The Dead Have Names
The Alliance lost eight cruisers. Shenyang. Emden. Jakarta. Cairo. Seoul. Cape Town. Warsaw. Madrid. And yes, I remember them all. Everyone in the Fifth Fleet is a hero. The Alliance owes them all medals, the Council owes them a lot more than that. And so do you.—Commander Shepard, Mass Effect 2
The opposite of A Million Is a Statistic, when the names of those who died are given instead of just faceless numbers to show respect of their sacrifice. A Sub-Trope of Nominal Importance: a list of a hundred names hits much harder than "100 people died".
A common variation of this trope is a high-rank military commander memorizing the names of all those who died carrying out his orders, despite not technically having to, usually used to dramatically Reveal him as A Father to His Men.
Anime and Manga
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Wufei is stunned to learn that Treize Khushrenada memorizes the names of every soldier killed in action.
- In the non-existant Tsukihime anime as well as in the manga adaptation, Shiki hears a news broadcast where the entirety of Nrvnsqr Chaos' victims is listed in name. This is how he learns of Satsuki's death.
- A minor one from Code Geass: after FLEIJA was launched on the Tokyo Settlement, Nina was shown the names of all who died in the explosion.
- Van Hohenheim, the manga version of the Elric boys' father, knows the names of everybody who died in the last days of Xerxes, and very early in his character development, even before The Reveal of his true nature, he's seen listing them out and then announcing, "I'm going to have to use you."
- Zolf J. Kimblee from the manga has a similar philosophy. While learning the names of the various Ishbalans peoples they're killing would be implausible, he considers it a soldier's obligation to learn the faces of every person they kill in their professional capacity as a soldier; after all, "they'll always remember you..." It's a remarkably inspiring scene coming from a complete and utter sociopath.
- After the Sinestro Corps War, Vath Sarn takes the time to recite the names of all 400-something Green Lanterns who died in the conflict.
- An Avengers comic showed one of the first things Captain America did when he woke up from his frozen slumber; read the entire Vietnam War memorial, to show his respect to all that died in a war he missed.
- In the aftermath of Blackest Night, Saint Walker is shown saying a prayer over the grave of everyone who was reanimated in the crisis. That includes the entire former population of Coast City.
- Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan seems to recall the names of all his dead soldiers (although he sometimes needs a reminder from Sgt Horvath). Also notable is the fact that Ryan asks for and memorises the names of the squad members who died trying to find him, an act which begins the process of The Squad accepting him.
- Defied in the Wing Commander film, where the characters deliberately tried to pretend that their dead comrades never existed.
Lt. Cmdr. Devereaux: Who in the hell do you think you are? Let me give you a reality check. In all likelihood, you're going to die out here. We're all going to die out here - but none of us need to be reminded of that fact. So you die, you never existed. Understand?
- Maniac refuses to follow this custom, and convinces Blair to do likewise.
- Starship Troopers: After the battle of Big K, they get back to the space station Ticonderoga and there's a big display with the names of the dead scrolling on it.
- In Fight Club: "His name was Robert Paulsen."
- Averted in The Shawshank Redemption. An inmate is brutally beaten to death by a guard. When the prisoners discuss the death the next morning, Andy asks the name of the man who died. The answer is a sharp, "Who gives a fuck."
- The group commander in Memphis Belle hands a folder full of copies he had written families to the reporter who implied that the commander didn't value the individual lives of his crews. As the reporter is reading them, the images of the screen indicate that many times 'he died quickly, and without pain' were Blatant Lies.
- In Battle: Los Angeles, the Marines are skeptical about Sergeant Nantz's ability lead them, since they believe that he callously sacrificed his squad to complete a mission in Iraq. Nantz then counters by reciting the name, rank, and serial number of every man that died under his command during that mission, treating it as his greatest failure.
- In Face Off, after the police finally take down criminal mastermind Castor Troy, they celebrate back at headquarters with a bottle of champagne. Sean Archer interrupts the celebration by holding up the bottle and solemnly reciting the names of the police who died in the raid.
- The Great Escape ends with the reading out of a list of the 50 escapees shot by the SS, naming each one.
- In The Wheel of Time, Rand Al'thor uses this as a Madness Mantra, reciting a long list of every woman he's killed, caused to die, led to their deaths, failed to save, happened to be around when they died...
- Despite his claims that he's a self-absorbed Dirty Coward, Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) becomes shocked at one point when he realises that he's forgotten the face of one of the soldiers who died under his command. Decades later—said decades being filled with combat and so with more deaths.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe has had a few instances, notably:
- In the X-Wing series, Wedge Antilles repeatedly remembers the names and faces of those who fought by his side and died under his command.
