In real life, most people have very common and completely ordinary names. But not so in fiction. If a character is to have any relevance to the plot, he has to have a name that sounds either cool and tough, or ominous and evil. But sometimes they don't. Everyone else does, but not these characters. Their names are just so ordinary and common that it really sticks out.
This trope is the middle ground between Awesome McCoolname and Unfortunate Names. Compare with Aerith and Bob, when characters with completely made up names appear side by side with others that have completely mundane names. Might overlap with Mr. Smith if the name has been selected deliberately. See also Fluffy the Terrible, Tom the Dark Lord, An Alien Named "Bob", Sesquipedalian Smith, Some Call Me "Tim", and Odd Name Out.
- AKIRA is a perfectly ordinary name in Japanese. However it means "lightbringer", as in "Lucifer". Like Lucifer, Akira was created to be all-powerful but revolted against its creator.
- The Big O: "My name... is Roger Smith."
- In City Hunter the formidable sweeper Umibozu, capable of mopping the floor with 27 elite soldiers and, thanks to his enormous size and strength, fire a machine gun and a bazooka one-handed at the same time, has the unbelievably normal real name of Hayato Ijuin. He's actually embarrassed by it, and will go by Umibozu (meaning "sea monster". Was originally an Embarrassing Nickname) or Falcon (his codename when he was a mercenary. Mostly used by his wife) unless he actually has to use his real name (such when he married).
- Claymore: Most of the Claymores have quite plain names by occidental standards; examples include Clare, Teresa, Priscilla, and Helen.
- In Dragon Ball Z, the proliferation of Theme Naming means that some of the most terrifying entities in existence can have some very unprepossessing names.
- In the original Dragon Ball, the Demon King and his mutated monster children are all named after musical instruments. Therefore, the pure evil twin of Earth's god is named... Piccolo. He passes that name on to his son, who eventually becomes one of the most powerful warriors in the universe. In-Universe, it apparently means 'Another World' in Namekian, and so is downplayed.
- Most of the Z Fighters are named after food. That doesn't stop them from being incredibly strong and capable of taking on world-shaking threats. Yes, even Yamcha.
- All of Bulma's family are named after underwear. This means that Bulma and Dr. Briefs, two of the Earth's greatest scientists, are named after bloomers and male underwear, respectively. Her kids carry on the tradition by being named Trunks and Bulla/Bra.
- The elite Ginyu force are all named after dairy products: Burter (Butter), Ginyu (Cow's milk), Guldo (Yogurt), Jeice/Jheese (Cheese), and Recoome (Cream).
- All the Gods of Destruction and Angels, who are the most powerful entities in their universes, are named after alcoholic beverages. Originally this wasn't to be the case, as Beerus was meant to be a play on 'virus' (he was originally conceptualized as a much more villainous entity responsible for driving the Saiyans to evil), but then Akira Toriyama took over and mistook the name for a pun on 'Beer', and named his assistant Whis, for 'Whiskey'. This continued on when other Gods of Destruction and their attendants were introduced in Super, giving us things like Gin the Destroyer Deity and Sour the angel.
- People from universe 9 are named after herbs, giving us gems like Lavender the wolfman, who's capable of fighting Gohan to a standstill, and his fellow warriors Comfrey, Hop, and Roselle.
- People from Universe 3 are named after Italian food.
- The Pride Troopers from universe 11 are named after kitchenware, so you've got potential God of Destruction Top (anagram of Pot), K'nsi (sink), Tupper (tupperware), Kettle (obvious), and their leader, the Multiverse's Strongest Mortal, even more powerful than a God of Destruction, is named Jiren (anagram of 'renji', or 'stove').
- In Elfen Lied, the massive, floating head, Body Horror oracle that is kept in the pool under the research facility is just called "Anna". Helps that she was born as a mostly normal girl.
- Hunter × Hunter: This trope occurs if you're an Arabic speaker, as the king of the Chimera Ants is named Meruem, an Arabic form of "Mary".
- Little Witch Academia (2017): The most powerful witch in history, in whose memory the Luna Nova academy was founded, is named... Jennifer. This is actually something of the "Tiffany Problem", as Jennifer (as a Cornish derivation of the famously medieval Guinevere) does have its roots in the Middle Ages, but it was not a common modern name until the 20th century.
- Martian Successor Nadesico starts with a pilot named Jiro Yamada, the Japanese equivalent of John Smith. He's so upset his name isn't awesome he insists everyone call him Gai Daigoji.
- It's an unfortunate effect of translation that Monster Rancher has a Big Bad whose name sounds to western ears like, well, Moo. The theme song even identifies him as "the evil Moo".
- One Piece: It's pretty common for some of the most insanely powerful people in the world to have rather normal names, either Japanese or Western, along with the crazy and awesome ones.
- The protagonist is Monkey D. Luffy, while his grandfather is Monkey D. Garp. His father averts this, being named Dragon. The D. in their names makes them special In-Universe, though the few people who know why aren't telling.
