"Nothing is more permanent than a temporary solution."When a TV show, video game, or movie is being created, sometimes temporary content is created to fill in as a placeholder. Less often, the placeholder content ends up becoming permanent, either because the creators decided they liked it, or they simply couldn't do anything better. Often overlaps with Descended Creator, particularly in animated films. When preparing an animatic from the storyboard, the staff record a "scratch track" to be replaced by the final voice track as the film goes into production. Sometimes, however, the scratch track for one character comes out so well that they decide to have the artist who recorded it do the actual voice. Similarly, a songwriter might string together a "guide lyric" or "dummy lyric" consisting of arbitrary words that happen to fit the tune, and then decide to keep some or all of it as the actual lyric of the song. Not to be confused with Left It In - that trope is about something done unintentionally that is kept in the final take, whereas Permanent Placeholder is about things that were put in on purpose, with the intent of replacing them later. A subtrope of Throw It In!. See also Working Title, "Untitled" Title and Regent for Life. Compare and contrast The Missingno., which can possibly result from a placeholder that wasn't permanent per se, but stayed in the code anyway. Compare Fake-Real Turn, which is when something that was started as a deception grows into what it was pretending to be.
— Milton Friedman
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- Mobile Fighter G Gundam: The ending was a result of this: when brainstorming ways of how the Devil Gundam could be defeated, one of the writers jokingly suggested an incredibly cheesy Power of Love-infused blast of energy from the heroes. Everybody laughed, but as time went on, nobody came up with a better idea. Thus, the Sekiha Love-Love Tenkyoken was born.
- At first, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 had the placeholder title Gundam NEXT which later changed to another placeholder, Gundam 00, which ended up sticking.
- When recording for the dub of Digimon Xros Wars got started, Ben Diskin (who was already voicing Shoutmon) initially voiced Cutemon as a placeholder because the crew was having trouble casting him. It was kept for the final product, something Ben apparently didn't realize until the second episode was broadcast.
Films - Animated
- In Bolt, Rhino's voice acting was done by an animator who was just supposed to do the scratch voice. He was so hilarious, however, that he was asked to do the actual voice for the movie. He was just as excited as his character.
- The voice of Max the Butler in Cats Don't Dance was provided by director Mark Dindal, though it wasn't supposed to be that way. However, because the production ran out of money later on, the producers decided to retain Dindal's scratch track for Max instead of using another actor.
- In Coraline, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible's song was originally written as a placeholder, with the intention of having They Might Be Giants compose a proper song for the scene. Linnell and Flansburgh came in, heard the placeholder song, and said it sounded good enough to them.
- In The Incredibles, Edna Mode wasn't originally planned to be voiced by Brad Bird, the (male) director of the film. When Brad Bird interviewed Lily Tomlin for the part, he provided placeholder dialog made using his own voice in an attempt to demonstrate what sort of voice he was hoping to get. Tomlin stated that they didn't need her as they already had the character's voice.
- Madagascar: The animators did temporary voice tracks, which were then to be dubbed over by celebrity voice actors. They had originally planned for Robert Stack to voice Skipper the penguin, but after he died, they just left animator Tom McGrath's voice track in because he'd gotten so much into playing the character (who is already a Stack imitation). This may also be why Kowalski and Private are voiced by DreamWorks staff. However, Rico is voiced by John DiMaggio... until Penguins of Madagascar, where another staffer replaced him.
- Shrek: According to Word of God, the use of the Smash Mouth song "All-Star" at the beginning of the first movie was only intended as test footage track to get the timing of the opening down - they planned to use an original composition for the final product. However, "All-Star" worked so well that they kept it in. (It helps that the lyrics completely match the tone of the scene.)
- Shrek Forever After cast head of story Walt Dohrn as Rumpelstiltskin because no actor matched the voice he made up during the storyboard meetings.
- Elissa Knight recorded the lines for Eve just to give the directors something to work with until a more famous voice actress was contracted, but they liked her performance so much that they kept it in.
