“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare inquired of his audiences. A great deal, apparently, considering the amount of thought that has traditionally gone into what names are bestowed upon fictional characters. A great name is meant to completely fit the character, to roll off the tongue in a way that fully evokes their personality, appearance or importance. Severus Snape perfectly encapsulates the sullen, sneering superiority of the Hogwarts Potions professor, while Keyzer Soze is an arresting, mysterious name for the devilish criminal at the center of The Usual Suspects, to give two examples of many (my personal favorites: Pussy Galore, Freddy Krueger and Chev Chelios).
However, sometimes what isn’t said on screen can make just as much of an impact as what is. Some movie characters are simply never given names, in direct contrast with our society’s considerable focus on immediate identification of ourselves and others (if you don’t believe me, think about how much time we spend on social media these days). Not giving a character a name often helps to accentuate an aura of mystery surrounding them, while other nameless characters are intended symbolically to represent the ‘Everyman.’ It’s a tribute to the screenwriters, directors and actors responsible for the films on this list that the following fictitious individuals are still remarkably memorable – even if we still don’t know quite what to call them.
Read on, as we count off five of the best nameless protagonists in cinematic history.
WARNING: The following list contains spoilers.