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Dick Grayson: My name's Richard Grayson, but all the kids at the orphanage call me Dick.
Bruce Wayne: Well, children can be cruel.
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A name of a person, place, or thing is seen as hilarious and/or offensive In-Universe.

Characters under this trope are saddled with a name that realistically, you wouldn't expect a parent to name their kid or, for someone who's of a certain name, they'd choose to go by. This is the kind of name that gets kids made fun of in school — which leads them to snark "Never Heard That One Before" when the jokes continue into adulthood. Real Joke Name is another possible outcome.

Comes in a variety of forms:

  • Cross-Cultural Kerfluffle — The name is okay, maybe even good and auspicious in its own language, but doesn't travel well. Maybe it sounds like a curse or a pronoun; bonus points if it's shouted dramatically in the work.
  • Embarrassing Initials — the initials spell something silly or offensive.
  • Euphemistic Names — The name sounds like something sexual or otherwise offensive.
  • Gender-Blender Name — Many names (at least, in American English) were once relatively common and unremarkable as names for male children, but in recent years have become more common for girls, sometimes with minor spelling differences. In the real world there are male Stacys, Danas, Courtneys, Kellys, and Ashleys, and yet you only see those names in fiction on women (on the other hand, there are female Chrises, Pats, Lees, and Terrys and yet, they're only male names in fiction). So someone with old-fashioned parents, or simply a desire to name a baby after an ancestor, might wind up with a "girly" name, such as Mary. Conversely, unfortunate women may end up with a "guy" name, though they are mostly more fortunate.
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    • A custom in France, francophone countries, and Catholic Germany is to give children a second "saint's name" drawn from the hagiography. This can be given regardless of matching the gender of child and patron saint, so that a man might be named, for instance, Erich Maria Remarque. This can sound odd outside these areas and even to the locals themselves on occasion, at least to those from younger generations that aren't as familiar with this cultural quirk. Try and find a German teenager who didn't at least snicker the first time Remarque's full name popped up in high school.
  • Have a Gay Old Time — Linguistic drift can hit names quicker than some folks would like. If a name later gets adopted for a sexual or offensive term, those who had the name before the drift run afoul of this (those named after, however, run into one of the above issues instead). Examples include Dick, Fanny, Nimrod and Gaylord.
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  • Ironic Name — The name references a trait that is the opposite of the character.
  • Phrase Name — Where the first name and/or last name may sound perfectly normal on its own, but put them together and they make an unfortunate sounding phrase, I.e. "Ima Fraude".
  • Pop Culture Name — Someone named after a famous pop culture character whose name would ordinarily not enter consideration for use. In this case, the name is already popular, but it isn't something you'd think to name a human being under regular circumstances. Can result in an even more unfortunate name if the pop culture source's popularity is not enduring.
  • Repetitive Name - The first and last (and any other) names sound similar, or are exactly the same.
  • Rhyming Name — The first and last name rhyme with each other.
  • Unfortunate Coincidence — A regular name happened to match coincidentally with real-life famous or infamous figures, or otherwise notable events named after people.
  • Unfortunate Meaning — someone thought the name sounded nice, but apparently had no clue that the name they gave their child describes a disease or a woman's genitalia. (The vast majority of these are either urban legends or outright maliciously racist lies; usually, the more defensive the teller gets about these, the more likely he knows they're lies.)

Given human nature, quite a few fairly common names or words wind up as slang terms. Simply having one of these isn't really an example of this trope, unless it forms a particularly bad combination with the rest of the name, and the name's misfortune must be pointed out within the work.

This trope can be divided into subtropes Embarrassing First Name, Embarrassing Middle Name or Embarrassing Last Name, if just part of the name is unfortunate. Will frequently intersect with Punny Name. When other people pronounce them counterintuitively (whether in an effort to save themselves the embarrassment or not), they'll feel compelled to inform people how their name is pronounced with Pretentious Pronunciation.

This only goes for examples where the name is the character or person's legal given name, or the name they most commonly go by. If a character chooses this name as a superhero alias, stage name, or temporary disguise, it's Atrocious Alias. If a product or brand instead of a character is unfortunately named, it's Bite the Wax Tadpole.

