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Significant Name Shift

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Will: Daddy-o! What's up?
Lou: Will ... uh, some business came up that I have to handle, so we're gonna have to put our trip on hold ... just for a couple of weeks ... or maybe a little longer.
Will: [trying not to look dejected] Yeah, yeah, that's cool ... whatever...
Lou: Look, I'll call you next week, and we'll iron out the details. It was great seeing you, son.
Will: You too. Lou.

How a person refers to someone reveals how they see the person they're talking to. Which means when the name, nickname, or title they use changes, their feelings about them often have, too. A Significant Name Shift is all about the decision—whether or not they were invited to use a nickname, the character's choice to acknowledge a change with a new form of address is what holds weight in this trope.

Unlike a Meaningful Rename, these names and titles aren't new. Shifting from Last-Name Basis to First-Name Basis doesn't usually indicate a change in anyone's identity, but it will signal that characters have grown close enough to drop formalities. A kid calling their stepfather "Dad" instead for the first time shows they've accepted them as their full parent.

When a character calls someone something more informal than they have before or adopts an Affectionate Nickname, this will usually show the new closeness and the trust between them. Relationship Upgrades are often signaled this way. But switching to strict formal terms will show a break in the relationship or an attempt to put distance between them.

A name shift can also be used to reaffirm a character arc. A prince may have had his coronation at the beginning of a story, but it's when The Good Chancellor finally calls him "Your Majesty" that he truly becomes king.

This trope is easily Lost in Translation. Russian names, for example, have extensive sets of diminutives, each with their own nuances often lost on those not familiar with Russian culture. East Asian languages like Japanese come with incredibly complex systems of honorifics—most of which have no English translation at all even though a small shift between them can be hugely insightful to the relationship.

Compare Insistent Appellation, You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious, Calling Parents by Their Name, Outgrowing the Childish Name, and Hey, You!. Sometimes invoked via Don't Call Me "Sir".

Contrast Given Name Reveal, which might overlap, but is most often this trope's inverse.

