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File:Steve convention 9720.jpg
"His name is Lebowski? That's your name, Dude."

A pretty rigid rule that no two characters in a work of fiction (novel, movie, play, TV series, comic book, etc.) should share the same first name, or even similar-sounding names. If there's a Laura in the story, there will not be a Lyra; if there's an Ed, there will not be a Ted. (If you wake up one morning and suddenly discover that you don't know any two people with the same first name and that your phone number begins with 555, you can safely assume you've fallen into a work of fiction.)

The rationale behind this is so obvious it almost doesn't need explanation: Both the audience and the writer will get confused by multiple characters with the same name: "Wait, was it good-guy Steve or bad-guy Steve who launched the missile?"

A strong dramatic reason to duplicate names can override the rule, as, for example, in the Jack Nicholson movie The Two Jakes, but it's so rarely done that audiences will pick up on it almost instantly. Unintentional duplication of first or last names also sometimes occurs when characters from previously distinct works of fiction meet one another, or in sprawling, shared-continuity settings like the DC or Marvel Comics "universes."

It's probably more feasible to list the exceptions rather than examples. Usually when there are exceptions, there will be a storyline involving the characters being confused for each other.

One could only wish this were Truth in Television, but as elementary-school teachers know all-too-well, names go through cycles and depending on the era, a single grade 3 class might have five Jasons, Michaels, Lindas or Coreys.

In French-speaking countries, name popularity waves are even more dramatic, to the point where you can often guess somebody's age within five to ten years just by their given name, and very popular names have been attributed to as much as one person out of seven or eight at their peak.

This is also a problem in dubbing with "dubbed names". For example, Gomez Addams in Latin America is "Homero", just like Homer the Spider. Or a mobster named Bruno showing up in a Batman (Who is known as "Bruno Díaz" instead of "Bruce Wayne") comic.

The rule may be broken for names that are pretty ubiquitous in any era, such as James, John, Mary, and so forth; then, those identical names may be tweaked for each individual. (James, for one, was the single most popular name for boys in 1940s America, with the result that there are literally thousands of 60-something American guys out there who go by "Jim", "Jimmy", "Jay", "Jamie", or the like.) Of course, more or less silly nicknames are also a solution.

The antithesis is Planet of Steves, wherein everybody is Steve.

Compare One Mario Limit, where the "Steve" is too famous for anyone else to use a similar name. Contrast Inexplicably Identical Individuals, where there is a whole bunch of interchangeable characters that look the same and may share the same name -- or have very similar names. Also contrast Name's the Same, where multiple series share one or more characters with the same name.

See also We Named the Monkey "Jack" and Dead Guy, Junior, for other ways characters can share names.


Exceptions:

Anime and Manga

  • ARIA: The animation features Alicia and Alice which are the same name (Italian/English). It never was bought up.
  • School Rumble has the Japanese Delinquents Kenji Harima (or, in the Japanese surname-first style, "Harima Kenji") and the American exchange student Harry McKenzie -- names which, when pronounced with a Japanese accent, sound nearly identical. Naturally, one of them is often confused for the other in conversation, and Hilarity Ensues.
    • Also, one of the main girls is called "Suou", she briefly dates a boy called "Asou", nobody seemed to care how similar-sounding their names where.
  • Rave Master has two characters named Musica, because the author liked the name and couldn't decide which of the concepts to use. Also, there were two main characters named Gale; one the main character's father and one the primary antagonist for the first half of the series. When the latter was named, he was initially assumed to be the former.
  • Nana's two main characters are Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki. "Nana" as in "Seven", that is. One promptly nicknames the other "Hachi" (Which can mean Eight, and is also based on the famous dog Hachiko due to her clingy personality.)
    • And later on there are two Misatos and two Rens.
  • In Gantz there are Kei Kurono and Kei Kishimoto. Less confusing than other examples by the fact that Kurono is a lecherous teen boy, and Kishimoto is a sweet but depressive busty girl.
  • Kamichama Karin has Kujyou Himeka and Karasuma Himeka. Their names are written with different kanji, though.
    • They're two parts of the same person so it doesn't really count.
  • Dennou Coil has two characters with same-sounding given names, Okonogi Yuko and Amasawa Yuko. They get different nicknames (Yasako and Isako) quickly.
  • Gakuen Alice has two characters with the same name: Misaki, a teacher and Misaki Harada, a middle school student, both of which are major characters.
  • Clannad has a main character by the name of Tomoya with a primary female character by the name of Tomoyo. Only a one-letter difference.
    • And also Tomo, her half sister in the sort of sequel.
  • Koi Koi 7 has two characters named Yayoi Asuka. One is a pink-haired ditz, the other is an eyepatch-wearing silver-haired ruthless type. Once the latter Yayoi is rebooted, she then goes by "Gantai-chan" (literally "Eyepatch-chan").
  • GetBackers has a Kaoru Haruki, a Haruki Emishi and a Kaoru Ujiie.
  • In an episode of Excel Saga, the heroine Excel puts up fliers around the city in an effort to find her missing partner Hyatt. In the next episode, one of the fliers is found by two girls named Mikago Hyatt and Excel Kobayashi, who misunderstand and think they're wanted for auditions for a band. These two show up again in another episode as guests on a TV show to sing the Excel Saga theme song.
  • Narutaru has the major character Akira Sakura, and minor characters Aki Sato and Aki Honda. None of them are ever mixed up with one another, and it's really just as well - especially given Aki Honda's nature.
  • The CLAMP metaseries does this very confusingly. There's Syaoran and Sakura, their son, Syaoran, his girlfriend, Sakura, and the latter two's clones, Syaoran and Sakura. Played with annoyingly in that everyone with the same name looks exactly alike. Except for the Syaoran that DOESN'T look alike them, Li Syaoran AKA Watanuki Kimihiro.
    • Making that worse, the latter pair ARE the aforementioned parents. And if we take them at their word that the Tsubasa multiverse includes all Clamp universes, there's also Cardcaptor's Sakura and Syaoran. Head hurting yet?
      • But oh it gets better! The non-clone Syaoran and Sakura, who imply several times during the series that their names are pseudonymous are in the final chapter both revealed to be named Tsubasa.
    • And now there's Sakura in their new manga, Gate 7, who doesn't seem to have anything in common with any of their other Sakuras.
  • Which Pokémon trainer do you suppose Ash Ketchum respects more? Aaron, the Elite Four member and bug specialist? Or Aaron, the ancient aura-wielding knight whose Lucario he befriended? And don't forget about Drake and Drake, from the Orange Islands or the Hoenn League, respectively. Or Flint, Brock's father, and Flint, a member of the Sinnoh Elite Four and rival to Volkner. Or Bianca, the girl who was frequently impersonated by Latias, and Bianca, the ditzy female rival in Unova.
    • In all four cases, the reason for this is because one character is originally from the games and one is anime-exclusive.
    • In the French games, Brock and Steven are both called Pierre, the latter also being given the last name Rochard. Probably just to avoid confusion, when Steven/Pierre Rochard shows up as a guest star in HGSS, he doesn't give his name.
    • The (in-game) granddaughter of Professor Oak and an (anime-only) elder sister of Misty are both named Daisy.
      • Daisy's name in one of the manga adaptations is inexplicably changed to May, which happens to be the name of the female protagonist in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.
  • Detective Conan uses this in some mysteries for added... mystery. Not to mention they have a huge list of minor characters, so every once in awhile names are going to HAVE to cross with each other. For example, the series' character sheet listed two one-shot chatacters called Hiroki, and there's at least one more not listed there.
    • Hilariously used in a recent case where one suspect was also named Kudo Shinchi (aka the main character.) Then he was promptly murdered. Status Quo Is God
  • Baccano has both a Nick and a Nicholas, as well as a Gustave and a Gustavo and a Goose.
  • In Arata Kangatari, both main characters are named Arata. They're generally distinguished by called the one who has a last name (Hinohara) by it. In Japanese, the reader can distinguish between the two in the dialogue by whether or not "Arata" is written with kana or kanji; Hinohara's name is written with the latter, and any character in either world that knows about the nature of the switch will have their dialogue use the correct kanji/kana when referring their respective Arata.
  • The sheer number of characters in Prince of Tennis means that names end up being repeated. There are three Hiroshis (Wakato, Yagyuu and Chinen), two Hikarus (Amane and Zaizen), two Kentarous (Aoi and Minami) and so on. Luckily the majority of them are on a Last-Name Basis. (Note also that many of these names are homophones, but written with different kanji.)
  • Monster has two Martins, two Adolfs, and two Karls. There are also three different Ottos, although one is a story-book character within the series.
  • While the Naruto manga alone, as a sheer result of a huge-ass cast with databooks giving practically every character seen for even a moment a name, has only one exception (both one of Danzo's bodyguards and the host of the 7-tailed beast are named "Fu"), if you go multi-media there are several characters with repeated names. For example, both Sasori's puppet armor (and thus the person he made it from) and the Big Bad of the sixth movie/third Shippuden movie are named "Hiruko", a subject of Orochimaru's cursed seal experiments and the main villain of the Three Tails filler arc are named "Guren", a minor filler character is named "Yagura", which later turned out the name of the former Three Tailed beast host and the Fourth Mizukage, and both there are two unrelated Fuma Clans (one from a filler arc, one mentioned to be where Pain's first Animal Path came from). However, the Japanese spellings of these characters names are different. There was a filler character called Jiroubo in addition to the canon Jiroubo. Also Matsuri was used as the name of Gaara's student/fangirl and a girl in Konohamaru's academy class. In the anime, Sabu for some reason had his name changed to Kin, which was the name of one of the Sound Village genin.
  • In Eyeshield 21, the Kyoshin Poseidons have two Hiroshis on their team (Hiroshi Ohira and Hiroshi Onishi).
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni'' has Jirou Tomitake and Daiki Tomita -- both of whom are almost always addressed or referred to by their surnames. Incidentally, they both happen to look similar, though Tomita is just a minor character. Plus, Tomitake's name is implied to be an alias, anyway.
  • Averted in Umineko no Naku Koro ni, where the Ushiromiya family's (presumably) human butler Genji's family name ("Ronoue") is pronounced almost exactly the same as the name of Beatrice's demon butler ("Ronove"). This may be significant.
  • Shuffle has two Rins: the male lead and one of the love interests (in her case it's short for Nerine). Sometimes you can tell which character is being addressed by the Honorifics used. For instance, when Sia uses the affectionate term "Rin-chan", she means Nerine; she likes Rin but doesn't know him as well, so he's usually "Rin-kun" unless she's being very serious.
  • Mai-Otome has two recurring characters named Mikoto, one an Expy of the Mai-HiME character of the same name, the other is Queen Mashiro's pet cat. There actually is a connection between them.
  • One Piece has a couple people named John: Zoro's old friend and fellow Bounty Hunter Johnny, Marine John Giant, one of the Zombie Generals of Thriller Bark was named Captain John, and the G8 Filler arc features a Marine Vice Admiral named Johnathan.
    • Ace's cover story, where he's hunting down Blackbeard (real name Marshall D. Teach), once has him run into a similar looking but completely unrelated Dr. Blackbeard, who he mistook for Teach, kicked in the face, and was throw into a river by the townsfolk this angered.
    • It has also has two Jones's - Hody Jones and Davy Jones himself.
  • Digimon has pairs of monsters with the same names that are distinguished by their levels--Rapidmon (Armor) from the Digimon 02 movie and Rapidmon (Ultimate) from Digimon Tamers, and Kumamon (Rookie), originally Bearmon, from Digimon World 3 and Kumamon (Hybrid), originally Chakkumon[1], from Digimon Frontier. When two digimon are different enough but of the same name and level, fans list the year the new one was introduced to draw a distinction such Adventure and Adventure 02s Agumon and Savers' Agumon(2006).
    • Some are fixed by Dub Name Change. There are two digimon named Deathmon who are completely unrelated. The dub names the new one Ghoulmon to distinguish them. Then there are two digimon named Deathmeramon, who are only superficially related. The Dub changes the new one to Skullmeramon.The New Metalgreymon may get the same treatment.
  • Miyuki http://www.mangafox.com/manga/miyuki/ has two girls named Miyuki. Both are love interests for the protagonist. One of them is his stepsister. Confusion between the two does become a bit of a plot point.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho has Kurama's little stepbrother Shuuichi, which is same as Kurama's human name.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler's Izumi and Isumi, are mixed up by fans often, but haven't yet had the issue within the story. Until the story, they apparently had little interaction and even their social groups are separated, so it might never come up.
    • Most of the male characters have similar-sounding names, but given the Unwanted Harem style of the story, they're never likely to come to even meet.
  • Ghost Sweeper Mikami has two Orihime; one's a weaver for spirits and gods, the other is the legendary star goddess whose doomed love affair the Tanabata festival celebrates. Still, since they're both practically one-shots (the former, after her first appearance, is only referred to by name once or twice afterwards, and the latter is a one-shot), there's no risk of confusion whatsoever.
  • Osamu Tezuka had a manga series entitled Adolf ni tsugu ("Tell Adolf"), that featured three characters with the name, set during World War Two. One was Adolf Kamil, a Jewish emigre living in Japan, the second was his friend, a Japanese German named Adolf Kauffman, and then... umm... a third one...
  • Bakuman。 has two Hattoris, who are apparently not related. Akira Hattori is the main characters' editor, while Yujirou Hattori is Eiji Nizuma and Shinta Fukuda's editor. Yujirou is typically referred to by his first name to keep them separate, and when he calls Akira by his last name, Akira thinks to himself that he has the same last name.
  • There's only one Haruhi. When Kyon asks about her in the movie Disappearance, only one character can remember a Haruhi from years ago. This is a name so common in Japan that it doesn't get a One Mario Limit in spite of the series popularity, but in her world, she really is that special.
    • This just might be justified by what Haruhi is, so she wouldn't want anyone else to share her name.
  • Played With in Ichinensei Ni Nacchattara. The people who knew Iori as a teenager and see him as a first grader don't suspect anything, because teenagers turning into children is impossible and they assume that "Iori-chan" just happens to have the same name as someone they know. Of course, both Ioris are the same person. Later, when Iori has gone past the Despair Event Horizon he questions whether or not he ever was a teenager or had just received memories of someone with the same name, a la Swamp Thing. Of course, this is not the case and he gets better.
  • In Sketchbook, cat lover Sora encounters a new stray cat and decides to call him Haa. Her brother then points out that there's already a cat with that name around, so she comes up with a new one. She also names all Calico's "Mike", after the Japanese name for Calico "Mikeneko", resulting in "Mike the 2nd", "Mike the 3rd", etc. Eventually neither Sora, nor the cats themselves can remember who's who.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, there's Kyouko and Kyousuke, both recurring characters. This may not look identical, but since "-ko" and "-suke" are gender-specific name suffixes, their name were practically homophonous. So, when a character called 杏子 was introduced after Kyousuke, people thought her name would be pronounced Anko because of this trope. "Anko" remained Kyouko's Fan Nickname.
  • The World God Only Knows has two characters named Ryou. One is a delinquent at Keima's school, and the other is Nora's human partner.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion oddly has Ikari as the last name for two main characters (father and son) and a secondary character whose first name is Hikari.
  • Subverted in X/1999. One character is named Seishirou Sakurazuka. Another one is named Seiichirou Aoki- and is referred to as Aoki, probably in order to avoid confusion.


Comic Books

  • Marvel has Johnny Storm and Johnny Blaze and they both use fire.
    • And of course you've got two Hanks running around (Pym of the Avengers and McCoy of the X-Men).
      • And working together in the Secret Avengers, for more name-based confusions since they both fill the scientist role and the teams on first name basis.
  • The Plain Janes the five lead characters are all named Jane. They have adjectives attached to help determine who is who. Ex: Theatre Jane.
  • Pearls Before Swine has its endless supply of "Bobs" in addition to Neighbor Bob and the fictitious Angry Bob. Stephan Pastis wrote in commentary that "Bob" is a funny name. It has two "b"'s ("b" is a funny sounding letter), it's a palindrome, and a verb.
  • The Adventures of Tintin has two detectives that look nearly identical and are named "Thomson" and "Thompson" (Dupond and Dupont in the original French). This also a case of No Name Given, as neither has a first name ever mentioned that could be used to tell them apart.
    • Though in a straight example, a third character coincidentally carrying the same name, Allan Thompson, effectively got his surname erased in the English translation to avoid undue confusion.
  • In the series Alias (no relation to the TV series), the main character, Jessica Jones, had a run-in with another Jessica, Jessica Drew. Both Jessicas were former superheroes turned private investigators. This is a plot point, because another character, Mattie Franklin (former superhero turned junkie) broke into Jones' office, thinking it belonged to Drew, whom she knew and was looking for.
    • It also may be some Lampshade Hanging, as Brian Michael Bendis had actually wanted to write the series about Jessica Drew, but Marvel didn't want to risk her on a MAX title. So instead, the somewhat similar Jessica Jones was created and retconned into the Marvel Universe.
  • Scott Pilgrim has a second character named Scott, who is always referred to by the rest of the cast as "Other Scott". Regular Scott also has a tendency to mix up people with similar names, and for most of the second book confuses Lucas Lee (the villain), Lucas "Crash" Wilson (a member of the series' recurring "Quirky Miniboss Squad") and Luke Wilson (the actor) as well as when referring to Todd Ingram (the evil vegan ex) says "Todd Rundgren or whatever is psychic!"
  • In The DCU, any two characters who share a surname will always turn out to be related -- though rarely will either character be created with that intention. This often occurs with characters who were originally published by different companies that were eventually assimilated by the Borg acquired by DC. They've even done it with a Sanders and a Saunders, who became distant cousins or something.
    • In his first appearance, Harvey "Two-Face" Dent was named Harvey Kent. This was changed to avoid suggesting a familial connection to that other Kent gentleman.
    • Chuck Dixon actually wanted to make Dinah Drake, the original Black Canary, the great-aunt of Tim Drake, the third Robin, but DC Editorial shot it down. Pity, given that it was more plausible than some of the other examples: both Drake families are, canonically, long-time Gotham residents.
  • In the Batman family, there are two Harvey's; Harvey "Two-Face" Dent and Detective Harvey Bullock.
    • There are also two Victor's: Victor Fries and Victor Zsasz.
  • Marvel has two Hanks, both of whom are doctors and Avengers. In an X-Men/Star Trek crossover, Nurse Chapel asks for "Dr McCoy?"
    • The Beast referred to this at least once (outside the crossover), saying that whenever addressed as "Dr. McCoy, he felt the urge to say, "He's dead, Jim!"
    • They also DO have 2 Steves - Steve Rogers and Stephen Strange. Fortunately, while Captain America is occasionally called Steve, it's very rare for anyone to refer to Dr. Strange by his first name
      • And when they do, it's always Stephen, not Steve.
  • Incidentally, Marvel refuses to have two active super-heroes by the same name, in two separate collections but in the same universe. They can have, say, the Chameleon impersonating Spider-Man in his series, or a new Captain America while Steve Rogers cannot use the shield. However: When Jim Starlin wanted to resurrect Adam Warlock, the Warlock from the New Mutants had to go -- and was killed in his own series. Similarly, the return of "the man called Nova" (Richard Rider) meant that the girl called Nova (Frankie Raye, herald of Galactus) was to be killed.
    • X-Man Robert "Bobby" Drake aka Iceman and New Mutant Roberto "Bobby" Da Costa aka Sunspot.
    • Young X-Man Hope Abbott aka Trance and Hope the Mutant Messiah raised in exile by Cable.
    • Peter Rasputin and Peter Wisdom. This would not be particularly notable (the X-Books have Loads and Loads of Characters, and Wisdom never uses his full name anyway) except a) they spent a fair amount of time in the same title and b) both of them have dated Kitty Pryde. They also share the name with the Marvel Universe's Peter Parker.
      • Averted, during Excalibur Rasputin was usually called Piotr, his actual name.
    • Penance from Generation X came back after Speedball had gone emocore and called himself Penance as well. Nowadays she's called Hollow.
    • In New X-Men: Academy X, there are technically two Joshes in the New Mutants squad - Joshua Guthrie (Icarus) and Josh Foley (Elixir). However, earlier in Uncanny X-Men, Josh Guthrie decided to go by "Jay" because he feels that after his girlfriend died his old name should be left in his past too.
    • There is a "Laurie" and a "Laura" in New X-Men: Childhood's End, but one is dead and one can't die.
    • X-Men used an aversion of this as part of Jubilee's backstory -- her parents were murdered because her father happened to have the same name as another doctor who was involved with organised crime.
    • Kurt Wagner aka Nightcrawler and Juggernaut's father Kurt Marko. Nathan Christopher Charles Summers aka Cable, named after his grandfathers Nathaniel Essex, Christopher Summers, and Charles Xavier. Victor Creed aka Sabretooth and Victor Borkowski aka Anole. Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain and Charles's father Brian Xavier.
    • Silly, because like many above examples, not only were the two Warlocks not related in anyway, they both had enemies called The Magus, who also were not related in anyway other than name.
      • Although the New Mutants Warlock was named so as a homage to Adam Warlock, hence why he also had a villain named the Magus.
        • To further the point. Adam Warlock's Magus was a possible future incarnation of himself. New Mutants' Magus is the father of their Warlock and its their custom for the child to kill the father and then become the new Magus.
      • Please note that none of these characters use any kind of magic!
  • Cassandra Cain and Cassandra Sandsmark filled the roles of Batgirl and Wonder Girl, respectively. While Wonder Girl is still the same person, the mantle of Batgirl was passed to Stephanie Brown.
    • Cassie Sandsmark was on the Young Justice team with Cissie Jones-King & a girl called Suzee. They were all blonde. Meanwhile Marvel had already had a blonde teen character named Cassie Lang. This was called out by fans as a bunch of girl characters too similar. Eventually Cissie quit & Suzee started going by Greta.
    • There's also Connor Hawke (the second Green Arrow) and Conner Kent (Superboy).
  • And then there's James Robinson's Starman series....
  • In Y: The Last Man Yorick sleeps with a woman with the same name as his fiancee Beth. As a result Beth II (or Other Beth) has a child she names Beth Junior. Eventually all three meet up in Paris.