- Amongst the Straw Hat crew, we have Nami the weather-manipulating navigator, Nico "Devil Child" Robin, living skeleton Brook, shapeshifting reindeer doctor Tony (full name Tony Tony Chopper), and cyborg Franky.
- The Pirate King was named Roger.
- Edward "Whitebeard" Newgate, one of the Four Emperors and the World's Strongest Man. The Edward comes from Edward Teach (the real life pirate better known as Blackbeard), and the Newgate comes from Newgate Prison.
- His replacement Marshall D. Teach also takes his name from the historical Edward Teach, with his nickname also being Blackbeard.
- Big Mom, the only female amongst the Four Emperors, is named Charlotte Linlin. And since most of her kids (her epithet is Exactly What It Says on the Tin) are named after various confections, you can get the odd dissonance of having ruthless pirates named things like Snack, Cracker, Amande, Smoothie, and Katakuri (from the Japanese word for potato starch).
- The Big Bad undead evil sorceress in Record of Lodoss War is just named "Karla", being about the only character in the entire world with an actual real world name.
- The high priestess of the temple in Rune Soldier Louie is named Jenny. Just "Chief Priestess Jenny".
- Space Dandy:
- The series gives us the leader of the Jaicro Empire. The mighty Emperor...Johnny.
- And his opposite number in the Gogol Empire is the positively demonic-looking Admiral Perry.
- Gunsmith Cats: While a translation error ended up giving her a more special name (or nickname, as it is), Irene "Rally" Vincent's bounty hunting nom de guerre in Japan is Larry Vincent (more importantly, it's her dad's name, which she took up to try to find him. And he is a Punisher-style One-Man Army).
- "Ash" and "Ketchum" aren't especially unusual names in real life. In the Pokémon world, however, Ash Ketchum is frequently The Chosen One. (This also applies to his original Japanese name: Satoshi, which is fairly common for Japanese males, including the franchise's creator himself.)
- Space Family Carlvinson, despite its futuristic setting and alien planets (that look suspiciously like rural Japan), is a Slice of Life story through and through, and this reflects on the names given to some characters. For example there are a robot named Andy and a humanoid reptilian being named Ken. (the only human character has the comparatively stranger name Corona).
- A Norse god-powered alien cyborg named "Beta Ray" Bill. Just Bill, for short.
- The big good of the Marvel Universe. Epitome of honor, justice, and duty. The man who Batman both admitted would beat him and put in charge of the largest battle in the series. This is Superman in the body of a human being. His name is Steve Rogers.
- For a group that calls itself the Legion of Monsters and is made up of a variety of fearsome, sometimes supernatural beings, you'd definitely expect some exotic names. There are — some. Most others? Michael, Jack, Ted, Johnny, Frank, Elsa and "Manny".
- The cover of the very first MAD magazine (when it was a comic book) shows people cowering in terror before a monstrous shadow — "That thing! That slithering blob coming toward us!" "What is it?" "It's Melvin!"
- Melvin was the name of a number of menaces in early Mad. In Woman Wonder, the villain was called Nivlem.
- As a Running Gag, at least half the aliens in the Space Opera comic Nexus have perfectly normal-sounding human names like Tyrone, Sinclaire, Jil, etc. Dave of Thune's son Fred changed his name to Judah after converting to Judaism.
- Kevin from Sin City combines this with They Look Just Like Everyone Else!. You wouldn't look at him twice if you passed him in the street. He's also a serial killer who's one of the best fighters in the series, and he never makes a sound, ever. Even when his guts are being eaten by a wolf and his head is sawed off.
- X-Men gives us Jean Grey. She's had a number of names over the years (such as Marvel Girl and Phoenix), but nothing ever really stuck. Across various media and incarnations, Jean is just... Jean. Lampshaded in one issue:
Cyclops: Everyone, Jean and I have an announcement to make...
Jubilee (Marvel Comics): [off-panel] Don't tell me, she finally got herself a real code-name?
Jean: [rolling her eyes] Nothing quite THAT exciting, I'm afraid! (For the record, they were getting engaged)
- We also got Jubilee sarcastically referring to Jean as "Miss 'I'm too sexy for a codename, too sexy for a codename'". Another time, in an X-Men: Evolution-based comic, Nightcrawler asked why Rogue was just Rogue, in superhero and in civilian life. Cyclops said "The same reason Jean's just Jean." When Nightcrawler asks about that, they're interrupted before any answer can be given.
- All this becomes slightly hypocritical when you consider that Jubilee's "codename" is actually just her childhood nickname. But then, when your parents named you "Jubilation", what can you do?
- And Rogue's real name - at least what we know of it - is Anna Marie.
- We also got Jubilee sarcastically referring to Jean as "Miss 'I'm too sexy for a codename, too sexy for a codename'". Another time, in an X-Men: Evolution-based comic, Nightcrawler asked why Rogue was just Rogue, in superhero and in civilian life. Cyclops said "The same reason Jean's just Jean." When Nightcrawler asks about that, they're interrupted before any answer can be given.
