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Carl Grissom: Jack, listen! Maybe we can cut a deal!
The Joker: Jack? Jack is dead, my friend. But you can call me... the Joker. And as you can see, I'm a lot happier.
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Stock Phrase uttered by someone who's been completely subsumed by their alter ego. The idea is that they have completely abandoned their past lives to the point where they wouldn't even recognize themselves. It's almost always a major turning point for the character, though there are a few cases where it merely emphasizes what the audience has already observed.

If a genuine hero utters it (though they generally use one of the variations below), it's because their past life was naive, evil, or selfish, and it's a sign that they've overcome their problems in the beginning and are ready to ascend to the grand finale. If an Anti-Hero utters it, it's to emphasize their dark (or at least rebellious) nature. If a villain utters it to another villain, it's to show that they're Eviler Than Thou.

Finally, if a villain utters it to a hero (particularly if they've done a Face–Heel Turn, though usually their past life is relegated to backstory), it determines their fate: If they speak this line with contempt, then they're irredeemable and will die; if they speak it with regret, then The Power of Friendship will prove them wrong and... well, they'll probably die anyway, but they'll feel better about it.

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Occasionally, mentioning the old life may be a Berserk Button. If a Split Personality is involved, then it's a Split-Personality Takeover. Very common when somebody is Becoming the Mask. If they ever purposefully mention their previous life, they will remark that No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me. Commonly, these characters Used to Be a Sweet Kid.

Variations:

  • "No... not 'Frank'... not anymore..." (Or if you want to get creepy, "Frank doesn't live here anymore!" Or "I'm sorry, the old Frank can't come to the phone right now!")
  • "My name is X!"
  • "It's X now."
  • "'Frank'? Who's 'Frank'?" (generally only for the insane)
  • "Frank's not here... he never was." if the person everyone thought they knew was a mask.
  • "There is no 'Frank'...only X!"

It may be inverted when the character gives up his second identity, and embraces his basic civilian life. The quote then is something like "I'm not Captain Righteous anymore, I'm just Joe".

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May overlap with Artifact Alias. Compare Do Not Call Me "Paul" and Third-Person Person. Don't confuse with He's Dead, Jim; in that case, someone is quite literally deceased.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • In the season-ending Cliffhanger "Neverland", Charley finds the Doctor, who has just barely survived a massive anti-time explosion, but has been transmuted into a quasi-mythological villain, announcing, "I'm not the Doctor; I am become Zagreus."
    • In the Unbound series of audio plays (also by Big Finish), we have "He Jests at Scars", which is pretty much nothing but this trope.

    Machinima 
  • Red vs. Blue has Agent Maine getting slowly corrupted by his AI Sigma until he finally snaps and loses his human identity.

    Music 
  • In the Pink Floyd Rock Opera The Wall, after Pink's Freak Out! when his wife leaves him, he is forced back on stage to perform - but emerges as a neo-Nazi, and announces his change by claiming to be a new person:
    Pink isn't well, he stayed back at the hotel
    And they sent us along as a surrogate band
  • The rapper Gemstones uses an interesting version of this on his mixtape, The Testimony of Gemstones.
    "I had to switch it up so I could let my wings spread/This is the "Testimony of Gemstones, Gemini is dead..."
    • What makes it fit the trope is the fact that he released a few songs under the name of Gemini that he wasn't too proud of, as he didn't agree with their themes. As it turns out, he was forced to change his name anyway, because the name Gemini was already taken.
  • Nine Inch Nails' song, The Becoming, is all about this.
    "That part of me/Isn't here anymore"
  • "Any World (That I'm Welcome To)" by Steely Dan:
    If I had my way
    I would move to another lifetime
    I'd quit my job
    Ride the train through the misty night-time
    I'll be ready when my feet touch ground
    Wherever I come down
    And if the folks will have me
    Then they'll have me

    Any world that I'm welcome to
    Is better than the one I come from
  • Sun Ra was born Herman Poole Blount; when asked about it, he once said, "That's an imaginary person, never existed. Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym."
  • Prince, after his name change to o(->: "Prince is dead, but I control his music". Come's cover even had the epitaph "Prince: 1958-1993".
  • Taylor Swift; the bridge in her single "Look What You Made Me Do""
    "I'm sorry, the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, 'cause she's dead."