- The use of Also sprach Zarathustra in a climactic scene was originally put in as a joke, until the filmmakers saw a test audience member pumping his fist in triumph. They left it in.
- Ratatouille: Lou Romano, the voice of Linguini, was a production designer on The Incredibles when he was asked to lay down a scratch track for Ratatoulle's main human lead. They liked it so much they decided to hire him as the final voice actor.
- Beauty and the Beast: Originally, some of the lyrics to the song "Gaston" were just dummy lyrics — that is, placeholder lyrics designed to match the melody while the writers came up with something better (handily explaining why most of the song is just "No one (verbs) like Gaston!"). However, for obvious reasons, the dummy lyrics were very popular with the production staff and thus, were kept in the final version.
- In The Book of Life , Grey DeLisle-Griffin originally just did scratch work for Manolo's grandmother, and it would eventually be overdubbed by a more famous actress. However, her performance was so great that she ended up with the role proper in the finalized film.
Films - Live-Action
- 2001: A Space Odyssey uses a score made out of public domain classical music. It was intended as a placeholder score, but Kubrick ended up preferring it and leaving it in. The original score written by Alex North was eventually released in 1993.
- Cannibal! The Musical: The word "Shpadoinkle" was originally a placeholder for the song "It's a Shpadoinkle Day," but when Trey Parker first played the song for friends they loved the word so much that it was kept. They even added a line of dialogue with the word "shpadoinkle" in it to a later scene as a callback.
- Done by accident in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, at least according to director Steve Oedekerk: As a Gag Dub, he created a track where he performed for every character in the movie (except for Whoa, whose lines were already recorded) under the idea that other, more competent actors would perform them later. As Oedekerk's track was as intentionally bad as the rest of the film, his crew thought that his track was the final one and post-production occurred under that assumption. This is NOT the same thing as Left It In, as this comprises the entire voice track of the movie—there'd be nothing left if removed!
- Snakes on a Plane was going to be renamed Pacific Air Flight 121 for its release, but then its B-movie working title attracted a flurry of attention on the internet, and Samuel L. Jackson insisted that he'd only signed on to the film because of its Exactly What It Says on the Tin title. With all that in mind, the producers decided that the best option was to just keep the working title.
- In the DVD Commentary of UHF Weird Al reveals that the part where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" after Stanley finishes his impassioned speech during his first time on TV is this.
- Star Wars:
- In A New Hope, Anthony Daniels was only supposed to portray C-3PO physically; looking at the character's dialogue on paper, you can tell that they were going for an Honest John's Dealership type voice for the character. Daniels didn't bother matching the intended tone while he was acting, and his entirely sincere delivery of the sleazy dialogue proved so charming that he was kept as the voice. Daniels did, however, have to re-dub the lines because the C-3PO suit's plastic pieces scraping together made it impossible to hear his on-set voice.
- Many years later in The Phantom Menace, the same thing happened with Ahmed Best's performance as Jar Jar Binks.
- Given Ryan Reynolds was the only one attached to Deadpool, the previsualization team created a mock-up of the opening sequence with funny descriptions instead of names. The crew approved, and the Credits Gag is kept on the movie.
- During prep work for The Lord of the Rings co-producer Rick Porras offered his wedding band as a stand-in for the One Ring during an improv acting session. After some discussion the wedding band's shape was used as the template for the final prop ring.
- Manhattan Murder Mystery was the film's working title, but Woody Allen couldn't think of a better title.
- When Louis Sachar was writing Holes, he used Stanley Yelnats as a filler name, planning to replace it later with a more normal name. He never did, and the weird name even ended up becoming a plot point.
- The main character of Snow Crash is named Hiro Protagonist.note Stephenson put it in as a placeholder for the main character's name, and then never changed it (beyond making 'Hiro' short for 'Hiroaki').
