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One-Letter Name

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No, really. That's his name.

"You may want to add a few more vowels into your name there, Z."
Sebastian Stark, Shark

When you take Only One Name to the extreme, this is the result. Most often a Code Name.

For some reason letters from the second half of the alphabet are much more likely to be chosen. Even people who change their names to something starting with A to get to the top of an alphabetical list seem to never use just A.

A fair number of older novels (from, say, the 19th and early 20th centuries) use this as a form of "discretion shot". (See Spell My Name with a Blank.) For example, a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories refer to "Mr. B——" as a way to imply that this is a real person and the story really happened in the real world, but that due to the potentially embarrassing nature of the events, Watson is too much of a gentleman to reveal Mr. B's true identity.

Compare You Are Number 6, when the name is a number. Contrast Overly Long Name. For works titled this way, see One-Letter Title.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • J from Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. You know, the one with the garlic/onion (the heroes can never decide this) for a head?
  • Bungo Stray Dogs has a character that technically has a full name, but is only ever referred to as Q by the other characters.
  • [C] – Control (itself a One-Letter Title) has an Asset going by the name Q. Also, a chain reaction that impacts the global economy when a Financial District goes bankrupt is simply known as C.
  • L from Death Note. A handful of other characters use one-letter codenames at some point, as well, (most notably L's successor Near first introduces himself as N) but, as revealed in the "how to read" book, L actually is his first name. The full name being L Lawliet.
  • Phantom Thief G (Timothy Hearst) from D.Gray-Man
  • D from Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure.
  • The Alphabets, Major Eberbach's subordinates in From Eroica with Love, are each known by one single letter as a codename. The Major always seems to have 28 of them around despite having sent some to Alaska. (Also, the letters are pronounced like German alphabets.)
  • Soldat J, from GaoGaiGar.
  • Gravitation's K. (Although his actual name is revealed later.)
  • J from Heat Guy J.
  • A serial killer in Hell Teacher Nube that patterns himself after Aka Manto (Red Mantle) is simply referred to by authorities as "A". It's clear this is an attributed alias, but we never learn his real name.
  • Y in Humanity Has Declined. Assuming that's her actual name, seeing as no one else has one...
  • I Wish has the male protagonist called K. It's stated early on that he goes by K, because his real name is cursed.
  • Idol Singer twins L and R Nomura in Marginal #4.
  • X from Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro.
  • Mazinger Z universe: Fanon often refers to the eponymous Humongous Mecha as simply "Z".
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: The Gundam Engineers Doctor J, Professor G, Doktor S, Instructor H, and Master O. The sequel novel Frozen Teardrop has Trowa and Quatre taking similar aliases Doktor T and Instructor W, as well as revealing Doctor J's real name: Jay Nul
  • In Naruto, a lot of people from the Village Hidden in the Clouds: The Raikage is "A", his brother is "B" (though everyone called him "Killer Bee"), he has an aide named "C" and they sent a shinobi after Sasuke, who was called "J", and an incidental character was named "F". In this case, these are code-names/ranks (that may have fully replaced the characters' original names which are never revealed). For example, B is given the name after being chosen as the combat partner for A when he was promoted to head of the village and its armed forces (implying the Raikage is always called "A" and paired with an assistant/bodyguard called "B").
  • Z, the Big Bad from the eponymous One Piece movie; One Piece Film: Z.
  • Count D and his relatives in Pet Shop of Horrors.
  • Pokémon:
  • D, the alien spy from Project A-Ko. It is, however, a code name.
    • Keep in mind, however, that in Japanese the main characters are named Girl A, Girl B, and Girl C.
  • K in Puni Puni Poemi.
  • G, the Big Bad of Real Bout High School, who honestly doesn't remember his name after the years of psychological and physical conditioning he was subjected to since he was a boy in order to become the perfect bodyguard. As far as he's concerned, it's a placeholder; He'll find out what his name is if it's the last thing he does. Like many characters in the series, G is a Captain Ersatz of a King of Fighters character; in his case, K' (see below).
  • G., the first Vongola Storm Guardian from Reborn! (2004).
  • L-sama from Slayers novel afterwords. Though this is an abbreviation of L.O.N. or Lord of Nightmares.
  • D, the most evil god of So I'm a Spider, So What?. It's not actually her name, which nobody knows, just an alias she chose to make conversations less tedious than being nameless. Odds are good it's the initial of her actual name, Ddeath.
  • F is the name the Jedi protagonist of 'The Village Bride", an episode of Star Wars: Visions.
  • Superwomen in Love! has X, leader of the five-strong Antinoid Generals, who gets no respect from her subordinates.
  • Smartotchi/X-Kamen, the Arc Villain from Tamagotchi Miracle Friends, has a companion named X.
  • The title character of Tekkaman Blade is nicknamed D-boy. In the OVA, he has taken to signing his name "D", and Yumi simply calls him that. (It's actually "Dangerous", for doing a lot of reckless things early in the series.)
  • The main antagonist of the third Tenchi Muyo! OVA goes by Z, remarking that his real name, Z-0001332536893, is too long.
  • In Valvrave the Liberator, soldiers trained at the Karlstein Institute have their real names taken, and they are replaced by combining this with You Are Number 6. So we have L-Elf (Elf meaning 11), and several others.
  • The title character of Vampire Hunter D.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
    • In the English dub, Aster Phoenix's adoptive father is named The D. In the Japanese version, he was called DD, which is a two-letter name, but comes close.
    • In the Japanese version, the Deck Destruction pro-duelist is named X. In the English dub, he was called Howard X. Miller.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • The I is a sentient number species in the story Iterations of I.
    • H-One, H-Two, and O are clones of River Song in the story The Furies.
  • Ixpellia from Striker S Sound Stage X, whose nickname of Ix/Ikusu is transcribed in English as "X" in the CD booklet.