 Hero: "I'm sorry Beth, but Beth has a right to know about... Beth."

Beth: "What?"

Beth 2: "I know it would have probably been easier if I'd named her Betty or Elizabeth, but I've never gotten along with chicks who go by the variations, have you?"

  • Jason Todd (the second Robin) shares a first name with Jason Garrick (the first Flash), Jason Bard (private investigator and occasional love interest to Barbara Gordon) and Jason Blood (the demon Etrigan), among others.
  • Most of José Carioca's various relatives are also named José (family reunions must be confusing). Fortunately, they all have unique last names that they can be identified by. For extra fun, José's rival (Who's not related to him) is also named José. This is probably because it's a stereotypical name for a Brazilian.
  • Peanuts had two characters named Patty. The original Patty dates from the first strip, and wore a checkered dress and bow. The more memorable character was the later appearing Peppermint Patty. One would assume the pun necessitated the exception, but Original Patty disappeared by the mid '70s. (Worth pointing out, too, is that Original Patty was Charlie Brown's very first antagonist in the first-ever Peanuts strip (when CB was something of a Jerkass, not the lovable emo kid we know and love), while Peppermint Patty was always portrayed as being madly and desperately in love with the clueless Chuck.)
  • Three Mikes in the coming-of-age book set in The Eighties, The Copybook Tales.
  • In an Americomics Blue Bulleteer oneshot, the heroine known as the Blue Bulleteer crosses paths with a hero also calling himself the Blue Bulleteer. Neither has ever heard of the other. She's had the name for longer, but he had it patented. By the end of the story they seem to have reconciled the fact that they operate under the same, because they both keep using it afterwards.
  • In X-Force, team director/owner Spike Freeman and team member the Spike shared a name. Lampshaded when Mr. Freeman says he really likes the Spike, and not just because of his name. Interestingly, this is the only time it ever came up, since the director usually goes by "Mr. Freeman" anyway.
  • Not really noticed much, because they usually use other names/nicknames, but there are a lot of Jameses in the Marvel Universe. James 'Logan/Wolverine' Howlett, James 'Bucky' Buchanan Barnes, James 'Jamie/Multiple Man' Maddrox, and James 'Rhodey/War Machine' Rhodes. And that's not counting really minor characters like James 'Jimmy/X-Ray' Darnell, James 'Mad Jim' Jaspers, and James Braddock from Captain Britain. People in Marvel really like the name James.
  • Averted in British girls' comic Bunty, whose main strip The Four Marys was Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The girls went by nicknames based on their surname - "Raddy" (Mary Radleigh), "Cotty" (Mary Cotter), "Simpy" (Mary Simpson) and "Fieldy" (Mary Field.)
  • In Marvel Comics, Cain Marko is the Juggernaut; William Baker, alias Flint Marko, is the Sandman; Michael Marko is "Man Mountain" Marko. This wouldn't be so unusual if the last name weren't so uncommon, really.
  • In Judge Dredd comics there have been two completely separate characters with the incredibly specific name "Spikes 'Harvey' Rotten", and in addition to sharing the same name, both were reputed to be ruthless bikers and part of a biker gang called "The Muties." The only thing that really sets them apart is their physical appearance. The first Spikes "Harvey" Rotten was a minor character who died in an illegal street race through Mega-City One; the second accompanied Dredd on his trek to Mega-City Two during the "Cursed Earth" story arc.
  • The mothers who raised Superman and Batman are Martha Kent and Martha Wayne, respectively. Due to the Death By Origin Story of the latter, there is only one now.
  • Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog has both Ray the Manta Ray (leader of the Forty Fathom Freedom Fighters and Canon Foreigner) and Ray the Flying Squirrel (member of the Chaotix, originally from Sega Sonic the Hedgehog). When the original Ray was introduced, the writers most likely hadn't heard of the game Ray (or weren't planning to ever use him).
  • James "Jim" Gordon married Babara Kean Gordon. They had two kids, James and Barbara Gordon.
  • Deliberately averted with various minor characters in The Walking Dead, as it would really stretch suspension of disbelief to not have any repeating names among all the random groups of survivors.
  • Originally, the name "Starfire" belonged to a Russian superhero, but over time he fell into obscurity. The name then became associated with the Teen Titans character. When the original was used again later, his name had changed to Red Star.
  • Early in The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker dated Betty Brant while his classmate Liz Allan made a play for him. Both girls were called pet forms of the name Elizabeth. Meanwhile in The Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner's love interest was Betty Ross; and Betty (or Betsy) Ross had also been the name of a Captain America supporting character in the Golden Age, who for a time became his sidekick, the first Golden Girl. Betty Brant worked as secretary to J. Jonah Jameson, a position where after her wedding to Ned Leeds she was replaced by the rather similar sounding Gloria Grant.
  • There's something about "Mary" for Peter Parker: His late mother was called Mary Parker, while his Aunt May bears a name that can be a variation of "Mary". Peter went on to date and eventually marry Mary Jane Watson, the niece of Aunt May's best friend, Anna May Watson (and in the New Testament, Anna is the mother of Mary). It later was revealed that MJ's mother was called Madeline (a French variant of Mary Magdalene). And when Peter and Mary Jane had a daughter, they decided to call her May.
  • Played with in Fables. Jack Horner, Jack of the Tales, Jack o' Lantern, Jack Frost, Jack B. Nimble, Jack B. Quick, and Jack Giantslayer are all aliases for the same person. Every last fable about someone called Jack, with the exceptions of Jack Spratt, Jack Ketch and Jack Frost (in The Great Fables Crossover), seems to turn out to be him, and he magically becomes the central character of any story he's in, to such a degree they had to boot him out of the comic.
  • How can we forget Captain Marvel one male and one female and there were at least two Ms. Marvels too.
  • Adverted in the Universe as a whole, but played straight in story basis in the Mickey Mouse Comic Universe. Since is also a Mythology Gag, the name Mortimer is used a lot. But, the Mortimers never interact and are keep in the boundaries of the story been told at the same time.


Fanfiction

  • Forward has three different criminal groups using the name "Talon" - two of whom are on the same space station. Apparently none of these criminals are terribly creative.
  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero, by including characters from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, ends up with two characters with the given name Keiichi, who are about the same age and have similar occupations. Though Tamaru Keiichi, the canonical Haruhi Suzumiya character, is extremely minor and may not even appear more than once.
  • Discussed in Grace Under Pressure, Courage Under Fire, when Kurt asks Dave why he uses his friend Azimio Adams' first name, but his other friend Anthony Rashad's last name. Dave explains that while there is only one Azimio at school, there are several Anthonys, so calling him Rashad is really just a way to avoid confusion. (Note that Anthony Rashad is the only Anthony mentioned in Canon.)
  • In the Daria series "Falling Into College," Quinn winds up dating a guy also named Quinn, who is called "Q" to avoid confusion.


Film

  • Averted in Boys which featured an inordinate number of characters (male lead included) called John.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Zigzagged. It features a seven man elite Army squad that included three-and-a-half characters named James. The half is a guy called Jacques, which is the French form of James. However, only one is ever referred to as James, and he usually goes by his nickname anyway. The others don't ever have their names mentioned, except in the credits.
    • Played straight that there is only one Steve.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's classic Shadow of a Doubt stars Joseph Cotten as an Affably Evil Serial Killer named Charlie, and Teresa Wright as his adoring niece, also named Charlie.
  • Heathers: three of the lead cast are called Heather. As the name implies.
  • Die Hard has a duo of FBI Agent Johnsons. No relation. One even answers a phone, "This is Agent Johnson. No, the other one." Die Hard 4.0 has a callback with another Agent Johnson, and McClane reacts with alarm at the name.
  • In The Science of Sleep there is Stéphane and Stéphanie.
  • The Big Lebowski: the basis of the entire plot is that a slacker named Jeffrey Lebowski is mistaken for a millionaire of the same name. Nicknamed "The Dude" and "The Big Lebowski" respectively, to avoid confusion.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean had William Turner (Bootstrap Bill) and his son William Turner (Will). (And HIS son, William Turner the 3rd) Justified Trope since it a common real life naming convention for fathers and sons. It's also used for a throwaway joke.
  • The sequel to Chinatown, The Two Jakes, says right in the title that there are two primary characters named Jake.
  • Office Space has 'the Bobs'. And the Lumburghs.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade features a father and son pair of Dr. Henry Joneses, which is highlighted when a character greets, "Doctor Jones" and both reply. The younger Jones, however, prefers going by "Indiana" rather than his first name or "Junior." In the fourth film, there's a third Henry Jones.
  • Night of the Blood Beast may or may not have featured a team of scientists named "Steve", perhaps foreshadowing the IRL Project Steve.
  • The main character of Groundhog Day is named Phil and of course there's the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. Phil, with the typical Bill Murray Typecasting, loathes the rodent even more because of this fact.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding has a funny scene in which the father introduces the extended family. Just about everyone's name is a variation of Anita or Nick.

 Gus: Welcome to my home. Over here is my brother, Ted, and his wife, Melissa, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. Over here, my brother Tommy, his wife Anzie, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. And here, my brother George, his wife Freda, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. Taki, Sophie, Kari, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, uh, Nikki, and I am Gus.

  • In Horton Hears a Who, Morton mentions that Vlad is after Horton. Horton inquires as to whether he means Vlad the Vulture, or Vlad the bunny who gives out cookies.
  • In Goodfellas, Karen's narration at her wedding reception mentions the abundance of Peters, Pauls and Maries among the guests.
  • The movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, about the early days of Microsoft and Apple, had three characters who were really named Steve - Jobs, Wozniak, and Ballmer. Risk of confusion was removed by using Ballmer's last name and Wozniak's nickname of 'Woz'.
  • The animated Ralph Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings felt that the names Sauron and Saruman were too similar, and so Saruman was renamed to "Aruman". Although they still called him Saruman half the time.
  • Played with in the baseball movie Major League: Back to the Minors. Finding that he has two Juan's on his team, the manager denotes them Juan1 and Juan2. A pitcher with a psychology degree comments about it possibly giving them issues. The manager asks if he'd like to be Juan3.
  • Black Doug and White Doug in The Hangover.
  • The Rocky series has two "Duke"s: a good Duke who was Apollo Creed's trainer until Apollo died and then became Rocky's trainer, and an evil Duke who is Tommy Gunn's manager and just wants to make money out of him. Both Dukes are black.
    • Also, Rocky's son is Rocky Jr.
  • The police station in Hot Fuzz has two Andys working there.
  • In The Terminator, the Terminator kills two other women named Sarah Connor before targeting the future mother of John Connor.
    • Also in The Terminator, it's easy to miss but both Traxler and Vukovich (the two police detectives) have the first name Ed.
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, the producers purposefully changed the name of the historical Raymond of Tripolis to Tiberias because they were afraid the audience would mistake him for Reynald de Chatillon.
  • In Blazing Saddles, the entire town of Rock Ridge is named "Johnson". Best not to dwell on it...
  • XXX has "The Ivans."
  • The Infernal Affairs trilogy has two women called Mary both of whom are successive love objects for Ming.
  • The Juon franchise has two characters called Kyoko. The first one, who has psychic powers and thus can sense that something is very, very wrong with the house, appears in the first two movies, and the second one is (arguably) the protagonist of the fourth movie.
  • Casino Royale 1967 has Sir James Bond pulled out of retirement, his name and number already given to the one we all know - spearheading a campaign against SMERSH, he gives all his agents (men and women alike) the name James Bond, to keep the enemy confused.
  • Averted in The Golden Compass where Word of God changed Iofur's (pronounced like Yo-Fur) name to the much more evil sounding Ragnar because it sounded too close to Iorek (said as Yor-ek).
  • Averted subtly in Unforgiven where the protagonist is called William and the antagonist is called Bill (which is, of course, the short form of William).
  • Subverted in Letters to Juliet when two Patricias get confused as she thinks there is only one.
  • The Hammer Horror films suffer from having a lot of characters share names. The Frankenstein movies have a seemingly endless line of guys named Hans, while the Dracula movies seem to have an infestation of Pauls.
  • Out On A Limb, starring Matthew Broderick, has a pair of brothers both named Jim. "We were named after different people though. I'm named after our Dad, and he was named after our Grandpa."
  • Played VERY straight in the 2006 film Inside Man starring Denzel Washington and Clive Owen. The main plot of the movie involves a bank heist, led by Owen's character. To confuse the police, victims and any potential witnesses, the members of the heist crew call each other differing variants of "Steve": Stevie, Steve-Oh, etc. The rather amazing thing is how smoothly they work despite this.
  • American Beauty:

  Lester: "That's our neighbour, Jim, and his partner... Jim."

  • Sister Bridget cruelly enforces this in The Magdalene Sisters. When Rose introduces herself she says they already have a Rose and has everyone call her by her middle name Patricia. Crispina's real name is Harriett so we could assume there was another Harriett in the laundry as well.
  • Averted in Slumdog Millionaire where Jamal searches the name Latika in the phone listings and gets over 3000 results. Even when he searches Salim K Malik he gets six results.
  • Averted in Black Swan. The director's name is Thomas. One minor character- one of Lily's friends at the nightclub- is named Tom.
  • Averted in, of all things, Plan 9 from Outer Space. Jeff's co-pilot is named Danny, and Tor Johnson's character is Inspector Daniel Clay. This is probably just another case of Ed Wood's general problems with internal continuity.
  • Averted in Gerry with the characters Gerry and Gerry. One of the few examples where this doesn't get confusing because they're the only two characters.
  • Averted in Mystery Men, with the leaders of the Disco Boys being Tony P and Tony C.
  • Averted in The Public Enemy. There are two guys named Patrick, but most of the time they're called Paddy Ryan and Pat Burke, so there's no reason to get confused.


