People with impressive nicknames in literature.
- In the 1632 novels, Mike Stearns is better known as "The Prince of Germany" or simply "The Prince", despite not being a noble. It is official enough to be used in headlines, such as "PRINCE MEETS WITH EMPEROR" (Mike Stearns meeting Emperor Gustavus Adolphus).
- Colonel Jesse Wood, Commander and founder of the NUS Air Force, is simply known as "The Eagle". His students, who went on to become the core of the NUS aviators are known collectively as "The Falcons".
- Belisarius Series:
- Subverted by Venandekatra the Vile. It is specifically remarked that he is not called "the dreaded" or the "ruthless" or anything like that but only "the vile". Dreaded people are respected, vile people are held in contempt.
- Played straight in the case of several other characters in the series:
- Valentinian: "The Mongoose"
- Raghunath Rao: "The Panther" or "The Wind of the Great Country"
- Aide: "The Talisman of God"
- Belisarius: "The General"
- Calopodius Saronites: "Calopodius the Blind"
- Anna Saronites: "The Wife"
- The title character of Stanley Weinbaum's The Black Flame (after she, uh, outgrew "Princess Peggy" and "the Maid of (New) Orleans".
- In the Black Jewels series, Daemon SaDiablo earned the name "The Sadist" even though he was a Sex Slave at the time.
- In The Blue Sword, frequent references are made to "Lady Aerin, Dragon-killer," a legendary heroine of the Damarian natives.
- In a prequel novel, we see how this started as an insult. In Aerin's day, dragons were dangerous but commonplace pests, and there was no particular glory in fighting them. She did so because it let her be a warrior and she found an old recipe for a fireproofing paste that her take them on solo. Then a real dragon shows up...
- In The Candlemass Road, Lord Dacre is known as the Red Bull for his family emblem.
- Patrick Hennessey, the military protagonist of the Carrera's Legions series, amasses a fearful reputation among his enemies, and becomes widely known as "the Blue Djinn".
- In The Chathrand Voyages, Evil Sorceress Macadra is head of the Raven Society and is an Evil Albino, and is consequently known by the nickname "the White Raven". Her brother Arunis, who is if anything worse, is known as "the Blood Mage".
- The Chrestomanci is known only by his title, and alternately by "The Big Man", "You Know Who" or "That Man Up at That Castle". He is almost never called by his real name except in the books that starred him as a kid. This is because he might just appear if you do.
- There's at least one fanfiction where Cat has to ask who Christopher is, having not heard his proper name before. In Charmed Life it takes half a book for them to learn it's a title, not the family's surname which is Chant, like theirs.
- In the Chronicles of the Kencyrath books by P.C. Hodgell, Kencyr frequently carry an epithet as well as a name. It cannot be self-applied, and may not be flattering. Jame, the protagonist, is dubbed "Priests'-bane", while her brother Torisen is "Black Lord", based on his rather gloomy style of dress.
- In the Dark Heavens series, one of the characters is a Scary Black Man named Leo. Is it any wonder he gets called "the Black Lion"?
- Dark Life has Shade. (The other members of the Seablite Gang also only go by their nicknames... but they're less badass. Eel? Kale?)
- Randall Flagg in The Dark Tower and other books "The Man Without A Face" The Dark Man" "The Black Man" "The Walkin' Dude".
- To a lesser extent Andrew Quick, "The Tick-Tock Man".
- The self-appointed executioner of the last King of Ankh, Stoneface Vimes. His great-something-grandson Sam Vimes Sr. starts getting the same nickname after acquiring something of the same reputation re: dealing with authority.Vimes: The Regicide. Not sure why people have to call him that. I mean, it was only one king. It wasn't as if it was a habit.
- Jingo has 71-Hour Ahmed, a D'reg from Klatch. Even the other D'regs, known for being Proud Warrior Race Guys, speak of him with fear. The reason is that, warriordom aside, the D'regs have very strict standards of hospitality: if someone is your guest, you are obligated to treat him well for 3 days (72 hours), and the guest should do the same for you. Ahmed got his name when he discovered that his host was a terrible criminal... and decided to kill him 1 hour before the deadline, breaking this custom.
- In Monstrous Regiment Borogravian propaganda tries to use the "The Butcher" variant on Vimes. He's rather amused that they forgot to make up any specific evil deeds to justify it, something even the Borogravian soldiers notice.
- The self-appointed executioner of the last King of Ankh, Stoneface Vimes. His great-something-grandson Sam Vimes Sr. starts getting the same nickname after acquiring something of the same reputation re: dealing with authority.
- Dora Wilk Series: The title character has werewolves nicknaming her "Cahan" after their top hunt goddess. Baal, on the other hand, is known among his subjects as the Crimson Prince - "crimson" as in "the color of blood" - due to the way he deals with his problems.
