdness since in later seasons, Lorelai is revealed to have been named after her grandmother, whose last name is also Gilmore. This technically makes Rory Lorelai Gilmore III. However, this choice also highlights Lorelai's independence and Christopher's lack of involvement.
  • Micah Sanders on Heroes has his mother Niki Sanders' last name rather than his father DL Hawkins', although his parents are married and his father's side of the family seems more functional than his mother's. A specific reason is never given, but they might have changed it after his father was framed for large-scale robbery and murder.
  • Law & Order: Organized Crime: The children of the Big Bad are Dana and Richard "Richie" Wheatley Jr. Their paternal grandfather was Manfredi Sinatra. His son, Richard, changed his name just to spite his father.
  • Referenced in My Family when Susan says she'd like to be Susan Ryman. "Harper is my husband's name, Riggs was my father's name, but Ryman was my grandmother's name. She chose it herself, no men involved."
  • When Madge reverted to her maiden name — Ramsey — after divorcing Fred Mitchell in Neighbours, their son Henry changed his name to Ramsey as well.
  • In Riverdale episode "Dog Day Afternoon", Veronica considers changing her last name from her father's (Lodge) to her mother's (Gomez), because of the criminal implications associated with the Lodge name. She ultimately decides not to.
  • Stargirl: The titular character was raised solely by her mother, Barbara Whitmore, until the latter married Pat Dugan, since her biological father, Sam Kurtis, was a deadbeat. And it's unclear they were even married. As a result, she's known as Courtney Whitmore rather than Courtney Kurtis.
  • In the pilot episode of That Girl, Anne Marie considers using her mother's maiden name as her last name because - per her agent — everyone thinks "Marie" is her middle name. "Anne Marie what?"

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Loki Laufeyjarson in Norse Mythology. His father's name is actually Farbauti, while Laufey was his mother. Why he uses a matronymic instead of a patronymic is unknown; since the stories were usually told orally, many believe that it's just for alliteration.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Taynara Melo de Carvalho, a Braziliannote  currently in All Elite Wrestling, started out in the business as Taynara Conti, reflecting her then-current marriage to judoka Jorge Conti. She continued using the "Conti" name, later shortening the first part to "Tay", after she separated from and then divorced Conti. Shortly after she married Sammy Guevara in 2022, she changed her ring name to the current Tay Melo.

    Video Games 
  • In Alpha Protocol, Madison Saint James uses her mother's maiden name after having a falling out with her father, Alan Parker.
  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has Jennifer Scott, Edward Kenway's daughter with his first wife Caroline, decide to keep using her mother's surname even after she reconnects with her father and begins to live with him since she was solely raised by her mother and never even met her father until after her mother had already died. Unusually for this trope, Edward's relationship with Caroline seems to be amicable, and Edward seems to approve of Caroline's choice to honor her mother.
  • Troy and Tyreen Calypso, the antagonists of Borderlands 3, use their mother's name.
  • In Coffee Talk, Rachel Florencia uses her deceased mother's maiden name as her last name.
  • Disco Elysium: The Communist revolutionaries in Graad ditched their homeland's tradition of patronyms in favor of matronyms, seeing the former as a chauvinist custom. The tradition eventually made its way to Revachol but was abolished after the defeat of the Revolutionaries. Hence the Deserter is called "Iosef Lilianovich Dros".
  • Mio and Mayu Amakura of Fatal Frame II have their mother Shizu's last name, though they didn't adopt it themselves—their father Misao took his wife's name when they married, as he wanted to distance himself from his birth surname, Asou.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, Rinoa Heartilly goes by her mother Julia's maiden name to disassociate herself from her father, Fury Caraway, who is a general in the military of the same nation she's a member of La Résistance against.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics, after the disaster at Ziekden Fortress, Ramza deserts the army, renounces his noble heritage, and begins going by his mother's surname Lugria.