Truth in Television, of course, but no need for real-life examples: it's simply too common.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, the members of the group of friends known as the Super Peace Busters used nicknames on each other in the past, but they drifted apart after Meiko "Menma" Honma's death, and most are on a Last-Name Basis in the present. As they reconnect, they start using their nicknames again, such as when they start talking through their issues in the final episode.
  • Ao Haru Ride: Kou calls the main character Futaba instead of Yoshioka in the last volume once they start dating and he's no longer trying to play cool in front of her.
  • Assassination Classroom: Karma and Nagisa refer to each other by their first names as Nagisa's parents are separated so he doesn't want any confusion and Karma just likes his name. However, they add on suffixes when talking to each other, demonstrating they aren't that close. It turns out that Karma has always sensed Nagisa's bloodlust and distanced himself from his friend out of fear. Once they resolve their issues, the two drop the suffixes to show their closeness.
  • In Chapter 40 of Asteroid in Love, Mai Inose reunites with Keiko Izumi, her Childhood Friend, while studying at the local library. While Keiko starts off calling Mai the more informal "Mai-chan," within a few panels Keiko starts calling Mai "Inose-san," when Keiko learns Mai is still into maps and urban exploration, something that was their common childhood hobby, but now Keiko sees it as childish and embarrassing.
  • Baccano!: Inverted. Due to being considered legally dead, Claire purchases the name Felix Walken so he can marry Chané without issue. He then refuses to allow anyone to use his original name, save for Chané, demonstrating his love for her, though it is ironic as she is mute.
  • Black Butler: When first summoned, Sebastian simply calls Ciel "master." After a chat with Tanaka where he notices Ciel being referred to as the more affectionate "young master" he immediately starts using that instead.
  • Bleach: The first time we see Isshin and Ryuken talk to each other, Ryuken calls Isshin "Kurosaki", which is his last name. Isshin looks weirdly happy about it and remarks that it's the first time Ryuken called him that. In the final arc of the manga, it's revealed that Kurosaki was actually the surname of Isshin's wife Masaki, which he took after their wedding, and that she and Ryuken were first cousins.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Syaoran calls Sakura anything but her name. He doesn't use her real name until the episode they're locked in an elevator together and Sakura falls through a mysterious hole. He's so shocked that he yells for her, calling her "Sakura", and when she floats back up by using the Float card, she acknowledges the change with happiness. Because of this, Sakura feels obliged to refer to Syaoran formally as "Li-kun". The moment he finally refers to her by first name, she asks if she can do the same, leading her to gleefully call out "Syaoran-kun" any moment she can.
  • In The Case Files of Jeweler Richard, Richard has called his mother by her first name for over twenty years because she didn't like being called "Maman" (they're French)—it made her feel old. However, she's forgotten this incident entirely and is now hurt by the distance between them. Once they work through their relationship, Richard calls her "Maman" again, which inspires Seigi to call up his own mother and change from calling her by her first name "Hiromi" to "Mom."
  • Food Wars!: Flashbacks show that Satoshi Isshiki and Nene Kinokuni called each other by their given names when they were children. However, as they grew up they started calling each other by family names, mostly due to Nene growing resentful of how Satoshi quickly took into the arts and crafts that she took years to master through hard work.
  • Get Backers:
    • Ban refuses to refer to anyone by their actual names until he's decided to respect them. He begins calling Ginji by name soon after they became partners.
      Ginji: ...That's when Ban-chan started using my name, and you know how bad he is at remembering names!
      Paul: You know that's not true—he actually remembers everyone's names. He's just not willing to use 'em.
    • Similarly, Ginji switches from "Midou-kun" to "Ban-chan" after their first recovery mission together.
  • Haikyuu!!: Oikawa is prone to nicknaming other people and often uses them as Terms of Endangerment for his rivals like Hinata (who he calls "chibi-chan" ("shrimpy", "shorty-pie"). This changes later when the two surprisingly bond after teaming up in a casual match during the Time Skip; before parting ways, Oikawa switches to calling his rival by his first name Shouyo, signifying their new-found friendship as well as the new respect he's gained for the latter.
  • During the beginning arc of Inuyasha, the title character initially refers to Kagome as some constant variation of the word "you", punctuating their strained relationship. After she helps him kill their first dangerous enemy, however, he switches to using her name.
  • Little Butterfly: After Kojima and Nakahara have been dating for a while, Nakahara's last name changes after his escape from Abusive Parents. Kojima decides that he should call Nakahara by his given name despite Nakahara being okay using his abusive family's name casually. Nakahara also agrees to call Kojima "Yuki" to show their closeness. Kojima ends up being too embarrassed to completely go through with it, but Nakahara is much more shameless.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, following their official defection from the Earth Alliance military, Mu la Flaga makes a point of calling Murrue Ramius "Murrue-san" instead of "Captain." The two of them lay the Will They or Won't They? to rest in the following episode and continue to call one another by name instead of by rank for the rest of the series.
  • In My Hero Academia, Izuku's childhood bully, Bakugou, refers to him with the insult "Deku" throughout the series, meaning "useless" - until Bakugou's character arc leads him to the long-awaited apology; at this moment and ever since, he refers to Izuku by his real name.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot:
    • William shifts from "Mr. Holmes" to "Sherly" once Sherlock saves his life and he feels he finally has a chance to be proper friends with him.
    • Louis, who has always been rather frustrated with Sherlock's existence and not gotten along well with him, finally accepts Sherlock's presence and begins to trust him after Sherlock saves William's life, and he switches over to "Sherlock-san" which is about as informal as he gets with anyone.
    • Louis doesn't call Albert "older brother" until after their first murder together, when he finally accepts Albert as family. Later, he changes from "nii-sama" to "nii-san" for the first time, putting him on the same level as William for the first time.
  • In New Game!, Nene Sakura and Tsubame "Naru" Narumi initially get along well, and Naru calls Nene "Nenecchi" at the latter's invitation. However, Naru is offended to learn that Nene mainly got hired due to connections, and starts calling her "Sakura-san" instead to distance herself from her. Later on, Nene helps fix some of the bugs that were discovered in Naru's minigames, and says that while she disliked Naru at first, she learned about how hard Naru worked to overcome her mother's opposition to her working in the game industry. Naru, however, says that was no excuse to treat Nene so poorly and apologizes, whereupon Nenecchi once again invites Naru to use her nickname and Naru accepts.
  • One Piece: When she first joins the Straw Hat Pirates, Robin refers to the other members by their position on the ship, such as calling Nami "Miss Navigator" or Zoro "Mr. Swordsman", only ever calling Luffy by name. She does this to keep her distance from the crew, assuming that they will eventually betray her like so many other people she thought she could trust. Once the Straw Hats risk their lives to rescue her from CP9, she realizes that she's safe with them and starts calling everyone by name.
    • Luffy himself also has a habit of calling villains by certain nicknames due to not wanting to be bothered to remember their real names. However, the moment a villain does something that angers Luffy even further, he stops calling them by the nicknames he's given them and starts to take them much more seriously.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: During the first half of the story, Nino rarely refers to Fuutarou by name proper, and when she does she uses his family name Uesugi without honorifics, evidencing her hostile attitude towards him. On the second half, after she falls in love with him she switches to the Affectionate Nickname "Fuu-kun", which doesn't go unnoticed by the rest of her sisters.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: When Utena wins her first duel with Saionji, Anthy stops referring to Saionji as -sama and starts using -senpai to indicate she no longer has any obligation to be subservient to him.
  • In Sound! Euphonium, there's a fateful moment when Reina and Kumiko hike up a mountain together. Before this, they refer to each other as "Kousaka-san" and "Oumae-san"; afterwards, they drop the honorifics and become much closer, referring to each other by first name only.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Barnaby finally starts calling Kotetsu by his given name instead of "Old Man" after they wrap up dealing with Jake Martinez to show his trust and faith in his partner.
  • In Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, Sakura and Syaoran are childhood friends and are on First-Name Basis with each other. After Sakura loses her memories, she calls him Syaoran-kun. This becomes a plot point when a villain tries to trick Syaoran by conjuring an illusion of Sakura, and he notices the trick when she calls him without the honorific.
  • In Yes! Pretty Cure 5, after fighting for a whole episode, Rin and Karen used each others' first names as an indication of having developed respect for each other.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Ra's al Ghul refers to Bruce Wayne/Batman as "Detective," basically complimenting him as a Worthy Opponent. Though often disparaging of the Robins, at various points he's referred to them as "Detective" when they manage to thwart him (though it tends to come off as less friendly).
  • Transformers (2019): After quietly scheming behind the scenes, Megatron launches a coup and takes over much of Cybertron's government. When Autobot leader Sentinel Prime is killed during an attempt to rally people against the coup his old friend Orion Pax inherits the Matrix of Leadership and is renamed Optimus Prime. Megatron insistently refers to him as "Orion Pax", declaring him a sham and refusing to treat him as an equal... until he's completely outplayed and realises that now he's lost his chance for a quick victory. Only then does he start referring to his archfoe as "Optimus Prime".