- In the foreword to the Doctor Who Expanded Universe Monster Collection edition of the New Series Adventures novel Prisoner of the Daleks, Trevor Baxendale explains that he wanted the Dalek Inquisitor General to have a suitably menacing name, and while he was trying to think of one, he referred to it as "Dalek X". It wasn't long before he realised the perfect name was...
- Arrested Development: Producer Ron Howard wasn't originally going to be the narrator. He simply recorded the narration as a placeholder until they found someone else. However, his voice over worked so well, they kept it.
- Doctor Who:
- Zoe got her name because Peter Ling, who was writing "The Mind Robber" for Season 6, wrote the story with a generic female companion named Zoe (as he knew the previous female companion would be leaving at the end of Season 5, but not anything about the replacement). The producer liked the name and so kept it for the new companion.
- Soldeed's death scene in "The Horns of Nimon" was intended to be a camera rehearsal, but it was kept, despite (or because of?) the fact that the actor starts literally Corpsing in it.
- Farscape wasn't originally intended to have episode titles, and some first season episodes had Exactly What It Says on the Tin titles that were originally intended simply as production placeholders (in particular "PK Tech Girl" and "DNA Mad Scientist").
- In the pilot episode for the game show Fifteen to One, producer William G. Stewart did the hosting duties with the intention of hiring a proper host once the show was greenlit. The network was sufficiently impressed by his performance (and his grasp of the game's somewhat arcane rules) that he was kept on as the actual host.
- In Head of the Class, Mr. Moore, a substitute teacher, becomes the permanent teacher of the advanced history class during the Mid-Season Twist.
- In Home Improvement, Al wasn't supposed to be a permanent character, but a temporary fill in for Stephen Tobolowsky who was supposed to play the permanent co-host of Tool Time, Glenn. Tobolowsky decided he was too busy and audiences responded well to Richard Karn's portrayal of Al, so they simply kept the character in.
- Richard Osman is a producer for Endemol, the company that produced Pointless. When demonstrating the show to BBC, Osman was used as a placeholder for the Mission Control. He made enough of an impression on them for him to retain that role on the actual show.
- Psych provides an In-Universe example: Da Chief for the beginning of the show is Interim Chief Vick. As the title suggests, she's only there as a temporary chief, though she later becomes the full-on chief of the department.
- WKRP in Cincinnati: The scat closing credits song was going to have lyrics, they just hadn't been written yet, but the producers heard the demo version and liked it just like that. (In part because they knew that it would never be intelligible, as the continuity announcer would speak over it every time it aired, so they figured it would be funnier if people discovered that the lyrics they never heard were actually nonsense.)
- When the pilot episodes of Wheel of Fortune were being shot, the puzzle board was intended to be mechanically operated, like the original Concentration board. However, they didn't have time to finish the mechanism, so they brought in Susan Stafford to turn the letters manually. She stayed in this role until being replaced by Vanna White in 1982, and even though the board was upgraded to touch monitors in 1997, White has continued to be the show's Lovely Assistant due to her popularity.
- Strangers with Candy creators Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert were having trouble coming up with a last name for main character Jerri, so for early drafts of the pilot script they called her Jerri Blank: They grew attached to the last name and kept it.
- The Grand Tour test track has one corner with a large billboard next to it. Jeremy Clarkson explains they were going to get a sponsor for the corner, but they haven't found anyone who wants to advertise. So they're stuck with calling the corner "Your Name Here".
- After Anette Olzon left Nightwish in the middle of a live tour, Floor Jansen of the band After Forever was called in to replace Olzon for the remainder of the tour. However, Floor got such a positive reception that the rest of the band decided to permanently instill her as the new lead vocalist.
- The final line of the Barenaked Ladies song "One Week" was inserted as a placeholder. The lead singer saw an LED sign in front of a high school displaying "Birchmount Stadium: Home of the Robbies." One of the band members commented that they are waiting for the sign to be changed to read, "Birchmount Stadium: Home of 'Home of the Robbies'."
