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The Maiden Name Debate

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A soon-to-be-married woman has difficulties with the idea of changing her last name. Or perhaps, her soon-to-be husband has difficulties, or maybe his mother has problems (often because she doesn't like any daughter-in-law taking the same name she changed her own to). This trope usually starts with the woman in question writing out her maiden name along with her married name to try it out, or try saying it in front of a mirror for practice. Usually, the lady is an established career woman (or wants to be). Less often, there is the issue of the aesthetics of the name: should Rhea Mills have to be saddled with ridicule for the rest of her life for having married Robert Peer? (As a general rule, since you never know who she might marry, it would be wise to avoid naming your daughter "Anita".) Truth in Television, obviously, and a potentially contentious issue.

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A traditional solution was for a married woman to take her maiden name as a middle name (e.g.: Laura Ingalls Wilder). It's still done today, as was the case with Robin Wright when she was married to Sean Penn (well... maybe that's not the most relevant case). Note that this is different from the more modern solution of a hyphenated name. Robin Wright Penn is not the same as Robin Wright-Penn, and this can cause quite a bit of annoyance as hyphenated names gain more prominence over time, while the "maiden name as middle name" falls out of favor.

Particularly applies if you're a media personality. This is partly due to working in an industry where your name is your brand, and partly due to the typical brevity of celebrity marriages. Many female performers split the difference by using their maiden name as their stage name while taking their husband's surname for legal purposes. For instance, Sarah Michelle Gellar is officially Sarah Michelle Prinze.

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Naturally, this trope only applies in countries/cultures where the wife traditionally takes her husband's last name upon marriage. Whether a married woman reverts to her maiden name after marriage usually depends on how it ends. If she's widowed, she'll usually keep the married name unless and until she remarries. If she's divorced, she may go back to her maiden name, but she might not if the married name is tied to her career or she still thinks kindly on the marriage while acknowledging it needed to end. One example that comes to mind is Phylicia Rashad, who divorced Ahmad in 2001 but has kept the name, both personally and professionally.

With same-sex marriage becoming legal in many parts of the world these days, the problem with applying this practice to a same-sex couple is obvious. Since there is no traditional protocol to follow, it's up to each couple to choose a solution that works for them. The most common solutions are for the spouses to simply keep their original names or to hyphenate. It's not unheard of for one partner to take the other's name, but it may lead to the unwelcome perception that the one who changed their name is the "wife" in the relationship.

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Between same-sex marriage and the increasing frequency of men taking their wives' names instead of vice versa, there has been the growing question of how a married man should refer to his unmarried name if applicable. The term "bachelor name" has been coined as the Spear Counterpart to a woman's maiden name, but is not in common use.

See also Meaningful Rename. Compare Nom de Mom, where the woman did change her name, and her offspring changed it back. Also see the Mrs. Hypothetical, who's gone through this debate well in advance, and Took the Wife's Name, where the husband changes his name to the wife's instead.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: Rukia Kuchiki was tempted to fully change her name to Rukia Abarai after marrying her childhood friend Renji, but ultimately decided to keep her maiden name in the Gotei Soldier register. Rukia and Renji's daughter Ichika was named "Ichika Abarai" when she was born, probably because were she named after the Kuchikis, this could potentially mean the accidental creation of a branch of the clan and would bring up a HUGE mess.
  • Sailor Moon: While it never comes up, Ami Mizuno's mother Saeko must have had one in the past because even though she is divorced from Ami's father, she and Ami have the same last name. It's been suggested that her ex took her last name until they separated. Between their relationship and Japanese traditions of married names (assuming Saeko's family had no one else to carry on their name), it's not a stretch.

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Archie Comics has Veronica wanting to keep her maiden name (Lodge) when she and Archie get married, since she's the only child of a rich family. She doesn't want to take Archie's last name and scoffs at a hyphenated one (comparing it to a Scottish hunting lodge). She finally suggests Archie take her name instead, causing her father to balk.
  • Spoofed in one New Avengers issue where Luke Cage (a.k.a. "Power Man") tries to convince his wife to go by "Power Woman."
  • Supporting X-Men character Moira MacTaggert (formerly Moira Kinross) kept her husband's name after he died, despite him being a horribly abusive man who refused to divorce her. Justified — Moira is a prominent scientist and Nobel Prize winner, so keeping her name would have been professionally important.

    Comic Strips 
  • In JumpStart, Ruiz and Crunchy decide to get married after a whirlwind romance, and he is shocked when she wants him to take her last name. they end up deciding to both keep their last names.
  • Peanuts:
    • Sally decides to write to Mrs. Claus instead of Santa. At one point Charlie Brown mentions that he had heard she was called "Mary Christmas", and Sally congratulates her on deciding to keep her own name.
    • Linus's teacher, Miss Othmar, changes her name when she gets married. But she'll always be Miss Othmar to him...
  • In the comic strip Stone Soup, when the soon-to-be-hubby asked the soon-to-be-wife why she had any reservations about changing her name, she responded, "Why don't you change your name?" He began listing all the legal, financial and professional hassles that would entail for someone as established in life as he was (it was the second marriage for both), then stopped and said, "Oh, yeah."