Literature

  • Averted rather confusingly by Clive Cussler in his recent books, which have 2 characters named Dirk Pitt, with fairly similar personalities, both on an adventure at the same time, and without any nicknames to tell them apart. It's possible to get half way through a chapter before finding out which character you're reading about.
  • Andrey Kurkov's Death And The Penguin features two characters named Misha. One is the eponymous penguin. The other is a person, usually referred to as "Misha-non-penguin".
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms, being a novel about historical characters, can be pretty bad with this, with many major characters having similar-sounding or almost identical names. See the Chinese Real Life example below.
  • In Goethe's Elective Affinities, the alter ego nature of the two main male characters is signaled by them both being named Otto (although one goes by "Eduard" and the other is referred to as "the Captain" throughout the book); it's also no coincidence that the other two main characters are named CharlOTTe and OTTilie. Given that Goethe wrote that "There is not a line in it I have not lived", you can take it that the four characters with the same name are all author stand-ins. Then there's the baby who's the child of all four of them (it sort of makes sense in context); easy to guess what they named him.
  • Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility has three Johns: Sir John Middleton, usually referred to as "Sir John"; John Dashwood, usually referred to as "Mr. John Dashwood" or "Mr. Dashwood"; and John Willoughby, always referred to as "Willoughby". Willoughby's first name is only revealed in the signature of a letter from him.
  • Pride and Prejudice
    • Mr. Darcy's first name, Fitzwilliam, is almost never used, probably because he shares his first name with his cousin's last name.
    • There are two Catherines as well: Mr. Darcy's aunt, Lady Catherine, and Lizzie's sister Catherine, although she almost always goes by "Kitty".
    • All five Bennet sisters can be referred to as "Miss Bennet" and readers who aren't extremely careful to detail will have a hard time knowing which Miss Bennet is being mentioned.
      • "Miss Bennet" (almost?) always refers to Jane, the eldest unmarried daughter of the family, and the same convention holds in Austen's other novels as well.
  • The title character of Emma also has a baby niece named Emma. In fact, her little nieces and nephews are all named after older family members -- their parents, aunt, uncle, and grandfather respectively.
  • In Stephen King's 11/22/63, Jake runs into a phenomenon which he believes is the past 'harmonizing' with itself. One result of this is that he often runs into people who share the same, or very similar, names to people he knows very well. He notes how he has a habit of running into Georges quite frequently (George Amberson is his time-travel nom de guerre).
  • Nikolai Gogol penned a short story titled The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich, in which the trope is only slightly averted by the fact that the titular characters have different patronymics.
    • Gogol's a repeat offender -- The Inspector General features two (unrelated) characters named Piotr Ivanovich Bobchevsky and Piotr Ivanovich Dobchevsky.
  • Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. There are a mother and daughter named Catherine (the mother died in childbirth). The daughter Catherine falls in love with and marries her cousin, Linton, whose first name just happens to be her last name. She then goes on to marry her cousin Hareton Earnshaw, which makes her Catherine Earnshaw, just like her mother.
  • There are several "Tom"s in Uncle Tom's Cabin, most of whom are only referred to, and at least two "George"s.
  • The aversion is a big plot point in Wilkie Collins' Armadale, which features four different characters named Allan Armadale (granted, two of them are off the table immediately). Collins simplifies the reader's life by having one of the living Allans take the name Ozias Midwinter.
  • Tolstoy's War and Peace has many characters having some variant of Peter, Andrei, Alexander, Anna or Nikolai somewhere in their names. Luckily, most editions come with a list of the major characters and their relations in the front.
  • Dr. John Seward from Dracula, who is often called Jack by the other characters so as not to be confused with Jonathan Harker. Of course, it doesn't help that Van Helsing still refers to him by his given name.
  • PG Wodehouse was inclined to change characters' names to enforce the limit. Rupert Psmith became Ronald Psmith when in the same book as Rupert Baxter, and the valet Brinkley was renamed Bingley when he was needed in a story set at Brinkley Court.
  • Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, Aleksandr Sergeyevich Griboyedov and Aleksandr Sergeyevich the manservant of the latter in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar. But these are historical people.
  • William Faulkner's The Sound and The Fury contains two characters (one of whom is female) who are named after their uncles. The male character narrates the first part in a disjointed stream-of-consciousness that cuts between different times, often in mid-sentence, and draws no distinction between references to his being called Maury as a child and that also being the name of Uncle Maury; likewise for Quentin, his brother, and Quentin, his niece. (An appendix lists the previous Quentin and Jason Compsons: ours are III and IV, respectively.)
    • The Sartoris family, important players in many of Faulkner's other works, tear this trope to shreds. There's John Sartoris, who had a son named Bayard Sartoris, who had a son named John Sartoris, who had a son named Bayard Sartoris... yeah. Bring a flowchart.
  • I, Claudius has so many characters with the same or very similar names that the books contain a family tree to help readers work out who's who. This is because real life Romans really hated to be imaginative with names. They tended just to reuse whatever was already in the family, and to distinguish successive generations by nicknames. And that was with sons -- daughters were lucky if they've got names at all. In fact, they just had two dozen different first names for males, and all women in the Claudius family were named Claudia.
  • In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Sissy decides to call all her husbands and lovers "John" rather than use their real names. Her third husband, who finally asserts himself and insists on her and her sister using his real name, actually is a Steve.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation features an encyclopedist named Jord Fara and a priest named Jord Parma.
    • The Naked Sun has a scene where a robot is asked whether it's certain it's making a call to the right Gladia, and the robot doesn't understand the question. Because, you see, when a planet only has 20 000 people living on it, the trope can be played 100% straight.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Sam names his first three sons Frodo, Merry and Pippin respectively. He also had a son named Bilbo.
    • Bill the pony, whom the hobbits purchased from Bill Ferny. Apparently Sam wasn't good at coming up with creative names.
    • There might also have been two Glorfindels, depending on your interpretation.
    • From Tolkien's universe: Two Hador, three Ecthelion, three Beren, two Boromir, two Denethor, six Durin, and two or three Barahir.
      • The Dwarves believe each Durin is a reincarnation of the original Durin, one of the first six Dwarves, so that naming convention makes sense. It also means there should be five other Dwarf leaders somewhere with a similar history.
    • Also, from The Silmarillion, there's Miriel (Finwë's wife) and Miriel (last Queen of Númenor). They were separated by several thousand years, though.
      • Note though that no two of the same name are alive at the same time, except Merry, Pippin and some of the Durins (which may be primarily a regnal title anyway).
    • In general, The Lord of the Rings is loaded down with aversions of this trope, especially if you dig into The Silmarillion and the Appendices. This is probably because a lot of Tolkien's names were in his invented languages, whose vocabularies were somewhat limited. So you end up with heaps of names that are both unfamiliar to the modern ear, and sound very similar to each other; a lot of first-time readers struggle with this, as with the two Big Bads of the trilogy named Sauron and Saruman.
  • In Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson's Hoka stories, the Western-based Hokas are severely limited by the number of names in the source material. There are dozens of Lone Rangers, for instance -- and that's just for males. Explaining why female Hokas are still using native names, a Hoka asked how humans managed when all the females were named "Jane".
  • Darkover averts this and repeats the same names over and over and over again throughout the generations. One book has multiple Davids.
  • Hubert Selby inverts this trope by naming all his main male characters Harry. In Requiem for a Dream there is a Tyrone that is a main character, but that's the only exception.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude is the king of averting this. Having in total 22 Aurelianos, 5 Arcadios... You know what? Better just check the family tree.
    • Even worse, they're not throwaway characters-- all of the (many) main characters share the same handful of names.
  • The Last Woman in His Life by Ellery Queen: the victim has trouble choosing a dying message because almost any choice would sound similar to another person.
  • Cuando Quiero Llorar No Lloro: the three main characters have the same given name, Victorino, but they are differentiated by their last names... who began with the same letter and sound. They never met, though, since the theme of the novel was the "parallel lives".
  • The Four Johns: Shortly before her disappearance, Mary had mentioned she was going to meet "John". Unfortunately for investigators, she has four close acquaintances named John.
  • Louis Sachar's Wayside School children's books have the Three Erics in Ms. Jewls' class. One is easygoing, one is athletic, one is thin, and all are only one of the above. Their nicknames are Crabapple, Butterfingers, and Fatso, in that order.
  • Dennis L. McKiernan's Mithgar series involves two male elves that are almost always mentioned together because the characters themselves go 'wait, what' and need an explanation to clarify. Vanidor and Vanidar (who, if recalled right, are neither related nor the same type of elf) are usually referred to as their translated names of "Silverbranch" and "Silverleaf" after their first introductions in each book.
  • Orson Scott Card considers this trope one of the most important rules to follow for any writer. Even though his most well-known series has unrelated major characters named Peter and Petra. Who end up getting married...
  • In Lawrence Watt Evans' Ethshar series, there's a closed set of personal names used by Ethsharites, some of which are much more popular than others. So unrelated minor characters with the same name appear in different books, sometimes in the same book. "Kelder" is by far the most common man's name, and there are many minor characters with this name; there are also multiple characters named Kirsha, Felder, Alris, Isia, and so forth. Most people have a cognomen in addition to their name, a profession, the name of one of their parents, the place they're from, or some prominent trait.
  • In the Star Trek EU, there are at least four Vulcans named Solok (the canon captain from Deep Space Nine; an official in the Shatnerverse; a scientist for whom a science vessel is named; and a security officer in the Mirror Universe, who doesn't appear to be a version of any of the above). Maybe "Solok" is the Vulcan equivalent of "John"?
    • The Star Trek Novel Verse averts this several times. Cardassian characters are particularly notable for sharing names - a character in The Never-Ending Sacrifice has the same first name as one of Gul Dukat's sons (Mikor). In the same book, a minor supporting character (Martus Lok) shares a family name with an established major character (Pythas Lok) but is likely not a relative. In Starfleet Corps of Engineers, there's also Winn Mara, a minor supporting character and a Bajoran. She shares one of her names with Kai Winn Adami from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but there's no evidence they're related. Word of God has more or less confirmed the name "Winn" was chosen to deliberately subvert the One Steve Limit rule.
  • There are two Seans in the Maeve Binchy novel Circle of Friends; the one who's pretty much joined at the hip to his girlfriend Carmel is referred to by his friends as "Carmel's Sean."
  • In Jurassic Park, John Hammond and John Arnold share the same name--but in the movie, John Arnold became Ray Arnold.
  • In The Wheel of Time, few characters have the same names but many have very similar names, leading to confusion, especially given the great number of minor characters and the great length of narration the reader must keep in mind. Jordan made one particular effort to avert this trope, with Joiya Byir, a minor villain who shared her name with the child Egwene had had in a vision of a possible future. Since the child never really existed, this is an incredibly tenuous case, except for the fact that it causes Egwene some consternation.
  • Steven Brust hangs a lampshade on the similar names issue in an authorial aside apologising for having characters named Aliera, Adron and Aerych who spend a great deal of time discussing things for a sizeable chunk of "Five Hundred Years After". He explains that he will use descriptions rather than names where possible to avoid confusion.
  • Similar and identical names crop up repeatedly throughout A Song of Ice and Fire. The royal Targaryen line repeats names much like real royals. Noble families often name their children in honor of relatives, allies, or liege lords (most historical Starks mentioned are named "Brandon the X"). Some noble houses have common naming traditions, creating a number of relatives with similar names. For example, many Lannister names begin with Ty-, and many Greyjoy names end with -on. All noble bastards from the same geographic region are given the same ersatz surname referencing the region's terrain, such as Snow or Sand. Peasant names are even less diverse, and are usually limited to a handful of traditional lowborn names such as "Pate" and "Tansy." The culture of Westeros in particular makes heavy use of nicknames to help distinguish between people, which is particular necessary with House Frey, where Walder Frey (over 90 and on his eighth wife) has literally hundreds of descendants, a great many of whom are named Walder or Walda in his honour. Being able to pick between Black Walder and Bastard Walder among others is much appreciated, as are the extensive family listings in the rear of the books. There are also a lot of Jeynes, and a truly ridiculous number of characters, major and minor, named Jon.
    • HBO are enforcing the one Steve limit for their adaptation, at least for characters who appear alive in the story (there are two Jons, but one is a Posthumous Character). Robert Aryn (who is named after King Robert Baratheon) is being renamed Robin to avoid confusion.
  • In Robert Silverberg's The Alien Years, a rugged retired colonel named Anson founds a self-sustaining community of rugged survivors on his ranch near LA. Many of his descendants are named Anson, making it hard to tell them apart. (It doesn't help that they all have the same role in their community, and all act the same.)
  • A series of detective stories set in Wales, written by Rhys Bowen, plays on the supposed tendency of the Welsh to have many people with the same name and deal with it by attaching profession-based nicknames. The hero, Constable Evans, is "Evans the Law"; the gas-station owner is "Evans the Pump." Women go by the first name and a nickname: Constable Evans' schoolteacher ladyfriend is "Bronwen the Book." This practice may be Truth in Television.
  • The Harry Potter books mostly follow the trope, but an exception is that Tom Marvolo Riddle shares most of his name with his father (Tom Riddle) and Tom the barman at the Leaky Cauldron. When Dumbledore tells him he should have no trouble remembering the barman's name because it's the same as his, he gets angry because he doesn't like having such a common name.
    • Harry Potter also demonstrates the reason for this trope when in Order of the Phoenix, Dudley beats up a ten-year-old named "Mark Evans". Fans speculated wildly about how he was related to Lily (Evans) Potter and whether he would turn up at Hogwarts next book. After enough fans asked, JKR reluctantly admitted the character was of no significance whatsoever, she just accidentally used the same common surname twice in one book.
      • It's not impossible for Mark Evans to be a distant cousin of Lily, different branches of a family can drift apart. Also, the Evans seemed to be Mugglish, Lily's people may just have had one or two magical members compared to the rest.
    • In addition, there are two minor characters named Augustus (a Death Eater and a junior Healer). Plus a number of occasions, especially in Deathly Hallows, of children being named after other characters, both alive and dead.
    • Voldemort being named after his father caused some readers to be confused by the description of the murder of Voldemort's father and paternal grandparents in Goblet of Fire. The film producers were also apparently confused; an early promotional picture of the Riddles' gravestone gave the husband's full name as Tom Marvolo Riddle, which was Voldemort's name, not his father's.
    • In the same book, two central characters (Bartemius Crouch Senior and Junior) have the same name, but one of them is using an alias, causing the Marauder's Map to mislead Harry. Justified Trope because, as with Voldemort, they're a father and son.
    • There are also two minor characters named Ernie -- one drives the Knight Bus, the other is a Hufflepuff in Harry's year. There's also Hepzibah Smith, one of Riddle's victims who boasts of being directly descended from Helga Hufflepuff, and Zacharias Smith, an arrogant Hufflepuff himself. Some fans have speculated that they're related in some way.
    • There's also Frank Bryce (gardener of the Riddle Family in Goblet of Fire) and Frank Longbottom, Neville's father. To drive it even further the Norwegian translation gives George Weasley the name "Frank Wiltersen."
    • Apparently the name Cassandra is a common one for Seers; we hear of Sybill Trelawney's great great grandmother Cassandra Trelawney as well as the author of Unfogging the Future, Cassandra Vablatsky.
    • Of course, we have the Potter family itself. Harry's parents are named James and Lily Potter. Harry names his oldest son and his only daughter after his parents; making their names....James and Lily Potter!!
    • Then there's the Black Family, who have a penchant for naming their children after stars, resulting in 3 known Sirius Blacks, Harry's Godfather, Sirus Black III, that Sirius' Great Grandfather, Sirius II, and Sirius II's Uncle Sirius I.
  • A rather amusing subversion because of the irony, in the Discworld book The Last Continent: "Rincewind!" "Yes?" "No, no, I mean the Archchancellor." "But... I'm named Rincewind." "There's a coincidence. So am I." They eventually decide they must be related simply because they share such an uncommon name. Made even more interesting when Archchancellor Ridcully showed up, although each Archchancellor made sure to refer to the other with a lower-case "a" in "archchancellor." Doing nothing to abate the confusion.
    • And then there's Ridcully, High Priest of Blind Io. It doesn't count, though, because he is Archchancellor Ridcully's brother.
      • In addition to the above, in Eric, Rincewind meets Lavaeolus, whose name translates to "Rinser of winds".
    • Unseen Academicals introduces us to "Bledlow Nobbs" who is so insulted by being thought to be related to Nobby Nobbs that the second half of the book calls him "Bledlow Nobbs (No Relation)".
    • In Maskerade there's one character called Henry Slugg and another called Henry Lawsy. However, it turns out that Slugg is Lawsy's father, and Lawsy was named after him.
    • Not to mention the multiple Williams in the books. We have William de Worde, William the Gonagle, a dead William in Borogravia, and his son William, a Will in the opera house, and probably more.
    • Pterry also plays with the nicknames that are given to characters of the same name:
      • In Hogfather, one of the thugs hired by Mr. Teatime is called Medium Dave because Ankh-Morpork's underworld already had Big Dave, Fat Dave, Mad Dave, Wee Davey and Lanky Dai.
      • In The Wee Free Men we learn that there are so many Feegles that are called Jock that the Gonnagle in training's name is "Not-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock Jock". And he insists on the full name every time, because "Not-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock-Jock" is a time-honored name for the Pictsies.
    • Averting this trope en masse is a big part of the Igor tribe's identity.
  • A joke version shows up in The Dresden Files. When Harry's recovering from his injuries in the care of Michael's family, one of his kids calls Harry "Bill" because "we've already got a Harry" (Michael's youngest, named, in fact, after Harry).
    • Even funnier when you consider that there's already a "Billy," although the girl probably didn't know that.
    • Also in the same series there are two Michaels, the human knight of the cross, and the Archangel... Although the latter is only mentioned in passing it does cause some confusion when another knight of the cross Saya mentions that Michael recruited him... "no not that Michael."
  • In one of the Thursday Next books, this trope comes up, and it is revealed that one of Hemingway's last novels was never written because he insisted all the characters had the same name. In Thursday's world, since literature is so popular, many people have changed their names to famous authors. New laws were passed forcing a number suffix (normally in subscript) on each name (like: Francis Bacon1231), after a court case where the judge, defendant, and the whole jury had changed their names to Christopher Marlowe.
  • In Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold
    • The Quaddies have no family names but maintain uniqueness with numbers; a major character, Garnet Five, is almost never just called "Garnet" in either dialog or narration. She says that the last time she checked, there were eight Garnets. It is mentioned that there is a quaddie named Leo Ninety-Nine, although we never meet this character.
    • Also averted en masse by the Vor class of Barrayar, who traditionally name firstborn sons for their grandfathers (paternal, then maternal) and secondborn sons with their grandfathers' middle names (maternal, then paternal), which makes reading Barrayaran history very confusing.
    • From the same series, Bujold had initially wanted to name a supporting character "Nile" but was told by her editor that proofreading a book about "Miles" and "Nile" would be a nightmare.
  • Jennifer Government has two John Nikes, although one remains in a coma for most of the book. It also has a Bill NRA and a Billy NRA, and the characters mistake one for the other. Shows what you get when everyone's last name is the same as the company they work for...
  • The Vatta's War series has two moderately important characters named Gary. One is only in the first book and the other doesn't show up until the fourth book, but it's still kind of disorienting.
  • In the Betsy the Vampire Queen books by MaryJanice Davidson, the titular Betsy has a stepmother named Antonia, spitefully addressed as The Ant by Betsy. Later, a psychic werewolf also named Antonia joins the True Companions. Betsy, horrified by the reminder of her Wicked Stepmother, tries to change her name to Toni, but Antonia won't have it. At one point, Betsy muses on the oddity of meeting two different people with the same unusual name, and for the rest of the next two books the group has to clarify to which Antonia they're referring. (The issue is settled when werewolf!Antonia takes a very high-caliber bullet to the head.)
  • Even similar themed names can be confusing. Some readers kept mixing up Rosie and Daisy in Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys.
  • Averted by Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, where there is an entire sinister organisation of men named Jack.
  • Next by Michael Crichton has two ten-year-old boys named Jamie. You could hardly blame the bad guys when they snatched the wrong kid.
  • The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson has two characters called John -- Gless and Moffat.
  • John Green's An Abundance of Katherines has two main characters named Colin, one of whom has dated nineteen girls named Katherine.
    • John Green seems fond of averting this trope. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan has two protagonists, both named Will Grayson.
  • Part of the crux of the concept of My Name Is Will is that both protagonists are named William Shakespeare, one of them being that Shakespeare.
  • The Safehold series by David Weber treats this interestingly. Most names have distorted spellings and sometimes pronunciations. Every once in a while there will be, for instance, two Erics, but they're distorted differently (Erek and Erayk).
  • Averted in The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. The first book, The Way of Shadows, has fairly important characters named Aleine (the king), Elene (the love interest), and Ilena (one of the hero's foster sisters). There's also a pair of (apparently unconnected) villains named Roth and Garoth, but Roth is Garoth's son and was probably named after him. Roth is working on his own to earn his place as Garoth's son.
  • Partial aversion: Stephen King's novel Under the Dome has an Andy (male, short for Andrew) and an Andi (female, short for Andrea).
  • Nick Cave's novel The Death of Bunny Munro has two characters named River. Oh, and three named Bunny Munro (grandfather, father, and son). Just in case you thought the title was a spoiler.
  • A Conspiracy of Kings has two minor characters named Ion. The fact is slightly lampshaded by the subliminal reaction this produces in Costis.
  • Atlanta Nights seems to be a demonstration of why this trope exists. There are three characters named Richard Isaacs, Isaac Stephens, and Stephen Suffern. Isaac Stephens interacts with each of the other two at least once, and both times the characters are referred to by whatever name would cause the most confusion. And, this being Atlanta Nights, the narrator has trouble keeping them straight.
  • In the first book of the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy, Kate contemplates naming an orphaned baby girl "Charm", after the King's Wife Charm that protected them both. The Charm protests that they'd never know which of them was being called on, then dubs the baby Matilda instead.
  • Aldous Huxley's Brave New World mentions this problem: Lenina Crowne works with another Lenina, due to an extremely small naming pool and no creativity allowed; it's implied that children are named by beaurocratic fiat, since they're all grown externally. However, none of the main characters have shared names.
  • In Sword of Truth, there are three Saras (including one doll), and two Drefans. However, only one of each group truly has a major role.
  • In Life of Pi, there are two unrelated characters named Mr. Kumar. This is to help set them off as complimentary opposites in Pi's life: one an atheist science teacher, the other an uneducated but devoutly religious shopkeeper.
  • Lampshaded in Who? by Algis Budrys, when Lucas Martino goes off to live with his uncle Lucas Maggiore. His uncle immediately says, "Lucas and Lucas---that's too many Lucases in one store." Lucas Martino is promptly nicknamed Tedeschino, but the narration continues to use his original name.
  • Steven Pinker discusses names in a chapter of The Stuff Of Thought. He opens the chapter talking about the commonness of his own name, joking about the prominence of smart successful people named Steve - Stephen Hawking, Stephen J. Gould, Stephen King, Steven Rose, Steve Jobs, the two authors of Freakonomics, and even includes a cartoon someone drew of a guy looking at a previous Pinker book and buying it deciding "If he's called Steve, he must know what he's talking about!" as he is surrounded by a bookshelf full of many of the aforementioned Steve authors.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • The last name of the Rebel pilot in Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope, the one who was force-garroted by Vader, was Antilles. Wedge, a fighter pilot beloved by the EU, also has the last name Antilles, and isn't related - in one book he meets his new quartermaster, a droid who was on the Tantive IV, who tells him that it's pleased to serve under another Antilles and hopes things will end better this time, to Wedge's discomfort. It's mentioned that this is a common last name - in the comics, a short-lived Jedi character who is of the philosophy that Jedi should own nothing, not even their names, goes by Jon Antilles, and it's mentioned that no one thinks that's what he was born as.
    • In Episode I, the senator from Alderaan is Bail Antilles, and his successor, better known as Leia's adoptive father, is Bail Organa.
    • Mace Towani from Caravan of Courage and Mace Windu from the prequels.
    • Anakin Skywalker and Anakin Solo. Although the latter is named directly for the former, his grandfather.
    • "Mala" or "Malla" is the short form of Chewbacca's wife's name, the name of Wedge's doomed girlfriend from just before he joined the Rebel Alliance, and the name of a bounty hunter who amused the Emperor with her audacity.
  • An interesting use of this trope comes from Cory Doctorow's novel Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, in which the main character and his siblings each have a unique starting letter, but may be referred to by any name starting with that letter. All other characters have unique and consistent names, none of which share starting letters with the siblings. It works surprisingly well, and you may not even notice the oddity until halfway through the book.
  • Agatha Christie's Peril at End House averted this; it turns on Magdala "Nick" Buckley and Magdala "Maggie" Buckley.
  • Played with in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, when Gordon talks to his sister Susan's answering machine. Gordon's secretary is also named Susan, and he keeps making asides to clarify which Susan he's referring to.
  • A minor example shows up in Great Expectations. There is Georgiana, as in Pip's mother who he calls "Also Georgiana" early on, and a different Georgiana in the Pocket family. Of course, neither of them have much of an important role, so it's easily overlooked.
  • The Gaunt's Ghosts books have an interesting aversion of this, as there are several minor characters named after the highly-regarded Saint Sabbat. On top of that, Sabbat herself gets reincarnated over the course of the books.
  • In Time Flies With Ms Wiz when Nabila and Ms Wiz are searching for Jack in an Elizabethan village, one of the village girls remarks that there are a couple of Jacks in the village.
  • In Girl, Interrupted, a new patient with the name Lisa arrives on the ward. Lisa Rowe becomes competitive with this girl, and makes sure that she is known simply as Lisa, while the new girl is known as Lisa Cody.
  • Played with in a children's book called The Adventures of Ali Baba Bernstein. The protagonist, a kid named David Bernstein, hated how boring and common his name was, and when he looked it up in the phone book he found there were eight other David Bernsteins listed.
  • Heavily averted and lampshaded in Robert Rankin's The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, due to an abundance of nursery-rhyme characters all named Jack: Jack Spratt, Little Jack Horner, Jack-be-Nimble, and Jack of "Jack and Jill". The lead character also happens to be named Jack.
  • Averted in Homer's The Iliad, which features two Greek soldiers named Aias (or Ajax, depending on the translation). Aias, son of Telemon, is often referred to as Telemonian Aias, or Greater Aias, while the other is Lesser Aias. Collectively, they are referred to as the Aiantes.
  • In Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust, one of the main characters is a married woman named Brenda with a young son named John, who begins carrying on an affair with a man who is also named John. About halfway through, Brenda learns that "John" has died in an accident. She's too stunned to grieve until further questions reveal that it's her son, not her lover, at which point she says "oh thank God" and bursts into tears of relief.
  • Warrior Cats, a series with odd naming conventions, averts this. There are at least four Robinwings, three Birchstars, a Mousefur and a Mousewhisker (both in the same Cast Herd no less), as well as two Ashfurs and an Ashfoot. And that's just the beginning. The name prefixes and suffixes are reused many times, so even if there aren't direct duplicates, it's still confusing. For example, the most commonly used prefix is "White" - altogether in the series, you've got Whiteberry, Whiteclaw, Whitefang, Whitestar, Whitestorm, Whitetail, Whitethroat, Whitewater, and Whitewing.
  • In the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery, there are three characters with the name "Jim" or some variant of it: Captain Jim, Anne's son Jem, and the war baby Jims. Jem is named after Captain Jim, so that doesn't really count, but Jims is no relation to either.
    • An even bigger example from L. M. Montgomery's books comes from The Story Girl and The Golden Road, in which the main character and one of her friends are both called Sara. There is no confusion between the two, as the former is usually known as "The Story Girl" by her peers, and the latter is usually called by her full name, i.e. Sara Ray.
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy plays this surprisingly straight. There seems to be only one "Arthur Phillip Dent" in the entire universe. However, there is an "A-Rth-Urp-Hil-Ipdenu" on the fourth world of the Folfanga system.
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins has an unusual exception, a pair of sisters named Leeg. Katniss refers to them as Leeg 1 and Leeg 2 to differentiate, and there is never an instance of name confusion.
  • In The Queen's Own Fool there are five Marys: the titular Mary Queen of Scots and her four maids-in-waiting. The narrator keeps track of them in her mind by calling them Pious Mary, Pretty Mary, Regal Mary and Jolly Mary.
  • PG Wodehouse reused first names quite a bit within his 'verse.


Live Action TV

  • Newhart: "I'm Larry, this is my brother Daryl, and this is my other brother Daryl."
  • The Burns and Allen Show has both Harry Morton and Harry Von Zell, although Harry Von Zell is the actor/announcer's real name.
  • When a Soap Opera has been running for decades, and has a list of characters numbering in the hundreds, the writers have to get creative, and sometimes fail. Days of Our Lives featured a character named "Patch" - because he wore an eyepatch.
    • However, One Life to Live took advantage when the writers discovered they had duplicated a last name. Todd Manning was given that last name because it sounded masculine. Years earlier, Manning had been established as the last name of Victor Lord's mistress. The writers later decided that it was the same Manning, and Todd was Victor's son.
    • On the topic of ABC soaps, since all three are in-house productions, with a handful of exceptions and special examples, there are never two characters (on contract status) with the same first name on any of the three shows at the same time.

