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Unfortunate Names / Live-Action TV

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  • Firefly: Jayne Cobb. River says it best, "Jayne is a girl's name."
  • The IT Crowd gave us Peter Phile, who was unfortunate enough to be paged over an airport loudspeaker. British English pronounces "pedophile" like "pee-do-file," making the two terms sound much more similar. The IT Crowd was probably referencing Brass Eye, who did that joke in the 2001 special. Creator Graham Linehan was one of the writers of the Brass Eye special.
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  • The Chaser - an Australian comedy group - pulled a similar prank in an airport during their War On Everything show, taking advantage of an automated booking terminal to create passes under such names as Terry Wrist and Al Kyder and then waiting until the staff broadcast the names over the loudspeakers.
  • On Murphy Brown, Corky Sherwood married a man whose last name was Forrest, making her married name Corky Sherwood-Forrest. Rather amusingly, the actress who played Corky, Faith Ford, was married at the time to a man whose last name was Nottingham.
  • On the BBC's Wings, Lieutenant Gaylion's surname is pronounced GAY-lee-un. For much of the first season, Captain Triggers refers to him as gay-lion, pronouncing it as though he were a predatory cat that prefers the company of other male predatory cats.
  • Scrubs:
    • One of the reasons Jordan divorced Dr. Cox (at least according to her) was because his name is, well, Dr. Cox. The problem with this is illustrated in this clip.
    • Keith, whose last name is Dudemeister. "It's German, it means master of dudes." Then there's Private Dancernote . And of course Doctors Beardfacé (pronounced Beard-fuh-say) and Mickhead. And Coleman Slawski.
    • Turk has dibs on the name Chewbacca for a future child, though it's unlikely his wife will let him. JD named his own child Sam Perry Gilligan Dorian.
    • JD's (John Dorian) original name was Joanna and it stayed that way for a while, as his parents hadn't decided on a male name before he was born.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • The name Robin Charles Scherbatsky Jr is the king of this trope. Why? Because the name belongs to a woman.
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    • The show gave us Theodore Evelyn Mosby. Evelyn used to be a male name. Barney tried to use Ted's full name and used "Theodore Vivian Mosby".note .
    • One episode has a poor girl named Cook Pu. Ted unfortunately thinks that this is a prank name his students edited onto his attendance sheet in order to make him look stupid, and goes about mocking them at length for not having enough imagination to come up with a name less lame and obvious than "Cook Pu". He does feel terrible when he realizes that it's actually a real name — when the student in question runs out of his class in tears. Oops.
    • Lily and Marshall gave their son Marvin the middle name Wait For It as a reference to one of Barney's catchphrases. Barney chose the name himself. The gang thinks it's awesome.
    • Ted discussed someday naming his future children Luke and Leia after Star Wars characters, using Shout-Out Theme Naming.
    • Season 6 had Randy Wharmpess who finally fulfilled his dream of starting his own brewery.
      "It's not beer, it's Wharmpess."
  • Chrissy from Three's Company? Her full name is Christmas Snow.
  • Alien Nation: A ship full of alien refugees with difficult names arrives on Earth and all are assigned human names. Naming thousands of people can get pretty tedious, so the ones near the end of the line ended up with names like Sam Francisco, Rudyard Kipling, etc. The names were somewhat difficult but not prohibitively so: George Francisco (formerly Sam) was Stangya Soren'tzah and Cathy Frenkel was Gelana Vray, for example. The names were selected not only for absurdity or evocation of famous humans, but also with irony or malice: a not-so-bright Tenktonese was called Albert Einstein, and a couple interested in having an electric articles store were named Thomas and Alva Edison. And, strangely, years after the descent, the immigration office still is funny with names: in the TV movie Dark Horizon the newly arrived Aphossno is named Norman Conquest. The original film was implicitly referencing Ellis Island clerks who "Americanized" immigrant names they had trouble pronouncing.
  • In Happy Endings Penny dates a perfectly nice man whose name is Doug... Hitler.
