Names are important. They’re more than just words we sew into the back of our underpants so nobody steals them from the changing rooms at the swimming pool. They’re who we are.
It’s weird, then, that there are so many iconic characters whose names we get wrong. Just like poor old Frankenstein’s Monster, forever being addressed as Frankenstein, roaming the lands roaring “Actually, that’s the name of my creator, actually”, they’re mislabelled or go nameless.
But no longer!
Comic Book Guy
A whole 14 years after his first appearance on The Simpsons as owner of The Android’s Dungeon, Comic Book Guy’s real name was revealed to be the slightly underwhelming Jeff Albertson. Matt Groening had suggested the (better) name Louis Lane. Also in The Simpsons, the crazy cat lady has the real name Eleanor Abernathy.
Barbie and Ken
Both dolls are named after the children of creator Ruth Handler - Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, and Ken’s is Kenneth Carson, who sounds like a man who does your taxes.
The Michelin Man
The tubby bloke from the tyre shop has the name Bibendum, derived from the Latin prase ‘Nunc est bibendum’, meaning ‘drink up’. He was initially pitched as a brewery mascot, and when repurposed as a tyre man, was shown ‘drinking up’ nails, stones and other road debris.
The Monopoly Man
Monopoly’s mascot who, contrary to how a lot of people remember him, doesn’t wear a monocle, is properly known as Rich Uncle Milburn Pennybags. The dude in jail is Jake the Jailbird, while the copper sending you to join him is Officer Mallory.
The Pringles Fella
The David Seaman lookalike is officially known as Julius Pringles. Not Pringle, the singular (pringular), like you’d think. Pringles. Also, the shape of a Pringle is a hyperbolic paraboloid. Fun!
The Twitter Bird
The bird that serves as Twitter’s logo is known as Larry, as in Larry Bird. Amazing. The whale that you encounter when there’s an error is, of course, the Fail Whale.
Sonic the Hedgehog
According to the Sonic comics, Sonic’s birth name is Ogilvie Maurice Hedgehog, Ogilvie and Maurice being his two grandfathers. Despite bearing neither of them any ill will, he legally changed his name to Sonic. Comics are stupid. Also, his pal Tails’ real name is Miles Prower, which is a beautifully terrible pun about him being fast.
The Quaker Oats dude
Although often thought to represent 17th Century philosopher and Quakin’ pioneer William Penn, the logo is in fact known internally as Larry. The oats company has on several occasions upset the real Quakers by doing things like giving away violent toys in their cereal.
The best one from Mario Kart is, according to a Nintendo character guide, fully named T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas. Mario is, obviously, called Mario Mario (this originated in the very bad film version, but creator Shigeru Miyamoto later made it canon), although when he was being designed, he was first called Mr Video, then Jumpman. Luigi’s full name is Luigi Mario.
Most Star Wars characters have first names and surnames, and Yoda was originally going to be no exception - his full name, according to George Lucas, was Master Minch Yoda. The Minch part was dropped and used for another member of Yoda’s species, Yaddle Minch, so Yoda’s actual full name, if he has one, remains unknown. Jeremy Yoda? Steve Yoda? Mario Yoda?
The mouthless moggy isn’t called Hello Kitty - that is simply a greeting. Her first name is Kitty, and her surname is White. Hello, Kitty White. BYE!
The Fat Controller
Known in the first few Thomas the Tank Engine books as The Fat Director before being promoted, the Fat Controller is called Sir Topham Hatt. Subsequent books and series feature his son and grandson, also called Sir Topham Hatt, as it’s a baronetcy rather than a knighthood.
However, Topham was the first Controller’s first name, but his son and grandson were Charles Topham Hatt and Stephen Topham Hatt, like Topham became part of their surname, and that’s not how title holders are meant to be referred to - it should be Sir Firstname, or Sir Firstname Lastname, not Sir Lastname. Sir Topham Hatt or Sir Topham for the first one, then Sir Charles or Sir Charles Topham Hatt, then Sir Stephen or Sir Stephen Topham Hatt, but definitely not Sir Topham Hatt any more. Glad we’ve cleared that up.