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) fanfiction, San goes from calling Ghidorah's other two heads "Elder Brother" and "Eldest Brother" respectively to mainly simply referring to them as the "right head" and "middle head" respectively, symbolizing his disownment of them as his post-Heel–Face Turn Character Development since fusing to Vivienne Graham progresses.
  • In Despair's Last Resort, Kazumi and Arata use surnames on most characters, but make two noticeable exceptions. Kazumi calls Shizuka, the girl for whom she harbors an unrequited love, by her first name just before the latter's execution and for the rest of the story. Arata starts calling Takara by her first name as a show of respect after she manages to prove his guilt.
  • Everyday Craziness in Pontypandy: When Gabby's mother is introduced in "Unreal Estate", she mainly refers to her daughter as Gabriella. At the end, when she finally learns to understand and accept her daughter, she calls her Gabby.
  • In Ma Fille, throughout most of the story, Katrina refers to Von Kaiser as Vikky or Viktor. However, when he gets engaged to her father, she begins to call him Vati (German for "daddy"), shwoing that she immediately accepts him as her stepfather.
  • In Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Makoto initially refers to Yuuto Kiba by his surname. However, in the third "volume," as Kiba runs off after Excalibur is said to have been stolen, he addresses him as Yuuto when he confronts him, referring to him as such from then on out as his friendship with him has deepened.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf has no more respect for Tyrion than anyone in Westeros when they meet, referring to him as half-man or halfling. Later, apparently impressed at Tyrion's willingness to negotiate with his sister unarmed, the Wolf invites Tyrion to a Drinking Contest where he's the only one still standing at the end, and drunkenly answers the Wolf's questions, admitting he once beat a man to death with a shield and personally unchained two dragons. From then on the Wolf refers to him as Shield-slayer, even to other characters, as a term of genuine respect.
  • The Rigel Black Chronicles: When Lily and Severus briefly encounter each other, after a painful history and a broken childhood friendship, she awkwardly tells him that, "It's good to see you, Severus," but he shows no emotion and addresses her in return as "Mrs Potter" instead of "Lily", which makes her flinch.
  • True Potential: In Chapter 98, after learning everything her grandfather Yoshikane did in relation to Danzō, Hinata starts referring to him by his first name rather than as "Grandfather", indicating she no longer has any respect for him to refer to him as such.
  • Vow of Nudity: Fiora subtly takes advantage of this trope when trying to convince Gren to join her in a risky gambit against the gnoll warband threatening their tribe. The 'G' in Gren's name was originally a prefix signifying his youth, he would have ritually shed it had he not horrifically botched his coming-of-age attempt and gotten exiled from the clan. By calling him 'Ren' during her persuasions, she reminds him of the adult name he could have had, manipulating him to take this chance to regain his honor in the eyes of their clan.

    Film — Animation 
  • The Bad Guys: During the gala, when Wolf calls Foxington "Diane", it's a clear sign his opinion of her has considerably changed.
  • Early in The Lion King (1994), little Simba is always excited to hang out with "Uncle Scar" (who really doesn't share the sentiment). Closer to the end, when grown-up Simba returns from his exile and sees how the Pride Lands have been corrupted, he's furious at Scar, no longer calling him "Uncle".
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: Initially, Foreman Spike gives the Mario Bros. derisive nicknames like "Stupid Mario Brothers" at the Punch-Out Pizzeria or "Subpar Mario Brothers" in his review of their plumbing business as a way to belittle them. Once Mario and Luigi save him and the rest of Brooklyn from Bowser and his army, he leads the citizens to cheer for the heroic duo and refers to them as the Super Mario Brothers.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Ever After, Prince Henry calls Danielle by her name for the first time, instead of the alias she used for half the movie, after they have truly fallen in love.
  • Hidden Figures inverts the usual narrative "last name to first name" shift. For most of the film, Dorothy Vaughan is addressed by her NASA supervisor, Vivian Mitchell, by her first name, a sign of seniority and power imbalance between them. At the end of the film, Dorothy is promoted to supervisor, and the latter starts calling her "Mrs. Vaughan", as they are now equals.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It's an important moment when Indiana's father addresses him by name for the first time, having spent the entire movie calling him "Junior". And not just his given name (which they share), but the one his son has chosen for himself.
  • Men in Black: Throughout the movie, Agent Kay calls Agent Jay nicknames like "sport", "slick", and "kid", despite his objections. However, in the end, when Kays informs Jay he intends to retire from the MIB, and after he gives him the neuralyzer (after telling him he'd get it "when you grow up") to wipe away his memories of his service in order to protect the agency's secrecy, he says "See you around, Jay."
  • In A New Hope, Han Solo dismissively calls Luke Skywalker "kid". He first calls him by name when Luke is dragged into the trash compactor by the dianoga and nearly eaten. As their friendship develops and they become more like peers, Han calls him "kid" less and less - by Return of the Jedi, with Luke a full Jedi Knight, he only does it once, and it's more affectionate than anything.

