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Fictional characters going undercover need snazzy aliases so that they aren't recognized. Can't think of what to call yourself, and the scenery isn't providing any helpful hints? Just use the name of a character from fiction, or the name of a real famous person! No one will ever know who you really are.
If a character makes a habit out of doing this, it may be a case of Themed Aliases.
- In Five Star Stories by Mamour Nagano, the main character uses the alias Ladios Sopp. In Heavy Metal L-Gaim, which Nagano worked on, the main villain is Oldna Poseidal. Ladios Sopp backwards is (P)possoidal.
- In Detective Conan (Case Closed in the English dub), Shin'ichi Kudo is changed into a little boy by a powerful poison. When he returns to his house after the change, he is surprised by his girlfriend Ran Mouri and hastily thinks up the name of Conan, from the famous author of Sherlock Holmes. His fake last name of Edogawa comes from a famous Japanese author.
- Edogawa Ranpo, a Japanese mystery author, whose pen name in turn is a pun on Edgar Allan Poe (Edogaa Aran Po).
- Tower of God: Baam calls himself Jyu Viole Grace and Rachel is suddenly Michelle Light. It is implied that Ja Wagnan's name is also jut an alias. Finally there is Wave Controller instructor Yuga, who's real name and identity is the secret service agent Ren.
- The Martian Manhunter, shapeshifted into an (apparently) Japanese woman, as "Hino Rei". Seriously. What's more: Batman picked up on the reference. Out-of-universe, this is supposedly due to someone pranking the author when he asked for a name connected with Mars.
- Spyboy's partner Bombshell attended his sleeper personality's high school under the name "Marta Hari."
- When Young Justice infiltrated said high school, they used even more obvious aliases, including Rob Roy (Robin) and Helena Troy (Wonder Girl). Mercifully the charade didn't last long.
- Sonichu 1984 has the anonymous main character make up the alias "Winston" when meeting another character, who uses the alias "Orwell".
- This trope was also part of a major trolling scheme against the "original" Sonichu author, who was successfully convinced that his comic was being plagiarized by an Englishman named Jimmy Hill, who is actually a football commentator.
- All of the aliases used on name tags by the main character in Fight Club are names from films such as Taxi Driver (Travis) and Planet of the Apes (Cornelius).
- In Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale Jr. uses the alias Barry Allen, secret identity of The Flash. One of the guys on the case figures out that the person they're looking for is probably quite young based on this information.
- In Back to The Future, Marty's name is assumed to be "Calvin Klein" because that's the name on his underwear. In the third movie, he adopts the name "Clint Eastwood" while stuck in the Old West.
- He also dresses up as an alien named "Darth Vader"
- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Austin and Vanessa meet Number Two in the casino.
Austin: My name is Richie Cunningham, and this is my lovely wife, Oprah.
- Although this may have been a name that popped into his head without knowledge of their cultural meaning, given his status as a human popsicle.
- In Fletch, the title character goes by a number of aliases:
- In The Saint with Val Kilmer, all of Simon's aliases are names of Catholic saints.
- Real-person name example from In the Line of Fire: Would-be presidential assassin Mitch Leary uses the name Booth (as in John Wilkes -) when taunting Agent Frank Horrigan (a former JFK bodyguard) over the phone.
Leary: Why not call me Booth?
Horrigan: Why not Oswald?
Leary: Because Booth had flair, panache - a leap to the stage after he shot Lincoln.
- In The Birdcage, the flamboyantly gay housekeeper is pretending to be a stereotypical butler and introduces himself as Spartacus.
- The otherwise forgettable made-for-TV Generation X movie had Emma Frost pass off herself and Banshee off as Hootie and the Blowfish without the police officer batting an eyelash.
- "Agents Hootie and Blowfish." Luckily, Emma has also messed with the guard's mindsight.
- In the first Die Hard: John McClane decides that the name he'll use with Powell will be "Roy" after Roy Rogers (which McClane referred to in a previous scene -- the one with his Catch Phrase). It can also be considered a real person name example, although Rogers was not said actor's birth name.