This trope is the opposite of Awesome McCoolname, while Special Person, Normal Name lies in between these two. There's also Names to Run Away from Really Fast, where your name isn't so much embarrassing as deeply scary.


In-Universe Examples Only:

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Earwig and the Witch, Erica was born with the name "Earwig", her mother having named her after her band. When she leaves her at the orphanage, the Foster Mother changes it to "Erica Wigg" under the assumption that she was named after the bug.
  • In Haibane Renmei, all Haibane are named by other Haibane after what dream they had in their cocoon. Reki dreamed of walking down a dark stone path so she was named after the word "gareki", which means "small stone". Later in life, Haibane learn their "true names" right before their Day of Flight occurs. Reki's true name is "Rekishi", "death by being run over". This is implied to be a reference to her having died by standing in front of a train. There is, however, a better seeming Alternate Character Reading of it.
  • The title character of Itsudatte My Santa! hates that his parents named him Santa because he was born on Christmas Eve.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Fate's wolf familiar is named Arf. Justified by the fact that Fate was seven when she named her.
  • Chikubi, the class hamster in Mitsudomoe. The little guy's name means "Nipples", chosen because boob-lover Futaba thought his tail reminded her of one. The name stuck.
  • Ranma ½ has Pantyhose Taro, who was given that name by Dirty Old Man and Panty Thief Happosai. His village's rules state that only the one who named a child can change that name. His entire character is built around finding said guy and forcing him to change it.
  • Reborn! (2004) has P. Shitt. There's a reason why she likes being called "Shitopi-chan".
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: Itoshiki Rin looks forward to the day she can get married and change her last name because the combination of the two kanjis in "Itoshiki" makes her full name be misread as "Zetsurin," which means "peerless... in bed". Sadly, the Itoshiki family is very high-ranking, so she has trouble finding an acceptably prominent suitor who won't have to take her name upon marriage.
  • Tenchi Muyo! GXP has this in the case of Seiryo Tennan's spaceship. Due to the fact that every other "lucky" name was taken at the time, Seiryo is forced to christen his ship the Unko, which is supposed to mean "bringer of fortune". Unfortunately for Seiryo, "Unko" also means, and is more commonly used to refer to, poop. Hilarity ensues.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: The fact that Huo Haha's name sounds like laughing seems like something that would lend itself to actual laughs at his expense. This is directly lampshaded in the first episode of Season 8 by way of a Who's on First? joke when Big M. and Little M. meet him for the first time.
    Huo Haha: Hi. I'm the magician who attacked the president, Huo Haha!
    (Big M. wallops Huo Haha, resulting in a Hit Flash and a Cranial Eruption on Huo.)
    Big M.: Enough! Do you think I was joking? Be serious!
    Huo Haha: But I didn't laugh. My name is Huo Haha.

