Insistent Terminology / Live-Action TV

  • Angel: In Wesley's first Angel appearance, he wants to make sure everyone knows that he's a rogue demon hunter.
    Cordelia: What's a rogue demon?
    • Another Wesley example—in earlier seasons, he always answered his phone, "Wyndam-Pryce." But after he took multiple levels in badass, he apparently decided his full last name was too formal and switched to answering calls with "Pryce here." He's not exactly insistent about it, so it's a pretty minor example, nevertheless the change does seem to be deliberate.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Thor's not just handsome, he's dreamy, according to Skye and May.
    • In "F.Z.Z.T," it's not a vaccine it's an anti-serum. Which is technically correct; a vaccine works to prevent infection, and is useless for treatment, while an anti-serum is used to treat an active infection.
    • In Season 3, Skye has started going by her real name: Daisy. Coulson is the only one who is having trouble remembering to call her that, and is corrected by other characters often.
  • America's Next Top Model: Want to know what really ticks Tyra off? Calling it a "season" instead of a "cycle." Others don't have this problem.
  • Arrested Development: "ILLUSIONS, Michael." A trick is something a whore does for money...(upon seeing children watching him)or cocaine!
    • Though, funnily enough, near the end of the series the shadowy pimp Michael is talking to reveals himself to be GOB when he talks about his girls "turning illusions", hinting that there's really no reason besides forced eccentricity.
  • Babylon 5: In the fourth season the Centauri emperor complains about his Pain Technicians. They used to be called Torturers, but ever since they got organized it's Pain Technicians.
  • Batman: It is always "Stately Wayne Manor". Always.
    Suzy Knickerbocker: Oh, I don't know, Boy Wonder, I hear millionaire Bruce Wayne is really one of the hippies. All that marvelous money and fantastic Wayne Manor.
    Batman: Stately Wayne Manor.
    • There is one exception: In "Penguin's a Fink" it is just called Wayne Manor.
      • In "Fine Finny Friends"/"Batman Makes the Scenes", even the surveillance camera monitor for stately Wayne Manor is labelled "Stately Wayne Manor".
  • The Big Bang Theory
    • Sheldon is not a rocket scientist. He's a theoretical physicist! Also, Sheldon takes great pains to point out that his team t-shirt spells "The Wesley Crushers" (Those Who Crush Wesley) and not "The Wesley Crushers" (Multiple People Named Wesley Crusher). Dr. Sheldon Cooper would also have you know that he's not crazy; his mother had him tested. She later confirms this (...though she should have followed-up with that specialist in Houston). Sheldon also does not play "pranks"; he subjects people to his classic pranks.
      • He also prefers it when accurate terms are used. One of the more notable things he prefers is to refer to sexual intercourse as 'coitus', probably to separate it from sex as in 'male or female'. (Note: Coitus actually strictly refers to heterosexual intercourse in which a vagina is penetrated by a penis and nothing else so calling any other type of sex this is inaccurate).
    • Repeated reminders that Howard does not have a doctorate
      "Doctor Gablehauser"
      "Doctor Koothrappali"
      "Doctor Gablehauser"
      "Doctor Hofstadter"
      "Doctor Gablehauser"
      "Doctor Cooper"
      "Doctor Gablehauser"
      "Mister Wolowitz"
    • Also Howard would like to point out that he does not live with his mother. She lives with him.
    • Confusingly defied when Amy, at one point, calls The Doctor "Doctor Who" and Sheldon didn't correct her which, given his obsessive, compulsive, tendencies in every other scene in the show, is a bit out of character for him. The writers had an easy out to have the uninitiated in the audience know the difference for future episodes, yet they didn't take it.
  • Blake's 7: Arlen, when it is revealed that she was a mole in Blake's new non-organization, corrects Tarrant when he concludes that she is "A Federation agent". She abruptly insists on "Federation Officer". This distinction is also used in real life government miliatry/intelligence organizations where, for example, an actual card-carrying member of the CIA is an officer, not an agent. He recruits (or turns) civilians and outsiders to act as his agents, spies, assassins or moles.
  • Boardwalk Empire: Dr. Narcisse always refers to any black people as "Libyans". As he spends quite a bit of time proselytizing about the plight of his fellow "Libyans" the term gets used a lot.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Hank is not collecting "rocks," he's collecting "minerals." Because rocks are aggregations of minerals, Hank is apparently collecting samples of single-mineral crystals.
