Follow TV Tropes

Following

Two First Names

Go To

"Two first names, two first names, if you only got one name, it's like having no names, baby get two names."

Many superheroes and their associates have surnames that are also common given names. This is almost as common as the Alliterative Name, and, in fact, many heroes qualify in both categories. This is a side effect of the American habit of using common first names as last names, possibly in an attempt to make them sound as non-ethnic as possible, so British readers might not recognize some of these surnames as first names.

Advertisement:

In Real Life, this practice was particularly common among Jewish-American entertainers for much of the 20th century. In a time of widespread antisemitism, they would often replace their distinctive Germanic surnames with innocuous Anglo-Saxon given names when choosing stage aliases. This is how Moses Horwitz became "Moe Howard", how Stanley Lieber became "Stan Lee", how Allan Konigsberg became "Woody Allen", and how Robert Zimmerman became "Bob Dylan".

This usually works better with men as most surnames are of male origins (Thus why no one is named "Johndaughter"). However, due to the old trend of parents giving their daughter a masculine name eventually turning said name into a female one, some surnames also become feminine with time (This includes Kendall, Stacy, Valentine, Nicole, Ashley, Lindsay and more...)

Advertisement:

Additionally some surnames are patronymic in origin but for one reason or another lack the usual affixes that would clearly identify them as such rather than a first name, particularly if it's a name that ends in -s (e.g. Thomas, Ross, etc). To muddy the issue further, some names that are commonly used as first names nowadays originated as surnames (e.g. Carter, Mason, Clarke, Parker, many names ending in -son, etc).

This can make a Last-Name Basis difficult to realize at first.


Advertisement:

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Superheroes 
  • Clark Kent.
  • Bruce Wayne.
  • Barry Allen and Bart Allen.
    • Jay Garrick as well. With Barry and Bart, at least, it really only makes sense when you realize that their full first name is actually a Patronymic (it's still very rare as a first name, though, apparently because people can't be bothered with saying anything quadrisyllabic).
  • Peter Parker, though "Parker" has only recently become common as a given name.
    • Eddie Brock, the original Venom.
    • Flint Marko, Marvel's Sandman.
  • Charles Xavier (although this is pronounced differently to the first name, which is generally pronounced "zavv-ee-ay" rather than "ex-ay-vee-er"; the last name is also generally pronounced this way, but Middle America wouldn't have noticed it started with an X). The pronunciation is actually more slippery than this, as it has changed since the time of St. Francis Xavier (Which is pronounced Zay-Vee-Er, by the by). Javier is a phonetic respelling of the name in modern Spanish. However, the Portuguese pronounce the name with a sh sound.
  • It's a requirement for a Green Lantern from Earth:
    • Alan Scott.
    • Hal Jordan.
    • Guy Gardner. (Named after famed Silver Age DC scribe Gardner Fox.)
    • John Stewart. (No, not that one.)
    • Kyle Rayner (though as a first name it would typically be spelled Rainer).
    • Jade AKA Jennifer-Lynn Hayden.
  • Bobby "Iceman" Drake.
  • Steve Rogers. He even used the alias "Roger Stevens" at least once.
  • Sam Wilson. Like Steve, he once came up with the alias "Willie Samuels". Even better, his full name is Samuel Thomas Wilson.
  • Donald Blake.
  • Cain Marko is an odd example, where a given name that doesn't make a particularly good surname is pressed into service to make a Meaningful Name. Could be completely avoided by calling him "Marco Kane" or something along these lines.
  • Kent "Doctor Fate" Nelson.
  • Ronald Raymond, the first Firestorm.
  • Rex "Hourman" Tyler.
    • And his son, Rick Tyler. And the Hourman from the 853rd Century, an android who went by the name Matthew Tyler.
  • Crispus Allen, one host of the Spectre.
  • Ted "Wildcat" Grant.
  • James Jesse, the first Trickster. To be fair, he chose this name after Jesse James. His birth name is Giovanni Giuseppe (which is itself an example of this trope).
  • Both versions of Captain Atom: the Charlton version is Allen Adam, while DC's is Nathaniel Adam (actually a case of Three First Names, as his full name is Nathaniel Christopher Adam).
  • Garfield Mark Logan, AKA Beast Boy.
  • Power Rangers has plenty:
    • Zack Taylor. (Black Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger)
    • Jason Scott. (Red Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger/Gold Zeo Ranger)
    • Tommy Oliver, who gets double points for being played by Jason David Frank. (Green/White Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger/Red Zeo Ranger/Red Turbo Ranger/Black Dino Thunder Ranger)
    • Justin Stewart. (Blue Turbo Ranger)
    • Kendrix Morgan. (Pink Lost Galaxy Ranger)
    • Dana Mitchell. (Pink Lightspeed Rescue Ranger)
    • Chad Lee. (Blue Lightspeed Rescue Ranger)
    • Ryan Mitchell. (Titanium Lightspeed Rescue Ranger)
    • Jen Scotts comes close. (Pink Time Force Ranger)
    • Wes Collins comes close. (Red Time Force Ranger)
    • Lucas Kendall. (Blue Time Force Ranger)
    • Cole Evans comes close. (Red Wild Force Ranger)
    • Shane Clarke comes close. (Red Wind Ranger)
    • Hunter Bradley. (Crimson Thunder Ranger)
    • Blake Bradley. (Navy Thunder Ranger)
    • Ethan James. (Blue Dino Thunder Ranger)
    • Bridge Carson. (Green/Blue/Red S.P.D. Ranger)
    • Sydney Drew. (Pink S.P.D. Ranger)
    • Nick Russell. (Red Mystic Force Ranger)
    • Theo Martin. (Jungle Fury Blue Ranger)
    • Robert "RJ" James. (Jungle Fury Purple Ranger)
    • Scott Truman. (RPM's Ranger Series Operator Red)
    • Kevin Douglas. (Blue Samurai Ranger)
    • Chase Randall. (Dino Charge Black)
    • Kendall Morgan. (Dino Charge Purple II)
    • Calvin Maxwell. (Ninja Steel Yellow Ranger)
    • Devon Daniels comes close. (Red Beast Morpher Ranger)
  • All Fall Down has Sophie Mitchell.
  • Michael Bruce - Also his father Matthew Bruce, who later renames himself Ulysses David.
  • Francisco Ramon, AKA Vibe.
  • Rip Hunter.
  • Alex James Murphy, AKA RoboCop.
  • Violet Paige, AKA Mother Panic.

