Ron: ...What's the difference?
Gill: I added an "L". You know, as in gill, as in, these things that grew when I mutated!
So, Alice and Bob are having a discussion about what Bob's new name will be, since he's grown tired of it. He contemplates for a long time, then eventually figures out the perfect name that'd suit him perfectly.
Bob renames himself Robert.note
Naturally, Alice is confused by this. The new name is nearly identical to his old name. Nonetheless, he sticks to his "new" name, despite it barely being different at all.
This trope is often times Played for Laughs. Where there would originally be a Meaningful Rename, the character's new name is basically what they always had before. Usually, there is a reaction from others as to the pointlessness of the new name. Compare This Is My Name on Foreign, which may even be this if the foreign name is similar enough, like Robert becoming Roberto.
- In one episode of Pokémon anime, when Ash Ketchum needs a fake name, he sees Pikachu with a bottle of ketchup, and almost takes the name Ash Ketchup. He eventually comes up with "Tom Ato".
- In the English translation of the Pokémon Adventures manga, Yellow attempts to go under the fake name of "Amarillo del Bosque Verde". Nobody is fooled, as they figure out that that's Spanish for "Yellow of the Viridian Forest". (In the original Japanese, she didn't even try any aliases.)
- One of the ways JoJo's Bizarre Adventure sets apart the Part 1 and Part 3 versions of Dio Brando is by referring to the former as Dio Brando (written normally and using his full name) and to the latter as DIO (in all caps and excluding his family name).
- Three different Robins have gone by the name Red Robin.
- Pre-Crisis Superboy renamed himself Superman while he was in college as shown in the miniseries Superman: The Secret Years.
- When Henry Pym stopped becoming small and started becoming large, he changed his name from Ant-Man to Giant-Man.
- Dick Grayson renames himself "Ric" after losing his memory in Nightwing (Rebirth).
- Wonder Woman accidentally did this to her adoptive sister Donna Troy who had no documentation when she was rescued by Wonder Woman in and adopted by the Amazonian Royal Family and given her age no one knew what her name was. In Who Is Donna Troy? her birth name turned out to have been Donna Hinckley.
- In the backstory of King Kong (1976), Dawn changed her name to Dwan so it'd be more memorable.
- In the film In the Bleak Midwinter (U.S. title A Winter's Tale), people think that Fadge's name is somewhat odd; eventually she changes it to Fah.
- That Thing You Do!: The "Oneders" (read: ONE hit wonDERS) eventually become "The Wonders," because the original name scanned as "The Oh-need-ers."
- From Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: "You have done well, Young Neil. From this point forward, you shall be known as... Neil."
- In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the title character explains that he changed his name from "Shang-Chi" to "Shaun" when he went into hiding from his evil father in the United States. His friend Katy notes it's no wonder he got caught with such a lazy name change, comparing it to someone named "Gina" going into hiding as "Gyna."
- In the Bloody Jack books Jackie ends up working as spy undercover in a ballet in France (LongStory) and picks out a new name so the French don't figure out the legendary lady pirate Jackie Faber is within their boarders. She decides to go with Jacqueline...her fellow dancers quickly shorten it to Jackie.
- Lampshaded in the first The Stainless Steel Rat book, when the protagonist manages to find Angelina:
"The man you wanted to see, Engela." So she was still an angel, though under a different name. That was a bad habit she should watch, only I wasn't going to tell her. A lot of people have been caught by taking an alias too similar to their old one.note
- In Men at Arms, Cheery Littlebottom changes the spelling of her name to "Cheri" after defying dwarf tradition to "come out" as a female. Angua suggests she could pronounce it "Sherie" as well. It gets lampshaded; Angua also points out that the way people spell in Ankh-Morpork no-one will notice unless she tells them, and the narration says that when you've decided to shout who you are to the world, it's a relief to know you can do it in a whisper.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen:
- A play on this can be found when Fiddler renames himself Strings to go incognito in House of Chains. It does not sound the same, but the meaning remains, essentially, and nobody who's ever even heard of Fiddler is fooled.
- This also unintentionally happens with Whiskeyjack, with some help from the Anibar and Funetik Aksent. In The Bonehunters, Boatfinder tells of how someone named Iskar Jarak, also called the Iron Prophet, came to the lands of the Anibar with a hundred dark warriors and warned them of those who will come after him. It was Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners. After his death and ascension — influenced by the Anibar's worship of him — he takes on the name of Iskar Jarak, which is simply Whiskeyjack spelled phonetically.
- In one host segment of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Tom Servo changes his last name to Serveaux. It's pronounced exactly the same, but Tom thinks he can tell when people aren't pronouncing it right. Crow mocks him by saying he's going to change his name to "Crüe". Also subverted in the same episode when Tom adds an H to his first name; Mike thinks it's "Thom" and said the same, but Servo insists it's "Htom" (pronounced "huh-Tom").