- In the Dragonlance novel "Dragons of Spring Dawning" as the elven princess Laurana leads the Whitestone Armies to a series of incredible victories over the Dragonarmies, her long blonde hair and radiant nature earn her the nickname 'the Golden General'.
- David Gemmell's Drenai saga:
- The Dresden Files:
- After his very narrow victory over Durza in the first book, Eragon is known as Eragon Shadeslayer. Ironic, given that he bluffed having a similar name earlier in the story.
- Gentleman Bastard: Locke Lamora, whose nickname is "The Thorn of Camorr", though the only people who call him that don't know who he is. Rather apropos, considering the fact that he frequently robs them blind.
- In The Girl from the Miracles District, Nikita has been known to her co-workers as the Mantis ever since she decapitated a man who tried to rape her.
- Both discussed and exploited in Harry Potter in regards to the big bad, Lord Voldemort, although both he and the main character are given multiple titles by the rest of the Wizarding World. Harry Potter's most famous one is 'the Boy Who Lived', but in books 6 and 7, he's saddled with The Chosen One, and in book seven, after Voldemort takes control of the Ministry of Magic, he's branded "Undesirable No. 1. Lord Voldemort has 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named', 'You-Know-Who', and The Dark Lord. Most of the Wizarding World is too afraid to say 'Voldemort', and use one of those three euphemisms to talk about him in conversation. This is portrayed as an irrational fear throughout most of the series, and Dumbledore advises Harry not to avoid saying his name because "fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself". However, in book 7, it turns out that there was a very good reason that the average witch and wizard avoided saying his name, seeing as, after he comes into power, Voldemort promptly casts a spell that reveals the location of anyone who says it. Since the only ones brave enough to do so are his enemies, this causes problems for the heroes early in the book.
- A Harvest of War has Guinevere "Bloody Fist" Thyll. She lives up to it, the literal part is often separate from the killer's reputation she got it for. More down-to-earth characters criticize it as childish, even to her face.
- Heralds of Valdemar:
- Vanyel Ashkevron started out the weedy, oversensitive, and none-too-interested-in-the-wenches misfit son of a provincial Valdemaran noble. He ended up known as 'Demonsbane', 'Shadow-Stalker', 'The Hero of Stony Tor', and (posthumously) "The Last Herald-Mage".
- Herald Lavan Chitward had his last name replaced by "Firestarter" when his Gift of pyrokinesis became well-known, then upgraded to "Firestorm" when, well, he caused one.
- Holes has Katherine "Kissin' Kate" Barlow, a schoolteacher-turned-outlaw who lived centuries prior to the main story, but who nonetheless plays a substantial role in the novel.
- Honor Harrington is nicknamed "the Salamander" by news organizations on her home planet, as in her military exploits she has a knack for always being found "where the fire is hottest" - and always making it out again. (In ancient and medieval European lore, salamanders were supposed to be able to endure even the hottest flames.)
- Havenite Citizen Admiral Esther McQueen is nicknamed "Citizen Admiral Cluster Bomb", after her favorite method of riot control.
- The Hunger Games: Starting in the first book, Katniss is "Girl on Fire" because of her entrance in the Tribute parade. Afterward it becomes "Mockingjay".
- In The Iron Teeth web serial, most the bandit captains have nicknames. Herad is called The Black Snake, and her rival Werrick is named The Wolf.
- The protagonist of Gemmell's post-apocalyptic trilogy, Jon Shannow, the Jerusalem Man.
- Journey to Chaos: Nunmnal Enaz is known as "The Witch of Dnnac Ledo". The title primarily comes from how she ruined the life of Harry Butchin to advance the science of medical mana mutation and didn't show remorse afterward. To wit: to get around a ban on exporting elven technology to humans, she convinced him into abandoning his body and transferring his soul to a suit of Animated Armor. After a defect in the technology led to Harry Butchin's patients developing monsanity as a side effect, she stood aside while his medical practice failed his reputation was trashed, and he was chased by angry mobs. This pushed him over the Despair Event Horizon and he cast aside his identity to become an Elite Mook by the name of "Nulso Xialin". In addition, she often does frightful things in her laboratory that involve Baleful Polymorph.
- Kimball Kinnison, from the Lensman series is known as The Gray Lensman in Civilization, and as THE Lensman among Boskonians.
- Kim's wife Clarissa is officially one (of many; they're not common, but it's a big galaxy) Gray Lensmen, but she's called the Red Lensman because of her hair.
- Cassius Mass from the Space Opera series Lucifer's Star is a Expy of Baron Richthofen as he's known as "The Fire Count" for his activities as an Ace Pilot during the war. Notably, unlike Richthofen, he survived the war and is haunted by the events of the conflict. He is also known among his enemies as The Butcher of Kolthas.