    Comic Books 
  • Action Man's nemesis Dr. X
  • Trenchcoat Brigade member Mister E from The Books of Magic.
  • S (aka "The Stooge"), the protagonist of Paul Pope's sci-fi graphic novel, Heavy Liquid.
  • Mr. A, Steve Ditko's Objectivist "superhero".
  • In Red Robin Tim meets a League of Assassins member named Z. While he later learns the man's given name was Zeddmore Washington Z only uses that name on faked papers anymore and no longer considers it his name instead considering it something he left behind with the rest of his old life.
  • V from V for Vendetta.
  • The anti-hero protagonist of X (Dark Horse Comics).
  • X-Men:
    • Professor X. It's short for Xavier.
    • Then there's X-Man.
    • M (Monet St. Croix) from Generation X and X-Factor.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Woody Allen's character Z in Antz (short for Z-4195).
  • Professor Z, The Dragon of Cars 2. (short for Zündapp)
  • Jeff Bridges's character Big Z (Zeke Topanga) in Surf's Up.
  • In Turning Red, Mei's teacher, Mr. Kieslowski is referred to as Mr. K.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Quincy Johnson uses the username Q in the Nickelodeon film Best Player
  • Officer K, short for the designation KD6-3.7 and later known as Joe, from Blade Runner 2049.
  • In Envy, Christopher Walken's hobo character calls himself "the J-Man."
  • Faust: Love of the Damned: The main bad guy is known only as "M", though it's presumably short for Mephistopheles.
  • X is one of the men going to the Million Man March in Get on the Bus. Flip doesn't believe it's his real name, and it isn't — it's short for Xavier, but he's always preferred "X".
  • X, leader of the alien invaders in Godzilla: Final Wars. He says it's just a nickname for the humans to call him because his real name is too hard for humans to say.
  • The concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel is Monsieur Gustave H. His last name is never given in the film, but considering that he is referred to as such in a legal will, that just might be his real last name.
  • G, of the movie Holy Man (played by Eddie Murphy) — the titular character, in this case.
  • The James Bond films famously have several of these.
    • Bond's boss M, based on the Real Life head of MI6, who goes by the codename "C". It's mentioned in Casino Royale (2006) that M is not just a random letter (whether it references a name — the novels have the original Miles Messervy and Barbara Mawdsley, a prop in Skyfall has the name Olivia Mansfield - is unclear):
      Bond: I had no idea it stood for—
      M: Utter one more syllable and I'll have you killed.
    • Gadgeteer Q ("Q" being short for "Quartermaster"/"Quartermaster's department", referencing his job to supply agents).
    • Q's assistant, dubbed as R ("reserve"), before he gets promoted to Q. Bond lampshades this in The World Is Not Enough, but with a different line of thought:
      If you're Q... Does that make him R?
    • Spectre has Max Denbigh, who Bond nicknames "C" for malicious reasons, as he wants to shut down MI6, and it catches on in the agency. And given he's working for the bad guys, it culminates in a discussion of going by one letter:
    C: But then isn't that what 'M' stands for... 'moron'?
    [squeezes trigger, realizes the gun is unloaded]
    M: And now we know what 'C' stands for... 'careless'.
  • The film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has M, who is the one who gathers the League and gives them their task. Of course, it turns out that M stands for Moriarty.
  • F, the voiceless vampire girl in Marebito.
  • Men in Black agents, including Agents J, K, L, and Zednote , along with almost everyone else with the organization. The third movie adds an "AA", but it's only in a Bad Future anyway. Interestingly, the names appear to be based on the first letter of the first name (James, Kevin, Laura, Michael). This begs the question — are there only 26 agents in the MIB? What happens when two agents have their first names start on the same letter?
  • Willem Dafoe's character in New Rose Hotel is known only as X.
  • V for Vendetta: "Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition! The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V."
  • Warm Bodies (based on a book) features a protagonist zombie who's forgotten his name and simply goes by R.
  • Z (pronounced Zed) from (and short for) Zardoz.