  • In 10 Things to Do Before I Die, Ted Burger's best friend Mark calls him "Ted" for the first time near the end of the book, and when Ted is astonished, he says, "Yeah, well, Burger died, dude," and recaps Ted's character arc.
  • It's a turning point in Artemis Fowl and Holly's relationship when Holly finally calls Artemis by his first name instead of "Fowl" or "Mud boy"; much later, she calls him by the Affectionate Nickname "Arty".
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The eponymous demon insists on calling Nathaniel by his true name after inadvertently finding it out early in book one, but at the end of book two, shortly before Nathaniel de-summons him, he calls him by his "John Mandrake" public identity for the first time. Bartimaeus intends this as an insult: the formerly idealistic Nathaniel has sold out and become just like every other magician.
  • The Belgariad: Garion's Character Development is indicated by the way he thinks of his companions, particularly Belgarath and Polgara. Throughout the first two books, Garion calls Belgarath "Grandfather" or "Mister Wolf" and Polgara "Aunt Pol", because those were the first names he learned for them. At the end of book two, Garion discovers his own powers of sorcery and begins to learn more about the events going on around him, and thereafter they are "Belgarath" and "Polgara".
  • By Any Other Name (2013): At first Holly dislikes Joe. She thinks of him as 'Emo Boy', and doesn't start thinking of him by his name until she gets to know him.
  • In Cal Leandros, Cal was named "Caliban" by his abusive mother as a reference to the monster in William Shakespeare's The Tempest. His older brother, Niko, refuses to call him anything but "Cal" until he accepts his little brother might have some monstrousness from his Half-Human Hybrid heritage after all.
  • The Dark Artifices: Emma has been calling Julian "Jules" since they were kids. When they have sex, and later admit their feelings for each other, Emma calls him Julian. Then, upon learning about the curse on parabatai who fall in love, she tells him she loves Mark, not him, and goes back to calling him Jules. Julian starts hating it and missing when she called him Julian.
  • In the Dresden Files, Harry originally called the leader of the Alphas Billy, starting when they first meet in Fool Moon. In Turn Coat, he realizes that the college boy he met all those years ago has matured and starts referring to him in his own mind as Will.
  • Throughout most of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the narration, which is presented from Harry Potter's point of view, refers to Sirius Black as "Black." Harry believes Sirius Black to be a dangerous criminal who was working under Voldemort and who betrayed his parents. After Harry learns the truth, the narration becomes somewhat inconsistent. By the final chapter, it refers to Sirius exclusively by his first name and this continues throughout all remaining novels.
  • The Left Hand of Darkness: The main characters Genly and Estraven use honorifics for each other in the first part, as Genly is unsubtle about disliking Estraven, but shift to Last-Name Basis when they undertake a dangerous mission together. A combination of Fire Forged Friendship and the intimacy of Telepathic communication make them switch to First-Name Basis. The first shift is Discussed as Estraven pointedly acknowledges that they're allies, not friends.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Taurok's full name is 'Finn Taurok' but he is always referred to by his last name in the first book. After he becomes a good guy, the narration switches to his first name. This means that he's on a First-Name Basis with the audience.
  • Lily and Dunkin: At the beginning of the book, trans girl Lily is delighted when her mom calls her Lily instead of Tim.
  • Martins Mice by Dick King-Smith: At the beginning, the baby mice call Martin "Uncle Marty", but when they grow older and start wanting to move out of the bathtub, they begin calling him "Mart" instead. This shows that they've lost most of the adoration they once held for him.
  • In the historical novel The Mermaid, Levi Lyman is one of the few people who call P.T. Barnum by his middle name, Taylor, instead of by his last name. When Levi starts calling him Barnum, Amelia realizes Barnum is losing Levi's friendship.
  • The Moon and the Sun: At first Marie-Josèphe thinks the captured mermaid is a dumb beast, and thinks of her as the sea monster. Once she realizes that she's actually a sentient being, she starts thinking of her as the sea woman. Later she dubs her Sherzad, after the sea woman's mispronunciation of "Scheherazade."
  • Myth Adventures: Aahz initially calls Skeeve "apprentice" because, well, Skeeve is his apprentice. Once they incorporate as M.Y.T.H. Inc., he starts calling him "partner" to indicate their newfound equality—and Skeeve's (temporary) change in priorities. "Skeeve" only comes out on rare, serious occasions.
  • In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy doesn't address his lady-love as "Elizabeth" until after she's agreed to marry him, in accordance with Regency convention. Before that, he calls her either "Miss Bennet" or, when she's with her older sister Jane, "Miss Elizabeth".note  But once they are engaged, he is free to use her first name alone.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Jaime and Brienne initially they refer to each other with derogatory nicknames ("wench"/"Kingslayer"), but as they travel together they begin to develop respect for each other as knights and begin to use formal honorifics ("ser"/"my lady") and eventually actual names, though Jaime reserves "wench" as an Insult of Endearment when Brienne is being particularly honorable.
  • Temeraire: Laurence shifts from his usual Last-Name Basis to First-Name Basis with two of his True Companions. His Number Two goes from "Granby" to "John" between the first and second book, recognizing their Fire Forged Friendship and that Laurence is loosening up a bit; his close friendgoes from "Tharkay" to "Tenzing" by the sixth book after helping Laurence through his Darkest Hour.
  • In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie calls Katie "Mother" instead of "Mama" after she discovers that her love interest has been lying to her (he's already engaged). Hearing this, Katie recalls the moment that she did this with her own mother and realizes that Francie isn't a little girl anymore.
  • For most of The Underland Chronicles, Gregor's baby sister Boots refers to him as "Ge-go", since she can't pronounce his name yet. Around the third book it changes to "Gre-go", and in the final scene of the series, after they leave the Underland for the last time she can finally say his name right, showing how they're both growing up.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • In Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Ivan thinks, at the end, that Miles's children will be old enough to call him Uncle Ivan by the time of his return, and shudders to think of how his identity can be changed without his doing anything. Then he reflects on the possibility of "Da" — which is easier because he would do it.
    • When Miles’s grandfather dies, making his father the new Count Vorkosigan and Miles himself the heir, the Vorkosigan staff start referring to Miles as Lord Vorkosigan. He actually first learns of his grandfather’s death when he is first addressed as “Lord Vorkosigan, sir?” Later, Miles reflects that he’ll likely and unfortunately learn about his father’s death when someone says “Count Vorkosigan, sir?”, which does indeed happen at the end of Cryoburn.

