Follow TV Tropes


Shout-Out Theme Naming

Go To

Some writers, instead of just including the odd Shout-Out, name entire groups of characters after characters in some other work of fiction.

Compare Named After Somebody Famous, which is a Shout-Out to a Real Life person's name.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Three out of four of the main characters from Burst Angel are named after characters from the book Little Women (Jo, Meg, and Amy, with Sei being the Odd Name Out). In an interview, the creator mentioned that Sei's middle name was Bethany, thus making her still technically fit. In the original Little Women Beth's was the only name not changed from her real life counterpart. So having her the odd name out is IN ITSELF a shout out.
  • Dragon Ball
    • A very codifying example is the (in)famous Son Goku (or Gokuu); his name is basically the Japanese on'yomi reading of the Chinese name Sun Wukong, even written with the same Asian characters (孫 悟空). It's almost a wonder why people think of the Saiyan rather than the actual mythological figure himself, aside from the fact that Dragon Ball beat Journey to the West to the punch in being popular as hell in the West back then.
    • This even applies to the Ox King; he too, is named after one of the characters from that very novel in the same on'yomi reading (his Japanese name literally is "Bull Demon King"; read in Chinese as Niumouwang or on'yomi as Gyuumaou).
    • Also applies to the Goku in Saiyuki, though he's much more closely based off of his source material than the above example and also applies to the fellow characters as well.
    • Dragon Ball Z contains a nod to Disney's Cinderella with the ancient mage Bibidi, his doppelgänger Babidi, and the demon that they summoned, Majin Buu. ("Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!")
  • ''Gundam:
    • Gundam Wing contains references to The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy Catalonia and her gold-plated vehicles, the organization OZ (whose emblem is a lion), the Specials' emblem looking like the Tin Woodsman's head in profile, and, in episode 34, the OZ commander's callsign is "Scarecrow 5".
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny, Athrun's Mid-Season Upgrade, Infinite Justice, is named after "Operation Infinite Justice", the original name for "Operation Enduring Freedom". Likewise, Kira's Freedom is likely named after "Operation Enduring Freedom".
    • Gundam Sentinel names all of its characters after real people from the end of the Shogunate in Japan. For example, protagonist Ryu Roots is named for Ryoma Sakamoto ("moto" being the Japanese word for "root").
    • The Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam spinoff Advance of Zeta combines this with Cultural Cross-Reference, as all the experimental mobile suits in it are named for characters from Watership Down.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! has a surprising bit of Cultural Cross-Reference with Nodoka's four treasure hunter friends in the Magic World Story Arc. All of them are named after characters in James P. Hogan's Inherit the Stars novel. Craig Caldwell is named after Gregg Caldwell, Kristin Danchecker is named after Professor Christian Danchekker, Lynn Gulland is named after Lyn Garland, and Aisha Coryell is named after Koriel. There's also a character named Jean Luc Ricardo.
  • Although it doesn't translate into English very clearly, in Naruto, Kakuzu's signature attacks come from the names of different Zeon mobile suits. Just for starters, his ability to turn into a mass of strings is called "Jiongu" (literally "Earth Grudge Fear"), which is how "Zeong" (a mobile suit which also had arms that could extend outward attached by cords) is pronounced in Japanese.
  • In Pokémon, there are the most recurring members of Team Rocket, the pairs of Jessie and James, and Cassidy and Butch. named after famous outlaws. For Jessie and James, their original Japanese names are a Shout-Out, too (Miyamoto Musashi and Sakaki Kojirou, respectively). To up the ante, when the four are paired based on gender, there is a theme again.note 
  • In Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, everybody (and everything) is named after something from detective fiction. For starters, the heroines are named Sherlock, Cordelia (as in Gray), Hercule (as in Poirot) and Nero (as in Wolfe).
  • Kimba's father from Kimba the White Lion is named Caesar and one of the villains is named Cassius, which reflected his bitter past with Caesar.
  • Discussed in episode 10 of I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying when Hajime and Kaoru are trying to come up with hypothetical baby names. Hajime even points out that just about every name ever has been used in anime, manga, and games so it'd be near impossible to defy this.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, the Three Old Men are named Antonio, Carlos, and Jobim are named after Brazilian songwriter and musician Antinio Carlos Jobim, a pioneer of bossa nova.
  • On top of the several references to stars and witchcraft, Little Witch Academia features a surprising number of references to the world of animation. Diana's cronies Hannah and Barbara are named after Hanna-Barbera, background characters Avery, Mary and Blair are referencing Tex Avery and Mary Blair, and apparently Akko (in addition to her full name being a reference to Atsuko Kagami) was a common name among several Japanese animators.
  • Code Geass: Oz the Reflection to The Wizard of Oz. The Glinda Knights are parallels to Dorothy and her friends, such as Leon, Tink, and Toto.
  • One of the unwritten laws of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is to have characters' names be shout-outs to music and their musicians. In addition, a given part may have its own shout-outs thrown into the mix:
    • Stone Ocean names a great deal of its cast after fashion labels and designers.
    • Jorge Joestar has Stands named after Western films.
  • Everyone important to the plot of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has a name referencing The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter:
    • Kaguya, Shirogane, Ishigami, Fujiwara, and Iino all reference Kaguya-hime herself and the princes trying to court her.
    • Osaragi, Tsubame, and Momo, and Koromo Shiranui all reference the gifts sought by Kaguya-hime as part of her impossible tasks to her suitors (each of which has some sort of relationship with the student council members that share their respective suitor's namesake). In Tsubame's case, she becomes part of the ongoing saga of "Kaguya Shinomiya's Impossible Requests", and it's later revealed that the four of them are referred to as the "Impossible Girls" deliberately invoking the theme.
    • Mikado Shijo (Maki's twin brother) references the the emperor who tries to marry Kaguya-hime.
    • Ootomo also references one of the suitors, interestingly the same one as Shirogane's.
    • Kaguya's mother is named Nayotake (Supple Bamboo), meaning that Kaguya was metaphorically born from bamboo, just like her literary counterpart.
    • Everyone in Fujiwara's family was named after plants in some manner, as her counterpart was tasked with finding a special branch.
  • Beyond the Religious and Mythological Theme Naming, especially most of the demons having surnames based on the 72 demons of the Ars Goetia, several characters in High School DXD are references to other pieces of fiction. The majority of those references are to the various Gundam series, with the rest mostly being references to Pokémon. Rossweisse and her valkyrie ilk are somewhat unique among this, as each one shown has specifically been named after valkries that were mentioned in Prose Edda and The Ring of the Nibelung, with the past generation named after thos in the former, and Rossweisse's generation named after those in the latter.

