Created By: SparkyLurkdragon on May 23, 2011 Last Edited By: SparkyLurkdragon on May 27, 2011
Troped

A Dog Named Dog

When an character, usually an animal, is named after what it is.

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Trope
IMMANENT LAUNCH AS A DOG NAMED DOG.

Some completely uncreative owner has decided the family pet will be known as Dog. Or, perhaps, a similarly creative author names their feline character Kitty. Alternately, the creature in question does have a less Shaped Like Itself name, but for whatever reason, Alice the Pig prefers to go as Piggy. Usually but not always applied to animals; robots imaginatively named Robot and the like are part of this trope, too. Remarkably common in children's shows, despite the obvious problems it should theoretically cause.

One might show a touch more flair by naming something what it is in a foreign language, like a lion named Leo. A common subversion is to name something it's not, eg. a dog named Platypus.

A subtrope of Shaped Like Itself and Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Pokémon Speak is a closely-related trope where something's named for the sound it makes. Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" is another closely-related trope where a character is only known by their job title. See also Species Surname ("Dog Smith" is A Dog Named "Dog", "Bob T. Dog" is Species Surname), Namedar.

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]] [[folder:Anime and Manga]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • Farmer Hogget names Babe Pig for the sheep-herding competition. Everyone's in stitches, thinking it's a dog named Pig, until he actually shows up.
    • Also applies to the name "Babe" itself. According to Babe, it's what his mother called all her children; that is, she called her babes Babe.
  • Draco the dragon in Dragonheart. Given a droll lampshading: "So instead of calling me 'Dragon' in your tongue, you'll call me 'Dragon' in some other tongue?"
  • Jake's dog in Big Jake is named Dog.
  • Played with in Terminator 2, where the dog's real name is Max, but the name Wolfy is used as a identity check.
  • E.T. the extraterrestrial.
  • A rare human example: Kid the kid in Dick Tracey. By the end of the film he chooses the name "Dick Tracy Jr." but is still called "Kid" out of habit.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In The Princess Bride, Buttercup's horse is named Horse.
  • Raptor Red: The titular character - a Utahraptor of the Red-Snout species - comes from a species with no names or real language, so the author gives her this nickname for reference. Other characters have similar "names" like "Raptor Red's sister" and "the old dactyl".
  • Winnie-the-Pooh: Piglet, Owl, and Rabbit. Played with via mother and joey kangaroo pair Kanga and Roo, and narrowly averted with Tigger.
  • The Wind in the Willows - Mole, Rat and Badger. Mr. Toad himself is a borderline case between this and Species Surname; we're not sure if he has a forename or not.
  • The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness features a wolf called Wolf.
  • Shows up in The Island Of The Blue Dolphins, where the protagonist calls the wolf she has tamed Rontu, which means "wolf" in her language.
  • In The Animals of Farthing Wood, the Farthing Wood animals are all called by what animal they are such as Fox, Owl, and Badger; animals in the past, when things were more plentiful, had names like Lean Fox. But when we meet more animals, they're given different names of their own.
  • In Breakfast at Tiffany's, Holly Golightly's cat is simply called Cat.
  • A rare human example, from The Jungle Book: Mowgli the man-cub's nickname is Man-Cub.
  • Earth's Children: Ayla adopts a wolf pup and names it Wolf. In-Universe it's an Unbuilt Trope, though, since it's virtually unknown for people to have pets in that world.
  • Adam's dog in Good Omens: "I'll call him Dog. Saves a lot of trouble, a name like that."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Television]]
  • Inspector Columbo had a basset hound named Dog.
  • On The Closer, Brenda simply calls her inherited cat Kitty.
  • Sesame Street: Big Bird. Lampshaded in the episode "Roy".
  • The Muppets: Miss Piggy.
  • The Polka Dot Door: Most of the toys have real names, but the teddy bear is just called Bear. The Polkaroo is either this or Pokémon Speak.
  • Every character in WordWorld. Which makes a certain amount of sense, since most objects in WordWorld are made of the letters that spell what it is.
  • ALF's real name is Gordon Shumley, but his Earth name ALF is actually an abbreviation of Alien Life Form.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
  • Lampshaded in El Goonish Shive, though it's only used partially and only for some of the animal-people. The 'brothers' of Grace, animalistic shape-shifters, are Guineas (A guinea pig), Hedge (a hedgehog) and Vlad (a bat... sorta). The kicker is when Elliot, temporarily transformed into a cat-person, is caught and interrogated by Damien.
    Damien: Now, what is your name?
    Elliot: Um, well, what with me being a cat and all... Cat?
    Damien: All of you animal-people have horrible names.
  • A character in Sinfest is a dog named Pooch. Monique lampshades the absurdity, furiously asking Pooch's owner if he'd name her "Girl".
  • The robot from Zap!'s real name is a series of letters and numbers. Zap can't remember it, so he redubs him to Robot.
  • In Rusty and Co., two of the main characters are a Mimic named Mimic and a Gelatinous Cube named Gelatinous Cube.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • The main character in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is usually called "Mustang" until he gets properly named at the end.
  • Catdog is about a cat named Cat and a dog named Dog who were born fused together.
  • George of the Jungle's best friend is an ape called Ape.
  • Simba the lion in The Lion King, getting his name from Swahili.
  • The entire cast of The Brave Little Toaster.
  • In Shrek, there's the character Donkey. Guess what kind of animal he is; go on, guess. There's also Puss in Boots, a kitty cat who wears shoes with ankles.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
  • The first living being in space was a Russian dog named Laika, Russian for "dog."
  • Common name for a male kangaroo, when named as a joey: Joey.
  • Common name for a tomcat: Tom.
  • Common name for a billy goat: Billy.
  • It's not uncommon for children to have imaginary friends or plush animals named after what they are.
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 41
  • May 23, 2011
    ladygem
    Web Original

