Code Name

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"'Sabertooth'? 'Storm'. 'Cyclops'. And what do they call you? 'Wheels'? This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

Wolverine, X-Men

In order to protect a Secret Identity, or just to make identifying a person easier over a static-y radio, a Superhero, International Spy or even Ace Pilot will have a Code Name. In the case of a Superhero, this nom de guerre will be indicative of their powers, origin, or national affiliation. International spies and Ace Pilots will more frequently have a randomly assigned Code Name (and in comedies, silly ones at that). Often, the Code Name is so descriptive as to defeat the very purpose of not using your real name, since Iron Bear really could only be one guy.

A common way of parodying it is a character with a stupid or silly codename who complains that, when the time came to choose theirs, all the good ones were taken. Frequently they claim it was a choice between their current codename or something far worse.

Common code name styles include:

The Token Minority may fall victim to a having a Captain Ethnic Code Name; for decades, almost all black superheroes had names with the word "Black" somewhere in them.

Military ranks, noble titles and other honorifics are occasionally incorporated into a Code Name, as is the case in Captain America and Doctor Fate. Closely related to Nom De Guerre, which would be when they use the name all the time, and not just "out in public".

Compare with Sobriquet, where everybody knows who the nickname applies to.

Examples of Code Name include:

Anime and Manga

  • Pretty much every Contractor and Doll in Darker than Black is like this, with code names ranging from Chinese color and descriptive names for the main characters (Hei, Yin, and Mao) to month-based ones for the team of British agents (November 11, April, and July), to descriptive nicknames (A portly female contractor who has weaponized screaming is called Bertha). There's also a Woolseyism in the dub, as April refers to November 11 as "one-one", underscoring his James Bond similarities (i.e. he's Agent 1-1-1)
  • All the state alchemists in Fullmetal Alchemist have code names... which may function more like titles, since any random person off the street seems to know, say, that the Fullmetal Alchemist is Edward Elric.
    • Except when they think it's Alphonse.
    • Colonel Mustang gives his (male) subordinates women's names when on the phone. He's shown having flirty phone calls with the only actual female in the group, who uses an alias, and they use women's names to refer to the male operatives as though she's a shopkeeper and the men are women who work for her. It's such an effective way of encoding the messages that the office workers simply think he spends all day flirting.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, some of the characters have human names. However, these were the creator bending to fan insistence, rather than that he actually wanted to include them (which is displayed in that not only are the names picked with little care, but that they never appear in the series and were deleted from the author's blog).
  • In Cyborg 009, the nine Cyborgs are given codenames when transformed into living weapons.
  • The Baroque Works conspiracy in One Piece deployed its agents in man-woman teams, with the men codenamed "Mister $NUMBER" and the women called "Miss $DAY_REFERENCE". The shapeshifting crossdresser of the organization worked without a partner and used both naming schemes: "Mister 2 Bon Clay".
    • How could you forget Sanji's Mr Prince?
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, some members of Celestial Being have codenames. For example, Setsuna F. Seiei's real name is Soran Ebrahim
    • Not just some, most of them do, including the members only featured in the side-story materials.
    • Heero Yuy of Gundam Wing is also a code name; his real name is never revealed. He briefly borrows Duo Maxwell's name at one point, when his original code name would have attracted attention.
  • L from Death Note has a variety of codenames: L, Ryuuzaki, Ryuuga Hideki, Eraldo Coil, and Deneuve. Although it turns out "L" is his actual first name.
    • The children at Wammy's House have got codenames too, such as Near, Matt and Mello. Older generations of Wammy's have had them too.
    • L's regular foot soldiers all seem to use code names as well - specifically, Watari, Aiber and Wedy.
    • The policemen in the task force are also assigned... well, not so much code names as garden-variety aliases; this is quietly dropped (with a brief resurgence when Matsuda finds himself in a room full of Kira conspirators), presumably because the main villain knows all their real names already, but deems them Not Worth Killing. (The SPK members, while certainly worth killing in Light's book, use their aliases a lot more consistently.)
  • In G Gundam, the members of the original Shuffle Alliance are only referred to by their card-themed codenames (King of Hearts, Ace of Clubs, Queen of Spades, Jack of Diamonds and Black Joker, although the protagonist already owns the first title).
  • In Project A-ko, Operative DC-138621-S113 goes by Codename "D".
  • Fushigi Yuugi subverts, averts and plays the trope straight. Each Seishi is alternatively known by the constellation he or she is born under, and in some cases (particularly the Suzaku Seven), the Seishi's name fits his or her personality and powers precisely. However, the Seishi's code names can hardly be used to disguise them, seeing as all of them either know how to read kanji, have studied astronomy or both. In fact, their real names are hardly spoken among one another, and some of them go by their code names for most of their lives.
  • The four Warlords from Ronin Warriors were given code names by Talpa that correspond with their armors. This is subverted in the dub.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • On the esper side, Level 5 espers and people closely connected with them often get code names. Accelerator is known only by his code name, even to himself. Misaka Misaka is called Last Order more often than not, and Misaki Shokuhou is often called The Queen of Tokiwadai. Sometimes Mikoto Misaka is called Railgun, Shizuri Mugino is occasionally called Meltdowner, and Touma is called Imagine Breaker once or twice, but these are more properly the names of their powers.
    • On the magic side, Index is known only by her code name, even to herself. Many of the magicians (and those associated with the magic side in general) have a Sorcery Name, which they announce immediately before beginning combat with another magician. Index is Dedicatus 545, Stiyl Magnus is Fortis 931, Kanzaki Kaori is Salvare 000 and Tsuchimikado is Fallere 825.
  • Detective Conan. Members of the Black Organization are known by the names of alcoholic beverages: Gin, Vodka, Vermouth, Kir, Chianti, Korn, Bourbon, and so forth.
  • The Kirihara Group of Soul Taker gives code names to all mutants except Runa. The titular character's code name, Soul Taker, is not his own creation but theirs.
  • Yomiko Readman, The Paper.