  • A variation in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, where Claude's surname, von Riegan, is technically one, as his mother threw away her ties to the Riegan Dukedom by running away to the neighboring kingdom of Almyra and marrying its king. Upon discovering his mother's heritage, he took up both the von Riegan mantle along with a Naturalized Name (his birth name being Khalid, as revealed in an interview) in order to bring his dreams of easing tensions between both Fodlan and Almyra to fruition.
  • In the Homestuck Gaiden Game Hiveswap, Joey goes by her deceased mother's surname, Claire, rather than her estranged father's surname, Harley. Her brother Jude holds much less resentment towards their dad and still goes by Harley. Before the game's release, this trope kept secret that any of the game characters had any relation to characters from the comic, where Mr. Harley is a fairly important side character.
  • Meryl Silverburg of Metal Gear uses her mother's last name rather than her father's for unknown reasons.
  • Jun Kurosu, of Persona 2, uses his mother's maiden name in the former game of the duology, Innocent Sin, after his parents' nasty divorce, and his father's death, although it's unclear when his name was changed, and whether it was his decision or his mother's. In the sequel game, Eternal Punishment, which takes place in an alternate timeline, his parents are both alive and Happily Married, and so he retains his father's surname, Kashihara.
  • Enforced in The Sims: At birth, a baby will always take it's mother's last name, regardless of whatever the father's last name is or the relationship between their parents. In 1 and 2, there is no in-game way to change this, though there are some mods and third-party programs that can. 3 allows you to change it at City Hall or by using cheats to enter Create-A-Sim. 4 is the first game to scert this, as you're allowed to choose the baby's surname at birth, whether it's the mother's, father's or a completely new name.
  • Spider-Man (PS4) sees Miles Morales be an even truer example of this, as, unlike the Ultimate Universe, his dad Jefferson still goes by "Jefferson Davis" in this universe.
  • A variation in Tales of the Abyss where Guy Cecil uses a slightly different version of his mother's maiden name as a cover for his true heritage.
  • Jin Kazama of Tekken uses his mother Jun's surname. Given his ugly relationship with his father and grandfather, that isn't surprising.
  • Chloe Frazer from Uncharted specifically says she uses her mother's surname when it's noted that it's not an Indian (where her dad was from) name. Why she uses it instead of his name is never explained, however.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night and the prequel series Fate/Zero, Ilyasviel von Einzbern is only ever referred to with her mother Irisviel's family name, which helps hide the fact that she's Kiritsugu Emiya's biological daughter and therefore Shiro's stepsister. It's implied to be part this trope since she believes that her father abandoned her (in reality, he tried to get back to her before he died but was prevented by Ilya's grandfather, who hated Kiritsugu for his actions at the end of the Holy Grail War) and because the von Einzbern family is a very powerful and ancient magus family compared to Kiritsugu's.
    • Her alternate self in Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA keeps the trope for some reason, despite being a normal girl whose parents (who are still alive) had broken ties with the main von Einzbern family. Doubly confusing with the fact that Shirou took on Kiritsugu's surname upon adoption.
    • Caren Ortensia in Fate/hollow ataraxia also uses her mother Claudia's surname because her father, Kirei Kotomine essentially abandoned her after Claudia died via committing suicide. Like with the above this is used to hide their relationship from the viewer until the appropriate time.
  • In the final chapter of It Lives Within, Lincoln legally takes his mother's maiden name after finding out just how much of a bastard his father truly is, not wanting to be associated with him in any way.
  • In Kara no Shoujo, one of the missing girls that the main character is investigating, Nishizono Yui, took her mother's last name after her parents' divorce. Discovering her true surname, Kusaka, is what clues Reiji in solving the first dismemberment case.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Taiyang Xiao Long has two daughters by two different women, Yang Xiao Long and Ruby Rose. His first wife, Raven Branwen, abandoned the family when their daughter, Yang Xiao Long, was a newborn. His second wife, Summer Rose, raised Yang as her own but died while Yang and Ruby were still very young. While Yang uses her father's name of Xiao Long, Ruby goes by her mother's name of Rose. Due to a past world war that attempted to suppress individuality and artistic expression, the world considers it a very serious matter to ensure that children have names that allow them to express themselves artistically. It's therefore very strongly implied that Ruby chose to use her mother's name, as she has incorporated the rose into her personal design, wearing a red cape that sheds like rose petals, and using a rose as her personal symbol, which is woven into her stockings and prominently displayed as her cloak clasp.