Crow: Well, Htom, why don't you hlick me?
- In one episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, Adolf Hitler is hiding out in Minehead as Adolph Hilter. His cronies Von Ribbentrop and Heinrich Himmler are similarly renamed Ron Vibbentrop and Heinrich Bimmler. Hilter is the National Bocialist Party candidate in the North Mineahead by-election, and plans to set up boncentration bamps if elected.
- In The Middle, due to a mistake with her birth certificate, Sue's first and middle name are both Sue. In one episode she wants to change her middle name and settles on Lily, which she later finds out is a translation of Sue. She ultimately decides to keep her name as-is.
- There's an old Russian urban legend about a merchant woman named Semizhopova (lit. of Seven Arses). She wrote a petition to Catherine the Great to allow her to change her name. The empress answered: "Five is enough" and changed the merchant's name to Pyatizhopova (of five arses). In other versions of the legend the trolling monarch is Nicholas I or Nicholas II.
- The Bible:
- Abram (Hebrew, exalted father) is renamed Abraham (Hebrew, father of many nations) by God.
- His wife/half-sister, Sarai, is renamed Sarah (both translate as princess)
- Post-conversion Saul renames himself Paul, which is just the Latin version of the Hebrew name.
- Somewhat downplayed, in that the name itself never undergoes an actual change, but rather the audience does; as Saul's letters proceed to various church groups, the church has spread to Gentiles who would use the Latin version instead of the Hebrew version the primarily-Jewish audiences from earlier on would have used.
- Abram (Hebrew, exalted father) is renamed Abraham (Hebrew, father of many nations) by God.
- In The Importance of Being Earnest Jack, an adopted man, refers to himself as Ernest when in town. His love interest feels she can only marry a man named Ernest and her mother will only allow her to marry a man with a strong family social standing (which being adopted, Jack does not). After some misunderstandings and hilarity, the mystery of Jack's parentage is solved; as first-born, he would be named after his father, who turned out to have been named Ernest.
- In Wicked, Galinda changes her name to Glinda.
- The Matoran Universe in BIONICLE does this for its You Mean "Xmas" equivalent, Naming Day. In addition to the day off and exchanging gifts, certain Matoran would have the spelling of their name slightly altered as a way to thank them for their good deeds. Jala became Jaller note , Huki became Hewkii, and Maku became Macku. Takua, who didn't get this honor, renamed his Ussal Crab Puku into Pewku. The meta reason for such a thing being a big honor is due to LEGO coming under fire for the names of certain Bionicle characters being taken wholesale from Oceanic languages.
- The character named Tanatos in the original Kid Icarus was renamed Thanatos in Kid Icarus: Uprising. (The original name has been acknowledged as a translation error.)
"Actually, I go by "Thanatos", now. The extra "h" is for HAMAZING!"
- Final Fantasy:
- In Final Fantasy IX there's a scene in which Garnet changes her name to an alias, which she takes from Zidane's dagger, but then a naming screen pops up prompting the player to enter whatever they'd like if "Dagger" doesn't sound good enough. You're free to rename her "Garnet", which will render the whole scene rather pointless.
- Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII changed her name to her current one after she lost her parents so that she can be strong. In the Japanese version, her birth name was Eclair, which is French for "lightning". Averted in the English translation, which anagrams the Japanese name to get "Claire".
- In Final Fantasy XIV during the Heavensward expansion, a group of extraplanar antagonists known as the Warriors Of Darkness appears to have the same naming scheme as their equivalent Standard Fantasy Races, until the Shadowbringers expansion revisits them and reveals those names to be pseudonyms, albeit pseudonyms that sound phonetically similar to their true names. The only true example in-group is the elf magus Nyelbert, who took the identically pronounced "Naillebert", though Ardbert/Arbert is almost the same as well, a fact he comments on.
- In Chrono Trigger, there is a character originally named R-66Y before joining your team. After he joins, you can name him whatever you want (canonically "Robo"), and it'll be treated as his new name... including the name R-66Y.
- In any Pokémon game, if you ask the Name Rater to rename one of your Mons, but give him the same name it already had, he'll lampshade it, declaring that the new name may look the same as the old one, but it's still vastly superior.
- Killia in Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance used to be known as Killidia, the infamous Tyrant Overlord of Cryo Blood. No one else seemed to have made the connection before he brought it up and thought he was just some unusually strong nobody.
- The manual of LEGO Stunt Rally says that Radium's original name was Ray Dium.
- In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, every character, besides the main character, takes on a numerical code name to hide their true identity. It later turns out that Clover actually used their real name as their code name, since it fits with the numerical system.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Three days worth of Webcomic Time go by between the moment the crew rescues a kitten and the moment they decide to choose a name for her. In the meantime, everyone was calling her either "kitty" or "kitten". Everyone realizes this while trying to find an actual name for her and settles for just giving her the name they have been calling her all along. This actually got pointed out in the author notes:
Kitty's name is herefore... Kitty!
