Meaningful Rename

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.

The name is the thing, and the true name is the true thing—so if the name changes...

Some names have obvious meanings. But often, this is done when it is not the original name for the person, place or object, but rather, a new one given by someone or assumed.

Renaming oneself can often signify casting aside an old identity, especially if one wishes to part with a particular aspect of oneself. Other times, they may take on the new name in order to reflect a change in their personality or role in life. Renaming someone or something else often is used to claim ownership or to dictate that person or thing's purpose. In the case of this trope, such a renaming is intentional, generally symbolic, and the characters often state their reasons for the renaming.

May feature as a routine part of Rite of Passage.

Compare That Man Is Dead, when a character disavows his or her old name without necessarily accepting a new one. Also compare The Magnificent, which is tacked on to the existing name—whether given or self-ascribed. Egopolis, where a despot renames an entire city after himself, is a subtrope. Please Select New City Name usually falls under this. See also The Maiden Name Debate.

Examples of Meaningful Rename include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, The Book of Darkness, previously known as the Tome of the Night Sky before it got corrupted, is renamed "Reinforce" by Hayate for being one who supports and protects others.
    • Bonus points for her being a Unison Device, one specifically designed to boost the wielder's power by merging with her.
  • In Tower of God, after Baam gets betrayed and nearly killed by Rachel, he changes his name to Jyu Viole Grace. Now being more sinister, broodier, and possibly quite depressed, it is rather ironic since 'baam' is the Korean word for 'night'.
    • Then again, the color violet, being a colour of strong emotion and strong reason, as well as one of great purpose, fits him now as well.
  • In Naruto, Sasuke renames his team from "Snake" to "Hawk" when he changes his goal to destroying Konoha. This also ties in to Sasuke earlier mentioning the story of a snake that sought to fly by raising a baby bird, only to get eaten instead, as well as Madara suggesting that Sasuke would one day stop being a snake and take flight as a hawk. Later, it's also shown that this reflects his change in Summon Magic: since Orochimaru was permanently sealed he couldn't use snakes anymore, so he apparently switched to hawks.
    • Also Nagato tends to go by the name "Pain", which he took on to reflect his belief that the only way to prevent war is to teach the world what suffering is, but also uses it to refer to himself and his six bodies.
  • In Muhyo and Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, Chiyo Sakura renames herself "Pansa" after the time she saw pansies when Roji gives her an extra application form. She takes on the name when she joins Ark in order to try to get closer to Roji after being rejected as a candidate for Muhyo's assistant.
  • Scar of Fullmetal Alchemist once had a name, but he discarded it long ago, believing that he no longer deserved it.
  • In Haibane Renmei, at the end Reki's name changes in meaning from 'one who was run over' to 'stone' to symbolize her ability to overcome her struggles.
    • The context of the 'stone' being 'a stepping stone for those who need help' - she devoted her life to help others, first trying to "buy" redemption for her perceived sins, but eventually simply because she liked doing it, thus getting the said redemption.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Reina Ryuuguu, after moving back to Hinamizawa (after having moved out of there once), drops the "i" from her given name and becomes Rena. She does so because she belives that renaming herself will do away with the memories of her parents' divorce, which she believes is her fault.
  • Fujimiya Ran in Weiss Kreuz starts using the name of his comatose little sister Aya when he becomes an assassin to pay her hospital bills and get revenge on the man who injured her. Sources vary as to the exact circumstances involved; in the anime, he makes the decision almost immediately at her hospital bedside. In the An Assassin And White Shaman manga, however, it's more of an Appropriated Appellation - Yoji begins calling him "Aya" after hearing him say the name in his sleep, since up until that point Ran has refused to give any name to his new teammates.
    • Tsukiyono Omi goes back to using his birth name, Takatori Mamoru, after Weiss breaks up and states that Omi is dead. Kisaragi Takeru (Izumi Sena) from Gluhen and Edward R. Krotznik (Chloe) from Side B also work under different names, but we're not told much about their decisions to do so, aside from the fact that Chloe took his name from a girl he went to school with.
  • Rurouni Kenshin - In flashback, it's revealed that Kenshin was originally named "Shinta", but his mentor changed it because he felt Shinta to be too wimpy a name for a swordsman.
  • Parodied in Hayate the Combat Butler when Nagi vows to stop being a Hikikomori and renames herself Nagi 360 Elite.
  • Captains of the Eleventh Division in Bleach automatically assume the name/title Kenpachi on assuming the role. Current Kenpachi Zaraki Kenpachi appeared to take on the title before he actually became the Eleventh's captain although this was before the explanation of the title was introduced.
  • Madoka Magica: Any Magical Girl that becomes a witch gets a new name representing their despair, reflecting how they've stopped being a full human, and are only an embodiment of their despair.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Graham Aker's obsession with Setsuna eventually culminates in Aker renaming himself to "Mister Bushido" and adopting a samurai mindset focused on honorably defeating his enemy on equal grounds (on one occasion, he had Setsuna at his mercy but spared him because the latter's machine broke down during the fight; Setsuna later returned the favor).
  • Free from Soul Eater gave himself the name after escaping the Witches' prison (and thus becoming "Free"), with whatever name he may have held before that passing unmentioned.
  • "From now on Krylancelo is dead! I will be known as Orphen!"
  • In Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Ponyo takes to her new name like a duck to water, even insisting that her father call her it.

