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Somebody Named Nobody

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The Nameless may come from many reasons, always with authorial intent. This trope is only in effect when the nom de guerre of a character reflects their lack of a name. This may or may not be something the character is aware of. The author is trying to make the character more mysterious by hiding parts of the character from the audience, creating the illusion that there is much more about the character that cannot be known. A name is used to grant characters an identity, but their lack of name makes it hard to identify the character.

"Nemo" is a commonly used variant, as it's Latin for "no one", but also sounds more like an actual name. Sillier examples tends to exploit this ambiguity for a Who's on First? situation.

For similar tropes, please refer to the supertrope; The Nameless. Closely related is Withholding Their Name (when the character refuses to share their name, sometimes offering "Nobody" as an option). Compare My Hero Zero. Not to be confused with No Name Given. "Untitled" Title is essentially the same concept as applied to titles instead of characters.


Examples

Anime And Manga

  • A derogatory version is used in DearS. Ren's name, in her own species language, means "nothing".
  • Nadie (Spanish for nobody) from El Cazador de la Bruja.
  • Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: Mumei likes her name, as it was given to her by her beloved adopted brother. Ikoma doesn't have the heart to tell her it means "nameless", though by the end of the first season she remembers her original name.

Comic Books

  • Doom Patrol villain Mr. Nobody, an ex-Nazi two-dimensional shadow person thing with the ability to drain people's sanity (but only at the expense of his own sanity) and leader of the Brotherhood of Dada. He later renames himself Mr. Somebody.
  • In Hellblazer, the Beast was a denizen of Eden who refused to be named by Adam. It hated the idea of being defined, and thus limited, by man. As a result, the Beast became a powerful spirit who lacked a body to call its own who is dedicated to wiping out humanity.
  • Little Nemo: Nemo is Latin for "Nobody".
  • Tin's girlfriend in Metal Men wasn't given a proper name, and was often called "Nameless".
  • In the Planet Hulk storyline, one of Hulk's group of True Companions is a Brood queen, who don't have names. Since she (uniquely for her species) lives among non-Brood and even befriends some of them, a "name" of some sort becomes necessary. She becomes known as "No-Name of the Brood."

Fan Fics

  • In The Duskyverse story, Evil's Twilight, the antagonist is a very ancient, body-snatching spirit. As far as Celestia and Luna can tell, it has no name, so they just call it Nameless.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • The being most characters know as "Makarov" or the "Shadow of Chernobull" is actually a nameless entity, and uses the names of his assimilated victims. Most characters who learn his true nature then start referring to him as "Nameless".
    • The criminal who murdered Cupid is now known as the Nameless Filly, after Venus asked Pandora to erase her name from existence.

Film

  • In Dead Man, the dying William Blake (no, not that one) is rescued and guided through the wilderness by a Native American man who digs the bullet out of his gut and sees to it that he dies well. The man's name, of course, is Nobody.
    Nobody: My name is Xebece, He Who Talks Loud, Saying Nothing.
    William Blake: 'He Who Talks'... I thought you said your name was Nobody.
    Nobody: ...I prefer to be called Nobody.
  • The titular fish in Finding Nemo is this, though this seems more likely a nod to the underwater adventures of Captain Nemo (see above) than to the Latin word’s meaning of "Nobody".
  • The head of the agency featured in Furious 7 is known only as Mr. Nobody in the film. note  This only adds to the mystery surrounding him. The follow-up, Fate of the Furious, introduces a new member of the agency he refers to as Mr. Little Nobody. This adds to his mystery, but he doesn't like it. note 
  • The viewpoint character of Hero, played by Jet Li, goes by "Nameless". In this case, it is a sign of humility.
  • Nemo Nobody, titular character of the film Mr. Nobody is a twofer, because Nemo is Latin for "Nobody".
  • The Trope Namer is the 1973 film My Name Is Nobody, an Affectionate Parody of Spaghetti Westerns (particularly the "Man with No Name" Trilogy) focusing on a man whose name is "Nobody".