- Dilbert has often met a demon who claims to be the ruler of Heck, where small sins are punished. While his full title is the Prince of Insufficient Light, you can just call him Phil.
- In the Star Wars/Mass Effect/Borderlands/Halo crossover Origins, the villain (for some of the story anyway) is a super-powered Siren. Other Sirens are named from canon: Maya, Lilith, Angel. Her name is...Sarah. She doesn't take this well when her underlings laugh at the Special Person, Normal Name, though later on it's revealed that "Sarah" is simply the closest convenient translation of Eridian language for her given title, the "Selfless Servant of the Mantle".
- Brought up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe fic "Tingle", where Kate Bishop develops a particular grudge match with a henchman she calls 'Scarlip' as he has a scar over his lip. After defeating his master, the Spot, with the aid of Yelena Belova and Peter Parker, Scarlip attempts to become the new Spot using his equipment, culminating in a final confrontation with Kate where he reveals that his name is Robert "Bob" Smith, which Kate finds very anti-climactic.
- In the Dishonored 2 fan novel Echoes in the Deep, Emily Kaldwin seems to be less surprised the Outsider is standing mortal in front of her than learning his name is something as simple as Tarick. Ever the wiseass, he can't resist lampshading her reaction:
Tarick: Were you perhaps expecting a Saraqael, or Xenocrates? Oh no, dear Majesty. You know me for what I was forged into, but the stars did not shine brighter to observe my birth into filth and dust, nor was I anymore worth plucking from the recesses of a city long before your empire than so many apples the lowermost branch is quick to cast off. Tarick suited me just fine then as it does now.
- The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible's real name is Bob Parr. It helps when you're trying to live a normal life, if involuntarily. "Parr" is a Meaningful Name from the word "par", meaning average.
- Everyone who works for Monsters, Inc. has a plain name like "James P. Sullivan" or "Mike Wazowski", which helps to reinforce their characterization as average, working-class Joes.
- Lampshaded by Monsters vs. Aliens.
Dr. Cockroach: Might we ask for your name, madam?
Susan Murphy: Susan.
B.O.B: No, we mean like your monster name. You know, what do people scream when they see you coming? Like "Look out! Here comes...?"
Susan Murphy: Susan.
Dr. Cockroach: Really?
B.O.B: SUUUUSSAAANN! Ooh, I just scared myself! That is scary!
- Of course, the government has changed her name to "Ginormica" by this point, but she doesn't embrace it until much later.
- Jokingly done with an entire planet in Titan A.E.. The name of the new planet, future home to the remnants of humanity? Bob. (At least, Cale tells Akima that's what he's naming it. Officially, it appears it'll be "New Earth".)
Akima: You can't call a planet "Bob".
Cale: So now you're the boss. You're the King of Bob.
Akima: Can't we just call it "Earth"?
Cale: No one said you have to live on Bob.
Akima: I'm never calling it that.
(Cut to a shot of the planet from space with the caption "New Earth (Planet Bob)".)
- In The Cabin in the Woods there is evidently some sort of evil, never-seen thing buried deep in the facility but named... Kevin. Word of God stated the inspiration was We Need to Talk About Kevin.
- In The Dark Tower, Jake laughs when he finds out the Man in Black's name is Walter. In the books, that's just one of many names the character uses, though admittedly a lot of them are equally mundane.
- Spoofed in Deadpool, where the villain prefers to be called Ajax, but Deadpool insists on using his real name of Francis.
- Inverted in Down Periscope. The name of the electrician is Nitro, but it is his actual surname. He's working on a nickname: Mike.
- In Fright Night (1985), the next-door-neighbour complete monster vampire goes by the name of... Jerry.
- Henry Jones Jr is the rather ordinary name of the man better known as Indiana Jones.
- A legendary assassin named John Wick. 'Nuff said.
- Kill Bill: The assassin codenamed Snake Charmer, a graduate student of the world's greatest swordsmith and kung fu master... is the title character, Bill.
- In The Man from Earth, a group of professors go to say goodbye to a colleague who is suddenly moving away and leaving his position for seemingly no reason. Eventually the professor moving away, Professor John Oldman, tells them that he is in reality an immortal who has walked the Earth since the Neolithic Era, and he has to keep moving to prevent anyone from noticing that he doesn't age. At one point while his colleagues question him and try to test whether his story is true or not, they ask him what his real name is. John claims that, for most of his 14,000 year life, he has generally called himself some variation of John, or gone by other names that are pretty close to John.
- The Matrix: All the Agents have generic names, such as Smith, Brown and Jones. And of course, Neo's original name was the not-particularly-evocative Thomas Anderson.
- Men in Black:
- Many of the aliens the agents encounter in the field have plain sounding names like Frank or Bob. This even includes a gigantic, subway-dwelling, omnivorous worm called Jeff. Presumably these are all assumed names, and they would make sense for those aliens living as humans. No explanation for the giant worm, though.
