The Real Names of 42 Fictional Characters

TD Dolci/Stock via Getty Images
TD Dolci/Stock via Getty Images

From the familiar faces that grace your morning cereal boxes to those recurring television characters whose full names we never seem to learn, the world is full of fictional characters whose visages are all too familiar—but whose names might be less well-known. You've known many of these beloved characters for years, but how well do you really know them? Here's your chance to get better acquainted.

1. Cap'n Crunch // Horatio Magellan Crunch

Boxes of cereal featuring Cap'n Crunch
Roadside Pictures via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The friendly captain of the S.S. Guppy—who was invented by Jay Ward Productions in the early 1960s and became the face of a cereal in 1963—is Horatio Magellan Crunch to his friends.

2. The Pillsbury Doughboy // Poppin' Fresh

The Pillsbury Doughboy balloon floating down the street between skyscrapers at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Andrew Burton, Getty Images

Invented by copywriter Rudy Perz in 1965, the Pillsbury Doughboy also goes by the name Poppin' Fresh, "a nod to the product’s quality and freshness," according to Pillsbury. Mr. Fresh has a wife, Poppie Fresh, and they're the proud parents to two kids, Popper and Bun Bun. The family cat and dog are named Biscuit and Flapjack.

3. The Quaker Oats Guy // Larry

A container of Quaker Oats
smartstock/iStock via Getty Images

That’s not William Penn or Ben Franklin smirking at you from your container of oatmeal, as many people seem to believe. The good people at Quaker Oats refer to him as “Larry.” In 2012, Larry got a mini-makeover in the form of a logo refresh. His hair was trimmed, he lost a little weight, and, according to Quaker, he acquired “more radiant skin from daily oatmeal masks.”

4. Mrs. Butterworth // Joy Butterworth

Several containers of 1970s-style Mrs. Butterworth's syrup
Roadsidepictures via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Thanks to a marketing campaign in 2009, Mrs. Butterworth was finally given a first name: Joy, just like the feeling you experience when you bite into a stack of warm, fluffy pancakes.

5. Comic Book Guy // Jeff Albertson

A still of The Simpsons's Comic Book Guy
Fox

Though an episode revealed Comic Book Guy's real name to be Jeff, Matt Groening had a different moniker in mind. "In my mind, 'Louis Lane' was his name, and he was obsessed and tormented by Lois Lane," Groening told MTV in 2003.

6. Mom From Futurama // Carol Miller

Mom, aka Carol Miller, from 'Futurama'
Fox

Though "Carol" is basically the mom-est name ever, Groening did a Reddit AMA in 2017 where he admitted that writer Patric Verrone originally called the evil CEO of Momcorp Edna after his own mother.

7. The Monopoly Policeman // Officer Edgar Mallory

An orange card that says
duckycards/iStock via Getty Images

The next time you land on the “Go Directly to Jail” spot in Monopoly, you have Officer Edgar Mallory to blame. According to Hasbro, that's the name of the cop who inhabits the space.

8. The Monopoly Inmate // Jake The Jailbird

Jailbird Jake, the Monopoly inmate
martince2/iStock via Getty Images

You'll be getting out of jail if you roll doubles or cough up the bail money, but poor Jake the Jailbird isn't leaving anytime soon.

9. The rich Monopoly guy // Milburn Pennybags

The Monopoly Man on the game board
urbanbuzz/iStock via Getty Images

And when you get that unexpected $10 windfall from coming in second place in a beauty pageant, thank Rich Uncle Pennybags, who was originally named Milburn. According to former Parker Brothers executive Philip Orbanes, after Hasbro purchased Parker Brothers they renamed him Mr. Monopoly. Orbanes also said that the dapper gentleman once had a wife named Madge Pennybags.

10. Mr. Snuffleupagus // Aloysius Snuffleupagus

Mr. Snuffleupagus and the National Dance Institute during the 93rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade rehearsals at Macy's Herald Square on November 25, 2019 in New York City
Mr. Snuffleupagus and the National Dance Institute during the 2019 annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade rehearsals.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

Big Bird’s not-so-imaginary friend Mr. Snuffleupagus has a not-so-imaginary first name: Aloysius.

11. Guy Smiley // Bernie Liederkrantz

Sesame Street character Guy Smiley
Sesame Workshop

If you ever thought "Guy Smiley" was too spot-on of a name for a game show host, you were on to something: His “real” name is Bernie Liederkrantz.

12. Peppermint Patty // Patricia Reichardt

Pettermint Patty Peanuts trading card
Mark Anderson via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In a Peanuts comic strip from January 15, 1972, Peppermint Patty reveals that her real name is Patricia Reichardt.