  • Via Reader's Digest, 1958:
    My friend R.B. Jones doesn't have a first or middle name — only the initials R.B. This unusual arrangement was never a problem until he went to work for a government agency. The government is not accustomed to initialed employees, so R.B. had a lot of explaining to do. On the official forms for the payroll and personnel departments, his name was carefully entered as R (Only) B (Only) Jones.

    Sure enough, when R.B. got his pay check, it was made out to Ronly Bonly Jones.

  • In Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju, vampire swordswoman schoolgirl Nezumi was named "S" by her first master, after a deadly Zorro Mark he trained her to use as her signature move. After his death she abandoned both the name and the ridiculous showy attack.
  • In The Bourne Series, Jason Bourne went by the military-alphabet name Delta when he was in the Medusa program in Vietnam.
  • Older Than Television: The protagonist of The Castle by Franz Kafka is known only as K.
  • John Hackworth's nemesis Dr. X in The Diamond Age. (A slight subversion in that his actual name is quite long, but it is very hard to pronounce, so everyone just calls him Dr. X. Interestingly, his Chinese name is written with only one character as well.)
  • The I are an insectoid species in Seeing I, a novel in the Eighth Doctor Adventures series of Doctor Who novels.
  • E. E. "Doc" Smith and Stephen Goldin's Family D'Alembert series has two major villains: Lady A, and someone (or something) called C. However, there is no B in the hierarchy (nor D through Z for that matter) and C is actually the boss. Why this is so is only revealed when it's almost too late to save the situation.
  • General G in the novel From Russia with Love. Probably at least partly because of his long freakin' name, Grubozaboyschikov.
  • In Gravity Falls: Journal 3, the Author only refers to his friend/lab assistant as "F." Of course, those who have watched the show already know that it's short for Fiddleford McGucket.
  • Members of the Audubon Ballroom in Honor Harrington use X as a surname, though most have a different legal name.
    • As an extension of this, freed slave and noted academic Web Du Havel's full name is W. E. B. Du Havel. He didn't understand how names work when he needed to provide one for the record, so W. E. B. doesn't actually stand for anything.
  • The Aann, a reptilian race from the Humanx Commonwealth novels, use a string of capital letters in place of a surname. As they advance in rank within their society, letters are removed from these strings, meaning that the Emperor of their kind has a one-letter surname.
  • The protagonist of I Am J is a teenage trans boy whose name is "J". Early in the book, a flashback shows that in sixth grade he gets into a confrontation with a teacher when she kept on calling him "Jenifer", though his soon-to-be friend Melissa stepped in and made an excuse that he couldn't be called "Jenifer" because of an incident in his family that caused the name to bring up negative memories. J tells Blue that his name is short for "Jason", but in the end he decides that his chosen name is literally just "J".
  • In Ödön von Horvaths novel Jugend ohne Gott the narrator only refers to his students by letters, which are implied to be the first letter of their first names.
  • In the Japanese novel Kokoro, Sensei writes a long testament about his relationship with his dead friend, whom he only refers to as "K."
  • The protagonist of the teen novel M in the Middle is an autistic teenager whose obsession with the letter M has led to her adopting it as her name and refusing to answer to her real name.
  • In Sputnik Sweetheart, the narrator is only ever known by the letter K.
  • J. Eugene Raxford in Donald E. Westlake's The Spy in the Ointment, due to not being given real names by the FBI agents he's forced to deal with, mentally refers to them as Agent A, B, etc.
  • As the title probably suggests, the heroine of the erotic classic Story of O is known only by one letter. (It may be her initial, or her full name; the novel does not specify. Other characters have full names.)
  • 6 and @ from Max Berry's book Syrup. When 6 was born, her parents named her 0 (zero), then on her first birthday, she was renamed 1, up until they were killed when she was, yup, six years old. The name stuck. As for @, well, it's not explained, but 6 says she only did it to copy her.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird has a bit character called X Billups. Most people didn't believe that was his full name until he was asked to spell it during a court case.
