Sometimes, a title makes no sense
. Sometimes, however, a title will make a sort of sense, but on later ponderings
, will be seen as misleading. Sometimes this is due to the title being an Artifact Title
or perhaps the writer simply thought it was a cooler name
. Also sometimes leads to instances of I Am Not Shazam
Compare Completely Different Title
. Contrast Exactly What It Says on the Tin
. By definition, all examples of "Untitled" Title
have inaccurate titles.
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Anime and Manga
- Fist of the North Star isn't exactly the most accurate translation of the Japanese title, Hokuto no Ken, its just that it sounds a helluva cooler than "Fist of the Big Dipper" (which is what "Hokuto" actually is, the Japanese name for the Big Dipper). The Big Dipper is a constellation often used to locate Polaris, the North Star, but the star is not a part of the constellation itself (it's in the Little Dipper).
- "Ken the Great Bear Fist", the localized title suggested by Toei's International Sales & Promotion Department (source), is a bit closer - Ursa Major or the "Great Bear" is another name for the Big Dipper - but also doesn't sound all that great.
- This can happen when an author does not know as much English as they think they do and decides to append an official English version of their work's original English title. For example, one would think that something called Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C3 would be about the members of a particular class, right? Nope! It turns out to be about a club of girls who are of disparate ages and none of whom (as far as we know) are in the same class as one another. The original Japanese title, Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jogakuin Kōtō-ka C³-bu more accurately translates as Preferential Measure Organization Stella Women's Academy, High School Division, C3 Club.
- There is a Ranma ½ episode titled "Ranma and Kuno's... First Kiss." Be thankful that you really can never trust a title.
- Though the titles do make some sense in context, ...Virgin Love and its sequel ...Junai No Seinen (The Young Person's Pure Love) do not do a very good job indicating how smutty the works are.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion's episode 24 is titled "Saigo no Shisha". Usually translated as "The Final Messenger", it also means "The Final Casualty". While Kaworu's is chronologically the last character death in the original series, End of Evangelion is thought to be occurring at the same time as episodes 25 and 26 and includes multiple on-screen deaths.
- How I Became a Pokémon Card does not relate to becoming cards in any way. It's a bunch of Slice of Life one-shots, and the name comes from the manga being drawn by people who draw the Pokémon cards and the fact each chapter comes with a Pokémon card.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Movie 1st The Comics is not a prequel to the Movie, but an Alternate Continuity.
- There's a manga entitled Yandere Kanojo, which you would expect to be about dating a lovesick girl, especially due to its female lead's first appearance carrying a bloody baseball bat. Not so, as the "yan" in the title is for "yankee" - his girlfriend is a deredere juvenile delinquent.
- The female lead's mother, on the other hand...
- The fourth Black Jack OVA is called Anorexia: The Two Dark Doctors. The patient does not have anorexia. She has a parasite that makes her involuntarily vomit whenever she eats.
- The Japanese title of the fourth Dragon Ball movie is "Super Saiyajin da Son Gokū" (Super Saiyajin/Saiyan Goku), during which Goku takes a form that was supposed to be a Super Saiyan, but since it was made before the manga reached the point where Goku became one, it's not what most people would recognize as such (there's no change in eye or hair color, and it's a completely Unstoppable Rage instead of Tranquil Fury). The form was later ret conned by a sidebook to be a "false" Super Saiyan form.
- Haruhi Suzumiya: The "Endless Eight" story arc does, in fact, end. Also, the "eight" refers to the loop taking place in August, not the number of repetitions, which is more like fifteen thousand. (The anime confuses this further by showing eight repetitions, one episode each. We only see the final one in the light novel.)
- "The Midnight Parasites" is an animated re-imagining of the works of Hieronymus Bosch. Only two of the creatures seen are portrayed as parasites (specifically, reproductive parasitoids), and there's no indication it takes place at midnight.
- School Rumble is described by FUNimation as "The absolute funniest show you'll ever see that's not about anything that rumbles... ever!", although admittedly there is at least a school...
- Total number of "Crazy Shrine Maidens" in 'Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens: 0. The closest thing is Nagi claiming to be a shrine maiden as her cover story. (We eventually meet a real one in the manga, but she's a minor character and not crazy.)
