Exactly What It Says on the Tin
From the "Dogs Playing Poker" series by C. M. Coolidge.
"Moviegoers who knowingly buy a ticket for 'The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor' are going to get exactly what they expect: There is a mummy, a tomb, a dragon and an emperor. And the movie about them is all that it could be."
A title should tell you what a movie, show, episode of a show or product is about or does. Sometimes, though, the premise or plot of the story is all
right there in the title. That's when you can say that the story is Exactly What It Says On The Tin
. Thus, this trope.
The names of action shows designed for children tend to have this as a distinguishing feature, as do many pornographic films
, but it certainly doesn't stop there.
Also shows up in naming; an object or organization that does exactly what its name says falls into this trope through sheer power of doing Exactly What It Says In Its Name.
The title comes from the long-running "Does Exactly What It Says On The Tin" TV advertising campaign for Ronseal Quick Drying Woodstain, a British product for staining wood, which is known to dry quickly
(and other Ronseal products, but the woodstain was first). More on which may be found
at That Other Wiki
Direct opposite of Word Salad Title
, but not necessarily mutually exclusive with it. Direct opposite of and
mutually exclusive with Non-Indicative Name
See also In Which a Trope Is Described
, a Victorian version of this trope. A Spoiler Title
or Excited Title! Two-Part Episode Name!
may feature some degree of this. The characters might point out the thing with a Title Drop
. If a title is going for this kind of transparency in description, it may also be Shaped Like Itself
; but Shaped Like Itself
tends to fail at actually being descriptive in the way that Exactly What It Says on the Tin
always is. Adjective Noun Fred
titles easily lend themselves to this.
Contrast In Name Only
, Artifact Title
. Compare Meaningful Name
, A Dog Named Dog
This trope is only for titles or names given deliberately by authors or marketers. All Real Life Examples go in Titles or Advertising section. This is not a trope for the names of things in general.
When adding examples to this page, there are some notes to keep in mind:
- Just because it may be obvious to you doesn't mean it's obvious to everyone. That next door neighbor you never talk to? Tell her the title and see if she can give a one sentence description of the plot. If not, then the title is NOT Exactly What It Says On The Tin. This also means that if you feel the need to explain it, it probably isn't this trope.
- As a rule of thumb, for this trope to apply to a work you generally need a paperthin/non-existent plot, an overly descriptive title, or both.
- It isn't enough for the title to just be relevant or accurate — everything meaningful has to be conveyed in the title. However, only the meaningful parts need to be in the title; the title doesn't have to be the entire script of the movie.
- Note: Many examples on this page actually do not qualify and we are in the process of slowly cleaning it up. Please help us by removing examples that don't fit when you see them.
- Make sure you add title examples to "title examples", and in-universe examples to "in-universe examples".
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- Ronseal Quick Drying Woodstain: Trope Namer, as its advertisement claimed it did what its name was - it dried quickly and was a woodstain.
- Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes - as the box indicates, the full name is even more Exactly What It Says On The Tin: they're Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes Of Corn◊ used to be this at least in the USA and Canada, but the word "sugar" was dropped in the 1980s making it less of an example. There's also the frosting-free version, Corn Flakes. A lot of store-brand versions of popular cereals follow this trope.
- The product description of Nestlé's "Buncha Crunch" candy is "Bunches of crunchy milk chocolate."
- McDonalds Ranch Chicken BLT, is a chicken sandwich with bacon, lettuce, tomato and ranch sauce.
- There's a popular restaurant in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market called "Dutch Eating Place." As long as you're aware that "Dutch" means "Pennsylvania Dutch" (i.e. German) and what that entails (and if you're in Philly, you should, and if you don't you should learn), there's nothing else you need to know about it.
- Commonly used by budget brands, where the packaging would just state something like "Peanut butter" or "Toilet paper". Also demonstrated by xkcd.
Anime and Manga
- More than a few anime (Naruto is a good example) have episode titles that are a little too indicative of what will happen, and these titles are often mentioned in the already rather obvious previews of the next episode.
- The Japanese version of Dragon Ball Z is particularly bad, with episodes such as "Here comes Satan's Army! Mr. Satan Gets Beat in one hit..." in which Mr. Satan tries to fight Cell, only to get beat in one hit, or "Pitiful Frieza Cannot Stop Shaking." in which pitiful Frieza cannot stop shaking. This is probably because, due to excessive fillers, very little happens in some episodes, and in addition, the Japanese episode titles are all really long, so it's fairly common for the episode title to describe exactly what happens in the episode. It could also be because it is assumed that all the viewers has already read the manga so they just explicitly state whenever something will happen for example "Transformed At Last!! Son Goku, the Legendary Super Saiyan".
- Several Go Nagai works had Crossover movies and mangas with titles pretty much informed those works' fans all they needed to know:
- Trigun: The subtitle on the manga says Deep Space Planet Future Gun Action! Try to guess what the series is about.
- Devil Hunter Yohko is about exactly what the title says. Yohko Mano is the 108th Devil Hunter in the Mano Family line. As such, it's her sacred duty to protect humanity from demonkind.
- Girls und Panzer is about... girls and panzer.
- Ping Pong the Animation
- As surprising as it may seem, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is about a dude named JoJonote who goes on a bizarre adventure.
- Witch Hunter Robin is about a girl named Robin who hunts witches.
- Ditto with Vampire Hunter D.
- Combat Mecha Xabungle. The main Humongous Mecha is named Xabungle. It frequently engages in combat.
- Futsuu No Joshikousei Ga Locodol Yattemita, "Ordinary High School Girls Tried Being Local Idols."
- Many abstract expressionism paintings do this, like Mark Rothko's Sienna, Orange, and Black on Dark Brown.
- The Lights Going On And Off◊ by Martin Creed.
- Dogs Playing Poker. It's a series of paintings of dogs that are playing poker.
- The painting (originally, a photograph◊) Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph. Better known as His Master's Voice, which is not indicative.
- Emanuel Leutze's paintings tend to be self-explanatory in titles:
- Most of the famous paintings tend to be known this way. Daffodils is a picture of some daffodils.
- Artist's shit by Piero Manzoni, an Italian conceptual artist. The artwork consists of 90 tin cans aptly labeled: Artist's Shit, Contents 30 gr net, Freshly preserved, Produced and tinned in May 1961. Now that's an Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- The "Rape Tunnel", a sequel to the artist's previous work, the "Punch You In The Face Tunnel", in which the artist constructed a tunnel, and would attempt to perform the specified action on anyone who walked through it. (Happily or sadly, the whole thing was actually a hoax; he never actually built either of them, just pretended he had.)
- "Girl with a Pearl Earring", by artist Johannes Vermeer is a painting of, well, a girl with a pearl earring.
- JMW Turner, whose paintings included "Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On)", "The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to Her Last Berth to Be Broken up", and "The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory". It does not take a genius to figure out what's being depicted.
- Enforced in Snakes on a Plane. It was originally only a working title. They eventually decided on 'Pacific Air Flight 121.' Contrary to popular belief, Samuel L. Jackson did not threaten to pull out if they didn't change it back, but he did strongly suggest they do so.
- Godzilla films are generally titled with Godzilla's name and who he is fighting. Considering who the movies are aimed at, that's all the relevant information there is.
- Hobo with a Shotgun. A fake trailer in the Grindhouse double feature (although seemingly limited to Canadian theatrical releases, for some illogical reason), you get exactly that. And about two minutes of sheer awesome ensues.
- Pop-culture auteur Andy Warhol was notorious for making films which nothing more than pointing a camera at the title subject for several minutes or even hours, including one of the most famous Take That moments in film, a 70 minute magnum opus named Taylor Mead's Ass. Others including Blow Job (35 minutes watching the facial expressions of a man receiving oral sex), and Sleep (five hours of watching John Giorno sleeping).
- Originally, the film The Longest Most Meaningless Movie in the World was an example of this: it's 48 hours of random stock footage. However, since then, even longer movies were made.
- Watch The K Foundation Burn a Million Quid: A documentary of the guys from The KLF, also known as the K Foundation, which documents them burning a million pounds in banknotes.
- The titles of the "Ernest" series was never particularly ambiguous. Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Goes to Jail, Ernest Goes to Africa. Once memorably parodied on The Simpsons, with Ernest Goes Somewhere Cheap.
- The long-running Finnish movie franchise Uuno Turhapuro almost always had titles like these. For example, the movie where the titular character Uuno Turhapuro joins the Army is called Uuno Turhapuro in the Ranks of the Army, the one where he moves to the countryside is called Uuno Turhapuro Moves to the Countryside, and so on. The prize, however, goes to Uuno Turhapuro Loses His Memory, and its sequel, Uuno Turhapuro's Memory Returns Bit by Bit.
