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Ironic Name
So, you're watching a new show on TV. You notice the series has a gloomy-looking Goth character and you wonder what they named her. Maybe something dark like "Raven" or "Misery" or "Lady Death".

They reveal her name, and it's... Sunshine? The gloomy-looking character's name is Sunshine?

Yes, sometimes, a character is given a name that is ironic considering their personality, lifestyle, or whatnot. Often, this is Played for Laughs, but more serious examples do exist.

See Ironic Nickname for cases when the character's nickname, instead of their given name, is ironic.

Related to Fluffy the Terrible, where a scary monster or animal is given a decidedly non-scary name, Deathbringer the Adorable, where a cute, relatively harmless animal is given an imposing name, and Tom the Dark Lord, which applies Special Person, Normal Name to an evil character.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • With The Light
    • Hikaru's full name is Azuma Hikaru, or "light of the East," and upon hearing this name, his new father Masato's first hope was that Hikaru would grow up to climb the corporate ladder. Which... he most likely won't do.
    • Miyu means "beautiful feather", but she acts far less delicate than her name would suggest, as does the fifth-grade kendo champ Misaki, whose name means "beautiful blossoms."
  • The given name of Nozomu Itoshiki of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei means hope, which is ironic in light of his deeply pessimistic personality. It ends up becoming a Meaningful Name though in that due to a quirk in Japanese, the way his name is spelled in a western way (left to right rather than up to down) leads it to being misread as Zetsubou, meaning "Despair" or "Hopeless".
    • On the opposite side his brother Mikoto's name is written with the Kanji for 'Life', a Meaningful Name given he's a doctor by trade. When added to his family name in the same way, it becomes the Ironic Name Zetsume, meaning "Death".
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund: Why on Earth would someone name a son pledged as the personal servant of the (reasonably benevolent) Vampire Monarch he has served his whole life Daybreak? Yes, that is exactly how Akira Regendorf's given name is written.
  • Hataraku Maou-sama! has a character named Miki Shiba. According to her, Miki means "shining beauty", which doesn't describe her at all.
  • Bleach:
    • Baraggan Louisenbairn, the Segunda Espada, has a name inspired by a Mexican architect, Luis Barragán. Despite the fact that Las Noches (Barragan's base of operations) didn't even have walls or a roof when Sousuke Aizen showed up to take control.
    • Kaname Tosen named the Proto-Arrancar White even though its body is pitch black. Aizen commented on the irony.
  • Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge: Iwai's name means celebration. However, as she points out, she has nothing to celebrate due to her curse and the various dangers in her life.
  • In the final episode of The08th Ms Team, Shiro Amada, whose name is a homophone of the Japanese word for white, adopts a group of Artificial Newtype children, the eldest of whom is a black boy who is rechristened as Shiro Amada Junior.
  • Killer from One Piece seems to have an ironic name (if it's his real name, of course). Among all eleven Supernovae, he's the Only Sane Man and anything but Ax-Crazy. He's the one who has to keep his captain, Eustass Kid, calm.

    Comics 

    Film 
  • The main family's last name in The Incredibles is Parr, meaning "average". Something the Parrs definitely are not.
  • Benigno's name in Pedro Almodóvar's Talk to Her translates as "harmless", and it certainly seems to fit the sweet, demure nurse, until it is revealed he has raped Alicia, the coma patient in his care.
  • In The Impostors, Happy Franks is so depressed he keeps trying to kill himself.

