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Renamed to Avoid Association

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What does a creator do when they've got a perfectly fine character, but then an unrelated big and famous intellectual property comes along with an iconic character who shares the same name as the creator's character? Or a celebrity with a similar moniker becomes very famous? A common response is to change their character's name.

While not all creators do this, there are some benefits to renaming your character in response to a more famous one who shares their name:

  • Avoiding legal disputes. It doesn't matter who came first; two things sharing the same name has the potential to get thorny. If one creator is significantly smaller than the other, renaming their character may be a lot less of a hassle than fighting it out. Writing Around Trademarks might be utilized.
  • Getting around the One-Mario Limit. An incredibly popular character or person is likely to monopolize this name. A Google search, for example, is more likely to return results about the more famous one and deprive the lesser-known one of attention. Renaming to a unique name can circumvent this, while also avoiding confusion from people who mix up the characters.
  • Avoiding thorny associations with the newer name-user, especially if they are controversial, too adult for your family-friendly character or, in the case of real people, well-known political figures. If the notoriety is recent, this is a method of Distanced from Current Events that can also avoid accusations of Ripped from the Headlines.

If done while adapting a character (perhaps from an obscure source material that predated the newer, more famous name-using work/person/group), overlaps with Adaptation Name Change. It can also overlap with Dub Name Change if a character's name is well-known in a foreign region thanks to a different work/person/group. No matter the reason, the two parties must be unrelated for this to apply. Tweaking the name of someone or something to create an Expy or Fictional Counterpart of them does not count. If a character has a Code Name just for the heck of it (for example, a superhero who does not have much of a Secret Identity), a subtle way is to drop the codename and have the character use just his real name.

See also One-Steve Limit, which usually prevents characters sharing a name within the same work, and Post-Release Retitle.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • My Hero Academia: The Mad Doctor usually known simply as The Doctor was initially intended to have the real name of "Maruta Shiga". This was changed to "Kyudai Garaki" after it was pointed out that the old name was a reference to Japan's infamous Unit 731.
  • One Piece:
    • In planning stages, Sanji was initially named Naruto (as he is a chef, and "naruto" are a type of fish cake). He was renamed as not to overshadow the release of Naruto.
    • Buggy the Clown was originally named "Boogie", but Eiichiro Oda realized the name was already taken after watching The Nightmare Before Christmas.

    Board Games 
  • When British quiz show Mastermind was made into a board game in 1983, it was renamed to "The Quizmaster" to avoid confusion with the unrelated code-breaking board game Mastermind.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics:
    • Deathstroke's alias was initially "Deathstroke the Terminator". This was quietly shortened in the '80s after The Terminator essentially monopolized the term.
    • The Flash supporting speedster Max Mercury was initially named Quicksilver, but the character dropped into obscurity after the Golden Age. By the time the character was rebooted in the '90s, Marvel Comics had already made significant mileage with their speedster named Quicksilver, and so the character was renamed.
    • During the New 52, DC Comics finally renamed their Captain Marvel Shazam! (which was the book's title prior to the rename, and the trope namer for I Am Not Shazam) after decades of the character coexisting with Marvel Comics's Captain Marvel.note  This rename coincided with Carol Danvers' rise to popularity as Marvel's new Captain Marvel.
  • For a brief period of time, Black Panther was renamed "Black Leopard" to avoid associations with the Black Panther Party of the Civil Rights Movement. He eventually went back to the old name because the character had the name first.
    T'Challa: I contemplate a return to your country, Ben Grimm, where the latter term has political connotations. I neither condemn nor condone those who have taken up the name, but T'Challa is a law unto himself. Hence, the new name — a minor point, at best, since the panther is a leopard.
  • Miracleman was initially named "Marvelman" before a dispute with Marvel Comics, by then a major player in the comics industry.
  • Project Superpowers revived several Golden Age heroes, but had to rename them to avoid confusion with several more popular modern characters who had arisen in the meantime. Thus, Daredevil became "Death-Defying Devil"note , Blue Beetle became "Big Blue"note , Yellowjacket became Jacknote , and Hydroman became Hydronote .
  • An In-Universe example: Miles Morales' black father was called Jefferson Davis, like the Confederate president who owned slaves. In Miles Morales: Spider-Man #22 by Saladin Ahmed, he changes his name to Jeff Morales, wondering why his parents called him Jefferson Davis in the first place and pointing out how tainted it is.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dennis the Menace (US) and Dennis the Menace (UK) just coincidentally happened to both release on the exact same day in 1951 (the US version released roughly 4 hours ahead), necessitating retitling in some regions.
    • The UK version would eventually rename itself to Dennis the Menace & Gnasher to international publications to give more attention to Dennis' dog Gnasher, who was already serving as something of a deuteragonist anyway. It's still known as just "Dennis the Menace" in the UK though.
    • Italian translations also had to make up something to distinguish them. The dub of the 80s cartoon adaptation of the US Dennis renamed him "Danny" while UK Dennis kept his name in the dub of his cartoon. In the comics the opposite happened: US Dennis kept his name, but the short-lived translation of UK Dennis renamed him "Mino".
  • After the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the character Roger Roderick Rabbit in the comic Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! was much more frequently referred to in-story and out by his middle name than his first.

    Fan Works 
  • Downplayed in The Twilight Saga fic Luminosity, which features Jacob Black's sister Rebecca as a minor character. She's not renamed, but the fic has her exclusively go by "Becky", presumably to avoid putting readers in mind of Rebecca Black.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the Hungarian dub of Anastasia, Bartok the bat, the villain's animal sidekick, was renamed "Bartek", to avoid association with famous Hungarian composer Béla Bartók.
  • Played With regarding Beauty and the Beast. Per Word of God, the titular Beast's name is Adam, making him Prince Adam. However, it's not usually brought up in official media outside of an occasional nod at the parks or in merchandise due to the fact that Mattel already has a Prince Adam of their own: the true identity of He-Man of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe fame.
  • When The Emperor's New Groove was originally going to be the more serious Kingdom of the Sun, the spoiled, selfish Emperor was meant to be named "Manco". After it was reworked into the screwball comedy that it is today, the Emperor's name was changed to "Kuzco" because, according to David Spade, Manco means "pussy" in Japanese.
  • Moana (both the movie and the character) was renamed to Vaiana in most of Europe and parts of Asia to avoid a trademark conflict with a cosmetics brand. The movie was further renamed Oceania in Italy (while the character is still "Vaiana"), which is believed to be a move to disassociate with famous porn actress Moana Pozzi.
  • The Secret of NIMH is based on a book called Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, starring a mouse named Mrs. Frisby. The film changes her name to Mrs. Brisby because the original name sounded to similar to "Frisbee", the name of a popular toy in the 1980s.
  • Wizards was originally meant to be titled War Wizards, but was changed before release as a personal request from George Lucas to Ralph Bakshi as to not cause confusion with his upcoming feature, Star Wars. Bakshi accepted it as a trade of favors, as Lucas let Bakshi borrow Mark Hamill while he was on set to do voicework for Wizards.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Following the precedent set by the stage version, film adaptations of And Then There Were None change the name of General MacArthur to avoid associations with Douglas MacArthur.
  • Braveheart: Wallace's wife in The Wallace, which the film is based on, was named Marion Braidfute. Her name was changed to Murron MacClannough to avoid confusion with Maid Marian of Robin Hood fame.
  • The books Nanny McPhee was based on named the titular character "Nurse Matilda". To avoid confusion with Matilda, also a magic-user, the character underwent an Adaptation Name Change to "Nanny McPhee" for the movies.
  • When SAS: Red Notice was released on Netflix, the streamer retitled it SAS: Rise of the Black Swan to avoid conflict with its own release, Red Notice.
  • In Star Wars media starting from Season 2 of The Mandalorian, the name of the starship used by Boba Fett, the Slave I, was no longer mentioned due to rising cultural sensitivity to the word "slave".

  • Astrid Lindgren's Emil was re-christened "Michel" in Germany due to there being another popular Emil in children's literature, the title character from Erich Kaestner's Emil and the Detectives.
  • There is a Great Gusliar story named Lyonechka-Leonardo, about a Child Prodigy who is forced to conform to normal standards. In his published comments for the story, Kir Bulychev recalls that, as Lyonechka is a pet name form for Leonid, the Soviet censors decided it was somehow a stealth mockery of Leonid Brezhnev, and Bulychev was forced to rename the main character Lyoshen'ka (short for Alexey).
  • An In-Universe example appears in the novel Small Steps, when singer Kathy Spears uses the stage name Kaira DeLeon because of Britney Spears.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brazilian comedy group Casseta & Planeta aired in their show Parody Commercials of varied products and services sold by Tabajara Organizations. Some organizations already named Tabajara (it's the name of a native tribe), most notably a São Paulo college, were forced to rechristen themselves as Tabajara started to become a pejorative shorthand for questionable quality.
  • The name of the title character of The Greatest American Hero was briefly changed from Hinkley to Hanley following the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley. It was reverted back after a few months.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: Zari Tomaz is an adaptation of a superheroine named Isis (who was originally from The Secrets of Isis and then adopted as a Black Adam character), but the "Isis" codename was dropped as by then the name was also used to refer to a terrorist organization.
  • Red Dwarf: When Rob Grant and Doug Naylor adapted their radio sketch series Dave Hollins: Space Cadet for television, they decided to change the main character’s last name to Lister, as a football player by the name of Dave Hollins had become famous.
  • Star Trek: Picard features an inversion of this. John de Lancie elected to reprise his role as the omnipotent trickster Q in spite of the existence of the conspiracy organization Qanon (also known as "Q") because he wanted to reclaim the title from the group and make it associated with something fun again.