Comic Books

  • The comics from which the page quote movie is derived use this just as extensively, if not more.
  • Before she became the superhero Ms. Marvel/Binary/Warhawk (she changes her superhero name almost as often as Hank Pym), Carol Danvers was a fighter pilot with the code name "Cheeseburger", because she'd vomited at one point after lunch. She specifically points out that you just don't get the awesome names outside of movies.
  • Green Lantern. Hal Jordan's call sign is "Highball". Jillian Pearlman's, a co-pilot, girlfriend and Star Sapphire, is "Cowgirl" because of her Texas accent.
  • The teens in Marvel Comics' series Runaways initially had codenames, but they were abandoned after a while.
    • Which makes perfect sense, since one would expect a bunch of kids to a) come up with 'cool" sounding code names for themselves and b) get bored with them fairly quickly.
  • In 100 Bullets, every member of the Minutemen has one: the Wolf, the Dog, the Bastard, the Rain, the Point Man, the Monster, the Saint, the Boy, and the Girl.
  • Except for Adam, the core cast of ClanDestine have these. Rory (The Crimson Crusader) and Pandora (Imp) picked theirs out when they started to play superhero; they decided to call Walter "Wallop" partly as a pun on his name and partly because it was a fair description of his powers. "Cuckoo" was Kay's family nickname, and "Hex" was Domenic's stage name when he worked as an Escape Artist. (No explanation for Samantha's "Argent," although presumably it's a poetic description of her silvery armor.)
  • In Marvel Comics' New Universe the "D.P.7" group on the run from the sanatorium they were being held in tried using code names, but after they set them up nobody ever used them except "Skuzz," whose power was an acidic exudate coming out of his pores making anything he touches disintegrate in a few minutes. And that was his nickname before he got his powers.
  • Crusader, a Skrull infiltrator who decided he like humans better than Skrulls and became a superhero, went out of his way to chose a code name that describes nothing about his origin, personality, or especially powers. He advised Curtis Doyle, a rookie hero who'd picked up a "Cosmic Ring", to do the same. The kid ignores the advice and calls himself Freedom Ring. Freedom Ring later gets killed after specifically calling attention to the source of his powers, leading to the villain of the story cutting off his finger to depower him.

Fan Works

  • Clearly used by the Warriors, the super team that Douglas Sangnoir, protagonist of the Drunkard's Walk fanfic cycle, is a member of in his home timeline. His commanding officer is "Wetter Hexe", his wife goes by "Shadowwalker", and easily close to a dozen others are mentioned over the course of the extant material. One member of the Warriors simultaneously expresses and averts the trope -- "Kat", AKA Kathleen Avins. Sangnoir himself uses the code name "Looney Toons" (and sometimes "The Loon"), but at least in his home timeline this is an aversion -- he uses it more like a pilot's call sign and notes at one point that he doesn't really maintain a Secret Identity like some other heroes do.
  • Examined briefly in the Neon Genesis Evangelion Peggy Sue fic Once More with Feeling: we see that the code names the JSSDF uses are deliberately meaningless; the official responsible for the designations tends to name them after random, everyday things that happen to be in the room with him. Operation "Wallpaper" is the name for their highly classified ongoing investigation into SEELE and NERV, while their highest ranking source is known as Agent "Balcony".