- Drifting Classroom is about a whole school, and it doesn't drift — it makes one big jump and then stays put.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The name makes it pretty clear that it's about a magical girl named Madoka. Madoka does not become a magical girl until the last episode, and even then it's hard to call her a magical girl because she turns into an abstract godlike concept. However, before this happens we do find out that Homura originated from a timeline in which Madoka did become a magical girl earlier on, meaning that Madoka becoming a magical girl did start the plot in a way.
- Surprisingly few characters are actually killed in Kill la Kill (unless you count all the cannon fodder that goes flying at every explosion). Most battles are resolved non-lethally with Seni-Soshitsu. This is actually a pun, because in Japanese the "kill" in the title is written and pronounced like "kiru," a verb meaning "to wear [clothes]."
- There is a horror manga called Anorexia: Shikabane Hanako wa Kyoshokushou. It has nothing to do with anorexia. It's about cannibalism.
- Alan Moore's The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones is actually incomplete. Moore left 2000AD before finishing it.
- The title of Watchmen refers to the graffiti, and philosophical question "Who watches the watchmen", not a group of superheroes.
- This does not, however, prevent the fans from calling them the Watchmen. The movie even changes the name of the Crimebusters to reflect it.
- BIONICLE comic 25: Birth of the Rahaga is an apt description of the comic's story. The alternative title on its cover, The Final Battle, not really. Unless one means that it's the final battle between these specific characters over this specific artifact. It's also a flashback, which makes the title more bogus.
- DIGIMON 3: PREDATOR VS DIGIMON: The Predator isn't the villain; in fact, Digimon has to help him with his dilemma. The actual villains are the FBI. Of course, what did you expect with legendary Troll Fic author Peter Chimaera?
- Cupcakes. This My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic is not about making cupcakes! Well... not just about making cupcakes.
- In The Prayer Warriors, Chapter 10 of The Evil Gods Part 2 is called "Piper and Jerry goes to Washington DC to Find out Who the Tractor is and Defeat them Once and for All so they would not terrorized by them ever again for as long as God allows Time to go on For." The only thing that actually happens is the Prayer Warriors going to Washing Dick - I mean, Washington D.C.
- The first chapter of Swimming In Terror is called "Island and Kuma." Monokuma first shows up in the next chapter.
- At least half of The Pink Panther movies don't involve the Pink Panther jewel. It's an Artifact Title.
- The Thin Man movies have an Artifact Title. The thin man of the original movie referred to the murder victim, not the main character.
- Kangaroo Jack is very much a supporting character in the roo's own movie. And it doesn't talk aside from a brief hallucination.
- The movie Hearts in Atlantis. This is due, however, to it being an Artifact Title from the novella: the original novella was called "Low Men in Yellow Coats" and "Hearts in Atlantis" was an entirely different story (called so because the main character — avoiding going to Vietnam by being in college and thus it feeling like Atlantis — played the card game Hearts a lot (It Makes Sense in Context)). The movie makes no attempt at explaining the title. Other for it being, you know, a movie adaption of (a part of) the book Hearts in Atlantis... Brautigan refers to the sunken continent at some point in the dialogue, but that still doesn't make explicit the "hearts" part.
- The Last King of Scotland is actually about the Last Dictator of Uganda. Idi Amin did claim to be the King of Scotland among his many other self-applied titles.
- TRON isn't really about Tron, but more about Flynn. TRON: Legacy even moreso.
- Monster A-Go Go has a monster (sorta), but he doesn't dance - nor does Go-go dancing figure into the threadbare plot it has.
- The Ref. The title implies something sports-related, and the holiday setting suggests something happy, but the movie is about as black a comedy as one will find from mainstream Hollywood. The eponymous character is a cat burglar who kidnaps a horribly dysfunctional couple in an attempt to evade a manhunt, and winds up having to "referee" their bickering while he plots his escape. In retrospect, the title fits, but a first-time viewer would have no idea what to expect.
- The Grapes of Death. Awesome title, but the grapes themselves don't kill anybody. Farm chemicals applied to the grapes cause people to go berserk.
- My Life As A Dog isn't a human-canine body swap comedy, but rather a Swedish coming of age dramedy. The closest it gets to literalising the title is when the main character has a breakdown and pretends to be a dog.
- A Time for Drunken Horses is a notable aversion. You'd swear it was a metaphor, but it really does have drunken horses.