    Fan Works 
  • In Altering Course, Elim Garak is willing to become Elim Bashir (as a result of Julian's status as Federation Ambassador to Cardassia giving his family name precedence due to higher status), but not terribly enthusiastic about it, and after actually discussing it they decide to just keep their original surnames.
  • Bait and Switch (STO): Bajorans in Star Trek generally change their surnames when they marry, but Kanril Eleya still keeps her maiden name after marrying Reshek Gaarra. Their daughter's name is revealed to be Reshek Taryn, and a Distant Finale historical piece set after Eleya's retirement and death from natural causes gives her full name as "Kanril Reshek Eleya".
  • The Discworld of A.A. Pessimal sees Assassin Johanna Smith-Rhodes pointing out that just because she's getting married doesn't change anything, she is still going to be Doctor Smith-Rhodes to everyone around her. She scorns the compromise of Mrs. Johanna Smith-Rhodes-Stibbons as too unwieldy for everyday use, and anyway she doesn't see her husband becoming Professor Ponder Smith-Rhodes-Stibbons any time soon. Anyone calling her Mrs. Stibbons gets glared at. With the exception of Johanna's mother, who pointedly addresses all correspondence to Mrs. Stibbons. Johanna and Ponder's three daughters, in the fullness of time, all become Miss Smith-Rhodes-Stibbonsesnote 
  • Hermione in Harry Potter fic gets this a lot in general, as you'd expect. Even Emma Watson thinks she'd keep her name. If you accept Pottermore as canon, she does.
    • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Harry and Hermione have one of these... then realize they're having it. It's never really explored, but there must have been an interesting one at some point for Harry to end up with the surname Potter-Evans-Verres.
  • The Ikaris: After Shinji and Asuka got accidentally married Asuka tells him there is no way that she is taking Shinji's name... but she already changed her name legally when they got married. So, people calls her Asuka Ikari, and in NERV they had changed her name everywhere to Asuka Langley Ikari. The lawyer handling their case jokes about it by mixing his and her surname.
  • Infinity has a different example. Since the story starts off only a week or two after Fate was adopted, she hasn't fully decided what her last name will be. The story just goes with "Fate Who-Had-A-Last-Name-Even-If-She-Wasn't-Sure-What-It-Was".
  • In the Red Jewel Diaries chapter "For Better or Worse" of MGLN Crisis, Fate wonders where "Scrya" and "Takamachi" would fit into her already long name when she marries Nanoha and Yuuno.
    Fate: If I took both your names, would that make me Fate Testarossa Harlaown Scrya Takamachi? Or perhaps Fate Testarossa Harlaown Takamachi Scrya? Fate Scrya Takamachi? Fate Takamachi Scrya? Hmm, I need to think about this...
  • This is constantly a question for writers of The X-Files fanfiction that feature Mulder and Scully as a married couple. While a large question is whether or not Scully would change her name, the larger question is: since they're on a Last-Name Basis and they got married, would he still call her Scully?

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the sequel to Father of the Bride (1991), Annie Banks ponders this question, and she and her husband discuss which surname their upcoming child should use at the same time that they're discussing first names. They even discuss the possibility of making up a third surname just for the child; father George dreads the possibility of having a granddaughter named "Chloe Zankman".
  • A different take of this happens in A History of Violence. Edie Stall has been happily married for years, until she discovers her husband is a former Professional Killer living under a false identity. She's furious that the name she now has is literally meaningless when her husband admits he chose the name Stall simply "because it was available".
  • Independence Day: David Levinson mentions that his now ex-wife Constance Spano didn't take his last name during their marriage. While searching the phonebook for her current cellphone number he finds it under Constance Levinson, a hint that she still has feelings for him.
  • It's a Wonderful Life shows George getting a phone call (on his wedding day) from "Mrs. Bailey," and he mistakenly thinks that the caller is his mother. "I don't want to talk to Mrs. Bailey! I want to talk to my wife!" Apparently it takes him some time to get used to the idea, too.
    • Earlier, when Harry Bailey introduces his new wife Ruth Dakin to George and Uncle Billy, she corrects him: "Ruth Dakin Bailey, if you don't mind."
  • In It's Pat!, Pat and Chris are asked at their engagement party if one of them will change their last name (in the hopes of finding out which one's male and which one's female, which they both considered not doing.
  • Parodied in Meet the Parents, Pamela chooses to take Greg's surname and keep her middle name the same. This results in her new name being Pamela Martha Focker.
  • In The Wedding Singer, Julia Sullivan bursts into tears when she realizes that after she marries Glenn she'll be "Mrs. Julia Guglia".
  • In the film Whipped. The main character, a hen-pecked boyfriend, briefly considers changing his last name to his fiancée's. They split up before the marriage.
  • In Woman of the Year, career woman Tess Harding ruins her marriage to Sam Craig by neglecting her personal life in favor of her public life and then fails when she tries to make up for it by playing the traditional domestic wife. In the end, Sam suggests she doesn't have to pick one role or the other: she can be Tess Harding Craig.

