There's a goblin in my clan named "Stop the Ceremony I Swallowed A Bug". Yeah, our teller really sucks at naming ceremonies.
—Piss Off I Have a Headache, "Hava" for short, Goblins
Someone who can't think of good names for things (or people if it's the character's kids
). The names are too long
, don't fit the thing(s)
, or are just weird.
Now this isn't how you feel about the names (this is an objective trope). It's about the story making it clear that the character chooses bad or weird names.
We would go for a truly awful title to make it self demonstrating, but this trope usually has the description of the thing stated in the show, just to make it clear how awful the name is.
And this is just about characters, not any work/trope title you don't like. We will nuke any such entries.
Just for Fun
, we have a page devoted to trope titles as they might be devised by a Giver of Lame Names - see Lousy Alternate Titles
can overlap with this. Not to be confused with The Nicknamer
, no matter how lame those nicknames are.
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Anime & Manga
- Renge from Air Master. She has a tendency to give ridiculously bad names for Maki's signature moves, before one of the other girls interrupt her with a better name. They routinely joke that she has "No naming-sense".
- Finland from Axis Powers Hetalia tried to name his pet dog "Go For It! Bomber" before his partner Sweden stopped him. And then he went for "Bloody Flower Egg"....
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, in an extra story in the manga, Col. Mustang says Lt. Hawkeye is this after she adopts an abandoned puppy and names it "Black Hayate."
- There's also an omake about how the code names were chosen. The ones chosen by Mustang were completely sensible - Elizabeth, Kate... Riza had the honour of choosing Breda's name. "Bre-ko". (-ko is used for feminine names.) The English version went with "Bredette" to give the same connotation.
- In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Kafuka Fuura gives her teacher, Nozomu Itoshiki, the name "Pink Supervisor" after he tries to kill himself by hanging from a cherry tree in full bloom. He of course hates it, thus prompting Fuura to try and pay Itoshiki to allow her to call him that.
- Konoe Subaru from Mayo Chiki!.
- Luffy from One Piece. Generally his nicknames and names involve food, though his first three names for the crew's new ship were "Bear!! Polar bear!! Lion", "Tiger!! Wolf!! Lion", and "Squid!! Octopus!! Chimpanzee" (his fourth name finally brought him back to his comfort zone with "Dumpling, Gorilla, Lion")
- Hayate the Combat Butler gives us Student Council President Hinagiku Katsura. Despite being amazing at almost everything, if she names anything it will be immediately called out by whoever is present. They aren't weird or long names either, just really, really simplistic such as basically naming a baby sparrow 'brown bird'. Hayate typically is exasperated by her naming sense, which is funny when you consider that his naming sense is literally just as bad...both named Athena "A-tan", notably a character longer than her actual name.
- Fairy Tail has Laki Olietta, who gives incredibly bizarre names to her attacks like "The Damn of Shy Love" and "The Distance Between Two People is Forever". Often, her opponents will pause in confusion and ask what those names are supposed to mean.
- Yozora in Haganai is consistently bad at naming things. She calls her air friend "Tomo-chan", which means "Friendy", more or less. The name "Neighbours Club" is one of the many aspects of her club proposal that don't impress Kodaka. She names Sena's dating-game character Semoponume at random, but then keeps using it like it's a sensible name. Even her nicknames are unimaginative, from "Meat" for Sena to "Night" for her own RPG character (it's just the first kanji in her name)... and of course "Sora" for herself, unwittingly matching Kodaka's equally lazy nickname "Taka" note .
- In Azumanga Daioh, Tomo declares that the Osakan transfer student will henceforth be called Osaka. Dismayed (but stuck with the name), she tests a suspicion by asking Tomo if she has any pets. Indeed she does: a dog named Spot and a cat named Whiskers.note
- In K-On!, both Mio and Yui are this, at least to Ritsu. When the club finds it needs a name for their band, Mio's names come out too sweet and sappy, while Yui suggests "Gum On The Bottom Of My Shoe", "Ring Finger In The Dresser Drawer", "Clenched Fist", and "Rocket Pencil". Later, Ritsu says that Mio's song titles "are as 'unique' as ever."