  • In X-Men: First Class, the ridiculous codenames given to the characters which have nothing to do with anonymity (as demonstrated by them using them for each other in the most mundane of situations) that give rise to the page quote are explained as a result of precedent established by teenagers in over their heads in the CIA.
    • Parodied relentlessly in the Riff Trax who suggested names after everything, such as "on-your-own-o", "you-should-go-o" and "kidnap-o". Adding "o" to the end of anything works as a Code Name.
  • In Top Gun, the various characters go by their callsigns most of the time, and those are the names most fans remember. After all, Maverick is just cool. Pete Mitchell, not so much. And who would want to be Tom Kazansky or Mike Metcalf when they could be Iceman or Viper?
  • Explicitly parodied in Hot Shots!, with characters who have callsigns like "Wash Out" and "Dead Meat".
  • In Hudson Hawk, the CIA agents are called Snickers, Kit Kat, Butterfinger and Almond Joy. Butterfinger is fittingly clumsy.

Almond Joy: Almond Joy. Get it? Candy bars. Well, it's better than when we first started out. Our code names were diseases. Do you know what it's like being called Chlamydia for a year?

  • The Taking of Pelham One Two Three features crooks in a train heist who use color-themed codenames to protect their identities.
  • Reservoir Dogs was probably inspired by Pelham, using color-themed codenames for a group of crooks. The heist boss assigns them the names Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue, Mr. Brown, Mr. Orange and Mr. Pink. The crook dubbed Mr. Pink tries to object, but the boss insists on picking the names himself. He mentions having allowed crooks on a past job to name themselves, and it resulted in a fight over who got to be Mr. Black.
    • When you think about it, each Code Name fits the character perfectly. Mr. White is the most moral of the group. Mr. Blonde is in it purely For the Evulz. Mr Orange has his outer layers peeled off throughout the film. Mr. Pink survives the film by hiding, something considered effeminate. Mr. Blue gets captured by the police, i.e. "The Boys in Blue". We don't really see much of Brown, though.
  • Used cleverly in the Clue movie. Since the boardgame characters name are reference to the color of their game piece, the film has the names being codenames so the people attending the dinner remain anonymous - Mr. Green, Prof. Plum, Colonel Mustard, Mrs Scarlet, Mrs Peacock, Mrs White, Wadsworth The Butler. It's not clear if Mr. Boddy or Yvette the French Maid are a pseudonym. In a touch of irony, unlike the board game, none of the characters wear the color they represent in the game - Mrs. Scarlet and Mr. Green wear blue while Mrs White wears all black, Colonel Mustard and Prof Plum wear brown and Mrs Peacock wears gold.
  • In Kill Bill, the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad has five members named after lethal snakes: Black Mamba, Copperhead, Cottonmouth, Sidewinder and California Mountain Snake. Bill himself is the Snake Charmer. Ironically, Vivica Fox's character escapes being the one called "Black Mamba", and then complains about it. The main character herself is called the Bride until the second film.
  • The Zucker Brothers' film Top Secret featured members of the French Resistance with a set of bizarre French code names - one group has French phrases for names, including Détente, Avant Garde and Déjà Vu, while another has food names, including Soufflé, Croissant, the Token Minority character Chocolate Mousse, and the frequent Almost-Dead Guy Latrine.
    • Also one is named Déjà Vu.
  • In Sky High, students in the Sidekick program are not allowed to have code names. Upon graduation, they are paired with a hero who gives them a name and costume (presumably to avoid clashing). However, three students in the "Hero" program apparently have code names: Hothead (Warren Peace), Lash, and Speed (though these might have just been regular high school nicknames). Others in the "Hero" classes go by their names (Will, Gwen, & Penny).
  • La Femme Nikita's codename in both the movie and the TV show was "Josephine."
  • All of the pilots in the various Hot Shots movies have humorous call signs from the faintly ridiculous "Topper" Harley to the hilariously appropriate "Dead Meat" and "Washout" ("washout" being US military slang for someone who fails flight school).
    • Not forgetting the enemy pilots' call signs in the first film all being types of food.
  • Shown correctly in, of all things, Flight of the Intruder, in which one new pilot is given the callsign "Razor" because he'd missed a bit while shaving the morning they were doling out names. Reverting back to trope, he later became Straight Razor "because you've become a real weapon, kid". Sheesh.
    • In the book the movie was based on, Razor's callsign was because he was the only pilot in the squadron with a mustache. In the movie, the mustache was given to "Tiger" Cole.
  • In Raising Arizona, Gale snaps at Evelle for constantly dropping his name during a bank robbery. After an awkward pause, Evelle suggests that "Gale" is actually his code name, and Gale weakly tries to back up his ruse.
  • In the page quote from X-Men, Wolverine ridicules the fact that they have code names. Which is some Hypocritical Humor on his part, as he does too.
  • "Eagle" and "Sparrow" are Clarisse and Mia's Code Names in The Princess Diaries.
  • No mention of Smokey and the Bandit? Back in the CB radio days everyone used some kind of appropriate code-name (referred to as their "handle"): Bandit, Frog, Grave Robber, Silver Tongued Devil, etc.
    • Jerry Reed's character was Cletus Snow, known better by his handle, Snowman.
  • Undercover Brother. Undercover Brother, Smart Brother, Conspiracy Brother, Sistah Girl, The Man. "Mr. Feather" might be one.
  • In Father Goose, Commander Frank Houghton is Big Bad Wolf, Ensign Stebbings is Bo Peep, the base at Kingsport is Briar Patch, and Walter Eckland is Mother Goose.
  • Colonel Stuart's henchmen in Die Hard 2 feature interesting code names.
    • In the beginning, when the mercenaries Baker and Thompson kill the church custodian, a memorable line is what Thompson says into his radio right afterwards: "This is Buckwheat. The clubhouse is open."
    • There's a deleted scene where O'Reilly (Robert Patrick) says, "This is Alice. We're down the rabbit hole."
    • The three army leaders all have bird-themed codenames: Major Grant is "Hatchling", Colonel Stuart is "Eagle Nest," and General Esperanza is "Falcon".
  • The code names for Pachycephalosaurus and Parasaurolophus are "Friar Tuck" and "Elvis" in The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
  • Sometimes averted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- it seems like it's a 50-50 proposition whether a superhero will actually have the code name they have in the comics, or at least use it.