    Live Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad: Jesse always calls Walter "Mr. White" since he used to be his chemistry teacher, and their relationship in the early seasons remained that of a mentor and apprentice. However, as Walter grows increasingly ruthless and betrays Jesse's trust over and over, their relationship grows progressively strained until finally breaking down completely in the final season. The last time they ever address each other, Jesse calls him simply, "Walt."
  • Bridgerton: In season 2, in the end of episode 5, when Anthony decides to call off his plan to marry Edwina after un unpleasant dinner with the Sheffields, Kate desperately convinces Anthony to keep his promise to marry Edwina by calling his name; indicating her seriousness and insistence (despite the fact that they've revealed their mutual feelings) as she fears it'd break her sister's heart. In the final episode, Anthony calling Kate "Kathani" — her full, Indian given name, which she never uses in England and which is never used by anyone else, including her beloved sister and her stepmother — is an indication of their relationship upgrade as it signifies his sincere love for her and acceptance of everything about her.
  • CSI: NY: When Lindsay joins the team in early season 2, Danny starts out picking on her by consistently calling her "Montana" after her home state, which annoys her to no end. Then they begin dating and by the middle of season 3, she's come to accept it as an Insult of Endearment, and even signs a note to him with the nickname. By the time they're expecting a child in season 5, he has dropped it and only calls her "Lindsay," "Linds" or "Babe." He does call her "Montana" one final time, though, but it's lovingly then, to get her attention while she's hospitalized and groggy from a concussion early in season 9.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: When Will's father comes back into his life, Will doesn't feel right calling him "Dad", or "my dad" when talking to other people. As the two spend time together, Will eventually starts calling him "Dad". At the end, when his father cancels their plans to go on a cross-country trip, Will's last words to him are "Bye, Lou."
  • General Hospital's Laura is overjoyed when her long lost son Nikolas calls her "Mother" for the first time, meaning that he finally sees her as that. It lasts all of two seconds when he learns that she faked her death and let him grieve for months.
  • House of Anubis: Throughout season 2, Eddie was struggling with his conflicting feelings over his father, Mr. Sweet, exemplified by how he called him "Eric" and lashed out against him at any opportunity. When they finally made up, the change was signified by Eddie calling him "Dad".
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Inhabitants of Ore Journal office usually call Shinji Kido by his last name or as a dumbass/idiot/some variation. After he earned their respect with bravery in a hostage situation, they mostly switch to calling him by his first name.
  • Kamen Rider Ghost: Proper villain etiquette in Kamen Rider usually involves calling the other side by either rider designation or full name. Alain has done the former for Makoto by adressing him as "Specter" and the latter for Takeru, referring to him as "Tenkuji Takeru". His Heel–Face Turn is punctuated by switching to using only first names for both.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid:
    • Emu used to be a pro gamer nicknamed "M", but no one calls him that anymore. No one but Nico, who spent six years (the whole time since his retirement) holding a grudge against him for the single defeat in her otherwise perfect winning streak. She starts calling him "Emu" after moving past her grudge.
    • Hiiro spent most of the story condescendingly referring to Taiga as "unlicensed doctor" to highlight the failure that ruined Taiga's life and that Hiiro himself is still holding a grudge over. When they acknowledge and make peace with each other's faults and issues, Hiiro switches to calling Taiga "Doctor Hanaya" as a sign of respect.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Before episode 5, Halbrand always referred to Galadriel as the "Elf". But in this episode, after hearing Galadriel's Freudian Excuse, he finally starts to refer to her as Galadriel, showing a significant shift in their relationship. Galadriel and Halbrand grow closer and more personable for the rest of the season.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi: Upon both Obi-Wan and Vader concluding that Anakin Skywalker, the latter's past self, is beyond saving from the Dark Side, the former begins exclusively addressing his former pupil as Darth Vader, or just by his title, continuing to do so by A New Hope.
    Obi-Wan: Then my friend is truly dead. Goodbye, Darth.
  • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive: Mack genuinely loves his father Andrew Hartford but the two have a complicated relationship as Andrew's always coddled his son and hidden him from the world, especially after having found a magical crown that alerts evil aliens to its presence. Mack eventually becomes a Ranger to fight these aliens. Andrew and his butler throughout the series drop hints that there's something unusual about Mack. That's when the episode "Things Not Said" reveals Mack is a robot, after learning this he questions his existence and during the episode "Home and Away Part 2" refers to Andrew as 'Mr. Hartford.'
  • In the final episodes of Robin Hood, after they're forced to work together, Robin and Guy of Gisborne slowly shift from a Last-Name Basis (Gisborne refers to Robin as "Locksley" or "Hood") to a First-Name Basis; it's not expressly commented upon and neither seems consciously aware that they're doing it.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Worf initially only calls Deanna Troi "Counselor Troi", but when they start dating in later seasons, he begins calling her "Deanna".
  • Throughout the first season of Ted Lasso, Rebecca exclusively refers to her second-in-command by his surname, Higgins, as a sign of her personal detachment from AFC Richmond as a whole. Once her Heel Realization kicks in and she abandons her plan to destroy the club from within, the season finale has her call Higgins by his first name, Leslie, and she continues to address him on a First-Name Basis for the rest of the series.
  • In That '70s Show, originally everyone calls Steven Hyde by his last name. Jackie, however, starts calling him "Steven" when she becomes romantically interested in him.
  • Three Kingdoms: In several ways.
    • Sometimes it's used to show how someone has undergone Rank Up, like Cao Cao originally being addressed as "Master" or "Lord" by his subordinates, but by the end of his life is addressed as "Your Highness" as Prince of Wei.
    • Sometimes used to show contempt, as seen when several characters throughout the show's run address or refer to Cao Cao as "Cao Ah-Man", using his childhood name as an insult. Xu You, an old friend of Cao Cao, makes the mistake of publicly addressing him by the name (a huge faux pas in that culture) after helping him defeat Yuan Shao. Xu Chu, one of Cao's generals, winds up killing him in a fit of rage for the disrespect.
    • Is sometimes inverted to show which relationship is stronger. Zhuge Liang and his older brother Zhuge Jin serve different lords. During their final meeting, Zhuge Liang is now the Chancellor of the state of Shu while Zhuge Jin has a comparatively low rank as a diplomat. Despite this, they still address each other as "Eldest Brother" and "Second Brother" respectively. They even do this in the presence of their lords during informal chats, but during formal events or discussing official business properly use their titles (e.g. "Chancellor Zhuge"). note 
    • Cao Zhi pulls this after his older brother Cao Pi becomes Emperor of Wei. Xu Chu is sent to bring him to court (he refused to attend when summoned by Pi), but when Xu addresses him as "Young Master" Zhi sneers that his proper title ought to be "Your Imperial Highness" and refuses to go along until Xu addresses him in that way. Pi orders his execution almost as soon as he arrives, though he's eventually talked down.
  • Trace: In the very first episode, a four-parter "The Pit Snake's Bite", Rogozina and Kruglov address each other in the most official manner possible — either as "Comrade Colonel" and "Comrade Major" respectively or at best by name and patronymic, a sign of the extremely frosty and distrust-filled relationship they have. In the fourth part, he ends up Taking the Bullet for her, whereupon she immediately switches to his first name's diminutive version "Kolya". The antidote she has developed saves his life in turn, and after he is healed he likewise begins to call her by her name's pet version, "Galya". From then on, they mostly call each other by these pet versions when alone and (try to) stick to "name and patronymic" (the most neutral option) in public, and are absolutely devoted to each other (with a romantic relationship hinted at occasionally).