13. Muted Trumpet Teacher // Miss Othmar

And that annoying teacher who sounded suspiciously like a muted trumpet? Her name was Miss Othmar. She later got married and became Mrs. Hagemeyer, which poor Linus could never remember.

14. Mr. Clean // Veritably Clean

Box of Mr. Clean
Roadsidepictures via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Those lucky enough to be on a first name basis with the follicle-challenged cleaner call him “Veritably.” The name was supposedly chosen during a "Give Mr. Clean a First Name" promotion in 1962. While that promotion did exist, there’s little evidence the name originated there—multiple newspapers in the following years noted that nothing seemed to have come from the contest. But by the 1980s, the company was claiming that the contest chose the moniker Veritably.

15. Barbie // Barbara Millicent Roberts

Barbie doll on a pink background
iStock.com/ivanastar

With a mouthful of a name like "Barbara Millicent Roberts," you can see why the perpetually popular doll is better known as Barbie. She was named after the daughter of co-creators Ruth and Elliot Handler.

16. Ken // Ken Carson

Barbie and Ken
kaisphoto/iStock via Getty Images

Barbie’s longtime love and fellow fashionista is named Ken Carson, also after Handler’s offspring. The real-life Barbie and Ken didn’t appreciate the attention that came with being the doll namesakes. In fact, Barbara Handler Segal’s daughter, Cheryl, never owned a Barbie. Ken Handler has said that Barbie “should care more about going to the beach. I wish she would work in a soup kitchen, but then she would never sell.”

17. The Operation Patient // Cavity Sam

Hasbro's 'Operation' game
Hasbro via Amazon

The perpetual patient in the game Operation is an unfortunate fellow named Cavity Sam.

18. The Church Lady // Enid Strict

Dana Carvey as The Church Lady on Saturday Night Live
NBC

Dana Carvey’s judgmental, lip-pursing, holier-than-thou Church Lady has a name, which she occasionally referenced on Church Chat—it’s “Enid Strict.” Well isn’t that ... appropriate.

19. Cookie Monster // Sid

Cookie Monster is photographed during an appearance at the Midweek Morning Show at Children's Hospital Boston in Boston, Massachusetts in 2010
Gail Oskin, Getty Images for Children's Hospital Boston

During a 2004 episode of Sesame Street, Cookie Monster admitted that before he became hooked on baked goods, his name known as Sid; in 2010, he tweeted that it may have been Sidney.

20. The Man With The Yellow Hat // Ted Shackelford

A still from 'Curious George'
PBS

In a deleted scene from the 2006 Curious George movie, it was revealed that The Man With the Yellow Hat is named Ted Shackleford. It may not count since it was a deleted scene, but we thought you should know. Fun fact: Ted Shackelford is also the actor who played Gary Ewing on Knots Landing.

21. Bic Pen Logo // Bic Boy

The little guy on the BIC logo hasn’t been impaled by a pen; he’s holding it behind his back. And he has a name: It’s BIC Boy. Sorry if that’s a letdown.

22. Twitter Logo // Larry Bird

Twitter logo on a smartphone
Chesnot/Getty Images

The friendly blue bird over on Twitter goes by the name of Larry. Larry ... Bird.

23. Mr. Peanut // Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe

A large peanut wearing a suit and monocle is dabbing.
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

In 1916, 14-year-old Antonio Gentile entered a Planter’s Peanuts contest to create a mascot. His winning entry was a version of the dapper legume we all know and love today. He also suggested a name for his character: Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe.

24. The Michelin Man // Bibendum

Michelin Man is seen during the Formula E New York City Race on July 14, 2018 in New York City
John Lamparski/Getty Images

The Michelin Man’s real name, Bibendum, comes from an early advertisement that showed the Michelin Man holding a questionable cocktail of nails and broken glass and saying "Nunc est bibendum!" The tagline on the ad read “Michelin tires drink up obstacles.”

25. Evil Queen // Grimhilde

The Evil Queen in 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' (1937)
Walt Disney Home Entertainment

For most Disney fans, the evil queen from Snow White has simply been known as just that. But the comic strip adaptation refers to the world’s worst stepmother as Queen Grimhilde. The same comic strip has the Queen say “Mirror Mirror on the Wall” as opposed to the film’s “Magic Mirror.”

26. Jughead // Forsythe P. Jones Iii

Archie Comics via Amazon

You didn’t think Jughead’s parents actually named him Jughead, did you? Actually, what they named him isn’t really any less bizarre: Forsythe P. Jones III.

