Follow TV Tropes

Following

Only Known by Initials

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hobbit-cover_2_712.jpg
Advertisement:

Some people are Only Known by Their Nickname, others are on Last-Name Basis, while some people are primarily known to the public by their initials or their initials plus their last name. The reasons may vary. Perhaps they have an Embarrassing First Name they'd rather not use, and maybe they have an Overly Long Name that needs to be abbreviated. Others may think it sounds classier, and some may prefer the fact that it is more gender neutral.

This was particularly common among Real Life English male writers of the early 20th century, especially academics like A.J. Ayer (philosopher) and A.J.P. Taylor (historian). You do still find some English writers who go by initials today, possibly because of the resulting intellectual associations - like A.N. Wilson or D.J. Taylor.

It's also sometimes found with Real Life female writers, often to hide (or at least make less obvious) the fact that they are female.

Advertisement:


Examples include:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • T.R. (Thomas Riley) Edwards from Robotech. Some sources erroneously assume that he has a hyphenated last name (it's true that Riley is usually a last name). However, if this was the case, he would be properly known as T. Riley-Edwards.
  • V.T. (Victoria Terpsichore} from Cowboy Bebop made money charging people to guess her name, until Spike worked out who she was.
  • In the first season of Pokémon, an early rival of Ash/Satoshi's is a kid called Akira, renamed as A.J., who managed a Sandscrew and is based on one of the Youngsters of Pokémon Red and Blue. Also, he appears as The Cameo in the opening of the season 2 (Adventures on the Orange Islands) and as a character in the manga The Electric Tale of Pikachu.
  • Bakuten Shoot Beyblade has another A.J. in A.J. Topper, one of the two dub-original combat commentators. While his colleague Brad Best even has a second name, Aloysius, A.J. Topper is just A.J. Topper. And there are more initials-only characters: Mister B, Doctor B, Doctor K, and J. J's even less than initials-only, because his initial has to be deduced from the fact he's got a "J" embroidered on his shirt.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
Advertisement:

    Film 
  • Abominable: Whatever CJ's initials are short for is never revealed. Given that she's the only Chinese-American in her circle of friends, it's possible that she dropped her full name in an attempt to fit in better.
  • DC from That Darn Cat! is only once referred to by a censored version of his full name, not counting the title, and is never referred to by his real full name, on account of it being profane.
  • Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny: JB (Jack Black) and KG (Kyle Gass). Pronounced Jables and Kage.
  • Mary Kate from Epic (2013), frequently only referred to as M.K.
  • Raising Arizona: H.I. McDunnough is called "Hi" by everyone. We only learn his actual name when he writes a letter saying goodbye to his wife, signing it "Herbert."
  • In Crossworlds, A.T. is only ever referred to by his initials, except at the very end, when the Queen calls him "Alex". We still don't know what the "T" stands for.
  • In Thank You for Smoking, Nick's boss is only known as BR, which he started being called while in Vietnam. As Nick puts it, "everyone who knew what it means are all dead." In the book the film is based on, his full name is mentioned early on but everyone still refers to him as BR.
  • Andy Warhol's Bad has characters credited as P.G., R.T., L.T. and S.F.
  • Tremors 6: A Cold Day in Hell: Dr. D's full name is never mentioned.