  • Doom Breaker: Eurydice had Georgios refer to her by her name instead of "Royal Highness" after he presented the Dragon Heart to her and before she reciprocated his feelings.

  • If/Then plays with the trope, chronicling two separate timelines following Elizabeth's move to New York. In the one where she focuses on love and family, she adopts the nickname "Liz", and in the one where she focuses on her career, she adopts the nickname "Beth".
  • In Ladies in Black, the central character's name is Lesley, but she doesn't like the name and takes the opportunity to rebrand herself as 'Lisa' when she gains a new circle of acquaintances. The moments at which Lisa's mother and (some time later) her father accept and start using her new name stand in for them accepting and beginning to support her hopes for her future.

    Video Games 
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • During the battle against Lostbelt King Zeus, Ares pulls a Heel–Face Turn and decides to fight on your side along with the Roman god Romulus-Quirinus. The Lostbelt King acknowledges this betrayal by calling Ares with the Roman version of his name.
    • In the event "GUDAGUDA Ryouma's Close Call", Ryouma finds himself in the bottom of the ocean where Oryou rests, and a mysterious voice calls him "human" and commands him to kill her for the safety of the country. However, as the conversation goes on, the voice realizes that Ryouma and Oryou simply love each other too much to hurt each other or the world, and so they address Ryouma by his full name and entrust Oryou to him, even giving him their blessings.
  • Fire Emblem
    • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, Florina, a Childhood Friend of Lyndis, typicaly calls Lyndis by the Affectionate Nickname "Lyn." At the end of Lyn's Story, Florina, who has become a knight in service of House Caelin, starts calling Lyn "Lady Lyndis" instead. Lyn reluctantly accepts it, but if she and Florina achieve an A support, she'll notice that Florina has gone back to using her nickname and express approval.
    • Fire Emblem Engage: In Hortensia's supports with Veyle, it's shown that she's the only cast member besides Alear, Veyle's elder sibling who doesn't use the "Lady" title on Veyle, a dragon, out of rudeness due to the role Veyle's evil personality played in killing Hortensia's father. She starts doing so in their A support as a sign that they're starting to become friends. She also starts off calling Sombron "Lord Sombron" due to being a worshipper of the Fell Dragon, while refusing to call Sombron's enemy Lumera "Queen Lumera." If spoken to after a battle in Gradlon Temple, though, Hortensia will suggest razing the temple for "what Sombron did to [...] Queen Lumera."
  • Granblue Fantasy: It's shown in the flashbacks of "What Makes The Sky Blue" that Sandalphon referred to Lucifer as "Lucifer-sama", with the "-sama" honorific signifying that Lucifer was his superior and that he respected him. Sandalphon dropped the honorific after he rebelled due to his respect and admiration for Lucifer shifting a bitter hatred, or so he made it seem. He begins to use the honorific for Lucifer again from "Paradise Lost" onwards after accepting Lucifer back into his heart
  • Inazuma Eleven:
    • Tenma is one of the few characters largely addressed by his given name, but only his closest peers and the managers call him like that at first. As his Character Development changes him from a Naïve Newcomer to a key part in the team, all his teammates begin to call him by his given name.
    • Tenma and Tsurugi in particular don't start the series on the best terms since Tsurugi is a SEED from Fifth Sector who is supposed to tear the team apart. After his motives are clear and he stops serving Fifth Sector for his brother's sake, their relationship improves significantly. By the time of the Holy Road finals, they are close enough that Tsurugi starts addressing Tenma by his given name.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III: When Rean first meets Randy, they are on Last-Name Basis. However, as time passes, they grow closer, and after a heart-to-heart, they agree to call each other more casually.
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser can't be bothered to remember the name of Luigi, the brother of his Arch-Enemy, Mario, and instead refers to him as "Green 'Stache. Once the Bros. win the day at the end of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Bowser promises the brothers that he will be back, before shouting their names, and once he's about to say "Green 'Stache," he backtracks and finally calls Luigi by his real name.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: While everyone else always refers to him as "Volgin," for the majority of the game Ocelot addresses him as "Colonel." However, during Volgin's fight with Snake, Ocelot calls the man out on his underhandedness, saying, "Fight like a man, Volgin!" It is at roughly this point where Ocelot no longer feels the need to maintain his cover, as Volgin’s plans begin unravelling, and Ocelot no longer needs to feign loyalty to Volgin.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: After Mia and Aeyr meet up again and talk to Reyson, he drops enough clues about his past that the protagonists, and therefore the Character Status screen, knows him by Full-Name Basis instead of the First Name Only he was using up to that point. A.k.a Reyson Cadmus.