Literature

  • In And Then There Were None the 10 guests each received letters from a mysterious benefactor named U. N. Owen, or "unknown".
  • In The Avatar Chronicles, one mysterious character - only seen through his game avatars, and known to be somewhere on the isle of exiled criminals - introduces himself as "Anonemuss".
  • The Blacklist: All of the characters have anagrams for names, like "He is the bad guy" and "She is a traitor", but the main character is Ivan G. Nemone, an anagram for No Name Given.
  • In Deverry, Prince Galrion is stripped of his rank, wealth and even his name by his father. His father issues a decree that ever after Galrion is to only be called "Nevyn". That's not a name. It's a word that quite literally means "no-one".
  • In the Earthsea series, the Nameless Ones, formerly the main deities of the Kargad religion, are manifestations of Earth's more malevolent aspects. Some reside in the labyrinths on the island of Atuan.
  • In Farworld, the orphaned and unknown Markus is given the surname "Kanenas" (Greek for "None")
  • In The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, the main character is called "Nobody Owens" for punny reasons. He's also being raised in a graveyard so... Mystery!
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, there are two characters called "The Nameless King". Due to I Know Your True Name magics, this makes things rather confusing when spells meant to address the latter Nameless King accidentally affect the former Nameless King. Neither king was given a name by their mother at birth, so the magics consider any other name to be false.
  • French spy James Nobody from Les Merveilleux Exploits de James Nobody (The Marvelous Exploits of James Nobody).
  • Robert Kraft
    • Mr. Nobody, the eponymous reporter from the German adventure novel Nobody - 30 Jahre im Dienste einer Weltzeitung (Nobody - Thirty Years in the Service of a Newspaper).
    • Detective Nobody, featured in Detektiv Nobody's Erlebnisse und Reiseabenteuer (Detective Nobody's Experiences and Traveling Adventures).
  • The Faceless Men of A Song of Ice and Fire are so called because of their Voluntary Shapeshifting abilities and they gave up their original names when joining. There's no way to identify any of them individually, so the characters have only been identified by ''ad hoc'' titles from Arya's POV.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne, has Captain Nemo (Latin for "Nobody"), the Crazy Awesome charismatic superscientist-slash-submarine captain-slash-anglophobic undersea terrorist with a Mysterious Past.

Live-Action Television

  • An episode of CSI had a Serial Killer wearing a latex suit who targeted publicly upstanding people with dark secrets (an adulterous housewife, a Heroism Addict paramedic). He went by the pseudonym Ian Moone, an anagram of "I Am No One".
  • John Doe: The title character of a 2002 FOX series was built entirely around the premise of not having a name/identity.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Odo is a member of a shapeshifter race that sent him out into space at a young age. When he was found near Bajor, he was called an "unknown sample" in Bajoran. The Cardassian overseeing the project renamed it the closest approximation in Cardassian instead; "odo'ital", which translates literally as "nothing".

Music

  • America wrote the song "Horse with No Name" involving a journey through the desert on a horse who has no name, or on a horse, without you having a name. Either way, the song is famous for it's juxtaposition of having no identity and being able to maintain your identity with no one around to influence you.
  • The band Ghost has the singer named Papa Emeritus, while the rest of the band wears identical masks and robes on stage and are referred to and credited as "Nameless Ghouls".
  • Used in "Nemo" by Nightwish (Nemo means "Nobody" in Latin):
    This is me for forever/One of the lost ones
    The one without a name/Without an honest heart as compass
    (...)Once and for all and all for once/Nemo my name forevermore
  • The Sylvia song "Nobody" is about a romantic rival who is always referred to by the singer's love interest as "nobody".
    Well your nobody called today
    She hung up when I asked her name
    Well I wonder, does she think she's being clever? (Clever, ohhhh)
    You say nobody's after you
    The fact is what you say is true
    But I can love you like nobody can, even better.

Mythology And Religion

  • Greek hero Odysseus briefly assumes the identity of "Outis" (Greek for "Nobody") as part of a ploy to outsmart the cyclops Polyphemus. When Odysseus stabs the cyclops in the eye, Polyphemus calls out to his siblings that "Nobody has blinded me!" and so they don't come to help.

Puppet Shows

Other Media

  • Played with at length by the satirical political campaign "Nobody for President", which can alternately be read as promoting a candidate named "Nobody" or the idea that nobody should be president.
    "Nobody will keep his election promises.
    Nobody will listen to your concerns.
    Nobody will help the poor and unemployed.
    Nobody cares!
    Nobody tells the truth."