      In General Hospital, there's Lucas Lorenzo Spencer and his son of the same name. Though it is true no two will be called the same name at the same time: Here the elder goes by "Luke" and the younger goes by "Lucky" (There was also a Lucas Jones, named after the elder Luke). On the same show, there's Mike Corbin, his son Michael "Sonny" Corinthos, and his son, Michael Corinthos III. The eldest Mike has been scarce since the youngest Michael has gotten more screen time.
    • The Bold and the Beautiful seem to be the exception. Almost every child born gets their name from a relative on the show. A few examples: Bridget (a combination of Brooke + Ridge), Nicole (named after Nick), Dominic (also named after Nick, whose full name is Dominic), Jack (named after grandma Jackie and Taylor's dad Jack), Steffy (actually Stephanie Jr), Mary (named for her grandmother), Rick (whose actual name is Eric Jr), Eric III (Rick's son). In addition, Storm's actual name is Steven Jr, after his dad (who features on the show at times).
    • This trope often turns up in British soap operas:
      • Brookside had two characters in the series at the same time with the same name, albeit using different spellings: Jacqui Dixon and Jackie Corkhill. The two were seldom confused. The background to this: an existing character, Jimmy Corkhill, was given an off-screen wife called Jackie in the late 1980s. In 1990, the Dixon family moved in, with the daughter called "Jackie" (name spelt as such on the show's End Credits) - but the following year, the producers decided to make Jackie Corkhill an on-screen character; hence "Jackie Dixon" quickly became "Jacqui Dixon". The show also had Mike Dixon and Mick Johnson at the same time.
      • At one point in Coronation Street's history, there were three members of staff at the Rovers Return with the birthname Elizabeth but all using different short forms of the name; Bet Lynch (the nameplate above the front doors referring to "Elizabeth Teresa Lynch"), Betty Turpin (a previous landlady called her "Elizabeth" to differentiate between her and Bet) and Liz Mc Donald (often called Elizabeth by her husband). Today, there's only Betty and Liz who remain behind the bar at the Rovers. At her wedding, Elizabeth was also revealed to be Maureen Holdsworth's middle name.
        • For a very brief while during 2010, there were two Jacks in Coronation Street: Jack Duckworth - a long serving character who was killed off in the series that year - and Jack Dobbs, a baby born and named in honour of the other Jack a few months before the elder one's on-screen death.
        • The first two episodes featured guest character Elsie Lappin as well as regular Elsie Tanner.
      • While in Eastenders, there have been many cases of two characters having the same or similar names appearing in the show at the same time: Billy Mitchell and Billy Jackson (latterly spelt Billie), Steve Owen and Stephen Beale - and in the same family, the Slaters, there was Big Mo and Little Mo.
    • Australian soap opera Home and Away has had a couple of characters named Jack and Joey (one of the Joeys was female). But the real example? An arc in late 2009 has two characters named Ruby. One is (or was) involved with Xavier, and the other is his retarded brother's girlfriend.
  • An early episode of Roseanne revealed that DJ's real name was "David Jacob." Later, a completely different David eventually joined the show (and eventually became DJ's brother-in-law, no less).
  • ICarly: Two characters named Tasha have appeared on the show. The first in the season 1 episode iNevel, and a recurring love interest for Gibby in Season 3, in the episode iSpeed Date. Two Chuck's have appeared, with one being a delivery man and the other an evil little boy. Two Brads have appeared on the show. One was a big-shot producer of TVS (iCarly Saves TV), and the other brought the fudge (iHire An Idiot, iOMG).
    • Then in iParty With Victorious, the break the Trope Name, by having Carly's boyfriend named Steven just like Carly's father.
  • In Yo Soy Betty, la Fea, the Colombian soap that spawned Ugly Betty, the heroine, named Beatriz but going out as "Betty" for their relatives, discovers early in the soap that one of family members who own the fashion company where she now works is named "Marí­a Beatriz". And is the latter who brings out how to difference one of the other, despite she being a fashion-conscious with a Plastic surgery obsession, and Betty a self-convinced ugly with no fashion taste.
  • This was averted and played around with in Full House. Stephanie mentions that she is going to a different school than her friends, all of which were named Jennifer, and were differentiated by last initial. (Jennifer C. went to this school, Jennifer S. went to that school.) Little Michelle, who was so young at this point she was barely able to string a sentence together, turns to Stephanie and says, "Maybe you'll meet a new Jennifer."
  • So far each of the companions in Doctor Who has had a different name, though Vicki / Victoria and Sarah Jane / Sara were pretty close.
    • Ace and Dodo are both nicknames, but have virtually identical real names; Dorothy and Dorothea respectively, though both are almost always called by their nicknames.
    • "Silence In The Library" gives us two one off characters called Dave. They get called Proper Dave and Other Dave by each other and their coworkers. Both die.And are saved - literally.
    • Though it was never said on-screen, production materials give Polly's last name as "Wright", the same as Barbara.
    • Also, one of Sarah Jane's investigative team in The Sarah Jane Adventures is named Rani, which was also a name of a recurring villain from the classic series.
    • All this said, the surnames "Jones" and "Smith" are disproportionately common (or rather, proportionately common, as it's only really a lot compared to the One Steve Limit):
      • Jones: Harriet, Ianto, Martha. Jo Grant can be included since she took her husband Clifford's name on marriage. Also Eugene from the DW spinoff Torchwood.
        • In the teleconference scene in "The Stolen Earth", three of the participants are named Jones: Harriet, Ianto, and Martha. And another's Smith (Sarah Jane).
        • The Adventure Games with the Eleventh Doctor and Amy has a computer quarantining an underwater base called Jones.
      • Smith: Sarah Jane, Mickey, Mr Smith, Luke Smith and the Doctor's traditional alias of John Smith. Presumably Ricky, Mickey's parallel world alter ego. Also, Adam Smith in one episode of Torchwood, who shares a first name with a short-term companion of the Ninth Doctor. Lampshaded in "Journey's End" when Mickey takes down a Dalek that was about to kill Sarah Jane, and quips, "We Smiths have to stick together."
      • The first episode of series 3 was appropriately called "Smith and Jones"
      • According to episode credits, Martha became Mrs Smith-Jones after her marriage to Mickey.
    • In one story arc, Big Finish used two characters called Amy and Zara. After the Eleventh Doctor's first companion was called Amy, the Big Finish character has been renamed to Abby.
    • The Whoniverse now has two "R. Williams": Rhys and Rory.
    • We have a cyborg one-shot villain working for the Cybermen as well as member of Sanctuary Base 6 under demonic possession called Tobias (Vaughn and Zed).
    • Jamie, the long-time companion of the Second Doctor, is also the name of the eponymous Empty Child.
    • The show has three monarchs called Elizabeth as well as Queen Victoria, who share names with Dr. Liz Shaw and Victoria Waterfield.
    • We have two Angela Prices in the Whoniverse, a freedom fighter against the Cybermen in a parallel universe, and the descendant of someone who helped Sarah Jane find a piece of Chronosteel in The Sarah Jane Adventures.
    • A hologram newsreader in New Earth as well as a one-shot character that faced the Weeping Angels was called Sally.
    • The scared boy in "Night Terrors" and the security guard from "Closing Time" are both called George.
    • There's Lucy Hayward, one of the Minotaur's victims in "The God Complex", and the Master's wife, Lucy Saxon. Lucy Hayward's surname was "Miller" in the original script; possibly the change was to avoid confusion with the Big Finish companion Lucie Miller.
    • The show has quite a few Thomases and Tommys. There's Tom, from The Smugglers, Tommy, from The Green Death, Tommy Connolly, from "The Idiot's Lantern", Thomas Kincade Brannigan, from "Gridlock" Thomas Milligan, from "Last of the Time Lords", and Tommy Brockless in the Torchwood episode "To the Last Man".
    • Jenny is a woman inhabited by the Family of Blood, the Doctor's daughter and one of the Doctor's army at Demon's Run. And a freedom fighter in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. And a companion in one of the stage plays.
  • Lost: In addition to Steve who survived the crash, there was another Steve on board who was killed. The show reuses names frequently: there have been several Brians, Toms, Anns, Richards, Adams, and other common names, which makes the already Epileptic Tree theories worse (see below):
    • Not to mention the constant, in-universe confusion between two characters named Scott and Steve. When one died, it actually increased the confusion, as the deceased had to be identified by name. It's made even worse by the actor playing Steve playing Scott's body, and the actor playing Scott continuing to appear on the show afterward as a nameless extra. Or maybe I switched those.
    • 'David' also crops up frequently, being the first name of Libby's deceased husband, Charlotte's father, Jack's son (in the flash-sideways) and is particularly meaningful to Hurley, as his father and imaginary friend share the name. Oh, and it's also Desmond's middle name. Show Runner Damon Lindelof has mentioned that it's probably a subconscious Freudian issue of his, as his own father is named David.
    • It is likely that Jack was actually born Jonathan Shephard meaning that he and John Locke have the same name. I always assumed that it was done on purpose to further their dichotomy. It was, however, never mentioned on the show, so its canonicity is questionable at best.
  • On Arrested Development, Lucille Bluth's best friend/rival was named Lucille Austero. This mostly resulted in problems for Buster, who was the son of one Lucille and briefly dated the other. For example, he once bid on the wrong Lucille at a bachelorette auction.
    • Also 'Loose Seal!'
    • Arrested Development in general disregarded this convention. Character names included George, Michael, George Michael, Oscar, and George Oscar (though he went by his initials).
  • For several years the cast of The Daily Show included a Steve Carell and a Stephen Colbert. They actually had a debate skit called "Even Steph/ven". Now they include many correspondents named "John" - John Hodgman, John Oliver, and of course the host himself, Jon Stewart.
    • There were also Rob Corddry and Rob Riggle.
  • Strictly speaking, there were three Lorelai Gilmores on Gilmore Girls - Lorelai Gilmore the mother, Lorelai "Rory" Gilmore the daughter, and Lorelai "Trix" Gilmore - Rory's great grandmother (and yes, her maiden name was Gilmore too).
  • In one episode of King of Queens Arthur shows guest star Lou Ferrigno a screenplay he wrote. Lou is confused by the fact that several characters are named Mike. Arthur explains it by asking if Lou has ever met someone else named Lou and then claims his screenplay is "true to life".
  • Primeval has two Toms. One is a main character who is blond, stocky and in the SAS; the other is one of Those Two Guys ginger, lanky, and a geeky conspiracy theory nut. They both die in the first series.
  • Home Improvement mined this for a gag, when the Show Within a Show had three generations of Al Unsers as guests, in addition to Tim's assistant Al Borland. Things got confusing real quick when Tim tried to interview Al. (Which one? Exactly.) At the end of the episode, the three Al Unsers were back wearing T-shirts labeled "Big Al", "Little Al", and "Norm-Al"; and Tim pulled out an "Abnorm-Al" shirt for Borland - but Al (B.) opened his flannel shirt to reveal that he already had a "Speci-Al" T-shirt.
    • We also find out that Al had a brother named Cal, which is probably meant to poke at this trope.
      • Then we learn their mother's name... Alma.
  • CSI has two Davids. Assistant coroner David Phillips is sometimes referred to as Super Dave, while the lab tech is only ever called by his surname, Hodges.
    • Doc Robbins' first name was also 'David' before they changed it to 'Al'. Probably aided by the fact that he is played by Robert "David" Hall, so it kinda goes along with Super Dave Phillips being played by David Berman and Archie Johnson who is played by Archie Kao.
    • Also CSI:NY's Lindsay Monroe and CSI:Las Vegas' Catherine Willows' daughter, Lindsey.
  • In The West Wing, both Josh's therapist and the psychologist they send him from ATVA are called Stanley.
    • Additionally, the speechwriting interns assigned to Will Bailey are named Lauren, Lauren, Lauren, and Cassie. He eventually gives them Washington Redskins jerseys just so he can get them straight.
    • C.J.'s press room seems to be full of people named Chris, at least one of whom is a woman. Also, in "Debate Camp" during the flashback to when she's new on the job and is memorizing who sits where, the list includes "... Julie, Julie, Julia..."
    • Aaron Sorkin likes to reuse names, which can result in jarring examples of this; for example, there's a season two episode with a character named "Bruno" and a character named "Gianelli"-- Bruno Gianelli is the campaign manager in season 3. And how many people do you know with the last name "Tascano"? Charlie knows at least two.
      • A senator named Stackhouse is mentioned in a season-one episode in a list of names of politicians who are liable to accuse the White House of being soft on drugs even though they themselves have used their influence to smooth over drug arrests for family members. In the fourth season, we're introduced to Stackhouse as an idealistic and conscientious statesman who would never do a thing like that (and whose pet project is needle exchange programs to protect heroin addicts from AIDS, not something a politician is likely to support if he cherishes a reputation for being hard on drugs). Presumably Sorkin had forgotten Stackhouse was no longer a blank slate.
    • Santos' assistant Ronna is first named in an amusing scene lampshading the similarity with Donna's name, and the confusion that can result from One Steve Limit violations when you introduce yourself with just "hi, Ronna". Of course, Donna had been on the show since the beginning, so no viewers were confused.
  • In order to preserve the surprise, and also maintain the One Steve Limit, in Time Slip, Liz's counterpart in the various potential 1990 time zones has changed her name to Beth. Simon is less lucky, and is known in the future as 2975.
  • The Sopranos: Sometimes there's a good (familiar) reason two characters would share a first name (like being cousins who were both named after the same older relative, or something like that). Often they would have nicknames, though there were two characters with the nickname "Pussy" (I think one was never actually seen though, or only in the first season or something, before he got whacked, but it's been a while). However, sharing first names and using odd nicknames, when it comes to The Mafia, is definitely Truth in Television.
    • One was 'Big Pussy', the other was 'Little Pussy'.
    • This was lampshaded in the first episode, when there was a discussion about killing "Little Pussy" and somebody thought they were talking about "Big Pussy".
    • Well at the very least there was Anthony (Tony) and Anthony Junior (AJ), not to mention Jackie Aprile and Jackie Jr.
  • Homicide: Life On the Street had two Mikes: Kellerman and Gee's FBI agent son. The latter was introduced after the former had been written off, but they met in a two-part arc and the reunion movie.
  • The Wire simultaneously included no less than five recurring characters named Michael/Mike, who had no direct connection to one another and never met: Michael Lee the teenager, Mike Fletcher the Baltimore Sun reporter, Michael Santangelo the Western District cop, Michael Steintorf the mayor's chief of staff, and Jimmy McNulty's son Michael. If you want to count very minor characters, there was also a drug dealer named "White Mike" who showed up briefly in season 2, and Omar calls out to a "Mike" in season one when he's dealing drugs off his own corner.
    • "The Greek's" was the name of a restaurant/game arcade in season one, and "The Greek" was the Big Bad of seasons two and five. As far as we know, there is no connection between the two at all.
    • Averted with regularity on this show. Dennis "Cutty" Wise and Dennis Mello; Roland "Wee-Bey" Brice and Roland Pryzbylewski; William "Bunk" Moreland and William Rawls; Tommy Carcetti, Thomas "Herc" Hauk and Thomas "Horseface" Pakusa; Johnny Weeks and Johnny "Fifty" Spamanto; Ray Cole and Raymond Foerster.
  • Chouseishin Gransazer had two episodes in a row featuring a one-off Victim of the Week both named Shinji.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series had a odd aversion. One episode featured two people with the exact same name... Claudius Marcus.
  • Dallas had three characters named 'John Ross' - the family patriarch, his eldest son and that son's son. In the show only the youngest was ever called 'John Ross', while his father (John Ross II) always went by the name 'JR' and the grandfather (John Ross I) by the name 'Jock'.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus inverted this in the Bruces sketch. The faculty of the Philosophy Department of the University of Woolamaloo are all named Bruce, and when a new instructor named Michael joins, they call him Bruce to avoid confusion.
    • It's also important to note they had two guys named Terry.
    • Several of the sketches in the series had characters named Arthur.
    • Not only did Erics feature in many sketches, but the Fish License sketch featured Eric Praline talking to Eric the Postal Clerk about a license for his pet halibut, Eric, in addition to the license he has for his cat, Eric, his dog, Eric, and his fruit-bat, Eric. When Eric refuses to give Eric a license for Eric, Eric asks for a license for Eric the half a bee, whom Eric asks Eric the orchestra leader to sing about.
  • In one episode of Lead Balloon, self-centred misanthrope Rick Spleen gets a part as Eddie in a series called "All About Eddie"; one of his friends asks if he's sure that he is the Eddie the series is all about.

 Rick: No. That'd-- why would there be two people called Eddie? That'd be stupid.

(scene change)

Rick: (on phone to director) So yeah, are there two people called Eddie, or...?

  • In the original UK version of Touching Evil, the main character's name is David Creegan, and the first episode of the second series features a character named David Laney. In the US remake, Laney's first name was changed to Stephen.
  • The Adventures of Pete and Pete, natch.
  • The final season of Soap featured the revolutionary El Puerco, whose group of guerrilla fighters is almost completely wiped out, leaving only Juan, Juan, and Juan. After the requisite name confusion jokes, they started to become known as Juan One, Juan Two, and Juan Three, though this was hardly necessary as Juan Two and Juan Three disappeared without an explanation shortly afterwards.
  • The League of Gentlemen's Papa Lazarou calls everyone he encounters Dave, and claims most of them to be his wife.
  • Mash had John Black, known as Ugly John, and John McIntyre, known as Trapper. Also, in the book, the movie, and the beginning of the series, Father Mulcahy's first name is John, although later in the series it was established as Francis. (M* A* S* H has had a few problems remembering its characters names over time. Col. Blake's wife, Lorraine, was on multiple occasions called "Mildred", which probably influenced the decision to make that Col. Potter's wife's name.)
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles has both John Connor, humanity's future savior, and John Henry, a rudimentary AI controlling a Terminator endoskeleton. However, John Henry is always referred to by his full name, limiting any possible confusion.
  • Kenan and Kel: Natural born Kenan involves the duo heading to the records department for Kenan's birth records, to prove whether or not he's adopted. However, he gets the wrong record by mistake - he gets the birth record of Kevin Rockmore, who was born to parents George and Margaret Rockmore in the same hospital and on the same day as Kenan, who was born to parents Roger and Sheryl Rockmore. They then think that Kenan had been switched at birth. In the end, Kevin and his parents are revealed to be Asian and of no relation to the African-American Kenan.
  • Accidentally averted in Moving Wallpaper (which is about TV writers). In the first series the writing staff included an assistant named Kelly, who Carl, one of the writers, was in love with. In the second series the star actress of the show they're working on is Kelly Brook. This even confused some TV reviewers, with one summarizing an episode as "Carl pines for Kelly Brook".
  • On The Office, Erin's first name is actually Kelly, causing a confusion the original Kelly Kapoor initially attempts to use to her advantage in flirting with Charles Miner.
    • We also have Robert California, the company's new CEO, and Robert Lipton Angela's senator husband.
    • The British show had characters named Dawn and Donna.
  • The Buffy Verse follows this trope quite closely (mainly because most of the characters' names are kinda weird), but has one slightly odd semi-aversion: Spike's original name was William, and Angel's original name was Liam (which is the Irish version of William). Plus, there's Willy, who runs the demon bar, and Willow, who is frequently called Will.
    • Not to mention that the nickname for William, Billy, was used for at least three one-episode characters: Billy Palmer ("Nightmares") and Billy "Ford" Fordham ("Lie to Me") on Buffy, and Billy Blim ("That Vision Thing" and "Billy") on Angel.
    • Also, Anne is Buffy's middle name which she occasionally goes by, the adopted name of Anne Steele, the name of Spike's mother, and one of Drusilla's sisters.
  • Similar to the above example, Battlestar Galactica gives us Billy Keikeya, Bill Adama (who we learn, conveniently after Billy's death, was also called Billy - but only in his youth, decades before Keikeya's birth), the one episode character William "Willie" King, and of course, Liam Tigh.
  • Aversion: an uncommonly large number of guest characters on Red Dwarf have the first name Frank. There's Frank Hollister (the captain of Red Dwarf), Frank Todhunter (the second officer), Frank Rimmer (Rimmer's older brother), Rimmer's uncle Frank (mentioned only), Frank Saunders (in the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Saunders was the hologram before McIntyre's death), the guy called Frank who found baby Lister under the Aigburth Arms pool table, and in one episode Kryten mentions that he named the washing machine Frank because "he works better with an identity".
  • This Is Wonderland has two unrelated characters with the last name "Davis". Anthony is a successful and handsome defense attorney. Rosemary is a hideous and monumentally stupid crackhead.
  • What I Like About You subverted it at the end of season 3: Holly goes to visit Henry and finds that he has a new girlfriend, also named Holly. She actually thinks it's kinda cute. We know this, but Vince does not.
  • Stargate SG-1 had the nametags of many random extras reading "Davis". Major Davis was a recurring character who worked for the government, but the Engaging Chevrons guy had his nametag say Davis for ages before his name was revealed as Walter Harriman. Confusing.
  • Deadliest Catch has the brothers Josh and Jake Harris of the Cornelia Marie, as well as another Jake on the Northwestern. Interestingly, both Jakes have similar foofy hair and cocky attitudes, and their captains ponder "switching Jakes" for a season. There's also a cameraman named Jake (or was it Josh?) who almost died of seasickness-induced dehydration while on the Cornelia Marie and is good-naturedly chided by the Harrises when he's forced to use a suppository.
  • Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black are frequent collaborators and often use their own names in their projects, leading to various humorous situations.
    • In Stella, the three main characters are roommates named Michael, Michael, and David. In one episode, they write a novel entitled The Three Guys about three roommates named Michael, Michael, and Craig.
    • Black and Showalter currently star in Michael and Michael Have Issues.
  • Reality TV (and other Game Shows) can often go both ways on this - early series of Big Brother UK, given two people of the same first name, would make one adopt a pseudonym - Paul and Bubble in series 2, or Anoushka and Nush in 4. However in series 10, Sophie, Sophia and Saffia became a running joke very early on.
    • Rachael and Rachel appeared in Series 11- although one was the first evictee, and the other was a late entrant about half way through, so they never appeared in the house at the same time as one another.
  • Averted in Power Rangers. A reunion special in Power Rangers Wild Force featured General Venjix of the Machine Empire, and then almost a decade later Power Rangers RPM featured the Venjix computer Virus. No relation outside of Epileptic Trees.
  • Burn Notice:

 Michael: ... Sam.