    Non-costumed Heroes and Associates 

     Female Examples 

    Fictional examples outside comic books 
  • Jacob Taylor from Mass Effect 2.
  • Jack Ryan
  • Dean Thomas of the Harry Potter series.
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Veronica and Velma Kelly of Chicago and its film adaptation.
  • Carol Anne Freeling from Poltergeist since "Anne" is her middle name.
  • John Curtis and Nick Bradley of Secret Army.
  • Rumbling Hearts:
  • Homura Akemi from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Many of the other characters, such as Madoka Kaname, Sayaka Miki and Kyoko Sakura, have last names that sound and/or can be used as first names, but are still valid last names.
  • Miyako Yoshika. Or Yoshika Miyako. Miyako is the family name.
  • Rio Wesley of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid. No, this isn't misplaced.
  • Izumi Sakurai from Nichijou. This is Lampshaded in-story.
  • Asuka Sakura from the movie Welcome to the Quiet Room. Lampshaded when someone jokingly points out that her name sounds like something from a comic book.
  • In Life with Louie, it's pointed out that the bullies in the show always seem to have two first names, such as Craig Erik, Paul George, and the worst of them all, Glen Glenn.
  • From Pretty Cure: all the females of the Kurumi family, Mana and Ayumi Aida, Alice Yotsuba, and Aguri Madoka. Interestingly, neither Aida nor Aguri doesn't seem to be common female names in Japan — there are a few Aguris in fiction, but they're both male.
  • Seems to be a theme on The Office when it comes to the regional managers (not counting those who didn't stay in the manager's chair for more than three episodes) :
    • The main character of the UK original is named David Brent.
    • His counterpart in the US version is named Michael Scott.
      • After Michael left, a number of candidates applied for his job, among which were Fred Henry, Nellie Bertram, and the aforementioned David Brent. The one to eventually get the job was Andy Bernard.
      • Other (non-manager) characters include David Wallace, Ryan Howard and Angela Martin.
  • Jane Austen has at least one example in each of her novels:
    • Emma has the Rev. Philip Elton and his wife Augusta. There's also Robert Martin, Elizabeth Martin, and their unnamed mother and sister. Also Harriet, after she marries Robert near the end.
    • In Pride and Prejudice, anyone in the Lucas family, such as Sir William Lucas and his daughter Charlotte Lucas.
    • In Sense and Sensibility, Colonel Brandon, though his first name is never given. This also applies to Marianne after she marries him.
    • In Mansfield Park, Sir Thomas Bertram and his wife and children.
    • In Persuasion, Anne Elliot, as well as her father and sister.
    • In Northanger Abbey, Mr. and Mrs. Allen, although their first names are not mentioned.
  • Sayaka Yumi and her father Dr. Gennosuke Yumi from Mazinger Z. The main protagonist Kouji Kabuto also qualifies, although Kabuto is rarely used as a first name.
  • Yukiko Maya of Saki.
  • Played for Laughs on The Drew Carey Show when Mimi remarks, "Drew Alison Carey? Geez, all three of your names are girl names."
  • Thunderbirds: Jeff Tracy and his sons.
  • The Simpsons has Lenny Leonard and Herman Hermann.
  • The Super Mario Bros., Mario Mario and Luigi Mario. Maybe. Definitely the case in the 1993 movie, though.
  • The Jurassic Park franchise has Ian Malcolm and Alan Grant.
  • Johanna Mason from The Hunger Games.
  • In the novelisation of Yes, Prime Minister, Bernard, recalling a letter from a BBC producer named Crawford James, considers this trope a warning sign:
    Secondly, I have always had an instinctive distrust of people whose Christian names and surnames are reversible.
  • One Tree Hill revolves around brothers Lucas and Nathan Scott and their family. One of the main characters is their friend Haley James, who marries Nathan in the third season and had a child named Jamie born in the Season 4 finale.
  • Scamalot gives us Mary Gary. James acts as if Mary and Gary are two different people, much to her frustration.
  • The Fairly OddParents discusses this with Mark Chang. While disguised on Earth, he takes the form of a teen heartthrob named Justin Jake Ashton. Whenever he or someone else introduces himself, they always mention he has three first names.
  • In later seasons of The Waltons, Mary Ellen's husband is Curtis Willard. Their son is John Curtis Willard, who has three first names (he's always called John Curtis).
  • Overwatch has Reinhardt Wilhelm, whose first and last names are both valid first names in German, though Reinhardt is more commonly seen as a surname. As a result, less informed fans of the game get confused and mistakenly think his first name is Wilhelm.
  • Star Wars features Luke's uncle Owen Lars.
  • The Magic School Bus features among the Friz Kids one Dorothy Ann. Her last name is Rourke, but it's rarely mentioned.
  • Hoosiers has Coach Norman Dale.
  • In Wuthering Heights, Linton Heathcliff has two last names (or maybe a last name first and first name last): "Linton" was his mother's maiden name, while "Heathcliff" is his father's Only One Name that his wife and son take as their surname.
  • The Gundam franchise have Duo Maxwell and Shinn Asuka.
  • Parks and Recreation has Ben Wyatt.
  • Arle Nadja from Puyo Puyo. Arle is a French name derived from a play called L'Arlésienne (The Girl from Arles), while Nadja is a German name meant to be a reference to the French novel Nadja.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Jonas Quinn. (What's even more amusing is that he's an alien, but his name sounds less alien than that of his actor, Corin Nemec.)
    • Cameron Mitchell (a man who has two first names that are also two last names).
  • James Kirk from Star Trek: The Original Series. (Which becomes Three First Names when counting his middle name, "Tiberius."note ). Also Christopher Pike.
  • Quinn Mallory.
    • Quinn's brother Colin Mallory, and his father Michael. Also Professor Max Arturo.
  • Charles Logan and George Mason.
  • Patrick Jane of The Mentalist, though his surname is common to women, not men.
  • Shawn Spencer.
  • Derek Morgan. Also, Spencer Reid. Since almost everyone on the show in on Last-Name Basis, some fans even forget that Reid isn't his first name.
  • For another Morgan, let's look at Dexter Morgan, although, technically, he was adopted by Harry Morgan, so it's not his birth surname (his biological parents' surnames don't really fit the pattern: Driscoll and Moser).
  • Shawn Hunter.
  • Rupert Giles.
  • Mac Taylor. Probably also Lindsay Monroe, until she became Lindsay Messer.
  • Richie Ryan