- In The Website Is Down #4: "Sales Demolition", Web Dude/Derrick is assigned to update the corporate username of employee Nancy Johnson, who got married and is now named Nancy Johnson-Johnson. All this entails (at least until Derrick gets distracted and screws up) is changing the entry "NancyJ" to "NancyJj".
- In the Mega Man (Classic) Flash animation "Mega Man's Revenge 2," Bass had changed his name to Ass. Yeah, yeah, we know...
- In The Simpsons, one episode deals with Homer J. Simpson trying to learn what the "J" in his name stands for. He eventually learns that it stands for, of all things, Jay.
- In Kim Possible, the minor villain Gil remaned himself Gill after becoming a mutant fish person.
- In an episode of Family Guy, Peter Griffin has to give an alias, so he makes up a Line-of-Sight Name. Owing to a bizarre and improbable selection of objects within his line of sight (a pea, a tear, and a griffon), his alias winds up being "Peter Griffin".
- The exact same joke as above happens in an episode of The Amazing World of Gumball, where protagonist Gumball does the same and sees someone chewing gum and a truck saying "ball".
- On South Park, Christopher Reeve manages to get his mobility back by sucking the stem cells out of fetuses, but becomes increasingly crazy and supervillainous in the process. Eventually, he declares that he won't be called Christopher anymore, since that's the name he used when he was weak and disabled. From now on he will be...Chris.
- In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, it turns out a rich kid named "Barry" is really Bloo's obsessed admirer Berry in disguise. Naturally, this confuses Bloo when Mac tries to communicate it to him verbally until he calls her "Heather".
- DuckTales (2017) features a character named B.O.Y.D. (Beaks Optimistic Youth Droid). By the end of "Astro B.O.Y.D.!", he renames himself B.O.Y.D. (Be Only Yourself Dude).
- In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021), Duncan unintentionally installs the memories of Orko the Great into an RK Security Unit, making it believe it was Orko the Great. After eventually discovering and accepting that he's not the true Orko, he rechristens himself Ork-0, taking his RK qualification in mind. Despite this, his name is pronounced exactly the same, despite his insistence that they're different.
- When General Mills revived Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy in the 2013 Halloween season, Fruit Brute is renamed Frute Brute, possibly because it can't legally be called "Fruit" any more due to changing USDA truth in labelling standards. Even the retro edition sold exclusively at Target carries the new name. Non-food merchandise of the character still retains his original name, however.
- C.J. Cherry sounded like a name for a trashy romance writer, so the science fiction author styled herself C. J. Cherryh.
- In Real Life, when a cover story is necessary, spies and the like provide a cover story that is similar to their own life to avoid unnecessary slip-ups and cover blowing. When this includes an alias, they usually pick one that sounds similar to their own, so Tom Robinson may go undercover as Tim Robertson, for example. It makes acclimating to the cover story and name as easy as possible.
- For a specific example, Adolf Eichmann took the alias "Otto Eckmann" when he went underground.
- Famous British soft drink Irn-Bru used to be called "Iron Brew" until the advertising standards people pointed out it didn't actually contain any iron, so they went with a phonetic spelling instead.
- Another particularly humorous example for many people was when the Sci Fi Channel changed its name to... Syfy. This was nowhere near the most drastic or unpopular change the owners made.
- Several companies (such as AT&T and FedEx) have renamed themselves so that the company's official name is the initials or short name that everybody called them anyway. Occasionally this is because the original name had become an Artifact Title.
- Radio stations will often do things like this to their on-air and/or visual branding:
- Omitting (or reincorporating) the decimal part of the frequency. ("103" vs. "103.5")
- Omitting (or reincorporating) the "point" in the pronunciation of frequency. ("Ninety-five-five" vs. "Ninety-five-POINT-five")
- Omitting (or reincorporating) the first letter of the call letters, outside of the hourly legal ID of course. ("WPLJ" vs. "PLJ").
- Re-arranging the order of the nickname and frequency. ("Sunny 105.9" vs. "105.9 Sunny FM").
- In an unusual example, WMXJ Miami changed the spelling of its branding from "Majic" to the proper "Magic" in 2012. (They would subsequently rebrand completely as "The Beach", still keeping the same format.)
- Someone changing their middle name generally qualifies, since most people probably wouldn't even notice the difference (unless they go by their full name; one such example is Walter Dean Myers, who was born Walter Milton Myers).
- In 1986, King County, Washington officially changed its name to... King County, Washington. Specifically, it changed its namesake from William Rufus King (Vice President under Millard Fillmore and, more importantly, a slaveowner) to Martin Luther King, Jr. This was later followed in 2007 by changing the county's logo to MLK's face.