Sam Axe: Yeah, Mike?

Samantha: He was talking about me.

  • In-universe example on Remember WENN: Betty has to give feedback to a writer who has named both the hero and villain of her script "John." This is especially confusing because it's on radio.
  • There were two Russells in Survivor Samoa: Russell Hantz and Russell Swan. Hantz lasted longer in the game and was known as "Evil Russell" by the fanbase because of his puppet-master style of play. Yet after Swan was medevacked from the game, fewer people bothered to make the distinction between them. The finale made it even less of an issue; there was so much talk about how Hantz ended up losing that whenever someone said the name "Russell," it was generally assumed they were talking about "Evil Russell."
    • Also, the two Robs in Survivor All-Stars. Rob Mariano was (and still is) known as "Boston Rob," and Rob Cesternino was called "Rob C.," "Cesternino," or his full name. There were also two Jennas. The other Jenna quit early so it was generally averted.
    • Survivor Nicaragua had "Coach" Jimmy Johnson (yes, the same) and Jimmy T., who was sometimes called "J.T." Those nicknames spill over into One Steve Limit with Tocantins and Heroes vs. Villains players Benjamin Wade and James Thomas Jr., who are never called anything but "Coach" and "J.T." Aside from the two Jimmies, this season also had Kelly Bruno and "Purple" Kelly Shin.
  • In the fourth season of Dexter, the title serial killer pretends to be someone named Kyle Butler to insinuate himself into the life of another serial killer, Trinity, as a consequence of which Trinity tracks down and kills a random, innocent Kyle Butler. It's complicated.
  • Twin Peaks had Laura Palmer's boyfriend Bobby and his best friend Mike who shared names with the show's Big Bad Bob and his one-armed accomplice, Mike.
  • The premise of The New Adventures of Old Christine is an aversion of this trope. In addition to Old Christine and New Christine, there's also Richard and his son, Ritchie. Old Christine's maiden and married surnames sound very similar, which is pointed out in the episode when she decides to change her surname to the hyphenated hybrid "Kimball-Campbell."
  • A plotline on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe segment, Lady Elaine Fairchild once travelled in outer space to Planet Purple, whose entire population are named "Paul" or "Pauline", and are identical in all other aspects as well.
  • Semi-aversion in the current series of So You Think You Can Dance Australia, which has, in the top twenty competitors, Jess, Jessie, and Jessica.
  • Growing Pains used this to allow Mike's girlfriend Kate to read a love note his grandfather had written to his grandmother Kate.
  • Usually (unintentionally) played straight on Whose Line Is It Anyway... but averted by the fact that there are four Steves. (In order: Stephen Fry, Steve Steen, Steve Frost, and Stephen Colbert.) Also, there have been three Kathys, although none have appeared at the same time.
  • Averted in House, where we have two secondary characters named Rachel: Taub's wife and Cuddy's baby daughter.
  • The X-Files seems to avert this trope a couple of times...
    • There were two brothers in The X-Files with the same name, though not in the same episode.
      • Mulder's father was called 'Bill', as is Scully's older brother. Later Scully and Mulder's child is named William, after Mulder's father.
      • Even more extreme than that - Scully's brother Bill is named after their father: both of the main characters' fathers are named William. Thus bringing the grand total of Williams in the series just in Mulder and Scully's immediate families to four.
      • It should also be noted that Agent Diana Fowley has an unusually similar first name to Dana Scully, in TV terms.
  • Mildly averted in Frasier, where Daphne consistently addressed both Niles and Frasier as "Doctor Crane" for many seasons.
  • Often, humans in live-action children's shows will all be The Danza, but Imagination Movers has two Scotts, so one of them takes the character name "Smitty".
  • Two characters in Popular had the name Mike: One had it as his real name, while preferring to use his nickname "Sugar Daddy", while the other had it as his nickname, with his real name Michael.
  • An episode of Married With Children had Al stuck at a gas station with three attendants all named Habib.
  • Season 8 of Hell's Kitchen had Lewis and Louis (pronounced "Louie"). Lewis subverted this trope by going by his last name, Curtis. Didn't matter much, as both were eliminated very early.
  • Season four of The Amazing Race was particularly bad about it: three Steves, two Jons, and two Davids (though one of them went by Dave).
    • Season 4 also featured the team of Amanda & Chris, which wasn't that special until Season 14 had the team of Amanda & Kris.
    • Season 4 even had the team of Russell and Cindy, while Season 2 had Cyndi and Russell.
  • The creators of the TV series Rome did their best to neaten up everyone's names (since Real Life Ancient Rome averted this trope horribly), but they were still left with siblings Octavian and Octavia, and Vorenus's two daughters Vorena and Vorena.
  • On Thirty Rock, the new castmember's name turns out to be Jack. Jack Donaghy immediately imforms him that his name is now Danny.
    • John is Jack's real name, which is Lutz's first name as well. Assuming the same is true for Danny, 30 Rock has three main characters named John, but none of them are called that.
  • Bad Girls had two main characters both named Julie, who were best friends and had gone to jail at the same time. Tina O'Kane briefly changed her name to Julie as well, but then later went back to her original name.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O, which uses Time Travel as a central conceit, ran headlong into this with its first movie, where the 10-year-old version of Ryotaro joins up with the group. To avoid confusion, the group refers to the younger as Kotaro (as in, "Little Ryotaro"). For extra fun, a later movie introduces another Kotaro, this time Ryotaro's Grandkid From The Future.
  • On Glee, there are two Davids (Jerk Jock/Armoured Closet Gay Dave Karofsky and Warbler David) and two Andreas (Andrea Cohen from Vocal Adrenaline and Rod's co-anchor Andrea Carmichael).
    • The season two episode Britney/Brittany gives us Britney Spears and Brittany S. Pierce.
    • Tina Cohen-Chang shares her last name with both her boyfriend, Mike Chang, and the aforementioned Andrea Cohen.
    • Also, Kurt and his dad Burt.
    • And Finn and Quinn, who were a couple in the beginning of season 1 and then again for a while in season 2.
  • Rather oddly averted in Joan of Arcadia, where we get the next best thing to The Other Darrin with the Deadpan Snarker bookstore owner Sammy. In season two we get a different actor with the same name, job, and personality, yet he's established as a different person who took over the position from the first Sammy. Joan even notes how coincidental it is.
  • The Monkees ran into this when they had the cast use their real names on the show and two of them, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith, had variations of the same first name. Ironically, neither actually has the first name Michael. Their real names are George Michael Dolenz and Robert Michael Nesmith.
  • Unless they rename The Dragon, the BBC series Sherlock is going to have two characters named Sebastian.
  • Charmed actually had three Billys. The first was a one-episode character in season 1. The second was a character in Phoebe's favourite movie. The third (Billie this time) was a season regular in season 8.
    • The Halliwell line also has a number of recurring names. Melinda Warren was their ancestor and was what Piper named her daughter in the future. There was also another Prudence in the Halliwell line, whom Prue was evidently named after.
  • An episode of Lizzie McGuire had Matt annoyed that there was another Matt in his class, so he changed his name temporarily to "M-Dogg", most likely a Shout-Out to pro-wrestler M-Dogg Matt Cross.
  • One episode of Scrubs has a character called Murray. To prove a point he yells out his name and a crowd of old men poke their heads out the door.
    • J.D.'s brother is named Dan, and one of J.D.'s exes is named Danni, who dated another guy named Danny at one point. This confused J.D. when he thought Danni was calling out her own name in bed.
  • On the first day of the school year, Larry from The War at Home decides to reinvent himself to become more popular, and so starts going by the name of Gideon. At the end of the episode he goes back to being Larry, because it turns out there's an Israeli transfer student named Gideon. The real Gideon apparently thought Larry was mocking him, and kicked his ass for it.
  • A handful of students named "Neil" on Community, causes Jeff to come up with the Embarrassing Nickname Fat Neil.
  • In one episode of The Adventures of Superman Chuck Connors guest stars as a hillbilly named Sylvester J. Superman. So when the "Help! Superman! call goes out, Sylvester steps right up.
  • The Tudors: In addition to the three-names-for-Henry's-six-wives thing (see Real Life section), quite a few male characters are named Thomas. All of this is justified by the historical setting.
    • Though they got around the three Katherines by calling them Katherine, Kitty and Kate, respectively. And the Thomases are almost invariably referred to by their last names or titles (Wolsey, More, Cromwell, Cranmer, etc.) to avoid confusion.
  • Gibbs from NCIS at first invokes this rule in "Jurisdiction" by refusing to call visiting CGIS agent Abigail Borin 'Abby', out of respect for Abby Sciuto. However, in a later episode, "Ships in the Night", he congratulates a joint effort by the pair by saying "Abbs-es - that is good work."
    • One episode averts this trope for comic effect, with a DEA drug dog called Tony, leaving the DEA agent waiting for Tony to finish going over the boat so that Tony can go over the boat.
  • Foyle's War, glaringly, uses "Hauptmann" as the maiden name of two different German expatriate women married to upper-crust Englishmen. "Greenwood" also shows up as the surname of one character, the alias of another, and the name of a farm.
  • There have been two Tristans on Merlin, the first a Monster of the Week and the second one half of the famous Tristan and Isolde pairing. Since the characters appeared four seasons apart, there's virtually no chance of getting them muddled up.
  • On Law and Order and its various spinoffs, there have been a number of characters, both major and minor, named Serena and Alexandra.
  • America's Next Top Model mainstay judges Jay Manuel and J Alexander avoids this by respectively being referred to as mister and miss before their first names.
    • Two pair of winners of the show ran through this. Cycle 11 winner Brittany "McKey" Sullivan and Cycle 16 winner Brittani Kline averts this, but Cycle 5 winner Nicole Linkletter and Cycle 13 winner Nicole Fox plays this straight.
  • Raising Dad acknowledged this in an episode once as Sarah had an Evan, Erin and Aaron at the house for dinner and Emily stammered on the names a couple of times.
  • Series 10 of The X Factor had Louis Walsh, judge in every series so far, and Louis Tomlinson, member of Boy Band One Direction. Both names are pronounced the same way (lew-y), so it can get confusing for new fans of the band who are unfamiliar with the show and watch their X Factor performances for the first time on youtube when the boyband member Louis starts talking about how the judge Louis would dance like a grandad and then starts demonstrating.
  • Head of the Class, played with this an Arvin started an ARVIN CLUB, and even met an attractive girl named Inga Arvin.
  • Casualty has had three main characters called Sam: Sam Colloby, Sam Bateman and Sam Nicholls, the first two male, the third female, though none of their tenures on the show have overlapped.
  • In addition to James Cook, the second generation (third and fourth series) of the UK show Skins had James Fitch, twins Katie and Emily's younger brother. Also, in the first series, Cassie's fellow patient at the therapeutic treatment centre ("Water Bottle Girl") is sometimes credited as Katie.
  • In an episode of Men Behaving Badly, Gary, Tony, Dorothy and Debs stay on a campsite and meet someone else called Tony. They refer to him as "Tony Too".
  • Goodnight Sweetheart played with this a couple of times, as the main theme of the show was that Gary Sparrow tried at all costs to avoid his 1940s mistress, Phoebe, and his 1990s wife, Yvonne, discovering his time-travelling escapades. In one episode, the arrival of "Yvonne" is announced in the 1940s pub of which Phoebe is the landlady, but this turns out to be an aunt of Phoebe's. In another episode, Gary tracks down a 1990s "Phoebe Sparrow", but, as the lady in question is black, she cannot be the girl he fell in love with (and possibly married) in the 1940s.
  • Aversion used for a throwaway gag in the pilot of NYC 22. Rookie officer Tonya Sanchez has trouble finding her locker because there's at least two other Officer Sanchezes in her precinct. Played straight among the main cast, however.
  • Aversion in season 5 of Mad Men: protagonist Don Draper hires a black receptionist named Dawn. Roger Sterling calls her "darkest before the Don."
  • In Early Edition, Gary tries to propose a toast to a certain George Muzakis in order to find the guy and save him quickly, and a dozen or so with that name stand up because it's a family reunion.
  • In one episode of Veronica's Closet, Leo dates a woman named Peri, which makes things a bit awkward between Leo and his friend Perry. In order to allieviate the tension, Leo attempts to get Perry to go by his Embarrassing First Name "Laird". When the situation is finally explained to Peri, she offers to go by her middle name "Yerma". Unfortunately, this is not less awkward.


Music

  • When Kevin James LaBrie joined Dream Theater, he dropped his first name and adopted James as his stage name, to avoid having two Kevins in the band (along with Kevin Moore). The band still had two Johns, however.
  • Deep Purple has had multiple singers, but the best known is Ian Gillan. The drummer is Ian Paice.
  • And Our Lady Peace frontman Michael Maida became Raine Maida to avoid confusion with guitarist Mike Turner (and possibly just to be more memorable.)
  • Progressive metal band Symphony X has three Michaels: Michael Romeo on guitars, Michael Pinnella on keyboards and Michael Lepond on bass guitar.
  • Extreme metal band Dimmu Borgir once had three Stians: Stian Thoresen (vocals, better known as Shagrath), Stian Arnesen (bass, better known as Nagash) and Stian Aarstad (keyboards, no stage name).
  • The Mike Doughty song "27 Jennifers" plays with this trope:

 I went to school with twenty-seven Jennifers

Sixteen Jenns, ten Jennies and then there was her.

  • The core members of They Might Be Giants are John Flansburgh and John Linnell. They are often referred to by fans as "the Johns." For almost five years, their touring band of Dan Miller, Dan Hickey, and Danny Weinkauf was often called "the band of Dans." In 2004, Dan Hickey was replaced by Marty Beller, introducing a third name to the group.
  • Australian Pink Floyd introduce themselves on stage as six Bruces, four Sheilas, and Rolf.
  • When Long Island band Taking Back Sunday replaced their lead guitarist and back-up vocalist for the second time, they ended up with two Matts, Matt Rubano on bass and now Matt Fazzi on guitar. They differentiate by last name.
  • The Rodney Carrington song "Fred's Riding Fred" parodies this, as the narrator is drunk and can't remember the names of anyone in the story, so he names them all Fred. This includes the protagonist, the horse and the protagonist's girlfriend.
  • Helloween has Michael Weikath and had Michael Kiske. Weikath is frequently referred to as "Weiki" and Kiske is occasionally "Michi" (though "Michi" seems to be more a fangirl thing).
  • Partial example/subversion with Alice in Chains. The band had two bassists named Mike, but not at the same time.
  • Relient K has Matthew, John, Matthew, Jon, and Matthew Dave Ethan.
  • The Academy Is... has Mike Carden (rhythm guitar) and Michael Guy Chislett (lead guitar). Before Chislett joined the band, the very first lineup included Mike Carden and Mike DelPrincipe (drums).
  • The Cab has Alex De Leon, Alex Marshal, and former member Alex Johnson.
  • Lacuna Coil has two Marcos, two Cristianos and a Cristina... and Andrea.
  • Placebo are a bit confusing with this, in that they replaced a drummer named Steve (Hewitt) with a drummer named Steve (Forrest). Also, the bassist's name is Stefan.
  • Led Zeppelin had a John (Bonham) and a John Paul (Jones). They did not have a John Paul George Ringo, however.
  • The Tea Party had two Jeffs (Martin and Burrows).
  • The Beatles had lead guitarist George Harrison and producer George Martin, which can lead to all sorts of confusion when you're reading about the production of certain albums.
  • Bruce McCullough from The Kids in The Hall had a song called "Daves I Know", each verse being about a different Dave (or David) from his life.
  • Marillion has two members actually named Steve: lead singer Steve Hogarth and lead guitarist Steve Rothery. They are often referred to as "h" and "Rothers" respectively to avoid confusion.
  • Def Leppard have two "Rick"'s, Rick Allen, the drummer, and Rick Savage, the bassist. Rick Savage is differentiated by the nickname "Sav". (Interestingly enough, they also had a "Steve", rhythm guitarist Steve Clark, who died in 1991.)
  • Australian band Powderfinger includes two Johns. One goes by JC, which doesn't really help since the other's surname also begins with C.
  • Averted by the short-lived supergroup GTR, featuring progressive guitar heroes Steve Howe and Steve Hackett.
  • Also, in the band Toto, guitarist Steve Lukather and keyboardist Steve Porcaro.
  • When he formed Dexys Midnight Runners, Kevin Rowland insisted that Kevin Archer (the group's first guitarist) start going by his nickname "Al" Archer. Apparently, he even said, "There's only room for one Kevin in this band."
  • The Brechtian cabaret band The Tiger Lillies consists of Martin the Evil Clown lead singer, and two guys called Adrian.
  • From about 1995 to 2008 Nocturnal Rites had both Nils Norberg and Nils Eriksson in their line up. Norberg used to sign his autograph as "Nils2".
  • Danish pop band Alphabeat has six members: Anders, Stine, Anders, Rasmus, Anders, and Troels.
  • During their peak, Duran Duran had three members all with the last name Taylor. Not one of them was in any way related to either of the other two.
  • Devo has both Robert Mothersbaugh and Robert Casale. They are generally referred to as Bob1 and Bob2.
  • Jon Anderson left Yes in the late 70s and Trevor Horn took his spot for the album Drama before the band went on hiatus. When they reformed for 90125, Anderson returned as vocalist, but Trevor Rabin became their new guitar player, and Horn produced the album.
  • Kevin Crompton (Cevin Key), Kevin Ogilvie (Nivek Ogre), and Dave "Rave" Ogilvie of Skinny Puppy.
  • Journey has/had three Steves: Steve Perry (lead singer), Steve "Smitty" Smith (drummer) and Steve Augeri (lead singer following Perry's departure from the band.
  • The original lineup of Pink Floyd technically had two Rogers, but it wasn't much of an issue because Roger Barrett was already going by Syd before the band started.
  • US thrash metal band Whiplash is an odd example as one of their Rock Trio lineups had two Anthonys and one Tony, but they all performed as Tonys.
  • The Spice Girls had two Melanies. Melanie B (Scary Spice) and Melanie C (Sporty Spice). The initials remained in their stage name as they started solo careers, although Scary was simply known as Mel B.
  • Vocaloid has both a Miku and a Miki.
  • The Eagles have Don Henley and Don Felder.
  • REM has both Michael Stipe and Mike Mills.
  • Sound Horizon's Roman takes the aversion to the logical extreme, where just about every male character is named Laurant.
  • Paul and Storm have some songs supposedly by a barbershop quartet entirely made up of guys named "Barry". The fake band is called "The BarryTones".
  • Insomnium's original lineup consisted of Niilo Sevänen (vocals and bass), Markus Hirvonen (drums), and two guys named Ville on guitar. After Ville Vänni left the band, leaving Ville Friman as the only "Ville" in the band, his replacement was...another Markus.
  • Canadian band Martha and the Muffins (of Echo Beach fame) was named for singer Martha Johnson, but they also had keyboard player Martha Ladly during their successful period in 1979/80.
  • An early line-up of Whitesnake featured drummer Dave Dowle, known as 'Duck' to distinguish him from David Coverdale; he was soon ousted in favour of Coverdale's old Deep Purple mate Ian Paice.
    • The most recent line-up includes two Brians: drummer Brian Tichy and keyboard player Brian Ruedy.
  • Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley's real first name is Paul; he used his nickname of 'Ace' to distinguish himself from Paul Stanley (who, ironically, is not a Paul at all. His real name is Stanley Eisen.) For similar reasons, Paul Caravello changed his name to Eric Carr upon joining the band as drummer.
  • Lampshaded by The Donnas who went by the names of Donna A, Donna R, Donna F and Donna C until reverting to their own names by their fourth album.
  • For a short time in 2010 Evanescence featured two members called Will Hunt, both drummers. Vocalist Amy Lee dubbed the 'new' one Will 'Science' Hunt during his time with the group.
  • Finnish power metallers Stratovarius (known for their tendency to be a Revolving Door Band) featured guitarist Timo Tolkki and vocalist Timo Kotipelto for several years until the former quit the band.
  • The Faces featured bass player Ronnie Lane and guitarist Ronnie Wood, the latter now better known as a Rolling Stone.
  • Two out of the three Beastie Boys are named Adam. They're usually credited by stage names anyway - Adam Yauch is MCA while Adam Horovitz is Ad Rock.