- Westley from The Princess Bride is called The Dread Pirate Roberts. It's lampshaded when he mentions no one would be afraid of The Dread Pirate Westley.
- "The Man in Black" fits the trope much better, as that's what the characters actually call him during the book and movie.
- Also, the original Dread Pirate Roberts retired twelve years before Westley took the title. Westley's mentor (who was the Dread Pirate Roberts before Westley) explains that it's important that the title stays, because the name intimidates people so much that it will give the bearer of the name an edge. A Running Gag is that since the original Roberts, they've all had fairly milquetoast names: before the Dread Pirate Westley, there was the Dread Pirate Ryan, and before him, the Dread Pirate Cummerbund. As the current incumbent lampshades, nobody will run away from the Dread Pirate Westley.
- The Second Apocalypse series:
- Seswatha, Grandmaster of a sorcerous School and one of the No-God's most determined enemies. The No-God's minions call him Chigra (the Slaying Light).
- Coithus Athjeari, who leads the scouts of the Holy War, becomes known as "The Wind With Teeth" to the Kianene.
- A Song of Ice and Fire has a bunch of these some flattering, some not. We have The Kingslayer, the Imp, the Hound, the Mountain That Rides, Whoresbane, the Bold, Hardhand, Turncloak, Knight of Flowers, Strongboar, the Gallant, the Tormentor, the Red Viper of Dorne, the Sea Snake, the Sword of the Morning, the Dragon Knight, the Ruin, Bloody Ben, the Lightning Lord, the Laughing Storm, the Unsmiling, the Monstrous, Blackfish, Giantsbane, Littlefinger...
- Despite not being an Action Girl, Daenerys Targaryen accumulates several of these, including Stormborn, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, and Breaker of Chains.
- Robb Stark is called "The Young Wolf", primarily by his enemies, with emphasis on the "young" part. After he starts winning numerous victories, they more emphasized the "wolf" part.
- Several historical Targaryen kings and princes/princesses have had nicknames, some cool and badass, others, not so much.
- Aegon I "The Conqueror"
- Maegor I "The Cruel"
- Jaehaerys I "The Conciliator"
- Prince Daemon Targaryen "The Rogue Prince"
- Princess/Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen "The Realm's Delight", later known as "Maegor with Teats"
- Aegon II "The Usurper"
- Aegon III "The Dragonbane"
- Daeron I "The Young Dragon"
- Baelor I "The Blessed"
- Princess/Queen Daena "The Defiant" Targaryen
- Aegon IV "The Unworthy"
- Prince Aemon Targaryen "The Dragonknight"
- Daemon Blackfyre "The Black Dragon"
- Aegor "Bittersteel" Rivers
- Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers
- Daeron II "The Good"
- Prince Baelor "Breakspear" Targaryen
- Aegon V "The Unlikely"
- Aerys II "The Mad King"
- In the Gordon R. Dickson novel Spacial Delivery, there's a culture of bear-like aliens who give everyone epithets. The most badass member of the race is known as "One Man" ...as in "one man army".
- Star Wars Legends:
- Aside from Darth Vader, there were a few other really good pilots in The Empire. Baron Soontir Fel drew from a lot of inspirations including the Red Baron (really, reminding people of von Richthofen was the only reason Fel was a Baron at all). The novel Death Star has a pilot mention another excellent pilot, an instructor who had a name, but was referred to as The Shooter.
- Jaina Solo ends up having the semi-official nickname of "the Sword of the Jedi", halfway between sobriquet and prophecy. It was bestowed upon her by Luke Skywalker (possibly-but-not-definitely at the prompting of The Force), at a ceremony honoring her and the other survivors of the high-risk Myrkr commando raid that destroyed the voyxn and came to symbolize her unwavering dedication to the Jedi Order's protection and military interests. On the other hand, she also went by the identity of the Yuuzhan Vong goddess Yun-Harla for a time, primarily as a mind game — but only after she had heard about the Vong talking up the connection between her and the deception goddess.
- In Stone King, the "titled" titan pilots (among them the narrator, who is known as "The Stone King of Ibaraki"), along with some of the elite enemy pilots (like the Wolf of Calabarzon) are a combination of this and in-universe examples of Memetic Badass.
- In The Stormlight Archive:
- Four-Star Badass Dalinar Kholin is known as "the Blackthorn" since his early days campaigning to cement his brother's rule as king. Though it's become attached to his sterling reputation as a general, some people use it to evoke his past as a fearsome Blood Knight. Oddly, the title itself comes from an incident when an enemy archer pincushioned him with black arrows. Of course he did proceed to chase the man who had shot him down and, impressed with his skills, recruit him. Then he walked back into camp with the arrows still in him and asked for some wine before getting treated.