- In Shock Treatment, it turns out that Cosmo and Nation McKinley are not real doctors, but character actors who use an assortment of last names -- all those of U.S. presidents.
- In The Player, the blackmailer uses the alias 'Joe Gillis' (the narrator from Sunset Boulevard) but this is intentional because he knows the connotations will rattle his target.
- The serial killers in The Devil's Rejects use the names of Groucho Marx characters.
- In Shakespeare in Love, Lord Wessex brings a knife to Shakespeare's throat and threatens him to stay away from his future wife Viola de Lesseps. Wessex demands to know Shakespeare's name to deter any future meddling. Will uses the name "Christopher Marlowe", the name of his chief competitor. In real life, Marlowe was murdered in mysterious circumstances.
- In Notting Hill Julia Roberts' character (a famous actress) uses fake aliases taken from cartoon characters to check into hotels.
- In the Animorphs novel "The Unknown", Marco, Rachel and Cassie are captured in a military base. They give their names as Fox Mulder, Dana Scully and Cindy Crawford, respectively.
- They also do this in the very last book, identifying themselves to a rogue Yeerk ship as the Starship Enterprise, from the United Federation of Planets. This turns out to be a bad idea, as a human-Controller responds, asking sarcastically to speak to Captain Picard.
- Roger Zelazny wrote a series of short stories, collected in My Name Is Legion, about a secret agent whose real name even his employer didn't know, whose aliases were always the names of obscure-but-notable historical figures. (In a break from the usual procedure, the historical figure always had nothing whatever to do with the job at hand; for instance, on his first appearance he was undercover as an engineer, but using a name whose original owner was a doctor.)
- In The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz, one of the villains uses at least two aliases from Kurt Vonnegut novels.
- In False Memory, another Dean Koontz novel, the evil psychologist is named Mark Ahriman. Not only is his last name identical to the name of the chief figure of evil in Zoroastrianism, but when he travels, he uses aliases that have two things in common: very ordinary first names, and last names that are the name of the Devil. One example is "Jim Shaitan," Shaitan being one of the names for the Devil in Islam.
- In Colin Bateman's Mystery Man the narrator, who runs a crime bookshop, goes by a succession of names of crime writers and fictional detectives - unfortunately the people he's talking to are more genned up on their crime fiction than he expects and there are a few "oh, like the writer?" jokes.
- In Catch-22, Yossarian censors letters under the name Washington Irving. This is eventually copied by Major Major, who is delighted by the fact that "Washington Irving" can be flipped around and people will know the difference.
- In the Ellery Queen novel The Origin of Evil, there is a character who calls himself Alfred Wallace. Recognising the connotations of the name (Wallace was a naturalist and contemporary of Darwin who independently proposed a theory of natural selection) is what starts Ellery down the path to the solution of the mystery.
- In Ender's Game, Ender's brother and sister make "Locke" and "Demosthenes" their online identities.
- In Daniel Pinkwater's Young Adult Novel, the Wild Dada Ducks of Himmler High School, who use their Dada names instead of their real names, include the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico), previously known as Pecos Bill.
- The main character of Little Brother originally goes by "w1n5t0n", as in the protagonist of 1984. When the plot starts heating up, he realized it might be a tad too obvious, and gets a new alias.
- Trix MacMillan is not the real name of the character from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe who's known by that name, and it's very close to Tricia McMillan.
- Sweet Valley High had a spin-off series, Elizabeth, in which Elizabeth runs away to London and becomes a servant in an aristocrat's mansion. She decides to use the alias Elizabeth Bennet, and while people do call her out on it, she ultimately gets away with the ruse.
- In Neverwhere, the Marquis de Carabas admits to taking that pseudonym from "a lie in a fairy-tale".