Comic Books

  • Most of the Runaways adopt code names. One describes it as wanting to get rid of everything their parents gave them, name included. It's also a clue to the identity of the mole - Alex refuses to take a codename because he's still loyal to his parents
  • In X-Force, new team leader Mr. Sensitive changes his name to The Orphan at a press conference after a bout of internal conflict over his lack of family. He keeps the name even after discovering that he was never an orphan and that his parents just gave him away, partially on the advice of his boss, who said that if he changed it back people would think he was trying to reclaim the days before U-Go Girl's death.
    • After the death of U-Go Girl (and a legal battle), the Orphan changed the name of the team to X-Statix. He actually said he doesn't really know what the new name means; it came to him in a dream and it's better than nothing.
  • In Elf Quest, Cutter's son Suntop saves his tribe from a great danger and thereafter is called Sunstream. Similarly, Redlance's initial name was Redmark. It's sort of implied that this happens a lot, but we very rarely get to see any major characters change their names - most likely so the audience doesn't get all confused, especially if they skipped a few issues.
  • In Strontium Dog, John Kreelman identifies himself as Johnny Alpha when he joins the mutant resistance. This is initially to keep secret the fact that he is the son of the most anti-mutant member of the Cabinet, but soon thinks of it as a way to disassociate himself from his father.

Fan Works

  • Considering that there are certain hints (probably the only thing in the fic that is not subtle) that this is more of sequel (A Remaquel if you will, but that trope disappeared) than a simple rewrite, the new version of Aeon Natum Engel which changes its title to Aeon Entelechy Evangelion may count.
  • The Great and Powerful Trixie in the Pony POV Series changes her name to the One and Only Trixie following her Heel Face Turn. When Twilight was freeing her from Loneliness' control, she called Trixie that when stating she wants to know that Trixie, not the Jerkass Facade she'd built up around herself.
  • In the Sister Marie sub-series of The Teraverse, the title character's mother starts out as "Marie-Therese Treville-O'Neill" (a friend even jokes about her insisting on double-hyphenating her names); then, after a timeskip, is found to have dropped her married name following her husband's death, and is known as Marie-Therese Treville. Then, she decides to join a religious commune, where she is initially known only as Marie-Therese (avoiding the use of any surname), and finally as Sister Marie-Therese.


  • Happens with Sith in Star Wars. Anakin Skywalker is renamed Darth Vader and is spoken of as practically a different person.
  • In one film adaption of The Three Musketeers, Athos tells his former wife that the Comte de la Fère (his real name) is dead; he uses anecdotes from his past by claiming that they happened to a friend of his.
  • Scar from The Lion King is actually a rename he gave himself when he got his eponymous Scar. Scar's name was originally "Taka," and considering that it means "garbage" in Swahili, one can't blame him for adopting a different moniker.
    • Considering the re-name is from a spin-off book and not stated in the film itself, this may or may not be canon.
  • In City of God, Lil Dice gets the new name Lil Ze from a religious practitioner, who states his new name will change his fate.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home McCoy paints the name "HMS Bounty" on the Bird of Prey captured in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.
    • In the same movie (at least according to creator Gene Roddenberry) an obscure Constitution-Class starship under repair in Spacedock was quickly re-christened as the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A before being given to Kirk and company.
  • When Scott Pilgrim vs. the World goes to the Chaos Theater again, he renames Young Neil to just Neil to signify his growth into his role. Interestingly this probably says more about Scott's Character Development than Young Neil's.
  • In Joseph: King of Dreams, Joseph is renamed "Zaphenapt-Paneah" (The God speaks and He lives) after he correctly interprets both of Pharaoh's dreams. This shows that the people of Egypt believe that Joseph does, indeed, hear the meanings of dreams from God. After receiving the new name, the only people who ever call him by his previous name are Aesaneth and his brothers, after he reconciles with them.
  • In Muriel's Wedding, Muriel changes her name to Mariel (with an A) to symbolize her new life away from Porpoise Spit.
  • In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, when one of the ancient Primes betrayed their beliefs, the other Primes stripped him of his name and he has forever since then been known only as The Fallen.


  • A man goes to have his name changed. He explains that his name is Andrew Horserapist and he's sick of being ridiculed over it. When asked what he wants his name changed to, he says "Steven Horserapist".


