Sally Sparrow: We should set up an agency.This is the unsettling habit of giving something a title which is a pun on the lead character's name — particularly if the character's name reflects the work's premise and/or theme. For example, in a TV series named Swift Justice you can pretty much bet that our hero will be named something like "Jane Justice" or "John Swift" (or, Heaven help us, Federal District Court Judge "Justice Alice Swift"). The most common name to appear in this context is probably "Grace." On television, this is most common in the United Kingdom, but still happens elsewhere. In the United States, puns are more popular for titles of individual episodes, as in Knight Rider, Airwolf and Remington Steele. See Punny Name for characters; also compare Justified Title. A subtrope of Character Title and Pun-Based Title. If a work's name is a pun on anything other than a character's name, it should go to Pun-Based Title.
Kathy Nightingale: Sparrow and Nightingale! That so works!
Sally Sparrow: I dunno. It's a bit ITV.
Kathy Nightingale: Sparrow and Nightingale! That so works!
Sally Sparrow: I dunno. It's a bit ITV.
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Anime and Manga
- Bakusou Kyoudai! Let's & Go!! obviously plays off the Gratuitous English phrase, "Let's go!", but it's about two brothers named Retsu and Go.
- Darker Than Black, given that the name of the Anti-Hero, Hei, is Chinese for "black".
- The Japanese for Hayate the Combat Butler, Hayate No Gotoku, literally means Just Like the Hurricane!—but, well, the hero's name is Hayate Ayasaki, and the first name just means that.
- Heroic Age: the main character is named Age, and he is heroic. Simultaneously a reference to the "heroic age" of Greek Mythology, which the series references heavily.
- Hokuto no Ken, the Japanese title of Fist of the North Star, can be interpreted as both, a reference to the martial art style Hokuto Shinken (the "Hokuto Divine Fist") or the main character himself, Kenshiro (who is nicknamed Ken, as in "Ken of Hokuto"). The important word here is "Ken", which translates to "Fist".
- Kagome Kagome, a manga by Toshiki Yui, has two characters named Kagome; its title is also the name of a Japanese children's game.
- Mach GoGoGo!, the Japanese version of Speed Racer, is named after the vehicle the main character drives. "Go", aside for being a legitimate English word and the Japanese word for "five", is also used as a suffix to indicate numbers. Thus, the Mach Five is known as the Mach Go-Go (Mach No. 5). Speed Racer himself (the character) is known by the name of "Go Mifune" in Japan (Go Hibiki in the 1997 remake).
- Maria†Holic. In this case, "Maria" refers to the Virgin Mary and therefore its Catholic girls' school setting, but sounds very similar to Mariya, the name of one of the show's central characters and Villainous Crossdresser, on whom the heroine has a crush.
- Saint Seiya, by the fact that "Seiya" means "brass", the title translating to "Brass Saints", referencing the five protagonists. But among them, Seiya is THE main character, being the most important of the five.
- The main character of Shinryaku! Ika Musume is called Ika Musume, or Ika-channote , or Ika-nee-channote . Every mini-episode (of which there are three per full episode) has a title written in the negative interrogativenote , which, in Japanese, causes the title to end in "nai ka", just for the porpoise of having "i-ka" in it.
- Striker S Sound Stage X. The X that initially appeared to just be a way to differentiate this from the standard Lyrical Nanoha Sound Stages (which are numbered 1-4 and are simply side-stories to the current season, unlike X which is a completely new Story Arc) turned out to also refer to the Mysterious Waif named Ikusu, whose name is transcribed to romaji in the CD booklet as X.
- Detective School Q is about the "Qualified" (Q) class of a school for detectives. The main character just happens to be named Kyu.
- The title of Tenchi Muyo! comes from a Japanese idiom equivalent to the saying "This Way Up". When interpreted literally, it means "No Need for Tenchi" or "No Need for Heaven and Earth".
- Semi-examples of this are somewhat common for early comics. Because they were almost all anthology titles, or had one primary story and one back-up story that would change intermittently, the titles are generally just supposed to be dynamic and interesting sounding, and sometimes reflecting their given genre; as such, some writers would just borrow their name from the title they were going to write for when coming up with the character.
