Guess who the villain is.
When you want to use a character's name for a title
, you have several options. The most obvious choice is the hero's name
, but you could also go with a Secondary Character Title
. Or you could title it after your protagonist's primary antagonist.
Note that this does not apply to a work titled after a Villain Protagonist
(which also goes under Protagonist Title
) or to a Villain-Based Franchise
. This trope has nothing to do with morality but with role
. If there is a clear protagonist (regardless of Anti-Hero
status and/or Black and Grey Morality
), and the film/book/what-have-you they're in just happens to be titled after the person, group, or force The Hero fights against
, then it's an Antagonist Title.
Might overlap with The Namesake
if it's a vicious Genius Loci
or the villain's lair.
This is one title you do not want to mix with I Am Not Shazam
or Protagonist Title Fallacy
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Anime & Manga
- Monster: The protagonist is the angelic Tenma.
- Pokémon: The First Movie was titled Mewtwo Strikes Back.
- Puella Magi Oriko Magica. Oriko's villain status might be somewhat debatable, but she's definitely the main antagonist.
- Pluto: the protagonist is detective Gesicht, hunting down robot Serial Killer (as in a robot killer of robots) Pluto.
- Shiki: the title (literally "corpse demon") refers to the vampires.
- Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas (full title Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas - The Legend of Hades): Hades is the Big Bad and the ominous Lost Canvas is the primary tool in his Evil Plan to eradicate all life on Earth.
- Black★Rock Shooter 2012 Anime: though technically, at the point this trope becomes fully applicable, she's renamed Insane Black Rock Shooter.
- One Piece Film Z: the antagonist is simply called "Z".
- Many of the Dragon Ball Z movies, such as "Lord Slug," "Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan," "Cooler's Revenge," "The Return of Cooler," "Bojack Unbound."
- Soul Eater, according to Word of God, does not refer to its protagonist of the same name (who is actually secondary to Maka Albarn, the main heroine), but rather the story's ultimate villain, Kishin Asura, who is an eater of souls. Surely enough, Asura is referred to as the "Soul Eater" in the penultimate chapter.
- While Saki is the protagonist of her own series, Saki: Achiga-Hen, her name is in the title despite often being mentioned as an opponent the Achiga girls must face should they reach the finals.
- Doctor Mortis
- Arctic Nation is the group of white fur supremacists in the Blacksad album of the same name who serve as Blacksad's antagonists. It's eventually revealed as a subversion; the real antagonist was Jezebel, who orchestrated everything that happened to get revenge on her father.
- The Sin City comic That Yellow Bastard refers to Hartigan's antagonist, the serial killing, child molesting Roark Jr. whom he must destroy to protect Nancy. It's the form Roark ended up as after the experimental treatment his corrupt father paid for to regrow his penis.
- The Jezinkas
- The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs and The Robber Bridegroom from the Brothers Grimm's collection. Arguably Fitcher's Bird.
- Rumpelstiltskin: The titular character is an imp with whom the miller's daughter is forced to make a Deal with the Devil.
- In Russia, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra's title is translated as "Rush of the Cobra".
- Fairly common in the Horror genre, e.g. Alien, The Thing (1982), The Blob, Nosferatu, Candyman and The Mummy (1932).
- RoboCop 2 technically has an antagonist title, since the villain in question (who was created to replace RoboCop) has the same name as the film.
- From James Bond:
- Austin Powers, being a spoof of the Bond movies, used Goldmember in place of Goldfinger as the title of the third movie. Goldmember is indeed the antagonist, just not the only one.
- Hook: Peter Pan is the protagonist.
- The film adaptation of Trilby was called Svengali after the story's villain.
- Beetlejuice: The Maitlands and Lydia are the protagonists. The Maitlands were originally supposed to be who the movie was named after. Beetlejuice was chosen after the character proved to be more interesting. Still a bit of a slender example, as Michael Keaton's character's name is Betelgeuse, like the star.
