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"Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not "Mr. Lebowski". You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing."
—The Dude (so that's what you call him), The Big Lebowski
This is a character who is primarily, or even only, known by their In-Series Nickname.
Related to Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep", but that is about people being referred to exclusively by their jobs or what they're best known for doing. Also related to Stage Names. Does not include Fan Nicknames, secret identities, or explicit pseudonyms. Also doesn't include people who give themselves new names following an act of self-reinvention, and stop responding to their old name (e.g. Voldemort). Exceptionally badass examples of this trope fall into the Red Baron.
Usually, Dramatis Personae will give the full name of such a character first, though the actual script will use the nickname almost exclusively even in the unspoken directions. Pretty much any superhero/supervillain with a secret identity falls under this trope.
Anime and Manga
- The main character of Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera is known only by his drug dealer nickname "DT Jesus". The "DT" stands for both "de-tox" and "downtown". The All There in the Manual story provides another nickname unused in the lyrics, "the Savior on Avenue D".
- Evelyn Evelyn is a performance art duo supposedly made up of Conjoined Twins, both named Evelyn. Their official names are Eva and Lyn Neville, but during their Hilariously Abusive Childhood nobody ever bothered to remember which one was which, so the twins themselves can't remember either.
- Canadian Synth Rock band The Birthday Massacre have stage nicknames; while some members just use their real names (Owen, formerly O-en Falcore and Nate) some band members' real names are not public knowledge (Rainbow and Chibi, as well as former members Aslan and Dank).
- Pig-Pen from Peanuts. Nobody knows his real name; at his first appearance, he actually says: "I haven't got a name... People just call me things... Real insulting things."
- In one strip, Pig-Pen says that everyone calls his dad "Pig-Pen Sr."
- Also from Peanuts, Rerun Van Pelt. When he is introducing himself to his kindergarten class he reveals that he doesn't even know what his real name is.
- As well: Patricia "Peppermint Patty" Reichardt.
- In The Broons, the three youngest kids are called "the twins" and "the bairn". Maybe their parents got tired of naming kids.
- Thimble Theatre: Scooner Seawell Georgia Washenting Christiffer Columbia Daniel Boom, usually called Swee'pea
- Popeye, upon finding his long-lost father, asks him what their real names are. Pappy doesn't remember.
- Doc Boy from Garfield hates being called by his nickname, especially by his older brother Jon, but ironically has no known name.
- Given that he's based on Jim Davis' brother, who was nicknamed "Doc", his first name might be David.
- The title characters of several series:
- Fibber McGee and Molly
- The Whistler
- The Shadow
- Boston Blackie
- Also, some supporting characters
- Eddie "Rochester" Anderson of The Jack Benny Show
- "I am your host, the man they call Ghost."
- Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, called that because nobody bets higher. In the few moments between "My Time Of Day" and "I've Never Been In Love Before," Sky reveals to Sarah his real name, Obediah Masterson, and says she's the first person he ever told it to.
- Little Buttercup in Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. Her real name, Mrs. Cripps, appears only in the Dramatis Personae.
- In The Most Happy Fella, Tony addresses his love letters to "Rosabella" because he doesn't know her name. Nobody in the play calls her anything else, until the final scene where she reveals that her real name is (or was) Amy. (In the original straight play, They Knew What They Wanted, Amy is never called Rosabella.)
- "Yank", the protagonist of The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill. In one of the later scenes, he gives his name as Bob Smith, "but I been just Yank for so long."
- Ciel in Tsukihime. Her real name is Elesia, which is referenced roughly equally relating to her as to her Nightmare in Kagetsu Tohya: One scene.
- All the Servants in Fate/stay night continue using only their class names long after their true identities are revealed. It can be a bit awkward to refer to an apparently teenaged girl by the term 'Saber.' The only one who is commonly referred to by name is Gilgamesh, who is often called Archer by Saber.
- M in Shikkoku no Sharnoth is never called anything but that. He claims not to actually have a name. If he had a name, it would be James.
- The servants in Umineko no Naku Koro ni are all referred to by names ending in "-on". Shannon's actual name is Sayo, and Kanon's is Yoshiya. And then there's the servant who is only known as Yasu.
- Redcloak from Order of the Stick. He gives himself and his one-eyed brother Righteye easy-to-remember nicknames after witnessing their soon-to-be-partner Xykon murdering a lizardman for having an Unpronounceable Overly Long Name. Sort of evolves into a Meaningful Rename over time.
- "Fox" Maharassa of Friendly Hostility reacts with violence to being called by his real name — "Kailen". Word of God is that this is due to years of having to listen to people mispronounce it (it's supposed to be something like "Ka-ee-len", not "Kay-len".)
- Riff from Sluggy Freelance is actually named "Riffington." No one except his mother has ever actually called him that, except to tease him.
- Syrus "The Virus" Zuviel in Exterminatus Now is generally only referred to as Virus, unless the person referring to him is either far lower-ranking or far higher-ranking.
- Ryoushi Nekittou ("Rogue") is only called Ryoushi by other Daemon Hunters.
- Smic from Jayden and Crusader is known to all, including his girlfriend, as Smic, which is an abbreviation, apparently, of Strange Man in Cupboard. His real name is Sir Reginald Vladimir Gregory Maximillian Augustus Posthumus Alexander Nicholas Derby, the third Earl of Derbyshire. Apprerently the name Smic was adopted for convenience.
- Path to Greater Good — the mannequin-like creature which apparently saved Tobi writes "3" as its answer to any question... so that's what Tobi calls it.
- In So Damn Bright, Anxiety's name is actually Ana Cortez, but "only relatives are allowed to call [her] that."
- 'Crowbar' Benson. His real first name is unknown to readers, due to the fact that he is only ever referred to by his nickname.
- K from Blip. Her full name is unknown to the readers, and even to her boyfriend.
- PeeJee from Something Positive, whose real name is Penelope Jennifer Shou. Aubrey and Jason's daughter, Pamela Joycelyn Chorde, is called PamJee or "Little PeeJee" after her.
- Shazam Wil-Wheaton Dowden-Patel's name is usually shortened either some variant of his first name (usually by his father) or middle name (by his mother).
- Vauxhall from A Tale of Fiction is known only as 'Room' to his roommate Harper for a very long time.
- In General Protection Fault, Jason "Fooker" Barker is initially known only by his nickname to Ki until she interviews at GPF.
- Vulture of My Life at War (at least we think that isn't his given name) and to a lesser extent Big Al.
- Used as a major plot point when Teddy Weddy becomes a character in One Over Zero, as speaking his real name will awaken him from the dead. He finally comes alive when Zadok realizes his real name was Theodore.
- A variation in Homestuck. Jade's penpal ( Jake English) was only known by his initial, J. After his full name was revealed, J itself turned out to be a nickname for him from one of his friends. Similarly, other characters referred to Roxy Lalonde and Dirk Strider by their last names, their initials, Ro-Lal for Roxy and Di-Stri and Bro for Dirk before their proper introductions. This is Lampshaded by the narration.
- Shroomy is the only Electric Wonderland character whose real name doesn't show up in the official bios.
- Iron Liz. Despite Not So Awesome running heavily on Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames, Iron Liz was still refered only as "Iron Liz" in said document.
- In Echo Chamber, Porn Girl is always "Porn Girl". For that matter, Mr. Administrator seems to be the only one of the main cast who isn't The Danza.
- "Hey Sarge!" (Although this later turns out to be a case of His Name Really Is "Barkeep".) Also Doc, Sister, and all of the Freelancers.
- The Red Panda is never referred to by his real name, even in his secret identity.
- Does Captain Hammer have a civilian name? Who knows?
- In The Guild, most of the characters prefer to be addressed by the names they use in the game they all play. We, the audience, still don't know the real name of Tinkerballa, a.k.a. Tink.
- Spoiler! As of season 5, we do. It's April Lou, which is why she hid it.
- Several Protectors of the Plot Continuum agents work this way, picking whatever sounds cool. Agents adopted from badfics also tend to have to change their names. Within Real Life this is because of copyright issues in case the badfic author sees it and gets annoyed, and within the canon the characters tend not to want to be reminded of their badfic-related pasts.
- Everyone in The Binder of Shame is known by a Meaningful Nickname, to protect their real-life identities.
- Calling Yahtzee "Ben" is good way to piss him off.
- In Philthon Jones, it's always "Jones", never James.
- The Let's Players of Tipping Forties have all taken to using their real names rather than online handles with the exception of Micheal aka bandunk, who is generally referred to as bandunk with the exception to the Once an Episode greeting.
- Conversely, the Freelance Astronauts all call each other by their respected handles (Maxwell Adams, Evek, Ferr, and pipes!!). Of course, every once in a while, they'll slip up (either in a moment of Is This Thing Still On?? for Evek or Angrish for pipes!!), and that's when their U Stream erupts in chatter.
- EPICMEALTIME's Muscles Glasses.
- Abused in the MSF High Forum, with NPCs of Mitchell. There's a good reason, though. He's terrible with names!
- Examples include Snuggles, the hug-happy Kappa; Apprentice, the apprentice demonslayer; and The Mysterious Deviling, a Deviling cowgirl.
- The Mallers from We're Alive seem fond of this. Latch, Scratch, Bricks, and Puck are all nicknames or may be nicknames. The Colony also has Gatekeeper who names himself after whatever job he has at the time.
- On the game music podcast Nitro Game Injection, co-host Suraida never goes by her real name on the air.
- Odd example in Something Awful's Spring/Summer(/Fall/Winter 2011) Ghost Story Thread: The "Site Kilo-29" (finished on SA) and "Cursed Snoopy" (after the pictures; apparently abandoned?) epics by users 50 Foot Ant andOneWhiteWhisker. Because these eerie stories are framed as actual events, they're always referred to as Fifty or Sgt. Ant and Whisker (son of Mr. and Mrs. White) by characters within the story but only as covers for their real names. Which makes the time when Sgt. Ant actually shouts "I AM THE FIFTY FOOT ANT!" extra hilarious ("Sgt. Ant, are you calling yourself an ant?").
- Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath; their real first names are John, Frank and Terence, respectively.
- George Orson Welles. Even he didn't know his first name was "George" until he was in elementary school.
- George Herman "Babe" Ruth.
- Lawrence "Yogi" Berra
- Denton True "Cy" Young. "Cy" was short for "Cyclone", because he threw real hard.
- Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Jr.
- Serial killer Donald H. Gaskins Jr. was called "Pee Wee" or "Junior Parrot" so often that he was a teenager when he first heard his real name.
- Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. Later took the name by deed poll.
- Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom.
- Other astronaut examples include Charles "Pete" Conrad and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt.
- Eldrick "Tiger" Woods.
- Michael "Flea" Balzary of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
- James "Big Cat" Williams.
- Ron "Pigpen" McKernan of the Grateful Dead.
- Orenthal James "OJ" Simpson.
- Rudolph "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone.
- German football player (soccer that is) and contestant for "most gruesome foul of all time" Harald "Toni" Schuhmacher.
- Adam "Pac Man" Jones. He tried to tell media to stop using it, but no one listened.
- An interesting case: In many historical cultures it has been custom to call certain things (most especially animals) by euphemism (the Greeks referring to the Erinyes as Eumenides or "The Kindly Ones" is one such example, The Fair Folk is another) to avoid their attention. A particularly interesting case is the word "bear" (and it's variations in other Germanic languages) that is precisely such a euphemism. Only, we have no idea what the original name was. Bears are literally only known by their nicknames.
- Swedish has another case: The Swedish word for Wolf is Varg which originally meant "murderer", and was used as a euphemism for ulv (which is the same word as "wolf") nowadays ulv is a dead word while Varg is the one commonly used to describe the species.
- Thomas "Fats" Waller. Not to mention Antoine "Fats" Domino.
- Salvatore "Sonny" Bono.
- Paul "Bono" Hewson and Dave "The Edge" Evans of U2.
- William "Smokey" Robinson.
- Gordon "Sting" Sumner.
- John Simon Ritchie Sid Vicious
- Saul "Slash" Hudson
- Lauren Keyana "Keke" Palmer. American actress and singer.
- Alvis "Buck" Owens.
- Charles Hardin Holley aka "Buddy Holly". Without the e.
- Early Soviet leaders used this quite often:
- Vladimir Ilych "Lenin" Ulyanov
- Joseph Vissarionovich "Stalin" Djugashvili
- Lev "Trotsky" Bronstein
- Vyacheslav "Molotov" Skriabin
- Several racehorse trainers have been known to fans only by nicknames, including Grover "Buddy" Delp, Claude "Shug" Mc Gaughey III, and Hubert "Sonny" Hine.
- There are also several German politicians which are regularly referred to by their nickname instead of their first name, like the
governorformer first burgomaster of Hamburg "Ole" von Beust and former Minister of Foreign Afairs "Joschka" Fischer. Former German chancellor Willy Brandt was born Herbert Frahm, but exclusively used the name of his undercover identity as a resistance fighter when he returned to Germany after World War II.
- A couple of Latin American examples: Luiz Inacio da Silva is always known as Lula — to the point of adding it to his actual legal name — and Ernesto Guevara is much more famous as Che. And one norteamericano example: when was the last time you heard someone refer to President William Clinton?
- The best Presidential example is James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. He was the first President to officially sign documents with his nickname rather than his full name.
- Averted, though (at least in his political career) by Barack "Once Called Himself Barry" Obama.
- One of the most famous Spanish guerrilla leaders of the war against Napoleon was Don Juan Martin Diaz, known as el Empecinado. After the war he got royal permission to use his nickname instead of "Diaz".
- Destiny "Miley" Cyrus, who later got her first name officially changed to "Miley".
- From the beginning it was actually "Destiny Hope Cyrus" which she later changed into "Miley Ray Cyrus".
- All of the characters in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, since people were known to each other by their courtesy names, and their real names were only used by family members.
- Spike Milligan (real first name Terrence).
- Rappers too numerous to mention.
- Happen a lot on MMORPGs unless the person happens to use their real name. Many times no or little effort is made to learn real names.
- Also happens with certain subcultures, including online ones, where someone can be known for years just by one's "handle" or "con name."
- Stefani Joanne Angelina "Lady Gaga" Germanotta.
- Quite a few Christian saints are known by their "nicknames", for instance the apostles (Simon called) Peter, Andrew and Thomas (Greek words meaning "the Rock", "the Manly" and "the Twin"), and St. Francis of Asisi (real name: Giovanni Battista Bernardone, his nickname Francesco means "Frenchy").
- A number of old families have two names, an older one and another they acquired later (which can be a simplified form of the former), these can be linked by the word "called" (dit in French, genannt in German). Examples are Napoleon's marshal Claude Victor-Perrin dit Victor and the Prussian liaison in Wellington's HQ during the Waterloo campaign, general Karl von Müffling genannt Weiss.
- Some Minnesänger and mastersingers are known primarily or only known by their nicknames, most famously Tannhäuser (i. e. "the man from Tannhausen").
- Also quite a few famous painters: Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro die Mariano Filipepi, named after the goldsmith to whom he had been apprenticed), Canaletto (Antonio da Canal), the other Canaletto (Bernardo Bellotto), El Greco (Dominikos "the Greek" Theotokopoulos), three male artists called Tintoretto ("the little dyer", a nickname of the family, whose original name is Robusti) and a female one from the same family called "la Tintoretta".
- Too many Brazilian football players to list are known only by their noms-de-foot, to name just three: Pelé (Edson Arantes des Nascimento), Tostão (Eduardo Gonzalves de Andrade), and Zico (Arthur Antunes Coimbra). Many may be self-chosen, though. A few enter First-Name Basis (Ronaldo Luiz Nazário de Lima).
- In most Polish video game magazines, all the editors sign themselves, and refer to each other with nothing but nicknames. There are many long-time readers who don't know the names of their favorite writers.
- Many Black Metal artists' pseudonyms become more well-known than their real names: more people are probably familiar with original Mayhem guitarist's pseudonym "Euronymous" than his real name, Oystein Aarseth.
- Edward Michael 'Bear' Grylls.
- Dr. John Henry "Doc" Holliday.
- Norman "Boomer" Esiason.
- Most of the cast of Jersey Shore, especially Snooki (Nicole Polizzi) and The Situation (Mike Sorrentino).
- Barack Obama's daughter Sasha's real name is Natasha.
- Genghis Khans given name was Temujin Borjigin.
- The Ferrett (note spelling), a writer who is currently is best known for his Magic: The Gathering articles and for having been an editor of the popular Magic strategy site Star City Games.com, does indeed go by "Ferrett" in real life.
- Mistress Matisse. "Her real name--as in the name that she really uses with all her kink, prodom, and kink-writing activities--is really Mistress Matisse. The only reason to want her legal name is because you're a creep."
- Tre Cool (Frank Edwin Wright III) and Mike Dirnt (Michael Pritchard) of Green Day. Averted by Billie Joe Armstrong, whose name really is Billie Joe.
- Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, who hated his nickname.
- Alicia Moore, better known as Pink.
- Eugene Klein famously had three nicknames: Chaim Witz (his Hebrew name), Lizard Demon, and Gene Simmons. Only the third nickname has become a household utterance for those only passingly familiar with the rock band KISS. Similarly, Stanley Eisen is both "Paul Stanley" and "Star Child."
- And Henry Ross Perot had this happen to him three times. He usually goes by "H. Ross Perot," but this was soon shortened to "Ross Perot." By the time of the 1992 presidential election, he was so famous that most people confidently referred to him simply as "Perot."
- Lawrence Feinstein, Morris Horwitz, and Jerome Horwitz...better known as Larry, Moe and Curley.
- Marvin "Meat Loaf" Aday.
- Matthew "Monk" Lewis.
- From UK politics, the former Liberal Democrat leader (1988-99) Jeremy John Durham "Paddy" Ashdown.