Many [[SpyDrama spy]], {{thriller}}, and {{speculative fiction}} novels follow a specific formula in their titles:

# The...
# Noun or person's/place's name, often something esoteric and classical that sounds like it could be code for something (often GratuitousGreek).
# Noun with political or [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic symbolic]] undertones. Also, often some type of document.

This creates a feeling of conspiracy, like the reader has just glimpsed the title on a sealed manila folder and now needs to dig through the secrets of powerful men to discover... just what ''is'' The Antigone Cypher?

Compare TheCrimeJob, TheCaseOf, and OminousLegalPhraseTitle. The MadLibFantasyTitle is another genre's version of this, but while the Fantasy title is likely to have specific ''words'' in it, it's not necessarily a three-part formula.

A random title generator following this formula is [[ here]].


[[folder:Robert Ludlum]]
Creator/RobertLudlum was quite fond of this trope, so he deserves his own folder... The Ludlum Folder.
* ''{{Literature/The Bourne|Series}}...''
** ''Identity''
** ''Supremacy''
** ''Ultimatum''
** By other authors:
*** ''Legacy''
*** ''Betrayal''
*** ''Sanction''
*** ''Deception''
*** ''Objective''
*** ''Dominion''
*** ''Imperative''
*** ''Retribution''
*** ''Ascendancy''
*** ''Enigma''
** ''Robert Ludlum's VideoGame/TheBourneConspiracy'', a video game based on the Matt Damon ''Bourne'' movies, follows this naming pattern.
* ''The Janson Directive''. Also its following sequels by other authors:
** ''The Janson Command''
** ''The Janson Option''
** ''The Janson Equation''
* ''The Scarlatti Inheritance''
* ''The Osterman Weekend''
* ''The Matlock Paper''
* ''The Rhinemann Exchange''
* ''The Gemini Contenders''
* ''The Chancellor Manuscript''
* ''The Holcroft Covenant''
* ''The Matarese Circle''
* ''The Parsifal Mosaic''
* ''The Aquitaine Progression''
* ''The Icarus Agenda''
* ''The Scorpio Illusion''
* ''The Apocalypse Watch''
* ''The Matarese Countdown''
* ''The Prometheus Deception''
* ''The Sigma Protocol''
* ''The Tristan Betrayal''
* ''The Ambler Warning''
* ''The Bancroft Strategy''
* The ''Covert-One'' series of novels, written by other authors supposedly based on Ludlum's ideas, also follows this naming convention:
** ''The Hades Factor''
** ''The Cassandra Compact''
** ''The Paris Option''
** ''The Altman Code''
** ''The Lazarus Vendetta''
** ''The Moscow Vector''
** ''The Arctic Event''
** ''The Ares Decision''
** ''The Janus Reprisal''
** ''The Utopia Experiment''
** ''The Geneva Strategy''
** ''The Patriot Attack''
* Parodied in ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' episode 405 ("''[[Film/TimeWalker Being from Another Planet]]''"). During the film a bookshelf is shown, and Joel and the 'Bots begin rattling off a LongList of fictional titles from "the Ludlum library".
* Also parodied in Series 4 Episode 6 of ''Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive'', which had a round called "The Bourne Ulti-Ludlum" whereby panel members drew [the] + [normal noun] + [exotic noun] from hats to create titles like "The Byzantium Potato". "Who thinks ''potato'' is an exotic noun?"
* Ludlum even parodied it himself, by having one character write bestselling thrillers which always have a single-word title connected to the action like "TANK!" or "SHARK!" -- other characters comment on how predictable he is for it.