  • Resident Evil 4 (Remake): Throughout their interactions, Major Jack Krauser calls Leon Kennedy "rookie", being his former instructor during his training as a government agent. Once defeated in his Boss Battle, Krauser tells Leon how proud he is of how far he's come and refers to him as "Leon" in his dying moments.
  • Shovel Knight: Throughout the "King of Cards" bonus game, King Knight's mother constantly refers to him with several cutesy pet names as she supports his endeavors to gain a royal title of his own. At the end, however, as he accepts the Enchantress's offer and plunges the land into darkness, stealing King Pridemoor's castle as well, she refers to him by his proper name as she leaves him forever, hoping he'll be very happy with his ill-gotten gains.
  • Titanfall 2: BT-7274 initially refers to the player character Jack Cooper simply as "pilot" before switching to "pilot Cooper" after you spend some time together, and then finally "Jack" after you attach his core to a new chassis after he is destroyed.
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy: Nadine Ross starts out calling Chloe Frazer by her last name, but switches to "Chloe" as their mutual fondness deepens.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The Great Ace Attorney duology:
      • Throughout the duology, Barok van Zieks keeps sarcastically calling the main character Ryunosuke as "my learned Nipponese friend". Near the end of the second game, Ryunosuke has managed to gain van Zieks' trust and respect, and he properly calls him "Mr. Naruhodo" from that point on.
      • Iris usually calls Herlock with the nickname "Hurley". In the post-credits scene of the second game, she wrote a letter finally calling him "Daddy", which moved him to tears.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, Athena Cykes' long-time friend Juniper Woods usually calls her "Thena", but switches to "Athena" when they meet in Case 3 (which is before Case 1), since they haven't met in a while and Juniper is trying to stay professional as Student Council President of her school. The original Japanese takes this a step farther; while Shinobu Morizumi usually calls Kokone Kizuki "Koko-chan" ("Thena") she switches to "Kizuki-san" ("Ms. Cykes") instead.
  • CLANNAD: In the Ryou ending (which is actually considered a "Bad End" for the Kyou route), Tomoya and Ryou's Relationship Upgrade is punctuated in the final scene by Tomoya addressing her as "Ryou" (previously he addressed her as "Fujibayashi" while addressing her twin sister as "Kyou"). Ryou understands the significance of this, reciprocating by addressing him as "Tomoya-kun" as opposed to "Okazaki-kun".
  • Danganronpa
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Such a shift occurs in the Japanese script of the game, specifically for Kaito and Shuichi. Kaito referring to Shuichi by his given name in the Japanese script is a sign of great respect and closeness. In the aftermath of chapter 4, the events of the trial's climax lead to Kaito feeling angry at Shuichi, and he shows this by going back to calling him Saihara, his surname. This is Lost in Translation, due to the English script having everyone just use given names, and as such, even when Kaito is angry, he still refers to Shuichi as such(with "Shuichi" inexplicably being highlighted in yellow).
    • At the start of Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, Toko Fukawa doesn't like Makoto Naegi's younger sister Komaru very much, so she calls her "Omaru," which means "toilet," and in the original Japanese, Komaru politely calls Toko "Fukawa-san," (roughly equivalent to "Miss Fukawa"). Late in the game, after Toko starts to consider Komaru a friend, she starts calling her by her proper first name, while Komaru calls Toko the informal and affectionate "Toko-chan." In the localization, Komaru goes from using Toko's first name to a nickname.
  • In Kindred Spirits on the Roof, Seina Maki and Miki Aihara change how they address each other at significant milestones in their relationship. At the start of the game, they call each other "Aihara-senpai" and "Maki-san," but after Seina gives Miki a love letter and they agree to start off as friends, Miki calls Seina "Maki-chan." After Miki forgives Seina for kissing her while she's asleep, Miki asks Seina to call her by her first name, and Seina accepts, calling her "Miki-san" from this point forward. When Seina attacks some third-years who were badmouthing Miki, Miki gets her to stop by calling her "Seina" for the first time, and they become a couple soon afterward.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, Kamen Eiga calls the protagonist, Raiko Shinpuku, "Shinpuku" for most of the game when she isn't using insulting nicknames on her (e.g. "Miss Gloomy"). Kamen is the only character besides the ultra-polite Runa (who calls everyone by their last names with the "-san" honorific) to call a character by their surname, and the lack of honorifics is rather rude by Japanese standards. However, in the good ending, after Raiko clears Kamen's name and prevents her from being falsely accused of murder, Kamen starts calling Raiko "Raiko-chan," a change Raiko immediately notices.