    Literature 
  • Discworld
    • The Carters from Lords and Ladies: the daughters, as is traditional, are all named after virtues (Hope, Patience, Chastity), but then Mr and Mrs Carter got a bit confused and named all the sons after vices (Bestiality, Covetousness, Anger). None of the children live up to their names.
    • Adora Belle Dearheart from Going Postal is anything but adorable. Most people who know her call her "Killer". Her love interest, Moist von Lipwig, calls her "Spike". Mind you, she's a wonderful person, just not "adorable".
  • Pippin Galadriel Moonshine in Good Omens goes by Pepper, as she is a short scruffy tomboy with a temper.
  • Festina Ramos from The League of Peoples Verse: in Expendable, she bitterly notes in her narration that "Festina" means "The Happy One" and her typical state of mind is anything but happy.
  • The Kitty Norville series is about a werewolf named Kitty. Whenever anyone comments on it, she says the name came first.
  • In Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light, the twisted, monstrous villain with darkness-related powers is named Evangelos, which means "Messenger of Light".
  • In the Robin Hood stories, Little John's Ironic Nickname directly derives from his given name, John Little.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
    • Two of the Freys have names that are ironic in terms of who they are named for. The severely mentally retarded Aegon (generally known as Jinglebell because his jerkass grandfather makes him act as a jester) is named after a great military leader and ruler. Similarly, Rhaegar Frey, a slimy and totally mediocre man, is named after a Pretty Boy Knight in Shining Armor who was both a sensitive intellectual and a military genius.
    • In-universe, "Spotted Pate" is a folklore character who, while dim-witted, was Born Lucky and always succeeds/makes nobles look ridiculous (basically the equivalent to Jack, Hans, etc. in our folklore). As a result, it is a popular name for Westerosi peasants. However, (perhaps because they are peasants) most of the Pates in-story are singularly unlucky:
      • At one point, the outlaw Tom O'Sevens is listing his grievances against the Lannisters, and he names at least five Pates he knew whose deaths he blames on them, including his cousin Ser Pate who was killed in a tourney by Gregor Clegane.
      • Another Pate is the royal whipping boy and gets flogged for bad deeds by the Princes (or just when Cersei wants to teach her son a lesson).
      • Pate of Oldtown was murdered and had his identity stolen by a shape-shifting assassin.
  • Each of John Steakley's novels features a character named Felix ("happy/lucky") who is Blessed with Suck.
  • Varsian the Immortal from Lacuna dies moments after introducing himself.
  • A much more subtle example is from Harry Potter. Amycus Carrow is one of Voldemort's Death Eaters, but his name is a variation on the Latin word amicus which means friend.
  • The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter features a character named John Singer. He's a deaf mute.
  • In Garry Kilworth's House Of Tribes, every single member of the mouse tribe "Invisibles" has that kind of a name; Hearallthings (deaf), Goingdownfast (an excellent swimmer), Ferocious (the meekest one), etc.
  • The eponymous character of the Koziolek Matolek series has a name that means literally "silly billy-goat". However, he isn't really stupid, and the narrative even notes several times how smart and clever he is.
  • Felix Castor: What do you call a character who accidentally killed his own little sister a second time, accidentally made his best friend's Demonic Possession permanent (and had to do it a second time to save the world) and is in unrequited love with a lesbian succubus? If you're Mike Carey, you name him Felix ("lucky") and, for good measure, name the poor bastard with the chronic Demonic Possession Rafael.
  • In the foreword of Agatha Christie's The Labours of Hercules, the irony of Hercule Poirot's name (as he is a highly cerebral Lawful Good Armchair Detective named after an Anti-Heroic Boisterous Bruiser) is pointed out to him by a classicist, leading him to take a series of 12 cases with allusions to the classical labours of Hercules.
  • One of the protagonists of Doctrine of Labyrinths is named Felix, as in "lucky," but his misfortunes include Mind Rape, slavery, forced prostitution, physical torture, temporary insanity, incarceration in a dungeon and a Bedlam House,frame-ups for murder and treason, exile, and the horrible deaths of various people close to him.
  • In [1], Ryou's name means "cool" or "refreshing" (both relating to water because of kanji given by Word of God). Ryou has fire powers.
