"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.
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.
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.
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."
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 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 when 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:
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.)
The Bad Art Collection.
The Marvel Comics solicitation for the SpacePunisher miniseries reads: "THIS BOOK IS EXACTLY WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE!" There's also Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe.
There's also a prequel, Vinyl and Octavia Machete Their Way Through The Jungle, and three sequels, Vinyl and Octavia Are Forcibly Shipped, Vinyl and Octavia Fight Ten Thousand Ninjas, and Vinyl and Octavia Have Multiple Dates.
In-Universe example from Retro Chill: Dr. Brainstorm's "Defeat Current Dictator and Give User Control all at the Same Time" device.
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.
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.
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 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* , OfferingMore Information Than You RequireOn 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.
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 Philosophiæ 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.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory takes it to a whole new level, to the point that MANY of the parts had a title that spoils the chapter. "Augustus Gloop goes up a tube" 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.
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).
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.
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.
In Portlandtown the legendary Hanged Man is called that because he was hanged, and survived.
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.
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"
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.
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.
Arrested Development has one of these when Michael opens a bag labeled "Dead Dove: Do Not Eat!".
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".
Only Fools And Horses: Del's idea for a film; "There is a Rhino Loose in the City". His explanation of the plot, unsurprisingly, makes no sense whatsoever.
A lot of episode from the next-gen era Star Trek episodes. (The original series usually went in for the poetic, literary, and/or symbolic.) "The Defector" from TNG was about a Romulan defector. DS9 had "The Jem'hadar" to introduce the Jem'hadar species (although it started going more towards TOS type titles in the later seasons). Voyager had "Day of Honor," the name of a Klingon ritual. Enterprise had "The Forge," a desert on Vulcan that much of the episodes take place in.
Many disorders are this, since it's helpful and descriptive. Long Latin names for illnesses are particularly notorious.
"Lateral epicondylitis" aka "lateral epicondylalgia" is this trope, since it's an inflammation (-itis), and a very painful one (-algia) at that, with the lateral epicondyle tendon; but its common name of "tennis elbow" is partially a Non-Indicative Name, since it isn't exclusive to tennis players, and isn't necessarily even a RSI.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME), in which one is generally permanently tired with all or many of the effects that come with that.
"The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)", a whole 3:45 song consisting entirely of the question of what sound foxes make.
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 notthis trope.
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?
The Magnetic Fields' triple album "69 Love Songs". Per Stephen Merritt himself: "69 Love Songs is not remotely an album about love. It's an album about love songs, which are very far away from anything to do with love."
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".
Dream Theater - a band who had one commercially successful single and then returned to the underground - released a "best of" album called Dream Theater's Greatest Hit and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs.
Pink Floyd's "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict" 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.
There's always Soundtrack from the Film More, which is the band's soundtrack to the film More.
Of course, this indicated the band's confidence that they'd be contracted for at least one more album.
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.
Cinematic Sunrise's album comes with a coloring book. It's titled A Coloring Storybook and Long Playing Record.
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.
There have been at least four different "Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits" or "Best of Fleetwood Mac" albums, which, depending on which Fleetwood Mac you're a fan of, are either examples of this trope or quite the reverse. To avoid any such problem, the full title of one of them was "Green Shadows: The Best of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac" .
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.
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).
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 Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe, of course!
Hardcore band Minor Threat has a couple of these to their name, with the compilation Complete Discography and the album First Demo Tape.
Nilsson Sings Newman, in which singer Harry Nilsson sings songs written by Randy Newman.
Also, his song "Mr. Richland's Favorite Song" was the favorite song of a record executive by that name.
Several of the songs released by King Missile, including "Another political Poem," "the Bunny Who Wanted to be a Rat," "the Evil Children," "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.
Leonard Cohen's album Songs of Leonard Cohen, consisting entirely of songs written and performed by Leonard Cohen. There's also Recent Songs and 10 New Songs... Well, they were "recent" and "new" in 1979 and 2001, respectively.
The Flaming Lips have made an album called "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots". On the album, there is a song called "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" about, guess what? A young girl, named Yoshimi who is a black-belt in karate, doing what? Battling robots.
They also have a song called "Guy Who Got a Headache and Accidentally Saves the World." Guess what it's about.
The Arrogant Worms' "Song Inside My Head" involves someone who is being driven crazy by a song inside his head.
They also have a song called "Canada Is Really Big" about how big Canada is.
"TV Weather Guy." Guess how the narrator makes his living.
Bruce Springsteen's "Wreck On The Highway" is about a guy who sees a bad car accident on the highway one night.
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.
F.O.D. has a song called "Synthesizer Tanzmusik" which is a very danceable tune, played on a synthesizer.
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.
Also, in "WTF Collective" and "WTF Collective 2" most of the M Cs are this, for example, MC Confusing spouts lyrics that purposefully don't make any sense, MC Lethal Weapon 1, 2, and 3 liked all of the Lethal Weapon movies but the fourth, MC Homophobic F***ing ***hole, is, you guessed it, a homophobe, and by now I'm sure you can guess what The Guy Who Sings The Chorus does...