- In Ranma ˝, Pantyhose Taro had the misfortune of being named by Happosai due to his village's tradition of letting the person who helps deliver the child name them, and Happosai just happened to be nearby and (in a rare moment of altruism) decided to help his mother when she went into labor. He hates his name and seeks to defeat Happosai so he can get a new one, since Happosai refuses to change it otherwise.
- Seiryo Tenna of Tenchi Muyo GXP is not the most competent person in the first place, but when naming his ship and finding out that all of the "lucky" names he wanted were taken he decided to call it the Unko, meaning "bringer of fortune" — which, unfortunately, is a homonym for a word that also means poop.
- Isshin Matoi of Kill la Kill named the anti-Kiryuin organization he founded Nudist Beach, and while It Makes Sense in Context (clothing and those who make it in this world are very powerful) everyone who hears the name comments on how stupid it sounds. He also named an invention of his the "Rending Scissors", something mocked by an an opponent of his, and this tendency is said to be due to his habit of just naming things what they are. He even gave his own daughter a name that can translate to "abandoned child" which is distressingly spot on once we learn her backstory, doubling as Foreshadowing.
- In All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson, age 12, tells The Goddamn Batman that "Batmobile" sounds lame.
Batman Crazy Steve visibly takes offense and tells Dick to shut up. Later he rants at Black Canary for making the same mistake.
- In the "The Wake" storyline for Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series, some of The Endless create a golem and ask Delerium to name him. After Delerium's first suggestion, "Plippy Ploppy Cheese Nose", Death has to give her a little guidance in naming conventions.
- In one Ultimate Fantastic Four comic, Ben, Sue, and Johnny all complain that Reed can't name things (the example they give being "The Fantasti-car"). Dr. Storm then says they should let Johnny name the shuttle Reed's reinventing. He names it the "Awesome". Reed is not amused.
- And later, just before the title got canceled, Ben is on his own and helps set up a shuttle to save Sue. He comments that "I finally got to name one of these doohickeys myself" while we see that the shuttle sports the name "Awesome II".
- In the Injustice: Gods Among Us tie-in comic, Green Arrow is being picked on by Harley Quinn for the name of his lair, the Arrowcave. Harley then asks him why didn't he just call it "The Quiver" (a case for holding arrows).
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye brings us Crankcase, who manages to deflate his attempt at playing Big Damn Heroes by naming a borrowed Humongous Mecha "Mighty Mega Puncher". He also thinks the name "Mighty Spaceship" sounds noble and majestic. In his defense, he is missing a chunk of his head.
Films — Animation
- In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, most of Flint's inventions have pretty straightforward names, even if they don't exactly roll off the tongue (Hair Un-balder, anyone?). However, his latest invention has the unwieldy title of "Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator" or FLDSMDFR for short.
- As seen in the Western Animation section below, the military in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut are spectacularly literal minded with their operation names. The first wave of their attack plan, consisting of African American soldiers, is called Operation Human Shield, and the second wave is Operation Get Behind the Darky.
- Subverted then played straight in Monsters, Inc.: When a co-worker catches Mike yelling at Sulley, Mike plays it off as rehearsing for the company musical, improbably named "Put That Thing Back Where it Came from, or So Help Me...." Later played straight when it's revealed that they actually did put on the musical.
- A young Indian brave came to the chief asking how new children in the tribe are named. The Chief responded "When I hear a new child born in tribe, I go outside of teepee. If I see a eagle flying, I name him "Soaring-Eagle". If I see a bear I name him "Proud-Bear". Why do you ask, Two-Dogs-Fucking?"
Films — Live-Action
- In Down Periscope, we learn early that the electrician's name is "Nitro". But he's working on a nickname: "Mike".
- In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the knights meet an awesome enchanter, who ostentatiously causes huge explosions, teleports within one such, and wields a staff of flame. He declaims his status loudly, and when asked his name, responds, "There are some who call me.... Tim?"
- In the Wild Wild West movie, Artemus Gordon was constantly using long, awkward terms to name his inventions.