  • Color code names are used by the criminals in The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3: Mr. Blue, Mr. Gray, Mr. Brown and Mr. Green. (Note that in this case the color-coding is partially hidden by the fact that these four are also normal English/American last names.)
  • The Seekers of Truth use code names to identify themselves, to avoid using real names rather than anonymity. Initially, they do it to give a name to the urban legends that start around them.
  • The bird-kids in Maximum Ride all have names that sound like code names.
  • Quiller, the protagonist of the spy novels by Adam Hall. We never find out what his real name is, and he is always referred to by his cover name on missions.
  • The titular assassin from The Day of the Jackal. Even the people who hired him didn't know his name, and in the end, neither do we.
  • In Tom Clancy's "Ryanverse" novels, the presidential nicknames (as mentioned in the Real Life section, below) for the otherwise unnamed president early in the series is "Wrangler", while Jack Ryan's callsign is "Swordsman", for the gift he received at the end of The Sum of All Fears (his wife is "Surgeon", for her civilian job, and the children get names starting with "s").
    • Ryan's chosen Treasury Department Secretary is tagged with the callsign "Trader", for his civilian life job. It's joked by Ryan to make sure to pronounce it correctly... which is why the Secret Service probably wouldn't use that in Real Life.
      • They should've used something like "Stocktrade" or "Wall Street".
    • The title of Rainbow Six is a reference to the callsign of the unit's leader- "Six" being the traditional number for a CO.
      • Also a reference to the Rainbow plans (which were strategies the USA had to deal with various outside threats). The last one was Rainbow 5. Rainbow 6 would be the next one, to deal with terrorism.
  • John Le Carre named the head of his MI6 equivalent "Control", who kept his real name secret.
    • Control's successor signs documents with "CC", for Chief of Circus, but does not attempt to keep his identity secret.
  • American Gods' The Men in Black Mr. Town, Mr. Stone, and Mr. Universe are thought to be code names, lampshaded by Sam who goes on about line of sight theme naming with Mr. Sidewalk, and Mr. Dirt.
  • In Wearing the Cape most superheroes have codenames that are descriptive of their power or just cool-sounding. Atlas gives Hope the temporary codename "Astra", which he says is Latin for star. She keeps it, despite later finding out it's the plural form—star(s).

Live-Action TV

  • The 2004 version of Battlestar Galactica turns the rather improbable given names of original characters such as Apollo, Starbuck, and Boomer into pilot callsigns. Other pilots include "Hot Dog," "Crashdown," "Duck," "Racetrack," and many, many more.
  • Zack and Cody of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody use code names when pulling off some of their more elaborate pranks. Usually Zack picks the code names and gives Cody an embarrassing one and himself a flattering one, such as "Better Looking Twin."
  • Colonel Hogan's callsign is "Goldilocks" in Hogan's Heroes, apparently because it was his callsign back when he was a fighter pilot. Fairytale-esque names are used for a number of targets and individuals.
  • Also seen in The Unit; Unit operators use colors in place of their real names to hid their identities (Mr. Black, Sgt. White, etc) and also have radio callsigns than range from cool (Snake Doctor, Hammerhead) to silly (Blue Iguana, Betty Blue).
    • If you're Airborne, Gerhardt's callsign ("Dirt Diver") is hilarious.[1]
  • The titular Gladiators from the '90s sports game show all had suitably impressive-sounding handles. The black ones did tend to get the names like "Shadow", "Nightshade" and "Saracen", a fact pointed out by Jeremy Hardy on his Talk to the Nation radio series.
  • The agents of Sapphire and Steel are named after either precious gems, periodic elements or alloys. In Assignment 5, they recruit a bystander to help them, who asks for a 'code name' of his own, and is told he can be Brass.
  • Allo Allo, zis is Night'awk...
  • And as Allo Allo was based on Secret Army, codenames appear there too, most noticeably for Lisa: Code Name Yvette, as well as Albert, who adopts the Yvette moniker after Lisa is killed in a bombing raid.
  • As mentioned above, CONTROL agents in Get Smart use numbers. The 2008 film states that only field agents get numbers, while analysts and staff go by their names. In the original series, we learn that The Chief used to be Agent Q, since he was an agent before they switched to numbers.
  • Ugly Betty features this when they're trying to do a secret fashion show:

Betty: Oh, can we have code names? I wanna be Princess Daisy.
Henry: Oh, I'm Dragon! No, Eagle! Dragon, Black Dragon!
Daniel: Guys! It's fine, do whatever you want... just as long as it's not Falcon, because that's mine.

  • The various spies in Alias all had vaguely-evocative codenames, which changed depending on which organization they worked for. Protagonist Sydney Brisow's for example, were "Blue Bird" (SD-6), "Freelancer" (C.I.A. double agent), "Mountaineer" (C.I.A.) and "Phoenix" (A.P.O.).
  • The actives in the Dollhouse have code names based on the NATO phonetic alphabet: Alpha, Echo, November, Sierra, Victor, and Whiskey.
    • That was the Los Angeles branch we're mostly familiar with. The Washington D.C. branch used the names of Greco-Roman gods.
  • The Monkees use funny code names in the episode “Art, For Monkees’ Sake” while breaking into an art museum overnight to switch back a stolen painting (“Mission: Ridiculous”). Each name refers to the places where each of the boys are from: "Manchester Marauder" (Davy), "Connecticut Counterspy" (Peter), "Los Angeles Leopard" (Micky), and the "(Modest) but Towering Texan" (Mike).
  • Married... with Children. When Al, Bud, and Jefferson devise a plot to blow up a scoreboard, they use the codenames 00 Shoe, Son of Frankenstein, and Gold Digger.


  • The Concept Album Scenes From A Memory has "the Sleeper", Julian (who is somewhat lazy), and "the Miracle", his brother Edward, a senator. One interpretation is that Victoria's Code Name is "Metropolis". Technically, these are nicknames.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • Robin Hood in just about every variant of the stories you can find. It's is a name assumed by the outlaw or given to him by others, and is frequently explained as an erosion of "Rob(in) in a/the Hood"; his "real" name is Robin of Loxley (or Locksley), or Robert, Earl of Huntingdon, depending on whether one follows the "yeoman" or "nobleman" origin.

Tabletop Games

  • In White Wolf's Aberrant, superheroes of course chose their own code names. However, a secret organization also assigned entirely separate code names to their agents. One, who is basically Batman (but with more skills) in the body of a nebbishy, middle-aged maintenance man, is nicknamed Renaissance Man. He doesn't approve of this, because code names aren't supposed to give hints to the agent's identity.
  • Shadowrun: Shadowrunners seldom use their real names, instead preferring a nickname. One of the recommended ways to flesh out your backstory is to come up with an explanation of how you got the name.
    • One early piece of Shadowrun short fiction Lampshaded the use of call signs, having a merc captain assign code names that were mostly for laughs. His own call sign was "Georgia Peach", and the runners who hired his squad remark about how it's a dippy name for a male ork, even one with a southern accent.
  • In Cosmopol, it's common for player characters to be known by a street name or callsign in the context of their (often illegal) "night job", and if the character is a hacker who belongs to the Zero One, callsigns are always used instead of real names.
  • Spycraft also encourages this for your spies. And it can be even more fun when you refuse to use fake codenames when in front of other spies who know you're spies!


  • Everyone in G.I. Joe had a codename, widely ranging in silliness—from Roadblock and Wild Bill to Snowjob and Ice Cream Soldier.