- In Order 66, the fourth book of the Republic Commando series, two of the Mandalorian sergeants responsible for training the special forces clone commandos gather to recite the names of every commando who fell over the past two years at barracks. It's over five thousand names. The scene becomes rather touching when, slowly at first then in larger numbers, the off duty clones join in the recitation of the names of their lost comrades. It's made rather clear that this is all the memorial the clones can expect, as few civilians genuinely care about the helmet-masked faceless forces, and even fewer know their names.
- Even more than that though, The mandalorian commanders didn't just do that to show that they remembered. They did it out of a cultural obligation, where they couldn't forget the names of their 'family'. None of them, given the choice to forget, could have accepted it.
- Kellen in The Obsidian Trilogy seems to try to fight against this. His war magic gives him the ability and the compulsion to lead the army and that requires him to use the soldiers at his command, knowing that many will die. But he's still human, and though his magic sped up his ascension through the ranks, he comes to personally know many of those that he would later command. He is able to put aside the names for the duration of the war but it almost becomes too much for him by the end.
- In The Vor Game, Miles Vorkosigan specifically asks for the name of a soldier who just died saving his life.
- Richard Bolitho, hero of a Wooden Ships and Iron Men series by Alexander Kent, in one of the books meets a woman who merely gives him her name—and almost instantly, he remembers which position her husband held (quartermaster) on which of his ships (Hyperion, 74 guns, crew of about 700), and in which battle the man was killed roughly five years before ... and he recalls, as if seeing a portrait, the dead man's face.
- In The Black Company, Croaker makes it a personal goal to record the passing of every company member in his books of the Annals.
- According to Croaker, this is one of the main purposes of the Annals—To have a record of the dead. The few times sections from older Annals are read aloud, they contain lists of the fallen.
- The Iliad would be a lot shorter had Homer not recorded the name (sometimes accompanied by a short biography) of every single person who died in it.
- In Eldest, Roran recites the names of a dozen villagers of Carvahall who died fighting The Empire during his Rousing Speech.
- A passing detail in the Dan Abnett novel Ghostmaker reveals that Ibram Gaunt memorises the names and faces of every soldier who dies under his command. In fact, he believes the day he can't remember a fallen soldier's face is the day he is lost.
- Near the end of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers novella Wildfire, there is an extract from the Captain's Log that lists the 23 (out of a crew of 40) crewmembers who were killed in that mission. The most "important" character in the list, Second Officer Duffy is just tossed into the list with no significant importance.
- In the Discworld novel Night Watch, the older members of the Night Watch make a point of visiting the casualties of the Glorious Revolution every year. Averted in the Dolly Sisters Massacre, however.
- In Going Postal, the signallers and engineers who die on the Grand Trunk have their names sent over the network to their home town. But one name, John Dearheart, cycles permanently throughout the entire network, in the overhead where the signallers can read it. When asked why by an apprentice, the gaffer replies; "A Man's not dead while his name's still spoken."
- In Death: Eve Dallas has the gift and curse of remembering all the murder victims she stands for. Seduction In Death had her fighting with this one Jerkass of a cop who had the nerve to bring up her actions in Judgment In Death and call her the Rat Squad's (Internal Affairs) poster girl to her face. She responds that there were cops being murdered in that case and she asks if he wants their names because she has every single one of them in her head.
- In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet, Tanya Desjani keeps a list of "absent friends." Posted on the wall of her quarters, near the door, so she sees it every time she leaves.
- In one of the most Tear Jerker scenes of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, Roland finally makes it to the Dark Tower and names off every single person who he caused to die or who died for him. It shows how much more human and sentimental he has become since his second katet.
Live Action TV
- An inversion happens in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Heroes": at Dr. Fraiser's funeral, Samantha Carter recites a list of people who are alive thanks to her.
- Similarly, in an episode of M*A*S*H where Hawkeye is writing his will, he promises to BJ's little daughter a list of all the lives her daddy saved.
- The posting of the weekly casualty report, a list of all the people killed or missing in the Dominion War, becomes a big deal in several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Lower Decks:" Picard makes a shipwide announcement about an ensign who was lost and presumed killed in the line of duty.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Satan Pit" ends with the base commander making a log entry listing all the base personnel who have died. He even includes the Ood, who in life were so little-regarded they didn't even have names, and he doesn't just say "and all the Ood", he lists each of their ID numbers individually.
- In "Vampires of Venice," the Doctor is absolutely furious that Rosanna didn't know Isabella's name, even though she murdered her.
The Doctor: I will tear down the House of Calvierri stone by stone. And you know why? You didn't know Isabella's name.