- Pryde & Wisdom, a series about Kitty Pryde and Pete Wisdom.
- Rogue Trooper is about a trooper who goes rogue. Who happens to be named Rogue.
- The original Runaways' mini-series was titled "Pride and Joy". Doubles as a Antagonist Title since revolves around the children of The Pride, a supervillain group.
- Fifty Shades of Grey is a reference to Christian Grey, the male lead character's name.
- In Five Hundred Days Of Summer, Summer is the first name of the female lead.
- Condo Painting, a documentary about the painter named George Condo.
- Good Deeds, Tyler Perry film about Wesley Deeds, who learns to be good.
- Good Will Hunting, in which the main character is named Will Hunting. Though the aforementioned main character himself is anything but good.
- Grosse Pointe Blank, a comedy about Martin Blank, a hitman who returns to his home town of Grosse Pointe for his high school reunion.
- Iron Will hangs a lampshade on this with its young protagonist, who refuses to quit while trying to win a sled dog race. The race's announcer declares that the boy has an iron will, only to be promptly told (to his surprise) that the boy's name is Will.
- Strangely averted in Knight and Day. The title combined with the plotline suggest that at some point in development the Action Hero male protagonist and Action Survivor female protagonist were named Knight and Day, but they don't have those surnames in the actual film. (though the male's true surname is Knight)
- Major Payne
- Murphy's Law, about a L.A. cop named Jack Murphy.
- There was a movie in the '90s called Poetic Justice, about a girl named Justice who writes poetry.
- Saving Grace: About a widow gardener who becomes a drug dealer to solve her financial problems.
- Stone Cold, in regards of the main character John Huff's alias, John Stone.
- All of the sequels to Trancers, the adventures of time-travelling cop Jack Deth, barring Trancers III, which has no subtitle: Trancers 2: Deth Lives, Trancers 4: Jack of Swords, Trancers 5: Sudden Deth, Trancers 6: Life After Deth.
- The Cybil War by Betsy Byars is about a Love Triangle involving two boys and a girl named Cybil.
- The German book Glennkill is about a shepherd named Glenn, who is killed.
- The even-numbered books in the Honor Harrington series: The Honor of the Queen, Field of Dishonor, Honor Among Enemies, Echoes of Honor, War of Honor, and Mission of Honor.
- All of the intended books in the Mediochre Q Seth Series have had their titles released. They are: The Good The Bad And The Mediochre; Black, White and Shades of Mediochre; Caught Mediochre-Handed; Sent Into Mediochre-drive; and Mediochrity. The title character is named after the shade of red (medi-ochre), and his name is pronounced the same as 'mediocre'.
- Lois McMaster Bujold claims that several of her Miles Vorkosigan books have had Miles to Go as a working title, but she's always come up with something better before publication.
- Every book in Robert Asprin's Phule's Company series is a pun on the main character's surname, which is... Phule. Hence Phule's Paradise, A Phule And His Money, Phule's Errand...
- The German Selb trilogy by the author of The Reader: Selbs Justiz (=self justice), Selbs Betrug (=self-deception), Selbs Mord (=suicide).
- The novels on which A Touch of Frost were based are also titled this way: as well as A Touch of Frost, there was Winter Frost, Night Frost, Hard Frost, Frost at Christmas and A Killing Frost and the three newly published prequel novels chronicling Frost's early days as a Detective Sergeant follow this pattern, the third and second novels were entitled respectively : Fatal Frost and Morning Frost and naturally the first prequel novel was entitled First Frost.
Live Action TV
- Bachelors Walk is a variant in that the pun is on a specifically named place rather than a specifically named person: It's a dramedy about three unmarried men living on an oddly named Dublin street, Bachelor's Walk.
- B.A.D. Boyes was about a High School Hustler called Brian Arthur Derek Boyes.
- Better Off Ted, a sitcom about a man named Ted who works in research and development at an unscrupulous corporation.