- The Beatles: "Yer Blues" has audible leftovers from a previous take in the left channel, namely John singing early placeholder lyrics leaking through the drum mic. The solo similarly has the originally-recorded solo bleed through Ringo's microphone in the left channel, while the right features the newly-recorded solo.
- The Dave Matthews Band got this with their name. Dave Matthews got together Boyd Tinsley, Leroi Moore, Stefan Lessard, Carter Beauford, and himself to form a rock band and suggested they call themselves the Dave Matthews Band until they could come up with a better name. They never did.
- In the beginning of Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son", the drum intro (two sets of two bass drum hits followed by a snare) was originally a placeholder drummer Phil Ehart planned on replacing, but decided to keep.
- The drum solo partway through "Piggy" by Nine Inch Nails was performed by Trent Reznor as a placeholder to be filled in with a proper solo later. However, he liked it too much to have it lost, so it was kept for the final version.
- In the song "The Look" by Roxette, the first two verses are "guide lyrics" - lines scribbled down by Per Gessle (the songwriter) to have something to sing while he was working on the song and arrangement. He couldn't come up with anything better and left them in saying later when the song became a massive hit "everyone gets lucky sometimes."
- Starflyer 59: The album Dial M wound up as an odd mix of synth pop and acoustic guitars because of this. Jason Martin recorded the acoustic guitars as a scratch track, intending to replace them later, but the band liked them enough to keep them in the final mixes. Similarly, drummer Dave Brotherton's sole appearance was due to this. His friend Steve Dail invited him over to play on the demo recordings for the album The Changing of the Guard, and the band planned to replace the drum bits with something from their usual drummer, Trey Many. But the band liked Brotherton's drumming enough to keep it for the final album.
- The Phil Collins song "Sussudio" got its title (and hook) from a placeholder lyric that Collins improvised. He originally meant to find an alternative word that scanned just as well, but he never did.
- Pam Tillis has two examples:
- In "Maybe It Was Memphis", the second verse ("Read about you in a Faulkner novel / Met you once in a Williams play..." was written as a filler verse with the intent of replacing it later on, but the writer never replaced it before the song was released.
- Pam and producer Paul Worley liked the demo of "Shake the Sugar Tree" (sung by Stephanie Bentley) so much that they just added Pam's vocals and a couple more instruments to it.
- When Country Music band Diamond Rio was getting started in The '80s, Danny Davenport was the Lead Bassist. The band recorded some demos with producer Keith Stegall, who said that Davenport could not record bass guitar and vocals at the same time, as they would be hard to clean up in post. He suggested that they have Marty Roe, who was then a backing vocalist, sing a scratch track which would then be replaced by Davenport. Upon hearing the scratch track, the band agreed that Roe should be the lead singer instead, so he was promoted to such. Davenport remained in the group a little while longer, but quit as he didn't like being outside the lead role and was hastily replaced by Dana Williams. Roe has been the band's lead singer ever since.
- Famously, Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" features a verse consisting of 26 repetitions of "I know" before "I oughtta leave the young thing alone"; this was originally a placeholder for lyrics to be written later, but the other musicians he was recording with insisted it be kept in. (Given that these musicians included such 60s luminaries as Stephen Stills and Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Booker T and two of the three MGs, Withers wisely decided to follow their advice.)
- Nik Kershaw's famously cryptic song "The Riddle" actually doesn't have any particular meaning. Kershaw wrote the music and then added some random lyrics to practice the tune, but ran out of time and had to put in the album the song with the improvised lyrics. And that's why it's named "The Riddle". That said, hundreds of people still maintain to have "figured out" the clues about the "real" meaning; just read the comments in the provided link for some examples.
- Queens of the Stone Age didn't originally intend for Nick Oliveri to sing "Quick and to the Pointless" from Rated R, since he was originally just recording a scratch track... but he did it so well they made it official.
