Joe: Mr. Purple is at another job, just be glad you didn't get Mr. Yellow.
A character uses a series of aliases to avoid detection. However, when the heroes put the aliases together, one them notices something odd about the list. These are not a random set of names, but rather a group of names that have something in common. Usually this makes easier to track down the target, as they now know the next alias will fit the pattern.
It is not absolutely necessary for the pattern to be picked, but it is usually pointed out for the benefit of viewers who might otherwise miss it.
Can overlap with This Is My Name on Foreign if the character makes a habit of using foreign language versions of the same name. Or Significant Anagram is they use different anagrams of their actual name. Or Character Name Alias if they use the names of real or fictional characters that fit a theme. At its simplest, it might just be always using the same initials.
- The Joker generally uses either re-arrangements of his name, such as Rekoj, J. Reko, Joe Kerr, or famous clowns like Bozo, Krusty or Pagliacci.
- The Punisher often uses aliases that are linked to Castle, his real last name: Charles Fort, McRook, Frank Rook, Francis Stronghold, Johnny Tower, Frankie Villa, etc.
- In the Uncle Scrooge story "The Money Champ" by Carl Barks, Flintheart Glomgold stages a series of acts of sabotage against Scrooge, damaging his oil wells, gold mines and diamond mines and reducing their value right at the point Scrooge needs to sell them. Flintheart uses a series of aliases that are just rearrangements of the components of his name (Goldflint Heartglom, Flintgold Glomheart and Heartflint Goldglom). Not terribly subtle, but he was deliberately taunting Scrooge.
- In the Harry Potter Dark Fic The Darkness Series Harry Potter uses the alias "Notechis Noir", "Notechis" is Latin for "Tiger Snake" and Harry eventually gains the ability to turn into a striped snake and Noir is French for "Black" which he named for his Godfather, Sirius Black. Sirius later nicknames him "Stripe" for his snake form. And later Harry takes on the identity of "Evan Harris." "Evan" comes from his mother's maiden name Evans and "Harris" for in case someone slips up and almost calls him "Harry". Also Voldemort has "Nichodemas Tomaras". Nichodemas means "the people's conqueror" and Tomaras sounds like his real name—Tom.
- In The Accountant, the protagonist uses the names of mathematicians as aliases, including the name Christian Wolff.
- In The Cable Guy, Jim Carrey uses the names of television characters.
- In Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio's character uses the names of comic book characters as aliases. Something of a deconstruction since it gives the FBI agent following him something to go on.
- In Copycat, Peter Foley uses the names of serial killers as his aliases.
- In House of 1000 Corpses and its sequel The Devil's Rejects, the Firefly Family all use names of characters from Marx Brothers films. It gets them caught in the latter film.
- In How to Rob a Bank, criminals Simon and Nick took their aliases from Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran (the gang uses a Duran Duran fan site as an online meetup). Although it is never explicitly stated, it seems a safe assumption that third member of the gang Roger's name is also an alias (Roger Taylor).
- In Reservoir Dogs, the crooks on the team for the heist are all given color-based aliases: Mr. White, Mr. Pink, Mr. Orange, Mr. Brown, Mr. Blue, and Mr. Blond. This is so they don't know each other's real identities. Mr. Blond's atypical "color" is significant.
- In The Saint (1997), all of Simon Templar's aliases are the names of Catholic saints.
- In the 87th Precinct novels, the Deaf Man always uses aliases that are some sort of play on words on 'deaf' in a variety of languages.
- In The Alice Network, the spies often have flower code names: Lili, Violette, and Marguerite. note This is used to tie into the "fleurs du mal" metaphor.
- In Animorphs our heroes are caught sneaking around a government base, taken inside and asked their names. Marco and Rachel claim to be Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Cassie doesn't watch that show and winds up claiming her name is Cindy Crawford.
- The Destroyer always uses his real first name, "Remo", as part of his aliases.
- In the Dragonback books, Jack Morgan always uses aliases beginning with the letter M, such as Jack Montana, to make it easier to remember.
- In Rule 34 by Charles Stross, an assassin's aliases are all serial killers. They're assigned to him by the Organisation, and he's not amused when he notices the theme. They're generated by an algorithm which has been hacked by the omniscient AI controlling everything so the police will pick up on him.
- The majority of aliases adopted by Merlin Athrawes' and Nimue Chwaeriau's seijin spy network make heavy use of Welsh. For starters, Athrawes and Chwaeriau mean "teacher" and "little sister" respectively. Other names used include Dialydd Mab ("avenging son"), Ganieda Cysgodol ("Cysgodol" meaning "shadow witch" or "shadow sister"), Dagyr Cudd ("hidden dagger"), Cennady Frenhines ("Cennad y Frenhines" means "queen's messenger"), and Merch O Obaith ("Daughter of Hope"). The exceptions have standard Safeholdian names, like Ahbraim Zhevons and Zhapeth Slaytyr, as they are used to blend in with average Safeholdians rather than be deliberately mysterious and exotic. The reason the Welsh names aren't any kind of tip off is because Safehold's native and only language is a version of English.
- Events and objects used by the "Archangels" bear Japanese names, such as the Bolt of Divine Retribution, the Rakurai, or the ships they used to travel in, called kyousei hi. Wise men and warriors of legend bore the title of seijin.
- The Saint, in the original stories, often used his own initials; "Sebastian Toombs" was a frequent alias (at least two science fiction writers have included a Shout-Out to this particular name).