  • Abstract Gender: A couple of years after Ryan was born, his father left... but before going, legally changed his son's last name to his mother's maiden name.
  • Kimiko Ross of Dresden Codak was originally Kimiko Kusanagi, but changed her name after she was estranged from her father and her mother died suddenly. In the timeline of the story, she sees her father again briefly (and flips him off from her hospital bed), but sometime after this, he dies and she continues going by her mother's surname, even when it would probably help her career to use her father's name because of the renown associated with him in the city of Nephilopolis, which he actually founded. Ironically it's eventually revealed Kusanagi isn't his real name either, he was born Kim Young-Soo and isn't even Japanese, but Korean. So Kim has been using his name for herself without realizing it.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Legend of Korra, a Sequel Series to Avatar: The Last Airbender, both of Toph Bei Fong's daughters, Lin and Suyin, use her last name. This makes sense, since it's a setting where most other characters have Only One Name. It's eventually implied that Toph never married since her two daughters have different fathers and neither father is ever mentioned.
  • A variant in Milo Murphy's Law: Milo Murphy's middle name is "Danger", though pronounced "Dawn-zhay". Apparently, it was his grandmother's maiden name.
  • Inverted with Stephanie from Moral Orel. She initially had her single mother's last name Foamwire, but after meeting and connecting with her father Reverend Putty, a Freeze-Frame Bonus in one episode shows she now goes by "Stephanie Putty".
  • In The Simpsons, when Lisa learns that Homer had been betting against her on crossword competitions, she starts going by Lisa Bouvier. Marge discourages this, both because she wants them to make up and because she didn't really like that name anyway. (Kids used to call her Marge Boobier.)
  • Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels takes her last name from her mother, as does her brother and father. Mandalorian culture is less concerned about gender and more about rank, and since her mother outranked her father, she was the one whose name was passed on. There's also minor character Mart Mattin who takes his name from his mother, although the reasoning is never mentioned.
    • Likely for safety reasons, this is the case for Jacen Syndulla, Hera's son with the late Jedi Kanan.
  • In Young Justice, Word of God says that Cheshire/Jade Nguyen uses her mother's maiden name because of her issues with her father, Sportsmaster/Lawrence Crock. Averted by her sister, Artemis, despite having similar issues with him.
  • In Ever After High, Cerise Hood, daughter of Little Red Riding Hood, goes by her mom's surname. This is because her father is The Big Bad Wolf (in this iteration, a humanoid wolf who can turn into a human form at will) and Ever After's strict insistence on following the stories to a tee means the family must remain secret for fear of banishment. Conversely, Cerise's sister Ramona goes by their father's surname.

    Real Life 
  • In ancient Greece, illegitimate children did not go by a traditional patronym, either going by "called son/daughter of (father's name)" or simply used a matronym.
  • Given in Spanish and Portuguese tradition (plus the countries those two colonized) children have the surnames of both parents,note  quite a few people use the mother's family name. For instance, Pablo Ruiz y Picasso begun with the former surname, then since ca. 1898 used his mother's and became famous as Pablo Picasso. And similarly, former Prime Minister of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, usually went by his mother's name "Zapatero" rather than his father's name Rodríguez, but because of issues he and his mother had with his father. Formula One legend Ayrton Senna da Silva chose to go by his mother's name of Senna because Silva is a very common name in Brazil (as well as Portugal). More recently, Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu now credits himself as "Alejandro G. Iñárritu", presumably because his mother's family name is much more distinctive than his father's.
    • The Alou brothers (Felipe, Matty, Jesús), Dominicans who had long and successful Major League Baseball careers in the 1960s and 1970s (with Felipe also having had a long managing career), are really the Rojas brothers. The scout who signed Felipe (the oldest) to his first pro contract mistook the maternal surname of Alou for his only surname, and that mistake stuck (at least in English). Felipe had two sons who also made it to MLB; Moisés, who also had a long playing career, chose to be known by the Alou name in English, but Luis, who never played in MLB but made it there as a coach and manager, uses Rojas as his main surname.