Video Games

  • Assassin's Creed: Altair Ibn-La Ahad, the protagonist of the original Assassin's Creed. has a name that translates into, "The Eagle, Son of No One."
  • Blazblue: Mai Natsume in the past fused herself with a grimoire named "No Name". It gives her a power of getting information and perceiving another person's thoughts with her taste, and later, the ability to do wide varieties of magic if certain "magical codes" are "written" into her.
  • In Dark Souls III, one of the hidden bosses is called the Nameless King. It's heavily implied that he is the firstborn son of Gwyn whose identity was stricken from history by Gwyn himself as a punishment for some grave sin.
  • Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten: Judge Nemo, because Nemo is Latin for "Nobody". He refuses to use his birth name because That Man Is Dead.
  • Forgotten Worlds: Both player characters are only known as the "Nameless Ones". This is kept in their cameo appearances, usually going by the moniker of "Unknown Soldier" followed by 1P/2P to identify between them. The Japanese sources have slight variations at times, like "Nameless Super Soldier". The Mega Drive Japanese manual also refers to the 2P soldier as "Mohawk Man".
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star you encounter a bird who calls himself Nemo (Nemo is Latin for "Nobody") and says that he has lost his real name.
  • In Hatred the protagonist says his name is "not important" during his opening monologue - in the credits his voice actor is credited with voicing the character "Not Important" making it his actual name.
  • Kingdom Hearts has the Nobodies. Most of which are Faceless Mooks whose name means they have no heart (in contrast to the Heartless, who are the darkness of the heart with no body). But when a person with a strong heart becomes a Heartless, they may leave behind a strong Nobody as well. These form Organization XIII, and face existential crisis of not knowing if they are a real person or not, because they have no feelings. Their personal names usually involve Xtreme Kool Letterz, but they still identify as Nobodies, and seek Kingdom Hearts to become Real.
  • The King of Fighters has a character literally named Nameless, presumed the last clone made by NESTS, and thus didn't have enough time to develop a legitimate name.
  • La-Mulana: "MU is the name of the nameless one, the one who climbs to the sky." This is a bit of wordplay: the Japanese word for "nameless" is mumei.
  • Ōkami has a minor character who lives next to Hana Valley whose text boxes say "Nameless Man".
  • In An Oriental Alphabet Primer, one of the characters is a monk who goes under the name "Muna", which (as the narration explains) means "no name". He apparently considers it hilarious.
  • In Phantom Dust, if you reject all the name choices you're given at the start of the game you will be called Nanashi (Japanese for "nameless") instead.
  • The Nameless One from Planescape: Torment is an immortal amnesiac, with no knowledge of his past apart from what he can piece together from the clues tattooed on his body and the journals his past selves left behind. He can eventually relearn his name, but the player can't.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon has Type: Null, an Artifical Hybrid Monster that got its "name" when the Pokedex tried and failed to get a read on it.
  • A character named Unknown in Tekken. She's revealed to be a dark incarnation of Jun Kazama, Jin's mother.
  • Under Night In-Birth: In the game itself, Linne's broadsword and dagger are not named, but fans call them Mumei (No Name) and Nanashi (Nameless), respectively.
  • Given its popularity with pieces involving wandering samurai, this trope shows up in Way of the Samurai, where 'Nameless' is the default name given to the player's ronin character. You can always choose to change it, but seeing as how the player is apparently some kind of amnesiac swordsman, it fits.
  • XBlaze: Lost Memories: the character Nobody calls herself that because she has forgotten her name, due to being trapped in a strange dimension called Phantom Field. She explains it to our heroine who similarly loses her memories. Late in the game, Nobody's true identity is revealed: she's Es from the previous game.

Web Comic

  • In Earthsong, the leader of Haven's Guard is unique for remembering her entire past except for her name. She goes by Nanashi, which is Japanese for "no name."
  • Follower: Geedy, in the beginning is only known as Subject 23-3, and even then only to the scientists who he doesn't understand. He is later given a name by Dia.
  • In Harkovast, the Nameless are an army of warriors who lack not just names but also cannot speak and always have their faces covered by helmets. They are so anonymous that they are the only creatures in Harkovast who cannot be identified with a real world animal.
  • xkcd gives us Gnome Ann, as in "Time and tide wait for Gnome Ann". (Homonym for "No Man".)

Web Original

  • One of the beings featured in Bogleech's Nightmare Beings posts is identified only as *TV Static Noise*. Within the narrative of the nightmare from which it originated, it believes that if it is given a name, it can escape into the waking world, and attempts without success to coerce the dreamer into naming it. Upon hearing the story, Bog immediately names it Dorothy.
  • Finding Hope is a Spaghetti Western tribute, so one of the characters goes by "Nobody" as a Shout-Out to several films which use No Name Given for the protagonist.
  • On 4chan and similar imageboards, stories about Anonymous (the faceless Audience Surrogate) sometimes have him literally be someone named Anonymous (or Anon, or A. N. Onymous, etc.)

Western Animation

  • The antagonists of Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys are known as the " ".
  • In The Smurfs, there's a Smurf character named "Nobody" who got his name from his low self-esteem and has a whole episode dedicated to him (aptly named "Nobody Smurf"). This trait, however, proves crucial in defeating the episode's villain (because he's literally named "Nobody", said villain is unable to curse him based on his name as he did with the other Smurfs), at which point he ends up being renamed to "Somebody Smurf" after defeating the villain and gaining confidence in himself.
  • In Spider-Man (1967), Spidey had an invisible adversary named "Dr. Noah Boddy"
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), there is a Batman-expy superhero named Nobody.

Real Life

  • When K2, the second highest mountain on earth, was first surveyed, the mapping team learned that it had never been given a local name due to its remoteness. Therefore the label applied to the peak on the survey sketch, K2, became the one most commonly associated with it. Many climbers feel that the mountain is so harsh and challenging that it defies any attempt at being humanized with a proper name.
    Italian climber Fosco Maraini: It is just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man — or of the cindered planet after the last.
  • The 13th Century Hungarian chronicler who wrote the book Gesta Hungarorum is only known as Anonymus (Nameless) or as Master P.
  • The author of the oldest Polish chronicle, Gesta principum Polonorum, is known only as Gallus Anonymus. It's unknown whether "Gallus" is a proper name or a reference to the author's nationality.

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