Morse's first name, "Endeavour", was kept a secret until the end of "Death is Now My Neighbour" (traditionally Morse claimed that he should be called "Morse" or joked that his first name was "Inspector"). In the series it is noted that his reticence about his Christian name led to a public school (Stamford School, where Colin Dexter and his brother were both pupils) nickname of "Pagan". The origin of his name is the vessel HMS Endeavour, as Morse's mother was a Quaker (Quakers have a tradition of "virtue names") and his father was a fan of Captain James Cook. The author of the Morse novels, Colin Dexter, is a fan of cryptic crosswords, and Morse is named after champion solver Jeremy Morse, one of Dexter's arch-rivals as a clue-writer in the crossword world.

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