  • In Things Fall Apart, Nwoye takes a new Christian name after he converts. He chooses "Isaac." This is rather significant given what happened earlier to his adopted brother.
  • In Feist's Riftwar series, the boy Pug is given the name Milamber once he graduates as a Greater Path magician. Interestingly enough he mostly goes by Pug still. The rename was supposed to be meaningful, the fact that it didn't really stick is also meaningful....
  • In the Apprentice Adept series, Serfs are allowed to change their name when they gain legal adult status (Stile chose his name from a piece of farm equipment that allowed him his first experience with horses) Serfs who win The Great Game and gain Citizen status are allowed to change them again (Rifleman does this, commemorating the trap shooting game that won him his Citizenship).
    • Another example (in a roundabout way) is the way Werewolves receive their full, four-syllable name: They are given the first syllable at birth. They receive their second when they are officially made pack members (around five or six years of age - members of the same peer group all get the same second syllable). The third is granted by the Pack Leader at around nine or ten years-old, after a First Kill (successful solo hunt). The fourth is received after a wolf's ritual first mating - traditionally both partners taking the other's first syllable as their last. (which is apparently always the first for both parties). A werewolf isn't considered a full adult Pack member until gaining the fourth syllable.
  • Tom Riddle changed his name to Voldemort in order to become the Big Bad of the Harry Potter universe. The name, meaning 'Flight From Death' in French, is particularly fitting, as his ultimate goal is to obtain immortality.
    • This troper would however point out that "vol" in French means "flight" as in "flying", not as in "fleeing" (which would be "fuite"). It might well be that this is a mistake from the author's part, though, or as a conscious decision to choose an Awesome McCoolname. It may also symbolize Voldemort being "death flying [over]" his enemies.
    • Also, "vol" can also mean stealing, as in Voldemort stealing/cheating from death due to his Horcruxes.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, many characters choose to abandon their old names with their old lives, particularly among The Malazan Army.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, the first book of the Earthsea Trilogy. The main character starts off with the name Duny, and is given his true name (Ged) by the mage Ogion when he becomes an adult. He keeps his true name secret and calls himself by the name "Sparrowhawk". (This is standard procedure for everybody in a world where knowing a thing's true name allows you to control that thing.)
    • In The Tombs of Atuan, the rite turning Tenar into the priestess involves taking away her name; henceforth, she is Arha, the Eaten One. Ged restores "Tenar" to her, a significant plot event.
  • Ralon in the Alanna the Lioness series renames himself Claw because he looks like someone clawed out his eye when he attempts to become the King of the Rogue.
  • In the Circle of Magic universe, street rat "Roach" chooses Briar Moss when he needs a legal name, Living Circle religious dedicates choose naturey names when they join a temple and academic mages invent some kind of typically fancy-sounding last name when they get their credentials.
  • In JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Minas Morgul and Mirkwood forest both had other names before they were taken over by Sauron's team.
    • When Minas Ithil became Minas Morgul, the fortress-town of Minas Anor on the other side of the Anduin was also renamed to Minas Tirith. Tolkien also mentions that Mirkwood was given a new, third name after the events of Lord of the Rings.
    • And people tend to acquire all sorts of names in all his works. Even objects get Meaningful Renames: when the sword Narsil gets reforged, Aragorn renames it Andúril.
      • Aragorn's rename that was initiated to hide his identity from the Enemy, 'Estel' ('high hope' in Sindarin), is especially meaningful as he was foreseen, given the fact that Sauron was coming back and the Elves were leaving, to either be the last man of his line or the one to restore it to its former glory. The foresight came at the first from his grandmother Ivorwen, who also saw him wearing a green stone that would be the source of his other Meaningful Rename - Elessar Telcontar (literally Elfstone Strider). The stone itself was foretold to rightfully belong to one who would bear its name, and Aragorn's position as the Hope Bringer is lampshaded many times in the story.
    • Especially notable are Cosmic Plaything Túrin's frequent renames; he hopes they'll be meaningful and he'll escape his fate; it doesn't work.
    • The Big Bad of The Silmarillion, Melkor, is given the name Morgoth ("the black enemy") by Fëanor after he steals the Silmarils and killed Fëanor's father. Similarly, Sauron's name before he went evil was (probably) Mairon. ("Sauron" is Elvish for "the Abhorred".)
    • Many of Tolkien's bad guys are renamed, or otherwise lose their names. Sméagol becomes "Gollum". Gríma becomes "Wormtongue". The Nazgul are nameless, at least in the core books. Sauron's ambassador has forgotten his own name, and just calls himself "the Mouth of Sauron". Even Saruman ends up as just "Sharkey" (which Tolkien conjectures is from the Orcish Sharkû, "Old Man").
    • Several hobbits have been mentioned in the backstory who have adopted a new family name, apparently as a result of becoming leaders or patriarchs. For example, Gorhendad Oldbuck, who led the colonization of Buckland, renamed himself to Brandybuck, and his descendants like Merry use that family name. Samwise Gamgee, likewise, becomes Samwise Gardner by the end of the timeline, which seems to be the result of his work to reforest the Shire, his becoming the master of Bag End, and being the major of the Shire for many decades and a known friend of the King.
  • In the Old Kingdom series, Touchstone used to be Torrigan, but took the name of a fool after (in his eyes) accidentally helping the betrayal of the royal family. Also, the first book's Big Bad took the name Kerrigor after becoming one of the Greater Dead. Chlorr of the Mask took her name after betraying her calling as an Abhorsen.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Laurel Crown of Illian is renamed the Crown of Swords after Rand conquers the country, to reflect his military focus. Also, the city of Aridhol became Shadar Logoth, or Shadow's Waiting, after it was inhabited by the manifestation of evil or some such. Finally, the names of the thirteen Forsaken were in large part taken from epithets used against them when they joined the Big Bad: Moghedien the Spider, Sammael the Destroyer of Hope, Ishamael the Betrayer of Hope, Lanfear the Daughter of the Night, and so on.
  • In Dan Abnett's Ravenor short story "Playing Patience", Patience's name was assigned her by the orphanage in which she lived, as were her sisters', Providence and Prudence. At the climax, she concentrates on her true, original name to keep herself together. Ravenor tells her to keep that name secret and safe, and she choses to be "Patience Kys."
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes takes on several different names. Lord Wilmore is the title he takes when performing acts of generosity and the eponymous Count is his new central persona as he gets his revenge. He only reveals his old name to his enemies just as he has defeated them as the final blow.
  • In the After the End series Endworld, nearly every member of the Family goes through this on their 16th birthday, choosing a new name for themselves from the thousands of books they have stockpiled.
  • In G. K. Chesterton's The Return of Don Quixote, at the climax, Michael Herne reveals that the Severne family are not the ancient noble house they claim to be, having gotten their hands on the title recently and in a legally dubious manner, and their real name is Smith, even though he is in love with the Honourable Rosamund Severne. He leaves, certain he has lost all. Later, he learns that she no longer goes by Rosamund Severne; if he wants to find her, he should ask for "Miss Smith".
  • In the final book of Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series, "First Lord's Fury", Gaius Isana gives the traitorous Lady Aquitaine a more fitting name:

For my husband's memory, for my child's future, for those whose blood is upon your hands, I defy you. I name you Nihilus Invidia, Invidia of Nusquam, traitor to the Crown, the Realm, and her people.