27. Moose // Marmaduke Mason

'Moose & Midge: Breakup Blues' comic book cover
Archie Comics via Amazon

And there’s a reason that that lughead, Moose, chose a short nickname—his real name is Marmaduke Mason.

28. Mr. Whipple // George Whipple

A Charmin promotional display featuring Mr. Whipple
Roadsidepictures via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Mr. Whipple, the poor grocer who so desperately wanted his customers to leave the Charmin alone, went by the name of George. Squeeze that.

29. Woody from Toy Story // Woody Pride

A costumed character that of Woody from Toy Story smiles at the camera while a costumed Jessie stands in the background.
YOSHIKAZU TSUNO, Getty Images

According to Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, Woody from Toy Story has a last name: Pride.

30. Casper The Friendly Ghost // Casper Mcfadden

A still from Casper (1995)
Universal Pictures

Though the comic books never specified Casper's surname (nor addressed how—of even if—he died), the 1995 Casper movie claimed that the little ghost's family name was McFadden.

31. Geoffrey The Toys "R" Us Mascot // Dr. G. Raffe

geoffrey the giraffe on toys r us truck
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Before he was simply Geoffrey, the Toys "R" Us mascot was known as Dr. G. Raffe.

32. Shaggy // Norville Rogers

A still from 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!'
Warner Home Video

Though “Shaggy” fits him better, the frightened ghost hunter’s real name is actually Norville Rogers.

33. Scooby Doo // Scoobert

Warner Home Video

Scooby has a more proper name as well: Scoobert—and that's Scoobert Doo, not Scoobert Doobert as has been rumored.

34. MacGyver // Angus MacGyver

Richard Dean Anderson starred in 'MacGyver'
CBS

Apparently an early press release proclaimed that MacGyver's first name was Stacey. His real name, Angus, was revealed during the final season, but the story behind it isn't too complex: Richard Dean Anderson saw it on a banner in Vancouver and suggested it.

35. B.A. Baracus // Bosco Albert Baracus

Hulu

This A-Team character may have claimed the "B.A." was for "bad attitude," but it was really for Bosco Albert.

36. Turtle from Entourage // Salvatore Assante

Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Jerry Ferrara in Entourage
Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Jerry Ferrara in Entourage.
HBO

Jeopardy! claimed it was Salvatore Vacara, but Turtle himself, Jerry Ferrara, tweeted otherwise.

37. Wilson from Home Improvement // Wilson W. Wilson Jr.

Tim Allen and Earl Hindman in Home Improvement
Tim Allen and Earl Hindman in Home Improvement.
The Walt Disney Co.

The alliteratively named neighbor also had a niece, Willow Wilson.

38. Bull Shannon // Nostradamus Shannon

Warner Bros. Entertainment

Though "Nostradamus" lends itself to all kinds of interesting nicknames, Bull Shannon from Night Court was so-called because when his mother found out she was pregnant, she said, "Bull!"

39. Boomhauer from King Of The Hill // Jeffrey Dexter Boomhauer III

Boomhauer's first name isn't the only shocking revelation about Hank Hill's perpetually indecipherable friend—he's also a Texas Ranger.

40. The Skipper from Gilligan's Island // Jonas Grumby

Alan Hale Jr. and Tina Louise in Gilligan's Island (1964)
Warner Home Video

The real name of the owner of the S.S. Minnow was Jonas Grumby.

41. The Professor From Gilligan's Island // Roy Hinkley

Russell Johnson in Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson as The Professor in Gilligan's Island.
Warner Home Video

Likewise, the professor had a real name: Roy Hinkley.

42. Lt. Columbo // Frank Columbo

Peter Falk and Harvey Gold in 'Columbo'
Peter Falk and Harvey Gold in Columbo.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

According to the name on his police badge, Lt. Columbo’s name was Frank. Though a few sources report that his name is Philip, that’s not true. The faux moniker appeared as a copyright trap in The Trivia Encyclopedia. When Trivial Pursuit later reprinted the false answer to the question, the author of The Trivia Encyclopedia knew they had used information from his book and sued. The court ruled in favor of Trivial Pursuit, saying that facts—even false ones—can’t be copyrighted.

12 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Easter Bunnies

This child clearly can't get enough Easter Bunny in her life.
This child clearly can't get enough Easter Bunny in her life.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Every year, thousands of families, church groups, and event planners enlist entertainment companies to dispatch a costumed bunny for their Easter celebrations. These performers often endure oppressive heat, frightened children, and other indignities to bring joy to the season.

It can be a thankless job, which is why Mental Floss approached several hares and their handlers for some insight into what makes for a successful appearance, the numerous occupational hazards, and why they can be harassed while holding a giant carrot. Here’s a glimpse of what goes on under the ears.