    Fan Works 
  • A.A. Pessimal's fics:
    • The Big Bang Theory and Discworld crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation: A visiting Assassin from the Discworld encounters members of the Los Angeles Police Department called Krupke, Dibble and Captain Trunk. Apparently there is an Inspector Columbo in the murder squad and a mounted policeman who is called Officer McLeod.
    • In a different fic, Vetinari has to reassign a diplomat sent to Far Überwald with the unfortunate name of Mr Goughnow. He discovers there is also a Mr Fafunckelloe in Brindisi and a Mr Footsack in Rimwards Howondaland. The unfortunately named diplomats are recalled and re-assigned to other countries, and the part of the Palace Secretariat dealing with diplomatic postings receives a stern note and a helpful dictionary of international profanity to guide their thought processes.
    • A young girl called Emma Roydes has passed selection exams to the Assassins' Guild School with flying colours. The Guild believes at the age of ten years and nine months, she has already had ample cause to display commendable fighting skills and an admirable aptitude for applied aggression. Seen as a new first year student, she has a best friend who affectionately nicknames her "Piles". And gets away with it.
  • In At The Food Court, when Rhys finds out that Gary's wife is named Arwen, he remarks that she was a victim of Lord of the Rings-obsessed parents if there ever was one.
  • In Bucky Barnes Gets His Groove Back & Other International Incidents, Sam Wilson's parents' labradoodle is named Bartholomew Zebulon Wilson. Sam calls him Barf.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series has Dr. Brainstorm, whose Obviously Evil name is lampshaded:
    Calvin: That's a dumb name. Why not something interesting? Like Doctor Doom, or Doctor Chaos, or Doctor Chaotic Doom?
  • Golden Retriever, Twilight's assistant in The Demesne Of The Reluctant Twilight Sparkle. Twilight eventually grants her a literal license, "as a civil servant of the highest order", to kick the flank of anypony who teases her about her name within the bounds of the demesne.
  • A Diplomatic Visit:
    • As noted under Fantastic Naming Convention, the wolves of the Packlands are named after a trait the elders observe in them. One of Swift-Pad's litter-mates is Giggle-Snort, who would love to forget that he was named for the noise he made when he was first being groomed as a pup.
    • Subverted by the wolf Aargh. He thinks his name is hilarious, and so does pretty much everyone else when they hear the story of how he got it. (Short version: It's what another wolf yelled when young Aargh, acting in defense of his mother and litter-mates, bit him on the butt. They bent the rules a little in his case.)
  • In the Fallout: Equestria universe it is something of a tradition for named Steel Rangers to have embarrassing food-based names such as Cottage Cheese and Butterbean.

  • Gensokyo 20XX has Ren's brother Baka and Ren could never really figure out why and always thought it was because he wasn't very bright, though he also did note that, according to his father, that was the name only he responded to and the name stuck. However, true to his name, he isn't really very bright.
  • ''Half Jack'' is a fic of Horatio Hornblower by faantine (BreathingSpace). Horatio Hornblower doesn't quite like his name in canon, especially his Christian name, but in this fic, it's his surname that earns him some lighthearted scoff.
    Archie: Sub-Lieutenant Kennedy. Archie.
    Horatio: [they shake hands] Sub-Lieutenant Hornblower.
    Archie: [grins] Hornblower? Fuck me, that’s unfortunate.
  • Mi Tru Lov has two major antagonists called Vommy and Snoteleks.
  • Mistblossom from Moonlit Path: Disloyal Hearts learns from her Clan's medicine cat that her kit has a special destiny. Mistblossom misinterprets this prophecy as meaning that her daughter is destined to become a powerful Clan leader and names her daughter "Moonkit". Using a "Moon" prefix for a kit's name is a very sacrilegious amongst the Clans because it's considered disrespectful to their ancestors in StarClan. Several of Moonkit's Clanmates avoid calling her by name because it's such a taboo name.