- The short film Man Getting Hit By Football is about a man who gets hit by a football.
- Kyle Kallgren of Brows Held High had this to say when describing Trash Humpers.
: You're probably wondering what Trash Humpers
is about. Well, you know how Cats
was about cats? (Cut to clip of "old men" humping trash bags.)
- Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: it's the end of the world and Dodge is seeking a friend.
- Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies: Yup, Pro Wrestlers battle Zombies.
- There's a 1976 film about a massacre at Central High: Massacre At Central High.
- Back to the Future: A teenager accidentally travels back in time, and desperately wants to get back to his own time.
- Sharknado is about a shark tornado. The movie's tagline even declares "Enough said!"
- The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies
- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. (Later adapted into a film by the same name.)
- The title of An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order by Me, John Hodgman, a Professional Writer, in The Areas of My Expertise, which Include: Matters Historical; Matters Literary; Matters Cryptozoological; Hobo Matters; Food, Drink, & Cheese (a Kind of Food); Squirrels & Lobsters & Eels; Haircuts; Utopia; What Will Happen in the Future; and Most Other Subjects; Illustrated with a Reasonable Number of Tables and Figures, and Featuring the Best of "Were You Aware of It?", John Hodgman's Long-Running Newspaper Novelty Column of Strange Facts and Oddities of the Bizarre gives you a pretty good idea of what you're in for.
- There's also For your Consideration, The Firms of Dutton Riverhead Books of New York City, Publishers of Ken Follett, Darin Strauss, David Rees, and the RZA, Present in the English Language: A Further Compendium of Complete World Knowledge in "The Areas Of My Expertise" Assembled and Illumined by Me, John Hodgman, A Famous Minor Television Personality* , Offering More Information Than You Require On subjects as Diverse As: The Past (As There Is Always More of it), The Future (As There is Still Some Left), All of the Presidents of the United States, The Secrets of Hollywood, Gambling, The Sport of the Asthmatic Man (Including Hermit-Crab Racing), Strange Encounters with Aliens, How to Buy a Computer, How to Cook an Owl, And Most Other Subjects, Plus: Answers To Your Questions Posed via Electronic Mail, And: 700 Mole-Man Names, Including Their Occupations.
* Formerly a Former Professional Literary Agent and Professional Writer, AKA "The Deranged Millionaire". That's right, this book has a footnote in the title.
- The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers includes "A very short chapter in which not much is going to happen".
- In a similar vein, there's Conjuring: Being a Definitive Account of the Venerable Arts of Sorcery, Prestidigitation, Wizardry, Deception, & Chicanery and of the Mountebanks & Scoundrels Who Have Perpetrated These Subterfuges on a Bewildered Public, by James Randi Esq., a Contrite Rascal Once Dedicated to these Wicked Practices but Now Almost Totally Reformed.
- On a different kind of arcane subject, Joel on Software: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and Managers, and to Those Who, Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity.
- On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin
- Scientific works in general are likely to be this, although in older works there may be some elements of language marches on for modern readers. For example Philosophić Naturalis Principia Mathematica - Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. 'Natural philosophy' is now referred to as science.
- Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper - On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies. We now call the theory Einstein described in it special relativity.
- 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth
- Travels through Italy containing new and curious observations on that country; particularly the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; the Ecclesiastical State or the Dominions of the Pope; the Kingdom of Naples; the Republics of Venice and Genoa; and other Italian states. Wherein the present state of those countries is accurately described, as to their different kinds of government, situation, extent, revenue, power, trade, manners, and customs; but more especially their ANTIQUITIES as temples, triumphal arches, pillars, baths, amphitheatres, aqueducts, catacombs, ruins, and public ways; as also their MODERN CURIOSITIES, churches, convents, palaces, villas, castles, forts, bridges and public roads. With the most authentic account yet published of capital pieces in PAINTING, SCULPTURE, & ARCHITECTURE that are to be seen in Italy: Including remarks on the ANCIENT and PRESENT STATE of ITALY, of the ARTS AND SCIENCES which have flourished the re, and of TASTE in PAINTING; with the characters of the principal painters, and other artists. By John Northall, Esq. Captain in his Britannic Majesty's Royal Regiment of Artillery. Illustrated with A Map of Italy, a route of this Tour, and several copperplates, engraved from drawings taken on the spot. (London: S. Hooper and S. Bladon, 1766)
- Children's authors seem to be quite fond of this trope: an eight-year-old student submitted the following review of The Boy Whose Mother Was A Pirate - 'It's about a boy and his mum and the boy's a boy and the mum's a pirate.'
- David Drake's short story collection Men Hunting Things and its sequel Things Hunting Men.
- Loren Estleman's pastiche Sherlock Holmes Versus Dracula.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory takes it to a whole new level, to the point that MANY of the chapters have a title that spoils the ensuing events. "Augustus Gloop Goes Up the Pipe" and "Mike Teavee Is Sent By Television" are just examples, and not the worst ones.
- The Book of Useless Information. It's a book.. which contains useless information.
- The illustrated Japanese translation of Twilight was called The Boy Whom I Love Is A Vampire.
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It describes one day in the life of a man. His name is Ivan Denisovich. 51,000 words.
- The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg. Yes, he was both a major league catcher and a spy—sometimes at the same time.
- Neil Gaiman wrote a poem called A hundred words to talk of death.
- Latawnya, the Naughty Horse, Learns to Say "No" to Drugs is indeed about a wayward equine who gets the Drugs Are Bad anvil dropped on her.
- How to Make Love to Adrian Colesberry by Adrian Colesberry.
- One of the supplementary books for the Deltora Quest series is The Deltora Book of Monsters, an illustrated book about Deltora's (and the Shadowlands) many monsters.
- In the Dragonlance Saga, many times there is this weapon mentioned called a 'Dragonlance.' A character by the name of Fizban tries to explain all he knows about this great mystical weapon by relaying, "It was a weapon similar to - no, it wasn't. Actually it was - no, it wasn't that either. It was closer to... almost a... rather it was, sort of a - lance, that's it! A lance!" He nodded earnestly. "And it was quite good against dragons."
- The leader of the original Companions was Tanis Half-Elven, named so because the elves that raised him didn't know the name of his human father, and they would be damned if they were going to give him the family name of his mother. Lampshaded when one of his new companions asked him why he wasn't named "Half-Human"?
- Australian children's author Paul Jennings has a book named "How Hedley Hopkins Did A Dare, Robbed A Grave, Made a New Friend Who Might Not Have Really Been There at All, and While He Was at It Committed a Terrible Sin Which Everyone Was Doing Even Though He Didn't Know It" which, unsurprisingly, is about how Hedley Hopkins did a dare, robbed a grave, made a new friend who might not have really been there at all, and while he was at it committed a terrible sin which everyone was doing even though he didn't know it
- How to Avoid Huge Ships.
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms has this in its chapters. Take the one called "Xiahou Dun Plucks Out and Swallows His Wounded Eye". Guess what happens in this chapter.
- The titles of some books in The Bible leave no doubt as to their contents—in particular, Proverbs, Psalms, and Lamentations.
- How NOT to Write a Novel is about the many types of mistakes that one can make when writing a novel. Or to put it more simply, how not to write one (well).
- A collection of short stories by David Foster Wallace called Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.
- All chapter titles in A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh. The first one of the first book was called "In Which We Are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees and the Stories Begin", for crying out loud.
- Cordwainer Smith's short story "Mark Elf" is a semi-aversion which doubles as a kind of Stealth Pun. The phrase "Mark Elf" does indeed appear in the story, but not in connection with anybody named Mark, elfin or otherwise. It refers to a "Mark Elf" (German for "Model Eleven") man-hunter robot.
- The Big Dead Tree from The Twits.
- Super-Frog Saves Tokyo By Haruki Murakami is about how a super-powerful frog saves Tokyo. And no, it's not a trash story.
- Rudyard Kipling's "Lament of the Border Cattle Thief" is a poem about someone who crossed a border, stole cattle, got caught, and is upset about it.
- The Protector of the Small quartet has rather basic titles: First Test, Page, Squire, and Lady Knight. The plots: Keladry of Mindelan enters page training on probation, becomes a full page, then a squire, and finally a knight. (Given Kel's matter-of-fact personality, this rather fits her.) The series title counts too—Kel spends most of her time defending animals and people who are either physically small or overlooked by society, or both.
- John Dies at the End is not Exactly What It Says On The Tin.
