One Steve Limit/Live-Action TV

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Inversions of, and exceptions to, a One Steve Limit in Live-Action TV include:

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

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

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

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