  • In Children of the Red King, the Heroic Albino character is named Billy Raven. However, it's also a bit of a Meaningful Name if you take his power into account.
  • In Everworld, Jalil at one point mentions that his name is Hindi for "godlike," and Lampshades how odd that is for an African-American atheist. Also, the queen of the Amazons is named Pretty Little Flower.
  • The short fantasy comedy Dragon In Distress has Sir George, who is trying to rescue his dragon. The irony comes from his namesake: St. George (Famed for being a dragonslayer.).
  • Shoemaker Snäll from Children of Noisy Village. Snäll is Swedish for kind, but he's an alcoholic Jerkass who abuses his dog.
  • In Isaac Asimov's Robot novels, the "Spacers" are humans from the fifty interstellar colony worlds. While the Spacer name is used by both people from Earth and the Spacers themselves, the Spacer Worlds are so utopian in terms of wealth and standard of living, and the Spacers themselves Long Lived and spoiled by luxury supported by armies of robot servants, that they have become chronically risk-averse, and the vast majority of them never actually leave the planets that they are born on to engage in space travel.
  • Patience, in Dinoverse. Impatience isn't her primary personality trait, but it's among them.
  • In one of the Queen's Thief books, Attolia and Eddis have a wry conversation about their ill-fitting birth names. Irene and Helen, respectively—one means peace, one is the woman whose face launched a thousand ships, and they know they don't fit the bill.
  • The name Petal from Warrior Cats is usually for a soft-spoken and kind she-cat. But as for Petal from Dawn Of The Clans...as Thunder says: "Which cat named her 'Petal'? There's nothing soft about her!" And the character Quick Water hates water, much to the amusement of Turtle Tail.
  • The Greater Good: Anyone who knows the word meaning would expect a planet named Fecundia to be a bountiful agri-world. Instead, it's a heavily polluted note  Forge World.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The show seems to love doing this. You'd think that characters with names like Angel, Faith, Harmony and Glory would be heroic characters, but they're all villains. While Angel does pull a Heel-Face Turn eventually, he's still a vampire and becomes more of an Anti-Hero than a shining example of heroism. Faith also does a Heel-Face Turn thanks to Angel. Harmony eventually becomes Angel's secretary. She's still evil, just not very good at it. Of the four, Glory is the only really purely evil one (and she's at least Faux Affably Evil).
    • It should be noted that Angel specifically picked his name to be ironic (his real name is Liam): he is the "vampire with the angelic face." His evil side, when it resurfaces, is referred to with the much more intimidating name of "Angelus."
  • The BBC show Merlin had a villain called Valiant, who was using underhanded tactics to cheat in a tournament.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Starting around season 3, Sheriff Rosco started a K-9 unit by acquiring Flash. Flash is a lazy Basset Hound who does nothing but loaf around, receive Rosco's affections, and occasionally bark at Boss Hogg.
  • Horatio Hornblower: Midshipman Clayton observes that there never has been a man more wrongly named than Captain Keene. He's an old and tired gentleman who keeps coughing and breathing heavily, barely managing to captain his ship. However, at least he can be an entertaining Deadpan Snarker, and surprisingly, he doesn't die of his illness and old age.
  • The Bible: Nebuchadnezzar sees the humor in sacking and burning Jerusalem.
    Nebuchadnezzar: (to his charioteer) You know what "Jerusalem" means? "City of peace!" (both laugh)
  • On House of Anubis it seems that Joy's name will never fit her life, considering she was kidnapped, the boy she loved for a while rejected her constantly and rather harshly, her friends all seemed to like Nina more, and when she finally fell in love again it was ripped away from her at the end. No wonder her nickname is Joyless...
  • In the final episode of The Nanny, C.C. Babcock's full name was revealed to be Chastity Claire, a very delicate and feminine name that contrasted sharply with the abrasive Ice Queen C.C. When the name was revealed, everybody in the room (including a woman in the middle of delivering a baby) all looked at her completely shocked.
  • The main villain of Tokumei Sentai Go Busters is called "Messiah". He is anything but.
  • A one-off villain in Have Gun — Will Travel is a gunslinger named Manfred. The irony of a hot-tempered killer being named "man of peace" in Old German is commented on by Paladin.