- In "Midnight," after the stewardess sacrifices herself to save him, the Doctor is particularly devastated that none of the passengers knew her name.
- In episode 2x15 of the new Battlestar Galactica, "Scar", after Kat bets the titular Raider and surpasses Starbuck as Galactica's "Top Gun", Starbuck pours Kat her ceremonial drink. Everyone expects a toast. She does; but instead of toasting Kat, Starbuck starts listing the callsigns of all the pilots who had perished thus far in the series. This is especially meaningful, as she had claimed earlier to Apollo that she couldn't even remember any of their names.
Starbuck: To BB, Jo-Jo, Reilly, Beano, Dipper, Flat Top, Chuckles, Jolly, Crashdown, Sheppard, Dash, Flyboy, Stepchild, Puppet, Fireball... [stops, crying]
Apollo: To all of 'em.
Admiral Adama: So say we all.
Crew: So say we all.
Starbuck: So say we all.
- NCIS: Los Angeles featured the team trying to find an intelligence officer who had copied some classified data (although no one knew what he had copied). Everyone (including the FBI) assume he was trying to release information to discredit the military. The information was the names of soldiers who had died in classified missions in Afghanistan. The man, who was considered too valuable to be sent into combat, wanted to honor the men who were sent into danger by making sure others knew they'd given their lives for their country and weren't just anonymous casualty statistics.
- Used on Babylon 5 in the episode "Ceremonies of Light and Dark", where all those who died in the previous episode are named.
- In the Grand Finale of Waking the Dead, Boyd is arrested and interviewed by the corrupt policeman responsible (directly or indirectly) for the torture and death of numerous homeless boys. Boyd says nothing in the interview, except to coldly list the name or nickname of every single one of them, knowing full-well that the interviewing policeman knows what he's talking about but nobody else does. Slightly subverted, however, as (to Boyd's irritation) not all of the boys were considered important enough at the time to have their names recorded:
Boyd: ...and twenty African boys whose names I do not know.
- In the first episode of Kamen Rider OOO, the Ride Vendor Platoon are ordered to destroy the Greeed, and only their leader is definitely seen to have survived all the explosions (at least one other appears later and it's stated they still exist, but they might be different ones), however in the next scene in Kougami's office a list of names can be seen on a screen for a few seconds with terminated next to them, all having individual names.
- Warhammer 40,000: Sergeant Lukas Bastonne is a charismatic and brilliant leader of men - who also has a photographic memory and remembers the names of every man who died in his command. Rumours persist that he has their names tattooed across his body as a permanent memorial.
- A sidebar in GURPS International Super Teams lists the names, dates and circumstances of death for each fallen IST member remembered at the IST's memorial plaza in New York City, circa 1990.
- In Mass Effect 2, the Paragon Shepard can do this during an interview, listing every Terran ship that was destroyed in the original game's ending while carrying out Shepard's orders.
- Another minor example is the Normandy Crash Site DLC, where you have to look for the dog tags of each crew member who died when the original Normandy went down and every time you pick one up, the name on it is displayed on the HUD.
- In Mass Effect 3, their names plus all squadmates' who died in the previous games are found on a plaque in the crew quarters of the Normandy, right across the elevator. As the game progresses, additional names are etched into it.
- Archangel etched the names of all his fallen squadmates in his targeting visor. He struck Sidonis' name from it after knowing that he was the traitor responsible for their deaths.
- Cannon Fodder names all the soldiers, and recounts a list of the Lost In Battle after each mission.
- In Dragon Age Awakening we learn of a Dwarven commander who rallied the Casteless dwarves (those so low on the dwarves' strict social ranking that they're not even considered people) to make a last stand against the monsters invading the city. A ghost/memory of him is shown carving the names of the fallen dwarves on to a stone table - he doesn't want them to be dismissed as "casteless" when they fought so bravely. It turns out to be his final act - he is killed as he engraves the stone. Your PC can retrieve the stone and entrust it to a dwarven ally, who presumably returns it to the dwarven archives to be preserved for posterity.
- In the original Dragon Age, there is a list (near the Anvil of the Void) of the dwarves who became golems. Their names are recorded because the golems are made by killing the dwarf in a nightmarish fashion and using their soul to power the golems - so they effectively "die" as dwarves, even if their soul is, arguably, still present.
- In the Warden's Keep DLC we learn of Sophia Dryden's revolt against the King of Ferelden that led to the Grey Wardens' expulsion from the country, including a list of all the Wardens who died in the defense of Soldier's Peak.
