In this article, I examine the first names of 190 characters from nine novels by Theodor Fontane. On the one hand, Fontane gives his characters first names that were used by the different sections of the German population in the late 19th century, thus increasing the realistic features of his figures. Characters belonging to the nobility often bear old German first names (e.g. Botho, Dagobert, Kurt, Woldemar; Armgard, Adelheid, Ermyntrud) or names of French origin like Pierre, Luise, Manon, Cécile, whereas characters belonging to the lower classes bear short forms of common names (e.g. Lena, Lina, Stine, Susel, Thilde). On the other hand, Fontane also gives his characters unusual names, which, especially together with their surnames, aim at producing a comic effect (e.g. Alonzo Gieshübler, Hannibal Kuh, Niels Wrschowitz). However, on the whole such unrealistic names only play a minor role in Fontane’s novels so that his choice of first names can be regarded as realistic.