    Comic Books 


    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The Hobbit:
    • The names of Gandalf and all the Dwarves (except Balin) are drawn from dwarves in the Old Norse Poetic Edda.
  • The monster hunters in The Scar by China Miéville are named after the characters from The Hunting of the Snark, but in different languages. Their leader is Tinntinnabulum - the Bellman, and their ship is the Castor - Beaver.
    • The names of all the ships that make up the pirate city in The Scar have a connection with other works of literature involving ships. There's the Arronax (after the narrator of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Wintershaw Market (after the protagonist of William Hope Hodgson's Boats of the Glen Carrig) etc.
  • Mission of Honor introduces several characters who are plotting to become the heads of various planetary governments. Most, if not all, are named after movie directors.
  • The Collector: Frederick kidnaps a beautiful girl Miranda. He calls himself Ferdinand, but she thinks of him as Caliban. Miranda is the heroine of The Tempest, Frederick being her Love Interest and Caliban is a monstrous creature.
  • Charlie Lewis and Alyson Carroll in the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland adaptation Terra Mirum Chronicles.
  • As a shout-out to the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, many dwarfish names in Discworld were based on the kinds of dwarf names you find in Middle-earth. Other dwarfs are named for emotions, referencing a certain Disney movie.
  • In We Are Legion (We Are Bob), Bob-2 names himself Riker and picks the appropriate theme (no beard though). Later on, though, he decides to drop the Trek theme and stars going by Will. Then there are Phineas and Ferb.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Arrow season seven, the high ups of the Ninth Circle (except Emiko) are all named after characters from The Divine Comedy: Dante, Virgil and, in the final episode, Beatrice.
  • Eerie, Indiana:
    • In "Foreverware", Betty Wilson's twin sons are named Bert and Ernie.
    • Also in "Foreverware", the women who use Foreverware are Betty Wilson, Imogene Crocker, Beatrice Pillsbury, Winifred Swanson and Phyllis Stouffer. The first two are named after the food advertising mascot Betty Cocker while the others all take their names from food companies.
  • The creators of Married... with Children are wrestling fans and decided to name the Bundys and the Rhoades after King Kong Bundy (who appeared in the show twice: once as one of Peggy's relatives and later As Himself; they're not named after serial killer Ted Bundy unlike despite what was originally thought) Dusty Rhodes respectively.
  • RoboCop: The Series had a pair of recurring thugs named Tom and Jerry.

