In the real world, many things are named after the person who invented them or made them famous. The most often-cited example is a certain easy-to-prepare meal popularized by John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.
(And then there's Thomas Crapper
, but that's another story, which we won't go into here.)
There are two easy ways of twisting this for comedic effect:
- Mention an invention that was named in this way, but get some detail wrong (for instance, by suggesting that John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, is famous for inventing the montagu).
- Mention an invention that wasn't named this way, but claim that it was.
Not to be confused with gags referring to the book and Film of the Book
titled The Namesake
, nor indeed jokes on the story's actual namesake
- In Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights, King Richard proclaims that, to remind everyone of Prince John's treachery, all toilets throughout England shall be called "Johns". (A modern American slang for toilet, for those that don't get the joke.) This one isn't actually that far off - unliked Richard the Third is Cockney rhyming slang for 'turd'.
- Dave Barry uses this a lot, in one instance referring to Earl Tupper, who of course invented Earlware.
- Dave Barry Slept Here names such historical American geniuses as President Monroe Doctrine ("who became famous for developing the policy for which he is named"), Alexander Graham Bell System, and General Marshall Plan. The Elizabethan Era is named after the queen Elizabeth Ann Era, the Hudson River is named after the famous Dutch explorer Henry Hudson River, and the inventor of the sandwich is Samuel Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. Samuel Morse invented, besides the telegraph, "the code named after him: Pig Latin."
- In Good Omens, Anathema Device is descended from the man who invented the device. She has an entire rant about forgotten inventors, who also include Humphrey Gadget, Pieter Gizmo, Cyrus T. Doodad, and Ella Reader Widget.
- And, Pulsifer's response (brought on by the rant) to hearing she's also a descendent of Agnes Nutter: "Let me guess, she invented the crazy person."
- Discworld series:
- In Feet of Clay there's a footnote about people with weapons named after them, and how they attract rumours that they were killed by their namesakes, beginning with the more-or-less historical Joseph Guillotin and ending with William Blunt-Instrument.
- In Monstrous Regiment, there's an entire Running Gag about the tendency for famous military men (such as Wellington and Cardigan) to get either food or items of clothing named after them. Several of the characters have surnames that are either foods or items of clothing in our world, and by the end of the book, they all have completely different foods or items of clothing named after them. (Lieutenant Blouse, for instance, is commemorated in a type of glove.)
- Soul Music mentions Sir Charles Lavatory, the Disc's equivalent to Thomas Crapper (and The Companion states his predecessor as head of the Plumbers' Guild was William Privy).
- The Fools Guild Diary reveals that the founder of that guild was Jean-Paul Pune, inventor of the play on words.
- Combined with Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" in Jingo, when the text has Vimes' internal monologue use the phrase 'Pavlovian response', despite Pavlov the animal psychologist not existing on the Discworld. A footnote notes that the said response was discovered by the wizard Denephew Boot, and is so named because it involved training a dog to eat a strawberry meringue when a bell was rung.
- Terry Pratchett likes this trope. In Johnny and the Dead, two unconnected people think the telephone was invented by Sir Humphrey Telephone.
- According to the 1971 satire Bust-Up: The Uplifting Tale of Otto Titzling and the Development of the Bra by Wallace Reyburn, the bra was invented in 1912 by Otto Titzling, but his invention and fame were stolen by the Frenchman Phillip de Brassiere. (The book inspired a song, which Bette Midler recorded in 1986 and reprised in the film Beaches. It was also recounted as fact in at least one edition of the board game Trivial Pursuit...)
- In one of the Wayside School books, the kids are playing music and wonder how the triangle got its name. They decide it can't be named for its shape because "then the tamborine would have to be called a circle", so they reason it must have been invented by Joe Triangle.
- 1066 and All That lists several inventions of the Victorian era with their inventors: roads were invented by Lord Macadam and his son Lord Tarmac; thermometers were invented by Lord Farqualquounheit; Mackintoshes were "invented by another Scottish nobleman whose name is now forgotten."
- "Ink and Incapability":
Blackadder: Baldrick, go to the kitchen and make me something quick and simple to eat, would you? Two slices of bread with something in between.
Baldrick: What, like Gerald Lord Sandwich had the other day?
Blackadder: Yes, a few rounds of geralds.
- Blackadder Back and Forth:
Blackadder: May I present to you, the greatest breakthrough in travel since Sir Rodney Tricycle thought to himself, "I'm bored of walking. I think I'll invent something with three wheels and a bell, and name it after myself"...