- On one episode of Pushing Daisies, Ned, Emerson and Chuck go undercover in a nunnery to solve the murder of a nun. Emerson uses the alias Father Dowling, lifted from a television show called The Father Dowling Mysteries, and Ned goes by Father Mulcahy, from Mash. Chuck uses the name "Sister Christian", a song from the band Night Ranger. Subverted a bit when they do end up getting caught.
Mother Superior: Perhaps you'd like to call your associate, M*A*S*H's Father Mulcahy. And Sister Christian is nothing but a heavy petting metal ballad.
- On Criminal Minds one UnSub was a teenager who said his name was Nico Bellic. Everyone was shocked when Rossi said he knew that's GTAIV's main character.
- One CSI episode featured a serial killer who used the names of slasher villains as aliases.
- Sam and Dean on Supernatural almost always use the names of musicians whenever they pose as policemen/agents/reporters to interview people.
- Psych has done this at least a few times.
- The Doctor Who episode "The Fires of Pompeii" has the Doctor introduce himself as Spartacus. Donna Noble quickly follows with "and so am I."
- Rose once introduced him as Mr. Spock.
- In an episode of Life On Mars, Sam Tyler goes undercover as "Tony Blair" with Annie as his wife, "Cherie". When Gene tags along, Sam introduces him as "Gordon Brown".
- In the American version, he's "Detective Skywalker," making it more of an I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference.
- Dexter orders his tranquilizers as Patrick Bateman.
- The "title character" (sort of) of Remington Steele, a movie buff, has multiple passports, each bearing the name of a character Humphrey Bogart played in the movies. In a later episode, Laura catches him in a lie because a woman calling him uses the alias of an Ingrid Bergman character.
- On Lost, Ben's passport says "Dean Moriarty," a character from On the Road.
- Locke's father called himself "Tom Sawyer."
"The ladies love that one."
- Ben went by Henry Gale before we found out his real name.
- And Kate, has gone by the names Annie (staying with Ray Mullen), Monica (to marry Kevin the cop), Joan (to receive mail), Maggie (to rob a bank), and Lucy (bonding with Cassidy). These are all the names of saints.
- And John Locke went by Jeremy Bentham (both the names of English philosophers).
- Daniel Jackson once introduced himself to alien bounty hunters as Hans Olo.
- And in "1969", O'Neill told an interrogator that his name was "Captain James T. Kirk" and "Luke Skywalker".
- In "Tangent," Jackson tries to stall a Jaffa patrol ship by impersonating a Goa'uld and identifying himself as "the great and powerful Oz".
- On Atlantis John Shepard introduces himself as Reed Richards.
- On Universe Eli uses the name Philip Fry. To his mother, no less.
- Veronica Mars plays a similar name game with other notable fictional detectives. Keith Mars has memorably introduced himself as "Adrian Monk" and as "Carson Drew, and my daughter Nancy". Veronica, infiltrating a rival school, went by the name Betty, saying she was Horny, the mascot for the Rhinos, the team at her old school...Riverdale.
- On one occasion, Veronica went to a church group and pretended to be pregnant. Her chosen alias was Hester.
- Farscape used Butch and Sundance as aliases when Crichton and Aeryn were masquerading as bounty hunters.
- Crichton loves this trope. He's also claimed to be The Wizard of Oz.
- And the reverse: He referred to himself as "Fred Scarran" during an Earth episode.
- Crichton loves this trope. He's also claimed to be The Wizard of Oz.
- The aliases used in Leverage generally have some connection to the heist they're pulling. Word of God states that this is because Hardison picks them.
- And at least once they were names of characters or actors from Doctor Who.
- The Middleman did this in every single episode, not just with the heroes' aliases; in any given episode, virtually every proper name, real or alias, was part of a pop-culture-allusion theme of the week.
- On Heroes, Christopher Eccleston's character, who can turn invisible, introduces himself as Claude Rains, after the actor who played The Invisible Man. The line was actually improvised by Eccleston, but they decided to Throw It In, and eventually, it was decided that this might even be the character's real name.