Mythology and Religion

  • A very old exception is the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde contains two characters named Isolde, both of whom pursue a romance with Tristan. The two are typically referred to as "Isolde of Ireland" and "Isolde of Brittany" to minimize confusion.
  • Arthurian Legend on the whole is bad about this. There were at least four Elaines, three of which were associated with Lancelot: Elaine of Benoic (his mother), Elaine of Astolat (the Lady of Shalott), and Elain of Carbonek (the mother of Galahad). The last was one of Arthur's interchangeable third half-sisters, and to make matters more confusing, T.H. White combined Astolat and Carbenok in The Once and Future King. Yet another Elaine was Percival's mother-in-law. There were also three Guineveres, two of which were half-sisters/twins known as the "True Guinevere" and the "False Guinevere." The True Guinevere was Arthur's wife, although the false one switched places with her on at least one occasion. Partly this is because the French re-tellings adapted the original Old Welsh names of the sisters Gwenhwyfar and Gwenhwyfach in such a manner that they became identical, although given that these names mean "Gwenhwy the Greater" and "Gwenhwy the Lesser", respectively, it's not really much better.
  • The Bible
    • Jesus' twelve apostles included two Jameses, two Simons and (according to some gospels at least) two Judases. Furthermore Jesus' own brothers included another James, Simon and Judas. Oh, and then there's John the Baptist, John the Apostle, John the Evangelist (who may or may not be the apostle) and John from the Book of Revelation who may the apostle, the evangelist, or a different John altogether. People would try to avoid praying to the loyal Judas for fear that it would be answered by the more famous one, so he only got the prayers of the truly desperate, who had tried beseeching everyone else. St Jude thus became the Patron Saint of Lost Causes.
    • There are an astounding numbers of Marys that appear in the New Testament. The Virgin Mary, obviously, but then there's Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany -- the latter two are often mixed up and confused as being the same person. This is probably the reason why most people don't know who Mary of Bethany is, and also why Mary Magdalene is often wrongly identified as being a prostitute. Thus helping to explain why we have a One Steve Limit in the first place, since it was a pope who originally caused this confusion.
    • Jesus/Joshua/Yeshua was just about the most popular boy's name in New Testament times given the political climate, which is why Jesus was often referred to with the qualifier "of Nazareth"; according to some people, Barabbas (the guy who was released in Jesus' place) was also named Jesus. Also, the Apostles contained two Jameses and two Judases (Yehudah of Kerioth/Yehudah the Sicarius became Judas Iscariot; the other Yehudah was called "Thaddaeus", meaning "the friend", and is also called Jude.
    • There are two Noahs in the Old Testament, one of whom was a woman. That's because the one who built the ark is properly called "Noach". The Hebrew pronunciation of the two names is quite different.
    • There are two Michaiah's too, again a man and woman.
    • Or Elijah and his disciple, and also prophet, Elisha.
    • A more direct example would be Jeroboam and Jeroboam II, two unrelated kings of Israel.
    • Manasseh: son of Joseph, or initially-wicked king who repented?
    • Rahab, the woman from Jericho who repented or the sea monster that got put down?
    • There are two men named Lazarus in the New Testament, but one of them is fictional (a character made up by Jesus).
  • St. John the Greater and St. John the Lesser.
  • In Greek Mythology - Ajax the Great and Ajax the Lesser.
  • Averted with Robin Hood. We have both Little John and Prince John.
  • One Russian fairy tale centered around two identical brothers who were both named Ivan. Also, nearly every male protagonist in Russian fairy tales is an Ivan.
  • In Norse Mythology, we have the more famous Loki son of Laufey, a giant who lives with the gods in Asgård, and the less famous giant Utgarda-Loki, who lives in the castle of Utgard in Jotunheim.


Professional Wrestling

  • WCW had a good number of Scotts at one point (Hall, Steiner, Norton, Riggs), and then Raven's mother (Kayfabe) showed up for a storyline revealing that he too was a Scott[1].
  • WWE tends to change wrestlers' names to avoid this trope altogether. Among the notable examples: Shane Helms became Gregory Helms (and later The Hurricane) to avoid Shane McMahon, and Steven Regal became William Regal to avoid Stone Cold Steve Austin (which is generally a good idea anyway).
    • At one point in the late 80's the WWF had Jims coming out the ying yang. Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart, Jim Powers, Jim Brunzell, Jimmy Snuka, Jimmy Hart, Hillbilly Jim, Hacksaw Jim Duggan...
      • Understandable, since "Jim" was an extremely common name for Baby Boomer boys, who would have been in the prime of their wrestling careers at the time.
      • Were he not 20 years too late, the above line could have been "Jims coming out the Wang Yang".
    • Garrison Cade competed as Lance Cade once Lance Storm retired.
  • Zig Zagged to all hell and back by Ken Kennedy. He started wrestling under his real name Ken Anderson. Then when he joined the WWE he changed his name to Ken Kennedy to avoid comparison to the fictional Anderson Wrestling Family. Then it was revealed in-story that his name is Kennedy because he's the bastard son of Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Then it was revealed that he was making that up. Then he got fired and is now performing in TNA as Ken Anderson.
  • TNA has a preponderance of men named Robert currently. Rob Van Dam, Robert Roode, Robbie E, and Rob Terry. TNA is also a subsidiary of Panda Energy, owned by Robert Carter.
  • There have occasionally been wrestlers in WWE with the same first names though they are normally called by their last names by announcers. Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, as well as the similar sounding Christian. There was even a storyline started when Lilian Garcia goofed and announced Benoit as "Jericho". There was also the time when Mark Henry and Mark Jindrak were on the roster at the same time. There was also John Cena, John Bradshaw Layfield, John Laurinitis, John Morrison and Johnny Curtis.
  • One notable case is the case of two Steve Williams, so while the wrestling world was happy to have too many Steve's, the second Steve had to change his last name to Austin. And now you know the rest of the story.
  • At one point in WWE there was a Jacqueline, generally called Jackie by everyone, and Miss Jackie Gayda. As Jacqueline went by the name "Miss Jackie Moore" in TNA there is often confusion whenever reporters recap old events and forget that Miss Jackie wasn't her name in WWE. According to Ivory they avoided this problem backstage by simply calling them Black Jackie and White Jackie.


Radio

  • Parodied in the BBC comedy Deep Trouble, which in its second series had an Alison and an Alice. But since the show is set on a submarine, everyone is usually referred to by rank and surname anyway (and Alice Barry in fact insists on being called Barry).
  • BBC comedy The Burkiss Way once featured a group of servants who were all called Rose, male and female alike, since they could only afford one name between them.
  • Parodied by the Firesign Theatre on their album Boom Dot Bust, which takes place in a town called Billville, where everybody's name is Bill.
  • Truth in Television, or rather Truth In Radio for that matter. 96 Trent FM (now known as Trent FM) had Matt Wilkinson presenting afternoons and Matt Wilkins appearing at various times of the day. Hilarity Ensues. Confusion reigns. So Matt Wilkins became Matt Marsden, on Trent FM at least. Now he's at Key 103 under his original name.
  • The Archers: Edward "Eddie" Grundy, and his second son, Edward "Ed" Grundy.


Theater

  • In William Shakespeare's plays:
    • Similar to the bible example above is The Comedy of Errors, which involves two sets of identically named identical twins separated at birth and maintaining the same bourgeois/servant relationship. Hilarity Ensues.
    • As You Like It, for no particular reason (i.e. makes no particular mention of it in the story, unlike Comedy of Errors), has two characters named Oliver (Orlando's eldest brother and the country priest) and two characters named Jaques (Orlando's middle brother and the melancholy wit in Duke Senior's retinue).
    • The history plays have a lot of duplicate names, because real history is like that. Shakespeare did try to reduce their number, though; for example, Lord Richard Grey and Sir Richard Ratcliffe -- both characters in Richard III -- are referred to by their last names only.
  • In the Stage Version of Bugsy Malone Joe is a recurring name.
  • Rent has two (minor) Steves: one of them is a member of the Life Support group (so we know that he is named after a friend of Larson's who died of AIDS), and the other is one of the (unseen) people Joanne is talking to on the phone in We're Okay. It's also not entirely impossible that these are the same person, but it's not relevant or interesting or significant in any way if they are.
  • Notably averted in 1776, in which the two main characters are both named John (Adams and Dickinson). In point of fact, there are no less than four Johns in the show (Adams (MA), Dickinson (PA), Hancock (MA), and Witherspoon (CT)). There's also the Georges (Reed (DE) and Washington (VA)) and Thomases (Jefferson (VA) and McKean (DE)). However, since they usually address each other as "Mr. Lastname," it doesn't really matter.
  • Similarly, The Crucible is based on historical fact and so features a number of characters with the same name--in this case, also John: Proctor, Hale, and Hathorne. However, like in 1776, this never becomes an issue because most of the men are referred to by surname. The only man referred to as John is Proctor. Also in the play are Thomas Danforth and Thomas Putnam.
    • However, in real life there were two Ann Putnams, a mother and daughter, the younger of which was the leader of the 'afflicted girls'. Ann Putnam the elder is in the play, but her daughter is only mentioned, and when she is she is called Ruth Putnam.
  • The Amish in Plain and Fancy have four Jacob Yoders and two Abner Zooks. Fortunately, only one Jacob Yoder appears in the show, though Fat Jacob Yoder and Hairy Jacob Yoder are mentioned.
  • Completely averted in Yeast Nation, in which every character is named Jan. Every single one. (Of course, it's written by the same guys what did Urinetown, so...)


Toys

  • Noticably averted in Bionicle where most of the names are made up words. Several locations are named after legendary beings, examples being Mata Nui, Artakha, and Karzahni, the latter having a sentient plant named after him.
    • Also, some of the names sound similar: Krekka, Krahka, Krika, Krakua; Onewa, Onua
  • Transformers falls into this sometimes. In the live-action films, a character named "Brawl" is erroneously referred to as "Devastator". This is fine and dandy, but he is called "Brawl" in his toys and licensed media. Then, Revenge of the Fallen introduces the Constructicons, a bunch of Transformers that combine to create a colossal Decepticon... by the name of "Devastator". In Transformers Cybertron, one of the Mini-Cons is named Thunderblast, which just so happens to be the name of a Decepticon in the same series. In addition, several characters tend to have similar-sounding names, i.e. Soundwave and Shockwave, Optimus Prime and Optimus Primal, Ravage and Rampage, etc.
    • In the scope of the entire franchise, some names get used a lot. Aside from the typical Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream and Bumblebee in pretty much every line-up, there was a point in the mid-2000s when around five toys were named "Prowl", and they represented anywhere between two to four different characters.
  • My Little Pony suffered from this during the middle of its G1 run. There were two "Twilight"s, two "Sniffles", two "Snookums", three "Sea Breeze"s, and many ponies with the name "Cuddle"s. The G3 line reused many names from G1 and the G2 line reused certain names too. My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic took a few characters in the toy lines and reused their names, though changing the designs for several.

Video Games

  • In Fate:Grand Order, there are four "William" in the game: William Mccarthy Jr.(who prefers to go by "Billy the Kid"), William Shakespeare, William Tell, and.. Abigail Williams.
  • Secret of Mana has a character named Phanna, and a separate character named Fanha. This is entirely coincidence, and no attention is brought to it.
  • Given the 500ish characters that have appeared in the Suikoden series so far, it's something of a miracle that there were only a handful of names (Hugo, for one) ever shared by multiple characters (time-traveling teleportresses in Suikoden III aside).
  • In Tactics Ogre, there are two Lans (Lancelot), one on the protagonist's side, and one on the antagonist's. Both are Knights, and the first stage in the game involves confusing one for the other. The prequel reveals that this is a title.
  • There are two robot masters named Oil Man, Wave Man and Blade Man in the Mega Man series. All three of the originals are from the fairly obscure PC games, not made by Capcom.
  • The Metal Gear series has six characters whose names are variants of John - two Johns (one also called Jack), another Jack, two Johnnys and an Ivan, plus two more of the similarly-sounding Jonathan. Five of them appear in Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots, and each game in the series has at least one. The same series also includes two Davids, Jim and James, Natasha and Nastasha, two President Johnsons (the real-life Lyndon Johnson and the fictional James Johnson), and no less than five characters who have at some point gone by the codename Snake.
    • In the later versions of Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake, Natasha Marcova was renamed Gustava Heffner, long after said character was already referred by her original name in the plot summaries included in most versions of the first Metal Gear Solid.
  • Kingdom Hearts faced this problem when they added Pirates of the Caribbean to their cast of Disney Worlds, now having TWO playable characters named Jack. (Jack Sparrow, from the aforementioned movie and Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas). Since this would have interfered with the games level-up system for additional party-members, the pirate-Jack is referred to as "Sparrow" in the game's pause-menu and level-up boxes; interestingly, Sora, Donald, and Goofy also call him "Captain."
    • And when a version of Rikku from Final Fantasy X turns up, they simply don't call her anything, to avoid confusion with the original character Riku.
      • This is actually why Yuffie is with Squall Leon in the first game: the original plan was to have Rikku accompany him, but the powers that be decided it'd be too confusing with two Rik(k)us.
    • Not to mention where this is done in the plot. Mickey spends much of Kingdom Hearts II searching for Ansem to request his help. No, not Ansem the villain from the first game, but Ansem the Wise, who the villain of the first game actually stole the name from after deposing him. The villain's real name is Xehanort, which soon leads to....
      • And then, of course, there's MASTER Xehanort- who's actually the same person as the Xehanort calling himself Ansem the Great, before he played Body Snatcher with Terra. Basically, most instances of this trope in the Kingdom Hearts series are really just Master Xehanort fucking with our heads.
      • The Kingdom Hearts wiki refers to Ansem (the evil one) as "Xehanort's heartless".
    • The Virtual Paper Doll in Kingdom Heartscoded has parts for both Terra and Terra.
  • In the Might and Magic series, there are multiple characters called Crag Hack, Sandro, Corak and so on. Lampshaded during the good ending of Might and Magic VII. Subverted in Might and Magic I and Might and Magic V, both have a character called Alamar. The subversion is that in the first game Alamar is imprisoned by Sheltem who then impersonates him, while in the fifth game Sheltem appears on another world and just calls himself Alamar to hide his true identity.
    • Usually played straight by necessity, though, as few characters have a (known) last name.
      • Corak twists it around further: where the others (including Alamar -- another shows up in the Heroes series) are different characters that happen to share a name, the Coraks are robots, with Corak being the name for the model.
    • A rather confusing example turns up in Heroes of Might and Magic V. Despite being a new setting, the game refers to a Sandro several times. From what little is known, he seems to have a lot in common with the previous characters named Sandro
  • An important plot point in Tsukihime. The main character and the Big Bad are both called Tohno Shiki. The main character is adopted, in fact, it seems the main reason he was adopted was because the head of the family thought that it was amusing that he had the same name as his son.
    • The two names are spelled differently in kanji though, so after The Reveal there's no confusion whatsoever to the readers. It had previously been assumed that he just wrote his name in katakana as kid out of laziness. English fans of the series write out SHIKI in all caps to differentiate.
    • Then there is Tohno Shiki's Alter Ego Nanaya Shiki.
    • Interestingly, the author also used this exact name confusion thing in Karano Kyoukai. It's even the same name: Shiki. Again, they're spelled differently in kanji and in fact both of them are different from both of the spellings in Tsukihime. Furthermore, this Shiki has three personalities.
    • So all in all, there are six different characters that bear the name Shiki in the Nasuverse.
  • In the Pokémon games since Pokémon Gold and Silver, the individual, nondescript Trainers you fight all have unique names. While few of them share names exactly, you'll often run into two totally different Trainers with slight spelling variations in their names, such as an Allie and an Alli, or a Sean and a Shawn. This is at its most amusing in Platinum, where there's a Zackary (a Camper) and a Zachary (a Fisherman) on the same route.
    • Of course, somewhat realistically given the completely different settings, this happens quite frequently across different games. For example, in FireRed and LeafGreen there's a Bug Catcher Colton, and in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl there's a Swimmer Colton.
    • The Spanish translations of the game averted this twice: First in Pokémon Gold and Silver, where two of the trainers who gave you their phone were called Ángel (The game called them "Ángel1" and "Ángel2".), and in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Brendan was renamed "Bruno", just like the Elite Four Trainer, who kept has name in the Spanish version as in English and is even referenced in-game. At least the former was fixed on the Updated Rerelease, where the second guy was simply renamed Ángelo, making one wonder why they didn't come with that the first time around.
    • It was also rather close to being averted with a major character in the English version of Platinum - the Frontier Brain Caitlin differs by just one letter from a generic trainer on Route 203, Kaitlin. Their Japanese names (Cattleya and Sayuri respectively) aren't similar.
  • In Beyond Good and Evil, both the "leader" of Jade's children and The Quisling share the same name: Fehn. Since it seems to be a largely made-up name, and since they're introduced by name within a few minutes of each other, it sticks out even more.
  • Three instances in the Castlevania series. John Morris (Bloodlines) and his son Jonathan Morris (Portrait of Ruin). Aeon the time traveler (Judgment) and Aeon the fat chef (Order of Ecclesia). And Elisabetha (Dracula's first love), Lisa (Dracula's second love and Alucard's mother), and Elizabeth (Dracula's niece and servant in Bloodlines).
  • In Runescape, there are several Alis, several Petes, several Jacks and also few Bobs, Sarahs, Brians and Charlies. There are few other repeating names too.
    • Parodied with Alis and Petes. All Alis, for an example, come from Pollivneach and some don't like to be called Ali. For other names, the similarity is just a coincidence.
    • And, while not exactly names but instead titles, the Mysterious Old Man, the Strange Old Man, the Weird Old Man, and the Odd Old Man. The Wise Old Man is a borderline, since his title isn't a synonym for "strange" and he does have a real name.
  • Elite Beat Agents has Sofie Hudson the weather reporter and Sophie Keen the supermodel.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei, the law hero's girlfriend is arrested when the government rounds up everyone with the same name as the heroine. One character wonders how many people with that name there can be.
  • In Persona 4, playable character Kanji Tatsumi shares a name with Tatsumi Port Island (the location of Persona 3), which the characters visit at one point. In Japanese they're written with completely different characters that just happen to be pronounced the same way, but there's no distinction between them in the English version.
  • In Ever 17: no two characters actually share the same name, but the names that the player initially knows them as can sometimes be one of several characters. "You" could be either Youbiseiharukana Tanaka or Youbiseiakikana Tanaka, "Kid" could refer to Ryogo Kaburaki or Hokuto.
    • One example actually does exist, though it is a minor one. Takeshi Kurenari is the name of the main character, and shares his given name with the father of another character (Coco Yagami), although Takeshi Yagami is only mentioned in dialogue and never appears onscreen.
  • Hakkar (the soulflayer, a serpentine troll god) and Hakkar (the houndmaster, a demon leader) in the Warcraft universe. Chris Metzen, the guy in charge of creative development, later apologized.
  • The Overlord series currently has four different distinct characters named as such, due to Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" and that the Overlord is a Legacy Character.
  • In Touhou, there's Reisen Udongein Inaba and another Reisen, the latter possibly being named after the former. Debatable, though, as the former's name is written in kanji while the latter's is written in katakana. English fans call the latter "Reisen II".
    • Rin Kaenbyou shares name with a Dummied Out character of EoSD, Rin Satsuki.
  • Almost every Final Fantasy game has a character named "Cid". While the individual Cids that do not co-exist with other Cid in their own worlds are most likely something belonging to some other trope entirely, Final Fantasy XII embraced this one by including 2 Cids: Al-Cid Magrace and Professor Cidolfus Demen Bunasa, Al-Cid and Cid for short respectively. As if that alone wasn't enough, in Final Fantasy Tactics a 2, Al-Cid makes a return, only to be in the same clan as an important character named Cid. That makes three Cids in the same Universe.
    • Although a better example would be in Final Fantasy IV where you have the bard Edward Chris von Muir, who is the Prince of Damcyan. Later on you, recruit the Ninja Edward Geraldine, who goes by the alias of Edge. Did we mention he's the prince of Eblan? And then later they are both kings in the sequel. Now, if only there was a character named Ed, we could have a Ed, Edge, and Edward party...
      Played straight in the Japanese versions where Edward is named Gilbert.
  • In terms of Capcom crossovers, Namco X Capcom had MOMO and Wonder Momo, and Tatsunoko VS Capcom has Viewtiful Joe and Joe the Condor. Incidentally, Tatsunoko VS Capcom, while being the first Capcom crossover to feature Ken the Eagle, is the first one not to have Ken Masters (not even as a non-playable cameo).
  • The Street Fighter series itself has a "Juli" from Street Fighter Alpha 3 (whose real name is "Julia") and a "Juri" from Super Street Fighter IV. The former's name was even misspelled "Juri" in SVC Chaos.
    • Then there's Mike from the first Street Fighter and the boxer from Street Fighter II, whose original name was Mike Bison (officially abbreviated to M. Bison). Since they're both black boxers with roughly similar designs, this has to the speculation as to whether they're the same character or not.
  • This is the case in the original Backyard Baseball and Backyard Soccer. After the pros first appear in the series, the trope is averted.
  • The first case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All has two witnesses; Dick Gumshoe and Richard Wellington. Though the name similarity isn't pointed out at all, since their names were completely different in the original Japanese version. Similarly, the series also features Larry Butz and Lawrence Curls, though they don't even appear in the same game. The English version of Ace Attorney Investigations plays this trope straight and dodges it, changing the character Zinc White's name, probably to avoid any connection to Redd White from the first game. One case has two characters named Manny Coachen and Manfred von Karma, although the latter's a character from an earlier game.
  • The Paradox Interactive games Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis: Rome have Loads and Loads of Characters and only so many names in the random generator's database; justified, as medieval Europe and (especially) Ancient Rome heavily averted this trope.
  • In The Legend of Zelda game series, there are four characters named Link (or whatever the player calls him) other than the Legacy Character heroes. Two of them are explicitly named for hero-Link (Darunia's son in Ocarina of Time and a pig in The Wind Waker), one is a cat that lives in the same village in Twilight Princess implied to be, and the fourth (a goron in Majora's Mask) is done as a gag (he has a reservation at an inn where the innkeeper has trouble remembering faces, so within the right time frame, hero-Link can claim his reserved room.)
    • There have been several characters named "Fado" in the series. The only thing they have in common is living in a forest.
    • Twilight Princess has a swordsman and resistance member called Rusl, while Spirit Tracks has the leader of the Hyrule Castle guards called Russell.
    • Additionally every female born into the royal family has to be named Zelda, yes every single one.
    • (The) Link(s) himself/themselves may count, although not at the same time as one another unless he got ahold of the four sword. No Link is immortal, but another one is always born at the right time. In universe, they are referred to by specific titles instead of by name when there is a Continuity Nod. You'd think Ganondorf would seek out and destroy any guy named Link before they became a threat by now...
  • Strongly averted in the Silent Hill series: there are two James (Sunderland and Stone), two Frank (Sunderland and a man in the Arcade game whose last name isn't mentioned), two Eric (Walsch and Lake), two Sharon (Blake and DaSilva) and possibly more that I'm forgetting.
  • There are quite a few examples of characters in the Fallout series sharing names. For example, Whiskey Bob in Klamath and Herbert Bob the tree.
    • Also, Vault 108 in Fallout 3 is populated entirely by Garys.
    • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas have multiple characters that share the same name. This is never pointed out in dialogue, and confusion is generally avoided due to some of the characters only appearing in the backstory or being known on a Last-Name Basis.
  • Final Fantasy X averts this trope with party member Wakka and semi-important NPC O'aka XXIII. It's so bad that, in the Blitzball Tournament plot point, you'd swear that the crowd was calling for that middle-aged shopkeeper you keep running into.
    • Somewhat also referenced with Tidus's line, "It didn't even occur to me to think that the Auron Yuna was talking about...and the one I knew from Zanarkand could be two different people. I don't know why, but I knew it was the same guy. I knew it was the same Auron."
  • Averted with Captain John Price and Sergeant (later Captain) John "Soap" MacTavish in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and its sequel, although the latter's first name was never given in-game until MW3.
    • Several of the characters from Modern Warfare shared surnames with characters from the original Call of Duty series. In turn, some of these were named after the developers. There are also a few randomly-named Marines in Call of Duty 4 that share names with each other.
  • In X-COM, the names of your squad members are randomly generated each time you play, and can be customized. In the demo version, however, the names remain static. And in the demo version squad, you have Manfred Geisler and Manfred Unger.
  • Averted in No More Heroes with three characters named Jeane: Travis's long lost love, his cat (probably named after the former), and a little girl in the real ending.
  • Dead Rising. In an entire packed mall hit by the Zombie Apocalypse that it was being used as a shelter from, none of the survivors happen to have the same first name.
    • Averted in Dead Rising 2 in several ways:
      • One of the poker players is named Jessica, sharing the same name as one of the main characters in Dead Rising 1.
      • John Boog, Johnny James, and Jonathan Kilpatrick, who also goes by the nickname Johnny Pipes.
      • Left hand Lance and Lance Pennington.
      • Andy Talbat and Randy Tugman
      • Kris Bookmiller and Kristin Harris
      • Hell, One of the main characters, Raymond Sullivan, shares a name with Ray Teller. But this is justified, since Raymond Sullivan is reffered to as "Sullivan" in every instance.
  • Utterly averted in The Sims, especially in Pleasantview, where there are two Brandis (Broke and Le Tourneau) two Orlandos (Centowski and Bertino) two Amins (Bear and Sims) and two townies with the exact same full name: Ivy Copur.
  • The Total Extreme Wrestling series has Jack Bruce and Jack Giedroyc on their roster.
  • Averted in Hinatabokko, where both the player and another character are both named Natsuki. It doesn't help that the protagonist has no sprite, meaning that sometimes the only way to tell the Natsukis apart is the context and the fact that the protagonist-Natsuki has no voice.
  • Due to being a Massive Multiplayer Crossover, the Super Robot Wars series tends to avert this, despite the individual properties used usually following it - this allows them to Play With The Trope by having characters get confused about which Masato or Megumi someone is referring to. Super Robot Wars K even has a scene where they point out several cases of shared names for laughs.
  • While it never becomes an issue in-canon, when discussing Ghost Trick you may have to specify whether you meant Sissel the protagonist/cat or Sissel the dead fiancee of Yomiel, who goes on to live in the new timeline.
  • The Elder Scrolls series, with its massive amounts of named NPC's, averts this trope beautifully. Given names tend to be recycled among members of the same sex and race (which actually makes sense because we recycle names ourselves in real life), for example, "Alessia" is a common name amongst Imperial women. This appendix in UESP contains all the names in the Elder Scrolls.
  • The Mass Effect series normally follows this rule, but...
    • There have been four (and counting) Jacobs in the series.[2] One of BioWare's writers must like the name...
    • Invoked in Mass Effect 3 with James Vega, who was originally named James Sanders during development. The name was changed to avoid people thinking he was related to Expanded Universe character Kahlee Sanders. This is referenced in-game if you take James to the Grissom Academy mission and meet Kahlee--he mentions that his father had the last name Sanders ("no relation").
  • In Epic Mickey, there are two extras named Ian. No attention is brought to this, though the game distinguishes them by referring to the pirate as "One Eyed Ian" and the ghost simply as "Ian."
  • Catherine has the protagonist, Vincent, caught in a romance between two girls named (wait for it) Katherine and Catherine.
    • Ironically, the game has only one Steve.
  • In Minecraft's singleplayer mode, there can be only one Steve.
    • Averted in SMP, where there can be many Steves.
  • Shining Force games love to recycle names. Not just common names like Max or Arthur, but also more oddball ones like Hig(g)ins[3].
  • Tales of Symphonia has an interesting example of a by-product of this: While Raine claims that Mithos is a common male name the "Mithos is THE Mithos" revelation is pretty transpartent because you never actually meet anyone with that name other than him (and judging by Genis's reaction, the party didn't "off screen" either). A similar example is when Zelos becomes suspicious of Regal's identity and admits that he's wondering if he's "that Regal or not", he is, and you never meet anyone else with that name.
  • In Dissidia, there are two characters named Cloud - Cloud Strife, a moody, pointy-haired BFS-swinging Tomato in the Mirror hero, and Cloud of Darkness, an evil Ms. Fanservice who wears basically a cape and a Censor Steam and shoots magic lasers. Generally, Cloud Strife is addressed as 'Cloud' and Cloud of Darkness's name isn't used at all.
  • The original Double Dragon has Billy Lee (the Player 1 character), Williams (an enemy Mook) and Willy (the final boss, often nicknamed "Machine Gun Willy" to avoid confusion). All of them being variants of the name "William" (although "Williams" is technically a surname).
    • While the first game featured a Giant Mook named Abobo, Double Dragon II: The Revenge featured two other ones named Bolo and Abore, although the former looks exactly like Abobo, but with long hair (to the point that he is even listed as "Abobo" in the Mega Drive version).
    • The arcade version of Double Dragon 3 has a "Jim" as the first boss (not to be confused with Jimmy Lee, one of the heroes) and a "Li" as the second boss (who is unrelated to the Lee Brothers, despite being a Bruce Lee Clone like them). Then there's "Sonny" (the third Lee brother) and "Sunny" (the second Urquidez brother), two different character with similar names.