[[folder:Other Literature]]
* Strangely enough of all of Creator/IanFleming's works, only a single ''Literature/JamesBond'' short-story actually fits this pattern: "[[Literature/ForYourEyesOnly The Hildebrand Rarity]]".
** Though not written by Fleming, the title of a spin-off novel series, ''The Moneypenny Diaries'', definitely counts (though the novels themselves don't follow this naming pattern).
** As does ''The Killing Zone'', an unofficial Bond novel by Jim Hatfield.
** As does ''The James Bond Dossier'', the first critical analysis of Creator/IanFleming's Bond novels by Kingsley Amis (who would later [[Literature/ColonelSun write a]] ''[[Literature/ColonelSun Bond]]'' [[Literature/ColonelSun novel himself]]).
* Creator/MichaelCrichton liked this one:
** ''Literature/TheAndromedaStrain''
** ''Literature/TheVenomBusiness''
** ''Literature/TheTerminalMan''
** ''The Death Divers''
* Creator/DanBrown's ''Literature/TheDaVinciCode''; and also ''The Solomon Key'', the working title for ''Literature/TheLostSymbol''.
* [[Creator/EllestonTrevor Adam Hall]] relied on this formula for his ''Literature/{{Quiller}}'' spy novels -- ''The Quiller Memorandum'', ''The Tango Briefing'', ''The Cobra Manifesto'', etc, until ''The Peking Target''. Then after that it was ''Quiller Northlight'', ''Quiller Barracuda'', ''Quiller's Run'' and so on.
* Peter F. Hamilton's sci-fi trilogy ''Literature/NightsDawn'' has a different name for the series, but two of the individual novels follow this pattern:
** ''The Reality Dysfunction''
** ''The Neutronium Alchemist''
* Most ''Literature/ArtemisFowl'' books:
** ''The Arctic Incident''
** ''The Eternity Code''
** ''The Opal Deception''
** ''The Atlantis Complex''
* ''Literature/TheLaundryFiles'' books are entirely named “The (Something) (Document(s))”:
** ''The Atrocity Archive''
** ''The Jennifer Morgue''
** ''The Fuller Memorandum''
** ''The Apocalypse Codex''
** ''The Rhesus Chart''
** ''The Annihilation Score''
* Creator/FrederickForsyth:
** ''Literature/TheOdessaFile''
** ''The Kill List''
* Literature/{{Trevanian}}:
** ''The Eiger Sanction''
** ''The Loo Sanction''
* ''Literature/TheLookingGlassWars''
* ''The Xanadu Talisman'', from the ''Literature/ModestyBlaise'' series.
* ''The Damascus Cover'' by Howard Kaplan. The upcoming movie version lost the "The".
* ''The Cobra Event'' by Richard Preston.
* Creator/LisaShearin uses this one for her "SPI Files" UrbanFantasy series, creating suitably espionage-flavored titles like ''The Grendel Affair'', ''The Dragon Conspiracy'', ''The Brimstone Deception'' and ''The Ghoul Vendetta''.
* The original US edition of ''[[Literature/LordPeterWimsey Unnatural Death]]'' by Dorothy Sayers was titled ''The Dawson Pedigree'', though later editions have reverted to Sayers' title.
* Creator/JoWalton has [[ said]] that, [[WhatCouldHaveBeen if she hadn't been sticking to theme naming]] for her "Literature/SmallChange" series, ''Ha'Penny'' would have been called ''The Hamlet Bomb''.
* ''Literature/TheCaineMutiny''. It's not a thriller, but the title fits, and is ominous enough.
* Even "respectable" literary fiction can indulge in a Mad Lib Thriller Title now and then, like the Goncourt-winning Kamel Daoud novel ''The Meursault Investigation''.
* ''The Gun Seller'', something of a parody of thriller novels in general, written by Hugh Laurie.
* Parodied in the Literature/{{Discworld}} novel ''Discworld/TheLastContinent'', where a humorous aside notes how any self-improving book you bring along for [[AirportFantasy beach reading]] seems to transform into a conspiracy thriller with at least [[GratuitousGreek one Greek letter]] in the title, like ''The Gamma Imperative'' or ''The Mu Kau Pi Caper''.
* Novelist Creator/SalmanRushdie amuses himself by making up Mad Lib Thriller Titles for [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespeare]] plays. [[ Some of Rushdie's inventions]]:
** ''[[Theatre/{{Macbeth}} The Dunsinane Deforestation]]''
** ''[[Theatre/{{Hamlet}} The Elsinore Vacillation]]''
** ''[[Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice The Rialto Forfeit]]''
** ''[[Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet The Capulet Infatuation]]''
** ''[[Theatre/{{Othello}} The Kerchief Implication]]''
** ''[[Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream The Solstice Entrancement]]''
* In ''They Eat Puppies, Don't They?'' by Creator/ChristopherBuckley, defense-contractor lobbyist Walter "Bird" [=McIntyre=] moonlights as a thriller writer, being the author of ''The Armageddon Infiltration'', ''The Armageddon Immolation'' and ''The Armageddon Exfiltration''.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Franchise/{{Tintin}}'': ''The Calculus Affair'', and a few others.

* ''Film/TheChinaSyndrome''
* ''Film/TheIpcressFile''
* ''Film/TheParallaxView''
* ''Film/ThePelicanBrief''
* ''Film/ThePoughkeepsieTapes''
* ''Film/TheRussiaHouse''
* ''Film/TheHudsuckerProxy'' -- which is odd, seeing as it's a screwball comedy.
* ''Film/TheSantaClause''
** ''The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause''
** ''The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause''