  • The protagonist of Franz Kafka's The Trial is named Joseph K.
  • In The Twenty One Balloons by William Pène du Bois, the island of Krakatoa is settled by twenty families, who take on the letters A through T as names (e.g., the man who founded the island is only known as Mr. M, his wife is Mrs. M, and their children are M-1 and M-2). When the protagonist is stranded there, he asks if they would like to start referring to him as Mr. U; they decline, as it would lead to pronoun confusion. No mention is made of how they manage to non-confusingly talk about the I family, though at least I is only a pronoun in the subjective case.
  • V from Vegan Virgin Valentine. Her full name is Vivienne Vail Valentine, so you can see why she shortens it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mister F from Arrested Development. It turns out to be a subversion. MRF actually stands for Mentally Retarded Female.
  • Horatio Caine, usually just H, from CSI: Miami.
  • Doctor Who has a villain named Omega.
    • In "The Happiness Patrol", the natives of Terra Alpha all have one-letter surnames denoting social rank. Offworlders have their surname replaced by 'Sigma'.
    • The Doctor himself has been known to sign his name as simply "?".
    • In "Spyfall", there is the chief of MI6, known as "C" (as in real life), along with another (former) agent known as "O." O is actually the Doctor's archnemesis, the Master, who chose that name specifically for the Oh, Crap! reaction as the Doctor realizes who he really is.
  • On Dollhouse, all the actives in the LA house are apparently assigned a letter, but are referred to as the military phonetic code for said letter (Alpha, Echo, November, Sierra, Whiskey, etc). How they deal with having more than 26 actives is never addressed; quite possibly they just don't ever have that many.
  • Get Smart: When Max and the Chief swap roles due to a bureaucratic foulup, the Chief goes back to his old designation of Agent Q (he joined CONTROL before they switched to numbers).
  • Mr. K from Go On. It may or may not be short for something, but given his odd mental state, it's probably not worth asking.
  • Played for laughs in Herman's Head. Jay goes to a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting and to maintain his confidentiality declares he will introduce himself by the first letter of his name.
  • B.J. Hunnicut from M*A*S*H. His given name is apparently 'B.J.', after his parents Bea and Jay.
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood has X the Owl. He was named X because he "X-scaped" from a cage.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has a figure in the Mouse Problem sketch identified as Mr. A. Although his real name is George Jackson, 32A Milton Avenue, Hounslow, Middlesex. Tel: 01-246-8047.
  • G Callen from NCIS: Los Angeles (his first name accidentally vanished when he was put into foster care). When they finally track it down, the building explodes before Callen can open the drawer. In season seven, his full name is eventually revealed to be Grisha Aleksandrovich Nikolaev Callen.
  • Ms. O, the leader of Odd Squad.
  • Lord Zedd from Power Rangers. His Mooks had this letter on their breastplates.
    • Power Rangers S.P.D. had a character named Z, short for Elizabeth.
    • Power Rangers RPM has a character known only as Dr. K, later explained as being because she grew up in a secret government think-tank codenamed "Alphabet Soup". Presumably Dr. A through Dr. J had non-Ranger based areas of expertise.
  • A, the main antagonist of Pretty Little Liars.
  • One episode of Shark involved a fashion designer named Z Pruitt. He was much ridiculed.
  • Smart Guy: When Mo discovers he's adopted, his friends try to help him find his birth mother, armed with only the information that he was put up for adoption under the name "Baby boy X." Only when their search hits a dead end does he think to mention that "X" is spelled "Ecks". Sure enough, his mother's name is Sheila Ecks.
  • Q from Star Trek. Since it's used for both the character and the species to which he belongs, things can get confusing when other Qs show up. (Though it's less so in print: the second Q from "Deja Q" is rendered as Q2, and Q's son is q.) An Expanded Universe trilogy adds another god-like being named 0. That's right, a One Digit Name. There's also "*" (that energy cloud from TOS causing humans and Klingons to fight), a One Asterisk Name.
  • From the Ultra Series, Ultraman Ace is sometimes listed as Ultraman A. There is also Ultraman X and Ultraman Z, but no, there isn't an Ultraman Y. (well, as of 2020 anyway)
  • Mr. X, Mulder's second Mysterious Informant from The X-Files.