- Leonard of Quirm invents loads of things, but his names for them just don't work. They are exact, but so wordy they won't catch on.
- There's a lot of lampshading of this one — for example, he has a device which is designed to be "submerged in a marine environment." Naturally, he names it the "Going-Under-The-Water-Safely Device."
- In Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, during the course of preparing a cheese sandwich, he redesigns a war machine to pull a plough and, since it's key feature is traction, calls it the Machine For Pulling Heavy Loads. Also, to keep dairies cool for the cheese, he invents a device for regulating temperature by means of metal strips coupled to pulleys. He calls it the Device For Regulating Temperature By Means of Metal Stips (Coupled to Pulleys)
- The Make Words With Tiles That Have Been All Mixed Up Game!
- And his code-breaking Engine for the Neutralisation of Information via the Generation of Miasmic Alphabets.
- Lancre as a country is repeatedly said to suffer from this sort of thing, for two reasons. Firstly, its largely rural and uncomplicated population tend to choose names without regard for meaning ("There'd be a little Chlamydia running around today if her mother hadn't decided Sally was easier to spell"); and secondly, the Lancrastian naming custom dictating that whatever the naming priest says at the appropriate moment is the name. This has led to such gems as Princess Esmeralda Margaret Note Spelling, King My God He's Heavy the First, and James What The Hell's That Cow Doing In Here Poorchick.
- Lancre is also the home of the unfortunate Carter family. They started by naming the daughters after virtues (Chastity, Charity, Patience and so on), which is traditional. Then they got a little bit confused and wound up naming their sons after vices. This has worked out interestingly - all the children have natures completely opposed to their names (Anger Carter is even-tempered, and Bestiality Carter is very kind to animals, but Charity is famously stingy and Chastity is a lady of negotiable affection).
- And then there are the Wee Free Men, including Not-as-Big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-Bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock. You have to get specific with Jocks among the Feegles.
- One-Man-Bucket from Reaper Man is from a tribe where new babies are named for the first thing seen by the mother when they look outside the tent (in this case, his name is short for "One Man Pouring a Bucket of Water Over Two Dogs"). His twin brother, born a few moments prior, would have given his right arm to be called Two-Dogs-Fighting.
- In the book and film Where The Heart Is, Lexie names her kids after the food she craved while pregnant with them.
- In Things Snowball by Rich Hall, Morpheus, the bestower of superhero powers, is partially deaf and liable to mispronounce names. This has resulted, for example, in the superhero duo Mer-Man and Insect Boy (The guardian of the ocean depths and the vanguard of the insect kingdom) emerging from their naming ceremonies as Merman, an Orthodox Jew superhero who refuses to fight crime on the sabbath (to the delight of supervillains everywhere) and Incest Boy, whose superpower activation ritual involves his family in rather disturbing ways.
- Harry Potter
- Hermione starts the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare in the fourth book. Too bad she didn't pause to realize what the acronym was...
- The Malfoys seem to be this in-universe. Ron snickers at Draco's name, and Draco's son Scorpius is met with some derision.
- Seems to run in the Black family (of which Draco's mother was a member) since his maternal cousin Tonks hates that her mother gave her the first name Nymphadora because of the similarity to the word nymphomaniac.
- In Life of Pi, the tiger Richard Parker got his name from erroneous paperwork: the hunter who captured him accidentally wrote his own name in the space for the name of the animal, and a literal-minded clerk dutifully reproduced the error. The hunter's own first and last names were thus recorded as "Thirsty None Given".
- In the short-lived western spoof Legend (not to be confused with the movie, but from the same people who made The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr..), the inventor Bartok gives overly long names for his inventions.
- Stargate Atlantis
- A recurring theme. Lieutenant Ford was supposed to be terrible at naming things, but his names really weren't that bad. For example he wanted to call the original people from Atlantis the Atlantians. Shepperd scoffed at that, but it wasn't that different from the name they eventually used anyway.
- Similarly, a number of people tried to name the Lantian shuttle a GateShip (it's a ship that goes through the Gate!), which turned out to be what the Atlanteans originally called it. This was shot down, again by Sheppard, who decided to call it a Puddle Jumper. It stuck.