  • Married... with Children:
    • Marcy Rhodes takes the news that she got married to a man she doesn't remember meeting in a ceremony she also doesn't remember surprisingly well... but she's much less pleased to learn that her name is now Marcy D'Arcy.
    • Once, Peggy and the kids are going through the phone book looking for a new last name. Perfectly good names keep getting rejected because Kelly can't spell them. So they end up using "Cat". Buck was especially thrilled. (Cat being an odd choice, as another episode shows that Kelly can't even spell that right.)
  • The generally unfortunate Doctor Who companion Peri Brown's real first name is Perpugilliam. (Yes, she's from Earth.)
    • Not to mention Petronella Osgood.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • A sketch called "Mr. and Mrs. Git" had a family with the surname "Git". They had "A Sniveling Little Rat-Faced Git" and his wife "Dreary Fat Boring Old Git". The Gits had named their children "Dirty Lying Little Two-Faced" and "Ghastly Horrible Spotted Vicious Little". They do recognize that it's unfortunate for them to have a surname like "Git", but given their horrible first names they recognize that changing it won't do them much good. Then again, as the sketch goes on you learn they're actually quite horrible people to go with the names, so it's all... Ok?
    • Mr. Smokestoomuch. Apparently it wasn't a burden, he was well into adulthood before he figured it out.
    • Raymond Luxury Yacht, which is actually pronounced "Throat Warbler Mangrove."
    • Mrs. B.J. Smegma of 13, The Cresent, Belmont from the sketch "How Not To Be Seen".
  • At the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia class reunion, it is revealed that Mac has been going by a nickname because his birth name is Ronald McDonald.
  • 30 Rock:
    • A newly engaged Cerie gushed about her future children: "I already have all the names picked out. If it's a girl, 'Bookcase'. Or 'Sandstorm'. Or maybe 'Hat'... but that's more of a boy's name."
    • Jenna tops this with "Frisbeeface" and "Glock". Gender irrelevant.
    • The guy in charge of dealing with sexual harassment cases is named Jeffrey Wienerslave.
    • Wesley Snipes.
      Wesley Snipes: If you were shown a picture of him and a picture of me, and were asked, 'Who should be named Wesley Snipes', you'd pick the pale Englishman every time! Every time, Liz!
    • In an early episode, Liz is certain that Tracy made up "Dr. Spaceman", the doctor he claims prescribed him all the drugs he's been taking — until she finally meets the doctor (though he prefers to pronounce it Spah-che-men).
    • Steven, who is a Black. As in, a member of the Black family.
      Jack: Remarkable people, the Blacks: musical, very athletic, not very good swimmers... again, I am talking about the family. Black is African American though.
  • Have I Got News for You:
    • A segment centered around the very poorly named Randy Bumgardner.
    • They noted that Randy's mother's maiden name was Mincey, so he could potentially have become a Mincey-Bumgardner.
  • MADtv:
    • The Depressed Persian Tow Truck Man's full name is Mofaz Idi Amin Pulpat Stalin Bin Laden Manson Johnson Always.
    • With Wings.
    • Supposedly there's a Hussein in there too.
  • Arrested Development:
    • It gives us Bob Loblaw, a lawyer. His website is Bob Loblaw's Law Blog. At one point, a headline reads "Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb".
    • There's the surrogate, Larry Middleman.
    • The Bluth family yacht, the Seaward. Which Gob embraces when he names its successor the 'C'-Word.
  • Saturday Night Live had a few notable examples:
    • A sketch called "The Life and Times of Johnny Hildo." The inability of everyone to understand that it's Hildo (with an H) drives him to commit murder. His cellmate is Larry Bagina.
    • Alec Baldwin's Pete Schweddy (the guy who makes Schweddy Balls and Schweddy Weiners).
    • Christoper Walken's one-shot character Colonel Angus (later renamed Enol after being drummed out of the service during the Civil War).
    • Nic Cage's Asswipe (pronounced "ah-swee-pay") Johnson.
