Wrong Name Outburst

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In an emotional moment, a character gets someone's name wrong. Often this reveals that current drama has triggered a memory of a similar situation in the past. If the name isn't familiar, cue a Flash Back to who they were; if it is, there's probably some backstory between the characters we weren't aware of before.

If the wrong name pops up during sex (or at the altar), the speaker may not live much longer.

If the speaker is senile, or generally a Cloudcuckoolander, it's more likely to be My Name Is Not Durwood or Thoroughly Mistaken Identity, but it may overlap with this. Otherwise the two generally don't overlap, as this is a heat-of-the-moment mistake.

A You Remind Me of X situation may prompt this.

Only counts if it makes it to a final cut, so somebody calling a character by the actor's name in the Blooper Reel isn't one of these.

Examples of Wrong Name Outburst include:


  • There was a British car commercial where a man has a nightmare about his car getting wrecked and wakes up shouting the car's name. Of course, since he gave it a feminine name, this causes some misunderstandings with his wife.

Anime and Manga

  • In Corsair, Canale does this twice (with the people in question in reverse). Amusingly he's more upset about it than either Ayace or Sesaam are.
  • In the Lupin III movie Harimayo's Treasure, Inspector Zenigata arrests the Big Bad while shouting out "You're under arrest, Lupin!". Lupin (standing on the other side of the room from the man being arrested) points out his mistake. Zenigata sheepishly admits that it's force of habit.

Comic Books

  • In That Crazy Guy! by Jack Chick, Suzi learns that her boyfriend is a Jerkass and a womanizer when he calls her "Betty" instead of her name.


  • In Akeelah and the Bee, the heroine's teacher calls her "Denise," whom she eventually discovers is his dead daughter.
  • Finding Nemo: As they are about to be swallowed by the whale, Marlin shouts at Dory (who claims to speak whale) that "you think you can do these things, but you just can't, Nemo!", doubling up as a Meaningful Echo.
  • In the film version of Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix, Sirius calls Harry "James" (Harry's father's name) during the final battle. Particularly nasty since Those are Sirius' last words before Bellatrix kills him.
  • In Face Off, Archer (disguised as Troy) finds out that Adam, the son of Troy's ex-girlfriend, is also Troy's son, and Archer is reminded of his own dead son Michael, and calls Adam "Michael" while hugging him.
  • Passenger 57. The protagonist uses the name of his dead wife when shouting at the stewardess—he doesn't realise this until she points it out later.
  • Phil Conners gets away with the bedroom version in Groundhog Day when he calls Nancy "Rita" in the heat of the moment. He sidetracks her by proposing marriage (of course, she won't remember it the next time he goes through the day).


Live Action Television

  • Friends: Obviously, Ross' "I take thee, Rachel", but a better example is Rachel's own "Greens don't quit!" to Joey when she tries to teach him to sail - on pointing out he's not a Green, she realizes she's turning into her father.
  • Alias had such a moment, when Spy Daddy started losing his mind and Sidney had to pretend to be Spy Mommy.
  • In the Lost episode "Walkabout", after Locke, Kate, and Michael are attacked by a boar, Locke accidentally (and conspicuously) calls Kate "Helen." Later in the episode in a flashback, we discover Helen is the phone therapist he's in love with.
    • Although he was more likely thinking of his ex-girlfriend of the same name.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Spock's Brain," Kirk and his landing party are trying to rescue Spock. Kirk says, "Tricorder readings, Mr. Spock. ...Mr. Scott."
  • In the 2004 Battlestar Galactica, when Starbuck sleeps with Gaius Baltar, she calls him "Lee"...
  • Variation from the Dollhouse episode "Vows": Echo gets her own name wrong. She's talking down her "husband" after he hits her, but the blow to the head causes her imprint to glitch, and she uses the name of her imprint in the pilot.
  • On Saved by the Bell, an increasingly distant and distracted Kelly calls her boyfriend Zack "Jeff," the name of her hot college co-worker. Understandably, the relationship does not last much longer.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Sabrina accidentally calls her current boyfriend "Harvey".
  • A sad example from the new Doctor Who occurs when the 11th Doctor accidentally calls Vincent van Gogh "Rory", and Amy goes "Who?" Explaining why this is sad would be a spoiler if you're not caught up on the new season.
  • Played with on an episode of "Scrubs". J.D. is sleeping with his girlfriend Dani when she shouts out her own name during climax. J.D. is disconcerted, but doesn't suspect infidelity. He should have, as it turns out, as she was in fact also sleeping with a man who shared her name.
  • In Primeval, Nick frequently refers to Jenny as Claudia (the two look alike, but Claudia stopped existing shortly before Jenny showed up). She doesn't like this at all.
  • In the Law and Order SVU episode "Locum", Olivia discovers that the parents of an adopted girl, Mackenzie, have been changing her appearance to look like that of their biological daughter, Ella, who went missing ten years before. When Olivia confronts them, the mother bursts out with, "I love Ella!"
  • In Neighbours, Stuart arranges with Max to have his wife committed in hopes that Max can take control of her medical decisions (she was delaying cancer treatments because of possible risk to her pregnancy). When arguing with Karl about it later, Stuart accidentally refers to Steph as Sindi, making it obvious that he's acting on his own feelings about his wife's committal the previous year.
  • The Professionals. Bodie does this deliberately to cause problems between Doyle and his Girl of the Week.