- Two alien twins working in the MIB headquarters are named [unpronounceable alien noises] and Bob.
- Played with in the posters for the first film, as a joke on the fact that the two lead actors were literally named Jones and Smith, which are very common surnames in America.
- Tim the Enchanter in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005): John and Jane Smith are highly-skilled assassins. When Jane has her people try and dig up her husband's past, her colleague incredulously asks how they're supposed to do that when he has the most generic name in the English language.
- The Big Bad of Star Trek Into Darkness is named John Harrison. Which is actually an alias. His real name is Khan Noonien Singh.
- Anne of Green Gables: Anne Shirley constantly laments having such a plain name. She wishes to be called "Cordelia", which she believes sound much more interesting. Though, if she must be called Anne, she's sure to remind you that it's spelled with an E, because without it, it looks even more plain and dreadful.
- In A Brother's Price, a civil war between royal sisters was caused by the fact that the eldest sisters' husband was infertile, and the youngest demanded that therefore their own children be heirs to the throne. In contemporary operas, the heartwrenching aria of the infertile husband, who bemoans his sad fate and begs for a divorce as to not cause any more fighting is sung by the best contralto singers available. The name of that tragic historical figure? Michael. (It sticks out especially as other characters have much more exotic names.)
- The Dalemark Quartet: Mitt's full name is Alhammitt Alhammittsson, which is the single most common man's name in all of South Dalemark, and especially the earldom of Holand, where he comes from. Mitt is secretly descended from the last king of Dalemark, ends up becoming king himself under the regnal name "Amil the Great", and as the cherry on top is immortal.
- Sam Vimes and Tiffany Aching of have some of the most ordinary names of the series, which includes a lot of made-up names, real but obscure ones, and bizarre words used as names. They're not ordinary people at all, being a Determinator cop whose dedication to the law is integral to Ankh-Morpork's proper functioning and a talented young witch who's fought off supernatural foes including The Fair Folk.
- In Carpe Jugulum, all the cool vampires opt for mundane names, and one vampire mentions that the witch Agnes (Agnes actually is her real name) is wonderfully clever for coming up with her name. This is less for ominous effect than comedy, inverting people's attempts to give themselves cooler names (especially if they're into vampires and the like.) Particularly apt, since Agnes Nitt's pseudonym is Perdita X Dream ("The X stands for 'someone with a really cool and interesting middle name'" — "X" Makes Anything Cool).
- The Dresden Files:
- The powerful air-spirit and age-old repository of magical knowledge which Harry acquires as a lab assistant is named "Bob". Justified by Harry having been only 16, and not a very original thinker, when he named his spirit-buddy.
- Skin Game:
- Harry has allied himself with a powerful spirit who guards ancient demon-gods in crystal prisons. After the spirit helps Harry with a headache, Harry jokingly calls him "Alfred". The spirit takes a moment and asks if it is to be its name, as while it is connected to its place of residence it is also a distinct identity. After realizing the spirit doesn't understand sarcasm, Harry goes with it.
- When Harry meets Hades, Lord of the Underworld, the old god invokes this idea with how a name could seem special because it is not in a language known to everyone these days. In this case, Cerberus derives from the word for "Spotted". So, Cerberus, guardian of the underworld, is, in truth, named "Spot".
- The Empirium Trilogy: Simon is one of the most important characters in the series since his time traveling magic is a key component in the Prophet's plan to finally take down Corien. He also has the most normal name out of all of them.
- The Ender sequels feature a one-of-a-kind life form, an artificial intelligence with a soul. The ansible network and all computers linked to it function as her nervous system. She thinks at thousands of times the rate of human thought. The name she gave herself: Jane.
- The main character of the Eternal Sky trilogy is a warrior, grandson of the ruler of the Qernysk Empire, and the main challenger to his uncle Qori Buqa for rule of said empire. His name is Temur, which is as widespread a name as "John" in his culture. His magical horse is named Dumpling.
- The Great Divorce: One of the most important Bright Ones, a Friend to All Living Things woman of saintlike goodness, is named Sarah Smith. This demonstrates that a nobody on Earth can become exceptional in Heaven.
- Harry Potter. In fact, Harry is one of the very few characters in his series to have a completely ordinary name, the others being his dead parents (James Potter and Lily Evans), Big Bad Tom Riddle (who really, really hates the name, as it's a constant reminder of his Muggle father), and some Muggle and Muggle-born characters. (Most of the characters with normal first names have weird last names.)
- Lampshaded, because the wizarding world has slightly more archaic and eccentric naming style.
- James Bond: Ian Fleming chose the name of his hero (named after an ornithologist) because it sounded so unexciting, although since then he's given the name an allure of its own. It also contrasts with the often outlandish names of the villains and peripheral characters.
- Jane Wishing by Toni Tobias contrasts "plain Jane"'s everyday reality (illustrated - by Trina Schart Hyman — in black and white) with her dreams and desires (in color). Jane wishes her name were something like Amanda or Melissa, or "at least Elizabeth".