- Kirsty MacColl wasn't originally planned as the co-lead vocalist on the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" - she was hired as a guide vocal before the band was to dub another singer's vocals in. This never got to happen, as they quickly fell in love with MacColl's performance.
- According to producer Tony Visconti, the music to David Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World was largely written before the lyrics, and the song "Black Country Rock" was originally only given that title because different sections of the instrumental sounded like blues, country, and rock: Bowie liked the sound of the Working Title enough that he worked the phrase into the lyrics and made it the official title.
- PermaFrost's In Harm's Way included a couple of songs where the Working Title became permanent: "Kurt Kokasik" was a song that they thought sounded like a cross between Nirvana and The Cars, so they just mashed up the names of those bands' respective lead vocalists, Kurt Cobain and Ric Ocasek. "The One On The Floor" got its name because a piece of paper with the chord changes was taped to the floor of their rehearsal space - it stuck because they felt the title happened to fit the theme of the lyrics.
- Much of Faith No More's We Care A Lot was written music-first, with vocalist Chuck Mosley writing lyrics and vocal melodies later. One such song was given the Working Title "Mark Bowen" as a sort of Line-of-Sight Name: Mark Bowen was a friend of the band who had played guitar with them at some early shows, and they named the song after him just because he happened to be around when they were working on it. "Mark Bowen" became the permanent title because Mosley opted to mention him by name in the lyrics.
- Most of the songs from Yo La Tengo's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out started out as rough improvised instrumental demos: Member James McNew would archive the recordings and give them a Working Title, and as a joke he started using titles from Troy McLure's extensive fictional filmography. In the case of "Let's Save Tony Orlando's House", Ira Kaplan actually decided to write his lyrics around the Working Title, making it permanent.
- This trope turned out to be the reason for Sia's return to singing: after having retired from the spotlight and focused on songwriting, she wrote "Titanium" for Alicia Keys. When Keys passed on it, David Guetta submitted Sia's demo vocals without her permission to the record company and a star was reluctantly (re)born.
- Russian rock band Kino (Кино) recorded demo tracks for their eight studio album, then their frontman Viktor Tsoi died in a car crash. The rest of the group rerecorded their parts to finish the album (officially self-titled, but better known to fans as Чёрный альбом, or The Black Album) but for obvious reasons, they reused Tsoi's demo vocals for the final mix.
- In the "Elves and the Shoemaker" episode of Muppets Classic Theater, there is a scene toward the end where Rizzo the Rat comes on stage to give advice to Kermit and Robin. Since Steve Whitmire was already playing Kermit in that scene, Dave Goelz operated Rizzo for those two lines, with the intention of Whitmire dubbing the voice in later. (This is standard practice for Muppet productions.) However, Goelz's imitation of Rizzo's voice was so hilariously bad that they didn't bother re-dubbing it, leaving Rizzo with a very odd voice for that brief scene.
- When it was first being created, GURPS had no name. It was nicknamed the Great Un-named Role Playing System purely as a joke among the designers, and since that was a mouthful, that was swiftly abbreviated to just GURPS. But as the release date grew ever closer, no one had a better name for it. Eventually, the joke name was slightly tweaked (Great Un-named was replaced with Generic Universal), and it was marketed simply as GURPS - which turned out to be a memorably quirky acronym (as opposed to the abbreviations that most games at that time shortened to).
- G.I. Joe scriptwriter Buzz Dixon came up with the enemy name "Cobra-La" as a placeholder for a rough draft of his script, but Hasbro executives loved it and insisted he keep the name despite his objections that it was stupid and derivative.
"Unfortunately, Hasbro fell in love with that concept and name and despite all my efforts stuck with Cobra-La. I apologize to Joe and Hilton fans everywhere; I really, really, REALLY was going to come up with a much better name than that."