    • In the penultimate book of that series, Tavi is named Tavar by his Canim allies. It's a word in the Canim language that happens to sound like his real name, or at least his nickname, which is convenient. Later, he learns that it's the word for a particularly dangerous predator, similar if not identical to a wolverine.
  • In Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl is constantly renaming herself. She compares it to outgrowing a shirt and finding a new one that fits.
  • In the Warrior Cats series, cat names consist of two parts. The first part stays the same forever, while the second part changes. Kitten names all end in kit (eg Hollykit or Snowkit), apprentice names end in paw (eg Sandpaw or Dustpaw), warrior names can end in pretty much anything (eg Tigerclaw or Lionheart), and leader names all end in star (eg Bluestar or Tallstar).
    • The clan leader can also rename elders to fit with any battle scars they might have earned, etc... E.g., a cat who lost an eye becomes One-eye
  • Inverted in Young Wizards: Nita changes the Lone Power's True Name to allow a possibility of redemption, which it takes a few books later.
  • In Andre Norton's The Jargoon Pard, in the opening, two mothers give children names that their lives may be well-set before them. One does it to claim the boy, since she knows they were switched.
  • In Wicked, Gregory Maguire has Glinda give up on trying to make people call her by the Gillikinese name Galinda as a kind of symbol of mourning after Doctor Dillamond's death.
  • Agnes Nitt from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series renamed herself Perdita to sound more mysterious. She actually wanted to be "Perdita X Dream" but even she realized her down-to-earth Lancrian peers wouldn't take her seriously that way; they were already referring to her as "Agnes what calls herself Perditax".
  • In Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Warhammer 40,000 novel Soul Hunter, Talos's slave is named Septimus—and we hear how Primus, Secundus, etc died. When Eurydice is captured, Septimus immediately dubs her Octavia. After Talos rescues her from Attempted Rape, she accepts the name.
  • It's a part of Tayledras culture in the Heralds of Valdemar series that individuals may change their descriptive "use-names" after life-changing events. Darkwind, one of the heroes of the Mage Winds trilogy, was previously named Songwind but changed it after a disaster which killed his mother, estranged him from his father, and caused him to give up using magic. Darkwind's father Starblade eventually quips that he's considered changing his name to Starshadow, as he feels like a shadow of his former self, but there's already a Shadowstar in their clan and it would be too confusing.
  • In Melanie Rawn's Exiles Series, many characters hide their true name and heritage to avoid persecution.
  • Star Wars, when the Rebel Alliance then the New Republic captured imperial warships. Accuser -> Emancipator, Adjudicator -> Liberator, Avarice -> Freedom (three examples are captured Imperial Star Destroyers).
    • And speaking of Star Wars...

"Caedus. My name is Darth Caedus."

  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born", Salome reminds Constantius to call her Tamaris since she is going for Fake King.
  • Done by an entire species in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Original Sin, after losing an extremely unpleasant war with the Earth Empire. The two Hith met in the course of the book are named Homeless Forsaken Betrayed And Alone and Powerless Friendless And Scattered Through Space.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsdawn, Tarvi Andiyar changes his name to Telgar, which was originally his wife's surname. He never admitted how much he loved her until she was dying and made the change to honor her sacrifice to help the Pern colony.
  • In Stephen Hunt's The Rise of the Iron Moon, when Lord Starborn casts off a newborn ship, Commander Black offers her the name Sprite of the Stars; Coppertracks insists, as a steamman, that she be Starsprite.
  • In Lola Rose by Jacqueline Wilson, protagonist Jayni spends most of the book living under the alias of Lola Rose; she and her family are hiding from her abusive father. Even at the end of the story after he leaves for good, she decides to break with the past by continuing to be known as Lola Rose.
  • At the end of Joust, Vetch abandons his serf name and takes back his original name of Kiron.
  • In Robertson Davies' Fifth Business Boyd Staunton becomes Boy, an icon of youthful success, while Dunstable Ramsay starts calling himself Dunstan, after Saint Dunstan, and Paul Dempster ditches his old identity entirely to become Magnus Eisengrim.
  • Invisible Man: "It is time Ras the Exhorter become Ras the DESTROYER!"
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men, Professor Maxon and von Horn dub Number 13 "Jack." It doesn't stick. When he gets called "Bulan" by the Malays, however, it does.
  • The cast of Haunted are mostly Only Known by Their Nickname, and the nicknames in question come from the stories they tell, most of which are linked to their secret crimes and shames. "The opposite of superhero names."
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles, Freckles refuses to give the name given him at the orphanage. McLean offers him his own father's name.

"I will tell you what we will do, my lad," he said. "My father was my ideal man, and I loved him better than any other I have ever known. He went out five years ago, but that he would have been proud to leave you his name I firmly believe. If I give to you the name of my nearest kin and the man I loved best—will that do?"

"Lily!" he repeated. "Little snow white lily! Peaches is a good name for you if you're referring to sweetness, but it doesn't fit for colour. Least I never saw none white. Lily fits you better. If you'd been a dog, I was going to name you Partner. But you're mine just as much as if you was a dog, so I'll name you if I want to. Lily! That's what God made you; that's what I'm going to call you."