     Mythology and Religeon 
  • This is basically how being "Born Again" works in Christianity. God "executes" one's old nature (known as "The Flesh," because it's all the basic, temporal instincts that lead one to sin), allowing the supplicant to become a new person in-tune with His will. Baptism is a symbolic Death by Drowning sentence for the selfish, cruel, liscentious "old you." Of course, it doesn't (usually) involve taking on a new name.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Pro-Wrestler "The Undertaker" is a big believer in Kayfabe (a rarity these days). Fans who ask him, at appearances, about Mark Callaway usually get the answer "Marc Callaway is a dead man, now."
    • Which has a double meaning, given that the Undertaker is also known by the nickname "the Deadman".
  • Jeff G. Bailey said this in regards to former NWA Wildside Champion Prince Justice when he sent him to regain the belt from Onyx... as Abyss! This was before Abyss talked, in case you're wondering.
  • Done humorously by Chavo Guerrero Jr. when in the summer of 2005 he suddenly denounced his Guerrero heritage and transformed into "Kerwin White," a stereotype of the white, upper-middle-class 1960s American, complete with a sweater vest and a golf club and entrance theme reminiscent of the tunes of Frank Sinatra. On the night he made his first appearance (on Sunday Night Heat), some people in the audience asked where the hell Chavo was, and "Kerwin" explained that he was out looking for work "with all the other unemployed Hispanics." The only thing that ended the gimmick? The death of Eddie Guerrero.
  • As part of his Face–Heel Turn, Stardust proclaimed no one would ever see "Cody Rhodes" ever again.
  • When, in 1989, manager Bobby Heenan introduced his latest client, Steve Lombardi, by having him attack Terry Taylor on the set of Prime Time Wrestling, Lombardi was immediately renamed The Brooklyn Brawler, the appellation by which he'd be best known for the rest of his career. In an interview following the attack, he embraces his new character in full, stating outright, "Lombardi's dead."
  • "The old Daniel Bryan, the "YES!" movement...they're all dead. You may now refer to me as...The NEW Daniel Bryan!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • An innate part of becoming an Abyssal Exalted; you must throw your destiny and your birth name into the Void, to be consumed forever, and take on a moniker given to you by your Deathlord. Were you Rose once? Well, now you're Bitter Taste of Blood on Thorns. Oh, and if you ever let someone call you by your old name, you build Resonance, which may lash out and kill people close to you.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Calistarius of the Blood Angels succumbed to the Black Rage, the curse of his chapter that turns those afflicted into frothing, rabid murder machines that are typically put down with a Mercy Kill. Calistarius however was trapped for a solid week under rubble when his Black Rage took hold. And through sheer force of will, overcame it. When he emerged, he shunned his old name, becoming the famed Mephiston, Lord of Death.
    Mephiston: I once was Calistarius. He has been dead for many years. I stand in his place, with death in my right hand, darkness in my left, and I would know who this is who bears the name Mephiston.

    Theatre 
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, the musical, has the song "I Know Those Eyes / This Man Is Dead", which juxtaposes the titular character's persona from before and after his wrongful imprisonment.
  • Played with in Man of La Mancha. After Alonso Quijana/Don Quixote dies, Aldonza says:
    Aldonza: A man died. He seemed a good man, but I did not know him.
    Sancho: But—
    Aldonza: Don Quixote is not dead. Believe, Sancho, believe.
    Sancho (in confused hope): Aldonza?
    Aldonza: My name is Dulcinea.
  • Les Misérables. "Jean Valjean is nothing now!"
  • At the end of Othello, the title character replies to the character asking for "this rash and most unfortunate man" with "That's he who was Othello: here I am".
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street plays with this. The eponymous Todd says this of his real identity of Benjamin Barker. In some adaptations, he uses the exact words, "That man is dead." However, at the climax, Todd insists on revealing his true name to the villain who wronged him.