  • Several characters across several Cool Kids Table games.
    • Oliver Kennedy from Creepy Town is named after Jaime Kennedy, the actor who played Randy Meeks in Scream.
    • Janus from Small Magic is named after the character from Chrono Trigger.
    • Josh's cat Geno from the Harry Potter-themed game Hogwarts: The New Class is named after the character from Super Mario RPG.

  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • The side characters in the audio drama "Return of the Rocket Men" are named after characters in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - van Cleef (named after actor Lee Van Cleef who played "the Bad"), Ramirez (named after Tuco Ramirez, "the Ugly" and Bill Carson (named after the Almost Dead Guy who tells Tuco and Blondie about the Confederate gold buried in the grave).
    • The Sontarans in the audio drama Heroes of Sontar are named after the actors from Dad's Army (and loosely based on their characters): Field-Major Thurr after Arthur Lowe (Captain Manwairing); Sergeant Mezz after John le Mesurier (Sergeant Wilson); Corporal Clunn after Clive Dunn (Corporal Jones); Trooper Vend after Ian Lavender (Private Pike); Trooper Jorr after John Laurie (Private Frazer); Trooper Nold after Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey); and Pilot Bekk after James Beck (Private Walker).

  • The different versions of Debian are named after Toy Story characters. There are three concurrent versions: the "stable" version, the "testing" version (which is the next stable version before the bugs get worked out), and the "unstable" version (for the bleeding-edge crowd); the "unstable" version is always called "sid".
  • Versions of Wordpress are named after American jazz musicians.
  • Versions of the Doku wiki are named after characters from Discworld books.