- Black Books, about misanthropic bookshop owner Bernard Black (whose shop itself is also called "Black Books").
- Breeze Block: About the Breeze family, who live in a tower block in Newcastle. note
- The Brittas Empire: About a pompous but well-meaning oaf called Gordon Brittas who runs a leisure centre.
- Chance In A Million was a Sitcom about a man named Tom Chance who was frequently the victim of incredibly unlikely circumstances. he was the man to whom the proverbial 'chance in a million" would always happen.
- Distant Shores: About a family named the Shores, who move out to a remote fishing village.
- Doc Martin, about Dr. Martin Ellingham. Acknowledged in-show, as the locals nickname him "Doc Martin" to his considerable displeasure.
- Fawlty Towers: About incompetent hotelier Basil Fawlty.
- Get Smart, featuring the inept secret agent Maxwell Smart.
- A man whose last name is Chance dies and turns into a ghost. Yes, it's a short-lived sitcom named "Ghost of a Chance".
- Goode Behavior, a Sherman Helmsley vehicle from the first seasons of the UPN network. The title character was a con man named Willie B. Goode, who moves in with his estranged son — a college professor and successful, honest man — after making parole.
- The Good Life is a British series bout a couple named Tom and Barbara Good, who quit the rat race and start a farm in their garden to simplify their lives. This was shown as Good Neighbors in the United States, preserving the pun.
- Grace And Favour, a revival of Are You Being Served?, is about the owners/employees of "Grace Manor." Incidentally, the original Are You Being Served? probably stands as the only show to ever feature a major character called Grace and not make a punny title out of it).
- Grace Under Fire, sitcom about a woman named Grace Kelly, surviving "under fire" from the hassles of being a single mother, a recovering alcoholic and blue collar in modern America.
- Grey's Anatomy, a medical drama named after the main character Doctor Meredith Grey and after a classic mid-19th-century medical book, Gray's Anatomy.
- Hart Of Dixie - She's Zoe Hart, and she's a heart surgeon!
- Hart to Hart, about Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, a CEO and freelance photographer, respectively. They solve crimes!
- Hope And Faith, about two sisters by those names.
- Joan of Arcadia, about a girl named Joan who lives in the town of Arcadia and talks to God.
- Judging Amy - She's called Amy, and she's a judge...
- King of Kensington, 70s Canadian sitcom about a man from Toronto's Kensington Market neighborhood named Larry King (no, not him.)
- Lie to Me sounds similar to the lead character's name (Lightman), who, ironically enough, uncovers lies for a living.
- The Life Of Riley, about a Dysfunctional Family called Riley.
- The short lived, early-90s show ''Mann & Machine" featured a futuristic detective named Mann and his robot partner (played by Yancy Butler).
- Marshall Law, an Australian series about lawyers, two of whom have the surname Marshall.
- Martial Law, a cop drama about a Chinese police officer and martial arts expert named Sammo Law.
- Masters Of Sex, which not only sounds cheesy but actually seems to marginalize the importance of Virginia Johnson of Masters & Johnson.
- Met Meus en Vork is a Belgian cooking show presented by Jeroen Meus. The title is a play of words on Met mes en vork which is Dutch for "With knife and fork."
- One Monty Python's Flying Circus episode includes a fake talk show called It's A. Tree, hosted by Arthur Tree. Who's a talking tree.
- Moon and Son, about a professional "psychic" called Gladys Moon and her genuinely psychic son Trevor.
- Murphy's Law - He's an insurance-fraud investigator named Daedelus Patrick Murphy.
- Murphys Law (yes, another one): About undercover policeman Tommy Murphy.
- My Girlfriend Is (a) Nine-Tailed Fox (Korean). Nine-tailed fox = gumiho. In Korean, there would be no indefinite article, so the title is literally My Girlfiend is Gumiho. The main character is called Gu Mi Ho for most of the drama.
- Nelson's Column, a 1990s show about a newspaper columnist called Gavin Nelson.
- New Amsterdam: The hero, detective John Amsterdam, named himself after the city, is secretly immortal and has been living in New York since it was the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam.