    Literature 
  • In the Aunt Dimity series, Lori retains her maiden name (Shepherd) after she marries, and is often found correcting people who call her "Mrs. Willis". That said, she is characteristically upbeat about the matter, and will ask people to call her "Lori".
  • In the BattleTech Expanded Universe, women who come from prominent families or are prominent in their own right either keep their own surname (e.g Melissa Steiner, Asai Rhys) or hyphenate their names (e.g. Siriwen Mcallister-Kurita). The latter is more likely if their husband is also from a prominent family or prominent in his own right, though it is not universal as both Melissa and Asai married prominent men (Hanse Davion and Gerald Monroe respectively).
  • In the short story Bis zum Nullpunkt des Seins (1871) by Kurd Laßwitz, which is set in the year 2371, gender equality has resulted in a formalized system: Everybody has two (hyphenated) surnames, one inherited from the mother, the other from the father. When they marry, women drop the paternal name and men the maternal one and replace it with the surname of their spouse.
  • Chocoholic Mysteries:
    • Both Jeanette TenHuis (born Jeanette Vanderheide) and Sally McKinney (born Sally TenHuis) kept their husband's names when they were widowed and divorced, respectively. Jeanette later added her second husband's surname of Jones when she remarried.
    • It's never specified whether or not Lee herself had changed her name when she married and later divorced Richard Godfrey. However, when she marries a second time, she has it legally changed to Lee McKinney Woodyard.
    • Regina "Gina" Woodyard, a serial monogamist (her most recent husband as of Jewel Case, a man named Art Atkins, was probably number five) apparently used to change her name to match her husband's, until she got to the point where she stopped because she wasn't staying married to them long enough.
  • Discworld:
    • In Going Postal, Moist's initial impression of Saccharissa Cripslock (who was last seen in a sort-of-relationship with William de Worde) is "Wedding ring, but still 'Miss'. Probably has Views. Do not attempt to kiss hand."
  • In Empire from the Ashes, Dahak wants Earth-born Battle Fleet personnel to follow the naming rules of the Imperium when they marry, creating names like "Tamman-Amcolgiv" and "Amandacollettegivens-Tam". None of the humans find this appealing and Colin puts his foot down about it.
  • Harry Potter:
    • It's never said if Nymphadora Tonks changes her last name after marrying Remus Lupin, but the other characters continue to call her "Tonks" (except for Lupin, who calls her "Dora"). Their son, meanwhile, is Edward Remus Lupin.
    • The Grey Lady's revelation as Helena Ravenclaw implies that Rowena adopted her surname after marriage and named her House after it. Considering that Rowena was a great witch, however, it's more likely that she kept her surname after marriage and Helena inherited hers from Rowena.
    • According to Pottermore, Professor McGonagall was actually married for a short period in the 1980s, but kept her last name as "she had always been a bit of a feminist."
    • Also on Pottermore, post-series Ginny writes Quidditch articles using Harry's last name. In Rita Skeeter's gossip column, however, all of the other women (Hermione, Luna, Angelina) are referred to by their maiden names.
    • Pottermore reveals that Professor Trelawney's marriage ended "when she refused to adopt the surname 'Higglebottom.'" Aside from the silliness, she's also very proud of her descent from a famous Seer with the "Trelawney" name.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: Apparently "bride changes name" is common in Valdemar. In the Collegium Chronicles, Lena points out that now that she's married to Bear, when she gets Scarlets she'll be "Bard Tyrall" instead of "Bard Marchand" (her maiden name). note 
  • Lieutenant Eve Dallas in the In Death series keeps her maiden name after marriage to the multi-billionaire Roarke, a decision which is never really discussed but seems to be illustrative of the fact that she married Roarke in spite of, rather than because of, his wealth and has no intention of assimilating any of his high-class lifestyle. It doesn't keep the clueless from calling her "Lt. Roarke" (or worse, "Mrs. Roarke") and being quickly shut down. Roarke himself has Only One Name, but does not adopt "Dallas" as a surname after marrying Eve.
  • Discussed Trope in Jorōgumo no Kotowari, where Straw Feminist Mrs. Sugiura expresses a desire to divorce her husband and return to her maiden name (and acted militantly antagonistic of males in general). Reijiro Enokizu laughingly points out the obvious—her maiden name came from her father, so if she really were that dedicated to having a name that only belongs to herself she should just come up with a completely new one.
  • In E.F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia novels, the recurring character Olga Braceley has kept her maiden name. Upon first meeting Olga's husband, Lucia commits a faux pas by mistakenly addressing him as Mr Braceley (his actual surname is Shuttleworth). The general thrust of the incident is that Olga to a large extent represents a more glamorous and more bohemian world to which Lucia aspires, but about which she is so naive that it would never even occur to her that a wife might not take her husband's name.
  • The Bruce Coville book Monster of the Year has Michael McGraw, whose mother (Elsa Adams) changed her name to her husband's when she got married, changed back after they divorced, and said she'd stay with her maiden name for the rest of her life. Michael, on the other hand, had his name changed to match his stepfather's. As he puts it, "This confuses outsiders, since they can't figure out who I really belong to, but it suits the three of us just fine."
  • Sebastian Barth (a series by James Howe): Sebastian's mother Katie Hallem kept her maiden name when she married Will Barth.
  • The Shadowhunter Chronicles:
    • Jocelyn changed her surname from Morgenstern, her husband's surname, to Fray after she escaped the failed Uprising that claimed the lives of her parents. Fray isn't actually her maiden name (which is Fairchild), but a made-up portmanteau of Fairchild and "Gray", Tessa's surname. Since Shadowhunter society is rather patriarchal, her daughter, Clary, is still legally known as "Clarissa Morgenstern", even though she prefers to be called Fairchild.
    • After she becomes Consul, Charlotte reverts back to her maiden name, Fairchild, with both of her children inheriting it instead of their father's, Branwell. This is important, because Charlotte is ancestor to Jocelyn and Clary; had she kept her married name, Clary could have easily been Clary Branwell.
    • Tessa Gray changes her surname to Herondale after she marries Will, but reverts it back to Gray after his death. Not to disrespect Will, but because she consciously exiles herself from Shadowhunter society in favor of a warlock one.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Queen Cersei keeps her maiden name Lannister despite marrying King Robert Baratheon, and gives her children a double-barreled last name of "Baratheon and Lannister." Westeros tradition established by the Targaryens prevents the consort of the King (or any Targaryen prince, for that matter) from taking his name, in part because the Targaryens were very weird about blood purity and didn't want "outsiders" being brought into the Targaryen line. For every other position, such as Lord of one of the Seven Kingdoms, the wife takes her husband's name.
    • Exceptions are made for women who either hold or are the heir to a title. In that case, both husband and wife keep their names and their children take their mother's name to ensure its continuation. If both spouses are heirs or title-holders, they split the inheritance between their children, where the heir to the man's title keeps his/her dad's name, and the heir to the woman's title takes his/her mother's name.
      • Even those who inherit a different family's title through a female ancestor are expected to take that family's name for themselves. For instance, the current heir to the Vale, Harrold Hardying, is the grandson of the sister of Jon Arryn, and he is expected to change his name to Harrold Arryn when he inherits.
    • Going back to the setting's history, when one Lannister king died without male heirs, his son-in-law changed his name from Joffrey Lydden to Joffrey Lannister as a condition of being given the throne.
  • Susan Silverman of the Spenser novels uses her ex-husband's surname. Brad Silverman, however, changed his name after the divorce to the less Jewish-sounding "Sterling".