    Tabletop Games 


    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Many games contain Those Two Guys Biggs and Wedge. Just some of their appearances:
    • The four elemental fiends in Final Fantasy IV were originally named for demons from Dante's Inferno — Scarmiglione, Cagnazzo, Barbariccia, and Rubicante. Character Name Limits caused their names to get changed in the English translation, to Milon, Kainazzo, Valvalis, and Rubicant, respectively. All four are also corrected in the official GBA re-release.
    • For some reason, the fighters on each level of the pagoda of the Five Mighty Gods in Wutai in Final Fantasy VII have names to do with (mainly Russian) drama: Gorky, Staniv (Stanislavsky), Shake (Shakespeare), Chekhov and Godo (Godot, as in Waiting for Godot).
    • Final Fantasy VIII takes the Star Wars theme naming a step further: in addition to Biggs and Wedge, there is a later supporting character named Piet (as in "You are in command now, Admiral Piett") and in the original Japanese, the Headmaster of Galbadia Garden is named Dodonna.
  • The Koopalings, debuting in Super Mario Bros. 3, are all named after famous musicians. Same with the Reznors in Super Mario World, named after Trent Reznor.
  • In the English translation of Trauma Center, all the patients have names that are a mix and match of the characters and actors of House, Scrubs, and ER, three popular medical shows.
  • In the Onimusha series of games, the names of the major demon antagonists (excepting Onimusha 2 for some reason) are all taken from Shakespeare's Hamlet.
  • Vagrant Story has characters named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as antagonists.
  • Devil May Cry
  • Wild ARMs 2: It drew inspiration from The Divine Comedy, as the terrorist organization the party fights through the first arc is named "Cocytus" (the ninth and lowest circle of Hell), with its four main generals named after the concentric zones within: Caina, Antenora, Judecca, and Ptolomea.
  • Metal Gear Solid had a Dave, a Hal, a Frank, a Naomi, and a Miller, and there was a submarine called the Discovery - all names from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Dave also pairs up with a Meryl Silverburgh, in reference to Hideo Kojima's earlier Policenauts.
  • The inhabitants of the Velvet Room from the Persona series have, of all things, theme naming based on Frankenstein:
    • Igor is named for the hunchbacked assistant that became associated with the Frankenstein mythos after Fritz in the first Universal film — the name "Igor" probably originally came from the non-hunch-backed assistant from House of Wax (1953) or a conflation of Fritz with Ygor from the Universal films, and was codified as an element of Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein.
    • In the first two games, Nameless is "named" after the monster, and there's also a case to be made for the Demon Artist, though the latter is more of a title than a name. The Odd Name Out is Belladonna — although visually modeled on the Bride from the film Bride of Frankenstein, her name is original.
    • The trend is particularly apparent with the Velvet Siblings, with the ladies all being named after characters from the original novel. Elizabeth from Persona 3 is named after Victor's bride, Margaret from Persona 4 is named after the sister of the arctic explorer Robert Walton, and Justine and Caroline from Persona 5 are respectively named after Victor's mother and the Frankenstein family home's servant. Theodore from Persona 3 Portable is more obscure; he's most likely named after — given that he's a male replacement for Elizabeth — Theodore Roszak, who authored Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein, but it's possible he's instead named after Theodor von Holst, who did the illustrations for the 1831 edition of Frankenstein.
    • Marie from Persona 4 Golden is most likely named for author Mary Shelley.
    • In Persona 5, most of the protagonists' Personas are named after various folk heroes and thieves from literature (Arsene, Goemon, Zorro, etc.).
  • In MOTHER 2 (but not the EarthBound localization), one obviously matched set of alternate names for Ness, Paula, Jeff, Poo and Ness's dog is John, Yoko, Paul, George and Ringo. Another set is Mario, Peach, Luigi, Kinopio (=Toad) and Yoshi. Yet another references the Japanese boy band SMAP.
    • The lead twins of Mother 3 were named after the lead twins of a book called The Notebook. Both stories are about horrible things happening to little boys.
  • Several gangs in River City Ransom (both, NES and GBA versions), most obviously the Home Boys (named after kids in 50's-70's television shows like The Brady Bunch and My Three Sons) in the original.
  • The full names of the two player characters in the original Contra (barring spelling variations), Bill Rizer and Lance Bean, are a mix and match of the names of four actors who appeared in Aliens: Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, and Michael Biehn in that order.
  • The Lee brothers from the Double Dragon series, as well as the recurring mooks Williams and Rowper, are named after the three main heroes from Enter the Dragon. The arcade version of Double Dragon II even adds two Abobo-like giant mooks named after Mr. Han's henchmen called Oharra and Bolo (although the manual of Mega Drive port identifies the latter as "Abobo", which ruins the shout-out a bit). There's also a female mook named Linda, who seems to be named after Bruce Lee's widow.
  • Two characters in the sci-fi chapter of Live A Live are named Kirk and Darth.
  • In Policenauts, Tony Redwood's dead brother is named "Ridley Redwood". They're named after two prominent film directors/real life brothers, Tony and Ridley Scott.
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • A Witch's Tale. First, all the Princesses and guardians of the kingdoms are named after characters from fairy tales or the like. Then, we get into the powerful and mysterious Queen Alice, and Liddell — the protagonist, who wants to surpass her, and is implied to be more deeply connected to her than that.
  • Several suspects in the Nancy Drew game White Wolf Of Icicle Creek have lupine-themed names, including Lou Talbot (for Larry Talbot) and Bill Kessler (for David Kessler).
  • Several major suspects and authors of documents in Sherlock Holmes: The Awakening are named after tabletop RPG designers.
  • The two main characters of the NES Shoot 'em Up S.C.A.T. are not only obvious ripoffs of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sigourney Weaver, they are even called "Arnold" and "Sigourney". The European release, Action in New York, gave them new names (Silver Man and Sparks) just in case.
  • Umineko: When They Cry has Beatrice, Virgilia, and Clair Vaux of Bernard.
  • The names of Nina and Anna Williams from Tekken are both references to La Femme Nikita. Anna in particular is named and modeled after actress Anne Parillaud, who played Nikita in the original 1990 French version. Nina's name on the other hand comes from the alias used by Bridget Fonda's character in Point of No Return, the 1993 American remake of Nikita.
  • World of Warcraft: Multiple:
    • The Ritualists encountered before the Dark Animus in Throne of Thunder (you face a random set of 6 out of 24, and there's an achievement for killing all of them) are named after alien species in the original Doctor Who series.
    • In Stormwind's west bank there are three bankers on the left side named after Kristin Scott-Thomas, while the bankers on the right are named after Olivia Newton-John.
  • The Mordesh of WildStar have a German/Russian theme to their names, and many of their notable people like Dr. Victor Lazarin are named after famous Horror characters.
  • In Dance Central, many of the move names are named after the choreographers and producers of the game (e.g. Marcos Wind, Repka Roll, Barreto Clap).
  • In BlazBlue, Amane's attack names are derived from the Super Sentai franchise (for example, Kaizoku Senkou: "Gokai Rasen Renpa" and Juken Dageki: "Gekiren") while Izayoi's are derived from the post-2000 entries in the Gundam franchise (Freedom Justice Judge of Destiny, Slaver Trans-Am),
  • Star Wars: Dark Forces ran on the "Jedi" engine. When it was decided to make the Video Game 3D Leap with Dark Forces II, the engine made for it was named the "Sith" engine.
  • In Faria, the later towns are named after Game Arts' previous games, though the references are somewhat obscured by being abbreviated in Japanese and then translated into English:
  • In Fatal Racing, the A.I. driver teams are mostly named after computers and robots from famous works of science fiction: Ash and Bishop, Bob and Vincent, Eddie and Marvin, Holly and Kryten, Slave and Zen...
  • Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu has "Warp-Up" and "Warp-Down" items called the Black Onyx and Fire Crystal, named after a duology of Wizardry-like games originally developed for the PC-88.
  • Ken Griffey Jr Presents Major League Baseball features names that reference other famous people as replacements for actual baseball players. Some make sense like the Yankees and Red Sox players named after landmarks, but others are more surprising. For example, the Brewers are named after Marvel and DC characters, the Royals after presidents, and the Orioles after John Waters references. Yes, a Nintendo game referencing Pink Flamingos.
  • Banjo-Tooie has an estranged couple of talking ice cubes named George and Mildred. There's no way to bring them back together, alas—Cruelty Is the Only Option.
  • Warcraft III: The orc blademasters in the mission "Blackrock & Roll, too!" are all named after characters from Samurai Shodown: Haomarush for Haohmaru, Genjuros for Genjuro, Khanzo for Hanzo, and Jubei'Thos for Jubei.
  • The martial-artist pastiche Pokémon Hitmonlee (Sawamular) and Hitmonchan (Ebiwalar) are Named After Somebody Famous in martial arts — Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan in English, and Tadashi Sawamura and Hiroyuki Ebihara in Japanese.
  • Hiveswap has many, including Daraya Jonjet (from Daria and Joan Jett), Nihkee Moolah (From Fabulous Moolah), and Tegiri Calbur (from Excalibur)
    • Zero Tolerance for the Mega Drive: all the playable characters are named after the developers.
  • The Borderlands series:


    Web Original 
  • Open Blue's players tend to name Avelian NPC's after Halo characters in similar positions. Admirals Hood and Harper, Lieutenant Sobeck and Admiral Standish, and so on. The Espartanos from v1 - v4 were an obvious reference to the Spartans, and the fortress colony of Reach is named for a planet in the Haloverse that serves a similar purpose.
  • All of the characters in Ruby Quest are named after animals from Animal Crossing.
  • RWBY has a bit of a fairy tale theme going. There are students named Ruby Rose (Little Red Riding Hood), Yang Xiao Long ("Yang" is a Chinese word that translates to "light", referring to Goldilocks), Weiss Schnee (her name is German for "White Snow", referring to Snow White), and Blake Belladonna (Bellona, Roman goddess of war or Belle, from Beauty and the Beast), among others. Two of the teachers are named Professor Ozpin and Glynda Goodwitch, references to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. One of Velvet Scarlatina's references is The Velveteen Rabbit, and one species of the Creatures of Grimm (The Brothers Grimm) are known as Beowolves (Beowulf).
  • Takotsubo's East 13 gang uses code-names from The Wizard of Oz. Normal members are the Quadlings, their leader Cord is the Tin Man, and his best friends are the Scarecrow and Glinda. In the beginning of the play, they recruit a young woman with magical powers who Cord immediately calls Elphaba.