  • My Immortal: Ebony Darkness Dementia Raven Way. The author was presumably trying for an Awesome Mccoolname-cum-"Darkness von Gothick" Name, but she ended up with a name which, translated to Layman's Terms, is "Black Black Senility Bird Direction". That's before you take into account the author's apparent inability to spell it the same way twice (to the point she's usually referred to by snarkers as "Enoby").
  • The Pokémon Squad:
    • Brock's Cousin's name is literally "Brock's Cousin". His grandfather is named "Grandpa Harrison".
    • "RM's Friend", "RM's Other Friend", "RM's Friend's Twin", and "RM's Other Friend's 'Sister'". Those are their actual names.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse has its main character Trixie Lulamoon, who always wishes to be addressed by her first name (unless she is drunk, then her second name). Apparently, there is a childhood rhyme that is the cause behind the name being unfortunate.
  • Saetwo's Story: Just like in the game, one of the cave guardians is named Ignorameous, which all the Zoombinis find hilarious.
    Ignorameous: Why does everybody always laugh when I say that?!
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Due to RWBY's use of Fun with Acronyms, the team of Cinder, Mercury, Emerald, and Neo is called Team CMEN. It's supposed to be pronounced "Cinnamon," but Professor Port doesn't bother. He keeps making loud Double Entendres during his role as announcer for the tournament, even as Oobleck tries to keep him in line.
    Mercury: I knew we should have changed it.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live Action 
  • Drive (2011) has the character Shannon, who's described as a man who never got a break. Apparently it started at birth.
  • A Fine Mess. Dennis' boss is named Mr. Wardell Flecken, a shortened version of Fleckenshicker. Dennis asks, "Is that like Shickenflucker?"
  • The Bayags of the Filipino film Four Sisters and a Wedding. "Bayag" is the Filipino word for testicle, leading to many jokes when Teddie tries to find dirt on them.
  • Kolya: Ms Zubatá the social worker, whose surname not only literally means "toothy", but also is the Czech equivalent of "Grim Reaper". The latter meaning is lampshaded by the dialogue:
    Louka: We have to disappear before Zubatá comes after us.
  • Meet The Hitlers is a documentary about people who happen to be have the surname "Hitler". Most of them faced bullying growing up due to their name.
  • Extremely Played for Laughs in Monty Python's Life of Brian.
    • Pontius Pilate has a great personal friend whose name is... Biggus Dickus.
      Pilate: He has a wife, you know. You know what she's called? She's called... Incontinentia. [beat] Incontinentia Buttocks.
    • And as a prelude to that, Brian admitted having a Roman father whose name was "Naughtius Maximus". The Roman Centurion quickly laughed at it and caught on that it's a joke name, like "Sillius Sodus" or the aforementioned "Biggus Dickus".
  • Michael Bolton from Office Space absolutely hates that singer by the same name who became famous at about the time the character hit puberty. And hates being asked "is that your real name?"
  • The villain of Red Eye is named "Jackson Rippner." Fitting for Jackson, to be sure, but who in their right mind would inflict such a name on their kid? (Apparently, he expressed similar views to them. Right before he killed them.)
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights:
    • Latrine, who is revealed to have changed her name to Latrine. Her given name? Shithouse.
    • A Running Gag involves a character named "Ahchoo". Whenever his name is mentioned, someone else will inevitably respond with "bless you".
  • Spaceballs had a gag where it turned out most of Dark Helmet's goons had the surname Asshole.
    Dark Helmet: I knew it! I'm surrounded by assholes!
  • Drew Barrymore has a great scene in The Wedding Singer where she's trying out her married name in front of a mirror and realizes she's about to become "Mrs. Julia Gulia".
  • In Young Mr. Lincoln, attorney Lincoln is cross-examining a witness who goes by J. Palmer Cass (first name John). Lincoln jokingly insinuates that he goes by his middle name because of this trope, and that he'd prefer to call the witness Jack Cass.

    Music 
  • In Shel Silverstein's "A Boy Named Sue," best known for its Johnny Cash cover, the narrator's father names him Sue so that he'll grow up tough. It works, but the narrator still resents the name and at the end of the song vows that when he has a son of his own he'll name him "anything but Sue."
  • Gorillaz singer 2D is actually named Stuart Pot, and became known as Stu-Pot prior to the accidents which gave him his "2 Dents". It could be worse; his father had the family surname legally changed from "Tusspot" after a lifetime of teasing.

    Podcast 
  • Trashfuture has an episode devoted to a radio play about a man named John Taliban, a Ford car salesman living in the modern U.S. who refuses to change his last name despite being called "John Taliban".