    • Walt isn't a meth dealer, he's a meth manufacturer.
  • On Cheers, when Sam finally reveals to Carla the deep, dark secret that he's losing his hair, he quickly corrects her; he's not wearing a wig, he's using a "hair replacement system."
  • In the Corner Gas episode "Tax Man", Canada Customs and Revenue agent Marvin Drey takes offense to being called "the tax man", finding it dehumanizing. He's a tax man, thank you very much.
    • In "Rock On!", Emma insists that the Nanaimo bars she has made not be called as such, since they were not made in Nanaimo. Instead they are "Nanaimo-style Saskatchewan bars".
  • In Criminal Minds, Dr. Spencer Reid would like you to know that he has an *eidetic* memory, not a photographic memory. Also, during the first few seasons, some of his team members are very insistent that he be referred to as "doctor", although that had more to do with the fact that he was in his early 20's and looked fifteen at the time than with anything else.
  • Detectorists: The devices are metal detectors, the people who use them are detectorists... and they will correct you if you get that wrong.
  • In Devious Maids, Julia is a chef, NOT a cook. The difference? $60.000 in tuition. And a hat.
  • Doctor Who
    • In the 2007 Christmas special, Bannakaffalatta, a red-skinned, spikey alien cyborg, takes it personally when the Doctor tries to call him "Banna".
    • The Doctor in general is rather insistent that he borrowed the TARDIS, not stole it. Meanwhile, the TARDIS herself insists that she stole him.
    • The Doctor's moniker is "The Doctor", not "Doc", and definitely not "Doctor Who" (despite one on-air mention in "The War Machines").
      • Steven Taylor, one of the First Doctor's Companions, would often call him "Doc". The Doctor would demand that Steven call him by his proper name.
      • That being said, both in and out of universe, the character's name is "The Doctor," or just "Doctor," not "Doctor Who." That is the question that is asked in most, if not every, episode at some point in the show and is the biggest mystery of it, however. You'd think that'd be known to the fanbase enough that most would agree. No. Comment on any Facebook fanpage, or any YouTube video where the name's said, or written, otherwise and watch as many people will reply as to how it doesn't matter if you call him, and not the show, "Doctor Who," despite the character never calling himself that except in a cheeky fourth wall throwaway line every so often, the credits for the classic series being wrong, and every other instance of people involved with the show calling him that being wrong. You'll have a lot of people arguing it doesn't matter when it does. When the character himself has made the correction in-universe, it matters. It's also confusing to outsiders or newbies who don't know the difference.
      • Avidly discussed not only in fandom but behind the scenes as well. Andrew Cartmel's biography of his time as Doctor Who script editor describes the auditions for the Seventh Doctor, including a moment in which Janet Fielding, who was standing in as a companion, was overheard explaining "It's not his name" to one of the candidates. Later, Russell T. Davies's insistence that the Ninth Doctor be billed in the credits as "Doctor Who" out of nostalgia (since the first four Doctors had been billed that way), caught a lot of flack from terminology-insistent fans; this was permanently reversed when Ten came on board in the second series.
      • Similarly, Ace refers to the Seventh Doctor as "Professor", which, like "Doc", often irked the Doctor.
      • When Missy is pretending to be the Doctor, she refers to herself as "Doctor Who." Bill corrects her, but Missy says that when the Doctor first left Gallifrey he called himself "Doctor Who," only to change it when he decided that just "the Doctor" was better. Knowing Missy, she could have been trolling, but the Doctor doesn't deny it.
    • The classic series has 26 seasons. The revival's first series, which being a continuation should have started with season 27, instead starts with series 1. Most British shows would refer to a season as a series, so why classic Doctor Who called them seasons is a mystery.
    • In "The Girl Who Waited", Older Amy insists on calling everything what it is. "Sonic screwdriver" is too whimsical. It's a probe. Also, useful as it is, she doesn't want to be reminded of the Doctor.
      • It's occasionally implied that the Doctor does this too, if in reverse. He actually has a sonic probe, he just likes calling it a sonic screwdriver.
  • On Dollhouse:
    Topher: He seemed to be having a kind of...man-reaction.
    Claire: Victor had an erection?
    Topher: I prefer man-reaction.
  • Done repeatedly on El Chavo del ocho.
    Doña Florinda:This is your great job? Balloon seller?.
    Don Ramon: I'm not a balloon seller, I'm a dealer specializing in folkloric articles for child consumption.