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 
  • In Fans!, Alysin (note spelling) assumed her name when she became a hard-partying Goth with a hidden sadistic streak. Later, after being cured of a rare life-threatening disease and finding true love and a fulfilling life with husband Rikk and their third partner Rumi, she put that part of her life behind her, dropped the Goth wardrobe and persona (but kept some of her bondage gear in the bedroom for "therapeutic" purposes), and is now referred to as simply "Aly".
  • Parodied in Narbonic, when Dave finally gets laid.
    "The Dave you knew is dead. I killed him with awesomeness."
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures uses this trope for a Prophecy Twist: an oracle declares that the life of the succubus Destania "has ended at the hands of Daniel Ti'Fiona". What actually happened is that after the giving birth to Daniel, she declared: "Destania... Such a foreign name... The name of a succubus and the name of a life that is now long since over. I can't go back now... So I guess I'll start over and a new life... starting with these li'l hands."
  • General Grievous in Darths & Droids:
    Obi-Wan: Oh my god. You were once Valorum, the Chancellor.
    Grievous: Irrelevant! That name no longer has any meaning for me.
  • In Endstone, Cole Montaigne uses it word for word.
  • In Dragon Mango, they can't be told the name of the great warrior they are looking for, because she abandoned it when she left the kingdom.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Malack denies being the person he used to be before becoming a vampire. He is being entirely literal: as a vampire, Malack is an evil spirit possessing that former person's corpse and stealing his memories.
  • In The Dragon Doctors:
    • Invoked by Kili when she takes a trip to the part of the spirit world inhabited by the spirits of people's former selves, or their Shadow Archetype — where she and Greg meet a bitter, much saner Preston Chang, and Kili and Greg's younger selves (an annoying, grumpy thirteen-year-old and a Totally Radical headbanger, respectively).
    • At the end of the second Mr. Smith arc, both Blue and Elka (Tanica's real name) say this about Tanica the Assassin.
  • In Inverloch, Silvah says this when Lei'ella says that he has to be Kayn'dar—the person they've been looking for—because he's the only white-haired gold-eyed elf who can use magic. Silvah says that Kayn'dar is a broken shell of what he once was, which they assume means he was corrupted by dark magic. What Silvah really means is that Kayn'dar's soul was switched into Acheron's body—Silvah is the real Acheron.
  • In the Mystery Babylon prequel comic Kick Girl, Chris recognizes Kick Girl and calls her by her real name, Six. Kick Girl furiously shouts at him that Six is dead.
  • Luna of Bongo And Luna. Since she became such a different person following her death, damnation (Which she thoroughly enjoyed) and return as a ghost to the mortal world, she considers her previous life just that. Even forgoing her original name of Meredith Ann Merribelle.

    Web Original 
  • Played with in Critical Role. Grog takes the pseudonym "Phillip" for a pit fight, which he promptly loses. When he comes back for a rematch, he says "Philip is dead! There is only GROG THE VENGEFUL!"
  • A variation is used in Survival of the Fittest with Bobby Jacks. 'Make it Rob, please,' Oddly, it signifies a Heel–Face Turn rather than the other way around.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: "There is no Joey. There is only Steve!"
  • "Hanzo Hasashi is dead. My name... Is Scorpion."
  • In Worm, Taylor slowly subsumes herself into her "Skitter" persona, becoming a ruthless and feared parahuman warlord in control of a major American city, but one that distinctly cared for the individuals under her rule. After joining the Wards, she adopts the identity of Weaver, a Knight Templar Well-Intentioned Extremist driven to stop the end of the world no matter who she needs to kill, rejecting all bonds and devaluing all her emotional ties. Finally, after failing to prevent the end of the world but at least saving the multiverse, she resumes being Taylor again.
  • In Noob, this happens to Arthéon from the in-game perspective. At the beginning of the fourth novel and Season 5, the player behind him gets a job controlling the equivalent of a Non-Player Character with human instead of artificial intelligence. The process involved pasting the statistics that the character is supposed to have whitin the game's story on Arthéon's standard gaming avatar while the player had to start roleplaying to fit his new story role. Since the player had very recently decided to adopt a new attitude towards both his in-game and real life when he got offered his job, he decided to act as if this trope applied to his former game persona. That included informing the other players with whom he used to hang out that "There is no more [full name of the old gaming avatar], there's just [character that I'm roleplaying].".
  • Heavily implied with Blake in RWBY Abridged, who insists that she doesn't have a name and only refers to herself as "Cat Girl", and soon afterwards reveals her past life as a terrorist, which left her so scared that she questions whether the world she sees is really what's real, or if she's so broken that she doesn't even realize what the world is still like anymore. Luckily, after a couple episodes, she's already showing signs of getting better and has started letting other people know her real name again.

    Real Life 
  • The Real Life version of this is a Fugue state, a form of Dissociative Identity Disorder which involves a person losing all connection with their past identity. A person in a Fugue state can lose some or all aspects of their old self in the adoption of their new identity, often losing episodic memories, and the condition can last anywhere from a few days to forever.
  • It's not uncommon for some Transgender people to refer to the names they were given at birth as their "dead names", given that they represent a lie they were forced to live and continuing to use their dead name implies that their fake self is preferable to their true gender, which is a supreme insult.
  • After Ian Watkins was convicted as a sex offender against children, Lostprophets' remaining members disbanded the band and disowned the name, refusing to play any Lostprophets songs.


Alternative Title(s): There Is Only Zuul, That Woman Is Dead

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