- There is an Atari 2600 game about protecting treasure from an octopus underwater called Name This Game and Win $10,000, which was supposed to be named through a contest which had a $10,000 prize. (In Europe, it was called simply Octopus, since there was never any plan for a contest there.) However, publisher US Games went bankrupt before the contest could be completed, so the game is known to this day as Name This Game. A much later, unofficial naming contest named it Going Under.
- In Berzerk, Evil Otto was supposed to be redrawn as something looking more intimidating, but the smiley face used as a placeholder proved to be effective enough.
- In Borderlands 2, "Bullymong" was a placeholder name for the 6-limbed alien yetis. It stuck. A quest in game lampshades this with Sir Hammerlock trying and failing to rename them before his book on them ships.
- Anthony Burch revealed that "Handsome Jack" was a placeholder name for the main antagonist until he'd figure out something better, but the voice acting sessions used this name, so it stuck as well.
- During development of the Nintendo 64 port of California Speed, the artists were asked during a busy crunch period to throw out all the billboard textures from the coin-op version, most of which were ads for other Midway coin-op games, and insert new ones. One, Morgan Godat, decided he was too busy to be bothered at that precise moment and plugged in a placeholder texture with a message that was pure◊ Nightmare Fuel, assuming someone else would notice such an obvious placeholder and replace it before the game shipped. But nobody did, and Morgan himself forgot all about it, so the message was left in, creating an accidental (and very creepy) Easter Egg that went undiscovered for nearly 18 years until it was found by a Redditor.
- A common thing in the Dragon Age series, especially in regards to naming things. For instance, the name of the setting, "Thedas", was an acronym ("The Dragon Age Setting") used by the devs to refer to the world while they thought of a proper name for it. Fast forward to a few years later, and nobody even considered naming it anything else.
- In Five Nights at Freddy's, Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy's names were supposed to be placeholder nicknames, but developer Scott Cawthon eventually grew fond of them and kept them in the final game.
- Katamari Damacy. Yuu Miyake had a tendency to make scratch recordings of song ideas into a little voice recorder while he walked through the hallways at Namco, which became a well-known quirk. As a joke, he put one of these scratch recordings in as the title song on an early build, leading to the now-iconic "Na naaaa, nanana nana na na nana na nana naaa" opening.
- Kirby was originally just programmed in to develop the game around him and come up with a character design later on, but then the developers began to grow attached to the cute little blob, and the design was decided as final.
- All horses in the game are toy-like and wooden. The reason is that the animator got frustrated by how hard it is to animate quadrupeds, and decided to just stick in the fake ones as a joke, not expecting them to stick. Obviously, they did.
- In Chapter 3, during the airship ride, Vlad needs to leave the ship somehow for the story to make sense. So, they put in Vlad just jumping off the ship as a joke and placeholder. Everyone was so amused by this that it stuck.
- Monkey Island series:
- Guybrush Threepwood's first name is an example of this. "Guybrush" comes in part from Deluxe Paint, the tool used by the artists to create the character sprite. Since the character had no name at this point, the file was simply called 'Guy'. When the file was saved, Steve Purcell, the artist responsible for the sprite, added 'brush' to the filename, indicating that it was the Deluxe Paint "brush file" for the "Guy" sprite. The file name was then "guybrush.bbm", so the developers eventually just started referring to this unnamed 'Guy' as "Guybrush".
- According to Tim Schaefer, most of the dialogue in The Secret of Monkey Island was thought by him and the other writer to be placeholder, and that the bigwigs were going to hire some "real" dialogue writers to do the actual stuff, but the humorous placeholder dialogue was so funny that they decided to leave it in. This actually had quite an impact on the gameplay itself and led to the "rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle" bit.
- In the first Super Smash Flash, Original Character Blade (belonging to a friend of the developer) was the first character programmed, initially intended to just test the physics. He was later kept, and his counterpart Blue was added alongside him.
- Swordquest Fireworld was supposed to have clues to help you win the associated real-life contest, but they were never coded, so it just has numbers from 00 to 09.