    Multiple Media 

    Music 
  • The members of ZZ Top are famed for their Badass Beards. Well, except for their drummer, Frank Beard, who has a Badass Mustache instead.
  • Lamb Of God quite frankly doesn't sound anything like the bunch of choir boys you'd expect. In fact, their previous band name, Burn the Priest, is actually much more fitting to the band's sound.
  • The country group Lady Antebellum is two-thirds male and obviously all of them were born after 1860.
  • OMC stands for Otara Millionaire's Club. Otara is an economically depressed area of Auckland which is unlikely to have many millionaires.
  • More than half of Superchic[k] is male, including both the secondary vocalist and founder.

    Radio 

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The Bible
    • In the book of Ruth, Naomi (whose name means "pleasant") lampshades her ironic name when she returns to Israel, telling the women of her hometown to call her "Mara" ("bitter") because her life has been anything but pleasant up until that point.
    • Absalom's name combines the words for "father" and "peace." He rebelled against his father, King David, and caused a civil war.
    • "Abimelech" means "my father is king." One bearer was the son of Gideon, a hero who was Offered the Crown but refused it, although that didn't stop Abimelech from trying to take over the country himself.

    Video Games 
  • Modern Warfare:
    • The first name of the terrorist you spend most of the game fighting (Vladimir Makarov) means "ruler of peace".
    • Shepherd is usually the nickname of someone who takes care of a group of people under his watch as best as he can, as well as protecting them from danger.
  • In Heavenly Sword, Nariko is a Japanese name that means "Gentle Child". She's anything but.
  • The first boss in Video Game/Madworld is a large hulking brute named Little Eddie. The commentators even lampshade the irony.
  • Golden Sun:
    • Isaac's name means "he laughs" but he's a Heroic Mime in the first game and mostly grumpy in the sequels.
    • Piers doesn't have any peers because of his age issues.
    • In The Lost Age, there's a master blacksmith who's too depressed to work (until you bring him a project that gets his interest). His name? Sunshine.
    • Matthew: Considering Isaac and Jenna's unpleasant history with the local God equivalent, why would they name their son "a gift from God"?
    • The legacy of the late Princess Veriti (Truth) turns out to be entirely false.
  • Raine in Tales of Symphonia is afraid of water.
  • Inazuma Eleven lampshades this with one of its managers, whose last name is Otonashi. Otonashi means "quiet"—the character is the opposite.
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl:
    • Cynthia's Japanese name Shirona (white) doesn't reflect her Champion room or her default outfit color at all.
    • Cyrus's Japanese name Akagi means "red (tree/castle/future)". Cyrus's most prominent color, as well as his personality, is blue.
  • In Kingdom Hearts:
    • The Illuminator Heartless shrouds the field in darkness.
    • Xion's name is pronounced "shion". The shion flower represents "remembrance" and is used as a gift to say "I won't forget you." She suffered a Ret Gone. However, Sora and the others gradually start remembering her again and it is implied Sora will be able to bring her back.
  • The Temperance boss in House of the Dead 4 is (according to Word of God, no less), the opposite of temperance: a giant, morbidly-obese frog-man.

    Webcomics 
  • Tiffany "Susan" Pompoms of El Goonish Shive always goes by her middle name, because she considers her actual first- and last-name to be too "perky and upbeat" for her cynical, sardonic personality. (Ironically, it's been made quite clear that if it wasn't for ONE traumatic childhood event, she would've wound up fitting her name just perfectly.)
  • Magellan has Charisma, who, while attractive, lacks personal charisma.
  • Achewood has Nice Pete, a sociopathic murderer.
    Ray: I ain't goin' there alone, because I don't want to, and you're tight with that Nice Pete creep he keeps around.
    Téodor: No one's tight with Nice Pete. He'd murder dead things if science would let him.
  • In Lapse, the main character's last name is "Fortune," however, the situation she finds herself in is less than fortunate.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Pipsqueak is anything but small.
    • Also, Mai, whose name means "Smile." She's pretty much played as a Goth who finds everything boring.
    • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, Korra's father is a huge man who towers over his wife, Senna. His name, Tonraq, is an Inuit word for "tiny man".
    • There's also Toph Beifong, whose name translates to "fragile lotus". She's anything but. It makes sense in context, though, as her parents certainly thought that she was fragile.
  • Ruby Gloom, from the eponymous show: her last name is "Gloom", but she is anything but gloomy.
  • Angelica from Rugrats. Although she acts angelic when she's around adults so they seldom catch on to her true bratty nature.
  • Johnny Test has Mr. Black and Mr. White, the former being caucasian and the latter being African-American.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has the leader of the Death Watch, Pre Vizsla. Vizslas are a breed of Hungarian pointer hounds known for being gentle mannered, very loyal and caring towards their owners, and quite compatible with children. Pre Vizsla is a Proud Warrior Race Guy who betrayed his monarch, loathes Jedi, leads a terrorist organisation, and burns down villages for fun.
  • Happens momentarily in The Transformers. Cliffjumper is the hot-headed Leeroy Jenkins of the Autobots who would gladly leap off a cliff to engage the Decepticons. Amusingly, the one time that the Autobots are called on to jump up a cliff, he's the only one who can't make the jump.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog
  • Similar to the Johnny Test example above, in Littlest Pet Shop (2012) the Bisket twins are named Whittany and Brittany, the former being black-haired and the latter being white-haired.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Fluttershy has a pet bunny rabbit named Angel. His behavior, however, is far from angelic.
  • Team Victory, one of the three teams of Total Drama World Tour, and by far the least successful.
  • The Brothers Flub: Guapo, the fat one, has a name that's Spanish for "handsome".
  • In the Rainbow Magic movie, the three dumb goblins are named Newton, Leonardo, and Edison.
  • In the South Park episode "The List", one of the ugly kids is named Jamal, which is Arabic for "beauty."
  • Hey Arnold! has Eugene, whose name means "born lucky." He...really wasn't. In fact he was apparently born in Friday the 13th.