- On one episode of Jeeves and Wooster, Bertie, Sir Roderick Glossop, J. Washburn Stoker, and the entire Drones club are all arrested, and all give false names, mostly derived from Communist leaders, although there is one exception...
Oofy Prosser: I say!
Judge: Quiet, Dr. Crippen!
- In the Law and Order episode "Charm City," a fugitive signs into a hotel under R. Reagan. When he is eventually arrested, Lennie Briscoe says, "You're not going anyplace, Mr. President!"
- In the X-Files episode "El Mundo Gira," detained Mexican immigrants identify themselves to the INS as Juan Valdez, Cesar Chavez, Jose Feliciano, Placido Domingo and Erik Estrada.
- In Season 6's "Arcadia", Mulder and Scully's aliases while undercover as a married couple are Rob and Laura Petrie. Given the age of their neighbors, it's suprising no one made the allusion to The Dick Van Dyke Show. It is used for laughs here, as the two spend parts of the episode correcting the pronunciation of "Petrie". It's pronounced like the dish, thank you very much.
- In the Corner Gas episode "World's Biggest Thing," Brent adds the names Peter Parker, Marge Simpson and Jean-Luc Picard to a list of people who have bounced checks at the gas station. Oscar doesn't recognize the names, gets very angry about the bounced checks, and tells Brent, "Don't take checks from Marge Simpson or that French guy!" Brent finds this hilarious and a few minutes later he tells Lacey that Oscar is still trying to track down Arthur Fonzarelli.
- Modified slightly in the Hustle episode "Conned Out of Luck" - Mickey mentions Ash to The Mark as "Mr. Bond", after which Ash simply can't resist introducing himself as "Bond... James Bond. *Beat* No relation."
- The War Next Door's Femme Fatale went by the name Barbara Bush.
- In The Sarah Jane Adventures story The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith, Sarah Jane and her son Luke, having met Sarah Jane's parents when she was a baby go by Victoria and David Beckham.
- There's one The Golden Girls episode where Sophia gives her name as Melanie Griffith.
- Family Guy: "I'm Officer T.J. Hooker. Sheriff Officer T.J. Hooker. And this is my partner MacMillan and Wife".
- The Simpsons: "Uh... Elvis. Elvis Jagger Abdul-Jabar".
- On Gargoyles, immortal Anti-Villain MacBeth uses the alias Lennox MacDuff as his modern persona. Both are characters from Shakespeare's Macbeth. The first time he uses it, the person he's talking to (a writer) immediately finds him suspicious.
- Jake Long once came up with the alias Beyonce Timberlake, but it was okay becuase he was time traveling at the time.
- In Freefall, as part of Sam Starfall's plan to get Florence out of Ecosystems Unlimited, he identifies himself to Kornada as "Leonard Snart. Captain of this cold facility".
- In Homestuck, Dave tells Terezi that his name is Ben Stiller.
- In El Goonish Shive, Grace utterly fails at using this trope. Because of an earlier comparison between her and Superman, the name she chose was Clark.
- Hilary of Other Peoples Business introduces herself as Rachel Maddow.
- Survival of the Fittest: Occurs in The Program, when Kami Steele attempts to introduce herself to Luke Mendoza and Ryan Montoya as Beatrix Kiddo. Hilariously, both characters see right through it, mostly because they already know she is Kami.
- Red Panda Adventures: Kit gets spotted using one of these on a hotel register.
The Grey Fox: If you were really Marianne Dashwood, this would be a Jane Austen novel.
Kit: As long as most desk clerks are men, it's a pretty safe alias.
- A common tactic of 419 baiters. They usually do this for these reasons:
- It's more amusing if they manage to fool the scammer.
- The scammer may use it as a false name later, making his future scams more obvious.
- As shown in the documentary film Kanehsetake: 270 Years of Resistance, one of the protesters at the Oka Crisis used the alias "Freddy Krueger". Naming yourself after a child-killer is probably not the best way to get the public on your side...
- The 2010 Orwell Prize for best political blog was ironically awarded to an anonymous blogger calling himself Winston Smith.