    Real Life 
All the examples in this entry so far have been situations in which people have given names to characters. In that spirit, please limit entries here to people who have given themselves names (stage names, pen names, pseudonyms, etc.) consisting of two first names. Many people have a first name as a family name in real life, but this section should be reserved for people who have made an intentional choice to do so.

  • Jon Stewart from The Daily Show. Inevitable, since Stewart is a showbiz adaptation of his middle name. He was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz.
    • He even makes jokes about it:
    "Tonight's guest, Congressman Ron Paul, a proud member, with me, of the Two First Names Club. We, uh, we meet every Thursday for cocktails with Ron Jeremy and Barney Frank."
  • Tim Allen (Home Improvement) was born Timothy Alan Dick.
  • Rose Marie was a supporting player on The Dick Van Dyke Show and a panelist on The Hollywood Squares. She seldom used her surname, Mazzetta.
    • Similarly, actress Ann-Margaret rarely uses her surname, Olsson.
      • Likewise hyphenated is Terry-Thomas, AKA Thomas Terry Hoar-Stevens.
  • Stan Lee (born Stanley Lieber).
  • Jack Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg)
  • John Wayne (born Marion Michael Morrison).
  • Cary Grant (born Archibald Leach).
  • Kevin James from The King of Queens (born Kevin George Knipfing).
  • Dame Vera Lynn (born Vera Margaret Welch)
  • Radio broadcaster Paul Harvey, born Paul Harvey Aurandt.
  • Radio star Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky).
  • Radio star Fred Allen (born John Florence Sullivan).
  • Danny Thomas (born Amos Yakoob).
  • Moe Howard of The Three Stooges (Moses Hurwitz)
  • Actor and voiceover artist William Conrad (born John William Cann Jr.)
  • The Webb sisters, Loretta, Peggy, and Brenda, changed their names before becoming famous country singers, renaming themselves, respectively, Loretta Lynn, Peggy Sue and Crystal Gayle.
  • Jason Alexander (born Jay Scott Greenspan).
  • Huey Lewis (born Hugh Anthony Cregg III)
  • Jerry Lewis (born Jerome Levitch)
  • Ray Charles (... Robinson).
  • Dennis Franz (... Schlachta).
  • Toby Keith (... Covel).
  • Lea Michele (... Sarfati).
  • Shannon Elizabeth (... Fadal).
  • Sheldon Leonard (... Bershad) (the racetrack tout from The Jack Benny Program and the old bar owner from Cheers).
  • Alison Brie (... Schermerhorn).
  • Angelina Jolie (...Voight).
  • Psychic John Edward (... McGee Jr.).
  • Porn star Ron Jeremy (... Hyatt).
  • Kendrick Lamar (... Duckworth). Lampshaded in the music video for "DNA":
    Two first names, huh? What the fuck is up with that?
  • Michael Anthony (... Sobolewski).
  • Rick James was born James Ambrose Johnson, bitch!
  • Sid James (born Joel Solomon Cohen).
  • Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz).
  • Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch).
  • Bob Dylan (born Robert Zimmerman).
  • Lenny Bruce (born Leonard Alfred Schneider).
  • Buck Henry (born Henry Zuckerman).
  • Gilligan's Island’s Tina Louise (born Tina Blacker, she later chose Louise as a middle name).