  • Inverted in Star Carrier books, where a woman taking her husband's last name is considered an archaic holdover from a primitive past, like the "perverted" concept of monogamy. Lieutenant Shea Ashton (née Ryan) constantly has to correct people to call her by her new name.
  • Possibly implied in the To Ride Pegasus trilogy: during the Time Skip between the first two books, Dorotea Horvath goes from a small child to a venerable grandmother without changing her surname. A grandson who appears as a character also has the Horvath surname.
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Nik Keralis and his wife Lina Mayeux decided to keep both family names, but not hyphenate them resulting in Lina's name looking like a middle name, their children are named Jason Mayeux Keralis and Alia Mayeux Keralis.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andi Mack has an episode where Bowie at first assumes the family will be taking his last name, Quinn, when he and Bex get married, but Bex and Andi are unsure about changing their name. They discuss options such as keeping separate names or combining names, and ultimately Bowie decides to change his name to Mack instead.
  • Arrow:
    • Lyla becomes Lyla Michaels-Diggle after she remarries John Diggle.
    • After she marries Oliver, Felicity doesn't seem to change her surname from Smoak to Queen. When they have a daughter, she ends up inheriting her surname as a way to protect her from Oliver's enemies. After the Crisis, however, Mia becomes "Mia Queen", though it's unknown if Felicity also changes her surname.
  • Andre Johnson on black•ish is shocked that his wife Rainbow did not take his last name. He never noticed in twenty years of marriage because her maiden name is also Johnson, so the argument only matters in theory, but Dre is still furious that she goes by "Rainbow Johnson" and not "Rainbow Johnson".
  • Blue Bloods: Erin Reagan is divorced from Jack Boyle. When he meets up with her in one episode, he observes that she still has her married name "Reagan-Boyle" on her office door—to which she cracks that she keeps it there for the same reason people who have lost weight keep a "before" picture. By the end of the episode she's had the "Boyle" scraped off.
  • On Charmed (1998), the Halliwell women seem to have kept their name for several generations and passed it onto their children. When Leo seems mildly bummed that his and Piper's child wouldn't have his surname, Wyatt, Piper decides to name him Wyatt Halliwell.
    • Note that this is actually a Retcon—in one early episode their father's name is Victor Halliwell, implying that their mom took his name, but later it's Victor Bennett, with "Halliwell" explicitly belonging to their maternal line. A flashback shows that the girls' grandmother forbade their mother from taking their father's name. Later flashbacks imply (but never outright state) that the name came from Grams's first husband and true love, whose death caused her to become the warlock-hunting superwitch she was known as. Leo points out that the name Halliwell is highly respected in the magical community.
    • In the final season Paige decides to keep her maiden name of "Matthews" instead of taking her new husband's surname "Mitchell". She also rejects the idea of hyphenating as she thinks "Matthews-Mitchell" sounds "like a law firm".
  • Given a nod in The Closer, when one of the first things Brenda says when Fritz proposes to her is that she's keeping her maiden name, which he immediately agrees to.
  • On Cougar Town, Grayson asks Jules why she hasn't taken his name, especially since she is still using her ex-husband's name.
  • The Crown (2016): After Elizabeth becomes Queen she and Prince Philip assume their children will have his surname of "Mountbatten". Philip's adopted uncle leads a toast at a party that the "House of Mountbatten" will now take the throne. Word of this gets back to the Queen Mother and Parliament who insist that the children will not take the name and that the house of "Windsor" will continue to hold the throne. Philip is outraged and complains about being the "only man" in Britain who can't give his children his name. In Real Life a compromise was made after the Queen Mother's death to let their male-line descendants use "Windsor-Mountbatten".
  • Sara Sidle in CSI has not changed her surname despite marrying Gil Grissom.
  • A Different World: Whitley and Dwayne argue about this because Whitley wanted her name to be Whitley Gilbert-Wayne as opposed to just Whitley Wayne.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The End of Time": Although not seen on screen, when Martha and Mickey tie the knot, the former becomes Martha Smith-Jones. And when Donna gets engaged to Shaun Temple, the Doctor gets worried because "Donna Noble-Temple" would sound stupid. Wilfred assures him she's going for "Temple-Noble" instead.
    • When Rory Williams and Amy Pond get married:
      The Doctor: Amelia, from now on I shall be leaving the kissing duties to the brand new Mr. Pond.
      Rory: No, I'm not Mr. Pond. that's not how it works.
      The Doctor: Yes. It is.
      Rory: ...yeah it is.
      • And then, after the birth of their daughter:
        The Doctor: Hello. Hello... ehh... baby.
        Amy: Melody.
        The Doctor: Melody! Hello Melody Pond.
        Rory: Melody Williams...
        Amy: ...is a geography teacher. Melody Pond is a superhero!
      • According to the Doctor, this even goes up a generation for Rory:
        The Doctor: Brian Pond, you are delicious.
        Brian Williams: I'm not a Pond.
        The Doctor: Of course you are.
      • While it is never revealed how (if at all) their legal names change, they call each other "Mrs. Williams" and "Mr. Pond" as terms of endearment, shown respectively in "A Good Man Goes to War" and "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe".
      • Amy goes by "Amy Williams" when signing divorce papers (don't worry, they get better) and ends up using "Amelia Williams" on her gravestone. She also used Amelia Williams as a pen name when she wrote Summer Falls.
  • Downton Abbey has a lot of this, considering the setting. It mostly comes from a combination of strict protocols regarding how servants are addressed and the characters’ habit of marrying their coworkers:
    • Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore are entitled to use “Mrs.” in combination with their maiden names by virtue of their positions as housekeeper and cook, respectable positions that a woman would historically have to forgo marriage to achieve.
    • Anna would normally be called “Bates” upon her promotion from head housemaid to lady’s maid, but keeps going by “Anna” because her husband is a valet, the male equivalent, and therefore already “Bates.”
    • There’s a lot of joking and a bit of dread both upstairs and downstairs at the prospect of Mrs. Hughes becoming “Mrs. Carson,” to the point that Robert proposes a toast when he learns that she plans to keep using her maiden name professionally.
    • Finally, Lady Mary Crawley takes her husband Matthew Crawley’s last name, but because they’re (distant) Kissing Cousins nobody really notices.
  • Michaela Quinn and Sully from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman faced this dilemma when they decided to get married. In the end, they agreed that she didn't have to change her last name.
  • As seen on the future newspaper in The Flash, Iris West apparently hyphenates to Iris West-Allen. This eventually comes true in season 4, when she marries Barry. Their Kid from the Future, introduced the same season, is called Nora West-Allen.
  • Friends:
    • Monica doesn't change her last name when she gets married, feeling that Bing was a weird name. At first Chandler agrees and suggests that they "name the kids Geller and let Bing die with me", but in the end they stick with Bing. At one point, Phoebe refers to her as "Monica Geller Hyphen Bing".
    • After Phoebe gets married, she has a similar dilemma. After marrying Mike (Paul Rudd), Phoebe does change her name - but instead of changing her last name to her husband's, she instead has her full name legally changed to Princess Consuela Bananahammock (not realizing that "Bananahammock" is actually a pseudonym for the skintight appearance a Speedo gives to a man's, er... private area, until Mike tells her later on in the episode); in retaliation, Mike chooses to change his name to, of all things... Crap Bag ("just think of a bag of crap"). Luckily, both change their names back by the end of the episode.