"You must be Rachel. He's told me all about you."
(later in the car) Her name was Claire!

  • Late in the seventh season of 24, as Jack is suffering from the debilitating effects of a biological agent, while discussing a system the President (Allison Taylor) put in place, he, in a fit of anger, accidentally refers to David Palmer (presidential candidate in Day 1, and president in Days 2 and 3).
  • On Boy Meets World, Cory discusses this with Angela when he suspects that Shawn and Topanga might have feelings for each other:

Cory: Let me ask you this: In all the time that you were with Shawn, did he ever call out the name "Topanga"?
Angela: No, but he called out the name "Cory".
Cory: (flattered) In what context?

  • Frasier, giving his brother Niles a long-overdue rant on how he needs to stand up to his wife, ends up referring to her by his own ex-wife's name. While someone else might try to argue that it was a slip of the tongue, Frasier happens to be a Freudian psychologist: "Well, that's destroyed any credibility I might have had - Dad, do you want to have a go?"
  • When Roger Sterling has a heart attack during Season 2 of Mad Men, nearly going Out with a Bang, he yells out the name of the one-night stands he's with (one of the Doublemint Twins, if memory serves). Don Draper finds him, and (after calling the ambulance) starts to slap Roger in the face, yelling "Your wife's name is Mona!"


  • Rick Springfield's song "They Call Me Bruce" is a tongue-in-cheek rant about how people keep confusing him with Bruce Springsteen.
  • Mentioned in the Aerosmith song "Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees)": "I was believer when you told me that you loved me/ And then you called me someone else's name."
  • "She's Got Issues" by The Offspring give us this gem:

Now, she talks about her ex non-stop, but I don't mind.
But when she calls out his name in bed, that's where I draw the line.

She told me a hundred times how her father left and he's gone.
But I wish you wouldn't call me "Daddy" when we're getting it on.


  • In one Mad Magazine "A Lighter Side Of", a man is apparently cheating on his girlfriend and avoided being found out. He's almost in the clear until he says the wrong girl's name.


  • At the end of the "Now/Later/Soon" trio in A Little Night Music, the still-drowsy Fredrik longingly invokes Desiree's name where earlier he had used his wife's name (Anne).

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Vegetarian": Lisa defiantly steals the suckling pig from the Simpson backyard BBBQ:[1]

Marge: Bart, nooooo!
Bart: (standing beside her) What?!
Marge: Sorry, force of habit. Lisa, nooooo!

    • Another moment was when Bleeding Gums Murphy was saying his goodbyes to Lisa, a few other famous figureheads joined him, including Mufasa, who called out to Kimba, before quickly changing back to Simba (a reference to the controversy regarding The Lion King's apparent similarity to Kimba the White Lion).
    • In one episode Marge says that Homer calls out his bowling ball's name during sex.
  • In Family Guy, Lois blurts out "George!" (as in Clooney) during sex with Peter. He is understandably offended.
    • An earlier episode has Peter reference the opposite, where, during sex, he calls Lois Frank.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Peter has just left his girlfriend Liz Allan, and thinks to himself, "Wow, Gwen is so cool. I mean Liz!"
  • An episode of Recess had Spinelli call Mrs. Grotki "Mama" while trying to keep her from slipping on a piece of junk in the parking lot.

Web Comics

  • Something*Positive: Fred, who is developing Alzheimer's, once confused Pee Jee for Faye, his dead wife.
    • Made worse by the fact he goes on to make romantic advances towards her.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, when Antimony falls off a bridge, Mr. Eglamore shouts the name of her mother (whom he loved). Reynardine, who also had loved her mother, also initially calls her by her mother's name, as does Coyote.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal managed to subvert this.

Web Original

Naruto: "Aaauhahah SHAUN, aaaaaa Shaun..."
Sakura: "Who the hell is Shaun?"

Truth in Television

  • Any parent with at least two kids is guaranteed to mix up their kids' names.
    • For that matter, anyone who happens to know two or more people with different names (themselves including) will have this happen to them occasionally.
      • Not just people, pets can quite easily be thrown into the mix too.
  1. The extra "B" is for "BYOBB". (That extra "B" is a typo)