Online Alias

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The Internet: Where you find yourself saying things like, "Ass Dan and Whackadoodle are right."

Shaenon Garrity, Narbonic

People using the internet will rarely go by their given name. Writers seem to have some very specific ideas of how this works. The Cracker and Playful Hacker will use an Online Alias (also called a "handle") as a pseudonym for all their hacker-y deeds (In extreme cases they'll only go by that name.). They tend towards single words or two word phrases (preferably cool sounding). In more recent works, since Technology Marches On, there's a fair chance there will be a more "normal" screen name for a character with an email or IM address. Expect generic references to popular characters and streams of numbers and letters appended to the end or replacing some of the characters. It will almost certainly involve a pun on the user's given name if they're an important character. If an aforementioned "hacker" uses one of these it's generally to show that they're rather pathetic. Either way expect usernames to be full of Xtreme Kool Letterz or be Names to Run Away From Really Fast.

No one will go by the same or a similar handle and the main characters will never have any trouble getting a username derived from their real name no matter how common it is (unless it's being Played for Laughs), since It's a Small Net After All.

Examples of Online Alias include:

Fan Works

  • The Mega Crossover world of The Secret Return of Alex Mack and The Teraverse (the Shared World spawned by it) has a self-aware mix. Willow Rosenberg lifts "Acid Burn" from Hackers to use when she becomes Terawatt's online support, but when she was younger she used "S4l1x480" (which cleverly points back to her, as salix is the genus of all willows, and 480 references a wavelength of light in the red portion of the visible spectrum). There was also P$ychon4ut, a villainous, misogynistic hacker she helped get sent to jail. Then there's "3UrēK@!", aka Zoe Carter, originally a specialist in identity theft who seems to be transitioning to a "white hat" as part of Ultraman's team. Another white hat on his team, Zane Donovan, takes the handle "Crash Override" from Hackers in conscious imitation of Willow. The SRI also has a pair of staff hackers who use decidedly un-military handles online.


  • In The Matrix the rebels seems to adopt their handles as their names. Amazingly enough, their aliases are cool and mysterious... presumably because having a character named Yoda324 would have ruined the tone of the movie.
  • Hackers, oddly enough, averts this partly; most people use two word phrases, like Acid Burn or Crash Override.
  • Kevin Smith appeared in Live Free or Die Hard as a Playful Hacker who considered his hacking Serious Business and went by "Warlock".
  • The Transformers live-action movie: "Are you ladiesman217?"
  • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the title characters are badmouthed by a bunch of anonymous internet loudmouths, all of whom are using an alias online. The most obnoxious of these was named after an actual Troll on Kevin Smith's forums. (Perhaps a troll's CMOA.)


  • In Tad Williams' Otherland novels, one of the main characters goes by "T4b". Presumably pronounced "Tab".
  • Animorphs mostly features the "modern" idea of names: YeerKiller9, Gump8293, etc. But it also has some more hacker-like ones, like "Govikes" and "YrkH8er".
  • Lisbeth Salander from The Millennium Trilogy goes by the hacker name "Wasp," which becomes a plot point as Mikael is able to track her down using it. She initially had a tattoo of one on her neck, but The Girl with the Wasp Tattoo doesn't have the same ring to it.
  • Snow Crash has Da5id and, of course, Hiro Protagonist. They go by that in meat-space, too.
  • Noob, that happens almost entirely in a MMORPG. Only the names of the main characters, some people from their faction, the game's creator and the recurrent Game Master are known.

Live-Action TV

  • In one episode of the 11th season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit there is a guy who goes by "Master Bater".
  • In an episode of My Family Ben is getting advice from a forum. A joke is made about the wisdom in getting advice from someone going by the name "Yoda212".

Tabletop Games

  • Deckers in Shadowrun used mysterious and cool names if they were established and competent and ridiculous and common aliases if they were newbies. The first type were usually used as runner aliases as well.

Video Games

  • Several are revealed after completing Lair of the Shadow Broker in Mass Effect 2. Miranda Lawson fittingly goes by LawBringerSR2. Jack uses Jck_60734, jkz0-19510, and, (for a submission to a professional poetry forum), Jaqueline Nought. Legion humorously goes by Infiltrait0rN7 for his MMO gamer profile.
  • Snake Fist in F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin.
  • In The Sims 3, there is a Sim in Sunset Valley who goes only by his online alias, "Cycl0n3 Sw0rd".
  • Many people in Deus Ex: Human Revolution have online aliases. The most prominent is probably Francis Pritchard's "Nucl3arsnake."

Web Comics

Tycho: You don't even have a handle yet. Real gamers have handles.
Ann: Annarchy. I'm Annarchy.

Web Original

  • The Guild, being a show on the web about gamers, definitely uses this. We sort of know the real names of the characters - all but Tink - but they rarely get used in favour of their gamer handles.
  • All of the main protagonists (yes, all 16 of them) of Homestuck have "chumhandles" that they use in their in-universe version of Instant Messager. All of them reflect the user's interests, personality or foreshadows their role in the series. They also follow a specific pattern of Theme Naming.
    • Notably averted by the White Text Guy, who communicates to the protagonists through their IM clients, but doesn't have a chumhandle. Or even a computer.
    • Also, a good part of the fandom has adopted online aliases following the convention of two words in Lower CamelCase.
    • And then parodied when we see the usernames of some GameFAQs posters, such as "ChaosDemon" and "winnie the poop 2".
  • This Very Wiki. The user names that are obvious Online Aliases vastly outnumber the user names that are (or might be) real names.

Western Animation

  • In one Venture Brothers episode The Monarch's date (whom he found online) for a double-date with Phantom Limb and Dr. Girlfriend thought "The Monarch" was one of these.
  • South Park: "I heard... iLoveSpooge2 lives here?"
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Doofenshmirtz is on a dating site, and goes by the name of StrudelCutie4427. Unfortunately, his date thinks Perry is much cuter.