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheMiddleMan'' does a variation of this (with ''two'' meaningful-sounding nouns or, occasionally, adjectives in the middle) for EVERY EPISODE:
** ''The Pilot Episode Sanction''
** ''The Accidental Occidental Conception''
** ''The Sino-Mexican Revelation''
** ''The Manicoid Teleportation Conundrum''
** ''The Flying Fish Zombification''
** ''The Boy Band Superfan Interrogation''
** ''The Cursed Tuba Contingency''
** ''The Ectoplasmic Pan-Hellenic Investigation''
** ''The Obsolescent Cryogenic Meltdown''
** ''The Vampiric Puppet Lamentation''
** ''The Clotharian Contamination Protocol''
** ''The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome''
* Whether [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries live]] or [[WesternAnimation/StarTrekTheAnimatedSeries animated]], classic ''Franchise/StarTrek'' liked these titles, with examples such as ''The Corbomite Maneuver'', ''The Enterprise Incident'', ''The Lorelei Signal'', ''The Ambergris Element'', and many more.
** ''[[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration Next Generation]]'' continued to carry the tradition, although a bit less enthusiastically: ''The Icarus Factor'' and ''The Vengeance Factor'' are perhaps the only inarguable examples.
** ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' also got into the act, with ''The Omega Directive'', ''The Voyager Conspiracy'', and ''The Killing Game''.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** ''The Macra Terror''
** ''The Sontaran Experiment''
** ''The Shakespeare Code'' - a deliberate pastiche of this title type.
** ''The Lazarus Experiment''
** ''The Sontaran Stratagem''
** The ExpandedUniverse Telos Novella ''The Dalek Factor''.
* In ''Series/{{Warehouse 13}}'', [[PlayfulHacker Claudia Donovan]] tries to hack into the Warehouse computer and finds out that this was anticipated, and she's activated something called the "Donovan Contingency". Her reaction: "Cool! I'm the star of a Ludlum novel."
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'' features The Dharma Initiative.
* Every episode title from ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'' ("The Fuzzy Boots Corollary", "The Hamburger Postulate", etc.). It should be noted that these are intended to sound scientific, rather than thrilling.
* Parodied in a ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' segment for fictional author Harlan Kane's new novel, ''The Abacus Conundrum''. Other books by the author [[LongList include]] ''The Medici Codex'', ''The Genghis Rubicon'', ''The Harlequin Protocol'', ''The Ichabod Formula'', ''The Pinochet Sudoku'', ''The Nostradamus Mechanism'', ''The Godiva Gyroscope'', ''The Pokemon Directive'', ''The Vespucci Containment'', ''The Fuddrucker Ultimatum'', ''The Marmaduke Betrayal'', ''The Brenda Effect'', ''The Picasso Embrogio'', and ''[[OddNameOut Mac For Dummies]]''.
* British game show, Series/TheKryptonFactor.
* The quiz show Jeopardy! had an entire category about this trope in the “Battle of the Decades” tournament called “Make Your Own Spy Novel Titles” where contestants would see a “word equation” and you had to give the title which sounded like a spy novel. For Example,
Clue: “The + a Mongol emperor's poetic palace + a type of papal teaching letter first issued in 1740“
Correct Response: “The Xanadu Encyclical”

[[folder:Video games]]
* ''VideoGame/TheTalosPrinciple''

* [[ This]] ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'' comic pokes fun at a similar theme among espionage video games.
** Now HilariousInHindsight thanks to RealLife example [[UsefulNotes/TheWarOnTerror Odyssey Dawn]].
* ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'': ''[[ The Corliss Resolution]]'' (to ''The UsefulNotes/FermiParadox'').
* ''WebComic/TheDoghouseDiaries''

[[folder:Web Video]]
* ''[[WebAnimation/HomestarRunner Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective]]''

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Every episode of the ''WesternAnimation/MenInBlack'' cartoon was titled in this style as "The (Insert Subject Here) Syndrome''.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* [[UsefulNotes/IsraelisWithInfraredMissiles Israel's]] nuclear strategy is called "[[TakingYouWithMe The Samson Option.]]" Note that this isn't the official name. There ''is'' no official name, since [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial there is no official status of Israel's nuclear capability]].
* UsefulNotes/TheMoscowCriterion was a Cold War era term referring to the ability of British nuclear weaponry to pierce Soviet defences and annihilate Moscow.
* An animal which seemingly disappears from the fossil record only to reappear at a later point is known as a "Lazarus taxon".
* The Xanthos Obelisk, The Letoon Trilingual, The Pyrgi Tablets... what do you mean, they're all just [[ bilingual inscriptions]]?
* The Manhattan Project, the US programme to develop the first nuclear weapons during World War II.
A few trope names have a MadLibThrillerTitle as well. Coming soon to a wiki near you:
* TheDulcineaEffect
* TheFireflyEffect
* TheSchizophreniaConspiracy
* TheTetrisEffect
* TheWorfEffect
* [[XanatosGambit The Xanatos Gambit]]