  • The alternative rock band A, though they were originally called Grand Designs.
  • E from the band Eels, who used to also make solo albums under that name, until he decided it made his music too hard to track down. He has gone by his real name though - his autobiography Things The Grandchildren Should Know and the soundtrack to the film Levity are both credited to Mark Oliver Everett. He initially started being called E in high school because he just knew too many other people named Mark.
  • H from Steps. Real name: Ian Watkins. The "H" stands for "hyperactive", describing his personality.
  • L from Infinite.
  • M, the new-wave band most famous for "Pop Muzik".
  • N from VIXX.
  • P, a short-lived band featuring Johnny Depp and Gibby Haynes.
  • V from BTS.
  • Hello! Project former group W. Quite tricky to search for their material, if it wasn't for one of their alternate names, Double You.
  • If plurals of a single letter count, short-lived Christian swing/ska band The W's.
  • X was at the forefront of the Los Angeles punk scene.
  • X Japan was known in its early years only as X; they adopted the "Japan" once they broke into the international market, to distinguish from the American band.
  • Y is AOA drummer Youkyung's "angel name"note  but like the other members' angel names it's stopped being used for the most part.
  • Y is also the stage name of Choi Sungyoon, a member of Infinite's "brother group"note  Golden Child, who debuted in August of 2017.
  • In Vivian Stanshall's comedy LP Sir Henry at Ndidi's Kraal, the eponymous Sir Henry Rawlinson mounts an expedition to Africa, the "dark incontinent". He can't remember his native bearers' names, so "to their - ahem - cheery delight, I numbered the sods. The last twenty-seven I named after the letters of our alphabet. The twenty-seventh - knew you were going to ask me that! - was a question mark.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • After Kodo Fuyuki stripped Hayabusa of his gimmick and gave it to Mr. Gannosuke in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, the former Hayabusa became the delinquent known as H.
  • Reality Of Wrestling champion Q, more commonly known as Mysterious Q. Not for nothing, he wears a Hayabusa style mask before his matches.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Pathfinder, there's a Monk archetype which - at high levels - allows the monk to heal and resurrect all their allies in return for being wiped from existence to the extent that their name can't be written down. It has been proposed that one could abuse the one letter name trope to use 26 monks to destroy the alphabet.