  • In the 1632 series, Grantville's Roman Catholic church is renamed for St. Mary (possibly, St. Mary Magdalene). It was originally St. Vincent de Paul, but the priest renamed it after the town got sent back in time, because Vincent de Paul isn't dead yet.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Bardic Voices series, all of the Free Bards have adopted, or been given, bird names. Some, however, only use them 'professionally'. Most of the story titles are therefore also the names of the two main characters.
  • One of the heroes of Brian Daley's Coramonde duology found a sword in the castle armory. This weapon, he learned, had originally been named "Never Blunted," because it has an enchantment to keep the blade from ever being dulled. But after a couple of You Shall Not Pass incidents, defending the king from flank or rear attacks, "Never Blunted" received the new name "Bar." Just to make clear what that means, the name is sometimes expanded as "Bar, the Obstructor." (The men wielding it got impressive Sobriquets, too, such as "Pon of the Iron Arm" for how long he held the rear-guard position alone.)

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Giles took on the name 'Ripper' in his teen and early adulthood years. In the episode Band Candy the fact that he's going by it again is a big clue as to what's going on.
    • Angel. When he first became a vampire, he was known as Angelus, and is referred to as such when he periodically turns evil. He shifted his name from Latin to English after being cursed and becoming a good vampire. And he actually went through this twice: his original name was Liam.
    • Spike took on his new moniker after being turned into a vampire, renouncing his original name William.
  • In Profit, the main antihero changes his name from James Stakowski to Jim Profit after running away from his abusive father and reinventing himself as a Machiavellian corporate shark.
  • Sylar, in an unusual example of this trope being accidental.
  • Christian Miller was originally the name of The Young and the Restless star Victor Newman. After leaving the orphanage when he is first introduced, he changes his name to reflect his status as a victorious new man.
  • Doctor Who companion Amy Pond referred to herself as Ameila Pond as a child and began to call herself Amy when she decided to grow up. And even though she keeps her birth name when married, later the Doctor calls her 'Williams'.
    • Melody Pond takes on the name River Song when she becomes touched by the Doctor's devotion to a person of the same name, and then discovers its herself. Doubles as a Stable Time Loop.
    • Craig Owen's baby prefers to be known as Stormaggedon, Dark Lord of All. (The Doctor calls him 'Stormy' for short.) By the end of the episode, the baby agrees to go by his given name, Alfie, showing his acceptance as Craig as his father.
    • The Tenth Doctor, in a moment of uncharacteristic hubris, gives himself the short-lived name 'The Time Lord Victorious.' Despite lasting all of four minutes, it is a profound character moment.
    • And, of corse, "The Doctor" was a name chosen by The Doctor, himself, that carries responsibilities. In The Beast Below, he stated that after committing an act that would break his own moral code, he would have to find a new name.
  • Played with on The Red Green Show. Lodgemember Moose Thompson writes a letter telling how he intends to get a meaningful rename.
    • Paraphrased: "I think the nickname Moose Thompson is demeaning. It makes fun of my unusual size and implies that I'm dumb. Therefore I am changing my name. From this point forward I will be known as Moose Johnson.
  • In one of the last episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the replacement for the Defiant, the Sao Paolo, is renamed the Defiant in the first ship's honor.
  • In Lost James Ford calls himself Sawyer to remind himself of the man who turned Sawyer's father into a Murder-Suicide.
  • In Babylon 5, the Narn are known by one name when they are pouchlings. When they reach maturity and pick which of their race's holy men they wish to follow, they pick their true name based on that. As an example, there's G'Kar, who follows G'Quon.
  • A later episode of Have Gun — Will Travel revealed that this is why the main character calls himself Paladin.
  • In Once Upon A Time The dwarf Dreamy takes the name Grumpy after giving up the fairy he loves and resigning himself to a life in the mines.

Myth, Legend, and Religion

  • In Japanese mythology, the sword Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (or "Sword of the gathering clouds of heaven") was used by a prince to escape a fire. He first tried to cut away the grass surrounding him to starve the flames of fuel, but noticed that with every stroke, the wind changed to match the direction of his cuts. He used this magic to make a larger fire and blow it back towards his pursuers, and then renamed the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, the Grass Cutting Sword.
  • Abram becomes Abraham ("Father of many nations") in The Bible, and his wife Sarai becomes Sarah ("princess"). Jacob takes the name Israel ("struggles with God") after wrestling with the angel. Hosea becomes Joshua by adding a letter from God's name to his name. Also in the Bible, Jesus renames Simon Peter, meaning "the rock" on which he'll build the church. (There are a lot of other renamings that qualify more as Some Call Me... Tim—e.g. Greek-speakers couldn't pronounce the "sh" sound, so "Yeshua" became known as "Jesus".)
    • Saul of Tarsus is often treated as having undergone this, despite Paul just being an alternate rendering (and both are a case of Some Call Me... Tim).
    • Satan the Devil is a rename, Satan meaning "resister" and Devil meaning "slanderer". His previous name is unknown; that he was called Lucifer ("light-bringer") before his fall is Word of Dante, due to a Critical Research Failure that considers it a name ascribed to Satan when it was really referred to Nebuchadnezzar. Furthermore, Lucifer is Latin, not Hebrew, and doesn't even resemble the original Hebrew word in the text.