Video Games

  • Most of the groups in the Metal Gear Solid franchise had some convention for their operative's codenames. FOXHOUND used the formula (Descriptive Word) + (Animal Name) -- for instance, Solid Snake or Sniper Wolf. The Cobra Unit used emotions that were felt by the members on the battlefield—for example, The Pain, The Sorrow, and The Fury. We're not quite sure how "The End" counts. Sometimes, the codenames were cool. Sometimes, not so much. Compare such names as "Psycho Mantis" or "Vamp" to such names as "Fatman" or "Revolver Ocelot". (Just don't do it to their faces...) Every last one is a dead giveaway as to that character's skill and personality of course, somewhat defeating the point of codenames.
    • The End was named for the total sense of oblivion he felt. When he was trying to kill a target, nothing existed to him outside of that.
    • No, the point of code names is that Solid Snake needs to stay hidden and we don't know his last name. The point is Revolver Ocelot has a small nation's worth of people out for his blood and nobody knows his real name.
    • Originally, the codenames for the Foxhound Unit were designed in such a way that the animal represented, obtusely, your rank, while the adjective represented, also obtusely, your particular style or skill. This was then completely subverted by Metal Gear Solid, but there are still some references, even as late as MGS4, of Fox being the highest possible ranking/codename for a Foxhound operative. Snake is, oddly enough, somewhere near the bottom (in the original game, Solid Snake was a rookie).
      • After Big Boss' fall, when Roy Campbell took over FOXHOUND he revitalized the codenaming procedure, which could account for the odd names. Additionally, the animal name was not the rank, but an indication of their passing grade.
      • It should be noted that characters aren't usually referred to by their full codenames; Solid Snake is almost always called "Snake", Revolver Ocelot is just "Ocelot", and so on. So they actually have nicknames of their codenames.
  • The Wing Commander series makes use of callsigns for pilots, most of which sound really cool: Maniac, Angel, Bossman, Knight, Spirit, Doomsday, Jazz, Paladin, Shotglass, Shadow, Crossbones, etc. In Wing Commander III, they even gave the main character of the series the callsign Maverick (most famous from its use in the movie Top Gun, one of Chris Roberts' inspirations to make Wing Commander).
  • In Kingdom Hearts, all members of Organization XIII have three code names. A Number in roman numeral form, an anagram of their "true name" with an X added, and a longer title relating to their powers or fighting style.
    • For example, Xaldin's three code names are III, Xaldin (from his original name Dilan), and "The Whirlwind Lancer".
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed's main character is better known by his codename, "Starkiller", rather than his real name, Galen Marek. It's almost an I Am Not Shazam situation, if it weren't for the fact that Galen is often referred to as "Starkiller" in the various media based on Force Unleashed.
  • Inverted in Super Robot Wars. W17 at first didn't care about names, but on her mission to sneak onto the good guys' group, she made up her own Code Name 'Lamia Loveless'. The Code Name now sounds more common than the real name.
  • Barring Captain Price, the SAS guys from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare don't go by their real names, so you get "Soap" and "Gaz". In Modern Warfare 2, the Task Force 141 have the same tradition, so you get "Soap", "Worm", "Ghost" and "Rook", while Captains Price and MacTavish go by their rank and surnames (Price still calls him "Soap", though).
  • In Tom Clancy's HAWX, you supposedly have the callsign "Shade". However, it's actually used less than "Crenshaw", the real last name.
  • Every member of the Hero's Guild in the Fable series, including the option to purchase from a variety of options for your character. Well, everyone except Garth.
  • In Prototype the military uses code names when referring to the three primary vectors of the Blacklight Virus. Alex Mercer, Designated Hero, is ZEUS; Elizabeth Greene is MOTHER; and her child is PARIAH.
  • In Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors, all of the main characters go by these throughout the game in order to protect their identities. Each codename corresponds with the number their bracelet has been assigned: Ace (the card representing one), Snake (snake eyes, which is two), Santa (derived from the Japanese word for three, 'san'), Clover (referring to a four-leaf clover though subverted when her name is revealed to literally be Clover), June (the sixth month), Seven (Uhh... Seven...), and Lotus (a plant which has eight petals). The 9th Man never revealed a code name before his death, but is referred to as this until his real name is revealed in the Safe and True endings. Junpei (number five), the protagonist, also subverts this in that his name was revealed to the group before everyone selected code names. Made better in that many of these names turn out to have double meanings.
  • Several characters in Alpha Protocol are known only by their codenames such as Albatross, SIE or Sis.