    • When Courteney Cox married David Arquette and became Courteney Cox Arquette, the first episode after that happened all the other actors took the second surname Arquette for the opening credits: Jennifer Aniston Arquette, David Schwimmer Arquette, etc.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Lily keeps her last name after marrying Marshall, though they do consider both adopting a brand new last name (with candidates including "Skywalker", "Hasselhoff", and "Awesome").
    "Have you met the Awesomes, Marshall and Lily, their son Totally, and their daughter Frickin'?"
  • Eames from Law & Order: Criminal Intent kept her maiden name when she married her husband Joe. She uses this to her advantage when Joe's murder case eventually has to be reopened, pointing out to Captain Ross that no one will immediately connect her to Joe and convincing Ross to reluctantly allow her to remain on the case.
  • On Lois & Clark, Perry gives Lois a new nameplate for her desk that says "Lois Kent". She is later seen sliding her previous plate and new one together to see how she likes "Lois Lane Kent". In the end she's still not sure.
    • Earlier, there was also a Tear Jerker scene just before Lois was to be married to Lex Luthor, where she stands in front of a mirror in her wedding dress, trying out names: "Mrs Lex Luthor. Lois Lane Luthor. Lois Luthor Lane... Lois Lane... Kent..."
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Since the very first episode, Fitz and Simmons have been The Dividual referred to as the singular entity "Fitzsimmons", long before they actually become a romantic couple. After they get married, Simmons suggests hyphenating their last names. Fitz jokes that he's against the idea because "Simmons-Fitz" doesn't roll off the tongue very well.
    • Luke Cage (2016): A running gag comes in season 2 out of Bushmaster correcting everyone who refers to Mariah Dillard by her married name with a very firm "Stokes, Mariah Stokes". In this case, it's to highlight how in Bushmaster's mind, Mariah may take on the surname of her late husband Dr. Jackson Dillard, but she's still as much a Stokes as her late cousin Cornell or her grandmother Mama Mabel. Eventually, when she carries out the Rum Punch Massacre, Mariah does this sort of correction herself on someone.
  • In The Middle, when Sue is contemplating marrying Darren, one consequence that Axl brings up is that her full name would be Sue Sue McGrew.
    • Ironically, her full name in the end ends up being Sue Sue Donahue.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers:
    • Discussed in "The Potion Notion" when Kimberly (who is under a love spell) can't decide whether to change her surname or hyphenate it to Hart-Skullovitch.
    • While not outright stated, one can assume this is probably how Jason ended up with two surnames. Although it's not hyphenated.
  • Mom: When Bonnie and Adam get married, she originally plans to change her name from Plunkett to Janikowski. However, she keeps putting her plans off and eventually, she realizes she doesn't want to change her name because she's spent her whole life hating the person she is and now that she loves Bonnie Plunkett, she doesn't want to let her go. Adam is disappointed, but understands and Bonnie keeps her maiden name.
  • On Murphy Brown, Corky Sherwood marries Will Forrest. She chooses to keep her maiden name as a middle name, until she realizes that she will then be Corky Sherwood Forrest.note 
  • A variant from My Family, with the parents going into a therapy session:
    Susan: I'd like to be known as Susan Ryman.
    Ben: Your maiden name was Riggs!
    Susan: Maiden name? (To shrink) Harper is my husband's name, Riggs was my father's name, but Ryman was my grandmother's name. She chose it herself, no men involved.
    Ben: She was reared by wolves.
  • On My Hero (2000) when George and Janet finally married:
    George: Arnie says you can have my name now. How'd you like to be "George"?
  • On The Office (US), Pam almost marries Roy Anderson and indicates that she would have begrudgingly taken his name if they had gone through with it.
    Pam: That's as close as I ever want to get to being Pamela Anderson.
    • On the flipside, she's more than excited to change it when marrying Jim. Squeeing Ensues when Kevin hands her a check made out to "Mrs. Pam Halpert".
  • On Parks and Recreation, Leslie's jealousy spirals when she finds Ben flirting with Shauna Malwae-Tweep in End of The World.
    Leslie: I know how Shauna operates. She smiles, and then they fall in love and then they get married, and then she changes her name to Shauna Malwae-Wyatt. Or he's going to be really progressive and changes his name to Ben Wyatt-Malwae-Tweep. God, I am so annoyed that he would hypothetically do that.
    • Also, in "Leslie and Ben," Ben insists that Leslie take his last name so that "Leslie Knope disappears and becomes Leslie Wyatt. Or Councilwoman Mrs. Ben Wyatt." Leslie's face freezes in horror before she realizes Ben is just messing with her.
    • In a joke on this trope, Ron Swanson's ex-wife Tammy, who even after their pre-show divorce was still using the name Swanson, is at her bridal shower following her sudden remarriage to Ron and one of her librarian coworkers gives her a new library card bearing the name "Tammy Swanson-Swanson." (The remarriage doesn't last.)
  • In Saved by the Bell, the core six do a pretend-marriage project in which the following pairs occur: Zack-Kelly, Jessie-Slater and Screech-Lisa. Jessie insists on hyphenating her new last name for feminist reasons and Kelly takes the old-fashioned approach and Zach's name. Screech? Takes Lisa's last name.
  • Turk and Carla in Scrubs faced this problem. Turk's classic response to Carla wanting to keep her name: "Okay baby, I guess we'll be one of those New Age couples that don't love each other!" They eventually compromise: Carla keeps her name, and Turk keeps his mole.
    • She does use it for "official" things. Including letting him call her "Mrs. Turk" in the bedroom.
    • Off-camera, J.D. and Elliot apparently also went through this. She still goes by "Dr. Reid".
  • Star Trek:
    • In Voyager, B'Elanna and Tom debate about whether she'll be B'Elanna Paris or if he'll be Tom Torres. Neither one undergoes a name change.
    • In Nemesis, Captain Picard jokingly calls the newlywed Riker "Mr. Troi."
      • This is likely a reference to an earlier episode where it was implied that Betazoid women own their men, even though that would imply slavery, which is illegal in the Federation. But regardless, Betazad is very much a matriarchal society, and the Troi family is the "Fifth House of Betazed", one of the most prestigious noble families and the protectors of the planet's greatest historical treasures.
    • In the Next Generation novel Greater Than The Sum, Jean-Luc Picard greeted his newlywed wife Dr. Beverly Crusher with "Good morning, Dr. Picard." She answered back, "Good morning, Captain Crusher. Or is that Howard?" note  Picard simply replied, "I'd be proud either way."
    • In the possible future shown in the TNG Grand Finale, Picard and Crusher are divorced, but Crusher has chosen to keep Picard's name instead of going back to Crusher or Howard, which results in an awkward moment when a bridge crewman calls out for "Captain Picard", meaning Beverly.
    • The episode "Sub Rosa" has a particularly bizarre case, with its references to Beverly's ancestors as "the Howard women", implying that she was the first of the line in several centuries to not keep her maiden name, despite the practice going back to a time where this would be completely unheard of.
  • In That '70s Show, when Eric and Donna get engaged, he says that "some day, you're going to be Mrs. Forman". Donna doesn't like it, and squicks Eric out, reminding him that Mrs. Forman is his mother. "Mrs. Forman is feeling dirty..."
  • Gwen Cooper kept her name when marrying Rhys Williams in Torchwood, at the request of Gwen's actress Eve Myles.
  • On Wings, Fay goes by the last name Cochran, the name of her third husband. When the others find out that her name was previously Dumbley, after her first husband, the others express surprise. (Brian: "You married a man named Dumbley and took his name?") Of course, her maiden name was Schlob, so she wasn't exactly trading down.
    • Her second husband's name was DeVay, leading to the pun "Old soldiers never die, they just Fay DeVay."
    • She kept them all; her legal name in the series is Fay Evelyn Schlob Dumbly DeVay Cochran.
  • The X-Files: While working on a case in Florida ("Agua Mala"), Mulder suffers the wrath of a Hispanic woman after calling her by her husband's surname.