Tabletop Games

  • In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, many Legions had different names before they found their primarch: Mortarian immediately renamed the Dusk Raiders as the Death Guard; Angron, the War Hounds to the World Eaters; Lion El'Jonson, the First Legion to the Dark Angels. (And we are not definitively told that any of them did not change their names at their primarch's behest.) In Dan Abnett's Horus Rising, Horus's Luna Wolves are renamed the Sons of Horus as a mark of his ascension to Warmaster, and in Galaxy In Flames, the betrayed Sons of Horus take back the name Luna Wolves for the brief remainder of their lives. And at the end of the Horus Heresy, Abaddon renamed the Sons of Horus the Black Legion.
    • The Blood Angels' Mephiston, Lord of Death, was originally Brother Calistarius, until he became the only Blood Angel to overcome the Red Thirst.
  • The canonical BattleTech example has to be Frederick Steiner. Thought dead for over twenty years, he eventually becomes ComStar's Precentor Martial under the name Anastasius Focht—a combination of Greek and German that pointedly can be read as "the resurrected man (who) fought".
    • If an adult civilian or outsider manages to be adopted into the Clan warrior caste they drop their old surname and replace it with the name of the Clan. For example; Minoru Kurita became known as Minoru Nova Cat when he joined Clan Nova Cat.
    • The ultimate example in BattleTech is a Clan Warrior earning their Bloodname, marking their status as one of the Clan's elite warriors.


Le Bret: Your cousin, Madeleine Robin?
Cyrano: Roxane!

  • Starship gives us Tootsie Noodles. You see, where he comes from, Farm-Planet, your first name is what you do, and your second name is what you like. So he's called Tootsie, on the account of his occasional toot, and Noodles, cos he likes 'em. He changes it to Tootsie Megagirl after he falls in love with her.


Video Games

  • In Kingdom Hearts II, we learn that the real Ansem the Wise renamed himself DiZ, or "Darkness In Zero" after going into exile following Xehanort doing research on the heart and destroying Radiant Garden, which was renamed Hollow Bastion. Xehanort himself infamously took Ansem's name after banishing him.
  • Garnet in Final Fantasy IX takes up the name Dagger (by default) early on in the game both to conceal her identity and to represent the beginning of her casting aside her previous identity as a sheltered princess.
  • In Wing Commander, Marcus Chen was formerly a reckless pilot known as "Ripper"; many of the pilots who emulated him ended up dead. He eventually became a more cautious pilot, and for setting an example to others, became known as "Bossman".
  • In Dungeon Keeper, like the Lord of the Rings example above, the cities all have Sickeningly Sweet names before you capture them and transform each into Mordor, along with an appropriate rename.
  • In World of Warcraft, some Forsaken (playable undead) have decided to change their name to reflect the fact that they have drastically changed. But the best example is the black dragon Neltharion, who changed his name to "Deathwing" in The War of the Ancients after his betrayal of the other dragonflights.
    • In an inversion, Thrall got his name from his upbringing as a slave. After becoming Warchief of the Horde, he eventually (in Burning Crusade) travels to his homeland and learns that his original name was Go'el. He decides to continue using "Thrall" as his name as a constant reminder of the suffering his people went through, even rebuking a shaman who addresses him by his birth name. In Cataclysm, he changes his name back to Go'el due to his role/destiny as a shaman first (and not the Warchief), no longer a slave to the influence of others.
  • In Mass Effect, the quarians incorporate their assigned ship into their names; for young quarians, their first assignment and name change is part of their Rite of Passage. This comes up in Mass Effect 2 when one of your allies is reassigned to your ship without her knowledge as part of a plot to try her for treason, and is renamed "Tali'Zorah vas Normandy"; when the trial is over, she keeps the name.
  • In Blaze Union, it's explained that both Gulcasa and Emilia were forced to use fake names by Gulcasa's mother in order to masquerade as humans. Over the canon route of the game, both of them discard those names as a way to cast off their weaknesses and be true to the way they were born. In Gulcasa's case, it's a powerful statement of will, and also noteworthy is the fact that his real name has a much harsher sound than his former name "Garlot"; Emilia's name means "to excel" whereas her fake name meant "beloved", which fits her drive to stop being looked at as the Tagalong Kid instead of someone actually capable of making a difference.
  • Fable II's example can be summed up in three words: Call me Hammer

Web Comics

  • In the Order of the Stick prequel "Start of Darkness", the Big Bad Xykon renames himself because he wants a Badass name with Xtreme Kool Letterz. We don't learn how he was named before.
    • In the same book, Redcloak and Right-Eye take those names after seeing Xykon kill someone for having a name he couldn't remember. They continue calling each other "Older/Younger Brother," however...until Redcloak kills Right-Eye, and Right-Eye uses his new name to represent Redcloak choosing Xykon over him.
  • Girl Genius: When they took Agatha into hiding, Punch and Judy renamed themselves Adam and Lilith Clay and masqueraded as her parents. The names are noteworthy because while Eve was created to serve Adam in the Bible, Lilith intended herself as Adam's equal.
  • In Gored By Them Things, Captain Rum of Teal Polka Dots becomes Captain Rum the Aquamarine. For no reason other than causing a giant penguin to get sucked into a giant vacuum cleaner. (It's that kind of world.)
  • Soveshei of Juathuur.
  • In the backstory of Gunnerkrigg Court, Renard changed his name to Reynardine when he left Gillitie wood. Both names have folkloric significance: Renard is an alternate spelling of Reynard, the trickster-fox from the medieval beast fables. Reynardine is the name of a human (or a were-fox, in some later versions) highwayman from a folk song who seduces unwary maidens. It's eventually revealed that Surma was the first person to call him Reynardine—it was his infatuation with Surma that prompted Rey's name change.
  • Wapsi Square: Monica proposes one: to Pawn One and Pawn Two
  • WV, PM, AR, WQ, and WK get these numerous times in Homestuck, crossed with I Have Many Names.
    • WV- Wayward Vagabond, Warweary Villein, Wastelandic Vindicator, Wizardly Vassal
    • PM- Peregrine Mendicant, Parcel Mistress, Prospitian Monarch
    • AR- Aimless Renegade, Authority Regulator, Armaments Regent
    • WQ- Windswept Questant, White Queen
    • WK- Writ Keeper, White King
    • This turns out to be standard procedure among Propitians and Dersites:
      • Jack Noir - Scurrilous Straggler and Spades Slick in the Troll Universe, Sovereign Slayer and Bec Noir in the Human Universe. Also an Odd Name Out, since he doesn't keep his initials.
      • CD - Courtyard Droll, Clubs Deuce.
      • DD - Draconian Dignitary, Diamonds Droog
      • HB - Hegemonic Brute, Hearts Boxcars
      • And Snowman was formerly Black Queen and Banished Quasiroyal.
    • On Alpha Earth, Jade changed her last name to English after the man she knew her abusive adoptive mother hated and feared the most.
  • In Endstone, a rocker is known by the overstone he rocks. Kyri is also known as Endstone. Rousing Lightstone caused the present day storyline.
  • In No Rest for The Wicked, Red feigns to believe that November is asking for this when she asks Red to give her her name. She is Not Good with People.

