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"The idea (...) was to give a kid a nickname appropriate to his appearance or eccentricity of behavior, the crueler the better. A kid with warts (...) might be known as 'Toad' or 'Frog' or simply 'Warty.' In the course of time, the warts might vanish, but the nickname would remain, continuing its work of warping the kid's personality and kicking holes in his psyche. Nicknames were fun."
Patrick McManus, The Last Flight of Homer Pidgin

It may be nickname with a horribly embarrassing story behind it, or something family members or lovers use only when they're alone. Often describes a character's appearance, lack of ability in one area or another, though sexual prowess (or endowment) is a common one. Can be a Berserk Button.


Examples

Anime & Manga

  • Kei and Yuri are officially codenamed the Lovely Angels. However, due to their unfortunate and accidental tendency to leave a place MUCH worse then it was when they arrived, they've earned their infamous and much-better-known nickname: the Dirty Pair.
  • In Transformers Energon, the Alpha Quintesson is called "Alpha Q" for short. Say it out loud a few times...
  • Early in the first season of Code Geass, Lelouch uses his Geass on Knight Jeremiah Gottwald, making him do very dishonorable things and then calling him "Orange", just to throw the investigators off track. The nickname sticks, however, and nearly drives Jeremiah mad later but he learns to not give a damn by the second season, shortly before ascending to godhood of Undying Loyalty.
    • As for Lelouch, his friends at Ashford frequently call him "Loulou"... though he doesn't actually seem to be bothered by this.
  • Kyohei from Durarara!! was given the nickname Dotachin by Izaya whom he despises aswell as the nickname. His friend Erika will occassionaly reffer to him as Dotachin getting a mix of responses back.
  • Lina Inverse's closely guarded secret is that her official nickname is "Pink Sorceress". It was actually supposed to be a magical title akin to Red Baron but she is extremely embarrassed about the "pink" part.
  • Fushigi Yuugi's Tamahome was called Obake-chan/Little Ghost in childhood thanks to the character on his forehead. When Tasuki figured that out and used it to refer to Tamahome, he got sent to orbit. No, really.
  • The K in Evangeline A.K. McDowell's name stands for Katherine, but Albireo Imma shortens it to "Kitty". She doesn't like it at all.
    • And Rakan refers to her by the even more embarrassing "Loli Grandma". Her next spell comes close to 'accidentally' killing him.
  • Allen Walker in D.Gray-man is, if you ask Kanda, named "Moyashi" ("Bean-sprout," in English). He does not appreciate this, and the nickname is one of the reasons Kanda is one of the only people in existence Allen can't get along with.
    • Not that he cannot hit it back to Kanda by calling him by the first name.
  • Toshiro Hitsugaya from Bleach got saddled with "Shiro-chan" ('Little Whitey' or 'Little Snowy') by his childhood friend Momo Hinamori, a reference to his white hair (and later, his ice-based powers).
    • When she says it, his response is to throw her own nickname back at her - "Bed-wetter Momo".
  • Kyon hates it when people don't call him by his real name, but he can't be bothered to change that. And he never mentions his name in all the episodes either way (although it's implied that he said his name during his self-introduction on the first day of school in the first episode, but the audience doesn't hear that part on account of the narration). Refer to Literature for more info.
  • Dawn in Pokémon hates to be called "Dee Dee", a reference to an unfortunate childhood incident with a Plusle & Minun. Once we find this out, Kenny looks less playful and more cruel, both by the fact that he hung the Embarrassing Nickname on her in the first place, and that he keeps using it.
    • Under her original Japanese name, Hikari, the nickname was "Pikari" because of how the shock made her hair sparkle. But in the dub, she's called "Dee Dee" because the sparkles looked like "Diamond Dandruff".
  • There are a couple of examples from the football manga Area no Kishi:
  • In Tenshi ni Narumon Mikael totally hates when people misspell his name, calling him 'Kaeru-san' (Mr Frog) and he always tries to correct them. His teacher, Raphael on the other, doesn't seem to mind at all being called 'Haeru-san' (Mr Growing Out)
  • In Zoids/0 Bit Cloud starts calling the Tigers/Saberfangs Team "Fuzzy Pandas". Somehow, the nickname sticks whenever Bit and the Blitz Team run into them, and the team itself goes on an emotional roller coaster ride best described as Comic Relief for the rest of the series. In a Crowning Moment of Funny, towards the end, the Saberfangs face off one more time against two members of Blitz Team...and the Judge Bot refers to the Saberfangs as the "Fuzzy Pandas Team". All the Saberfang Zoids Face Fault as one and are KO'd as a result.
  • Jiraiya from Naruto is at first annoyed when Naruto calls him Ero-sennin, but almost immediately thereafter, allows him to do it when they are alone. But he still gets annoyed when Naruto does it in front of others.
    • We have Itachi and Kabuto both now calling Sasuke "Dr. Snakes". He doesn't seem to care.
  • In Eyeshield 21, Agon's nickname for Unsui is "Unko-chan", which can mean "Little Shit" or "Girly Little Un".
  • It's part of the series title, but Barnaby doesn't like being referred to as "Bunny" / "Bunny-chan" by his crime-fighting partner Kotetsu in Tiger and Bunny. He eventually chooses to give up on complaining, though he never accepts it completely.
  • In Ano Hana, one of the characters is nicknamed "Anaru" as a child, a contraction and shuffling of her first and last names. As a teenager, she's incredibly embarrassed by it. Why, you ask? Remember, in Japanese, there's no difference between a "l" and a "r"....
  • One minor character in Kyou Kara Ore Wa!! got the nickname of "Perizoma Mask" due an unluckily placed bandage he received as part of Mitsuhashi's realization he could stand up to bullies (not that Mitsuhashi remembers how he realized that or that he ruined Perizoma Mask's life).
  • In Heartcatch Pretty Cure, Tsubomi is given the derogatory title "The Weakest Precure in History", due to the fact that, when she first transforms, she spent the entire moment just running and flailing.