1. They might be watching netflix under the mask.

Has a bunny ever seemed slow to respond to your child? He or she might be in the middle of a binge-watch. Jennifer Ellison, the sales and marketing manager for San Diego Kids’ Party Rentals and a bunny wrangler during the Easter season, says that extended party engagements might lead their furry foot soldiers to seek distractions while in costume. “We book the bunny by the hour and he is often booked for multiple hour blocks,” she says. “Listening to music definitely helps the time pass.” One of her bunny friends who does a lot of shopping mall appearances has even rigged up a harness that can cradle a smart phone. “It sits above the bunny's nose, resting right at eye level for the performer inside, easily allowing the performer to stream Netflix, scroll through Facebook, or check emails.”

2. They can’t walk on wet grass.

Bunnies that appear at private functions, like backyard parties or egg hunts, have to maintain the illusion of being a character and not a human in a furry costume. According to Albert Joseph, the owner of Albert Joseph Entertainment in San Francisco and a 30-year veteran of Easter engagements, one of the cardinal rules is never to set foot on wet grass. Why? “They wear regular shoes under their giant bunny feet,” he says. “If they step on wet grass and then walk on cement, they’ll make a human foot print, not a bunny print.”

3. There’s a reason they might not pick up your kid.

Bunnies might be amenable to posing for a photo with your child on their lap, but they’re probably not going to grab the little tyke and sweep them off their feet. According to Steve Rothenberg, a veteran performer and owner of Talk of the Town Entertainment in Rockville, Maryland, deadlifting a kid is against the rules. “The last thing you want is to lift them up and have them knock off your head,” he says.

4. Giant carrots will invite inappropriate behavior.

A person dressed as the Easter bunny.
As the 3-foot-long carrot proves, adults are easily the least mature guests at a child's Easter party.
lisafx/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Joseph’s warren of party bunnies usually come equipped with a 3-foot-long giant carrot as a prop. While children are amused by the oversized vegetable, the adults at the parties usually can’t help making observations. “Practically every visit, there’s always someone saying, ‘My, what a big carrot you have,’” he says.

On one occasion, Joseph attended a function at a retirement home. One of the women, who he estimated to be in her 80s, commented on his big feet in a lascivious manner. “She told me she was in room 37.”

5. Clothes make the bunny.

Easter bunny at the White House.
Every year, a well-dressed Easter bunny visits Washington, D.C. for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

While “naked” (i.e., unclothed) bunnies remain popular, Ellison’s lineup also includes Mr. Bunny, a “classy lad with a top hat and vest,” and a Mrs. Bunny sporting a purple dress. Why would kids care if a bunny has sartorial sense? “Kids can probably better relate to a giant, furry character if it's dressed like a human,” Ellison says. “[And] we just thought the costumes looked cute.”

6. They can’t wear dark clothing underneath.

If a bunny wants to wear a black shirt under his or her fur, it stands to reason there wouldn’t be any issue: It's all hidden from sight. But Joseph insists that his cast stick with white apparel only. In addition to being cooler, it serves a practical function. “There’s always an opportunity to see a little something around the neckline or near the feet,” he says. Light clothing helps preserve the character.

7. They use an upholstery cleaner for their heads.

Most bunny costumes can be tossed in any regular washing machine, with the feet going in a larger commercial-use unit. But the heads, which are typically massive and unwieldy, get special attention. “You know those upholstery cleaners you can rent from a grocery store?” Joseph asks. “We use those. There’s a wand attachment to it for cleaning carpet.”

8. There’s a trick to keeping cool.

Costumes made of fake fur in the spring can be a recipe for disaster—or at least some lightheadedness. While none of the bunnies we profiled had experienced fainting spells, Ellison says that the trick to staying cool is actually adding a layer underneath the outfit. “Light, breathable clothing underneath the suit usually does the trick, but some people choose to wear an ice vest under the suit as well.”

Many bunnies also work in intervals: 45 to 50 minutes “on,” and 10 to 15 minutes in a private area to cool off and drink water. “Clients are usually understanding and sympathetic of the bunny and will allow even more breaks if necessary,” Ellison says.

9. Mints are essential.

Bunnies may favor carrots and grass, but their human operators need something other than that in order to deal with the humidity. Rothenberg says that his bunnies usually nibble on mints while working a crowd. “They’ll typically chew gum or have some kind of mint to keep their throat from drying out,” he says.