- A trademark of sorts with many of Stephen King's books. All sorts of unique and fantastical characters and nary a "Jack Stone" or "Jack Steele" or any other "'John' Derivative + Hard Object" name to be found. Even the demonic antagonist of The Stand is named the very ordinary-sounding Randall Flagg. That's right; the Antichrist Expy is named Randy.
- The Nightside's own John Taylor. In-universe, he's made it into a Name to Run Away From Really Fast.
- The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries: Sookie starts giggling when her vampire love interest introduces himself as Bill.
- In A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones, the legendary founder of Time City is named John Smith. Residents usually use the Latin translation in order to make it sound more impressive. The man himself claims that people ought to be impressed by his name anyway due to the etymology.
- Victoria: Has a Japanese admiral named Tanaka, which is effectively the Japanese equivalent of calling him "John Smith" or "Mr. Jones".
- In the River of Dancing Gods series, the main characters are Joe and Marge — which is fair, as it's an Isekai series and they're from Earth. But then Joe receives one of the very last unnamed magic swords in existence and is granted the great privilege of giving it the name that it will bear for now and ever after through centuries of legend. He picks Irving.
- Aeon 14: ISS Intrepid/I2 houses an Artificial Intelligence so sophisticated he can accurately predict future or past, given a certain baseline level of information, and who is eventually revealed to be an ascended being able to manipulate space itself. His name? Bob.
- The Locked Tomb: The Emperor, a.k.a. the King Undying, a.k.a. Necrolord Prime, a.k.a. God, has been known only by those titles for ten thousand years. His similarly immortal Lyctors get to call him John.
- The A-Team: While nobody ever calls him by it, Hannibal's real name is John Smith one can hardly get more ordinary than that. Of course, given that he's a Chessmaster par excellence and a general Cool Old Guy, the person behind the name is anything but ordinary.
- Appears in Farscape, The Powers That Be were presumably invoking this trope when they decided to name the main character "John".
- The standard for naming beings in the celestial hierarchy of The Good Place. Michael and Trevor are reality-bending dimension lords, and the overseer of the Bad Place is called Shawn. Then there's the all-knowing, extremely powerful informational delivery system known simply as Janet. Also, there's Gen, the closest thing the series has to God insofar. She's the real supreme Judge of the Afterlife.
- The Man in the High Castle: one of the main characters is SS-Obergruppenführer John Smith, head of the SS in the American Reich.
- In The Mighty Boosh, the strangest-looking member of the Board of Shaman, a disembodied head with tentacles for limbs, is named Tony Harrison.
- Dave Lister in Red Dwarf. He's the last human alive, worshipped as a god by a species of evolved cats, is his own father, as well as father to twin boys he gave birth to and, supposedly, is destined to jump-start the second big-bang.
- Clark Kent in Smallville. Sure, his birth name was Kal-El but it's very rare for anyone to call him that, and they never call him Superman until the very last episode. Dude can bench press a glacier. His name is totally ordinary.
- Early in Stargate Atlantis, Sheppard and a team capture a Wraith, which he names Steve. He keeps up the practice and later the Atlantis residents make an enemy of a particularly nasty Wraith named Michael and sometimes find themselves in Enemy Mine situations with another named Todd.
- Normally played straight on Star Trek, where the great starship captains have names like Jim (Kirk), Jon (Archer), Ben (Sisko), Kathryn (Janeway), Christopher (Pike), and Jean-Luc (Picard) (common enough in the francophone world). Nicely inverted, though, on the rare occasions where we see these human names from an alien perspective. In one episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, for example ("Civilization"), Archer tells a woman he's working with on a pre-first-contact planet that he's an investigator from "another city."
Riann: (as Archer goes to leave) You didn't tell me your name.
Riann: Jon. (beat) How far away is this city?
- The all-knowing prophet "Chuck".
- Followed by the prophet "Kevin".
- Twin Peaks has two inter-dimensional and quasi-demonic beings called Bob and Mike.
- Torchwood has a sewer-dwelling alien with gigantic fangs that the team captured. Captain Jack named it Janet, because "Barbara just never seemed right."
- In the HBO series True Blood, one of the main characters is a vampire named Bill Compton, and (as in the book) Sookie is surprised that he has such a boring name.
- Flight of the Conchords "Did Steve tell you that?" "What kind of rapper name is Steve?"
- Devin Townsend's 2007 album Ziltoid the Omniscient has the title character attempt to wipe out Earth using an Eldritch Abomination called the Planet Smasher. His name turns out to be Herman. (And he hates musicals.)
- There are a lot of women named Mary in The Bible, in addition to the Mother of Jesus. Of course, now, variations of the name Mary are even more common throughout Christian and Islamic worlds.
- The name "Jesus" was a very common one at the time. This is one reason Christ is often referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth" in the narration. (It still is a common name in Spanish, in which it's rendered "Jesús", as well as in other languages, if you take into account that Jesus is etymologically the same name as Joshua.)