Web Comics

  • Used by the superheroes/villains in Spinnerette. Tiger (a black hero) is especially insistent that his code name is NOT Black Tiger.
  • Parodied in the webcomic Exterminatus Now!, where the agent codenamed "Elusive Camel" was actually a penguin. It was that or "Urinating Flounder".
  • In Triquetra Cats, the code name in SERVICE designates which subgroup you are assigned to, such as the Talons (a mineral and a bird) such as Stone Bluejay, Sand Robin or China Cardinal, the Fables, (pseudo japanese version of fairytale characters) such as Sannou White or Raydin Hood, Shinobi Spectrum (words that imply colour) such as Shinobi Tiger (orange) or Shinobi Forest (green) and M-P which are descriptives of their power sets Project: Elemental Cat or Agent Shunmyo.
  • In this Sluggy Freelance strip, Torg and Riff give themselves holiday themed codenames (April Fool and Hot Chick Appreciation Day, respectively).
  • Like many of the comedic examples listed above the callsigns for Icebreaker squad in the Girls Love Space Opera Angels 2200 are all sarcastic, ironic, or sardonic commentaries on their personalities (or failings). Unlike the comedic examples the recipients are fully aware that they're being mocked and it contributes to their ultimate failure to bond as a team.
  • In Everyday Heroes, several characters have code names that are actually their real names: Mr. Mighty, Dolly Bird, Professor Odious, Doctor Unpleasant. Other heroes have more "heroic" appellations, which are still based on their actual names (Dot Dash's real name is Dorothea, Matt O'Morph is Matthew, etc.).
    • the Mysterious Watchful Presence and his pilot use additional code names when arranging for pick-up ... which the pilot complains are unnecessary.
  • The "all the good names were taken" variant is used in The Noob. A new player, trying to choose a name for his character, is repeatedly told that the name he requested is already taken. In frustration, he shouts out "Oh, for f*** sake!" ... and the game responds, "You have chosen a human male warrior with the name Ohforf'sake..."
  • Grace from El Goonish Shive originally didn't have a real name, but went by the code name 'Shade Tail'. 'Grace' was the name her Dr Sciuridae gave her, after the dead daughter who had been her gene-parent.
    • Both for Grace and general Tail variants, Tail as the last name is not arbitrary, it's family name, since their Uryuom parent's name translates to Tail from Uryuomoco.
  • TRU-Life Adventures features Leonard Zachary's Quirky Miniboss Squad, all of whom have codenames named after computers or operating systems.

Web Original

  • At the Super-Hero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, all students must have a codename, for security purposes. (Any reports going out to police or criminal organizations will only list the codename, protecting the student's family.) On the first day, the headmistress points out that their codename will become the name they are most known by, and there are repercussions for choosing a bad name or changing later. The supervillain 'Wrecking Ball' is still referred to by his Whateley Academy codename of 'Power Pork', much to his chagrin.
  • Some members of the terrorist organisation in Survival of the Fittest have code names, these include 'King', 'Queen, 'Jack' and 'Ace'.
  • The Descendants loves these. Students at the Super-Hero School self enforce it as a tradition, but other characters have picked them up from the media or just by being that nerdy.
  • Since it is a superhero setting, it is easier to list the aversions of this trope from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, like Michael Kayle, David Thorn, Charles Carr, Nicholas Chandler, Josiah Brimstone, and Pamela Odd, all of whom are superheroes and most of whom are Badass Normals.
  • Red vs. Blue has the freelancer agents, each named after a different state.
    • Sarge also has a habit of using code names like "Maroon One" for Simmons.

Western Animation

  • In the pilot episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, the chipmunks meet an animal resistance movement whose members all take code names beginning with the letter "K", leading to an inevitable "K Sera Sera" gag.
  • Spectrum agents in Captain Scarlet use colours as codenames, usually associated with the word "Captain" (as in the titular hero, Captain Blue, Captain Ochre, Captain Scarlet, etc.), but sometimes with some other honorific, for example Lieutenant Green and Doctor Fawn.
    • Also, the female fighter pilots had a (mostly) musical motif. Their numbers included Destiny, Symphony, Melody, Rhapsody and Harmony.
  • "COPS roll call! Highway. Mainframe. Longarm. Bowzer and Blitz. Sundown. Hardtop. Mirage. Bullseye. Mace. Barricade. And they call me: Bulletproof. These are Empire City's most wanted crooks: Berserko. Rock Crusher. Ms. Demeanor. Turbo Tu-Tone. Dr. Badvibes. Nightshade. Use caution in apprehending."
  • The Recess crew uses code names when pulling off some of their more elaborate pranks. (Gus once got detention for using Miss Finster's code name, "Crocodilicus", to her face.)
  • Spoofed in the first episode of Danger Mouse. DM's code name is... Danger Mouse. Penfold's is The Jigsaw, "because when faced with a problem, he falls to pieces."
  • One of the Running Gags on The Secret Show is that the boss of the heroes has always a different codename and it's always something embarrassing.
  • One episode of Danny Phantom, where Danny sneaks aboard Axion Labs upon which code names are given that fits the character's current situation; namely Sam's social status and Danny's inability to see her crush on him:

Sam: (through an intercom) Clueless One, this is Goth One. Over.
Danny: Goth One, this is Clueless One...why am I Clueless One?