- In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf and his henchman often use aliases that are anagrams of Count Olaf, such as Al Funcoot or O. Lucafont. The Baudelaires finally pick up on this in the eighth book.
- "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" is a science fiction short story by Samuel R. Delany. The protagonist was an orphan, saddled with the name Harold Clancy Everet. Turning to a life of crime, he never used that name again. His aliases, however all have the initials HCE. Indeed, he is identified by that to the reader, i.e. we are introduced to each alias and know it is him by those initials. All the aliases used by the narrator have the initials H.C.E., a reference to Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.
- In The Westing Game, the big reveal surrounds someone's aliases selected by this trope: the eponymous Mr. Westing was one of four aliases all with names containing a cardinal direction.
- In the Wild Cards novel Fort Freak, Corrupt Cop Lu Long's aliases all include his real name "Long" and imply that he is the proud owner of a Gag Penis. It's relatively simple for the protagonists to connect him to the fictional Peter Long who accepted the payment for a murder for hire.
- In the CSI episode "Living Legend", the killer uses aliases that the names of movie serial killers: Michael Myers, Pamela Voorhess and F. Krueger.
- Doctor Who: The Master tends to use aliases which are anagrams of "master" or mean master in another language. From Nu Who, Mister Saxon is an anagram of "Master No. Six" (this being the sixth incarnation of the Master that we've seen). Word of God is that it was a coincidence.
- Elementary: In "Dead Man's Switch", Stuart Bloom uses a series of aliases when pursuing his nuisance law suits. The first one is Abraham Zelner. Holmes realises that there is a pattern in the initials of the aliases: A.Z., B.Y., C.X., etc. When he discovers the one name that does not fit that pattern, he deduces it must be Bloom's real name.
- Fringe: Though Peter hasn't used many aliases during the run of the show, he still knows enough to lampshade this trope.
Peter: The best lie, the one that's easiest to remember with consistency, is the one that's based on the truth. Whenever I would do this, I would base it on my own last name. Bishop. So Peter King. Peter Knight.
- The Incredible Hulk TV show had him always using "David" and a last name that started with a 'B': David Banner to David Bradley, etc. The only time he didn't use that was when he ran into his Identical Stranger, a mobster named Mike Cassidy, and he tried to use that to get out of a scrape. Banner uses the Mike Cassidy alias when he comes face-to-face with his personal Inspector Javert, Jack McGee, who up until the moment he sees him thinks Banner is dead. Banner uses one of his usual aliases when running into the mobsters looking for Cassidy, but they don't believe him.
- The Leverage team tends to use Doctor Who-themed aliases (probably because they're all arranged by Hardison the uber-geek).
Hardison: What IDs have you got on you?
Nate: Let's see... we've got Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy, and I have a Tom Baker.
Sophie: Yeah, I have a Baker. Sarah Jane.
- The Lone Gunmen sometimes antagonist/sometimes ally Yves Adele Harlow's assumed name is an anagram of Lee Harvey Oswald, as are most of her one time only aliases.
- In Lost, when Kate is on the run, all of the names she uses are saints' names. Pierre Chang uses candle-themed aliases (Mark Wickmund, Edgar Halliwax, and Marvin Candle) for his orientation videos.
- Person of Interest:
- "Harold Finch" has adopted several other bird-themed aliases, including Harold Crane, Mr. Partridge, Harold Wren and Harold Crow. In Season 4 he spends most of his time as Professor Whistler.
- Root's aliases are often named after famous computer scientists.
- The privacy terrorist group Vigilance uses American Revolutionary War heroes.
- When Shawn from Psych needs an alias for himself and Gus, he will often use some variant of White and Black with their last names (i.e. Shawn White and Gus Black or Shawn Black and Gus White).
- Remington Steele was caught doing this by Laura in the pilot. All of his passports had the names of Humphrey Bogart characters.
- In Scarecrow and Mrs. King, it is eventually revealed that Lee Stetson was once part of a team who got assigned The Wizard of Oz-themed codenames, hence "Scarecrow".
- Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators: In "Too Cold for Hell", Frank and Lou are hired to find a fraudulent removal man. His aliases are all anagrams: Foster, Forest, Froste, Softer, etc. They soon identify him as Florian Fortes.
- Supernatural: Sam & Dean tend to use Rock Star aliases when going undercover, like Catholic priests Father Simmons and Father Frehley. Sometimes they use other famous-names-with-connections-to-each-other aliases as well, like Agents Ford & Hamill from the US Forestry Service. They've only been called on this once or twice. Lampshaded in one episode when Castiel tells the local police to expect FBI Agents Spears and Aguilera.
- Combined with Line-of-Sight Name and Significant Anagram in Accursed Dragon, in which Coven uses anagrams of the names of towns he's in as aliases. (For example, while in the town of Elgin, he goes by "Nigel", in Vamyr he was "Marvy", etc.)
- Riverside Extras: The main character has so far used the aliases Ophelia Banksly, Oma Barker, and Opal Blanche, which all have the initials OB. Her real name remains unknown. Cynthia Brandt has the same initials as her real name, Cordelia Bellamy.
- The Human Pet: The Codemaster's aliases - Sam Deercot and, briefly, Tom D. Caesar, were both anagrams of The Codemaster. Of course, "The Codemaster" is an alias in and of itself.