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Dr. Umlaut calls roll.


Marklar Leader: On the planet Marklar, we call every person, place or thing, "Marklar".

Kyle: Doesn't that get confusing?

Marklar Leader: No, not at all. Hey, Marklar!

Marklar: Yes, Marklar?

Marklar Leader: You see?
South Park: "Starvin' Marvin in Space"

Sometimes, you just don't need names. Why bother remembering all those names? Just call everyone the same thing! This rarely seems to cause any confusion, at least for you. Outsiders, not so much.

Sometimes they'll also be Inexplicably Identical Individuals. Not only named the same, but they'll look the same too.

This tends to happen in Science Fiction and Fantasy, not so much in other genres, unless it's Played for Laughs (which many examples below are).

Opposite of the One Steve Limit. See also Pokémon-Speak. SMURFING may act as a supertrope. Can serve as the logical conclusion of Planet of Hats

Most certainly Truth in Television, as the Real Life section shows.

Examples of Planet of Steves include:


  • A recent advert in the UK for Warburton's bread gave the entire population of Britain the surname Warburton. The commentary on the football match featured in the ad was...special.
  • Hormel's commercial for SPAM luncheon meat shows a classroom where the teacher and all the students are eggs. The teacher is role calling, and you see everyone's name is "egg."

Anime & Manga

  • In the Tokyo Mew Mew English dub Macekre, the girls that torment Retasu (er, Bridget) are all named Becky; collectively, the Three Beckys. Note that the girls had No Name Given in the original.
  • A plot point in Rave Master: Haru confuses the first Big Bad, Gale, with his Disappeared Dad, Gale.
  • The Rare Hunters are all named Steve, because Marik's mind-control powers only work on guys named Steve, or people whose middle name is Steve. Or last name, presumably.
    • It also works on girls named Steve, although those are understandably rare. Téa is one of them since Marik forced her (and Joey) to legally change their names to Steve.
    • Also from Yugioh Abridged:

 Spirit of the Millennium Ring: Actually, we're both called Bakura.

Yami: What? But that's just confusing! Not to mention highly unlikely.

Spirit: Oh, just wait until Season 5 when there's three of me running around. Even the fans have trouble keeping up with that one!

  • The head writer of Gundam Wing apparently really likes the name Catherine, because in the span of the series and the side-stories he's written, we've been introduced to five of them: Katrina Peacecraft (Relena's mother), Quatrina Winner (Quatre's mother), Catherine Bloom, Kathy Po (Sally's daughter), and Quatrina Winner II (Quatre's younger sister).
  • In Pokémon all nurses are named Nurse Joy, and all police officers are named Officer Jenny.
  • There is a group of Digimon called Chaosmon. Not all of them look the same, not all have the same abilities and not all of them are even related but they are all called Chaosmon, except for the biggest one, which is called UltimateChaosmon.
    • To some extent, every Digimon has this trope. None of them have names beyond their species name, are widely known to everyone by said species names and treat them as their actual names, and some species names even apply to multiple species/subspecies (see: Greymon, Greymon and Greymon). Furthering this is how there seems to be a tendency for large groups of the same species to live together, such as the Pyocomon village featured in the fourth episode of Digimon Adventure. The exception is the Digimon V-Tamer 01 canon, where the majority of plot-relevant Digimon have their own proper names.
  • In Sgt Frog, there appears to be an entire species of Snake People all named Viper.

Comic Books

  • The Smurfs had names, but they would randomly replace nouns and verbs with "smurf". "We're going smurfing on the River Smurf today."
    • Which, of course, results in all sorts of parodies, such as the one where Hefty Smurf took Smurfette to Smurfer's Lane where he smurfed her smurf, while she smurfed him quite smurfishly, all the while been watched by Brainy Smurf who was smurfing his smurf as he watched, the mothersmurfer.
    • This gets even better in the original French, which can gramatically distinguish between "le schtroumpf", "la schtroumpf", "un schtroumpf", "une schtroumpf" and "Les Schtroumpfs". Not to mention all forms of the verb "schtroumpfer" ("to smurf")
      • This leads to some grammatical issues in the album "Smurf Green and Green Smurf" where a regional slang difference causes north and south parts of the village to replace different parts of their speech with "smurf", the most commonly cited example being a bottle opener, half the village calling it a "smurf opener" and the other half a "bottle smurfer."
    • Smurf, yeah!
    • Actually this trope is played straight in the books: Smurfs who don't have a specific name are named just "Smurf". "I picked Smurf's bottle smurfer/smurf screwer" "Poor Smurf !" "Vote for Smurf"...
    • In their animated debut, The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, Pee Wee tries talking to them in their own dialect, randomly replacing words with "smurf." He can't do it right, and they misunderstand everything he says.
  • In The Tick, the Tick befriends a microscopic race of people living on a meteorite who are all named Ricardo. Theie arch-enemies with their evil counterparts, the people of the tiny planet Anne, who are poised to help Canada conquer the Earth.
    • A Borderline Example, an episode of the animated series mentioned a Raygun that would change its target into "A gas-station attendant named Ray". A similar "Tommygun" is also mentioned.
    • The animated series loved this joke — for example the duel between alien races called the Hey!s and the What?s.
  • In The Sandman story "A game of you" Wilkinson reveals his parents had called all their children "Wilkinson."
    • "It was hardest on the girls."
  • An X-Men example; Kitty Pryde's two most notable love interests were Peter Rasputin and Pete Wisdom, resulting in a great deal of Ship-to-Ship Combat among the more fervent fans. Further muddying the issue is the fact that in Ultimate Marvel, she was dating Peter Parker for a time(the Ultimate versions of Rasputin and Wisdom being gay and The Leader, respectively).
  • In Judge Dredd, everyone in Fargoville is named Eustace in honour of the first Chief Judge.


  • The aliens (Red (evil) and Black (good) Lectroids) in the film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension all chose the covername 'John'. Yes, even the women.
    • Justified in the film; supposedly the English name "John" was either the translation or transliteration of a title the Lectroids used to address each other, analogous to, say, the English "Mr." or "Mrs./Miss".
      • Better comparison: the Japanese suffix "-san", which is technically androgynous.
  • In the Olsen Twins vehicle Our Lips Are Sealed, the school clique that calls themselves "the individualists" is made up entirely of identical girls named Sheila.
    • Partially subverted because one of them is really called Erica.
  • Inside Man had a gang of bank robbers who were all named with variations of "Steve." Of course, they were trying to confuse people.
  • On Blazing Saddles all the people of Rock Ridge appear to have the surname Johnson. Of course, this being some hick western town and, furthermore, this being Mel Brooks, it likely just means that everyone is related.
    • Also, a few of the bridge crew aboard Spaceball One are Assholes.
      • A few?

 Dark Helmet: Who made that man a gunner?

Crewman: I did sir. He's my cousin.

Dark Helmet: Who is he?

Colonel Sandurz: He's an Asshole, sir.

Dark Helmet: I know that. What's his name?

Colonel Sandurz: That is his name, sir. Asshole, Major Asshole.

Dark Helmet: And his cousin?

Colonel Sandurz: He's an Asshole too, sir. Gunner's Mate First Class Philip Asshole.

Dark Helmet: How many assholes we got on this ship anyhow!?

Entire Bridge Crew: Yo!

Dark Helmet: I knew it! I'm surrounded by Assholes! Keep firing, Assholes!

  • Does anybody remember No Soap, Radio? They had a spoof 1950s horror movie called The Day Everyone's Name Became Al, in which the change was caused by aliens attempting to cause chaos on Earth.
  • The Monkeybirds in Mirror Mask are named all named Bob, except for one, whose name is Malcolm.
  • Heathers: the three title characters are a clique.
  • In Finding Nemo, Marlin proposes to Coral that instead of naming their children, they should just call half Marlin Jr. and half Coral Jr.
    • To be fair, they did have hundreds of eggs. How many baby names can you think of?
  • The weird and disturbing world that results when John Malkovich goes inside his own head in Being John Malkovich
  • Igor, in which The Igor is seen as some type of caste, and they are all named Igor.
  • In RR Rrrrr!!! everyone is called Pierre (even the women).
  • The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain is set in a Welsh town where all of the men are named Morgan, Jones, Thomas, Williams, or Davies. This has led to everyone being given nicknames (e.g., Morgan the Goat, Davies the School) to differentiate. Of course, there's also a pair of twins. Their names are "Thomas Twp" and "Thomas Twp Too." No one can tell them apart.
  • Alluded to in Babe — apparently mother sows don't give their children individual names, so the title character is just one of many Babes in his litter.
  • An arguable example happens in Zulu, where the Welsh unit at Roarke's Drift has several men with the same surname, who use parts of their serial numbers to differentiate themselves.
  • In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, every family in the Portucalos clan has three children, always named Anita, Diane and Nick — save for one Nicky.
  • Early on in Bubble Boy, Jimmy hitch-hikes on a bus full of religious cultists whose male members are all named "Todd" and whose female members are all named "Loraine."
  • Finnish cult film Calamari Union has fifteen people named Frank (and one named Pekka, who doesn't fit in) trying to accomplish the same goal - namely, moving from a lower-class neighborhood to an upper-class one in another side of town. They work briefly together, but go in their separate ways very quickly, and they are distinctly different characters.
  • In Casino Royale 1967, Sir James Bond, now heading the secret service, assigns all his agents the name and number of James Bond 007 to confuse the enemy. Previously, when he had resigned, his superiors had assigned his name and number to the 007 we all know for agency morale purposes.


  • In The Bald Soprano, Mr. Smith brings up an old family friend, Bobby Watson, who died some years ago and left behind his children Bobby Watson and Bobby Watson, and his widow, Bobby Watson. Mrs. Bobby Watson has recently decided to remarry one of Bobby Watson's relatives, Bobby Watson. Or so we sort of maybe think.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth goes the Pokemon route: In Digitopolis all the mathematical figures are called what they are. "Dodecahedron" seems to be the character's only name. One wonders what they do if there's more than one dodecahedron walking around...
  • Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater features a race of giant intelligent lizards, all of whom are named either Reynold or Helena.
  • Discworld has a clan of Igors. They're not all named Igor — the women are named Igorina or Igora. There's also an Igor who isn't an Igor at all. But he doesn't count.
    • Lampshaded with Vimes' comment: "Igor and Igor say hi, Igor."
    • And they can tell when you're talking about the wrong Igor. "Not Igor, thur, I'm Igor."
    • Another Discworld example is a short incidental regarding a Klatchian ruler who (rather dyslexically) wished that everything he touched would turn to Glod. He very quickly found out what happens when a dwarf of indeterminate temper is suddenly dragged away from his home and replicated repeatedly (viz. he becomes a very grumpy dwarf). To this day people living in that city are short of stature and temper.
    • The Last Hero has the last two Stupid Lizard Men. They're both called Slime, because Stupid Lizard Men aren't able to remember any other name.
    • Another Discworld sort-of example would be the Nac Mac Feegle from The Wee Free Men and sequels-- they aren't exactly all named the same thing, but there seems to be a shortage of names such that one character goes by "No'-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock."

 "Well, Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock, I can--"

"That's No'-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock, mistress," said Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock. "Ye were one Jock short," he added helpfully.

  • The Sqornshellous Zetan mattresses in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, who were all named Zem.
  • Dr. Seuss's story "Too Many Daves", from The Sneetches and Other Stories, was about Mrs. McCave, "who had 23 sons, and she named them all Dave."
  • In Chuck Palahniuk's Survivor, all first born males in the Creedish cult/faith are named "Adam." All subsequent males are named "Tender," and every female, including firstborn, are named "Biddy."
  • In One Hundred Years of Solitude the 17 sons (by 17 different women) of Colonel Aureliano Buendía are all named Aureliano as well.
    • Not to mention, in every generation of the family, all boys are named either Aureliano or Jose Arcadio. There's one Jose Aureliano, too, just to mix it up on you.
    • For added fun the story isn't chronological do you can't keep in mind who's who based on age either. Yes it is deliberately confusing, why do you ask?
  • In Jack L. Chalker's Quintara Marathon series, there is an entire alien race named Durquist. Not only is the race referred to as Durquist, but each individual's name is Durquist as well. When one of the main characters asks their Durquist friend how the race can tell each other apart (they all look the same, too) the Durquist responds to the effect of "we just can."
  • In The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman Dionysius ends up with a very dedicated fan club, and names the resulting children either Dionysius or Anica (for boys and girls) though at least they get a number. When his mother visited and saw a tiny newborn baby and found that he was about to be named Dionysius the 19th she was not amused. readers of the first book should not get too attached to Anica.
  • In Montmorency, all the servants at Bargles are called Sam.
  • In Pierre Burton's children's book, The Secret World of Og, not only are all of the Ogs named 'Og', their language is made up entirely of the word 'og'.
  • In Anne Of Avonlea, Miss Lavender has a servant girl called Charlotta the Fourth. This is because her three older sisters had all worked for Miss Lavender before her; the oldest was named Charlotta, and Miss Lavender got in the habit of calling them all by that name.
    • Truth in Television: in Victorian England, for example, many households reused the same name for a succession of servants in the same position because they didn't want to bother remembering their real names.
  • In Charles Stross's Saturn's Children, the main character is 'instantiated' from a line of robots, whom all have the same body and wake up believing they are the original bot, Rhea. They avert this by taking individual names. However, she then encounters The Jeeves Corporation, run by a line whom all refer to themselves as Jeeves. Later on, a specific Jeeves is referred to as "Reginald"; fans of Wodehouse won't find this helps the confusion much.
  • In The Areas of My Expertise, Arizona has a tradition of appointing a ringtail cat to a public office. By an odd coincidence, all the ringtails are named John McCain. When the real John McCain refused to be photographed eating a traditional bowl of chili with the ringtail McCain, he was described as having "a bad, anti-ringtail attitude".
  • The Gone-Away World has a circus troupe who are mostly all named K. They "use one signifier to encourage random reassessment of the nature of our relationships."
  • In Tad Williams' Otherland one simulation is a skewed version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, where all women are called "Emily" and the men "Henry". They have numbers to differentiate them.
  • In the Oz book The Emerald City of Oz, Billina tells Dorothy that she names all her female descendants Dorothy and her male descendants Daniel.
    • In the Kingdom of Oogaboo (an obscure corner of Oz), every adult man has the same first name, Jo.
  • Umberto Eco's novel Baudolino features a community of female, satyr-like creatures, who consider themselves the followers of Hypatia of Alexandria and are all named Hypatia in her honor.
  • Romance novelist Victoria Alexander is married to a man named Charles. So whenever there's a widow in any of her books, what does she name their late husband? Charles.
  • There's the planet of Dawn Grays in "Dawn Gray's Pyjamas in Space". Not that many people know about it. Is there even a wikipedia page for it? Is there even a page for it's author?
  • The Marra of The Madness Season are all known by others as simply "Marra".
    • Sometimes with a suffix attached, if the embodied want to distinguish between them. The Marra always know.

Live Action TV

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has the Q, who are all named Q. The first Q we met had an affair with Q, and they had a child, Q. This makes for some confusing family trees, as well as a hole in the popular Fanon theory that Trelane, the Squire of Gothos from the original series, is a Q.
    • Justified as the Q are omniscient, so they know who they are talking about.
    • One of the books, features Q, his wife Q, and their son Q. Although to avoid this trope the author referred to Q's wife as "Lady Q," and their son as "q."
    • Q's kid Q at least gets a nickname the Tv show - Qball.
    • Onscreen Captain Janeway just said Ms. Q when distinction was required.
    • And then the Q who wanted to die was named Quinn when he was granted mortality.
    • It appears that canonically there have only been two actual births of Q: Amanda Rogers (who they no longer speak about) and q.
    • The Star Trek novel Q-Squared explicitly stated that Trelane (and his "mother" and "father" who appeared at the end of the episode) were members of the Q Continuum, so it isn't just Fanon. In the novel, Q implied that Trelane was Q's son, the result of an affair with Trelane's "mother". Whether or not the novels are canon is debated.
      • It's implied that "Q" is an alias. Originally, there were supposed to be several different beings assuming an identical appearance and calling themselves by the same name popping in from time to time.
  • Babylon 5 had Zathras, and his identical twin brother Zathras. Zathras (no, not Zathras, the other one!) mentioned that there were more brothers, all named Zathras. In the episode when this is revealed, Zathras tries to clarify that all the Zathras' are pronounced slightly differently, thus allowing them to be differentiated, and even takes the time to demonstrate this to Ivanova - except not the slightest difference can be heard between any of the names.
    • The Vorlon who replaced Kosh claimed that "we are all Kosh", but his name was actually Ulkesh. This may be because the Vorlons break off pieces off themselves and share them with other Vorlons, so that part of Kosh always remains with them. Kosh did the same thing with Sheridan. At one point a character says something like: "every Vorlon carries a little piece of every other Vorlon," which sort of justifies "We are all Kosh."
    • The CCG managed to swerve around this by spelling the names of all Zathras cards with apostrophes in different places (Z'athras, Za'thras, etc.), except for two (Zathras and Zathras Who Was).
  • Several Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches.
    • Apparently all Australians are named Bruce. When a Brit arrives:

 Bruce 1: "Michael Baldwin, this is Bruce, Michael Baldwin, this is Bruce, Michael Baldwin, this is Bruce."

Bruce 2: "Is your name not Bruce, then?"

Michael: "No, it's Michael."

Bruce 3: "That's going to cause a little confusion."

Bruce 4: "What if we call you Bruce, just to keep it clear?"

    • There's also Whicker Island, where everyone was Alan Whicker, except (maybe) for Father Pierre.
    • John Cleese's character in the Fish Licence sketch owns numerous pets called Eric, and claimed that he was emulating Kemal Ataturk who owned an entire menagerie called Abdul. (The other character in the sketch — the license bureau guy — is also an Eric.)
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood featured Planet Purple, a planet where everything was purple, including the people, who were named Paul if they were male and Pauline if they were female. (To make things even duller, everyone spoke in the same monotone voice.)
  • During the Blackadder episode Head, the royal jailer is "Ploppy, son of Ploppy" and last meal cook is "Mrs. Ploppy"; Blackadder assumes they're related, but they say it's pure coincidence. Then he discovers that the executioner is his manservant Baldrick, who offers to change his name to Ploppy "if it'll make things easier". Blackadder declines, but for the rest of the episodes the Ploppy the Jailer refers to him as "Young Ploppy".
  • Used as a running gag in Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Night of the Blood Beast". In the movie, the characters say the name "Steve" a disproportionate number of times, so Mike and the Bots assume that everyone in the film is named Steve. An example of their riffing:

 Servo: And the Steves are there!

Crow: Steve One, you go that way! Steve Two, come with me!

    • Mystery Science Theater 3000's later seasons introduced the questionably omniscient, questionably bodiless Observers; each one is Observer. When Servo is invited to join them because he performed well on a standardized test, he has trouble getting used to the naming convention.
    • Another example from Mystery Science Theater 3000 occurs during the viewing of Fugitive Alien, with the name Ken. Within the film, there are genuinely two characters named Ken, and this is lampshaded ("...a young boy, whose name was also Ken.") Joel and the 'bots just decide to pretend that everyone is named Ken.
  • Nebulous features an Alternate Universe where everything is spelt different. Literally - every word is spelt "D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T". One of the characters laments that dictionaries are "worse than useless" in this world.
  • Played for a laugh in an episode of M* A* S* H when Hawkeye, as the camp's Officer of the Day, finds himself up to his neck in locals by the name of Kim Luk: This must be our Kim Luk-y day.
    • Justified in that what was happening was that 4077th (apparently because of regulations or standing orders) required the local population to present an ID to get medical care. The result was that everybody who wanted treatment was showing up with the same ID card that was being passed around, made out to "Kim Luk".
    • Also in M* A* S* H, nurses were frequently named Nurse Able or Nurse Baker — regardless of who was playing them. Literally Nurse A or Nurse B in the military code alphabet in use during the Korean War.
  • The Adventures of Pete and Pete features the main character, Pete, and his younger brother, Pete. Their mom wanted the names to rhyme. (Fans usually refer to them as "big Pete" and "little Pete".)
  • In an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun, Harry ended up in the circus as "Hargo the Alien". In his act, he explains that "Hargo" is his full name because the beings of his world have Only One Name and then adds that this is unfortunate because Hargo is such a common name on his planet.
    • In another episode, the replacement Commander of the mission, fed up with trying to remember names, exclaims "ENOUGH! From now on, you'll all be known as Tommy." It didn't really take though.
  • Newhart: "Hi, I'm Larry, this is my brother Dayyrl and this is my other brother Darryl" repeated as a Catch Phrase every time they appeared.
  • Dr. Kelso from Scrubs, instead of bothering to learn the hospital's new intern's names, dubbed all the men "Daves" and all the girls "Debbies"- except for one of them who actually was named Debbie, whom Kelso renamed Slagathor out of fairness to the others.
  • The name "Jones" is particularly common in Wales. This was spoofed in a Hale And Pace sketch where two Welsh miners named Jones are on their way to work, and greets everyone they meet with a "Good Morning, Jones the [insert character trait or status here]". When they get there, Jones the Boss tells them that there's been an accident, but that everyone has been accounted for except Jones the Not Accounted For. Jones the Miner and Jones the Miner tells Jones The Boss that they saw him alive just now, and Jones the Boss is relieved because he "had given him up for Jones the Dead."
  • On an episode of The West Wing, the entire speechwriting staff quits in protest of Will's hiring and instant promotion to Deputy. He thus has to rewrite an entire day's worth of speeches for, apparently, everyone in the federal government. His only help: four interns, three of whom are named Lauren.
  • 30 Helens from Kids in The Hall. They all agree. (Or they all agree to disagree.)
    • There was also a sketch where a man sang a song about how many people he knew who answered to David or Dave entitled "These Are The Daves I Know".
  • Nearing the fourth season finale, Angel featured a hell dimension of spider-like demons in which no one has a name (though the important people can be named according to their professional titles, such as "High Priest" or "Name Keeper"). In fact, one of them actively mocks humans' weakness of everyone having names.
    • It wasn't that the spider-demons didn't have names, but it was that giving away their names as freely as humans weakened them. And weakened Jasmine, the season's big bad. Angel's trip to the dimension was to retrieve Jasmine's true name so she might be brought down to their level.
  • For the 2010 April Fool's Day episode of The Price Is Right, every audience member was named Pat.
  • Taken literally on the TV version of Weird Science. One set of recurring characters is a race of porcine aliens all named Steve who try to convince Lisa to be their new queen.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), there are seven humanoid Cylon models that are known for most of the series. Each of them is known mainly by a model number and nothing else (Six, the Eights, etc). Even when they start to use the names the humans call them, it's still one name per model (the Simons, the Dorals, etc). Two aversions to this are Caprica-Six and Boomer, who are given special names by the other Cylons. Six in general is a partial aversion, as several different copies of her show up with unique names over the course of the show.
  • Excepting the higher ranked ones; Emperors, Supremes, Time Controllers; the Daleks in Doctor Who refer to each other as "Dalek(s)" when speaking among themselves.


  • The Arrogant Worms have described Northern Ontario as "eighty billion kilometres long. There are thirteen people who live there. All of whom are named Frank. Even the girl." This is not Truth in Television, obviously, but some people would tell you it's exaggeration rather than an outright lie.
  • "I'm Henery/Henry the Eighth, I Am", best known from the Herman's Hermits version. The singer marries a widow whose seven previous husbands all share his name. "She wouldn't have a Willie or a Sam."
  • Devo has Bob 1 and Bob 2.
  • In the Philadelphia Chickens album by Sandra Boynton, the song "Fifteen Animals" is narrated by a young boy who owns said fifteen animals and is "giving each one a special name"--Bob. And then at the end, we meet the fifteenth animal, his turtle Simon James Alexander Ragsdale III.

Newspaper Comics

  • One Dilbert strip had the Pointy-Haired boss announcing that their company would put everybody in a wide salary band and eliminate job position names. When Dilbert asks what job title they'll use, the boss responds, "You'll all be named Beverly."
  • An old New Yorker cartoon showed a class photo of a bunch of smiling kindergartners with a completely frazzled and exhausted teacher in the middle. The caption reads: "Right to left: Jennifer, Jennifer, Jason, Jennifer, Jason, Jennifer, Jennifer, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jennifer, Miss Alice Nelson, Jennifer, Jason...."



Video Games

  • The Mr. Saturns of Earthbound. They're all named Mr. Saturn, unsurprisingly, except for one named Dr. Saturn who works at the hospital in Saturn Valley.
  • The Sega CD game Popful Mail has one of the reptillian Gaw creatures explains that Gaw have no personal names. True to Working Designs' style, he follows it up by saying "It's hell when you're being paged..."
  • RuneScape has a town named Pollnivneach, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Middle East. Every person in town is named "Ali", including a woman (She insists it's short for "Alice") and an "Ali Cat".
  • Bros. Mario, meet Yoshi, Yoshi, Yoshi, Yoshi, and, of course, Yoshi. Subverted because the species is "Yoshi" with only the green Yoshi of Super Mario World fame having that as his name, though it's more likely a title. Super Mario RPG featured a purple Yoshi with studs named Boshi.
  • The Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking Spiders that appear in the Exile/Avernum series (and in Nethergate too, probably) are all named Spider. Exile 3/Avernum 3 makes a "riddle" from this--a guard spider won't let you see the chief spider unless you know him already, in which case you should know his name. Of course, you have a pretty good idea already, and even with Avernum 3's fixed dialogue options you could immediately guess correctly.
    • Averted by the Friendly, Happy Roaches in Exile 3/Avernum 3, though, as they have more descriptive names like Filth Spreader.
  • Vault 108 from Fallout 3 is infested with clones of some guy named Gary. Well, that might be his name, but it's all any of the clones can say. The original is presumably dead, and could presumably say things other than his name. Presumably.
    • In the add-on pack Operation Anchorage you find Gary 18 in the outcasts base.
    • Hahaha, GAA-RY!!
  • The Osmos of the Osmoian System are all named with some variation on "Osmo". Captain Osmo, Cosmic Osmo, Señor Osmollo, Princess Osmorella, Professor Elvis Osmostein...
  • Mass Effect's geth, as demonstrated by Legion when you meet it, who wants Shepard to call it geth, as "We are all geth." It's actually something of a Mind Hive running more than a thousand geth programs, and adopts the name "Legion" at EDI's suggestion.
  • In The Conduit and its sequel, there's nothing to prevent multiple online users from having the same screen name. Seeing as the default name is "Mr. Ford" and many players are too busy shooting things to think up a unique name, you'll end up not knowing exactly who gunned you down half the time. Interestingly, "Sr. Ford" is a slight variation that pops up extremely often.

Web Animation

  • The Weebl and Bob flash vid "Dan" features an alien race that uses the name "Dan De Zille" (the name of their ruler) for everything on their planet. Like many Planet of Steves examples, they don't find this at all confusing.


  • The word "Cirbozoid" in Starslip Crisis. Just... see it for yourselves.
  • Mountain Time has Paul Island which, as you might have guessed, is inhabited only by dudes named Paul.
  • Every year, Dave Davenport of Narbonic attends a meeting of the Dave Conspiracy. All the attendees wear name tags saying "Hello My Name Is Dave."
    • To explain a bit further, each and every one really is named Dave, and if a Dave should ever be expelled from the Conspiracy, he will lose the right — and the ability — to be called Dave. Instead those around him will subconsciously begin addressing him as "David". So not only is everyone at the meeting named Dave, everyone named Dave is at the meeting.
  • Oddly enough, All Over the House also contains a 'Dave' reference, in The Army of Daves (recruiting now!); which Emily thinks is fictional.
  • Gav is a major demographic in Schlock Mercenary ever since he cloned himself several hundred million times just before the original got killed.
  • Order of the Stick plays this as a throwaway gag in #777, also managing to riff on I Am Spartacus at the same time. As in, all the anonymous gladiators in the arena are named Spartacus, and they all know which one is being addressed during role call.
  • The entire language consists of a single word version in Blade of Toshubi.

Western Animation

  • The former trope title comes from the South Park episode "Starvin' Marvin in Space", which introduced the Marklar. All named Marklar, and they replaced all nouns with Marklar.

 Stan:Wait, wait. I think I can explain this whole thing. Marklar, these Marklars want to change your Marklar. They don't want this Marklar or any of his Marklars to live here because it's bad for their Marklar. They use Marklar to try and force Marklars to believe their Marklar. If you let them stay here, they will build Marklars and Marklars. They will take all of your Marklars and replace them with Marklars. These Marklars have no good Marklars to live on Marklars so they must come here to Marklar. Please, let these Marklars stay where they can grow and prosper without any Marklars, Marklars or Marklars.

Marklar: Your Marklar are wise, young Marklar.


 Piandao: "Try Lee; there a million Lee's"

    • And in Ba Sing Se, all the tour guides are named Joo Dee. This is only one of their many creepy aspects.
  • Historically, the titular race in Gargoyles all look different from each other and cite this as a reason for not needing particular names. Most either gained them as epithets or terms of affection from humans.
    • "What do you call each other?" "friend."
  • On the cartoon Recess, all the popular girls were named Ashley. This was the focus of an episode in which it was revealed that tough girl Spinelli's first name was Ashley, and she was forcibly inducted into their clique. The rest of the kids all change their names to Ashley too so they can join the clique.
    • And in a later episode, Spinelli is forced to take ballet lessons and meets a quartet of snooty ballerinas named Megan.
    • Each of the Ashleys also has a younger brother named Tyler, who form a similar clique.
      • One episode showed the Ashleys' mums together exactly the same way too which implies they all have the same name too.
      • And an episode with a Chain of Deals involved getting Ashley A's diary back from her kindergarden-age sister Brittany. When Spinelli says "Which one of you is Brittany?", of course, a group of toddlers resembling all the Ashleys step forward, and she has to specify "Um ... Brittany A?"
  • In King of the Hill Luanne once unwittingly joined an all-woman Cult masquerading as a sorority where all the members were named Jane.
  • The Debbies from the short-lived Oblongs.
  • A "U.S. Acres" short from the Garfield animated cartoon shows Orson the pig traveling to a planet of aliens who are all named Fred Bob.
  • The Backyardigans had a space episode, "Mission to Mars", with a song and dance routine explaining how "Boinga" could mean a thousand things in Mars. Similar thing with "Ugh" in "Cave Party", but in "Caveman's Best Friend" it didn't even got a song since it was downgraded to, according to that episode, what cave people shout when they're really happy.
  • In an episode of "Phineas and Ferb," An older Candace travels back in time to bust her brothers and succeeds. When she travels back (forward again), she finds herself in a Bad Future where everyone is named Joe. This is because Dr. Doofenshmirtz, now the Evil Overlord of the world, doesn't want to bother to remember anyone's name.
  • In Family Guy "Road to Germany", Half of Mort Goldman's relatives in a synagogue are named Mort Goldman when Brian and Stewie are looking for him.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, there is a tribe living inside the sofa whose names are all Dave
  • Chowder has the Arborians, and gets quite a few Overly Long Gags out of it.

  "This is my wife Arbora, my son Arbor Jr., my brother Arbor, his wife Arbora…"

  • In the Futurama episode Fry Am The Egg Man, there's a planet where all the inhabitants are named Angus.
  • In an episode of Sabrina the Animated Series one of Sabrina's spells backfires and she arrives home to find that the town has been renamed "Sabrinaville" and everyone in the town is called Sabrina - even the boys.
  • One of the Robbie the Reindeer specials featured a band of midget Vikings, all named Magnus.
  • The Gems in the Steven Universe franchise. It's perfectly acceptable to refer to a group of five Rubies as "Ruby" and when it comes to elections, don't vote for Zircon, vote for Zircon.

Real Life

  • Roughly one-third of China has the last name Zhang--world-wide, about 100 million people. It's the most common one in the world.
    • Though the gist may be true, the numbers are off. For starters there are 1.2 billion Chinese, so we would start with 400 million.
      • Actually, Zhang is the third most common last name in China. Li is the most common. Zhang is still the most common worldwide though.
    • The most common first name in the world, counting variations, is Mohammed. How many Mohammed Zhangs are there? Just one--a computer programmer in New York, New York.
  • George Foreman and his five sons are named George: George Jr., George III, George IV, George V, and George VI. He even has a daughter named Georgetta. (He has four other daughters)
    • King of the Hill took a jab at this on the episode guest-starring George Foreman, where he mentions that George was the only name he could think of for his sons due to too many blows to the head.
    • The real reason is that George Foreman never knew his father, and wanted to be damned sure his children knew where they came from.
  • When future Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren met future Sex Pistols Johnny Rotten and John Simon Ritchie (better known as Sid Vicious), who hung out with a gang of other kids named Johnny, he assumed that they had adopted the names as a gesture of solidarity, in much same way in A Clockwork Orange-like gesture. Actually, they really all did have the same name.
  • Luther Blisset is a legendary example from ol' Europa...
  • More Truth in Television: All baptized male Sikhs are supposed to take the surname "Singh" (lion), and all females "Kaur" (princess). This started out as a way of concealing their caste of origin when Sikhism took a stand against the caste system. Nowadays, due to the confusion of having hundreds of Singhs in the phone book, most Sikhs officially go by an additional surname.
  • Prog Rock group Dream Theater would have been a Five-Man Band containing two Johns (Myung and Petrucci) and two Kevins (Moore and Labrie) but the singer chose to use his middle name of James instead.
  • Michael Jackson's children are named Prince Michael Jackson, Paris Michael Jackson, and Prince 'Blanket' Michael Jackson II
  • There's a story that a London club in the 19th century called all their waiters Charlie, so that people wouldn't get distracted from the food trying to remember their names.
  • Similarly, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was common for the (mostly black) sleeping car porters on American trains to be called "George", regardless of their actual name, in honor of George Pullman, whose company had manufactured most of said cars. This eventually lead to the formation of an organization called the Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping Car Porters "George," which at its height counted King George V of the UK as a member.
  • Hawaiian Pidgin, Hawaii's English-based Creole, utilizes the word/phrase "Da Kine" as a sort of universal placeholder. It can take the role of any noun, verb, adverb, or adjective, and its meaning usually (but not always) derived from context or body language. Because no other English dialects contain words that function this way (though the above-mentioned "smurf" comes close), outsiders often struggle with this, and locals have been known to use it to deliberately confuse and frustrate non-native speakers.
    • It's not unheard of for "da kine" to be used several times in the same sentence, each instance having a different meaning from the others. "I went to da kine with da kine fo' get some da kine, but da line stay so long he got all da kine and we left." (In context, it was "I went to Foodland with Marc to get some ice cream, but the line was so long he got frustrated and we left")
    • Scots uses two words with a similar meaning, Hingway and Hingin - Hingway being any noun, proper noun, or verb, and Hingin being any present participle or adjective.
    • Similarly, in Guyanese creole English, many things are referred to as "ting" (thing), and people may give directions saying "turn suh" (turn so). Usually hand gestures tell what it is they are talking about.
    • In Tagalog, the words "kuwan" and "ano" serve a similar purpose, both being roughly equivalent to "that thing"/"the whatchamacallit" when used for that purpose.
  • In the 2009 Formula One Grand Prix, the Red Bull drivers are Sebastian, Sebastian, Sebastian and Mark.
  • The Jim Smith Society.
  • A group of bandits called the Five Joaquins, who were famous in the 19th century for their Robin Hood act in California, were known as such because, well, they were five dudes named Joaquin. One of them, Joaquin Murrieta, you may have heard of: he was the inspiration behind the story of Zorro.
  • More than 1000 Steves with Ph.Ds support the Theory of Evolution.
  • They Might Be Giants are John and John, and their backup band is (or at least was) The Band of Dans. Four of them.
  • Powderfinger had John Collins on bass and Jon Coghill on drums, but within the band, and within the fanbase, they were nicknamed JC and Cogsy, respectively.
  • An interesting variant on the trope occured in Denmark: the regal names of every Danish King from 1513 to 1972 alternated between Christian and Frederick (Frederik in Danish). The only reason why there isn't a Christian XI on the throne today is because Denmark is currently ruled by a Queen: Margrethe II, i.e. Margaret.[1]
    • However, the Queen's son? Crown Prince Frederi(c)k. And Prince Frederick's son? Prince Christian.
  • Koreans only have a small handful of last names, a majority of them being Kim or Lee.
    • The most common one is simply "Y", commonly transliterated as Yee/Yi/Lee/etc.
    • There are many surnames but the top 5 make up 45%. There are many surnames, but in western countries there are more because of racial and cultural mixing and also because of language rules. There are 250 surnames, which could be considered a lot.
  • Similarly, nearly half of all Vietnamese people have the surname Nguyễn.
  • Averted by the Kingdom of the Franks: the people living there weren't all named Frank.
  • The Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt was not very imaginative in coming up with king names, all 14 (or 15, depending on which historian you ask) of its kings being named Ptolemy.
    • And most of its queens were named Cleopatra. The famous one is Cleopatra VII.
  • Out of the 265 popes of the Roman Catholic Church, there have been twelve that have taken the name Pius, thirteen each named Leo or Innocent, fourteen Clements, fifteen Benedicts (the current one is Benedict XVI- Benedict X is now considered an antipope), sixteen named Gregory, and twenty-one named John (the last being John XXIII- it's complicated). The earliest popes used their given names; by the Middle Ages, it had become customary to choose a regnal name, which often was picked to honor a predecessor.
  • While not as impressive as the other examples, Devo's got two guitar-players named Bob, each of whom is the brother of a founding member. They go by Bob 1 and Bob 2.
  • It's impossible to tell what pets are really thinking ... but if we could, it's likely that an awful lot of cats would identify themselves as "Kitty", dogs as "Here Boy", etc.
  • Greece, being a majorly Christian country, has a notion of naming people after religious figures and it is statistically impossible to live in Greece without knowing a single Maria variation or a Nicholas variation. This makes Name Days extra fun. There is also a tradition of parents naming their eldest child after their parents so cousins will often have the same names which makes Name Days even more fun.
  • In coastal fishing villages, especailly in northeast Scotland, where often there were very few last names, the name of a boat would be used to distinguish them. Example: The town of Cullen in NE Scotland has a few major surnames, Gardiner, West, Mair and Wood. So, John Wood, captain of the Ocean Crest, would be distinguished from the others by being known as "Johnny Widd the Ocean Crest (Johnny Wood of the Ocean Crest.)" Similarly, an Alec Gardiner owning the boat "Rosenburg" would be "Alec the Rosenburg."


  • There's a joke about a black woman with five sons named Leroy...
    • The UK has a similar one about a Chav with five sons named Noel...
      • For those who do not know of the joke, if she wants to call them all at once, she just has to yell out "Leroy!/Noel!", but if she wants a particular one she uses their last names.
    • And one about a guy who named all his cats "Cat": what's the point of giving 'em names when none come when they're called?
  • In The Ben Chatham Adventures, all Russians are named Ivan.
  • In the band Tally Hall's webshow, men have different names, but just about every woman is named Sally.
  • In Somewhere Else, everyone is Someone Else. Doing something else, of course.
  1. Margaret I ruled 1375-1412, and was the first monarch of the [ Kalmar Union], the union of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, so yes, comparisons to Queen Elizabeth are appropriate.