- Mutant Chronicles: Usually, when swearing oneself to the Dark Symmetry, one chooses a Dark Apostle as a patron, and serves that patron faithfully while backstabbing all threats, until one is either killed or becomes a nepharite (demon prince), which usually means changing one's name to something biblical and/or with a lot of hard consonants. Then there's the Dark Prophet, who has been seen bossing around nepharites sworn to all five Dark Apostles, is welcome everywhere the Dark Symmetry touches, and is implied to serve the Dark Soul directly. He still goes by his birth name, Billy.
- Magic: The Gathering: The Scourge Diva of the Cult of Rakdos is named Judith.
- Jack, from BioShock, the starring character. Though no one knows how special he is, not even the player, you go through a LOT of creepy, terrible things underwater, always coming up top, mowing a large number of enemies, and then you know what IS really special about this 'Jack'.
- In Dota 2, the true name of the Invoker, a mage who has lived centuries and has mastered the use of powerful invocations is simply Carl.
- Averted in the English translation of Final Fantasy VI. The name "Tina" likely sounded exotic to Japanese ears, but dirt-common to an American audience, so translator Ted Woolsey changed it to "Terra", and every English translation since has followed suit.
- Gaia Crusaders features a sizeable blue cybernetic water demon boss and unlockable character named Rob.
- The recurring evil mastermind, possibly Man Behind the Man, of the Golden Sun series is named Alex.
- The Master Chief from Halo just goes by 'chief' or 'sir' for the most part, but his actual name is John. Only the other Spartan-IIs (ie his surrogate siblings), Dr. Halsey (his creator/surrogate mother), and Cortana (his trusty AI companion) ever call him that, though.
Glibnub: So wait a minute — I just found out the Master Chief's name is John. John? JOHN? We're afraid of a guy named JOHN? Are you kidding me!?
- Other major Spartan-IIs include Fred, Linda, Kelly, William, James, Sam, and Kurt. As a whole, humanity's greatest soldiers and defenders have utterly mundane names.
- Ed the Undying an ancient mummy in Kingdom of Loathing. Lampshaded in the encounter: "Ed? Not Ed-Ra, or Ed-hotep, or something?"
- In The Lord of the Rings Online you frequently run into a strange old lady called Sara Oakheart, who seems to know more than she is letting on. It's the perfect disguise, as her real name is Amarthiel, the Daughter of Doom, one of Saurons chief generals and a two thousand year old undead spirit, who had been spying on you the whole time. People who are familiar with Tolkien's conlangs will know that something's off with her just by hearing her name: Tolkien never uses realistic names, as they would be nonsense in the languages of his universe.
- Illusion of Gaia gives us protagonist Will, though considering he has Psychic Powers it's more of a Punny Name.* The beta plays it straight, where we learn he was originally called Tim.**
- The Final Boss of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable : The Gears of Destiny, the Unbreakable Darkness, a completely immortal being with unlimited and uncontrollable powers capable of destroying several worlds at once and warping time and space by her mere presence is revealed to have the real name of Yuri, a normal girl's name for someone who used to be a normal girl until some event in the forgotten, ancient past transformed her into what she is now.
- Messiah's protagonist is an angel named Bob.
- While Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid certainly has a cool-sounding code name; his real name is just "David".
- Big Boss/Naked Snake's and Ocelot's real names, revealed during Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, are also rather plain: John and Adam — or rather, Ocelot's real name is "Adamska", a Hollywood-Russian form of "Adam" (it makes certain sense, since Ocelot is Russian-born and the game is essentially a Cold War spy film parody that takes everything it does seriously). In fact, Ocelot asks Naked Snake what his name is and then gives his own; when the latter answers simply, "John," Ocelot replies, "Plain name, but I won't forget it."
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Raiden's archenemy is a Brazilian cyborg swordsmaster named... Samuel Rodrigues. Although his codename Jetstream is somewhat funky, Samuel Rodrigues is a commonplace name in Brazil, especially the surname.
- Played with in The Curse of Monkey Island. One of the barber pirates introduces himself as just "Bill". When Guybrush comments that this doesn't sound very piratey, Bill reveals he's cleaning blood off an apron as he adds "Cutthroat Bill".
- In Mother 3, Lucas is a pretty normal name for a kid living in Tazmily, especially when compared to the names of the people who live there like "Flint, Hinawa, Lighter, Fuel, Wess, Duster, etc.". Lucas is one of only Two People in the world who can use PK Love, and use that power to pull the 7 needles trapping the Dark Dragon under the Nowhere Islands. Subverted, as per Word of God his name is pronounced "lü-KAAH", not "LOO-kas".
- Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire gives us Maxie and Archie, the Magma and Aqua leaders. Unlike most characters, they have no theme nor pun to their names and seem to have been chosen because they start with the same letters as their teams and Japanese names, and sound a little bit alike.