- The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies is not a campy, counter-culture romp that the title implies. It's a straightforward horror-ish film. The zombies are actually of the traditional "hypnotized" variety and not the undead variety, so they don't "stop living" when they become zombies.
- In Across The Pacific, the Pacific is never seen, let alone crossed. The original plot was supposed to involve a Japanese plot to bomb Pearl Harbor. When the real-life Pearl Harbor bombing occurred, the plot was hurriedly rewritten to be about an attack on Panama, but the title was not changed.
- All Monsters Attack's American name is Godzilla's Revenge. Godzilla doesn't really get revenge on anyone in the film.
- Blue Monkey is about a black bug.
- Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future is not about time travel. The phrase "Twenty Minutes into the Future" isn't used anywhere in the telefilm, and is isn't really clear why it's the subtitle. It was released on video with the more straightforward title The Max Headroom Story (though the title screen wasn't changed).
- Invisible Ghost (1941) does not have a ghost in it, nor is anyone or anything invisible.
- Some of the later Animorphs books got really bad about this. Titles like The Suspicion (where nothing is suspicious), The Prophecy (which features no prophecy), and The Hidden (which features a bizarre morphing buffalo that is definitely not hidden) come to mind.
- Strangely, these are all books from Cassie's point of view. Make of that what you will.
- The Three Musketeers is actually about the fourth musketeer who meets and joins the original three. Who appear to do most of their fighting with swords rather than muskets.
- The Neverending Story ends. Well, the book has a bunch of subplots left with no ending, apparently to inspire children to become writers by actually encouraging them to write their own fanfiction. It's very meta.
- Max Havelaar, of de koffiveilingen der Nederlandsche Handelsmaatschappy. The subtitle means 'or the coffee auctions of the Dutch Trading Company', but neither the company nor its auctions are mentioned anywhere in the book. Multatuli did this deliberately to get as many people as possible - particularly those interested in the coffee trade - to read his Author Tract.
- Blackadder: The Whole Damn Dynasty: a book containing scripts of the series, does not cover the whole dynasty. It doesn't contain The Cavalier Years and Blackadder's Christmas Carol.
- Perdido Street Station has almost nothing to do with the eponymous novel, beyond a scene in the climax. On the other hand it's hard to find a title that would fit with a book like that.
- Neil Gaiman's short story "Other People" has only one character.
- In a similar vein, in Agatha Christie's short story "The Four Suspects", the killer turns out to be a fifth character not counted among the so-called suspects.
- The same applies to "The Six Suspects", the original title of one of Isaac Asimov's Black Widowers stories. (In its book publication, the story was renamed "Out of Sight".)
- The Goblet of Fire has a relatively brief appearance in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and merely serves to trigger the events of the book, after which it's pretty much never seen or mentioned again. "....and the Triwizard Tournament" would've been significantly more descriptive.
- A Clockwork Orange is a Word Salad Title that only makes sense in a variety of metaphorical senses, depending on which of the conflicting stories that Burgess has given to explain it that you believe. Suffice it to say that there are no literal clockwork oranges in the story.
- Burnt Offerings has no offerings, burnt or otherwise.
- The Decline of the West is a non-fiction book by German philosopher Oswald Spengler which inspired many people to grief about the coming end of civilization. Spengler wasn't completely happy with the title (which seemed to imply that the western world had to fall, like the Roman empire) and commented that he could've changed the title to "The fulfillment of the West", which would be closer to his intention - i.e. the west transforming to a stable but stagnant empire in the end. The fact that many fans only knew the title and didn't care to actually read the book didn't help.
- BIONICLE Chronicles #3: Makuta's Revenge. Makuta's sole presence are two short monologues at the beginning and around the middle, and the rest of the story doesn't concern him, nor is he responsible for releasing the enemies, the six Bohrok-Kal. Their awakening was actually an automatic response to the heroes' victory over the regular Bohrok swarms and the Bahrag queens, from the previous book. Now, Makuta did release those, so technically he's indirectly responsible for unleashing the Kal as well, but the title's still a stretch. Later story material then Ret-Conned out the "revenge" part, too.
- Chronicles #4: Tales of the Masks, bearing the subtitle A New Quest..., makes it seem like it's about the Toa Nuva (featured on the cover) reenacting the tedious mask-collecting from the first book, but with new masks. The real focus is on exploring the relationships between the Toa and Turaga priests, through the Framing Story of the six Turaga reciting the tales of the mask-hunt, which is of lesser importance overall.