  • Codename: Kids Next Door takes this trope and runs far away with it.
  • At the beginning of the South Park miniseries Imaginationland, while trying to catch a leprechaun, Cartman calls himself "Dragonwind", while giving his friends less than flattering code names, including "Blackie" for Token, and "Faggot" for Butters.
  • Teen Titans has Robin, whose Code Name (like his costume) is a throwback to his former life in the circus. Cyborg and Beast Boy's CodeNames are very much of the descriptive variety, but 'Starfire' and 'Raven' are actually the girls' names.
  • The gem guardians in Gargoyles take on the names of the gems they carry, so they're more like callsigns; unlike other Gargoyles, who tended to have Theme Naming (all the Manhattan Clan's Gargoyles but Goliath being known by location names from New York, such as Hudson and Broadway).
  • Sterling Archer aka Duchess --- named after his mother's dog.
  • This is lampshaded in commercial for X-Men: Evolution. Xavier calls the team by real name and code name, but when he gets to Jean Grey she's just Jean Grey. Then she complains about not having a code name.
  • Justified inStar Wars: The Clone Wars, where each clone trooper introduced is almost always referred to by their chosen codename (Rex, Cody, Fives, etc.) not only because the Jedi feel it allows them to express their individuality, but because their actual real names are just strings of numbers. It's easier to call out "Rex" in the middle of the battlefield than "CT-7567." Certain characters still call them by their numerical designation, either because they feel the codenames are improper, or because they're just plain jerks.

Real Life

  • Quite obviously a Truth in Television—most common in fighter pilots—though rarely are real military callsigns as cool as those found in fiction. This is because real codenames are usually meant to have no obvious meaning to outside observers, or are meant to be in-jokes that only those in the loop will get, and/or a constant reminder to keep a fighter pilot humble by reminding him of his foibles. You will find plenty of guys named things like "Frog" and "Sobs", but not many named "Maverick" or "Deadeye".
  • Jetstream, a documentary series following the training of Canadian fighter pilots, shows the allocation process for these names. The pilots themselves have no say in it.
  • An episode of Mighty Ships set on the largest carrier in the world, the USS Nimitz, showed a rookie pilot getting his callsign, which is usually done by consensus of other pilots in the rookie's flight group. This particular pilot had made no mistakes even when landing on a carrier at night, but when catapulted off for the exercise had, in his own words, screamed like a little girl. Another pilot noted that "screams like a girl" could be acronymed into "slag", which is also a British slang term meaning, roughly, slut, and (though this wasn't mentioned on the show) is originally an industrial term for waste product from smelting.
  • Related to the above are team nicknames, for special forces groups. These are given, among other reasons, for the same reason that pilots are given callsigns.
  • Another real life example: President Barack Obama's secret service codename is "Renegade". (A few nut-jobs claim that the word is from the Spanish renegado: one who has renounced Christianity!) At least with the Obama family, all the members of the First Family have codenames that start with the same letter (Michelle's is "Renaissance"). The same held true for the Clintons - some of whom are still under Secret Service protection - Bill was "Eagle", Hillary was "Evergreen" and Chelsea was "Energy". George W. Bush's (he'll get protection for another decade) is "Trailblazer". Eleanor Roosevelt's codename was "Rover", while Cheney was "Angler".
    • Every time a new president is elected, the Secret Service comes up with codenames for the president's family (and, if The West Wing is to believed, the senior staff—CJ Cregg's was "Flamingo")...and then the media immediately reports what they are. Huh?
      • The presidential codenames are more for brevity and clarity in communications rather than secrecy, as confirmed by a former Secret Service agent.
    • George H. W. Bush had the call sign "Skin" during his Navy years, and John McCain was "Playboy"
  • The head of the SIS/MI-6 is traditionally referred to as "C" after the original holder of the post's habit of signing documents with his initial in green ink, and is the obvious inspiration for the Bond series' alphabet of HQ-staff codenames.
    • In Al Franken's The Truth (with jokes), in a chapter on pre-Iraq War planning, he talks about the Downing Street memos. There we find out that not only is there an individual designated C, there are also Z, R, and a group called 'the Vowels.'
  • During World War II, the German military had a bad habit of using code names for projects or systems which were superficially cryptic but actually revealed the nature of the concept they were supposed to disguise. Specialists at Bletchley Park determined that a device referred to in intelligence reports as "Wotan" was in fact a single-beam navigation system; "Wotan" is, of course, the name of a one-eyed god in Anglo-Saxon mythology. English-speakers might know Wotan better by his Norse name, "Odin".
  • James Bond's codename actually comes from a real British spy's callsign. Dr. John Dee, who served Queen Elizabeth I, used it as a signature. The 0's represented the queen's eyes and the 7 was his personal number.
  • The Symbionese Liberation Army—the terrorist group of the 1970s best-known for kidnapping Patty Hearst—may have been murderous whackjobs, but they did pick some cool-sounding codenames: "Cinque," "Cujo," "Mizmoon," "Fahizah," and of course Hearst's, "Tania."
  • One word: Strippers!
  1. A newbie Airborne trooper is sometimes called a "Dirt Dart".