    Literature 
  • PK Pinkerton in The Western Mysteries, is only known by the initials PK or by the nickname Pinky, as part of the author's attempt to create Ambiguous Gender.
  • Subverted with Mr. A.E. Pessimal from Thud!, as this is actually his full name.
  • Superman: Last Son of Krypton. One of Lex Luthor's henchwomen is named Barbara Tolley, but insists on being called "B.J." even though her middle name is Arabella.
  • Also subverted with BKR, the villain of Rod Allbright Alien Adventures. This is his whole name, and none of the other aliens seems to think it odd.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast. One of the characters is named D.T. ("Deety") Burroughs. She goes by her initials because she's embarrassed by her real first and middle names: Dejah Thoris (her father Jacob was a fan of the John Carter of Mars books).
  • Y.T. in Snow Crash, though the author does explain what it stands for once, when incidental character hears it as "Whitey" and is considering taking offense ("Actually, it stands for Yours Truly, but if he can't figure that out, fuck him").
  • TS Garp in The World According to Garp. He's officially named for his father—except his mother never knew his father's first name, only his army rank. "TS" stands for "Technical Sergeant." Everyone just calls him Garp. (In The Film of the Book, teen Garp tries to convince his girlfriend that it stands for "Terribly Sexy.")
  • Members of the V.F.D. in A Series of Unfortunate Events are referred to only by their initials to preserve anonymity. This results in complications, as The Unauthorized Autobiography demonstrates during a transcript of a meeting, and in The Penultimate Peril when a total of three characters have the legitimate and undisguised initials J.S..
  • In the Wizard of Oz books, the wizard reveals that "O.Z." is actually part of his initials. His parents named him Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs, noting that it isn't longer simply because they ran out of names. He abbreviated it to Oz because using all his initials would spell out O.Z.P.I.N.H.E.A.D., and he wouldn't attract the right kind of attention calling himself a pinhead. The movie Oz the Great and Powerful names the character Oscar Diggs, but makes no reference to his many middle names or the nickname.
  • In Left Behind, Tyrola Mark Delanty is referred to as T.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Day of the Cheetah, J. C. Powell is a hotshot test pilot known for pulling off impossible maneuvers. "J. C." are not his initials, but only his mother calls him "Roland". After one incident, an officer is heard to exclaim "Jesus Christ!", to which J. C. replies with a totally deadpan "Thank you, Sir." Hence...
  • In the Venus Prime series, one of the major characters is Prof. J.Q.R. Forster. It's not until the last book that anyone bothers to ask him what the initials stand for, at which point he reveals that they don't actually stand for anything; his parents couldn't decide on a name, so they gave him initials as placeholders.
  • J.P. Beaumont, protagonist of a series of mystery novels by J.A. Jance, always introduces himself (to suspects, etc.) as "J.P. Beaumont"; almost never using his given names (which are Jonas Piedmont). His friends usually call him "Beau".