    • Linkara has a stuffed bear named "bear"
  • May 23, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    • Farmer Hogget names Babe "Pig". This is really funny when he enters it in the sheep herding contest and everyone things it's a dog named "Pig" until it actually shows up.
  • May 23, 2011
    MorganWick
    See also Species Surname.
  • May 24, 2011
    Duckay
    In The Princess Bride, Buttercup's horse is named Horse.
  • May 24, 2011
    IAmFoot
    The main protagonist in Footrot Flats is a dog named Dog. Oddly enough, the Anti Villain Horse is... a cat.
  • May 24, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    ^"The Dog" is what he's called in the comic. He has a "real" name that he utterly despises, and therefore never lets the audience know what it is.
  • May 24, 2011
    QuakPenguin
    • Inspector Columbo had a Basset Hound who's name is simply "Dog"
    • Catdog the titular character(s) Names are Cat and Dog
  • May 24, 2011
    JCCyC
    George Of The Jungle's best friend is an ape called Ape.
  • May 24, 2011
    Sheora
    On The Closer, Brenda simply calls her inherited cat, Kitty.
  • May 24, 2011
    Augustine
    Jake's dog in Big Jake is named Dog.
  • May 24, 2011
    BlackDragon
    Lampshaded in El Goonish Shive despite only being PARTIALLY used. The 'brothers' of Grace, animalistic shape-shifters, are Guineas (A guinea-pig), Hedge (a hedgehog) and Vlad (a bat... sorta)... the first two of those could arguably qualify for this, but the kicker is when Elliot, temporarily transformed into a cat-person, is caught and interrogated by Damien.

    Damien: Now, what is your name?
    Elliot: Um, well, what with me being a cat and all... Cat?
    Damien: All of you animal-people have horrible names.
  • May 24, 2011
    HumanaUox
    Real Life: The first living being in space was a dog named Laika, Russian for "dog."
  • May 24, 2011
    Clevomon
    In Gunslinger Girl, Angelica's dog was named Perro, or "dog" in Italian.
  • May 24, 2011
    BlueIceTea
    Examples from Literal Naming:

    • Sesame Street - Big Bird. Lampshaded in the episode "Roy.
    • Winnie The Pooh - Piglet, Owl, and Rabbit. Narrowly avoided by Kanga, Roo, and Tigger.
    • The Muppets - Miss Piggy
    • The Wind In The Willows - Mole, Rat, Badger, and Mr Toad
    • The Polka Dot Door - Most of the toys have real names, but the teddy bear is just called "Bear". Might also apply to the Polkaroo.

    Other tropers also mentioned Frog And Toad, The Animals Of Farthing Wood, and the cast of The Brave Little Toaster.
  • May 24, 2011
    Fanra
    Subverted in Terminator 2 where the dog's real name is Max but the name Wolfy is used as a identity check.
  • May 24, 2011
    LeeM
    The Chronicles Of Ancient Darkness features a wolf called Wolf.
  • May 24, 2011
    PaulA
    ^^^ Most of the examples from Literal Naming don't actually fit this trope description, which is specifically "some completely uncreative owner has decided the family pet will be known as Dog the dog".
  • May 24, 2011
    CrystalBlue
    A variation shows up in Newbery Award winning novel The Island of the Blue Dolphins, where the protagonist calls the wolf she has tamed Rontu, which means "wolf" in her language.
  • May 24, 2011
    Wackd
    • A character in Sinfest is a dog named Pooch. Monique lampshades the absurdity, furiously asking Pooch's owner whether he'd name her "Girl".
  • May 24, 2011
    octopedingenue
    Compare also Exactly What It Says On The Tin and Namedar.