Web Comics

  • This XKCD has an Alt Text which jokes that, when so many hurricanes form in one season that all 21 pre-set names, all letters of the Greek alphabet, every single other word in the Oxford English Dictionary, and all NUMBERS have been exhausted, the exasperated meteorological community will collectively throw their hands in the air and name every single hurricane as "Hurricane Steve". Your forecast for this evening: Steve.
  • Played with in Girl Genius. The one pair of characters that have the same name turn out to be the same person.
    • The same comic's Aaronev Wilhelm Sturmvoraus Fürst von Sturmhalten, Transylvanian-German aristocrat, and Sanaa Wilhelm, Transylvanian-German convict, provide an excellent example of WHY this trope exists. Some fans insist they are related, despite the fact that in 19th-century Central Europe, Wilhelm isn't just a common name, it's the common name. (It's ultimately revealed that not only is Sanaa not related to Aaronev, "Wilhelm" isn't even her real surname.)
  • Alice has main characters named "Joan" and "Joanne".
  • The Wotch has Samantha Wolf and Samantha Smith, Allison Taverner and Allison Wise, and Miranda West and Sarah West (not related).
  • Tailsteak's apparently currently defunct Band is composed of Paul Henderson, Brian Smith the willowy übergeek, Brian Smith the hulking drummer, and Tyler, the alien/demon/squid. Neither Smith ever reveals his middle name or answers to a nickname, having sworn a "blood oath" to that effect.
  • In Order of the Stick, when Roy announces that he's here to get revenge for the murder of his father's master, Fyron, the villain asks him to be more specific, since he's killed five people named Fyron in that town alone.
    • Certain "nameless" titles can also have this problem, as Nale learned while looking for a new wizard:

 Warthog: I think you'll really like this next one. We call him...The One Who Must Not Be Named.

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!

Thog: thog got to use a mop!

  • Narbonic features a secret society of people called Dave and a woman with the same name as her mother because she's a clone.
  • Troop 37 has two spoiled cheerleaders named Melissa with nickname Missy.
  • Arthur, King of Time and Space uses a variant spelling for Iseulte of Ireland to distinguish her from Isolde of Brittany. It keeps all the Elaines, though, and the "false Guenevere" in the fairy tale arc (in the contemporary arc she's called Fascha, and is Guenevere's full sister).
  • Parodied in a Ctrl+Alt+Del strip.
  • El Goonish Shive parodies this here.
  • Kevin Pease's Absurd Notions, during its college run, reversed this for a joke. (The archive commentary notes that the real joke is the ubiquity of the name "Jennifer" in the early seventies. Later on in the strip two Jen Greens appear, but they quickly get the initialism nicknames Jyg and Jag.)
  • Mountain Time is rife with people (and monsters) named Paul. There's even a Paula or two.
  • Melonpool's cast is the comedic version of this trope. First you have Ralph (evil genius) and Ralphie (Ralph's good clone). And then you have Sam (the talking dog), and Sammy (the giant talking hamster). Sammy's very far from intelligent, though, and just picked the first name he liked.
  • Lampshaded in Questionable Content: When we are introduced to Marigold, she mentions the name "Angus". When recurring character Angus later shows up, Dora says "I thought she mentioned your name!". Granted, there aren't a lot of people named "Angus", but still...
  • Parodied in Ansem Retort. When the main cast (with Riku) went into hiding, there was a supporting fill in cast, with Rikku. Darth Maul just referred to her as "girl Rikku".
  • The Problem Sleuth story of MS Paint Adventures had a ball with this; by the end there were at least 6 variations of Pickle Inspector, numerous Ace Dicks, and a few Problem Sleuths, and multiple timelines for all of them. This resulted in an occasional page dedicated to explaining who was doing what. Justified in that they were all variants of the original characters.
    • Homestuck subverts this in a similar way. Objectively, no characters share a name, despite the long list of them. (It helps that the two main sets of characters are separated by culture and species, allowing a lot of Aerith and Bob.) However, many characters interact with their own future or past personas.
    • Plus, presumably all game concept characters, such as Jack Noir, Cetus, and PM carry over into each session of Sburb. While ostensibly being the same person and sharing a basic personality, the variations of each character sometimes are quite different, only sharing the initials of their title. Spades Slick, for example, while still ruthless, is much less bloodthirsty than the Sovereign Slayer.
      • Played straight later with the Alpha Guardians having the same names as the Beta Kids, and Rose and Dave's iterations have the same "titles" as their guardians in the Beta Session, meaning there are 2 Mom Lalondes and 2 Bro Striders. Also, a third set of Dersite Agents was introduced, which means there are three separate characters running around, all named Jack Noir.
  • In Fans!' second year, one of the new members was named Tim, but there was already a Tim on the major cast. (The strip where the new Tim introduced himself had the page title "God Made Two of 'Em".) Characters and readers alike generally called the new one "Tim the Fanboy". Eventually, two developments reduced the ambiguity: Tim adopted a new name (as part of his Face Heel Turn), and we found out his unabbreviated name was Timin, whereas the other Tim is presumably a Timothy.
  • While Everyday Heroes does, in fact, have only one Steve, it had at one point two Janes (who were members of the villainous team "The Jane Gang").
    • Also, the neighborhood moms are named Jane, Joan, June, Jenny, Ginny, and so on ...
  • In Li'l Mell (featuring the young version of Mell Kelly from Narbonic), there are two girls named Taylor (one blonde caucasian, one dark-haired Asian), and their male counterparts named Tyler.
  • Coga Suro has, in fact, precisely one Steve; the main character.
  • Subverted in Spinnerette, where the main character learns that the name Spinnerette is already a name used by a spider-themed (Specifically, Drow-themed) villainess. The character is later referred to as Evil Spinnerette by everyone else.
  • Lampshaded (and subverted!) in this Multiplex strip.
  • In Wright as Rayne, the last name of Dorothy, the girl Alex Rayne winds up in the body of, is Wright, which is also the last name of one of Power's mooks. Word of God has it the two aren't related in any way.
  • Parodied in this Treading Ground strip where a manager refers to two employees as Nate and Black Nate, even though their names are Nate and Jimi.
  • In Charby the Vampirate, one of the Rose Sisters (who initially only appeared in one strip but later returned) is named Rosemary, and one of Zerlocke's sisters (introduced much later, but a much more important character) is also named Rosemary. When the Rose Sister found out there was someone else named Rosemary, her response was "Whaat? There can be only one! Destroy her!" (She was talked out of it).
  • Averted in Elf Blood where one of the lead characters, Mara, shares her name with (and indeed was probably named after) the Elves' Mother Goddess.
  • In The Dreamer, there are two characters named Benjamin - Benjamin Cato and Benjamin Tallmadge. Cato lives in the 21st century, while Tallmadge lives in the 18th century.


Web Original

  • Homestar Runner does this in action film spoof Dangeresque 1: Dangeresque Too? The hard-boiled detective Dangeresque (played by Strong Bad) is assigned a "cloned" partner also named Dangeresque (played by...Homestar).
    • There's also Science Fiction Greg and D&D Greg from the Teen Girl Squad 'toons. The TGS spin-off "4 Gregs" introduced Open Source Greg, Japanese Culture Greg, and minor character Regular Greg.
  • Subverted in Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series, where Marik's Millennium Rod can only control people whose names are, of course, Steve. Given that Marik controls a bunch of one-shot characters with it, the series ends up with a lot of Steves.
    • It is revealed that only one of their names has to be Steve; "Steve" Arcana, Steve Jobs, and Keith Steve Howard (Bandit Keith) are all under his control at some point. Later, he mind controls Joey and Téa by tricking them into legally changing their names to Steve.
    • At a convention, LK explained the background of the entire gag, mentioning that in his version, "Steve" has pretty much become another word for "henchman".
  • Survival of the Fittest has had duplicates of several (first) names, including that of the winner of version 1. The nature of the RP, of course, renders this trope essentially unenforceable.
  • Ruby Quest has two characters named Tom. The players more or less ignored the fairly obvious hints for this, resulting in quite a shock for many when it was finally revealed.
  • v3 of Open Blue featured a Colonel Jackson and a Sergeant Jackson. One commanded a brigade of troops from the five major countries of The Federation, and the other commanded a The Squad of Praetorian Guard from a single country. The two were as familially related as their job descriptions are similar.
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, a surprisingly large number of characters were named either "James" or "Anne" in their secret identities. The setting also contained no less than three Defenders, two Brawlers, two characters called The Magician, two Speed Demons, and at least three Crusaders.
  • In the MSF High Forum, there have been reuses of Echo, Mira, and even Jessica. Also invoked, when an NPC changed her name to Echoe, or a variation thereof, to fix things. As this is a forum, similar-sounding but differently spelled names are okay.
  • One of the scenes in the Animutation "Irrational Exuberance" riffs on this, saying "There can be only one" Dave Thomas and then using "Worthington's Law: more money = better than)" to eliminate the less successful of the two.
  • Behind the Veil has some of the more common names repeated, but the one that takes the cake is the tale of the two Jons: Both are Bone Gnawers, Theurges, at the same sept.
  • Since the Whateley Universe has such a massive number of named characters, it's not surprising that there are lots of names occurring more than once. Like Elaine: Elaine Nalley and Elaine Fleischer are both gorgeous mutants with The Most Common Superpower, and they're both inventors. When they both went on Phase's birthday trip to Boston, Elaine Nalley went by 'Doc' to avoid confusion among the other guests. On the other hand, the school does enforce rules about distinct codenames for everyone.
  • The Angry Joe Show features several appearances by one of Angry Joe's friends, also named Joe. To distinguish between the two, he's often referred to as "Other Joe."


Western Animation

 Lash: Friends called me Bat, Bat-Lash.

John Stewart: I am John. This is my friend Diana and, er--

Batman (grimly): Bruce.

  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, after a fashion. Edd is usually addressed as "Double-D".
  • The Oblongs has the Debbies.
  • The Tick had an episode called "The Tick Versus The Tick", in which The Tick had to fight a guy named Barry, who also used "The Tick" as his superhero name and wasn't keen on sharing.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine/The Railway Series:
    • The Railway Series had a bus named Bertie, and a Small Railway engine named Bert.
    • The TV series had a bus named Bertie, a diesel named Bert, and a Narrow Gauge engine named Bertrum.
    • It also featured tank engines named Bill (introduced in Season 2) and Billy (Season 11).
    • Perhaps the most obvious example of all, Diesel in Duck and the Diesel Engine and Diesel in Stepney the Bluebell Engine.
  • The 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 (or Hero, whatever) cartoon has two characters whose similarity of names can confuse the viewers. There's April's boss named Burne (confused as Verne) and her rival named Vernon.
  • Kim Possible had a student named Ron Reager at the high school. His initial appearance was just for a joke on his sharing a name with Ron Stoppable, but he actually made two more appearances in the Post Script Season!
    • Invoked in another episode, when Dr. Drakken is flabbergasted to learn that the upstart teenager who's always foiling his plans is the daughter of his old college roommate, whose mockery drove him to the evil side of mad science. He tries to claim that he never put it together before because Possible is a very common name, then wanders off to find a phone book when everyone points out that it's really not. The phone book does not help him.
  • The Simpsons has the Ancient Mystic Society of No-Homers; which means only one Homer can join. Unfortunately for Homer Simpson, it's already admitted a Homer Glumplich.
    • The Simpsons is particularly aversive of this trope: Homer and Ned's mothers are both named Mona, Chief Wiggum and Marge's father are both named Clancy, Prof. Frink and the camp accessory salesman from "Homer's Phobia" are both named John, notwithstanding the incredibly similar Carl (of Lenny and Carl) with Karl (Homer's one time secretary); the very closely related Eddie, Edna, and Ned; or Lou, Lewis, and Luann. Plus rhyming names such as Rod, Todd, and Maude; Sherri and Terri or Moe and Joe (Mayor Quimby). Milhouse shared the same name as some random Shelbyville kid ("I thought I was the only one"). And that's not even mentioning Martin Prince or Waylon Smithers, who were named after their fathers (or the prominent first-season character Marvin Monroe, not to be confused with Martin). One particularly elusive one is the presence of two Charleses, one being the minor, bespectacled plant worker "Charlie" and the other being "C. Montgomery Burns", whose real first name is Charles. There's also a gag about two people having the unlikely name of Bort. Of course, this is probably just a side-effect of Loads and Loads of Characters.

      Chief Wiggum and Ralph Wiggum weren't related by design; they randomly wound up with the same last name, and later, having put two and two together, made them father and son.
    • An accidental reference to this trope appeared in the episode when they go to New York. Homer contacts the traffic authority over the phone and receives a pre-recorded message, with the specific details added in, in a man's voice. The message states that he "will be met by Officer Steve" "Grabowski"-- that is, Steve is part of the pre-recorded message, implying that all of the officers are named Steve.
    • Another aversion: In "Waverly Hills 9-0-2-1-D'oh", there are three girls at Waverly Hills Elementary named Caitlin (with a "C"), Katelyn (with a "K"), and Kate Lynn (two words)
    • Yet another aversion: There are two Larrys: the bald guy that isn't Homer who can usually be seen at Moe's, and Mr. Burns's illegitimate son from "Burns, Baby Burns".
  • Sealab 2021 had Debbie and "Black Debbie," who in her first appearance protested her nickname and pointed out the other wasn't called "White Debbie." Some fans call Debbie "White Debbie" for this reason.

 Quinn: How would you like it if people called you "White Stormy"?

Stormy: [confused] You mean, there's a Black Stormy?

Quinn: [looooong pause] No.