- Similar to the Starship Troopers movie, Modern Warfare had a scrolling list of all 30,000 US Marines who died in the nuclear blast.
- Modern Warfare 2 has a list of the Zakhaev International Airport massacre victims, but it scrolls by too fast to read any of their names.
- Dwarf Fortress. You can look in your inventory menu to see how many deaths you've got, but you can also take a look at the Units tab and see the names of each and every one. In addition, everyone who dies during World Generation has a name, an occupation, a home and a list of places they've been to and people they've fought with. Knowing that your fortress is settling down on top of the Hills of Fallen Clocks, where over three hundred named Kobolds lost their lives in a one-man invasion by the Horned One Kvalach (who was eventually killed by the human Fish Dissector Aldon Brugh), is somewhat moving.
- At the end of Project: Snowblind, there is a memorial screen where the names of every allied NPC that was killed during the game scrolls past.
- Some Fire Emblem games have battle reports which includes a list of characters fallen (which usually means permanently dead).
- In Command & Conquer: Renegade, the interior of the Hands of Nod show that Brotherhood of Nod maintains a "shrine" at the entrance that contains a video screen displaying a constant, scrolling display of the dead men and women who fought for the Brotherhood, complete with a recording that exhorts the Brotherhood's faithful to remember and honor the sacrifice of their fellows.
- In Corpse Party, the player can collect 'name tags' by looking at the various corpses strewn about, explaining who they were and how they died. The manga adaptation echoes this effect with black pages after each chapter that list similar tidbits of information.
- In the Deus Ex, mission when you break out of the formerly friendly prison the body of any guard you kill will have a name but if you just knock them out it will be labeled 'Unconscious guard'.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind gave the majority of unimportant NPCs, such as the outlaws hiding in the caves that dotted the landscape, actual names as part of it's static world. This is different unlike the other games in the series who are just respawning NPCs named things like "Bandit". It gave it a bit more feel of being a world with characters as opposed to generic spawning adventure fodder.
- Fallout: New Vegas has the NCR war memorial outside of Boulder City. The back is covered with names of soldiers who died fighting the Legion.
- X-Com: Enemy Unknown (2012) and OpenXCom after it have Memorial screen for your killed troopers.
- In Exo Squad, Captain Avery Butler writes a personal apology letter to the family of every Jumptrooper lost under his command, even while the Exofleet has no way to actually deliver the letters to the Neosapien-occupied Earth.
- Also, when Nara Burns finishes off the Big Bad Phaeton in the finale, she tells him her late brother's name--one of the millions of victims of Phaeton's plans.
- The Vietnam War Memorial. Or any sufficiently large memorial, for that matter.
- Sometimes the Vietnam War Memorial is known simply as The Wall. The names' lettering is in matte black finish that's flush with the background, while the background itself is polished mirror smooth, so when one reads a name, they do so while looking their own reflection in the eyes.
- The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor also has a list of the names of those that died.
- The annual memorial reading of the names of people that died on 9/11. As of 2011, they're listed around the memorial at the site where the towers stood.
- Also, the scrolling 9/11 casualty lists used as a concert backdrop by U2 for some time after the attacks. Including at the 2002 Superbowl half-time concert.
- Many European towns and cities have a memorial for one or more of the continent's many wars, especially the two World Wars, of course.
- Subverted by the Tombs of the Unknown Soldier: the dead are honored, despite their names being unknown.
- Similarly, many wargraves in Commonwealth First World War cemeteries in Europe read simply A Soldier of the Great War, His Name Known Unto God
- The names of the missing Commonwealth soldiers are also engraved in various memorials around Belgium and France, near the battlefields where they died. There are so many names that some families took ninety years of searching to find them.
- The Hall of Names inside of Yad Vashem contains a list of the name of every known Jewish victim of the Holocaust. There is space on the shelves reserved for those who remain unknown.
- The War Memorial of Korea includes a series of columns engraved with the names of the soldiers and policemen who died in The Korean War, organized by country (and in the case of the Americans, by state as well).
- In a reversal of sorts from the Unknown Soldier above, the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium and the nearby Thiepval memorial are monuments to the allied dead in the First World War who's bodies have yet to be found.
- During some wars, especially World War I and World War II, local newspapers would list the names of military casualties as they were reported. Late in the war Nazi Germany stopped doing so, as the huge lists of names were not helping morale.
- The names of UK soldiers killed overseas are read out in the House of Commons before Prime Minister's questions, a practice introduced during the Iraq war.
- Averted by the CIA memorial wall dedicated to agents who died in line of duty, 40 of the 102 entries do not have names.
- A memorial to all wars the Koreans have been involved in throughout history, not just The Korean War