Web Original

  • Spoofed in Survival of the Fittest v4 with Meredith Hemmings, who, after identifying herself as a "goth" (she isn't; she's just a poser who is acting out what she thinks goths act like) renames herself "Pandora Black" and repeatedly insists that it's her soul name whenever anyone questions it. Jake Crimson also renamed himself from "Gomez", apparently after his parents' divorce (that, and Rule of Cool). Remy Kim is another character who has gone through this, originally having the last name "Trembley" before his parents separated and having it changed to his mother's maiden name sometime after. This serves to symbolize just how different he is from his sister, Josée Trembley.

Western Animation

  • Happens a LOT in the various incarnations of Transformers, due to upgrades, new altmodes, new continuities...
    • Probably the most famous is Hot Rod becoming Rodimus Prime in the movie upon opening the Matrix of Leadership.
    • Also Megatron becoming Galvatron. In the first instance (Transformers: The Movie) it's up for debate as to whether he's even the same person as Megatron.
    • In that vein, many recolored versions of the same toy are marketed as upgraded versions even if they never appeared in the show, occasionally with five sentence backstories explaining why they're a different color.
    • The original cast of Beast Wars was implied to have taken their known names around the time they got stranded on the planet. Most of the names are references to their new beast modes, but the captains - "Optimus Primal" and "Megatron" - instead take names after the Generation One leaders. (Or, alternately, Megatron takes his from Cybertronian scripture, suggesting the G1 Decepticon did the same.)
  • Skips from Regular Show he always skips rather than walking. It turns out his real name is not Skips, but Walks. He changed it because he got tired of everybody asking him why does he skip everywhere instead of walk.
  • In an episode of South Park, after acquiring the last Plot Coupon in her quest, Barbra Streisand announces her transformation into a Humongous Mecha by saying (in Japanese) "From now on, my name is... Mecha Streisand!"
  • Nobody Smurf in The Smurfs gets one in the form of Somebody when he rescues his fellow Smurfs from the evil prankishness of Mystico the goblin.
  • Nightmare Moon fits this fairly well, as Princess Luna was known by this name after becoming a Fallen Angel.
  • From Rick and Morty:
    • After Snuffles is turned into a super-intelligent canine by Rick's attempt to housebreak him, he resents being called "Sniffles", as "that was my slave name", and insists on being called... Snowball. (Which is a Genius Bonus for a viewer who has read Animal Farm) He still lets Morty call him Snuffles, however.
    • Played straight by Bird-Person. After he's - possibly - killed by Tammy at their wedding (It Makes Sense in Context, seriously) she rebuilds him as a cyborg and renames him Phoenix-Person.