- Kaladin gets called "Stormblessed" after joining the army, a name meant to indicate his incredible luck. After surviving the brunt of a Highstorm, the name is picked up again. Since the Highstorm is imbued with a remnant of the god whose orders of Magic Knights Kaladin is instrumental in re-founding, it also has a religious undertone.
- In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, the dictator threatening nuclear war is nicknamed "El Rabioso" and "Mad Dog Branzillo". The peaceful leader who replaces him after the time-travel events is nicknamed "El Zarco".
- Evelyn Waughs Sword of Honour trilogy has a minor character called Admiral Whale, referred to by his subordinates as Brides in the bath (a notorious multiple murder case of the time) due to his tendency to produce plans involving the likely death of all concerned.
- In Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note, the KZ Detective Team members all have some type of epithet. Most of it have to do with their abilities: Aya "the language expert", Kuroki "The Social Expert", Uesugi "the numbers guy", and Kozuka "of Socials and Sciences". The exception is Wakatake "the Wave", referring to his unstable performance.
- Ia, from Theirs Not to Reason Why gets the moniker "Bloody Mary" after she ends up covered in Ludicrous Gibs during her first combat action. "Bloody Mary!" was the first thing out of her CO's mouth when she saw the mess. Then she gets covered in blood again, this time wearing her BDUs, when the prisoners they took stage a breakout, and that's that. Noteworthy is that this is invoked, because she needs to create an reputation that will inspire future generations if the galaxy is going to survive in 300 years.
- Tortall Universe:
- The most notable is Alanna, known as the Lioness (her series is named Song of the Lioness, for instance). She's famous throughout the Eastern Lands as a great knight.
- Beka Cooper is known variously as Terrier, Bloodhound, and Mastiff.
- All the Shang warriors have animal nicknames (Bear, Horse, Wildcat) but the very best have names of magical, immortal creatures like Dragon and Unicorn.
- George Cooper is known as the Whisper Man.
- Warhammer 40,000: In Horus Heresy, there's a ton of people with such monikers on both sides of the conflict. For a few examples:Angron: Red Angel
Roboute Guilliman: Avenging Son
Rogal Dorn: Emperor's Praetorian, Unyielding One
Leman Russ: Wolf King
Jaghatai Khan: The Khan
Perturabo: Lord of Iron
Konrad Curze: Night Haunter
Vulkan: Lord of Drakes
Sevatar: Prince of Crows
Alexis Polux: Crimson Fist
Erebus: Dark Apostlenote
Emperor: The Anathema, the Golden King, the Master of Mankind, ...
- In The Wheel of Time, the Aiel call Lan Mandragoran Aan'allein, which the Old Tongue for "The Man Who Is One Nation," a reference to the fact that he is the uncrowned king of Malkier, and has sworn to fight the shadow.
- The Dragon Reborn itself is a kind of example of this.
- And Demandred is known as "the Wyld" and "the dragonslayer".
- Many of the major Wild West characters in the Winnetou novels by Karl May have nicknames: Old Shatterhand, Old Surehand, Old Firehand, Old Death, Old Wabble (notice a pattern there?), Sans-ear, Aunt Droll... The author handwaves the frequent use of the "Old" prefix as a supposed Western way of adding extra emphasis to the quality referred to in the nickname rather than to indicate actual age (such as Old Shatterhand's uncommon strength and habit of knocking out even the strongest foe with a single judiciously placed blow to the head), though Old Wabble, also known as "the King of the Cowboys", actually is an old man even when first encountered.
- The Witcher: Geralt is known as the White Wolf, though sometimes other people call him the "Butcher of Blaviken", with the former being generally a compliment and the latter an insult.
- The Witchlands:
- Merik is nicknamed the Fury when he's incognito, as his appearance reminds people of a certain demigod from their mythology.
- Ragnor is known as the Raider King.
- In The Zombie Knight, many of the strongest servants have nicknames like this. The full list:Abbas Saqqaf: Sunsmith
Asad Najir: Lion of the Desert
Dozer: Living Void
Gohvis: Black Scourge, Monster of the East
Hector Goffe: Darksteel Soldiernote
Ivan: Salesman of Death
Jackson: Radiant Sentinel, Star of the West
Lynnette Edith: White Sword
Melchor Blackburn: Darktide
Morgunov: Mad Demon
Octavia Redwater: Red Lady
Sanko: Gargoyle of Korgum
Sermung: Crystal Titan
Xavier Lawrence: Blue Bear
Xuan Sebolt: Seadevil
Zeff Elroy: Water Dragon