    Theatre 
  • Variation in Bandstand. Donny thinks that Julia Trojan should use her maiden name in the show, as he says that Trojan is a joke and Julia Adams sounds like a star. Julia refuses because it's the only tie she has to her late husband.

    Video Games 
  • A variant of this becomes a matter of international politics in Crusader Kings. While the persons marrying keep their dynasty (and thus their last name), what dynasty the children will belong to is critical. Normally children will belong to their father's dynasty, but there are special matrilineal marriages where the children are of the mother's dynasty.
  • The Sims:
    • In The Sims 3, the two adopt the surname of the house. Sims can also go to City Hall and pay for a name change. Like the second game, there are mods allowing you to choose a name on marriage or enforce certain expectations for name change.
    • In The Sims 4, both sims keep their surnames and it's up to the player to decide if and how the names change.
    • The Sims Medieval has a unique case; if a hero marries an NPC, the NPC takes the surname of the hero, regardless of gender. If two heroes get married, whichever hero moves houses changes their surname, with the player deciding which house the couple lives in. The sole exception is if another hero marries the monarch, in which case they always move into the castle and take the royal surname. It's a bit of a moot point, of course, since we don't even see the surnames outside of Create-A-Sim.
  • Runefall 2:
    Princess Roslyn: Did anyone happen to catch Vaughn's last name? I'm wondering if I should take his, or perhaps hyphenate.