    Live-Action TV 
  • B. J. Hunnicut from M*A*S*H. Lampshaded in an episode where Hawkeye tries to learn what "B. J." stands for, only to find "B. J." on all of his friend's military records. When Hawkeye asks who would name their kid "B. J.", B. J. answers "My mother, Bea Hunnicitt, and my father, Jay Hunnicutt."
  • C.C. Babcock on The Nanny goes by her alliterative initials, as does much of her family (sister D.D., mother B.B.). Her full name ( Chastity-Claire Babcock) isn't revealed until the finale.
  • Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazzard regularly went by initials "J.D.", which stood for "Jefferson Davis".
  • The A-Team:
    • B.A. Baracus (played by Mr. T). We know from the pilot episode that his given first name is "Bosco", and that "B.A." is shorthand for his nickname, "Bad Attitude", but eventually it is revealed that his full name is "Bosco Albert Baracus".
    • H. M. ("Howling Mad") Murdock.
  • In The West Wing, Claudia Jean Cregg is nearly always referred to as CJ Cregg. The rare exceptions are usually either formal occasions or wry comments.
  • JK (pronounced Jake) from Kamen Rider Fourze. In #36, his real name is turned out to be Kaizou Jingu
  • Power Rangers has two: T.J. Johnson from Power Rangers Turbo and Power Rangers in Space, and RJ from Power Rangers Jungle Fury. Their full names are Theodore Jay Jarvis Johnson (as revealed in the "Forever Red" team-up episode), and Robert James (revealed by a children's book and never used on the show), respectively.
  • D.B. Russell on CSI. Probably due to his first name being Diebenkorn.
  • A.J. (Albert Jethro) Chegwidden on JAG. Prior to the season four episode "War Stories" his staff didn't know what A.J. was short for.
  • The "Batsman of the Kalahari" sketch from the last series of Monty Python's Flying Circus sends up the tendency of cricketers to be known by their initials. Some of the players include V.E. Pratt, M.J.K. Pratt, B.B.C.T.V. Pratt, and Y.E.T.A.N.O.T.H.E.R. Pratt.
  • B.P. Richfield from Dinosaurs. In "Earl's Big Jackpot", it's revealed that his first name is Bradly.
  • Played with in the pilot of The Beverly Hillbillies: Mr. Drysdale gets a call that the gardeners he'd hired to spruce up the mansion he'd procured for his newest, biggest client ("J.D. Clampett") were being held at gunpoint by "outlaws"note  When he gets to the jail where the "outlaws" are being held, he grabs one of them by the collar and demands to know what they did with J.D. Clampett.
    Jed: [Annoyed] I'm Jed Clampett, and I'd appreciate it if you'd let go of my Sunday shirt! note 
  • J.L. (Jason Lochenbar) McCabe, the titular Fatman from Jake and the Fatman. He reveals his full name only to his estranged son in the episode where the two are stranded on an uninhabited island.
  • B.J. and the Bear has the titular character with this nickname, having the real name of Billie Joe (B.J.) McCay.
  • Actress A.J. Cook has the A.J. for Andrea Joy, her two first names. If well she appears in various movies like The Virgin Suicides and Final Destination 2, she's more known for her roles in TV series like Tru Calling and Criminal Minds, her most known role as the special agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles has G. Callen, later being revealed to stand for Grisha.
  • Full House has Donna Jo, who has the nickname of "DJ".
  • ''Good Luck Charlie has PJ Duncan, the first-born son of the Duncan family. In "Can You Keep a Secret?", it is revealed that PJ's initials stand for Potty John. It was supposed to be Patty John, after his grandfather Patrick John, but Bob was so frazzled when signing the birth certificate that he wrote "Potty John" instead.

    Music 
  • ZP Theart, former lead singer of DragonForce. Rumour has it that "ZP" is legally his first name, though.
  • Starflyer 59. On The Fashion Focus, Leave Here a Strangernote , and every album since then, the various band members have just been credited by their first initial and last name.
  • Poison guitarist CC DeVille.
  • JC Chasez of *NSYNC. His real name is Joshua, but during his audition for The New Mickey Mouse Club, there was another cast member named Josh, so he was dubbed "JC" and has gone by it since.
  • CJ (Christopher Jospeh) Ramone of The Ramones.
  • From Backstreet Boys, there's AJ McLean, the Bad Boy of this famous Boy Band group from The '90s. The AJ is for his given names, Alexander James.
  • DJ Bonebrake, drummer for LA punk band X.
  • k.d. lang. Although in some lyrics to her songs she refers to her actual first name (ex. "The Mind of Love": "Where is your head, Kathryn?")
  • Soul Coughing's M. Doughty, although once the band broke up, he started releasing solo albums as Mike Doughty.
  • D. Boon of Minutemen (short for Dennes)
  • J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.
  • The rock pop duet Aly & A.J., a sister duo in which one of them, AJ Michalka, has the AJ for Amanda Joy.
  • Michael Jackson has as one of his many nicknames, he's called just as "MJ", which makes a double reference with Michael Jordan in the videoclip of his single "Jam" in The '90s.
  • Andrew W[ilkes-]. K[rier], American rock musician/songwriter/producer.
  • K. T. (Kay Toinette) Oslin, country singer/songwriter.