    • Lord and Lady Douchebag, from a sketch about nobles who'd had things named after them (Sandwich, Argyll, Cardigan, etc.). At the the very end of the sketch, the butler announces "Lord Compost Heap and Lady Disinfectant Cake".
  • TV personality Myke Hawke, pronounced like "Mike Hawk". Try saying his name real fast.
  • Glee:
    • "Finn and Quinn": One of the worst-best Portmanteau Couple Names ever, and probably intentional, too. "Sue and Schue" is another such example.
    • Finn and his pregnant girlfriend Quinn discussing baby names:
      Finn: And then I thought up the perfect name - DRIZZLE!
    • In another example from this series, of the Unfortunate Meaning variety, one of the girls from the Jane Addams Academy is named Aphasia.
  • Love Connection introduces a 26-year-old man who loves beer and loud music. He currently works in gift sales and his mom seems to have some issues with his love life. Ladies and gentlemen, Robert Fagot.
  • CSI Sara Sidle. Go on, try saying it quickly.
    • Hers may be somewhat punny, but now D.B. has her beat in the name department. "Seeing Red" revealed his full name is Diebenkorn Russell. No wonder he uses D.B.
  • On CSI NY, Aiden Burn-she had the misforturne to be found as a charred corpse after quitting the lab.
  • University Challenge:
    • It had one contestant called Steve Raper. To make matters worse, he represented the University of Bath, so every time he buzzed in The Announcer said "Bath Raper", which sounds like a Serial Killer sobriquet.
    • Martin Heighway (pronounced "highway") of the Open University: "Open Heighway".
  • A subplot in Hill Street Blues had Det. La Rue trying to help the career of a struggling standup comic named Vic Hitler, who had made a deathbed promise to his father to keep the family name. La Rue encountered him, not yet knowing his name, and he was so funny La Rue was cracking up laughing. He couldn't understand how this guy couldn't make it as a comic. Then he learned his name.
  • Stringfellow Hawke, of Airwolf. Perhaps one of the most memorable names of all TV characters. He gets to share a laugh with one Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III over each other's names.
  • One episode of Cheers had Carla trying to get around a family naming tradition that would have unintentionally forced the name "Benito Mussolini" onto her unborn baby.
  • One episode of Miranda featured both a character called Susan Perb (Sue Perb = superb) and a character called Dick Twist (which needs no explanation). When Miranda's new work colleagues don't find the former funny, it's the final straw and she quits the job; the latter becomes a Running Gag throughout the episode.
  • Captain Darling from Blackadder Goes Forth. The creators said that as soon as they came up with the name for him, he went from a totally empty character to one who'd been steeped in a lifetime's worth of bitterness and resentment from being called "darling" by everyone.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: A girl in Dewey's class at school is called Regina Tucker. Reese is still unable to think up a sleazy nickname for her.
  • The Malaysian government tried to ban Power Rangers because their title "Mighty Morphin'". And morphine is a drug. Of course, it was just a matter of taking the "Morphin'" out, so the first three seasons aired as just Mighty Power Rangers.
  • While not treated as such in-show, Captain Hunnicutt of Mash arguably has one of these in "BJ". You may think that the modern connotation of that initialism probably hadn't been developed yet in The '50s, but there is a scene in one episode that offers a possible nod-and-a-wink to this. A visiting nurse asks Hunnicutt what BJ stands for. Before he can answer, Hawkeye quickly interrupts with, "Anything you like." Another episode, however, has him explain that he was named for his parents, Bea and Jay.
  • Are You Being Served? featured Wilberforce Claybourne Humphries. Not to mention Mr. Lucas, who is not thrilled to reveal that his first name is Dick.
  • The Thick of It: "Elvis... sorry, Cliff!" Malcolm Tucker cruelly points out that Cliff Lawton MP may not have the most appropriate name in British politics.
  • Home and Away has Marilyn Chambers. Unlike her RL namesake, though, she really is 99 44/100% pure.
  • NCIS has Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard. And a guest character in one episode named Benjamin Franklin.
  • On Bones Angela's given name was so terrible that she changed it the minute she turned 18. In season 10, it was finally revealed, and it is indeed quite the Unfortunate Name: Pookie Noodlin Pearly-Gates Gibbons.
  • Friends:
    • Chandler Muriel Bing. He doesn't like either his name or surname, and he's very unhappy when he blabs and reveals his middle name.
    • Rachel's chiropractor.
      Rachel: Excuse me, Dr. Bobby happens to be an excellent doctor.
      Dr. Green: Wait a minute, his name is Dr. Bobby?
      Rachel: Well that's his last name.
      Ross: And his first name.
      Dr. Green: He's Bobby Bobby?
      Rachel: It's Robert Bobby.
    • Joey does this to HIMSELF when he's persuaded to adopt the stage name of "Joseph Stalin". Being The Ditz, he doesn't realise the problem until it's too late.
  • T.J. Hooker has its title character. (The name of the show was originally going to just be Hooker.)
  • Chuck is given a number by Casey so he can request military support on a mission. Casey says that he will be redirected to a Colonel Sanders, and tells Chuck not to make fun of his name.
  • A couple examples from Community. Both lampshaded of course.
    • Britta. What is she, a water filter?
    • Shirley names her son after Chang, who helps talk her through the birth. The problem? His first name is Ben... and her last name is Bennett. She has an Oh, Crap! moment when she realizes.
  • The Young Ones: Vyvyan Basterd. The surname by itself is pretty unfortunate, but the owner of the full name is a boy. Oddly enough, though, it proves to be a perfect fit for him.
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    • Vyvyan's actor would go on a few years later to play a character named Edward Elizabeth Hitler.
    • There was a barman named Dick Head.
    • Richie's full name is Richard Richard.
  • One episode of Pushing Daisies features lonely client Randy Mann.
  • In a bit on The Daily Show, before he left for his own show, Stephen Colbert confessed that his name was Ted Hitler. "No relation. Okay, well, distant relation. Two generations. Straight up. Okay, Hitler was my grandfather!"
    • This trope was the basis for the classic "Britain's Fallen Soldiers" sketch. John Oliver tries to motivate the rest of the UN into sending soldiers to Afghanistan by reading a list of Britain's deceased soldiers during World War II, who have increasingly ridiculous names.
  • In Keeping Up Appearances the main character, an inveterate snob, is Hyacinth Bucket, though she insists on pronouncing it Bouquet and gets very stroppy when others call her Mrs. Bucket. Her husband, Richard, from whom she obviously got the name, is not embarrassed by his surname at all and tends to roll his eyes when he hears her correcting people.
  • In 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick learns that he is the Big Giant head's son, which would make his surname "Head."
  • In one episode of The Goodies the gang has to market a brand of bedtime drink that they rename 'Snooze'. The original name of the product? Venom.
  • One skit from Chappelle's Show featured a 50's style sitcom about the Niggar family, who are actually white. Much fun was had with N-Word Privileges. The end of the skit has them meeting a hispanic family named the Wetbacks.
  • Red Green.
  • Angel had a recurring demon character who was called either Lorne or just The Host, due to his running a karaoke bar. That's because his real name was Krevlorneswrath of the Deathwok Clan. In the episode "Belonging", he explains that he considers just Lorne to still be an Unfortunate Name because of the Bonanza jokes (he has green skin, and Bonanza stars Lorne Greene). In his home dimension of Pylea, "The Host" is also an unfortunate name as it is more closely associated with parasites than guests there.
  • In the Grimm episode "Nameless", a Fuchsteufelwild traditionally has a name that is an anagram of Rumpelstiltskin. The Fuchsteufelwild responsible for the murders is stuck with the name Trinket Lipslums.
  • Good Luck Charlie has PJ Duncan, who's name in one episode is revealed as Potty John. Then it gets changed to Patty John, legally PP Duncan. Poor guy.
  • In a sketch in Man Stroke Woman, a couple talks to another couple about them having a baby and what they plan on naming it. They apparently plan on naming it Crapbasket. The other couple resists their urge to say something, and tell them it is a lovely name.
  • In Season 1 of Once and Again, Karen briefly dates a man named Lloyd Lloyd, which amuses her ex-husband and children to no end. Even Karen, after telling them they're being mean, can't help laughing about it as well.
    Karen: (trying to hold it together) The name so nice, they used it twice! (dissolves into helpless laughter)
    • Judy also makes fun of it in Season 2.
  • On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Skye's orphanage-given name was Mary Sue Poots. We do at least find out her real name is Daisy Johnson, which is decent enough for her to start using it regularly after abandoning the 'Skye' alias.
  • On My Name Is Earl, Randy mentions that he and Earl used to make fun of a neighbor of theirs by the name of Peter Dick Johnson. (Mr. Johnson left Pimmit Hills Trailer Park some time ago, although we are not told whether it was the result of Earl and Randy's teasing or for another reason.)
    • Another episode during the Prison arc has a fellow inmate complaining that his name is John Lou.
    John: "There's two toilets in my name, Earl! I never had a chance!"
  • The cross-cultural variation was one of the explanations for why the Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager never managed to decide and stick to a name (in a timeline that wasn't time-travelled away, anyway) — pretty much any name he could come up with would sound like something rude in one language or the other, and the Doctor was programmed to know quite a lot of languages.
  • The Dutch series Baantjer has de Cock, the protagonist of the series. Because his name would normally be spelled as "kok" in Dutch, he always spells it out.
    De Cock': "Mijn naam is De Cock, met cee-oo-cee-kaa" note 
  • Boy Meets World has Farkle Minkus. Poor kid.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring Touch of Satan, one of the production members is named "Emby Mellay", prompting Tom Servo to comment "That's not a name. It's a bad Scrabble hand".
  • In The Wire, when Randy Wagstaff gives his name to police, they quip that it can't be an alias, as there's no way he made that name up.
  • In the Angie Tribeca episode "Ferret Royale," the head of an animal conservation group is Helmut FröntBüt — which everyone pronounces as "front-butt". It doesn't help that he has a very large bump protruding from the front of his hip.
  • On Seinfeld, Elaine dates a man with the same name as serial killer Joel Rifkin. She attempts to convince him to change it. For a bit of Harsher in Hindsight, one of her suggestions was "OJ".
  • From Trailer Park Boys Season 9, ex-Colonel Leslie Dancer is actually an ex-Private. He lied about his rank to avoid people making fun of the name "Private Dancer".
  • On Raising Hope, Burt's Happy Place includes a Polynesian guy by the name of Pupukaka.
  • A 90s era Saturday Night Live spoof advertisement for fictional bank Dillon-Edwards Investments pitched their website. Unfortunately, because the bank had waited so long to have an online presence, the only web address available was "www.clownpenis.fart".
  • The main character on The Greatest American Hero temporarily changed names from "Ralph Hinkley" to "Ralph Hanley" (or just "Mr. H.") after John Hinckley's assassination attempt on President Reagan. Why they couldn't just avoid using the original name for a while is unclear.
  • In one episode of Modern Family, Lily decides to become a clown like her father Cam, and adopts a stage name based off of his stage name Fizzbo: Lizzbo. All the characters pronounce it the same as "lesbo", naturally.
  • In Only Fools and Horses, A sarcastic suggestion by Rodney during the naming of Del Boy and Raquel's son backfires when the two mistake the mock suggestion of "Damien" for something serious, and thought it was a lovely name for a boy.
  • There is a Bollywood soap named "Savitri Devi College and Hospital". Savitri Devi was a real life new age philosopher who lived in India and thought Adolf Hitler was the messiah.
  • Duru Durulay in Fi. No wonder she wants to be known as "just Duru" when introducing herself in the first episode.
  • Barry from The Flash. In the pilot, he's heard to complain about being called "Bartholomew." Then in a season 3 episode, he loses his memory and decides to check his driver's license.
    Barry: Bartholomew Henry Allen? [beat] Oh, that's not a good name.

  • In iCarly one of the Ridgeway teachers is named Mr. Buttburn.


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