    Webcomics 
  • Ki in General Protection Fault ponders the issue as her wedding to Nick nears, but decides to take Wellington as her surname after getting married, since it's easier to spell.
  • PvP had some back and forth over Jade changing her name. Lampshading on the issue’s resolution, they deliberately decided to ignore it until the last minute. She eventually becomes Jade Sienna.
  • Amy Chilton from Scary Go Round is Amy Beckwith-Chilton in the Spin-Off webcomic Bad Machinery, due to her marriage to Ryan Beckwith. (She is quite successful with her antiques shop she has set up back in SGR, so this may probably be for the bussiness-strategical reason of name recognition.)
  • In Shortpacked!, Leslie (Bean) wants to take Robin (DeSanto)'s last name, "like a trophy or a prize I mount on my wall." Robin, on the other hand, suggests a variety of combinations ("Robin an' Leslie DeSantobean!") or anagrams ("like Beans and Toe, or Satan Be Done"), to no avail.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Various ways to deal with it have been seen across families:
    • The Västerström name has been mostly male-transmitted and taken by women married into the family, but Mia had to keep it for it to make it to the current generation.
    • Tuuli Hollola was technically married into the Hotakainen family, but her keeping her last name and transmitting it to her son is the reason Taru is not a Hotakainen.

    Web Video 
  • Similarly, Gayle Waters-Waters married a man with the same surname as her but insisted on hyphenating anyway.
  • Nostalgia Critic: Played for Laughs in the Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked review. Devil Boner and Hyper Fangirl are getting married, but Hyper has reservations about changing her name to "Hyper Boner". Both decide that they should just keep their original surnames.
  • In the 4th episode of The Website Is Down, Nancy Johnson married a man with the same name and changed her name to Johnson-Johnson. Derek kept ignoring her requests to change her name in the system. A week later she forces him to do his job, and he accidentally resets all user passwords and has to spend a week setting them manually.