    Other 
  • In Joy Wilt Berry's "Human Race Club" series of LP's (also known as the "No More..." series), Abraham Lincoln Jones (the second-in-command) is known as "A.J.".note 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Wrestling companies are/were generally referred to by their initials. WWF/E (World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment), WCW (World Championship Wrestling), ECW (Eastern/Extreme Championship Wrestling), AWA (American Wrestling Association), UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation), TNA (Total Nonstop Action), ROH (Ring of Honor), PWG (Pro Wrestling Guerrilla), AEW (All Elite Wrestling)...
  • CM Punk says it stands for "Chick Magnet".
  • Jim Ross, who became "Good Ol' JR" when he came to the WWF and is almost exclusively addressed as such since.
  • TL Hopper, the wrestling plumber (the initials stood for "Toilet Lid")
  • AJ Styles is a famous wrestler who has a successful career, first in indies, Ring of Honor and TNA, to star actually in WWE. As well as his nickname, the AJ is for his real name, Allen Jones.
  • AJ Lee (not related with Styles, by the way) was a female wrestler famous for being in WWE between 2009 and 2015 and she's the actual wife of CM Punk. Just as Styles, the AJ is her real name, but in this case her Two First Names: April Jeanette.
  • Rob Van Dam is generally addressed as RVD, oftentimes even Punctuated! For! Emphasis!.
  • Parodied by Jeff Jarrett, who addresses himself as the uninitialized "Double J".
  • The wrestler known in WWE as Big Cass (as in Enzo and Cass) has gone by W. Morrissey (real name William Morrissey) since leaving WWE.
  • JTG of Cryme Tyme. It is unknown what the letters stand for, but his real name is Jayson Paul, which the J in his ring name implies.
  • Montel Vontavious Porter (real name Hassan Hamin Assad, born Alvin Burke Jr.) is often referred to as MVP.

    Tabletop Games 

    Theater 
  • Archibald MacLeish's modern take on the story of Job: Job (and the play) is called J.B.

    Video Games 
  • The Danger Girl video game adaptation introduces a new member of the girls, the Canadian mechanic JC, whose real name is never revealed.
  • Deus Ex has J.C. Denton, which is actually a code name. This is a hold over from the development when it was an ambiguous name to support the option for a female PC (it was latter dropped to lack of space for the voice acting for her and the he/she brother/sister lines) and as a Significant Monogram.
  • Halo 3: ODST has the Rookie; the only traces of any kind of name he has are the initials J.D.
  • Your character from the arcade Punch-Out!! series only has a descriptor of "Challenger", and you enter three initials to name him when starting play.
  • Similarly, the protagonists of Cadash have a name entry screen that only allows three characters, mostly likely meant to be the player's initials, owing to its arcade roots.
  • Splatoon 2 has C. Q. Cumber, the conductor of the Deepsea Metro.

    Western Animation 
  • Top Cat is often (but not always) known as TC.
  • TJ (Theodore Jasper) Detweiler from Recess. A movie stated that he got his name because apparently, a young kindergarten kid named Gus Griswald said he'd call him TJ because those were his favorite letters in the alphabet.
  • In Arthur, the protagonist's little sister D.W. (short for Dora Winifred). Lampshaded in an episode where she gets lost in the White House and her parents are describing her to security:
    David: Her name is D.W.
    Security: That's it? Initials? You didn't give the kid a whole name?"
    David: Um, well...*sweats nervously*
  • PJ Pete (Pete Pete Jr.) on Goof Troop, because he shares his father's name and they are both very prominent (and very different) characters. His father calls him "Junior" instead on a very small number of occasions, but even when he's yelling at him (which is a lot) he chooses the initials route and reserves the other for those rare occurrences where he's being or pretending to be affectionate with him.

    Web Comics and Web Original 

    Real Life - Writers 
Note: When adding new examples, please list the person's full name after their initials, in order to preserve consistency.