- In Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, the names for the witnesses in the first witch trial were all place holders, but they were eventually kept for the final game. This fact is even referenced directly in one of the game's fourth-wall-breaking special DLC episodes.
- This almost happened during the development of Portal 2 - the placeholder voice of Wheatley was provided by animator Richard Lord, and due to positive reception Valve considered leaving it that way, but Lord didn't want to be the permanent voice. In the end they went with Stephen Merchant, who has generally been regarded as a better choice.
- Joseph Kucan, the actor who played Kane in the Command & Conquer: Tiberium series, was originally the casting director for the first game. When the programmers were working out how to add FMV to the game, they asked him to come in since he had the most experience with camera equipment. And then, since he was around, he recorded a few videos for the test maps. Playtesters found his acting (or in his words, "the part where the bald guy was yelling at me") one of the most memorable parts of the mission.
- Dead Rising was originally just a working title. The name was liked so much, it stayed.
- Valve's Game Engines derive their name from the uninspiring fact that the source code for the Source Engine was stored in a directory named "Src". The engine was still under active development when Half-Life was approaching its release date, and the release-ready fork of the code was assigned a directory named "GoldSrc"; it therefore became necessary at Valve to draw a distinction between "Source" and "Gold Source". Thus, the original engine became GoldSrc, and the new one for Half-Life 2 became simply Source.
- Escape Velocity Override was originally named that as a placeholder simply to indicate it was a total conversion (it would 'override' the game files). It stuck around during development, and through the project being turned into an actual sequel and release.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops has a multiplayer perk, "Warlord", that allows the player to stick two attachments on their primary weapon. That name was originally a placeholder, since the name of the equivalent perk from the previous year's Modern Warfare 2, "Bling", didn't fit with the Cold War setting of the game. The name stuck through to release because they never thought up a better name for it.
- The track "Training Stage" from Them's Fightin' Herds was originally a placeholder made to showcase the game's Variable Mix system. It was well-received by fans, and later made into the music for Target Practice mode (the actual Training Stage has a different version).
- The Square Enix RPG Octopath Traveler was unveiled under the name "Project Octopath Traveler". One year and the release of a demo later, and the "Project" part of the name was dropped, to no one's surprise.
- League of Legends: According to this Ask Riot post, Rammus' extreme laconicity came about because of the attempt to replace his old voice track. The new one was too awful and sounded 'pretty hillbilly'. Not even wanting their own internal team to hear it, the devs recorded his current voice in a conference room in the space of fifteen minutes. They meant to replace it but never got the chance, and Rammus' one-word dialogue went on to be the defining point of his character (and spawned a community meme).
- Bob and George, one of the first Mega Man Sprite Comics on the internet. Originally, the adventures of the various Mega Man characters were just a placeholder for the author's drawn webcomic. Numerous delays and difficulties caused the drawn comic to be unsuccessful both times that creator David Anez tried it. The second failure convinced Anez that the drawn comic was never going to work, at least not as well as the sprites had, so he stuck with sprites for the remainder of the strip's run.
- Paul Rugg was originally hired to be only a temporary voice for the title character of Freakazoid!. However, thanks to a series of wild improvisations and using takes that were never meant to be recorded in the first place, Rugg proved to be so funny in the role that he was cast as Freakazoid permanently.
- The main title theme of Adventure Time was a scratch recording. Originally played and sung by Pendleton Ward, it features the sounds of storyboard artist Derek Drymon typing on a keyboard and squeaking his chair. Ward attempted to get a better recording of the theme song but couldn't ever capture the feeling quite right ever again, so the scratch recording stayed.
- In Futurama, The Hypnotoad's trademark droning sound was originally a placeholder, but it sounded so bizarrely wrong that they kept it.
- In Knick Knack, the "Blah Blah Blah" song during the credits was actually a result of vocalist Bobby McFerrin improvising. McFerrin, a vocalist famous for his a cappella work, was hired by Pixar to compose and perform the soundtrack for the film. The work print he was given to compose over featured "blah blah blah" as a placeholder for the credits, and he ran with it. The folks at Pixar liked it so much that it made the final cut.