Comic Books

  • In one of the X Wing Series comics, we see that Wedge Antilles' childhood nickname was Veggies. He doesn't seem to mind when his childhood friend Mirax calls him that, although she tells him not to use her childhood nickname, Myra.
  • Deliberately invoked in Strikeforce Morituri by Pilar "Scaredycat" Lisieux and William "Scatterbrain" Deguchi; they gave each other embarrassing code names as part of a dare.
  • In Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja, Dr. Yagyu calls John "Peachy", after Momotaro the Peach Boy. John himself teases the Soviet Colonel Novikova by calling her "Novi-cakes."
  • A version of the McGregor story told in the "Folklore" section below occurs in an Issue #14 of Transmetropolitan. A rather sad-looking guide talks about all the things he helped to build inside a building...and then someone calls out, "Hey! Bill Chimpfucker!"
  • Sonic the Hedgehog plays with this one a bit: Sonic, Knuckles and the Chaotix are introduced to Knux's baby brother. However, once they realize that the kid's gonna be nicknamed "Kneecaps", it's Knuckles who flips out after Sonic and the Chaotix (including Knuckles' girlfriend) burst out laughing.


Film

  • In Bugsy, the title character hates being called Bugsy, which refers to his temper. The real Bigsy Seigel did not like the name either.
  • "Babyface" Nelson in O Brother, Where Art Thou? hates being called Babyface, as the real man did..
  • In cut scenes of Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke is called "Wormy" by his friends on Tatooine. You can see why he dropped it later.
  • The Blind Side: Both in the film and in Real Life, Michael Oher hates being called "Big Mike", because he originally wanted to be a basketball star and basketball stars aren't supposed to be that big.
  • In The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones, aka Henry Jones Jr., hates being called "Junior" by his father, Henry Jones Sr. His father, in turn, can't understand why his son likes being nicknamed after the family dog.
  • Buford 'Mad Dog' Tannen from Back to The Future III. In fact, calling him 'Mad Dog' is a Berserk Button with him.
  • In Inglorious Basterds, Smithson Utivitch was rather disappointed to learn that the while the Nazis know his squadmates as Aldo the Apache and the Bear Jew, he is known as "The Little Man" amongst his enemies.


Folklore

  • A young man is walking through a small village one day and decides to stop by a bar and have a beer. He walks into a bar, and sees a grizzled old man, crying into his beer. Curious, the young man sits down and says, "Hey old timer, why the long face?" The old man looks at him and points out the window, "See that dock out there? I built that dock with my own two hands, plank by plank, nail by nail, but do they call me McGregor the dockbuilder? No, no." The old man continued, "And see that ship out there? I've been fishing these waters for my village for 35 years! But do they call me McGregor the fisherman? No, no." The old man continued, "And see all the crops in the farms out there? I planted and have been farming those crops for my village for nearly 45 years! But do they call me McGregor the farmer? No, no." The old man starts to cry again, "But You Screw One Goat!..."


