Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?” If Ol’ Bill was a Hollywood screenwriter during the ’80s, he might’ve mused, “What’s in a nickname?” Any ’80s movie worth its popped-collar and feathered hair had at least one character with a great nickname. In celebration of IFC’s ’80s Weekend, we compiled a list of some of our favorites.
1. Maverick and Goose, Top Gun
Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) and Lt. JG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) are not only best friends — they’re the best pilots aboard the USS Enterprise, which is why they’re sent to the Top Gun school. Maverick, as his codename suggests, is a total hotheaded risk taker while Goose tends to be a bit more cautious and protective. During the ’80s, Maverick and Goose had one of the all-time great movie bromances, inspiring a loving feeling that even the Righteous Brothers couldn’t lose.
2. Baby, Dirty Dancing
“That was the summer of 1963 –- when everybody called me Baby, and it didn’t occur to me to mind.” So says 17-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) at the beginning of Dirty Dancing. Baby begins the summer as an idealistic and naïve young woman who has her eyes opened to the ways of the world by working class dance instructor/eye candy Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) and the summer staff of Kellerman’s. By the end of her sexy, ballroom dancing-filled, coming-of-age in the Catskills, it’s safe to say she’s definitely outgrown her Baby nickname.
3. Duckie, Pretty in Pink
Philip F. Dale, better known to the students of his high school as “Duckie,” is actually quite the odd duck. From his bolo ties and dirty white “Duckman” loafers (which all the hipsters in Brooklyn are now wearing) to his pompadour hair and love for Otis Redding, Duckie never tries to fit in with the in-crowd. Like his avian counterpart, Duckie seems to be floating through life and school, much to best gal pal Andie’s chagrin, but he doesn’t let much ruffle his proverbial feathers except guys named after appliances who try to date the object of his affections.
4. Mouth, Chunk, Sloth, and Data, The Goonies
HEY YOU GUUUUUYS! There are two kinds of people in the world: those who say “die” and Goonies. Our favorite ragtag band of adolescent adventurers from Astoria, Oregon all have totally killer, perfect nicknames. Mouth (Corey Feldman) has a smartass comment for everything even in Spanish. Chunk (Jeff Cohen) enjoys making fake vomit and eating pepperoni pizza. Sloth (John Matuszak) is a little slow-moving, but knows how to make a dashing Errol Flynn-style entrance. Data (Ke Huy Quan) builds pretty nifty booby traps. Mikey (Sean Astin), Brand (Josh Brolin), Stef (Martha Plimpton) and Andy (Kerri Green) round out the precocious gang who managed to steal both our hearts AND One-Eyed Willie’s treasure in this 1985 cult classic. Fratellis, watch out!
5. Indiana Jones
Scruffy archeology professor/adventure-seeker, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is usually the one unearthing secrets, so it came as a bit of a shock when it was revealed Indiana is not his real first name. At the end of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Henry Jones, Sr. (a playful Sean Connery) reveals that Indy’s name is Henry Jones, Jr. after loyal pal Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) keeps asking, “What does it always mean, this ‘‘Junior’?” The punchline is that our dashing, Nazi butt-kicking hero took his nickname from none other than his scrappy childhood dog. Awww puppy love looks good on you, Indy, erm, Henry!
6. Stiles, Teen Wolf
Enterprising teen Rupert “Stiles” Stilinski (Jerry Levine) never met a sarcastic/slightly offensive T-shirt he didn’t love. When he’s not sartorially expressing himself, he’s being the life of the party or running some scheme to make a little fast cash, capitalizing on best friend Scott’s (Michael J. Fox) werewolf alter-ego in every way he can. Whether van surfing with Scott, trying to get a keg for a party, or cracking wise, Stiles always does everything in style.
7. Rat, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Inexperienced Ridgemont High nerd Rat (Brian Backer) is head over heels for popular Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), but he lacks the skills and social status to land her, i.e. he’s pretty far down the high school food chain. Like the mammal with whom he shares his nickname, Rat spends a lot of time in the dark both literally (he works at a movie theatre in the mall) and figuratively (fumbling his way through his feelings for Stacy), even nervously scurrying away from Stacy’s advances with his tail between his legs, so to speak. Rat definitely gets picked on, but he has a biting sense of humor about pretty much everything.
8. Pee Wee, Porky’s
The most desperate of his group of friends to lose his virginity, Pee Wee concocts plan after plan to “become a man,” all of which fail miserably. Definitely the runt of the litter, so to speak, Pee Wee is often the butt of everyone’s jokes. And since this is a raunchy sex comedy where guys drop trou fairly often, we probably don’t have to explain what Pee Wee’s nickname REALLY refers to.
9. Snake, Escape from New York
Forget what you heard — Snake Plissken (full name: S.D. Bob Plissken) is DEFINITELY not dead. And if there’s anyone we’d trust with the survival of the human race and the rescue of the President, it’s the former Special Forces war hero turned criminal with the badass eyepatch and cobra tattoo on his abdomen. With a sharp tongue and killer instincts, Snake always manages to slither his way out of the worst situations (like being injected with explosives that will kill him in 22 hours if he doesn’t complete his mission). Oh, and somehow he does it all without ever wrecking his perfectly-coiffed hair. Consider us jealoussssssssss, Ssssnake!
With a name like Marion Cobretti, it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to go into a line of work that involves bashing heads and blowing away creeps. As played by Sylvester Stallone in the over-the-top 1986 action movie that shares his name, “Cobra” lives up to his nickname by being coldblooded when it comes to dispensing justice to any perp who gets in his way.