Truth in Television

  • In some societies (the Cherokee, for instance), a person is given a name when he is born, then receives a new name upon being recognized as an adult. Often the new name reflects some aspect of their personality.
  • In ancient China, men adopted style names upon reaching adulthood, and emperors were referred to by their ruling era, with a new name granted posthumously. Indeed, it was socially taboo to for somebody to call somebody else of the same generation by their birth-name.
  • Pre-Meiji Japan, not only did people gain new names upon adulthood, but pretty much every time a major life milestone happened.
  • People who convert to a new religion sometimes change names to reflect their new faith. This seems to be particularly prevalent with Western converts to Islam. Famous examples include boxing legend Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay), sportscaster Ahmad Rashad (Bobby Jones), basketball players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor) and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson), and singer/songrwriter Yuusef Islam (Cat Stevens).
    • A Jewish convert to Christianity: 19th-century German theologian Johann August Wilhelm Neander (Greek for "new man") used to be David Mendel before he was baptized.
  • Then again, there are stage names, more specifically explained here.
  • Popes take a new (regnal) name upon being elected pope. This custom started with Pope John II in 533, who, prior to becoming pope, was named Mercurius. He felt it inappropriate for a Pope to be named after a Roman god.
  • Catholic nuns frequently take a new name upon entering consecrated life, especially (though not exclusively) if their birth name was not a saint's name. A modern example of this is Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, an Albanian woman who, when she became a nun, changed her name to Teresa (specifically using the Spanish spelling, after St. Teresa of Avila). She later became quite famous (you probably know her as "Mother Teresa") and is now officially known as St. Teresa of Calcutta.
    • Orthodox monks (and, presumably, nuns) take new names as well. Names from their list are rare among laymen.
  • Less significantly for the purposes of this trope, Catholic teens take a saint's name upon receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, although these days their Confirmation name may often in fact be the same as their birth name (if they happened to be named after a saint); even if it is not, they tend to continue to be addressed by their birth name in practice, so this last one isn't nearly as good an example of this trope. The Confirmation name is generally used, if at all, as an additional and unofficial middle name, although occasionally (basically for stylistic badassitude) people prefer it to their given middle names. Definitely fits the "symbolic of some character trait" part of the trope, though, as people often pick the patron saint of something important to them.
    • One notable case from history was Wenceslas, the son of King John the Blind of Bohemia, who grew up at the French court and at his Confirmation took the name Charles. He became the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. (However, it's also common for royalty to choose a regnal name when they come to power, so it could have been that...)
  • Other real-life examples for monarchs (as well as more fictional examples) can be found in the Regnal Name article on The Other Wiki.
  • Josef Stalin was born as "Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili", later russified the name to "Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili", took the secret name "Koba" during the Bolshevik Revolution, and then changed to "Stalin" ("Man of Steel") to symbolize his power, his distancing himself from his Georgian heritage, and his new Soviet identity. The notable part is that, apparently, "Stalin" is gramatically incorrect since noun formation doesn't work like that in Russian.
    • Lots of Bolsheviks did this. Lenin was born Ulyanov, but as far as I know this wasn't a symbolic change. Trotsky changed his name from Bronstein when escaping from Siberia for the first time.
      • Lenin had many pen names to escape censorship and persecution pre-Russian Revolution. He just chose one of the most popular as a 'main name'.
      • The more popular explanation of the name "Lenin" is that it referred to the Lena, a river in Siberia, meaning "my views landed me in Siberia" (he was banished there from 1897 to 1900, and in 1900 he took the name Lenin.
  • In a somewhat humorous example, NFL player Chad Johnson changed his name to Chad Ochocinco in the mistaken belief it was the Spanish word for his jersey number, eighty-five. In fact it translates as eightfive. Ochenta y cinco is eighty-five in Spanish.
    • He also claims to want to change his name to "Hachi-go" (which is also eight-five, not eighty-five—that'd be hachi-juu-go) to appeal to Asians, who'll probably wonder why he kind-of named himself after an iconic Japanese dog.
  • Honduran player Carlos Pavón Plummer changed the order of his last names when he finally decided he would recognize his father at age 36. I wonder how commentators will feel of calling him by a different last name now that he is more or less ending his career (though he could further cement his legend status by scoring in the World Cup).
  • Numerous heavy metal musicians have adopted pseudonyms under which they they perform and record, many of whom are not broadly known by their birth names in the metal scene. Usually bandmates will pick similar sounding names, though from time to time one member might leave to be replaced by some who isn't interested in stage names, resulting in Aerith and Bob.
    • Metalocalypse subverts the trope with Nathan Explosion and William Murderface. They sound like mockery of metal musicians' names... except these are in fact their real names (William's grandparents are Stella and Thunderbolt Murderface, while Nathan's parents are Oscar and Rose Explosion).
  • Christopher McCandless renamed himself Alexander Supertramp after he graduated from college, gave away all his money and decided to wander the country, as documented in the book and film Into the Wild.
  • Several cities have more than one name reflecting each time they have been conquered. Sometimes it might be advisable to be careful which name you use, as that reflects who the "legitimate" owner is and the locals might be touchy.
    • Although this frequently simply involves names in different languages which actually existed before the city changed hands. Other meaningful renamings of cities and villages may reflect political changes within one country, e. g. Sankt-Peterburg was renamed Petrograd during World War I to become less "German" and more "Russian", then Leningrad to honour the father of the Soviet Union, and then after the fall of communism it became Sankt-Peterburg again. Or they reflect famous persons or events from the place's history, for instance after the so-called battle of Hastings, the place where it actually had happened (Senlac) became Battle, after the battle of Minden (1759) the nearby village of Tonhausen ("clay-houses") was renamed Totenhausen ("dead men's houses"), and Eschenbach, home of the medieval poet Wolfram of Eschenbach, is now called Wolframs Eschenbach.
  • Many early Zionists replaced their names with Hebrew names, to erase remnants of their life in exile and to show their commitment to a new Jewish nation. This turned into an official policy during the administration of Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (originally Grün), when all state officials were ordered to Hebraicize their surnames.
  • Famous African-American activist Malcolm X changed his name from Malcolm Little, because he didn't want to use a name that came from some slavemaster.
  • A lot of people are called by the name their parents gave them as kids, but as they get older, they'll start going by their middle name or a nickname for any number of reasons.
  • The House of Gotha-Saxe-Coburg, being a very German name, was not that popular an appellation in England during World War I. It became even less popular when the German air force started bombing raids against London using their Gotha bomber. As a result, in 1917 they changed their name to the House of Windsor, of whom you have probably heard.
  • Averted by town of Wolfsburg, Germany. The town hosts the gigantic factories of Volkswagen AG, and was originally founded by the Nazi Party, and named simply Stadt des Kd F-Wagens (Town of Kd F Cars). The British occupation changed the name in 1945 as Wolfsburg after a nearby castle to de-Nazify the town. In this case a meaningful name was changed into something non-meaningful.
  • A district of India held a renaming ceremony for 285 girls named Unwanted ("Nakusa" or "Nakushi" in Hindi) in an effort to fight gender discrimination caused by religious restrictions and the expense of marrying off a daughter.
  • Almost without exception, this is the case for Transgendered people. In a few cases, the new name is a feminine or masculinize version of the old name, if the person wish to never forget their struggle with their gender identity—making it a Meaningful Name in addition to Meaningful Rename.
  • Scots-Irish had a weird predilection for "earthy" references in geographical names. Because of that when surveys were made in succeeding generations it was often found necessary to clean up the admittedly rather embarrassing maps of frontier country.
  1. Dorn Hazt vas Rannoch