  • The Order of the Stick: O-Chul spends a long time as a prisoner of Xykon, during which he bonds with Xykon's ineffective minion The Monster in the Dark and encourages him to think for himself instead of only following orders. The Monster only calls O-Chul "Mr. Stiffly" at first, based on the fact that O-Chul was under the effects of a paralysis spell when they met. During an attempted attack on the villains' lair, O-Chul breaks out of his prison and rushes off to join the fight. The Monster — knowing that Xykon will almost certainly kill him — desperately calls for him to come back:
    Monster: Wait, Mr. Stiffly! Come back! Mr. Stiffly! MR. STIFFLY! O-CHUL!
  • The Greenhouse: Mica is the only person the demon 'Red' has ever gotten to know this well. As their relationship warms, Red starts calling her 'munchkin', a short annoyance bad at taking care of herself. As Red starts to realize how important Mica is to her, that gets shortened to 'kin'. And shortly before their bond is finally severed, Red even calls her by her name.

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Throughout the series, Kevin often calls the titular characters "dorks" to show his dislike of them, especially Eddy. At the end of Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show, Kevin calls Eddy "pal" to signify that the Eds are finally accepted by the kids after Eddy's brother's defeat and his abuse being the reason behind Eddy's behavior.
  • Little Princess: At the end of "I Want My Treehouse", Princess finally calls Algernon by his name instead of his Embarrassing Nickname Algie, while he becomes fine with her using the nickname. This signifies that they've made friends.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In "Find Her, Keep Her", Rabbit adopts a baby bird named Kessie, who is sort of halfway between a pet and a daughter to him. She calls him "Rabbie", but when she returns as an adult in "A Bird in the Hand", she begins calling him by name instead. This isn't due to any animosity towards Rabbit, but rather because she's grown up and sees the nickname as childish.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: After Ahsoka abandons the Jedi Order, she no longer calls Anakin "Master" but by his name.
  • Steven Universe: Near the finale, the Diamonds learn that Rose Quartz, Steven's mother, was actually Pink Diamond. As he has his mother's gem, the Diamonds treat him like Pink, repeatedly referring to Steven as such. They also treat him rather poorly, punishing him and his friends for fusing or doing anything that disobeys their caste system's strict rules. During a confrontation with Blue, Steven manages to show her how screwed up her world and family are. Now wanting to mend her relationship with him and having grown closer, when facing Yellow, Blue immediately corrects the other Diamond when she calls Steven 'Pink'.
  • Wakfu: Nox tends to refer to his foes by mocking nicknames such as "Mighty Dragon" and "Kiddo", and when he instead starts calling someone by their actual name, it indicates he's developed a respect for them. This happens midway through Nox's battle against Grougaloragran, and when he bids Yugo farewell after realizing his entire Tragic Villain quest was All for Nothing.