  • British heavy metal band Marseille was originally named AC/DC, until they found out an Australian hard rock band already took that name.
  • blink-182 were forced to change their name from just "Blink" by an Irish group of the same name.
  • In the 1960s, one young British man named David Jones took on a Stage Name to avoid confusion with another British singer, Davy Jones of The Monkees. That stage name? David Bowie.
  • From '91-'95 there were two groups known as the Dust Brothers; one was an already successful US writing/production duo, and the other was an upstart UK duo who used the name as a homage to the first group. When the UK pair went on their first international tour, the US pair threatened legal action, and so the UK band renamed themselves The Chemical Brothers.
  • Havalina Rail Co. were initially named just Havalina, but expanded their name to avoid confusion with another California band, The Havalinas. Where things get funky is, years later HRC felt the need to change their name once more after several members departed, and they believed The Havalinas had disbanded by that point, so they felt it was safe to shorten their name to just Havalina again. Which just led to confusion a few years later when a completely unrelated Mexican band formed, also calling themselves Havalina.
  • Rapper Kitty started out as Kitty Pryde, but shortened her name because of associations with the Marvel Comics character of the same name.
  • The Country Music duo Maddie & Tae would likely have been known as Maddie & Taylor if not for the fact that there was already a world-famous young, female country superstar named Taylor, and so Taylor Dye abbreviated her first name to Tae to avoid confusion.
  • The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr changed the spelling of his surname from "Maher" to avoid confusion with the drummer of fellow Manchester band Buzzcocks, also named John Maher. Ironically, after The Smiths broke up, drummer Mike Joyce joined the Buzzcocks.
  • The late 80s Californian Christian new wave band Morella's Forest was the debut for brothers Ronnie Martin and Jason Martin. They recorded one album, Tales, but it disappeared onto the Shelf of Album Languishment for a few decades. Jason Martin eventually left to start Starflyer 59, and Ronnie Martin eventually rebranded himself as Joy Electric—and around that same point in the 90s, another band named Morella's Forest popped up, a completely unrelated Christian indie band from Dayton, Ohio. This new Morella's Forest even signed to the same record label as both Joy Electric and Starflyer and released four albums. Fast forward a few decades, and Ronnie Martin once again acquired the original master tapes from his Morella's Forest album. Ronnie and Jason finally released Tales in 2021—and to reduce confusion with the Ohio Morella's Forest, they released the album under the slightly tweaked name "Morellas Forest 1988".
  • Drum and Bass artist Muzz was originally called Muzzy before renaming in January 2020 to avoid association with the BBC show Muzzy in Gondoland.
  • The Christian Ska Punk band The O.C. Supertones got hit with this twice:
    • When they first signed to a record labelnote , they were briefly just The Supertones. Then they realized there was already a surf band named The Supertones, so they stuck their hometown (Orange County, California) at the beginning of their name to distinguish themselves.
    • They initially wanted to name their fifth studio album Truth Soul Rock & Roll, then found out that another Christian band, The Elms, also had an album by that title scheduled to come out on exactly the same day. So the O.C. Supertones retitled their album Hi-Fi Revival before release.
  • During the Surf Rock craze of the '60s, two separate bands called themselves The Surfaris. There was a relatively obscure band from Orange County, California—and there was the band from Glendora, California, who had the mega-hits "Wipeout" and "Surfer Joe". The legal dispute over the name resulted in the Orange County band getting forced to change their name, in spite of the fact they had it first. So they rebranded themselves The Original Surfaris.
  • Van Halen went through a lot of potential band names when they were first starting out; one of those names was Genesis, which they decided not to use after learning that a band from the UK was already using that name.
  • The traditional hymn "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" features a verse referencing a story in I Samuel where the prophet Samuel erects a monument to the assistance God had given them thus far in their war against the Philistines. Older versions feature the line "Here I raise my Ebenezer"—Ebenezer being Hebrew for "stone of help", the name Samuel gave his monument. Nowadays most people, even the devoutly religious, are more likely to associate the name with a certain Dickens character, leading to various rewrites of the verse that omit it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech started out in its first, mostly lore-free edition as BattleDroids, which promptly got FASA an angry letter from George Lucas due to his trademarking the word "droid." Not wanting to risk a legal battle with him, FASA immediately changed the name.
  • An interesting example in Warhammer Fantasy. Malekith, the leader of the Dark Elves, happens to share a name with Marvel's Malekith, who is ALSO the leader of the dark elves. With Marvel's rise to even higher fame, and power of Disney, Games Workshop renamed Malekith to Malerion in the shift to Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, and the character has not had a major story focus since Age of Sigmar dropped.


  • Hero Factory's flagship character was originally named William Blaze, but he was renamed to William Furno to avoid confusion with Billy Blazes of Rescue Heroes.