    Real Life - Other Famous Individuals 
  • Back when Lord Baden-Powell formed the Boy Scouts, a bunch of girls wanted in on the fun too. But they couldn't sign up using their real names because they were, you know, girls. So they signed up using their initials (and dressed like boys when they were accepted in.) Eventually, the girls got their own group, the Girl Scouts.
  • There're many sportsmen that use this as a nickname, various of them from baseball (A. J. Burnett and A. J. Pierzynski), American football (A. J. Haglund and A. J. Hawk), race drivers (A. J. Allmendinger and A. J. Foyt) and basketball (A. J. Price, and Michael Jordan is usually known as MJ).
  • Famous US President Andrew Jackson was also known as A.J. Also, there're other politicians with this nickname like Andrew Johnson.
  • A. J. (Alan John) Buckley, actor
  • Indycar racing has had a few such as A.J. Foyt, A.J. Allmendinger, and J.R. Hildebrand.
  • Brigitte Bardot: If you said B.B. in the Fifties and Sixties everyone knew you were referring to her.
  • BJ Ward, a famous voice actress known for her papers on Velma Dinkley, Betty Rubble and Jana of the Jungle, uses the "BJ" for her two first names: Betty Jean.
  • C. C. H. (Carol Christine Hilaria) Pounder, actress
  • CC (Carsten Charles) Sabathia (Jr.) - retired pitcher for several MLB teams, most notably the New York Yankees. Unlike most examples of this trope, he chooses not to use periods.
  • Madame C.J. Walker (took her husband's name: Charles James Walker; real name Sarah Breedlove), fashion designer, social activist.
  • D. B. (Daniel Bernard) Sweeney, actor
  • D. L. (Darryl Lynn) Hughley, actor, comedian and political commentator
  • D. W. (David Wark) Griffith
  • G. W. (George William) Bailey, actor
  • J. Blakeson, a British director
  • J. C. (James Cash) Penney (Jr.), founder of the American department store chain now doing business as JCPenney
  • J. C. (John Carlo) de Vera, a Filipino actor
  • J. E. B. (James Ewell Brown) Stuart
  • J. E. (Josh Eric) Sawyer, game designer behind Icewind Dale and Fallout: New Vegas. However, he does go by Josh Sawyer as well.
  • J. J. (Jeffrey Jacob) Abrams, current director of the Star Trek (2009) and Star Wars movie franchises.
  • J. J. (Justin James) Watt, superstar NFL defensive lineman. Not to mention his younger brother T. J. (Trent Jordan), superstar NFL linebacker. Averted by middle brother Derek John, NFL fullback, who goes by... Derek.
  • J. K. (Jonathan Kimble) Simmons, actor known for Whiplash, Juno, and his portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson Jr.
  • JM J Bullock, who is only JM J because Jim J Bullock was already registered with the Screen Actors Guild.
  • Jill Price, the first diagnosed hyperthymestic, was originally identified as "AJ."
  • J. P. (John Pierpont) Morgan, American financier
  • J. T. (James Thomas Patrick) Walsh, character actor.
  • K. C. (Kristina Cassandra) Concepcion, a Filipino actress.
  • Subverted with late professional basketball player and coach K. C. Jones. "K.C." is his real name.
  • Louis C.K., born Louis Székely (pronounced "SEE-kay").
  • L. (Lafayette) Ron Hubbard, creator of Scientology
  • Inverted with actress Maggie Q. "Q" stands for "Quigley".
  • M. Night Shyamalan - real name Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan; the "Night" was substituted for his middle name just to sound cool.
  • O. J. (Orenthal James) Simpson, athlete
  • P. K. (Pernell-Karl Sylvester) Subban, defenseman for the NHL's New Jersey Devils (and previously the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens), who happens to share his initials with an ice hockey special team (penalty kill) to the amusement of color commentators.
  • P. T. (Phineas Taylor) Barnum, founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus
  • P. Z. (Paul Zachary) Myers
  • RJ Barrett, Canadian NBA player. In his case, the "RJ" stands for Rowan Jr., his full name being Rowan Alexander Barrett Jr.
  • S. E. (Sarah Elizabeth) Cupp, political commentator
  • T. K. (Thomas Kent) Carter, actor
  • W. C. Fields - real name William Claude Dukenfield, American comedian and actor
  • W.C. (William Christopher) Handy, Father of the Blues.
  • W.E.B. (William Edward Burghart) DuBois, sociologist and co-founder of the NAACP.


Top