  • Similarly, Code Monkeys has Black Steve, who was probably called that to differentiate himself from Gameavision's original owner Steve Wozniak, but he continues to be called that even after Wozniak sells the company to Mr. Larrity in the first episode.
  • Batman the Animated Series, early on, had both Detective Harvey Bullock and District Attorney Harvey Dent. In the first episode, the latter even addressed the former by name (which sounded a little strange)
  • Batman Beyond has two characters named "Ace": The DCAU's version of Ace the Bat-Hound, and the "Ace" member of the Royal Flush Gang (a mute android in Beyond). The two rarely get confused.
  • Trumpton Hugh! Pugh! Barney McGrew!...
  • Winx Club: Pepe, Icy's duck, followed the Trix to Light Haven/Light Rock at the end of season one and hasn't been seen since. The creators must have forgotten about him since in season four, Musa's pet bear was named Pepe.
  • Phineas and Ferb plays this for laughs in the episode "The Lizard Whisperer", where the boys are looking for a giant chameleon named Steve. They find other Steves and even arrive at a Steve Convention. Note the creators are on record as readers of that other Tropes site.
    • There are two girls named Wendy. The first Wendy is the girl Candace competed with in the science fair episode (though her name was never spoken onscreen), and the second Wendy is the girl Baljeet kissed in the Christmas Special. Perhaps for distinguishing reasons, the latter Wendy has the surname Stinglehopper.
    • At several points in the series, Candace mentions wanting to name her future son Xavier, while in "It's About Time!," the tour guide mentions that the time machine was invented by an Xavier Onassis. Of course, this shouldn't be much of an issue, since one's already dead and another isn't even born...until the time-traveling episode "Quantum Boogaloo," where the plot required both to appear. Perhaps to get around this, Onassis shows up without his name ever being mentioned.
    • On a semi-related note, the show introduced Phineas and Ferb's Aunt Tiana around the same time Disney was hyping a different Tiana. Co-creator Dan Povenmire noted the similarity but said it was just a coincidence, as he named the show's Tiana after one of his sisters (the other being the namesake of Linda).
    • For some meta fun, Fanon had declared Baljeet's last name to be Patel, but that's actually the name of his childhood friend Mishti. (His actual last name is Raj.) Also, the character Isabella shares her name with two of the show's voice actresses, and was named after Dan Povenmire's oldest daughter to boot.
  • Obsessive Invader Zim fans will note that the show has a Vortian Lard Nar leading the Resisty and an Irken Lardnar as an Invader. A very minor example, however, since both names are only used in scripts and writers' notes.
  • Enforced on Jimmy Two-Shoes. After The Rodeo Clowns steal one of his shoes, Jimmy notes that without it, he's Jimmy One-Shoe. At that point, a monster dressed exactly like him with only one leg hops by, muttering "And that name is already taken."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants and Squidward once encountered a band of Vikings all named Olaf, except for their leader (Gordan), curiously enough.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • "Lee:"
      • Captain Li of the Fire Nation Army.
      • A young boy named "Lei" who Zuko bonds with in his Day in The Limelight.
      • Ty Lee.
      • Li, one of the old ladies who act as adviser for Azula.
      • Quon Lee, imperial guard from finale who had a talk with an engineer in airship.
      • Halfway through season 2, Zuko took on the name "Lee" while incognito, and stopped using the alias once the "Dai Li" (That's pronounced "Die Lee") showed up.
        • And Dai Li is just a different transliteration of the exact same Chinese characters for Ty Lee's name!
      • The whole thing is lampshaded in "Sokka's Master":

  "You're gonna need a better Fire Nation cover name. Try Lee. There's a million Lees."

    • On a semi-related note, The Dai Li's Government Conspiracy was upheld by placing several women who called themselves "Joo Dee" to watch over suspicious citizens. Justified in this case because they were all brainwashed into the identity anyway.
  • There are two "Estellas" in The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Estella Scheele, a one-off antagonist seen in "In the Realm of the Condor," and Estella Velasquez, Jessie's mother. And they're both redheads, too.
  • Kyle in South Park's cousin Kyle, although it seems that instance only exists for the joke that Sheila considers her own son to be "Kyle 2." Other aversions exist through extremely minor characters, such as a second Terrance (who only appeared in the episode right before Terrance and Phillip were introduced) and three recurring Living Props named Kevin, and various stock names used for random characters.
  • Though he's never seen, another Tino is mentioned in The Weekenders when the main character, Tino Tonitini, fails to get his name in the yearbook for "Best Tino". Also averting the "similar names" aspect is minor character Tony Tortallero, who even looks and sounds a lot like Tino.
  • On Hey Arnold, the title character has a Country Cousin named Arnie who's basically a boring, creepy Bizarro Universe version of him. Obviously the name is part of the joke.
    • One episode has Arnold going through the streets shouting for his lost pig, Abner. A man sticks his head out a window and continually calls "What?!" before giving up and going inside.
    • Related: there's a minor recurring character named Lorenzo and a fictional, plot-significant country called San Lorenzo.
  • Unintentionally done in the Arthur episode "Buster's Back", which includes the titular character and musician Arthur Garfunkel (though in this case, his name is never mentioned).
  • Daria has three Toms: Tom Sloane, who dated Jane and later Daria, as well as Tom Griffin (Sandi's father) and Tommy Sherman (the dead Jerk Jock).
  • In The Fairly Odd Parents episode "Genie Meanie Minie Mo," Timmy's wish for Trixie Tang to fall in love with him backfires when she ends up giving kisses to everyone in the country whose name is Timmy Turner, with him the very last one on the list.
    • In the storybook Too Many Turners, Timmy wishes that he had lots of brother and sisters, but after he sees how much trouble all those siblings are, he calls out for Cosmo and Wanda to get rid of them, resulting in this scene:

 "Cosmo! Wanda!" Timmy called, pushing through a crowd of siblings.

"What?" asked a boy named Cosmo.

"Yes? asked a girl named Wanda.

"Never mind," Timmy said, sighing.

 Frylock: Where is Carl's brain?

Carl Brain: I am Carl Brain.

Frylock: No, our friend Carl.

Carl Brain: I am Carl Brain.

Frylock: No, different Carl!

Carl Brain: (beat) I am Carl Brain.

  • Danny Phantom plays with this a bit with Danny's "Dani-with-an-I" Opposite Sex Clone, Danielle. So, for at least two episodes we had both Daniel "Danny" Phantom and Danielle "Dani" Phantom.
  • Futurama: "Clarification: the Philip J. Fry from planet Earth or the Philip J. Fry from Hovering Squid World 97?"
    • In the Luck of the Fryrish we find out Fry's nephew was named after him and became the first man on Mars, Fry however believes it to be his brother at first to which Hermes says, "Oh, so your brother was that Philip J. Fry?"
  • As Told by Ginger has Macie's parents both named Bobby and Bobbie Lightfoot. Hoodsey's first name is Robert as well.
  • Darkwing Duck has a rather bizarre example with two supervillains both named Negaduck: one the evil half of Darkwing himself the other an Evil Twin from a Mirror Universe.
  • Jimmy Neutron has Jimmy and one of his clones gone rogue, Evil Jimmy.
  • Time Warp Trio had main character Joe and his Uncle Joe, whom gave him the time traveling book the series revolved around. The titular trio (Joe, Sam, and Fred) would also go on to meet their great granddaughters from 2105, whom were named Jodie, Freddi, and Samantha. And that's not getting into the historical figures they'd meet, whom being real life people, also shared a first name with another historical person they met while time traveling or a member of the cast.
  • The writers for Transformers: robots in disguise have gone on record that the Grimlock on that show is not the same Grimlock who appeared in Fall of Cybertron, which takes place in the same continuity, with a bit of squinting.


Real Life

  • Marie of Roumania (sic) was born in Germany and became queen of Yugoslavia. On the other hand, her mother, Marie of Edinburgh, ruled Romania. Hilarity Ensues.
  • George Foreman named all five of his sons George (George Jr and George III to VI), and one of his five daughters Georgetta.
    • On ~30 Rock~, Tracy Jordan named his children Tracy Jr. and George Foreman.
  • The Romans were pretty bad about breaking this rule. But the Julio-Claudian dynasty took the cake.
    • The famous Julius Caesar shared his full name (Gaius Julius Caesar) with his father, grandfather, and quite a lot of other relatives, among them his great nephew known as Augustus. This makes their history just a little confusing sometimes.
    • Even worse for women. Officially, a daughter's name was just the feminine version of the family name--Julius Caesar's sister, daughter, and paternal aunt would all be named "Julia". In practice, sisters would be distinguished by nicknames or other variants (a beauty might be called "Helen", a girl born on Lesbos might be called "Lesbia", etc.); but if you find a statue of "Agrippina", it can be hard to figure out which of Agrippa's many famous female descendants it represents.
    • And to further confuse things, his adopted son (originally named Gaius Octavius) changed his name in accordance to the named-after-your-father tradition, so both Caesar and Augustus actually went by the name Gaius Julius Caesar; though the latter, as an adoptee, had the optional Octavianus.
    • Then there were also the three emperors Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero, who where the third, fifth, and sixth emperors beginning with Caesar. The first two were actually names "Tiberius Claudius Nero", but despite other claims, Neros full name was Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus, which also wasn't much better.
    • In addition Julius was assassinated by Marcus Brutus, who shared a name with his ancestor who was instrumental in overthrowing the last king of Rome.
    • On the whole, the Romans weren't very big on inventive names. In classical times, their list of "acceptable first names" had been boiled down to ~20. This is, if they didn't outright number them through.
  • Mainland China has rather simple, conventional naming traditions when compared to other Chinese-speaking nations/areas/whatever such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. This essentially means it's rather likely that two or more people will share the same-sounding first and last names. This is generally averted with either calling them "male [name here]" and "female [name here]", or, if there are any of the same gender, making references to the different characters in those names. Of course, people sharing the exact same names, calligraphy-wise, in the same classroom are not unheard of...
  • Let's not forget many monarchical dynasties that violate this rule constantly, eg. the Bourbons used the name Louis so often that there was a Louis XVIII of France. See also the Ptolemies of Egypt almost all of whom were called Ptolemy, or in the rare case of prominent females, Cleopatra (VII being the famous one).
    • Not to mention those eighteen Louis were only the ones who became kings. Don't forget Louis XIV, son of Louis XIII, was such a long-living bugger that he outlived not only his son Louis but also his grandson Louis making Louis XV his great-grandson who also named his son Louis and... you get the idea.
    • The House of Reuss, wherein EVERY MALE MEMBER of the family was named Henry/Heinrich.
  • France also provides us with the War of the Three Henrys, a three-sided Civil War in which the Royalist party was led by King Henri III, the Catholic League was led by Henri, the Duke of Guise, and Navarre was led by Henri of Navarre. Henri of Navarre won, becoming Henri IV.
  • There are at least two historic sultans named Suleiman. "Suleiman the Magnificent" is the one who conquered Europe all the way to Vienna.
  • King George V had four sons living to adulthood, three of whom had "George" somewhere in their cluster of Christian names. However, the first went by David (Edward VIII), the second by Albert, and the fourth used George as his first name. However, when Albert became king in 1936, he, following the course of his grandfather Edward VII, declined to use Albert as his regnal name in recognition of his great-grandfather Albert, Prince-consort. Instead, Albert became George VI, to emphasize continuity with his father's long reign - which meant that the royal family now contained two brothers named King George and Prince George.
    • Louis XVIII (Louis Stanislas Xavier) of France was a younger brother of Louis XVI (Louis August).
  • Henry VIII was married to, in order, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. Three names for six wives.
  • Mitch Hedberg used to tell a joke about his ex girlfriend named Lyn and his current girlfriend (who later became his wife, and even later his widow) named Lynn.
  • Is your name Dave?
  • Karl Freiherr vom Stein was replaced in his post as Prussian statesman in 1807 for about half a year by Karl Reichsfreiherr vom Stein zum Altenstein.
    • Karl Reichsfreiherr vom und zum Stein was Prussia's premier minister from 1807 to 1808. Karl Reichsfreiherr vom Stein zu Altenstein was co-leading minister (along with Count Dohna-Schlobitten) from late 1808 to 1810. The latter was however generally known as Altenstein (and signed that way).
  • In rural Northern Ireland, people with the same name would be differentiated by the name of their father, resulting in conversations something like this: "So ah wuz talkin' teh Stephen the other day..." "Which Stephen?" "Wullie's Stephen - ye know, th' one that married Billy's Helen."
    • The royal house of Prussia would often do something similar in the case of duplication. For instance in the late 18th century, King Frederick William III had a younger brother called Louis, but there was another Prince Louis, son of Prince Ferdinand (the youngest brother of King Frederick the Great), who was therefore called Prince Louis Ferdinand, even though Ferdinand was not one of his Christian names. Frederick William III had another brother called William as well as a younger son called William (later William I of Prussia and Germany). The former was sometimes called "Wilhelm Bruder" (William brother).
  • This trope is a rule in many showbiz unions, forcing those with common names to don pseudonyms:
    • David McDonald alias David Tennant
    • Michael J. Fox, whose fake middle initial stands for nothing
    • Diane Hall, who took her mother's maiden name (Keaton)
    • And speaking of people named Keaton, Michael Keaton is actually Michael Douglas. He just renamed himself "Keaton" because there was already a prominent actor named Michael Douglas.
    • Stewart Granger's real name was James Stewart.
    • In an extreme case, actor/comedian Jm J. Bullock was forced to change the spelling of his name because a 'Jim J. Bullock' was already enrolled in the union.
    • David X. Cohen is named thus because there was an existing David S. Cohen.
    • Singer Katy Perry changed her last name, Hudson, so she wouldn't be confused with actress Kate Hudson.
      • Katy Perry (or at least her 'people') also attempted to sue an Australian woman whose name is Katie Perry because Katie Perry has a clothing brand with her name never mind the fact that she (Katie) had started the brand years before Katy had become famous.
  • Averted in the current squad of Real Madrid, where shirt number 9 belongs to (Cristiano) Ronaldo. Until 2007 the owner of the number was the Brazilian Ronaldo (Luiz Nazario da Lima). Also, because of the Brazilian Ronaldo, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira has been using the nickname Ronaldinho. To go further, the Brazilian Ronaldo played under the name Ronaldinho too, in Atlanta, 1996, to distinguish him from teammate Ronaldo Guiaro.
  • If you're Korean, chances are that your last name is either Kim, Park, or Lee.
    • The joke is that if you throw a rock off the mountain near Seoul you'll hit someone with one of those names.
    • The Chinese are not quite as bad as the Koreans, but there is still a roughly 1-in-4 chance that any random Chinese you meet will have the family name Wang/Wong, Li, or Zhang.
  • The Swedish Kenneth Club. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Project Steve is a list of scientists who believe in evolution, all of whom are named Steve (or a variant thereof) in honour of Steven Jay Gould.
  • Averted by Apple Computer, which was founded by two guys named Steve.
  • Sebastian Vettel started driving for Formula One race team Scuderia Toro Rosso (STR) in late 2007. For 2008, his teammate was Sébastien Bourdais. When Vettel moved to STR's sister team Red Bull Racing in 2009, he was replaced by Sébastien Buemi as Bourdais' teammate. Sadly, when Bourdais was fired mid-2009, his replacement was named Jaime and not a variant of Sebastian. However, STR at the end of 2009 STR attempted to have rallying champion Sébastien Loeb test for them, presumably as a possible driver for 2010, though Loeb was unable to obtain the Super License required to race in Formula 1.
    • And now for One Steve Limit-lite: One of Mercedes's drivers is Nico Rosberg, and one of Williams's drivers is Nico Hulkenberg.
    • In the past, there was Mika Hakkinen and Mika Salo.
    • And in the past brothers have competed in F1-Michael and Ralf Schumacher.
    • Timo and Tommi Makinen (no relation), both champion rally drivers, both nicknamed the "Flying Finn".
  • When groups of friends, workmates, classes or other organised gatherings have some shared names, they're likely to find ways to differentiate people fairly quickly to avoid confusion.
  • There was a Facebook group about how if Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner got married, back when they were dating, they would both be Taylor Lautner.
  • Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, co-hosts of ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning". They go by Greenie and Golic.
  • Averted by the team of Bob Gale and Bob Zemeckis, who simply went by the collective moniker "Bob & Bob" when they worked together on the Back to The Future films.
  • Have you tried to read a history book about the Hundred Years War? There are about a dozen different guys that are named Charles (Charles VI and VII, Charles of Anjou, of Aragon, Charles le Mauvais, etc)...which makes it kinda difficult to follow.
  • Dave Gorman and his friend (also named Dave) had a drunken bet going. Namely that there was another "Dave Gorman" an assistant manager for Fife. So they travelled several hundred miles from London to Fife to meet him. When they got there, they asked the manager if he knew any other Dave Gormans. "No. Well, wait, my Dad is also Dave Gorman. Oh yeah, and my son is Dave Gorman too." Dave Gorman (the original) happened to be a stand up comedian...so he travelled internationally to find other Dave Gormans and then he made his own show called "Are You Dave Gorman?

 Dave Gorman (on Letterman): Yes, I have an idea for a new show. It's called "Are you Osama Bin Laden?"

    • Dave Gorman's friend... "Dave" Danny Wallace?
  • Mr & Mrs. Kelly Hildebrandt. They met when she looked up people with her last name on Facebook.
  • Many large creative projects, like creating a stage show or making a film, will include lots of people, and occasionally there are some who share the same name. For example, in all his films since Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan has worked with special effects supervisor Chris Corbould.
  • Early in the station's life, UPN ran an ad campaign based on the fact that three of their exclusive shows starred people named Richard: Platypus Man with Richard Jeni, Marker with Richard Grieco, and Legend with Richard Dean Anderson. How successful was this ad campaign? Note that none of the three shows have a page at this time.
    • Also on UPN was Star Trek Voyager, which had Robert Beltran, Robert Duncan McNeill, and Robert Picardo as part of the cast. Reportedly they went by Rob, Robert and Bob respectively to keep things straight.
  • When Michael Caine decided to act under the name Michael Scott, he was informed the name was already taken. He chose the last name after seeing a theater was showing The Caine Mutiny. He later joked that he might have been known as "Michael ~101 Dalmatians~" if he looked in the other direction.
  • Harrison Ford was worried that he shared the same name as a silent movie star, but his fame as since eclipsed that of the original Harrison Ford.
  • When citing a list of United States presidents that only gives last names, presidents with similar names will often be differentiated with nicknames and variations. For instance, referring to "Roosevelt" often means Theodore Roosevelt, whereas one who is referring to Franklin Delano Roosevelt will refer to him as FDR. More recently, simply saying "George Bush" would tend to refer to the more recent one by default (though many will call him "George W. Bush" specifically anyway), while someone referring specifically to George Bush senior would likely call him "George H.W. Bush".
  • In Mexico there's the "C.U.R.P." which is an ID number based on your name, birthplace and birthday, if your name is "José" (for males) or "María" (for females) then that name's ignored for curp purposes unless it's your only name (it's actually more common for people in Mexico to have two names than only one). For added fun you can ask any "María" if her full name is "María Guadalupe", you have a 50% chance to get it right.
    • The C.U.R.P.'s code is based on your name, first and second surnames, plus the date of birth. Given that there are a lot of surnames in Mexico that are really common, even to the point of making jokes (e.g. Juan Pérez), it's really common for people to have a repeated code (ex. GOHP130459 = GOnzález Hernández Pablo 13(d)/04(m)/59(y)), in which case they add an extra number (ex. GOHP1304592)
  • In the Canadian House of Commons, when there's a standing vote, M Ps are called by their last names -- unless they share a last name with (or have a similar last name as) another MP, in which case the name of the riding (constituency) is appended: for example, Ms. Davies (Vancouver East) and Mr. Davies (Vancouver-Kingsway). Fate dictates that the longer and more unwieldy your riding name is, the more likely you are to share a name with another MP, just to make life difficult for the clerks; during one troublesome period, there was a M. Guimond (Montmorency--Charlevoix--Haute-Côte-Nord) and a M. Guimond (Rimouski-Neigette--Témiscouata--Les Basques).
  • Winston Churchill was a best-selling American novelist at the beginning of the twentieth century. When the British Winston Churchill began his public career, he identified himself as Winston S. Churchill so he wouldn't be confused for the then better-known author.
  • The town of Phil Campbell, Alabama is the home of the Phil Campbell Convention, which hosted 22 Phil Campbells and 1 Phyllis Campbell when it was first held in 1995. When the town took a direct hit from an F-5 tornado in April 2011, guests for that year stepped up to provide help.
  • Chris Colfer and Darren Criss who play Kurt and Blaine on Glee. It's been said that if they got married, Chris's name would be Chris Criss, or Chris Squared.
  • American Football players Roy E. Williams and Roy L. Williams who, to confuse matters even further, both played for the Dallas Cowboys at the same time. Luckily since one was a Wide Receiver and the other Safety they were never on the field at the same time (although the temptation to use the WR as an extra Safety in "prevent" defences must have been quite high...)
  • A startling example was Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who had a younger brother, also called Nicolae. Supposedly their drunken father announced the name at the younger child's christening, forgetting that he already had a son with that name.
  • During Finnish Presidental Election in 2012, there were three people running named Paavo; Lipponen, Väyrynen and Arhinmäki. None of them made it to the second round.
  • At the 1996 Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, two of the finalists were Michael Dupee and Michael Daunt. Dupee, the eventual winner, spent the finals being called "Mike" to avoid confusion.
    • In the 2008 Teen Tournament, the final two games featured two Rachels, so one went by "Steve" (really!).
  • It's been said that Star Trek did so well because it had good Genes. Eugene Wesley Roddenberry (Senior), and Eugene Lee Coon.
    • The above is more punny when you realize the Greek prefix "eu-" does literally mean "good". The name Eugene is Greek in origin and translates to "well-born".
  • There's the Galton-Watson process in mathematics, which investigates the extinction probability of family names. Francis Galton came up with it because his contemporary Victorians were concerned about great aristocratic lines dying out. It shows how the number of names falling (in the absence of new ones) is inevitable given time. And sure enough, countries which have been using surnames extensively for a long time (like China) now have relatively few different last names, while countries which adopted them more recently (like much of Europe) have many more.

Notes

  1. his real name is Scott Levy
  2. Mass Effect 2 party member Jacob Taylor, the guy on life support from the "Lost Freighter" sidequest in the first game, Rebekah Petrovsky's late husband, and her unborn son.
  3. Higgins (two "Gs") is a Paladin in Shining Force II, while Higins (one "G") is a Ninja in Shining Force Gaiden II
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