    Video Games 
  • In 2021, Activision Blizzard became involved in a major sexual harassment lawsuit, and had a few characters, objects and places renamed, mainly in World of Warcraft and Overwatch. They have since made a stance on not naming characters after real people going forward.
    • WoW developer Alex Afrasiabi (the biggest offender targeted by the lawsuit) had a number of NPCs named after him in the game (including "Fras Siabi", "Field Marshal Afrasiabi", "Lord Afrasastrasz", etc). All were renamed.
    • Jesse McCree from Overwatch was named after the Blizzard developer of the same name as a Permanent Placeholder. His name was also linked to the lawsuit, and because he's a major character in one of their franchises, Blizzard decided to write an explanation for his name change, saying Jesse McCree has always been his criminal alias and he decides to use his real name to come clean for good. His new name was finalized to Cole Cassidy.
  • No More Heroes III features the major antagonist Damon Ricotello, who was renamed from Damon Riccitiello from predecessor Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. In both cases, the character is a very targeted caricature of former Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello, so it seems the change was made to avoid potential legal retribution.
  • Piston Honda from the NES version of Punch-Out!! was renamed Piston Hondo in the Wii installment, likely to avoid any legal trouble with the Honda motor company and/or E. Honda from Street Fighter.
  • Quest for Glory I was originally named Hero's Quest, but was renamed to avoid confusion with the tabletop game HeroQuest.
  • Smite is a MOBA featuring Gods from various mythologies duking it out in an arena. One of them is the Egyptian Goddess Isis, which also unfortunately had the same name of a terrorist organization later. Thankfully, said Goddess has several alternate spellings, therefore, she later got name changed into one of those spellings: Eset.
  • Street Fighter
    • Ken did not have a last name until action figures based on the second game were released, at which point it was felt prudent to add the surname "Masters" so there would be no confusion with the Ken of Mattel's Barbie line of toys.
    • Street Fighter II introduced a boxer character named Mike Bison, obviously intended to be a pastiche of Mike Tyson. When the game was released outside Japan, he was renamed Balrognote  both to avoid a potential lawsuit as well as distance the character from the rape charges Tyson was facing at the time. The change has persisted with all international releases in the series since.

    Western Animation 
  • For the first four seasons of Archer, the spy agency the protagonists work at is called ISIS. When the acronym become one of the ones used by the Islamic State, the fifth season begins with the agency being dissolved. The same main cast would form varying groups/companies from then on, but never use the ISIS name again.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender gained its subtitle a ways into production after the creators learned of the film Avatar.
  • For The Dragon Prince, Ezran was originally going to be named Ezra, but was changed because the name Ezra was already being used by the lead character of Star Wars Rebels.
  • In pre-production, Mateo from Elena of Avalor was originally named Marco, but this was changed to avoid further similarities with one of the main characters of fellow Disney cartoon Star vs. the Forces of Evil, who was also a Latino boy in a red jacket named Marco.
  • An early promo of Loonatics Unleashed introduced the six-member squad of superheroes lead by Buzz Bunny. After the creators learned that "Buzz Bunny" was also the name of a women's personal vibrator in the United Kingdom, the character was renamed Ace Bunny.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Starlight Glimmer was originally going to be named Aurora, but was renamed as Disney had a lock on the name Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and related properties.
  • Thunderbirds Are Go: The character Tin-Tin from Thunderbirds was renamed Tanusha (nicknamed Kayo) to avoid confusion with Tintin.