- Hive Mind: Doug Trench, the last man (sort of) on Earth, is the actual protagonist.
- The Jackal: the title character is the assassin the FBI is hunting.
- Predator is named after the alien hunters (though the only time it is used in-universe is in the second movie: "Well, we've prepared a trap for this predator.").
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Khan is Captain Kirk's enemy.
- Star Trek: Nemesis. Shinzon is Picard's nemesis.
- Spaceballs. The Spaceballs are The Empire in the film.
- The Terminator is named after the now-famous killer robot who tries to kill Sarah Connor. Also the only film in the franchise to use this trope, since the later films divided the title's association between multiple Terminator models and made some of them protagonists.
- Jaws is not an example of this, although a lot of people mistakenly think it is.
- Just like Metal Gear below, The Matrix is also one that is not a character technically, but a tyrannical system the heroes set out to destroy.
- The Mummy Trilogy. Thought the third does not feature The Mummy, "Imhotep", but still adds the new mummy villain in the subtitle ("Tomb of the Dragon Emperor").
- Kill Bill. The Bride is the main character, Bill the man who tried to kill her and who is now her target.
- Hollow Man. The title refers to Caine, the turned-invisible man who became evil. It refers to him both literally (he became invisible) and figuratively (his soul is hollow).
- Zodiac, a movie about the real life Zodiac Killer.
- The title of Mean Girls refers to Regina and her lackeys; Regina is the antagonist of the film. By the end of the film, it refers to the protagonist as well.
- Kamen Rider OOO & W: Movie Wars Core. Kamen Rider Core is the Bigger Bad of the film.
- Event Horizon: The titular ship becomes alive after passing through Hell.
- Jumanji, the game, must be beaten by the protagonists before it kills them.
- Surprisingly Heat fits this trope, even though the title is about the good guys. Because the focus of the film is evenly divided between the villain (Neil) and the hero (Vincent) the title counts for this. The "heat" is a slang term for the cops, whom Neil needs to outsmart and run from to succeed in the end. It is personified in Vincent (Neil's antagonist), who eventually literally becomes the 'heat' for which Neil needs to drop everything he is attached to in 30 seconds flat to make his escape.
- The eponymous Wishmaster is of course the evil Djinn, although he's not referred to by that name until he uses it to describe himself in the second movie.
- Brutal dictator Idi Amin is The Last King of Scotland referred to in the film's title (which was a real life title he took for himself). Nick Garrigan is the protagonist.
- In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
- Der Wixxer is a German comedy where British police try to arrest the titular Wixxer, a masked supercriminal who started killing off notorious figures of the Brtish underworld. His name, for the record, sounds exactly like Wichser, which means "wanker."
- Carol Reed's The Third Man refers to Harry Lime, the villain of the piece, and not its hero, Holly Martins.
- The German, a Short Film centering on an air-to-air duel during World War II.
- The Snow Queen: Gerda is the protagonist.
- Andersen's The Shadow is also named for its antagonist.
- The Lord of the Rings: Sauron is the eponymous Lord of the Rings, fought against by the host of protagonists. I Am Not Shazam applies, and is indeed referenced in-universe when Pippin calls Frodo "Lord of the Ring" and Gandalf tells him not to Speak of the Devil.
- Note that in-universe, the title is meant to be a contraction of The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King.
- This is a major difference between the two Swedish translations, where the old one called the series Härskarringen ("The Master Ring"), and the newer one bore the title Ringarnas Herre ("The Lord of the Rings").
- Dracula: Jonathan Harker is the protagonist.
- Inkheart. While this is not the villain's actual name, it is the description of him given by his creator: "...a man whose heart was as black as ink."
- Tartuffe: Orgon is the protagonist.
- Some James Bond novels: Dr. No, Goldfinger and Colonel Sun.
- The Witches by Roald Dahl. The unnamed orphan is the protagonist.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, this trope is subverted. The prisoner is set up as a villain for the whole book, only for it to be revealed at the end that he was a good guy all along and that he had been framed by the real villain.