  • Nazi Gauleiter Robert Wagner took his mother's maiden name to avoid mockery. He was born Robert "Backfisch", which means both "fried fish" and "teenage girl" in German and caused him to be endlessly mocked in school.
  • French actor Georges Wilson (father of Lambert Wilson) took the name of his Anglo-Irish mother.
  • French actress Catherine Dorléac changed her last name to Deneuve (her mother's maiden name), to avoid being publicly associated with her (at that time) much more famous sister Françoise Dorléac.
  • French actor Patrick Dewaere was born Patrick Bourdeaux (his mother's separated husband gave him his last name since he was born from an unknown father). He chose "Dewaere" as his stage and screen name, it was his grandmother's maiden name.
  • French actress Clémence Poésy is privately known as Clémence Guichard. "Poésy" is her mother's maiden name.
  • Rosemarie Magdalena Albach was the daughter of the Austrian actor Wolf Albach-Retty (scion of two famous acting families) and the German actress Magda Schneider. When she began her own acting career, at first under the tutelage of her mother, she called herself Romy Schneider.
  • Ryan Joseph Wilson changed to his mother's surname when his parents divorced. You know him today as Ryan Giggs, Manchester United association football player and later Wales national team manager.
  • The great-great-grandfather of Oliver Cromwell was Richard Williams, son of Katherine Cromwell and Morgan Williams. Katherine was sister to the famous minister Thomas Cromwell. Richard Williams went by Richard Cromwell, after his mother and uncle.
  • A variation with Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman. She was born "Natalie Hershlag", but took her paternal grandmother's maiden name, Portman, to protect her family's private businesses.
  • Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam is a rare male example. The man he thought was his father was actually his stepfather and his biological father had already died. So, he decided to change his name to his mother's maiden name.
  • A few common or semi-common English surnames, particularly from The West Country and the areas around Wales, are originally matronymics. The most common is Madison (meaning "Maud's son"); another reasonably common one is "Izzard"/"Izard" (son of Isabel/Elizabeth).
  • Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, a paternal grandson of George I, King of the Hellenes. Before marrying the future Queen Elizabeth II in 1947, he became a naturalized, non-royal British citizen, for which he needed a last name. The problem? The Greek royal family doesn't actually have one (the closest would be the royal Danish name of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, which would have completely defeated any attempt at becoming 'more British')note . Eventually, it was decided Philip would use the name his mother's English (well, Anglicized German) family had adopted — Mountbatten (a "translation" of the original family name "Battenberg"). Interestingly, his mother never used the surname herself as she had already married into the Greek Royal Family by the time they anglicized their name during World War I.
  • British big band singer Ross McManus released some songs under the Stage Name Day Costello, Costello having been his grandmother's maiden name. When his son Declan started his own music career, he picked up on the precedent and called himself Elvis Costello.
  • Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr, Marshal of the First French Empire and great military reformer of Louis XVIII's reign, is often referred to as just "Saint-Cyr", which is actually a name he chose after his mother; he's also commonly called Gouvion Saint-Cyr, but never just Gouvion.
  • Burt Ward, who played Robin in Batman (1966), was born Bert Gervis. He took on his mother's maiden name and changed the spelling of his first name when he began his acting career because he believed it would be easier to say and remember.
  • Chilean stand-up comedian Alejandro González Legrand is known by the audience as Coco Legrand, using his mother's surname as a part of his stage name.
  • Played With: controversial French novelist Michel Houellebecq was abandoned by his Hippie Parents when he was six, so he uses the surname of his paternal grandmother, who raised him.
  • A sad posthumous example was Gracie Kemp, a 20-month-old girl from Australia who was murdered by her abusive father John Sharpe out of anger towards his wife/her mother Anna's second pregnancy and being caught sexually abusing his daughter. Gracie is buried under Anna's maiden name, with her birth and death certificates edited to say "father unknown". Anna and her unborn son were also killed and buried under the name "Kemp".