Literature

  • In Lord of the Flies, a character is known only by his nickname, Piggy, which he hates.
  • Milkman from Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon is called this his entire life after a neighbor caught his mother breastfeeding him long after he was too old to be breastfed.
  • In Anansi Boys, friends and family keep calling the main character "Fat Charlie," even after he's lost weight. But that can happen when your father is a Trickster god who sang the world into existence. His nicknames tend to stick.
  • Mrs. Weasley from Harry Potter is forced to admit that her husband calls her "Mollywobbles" when they are alone, in Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince.
  • In the stories of PG Wodehouse, many members of the Drones Club have nicknames of this sort. In some cases, however, the real names they have replaced are even worse.
    • In the Blandings Castle novel Heavy Weather, Lord Tilbury is annoyed when Galahad Threepwood, who knew him in his youth, calls him on his old nickname, "Stinker".
  • In the X Wing Series novels, Wedge's first astromech had the designation "Mynock".

 "Are you called Mynock because you draw a lot of power?"

Urgent whistles and tweets were translated to a scrolling line of text at the very top of the screen. "A pilot once said I screamed like a mynock when we were in combat. A slander, Commander."

"I can understand that. No one likes to be thought of as a space rat."

    • In a later book, Wedge finds out that his screaming in battle is indeed distracting, and has his mind wiped.
  • Kyon hates it when people call him by his nickname, Kyon. He never does mention his real name though, throughout the 9 novels, and the preview of the 10th novel. And the anime, the songs, CD, games, etc. In the 9th novel, Sasaki points this out rather blatantly, and teases the readers with Kyon, by claiming it's a royal and imposing name.
  • In The Emigrants the reason why Arvid moves to America is to escape the rumors that he had sex with a cow, and the nickname the rumor earned him - the Bull at Nybacken.
  • Several characters in The Pale King have unusual nicknames, like ‘Irrelevant’ Chris Fogle, Ms. 'Iranian Crisis' Neti-Neti, David 'The Young Man Carbuncular' Wallace, and Diablo the Left-Handed Surrealist.
  • Half Moon Investigations is named for the small-for-his-age protagonist's Embarrassing Nickname, Fletcher "Half" Moon.
  • Touchstone in The Old Kingdom. Mogget gives him the name, and Touchstone finds it quite annoying, (it's a fool's name) -- yet he can't argue with it.
  • Fisk's oldest sister calls him Nonny in Rogue's Home.


Live Action Television

  • In Frasier Niles begins to tease Daphne about her childhood nickname "Dappy" and is about to tell Martin when Martin responds "Is it worst than 'Piles'?"
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide is made of this trope.

 Mose: Hey Coconut Head, would you kind not calling me Mose?

Coconut Head: Sure Jennifer. And hey, would you mind not calling me Coconut Head

Mose: Get a decent haircut and we'll talk.

  • In the pilot episode of Freaks and Geeks, Bill's mom writes a love note on the outside of his lunch bag in which she refers to him as "Little Man."
  • Michael from Salute Your Shorts was forced to admit his grandparents called him Moosh-Moosh.
    • And the counselor, Mr. Lee, was called "Ugh", as in "Ugh Lee" ("Ugly"), but all the campers only call him "Ugh," probably to keep him from getting too mad.
  • On Cousin Skeeter, it was revealed that Skeeter's horrifically embarrassing elementary school nickname was "Sugar Booger."
  • How I Met Your Mother - two words: Robin Sparkles!
    • Or just try the episode where a coffee barista writes down Barney's name as "Swarley" and everyone calls him that for the rest of the episode. They also call him Swarles, Swarlos, Swarles Barkely, and Bob Swarley, mon.
  • In Charmed, after making out with a guy under the bleachers in high school, poor Phoebe ended up with the nickname "Freebie".
  • In Friends Chandler's old girlfriend calls him "skidmark".
    • Monica was also called "big fat goalie" when she played field hockey.
  • Skins: "Nips," Tony's less-than-flattering nickname for his girlfriend.

 Michelle: Stop calling me 'Nips,' Tony.

Tony: It's a funny name! I've seen a few nipples, Nips, and yours are fucking hilarious.

  • Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas from Veronica Mars. A nickname so loathed, protesting against it was one of the last things he did before killing himself.
    • Presumably nicknamed as such because his father and older brother were both nicknamed Dick and liked to torment him.
  • Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, on M* A* S* H. The origin of the nickname is explained in the original novel and film: she gets it after a sexual tryst between her and Frank Burns (during which she implores Burns to "kiss my hot lips") is broadcast to the rest of the camp over the P.A. system.
    • Weirdly, in the series some of Margaret's old flames are familiar with this nickname, suggesting that she may have earned the same nickname independently of the 4077 in some unreferenced and unrelated Noodle Incident.
    • Burns himself is frequently referred to as "Ferret Face", a name that apparently originated with his own brother.
    • Also from the novel/film there is 'Spearchucker' Jones, whose nickname has a very embarrassing backstory(and its not the one he gives, either). Oddly enough he seems to accept it in good humour.
  • In the That 70s Show episode "Magic Bus", to Hyde's horror, the gang learns that Jackie (his girlfriend) calls him "Puddin' Pop".
    • Then, of course, there's Eric's "Dr. Pee Pee."
      • Also, "Tater Nuts"
  • Castle's ex-wife refers to him as "kitten". Then Beckett overheard.

 Castle: I definitely saved your life. And you know what that means, don't you? It means you owe me.

Beckett: Owe you WHAT?

Castle: Whatever I want. And you know exactly what I want, don't you? You know what I really, really want you to do... never, EVER, call me kitten.


Music

  • According to Eric Bogle's "Introduction Song", the members of the band's nicknames are 'Wee Short-Arse' (Eric), 'Garbage Guts' (Brent) and 'Old Dogs Balls' (Andy).


Radio

  • Doug Berman, the producer of Car Talk, has many. And Ray lists most or all of them during the credits of the show:

 Ray: Our esteemed producer is Doug "The Subway Fugitive" "Not-a-Slave-to-Fashion" "Bongo Boy" "Frog-Man" "Punkin Lips" "Cute-Cute-Cute" Berman.


Theater

  • Li'l Bit and Uncle Peck from How I Learned to Drive.
    • Li'l Bit: In my family, if we call someone Big Papa, it's not because he's tall. In my family, folks tend to get nicknamed for their genitalia.


Video Games

  • Backyard Sports: "Why does everyone call me Fella?"
  • Dungeon Keeper: The Horned Reaper tends to get called "Horny" a lot... but never to his face.
  • Luka, as the personal Butt Monkey of Bayonetta, get the nickname "Cheshire" bequeathed upon him. It's better than most, but he still hates it.
  • In Ratchet and Clank Up Your Arsenal, a smitten Courtney Gears gives Dr. Nefarious (yes, the one and only) the nickname of "Snookie Wookums." No, I'm not joking. Yes, he hates it.
  • Okamiden's main character, Chibiterasu, is a magnet for these. He gets one each time he meets a new partner. They are, in order: Mutt, Squiddy, Pooch, dude/boy and Pork Chop. His reaction to each one is priceless.
  • In Blaz Blue, while she mostly doesn't mind, the nickname "Boobie Lady" does unsettle Litchi a bit..
  • In Modern Warfare, John MacTavish is nicknamed "Soap". Given how nicknames are given in Real Life, it must make people wonder how he got that nickname. Also, after being promoted into Captain in part 2, he never mentions his nickname, and thus after being addressed by Captain Price (his senior in part 1) as "Soap" after saving him from the gulag, MacTavish's subordinates could be heard asking "Who's Soap?" Captain Price even lampshades this trope by asking in the first game "What the hell kind of name is Soap anyway?"
    • It's a British nickname, meaning he was straightedge, never got in trouble. Squeaky Clean.
  • In Kid Icarus Uprising, Palutena refers to Pit's Mirror of Truth counterpart Dark Pit as "Pittoo"[1], in order to tell them apart. Dark Pit is obviously annoyed by this, especially when Pit starts doing it on a regular basis.

Visual Novels

  • In Shikkoku no Sharnoth Charlotte calls Mary Kitty once or twice, resulting in this. Later, M starts calling her Kitty as well right before the minigames involving monsters chasing her start, prompting her to yell at him for calling her such a thing.
  • In Little Busters, Komari starts calling Kurugaya Yui-chan. Not only is she horrified with this nickname, she doesn't even realize she's been referred to at first because no one ever calls her by her first name.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao comments early on that he's never liked the nickname "Hicchan", which Misha typically uses when referring to him, and his parents once use on a note, but never objects to it after that.