  • Joey Lawrence (Joey Russo from Blossom) (born Joseph Lawrence Mignogna, Jr.) Ditto his brothers Matthew and Andrew Lawrence, although they were born after the whole family changed their surname.
  • Woody Allen, born Allen Stewart Konigsberg.
  • Eddie Albert (Green Acres) (born Edward Albert Heimburger)
  • George Michael, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (Greek: Γεώργιος Κυριάκος Παναγιώτου)
  • Dirk Benedict (Faceman from The A-Team) was born Dirk Niewoehner.
  • Serial arsonist Peter Dinsdale changed his name to Bruce George Peter Lee.
  • Talent agent William Morris, born Zelman Moses.
  • Valentino's contemporary John Gilbert — born John Cecil Pringle.
  • Dean Martin — Dino Paul Crocetti.
  • Tony Martin — Alvin Morris.
  • Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster) — Patrick Alan Caples.
  • Les Paul — Lester William Polfuss.
  • Sir Cliff Richard — Harry Rodger Webb.
  • Infamous weeaboo Akemi Mokoto, who, because of his dislike of his family, renamed himself after two anime characters. His original surname was possibly Boyd, but his original given name is unknown.
  • Brenda Joyce, born Brenda Dworman.
  • Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.
  • George Eliot, whose real name was Marian Evans.
  • Cassandra Clare, born Judith Rumelt.
  • Jennifer Lopez's ex-husband Mark Anthony, born Marco Antonio Muñiz.
  • Rachel Zoe, born Rachel Zoe Rosenzweig.
  • Wynonna Judd, born Christina Ciminella
  • Meg Ryan, born Margaret Hyra.
  • Katy Perry, born Katheryn Hudson.
  • Designer Ralph Lauren, born Ralph Rueben Lifshitz.
  • Jane Seymour, born Joyce Frankenberg.
  • Gypsy Rose Lee, born Louise Hovick, was a three first name example.
  • 70s game show fixture Elaine Joyce, born Elaine Joyce Pinchot.
  • Yakuza boss Shinobu Tsukasa, born Kenichi Shinoda. Doubles as a meaningful name, since Tsukasa (司) can mean "chief", among other things.
  • Nicholas Brendon (... Schultz).
    • As well as his twin brother, Kelly Donovan (... Schultz).
  • Peter Joseph, creator of the Zeitgeist films, whose full name he doesn't reveal for privacy reasons. (Allegedly his surname is Merola.)
  • After she came out as transgender, the lead singer of Against Me! changed her name to Laura Jane Grace. Her original last name was Gabel.
  • Filipino-American actress/TV host/VJ Donita Rose (... Ramos Cavett).
  • Aaron Paul (... Sturtevant).
  • One of the members of British boy band Blue is called Duncan James. His real surname is Inglis.
  • In an attempt to moved beyond his flop at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2010 - where he finished last - Josh Dubovie uses the stage name Josh James.
  • Transgender murder victim Brandon Teena (the subject of Boys Don't Cry) was born...Teena Brandon.
  • Ross Martin, born Martin Rosenblatt.
  • Robert Conrad, born Conrad Robert Falk.
  • Jonah Ray (... Rodrigues).
  • Ruby Rose (... Langenheim).
  • Adrian Paul (... Hewett).
  • Tom Cruise's full name is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.
  • Maggie Grace, born Margaret Grace Denig.
  • Keith David (... Williams).
  • Samuel Vincent (... Khouth).
  • Baseball broadcasting legend Mel Allen, born Melvin Allen Israel.
  • Cree Summer (... Francks).

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report