History of John Doe

The names “John Doe” for males and “Jane Doe” or “Jane Roe” for females are used as placeholder names for a party whose true identity is unknown or must be withheld in a legal action, case, or discussion. The names are also used to refer to a corpse or hospital patient whose identity is unknown. This practice is widely used in the United States and Canada, but is rarely used in other English-speaking countries including the United Kingdom itself, from where the use of “John Doe” in a legal context originates. The name Joe Bloggs is used in the UK instead,[citation needed] as well as in Australia and New Zealand.

John Doe is sometimes used to refer to a typical male in other contexts as well, in a similar manner as John Q. Public, Joe Public or John Smith. For example, the first name listed on a form is often John Doe, along with a fictional address or other fictional information to provide an example of how to fill out the form. The name is also used frequently in popular culture, for example in the Frank Capra film Meet John Doe. John Doe was also the name of a 2002 American television series.

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