- The third and final installment of The Mysterious Benedict Society has the title The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma. The Prisoner's Dilemma is only featured at the beginning of the book and has nothing to do with the overall plot of the story.
- The Completely Different Title of the German translation of X-Wing: Rogue Squadron is X-Wing: Angriff auf Coruscant, i.e. "assault on Coruscant". However, the novel is merely about the beginnings of the New Republic campaign to eventually take over Coruscant – the actual assault on Coruscant itself doesn't happen until later.
- 24 Hours in A&E: This show technically stays within the premise that all the events of an episode occur within 24 hours... but few, if any, episodes actually cover that long a period - most just follow a single day or night shift.
- Doctor Who:
- The episode "The Next Doctor" centres around a man who seems to be a future incarnation of the Doctor. It turns out his brain was scrambled my a Cyberman cartridge carrying information about the Doctor.
- The episode "Let's Kill Hitler," in which the Nazis and the genocidal dictator himself have little to no influence on the real plot. They either wasted a perfectly good plot or plotted a perfectly good waste, depending on your perspective.
- "The Doctor Dances" could be seen as this. While the Doctor does dance in it, it has nothing to do with the central plot of gas-mask zombies in Blitz-era London.
- The Big Bang Theory is mainly about the social misadventures of three socially-awkward scientists and one not-scientist. The titular theory may be mentioned occasionally in passing, but it's hardly the focus of the show.
- iCarly: The episode "iCarly Saves TV". They don't save television, the gang gets the opportunity to turn iCarly into a TV show, it gets massive Executive Meddling and they give up and go back to the Internet.
- Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger: In some markets, this show was localized as Galaxy Rangers, even though the only characters who are outside the Earth are the main villains.
- Power Rangers Samurai: The first episode aired is titled "The Team Unites". Yet there is no uniting, at least not in a Recruit Teenagers with Attitude sense. The Rangers already have their powers, and the episode is primarily focused on the Green Samurai Ranger, Mike, who technically could be said to "rejoin" the team in the latter part of the episode. It's all but confirmed that it was supposed to be Episode 3, and the true "first episodes" of Samurai came in the form of Origins Episodes mid-season.
- Revolution: "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia". The title implies we'll see events during the Blackout, but the episode proves to be anything but.
- Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis: Beyond the first few seasons, these shows would often go entire episodes without mentioning or showing a Stargate.
- Taggart: Since the death of actor Mark McManus, this show hasn't had Taggart.
- The Machine: Bride of Pin*Bot: Except for the title, no one ever refers to the titular Machine as "Bride".
- No Fear: Dangerous Sports has the "No Limits" Major Challenge, where the value of each shot starts at 20 million points, and each one collected adds another million... only to cap out at 70 million.
- The 1946 Broadway musical Park Avenue was set entirely on Long Island.
- The Legend of Zelda isn't always about Zelda. One game only mentions her once at the very beginning (she never appears), one only included her in a flashback, and two others only contain her if both are played in tandem. What's more, aside from portions of Spirit Tracks and two of the non-canon CD-i games, you never play as her. All this leads to a massive case of I Am Not Shazam for poor non-eponymous hero Link.
- You do not get to Destroy All Humans!, though you get to Destroy All Martians in the second one.
- Final Fantasy has many sequels.
- The "Soulless Army" is merely the first indicator that something is amiss, and really does not have a whole lot of impact on the plot, itself.
- X is not the main character of Mega Man X7.
- The Mega Man Star Force series focuses more on electromagnetic waves than stars or space. Star Force 2 doesn't have anything to do with stars! As for the "Star Force," it's just a power that MegaMan gets in the first game but has nothing to do with the other two games; there's only a vague mention of it in Star Force 3.
- There are models and diagrams of Metal Gear in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, but they don't have any real bearing on the story other than as easter eggs. Nor is the character Solid Snake present, but Hideo Kojima stated the "solid" in the title refers to the series's transition to "solid" polygonal graphics, so it isn't this trope.
- The eponymous wars of Guild Wars ended before the earliest events in the game.
- Chrono Trigger. The actual Chrono Trigger impacts the plot only briefly - and even then, optionally, as it's possible to go ahead and fight the final boss without completing the part of the story that involves it. (Adding insult to injury, it's even referred to more often as the "Time Egg".)