- Also, Half-Blood Prince ends with the Prince killing a major character and running off with Death Eaters. It's also a subversion, although that's not revealed until the next book.
- Many of the novellas about The Shadow, by Walter B. Gibson in the 1930s.
- The Phantom of the Opera: Disregarding the Draco in Leather Pants effect, Raoul and Christine are the protagonists in the original novel. Protagonist Title Fallacy applies.
- Hannibal. Though he's turned into a Villain Protagonist by that point.
- Red Dragon as well, although it's an indirect example. "Red Dragon" is actually a shorthand for the painting "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed In Sun" that figures into the plot. Francis Dolarhyde, the villain, believes himself to be representative of it, stating "I am the Great Red Dragon" and "I am the Dragon" at several points.
- Averted with Hannibal Rising, in which Vladis Grutas is the villain.
- From Stephen King:
- Moby-Dick. The protagonist is either Ahab or Ishmael, depending on interpretation.
- Scorpia is the organisation Alex Rider has to stop. Ditto Snakehead.
- The Keys to the Kingdom series features seven books, each named after one of the antagonistic Morrow Days. Subverted in Drowned Wednesday.
- The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara has a Big Bad Ensemble, and each book in the trilogy is named for the main villain it spotlights- Ilse Witch, Antrax, and Morgawr.
- Three of the Redwall series books are named for the main villain or group of villains: Marlfox, Doomwyte, and The Sable Quean.
- Some of the Discworld novels, such as Lords and Ladies (one of the "safe" names for the Elves) and Wintersmith.
- Cthulhu Mythos: The Colour Out of Space, The Dunwich Horror, The Call of Cthulhu.
- Darren Shan's The Demonata. Lord Loss, the first book in the series, also counts.
- Rebecca, despite the title character being dead.
- Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego??/Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego??: In these edutainment Game Show versions, she is the antagonist. The protagonists are the children trying to locate her and whatever she just stole.
- Extremely common with story titles in Doctor Who. For starters, there are 18 episodes bearing the word "Daleks."
- Star Trek:
- Star Trek: The Original Series:
- "Charlie X": Charlie Evans becomes a Reality Warper and goes mad with power.
- "The Enemy Within": Kirk is split into a good and an evil version. Guess which one is the enemy.
- "The Devil in the Dark": Subverted. The silicon-based Horta was killing the miners to protect its eggs. The Enterprise crew heal it and communicate with it.
- "The Doomsday Machine": It is a planet-eating machine from another Galaxy.
- "The Ultimate Computer": M-5, the computer, is a typical A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
- "The Tholian Web": The energy web is being created by the Tholians to destroy the Enterprise.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- "Skin Of Evil": The villain is a black liquid known as Armus.
- Star Trek: Voyager:
- "Warlord": Kes's mind is taken over by the warlord in question.
- "Nemesis": The episode subverts this to great effect. Chakotay crash lands on an alien planet, where he meets the human-looking Vori. They are attacked and massacred by a monstrous-looking and brutal race known as the Kradin. After seeing the Vori suffer, Chakotay develops an intense hatred for the Kradin. It turns out that it was all part of a brainwashing program by the Vori to train him as a foot soldier. The Kradin are nowhere near evil, and even helped rescue Chakotay from the Vori. The "nemesis" is in fact the Vori.
- Star Trek: Enterprise:
- "The Andorian Incident": At the end, the real villains are revealed to be the Vulcans, but the Andorians are still the antagonist for the majority of the episode.
- "Silent Enemy": The enemy is an alien ship which attacks the Enterprise.
- "Marauders": The Klingons are the antagonists.
- "The Augments": The Augments are the genetically altered humans led by Dr. Arik Soong.
- Red Dwarf has a few of these; "Queeg", "Polymorph", "The Inquisitor", "Psirens", "Legion", "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", "Emohawk: Polymorph II", and "Epideme".