    Video Games 
  • 3 from 3 in Three (though she's an anthropomorphisation of the actual ASCII character "3", so this is as much a job description as it is a name).
  • Android Hunter A: The Player Character is an android named A.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: The senior-level staff and facility supervisors of The Consortium all go by single capital letters, i.e. C, G, B, K, and D.
  • D in Another Code: Two Memories (a.k.a. Trace Memory). D turns out to have been a nickname. His real name is Daniel.
  • V, a celestial in Antimatter Dimensions.
  • W from Arknights. She inherited her name from another person who was also only known as "W".
  • Double H from Beyond Good & Evil, though this is just a codename, his real name is Hubb.
  • G from Bust-A-Move 4. He's an old wizard, but he acts like a senile old coot to throw people off.
  • Z, late-game mooks with Wolverine Claws in Captain Commando.
  • Julius Belmont from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow refers to himself as J until he regains his memory.
  • Crisis Core has a series of sidequests revolving around telepathic messages from esper called P.
  • The second character David meets during the events of The Crooked Man calls himself D. He refuses to give out his full name.
  • D is the default name of the main character in Crystal Story II.
  • The protagonist of Cyberpunk 2077 goes by "V" regardless of gender. A later mission reveals that it stands for "Vincent" (if male) or "Valerie" (if female) but they only let a select few use that name.
  • V from Devil May Cry 5. Possibly derived from "Vergil".
  • A from Digimon: Digital Card Battle. It's a pseudonym.
  • Q, from ''Dislyte is the host of the Greek Love God Eros and thus possess his powers. Whether or not Q is short for something hasn’t been elaborated on.
  • D from Elden Ring, a hunter of Those Who Live In Death. He also has a twin brother, who also goes by D. Their full names are Darian and Devin, respectively.
  • The main playable character of Elite Beat Agents is known as Agent J.
  • EXTRAPOWER: The warrior with the ore heart, V. At least his late sister Victoria is given a full first name.
  • Dr. O from the "Old World Blues" DLC for Fallout: New Vegas. Only not really - while everyone calls him O, his actual name is 0.
  • H, an otherwise unremarkable mook from the video game Fighting Force. Also features an Agent X toward the end.
  • J from Final Fight.
  • The main character from FreezeME is just called R, and her best friend is a dog named M. No real reason for it is given In-Universe—probably they just sound cool.
  • D from Grand Theft Auto V.
    • Also, Michael, Franklin and Trevor often call one another M, F and T, especially during heists where they need to keep their identity hidden.
    • Just like the protagonists, Brad is also called B in the opening mission.
    • Also, Mr. K, which stands for "Kerimov".
  • G from House of the Dead, who, despite being the only one with such a unique name, is pretty ordinary for a secret agent. It becomes a Running Gag in The House of the Dead: OVERKILL, where G constantly refuses to answer what the letter means whenever people ask him.
  • K′ from The King of Fighters (the apostrophe-like symbol, pronounced "dash" or "prime", is the mathematical notation for derivatives, a hint of his origin as a genetically altered clone of Kyo Kusanagi).
  • Mr. X, the Big Bad of Mega Man 6. He turns out to be Dr. Wily, to the surprise of no one.
  • Many of the main characters from the Mega Man X series:
    • The main character, X. Technically a shortening of Mega Man X, but no one ever calls him that in series.
    • Technically, Zero is a one-number name (0).
    • Sigma (∑) is also one letter name, but with a Greek letter. His name is actually written with the Greek letter, and is the symbol on the health bars of anyone associated with his organization in later games.
    • And Omega (Ω.)
    • R from Mega Man X: Command Mission.
    • And Epsilon (E), the game's villain.
    • The Biometals in Mega Man ZX are all named "Model [Single Letter]."
      • The letters are derived from the names of the guardian the biometal is based on. So Model P for the ninja Phantom and Model X for... well... X.
  • Mr. X from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, a mysterious cyborg ninja that Raiden encounters after defeating Fatman. It is revealed this was Olga Gurlukovich, who was a double agent for the Patriots among Solidus' ranks.
  • Inverted in the PC game N: most people think the main character ninja's name is N, but actually the ninja is nameless and N represents "the way of the ninja", a system of beliefs to which the ninja subscribes. These details are found on N's "Story" page.
  • The villain in Ominous Objects 4: Lumina Camera is known only as Z.
  • O is the name of a minor NPC in Planescape: Torment. He's not just any old O, but part of the ‘divine alphabet’. He openly voices his disdain for mortals and advices them to stop acting like mindless insects and see the bigger picture. If you ask him how, he'll open his mouth in an o-shape, through which you see the endlessness of the universe (permanent +1 Wisdom). He also has a cameo in Torment: Tides of Numenera.
  • N from Pokémon Black and White. (The Japanese games actually use the English letter as his name, a rarity in a JRPG). It's short for Natural, as in natural number, so it makes sense.
  • ?, the character of neu from Popn Music. There is also a ∑ in a different song.
  • PsyCard: One of the playable characters is a girl named "Z".
  • The Japanese version of Puyo Puyo Tetris refers to the characters from the Tetris world as T, S, Z, I, J, L, O, and X, each named after their respective Tetrimino piece and Pentamino piece. The English dub has only O retain this, while everyone else was given longer, phonetically similar names.
  • Resident Evil 2:
    • The mutant form of William Birkin is officially called "G", but most players simply refer to him by his real name.
    • The Tyrant from the same game was also given the nickname of "Mr. X" in the American version.
  • The mysterious Quest Giver issuing orders to defeat the Four Archangels in the Shin Megami Tensei IV is called M. To everyone's surprise, it's Mastema, who in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey had been an irredeemable jackass.
    • The Mikado Castle shopkeepers all have single-letter names. According to K the tavern-keeper, it's tradition; every time someone takes over a shop, they're given the next letter of the alphabet as a name. K's predecessor was J, and since it loops (A would succeed Z), he wonders how far back it goes.
    • Downplayed with the five artifical humans of Shin Megami Tensei II. Aleph, Beth, Gimmel, Daleth, and Zayin are all Hebrew letters, but use multiple letters when written in Japanese.
  • Q from Street Fighter III 3rd Strike. The third season of Street Fighter V introduces G, the self-proclaimed President of Earth, who has an alternate costume that makes him look oddly similar to Q.
  • Mr. X, his children Mr. and Ms. Y, and Robot Y from the Streets of Rage games.
  • Mr. L from Super Paper Mario, a Brainwashed and Crazy version of Luigi.
  • At one point during Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, you run into a thin-blood named E, who asks you to find out about thin-bloods and rescue his girlfriend and sire, Lily. The Malkavian run lampshades this at one point, referring to him in conversation with Lily as "the letter that comes before F and G".
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • One of the playable characters of Xenoblade Chronicles X is named L. Technically, his full name is L'cirufe, but he prefers to go by just the first part.
    • In Xenoblade Chronicles 3 the Consuls all only go by a single letter, span most of the alphabet and taken from the first letter of their given name when they were originally human.
  • Zero Escape:
    • Late in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors the narrator introduces herself as "I am I, the ninth letter of the alphabet".
    • K from Virtue's Last Reward. Technically Phi and Sigma too, although their names are spelled out in English. K is a placeholder variable in math, hinting at his switch with Akane in the true timeline and Sigma's name references his ability to remember memories from multiple timelines.
    • Q from Zero Time Dilemma. After some reveals both in and out of universe, his real name turns out to be Delta, a Greek letter in the same fashion as Sigma and Phi above.
  • Doctor Y is an alien from the video game Richman 11. He is a smart alien who likes science, and possesses the ability to make his opponents lose money when he loses his, owning more cards than his opponents, as well as taking his bankrupt opponents' cards and properties.