  • MKnote  Miri Regev once angrily insisted that a leader of the Israeli Occupy movement address her as ‘MK Miri Regev’ on a televised debate to establish herself as her superior. Israeli satire show Eretz Nehederet parodied her as a Hair-Trigger Temper and somewhat poor in sense, making her fly into a blind rage whenever someone omitted the ‘MK’ part, taking a second before noticing when the show’s host didn’t omit it, and at one point flying off the handle when telling him about how she once looked into the mirror and said to herself, ‘Miri... MEMBER OF THE KNESSET MIRI!!’
  • On Everybody Loves Raymond, Robert is gored by a bull, and a Running Gag is made of his insisting that he was injured in the "upper thigh." This finally snaps when he confronts the bull again. "You chased me down, and you gored me. RIGHT IN THE ASS!"
  • On Finding Carter, the titular character is insistent on being referred to as "Carter" (as opposed to her birth name of "Lyndon") and others referring to her biological mother as "Elizabeth" (even Elizabeth's two other children). This is to show her affiliation to the woman she regards as her actual mother, who kidnapped her when she was three.
  • Friends: "WE WERE ON A BREAK!!"
  • In Get Smart, when Max calls the Chinese ultra-villain 'The Craw', the villain corrects him in a proper Chinese ultra-villain accent, "No, not da Craw, da Craw!"
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Remember that Ser Davos Seaworth used to be a smuggler in the old rebellion days, not in any way a thief or a pirate though the distinction is lost on people like Stannis. When the Iron Bank refers to him as a thief, he counters "I didn't do the thieving. I just moved what they [the pirates] stole from one place to another."
      Davos: I was never a pirate, I was a smuggler.
      Shireen: What's the difference?
      Davos: Well, if you're a famous smuggler, you're not doing it right.
      Shireen: My father says a criminal is a criminal.
      Davos: Your father lacks an appreciation for the finer points of bad behavior.
    • Joffrey feels the need to remind everyone he is king. Tywin points out that a true leader would never feel such a need.
    • "Reek, Reek, I'm Reek."
    • "Not a queen, a Khaleesi" — Daenerys Targaryen. "I'm a Khaleesi(!), no' a queen, for fuck's sake mate." — Emilia Clarke.
    • Brienne is no "Lady". And you know what, she's also not a knight (since women can't officially be knights, even though she has the skill of one and adheres to the knightly code of honor better than most).
  • Guerrilla: Marcus is upset that their Black Army Faction is called the "Bishop-Mitre Gang", after Dhari and Jas, saying it's not just about them. This is an obvious reference to the Red Army Faction, commonly known then as the Baader-Meinhof Gang.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Offred's boss in the flashback says all his female employees are being "let go", not "fired". In the present time she's beaten by Aunt Lynda because she calls Ofglen "gay", not "gender traitor".
  • Barney from How I Met Your Mother is constantly insisting to others (including Ted) that he is Ted's best friend instead of Marshall.
  • How Not To Live Your Life: Jackson doesn't play songs, he plays melody/word formations.
  • In the French series Kaamelott:
    • King Arthur (son of Pendragon and Ygerne) and Anna of Tintagel (daughter of Gorlay and Ygerne) always correct anybody calling them either brother/sister with "half-brother/half-sister". They once said it simultaneously. As her husband Loth can attest, Anna can get violent if you forget the "half-" part.
    • Also, during the whole "Livre V", as Arthur has renounced the throne, he keeps correcting anybody calling him "Sire".
  • In Keeping Up Appearances, Hyacinth insists on her last name, Bucket, being pronounced Bu-Kay.
  • Killjoys: The people who work for the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition are "Reclamation Agents", not "bounty hunters" or "killjoys", thank you very much.
  • In the early seasons of Law & Order, EADA Ben Stone insisted on calling people "sir" or "ma'am". The more he disliked you, the more polite he got.
    Ian O'Connell: May I ask you a question, sir? How with the map of Donegal on your mug did you ever end up with a name like Stone?
    Stone: Happenstance, sir. Same way you ended up with the name of a real Irish patriot.
  • This is used as a Running Gag in the season two premiere of Legends of Tomorrow, some characters refer to a particular weapon of mass destruction as an "atomic bomb", while Albert Einstein keeps insisting that it is a "nuclear bomb".
  • On Leverage, Eliot—for whom food is very much Serious Business—gets quite upset when Hardison keeps referring to the "culinary institute" they're infiltrating as a "cooking school."