10. They use bunny handlers to prevent knockdowns.

A person dressed as the Easter bunny.
An Easter Bunny makes a young girl's day.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Any professional bunny knows that having an assistant watching their back is the best way to ensure an appearance goes smoothly. “Your vision is limited and you can’t really look to the left or right,” Rothenberg says. “Having an assistant prevents kids from running up behind you.”

11. They have damaged butts.

In order to ease apprehensive kids, Joseph advocates for his bunnies to squat near a child rather than bend over. “It gets them at a child’s level so they can touch and feel for themselves,” he says. “But a bunny that does a lot of squatting winds up needing their [costume] butts re-sewn. I’ve repaired a lot of them.” Joseph will also invite mothers to sit on the bunny’s lap so fearful children are more likely to approach. “You don’t want to prod the kid,” he says.

12. They’re not just for easter.

While bunny costume season is a fleeting few weeks, companies are happy to roll out their rabbits for other occasions. Once, Ellison sent out a bunny for a customer’s Alice in Wonderland-themed gathering. “The client wanted the White Rabbit, so we dressed up our bunny in a vest and top hat and gave him an over-sized pocket watch. It worked out great.”

This piece originally ran in 2017.

The 48 Most Frequently Banned Wedding Songs

Bogdan Kurylo/iStock via Getty Images
Bogdan Kurylo/iStock via Getty Images

Who among us hasn't attended a wedding and cringed at the playlist? In 2017, stats/polling site FiveThirtyEight asked more than two dozen professional DJs who had DJ’d around 200 weddings what songs couples ban from their weddings and, after surveying 182 wedding playlists, came up with a list of 48 songs. They gave each song a percentage, which represents the share of weddings that banned the song.

The first 10 on the list represent silly dances people like to do but shouldn’t do, like The Chicken Dance, The Macarena, and The Electric Slide. After that, the list starts to see overplayed songs like “Don’t Stop Believin',’” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Sweet Caroline,” and call-and-response songs like “Shout.” The list contains a mix of new and old hip-hop, R&B, and pop hits, and several songs ended up tied.

Interestingly, a few songs from FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 ultimate wedding playlist also appear on the banned list, including “Hey Ya!,” “Uptown Funk,” “Sweet Caroline,” and “Call Me Maybe.”

You may or may not agree with this list, but don’t feel bad if you decide to ban any of these songs from your own wedding playlist—chances are, someone out there agrees with you.

  1. “The Chicken Dance”

  1. “Cha-Cha Slide” // DJ Casper

  1. “Macarena” // Los Del Rio

  1. “Cupid Shuffle” // Cupid

  1. “YMCA” // Village People

  1. “Electric Boogie (Electric Slide)” // Marcia Griffiths

  1. “Hokey Pokey”

  1. “Wobble” // V.I.C.

  1. “Happy” // Pharrell Williams

  1. “Shout” // Isley Brothers

  1. “Love Shack” // The B-52's

  1. “We Are Family” // Sister Sledge

  1. “Blurred Lines” // Robin Thicke

  1. “Celebration” // Kool & The Gang

  1. Cotton Eye Joe” // Rednex

  1. “Dancing Queen” // ABBA

  1. “Don’t Stop Believin’” // Journey

  1. “Single Ladies” // BeyoncÉ

  1. “Sweet Caroline” // Neil Diamond

  1. “Turn Down for What” // DJ Snake & Lil Jon

  1. “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” // SilentÓ

  1. “Hot in Herre” // Nelly

  1. “Mony Mony” // Billy Idol

  1. “All About That Bass” // Meghan Trainor

  1. “Baby Got Back” // Sir Mix-a-Lot

  1. “Booti Call” // Blackstreet

  1. “Gangnam Style” // Psy

  1. “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” // Big & Rich

  1. “Stayin’ Alive” // Bee Gees

  1. “Sweet Home Alabama” // Lynyrd Skynyrd

  1. “Uptown Funk” // Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars

  1. “Wagon Wheel” // Nathan Carter

  1. “What Do You Mean?” // Justin Bieber

  1. “All of Me” // John Legend

  1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” // Queen

  1. “Brown Eyed Girl” // Van Morrison

  1. “Call Me Maybe” // Carly Rae Jepsen

  1. “Footloose” // Kenny Loggins

  1. “Get Low” // Lil Jon

  1. “Hey Ya!” // Outkast

  1. “Hotline Bling” // Drake

  1. “I Will Survive” // Gloria Gaynor

  1. “My Heart Will Go On” // CÉline Dion

  1. “SexyBack” // Justin Timberlake

  1. “Shake It Off” // Taylor Swift

  1. “Sugar” // Maroon 5

  1. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” // Bonnie Tyler

  1. “You Shook Me All Night Long” // AC/DC

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