- The short-lived series Payne, itself a remake of Fawlty Towers, renamed the hotelier "Royal Payne" to make the pun work again.
- Prince Amongst Men, about an arrogant ex-footballer called Gary Prince.
- Raising Hope is about raising a baby named Hope.
- Robins Nest: In the sequel series to Man About the House (the original British inspiration for Three's Company), newly-qualified chef Robin Tripp moves into his own place with his girlfriend, and starts a business with her father.
- Romans Empire: About a businessman called Roman.
- Rosemary And Thyme: About a pair of gardeners and amateur sleuths named Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme. This one was a bit much even for the British, and was widely mocked; the Doctor Who page quote is probably a specific reference to this.
- The Royal Family, a Dom Com starring comedian Redd Foxx as Alfonso Royal, the patriarch of the titular family. Short lived owing to Foxx's death after filming seven episodes of the show.
- The Royle Family: about a Mancunian family called the Royles.
- Running Wilde is about a guy named Wilde who runs an eponymous oil business.
- Saturday Night Live had a sketch featuring a game show parody called "What is Burn Notice?" The contestants had no idea, and one of the wrong answers was a guess that it was "about the detective team of Michael Burn and Chet Notice."
- Saving Grace is about a woman named Grace who gets a "last chance angel" (named Earl) who's trying to save her from going to hell because she drinks and boinks a lot.
- Scott & Bailey is an example of this trope purely for its own sake - the show has precisely nothing to do with Motte and Bailey castles, but is in fact a dramatic Buddy Cop Show about DC Janet Scott and DC Rachel Bailey. Unless it's a really obscure homage to Castle?
- Sonny with a Chance tried way too hard with this. It was once known as Welcome to Mollywood and starred a girl named Molly. Then it became Welcome to Holliwood, about a girl named... Holli. Eventually her named was changed to Sonny and the show got its final title. It's still a pun, although it seems a bit more forced in the end.
- Stark Raving Mad, a sitcom about a book editor working for author Ian Stark.
- State Of Grace, a Fox Family show about the friendship of 12-year-olds Hannah (who is Jewish) and Grace (who is Christian).
- The German TV series Stocker und Stein (related to "sticks and stones")
- Strange: About a supernatural investigator named John Strange.
- A blissfully short-lived series called Sunday in Paris. Sunday was the main character, and Paris was the one in Texas.
- Toast Of London, about an actor named Stephen Toast who isn't quite the celebrity the title implies.
- A Touch of Cloth, a spoof cop show show whose title is a riff on A Touch of Frost combined with some Toilet Humour. The protagonist is Detective Inspector Jack Cloth.
- A Touch of Frost: About Detective Inspector William 'Jack' Frost.
- Tru Calling, a drama about Tru Davies, who receives the "calling", an injunction to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
- Whites: The title refers to chefs' uniforms, but also the main character's surname. As his restaurant also bears his name, this could be seen as an In-Universe case.
- You're Beautiful - The title in Korean is "Mi-nam-i shi-ne-yo", which can be translated to He's/She's/You're Beautiful or He's/She's/You're Mi Nam because there is no pronoun. The main character is also pretending to be "Mi Nam", or rather, she is Mi Nam.
- Clare In The Community, about a social worker called Clare. note Also a radio sitcom based on the comic.
- Foxtrot is about the lives of the Fox family.
- Heart of the City is about a girl named Heart who lives in Center City, Philadelphia.
- Both of the Sally Forth comics. The Wally Wood comics are a better example, since they involve the characters setting out on adventures (sallying forth), while the pun in the Greg Howard comics is probably meant to be ironic.
- The Importance of Being Earnest is thematically concerned with the boundaries of honesty (i.e., earnestness) and literally concerned with whether or not either of the main characters is named Ernest (Which is, indeed, important.)
- Oh, Kay!, a 1926 Broadway musical whose title song had the punny refrain: "Oh, Kay! We're O.K. with Kay!"
- Purlie Victorious, where the hero's full name is Purlie Victorious Judson.
- Too Many Cooks, a farce by Frank Craven featuring an extended family of Obnoxious In-Laws named Cook.
- Tomfoolery, a revue based on the comic songs of Tom Lehrer.
- William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is also known as What You Will, which is a play not on the character names but on the playwright's.
- Bloodrayne stars a half-vampire woman named Rayne, who kills Nazis bloodily.
- Bubble & Squeak, which is a pun on British food.
- Custer's Revenge, the notorious "adult video game" for the Atari 2600, had as the player's goal General George Armstrong Custer raping an Indian maiden named Revenge.
- General Chaos has two warring generals named Chaos and Havoc.
- Head Over Heels, about a pair of symbiotic creatures named Head and Heels.
- Since the Legend of Zelda games all have protagonists named Link, this is an obvious well to draw from.
- In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link has to deal with the consequences of the past of Hyrule.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds puns on Link's name in the same way, referring both to Link once again teleporting to and from the Dark World, and to his ability to turn into a 2D painting.
- Max Payne, which crosses over with Punny Name.
- The PC Genjin (Bonk) and PC Denjin (Air Zonk) games for the PC-Engine (Turbo-Grafx 16) console.
- Rochard is about the adventures of John Rochard, an asteroid miner. Lampshasded by the tagline "Rock is hard. John Rochard is harder."
- Slightly Magic, starring an apprentice magician named Slightly.
- Sutte Hakkun is a Japan-exclusive Nintendo game featuring a bird named Hakkun who sucks up colors and injects them into blocks. "Sutte haku" is a Japanese expression meaning "breathe in, breathe out."
- Three Weeks in Paradise, with Wally Week's family of three.
- Time and Eternity has Princess Toki ("time" in Japanese) and her Split Personality Towa ("eternity").
- Will Rock: main character? Willford Rockwell.
- Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 named one of its three player characters Wolf.
- X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse: the game centers around a mutant apocalypse which involves one of the X-Men's adversary, an evil mutant named Apocalypse.
- KateModern, about an artist named Kate (a pun on the Tate Modern art gallery).
- Ben 10, about Ben Tennyson, who is 10 years old and acquires a Clingy MacGuffin that allows him to turn any of into 10 different aliens.
- The Hebrew dub of the show keeps the title, which literally means: Ben is 10 years old.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: The founder and caretaker of the home respectively, are Madame Foster and Franky Foster.
- King of the Hill is about Hank Hill and his family. To keep the pun intact, the Latin American dub is called Los Reyes de la colina, and Hank Hill was renamed Héctor Reyes.
- Eek The Cat, about a purple cat named Eek!.
- Pryde of the X-Men, a 1989 animated pilot (unrelated to the later animated series from the early 90's) featuring, naturally, Kitty Pryde.
- The Roman Holidays, a 1972 Saturday morning cartoon set in ancient Rome, about a family with the surname(!?) Holiday.
- Taz-Mania - The main character is Taz and the show is set on Tasmania.
- These Are The Days, a 1974 Saturday morning cartoon about a Waltons-like family with the surname Day.
Parodies and In-Universe examples:
- Parodied in a series of fake previews by satellite channel UK Gold to publicise its new American imports: one involved a pair of British coppers named Alan Tea and George Biscuits going over to work in the States with the obvious Fish out of Water gags - the series, naturally, was called "Tea and Biscuits".
- The Now Show Book of Records has a list of the Worst TV Sitcom Premises. Sticks and Stones Will Break My Bones is about Eddie Sticks and Brian Stones, who work the bone-crusher in an abattoir. There's No Smoke Without Fire is about Eddie Smoke, who goes on holiday without his friend Brian Fire, only for Brian to track him down. Rhythm is a Dancer is about Maggie Rhythm, who is a dancer.
Live Action TV
- Parodied on 30 Rock:
- Kenneth describes his ideas for TV shows:
"I have an idea for a show about a teacher named 'Art'. I call that one Art School. And one about a Jewish guy who opens an ice cream parlor. That one's called Ice Cream Cohen. And a drama about two cops: one named 'Cash' and one named 'Carry'. I don't have a title for that one."
- There's also Jenna's old role in a Police Procedural: "It was called Good Looking, and I played Alexis Goodlooking, who was also good-looking, and my special ability was being good at looking for clues."
- Kenneth describes his ideas for TV shows:
- On Arrested Development, the actor Judge Reinhold is the host of a courtroom-based reality TV show, and it's called... Mock Trial with J. Reinhold. (Featuring house band William Hung and his Hung Jury.)
- On Castle, several of Rick Castle's books in the Derek Storm series were in this pattern — Gathering Storm, Storm Season, Storm Rising, Storm Warning, Storm's Break, Storm Fall — and he continues to do the same for his new character, Nikki Heat — Heat Wave, Summer Heat, In Heat, etc.
- On Friends, Joey Tribbiani stars in the abortive buddy cop/robot show Mac & C.H.E.E.S.E.. There's some Lampshade Hanging about the Contrived Coincidence of the robot's full title abbreviating so well...
- Appears on Im Alan Partridge as a desperate program idea to save Alan's career: A Partridge Amongst The Pigeons. "At this stage it's just a title".
- One episode of Married... with Children saw a network making a TV show based on the Bundy family; the show was titled "Pease in a Pod". No points for guessing the family's name.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 parodies this when the title of the short film "Body Care & Grooming" appears on screen:
Tom Servo: Body Care! And Grooming! They're cops!
- That Mitchell and Webb Look had a sketch featuring rival comedy duos called "Fish and Chipp" and "Pin and Cushion". Chipp and Pin leave to form their own duo (Chip & PIN being a then-new form of credit card payment); to their chagrin, Fish & Cushion are far more successful. ("That doesn't even mean anything!") To add insult to injury, Fish & Cushion went on to star in the ads for the Chip & PIN system...
- Parodied heavily in This Morning With Richard Not Judy which described shows such as Chalk and Cheese (Ian Chalk and Ian Cheese are two men. They are very different. However, they eventually become friends and realise they are not so different after all. With hilarious consequences), Fruit and Nuts (Ian Fruit and Ian Nuts are roommates. Ian Fruit is allergic to nuts and Ian Nuts is allergic to fruit. Ian Nuts is a homicidal maniac. Consequently, he's always trying to sneak fruit and nuts into everything they eat. With fatal consequences.) and Bent Coppers (Ian and Iain Bent are brothers who are policemen. One is corrupt and the other is homosexual. They both suffer from curvature of the spine, and they're made of copper - they're robots in the future. With hilarious consequences.)
Similarly, a list of potential sitcom titles consists of just strained puns such as A. Bird in the Hand (Anthony Bird is manager of the Hand pub), Anne R. in The Month (Anne R. is manager of The Month Pub) and by the end of the list coming up with There Are More Things In Heaven and Earth Than Are Dreamt of in Your Philosophy (About how Ian Thing is joined by his relatives at the Heaven and Earth Than Are Dreamt of in Your Philosophy pub).
- The Encyclopedia of Hypothetical Police Procedurals tumblr lists several examples of this, including Wheels on the Bus ("Detective Lester Wheels is DCPD’s one-man Bus Crime department, ensuring that the city’s millions of commuters board and exit safely.") and Trial By Jury (featuring cop Steve Jury, lawyer Martin Trial, and judge Monica By). Trial By Jury eventually gets a spinoff, Judge, Jury, And, Executioner (in which Steve Jury returns, joined by judge Mortimer Judge, executioner Alexandra Executioner, and Apple Store employee Andrea And) as well as a porn parody called Hung Jury.
- In one episode of Clone High when George Washington Carver (as Leon Black) and Gandhi (as Tandoori Jones) make the Salt and Pepper cops "Black and Tan".
- OnThe Simpsons, Troy McClure has a sitcom. "My new show is called ‘Handle with Care.’ I play Jack Handle, a retired cop who shares an apartment with a retired criminal. We’re the original Odd Couple!"