- There's a short story by Donald Barthelme called "Porcupines at the University", which is about some people at a university who observe some porcupines being herded past. Likewise, the main character in "I Bought A Little City" buys a little city. His novel The Dead Father prominently features a dead father. And so on.
- Awake In The Night Land has a story called "The Last of All Suns", which takes place at the final moments of the Universe.
- Agatha Christie liked this trope from time to time:
Live Action TV
- Frasier does this with a bunch of episode titles in which a former Cheers character shows up, with the episode title being "The Show Where [Sam / Diane / Woody] Shows Up".
- Some non-fiction programs with genuine titles such as The Man Whose Arms Exploded.
- Used to hilarious effect in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia with the episode titles. For example, the cold open will be Frank hatching a dangerous scheme, but claiming that no one will get hurt. Cue the episode title, "Frank Sets Sweet Dee on Fire."
- The first-ever produced episode of I Love Lucy was entitled "Lucy Thinks Ricky is Trying to Murder Her." Bet you can't guess the plot.
- Most of the I Love Lucy titles are like that. Most likely back then, the writers figured no one but themselves would care about titles in a medium that a great many people still considered a passing fad. Why bother with clever titles?
- All episodes of Friends have the form of "The One With..." or "The One Where.." such as "The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth's Dad"
- Most of Cartoon Network's "CN Real" block, most notably Destroy Build Destroy.
- The overly long titles of the iCarly skits. For titles like "Pathetic Plays: (insert long title)", "The prisoner who wanted some soup and the man who refused to give him some" and "The cowboy with a mustache and the idiot farm girl who thought the mustache was a squirrel", guess what the looping plot line of each skit is.
- Name That Tune. It's a game show where the contestants have to give the name of the tune that plays when given only a few notes. Most of the content is thus right there in the title.
- The Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women. It's exactly the barely adequate movie-of-the-week material it sounds like.
- Guess what 1000 Ways to Die is about.
- Some episodes of Psych (known for having bizarre and quirky episode titles) fall under this category, eg: "Gus's Dad May Have Killed An Old Guy."
- The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret is about .. the increasingly poor decisions of Todd Margaret. With absurdly long episode titles like "In Which Brent Wilts Arrives and Things Take a Turn for the Worse", it really couldn't be spelled out more.
- Several if not many episodes of Doctor Who, as well as a few of the gadgets. Helpfully Lampshaded in one instance by Jack, using the exact name of the trope to describe the defabricator.
- Conan's "Nick Offerman from◊ Parks and Recreation Reads Tweets from Young Female Celebrities."
- Dancing On Ice: the literalness of the title has been commented on by many, many people.
- A season 4 episode of The Bob Newhart Show is titled "Bob Has to Have His Tonsils Out, So He Spends Christmas Eve in the Hospital".
- Sex Sent Me To The ER: It's series of stories about people who were injured during sex and had to go to the Emergency Room.
- Many disorders are this, since it's helpful and descriptive. Sadly, they are often only Exactly What It Says on the Tin if you know what the medical Latin means.
- Similarly, many internal body parts are like this, too, making life much easier for anatomy and physiology students.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME), in which one is generally permanently tired with all or many of the effects that come with that.
- Many enzymes have names that just describe their functions, with an added "-ase" suffix to indicate that they're enzymes. Examples include RNA polymerase (which produces RNA via polymerisation) and reverse transcriptase (which produces a DNA strand through reverse transcription). Some make it even clearer what they are and what they do, such as citrate cleavage enzyme.
- Parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic's song, "This Song's Just Six Words Long"... do the math. The song itself is not an example; even the oft-repeated chorus is actually "This song is just six words long", which is already Exactly Not What It Says On The Tin. Why? Well, "seven" doesn't fit the meter.
- For Weird Al himself, the "Dare To Be Stupid" LP is inscribed with the phrase "More Songs About Television And Food". (This may be a Shout-Out to Talking Heads' album More Songs About Buildings And Food, which was not this trope.
- In the album credits for his polka medleys, the last "song" listed always represents the musical portions of the medley that Al himself composed. This was lampshaded in the credits for "Polka Face", where the last entry was titled "Whatever's Left Over Polka".
- The opening theme song for the It's Garry Shandling's Show by Joey Carbone, Garry Shandling and Alan Zweibel, starts
This is the theme to Garry's Show,
The opening theme to Garry's show.
Garry called me up and asked if I would write his theme song.
I'm almost halfway finished,
How do you like it so far?
How do you like the theme to Garry's Show?
And goes on in the same vein.
- No FX: "45 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough to Go on Our Other Records". Fortunately the song Fuck The Kids wasn't meant literally.
- The weird thing is there's actually 47 songs.
- The compilation album Short Music for Short People. The album features 101 songs by 101 artists, with an average song length of around 30 seconds.
- Said compilation includes the tune "Mike Booted Our First Song, So We Recorded This One Instead" by Mad Caddies.
- Much of the soundtrack to The Proposition consists of songs with titles like "Sad Violin Thing".
- A few of Tom Lehrer's songs fit this trope.
- Pink Floyd's "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict" from Ummagumma is several species of small furry animals (a sped-up Roger Waters making animal noises) gathered together in a cave and grooving with a Pict (Waters again).
- Pink Floyd once planned to release an album called 'Household Objects' consisting of music played entirely on household objects.
- Classical Music in general loved this trope. Pachelbel's Canon is, in full, Canon and Gigue in D major for three Violins and Basso Continuo. Beethoven's works most commonly called the Eroica Variations (for their use in the Eroica Symphony) were in full Variations and Fugue for Piano in E flat major, Op. 35, while his Opus 20 was Septet for clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, and contrabass in E-flat major. It's no wonder many classical works are simply referred to by composer, opus, and number.
- George Frederic Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks" was composed to be played at a royal gala. With fireworks.
- Country singer Kenny Price recorded "The Shortest Song in the World," which was 11 seconds long and consisted of a two-measure intro, followed by Price singing "This is the shortest song in the world." Believe it or not, it was the B side of a single.
- Ironically enough, it isn't the shortest song in the world: this is.
- Likewise, one of Peter Sellers's albums has a track called "Peter Sellers Sings George Gershwin", which consists of... Peter Sellers singing the words "George Gershwin".
- The state song of Maine is titled "State Song of Maine."
- Public Image Ltd. (often abbreviated as PiL) once recorded an album that is simply named Album. Depending on the format, the same album is also called Cassette or Compact Disc.
- The band liked using this trope a fair amount. For example, the band's first album was aptly named First Issue.
- The band's second album, originally packaged in metal film canisters, was named Metal Box. After this initial run, the album was reconfigured and renamed Second Edition.
- Also, their latest album, released in 2012, is called This is PiL.
- Possibly inspired by the aforementioned Public Image Ltd. album, the British record label Metalheadz released a compilation called Metalheadz Limited Edition CD Metal Box Set, which is a limited edition CD that comes in, you guessed it, a metal box.
- Almost any album named Greatest Hits, especially if it's "[name of artist]'s Greatest Hits". Played with a bit in cases such as Greatest Hits Plus and Greatest Hits...and Then Some (two albums with this name), which include previously unreleased songs.
- Similar to Greatest Hits compilations, almost any live album falls under this trope. (e.g. Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison, The Who's Live at Leeds, Cheap Trick's At Budokan, etc.)
- The Kentucky Headhunters released an album of soul music. What did they call it? Soul.
- "Three Minute Positive Not-Too-Country Up-Tempo Love Song" by Alan Jackson.
- Apocalyptica's debut album, Plays Metallica By Four Cellos, which has the band, at the time a quartet of cellos, playing Metallica covers.
- KISS' "Rock and Roll all Nite" is a song about rocking and rolling all night.
- "Eleven Four" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet (actually by its saxophonist Paul Desmond) is in 11/4 time.
- As is "Take Five" by the same ensemble in 5/4 time. The recording of this song on the LP is the fifth take of the day.
- "The Really Terrible Orchestra" in Edinburgh is a no-audition orchestra of really terrible musicians. When one of the player bios says the person is "too able" for the orchestra...
- The Birthday Massacre have an example of this. When they were called Imagica, they had a song called... The Birthday Massacre. Which was, in fact, about a massacre on someone's birthday. (The song's now called Happy Birthday, for the record).
- Rihanna's "Russian Roulette" is not a metaphor about relationships, according to the songwriters.
- The sound production company known as Epic Score. They are the guys that make trailers sound, well, epic. (I strongly recommend a low volume setting before following that link.)