Webcomics


Web Original

  • Marik from the Abridged Series calls Bakura either "Fluffy", "Florence", or on one occasion "Kitty".
  • Daphne Diller, the indestructible private eye in Metro City Chronicles, does not like it when people call her "Daffodil."
  • Tobuscus has a pal, Gabe, who shows up in several of his videos. Toby has dubbed him Gabebuscus, which unfortunately sounds a lot like Gaybuscus. The face Gabe makes when Toby calls him this indicates that he, unlike Toby, is not amused.
  • Ghost from True Capitalist Radio hates being called a "hambone". It's ironic since Ghost initially used the term to make fun of people who he deemed to be fat, lazy moochers who contributed nothing to society. He encouraged his listeners to use the term in public whenever they saw a "fat, jelly ass", but the trolls who call into his show during the Radio Graffiti segment began to use the insult against him.


Western Animation

  • Zuzu (aka Zuko) of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • One episode of The Weekenders concerned Tino picking up the nickname "Pumpkin Pie" as it's B plot (which tied into the A plot of Tish's name being used as a colloquialism).
    • In the second season episode "Vengeance", Carver is given the nickname "Pickle Toes" as the result of a prank; much to the delight of Lor.
  • In The Simpsons episode, "Homer's Enemy", Homer gave Frank Grimes the nickname "Grimey", which he hated. Eventually, he was buried under that name.
    • In another episode, Lisa pretends to be a boy and is given the nickname "Toilet".
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Lucius really hates being called "Lucy."
  • In Robot Chicken, the G.I. Joe team gives their new sniper recruit Calvin the nickname of "Fumbles" and humiliating him because of his clumsiness when introduced to the team. He responds by defecting to Cobra, shooting them all in the head, (except Duke, who he leaves alive, when Duke starts pleading to be killed too, saying "No. No, you live with it") and saying Who's Laughing Now?
  • In one episode of The Critic where Doris threatens to reveal why Duke's nickname in college was "Puddles".


Other Media


Real Life

  • Many famous gangsters hated their nicknames.
    • Bank robber George Nelson hated to be called "Baby Face." Bit of a Berserk Button, actually. He tried to get people to call him "Big George" Nelson, but, seeing as how he was only 5'4", that never really caught on.
    • "Bugsy" Siegel and "Bugs" Moran. Their nicknames referred to their tendency to "bug out."
    • Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd
    • "Scarface" Al Capone. He liked to claim that his scars were war wounds, but he really got them in a street knife fight as a kid.
  • Caligula was the childhood nickname of Roman emperor Gaius Caesar, (it means something like "little boot") which he reportedly disliked.
    • Some time later, there was an emperor who had the nickname "Caracalla" after a type of cloak he was fond of wearing. Though he didn't care for the nickname it was probably for the best; if his nickname had reflected his personality in any more profound way, we'd be talking about the Edict of Paranoid Fratricidal Tyrant.
  • People with Italian last names that begin or end with "cucci" can end up being called that by people who aren't familiar with the slang term it sounds like. Embarrassing indeed.
    • Along the same vein, Yonah and Yonatan are common Jewish names (the Hebrew versions of Jonah and Jonathan respectively). Boys with these names often end up with the nickname Yoni.
  • Military pilot callsigns are usually this--either based on an embarrassing incident for the pilot or a pun on their name. If a nickname sounds great at first, there's usually a story behind it that will make the pilot blush. The more heroic or impressive callsigns people think of when they think of fighter pilots are reserved for people who have earned their fellows' respect.
    • In the Air Force, 'Slag' sounds like a pretty bad-ass name... until you realize why nobody wants it: It's an acronym that stands for Screams Like A Girl.
    • Sometimes inverted if the person has an embarrassing name. 'Pink Floyd' was Commander Pink; 'Big Man' was Commander Chubb, the CO, who did not get to choose his own name so chose to fit the name.
  • Brian Davidson, drummer from the proto-prog group The Nice, somehow required the nickname "Blinky", which he wasn't too fond of.
  • Silent film comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle disliked his nickname and discouraged anyone from calling him as "Fatty" off-screen.
  • Fraternities are known to do this. It can vary from friendly ribbing to nigh-on hazing depending on the fraternity and chapter.

Notes

  1. "Pit Two"
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