- And the Wraith never use names (if they even have them) around humans, so Sheppard took to naming them things like "Michael", "Todd", and "Kenny". Lampshaded when Dr. McKay got jealous that Sheppard always got to name everything.
- In Stargate Universe, after discovering the alternate crew from "Twin Destinies" were actually sent back in time and founded their own civilisation, Adam Brody never lives down the fact that his doppleganger named a country "Futura".
- Phoebe in Friends. Regina Phalange anyone?
- Not to mention the time she legally changed her name to "Princess Consuela Regina Banana-Hammock".
- In the French series Kaamelott, this is a habit of young knights Gauvain and Yvain, mostly because they're trying to use words that they think sound cool without having a clue of their meaning. Gauvain insists on the nickname "Knight of the Pancreas". For their duo, they came up with the name "Les Petits Pédestres" (which sound a lot like "The Little Faggots"). After encountering traveling Indians with an elephant, Yvain wanted to be called "The Elephant of Cameliard" — but he got it mixed with "The Orphan of Cameliard", starting the rumor that his parents, the king and queen of Cameliard, were dead. They weren't pleased.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy's mom once formed an organization called "Mothers Opposed to the Occult," or MOO. The other characters were not impressed.
- In the Community episode, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Abed is shown to be not very good at naming characters, with examples such as Bing-Bong, Zippididoo, Maarrr, and...
- Dean of Supernatural earned his place on this page in season 6, when Eve started creating her brand new monster hybrids.
Dean: What do you call these?
Bobby: Well, congrats, you discovered it, you get to name it.
- Sam and Bobby were understandably skeptical.
- On The Daily Show, most of the segments involve Punny Titles that Jon Stewart or his staff come up with to riff on the media issue he's discussing. Occasionally Stewart will go through a series of lame or unfortunate versions before settling on the final one. For instance, one section was titled "Jon Stewart Touches Kids" and once that's rejected "Jon Stewart Looks at Children's Things" and "Uncle Jon Wants to Show You Something".
- On Scrubs: "Janitor lunch eater."
- In the Horrible Histories song about the Pilgrim Fathers, when they're trying to name towns in the New World, one guy says "I'm from Newcastle, can we call this New Newcastle?" Everyone else's reaction makes it pretty clear they think this is a lame name, even though all their own had just been "New (Place in England)" too.
- In Good Luck Charlie PJ was supposed to be named after a relative "Patty (Patrick) John" but Bob messed up while registering his birth, so when PJ sees his birth certificate he finds his name is actually shown as "Potty John". Bob tries to get it corrected, but PJ's name is now officially "PP" Duncan.
- In Dinosaurs, the Elder is responsible for giving all dinosaur babies names, and his clerk makes it official. Unfortunately, the clerk writes down whatever the Elder says during the ceremony. Baby Sinclair's original given name was "Augh! Augh! I'm Dying, You Idiot!" when the Elder suffered a fatal heart attack. It made it very difficult for the family to play the Name Game.
- In The Castle, Thomas the inventor seems to follow the same invention-naming conventions as Leonard of Quirm.
- Patton Oswalt has a bit about a kid who wrote a movie which featured a horse named "Michael Tanner." He then, being Patton, says it's like having a sword, "crafted from pure, hot steel from the bowels of hell, and bonded with the soul of an ancient warlord, and its name is Gary Blevins!"
- The players from Darths & Droids consider the GM to be one of these (and many times end up taking Sally's names instead).
- In Everyday Heroes, Mr. Mighty once worked for a superhero group known as the Group Of Official Do-Gooders United In Suppressing Evil... or for short, GOODGUISE.
- Young-and-Beautiful of Goblins gives names to the goblins of her village based on what's destined for them. While some get names like Chief or Fumbles, there's also Dies-Horribly, Can't-Think-of-a-Name-Cause-He-Looks-Like-a-Regular-Guy or Shaken-Unfairly. And calling herself "Young-and-Beautiful" when she's a fat old hag. Guess from where Complains-of-Names gets his monicker (and why, for that matter)? And then there's the fact all the names she gives are very, very accurate (except possibly her own, though we never see her when she was young). Which is why Dies-Horribly is such a mental wreck...