- The last unlocked bachelor in Rune Factory 4 has a very Egyptian feeling to his design, making him look like a Pharaoh with the common-dirt name of Leon.
- The Grim Reaper of RuneScape is actually named Harold, though he usually goes by Death these days. He was given the job because he was the first human to die on Gielinor.
- The title characters of the Super Mario Bros. series save the world on a regular basis and have fulfilled the roles of prophesied heroes on multiple occasions, but still have the not-so cool sounding names of Mario and Luigi.
- Subnautica: Below Zero, expressed by Robin in-game when she meets one of the ancient Precursor Architects.
Robin: My whole life, I've been dying to meet a sapient, spacefaring alien up close, and you're telling me your name is ALAN?
Al-An: Is it insufficient?
Robin: No, it's fine. It's perfect.
- Inverted in Thief with Viktoria, who has a suprisingly fancy and aristocratic name for a wood nymph.
- BlazBlue: The Successor of the Azure and one of the most important people in the series' universe is Noel. To put her name in context, her allies include Ragna, Jin, Tsubaki, Kokonoe, Hakumen and Iron Tager. There's also the immortal vampire Rachel and the Child Prodigy of the vigilantes, Carl Clover.
- Under Night In-Birth: The leader of the disruptive Amnesia faction and one of the most powerful In-Births for many years is simply named Hilda.
- Xenosaga: The true names of the Four Testaments are Luis Virgil, Erich Weber, Dmitri Yuriev (the name of the man Albedo was cloned from) and Kevin Winnicot. All four are realistic, albeit of different nationalities.
- Three of the ES mechs are named... Joseph, Dan and Joshua.
- The Legend of Dragoon: The game's main antagonist is a Wingly (aka an Angel) named Lloyd.
- Dragon Quest XI: As part of the main quest, you meet a mermaid. You might have expected her to be called something more exotic than Michelle.
- Doki Doki Literature Club! has Monika. The rest of the girls have Japanese names to suit the Animesque style, but Monika is a common name in English. She turns out to be the villain of the story; the one that killed (or "deleted") the other girls so she could have the player for herself.
- Her name was most likely chosen by transliterating the word "moniker" (meaning name) to Japanese. Her name is literally just "name".
- Biff in Absurd Notions names every one of his roleplaying characters "Biff".
- While the McNinja family in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja have cool last names, they all have rather ordinary first names; Dan, Mitzi and Sean, respectively. Even the titular Doctor McNinja has the rather ordinary name of "Patrick".
- Exterminatus Now gives us Kevin, the Greater Daemon of the Dark God Patterner. It doesn't even have any apostrophes, which would've been cool!
- Freefall has a planet example similar to Titan A.E.: Florence's adventure is taking place on Planet "Jean". Explained as "Mother Earth" setting a precedent for giving habitable planets feminine names, and overworked clerks wanting to keep the names short.
- In Genocide Man, the eponymous agents are named Peter Pup, Lola Lamb, Jacob Doe, Kevin Kidd, and Joey; the animal themed last names are aliases. Each is a Long-Lived Super Soldier with a reusable, customizable Depopulation Bomb, and their Genocide Project is the power behind the One World Order. They also killed 1.3 billion people with the Guayaquil Pandemic that genetically altered the entire human race to be more docile; Kevin and Joey at the very least are also unapologetic cases of Tom the Dark Lord.
- In Girl Genius, the past generations of the Heterodyne family have had names like Caligula, Faustus, Iscariot, Egregious, Satyricus and Saturnus... The three Big Damn Heroes of the family are Bill, Barry and Agatha. Bill and Barry are in-comic legendary figures, with books and plays detailing their exploits despite only having been actively hero-ing twenty years ago, and Agatha is the main protagonist of the comic, and Bill's daughter.
- The immortal "Jerry" from El Goonish Shive. He even lampshades this while simultaneously poking fun at his peers who chose more pretentious names.
- John Egbert of Homestuck. And hey, Andrew Hussie counts as well — who's more important than the author of it all? Even if he did die . . .
- Though it does show her status as heiress to the baking empire (and the Evil Empire) of Betty Crocker, Jane Crocker's is certainly normal relative to those of her Alpha teammates.
- In fact, with the exceptions of Jade, Dirk, and possibly Rose, the kids' first names by themselves can be considered fairly normal.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! is about Bob Smithson, seemingly the world's most average man (he really isn't).
- Kill Six Billion Demons:
- Our heroine Allison could end up as one of the most special people in the entire multiverse.
- The God Empress Mottom's full title is long and imposing, but her personal name is Nadia.
- Oscar the devil, a recurring side character. As a Crimson devil he has a longer name that limits his power, and according to the original sketches of the comic one of them is "Duuthomiel", but 'Oscar' is the only one used.
- Looking for Group: The sinister undead warlock... Richard. He tries to augment it with titles.