    Real Life 
  • Freakonomics contains the examples of Winner Lane, whose most noted achievement was his criminal record and subsequent prison time, and Loser Lane, his brother, who ended up becoming much more successful (and now goes by "Lou").
  • An American destroyer captain led the destroyer charge that scored a number of torpedo hits at Surigao Strait during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. His name was Coward.
  • Similarly, John Coward was the first officer of British Airways Flight 38 and was in control of the plane when it lost power. Together with the other pilots he managed to get it down without any casualties. Afterwards, one newspaper had the headline "Coward in name only."
  • Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman Emperor, had the names of the legendary founder of Rome and the first Roman Emperor. Originally called Romulus Augustus, the -ulus was added, making the name "Little Augustus".
  • Comedian Adam Hills cites a real life example in his shows: he goes on a rant about irony and how many people don't understand it. After one such show, a woman comes up to him and informs him that she is diabetic. Her name is Candy.
  • There was this robber and murderer named Charles Peace...
  • One of the officers (and prime fall guy) responsible for the Rodney King beating is named Stacey Koon (for the blissfully unaware, 'Coon' is a highly derogatory term for a black person, and the Rodney King beating was probably racially motivated).
    Bill Hicks: So this guy, officer Koon... Is life too fucking weird, or what?
  • Similarly, the last racist anthropologist to be taken seriously was named Carleton Coon.
  • Lance Armstrong, a champion cyclist, a sport generally associated with leg strength (although like any sport that's only part of the equation).
  • From the NFL, retired New England Patriot Patrick Pass may very well have had the best quarterback name in history. Too bad he was a running back.
  • The symbol of Christianity is the cross. David Cross, on the other hand, is an atheist who was born Jewish.
  • GG Allin's birth name is Jesus Christ Allins. He grew up to become the most profane, obscene, transgressive, offensive, and infamous punk rocker of his day.
  • Noted atheist (or as he would put it: "anti-theist") Christopher Hitchens first name means "christ-bearer".
  • Andrea. Funny thing is, despite it sounding like a name for women, the original meaning comes from the Greek root of "man". Triples as an Unfortunate Name and Cross-Cultural Kerfluffle if a female with that name travels to Greece or Italy, as it will provoke only laughter.
  • Batman bin Suparman (which means Batman, son of Superman) is a Singaporean criminal.
  • The Google Chrome browser is named after what it's trying to have as little of as possible: the GUI part of the browser (tabs, address bar, title bar etc) which takes up screen real-estate.
  • A Gratuitous German example would be Governor Altgeld (De. old money) of Illinois, who kick-started the Progressive Era.
  • Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi is actually Sephardi, not Ashkenazi.

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