    In Saiyuki, the Team Pet Jeep (AKA Hakuryuu) is a white dragon who can turn into a Jeep. Hakuryuu means "white dragon."
  • May 24, 2011
    octopedingenue
    The heroine of Princess Tutu is a duck who can turn into a human girl. Her name is Duck. Often she's still referred to by her Japanese name, Ahiru...which is the Japanese word for "Duck."
  • May 24, 2011
    hevendor717
    Every character in WordWorld. Which makes sense, sense most objects in Word World are made of the letters that spell what it is.
  • May 24, 2011
    SparkyLurkdragon
    Wasn't intended to be a strictly in-universe thing, and it doesn't have to be an animal - I've tweaked the description a little. Hell, if we can find any humans named Human, that would work - Mowgli's epithet of Man-Cub comes close, but that's more a nickname.
  • May 24, 2011
    McKathlin
    • In Dragonheart, Bowen befriends a dragon and gives him the name Draco, after a constellation that looks like a dragon. As the dragon points out, Draco is just "Dragon" in another language.
  • May 24, 2011
    peccantis
  • May 24, 2011
    TBTabby
    In Rusty and Co., two of the main characters are a Mimic named Mimic and a Gelatinous Cube named Gelatinous Cube.
  • May 25, 2011
    Darthcaliber
    In Breakfast at Tiffany's Holly Golightly's cat is simply called Cat.

    The closest thing to a human example I can think of is in the Dick Tracy film with the kid whose "name" is simply Kid. by the end of the film he chooses the name "Dick Tracy Jr." but is still called "Kid" out of habit

  • May 25, 2011
    BlueIceTea
    I like A Dog Named Dog best of all the suggested titles so far.

    A note about Mr Toad: I don't think "Toad" really counts as a surname, as there's no evidence that he even has a given name. Chances are he and the other principals in The Wind In The Willows are one-name characters. Either that, or "Rat", "Mole", and "Badger" are also surnames.
  • May 25, 2011
    Topazan

  • May 25, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Film Example: Mad Max called his dog "Dog"
  • May 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Earths Children: Ayla adopts a wolf cub and names it Wolf. In Universe it's an Unbuilt Trope though, since it's virtually unknown for people to have pets in that world.
  • May 25, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • Adam's dog in Good Omens: "I'll call him Dog. Saves a lot of trouble, a name like that."
  • May 25, 2011
    Tifforo
    Star Fox has a fox named Fox Mc Cloud, a falcon named Falco Lombardii, a toad named Slippy Toad, a hare named Peppy Hare, a wolf named Wolf, a pig named Pigma Dengar, and a cat named Katt. Anyone want to guess the panther's name?

    This troper once read a fantasy novel involving a world with so many different races and few members of each such that EVERY character's surname was their species name. There was a naga character named Nada Naga. All the humans had the surname "Human" and elves had the surname "Elf."
  • May 25, 2011
    ameliette
    In Azumanga Daioh manga, Tomo's pets are said to have the names of their species. (A hamster and a dog. I don't have the English edition so I can't be sure of how they're written.)
  • May 25, 2011
    jaytee
    I feel like a Species Forename is distinct from this (really, it would be a Ridiculously Similar Trope with Species Surname). Think about it, most of the examples of A Dog Named Dog are of pets named for what they are. Most of the Species Forename examples are Funny Animal-types with their species as a character name. Those seem to be very distinct tropes.
  • May 25, 2011
    spikebrennan
    In the animated film "Shrek", there's the character "Donkey". Guess what kind of animal he is.
  • May 25, 2011
    BlueIceTea
    The more I think about it, the more I like the title Named After Itself. It seems a bit more clever and interesting than A Dog Named Dog, while still being perfectly easy to understand.

    Under "Real Life" we should probably add that many (most? all?) children have stuffed animals with names like this. I did, for one.
  • May 25, 2011
    Sooku
    Subverted in Toaru Majutsu No Index when one of the Misaka sisters finds a stray cat. When Touma asks what she wants to name it she responds "dog".
  • May 25, 2011
    jaytee
    Oh god, if this gets titled Named For Itself and launches at the same time as Literal Naming.....

    Someone should just call the Trope Repair Shop in advance.
  • May 25, 2011
    Darthcaliber
    Should ALF count? his real name is Gordon Shumley his Earth name ALF is actually an abbreviation of Alien Life Form.
  • May 26, 2011
    BlueIceTea
    jaytee, I have no plans to launch Literal Naming. All the examples from that YKTTW thread have been transfered here.

    On a sillier note, I've got the perfect name for this trope: Trope!
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=gjr1travr445g4zapsvveifv