- Magic: The Gathering does this a lot with sets. The last two blocks ended this way, with Rise of the Eldrazi and New Phyrexia.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
- A fairly large amount of golden age arcade games, such as Donkey Kong, Sinistar, Centipede, Space Invaders, and Qix.
- Parasite Eve is referring to the main antagonist, the sentient Mitochondria Eve.
- In Japan, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is known as ANUBIS: Zone of the Enders, which is the name of antagonist Colonel Nohman's Orbital Frame.
- Subverted in the first God of War. The Title Drop at the end makes it clear that Ares was not actually the title character, but Kratos, who takes his place.
- While technically not a character, Metal Gear is the name of the eponymous bipedal tank the player faces at the end of the most games.
- The second Solid title is called Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The historically inclined may pick it up as a reference to the actual Sons of Liberty, but the Sons of Liberty in the game are the bosses you fight.
- The third, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, is an aversion, as it refers to Snake himself (fighting the Cobra Unit), but it could also represent The Boss who eats Snake out of his naivete and his code name.
- The fourth is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, referring to the antagonist's plan and ultimate goal.
- Metroid and Metroid Prime.
- Subverted later as it turns out Metroids can be used for benevolent purposes as well. They're still dangerous when broken out of containment but as time goes on and the story has less to do with Metroids, it veers more towards Artifact Title.
- While Metroids are fearsome enemies, they're not series antagonists except in the second game. They're high-level mooks, almost mini-boss level enemies, but hardly ever antagonists.
- The original title of Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja was simply Dragon Ninja.
- Hunt The Wumpus
- Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.
- Castlevania is the castle in which Dracula lives, but in Japan, it's known as Devil's Castle Dracula, referring to both the castle and its lord.
- Bio Metal
- I. M. Meen
- Skullgirls (Never mind the fact that there's only one full-blown Skullgirl)
- Snatcher, named after the race of bioroids that the player faces in the game.
- Soul Edge, the first game in the series, was titled after the eponymous evil sword, which serves as the primary motivating antagonist of the entire series. The name was changed to Soul Blade in the US for trademark reasons; later games were named after Soul Edge's polar opposite, Soul Calibur. However, Soul Calibur's later actions seem to be bringing this trope back to the series...
- World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.
- The Burning Crusade and Cataclysm also fit, in that every title boils down to "What is it that you have to stop" rather than "Whom".
- Though this is averted with the new Mists of Pandaria expansion where the main enemy is supposed to be the faction opposite of your own. Subverted when it's revealed that the mists of Pandaria turn out to be the Sha of Pride.
- The Carmen Sandiego games (Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, etc.) are all named for the antagonist, an elusive criminal mastermind that you, as an unnamed investigator, must track down.
- The Aveyond prequel game, Ahriman's Prophecy.
- The Tale of ALLTYNEX
- Wario's Woods is the only game with Wario's name in the title (aside from Mario and Wario, which lists the more obvious hero first... but not the actual player character) in which he is the antagonist. The protagonist is Toad, with support from Birdo.
- Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is a subversion, as Bowser is the protagonist.
- In general, each game has a boss that shares a kanji or two with the game's title.
- The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil: "The Scarlet Devil" is the nickname of the Final Boss.
- Immaterial and Missing Power: This is a really roundabout reference to the Final Boss and her abilities.
- Imperishable Night: Sounds like an aversion, as the protagonists are the ones responsible for the title incident, but can be interpreted as a reference to the immortals who drive the plot.
- Fuujinrokunote (Wind God Record): The wind god is the Final Boss.
- Captain Silver
- Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
- Neo Contra.
- Orcs Must Die!
- Jones In The Fast Lane. Jones is the name of the optional, computer-controlled competitor.
- Rayman Raving Rabbids is a strange case, as it is both a Protagonist Title and an Antagonist Title.
- Nier is this, being both the protagonist's Canon Name, and the true name of his Enemy Without, the Shadowlord.
- Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, named after the Super-Persistent Predator that chases Jill throughout the game.