- "4 Minutes" by Madonna is 4 minutes long, and starts out with Timbaland rapping about how he's out of time and he's only got four minutes to sing. He keeps on repeating the same phrase for about 30 seconds.
- Crosby, Stills, Nash (And Young) consists of the members (surprise) David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young.
- Very similar is the briefly-existing band made up of certain former Yes members, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. No prizes for guessing who the former Yes members were note
- Can we refer to ABW&H as "Maybe"? It wouldn't be EWISOTT anymore, but it would be funny.
- "The Song With the Slow Part" by Portraits of Past is a bit of a subversion. It has a slow part, but so do so many other of their songs, so it's not exactly THE song with the slow part.
- "The Song That Never Ends" doesn't, since the lyrics are recursive.
- Several of the songs released by King Missile, including "the Little Sandwich that Got a Guilt Complex Because He was the Sole Survivor of a Horrible Bus Crash," and "the Boy Who Ate Lasagna and Could Jump Over a Church" are prime examples of this trope
- "Yeah" by Kyuss. The "song" is simply a brief recording of their singer saying "yeah."
- Teenage Fanclub have a best of called Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty-Six Seconds, which is 4766 seconds long.
- Squarepusher's New Sound Album, "Solo Electric Bass 1." All the songs were played on an electric bass guitar without any other instruments, unlike the his trademark mishmash style of jungle, drum and bass, acid jazz, IDM, and experimental electronic music.
- Several songs from Fridge's Happiness album. Can you guess what instruments were used to make the songs Cut Up Piano & Xylophone, Tone Guitar & Drum Noise, or Melodica & Trombone?
- Fantomas Melvins Big Band were the members of Fantomas and the Melvins joining together to play songs from their respective catalogs live. About the only way that this wasn't Exactly What It Says on the Tin is that they weren't that kind of Big Band, just a rock band with a larger number of people on stage at the same time than is usual.
- IOSYS has a song called "Tewi Inaba's Really Irritating About Four and A Half Minutes". It's 4:23.
- The State Anthem of the Soviet Union was... well, guess. The provinces of the USSR had similar anthems (such as the Anthem of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic).
- Certain compilation albums on classical budget label Naxos. It's no surprise to see, for example, "Music for Solo Harp" containing... well, music performed on solo harp, or "2 Violins and 1 Guitar" containing music played on two violins and one guitar.
- The Nails' "Eighty-Eight Lines about Forty-Four Women" is eighty-eight lines long, and mentions forty-four different women.
- The early synth album Moog Plays the Beatles by Marty Gold. It's a synth album which is a Beatles tribute.
- The Band From TV is a band made of TV actors.
- The t+pazolite song "256 Secondz World Tour" is a 256-second long song incorporating styles of music from different parts of the world.
- "Heresy" by Nine Inch Nails isn't just about heresy, the song itself is quite heretical.
- Likewise, "Prayer" by Disturbed is literally a prayer, it's a conversation with God.
- Complete History Of The Soviet Union, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris
- LMFAO's hit "Party Rock Anthem."
- Brian Eno's Ambient 1: Music For Airports is indeed ... music fit to be played at airports.
- A British pop band of the 1960s called "Dave Dee, Beaky, Mick and Titch" consisted of performers with precisely those names.
- Subverted in Fryderyk Chopin's "Minute Waltz" which apparently is very difficult to get through playing in 60 seconds.
- A My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic tribute album called Just Rocks exists, inspired by the character Maud Pie, Pinkie Pie's incredibly boring and rock-obsessed sister. The "music" consists of various musicians moving rocks around, banging rocks together, rubbing rocks together, and recording the sounds made by these movements. Track names include "A lot of tracks of sounds of rocks being played at the same time", "Graphed Acceleration of a Rock dropped from a height in air [no units specified] (rendered as an audio file)" and "Almost Seven Minutes of Live Recording of Two Rocks of Different Types Being Banged, Scraped and Rubbed Against Eachother, With Background Noise From a Computer Fan and Rustling.".
- Songs Of The Humpback Whale is indeed an album with nothing but the sounds of whales singing.
- Steel Cage match, a match inside a steel cage.
- WWE's "Table, Ladders, and Chairs" matches. No points for guessing what 3 items are implemented in these.
- I Quit Match, get your opponent to say the words, and there are no count-outs, submissions, disqualifications, or pin-falls. You Think.
- Flag Match
- Jan. 20 2012 WWE Friday Night Smackdown during the Flag Match between Ted Di Biase, Jr., representing America, and Hunico, representing Mexico due to the Roulette wheel since it was in Las Vegas where Cole explains this.
Michael Cole: The Rules are simple. You gotta climb the pole, grab the flag, and you win, right?
Brooker T: You just told them the rules.
- Boiler Room Brawl, any guess where it takes place.
- Ring of Fire - a variation of the Inferno match, where the fighters are in the ring that is surrounded by fire. Luckily, the ring match allows pin-falls and submission, instead of setting someone on fire.
- I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue features a regular round called One Song to the Tune of Another. A big joke is made of the chairman's convoluted, and completely unnecessary, attempts to explain the rules.
- The Rocky Mountains of the United States are mountains made out of rock.
- And the Rio Grande (Spanish for "big river") is a big river that flows between the USA and Mexico.
- The planet Earth is named after a synonym for the word "ground", because anyone on the surface is standing on exactly that.
- The Moon is the only moon of the planet Earth. This is something of a reversal in etymology, though, as the term "moon" comes from the Moon of the Earth.
- The Sun is the only star in the planet Earth's solar system. As with the Moon, the term "sun" to refer to whatever star is at the center of a given solar system is derived from the Earth's Sun.
- In 2000 Harry Markopolis wrote a report to the SEC entitled "The World's Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud ". It was about Bernie Madoff's fund. It contained overwhelming evidence that... well you know. The SEC still didn't get him for another 7 years.
- From the "Only in Liberia" files presenting General Butt Naked. He led a guerrilla faction that was, yes, butt naked, and led them, butt naked. How they knew he was a general without anywhere to hang his insignia I don't know.
- Destroy The Godmodder is just that. There are little details, but the title sums up the essentials of the entire game. Destroy the godmodder.
Stand Up Comedy
- Invoked by Janeane Garofalo ("just as it says on the tin") in If You Will, regarding Cake Farts.com.
- Paula Poundstone's award-winning HBO show was called "Cops, Cats and Stuff". Guess what Paula talks about?
- Norm Macdonald has a DVD entitled "Norm Macdonald: Me Doing Stand-Up" is a good example.
- Jimmy Carr's live DVD titles are, in order of release: "Live", "Standup", "Comedian", "In Concert", "Telling Jokes", "Making People Laugh", "Being Funny", "Laughing and Joking". Which could be strung together as a single sentence describing all or any one of them.
- GURPS stands for "Generic Universal Role-Playing System." This is a system to govern roleplaying games, in any genre, in any setting, and dealing with any subject matter. According to the creator, Steve Jackson, he intended to replace the term (originally a placeholder) with a more imaginative title and just couldn't think of anything.
- There is a French amateur tabletop RPG called Lycéenne JDR (High School Girls RPG). It's a game in which you play girls in high school. And there is an extension called Magical Girl, allowing you to play a Magical Girl Warrior.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, there's a monster called a Trap Eater that eats, uhm, Traps. (That's how you summon it, you send an opponent's Trap Card to the Graveyard. In the anime, this is expressed by the monster literally eating the Trap.)
- There's also Negate Attack. I wonder what it could possibly do.
- The Awful Green Things From Outer Space: They are indeed awful, green, and from outer space.
- Waiting for Godot. That's it.
- Samuel Beckett, in general: among his other works are 'Act Without Words I' (an act without any spoken words), 'Act without Words II' (another act without any spoken words), Breath (a play just featuring the sound of someone breathing), 'Play' (a play), and 'Film' (you get the idea).
- "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade" Yes, all that is the play's title, though among theater geeks (about the only people who have heard of it) it's usually just called Marat-Sade.
- There's a very off-off-off-broadway show called Naked Boys Singing. Yep. That's it.
- A show advertised on this very wiki, Old Jews Telling Jokes.
- A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking: A description that could fit more than a few TV shows, as well.
- Cat out of the bag was a man releasing a cat from a bag.
- Dutch artist Wim T. Schippers often uses this trope:
- He made a play called "1. don't smoke; 2. don't eat; 3. smoke; 4 eat". In this play, five men enter the stage four times. The first two times they don't do anything, the third time they smoke a cigarette and the fourth time they eat a sandwich.
- He is also the creator of the "Peanut Butter Floor" which is a floor entirely made out of peanut butter.
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's early opera The Abduction from the Seralgio. Plot: The main character is trapped in a seraglio and has to be abducted from it.
- Early NES games, particularly sports or arcade titles such as Pinball, Golf and Ice Hockey tended to be this.
- Even now, sports games almost invariably have titles in the format of [franchise] [sport] [year].
- You Have to Burn the Rope is a very short game whose goal, and essentially only gameplay (besides jumping) is stated in the title.
- In Master of Magic your goal is to destroy all the other wizards and become the master of all magic.
- The "Neverending Boss Battle" game on Neopets.
- The parody game Smashing Pumpkins Into Small Piles Of Putrid Debris. Guess what the point of the game is.
- The IF game Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die.
- Crosswords DS is a game for the Nintendo DS where you solve crossword puzzles. It's that simple.
- Awesome Possum Kicks Dr. Machino's Butt - And the ending is spoiled.
- Shovel Knight stars Shovel Knight, who is a knight that wields a shovel.
- SimCity simulates a city.
- Sim Tower, Sim Earth, Sim Ant... actually in that one there's more than one ant.
- The PlayStation Network game "Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars"... Two guesses what it's about.
- Robot Dinosaurs That Shoot Beams When They Roar - other than the fact that they fly (which is not stated in the title), it's about what it says it is, and indeed they do shoot beams when they roar, that being their method of attack.
- Burn! Zombie! Burn: You have to burn the zombie.
- Razing Storm: "Complete Destruction Machine Gun Game". Couldn't have said it any better.
- Color a Dinosaur for the NES. Guess what you have to do in it? In fact, guess what's the ONLY thing you can do in it?
- The PSP minis game A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks! It's a Shoot 'em Up, and it only costs $1.99 U.S.
- The Killing Game Show.
- Duck Hunt. You hunt down ducks. And that's it. That's all you do. Well, unless you play the "clay pigeon" round, which is separate.
- Turkey Shoot for the Wii. It's so simple it got terrible reviews for its severely limited gameplay. ALL you do, is shoot turkeys.
- A Bat Triggered The Sensor That Activates The Defense Systems And Has To Use The Arrow Keys To Escape.
- Shoot Many Robots. You'd be sorely mistaken if you thought you would only be shooting just a couple of robots in this game.
- Cow Clicker
- Divekick. All you need to know is that there are two buttons, a button for diving and a button for kicking.
- Cut The Rope. Guess what Om Nom does?
- The names of a few arcs from When They Cry does this mixed with Spoiler Title:
- From Higurashi no Naku Koro ni we have the Atonement Arc (Tsumihoroboshi-hen) where Keiichi remembers his actions from Abducted by demons arc (Onikakushi-hen) and ask for forgiveness and the Massacre arc (Minagoroshi-hen) where everyone in the village is massacred by the Big Bad, Takano, and her troops. The Eyeopening arc (Meakashi-hen) can also be this on a meta level since it reveals the truth about the cottondrifting arc (Watanagashi-hen) and is the first of the answer arcs.
- From Umineko no Naku Koro ni we have the End of the Golden Witch where Beatrice dies and the Requiem of the Golden Witch where Beatrice (or at least the concept of her) is buried.
- Borderlands 2:
- There's a sidequest called "Shoot This Guy In The Face". The quest consists of... shooting the quest-giver in the face. note
- There's another sidequest called "Kill Yourself", in which the Big Bad pays you to jump off of a cliff. Although you can also opt out for the other possible mission objective.
- The early Electronic Arts game Pinball Construction Set, which was a construction set for creating Digital Pinball Tables.
- Bill Nye the Science Guy: Stop The Rock has several:
- In Chamber of Emptiness in Pokémon X and Y. It does have two items in it at first, but once they are gone, it's just an empty chamber.
- The move Wake-Up Slap has the user slap the opposing pokemon and if it's asleep, it gets woken up.
- The Floor is Jelly has its entire game world wobble and jiggle about as the protagonist moves around on it like... well, jelly.
- Ten Minute Space Strategy is a simplistic space strategy game in which normal paced games usually don't last more than 10 minutes.
- Plants vs. Zombies: in which plants fight zombies.
- Monster Hunter, in which (human) hunters take on monsters.
- Portal is (mostly) about portals (to begin with). In the sequel, there is also Chapter 9: The Part Where He Kills You (which is more aptly named "the part where he tries (again) to kill you and fails (again)".
- Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. It's a Super Smash Bros. game...for the 3DS (or Wii U).
- Doom The Roguelike is, well Doom, but as a Rogue Like. One look at the game would tell you as much
- Space Engineers is about space engineers building stuff in space. The spinoff 'Medieval Engineers'' is about engineers building stuff in the medieval period.
- Survival of the Fittest: See The One Where Gabe Dies, which is the one where Gabe dies. Gabe McCallum, to be specific.
- The Midna fan forum/site Want Midna Back is a forum created and visited by Midna fans who... well, weren't pleased by her final scene.
- The Cats In Sinks website.
- An Instagram called Catz With Bowties is about pictures of cats with bowties on.
- The "Will it Blend?" series of Youtube videos involve a man putting objects in a blender to see if they will blend.
- Subverted slightly in that they're actually a series of commercials to show that a particular brand of blender will blend pretty much anything. "Blendtec Blenders Can Blend [X]" would be more nearly Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Is It A Good Idea to Microwave This? involved putting things into a microwave to see if it's a good idea.
- The Brokers With Hands On Their Faces Blog.
- Badass of the Week features articles about badasses. Updated weekly.
- Cats That Look Like Hitler
- Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians
- Japanese Bird Cooking Spaghetti
- Women Laughing Alone With Salad. Stock photos of... you get the idea.
- The programming blog at delphi.org features a regular podcast about Delphi programming. Its name? "The podcast @ delphi.org"
- How Stuff Works is a website dedicated to showing you... well... how stuff works.
- Old Jews Telling Jokes
- The "Free Boobs" test on OK Cupid refers to this trope by name in its description,
- You Suck at Craigslist actually uses the trope as its subtitle.
- Wario Farts On Pokemon. Showing screenshots of Wario farting on every Pokémon in Brawl, for the humour value.
- Leekspin.com. It's about spinning a leek.
- Robot Dinosaurs That Shoot Beams When They Roar.
- 5 Second Films. They're films that are five seconds long.
- The Annoying Orange counts too!
- There's a story on a NSFW site whose title is simply the name of its main character. It's the blurb which takes the cake: "[character name] has a lot of sex."
- Movies You May Have Missed is about Movies You May Have Missed.
- Many of Jon Lajoie's videos, such as both parts to Pointless Profanity and the Breathing Commercial.
- AM2R or, Another Metroid 2 Remake. I wonder what it's similar to...
- You Only Live Once: In this flash game, you only have one life. PERIOD. When you press 'continue', you just see the consequences of your death. Reloading the game to try again only shows grass growing on your grave.
- Paula Deen Riding Things It even lampshades this in the subtitle of the website.
- Sometimes Red, Sometimes Blue. Each color has a 50% chance of being chosen.
- There's a Brazilian Tumblr named "Atheism and Breasts" (NSFW), which shows atheist quotes and pictures of boobs.
- There's a Youtube channel called "Cooking with (a) Dog". The banner says "It's not what you think..."note , except it's exactly what you think - cooking. With a dog, who is also the narrator.
- A great many SCP objects are EXACTLY what they say on the tin. The Hard-To-Destroy Reptile, a Machine, a Miniature Dump Truck, a Cowbell, Knowledge, living LEGO, the 13 Inch Chef's Knife, a Ball of Green Slime...
- There's a Tumblr called Animals Talking In All Caps, and it's exactly what you'd expect. It's even lampshaded.
- The infamous "Yelling At Cats" video. Do not watch if you are a cat-lover.
- In July of 2012, Jerry Seinfeld started a web series where he picks up a fellow comedian in a classic car and they go to get coffee. What's it called? "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee."
- Media In Uno is EXACTLY what you think it is. Media. With uno card enacting.
- The podcast Mike and Tom Eat Snacks is about Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh eating and rating snacks.
- Similarly, the podcast Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap is about a guy named Kevin and his girlfriend Ursula Vernon eating (and then rating) cheap (often pre-packaged) foods.
- What do you call a collection of photos of Kim Jong-Il looking at various things? Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things. Helpful captions identifying what he is looking at are also provided.
- Microsoft Sam Reads Funny Windows Errors is about a Speakonia voice who reads funny Windows errors.
- Rainbow Dash Reads Homestuck. Granted, there's a bit more to it then that, but that's the core of the tumblr.
- Todd and Rap Critic talk about "Accidental Racist" is a video with Todd in the Shadows and The Rap Critic talking about the Brad Paisley song "Accidental Racist"
- Why My Little Pony Sucks is a show about a guy who thinks My Little Pony sucks and explains why.
- In episode 35 of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, Liz Reed introduces and later sings a song she wrote. It's called "I hate you, leave me alone".
- Indie Game Magazine is an online magazine devoted to Indie Games.
- AmIRunningXP.com is a site that tells you whether or not you are running Windows XP.
- Weird SSB Fanfics reads Weird Super Smash Brothers fanfiction.
- The Global Guardians PBEM Universe includes a storyline entitled "Diamond and Vindicator Decide to Adopt a Baby and Find Out How Difficult This Is For A Lesbian Couple To Do In George W. Bush's America". And that's exactly what happens.
- "Waffle Falling Over"
- The Most Stupid Deaths In Super Mario 64, though later episodes have less deaths.
- The podcast Kyle and Luke Talk about Toons has two people discussing animation. They are named "Luke" and "Kyle".
- The South Park episode "Kenny Dies".
- In the Spider-Man Compilation Movie Doctor Doom Conquers the World, Doctor Doom... conquers... the world.
- One episode of Batman Beyond is called "Terry's Friend Dates A Robot". Guess what it's about?
- And now it's time for Silly Songs With Larry, the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a silly song.
- Clerks: The Animated Series loved doing this. Every episode title describes what happens and gets progressively longer with each title.
- Hulk Vs., which is Hulk versus the other guy in the title (Thor or Wolverine).
- Beast Wars: Transformers revolves around two factions of robots who turn into animals, and the combat between them.
- Likewise, Transformers Rescue Bots is about a team of transforming emergency-response robots.
- The LEGO Movie, one might expect a movie made with LEGO. But it is, as stated in the title, a movie about LEGO.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has little ponies learning lessons about The Power of Friendship and using it as a powerful weapon against evil.
- In Niko And The Sword Of Light, Niko, the hero, is in possession of the Sword of Light.
Anime and Manga
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has Jack Rakan, who has many names. Two of which are "The Thousand Blades" and "That Damn Guy You Can Stab With Swords All You Like And It Won't Do A Thing, Dammit." These two names really tell you all you need to know about his fighting style.
- In the Mazinger series:
- One of the swords in Rave Master is named "Explosion". Guess what it does?
- Mahou Senki Lyrical Nanoha Force manga give Subaru a new defensive melee weapon called Sword Breaker that proves its effectiveness by breaking a sword.
- Panzer World Galient: The titular Humongous Mecha is a Transforming Mecha with two modes: robot and Falcon Flight Form. The name describes exactly what it is and what it looks like.
- An episode of Pokémon had the heroes facing a gang that says, "We are a band of Diglett thieves known as The Band of Diglett Thieves!" When the heroes mock their name, the gang replies, "We used to have a cooler name, but those old fools could never remember it!"
- 12 Beast has Eita Touga's weapon of choice (aside from his PSP and tablet): the Gigas Slayer, a magical gauntlet capable of slaying the nigh-indestructible Gigas.
- Bleach has the Final Getsuga Tensho. Which Ichigo explains how it works to Aizen: he places every last bit of his power into a single attack, and in exchange loses all of his power. Permanently. That's why it's called "final".
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: While it's a complete ass for not saying something, you can see Kyubey's point when it fails to understand the girls' confusion when it turns out their Soul Gem is literally their soul, removed from their body, given physical form as a crystal. The implications then start to sink in...
- "Space Dandy, he's a dandy guy...in space" as the narrator says Oncean Episode.
- Sands of Destruction (both anime and manga) features the World Destruction Committee. Guess what they want to do? They are opposed by the World Salvation Committee; no points for guessing what they want to prevent.
- Parodied in Evan Dorkin's Bill And Teds Excellent Comic Book: When Bill and Ted take Death to see Planet of the Apes, he asks "What's this movie about?" "Dude," answers Bill; "it's about a planet of apes!"
- The best example from DC comics would probably be Dogwelder. He welds puppies to people.
- A fair number of DC's villains, as well. Captain Boomerang uses boomerangs, the Fiddler plays a violin, the Toymaker makes (high-explosive) toys.
- Lampshaded with Speed from Marvel's Young Avengers:
Patriot: I'm sorry: "Speed"?
Speed: Nice fit, don't you think?
Hawkeye: What's wrong with "Speed"? It tells you everything you need to know in one syllable.
- A similar Lampshade came when Molly Hayes (a kid with super strength) gut punches the Punisher (a guy with no powers but guns). Molly is sorry as "how was [she] supposed to know he didn't have powers?" Victor's response "you think he's got some punishy force?"
- Marvel loves this trope,
- The Asgardian Enchantress: Yes, she's an Asgardian, and very much yes, she ''is'' an Enchantress.
- Dead-Girl: She's a dead girl.
- Flat-Man: He's a flat man.
- Giant-Man: He's a giant man.
- Gorilla-Man: He's a man who is now a gorilla.
- Invisible Woman: She's an invisible woman, though the name doesn't mention her forcefield powers. However, it was the full extent of her powers when first created and named, the forcefields came later.
- Sand-Man: He's a man made of sand.
- Speed: He has speed powers.
- Strong Guy is a strong guy.
- Two-Gun Kid: He was a kid with two guns. Now, he's a young adult...with two guns.
- Human Torch: is on fire.
- Silver Surfer: He's silver, and he rides on a surf board.
- Subverted with Skrull-spy-who-has-gone-native-and-is-now-a-hero, The Crusader, who emphatically tells his protegé not to use a name which suggests your power set (and weaknesses). Freedom Ring... whose powers were derived from his ring... really should have listened.
- And from DC:
- The Legion of Super-Heroes members Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy, and Matter-Eating Lad.
- One of the supporting characters in the Grimjack comic went by the name Goddess. It was eventually shown that she was indeed one, specifically from one of the African myths.
- No prizes for guessing what animal Alexander Lemming from The Beano is. Also from The Beano Roger the Dodger who as the name suggests tries to dodge things mainly work.
- Doom Patrol has had a few of these: The Chief is the leader of the team, Robotman is a man who became a robot, Danny the Street is a sentient street called Danny, and Beard Hunter is a guy who hunts for... Well, take a guess.
- In Sex Criminals, Suzie refers to the totally silent, frozen-time post-orgasm world as "The Quiet".
- Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds) Most of the other Captain Underpants books also qualify or come close; for example, Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants.
- Parodied by Terry Pratchett, who in his Discworld novels mentions a book How To Kille Insects. This is a big and heavy book, used for hitting insects with...
- Jingo has the Curious Squid. The reader is informed right away that they are so called because, as well as being squid, they're curious.
- Unseen Academicals parodies the trope with the following conversation:
Hix: A lot of really interesting stuff happened under the Evil Emperor.
Glenda: Evil stuff.
Hix: Yes, that was rather the point. Evil Emperor. Evil Empire. It did what it said on the iron maiden.
- In Snuff, it's invoked again when describing the troll Detritus' converted siege weapon crossbow, the piecemaker, "which could, as it were, do what it said on the box."
- All of Leonard of Quirm's inventions, such as "the going under the water safely device".
- The Ashenden spy stories by Sommerset Maughan featured a character called 'The Hairless Mexican'
"Because he's hairless and because he's a Mexican"
- In Doom: Knee-Deep in the Dead, Fly and Arlene are coming up with Reporting Names for the monsters they fight. Fly asks for a suggestion for the flying skulls he's fought and Arlene's response is "flying skulls". Fly misunderstands it as a question, confirms that he's seen flying skull monsters, and asks again for a suggestion. Arlene's response:
"Flying skulls, you lamebrain! Call 'em as you see 'em."
- In the Hurog duology, with the eponymous castle as well as the main character. The castle, as well as the family, is called Hurog, which means "dragon" in their ancient language. Turns out the castle is built over the bones of a dragon The main character takes on the title of "Hurogmeten" which means "Guardian of Dragons". He does Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Turns out, dragons can turn into humans and the family has dragon blood. Which, incidentally, is the title of the second book of the series.
- In Portlandtown the legendary Hanged Man is called that because he was hanged, and survived.
Live Action TV
- Said word-for-word in a first season episode of the new Doctor Who by Captain Harkness
Captain Harkness: Okay, "Defabricator." Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Done again by Rory Williams.
Amy: (after being shrunk) What was that?
Rory: Some kind of miniaturization ray.
Amy: How do you know that?
Rory: Well, there was a ray and we were miniaturized.
- Lampshaded on Whose Line Is It Anyway? before a particular performance of the game Foreign Film Dub:
Drew: If you were a Ukrainian action film director, what would the name of your action film be?
Someone in audience: Action in the Ukraine!
- Babylon 5 has the "pain givers".
- Lampshaded in The Kids in the Hall sketch about an Ex-Girlfriends Relocation Program. "It's complicated, so allow me to explain. The Ex-Girlfriends Relocation Program is a program that relocates ex-girlfriends. ...Gee, I guess it wasn't that complicated."
- In the second episode of Arrested Development, Michael discovers a bag in the fridge labeled "Dead Dove: Do Not Eat". After looking in the bag he delivers his classic response: "I don't know what I was expecting."
- Also, Tobias is a "nevernude", and when Michael finds this out, he asks, "Is that exactly what it sounds like?"
- Also this happened on Wizards of Waverly Place, where they even outright stated, "In the Wizarding worlds people name their children what they want them to grow up to be." This episode included a tutor named Tutor. This didn't always work, though.
- In Blackadder one hopes for Prince George's sake that Blackadder's play "Thick Jack Clot Sits In The Stocks And Gets Pelted With Rancid Tomatoes" isn't an example of this trope, since Blackadder wants him to play the title role.
- Earlier in the same episode, another play is mentioned and then rehearsed:
Mossop: It is a piece we penned ourselves, calledThe Bloody Murder of the Foul Prince Romero and His Enormously Bosomed Wife.
Blackadder: A philosophical work, then?
Keanrick: Indeed yes. The violence of the murder and the vastness of the bosom are entirely justified artistically.
- In an episode of Seinfeld, Elaine is at a video store trying to find something to rent and picks one up called "The Pain and the Yearning". She turns it over to read the synopsis on the back: "An old woman experiences pain and yearning."
- The Bill Nye the Science Guy episode about heat had a few clips featuring a big sweaty guy called Big Sweaty Guy. The show itself could be seen as an example of the trope, since it was presented by Bill Nye and about science.
- In Todd and the Book of Pure Evil there is a book that is called "The Book of Pure Evil". Guess what it does. This is lampshaded many times after everything goes wrong and someone has to ask something along the lines of, "What did you think would happen when reading from something called "The Book of Pure Evil?""
- Spoofed in the Gerry Anderson pilot Space Police (which was later reworked as Space Precinct): the villain, Mr. Big, is based out of a nightclub called "Mr. Big's Secret Hideout" which is covered with neon signs and arrows indicating same.
- Del's idea for a film in Only Fools and Horses: "There is a Rhino Loose in the City". Unsurprisingly, his explanation of the plot makes no sense whatsoever.
- Star Trek: The Original Series' mirror universe had an handheld device called an agonizer and a booth called the agony booth which were used to punish crew members.
- In the famous Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, "Crunchy Frog", a police officer recommends taking the trope Up to Eleven.
Mr. Milton: It says "Crunchy Frog" quite clearly [on the box].
Officer: The superintendent thought it was an almond whirl...I must warn you that in future, you should delete the words "Crunchy Frog" and replace them with the legend, "Crunchy Raw Unboned Real Dead Frog" if you want to avoid prosecution.
- In the Supernatural episode "Bloodlines", the following conversation occurs:
David: My name is David Lassiter. I'm a shapeshifter.
Ennis: You're a what?
David: We shift...our shape. It's kind of all there in the name.
- On How I Met Your Mother, Barney is very confident that a live wrestling match called "Wrestlers vs. Robots" will be just as incredibly cool as it sounds from the title: He can predict that the gang will have a tradition of going there every year, even before he's seen the show for the first time, because with a name like "Wrestlers vs. Robots," how could it not be awesome? And while Barney was disappointed that Ted pursued other plans, it seems that he had no disappointments with the event itself, and that the event was exactly what it sounded like from the title: a wrestling match that pitted human wrestlers against robots that were built for competing in such wrestling matches.
- Parodied: An early Saturday Night Live hung a lampshade on this trope by having Frank Sinatra (played by Joe Piscopo) trying to update his image by recording an album with tunes that the young people would enjoy. The title of the album? Frank Sings Tunes The Young People Will Enjoy.
- Parodied in My Cage. When buying more generic groceries, Norm asks what's in the box labeled "Food".
- LOUD HOWARD from Dilbert
- Calvin and Hobbes: When Calvin assigned to give a report on a newspaper article, he chooses: "Space alien weds two-headed Elvis clone."
Calvin: Actually, there's not much left to explain.
- In one comic of Tina's Groove, Chef Carlos begs the waitresses to help him by telling the plot of a movie, because last night he told his girlfriend he was out watching a movie when he really wasn't.
Tina: What was the movie?
Carlos: Snakes On A Plane.
- The final round in Pappy's Flatshare Slamdown is the Quick-Fire Round. The standard opening lines for that round's very slow jingle sums it up: "This is the quick-fire round. It's a round that goes really quickly".
Stand Up Comedy
- Invoked by comedian Ed Byrne as an introduction to a series of jokes about religion and homosexuality: 'Let me explain what God Hates Fags are about, for those of you who didn't know what to expect from Snakes on a Plane. "Hmm, I haven't been this mystified by the title of a film since The Mummy Returns!"'
- Australian comedian Steve Hughes tells a joke claiming that this trope is the attitude Australians have towards naming most of the things in their country, citing examples such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge ("It's a bridge, it's in Sydney, and it spans the harbour!"), the Snowy Mountains and the Great Sandy Desert ("Took us ages to think of a name for that!"), the states South Australia and Western Australia, and the Northern Territories.
- Eddie Izzard's take on horror films: "It's like those people who go camping in millions of films."
Person 1: Lets go camping in The Forest of Death and Blood
Person 2: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. Whoa. The Forest of Death and Blood, isn't there a story behind that name?
Person 1: Why yes, if one goes there they die of death and blood.
Person 2: I'll pass on this...
- Space 1889 It’s 1889 and mankind is colonizing inner space.
- For every Dungeons & Dragons monster with an obscure or entirely nonsensical name, there's another one or two monsters that's exactly what it says on the tin—take a wild guess what Blooddrinker Oozes, Invisible Stalkers, or Flame Snakes do.
- Owlbears. They're...bears...with owl heads. You can't get more tinny than that.
- Many demons and devils - especially ones like the chain devil and arrow demon.
- The infamous "Brain-In-A-Jar"?
- Same goes for prestige classes: for every Initiate Of The Sevenfold Veil and Green Star Adept, there's a Frost Mage or Exotic Weapon Master.
- This can get particularly amusing when players, upon encountering a strange monster for the first time, start referring to it by a name that turns out to be what it's actually called in the Monster Manual.
- In 4.0, many of the Magic Items are this. Cloak of Invisibility, Vicious Weapon, Supremely Vicious Weapon, Horned Helm, just to mention a few, are exactly what they sound like.
- The standard Ring of Invisibility allowed its wearer to become invisible. The joke Invisible Ring, on the other hand, was itself invisible.
- Likewise, in 3.0, there was an item called "Ring of Death Immunity". It's a magic ring that makes the wearer immune to Death. Not Death Effects. Death. Also qualifies as a Game-Breaking Powerup.
- Plenty of Magic: The Gathering cards follow this trope, some of the more notable examples include Counterspell and various creature names (i.e. Elf Warrior).
- The Troubleshooters in Paranoia. They find trouble, and shoot it.
- BattleTech's resident Butt Monkey, the UrbanMech is a mech designed to fight in urban environments. The Hatchetman and Axman are mechs that unsurprisingly, wield a hatchet and ax, respectively.
- Banana Nana Ninja
- The Demented Cartoon Movie has a lot of these: the Auto Romeo Maker, the Kamikaze Watermelon, the Make-The-World-Blow-Up Button, Mr. Large Generic Blunt Object, the Crash-Yourself-Into-A-Brick-Wall Race, etc.
- The Pointless Button in the asdfmovie series is completely pointless.
- The hosts of Death Battle give a Lampshade Hanging on the equipments in Strider being a little too descriptive with their names when going through Strider Hiryu's profile in his match against Ryu Hayabusa.
: He uses his Medical Tech to heal wounds
. The Climb Sickle to, well, climb
. The Jump Tech to... jump... higher
: I guess they don't have a Thesaurus at the ninja school.
- Magical Border Patrol - It's got a magic border, being patrolled.
- Mister Brave from Dusk's Dawn has bravery as his element, as he gallops through a storm to save Star Whistle.
- Girl Genius:
- Penny Arcade, regarding The Time Machine.
- There is a moment in Daisy Owl when her teacher meets her father, Mr. Owl.
Teacher: I didn't expect you to be an actual owl...
- In Scandinavia and the World, King Europe builds an Extremely Large Telescope. He then writes on it in white paint "European Extremely Large Telescope".
- Questionable Content, while not an example in itself, has a few:
- The Filler Strips character Yelling Bird, whose only purpose is to yell obscenities at the author.
- Hannelore's father (who lives in space) owns a spaceship named Spaceship, and a space station named Station. Station explains that Hannelore went through an "overly descriptive phase," and the names stuck.
I called my dad "Science
Daddy" until I was seventeen.
- In The Way of the Metagamer, there's a town called "Townwithanequipmentstoreaplacewithmapsandatavernofcourse". Guess which three things are located in said town.
- In Homestuck, troll movies are apparently named this way, due to the troll civilization being so old that all the good movie titles are taken.
CG: WHEREIN NUMEROUS VIGILANTES CONFRONT PERIL; ONE OF THEM BETRAYS THE OTHERS; (BUT IT TURNS OUT TO BE PART OF THE PLAN ALL ALONG);
CG: SEVERAL ATTRACTIVE FEMALE LEADS PROVOKE ROMANTIC TENSION; FOUR MAJOR CHARACTERS WEAR UNUSUAL HATS; ONE HOLDS PLOT-CRITICAL SECRET;
CG: 47 ON-SCREEN EXPLOSIONS, ONE RESULTING IN DEMISE OF KEY-ADVERSARY; 6 to 20 LINES THAT COULD BE CONSTRUED AS HUMOROUS;
EB: this is the title?
CG: IT GOES ON.
- Over at Sluggy Freelance we have the self-destruct button. Hilarity Ensues
- And as a discussed trope "I cannot describe Zombie Head on a Stick any clearer than her name does."
- xkcd suggested an all-action action movie called "River Tam Beats Up Everyone."
- In Chapter 3 of Paranatural, Isaac wears a T-shirt with "CLOTHING" written across it. Clothing-brand clothing.
- Basic Instructions features a superhero named Rocket Hat. Guess what his superpower is.
- The Things Dr Bright Is Not Allowed To Do At The Foundation lists all the things Dr. Bright is not allowed do with or to other SCP Objects or SCP Foundation personel. There's 251 items on the list. A few of the items on the list reference out-of-universe stuff like D&D, My Little Pony, the Game, etc. so readers don't need to be completely SCP savvy to enjoy reading the list.
- Things Mr. Welch Can No Longer Do in an RPG (starting here) is a collection — initially around 250, but now over 2000 — of similar examples ranging from outrageous powergaming to even more outrageous silliness that the titular Mr. Welch is prohibited from doing with an RPG charcter.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has the Evil League of Evil, led by Bad Horse. He's bad. And a horse.
- The Dutch Gamesite named Gamekings once had an item named: A look into the kitchen of Rockstar (which besides the literal meaning means something like: A look behind the scenes of Rockstar) Little did viewers know that they indeed showed the kitchen of the Rockstar studios.
- In A Very Potter Musical, the incantations for most spells are like this. For example, the spell to produce an indian burn is "Indian Burn Hex!"
- The Dangeresque trilogy from Homestar Runner features a henchman called Killingyouguy, whose task is to kill you. Incidentally, he's a guy.
- Parodied by The Cinema Snob, when he comments on a film titled Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, that he and everybody else in the world should know what to expect. Turns out it's an artsploitation flick with pretensions of seriousness and relatively minimal gore. It does have a bed that eats, at least.
- One episode of Agents Of Cracked has Swaim being asked to make a Facebook for the site, and he assumes this trope is in effect. The result screams, faintly, in its bloody box. They end up having an intern make "the other kind" of Facebook instead.
- Subverting this is something of a meme on 4chan, where users will deliberately misname images as a joke (e.g. a .gif of Jackie Chan punching a guy will be labeled as "Bruce Lee Practices a rider kick," and the like).
- A sketch by LoadingReadyRun mentions the film 300 People Having Sex. Pretty straightforward, even for porn.
- Cracked readers retitle movies in this manner in If Movie Titles Were Honest.
- Kneecapper from Super Academy, who wields a sledgehammer. Now consider that he's an aspiring superhero...
- Some of this wiki's trope titles.
- Assy McGee: Buddy Cop Grossout Show about a talking ass named Assy Mc Gee.
- The Angry Beavers: In Gift Hoarse and Muscular Beaver 4, we see ToeBot. You'll only need two guesses.
- Family Guy: There's quite a few
- "Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa", she's Japanese to be exact but seriously do they care about that.
- Kim Possible: "Dr. D's Brainwashing Shampoo and Cranium Rinse".
- South Park:
- Some of the news reporters are people like "a Hispanic Man with Some Gravy Stains on his Lapel", or "Midget Wearing Bikini".
- There was also a reporter who was introduced by the anchor as "a normal-looking guy with a funny name" (his name is shown as "Creamy Goodness").
- Some examples from The Simpsons:
Karl: Hey, I heard we're goin' to Ape Island.
Lenny: Yeah, to capture a giant ape.
Carl: I wish we were going to Candy Apple Island.
Charlie: Candy Apple Island? What do they got there?
Carl: Apes. But they're not so big.
- Averted with Monster Island. It's really a peninsula.
- Almost every "operation" is named this way:
- Played with when Sideshow Bob explains to a parole board that the prison book club to which he belongs actually consists of prisoners who club him with books.
- In the Looney Tunes short "Duck Dodgers in the 24˝th Century", Dodgers smugly says that Marvin the Martian can't shoot him with a disintegrator since he's wearing a disintegration-proof vest. The vest does not disintegrate. Duck Dodgers does. He gets better, though.
- Immediately afterwards, Dodgers retaliates with his own disintegrating pistol. He pulls the trigger, and the gun crumbles into powder. "Well, what do you know... it disintegrated."
- In one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, a troll challenges Buster to face three trials. In the second trial, the troll says he must fight the "Three Guys who Charge at You With Spears and Fall Off a Cliff". Guess what happens next.
- The entire cast of The Mr. Men Show can be defined by their names: Mr. Happy, Mr. Strong, Miss Helpful, etc.
- The Smurfs are a good example of this. Each smurf's name reflects their personality. Grouchy Smurf is grouchy, Handy Smurf is handy, Papa Smurf is their, well, papa.
- In the animated version of Beetlejuice, the monster who lives across the street from the protagonist is named... the Monster Across the Street.
- Minoriteam had a villain named "Racist Frankenstein." He dressed like a WASP but is in all other ways exactly what you'd expect. Also featured Dirty Cop, a living pile of grime on the police force, Loophole, a scurrulous rope tied into a loop, the Corporate Ladder, a business-minded ladder, and White Rapper, a white rapper.
- Some examples from Phineas and Ferb:
- ALL of Dr. Doofenshmirtz's '-inators' minus his first, which was simply called the 'Inator'. Lampshaded in one episode when he mentions that he hasn't quite figured out the name for his new machine and goes through various obvious names (The 'Who's-laughing-now-inator!) and mentions it'll be something with the 'inator' suffix.
- "The Wrapped-Up-In-a-Nice-Little-Bow-inator! I bet you're wondering what it does?"
- Lampshaded heavily in this song.
- The song "Platypus Fight". Three guesses as to what it's about.
- Or the Helicopter Fight song.
- The Tick has the Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight. Guess what he does and when?
- The Museum of Dangerous Books and Papers from The Amazing Screw-On Head
- An episode of Yin Yang Yo features toy glasses with toothed metallic "jaws" called "Eyebiters." They bite the wearer's eyes.
- The Great Mouse Detective was going to have the title "Basil of Baker Street". When the title changed, Peter Schneider sent a gag memo◊ to the animation department suggesting to rename the entire Disney Animated Canon at the time as thus* :
- Recess' Lawson always names things this way, such as renaming Fort Tender to Fort Fort, naming a submarine "Sub", and naming his soccer team "The Winning Guys" (who did, in fact, win the tournament at the end of the episode).
- The Gravity Falls episode "Fight Fighters" features a machine at the arcade that on the outside merely reads "Insert Token!" where you'd expect the name of the game. Turns out, "Insert Token!" is an accurate description of the entire game.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Testing Testing 1, 2, 3", we learn from Twilight's lecture that Celestia's royal guard, which includes Earth ponies, unicorns, and pegasi, is officially known as "the Earth-Unicorn-Pegasus Guard".