    Web Animation 
  • X from the fourth season of Battle for Dream Island (originating from the 2008 short X Finds Out His Value), who's an x variable.
  • Coach Z, from Homestar Runner. Didn't start out this way, as his name was spelled "Coach Zee" in the original book of Where My Hat Is At?, presumably to prevent his name from being pronounced "Coach Zed". In answering an email from Canada, Strong Bad reasons that Coach Z would be called "Coach Zed" there and decides to call him that in the future (Although he doesn't).
  • The titular Killer Robots in Murder Drones all follow this theme. The ones shown in the pilot include N, V, and J.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Z from All Grown Up!. Chas tries asking what it's short for, but he says "It's just Z."
  • X, later know as Rampage, from Beast Wars.
  • Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: X the Owl (mentioned in the Live-Action TV folder) has a nephew named O the Owl. X's and O's.
  • Invader Zim plays with this, and has a character named "The Letter M".
  • Mr. E and Samurai X are characters in Ninjago.
  • The Men in Black animated series also has Alpha, one of the founding members of MIB and K's mentor, before he went rogue. When he first meets J, he introduces himself as agent A. When J later mentions A to K and Zed, Zed points out that there is no agent A.
  • O is also one of the racers in the Oban cycle of Ōban Star-Racers
  • Substitute teacher Mr. E in Recess. Helps his badass mystique that gets him to cow the rest of the class into doing what he wants (in a good way!)... Except for the resident idealist T.J. (Theodore Jasper, in case you were wondering. He's not an example of this trope, he just uses it as a better-sounding nickname. Can you blame him?) They find common ground in the end anyway.
    T.J.: So, can I ask what the E stands for?
    Mr. E: No.
    T.J.: You are so cool.
  • Ricky Owens, a member of the original Mystery Inc. gang on Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated went under the name Mr. E.
  • "X Agent" from Sheep in the Big City. The trope was parodied in his first appearance:
    General Specific: I don't want an "X Agent"! I want a current agent!
    Private Public: The "X" is put in to indicate mysteriousness rather than his job status sir.
    General Specific: Well why can't he choose another letter? Like "K"?
    Private Public: "K" isn't as mysterious a letter as "X", sir.
    General Specific: What about "L"? "L" is pretty mysterious! [waving fingers] Llllllllllllll... Lllllllll!!!
    Narrator: So as General Specific re-acquaints himself with the alphabet...
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer decides to find out what his middle initial J stands for. It turns out, it stands for Jay.
  • X Racer, (named after his uncle's codename), from Speed Racer: The Next Generation.
  • B from Total Drama Revenge of the Island. It turns out it's short for Beverly.
  • N the Eliatrope from Wakfu: Les Gardiens and Dofus.
  • Work It Out Wombats! has a character named Mr. E. What does 'E' stand for? It's a mystery.
  • The Zeta Project has Infiltration Unit Zeta. His companion Ro calls him Zee, and sometimes he uses "Zee Smith" as an alias while pretending to be human.