  • In the alternate timeline in the sixth season of Lost, Ben Linus likes to be called Dr. Linus. He's actually a doctor of history.
  • In Mad Dogs, Rick is NOT an accountant; he's a Financial Consultant.
  • Magnum, P.I.: The title character is not a "private eye", he's a "private investigator".
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Never call Ferdinand Von Zeppelin's flying machine a "Balloon". "Eet is not a BALLOON!! Eet is an AIRSHIP! An AIRSHIP!! You vant to play wis balloons, GET OUTSIDE!!"
    • No no, it's spelled Raymond Luxury Yacht, but it's pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove!
    • S. Frog, sir.
    • "Mrs. Anne Elk." "Miss." She even verbally puts it in brackets.
  • On Mystery Science Theater 3000, one of these (see Real Life below) was used as a running gag in seasons 3-4: Whenever Joel referred to "comic books" the bots would take offense and insist on the term "graphic novels."
  • Newhart: When Michael admits to his boss that he had stolen an idea for the TV show from a student in his production class...
    Bev: "You stole his idea?"
    Michael: "According to his lawyer, it was 'unlawful approximation'."
  • Nuremberg: During Justice Jackson's questioning of Hermann Goering, he presents the memorandum in which Goering ordered Reinhard Heydrich to organize the Holocaust, i.e. the Final Solution. Goering protests that the proper translation is "Total Solution", completely ignoring that it's an order for genocide either way.
  • The Office
    • Gareth Keenan and his American counterpart Dwight Schrute constantly refer to themselves as "Assistant Regional Manager," prompting nearby employees to insist, "Assistant to the Regional Manager," a much less impressive and largely meaningless title.
    • There's also Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration. He's even introduced this way by the pastor at his wedding.
  • On Orphan Black, Allison is initially very resistant to the "C-word" (not that one) so they're "genetic identicals."
  • Memetic mutation has done this to Dr. K of Power Rangers RPM. It's Bio-Armor, not spandex!
    Dr. K: The material is a self-assembling nanofiber formed with an inter-cellular shape memory alloy.
    • Not just memetic mutation, as it's cropped up again a few episodes after the first incident. Schoolkids on a field trip get a Q&A session with the Rangers, and K has to be restrained when the S-word comes up.
    • Dr. K is very insistent on terminology. During the Q&A session she holds with her Series Operators in the beginning of "Ranger Blue", Scott asks her about the eyes in front of their Zords. She tells them that they are not eyes, but that they are actually optical field scanning sensors for their cockpit's displays. But, of course, this doesn't go around the fact that...
    Dillon: They look like eyes!
    Ziggy: Big, googly anime eyes.
  • One of the first things Ned in the pilot of Pushing Daisies says is that the people he brings back to life are not zombies or undead, merely "alive again".
  • Red Dwarf:' A simulant is not an android. There are key distinctions. For one, an android would never rip off a person's head and spit down their neck.
  • Rizzoli & Isles:
    • Bass is a tortoise, not a turtle.
  • Scrubs
    • There is an employee who is noted for resembling Snoop Dogg who is very insistent on making sure everyone knows his title, making sure nobody calls him Snoop Dogg Intern when he becomes Snoop Dogg Attending and so on. Although he wishes that, just once, someone would just call him Ronald.
    • The Janitor objects to his uniform being called a jumpsuit (or, more usually, being referred to as "Jumpsuit" himself). "It's a shirt and pants. Who wears a belt with a jumpsuit?"
  • In Sherlock, Holmes is not a psychopath. He's a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research!
    • And he seems to use the phrase "I didn't know, I saw" Once an Episode.
    • John apparently seemed to tell Wiggins that his broken arm was a "sprain" and said "I'm a doctor. I know how to sprain people."
  • Green Grove from The Sopranos is a retirement community, not a nursing home.
  • In one episode of Special Unit 2 they were trying to catch a djinn before she could grant her 3000th wish and be free. To do this, their resident gearhead created a capturing device:
    Jonathan [describes the device, using terms involving sucking and a storage bag]
    O'Malley: So you created a vacuum cleaner.
    Jonathan: It's not a vacuum cleaner.
    Captain: [enters scene] Have you finished briefing Benson and O'Malley on the vacuum cleaner?
  • There's also "adult film actress" instead of "porn star" in Sports Night, also by Aaron Sorkin.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Senator Robert Kinsey tries to smugly comment on Thor's presence and refers to him as "Commander," only for Thor to restate that he is Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet. Kinsey does it again when he meets Bra'tac, referring to him as "mister," whereupon SG1 explains that it is Master Bra'tac.
  • On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Mr. Data is an "artificial life form" or "android", not a "robot"
    • And his name is pronounced "Dayta", not "Datta".
    • It is a cellular peptide cake...with mint frosting.
  • In an example from one of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Ferengi episodes, the good guy Ferengi repeatedly have to correct people who refer to "Grand Nagus Brunt" by insisting that they call him "Acting Grand Nagus Brunt".
  • The Defiant-class of ships are not warships, because Starfleet does not have warships. They are heavy escorts. That get sent far away from anything escortable to blow up Borg cubes. Because Starfleet doesn't have warships. ''Heavy. Escorts.''
  • In Still Standing, Bill once took Tina to a bar. Bill then, every time it's mentioned, adds, "AND GRILLE!".note 
  • Supernatural: Samuel Winchester is insistent that his name is "Sam", not "Sammy", but has trouble convincing his older brother of this.
    • Note that anyone else who calls him "Sammy" has a tendency to die shortly thereafter. After all, "[Dean]'s the only one who gets to call [him] that."
    • The leader of the Leviathans isn't Richard Roman, he's Dick. He even makes a point of correcting people on this.
  • Teen Wolf:
    • According to Stiles, Lydia's hair is not merely red, it is strawberry-blonde.
    • Scott and Jackson are CO-captains of the lacrosse team.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the Terminators insist on being called cyborgs, rather than robots.
  • Fabio Viviani from Top Chef season 5. After a judge called his filet mignon sandwich "essentially a cheesesteak", he went on to declare, "It's a filet mignon sandwich. Not a cheesesteak."
  • The Two Ronnies were two comedians who did a lot of work together, but they were not a double act.
  • On Veronica Mars, Cassidy Casablancas is always referred to as "Beaver". In the season 2 finale he finally snaps, yelling "MY NAME IS CASSIDY!" Lampshaded since Veronica Mars calls him Cassidy (and whenever she calls him Beaver, she corrects herself).
  • Warehouse 13 is located in UH-niville, not YOU-niville. This is because the "Un" in Univille is short for "unincorporated."
  • The West Wing, thanks to its focus on the arcana and minutia of politics, encounters this quite often.
    • For example, in episode 1x08, "Enemies", Sam Seaborne is roped into writing a birthday message for the Secretary of Transportation. That he is staggeringly overqualified for this minor assignment is emphasized throughout.
    Josh: What're you guys working on?
    Toby: It's a birthday card.
    Sam: Actually, it's a birthday message.
    • Sam Seaborn's friend Laurie is a "call girl", not a "prostitute". It's an important distinction, Toby.
    • And don't disrespect the president.
      Hoynes: I have had it up to here with you and your pal.
      Leo: Excuse me....Are you referring to President Bartlet?
      Hoynes: Yes.
      Leo: Refer to him that way.
    • Legislative uses tends to come in two flavors:
      • Names that simplify or brand the issue so as to make it hard to oppose, such as the real-life "death taxnote " or Annabeth reframing the alternative to Charlie's poverty assistance plan a "poverty/poor tax."
      • Names that are obfuscatingly wordy so as to make them easier to oppose, like the "Comprehensive Access and Responsibility Act" for the Patients' Bill of Rights. (The Republicans agreed to discuss changing the name back.)
  • In White Collar, criminals always remember to say "allegedly" after anyone mentions any crime they have committed and/or been charged with, but not been convicted for.
    • Also, Neal objects to being called Mr. Caffrey. And Cheekbones.
  • Brilliant cop Lester Freamon of The Wire is very insistent about the amount of time he spent banished in the pawn shop unit—thirteen years and four months. Every time someone mentions his thirteen years there, Lester adds "and four months" in a way that makes it clear he begrudges every second of it.
  • On Workaholics, the guys frequently smoke pot, and are fine with calling it pot or weed. In one episode though, they insist on calling it "grass", correcting Karl when he calls it weed. By the end of the episode, Karl and the guys are together again, and Karl offers to smoke grass. But now they call it "dro." For the most part on the show, the terms are interchangeable.
    • The guys are also not "bros", they prefer to call themselves brajs, sometimes brojs. Which fits, since while they're similar to traditional bros, they are their own animal.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/InsistentTerminology/LiveActionTV