    • A similar thing happened in the United States during the late '80s, where Charles Stuart killed his pregnant wife Carol DiMaiti; the child was born alive, but died at seventeen days old. Both Carol and the baby were buried under her maiden name.
  • As well as the idea of Pater Familicide victims being buried under the mother's maiden name, there have been occasional cases where if the child's parents were never married, and the child is killed by the mother, they're buried under their father's name. And as shown in cases without children, such as Nellie Price, murdered spouses are sometimes buried under their maiden names to mark a posthumous divorce.
    • Similarly, Maury Povich once interviewed a woman whose ex-husband killed their daughters; he spared the boys so that they could carry on his name. As you can imagine, Mom decided to put this trope into effect after Dad was taken to prison.
    • Nubia Docter was adopted by an abusive and ablest couple surnamed Barahona, who proceeded to rape and kill her and dissolve her body in acid. Her twin brother Victor, also abused and nearly killed by the Barahonas, reverted to his birth name and disowned them as his family.
  • While in college, Dr. Seuss (real name: Theodore Geisel) was caught drinking during Prohibition; as a result, he was forbidden from extracurricular activities, including writing for the school's humor magazine. To get around this, he started using his mom's maiden name as a pen name, and the rest is history.note 
  • The mobster James "Jimmy" Burke sometimes used his mother's maiden name Conway as an alias. He's named Jimmy Conway in GoodFellas due to a legal threat by his sister.
  • Katy Perry's real name is Kathryn Hudson but she uses her mom's maiden name as her Stage Name to avoid being confused with Kate Hudson.
  • Women’s tennis player Naomi Ōsaka is a dual American/Japanese citizen who uses her mother’s Japanese surname. Her American note  father’s surname is Francois. She was born in Japan and spent the first three years of her life living there full time so it was easier from a logistical standpoint for her and her sister to use their mother’s surname. Once the family moved to the US for good, the girls continued to use her name.
  • Former Republican Political Operative Paul Manafort’s eldest daughter Jessica legally and professionally (she’s a film director) changed her name to her mother’s maiden name, Bond, a few weeks after he was found guilty on eight federal counts of bribery and tax evasion in August 2018 to distance herself from him.
  • When Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat, born Reema Lamba, picked her Stage Name (due to her real name being far too common), she adopted her mother's maiden name, to honor her support for her career.
  • Chilean actors Pedro and Lux Pascal professionally took on their mother's surname to honor her after her death; Pedro Pascal also noticed that too many non-Latinos couldn't pronounce their father's last name, "Balmaceda".
  • Brazilian voice actress Fernanda Fernandes was already under this trope by using the first surname (her sister went for the second, Flávia Saddy). But then a namesake in the theater scene made her adopt a Nom de Grandmom, Fernanda Baronne.
  • Josef Stalin's daughter was born Svetlana Stalina but took to using her late mother's maiden name, Alliluyeva. She was also known later in life, after leaving the Soviet Union, as Lana Peters.
  • The Alan Moore run of Miracleman was for a time drawn by Chuck Beckum. He'd later rise to fame as Chuck Austen, as a desire to get away from his father made him turn to his mother's surname.
  • Mischief Theatre co-founder Jonathan Sayer was born Jonathan Burke, the name which he still uses in his other job running Ashton City Football Club.
  • Legendary New Orleans pianist/composer/producer Allen Toussaint went one step further and used the full maiden name of his mother, Naomi Neville, as a pseudonym on some of his songs, for legal reasons.
  • When Yale Law School classmates James "J.D." Hamel and Usha Chilukuri married in 2014, they both ended up adopting his mother's maiden name of Vance, honoring the maternal grandparents who had largely raised J.D. under his new name. He later entered popular culture as the author of Hillbilly Elegy, and was elected to the U.S. Senate from Ohio in 2022.

Alternative Title(s): Nom De Mum, Matronymic Surname