- Then there's the shaman who gives goblins names like 'Piss-off-I-Hava-Headache' ('Hava' to his friends) and 'Stop-The-Ceremony-I-Swallowed-A-Bug'.
- Jack in Zebra Girl.
- Appellomancers in Oglaf are wizards that have the power to name things. They are only shown renaming people to offensive names (that then changes the person's personality to suit their new name).
- Sensei Greg of El Goonish Shive first called his martial arts dojo Anime Style Martial Arts, and then considered renaming it Real Martial Arts. Nanase comments that he should consider hiring a marketing consultant.
- In this Scandinavia and the World, King Europe demonstrates his naming skills with the European Extremely Large Telescope.
- Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb. It's always the whatever-inator.
- Lampshaded (where else?) in another episode, where he reveals his very first invention: the Inator. (He couldn't decide what it would do at the time.)
- At one point he decides the "inator" name is responsible for his failures, and calls his latest invention a "non-inator" since it's not one.
- His rival was convinced that his latest invention was better than Doof's because it wasn't an "inator", but rather an "izer".
- Also from Phineas and Ferb, the Organization Without a Cool Acronym, which may be slightly better off than the Leauge Of Villainous Evildoers Maniacallly United For Frightening Investments in Naughtiness (also named by Doofenschmirtz).
- In the Family Guy "Blue Harvest" Star Wars parody, Grand Moff Tarkin (voiced by Adam West) announces to Princess Leia his plans to use the "Death Star Planet Blower-Upper Gun" on her home planet of Alderaan.
- In the series proper, when Peter declares his house a sovereign country, the military arrives and threatens to commence "Operation Bomb the Crap Out Of Your House". The guy declaring this then adds, "The guy who names things is on vacation."
- Avatar: The Last Airbender Sokka and Toph tend to do this a lot. Suki's sole attempt, however, was considered too lame even by them, and in the last episode they tell her "Leave the nicknames to us, honey."
- In The Simpsons, when Marge becomes a Moral Guardian, she forms the protest group SNUH (Springfieldians for Nonviolence, Understanding and Helping).
- The Military in the South Park movie "Imaginationland", whose projects and operations tend to be a little too on the nose: i.e. Project Imagination Doorway and Operation Nuke the Imagination Through the Imagination Doorway.
- In one episode of Time Squad, the Earl of Sandwich attempts to give his new food creation the moniker of "Stinky Pile o' Poo". He claims that it was his mother's maiden name.
- Invader Zim seems to like giving out overly long names as part of his Large Ham persona, including "Burger Lord," "Human Dog Monster," and "Frolicking Dirt Child."
- Danny Phantom Jazz has this problem, mostly because she insists on being "helpful" by giving names that are unnecessary to boot (such as calling Danny's ghost hunting team "the Ghost Getters" or trying to rename Sulker "Ghost X"). Her parents are just as bad (they named a normal baseball bat "The Fenton Anti-Creep Stick").
- Due to problems of politics, Canada's Progressive Conservative Party once split into multiple parties, one of which called itself the Reform Party. Later, in a bid to "unite the right", the Reform Party merged with a number of other splinters (but not the main PC Party) Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party. This name was given on a Saturday by Reform leader Stockwell Day, and actually officially lasted until the following Monday before being changed to the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance (usually just called the Canadian Alliance). The party merged with the Progressive Conservatives to form a new Conservative Party of Canada three years later.
- Another Canadian example: The big hockey arena in Ottawa had its naming rights bought out by Scotiabank (sko-sha bank) in 2006. It is now known as Scotiabank place, a name that couldn't have taken more than 30 seconds to come up with and is quite reminiscent of Buffy Speak.
- Similarly the much more interestingly named Sky Dome (so named because it was a domed stadium that opened up so visitors could see the sky) was re-named the Rogers Centre when it was bought by Rogers Communications in 2005.