Adebisi Shank's three releases are called This is the EP of a band called Adebisi Shank, This is the Album of a band called Adebisi Shank, and This is the Second Album of a band called Adebisi Shank.
Wing, a singer from New Zealand, has albums such as... Wing Sings AC/DC, The Beatles Classics by Wing, Wing Sings the Carpenters, and Wing Sings Elvis. To top it all off, she guest stars in an episode of South Park, named after herself.
"When Halley Came To Jackson" by Mary-Chapin Carpenter is about people in Jackson Mississippi witnessing the appearance of Halley's Comet in 1910 and 1986.
IOSYS has a song called "Tewi Inaba's Really Irritating About Four and A Half Minutes". It's 4:23.
"Song" by Smog: it has music, it has lyrics...yep, it's definitely a song.
Keith Urban's "One Chord Song" is a song containing only one chord.
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 Nine Inch Nails song "Heresy" isn't about heresy, it literally IS heresy.
Brad Paisley's album "This is Country Music" is an album consisting entirely of country songs (like the rest of his albums)
The title of Italy's national anthem translates to simply "Song Of The Italians."
The band The Bens is a trio consisting of three men named Ben, one being Ben Folds
The Nails' "Eighty-Eight Lines about Forty-Four Women" is eighty-eight lines long, and mentions forty-four different women.
A literal example appears in Data East's Guns N' Roses pinball, where the "G" and "R" ramps are plastic ramps shaped like the letters G and R.
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.
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.
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?
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There's a sidequest called "Shoot This Guy In The Face". The quest consists of... shooting the quest-giver in the face. note Although technically you just have to shoot him. Hitting him in the face is an optional objective.
There's another sidequest called "Kill Yourself", in which the Big Bad pays you to jump off of a cliff.
Pages of Girl Genius are named in groups. Examples of these titles include "Gil deals with it", "Monster Horse Beastie" and "Barfight, also Higgs" (the latter reintroducing Airman Higgs in the middle of a bar fight).
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.
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.
There's a Youtube channel called "Cooking with (a) Dog". The banner says "It's not what you think..."note That is, not cooking dogs, except it's exactly what you think - cooking. With a dog, who is also the narrator.
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.
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.
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.
Boris Blavasky, a.k.a Boris The Butcher from The Man Who Knew Too Little, in both senses. He is a hitman famous for brutal and messy hits by night. By day, he is the owner and proprietor of a butcher's shop.
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.
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."
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."
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 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."
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.
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 TOS's mirror universe had an handheld device called an agonizer and a booth called the agony booth which were used to punish crew members.
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.
Parodied: An early Saturday Night Livehung 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.
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.
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.
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.
Brutal Legend features a special attack called Face Melter. It causes enemy's faces to melt.
Jagex is apparently fond of this trope, given some of the quest and area names in RuneScape. The Goblin Village is a village... with goblins. Dragon Slayer is a slaying quest that involves, yep, a dragon. Black Knight Fortress... eh, you get the idea.
In the new skill Dungeoneering, when you mouse over the list of end of dungeon awards, you get information about that award. If you were unfortunate enough to get "Most deaths" and them mouse over it, the trope name appears.
The trope name appears on another item, fungicide. Examining the item gives this: "Does exactly what it says on the tin (kills fungi)".
In Diablo 2 if you click on a shrine labeled "exploding shrine", it... explodes. Same with poison shrines are poisonous.
Toadsworth: "I've dubbed this the Bros. Ball. Why, you ask? Because you are bros. And you form a ball."
Many spell names in the older English Dragon Quest ( pre-VIII) localizations. Heal heals some HP. You can probably guess what Healmore and Healall do. Sleep puts an enemy group to sleep. The first game is especially egregious, calling your offensive spells Hurt and Hurtmore (later games changed these to Blaze and Blazemore).
Hellsinker is so loaded with proprietary terminlogy (even the options menu and exit command have unique names!) that this trope is the exception rather than the rule. "Kill" is how many enemies you've destroyed. "Timer" is how much time has passed within the stage. "Life" is your lives. "Subweapon" is your alternate weapon.
Some Doom levels are this. Particularly Doom II: "Entryway" is the entrance both of the spaceport and of the game. In "The Gantlet" one has to fight through swarms of monsters.note "Gantlet" is an archaic term from the Swedish "gantlopp" or "gantlope" (lane); over time it got merged with the French-derived "gauntlet" (long glove) and is now usually spelled that way. "The Crusher" prominently features a crushing celing. "Dead Simple" is a very simple level — and if you're not careful you will end up dead. "Tricks and Traps" is full of nasty surprises. "The Pit" is built around a huge pit. "The Living End" is the last non-boss level.
Wild Star has the Path system, divided into four distinct professions: the Soldier, who kills hostiles and handles security; the Explorer, who maps out the world, finds underground systems and hidden paths, and goes on surveillance/recon missions; the Scientist, who studies, re-purposes, and hacks the flora, fauna, and forgotten technology on Nexus; and the Settler, who builds their respective faction's infrastructure like buff stations, transportation, and supply caches.
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 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.
Hannelore: 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;
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.
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!"
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).
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 24½th 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 guncrumbles 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.
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.
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?"
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).