- This is less the case in Chrono Cross; while the eponymous item arguably spends less time relevant to the story than the Chrono Trigger, it is of much greater overall significance what with being the piece of Phlebotinum that's supposed to reintegrate the timelines and kill the Time Devourer off once and for all.
- Although the Chrono Trigger item is relatively insignificant, the description that's given to it ("It is pure potential. By unleashing a specific course of events, it can have a powerful effect on time... It represents a possibility, it may or may not hatch.") applies equally well to the party, meaning that the time travelers themselves are a kind of Chrono Trigger. It gets a little meta.
- Speaking of misleading titles in Chrono Cross, one would not expect a song called Scars of Time to be so damn funky!
- Plumbers Dont Wear Ties. In one scene early on in the "game", John is seen playing air guitar with a plunger while wearing a tie.
- Metroid Prime Hunters does not involve Metroids or any incarnation of Metroid Prime at all. It includes creatures that attack in a similar manner to Metroids, but not Metroids themselves. (Though the demo version, First Hunt, that was included with DS systems at launch, did include Metroids.)
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - The eponymous scrolls get one mention in the game itself, and it's also the fifth game in the series...
- Arguably the name Morrowind implies that you will be journeying across the entire province, when in reality you are limited to the island of Vvardenfell. Obviously this is located in Morrowind, but it still could be considered misleading (the original plan was for it to be the entire province, but that was dropped seemingly before coding began).
- The Elder Scrolls is awful about this, to date the eponymous scrolls have only been relevant in Oblivion (as a relatively unimportant MacGuffin) and Skyrim where it's really only important once. The subtitles are accurate though, although Oblivion would be more properly called Cyrodiil to be in line with the other titles being placenames.
- Well, Oblivion IS a place in the TES universe.
- The first Elder Scrolls game Arena doesn't have any arenas in it.
- Fortunately, that's been handily dealt with: "Arena" is believed to be the translation of Nirn, from the language the earliest of the spiritual beings who took part in the creation of the world, the Ehlnofey.
- Or "Arena" is a figurative way of describing the constant state of strife that Tamriel is in (this is what Arena itself goes with — "the people of the world began calling the land of their sorrow, the Arena"). Any number of Hand Waves exist.
- The Minecraft Pocket Edition contains neither mining nor crafting.
- And since it is also available for many tablets, the "Pocket Edition" part is not entirely true either...
- The latter part somewhat averts this, mainly due to the updates.
- The Mega Drive version of Action 52 falls into this, as it really only has 51 games. Several games across both versions also fall into this problem:
- Dam Busters, which doesn't feature a dam at any point in the game.
- Haunted Hill in both versions, although the NES version sometimes goes under the more apt Haunted Halls.
- Slashers sounds like the name of a horror movie, but it's really a poor man's Double Dragon.
- Bits n Pieces, which sounds like a puzzle game (even the manual suggests this) but it's actually a horror-themed game where you jump over monsters.
- Mind's Eye, which is a Minesweeper clone.
- Slalom, which is a regular skiing game as opposed to having an actual slalom event.
- Incidentally, Rare did a NES game of the same name which also has no slaloming involved.
- Paratrooper, which consists of collecting giant computer chips or something.
- Girly Block is a Mecha Game by Compile for the MSX2. No, there are no anime girls to be seen.
- The Doom mod "Rootpain 2: Buttpain: The Wrekctum Analhilation". The title sounds like an incredibly immature comedy, and the trailer and the blurb promise over-the-top nonstop action and gore. It's a deliberate choice to increase the surprise when you run the mod and find that it's a creepy Survival Horror.
- MS Paint Adventures is really only 3 stories and 1 Orphaned Series and the current one hasn't actually been an adventure note in over a year. And nothing aside from the first panel of the first adventure has been made in MS Paint.
- Also, Homestuck is only about a kid stuck in his house for about a few dozen pages out of several thousand. Apparently Andrew Hussie was going to name it Sburb, the name of the game on which the story is based, but thought it was too boring.
- "Faraway Morning and Three Short Tales" is the title of the 34th chapter of Gunnerkrigg Court which actually does have characters telling three short tales. Sounds like a short chapter, right? It's actually one of the longest chapters to date thanks to all of the Character Development and plot revelations going on between each of the tales.
- The protagonist of Damsels Don't Wear Glasses does wear glasses.