    Western Animation 
  • All of the Tracy children in Thunderbirds are named for the Mercury astronauts. Possibly an in-universe example given that their father used to be an astronaut himself.
  • The turtles from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are named after famous Italian Renaissance painters and sculptors: Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Leonardo da Vinci.
  • The second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon featured a fighter called Kluh, from Planet Levram. Later on, his father, Ammag, was introduced, continuing the theme.
  • Gargoyles:
    • Many characters are named (and partially based on) William Shakespeare characters. The most prominent is Macbeth.
    • The gargoyle clan named themselves after famous sections of New York.
    • There are David and Goliath from The Bible.
  • In G.I. Joe, the villainous Dreadnok trio of Torch, Ripper, and Buzzer. Their real names, Thomas Winken, Henry Nod, and Richard Blinken-Smythe, follow two themes; Their first names are Tom, Dick, and Harry, and their last names are Winken, Blinken, and Nod. Monkey Wrench, a later addition to the crew, was named Bill Winkie: "Wee Willie Winkie," in keeping with the nursery rhyme theme of the original three.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Grandma's Dead", Elmyra names her pet hamsters after the kids of The Brady Bunch.
  • In Gasp!, the kids of the family are named Fred and Ginger. This is never commented on.
  • In The Fairly OddParents episode "Sleepover and Over", Cosmo spends the episode making random creatures his new pets and names them all after characters from sister series The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (an ant named Carl, a bee named Cindy, and a cat named Jimmy).

    Real Life 
  • The individual chemical components of bohemic acid are named after characters from La Bohème. They include Marcellomycin, Musettamycin, Rudolphomycin, Mimimycin, Collinemycin and Alcindoromycin.
  • The firearms company Alexander Arms has produced two unique assault rifle cartridges: .50 Beowulf and 6.5mm Grendel.
  • In the Apollo 10 mission, the command module was called "Charlie Brown" and the lunar module "Snoopy" by the crew.
  • Unlike most other celestial bodies—named for gods, spirits, and heroes of ancient myth The Moons of Uranus are named after figures from the writings of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope (Titania, Oberon, Ariel, Miranda, Umbriel etc.).
  • Certain surface features of Saturn's largest moon Titan, where the mountains and a few other features are named from the mountains of Tolkien's Legendarium, the plains and certain other features are named for the planets of Frank Herbert's Dune universe, and straits (yes, straits—Titan has seas and lakes of hydrocarbons) are named for characters from Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels.
  • At Winter Park Resort in Colorado, the trails and runs off of the Olympia Express lift on the backside of the Winter Park area are all named for Alice in Wonderland characters like the White Rabbit, March Hare, Cheshire Cat, Tweedledee and Tweedledum. There is even a double chairlift called Looking Glass in this area.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: