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Artax: That Which Man Was Not Meant To Know was taken!
Yeagar: By who?
Artax: By a foe Lakressa knows only as She Who Must Be Obeyed!
Nodwick: Dare I ask where 'she who' went?
Artax: To a place called The Lands That Know No Name!

Nodwick: Uh-huh. Let me know if we stumble upon any proper nouns in all this mess.
Nodwick, 10-31-2001

Occurs whenever a place, object, or person is described with, well, a description, rather than a name. Sometimes, because there is No Name Given, they may turn out to have an actual name. Often subverted by using a self-contradicting name.

A common trait of McGuffins. May be related to The Scottish Trope or Speak of the Devil in case of villains.

The name is inspired from Clint Eastwood's "The Man With No Name". Compare Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep", No Name Given, Spell My Name with a "The", Capital Letters Are Magic, My Name Is ???, and The Trope Formerly Known as X. And yes, we know this page actually having a title is a minor Logic Bomb in and of itself.

Examples of The Trope Without a Title include:

Anime and Manga

  • Fullmetal Alchemist has Scar — he had a name, but no longer uses it. It boils down to him no longer considering himself worthy of one after using alchemy to hunt down alchemists.
  • Excel Saga has "That Man." He has five colleagues, named "That Man Over Here", "That Man Over There", "This Man", "This Man Over Here" and "This Man Over There". It's a subversion, though, as those are their actual names.
  • Shakugan no Shana has Guze no Tomogara, who are often referred by elaborate titles rather than names. Or maybe those titles are their real names. Flame Haze also get such titles, the titular heroine didn't have a normal name until the beginning of the story.
  • Death Note's very own L. Ironically, his full name is in fact "L Lawliet", but it still is very much of this case.
  • Most of the bijuu in Naruto. Because humans don't consider them anything more than huge, destructive monsters, they don't bother learning their names. The only bijuu who is called by his actual name by humans is Shukaku. All the rest are called by the number of tails they have, though Naruto is happy calling the yonbi "Son" and probably will start calling the kyuubi "Kurama."
  • In the Haruhi Suzumiya light novels and anime, most characters get just enough name to make them identifiable. However, Kyon's younger sister is known only as "little sister". (Since "imotou" is an acceptable if unusual way to refer to somebody's younger sister while in conversation with that person, this doesn't cause very many problems in conversation.)

Comic Books

  • In The Sandman, there's the Soft Place, a mysterious place that's disjointed from time.
  • In the Garfield's Nine Lives short "In the Garden", The Crystal Box, or, at length, The Crystal Box On A Checkered Toadstool.
  • In one Knights of the Dinner Table strip, Dave refuses to name his new character, instead referring to him as the 'Man With No Name'. The situation quickly devolves into The Trope Formerly Known as X.
  • Shade the Changing Man himself doesn't know what the Area of Madness is. When he asks about it, the most conclusive answer is "The Area of Madness is just one part of The Area."

Fan Fiction

  • The titular... whatever it is... in an H.P. Lovecraft parody called "The Indescribable".


  • The monsters who hold The Village in fear are called "those we do not speak of".
  • In Armageddon, character several times refer to "The Russian space station" instead of just calling it by its proper name "MIR"—though it's technically MIR with bits stuck on to make it more impressive.
    • This can actually be confirmed, because on Trevor Rabin's score for the movie one of the cues is entitled "Death of MIR."
  • The narrator of Fight Club in the book and film. In the game he's named as "Jack", as on the DVD cover, but that's from the medical books he finds in the Paper Street house: "I Am Jack's Pancreas".
  • 12 Angry Men, the play, never names the jurors, even in the script (they are referred to by juror number). The TV adaptation names a few of them in a tacked-on postscript, though there's no significance to the names.
  • Lawrence Dimmick. Freddy Newandyke. Vic Vega. And three other guys.
  • Kevin Costner's character in Waterworld is known as "The Mariner".
  • In Kill Bill volume #1, they go through great lengths to hide the name of the Bride (even to the point of bleeping it out). Then in volume #2 it's blurted out to be "Beatrix Kiddo".
  • In Paint Your Wagon, one of the two partners in a gold prospect is simply known as "Pardner" for the entire narrative, even by his wife, but at the end:

Ben Rumson (the other partner): What the hell is your name, anyway?
Pardner: It's Sylvester Newel. Yeah, just one 'l.'

Which goes a long way towards explaining why he had no objections to being addressed as "Pardner".
    • The real gag is that this man, who seemingly has no name, is played by Clint Eastwood. On a related note, the action takes place in No Name City.


  • Harry Potter's "He Who Must Not Be Named" (AKA "You-Know-Who"), who is not a No Name Given. Indeed, it's a plot point that Harry himself refuses to use the common euphemisms, and simply refers to him as Voldemort.
    • This is subverted in the final book, where Voldemort turns the superstition to his advantage: since the people who are brave enough to speak his name are precisely the ones he is after, Voldemort casts a spell which allows him to locate anyone who speaks his proper name, even through strong protections meant to prevent just that.
    • It had been a plot point earlier. "Only Death Eaters call him Dark Lord".
  • The men of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings (the books) refer to Sauron as "He who we do not Name" or "the Nameless (Evil)" for short.
    • Elves (and other characters, including Gandalf and Aragorn, both of whom may have picked it up from the Elves) tend to refer to him as "the Enemy".
  • "The King in Yellow", from the same-titled horror fiction collection of Robert W. Chambers. The King has been borrowed by a number of other authors:
    • The Lords of Dus by Lawrence Watt-Evans: the King is the high priest of the also-nameless god of Death.
    • In the Cthulhu Mythos, the Great Old One Hastur is sometimes called "Him Who Is Not To Be Named". This is due to the fact that saying his name repeatedly is thought to summon him. In August Derleth's stories, he is The King in Yellow.
    • H.P. Lovecraft used this trope so much that he Lampshaded it in The Unnameable, which not only embodies the trope but discusses it at length.
  • The humans in The Night Land named most everything outside the Redoubts this way—the Road Where The Silent Ones Walk, the Place of the Ab-humans, the Thing That Nods, the four Watching Things...
  • In Madeline L'Engle's books and the Earthsea books, knowing the True Names of things is important for spellcasting, so things without names are super-bad juju magumbo.
  • The Stand and The Dark Tower have Randall Flagg, who is often known as The Black Man, The Dark Man, The Walkin' Dude or The Man Without A Face.
  • In the Young Wizards series, the antagonist is usually known as The Lone Power, sometimes as Starsnuffer, or formally as "Fairest and Fallen" (It has many other titles). The "deities" are The One and The Powers That Be.
    • Everything in this universe has a True Name, essentially a very, very good description of them in The Speech; anything which cannot be named must be extremely complex/powerful.
  • Curious George has The Man in The Yellow Hat.
  • The Dresden Files features a seriously nasty demonic entity known only as "He Who Walks Behind."
  • In Year of the Griffin, there is a teacher who cannot remember his students' names and so calls them "you with the hat", "you with the hair", "you with the voice", etc. Arguably it's not that he can't remember their names, just that he's such a jerk he never bothers to use them.
  • The Lemony Narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events refuses to name the two villains that lord over Olaf, so he instead refers to one as the nonspecific "Man with a beard and no hair" and the other as the even less specific "Woman with hair and no beard".
    • Not to mention many of the members of Olaf's troupe, like the "White-faced women" and " the one who looks like neither a man nor a woman"
  • For a book and a half of "The Vampire Chronicles", Akasha and Enkil are known simply as "Those Who Must Be Kept".
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has the villainous Gentleman With Thistledown Hair. Thanks to his faerie powers, no one can ever describe him accurately, and nobody knows his actual name.
    • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell likes this trope. There is also John Uskglass, the possibly-immortal wizard, variously known as the Raven King, the Black King, the King of the North, and the Nameless Slave. There is also a second nameless slave (a black man taken from his dying mother before she could name him); this being fantasy it almost goes without saying that a spell meant for the first nameless slave targets the second one instead.
  • The main character from H. G. Wells' "The Time Machine" is known only as the Time Traveller.
  • "The Place Which Is No More" from David Eddings' Malloreon.
  • Piers Anthony's Battle Circle trilogy features a society of people who are named after their weapon of choice. On a bet, one of the main characters winds up losing his right to use a weapon, forcing him to go forever onwards as The Nameless One.
  • In Alcatraz Versus the Secret Librarians, Alcatraz shrewdly guess that "She Who Cannot Be Named" must be so fearsome her name is taboo. Turns out people just can't pronounce it.
  • Non-fiction example: this was a Running Gag in Raymond Smullyan's What Is The Name Of This Book?
  • Inverted in Heroics for Beginners; the Big Bad, Lord Voltmeter, is referred to as "He Who Must Be Named," as Lord Voltmeter dislikes being referred to by personal pronouns.
  • Presumably the Headless Horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow had a name, but no one calls him by it. Indeed, as he can't speak and has no face to recognize, it's doubtful anyone could call this ghostly figure by his name, even if they'd known him in life and he wasn't a hoax.
  • Queen Ayesha in H. Rider Haggard's She is known to her subjects as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.
  • The narrator of Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, is named only as "the second Mrs de Winter" (the first being the late Rebecca).

Live Action TV

  • In The Prisoner, no one in The Village is referred to by name, only by the numbers they are assigned when they get there. Not to mention... well, the very fact that it's referred to as The Village.
    • Not to mention that when Number Six finally gets a map of the place, the surrounding terrain is marked as "The Sea," "The Beach" and "The Mountains."
    • And with the exception of Number Six, it's not clear that anyone else in The Village is assigned the same number consistently. Number Two is the most obvious example.
  • Anyone on Heroes who doesn't know Mr. Bennet's name calls him The Man in the Horn-Rimmed Glasses, despite the fact that his glasses aren't actually horn-rimmed. And his first name, Noah, was never spoken by any character, even his own family, until the end of the first-season finale.
    • The Haitian, as well. Though he too was eventually given a name, Rene, in the fourth season.
  • Nothing about The Doctor?
    • Not to mention The Master.
    • Or the other The Doctor.
    • Or the other the Doctor (from John Barth's The End of the Road). Since this Doctor (a trickster-figure) is human, he presumably has a name, but he doesn't reveal it to his patients.
  • The X-Files had The Cigarette-Smoking Man, aka Cancer Man.
  • In one episode of How I Met Your Mother, Ted (as the Narrator) cannot remember the name of the girl he was dating, so for the entire episode she is referred to as Blah Blah.
  • Lost has The Man In Black (or Esau / Un-Locke / Smokey / The Lockeness Monster / Whatever), who may not actually have a name.
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise, the blurry 28th-century humanoid who gave the Suliban Cabal their marching orders was never identified. In the scripts, he was simply "Humanoid Figure." Fandom knows him as "Future Guy."
  • Alias gives us Suit And Glasses, a Depraved Dentist with no equal.
  • The Big Bad in the seventh season of Buffy was known only as "The First", as in "the first evil".
  • Babylon 5: Shadow minions think it is super-cool that the Shadows' name is a thousand pages long and cannot be pronounced by puny mortals. Then they get shirty because puny mortals continue to call the Shadows "the Shadows".


Tabletop Games

  • In Exalted, all Abyssal Exalted have sold away their names to Eldritch Abominations and taken up weird and evocative titles in exchange. So have the Deathlords they serve. Some examples of such titles include The Lover Clad in Rainment of Tears, Eye And Seven Despairs, the Dowager of the Irreverent Vulgate in Unrent Veils, and the First and Forsaken Lion.
    • This is parodied in the Exalted stick figure webcomic Keychain of Creation with "Secret", an Abyssal whose adopted name is so long she doesn't even have the proper Stamina score to say it in one breath.
    • It's also parodied in fandom by tagging the famous ones with much less pretentious versions of their adopted names. The First and Forsaken Lion, for instance, is more often referred by the pseudo-acronym "Falafel."
    • The Alchemical Exalted also use titles instead of names; in their case, they instinctively know what their title is when they're created. Alchemical titles include such things as Stern Whip of Industry, Lissome Avid Engineer, and Excessively Righteous Blossom.
    • What, no mention of the Solar with No Name?
    • Abyssals maintain their poetic names because they are prohibited from recognizing their old names - it is an act of clinging to their old life and the living in general, and their Neverborn masters find that unacceptable, and punish them with Resonance. This is also parodied in Keychain of Creation with Resonance Ben, who is quite proud to admit that Ben is his name, and that when people speak of Ben, they speak of him, because Ben is his name. He actually has certain methods of using Resonance to his benefit (for instance, attacks) so he welcomes the extra ammo.
  • The names of the Yozis are Malfeas, Adorjan, The Ebon Dragon, and... She Who Lives in Her Name.
    • It is more that the Yozis are "Malfeas, the Demon City", "Adorjan, the Silent Wind", "Kimbery, the Sea who Marched against the Flame", while the other Yozi is known only by her title, "She who Lives in her Name", as speaking her actual name causes you to be a possessed drone.
  • Magic: The Gathering had an entire block, "Champions of Kamigawa" based around Japanese mythology and the Theme Park Version of Shinto. The plot revolved around a human nobleman gaining immortality by stealing something from the godlike Kami, essentially igniting a war between humanity and the spirit world. In the second set, "Betrayers of Kamigawa," exactly what was taken was revealed as the Legendary Artifact..."That Which Was Taken."
  • The RPG Witch Hunter has an antagonist simply called "The Adversary." He's implied to be the evil spirits (including the Devil) of pretty much every culture in the world, all rolled into one.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons setting Points of Light, all gods have names (Bahamut, Asmodeus, etc...) the notable exception is the neutral goddess of death, who is simply known as The Raven Queen.
    • In the Planescape setting we get "The Lady of Pain, ruler of Sigil.
    • Eberron has this for the gods of the Dark Six, evil gods who were cast out of the "good" pantheon of gods called Sovereign Host: The Devourer, The Fury, The Mockery, The Shadow, The Keeper and The Traveler.
    • The Lord of Blades, mysterious leader of the Warforged of the Mournlands. Here his namelessness is for a plot hook, so the DM can confer him whatever "true" identity they desire.
  • In Unknown Armies, members of the Invisible Clergy are meant to abstract representations of ideas about what human beings can be. Consequently, each member is known by the title of what it is representing; for example, known members include The Fool, The Trickster, and TheMother. The Clergy used to be real mortal people with real names, but it is implied that ascension causes them to shed their old identity to become a true Anthropomorphic Personification, and at least one recent ascension actually erased the new member's name from every written record, replacing lost text with her new title: "The Naked Goddess".

Video Games

  • Assassin's Creed II introduces "Those That Came Before", a race of godlike beings that may have been the inspiration for mythical gods.
  • The Backyard Soccer series has a Dummied Out field called A Nameless Field (also known as Area 51½).
  • In Drakengard, the enemies that appear in the path to the fourth ending are called a myriad number of things, "the Grotesqueries" and "the Watchers" being two of them. In the game's sequel, they are called "the Nameless".
  • Earthworm Jim features Princess What's-Her-Name, but this is a subversion in that her name actually is "What's-Her-Name".
  • Guilty Gear, like Excel Saga, also has a That Man.
  • The Text Adventure version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy involves a recurring item called "The Thing Which Your Aunt Gave You Which You Don't Know What It Is".
  • In the first Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, if you take up arena-fighting, you'll be given the nickname "The Mysterious Stranger"... This is so they only have to use the one audio track whichever name you choose for yourself at the beginning.
    • Jade Empire, from the same folks, uses the same convention, though in that case you get your choice of a few stage names. The Arena promoter throws in a Shout-Out to Knights of the Old Republic, referring to you when you first meet him as a "mysterious stranger."
  • In Mafia, there is a cutscene in which the main character refers to his wife and daughter as "Sarah and the kid", despite the fact that the daughter is a couple of years old and thus should have a name, and that the character he talks to should know the name of the daughter already and thus understand who is being referred to when the name is mentioned.
  • The name of the final boss of Kingdom of Loathing's new Dr. Seuss homage zone is "The Thing with No Name".

Web Comics


Nale: Another one? Good gods, man, that's eleven so far who Must Not Be Named. Not to mention the four who Must Not Be Looked At, the two who Must Not Be Spoken To, and the one who Must Not Be Toilet-Trained.

    • Also used several times among the villains, with the Creature in the Darkness, Redcloak, his brother Right-Eye, their deity "The Dark One"...
  • In 8-Bit Theater, there are the Other Warriors, a rival group to the main characters, the Light Warriors. Sarda the Sage is also known as "The Wizard Who Did It." Not to mention the heroes themselves; The black mage, white mage, thief, fighter, red mage, and black belt are called Black Mage, White Mage, Thief, Fighter, Red Mage, and Black Belt respectively. Technically, these are actually their names.
  • Scary Go Round has "The Boy" and his parents "The Mother" and "The Father". The Boy does have a name though.
  • In Ink Tank, Webmonkey is referred to only as such (he's a literal monkey) and none of the IT Ninjas are ever named either.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Parodied in the Torg Potter parodies, where Torg Potter is known as "The Lastnameless One", his nemesis as "You Probably Don't Know Who", and the explanation for all this is found in the "The Story We Can't Tell".
    • The demon K'Z'K gets called "The Vowelless" as well as simply "The End". Most people can't pronounce his name anyway...
  • In Questionable Content, there is a girl (mainly used as filler art) known simply as "Sweet-Tits", much to her resentment, although it is implied she does have a real name.

Western Animation

  • The Nameless Beast from an episode of the Earthworm Jim cartoon turned out to be named Rosebud. And of course, there's Princess What's-Her-Name (which, as noted, is her actual name).
  • The TV Special Happily Ever After, about a girl dealing with the divorce of her parents, had a character referred to as "Whats-His-Name with the Glasses."
  • Powerpuff Girls had a villain known simply as "Him"—probably not mentioned by name because he was supposed to represent the devil.
    • His name is actually His Imperial Majesty.
  • Cow and Chicken, had a character called "The Red Guy"—at least in the credits; in the episodes he had various names that all seemed to refer to the fact that he wasn't wearing any pants. Once, during a brief, standalone scene where he addresses the audience directly, he actually refers to himself as "The Red Guy".
  • Futurama had the one-shot 80's-guy character "That Guy".
    • And of course "I am The Man With No Name... Zapp Brannigan at your service!"
    • Word of God says "That Guy" is named Steve Castle, but it was never mentioned during the show.
  • In The Simpsons, many characters lived without names and were referred to in the scripts as "The comic book guy", "The squeaky-voiced teen", etc.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. No one wanted to say Lord Moldybutt's name (except for Billy), because every time you did something bad would happen.
  • In Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated, there is Char Gar Gothikon: The Beast That Hath No Name.

Real Life

  • It's considered bad luck among actors to speak the name of the play Macbeth in the theater, so a popular euphemism is "The Scottish Play." Speaking of The Bard...
  • Among some Professional Wrestling fans, Chris Benoit is sometimes referred to as He Who Is Not Named, both in mimicry of Harry Potter and the fact that many would rather pretend he never existed.
  • The inhabitant of a nation's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (or whatever it's called locally) is generally always chosen because... well, we don't know who they are.
  • ESPN's Bill Simmons refers to the Oklahoma City Thunder as "The Team That Shall Not Be Named" in solidarity with the people of Seattle, who had the Supersonics stolen out from under them by the OKC ownership group. Simmons is also known to call them the Zombie Sonics or simply the Zombies.
    • Similarly, some people refer to the Washington Redskins NFL team as the "Racist Slurs."
  • More seriously, there's "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia": we'll leave the reasons why it's called that on the Other Wiki.
  • It's common in some religious traditions to either not refer directly to The Devil, or at least to not speak the name "Satan" or something similar. Instead demons are just collectively "The Enemy", or "evil spirits".
  • In some regions of northern Europe (such as Scandinavia) it was once considered such bad luck to say a bear's true name that today, we aren't quite sure what the word in the language was; bear itself was such a euphemism (meaning 'brown'). Reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European words for 'bear' and 'wolf' is uncertain because of taboo distortion in many descendant languages.