    Real Life 
  • The head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (a.k.a. MI6) is always codenamed "C", in honor of the original head, Mansfield Smith-Cumming. In the same vein, the head of MI 5 is called K, after Vernon Kell. If any British intelligence officers are codenamed "M", that apparently has yet to be declassified.
    • As Al Franken points out while talking about the Downing Street Memos in The Truth (with jokes), there are a number of other individuals in British government given single letter codenames. He mentions a meeting involving "C, Z, R, and a group called 'the vowels'."
  • In botanical publications, Carl von Linné (aka Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern botanical nomenclature) usually gets his name abbreviated to just "L."
  • The artist formerly known as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" had, during the time when he was known by the quoted name, an unpronounceable symbol as his name. Said symbol, while not a alphabetical letter, still had to be printed during this time, and Warner Brothers had to send out floppy disks of a special font that included the symbol so that print media could print it.
  • There are several one-letter geographic names, including:
    • D, "the world's shortest" river in Oregon.
    • E, a township in Maine.
    • Å, Nordic for "brook", a dozen places in Scandinavia. There are also 249 Norwegians with this as a surname, spelled "Aa". It's pronounced "awe", by the way.
    • Y, a commune in northern France; amusingly, "y" is French for "there". Also a "census-designated place" of the same name in Alaska. And a short river in Siberia.
    • Mount E, a volcano in Northern Japan.
    • Ö, Nordic for "island", several places in Scandinavia. Linguistically the same as "öja" or "eya", and survives in many English place names as suffix -ey, such as Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney.
    • The IJnote , a lake in Amsterdam.
    • Washington, D.C. has several east-west streets named with single letters, starting from A and going up through the alphabet as they get farther from the National Mall. Streets of note include K Street (where many political groups have offices and is now a metronym for the massive lobbying industry as a whole), U Street (a historic African American cultural center and now a trendy place to live), and J Street (or rather the non-existence of it — the order jumps from I to K because the ancient Romans didn't have that letter either).
    • New York City's appropriately-named Alphabet City neighborhood in Manhattan's Lower East Side is named for Avenues A, B, C, and D located there. This in turn inspired the name for Avenue Q.
  • A writer for Wired magazine named his daughter "E" with the intent of letting her choose her own name later on. She decided to stay as "E".
  • ? of the band ? and the Mysterions, although ?'s namenote  is normally rendered as "Question Mark" in interviews.
  • Harry Truman's name is in full "Harry S. Truman". Besides having the name "Harry"—usually a nickname for Henry or Harold—as his actual first name,note  the "S" famously doesn't stand for anything. His middle name was really just "S.". This was apparently an old Scots-Irish tradition, revived by Truman's family because they couldn't decide if they wanted his middle name was to be "Solomon" (after his maternal grandfather Solomon Young) or "Shipp" (after his paternal grandfather Anderson Shipp Truman). However, the Urban Legend that his name was "S" without a period is false—he almost always spelled his middle name with a period, despite it not standing for anything—the legend comes from a joke that the famously folksy Truman once told the press.
    • Ulysses S. Grant is in the boat as well, though his name came about due to a clerical error when he enrolled at West Point: his birth name was Hiram Ulysses Grant, which rather unfortunately abbreviated to "H.U.G."—not exactly the kind of nickname you want either on the frontier (he grew up in the then-relatively backwoods area east of Cincinnati) or at a military academy, which is why he wasn't in any hurry to correct the Academy administration when it messed up his name. Later, Grant did take on the nickname "Sam".
  • H Ty Warner, the founder of Ty Inc. (creators of Beanie Babies and various other plush toys). He added the "H" as an affectation.
  • J Mascis, the frontman of Dinosaur Jr.. His full name is Joseph Donald Mascis Jr.
  • Johnny Cash's birth name was J. R. Cash because his parents could not think of a good name at the time. He later changed it to John R. Cash when he enlisted to the U.S. Air Force (the middle initial still didn't stand for anything).
  • An unusual variant (even for this list) is journalist Jennifer 8. Lee. Yes, her middle name is the number 8. Apparently, she chose it as a teenager as she wasn't given a middle name at birth. On legal documents, it's spelled out "eight" when numbers aren't allowed.
  • Meiji author Kyūsaku Yumeno was also sometimes known as "Q".
  • Actress S. Epatha Merkerson legally changed her first name from "Sharon" to "S".
  • J Allard, the former VP of Microsoft's Xbox division during the early Xbox 360 era, although he was born as "James Allard".
  • John R. Road in Detroit is named for former Detroit mayor John R. Williams. As his middle name really was just the letter R, the road got its unique name accordingly.
  • In addition to John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald also killed a police officer named J. D. Tippit. His first name was literally the letter "J" (not "Jay".)
  • Country Music singer T. G. Sheppard; while this is a stage name (his real name is William Neal Browder), the "T. G." doesn't actually stand for anything.
  • X Æ A-12 Musk, son of Grimes and Elon Musk. The letter Æ is known as "ash."

Examples of One-Letter Surnames:

  • Emily H The Viking Princess.
  • Vanilla H from Galaxy Angel.
  • O is a genuine Belgian surname. It also shows up in Hispanic countries, with some people called "de la O".
  • Mr. T pities the fools who don't realize he's an example. He legally changed his name from Lawrence Tureaud so people would have to call him Mister.
  • Louis V. from Love Is in the Bag. Subverted, it's "Vee".
  • Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little. He chose the name "X" to represent his unknown African ancestors. His Muslim name, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, does not fit the trope.
  • Y (or I, or Yi) is the second most common family name in Korea, shared by about 20% of the population. Pronounced "ee". In much of the West, however, they take up the more traditional "Lee" (or "Rhee" or "Ri") just to make things less confusing (it matches up better with the Chinese pronunciations for the same character, and it is not incorrect: the traditional spelling is in fact "Ri", a pronunciation still retained in much of the north). So, in a moment of great drama, if you wanted to have an epic Say My Name moment with a person by this surname, you could literally shout out "Riiiiiiiiiiiiii!"
  • In Korean E, O, and U are possible family names (이, 오, and 우, respectively), but are more commonly written as Lee, Oh, and Woo. Addtionally, because of the structure of the Korean writing system—Korean is written in syllable units in which each unit must have 2-4 letters, even if the first letter is a placeholder symbol—it is impossible to have a single letter name when written in Korean.


Video Example(s):


Agent Martin 008

Martin wakes up as a secret agent codenamed 008.

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Example of:

Main / TuxedoAndMartini

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