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It's a simple way to provide characterization: if you're highly educated and/or sophisticated you give a likewise name to your pet. A popular scientist to name cats after is Erwin Schrödinger, best known for his Schrödinger's Cat
thought experiment. Popular enough to be a Stock Animal Name
It doesn't have to be a scientist naming the cat for another scientist. If you're an expert in a given field, you give an appropriate name to the pet. A musician may name the dog after a famous composer, a literature professor named the cat for an ancient king, a physicist who named the ferret "Proton", etc. You're just too damn intelligent to own a dog named Rover or a parrot named Polly.
Often a Sub-Trope
of Named After Somebody Famous
, when using famous, historic names. Could also overlap with Formally Named Pet
, should some egghead name the dog Professor
See also We Named the Monkey Jack
, when the homage is to a personal friend/relative/acquaintance.
Not to be confused with Tribute to Fido
, which is when a name is an homage to a pet.
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Anime and Manga
- Back to the Future: Doc Brown names his dogs after famous scientists. In 1985, his dog is called Einstein, and in 1955, his dog is called Copernicus. In 1885, his horse is called Copernicus.
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Baron Munchausen's horse is named Bucephalus, thus making this trope Older Than Radio.
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, bumbling inventor Wayne Szalinski has a dog named Quark.
- In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, inventor Caratacus Potts has a dog named Edison.
- In Elvira, Mistress of the Dark this trope is used as one of many small gauges of the lead's average smarts. Elvira has an Unexpected Inheritance of a mansion, "cookbook", and a poodle. Her great aunt, a powerful, savvy witch, named him Algonquin after the American Indian tribe. Elvira is much more Earthy and neither dumb or brainy, so she shortens his name to Gonk.
- The Door into Summer: Dan, the brilliant engineer on the cutting edge of domestic robotics, named his cat Petronius the Arbiter.
- In the Repairman Jack series, Abe is a gun-dealer and technical expert on firearms; gun design, mechanical specifications, upkeep, customization, and repair. He'd probably have found a great job in the industry if he wasn't so determined to remain independent. He calls his pet parakeet Parabellum, the name of a specific type of cartridge.
- The Once and Future King is the novel that the Sword and the Stone was adapted from. Like the Disney film, Merlin's Familiar is an owl named Archimedes.
- Discouraged in How NOT to Write a Novel, noting that if your novel's protagonist must have a cat, do not name it after a composer (such as Bartok), after a writer (Hemingway), after an ancient Greek (Socrates) or after a person that reflects the character's political leanings (Trotsky), among several other examples.
- In A Murder Is Announced, Rev. Julian Harmon, an Oxford alumnus, named his cat after an Assyrian king.
- The West Wing: Mathematics professor Talmidge Cregg has a cat named Nicodemus.
- Clarissa Explains It All has an episode where Ferguson, her Insufferable Genius brother, finds a lost cat that he names William F. Buckley.
- In The Big Bang Theory, after a breakup with not-his-girlfriend Amy Farrah Fowler, theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper gets a cat that he names Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and takes him everywhere. Soon Sheldon becomes a Crazy Cat Gentleman and gets an entire Manhattan Project of cats — Fermi, Feynman, Teller, Frisch, and Odd Name Out Zazzles, because that cat is so zazzy.
- Sliders: In the first episode, Quinn- the inventor/discoverer of Sliding- mentions his cat named Schrödinger.
- The X-Files had Scully, whose background is in hard science like medicine and physics, owning a dog named Queequeg, a reference to one of the Characters in Moby-Dick.
- Stargate SG-1 had Samantha Carter, the team Smart Guy, owning a cat named Schrödinger in some of the later seasons.
- An episode of Columbo, the victim was a talented musician who had named her bird Chopin.
- Jimmy Neutron the boy genius designed and built his robot dog and named him Goddard in honor of rocket science physicist and inventor Robert Goddard. Especially apt when, in his first animated feature film, Jimmy is able to ride upon Goddard like a space bike.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), the Rat King is a Mad Scientist with the power over rats, and names all of his rats after famous Greeks and Romans; such as Caligula for his giant rat steed and Aristotle for his seeing eye rat.