- There's an old Saturday Night Live sketch where a ball is attended by nobility with things named after them (Earl of Sandwich, Lord Worchestershire, Lord Salisbury) ...and Lord Douchebag.
- In the Red Dwarf episode "Parallel Universe", Holly speaks of his ambition to have an invention named after him, like the Earl of Sandwich, Samuel Morse and... Plato, inventor of the plate.
- In the Maid Marian and Her Merry Men episode "A Game Called John", the Sheriff invents a game that involves moving balls around on a cloth-covered table, and names it in honour of Prince John. After several varieties of hilarity ensue, including the Merry Men stealing all the green cloth to make uniforms, Prince John decides he doesn't want the game and gives it away, with all naming rights, to a random peasant — whose name turns out to be Snooker.
- In Get Smart, the Cone of Silence is so called because it was invented by Professor Cone.
- There's an Alas Smith and Jones sketch about László Bíró, the inventor of the ballpoint pen. This is true. The Namesake Gag comes in when he's worried that someone might steal his idea, and is assured there's no-one in the house except the servants: Bic the butler, Parker the chauffeur, Pentel the maid...
- From the Community episode "Pillows and Blankets":
"The North Cafeteria, named after Admiral William North, is located in the western portion of East Hall, gateway to the western half of North Hall, which is named not after William North, but for its position above the South Wall. It is the most contested and confusing battlefield on Greendale's campus, next to the English Memorial Spanish Center, named after English Memorial, a Portuguese sailor who discovered Greendale while looking for a fountain that cured syphilis."
- Horrible Histories had a sketch about the Earl of Sandwich inventing the sandwich. This was then followed by the culinary creations of his friends Baron Hotdog (silly) and Lord Turkey of Twizzler (very silly).
- In That Mitchell and Webb Look, the Giant Death Ray was in fact a Steam Punk barcode reader invented by a Mad Scientist named Dr Death.
- A common joke in Bleak Expectations. The hero, Sir Philip Bin, made his first fortune by inventing a cylindrical receptacle for putting rubbish in — although it takes several attempts before he thinks of naming it the "bin". (He then has to defend himself from a claim that he stole the idea from the American Hiram Trashcan.) The series also features Harry Biscuit, whose father invented the biscuit, and Dr Swim, who made the medical breakthrough that saved so many people from drowning.
- An episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue mentions Coco Chanel, "who, of course, invented the popular bedtime drink". (The joke was later reprised in one of the show's spin-off books.)
- Similarly, they claim that the Radio Times was named after the ancient Greek inventor of TV listings, Theradio Times (pronounced 'theh-rah-dio tee-mes').
- A sketch on The Burkiss Way concerned the Duke of Wellington, who employed an artisan to invent a foodstuff to be named after him. The result was Beef Wellington - A raw cow wearing gumboots. After months in hiding and painful 18th-century plastic surgery, the Duke re-emerges as the Earl of Sandwich, and employs the same artisan, who after months of experiments with hundreds of loaves of bread, produces... a single breadcrumb. Not very impressive on its own, but combine a large number of them together and you get... five hundred breadcrumbs threaded onto a piece of string.
- Neil Malarkey's lecture on barcodes in an episode of The Unbelievable Truth claimed that they were invented by Baron Felix von Barcode, a contemporary of Michael Electricity and Sir William Shaving-Foam.
- In one of the Fred Dagg radio sketches, Fred talks about Abraham Lincoln being shot by a man called Booth, who had something to do with the founding of the Salvation Army. Or possibly he was the guy who invented the telephone box.
- In one of Eddie Izzard's routines, fire was invented by a caveman named Jeff Fire. He insists he's going to become famous for his invention, which he's decided to call "Jeff".
- In 'Dentity Crisis by Christopher Durang, Edith Fromage claims to be the inventor of cheese.
- From the Jungle Cruise: "And on our left you'll see beautiful Schweitzer Falls, named after the famed explorer and philanthropist, Dr. Albert Falls."
- The Simpsons' hometown, Springfield, is named after founder Jebediah Springfield. Nothing unusual about that. However, nearby Shelbyville is named after its founder, Shelbyville Manhattan.
- The Deadly meteor shower is named after Martin Deadly.
- Mentioned as a gag in the Legendary Frog cartoon where Kerrigan decides to become an inventor and make millions. She says to her boyfriend, "Remember John from next door? John Velcro?"