- Given the extensive playing with names and titles in Namesake, a lot of characters are subject to this. Some of the most frighteningly badass or magical people in the human world have names like Jack Wright and Emma Crewe, due to their common fairy-tale names actually creating links to fairy-tale worlds. Still, the gold medal probably goes to the playing-card-turned-humanoid-supersoldier with strength and agility totally unexpected for his size... whose name is Fred. Yep, just Fred.
- Billy from Adventure Time. Who is a legendary hero. Princess Bubblegum and Flame Princess's real names are Bonnibel and Phoebe.
- Discussed in the episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender when Sokka is learning to fight with a sword from a Fire Nation master. At the end of the episode the master, who knew all along he was from the Water Tribe, cautions him that giving the name "Sokka" blows his identity and suggests he tries the innocuous (in the Fire Nation, at least) name of "Lee". Doubles as a gag since Zuko's chosen alias is also Lee.
Piandao: Oh, I've been around a while. You pick things up. Of course I knew from the beginning that Sokka was Water Tribe. You might want to think of a better Fire Nation cover name. Try Lee. There's a million Lee's.
- Dragons: Riders of Berk: In a village populated with folk such as Stoick, Gobber, Hiccup, Snotlout, and Astrid, an exotic foreign beauty who crashes on their shores is named Heather.
- In Garfield and Friends, Orson meets a weird subterranean creature and is slightly disappointed to learn his name is Al.
- In the Justice League episode "Only a Dream", the Villain of the Week, a Dream Weaver, is named John Dee. It's a plot point because he hates his name for not being special enough.
- The titular Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil.
- My Little Pony 'n Friends: Megan Wiliams. Normal name, but the girl it's attached to is not ordinary.
- A subtle joke with the naming conventions of OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes is that most of the characters have very bizarre names like "K.O." or "Red Action", but their robotic antagonists all have completely mundane ones, like "Shannon" and "Jethro".
- Phineas and Ferb, episode "The Chronicles of Meap":
"I am known by many names. Well, two, really: Mitch, and some of the guys call me Big Mitch!"
- In The Owl House, most Palismen have Punny Names like Owlbert (Eda's owl Palisman), cool-sounding names like Ghost (Amity's cat Palisman), or names that relate to their owners in some way like Clover (Willow's bee Palisman). The major exception is Hunter's Palisman, a red cardinal named Flapjack. This in and of itself is a hint at his past however — the term "flapjack" doesn't exist on the Boiling Isles, meaning he had to have been named by a human. This, among other things, implies that Caleb Wittebane, Emperor Belos's brother, was his original owner.
- Rick and Morty: Humorously lampshaded with Space Beth. Despite being a intergalactic vigilante wanted by the Federation, her name is quite mundane, which pisses her off as no one can remember it.
- Ezra Bridger of Star Wars Rebels may not have a remarkable name, but he goes from street rat to Jedi Knight who saves Lothal from Grand Admiral Thrawn.
- Steven Universe: The female Crystal Gems are named for their Gem, and the creators seem to have gone out of their way to use ones that are actual names for the Gems that are main characters: Pearl, Amethyst, Garnet, Ruby and Sapphire. The main character, meanwhile, is Steven. Though less ordinary is his full name, Steven Quartz Universe. Played for Laughs in one episode, when he's shocked, shocked to learn that his father was actually born Greg DeMayo, having changed it as an adult. Steven grumbles that that's a much cooler name than plain old "Universe."
- Played straight in many monarchic dynasties, where the famous and distinctive often have very ordinary names.
- The defining example would be Louis XIV, whose long and momentous reign changed everything in Europe—but in terms of nomenclature he's just another in a long string of Louises, a very ordinary name both for Frenchmen and for French kings.
- Cleopatra was a very common name in the Macedonian dynasties of Hellenistic era—there are over a dozen of note and more besides, including one of the wives of Philip II (a rival of Alexander's mother Olympias). "Our" Cleo—the famous one—was the seventh ruling Cleopatra in Egypt, and was possessed of a name almost as common as the one foisted on male rulers (they tended to all be called Ptolemy).
- Alexander the Great, Catherine the Great, Mary Queen of Scots, Henry VIII, etc.
- Parodied in an Italian ad for a brand of ham featuring Sylvester Stallone. It was set as a mini-film where Stallone plays his usual brand of badass action hero, only to be mocked when the hostages he saved find that he's named "Bubi". The point of the ad was that the brand name is the most important part in a product. And then Stallone went and played "Jimmy Bobo" in Bullet to the Head...
- The names of some celebrities from non-Anglophone countries can come across this way when you know the literal translations of their names, like hunky acting great Anthony Flags, suave sophisticated Parisian crooner Morris Knight and silky-voiced song stylist Henry Churches, the son of legendary singer Julius Churches (or maybe it's July Churches).note Though Amazonian Beauty actress/model Wave Riverbanks might count more as a Hippie Name.
- "Yeshua Bar Josef" (Jesus, son of Joseph) was allegedly an extremely common name in first century Judea. It has been calculated that a thousand men and boys probably bore this name in Jerusalem alone.