    Real Life 
  • The Screen Actors Guild does not allow duplicates in its roster, so some actors have to be credited as something else to avoid overlapping with a more established actor. Also true with Equity in the UK.
    • Michael John Douglas took on the Stage Name of Michael Keaton to distinguish himself from actor Michael Kirk Douglas and talk show host Mike Douglas (birth name Michael Delaney Dowd, Jr.).
    • Elizabeth Banks changed her surname to distinguish from Elizabeth Mitchell.
    • Michael J. Fox added the "J." middle initial because there was a Michael Fox (he actually does have a real middle name, Andrew, but went with the mysterious J initial to avoid the obvious "Michael, a fox" jokes).
    • This became an Enforced Trope in the mid-to-late '30s. Before then, there apparently were fewer regulations, until a number of public scandals occurred that implicated the wrong people. This included an incident where an actor known as William "Stage" Boyd was caught numerous times with illegal alcohol (during Prohibition) and drugs. Each time it made the papers, the "Stage" was omitted, accidentally accusing the completely unrelated matinee idol William Lawrence Boyd, eventually unjustly ruining his career. Fortunately, the latter Boyd was able to bounce back, taking the role of Hopalong Cassidy, a role he came to relish to the point he played the character exclusively to the end of his career (even famously refusing the role of Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956), as he felt that audiences wouldn't take the film seriously if Hoppy was Moses...).
    • Even then, there are some that slip by; for example, Peyton List (born in Boston in 1986) and Peyton Roi List (born in Florida in 1998) once stayed in the same hotel when the latter guest-starred on As the World Turns while the former was starring on the show as Lucy Montgomery, creating great confusion as they received daily call sheets and voicemails for each other. Years later, they both starred in Batman: Hush (the older Peyton as Poison Ivy and the younger one as Batgirl), with the younger one being credited with her middle initial added in to differentiate the two.
    • As a UK example, David Tennant was born David McDonald, but there was already an actor with that name. The "Tennant" came from his fandom of Pet Shop Boys, whose frontman is named Neil Tennant.
  • Peter Davison (born Peter Moffett) adopted a Stage Name in order to avoid confusion with director Peter Moffatt. The two worked together on All Creatures Great and Small (1978) and later again on Doctor Who.
  • Charles Bronson originally went by the name of Charles Dennis Buchinsky, and had a number of film credits to that name before he changed his surname to Bronson in 1954 at the suggestion of his agent, who feared that his Eastern European surname would damage his career due to The Hollywood Blacklist and the McCarthy witch hunts that were going down at around that time.
  • Albert Brooks is a stage name not because of SAG rules, but because his real name is the same as physicist Albert Einstein.
  • Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King. In order to avoid accusations that he's riding on his father's coattails (and to avoid the Narm of a horror writer named "Joe King"), Hill uses a shortened form of his middle name, Hillstrom, as his last name.
    • Similarly, Nicolas Cage chose to go by a stage name instead of his birth name of Nicolas Coppola because he wanted to succeed on his own merits and avoid accusations of Nepotism due to who his uncle is.
  • Proving how commonplace this is, Harpo Marx changed his first name from "Adolf" to "Arthur", leading to an understandable misconception that he didn't want association with you-know-who. In fact, he changed his name back in 1911, before either World War and nobody had even heard of Hitler at the time; it was as simple as Harpo absolutely hating the sound of the name, insisting on going by "Ahdie" before changing it. Decades later, Harpo no doubt realized the king-sized bullet he had dodged.
  • When Disney purchased 20th Century Fox, they renamed it 20th Century Studios, to show that that it was now fully divorced from the Fox Corporation that owns the TV channels Fox, Fox Sports, and Fox News. Fox Searchlight was likewise renamed to Searchlight Pictures, and 20th Century Fox Television reverted to its early-'90s name 20th Television.
  • The New York town of Sing Sing renamed itself Ossining to lower the stigma related to the Sing Sing Correctional Facility located there.
  • In 1752, the Massachusetts town of Salem Village changed its name to Danvers to distance itself from not only the nearby city of Salem, but also the legacy of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, as it was Salem Village - not the modern city of Salem - that saw the origins of the Witch Trials.
  • The NBA's Washington Wizards had, throughout their history, did this twice:
    • The first instance of this was when they were established in Chicago in 1961, when they were named the Chicago Packers in reference to the city's meatpacking industry. However, the nickname was highly unpopular due to it being the same as the Green Bay Packers - The Rival to the city's NFL team, the Chicago Bears. As a result, the Chicago Packers changed their name to the Chicago Zephyrs the following season before relocating to Baltimore a year after that in 1963 and changing their name to the Baltimore Bullets.
    • The second instance was in 1997, when they rebranded as the Wizards. To provide context, in 1973, the then-Baltimore Bullets relocated to Washington, D.C. and kept the "Bullets" nickname until 1997. The reason for this name-change was due to D.C.'s high crime rate during The '90s and the then-owner of the team, Abe Pollin, felt it was rather inappropriate to associate the franchise with gun violence.
  • Film director Christopher Joseph Columbus goes by the shorter "Chris" to not be confused with the famous historical figure. That didn't stop him from naming his production company 1492 Pictures after the year the historical figure founded the Americas.