    Western Animation 
  • On American Dad! Stan and Francine are about to be stoned to death in Saudi Arabia, and Stan consoles himself with the fact that their son Steve can carry on the family name. Then he finds out that Steve is being put to death for a separate crime, and comments that their daughter Hayley, as a "filthy liberal," will probably hyphenate. (Cue Hayley's "Yeah, I'm here too.")
  • Arcane: The city council's titles are passed through lineage and when a fan asked the writers about it, the writers confirmed that councilwoman Kiramman kept her surname and her husband took it on.
  • Gargoyles: According to Word of God, Fox has Only One Name before and after her marriage to David Xanatos, though she doesn't mind if people refer to them together as "Mr. and Mrs. Xanatos." Their son is named Alexander Fox Xanatos, with "Fox" presumably being a middle name.
  • In one episode of King of the Hill, Luanne considers marrying a man she's only known for a few days (both of them had taken a chastity pledge and he was eager to sleep with her). She announces she'd be keeping her own name, because she didn't know his last name and thought she wouldn't like it. She rescinds when he tells her his surname and she does like it, but in the end, they don't get married.
  • On Pepper Ann, one of the title character's friends comments on the fact that her mother, Lydia, continues to use her ex-husband's surname. Lydia says something about there being a lot of paperwork involved and sheepishly leaves the room.
  • The Simpsons: This is referenced in "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy", during the production of the Lisa Lionheart doll.
    Lisa: (recording her voice for the doll) "When I get married, I'm keeping my own name." Oh, no, that should probably be "If I choose to get married."

    Real Life 
  • When Geraldine Ferraro, who didn't change her name, was the 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee, no one quite knew what to call her on the campaign trail. Senator Barry Goldwater insisted on referring to her as "Mrs. Zacarro". George HW Bush referred to her as "Mrs. Ferraro" in their vice presidential debate. This was before "Ms" really caught on as the marriage neutral honorific for professional women. Fast forward 30 some years and high ranking female politicians like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (the highest ranking woman in the American government's history until 2021). are usually referred to as "Ms." even if they changed their names upon marriage (as she did). Women who didn’t change their names also are referred to as "Ms." In the former case, it just comes down to editorial standards. For example, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post use "Ms." as a blanket term, while The New York Times asks if they want to be referred to as "Mrs." or "Ms." and uses what they prefer.
  • In Russia around 1830, Colonel Zass, having no sons, would allow major Rantsev to marry his daughter only if the newlyweds take the name Zass-Rantsev. And he would not accept Rantsev-Zass, since Zass family was much more noble. Nothing unusual for those days, except that "Zass-Rantsev" sounds like "shitter" in Russian. The groom had to petition the tsar to change the name to Rantsev-Zass. Fortunately, Nikolai I didn't like "discordant" names and encouraged his subjects to change them.
  • Since her marriage to David Mitchell in 2012, Victoria Coren has used all three variations of her name note , in both personal and professional capacities, as chronicled in her The Observer column.

Alternative Title(s): Maiden Name Debate

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