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The Bible
    • To demonstrate His wrath at idolatrous Israel, God has the prophet Hosea give his children symbolic names. The first son, Jezreel, is named for a valley where Israel's evil kings have shed blood, and where God promises they will be punished in turn; his daughter is named Lo-ruhamah, "not pitied," because God is through being merciful; and the youngest son is Lo-ammi, "not my people," to foretell that God will eventually send Israel into exile among the nations.
    • The prophet Isaiah named his younger son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, which means "spoil quickly, plunder speedily," again to foretell Judah's coming doom. His older brother Shear-Jashub ("a remnant shall return") lucked out and got a happy prophecy.
    • Ishbosheth's name means 'from the mouth of shame'. A very early translator had changed it from Ishbaal ('from the mouth of God') due to concern about Baal worship.
  • Kopreus was an uncle of king Eurystheus of Mycene, who had the job of delivering Eurystheus' orders about what the next Labour was going to be to Herakles. "Kopreus" means "dung-heap".
  • Also Uranus, father of the Titans, although not in the original language. In Greek, Uranus (or more properly Ouranos) means "sky" or "heaven", and pronunciation is more like "ooh-rah-nos". Ironically, it was one of his private parts on the opposite side that got abused in a famous myth.
  • The name Nimrod was not an unfortunate name in Bible times, but has become so these days because of its association with dimwittedness from Bugs Bunny. note 
    • May be Older Than Print, actually, since in Dante's Inferno he is shown to be one of several giants guarding the pit of Hell. He can only utter meaningless gibberish, and Virgil taunts him as being stupid.
    • It may be an unfortunate name in English speaking countries, but it's actually fairly common in Israel.
  • In Chinese Mythology, the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea can be transliterated (i.e. in pinyin) as Dong Hai Long Wang. It's not funny in Chinese at all, when consulting someone with Chinese as a mother tongue, in case anyone's wondering.
  • Aversion with Lot. Lot (spelling varies) who preaches in the Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah where the citizens are violent, lustful, and where homosexuality is rampant. The last part is the reason you don't find anyone named Lot (spelling varies) in any Abrahamic religions. Doubles with What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?.

    Stand-Up Comedy 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Discussed in the GURPS supplement GURPS Mixed Doubles, filled with sample Super Hero characters. One mentioned, Streaker, went into retirement in part because his crimefighting pseudonym (originally from the streaky afterimages from his Super Speed) was adopted as a term for running through a public place naked.

    Theatre 
  • From H.M.S. Pinafore: "You can't expect a chap with such a name as Dick Deadeye to be a popular character— now can you?"
  • The main character of In the Heights, played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is called Usnavi (US Navy), named after a ship his parents saw upon arrival from the Dominican Republic. He's not too fond of it.
  • In The Rose Tattoo, Alvaro's last name is Mangiacavallo. Its Italian meaning, "Eat-a-Horse", cements his status as clown.
    "It's a comical name, I know. Maybe two thousand and seventy years ago one of my grandfathers got so hungry that he ate up a horse. That ain't my fault."
  • The local constable in Love's Labour's Lost introduces himself with the sentence "I am Dull." How the other characters react is up to each individual production, but it's proof that no joke is too obvious for Shakespeare to include.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney: Larry Butz. The other characters note, "When something smells, it's usually the Butz".
    • The fan-made Turnabout Substitution has Judge Gerald Strings, son of Chief Justice Paul Strings. This wouldn't be so bad if not for one tiny detail: the game's own text boxes. Since his father is labelled "Strings", you'd expect the game to call him "Gerald". Instead, it calls him "G. Strings".
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has Lance Vance, which he got mocked for in high school. Tommy Vercetti says it all: "Lance Vance. Poor bastard."
  • Mass Effect 2: Admiral Koris is the captain of the Quarian starship Qwib-Qwib and gets rather defensive when questioned on the subject, explaining that ships are bought from different cultures and that it can be difficult to change its registry information. He has thought about changing the ship's name to the Defranzh or the Iktomi, which is even more unfortunate when you say the full name. To clarify, Quarian names traditionally go "[first name] vas [ship name]".
  • Poor Guybrush Threepwood is the running joke of the Monkey Island series.
  • Jackass, a senior member of the Resistance in NieR: Automata. 9S is always reluctant to refer to her by name, and it's never revealed why she has a name like that.
  • In Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, Tear points out that the eponymous store's name looks a lot like "racketeer".
  • Sam and Max Beyond Time and Space: In the final episode, Sam and Max have to stop Peepers of the Soda Poppers from seducing Sybil Pandemik with black magic by guessing his true name, but the only person who knows it is the constantly bleeped-out Timmy Two-Teeth. After fiddling with Hell's censorship division, Sam and Max finally learn Peepers' real name is "Dick Peacock", and their reaction indicates they quickly realized why it was censored in the first place.
  • One of the mock commercials in You Don't Know Jack: Fifth Dementia is for "The Society for People With Unfortunate Names", including such members as Eileen Dover and her husband Ben.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Unfortunate Name, Embarrassing Name

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