- The Simpsons:
Meyer: The rest of you writers start thinking up a name for this funky dog; I dunno, something along the lines of, say... Poochie, only more proactive.
- An In-Universe case occurs in "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show", when the producer of Itchy & Scratchy insists that the writers make a new dog character.
[Myers & Krusty leave]
Oakley: So, Poochie okay with everybody?
All: [reclining in their chairs] Yeah...
- Similarly, a greeting card cartel decides to invent a new holiday named "Something like, um, 'Love Day', but not so lame". The name sticks.
- In "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious", a Whole Plot Reference to Mary Poppins, originally Julie Andrews was going to play Sherry Bobbins. But during the initial table read, Andrews wasn't available and series regular Maggie Roswell filled in. The producers liked it so much that she ended up voicing the character.
- When Matt Groening created The Simpsons as shorts for The Tracey Ullman Show, he submitted only basic sketches to the animators and assumed that the figures would be cleaned up in production. However, the animators merely re-traced his drawings, which led to the crude appearance of the characters in the initial shorts. It wasn't until it was spun off into its own series that they received their present designs.
- In the episode "Every Man's Dream", the song "Big City" by the space rock band Spacemen 3 is used to soundtrack a drug trip sequence. Episode writer J. Stewart Burns is a fan of the band and wrote the song into the script; Although he thought it fit well with the scene, he assumed that it would be replaced with a better known song by a better known artist (it isn't even one of Spacemen 3's best known songs) that would fit just as good. He was shocked to find out that it had remained in the final product.
- The South Park episode "South Park Is Gay!" originally intended the Crab People conspiracy to be a placeholder plot until the creators could come up with a better idea. They were unable to, and they've been regretting it to this day.
- On Wander over Yonder, Will Arnett was originally meant that voice Emperor Awesome, with Sam Riegel (the show's voice director, though also a voice actor himself) doing scratch work on how the character should sound like. He ended up in the role when the former wasn't available in time (later voicing Ryder instead). This allowed the character to be a recurring character instead of a one shot.
- George Williams College (Williams Bay, WI) had a temporary meeting hall named Lewis Auditorium, built to be used until a permanent auditorium building could be designed and built. Lewis Auditorium ended up being used for about 100 years before being declared "unfit for human occupation" by the state.
- The Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 World's Fair, was originally supposed to be dismantled again in 1909 — and stuck on far longer because a giant iron tower in the middle of Paris works great as a broadcast antenna. Now you can't even imagine the city of Paris without that thing.
- When West Germany was founded after World War II, the set of laws it was based upon were called "Basic Law" instead of "Constitution", reserving the establishment of a constitution for all of Germany for someday in the future when West and East Germany reunite. When that finally happened, it was decided to simply keep the Basic Law and extend its era of application to the East German territory.
- The predecessor to the Pentagon (headquarters of the US Department of Defense) was a series of temporary buildings built in World War I. Part of the reason the Pentagon was built was to avoid building more permanent "temporary" buildings.
- The Pentagon itself could have been temporary. The floors were built to support floor loads of up to 150 pounds per square foot in case it was used for file storage after World War II was finished.
- The K2 mountain ended up having the catalogue numbering from an British topography survey becoming its official name, as it turned out it didn't really have any prior to that. And as Fosco Maraini put it, it kinda fits.
"... just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man – or of the cindered planet after the last."
- In 1993, a small DIY company were planning an advertising campaign for their products and, until they came up with a slogan, chose the phrase "It does Exactly What It Says on the Tin" as a phrase of about the same size so that posters and packaging could be designed and easily edited before production as soon as they came up with a proper slogan. They never did come up with a slogan they liked and since the campaign turned Ronseal into a market leader (and a Trope Namer) they probably never will.